More and more iPhones for us all

Verizon to push Apple’s iPhone with major ‘marketing muscle’ – report
[Via AppleInsider]

Following this week’s announcement that the iPhone is finally coming to Verizon, a new report claims that the largest wireless provider in the U.S. plans to advertise Apple’s handset heavily over competing Android phones.

[More]

I hope that we are not inundated with so many iPhone ads as to make us sick of them. I wonder if Apple has any say in the tone of the ads?

Jon Stewart on shootings

Stewart gave a very heartfelt monologue on Monday about what happened this weekend. I think we would be a better country if more people, particularly those in positions of power, heard and acted on his words.

Mac App Store is too much fun

There is one thing I am thankful for – that the Mac App Store did not come out before Christmas. I’d have a much bigger hole in my pocket.

What will it be like when there are 10,000 apps instead of 1000?

Oh, Apple does something so very cute but really quite elegant. When you confirm the sale, the icon from the Mac App Store page that represents the program leaps off the page, slowly shrinking as it arcs across the screen and ends up on dock. Thus you know it is now yours and you only have to wait for the down load.

So, I looked in the program for something to tell me how the download was goingand failed. Then I noticed that the little icon on the dock has a progress bar under it showing the download. Really cool!

A really neat, creative and useful way to give all the information needed and to show off Apple/s wonderful graphics. I bet no other OS could do something similar with such panache.

Got the OS X updates done

And I am clicking the Mac App Store Icon Now.

Wow, opened quite fast. And I saw that Delicious Library 2 was on the store so I clicked it. And am told it is already installed. Cool.

And I am downloading Pixelmator now. My evening is shot.

Nokia demonstrates what is so wrong with other app stores

Nokia’s Ovi App Store
[Via Daring Fireball]

Step 1: Click on an app. Any app, just pick one.

You’re going to love step 2.

[More]

What a fragmented world other smart phone people live in.

Problems in higher science education

photosynthesis by epSos.de

College upperclassmen still fail at scientific reasoning
[Via Ars Technica]

Most of us develop a sort of intuitive logic about how the natural world works. Unfortunately, a lot of that informal reasoning turns out to be wrong, which complicates scientific education. But as students make their way through the science education pipeline, they should gradually start moving beyond the informal reasoning of their earlier years. Or at least that’s what we’d like to think; instead, a new survey of college students, some in advanced biology classes, indicates that most end up with a confused mix of formal and informal reasoning.

The clearest example of the chasm between a typical intuition and scientific reasoning comes from the world of physics. Imagine a marble rolling around a curved track that comes to a sudden end. Physics tells us that, as soon as the marble is off the track, it’ll continue moving in a straight line until it runs into something else. But many people use informal reasoning and conclude that the marble will continue to follow a circular path even after it escapes the track. In other contexts, it involves an interventionist view of the world. As the people behind the survey put it, “When using informal reasoning, students look for ‘actors’ that drive ‘events’ and are aided by ‘enablers.’”

Scientific education, then, needs to convince people to move past their intuitions (at least if they want a more accurate picture of how the world operates).

[More]

The article is not out yet apparently (January BioScience is not there yet. Only December.) The write ups seem to indicate even students quizzed in their specialties have ‘intuitive’ answers that are wrong.

This follows up on some of their previous work that indicated that incoming students had serious problems with what they ‘knew’ versus what was real.

I think science education requires a different approach to pedagogy than other fields. In other areas, our intuitive, heuristic approaches to things serve us well. But in science, even educated people can become fooled, especially when not thinking logically, rationally and deeply.

A fun example can be found in the comments regarding one of the questions:

Maple Mass

A mature maple tree can have a mass of 1 ton or more (dry biomass, after removing the water), yet it starts from a seed that weighs less than 1 gram. Which of the following processes contributes the most to this huge increase in biomass? Circle the correct answer.
A) absorption of mineral substances from the soil via the roots
B) absorption of organic substances from the soil via the roots
C) incorporation of CO2 gas from the atmosphere into molecules by green leaves
D) incorporation of H2O from the soil into molecules by green leaves
E) absorption of solar radiation into the leaf

Now, these questions are given to people who have had classes in botany or biology and so are well versed in the principles involved, if they have learned to think scientifically.

There was a discussion about the ambiguity of answers C and E. Several commenters though E would be a right answer, since without photosynthesis, there could be no growth. But E does not mention photosynthesis. It simply mentions absorption of solar radiation. There are many processes of absorption, such as thermal, that have nothing to do with photosynthesis. And even photosynthesis uses just a small amount of the total radiation.

E only ‘seems’ like a right answer if you take it to mean photosynthesis. But that ‘intuitive’ answer requires a leap to conclusions. Photosynthesis is not explicitly mentioned. Trying to use it for an answer is a leap not based on real data. Those that answer this question were guilty of making a leap to a conclusion that is not supported by the data provided– a very common error in non-scientific thinking.

Then there was a discussion about C and D. Someone found that photosynthesis performs the following reaction:

Hmm, unless the Wikipedia article on photosynthesis is wrong (6CO2 + 6H2O -> photosynthesis -> C6H12O6 + 6O2), it seems to me that the students are right to suggest that most of a tree’s mass is brought up from the soil (in the form of water). Six atoms of oxygen plus twelve of hydrogen definitely out-mass six atoms of carbon.

Or am I missing something?

There ensued some discussion about the atomic weights of carbon dioxide and water in order to determine whether the water from the soil is more responsible for the biomass or the carbon dioxide from the air. This is a much more productive and scientific discussion, one that actually really occurred in the scientific examination of photosynthesis and biomass.

Looking at the mass equation – which is greatly simplified but useful for discussion – one sees that oxygen is released at the end. Where does the oxygen come from – the carbon dioxide or the water? Even Wikipedia tells us – the released oxygen comes from the water. The only mass water contributes is its hydrogens.

This is one of the key discoveries regarding the process of photosynthesis. Anyone learning about this should remember that bit of data. I remembered this and the last class I took on photosynthesis was 30 years ago.

Biology students should remember this. Water is simply used as an electron donor. Other molecules can substitute for water in photochemical reactions using carbon dioxide.

And the experiments that were designed to show this is true – work that any student should have been taught – demonstrate wonderfully how the scientific method works and the underlying principles for discovery. How do we determine where the oxygen comes from? We use radioactively labeled oxygen in the carbon dioxide or in the water. When the radioactive oxygen is in the carbon dioxide, radioactivity stays in the plant. When the radioactive oxygen is in the water, radioactivity is released into the surround air.

So, to anyone who is taking science courses in biology and who is learning to think in a ‘scientific’ way should have been able to answer the question properly. The largest portion of the biomass comes from the incorporation of both carbon and oxygen from carbon dioxide.

Unfortunately, very few students were able to think these questions through in a way that brought their scientific reasoning to bear. They simply answered with what seemed like the best answer – the ‘obvious’ one, the ‘intuitive’ one – without engaging the parts of the brains most important for scientific thinking. They made a leap to the conclusion without fully analyzing the data provided.

Or they did look at the data provided but forgot the data they had learned and were unable to combine them in a way to discern whether C or D was most correct.

Thus the need to do better with scientific education. Scientific thinking require a rigor and attention to the systems details that is very different from the sorts of thinking we do to live our daily lives. Now we need to do a better job achieving that.

Someone else discusses Microsoft’s difficulties

steve ballmer by Microsoft Sweden

Microsoft’s tablet could take years, stirring doubts about Windows tablets beating out Apple’s iPad
[Via MacDailyNews]

“Instead of unveiling an elegant response to the iPad, Microsoft came to the tech industry’s premier gadget show with a collection of exposed computer guts,” Jessica Mintz reports for The Associated Press.

[More]

And they weren’t very nice about it either. As I mentioned earlier, MS is doing great in the gaming world. Not so well elsewhere. This analyst does not seem impressed by the virtual demo of a tablet which may still be years away. Their phone strategy is a mess and the duopoly of Wintel may be at an end.

But here is why a lot of analysts are pretty stinging int heir criticisms:

Mintz continues, “It’s hard for anyone to applaud Microsoft without noting the threats posed by the growing popularity of Apple Inc.’s iPad. It’s also hard to see Windows as a tablet contender amid an onslaught of new tablets running Google Inc.’s Android software… Those concerns have been weighing on Microsoft stock, which has hovered around the $20 to $30 range for the past decade. Apple, on the other hand, has seen its share price more than triple since the first iPhone was announced in early 2007. Last year, Apple’s market capitalization surpassed Microsoft’s, making Apple the second-largest U.S. public company after Exxon Mobil Corp.”

It always comes down to stock price. Since 2007, MS is down almost 3% and Apple is up 255%. Since Ballmer took over in 2000, MS stock has lost half its value while Apple’s has gone up 10-fold.

I wonder who they will get to replace him, as if that would really make any difference.

I imagine some Mac App Store developers are very happy also

mac app store by Rob Boudon

Apple Mac App Store downloads top 1 million in 1st day; Steve Jobs ‘amazed at incredible response’
[Via MacDailyNews]

Apple today announced that over one million apps have been downloaded from the Mac App Store…

[More]

Considering everyone had to also download a new update to OS X in order to even access the Mac App Store, this is pretty amazing. I expect I will overcome my normal hesitancy about new OS updates and download 10.6.6 later today.

And 1 million downloads with only 1000 apps available. What happens when the app environment really takes off and there are 100,000 apps.

But as one of the commenters mentioned, even people who have been buying software for the Mac since the 80s are now easily finding apps they had not heard about. I think some of the social networking aspects of this (yop 10 lists, etc.) will drve a lot of sales.

That plus the impulse pricing.

What will Adobe’s response to the Mac App Store be?

Apple’s Mac App Store takes dead aim at Adobe
[Via MacDailyNews]

Apple’s launch of the Mac OS X App Store appears to be an instant success…

[More]

So, Aperture is now on the Mac App Store for almost 1/3rd the cost of the equivalent Adobe application. And Pixelmator for $29.99 does much of what Adobe Photoshop Elements (about $80). Apple is slowly killing Flash. iMovie for $15 versus Adobe Premiere Elements for $80.

As good or better products for much lower prices. Will Adobe start cutting its prices? Offer better bundles?

I expect it will do what it has done the last decade or so – buy some other company’s technology and try to market that.

The PC era ends with MS as a gaming company?

This:

Microsoft Sold 8 Million Kinects in 60 Days
[Via Daring Fireball]

Very impressive. Seems like Xbox has taken a decided lead over PS3. But announcing this makes it all the more glaring that they still haven’t released any sales numbers for Windows Phone 7.

[More]

Coupled with this:

Microsoft’s Tablet Strategy

[Via Daring Fireball]

Matt Rosoff:

Earlier today, computer maker Asus kicked off the Consumer Electronics Show a day early by announcing four upcoming tablet computers. Three of them run Google’s Android operating system. One runs Windows 7. See if you can guess which one is the outlier:

  • Eee Pad MeMO: starts at $499
  • Eee Pad Slider: starts at $499
  • Eee Pad Transformer: starts at $399
  • Eee Slate: starts at $999

I get the feeling Microsoft knows they have a big problem here. They need to shut up, get to work, and build a real tablet OS — and they know it. The problem is they can’t completely shut up. The iPad is too big a sensation, and is attracting a bunch of competitors, almost none of which are using a Microsoft OS. But they were way more blustery about “slates” at last year’s CES than they were at this year’s.

[More]

Leads to this:

Horace Dediu on the Real News From CES
[Via Daring Fireball]

Horace Dediu:

At this year’s CES two unthinkable things happened:

  1. The abandonment of Windows exclusivity by practically all of Microsoft’s OEM customers.
  2. The abandonment of Intel exclusivity by Microsoft for the next generation of Windows.

Many of Microsoft’s customers chose to use an OS product from Microsoft’s arch enemy. Some chose to roll their own. Microsoft, in turn, chose to port its OS to an architecture from Intel’s arch enemy.

These actions confirm the end of the PC era.

[More]

They are doing great in the video game hardware/software side of things but no word on how their phone is doing. Their tablet strategy is not competitive. The exclusivity of the PC era – which provided them much of their profits – is at an end.

What happens when the new environment and innovation that will come from the various app stores destroys their Office dominance?

Seems like the only thing they have that people want are Xboxes, kinect and ancillary software. But about 90% of Microsoft’s revenues come from other areas.

I wonder what Ballmer is going to do about it?

Another indication that Verizon iPhones are on the way

verizon by Eric Hauser

AT&T announces Apple iPhone 3GS for $49
[Via MacDailyNews]

AT&T today announced a new price for the popular iPhone 3GS – $49…

[More]

AT&T has been running all sorts of loss leader deals the last month at Radio SHack and Best Buy. It is doing everything it can to get as many people to sign up for 2 year deals.

The best explanation is that Verizon will be getting a phone soon and AT&T will no longer have exclusive deals. Ain’t competition grand?

Now I just hope Verizon’s is a 4G LTE phone and that the prices are reasonable.

Curated app stores may win the battle

Amazon, Apple, LG launch new app stores, Google Chrome Web Store dries up
[Via AppleInsider]

As Apple prepares to bring its wildly successful App Store phenomenon from iOS to the Mac, Amazon is launching its own Android app store while LG and others open TV apps stores, even as existing ones, including the Chrome Web Store, flounder.

[More]

Amazon will create a curated store, keeping malware and such away for Android phones. Not so for Google which continues to allow programs with problems and huge numbers of ripoffs to be downloaded. Even developers are complaining.

But now we have a fragmented marketplace. Where should the developers place their wares? Google’s Android Market drives all apps to free, meaning the only revenue source comes from Google’s ads.

Amazon holds out more hope but it will also have the ability to determine the price the developer sells at, slashing prices as it sees fit. Only Apple’s App Stores permit the transaction between developer and customer to occur unencumbered with the changing business models of the bazaar owner. It simply takes it cut. Everything else is up to the people involved int the transaction.

Just a small bug in some apps from the MacApp Store

Lack of receipt checking could enable Mac App Store piracy
[Via The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW)]

Not long after the Mac App Store opened, several warnings via Twitter began to surface. “You did implement receipt checking so that people can’t pirate your app. Yes?” developer Nik Fletcher (also one of our former writers here at TUAW) asked his followers. Ged Maheux at the Iconfactory also pointed out that he was able to run a for-pay app purchased by another person, and run it on 10.5 and 10.6.5 Macs as well — none of which should be happening, it would seem.

Receipt checking is the process that lets developers verify that the app is installed as a valid purchase by checking the embedded purchase receipt, which is included (in encrypted form) by Apple and contains the UUID of the Mac authorized to run the app. Apple did not force developers to implement a particular way of handing these receipts and as a result, some paid apps are not properly protected against piracy.

While the number of affected apps is not known — and probably very small — it’s not clear there’s anything Apple could have done to protect developers from themselves in this situation. According to veteran Mac developer Daniel Jalkut of Red Sweater Software, the burden of preventing the app from running in an unlicensed setup is on the app itself, not Apple’s receipts.

[More]

This is not Apple’s fault but the developer’s. They are the ones who have the choice of using receipt check or not. I’m sure it is an oversight of just a few apps that, in the rush to get on the site the first day, missed something important.

It does not affect the user and will probably be fixed pretty rapidly

Mac App Store is here

Apple releases Mac OS X 10.6.6 with Mac App Store
[Via AppleInsider]

Apple Thursday morning released update Mac OS X 10.6.6 for Snow Leopard, bringing the new Mac App Store, along with the usual bug and security fixes.

[More]

I may wait a few days since it is a Snow Leopard update just to make sure that it installs right. While problems only happen infrequently, I have learned that it is safer with OS updates to let the really early adopters find any bugs.

But I want the App Store for the Mac so bad. Look what is already available. It will change things a lot.

Apple – free as in speech; Google – free as in beer

beer by DeusXFlorida

Google’s Android is not about creating a great mobile platform or devices
[Via MacDailyNews]

“Google is building Android not so they can make great mobile devices and sell them to consumers,” Kyle Baxter writes for TightWind. “Rather, they are making them for these two simple reasons: (1) to disrupt Apple’s growing dominance of mobile devices, both so Google doesn’t have to rely on Apple for access to their users and to eliminate their paid-for application model; and (2) so Google can control the mobile industry and thus secure advertising from it.”

[More]

More on the report I discussed earlier. Google wants everything to be free and only supported by ads. That is how it makes its money. So it will create environments where ads are the ONLY way for developers to make money. They have little or no say over the worth of their product – Google gets to set the rates and determine what the apps are ‘worth.’ To recoup development costs, software engineers will be totally beholden to Google’s rates for ads.

That is where Google’s ‘free’ approach is moving towards.

Google’s approach neither services their users nor developers in ways that provide much freedom for either. Users get software for free but have to put up with ads. The developers then have no choice but to use ads to support their work but not in a way that really allows them to use a free market to determine price. They are stuck with whatever Google decides to pay for ad-cicks. They will not be able to lower prices to increase sales. The only way to increase revenue is to get Google to raise ad rates.

Google maintains complete control over all transactions that are allowed to occur.

On the iOS store, the developers are free to determine price and the user is free to decide how much they want to pay. There are free, light versions of software that may be ad-driven. There are also versions that cost money but have added benefits, such as no ads. The developers are free to have sales, where they lower prices and are able to judge where to set the price. They can increase sales by lowering the price.

The market place eventually finds the proper place based on interactions between the seller and the buyer. It is a true bazaar where Apple only takes a cut of the transaction but really does not care how the transaction is made. It acts simply as a broker, not as an integral part of the course of the transactions.

In Google’s world, they want to control all of the transactions, driving them all through its ads filter so it can make money. Direct interaction between seller and buyer is increasingly discouraged.

This explains why Google is fine with getting in bed with big media to cripple net neutrality. It really does not care about open access. It cares about eyeballs and if Verizon or Comcast can deliver more eyeballs, that is the direction it will try and head. It needs controlled access through its ad-prism in order to survive. As long as it controls the eyeballs, it makes money.

There is irony in the fact that the walled community Apple has created may be a more open market that better services both developer and customer than Google’s community built on more open standards. It demonstrates that Open Software does require that the resulting marketplaces are free – free as in freedom, not beer. Libre vs. Gratis.

Google gives us free software (gratis) but with restrictions that both users and developers have little control over. Apple gives us software that we are free (libre) to buy or not, without outside restrictions on the transactions.

The world is more complex than many people want it to be. I would rather live in a world where the market place is free (libre) hosted by a broker who simply gets paid based upon the transactions that freely occur than where the market place is free (gratis) but controlled by an organization with its own, divergent needs.

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