Home

Stephen Hackett's weblog about Apple, Apple history, technology, journalism and design.

E.W. Scripps spinning off newspaper business

Dan Monk:

The deal calls for Milwaukee, Wisc. –based Journal Communications Inc. to merge its 13 television stations and 35 radio stations into Cincinnati-based Scripps. Both companies will spin off their newspaper assets into a new publicly-traded company, Journal Media Group.

The deal is subject to the approval of shareholders and regulators. It is expected to close in 2015.

Big news in the journalism world, but no one else will notice the re-arranged deck chairs.

Modbook Pro X hits Kickstarter

The original Modbook hails from 2008, when the company took plastic MacBooks, cut them in half and turned them into tablets.

Currently, you can just get a non-Retina MacBook Pro from the company. However, the company has launched a Kickstarter campaign is for a new product, based on the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro.

If the $150,000 goal is met, customers will be able to send in their own machines for conversion at $1999 or reserve complete systems directly from Modbook starting at $3999.

The idea of the Modbook has always intrigued me, and I can see how designers or artists would be interested in it, but the Mac hardware nerd in me can't help but wonder what terrible things happen to these MacBooks.

The App Store Box Office

Jared Sinclair, in an excellent article about the launch of his RSS application Unread:

If you want to make “real money” from a paid-up-front app, your launch week has to be be a box-office smash.

All of Jared's piece is interesting, but that statement really hit me. I've heard it said before, but his data really backs it up.

It's a shame Jared hasn't made more on Unread. As he points out, the app was both featured on the App Store and garnered a fair bit of media attention. I can't imagine how rough it is for developers of less popular paid apps. The whole thing really highlights how the free fall of App Store prices has affected developers.

It's not good for anyone, really. Without good money coming in, developers can't make the kind of apps they want to make, which in turn, drives the price further into the ground and hurts the ecosystem as a whole. I fear the App Store is in some weird chicken-and-egg downward spiral.

The Macintosh II

True story: I was going to write up the history of the Macintosh II, but then ran across this artcle by Benj Edwards.

If you want to understand why Apple went off the rails in the 90s, reading up on this machine isn't a bad place to start.

Verizon to throttle some LTE users

Oh, excuse me. The company is introducing "network optimizations:"

Starting in October 2014, Verizon Wireless will extend its network optimization policy to the data users who: fall within the top 5 percent of data users on our network, have fulfilled their minimum contractual commitment, and are on unlimited plans using a 4G LTE device. They may experience slower data speeds when using certain high bandwidth applications, such as streaming high-definition video or during real-time, online gaming, and only when connecting to a cell site when it is experiencing heavy demand. (Note: Does not currently apply to government or business accounts that have signed a major account agreement.)

Wait. Nope, that's throttling.

To be fair, AT&T introduced a "network management process" that does the same thing a while back as well:

As a result of the AT&T network management process, customers on a 3G or 4G smartphone with an unlimited data plan who have exceeded 3 gigabytes of data in a billing period may experience reduced speeds when using data services at times and in areas that are experiencing network congestion. Customers on a 4G LTE smartphone will experience reduced speeds once their usage in a billing cycle exceeds 5 gigabytes of data. All such customers can still use unlimited data without incurring overage charges, and their speeds will be restored with the start of the next billing cycle.

To be fair, Sprint does it, too, but to "improve data experience" for its users:

Sprint currently employs prioritization to improve data experience for the vast majority of users on Sprint’s CDMA and LTE networks. The heaviest data users consume a disproportionate share of network resources and cause a negative user experience for the rest. To more fairly allocate network resources in times of congestion, customers falling within the top 5% of data users may be prioritized below other customers attempting to access network resources, resulting in a reduction of throughput or speed as compared to performance on non-congested sites.

Even T-Mobile does it, but it's to ensure "you have a positive web experience and to help you avoid overage charges while allowing you to stay within the costs of your current plan."

While Verizon may be evil, they aren't less evil than their competition, so they've got that going for them, which is nice.

Delight is in the Details

Shawn Blanc has updated his guide to getting the most out of your creative work with new chapters, interviews and more. If you didn't purchase out the initial version last year, it's definitely time to check it out. And if you did, the new version is free, because Shawn is awesome.

OS X Yosemite public beta launches tomorrow

Jason Snell:

On Thursday, fall will come early for hundreds of thousands of Mac users when Apple releases its first public beta of OS X Yosemite. The public-beta program, announced during Apple’s annual developer conference in June, lets regular users download and test pre-release versions of OS X. Apple says the first million users to sign up at the OS X Beta Program website will be able to test Yosemite before the OS is released to the general public in the fall.

Users can sign up over on Apple's website.

This marks the first public beta of OS X since Kodiak way back in 2000. In that public beta, OS X's Aqua interfaces receieved a fair amount of work. I'm really curious to see how much Yosemite will be influenced by having a million people (plus an untold number of registered Mac developers) running it for months prior to its official release this fall.

Even if the public beta doesn't influence the final OS all that much, Dan Moren is right: this is a new chapter in Apple history. The OS X Public Beta was a necessity to help developers and users better prepare for the transition from OS 9 to OS X. A big shift like that is clearly not the case here; this is Apple being more open than ever. I like it.