You Got It Backwards

Over at the Guardian, Liz Bury wrote an article about a survey finding 62% of 16 to 24-year-olds prefer traditional books over their digital equivalents.
I was instant messaging with DE contributor Bryan Larrick about this and he made a great point: the real story is that 38% of young adults prefer e-books. The Guardian has the headline backwards.
Bryan had more exhaust: “So in about 10 years, e-books have eroded the print market to the point that 38% of teens prefer them? That is a massive disruption that hasn’t been seen, ever.”
We used to call Blackberries and Palm Treos, ‘smartphones’. Now? Not so much.
What we call ‘e-books’ today will be different years from now and so too will peoples’ preferences for or against them.

Coffee Is For Closers

Bloomberg: Apple Defeats Patent Claim Over Invention of Smartphone:

Apple Inc., the world’s most valuable technology company, was found by a federal jury not to infringe the patent of a 70-year-old electrical engineer who claims he came up with the idea for the smartphone.
The whole patent system is screwed up, and this is just one example.
Conversely, Apple (and Samsung and Dell and many other tech companies) is also guilty of getting lawsuit happy on very vague to very specific patents over things they’ve made, like Apple’s Slide To Unlock patent which was invalidated in Germany earlier this year.
I came up with ideas for a lot of shit when I was a kid, but I never made any of them. Doesn’t mean I should collect money for them.

Profitable Losses

From BGR:

Despite selling more than a million Xbox Ones in less than 24 hours after launch, Microsoft is not going to make money off its latest gaming console anytime soon, prompting some analysts to advise a spin-off for the Xbox division. Barron’s points us to note sent on Friday by Nomura Equity Research analyst Rick Sherlund to investors claiming that Microsoft stands to lose more than $1 billion this year from its Xbox venture, a number that looks slightly better than the initial $2 billion Xbox One loss forecast from the same research firm.
I think it’s good I’m not a “finance” or “business” person, because selling shit without making money on it doesn’t make any sense to me.

I Can Answer That

Co.Design: Why Did Apple Just Pay $360 Million For Microsoft’s Sloppy Seconds?
Because Apple can probably do a much better job at implementing the technology than Microsoft has thus far:

There is another way to use Kinect, too: with your hands. Simply raise a hand up to the screen, hover over any tile, and push forward to select an app. Close your fist to grab the screen, and you can drag it to scroll much the same way you’d swipe across a touchscreen. In Internet Explorer, you can even “punch” the screen with your fist or pull it away to zoom. Unfortunately, it’s even more finicky than the voice commands: sometimes I couldn’t get it to recognize my hands, and often I selected something I didn’t mean to.
Call me crazy.

Phones on Flights

In some ways, I’m encouraged that so many people appear to be horrified with the idea that the FAA could remove restrictions on cell phone use aboard commercial airline flights. This isn’t just about a reaction against the continued decline in civility. After all, I haven’t heard a peep about people using cell phones on city buses. But flying has accumulated enough annoying inconveniences over the years to the point that flying is a miserable experience for everyone involved. People are rightly wondering why we would voluntarily allow things to get worse.
But, I have to ask, if becomes legal to use a cell phone on a flight, is it right for an airline to ban the practice? I’m not questioning an airline’s ability to regulate personal conduct. The airlines can be, and have been, downright draconian when it comes to their customers’ conduct, sometimes resulting in arrest and imprisonment. Sometimes the line between acceptable and unacceptable behavior can depend on the temperament of an aggrieved flight attendant. In an ideal world for the airlines, all passengers would sit mute and unmoving from boarding to disembarkation. But we are animals. Animals that react in an adverse way to confinement. The experience of flying in the 21st century is one of being dehumanized, of being forced into our animal selves. No other aspect of society so closely resembles the hell of being stuck in the criminal justice system like walking into an airport, and we pay for the privilege.
The thought that someone would be jabbering into a phone next to you on an overcrowded flight that is already two hours late fosters ugly feelings. But in no way is that worse than the indignities of going through airport security, or being nickel and dimed by the airlines, or being shoved into seats that are too small for below-averaged sized people. It’s no worse than being stuck on the tarmac for over an hour waiting for room to taxi, and it’s no worse than not getting a meal on a cross-continental flight.
The FAA is looking into lifting the restrictions because there is no compelling reason, regarding the safe conduct of a flight, for calls to be restricted. The focus should not be whether or not people should be allowed to use their phones on a flight. Rather, we should think about the reasons flying has become such a miserable experience that the thought of someone using a telephone causes so much ire. To me, if the act of flying changed, if it restored much of the dignity it has lost, it wouldn’t matter in the least if a passenger decided to use their phone.

Copyright Law Myths

Andy Baio breaks down the myths around the Goldieblox vs. Beastie Boys lawsuit:

It’s entirely possible that the Goldieblox video is simultaneously:

  • A parody
  • An advertisement
  • A derivative of the Beastie Boys’ copyrighted work
  • A violation of MCA’s dying wishes
  • And, yet, perfectly legal under the fair use doctrine.

Only a judge can decide whether Goldieblox’s parody is fair use. And, until they do and all the appeals are closed, none of us will know.
He should know, he’s dealt with this kind of shit himself.

Music Player App in iOS 7: Form Over Function

I have problems using the music player app in iOS 7. The specific problem is when I (try to) click on the Next button to advance the track. Sometimes I hit the Next button and sometimes I hit the volume scrubber, turning the volume up full blast. This hurts my ears and it’s annoying. This is an example of where Apple is ignoring Fitts’ Law. First off, what the hell is Fitts’ Law? Shame on you for not knowing:

Fitts’ law is a model of human movement primarily used in human-computer interaction and ergonomics that predicts that the time required to rapidly move to a target area is a function of the distance to the target and the size of the target. Fitts’s law is used to model the act of pointing, either by physically touching an object with a hand or finger, or virtually, by pointing to an object on a computer monitor using a pointing device. It was proposed by Paul Fitts in 1954.

Let’s look back at the controls for the music player app in iOS 6:

music_player_controls_iOS6.png Back in iOS 6, the music player controls were big, and easy to tap on with your fingers. Seen and used in the context of Fitts’ Law, the button targets were large and the button targets were close to each other.

Now, the controls are harder to use:


If you don’t use the music player in iOS 7 much, the image above might look fine, but try using it. Now, when I try to advance to the next track, I have to look closely at where I’m tapping. More often than not, I tap too close to the volume scrubber and the volume jumps up to 8 or 9.

In Apple’s iOS Human Interface Guidelines, they advise giving, “tappable controls a hit target of about 44 x 44 points.” In IOS 7, the volume scrubber is only around 22 points high, well below Apple’s recommended hit target size.

An easy fix would be to hide the time lapse scrubber as it was in iOS 6 and making it viewable when you tap on the album artwork. This way, the Previous/Play/Pause/Next controls could move up and away from the volume scrubber and the volume scrubber could be given bigger hit area like it had in iOS 6.

Try this: In a straight line from the Play/Pause button to the Next button, make a series of tiny taps and watch the volume scrubber jump around. What’s going on?!

Kick It Over Here, Baby Pop

So, the Beastie Boys are suing Goldieblox for riffing off the classic ‘Girls’ track in their new promo video/commercial.
The B-Boys have released a statement (via GigaOm):

As creative as it is, make no mistake, your video is an advertisement that is designed to sell a product, and long ago, we made a conscious decision not to permit our music and/or name to be used in product ads… When we tried to simply ask how and why our song “Girls” had been used in your ad without our permission, YOU sued US.
The Beasties are one of my all-time favorite groups, but I’m not sure I agree 100% with them on this.
License To Ill—the album which includes ‘Girls’—also includes tracks the Beasties did a lot of their own sampling on (back before there were laws around sampling and copyright).
Take the track, Rhymin’ and Stealin’:

Which samples the drums from Led Zeppelin’s When the Levee Breaks:

Or how about She’s Crafty:

Which samples again from Led Zeppelin’s The Ocean:

Is Goldieblox’s use of Girls fair use?
As the GigaOm article above notes, this is not a black-and-white case.