Monthly Archives: January 2010

Joe Hewitt and Dave Winer on the iPad

Joe Hewitt, creator of Firebug and Facebook iPhone API:

The one thing that makes an iPhone/iPad app “closed” is that it lives in a sandbox, which means it can’t just read and write willy-nilly to the file system, access hardware, or interfere with other apps. In my mind, this is one of the best features of the OS. It makes native apps more like web apps, which are similarly sandboxed, and therefore much more secure. On Macs and PCs, you have to re-install the OS every couple years or so just to undo the damage done by apps, but iPhone OS is completely immune to this.

A reply from Dave Winer, the pioneer of blogging:

When I was young, some of us envisioned the world we live in today, only we tended to think only of the upside of networked thinking, never the dangers. I guess that’s human nature and the nature of youth. Won’t it be great if everyone can access everyone else’s ideas anywhere, we thought — on any kind of device, all inter-connected and fast. Some believed, me included, that computers without networking interfaces were totally uninteresting. Everything I created was designed to communicate. I ached because early Macintoshes had such awful networking APIs. Eventually all that got sorted out when we got HTTP — it was so simple, the big companies couldn’t control what we did with it.

But ever since that watershed moment the big tech companies have been trying to get the genie back in the bottle. It’s the nature of bigness and corporateness to do that. Facebook didn’t exist when I started my work, but now they’re here and they’re huge, and they view the world the way a big company does.


The enthusiast vs the idealistic skeptic.


Hopefully that’s it for the iPad news.


H.264 Licensing And Free Software

In other words, if you’re an end user in a country where software patents (or method patents) are enforceable, and you’re using software that encodes or decodes H.264 and the vendor is not on the list of licensees, the MPEG-LA reserves the right to sue you, the end user, as well as the software vendor or distributor.

Most likely in the short term it end with videos being served with <video> tag, using H.264 in Apple world, and with Flash elsewhere. So much for interoperability.

​Modern browsers for modern applications

Many other companies have already stopped supporting older browsers like Internet Explorer 6.0 as well as browsers that are not supported by their own manufacturers. We’re also going to begin phasing out our support, starting with Google Docs and Google Sites. As a result you may find that from March 1 key functionality within these products — as well as new Docs and Sites features — won’t work properly in older browsers.


Beautiful Failure

At Rubyfringe a few years ago, I suggested that IDE features are language smells. This statement reflects a lot of bias: I spend a lot of time holding a programming language hammer, and thus every problem looks like a language paradigm nail to me. But just because I’m biased doesn’t mean I’m wrong. Or more importantly, even if I’m wrong it might be interesting to ask ourselves what would happen if we looked at the tools in our development tool chains and treated them as failures.
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Interesting perspective on Ruby’s extensibility and version control.