Monthly Archives: April 2010

John Gruber Gets it Wrong?

I have tremendous respect for John Gruber — which is a bit like a weekend hobbyist photographer saying they have tremendous respect for Henri Cartier-Bresson; who cares? — but “I think AppleInsider was right”: Many consider the app switching panel in OS X to be a component of Exposé. This means that the new app switching mechanism in OS X works very much like “Exposé”, depending upon your definition. It’s also worth noting that AppleInsider used some pretty specific language describing the way it would work:

bq. “Those familiar with the design of iPhone 4.0 said that the user interface will resemble Apple’s desktop Expose feature, in that a key combination — *reportedly hitting the Home button twice — will trigger an expose-like interface that brings up a series of icons representing the currently running apps*, allowing users to quickly select the one they want to switch to directly. When a selection is made, the iPhone OS zooms out of the Expose task manager and transitions to that app.” (Emphasis mine)

The important part there is the bit about the “icons”. John’s implied definition of Exposé would require a description where the applications are tiled on the screen.

Maybe it’s not fair to say John is wrong, but that he has a more strict view of what Exposé encompasses. The current Exposé page on Apple’s website doesn’t show the app switcher any more, but I’m pretty sure it used to back when Leopard was introduced. The app switcher interacts with Exposé in an important way, which is why some people include it.

*OS X App Switcher*

p{text-align: center;}. ! X app switcher)!

Stupid human tricks

This morning I watched my cat jump three times her standing height and I thought, “Gee, it must be cool to be able to jump three times your own height.”

Then I went about my business fixing breakfast, as my cat watched on from the bar between our kitchen and dining room. At that moment, I had another thought. I’ll bet my cat is thinking, “Gee, it must be cool to be able to get your own food from that big white box.”

Human: 1
Cat: 1

Let’s call it a draw.

3D that I would actually buy

“HP has a working prototype of an entirely new type of electrical component called the memristor”: It’s memory and a transistor bundled in to one. Remember that name, memristor. You’ll tell your kids that you were alive when the memristor was discovered, and you’ll reminisce about your first memristor powered computer. This is serious business!

A better mousetrap… err, battery

I was pretty excited to hear that the iPad actually delivers on the promised battery life, so you can imagine my excitement when I saw this PopSci article claiming a “five-fold increase in li-ion battery capacity”: by using a graphite anode. WHAT!?

For audience members not wishing to read a lengthy article on a subject matter that is great for those in need of a nap, I’ll break it down. Batteries, as you’ll remember from science class, work by placing an anode and cathode in to an electrolyte. The chemical composition of these components results in a migration of ions from the anode to the cathode. This migration of ions produces the flow of electricity that we expect from a battery — _yes, a gross over-simplification… nerd_.

In a normal lithium ion batteries (the type used in laptops, hybrid cars, cell phones, etc), the anode is composed of graphite. Graphite is good in this application because it is durable. A battery dies when the anode and cathode are destroyed through the chemical reaction that makes a battery work. Graphite is durable, so it makes a good anode. However, silicon allows the ions to flow more quickly, so it not only produces a more powerful battery, but a more efficient one. The trouble is that silicon isn’t nearly as durable.

KAPOW! Enter, nano technology.

bq. …by tapping into self-assembling nanotech, the Georgia Tech team has created a silicon composite material that circumvents the degradation issue…

So, silicon + new self-assembling nanotech = durable silicon anode. Problem solved, If they can manage to industrialize the production of this nano-material, we’ll all be browsing the web on our iPads for days on end.

Delicate war

I think it’s important to remember that for the marines and soldiers in the video posted at “”:, the acts shown in the video are part of a job they’re asked to do daily. They identify combatants and take the shot. For better or worse, you don’t wage a good war if you’re not good at killing people. I know that sounds reprehensible, but it’s a fact. At the office, a mistake costs you money. At war, it costs lives.

Make no mistake, we are better at waging war than we ever have been. This only makes matters worse. Our image of war is not streets filled with bodies. Today, war is a form of infotainment. Entire television mini-series are dedicated to the marvel of modern war machines. Video from the tip of a falling bomb is broadcast on cable television to a fat man sitting on the couch enjoying his potato chips.

The number of civilian deaths in one day of carpet bombing during WWII would dwarf the entire number of casualties incurred by military combatants, insurgents, and civilians in Gull War I and II. “By the numbers”:, we’ve become exponentially more efficient.

We’re convinced that with enough technology, we can wage war on a sub-set of a nation, but even today, war is not a scalpel; it’s a hatchet. When you go to war, you do it absolutely, and for as short a time as possible.

I don’t hold these marines and soldiers responsible. We’re asking the impossible. “Wage a war, but make no mistakes.” No one can be held to this standard.

Don’t believe everything you read/see

Ever heard of the Nokia N97? It’s Nokia’s super phone, and it runs Symbian. It’s also a feature list orgasm. Seriously, if you look at the spec sheet, it’s every gadget freaks dream come true. Most phone nerds use it as a baseline when babbling on about how much the iPhone sucks. If you’ve seen the promotional video for the N97, you’d be inclined to believe that it really is a contender. Well, Mobile Inc has a nice little comparison video that shows the “N97 promo video vs real life”: Oh man, that’s gotta sting when you get that thing out of the package and actually start using it.