April 28, 2018

Link: Microsoft Kind of Sucks ☍

Dieter Bohn for The Verge explains the continuing legal issues facing Eric Lundgren, a man who was handed a 15-month jail sentence for creating and selling Microsoft Windows recovery discs:

One of the core issues of the case was the value of the software Lundgren was attempting to distribute. Lundgren and an expert witness contend that the value was essentially zero. That’s because, they argue, the actual value of the software should have been in the license to use the software, not in the restore software itself — which can be downloaded for free from Microsoft’s own website.

Here’s how Lundgren characterized the issue:

They were comparing it to a new license. You don’t get a license with the restore CD. The government treated the infringed item as if it was a licensed product, the license itself, what Microsoft sells, and it’s not. … I got in the way of Microsoft’s multi- multi- multi-million dollar business model of recharging people for computers that already have an operating system

I remember friends who bought PCs in the past that didn’t include any recovery media. You’d have to make it yourself so the manufacturers could save a few dollars on every computer. Most people didn’t make it and then if something went horribly wrong, would just replace them with another cheap PC. As Microsoft’s licensing for Windows tends to follow the guilty-until-proven-innocent model, I’m not surprised this was the outcome, even though most of the licenses themselves are tied to the computers and not the methods for the physical recovery media. It sounds like Lundgren was basically charging labor and materials costs to do something you or I could do at home.

While the Windows model is different from Apple, as Microsoft has to make money for every Windows license sold, the distribution model feels much more disconnected, and say, getting a used Dell without an operating system on it is much more catastrophic than a Mac without an operating system on it. Even though that Dell was sold with a Windows license when new, it requires a lot of work to get it back up and running if you don’t have the media handy.

Furthermore, Microsoft charges $25 to refurbishers for a new copy of Windows, in case you lost the old one or the license sticker is missing.

April 14, 2018

“My reply was to make a shape with my hands the size of an iPad: ‘Steve, make it this size and you’ll rule the world’.”

Link: #OpenWeb ☍

I didn’t get a chance to share this yesterday, but Michael Rockwell (of Initial Charge fame) has a new project:

I spent a few days over the past week working on a little project that’s been bouncing around in my head lately. I’ve wanted something like this to exist for years and with the skills I’ve obtained from Treehouse over the past several months, I thought it was finally time to build it myself. Today, I’d like to announce #OpenWeb.

The site aggregates headlines from independent publishers that focus on Apple products and software. It also serves as a directory of single-person weblogs within our community. Over the past few years, social networks have become less and less exciting to use and there have been some subtle indications that the open web is poised for a comeback. With Micro.blog, JSON Feed, the meteoric rise in podcasting, and the frustration that many of us have had with Twitter and Facebook — I think weblogs could be the next big thing.[…]

But discovery is still a major problem. Why would you put the effort into buying a domain, setting up a site, and writing if no one is going to read it? And if you do manage to jump through all the hoops to start publishing, how do you find others in the community that have done so as well?

I was asked about bringing this site on board, and I like that the goal is to focus on non-linked-list items (aka Snippets on here). After just a day or two, I’ve already found some new content that I wouldn’t have otherwise, and it reminds me of the best goals of the “blogroll” from years’ past. Also, worth noting—it’s done on an iPad.

April 11, 2018

Link: If iPads Were Meant for Kids ☍

Dave DeLong:

I bought my kids their own iPads last fall. I’m nice, and I’m fortunate to be able to afford it. However, I’ve come to realize that despite my attempts to spoil my kids, these iPads (and all iOS devices in general) are not meant for kids.

Now, I realize this might be a controversial statement, especially because it seems counter to a lot of Apple’s advertising. But hear me out.[…]

If iPads were meant for kids, then there would be a way to limit how long they can use an iPad. They’d get reminders when they have 15 … 10 … 5 … 1 minute left of usage time, and then the device would lock and they wouldn’t be able to get back in without the parental passcode.

If iPads were meant for kids, then there would be a way to make the iPad turn off when it’s bed time and not turn on again until morning. Because my son likes to sneak in to our room and take his iPad back from wherever we’ve stashed it, and then stay up until nearly midnight playing Angry Birds.

There’s a part of me that appreciates his point, as there could be more simple management for home use (no one is setting up an MDM solution for home). On the other hand, this argument feels like it could apply to computers and even video games going back to the 1980s. Although we had a “family” computer when I was growing up, I also had a stash of old Macs in my room that were eventually connected to the Internet, too. There were some rules and structure for usage and I certainly tried to stretch those as far as I could. Somehow, because the devices are smaller, that makes the argument different.

April 6, 2018

Link: Apps of a Feather ☍

Twitter may be using a new way to ice out third-party clients:

After June 19th, 2018, “streaming services” at Twitter will be removed. This means two things for third-party apps:

  1. Push notifications will no longer arrive
  2. Timelines won’t refresh automatically

If you use an app like Talon, Tweetbot, Tweetings, or Twitterrific, there is no way for its developer to fix these issues.

We are incredibly eager to update our apps. However, despite many requests for clarification and guidance, Twitter has not provided a way for us to recreate the lost functionality. We’ve been waiting for more than a year.

While Twitter has been making life tougher for third-party clients, this is a big blow and if it happens, would severely cripple a number of key features. The company backtracked today, stating that the change has been postponed from the original June date and promises notice. I hope Twitter does work with developers, as apps like Twitterrific and Tweetbot have made the service much more enjoyable for me.

Furthermore, the third-party app ecosystem might not get Twitter the analytics or ad data, but that ecosystem helped build the user base in its earliest years. It’s also arguably the biggest group of passionate users from Twitter’s earliest days that will stick with the service. I suspect in the grand scheme of things, the number of users aren’t that much, but I’d rather have a crippled, good third-party client than the web site or the doesn’t-know-how-to-use-an-iPad-screen app. If anything, my usage would decrease, rather than shift, and I don’t think I’m alone.