This Is What It’s Like To Be Publicly Shamed By Steve Jobs

steve jobs mad


Steve Jobs had beef with Derek Sivers.

In 1998, Sivers founded CD Baby, a successful site still in operation today that offers independent musicians a platform to sell their music.

This made him an important enough figure in the music world that Steve Jobs wanted to talk to him about selling CD Baby artists’ songs through iTunes when it launched in 2003.

The circumstances that transpired afterward saw Sivers publicly called out during an Apple keynote and awkwardly forced into a position to return $200,000 to customers.

Here’s how he describes the circumstances immediately following the putdown:

Ever since I started my company in 1998, I had been offering an excellent service. I could make promises and keep them, because I was in full control.

Now, for the first time, I had made a promise for something that was out of my control.

So it was time to do the right thing, no matter how much it hurt.

Sivers has written a very detailed account of how it all shook out, so go to his site and check it out

CHART OF THE DAY: How Do People Really Use Their iPhones And iPads?

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When and how do people use their iPhones and iPads?

This probably won’t come as a surprise, but gaming eats up the most time on people’s iOS devices. Here’s the breakdown using data from Flurry Analytics, as compiled by BI Intelligence.


BI Intelligence

There’s A Kickstarter Project For A Cyborg Cockroach You Can Remote Control

RoboRoach Cyborg Cockroach

You can now pre-order a live cyborg cockroach that can be controlled via an iPhone App.

This is actually a thing.

Backyard Brains, the team behind the “RoboRoach,” just launched their Kickstarter, with the goal of putting neurotechnology in the hands of students.

The technology works by attaching a backpack-like device to the cockroach and implanting electrodes inside its antennae.

By sending electrical signals to the roach’s antennae, it can be tricked into thinking it has bumped into a wall, and will turn to avoid it. The Kickstarter video shows how a simple swipe of the finger across the iPhone app causes the cockroach to swerve left or right.

The ethics of the “RoboRoach” are indeed questionable — imagine if it was a dog or cat being manipulated — and Backyard Brains’s website features an entire section devoted to the morality of the project. 

Dispatch adds Pocket, Readability and Passbook support to its already impressive iOS email app

There was a time that (now Dropbox-owned) Mailbox was the swankiest email app in the App Store and, while it quickly passed 1 million downloads within six weeks of launch, a number of equally as nifty competitors have arrived en masse, including Dispatch.

Launched June 4, it’s an “action-based” email app that helps take you to inbox zero via your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. Developer Clean Shaven Apps says Dispatch is compatible with Gmail, iCloud, Yahoo! and AOL email accounts only, but it appears to support all IMAP-based email services.

dispatch1112 horz 520x375 Dispatch adds Pocket, Readability and Passbook support to its already impressive iOS email app

Dispatch’s real strength is its support for 14 other iOS apps — Safari, Chrome, 1Password, Maps, Google Maps, Instapaper, Due, OmniFocus, Things, Calendar, Reminders, Asana, Drafts, Evernote — but it’s adding to that tally today.

The newly updated app now saves links to Pocket and Readability and includes the following additional features:

  • Open App Store links in-app
  • Open and save Passbook passes in-app
  • Advanced setup screen when editing accounts
  • Support for FastMail accounts without going through advanced setup, including enabling its Archive and Mark as spam feature automatically

There are plenty of shortcomings with Dispatch, as Clean Shaven Apps readily admits, and that includes no support (or plans for) push notifications or POP/Exchanged-based email. Equally, for now, there is no search, folder support, syncing of drafts or the ability to attach multimedia. Yet, there’s still a lot to love about Dispatch.

For one thing, the interface is seriously slick.

The basic UI is functional and works well — let’s not complicate email — operating in a Mailbox-like fashion. Swiping left on an email lets you mark as unread/read, star, archive, mark as spam or delete; while the long-swipe can be customized. In addition, the option to undo an action flashes up for up to five seconds, helping to fix any mistakes.

delete 730x346 Dispatch adds Pocket, Readability and Passbook support to its already impressive iOS email app

Right swiping takes you back to the previous screen — so back to inbox when inside an email, back to settings when inside inbox, etc.

Where Dispatch comes into its own is the ability to add pre-defined snippets, which speeds up replying to specific types of emails — for example customer support or acknowledgements of receipt. That works nicely when combined with support for Evernote, Asana, Calendar, Reminders and other productivity services.

This is actually the raison d’être for Dispatch. When travelling across Japan Junjie Lin told his friend (and soon-to-be co-founder) Hon Cheng Muh that he wished he could respond to emails using TextExpander: then the concept of the app was born.

Dispatch supports snippets from TextExpander as well as its own predefined and customizable ones — such as: an address, signature, passport details, etc. However, it doesn’t yet include support for fill-ins (e.g. auto-creatable times and dates) which could make it even more useful.

snippets 730x346 Dispatch adds Pocket, Readability and Passbook support to its already impressive iOS email app

These strengths — coupled with its self-admitted weaknesses — makes it an ideal and lightweight app to manage the flow of a busy inbox while on the go, though a secondary service is necessary for anything more sophisticated. Personally, I’ve found Dispatch to be more than adequate to handle email on the go, a time when I need to help clear the load, to the point that it has taken over duties from Mailbox on my phone.

Currently there is no optimization for the iPad, but Junjie and Hon Cheng would like that to change:

While we’d love to make an iPad version of Dispatch, it is still too early to say for sure if we’d be making one.

The real negative is that the app is no longer on offer after launch. The price tag has risen from $2.99 to $4.99. But, if you’re someone who often manages email on the go (particular if that entails mass zapping/blasting/deleting) then Dispatch is definitely worthy of consideration.

➤ Dispatch [$4.99 -- iOS only]

Headline image via Thinkstock

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BlackBerry updates BBM Channels beta with search, channel content reposting, animated GIFs, and more

BlackBerry rolled out a new beta version of BBM Channels, its upcoming social platform aimed at high-profile brands and celebrities, with a ton of new features today that should improve the general user experience on BlackBerry 10.

Search is the most notable addition, as it introduces a new ‘Browse Channels’ tab to help users discover additional accounts to follow. It’s not a game-changer by any means, but will enable users to look up some of their favorite companies and start following them from the outset.

bbm channels w3001 220x332 BlackBerry updates BBM Channels beta with search, channel content reposting, animated GIFs, and moreIndividual BBM Channels are also being updated with clickable PINs. These essentially work in the same way as a handle does on Twitter – users can share them through Facebook or Twitter and if someone else taps on it, they’ll be taken to the appropriate channel in the BBM app.

The ‘Browse Content’ tab has also been tweaked this time around so that content is only shown from channels that the user hasn’t already subscribed too. The area is presumably being targeted as a place for users to discover new content, so it makes sense to hide channels that are already visible elsewhere.

Users can also delete their own channel at any time – a pretty crucial feature – and also repost other people’s content in their own channel, similar to Twitter or Facebook.

Other small, but notable additions include a subscriber count, now available from the channel preview screen, as well support for those all-important animated GIFs.

BBM Channels was unveiled by BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins in May as a new method for brands and companies to reach out and engage with BBM users. The idea feels very similar to Plus Friend Home, a combination of both instant messaging and passive social network accounts which was recently unveiled by Korean-startup Kakao for its cross-platform messaging app Kakao Talk.

BBM Channels will be rolled out later this summer for the BBM app on BlackBerry 10. The company has also confirmed that it will be added to its upcoming Android and iOS apps sometime later this year, alongside other advanced features such as voice and video calling.

Image Credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Pres. Obama will defend US phone and Internet surveillance programs to a skeptical G8

Today Reuters reported that at the coming G8 event, President Obama will defend the NSA’s surveillance and data collection programs that have recently caused a sensation both at home, and in foreign media.

The United States’ intelligence community, it was recently unveiled, collects so-called ‘metadata’ on each and every phone call placed inside the United States, and has for years. A program called ‘PRISM’ was also recently unearthed, detailing an Internet surveillance system that has unsettled many.

The phone program is already under legal challenge.

According to Reuters, President Obama’s deputy national security advisor announced the decision to defend the practices at the G8 talks in the coming week. He will detail privacy curbs, and as well as why – in administration view – they are key to fighting terrorism.

Other countries, given that the programs target foreign citizens, have a quite obvious interest in what the US is up to. You can be sure about this: Without the leaks of Snowden, and the efforts of the Washington Post and the Guardian, President Obama would be giving a very different lecture.

Top Image Credit:

Microsoft Office For iOS App Limited In Audience, Features

Microsoft Office For iOS App Limited In Audience, Features

The unthinkable has happened: Microsoft Office has finally arrived on the iPhone.

Microsoft has quietly released a new app in the U.S. that brings the functionality of Microsoft Office to Apple’s mobile platform – though sadly just for the iPhone at this time.

There is, however, a catch: the app, while free, is useful for Office 365 subscribers only. If you have such a subscription, then you’re golden. If not, you will have the opportunity to buy an annual subscription in app for $99.99. Office 365 subscriptions at that price point are available for up to five machines, and the good news is that a mobile instance of Office 365 does not count against your subscription.

It was a little surprising to see that the subscription could be bought in the app itself, since that should mean that, under Apple’s usual rules of app subscriptions, Microsoft will have to fork over 30% of any revenue they get from users making in-app purchases of the subscription. The app is free, but Apple should get $30 every time someone buys an Office 365 subscription with this app.

I tested this out, stepping through the subscription purchase process, expecting some sort of sideways jump to a browser-based payment. But no, the process went right up to asking for my Apple ID.

That’s a pretty big deal, since Microsoft is apparently willing to work with Apple and pay them their tithe for selling stuff via the iTunes app store. I would have expected an Amazon-like move, using an HTML-based purchasing process like the one Amazon uses to avoid paying Apple their cut.

Update: Microsoft confirmed that Office 365 subscriptions would be generating revenue for Apple via the iTunes store.

“For existing Office 365 subscribers, Office Mobile is a free app and so there is no revenue share with Apple. For new customers who register for the Office 365 service as part of securing Office Mobile for iPhone from the Apple Store, Apple does share in the subscription revenue,” a Microsoft spokesperson wrote in response to queries.

So How Did It Run?

Since the Office Mobile for iPhone app is just available for the smaller iOS devices, the functionality of this app is going to be limited right away. There’s only so much productivity one can get from the small screen. (Though iPad users can still use it in 2X iPhone mode, which doesn’t suck too much.)

Connecting with an existing Office 365 subscription was a simple and fast process. Once logged in, the app will remember your sign-in information and keep you pointed at your documents.

The app also does a good job accessing documents that are in the cloud. Some of my documents are sitting on a SharePoint instance, but after an additional sign in to authorize myself to the SharePoint server, downloading the documents was a piece of cake.

Documents are displayed in straightforward, chronological list, which was clear and easy to navigate. Tap a document, and it opens fast.

The first area where the app fell was editing documents with content the app could not handle. Many of the Word documents I have in this collection have embedded figures, which I suspect is why I got the Can’t Edit notification. At least, that’s my guess… the app wasn’t clear on why it choked.

The app also seems limited on what kind of apps it can create. Right now, only Word and Excel documents are available to set up as new documents.

Editing an Excel spreadsheet within the interface is a bit painful. The available templates are pretty, and attractive, but trying to add a formula to the spreadsheet is a matter to manually typing the functions and any ranges of cells. You can use your finger to drag and select a range, but the keyboard interface gets in the way and the responsiveness was not good. I would not want to use the Office Mobile app to do anything more than view existing spreadsheets.

The Word interface was cleaner and simpler to use, and for fast document edits and creation, it should do the trick. There isn’t a lot of formatting tools available, and if you’re trying to use styles for context, forget it. This is an app for pulling together documents fast.

Collaboration, even via embedded comments, seems out of reach for this app as well, since comments don’t seem available to place in the document, nor highlighted changes.

Since the app is free, it should serve as a decent document viewer for anyone with an existing Office 365 subscription. But if you are under the impression that you will be able to generate a tons of Office documents on the go with your iPhone, think again.

And if you don’t have an Office 365 subscription and don’t plan to get one, then this is not the app for you.

Handbrake, The Best Video Conversion Tool You’ve Never Used

For some bizarre reason, you’ve probably never used Handbrake, arguably the world’s best video transcoder. Maybe you’re too young to have ever used a DVD (“Grandpa, tell me about the time when Netflix sent those DVD things via that thing called ‘the mail’”). But more likely you just didn’t know that there was a free, open-source tool that you could use to rip your DVDs to your computer, your Android device or whatever you happen to own.

Now, you do. You can thank me later.

Don’t worry about being late to the party. You’re not alone. I’m always surprised by how few mainstream computer users have heard of Handbrake.

But if you’ve missed up until now, you’re in luck: it just got even better. Handbrake just shipped version 0.9.9 of powerful video conversion tool. While 0.9.9 comes with a slew of new features, including improved conversion presets and better audio remixing support, anyone who remembers earlier versions of Handbrake will be most impressed by one thing: blistering speed.

I’ve been using Handbrake for years, and while I’ve long appreciated its simplicity and the sheer usefulness of being able to rip a DVD to my hard drive, Handbrake used to be somewhat slow. To help speed it up, I’d generally shut down all other applications and devote my CPU to Handbrake’s transcoding.

Not anymore. Today to test it I ripped Napoleon Dynamite (a movie roughly an hour and a half in duration) to my hard drive of my MacBook Air. It took less than 15 minutes to rip a movie that previous versions would have taken an hour or more to convert.

Not that Handbrake is truly a DVD/Blu-ray ripping tool. It’s not, as its developers are quick to point out. It doesn’t strip out copy protections that the movie studios might include on a DVD or Blu-ray disc. That said, I think I’ve only ever had one DVD that Handbrake couldn’t handle.

Instead, Handbrake is a super-easy video conversion tool. Have a video in MPEG-2 format and want to optimize it for your iPad or Android phone? Handbrake is your tool. In fact, you can feed it just about any video format and it will transcode it into a modern format perfect for your Android or iOS device, or to play on any number of other devices.

In the olden days, I’d use Handbrake to rip DVDs (sorry, I can’t think of a better word) to my hard drive so as to save battery life and luggage space while traveling. Today, given that you may not actually ever own any physical media, but instead download movie files, Handbrake is still your best friend, helping to convert these files and optimize them for different devices.

If you’ve never used it, download it now and give it a try. It’s 100% awesome, and yet 100% free. Enjoy.

Tech Firms And Others Are Sharing — A Lot — With U.S. Spies And The Pentagon

PRISM may only be the tip of the iceberg. A new Bloomberg report reveals that a vast array of companies – many of them in the tech sector- have close working relationships with U.S. intelligence agencies and the military. These arrangements may, in some cases, cross the line from defensive information sharing to assistance that could aid active investigations and even offensive cyberwarfare capabilities.

Some of these relationships are voluntary, therefore bypassing federal restrictions. Bloomberg’s Michael Riley writes:

Some U.S. telecommunications companies willingly provide intelligence agencies with access to facilities and data offshore that would require a judge’s order if it were done in the U.S., one of the four people said. In these cases, no oversight is necessary under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and companies are providing the information voluntarily.

Like it or not, all iOS 6 apps will need to be upgraded for iOS 7

The reaction to the grand overhaul of iOS 7 has not been universally warm and fuzzy. Some are happy with it, while others are kind of freaked out by it. But, as the U.K.-based app developer group Entropy Labs astutely pointed out on its blog (via Daring Fireball), none of that matters: iOS 7 is here to stay, and if you don’t upgrade your current apps by the fall, you’re the one that’s going to lose out.

Everything about the look of iOS 7 has been tweaked or massively changed. Textures, colors, menus, buttons, navigation arrows, keyboards, dials, icons, everything will need to be updated to blend seamlessly with Apple’s new chosen design. Apple isn’t forcing this, but it’s in all developers’ best interest: because when you put an iOS 6-designed app next to an iOS 7-ready one, the difference will be incredibly stark — and not in a good way.

As Entropy says:

Remember what non-retina enabled Apps looked like when the iPhone 4 was released? Well, this has the potential to be worse – much worse. And remember when many people said that iPhone-only Apps would look “just fine” on the iPad when blown up to 2X scale. Yeah, that argument didn’t last long.

Simply put, pre-iOS 7 Apps running on the new OS stick out like a sore thumb - looking aged, clunky, and well…just ancient.

The deadline for this upgrade isn’t specific, but Apple says the official iOS 7 release will be sometime this fall.

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