Fake or not…

Tons of people ripping Mike Daisey to shreds over This American Life retracting their story on Apple’s factories this morning. (I reviewed Daisey’s theatrical review, The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs” last year.)

When the original 39-minute excerpt was broadcast on This American Life on January 6, 2012, Marketplace China Correspondent Rob Schmitz wondered about its truth. Marketplace had done a lot of reporting on Foxconn and Apple’s supply chain in China in the past, and Schmitz had first-hand knowledge of the issues. He located and interviewed Daisey’s Chinese interpreter Li Guifen (who goes by the name Cathy Lee professionally with westerners). She disputed much of what Daisey has been telling theater audiences since 2010 and much of what he said on the radio

Yes, it’s a huge shame that he outright lied about parts of his story. But some of the other unpleasant facts still remain: worker suicides, packed dormitories, insane and outrageous hours. These are stories that both Wired Magazine and the NY Times have written (and as Alexis Madrigal of the Atlantic notes, neither has retracted their stories).

Whether parts of the story were fake or not, I think there’s a more important take away from this: Mike Daisey made all of us think about where our products came from (and the effect they had on the people who made them) in a way that no one has ever done before.

It’s Time to Stop Talking About the Apple Cult

Via: http://techland.time.com/2012/01/26/can-we-stop-talking-about-the-apple-cult-now/

Thirty-seven million iPhones. Fifteen million iPads. Fifteen million iPods. Five million Macs. A million Apple TVs. No matter how you do the math, that’s a boatload of gadgets–and it’s how many Apple sold in the final three months of 2011. The company’s profits–$13.06 billion–were the second-highest in the history of American business, after ExxonMobil’s last quarter of 2008.

But I don’t care about Apple’s bottom line. What I find fascinating about these big numbers is what they say about the size of Apple’s customer base. It’s enormous, and still growing. And the larger it becomes, the weirder it gets that some people reflexively dismiss Apple owners as empty-headed, style-obsessed cult members.

Sad Macs for Sad Times

So long steve

For the longest time, I’ve used the infamous Blue Screen of Death from Windows as the lock screen wallpaper on my iPhone. It’s always elicited awesome (and even perplexed) reactions from people who see it.

In light of recent events, I’ve temporarily updated my lock screen wallpaper to use the almost-as-infamous Sad Mac background. The BSOD wallpaper will be back soon!

Here’s what I want in a third-party browser in iOS 4 and iOS 5

  This piece was originally posted on gdgt. Check it out, here.

Safari logo

A number of third party browsers have been developed and released for Apple’s iOS. Despite the requirement that they must use WebKit, most of the browsers have executed some pretty interesting ideas and provided a lot of enhancements over the basic Safari browser found in the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.

Some of the browsers off the top of my head:

  • Atomic Browser
  • Dolphin Browser
  • iCab
  • Mercury Browser

What I would love to see is them offer some extra enhancements that would seriously make me switch. What are some of these enhancements?

  • TextExpander support: A number of applications (mostly text editors) have been released for iOS that take advantage of TextExpander. I would love to see this added to browsers! I do most of my work in a browser window each day anyway, and on the desktop, TextExpander has been a completely critical feature.
  • 1Password: If 1Password could find a way to allow other applications to user their database / keychain for passwords (similar to how other apps can use TextExpander macros), this would be huge! I use it all the time to ensure that I have completely random passwords, and if any one site is compromised, I don’t lose access to everything. The 1Password app on iOS is well done, but I don’t want to use their built-in browser. If there was a way I could access the passwords from another browser, this would be huge!
  • Xmarks: Xmarks has been an important tool for me when keeping all my browser bookmarks in sync between Chrome, Firefox, and Safari on the laptop. Why not bring that over a third party browser in iOS? If this was available in any third party browser, it would instantly become my go-to browser.
  • Ability to set a default browser in iOS: (Sadly, it will take Apple to build in this feature — there’s no way developers or users can do this short of jailbreaking) I’ll admit, having the option of running third-party browsers in iOS is pretty damn nice. But it still feels like a kludgy hack when you open a URL in any other application in iOS. It always goes to Safari, without fail. If there were a way to set a custom default browser in the system preferences, this would be awesome!

What sorts of other features do you want to see in third party browsers that they don’t currently offer (and aren’t offered in Safari)?

Safari Reader — One of my favorite features in iOS 5

  This piece was originally posted on gdgt. Check it out, here.

Safari reader

Been using various iOS 5 betas (and now the GM) for awhile now. One of my favorite features (besides proper notifications, of course) is Safari Reader. Basically, it strips away all the cruft from a webpage and simply displays the content you want to read. It works similar to things like Readability.

It’s especially nice, since it presents the content in an eBook like format and you can dynamically resize the text.

Something I find interesting though — I haven’t really been using the “Reading List” feature. Basically, it’s a way to temporarily bookmark articles and websites you want to read late. As far as I can tell, it doesn’t do offline access though (so, I’ll still be sticking to Instapaper for my offline needs).

More info on Apple’s website.