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Microsoft Surface with Windows 8

By Tim Butler | Posted at 20:01

So, Microsoft introduces a “full PC” and “tablet” combo that, in many ways, seems to be what the first Surface should have been and officially suggests it will get only about 60% of the battery life of a MacBook Air that has a larger display, includes a real keyboard and offers comparable processors, RAM and ports. Interesting.

The Windows 8 Disaster Rolls On

By Tim Butler | Posted at 16:15

So, apparently Windows 8 has advertisements within some of its core apps, a rather unprecedented move and one I am surprised there hasn't already been a commotion about. Even if you don't care about ads per se, there is a bigger implication than having screen space within parts of Windows 8 dedicated to generating revenue for Microsoft:

We can't talk about the inclusion of ads and not mention the “T” word: tracking. I haven't been able to find any information on whether or not Microsoft's tracking the ads you are clicking on, but if that is indeed the case, we'll find out soon enough. Unlike Windows 7 and earlier, your entire Windows 8 account can be tied to an e-mail account, so it would be rather easy for Microsoft to track things on a personal level - much like how Google does with its search engine, e-mail and so forth. This alone gives good reason to be concerned.

Can you imagine the outcry if the iPhone came out of the box with ads in its Weather or Stocks apps?

HT: Gruber

Tooting My Own Horn

By Tim Butler | Posted at 21:46

Just for the record, I get a lot of predictions wrong, but here's one I got right (at least long term) back before the iPad launched:

But, let's offer a wildcard alternative: fully wireless sync with your current Mac ecosystem. Perhaps this would be extended to some iPhones and iPod touches too — say just the 3GS. I expect Apple to play up sync in general in the future. As iTunes goes, so goes Apple's overall strategy. The introduction of “Home Sync” quietly last year is something I believe will be the harbinger of bigger plans, with Apple returning to sync in a big way this year after pretty much letting its previous strides rust and be forgotten (think of the big push on sync services in Mac OS X Tiger back in 2005 and those features integration with the service then known as .Mac and now christened MobileMe).

Clearly, iCloud is for Apple this decade what iTunes was for Apple last decade.

Outlawed By the Cloud

By Tim Butler | Posted at 14:58

This was the first notice I received from Google:

Hello,

After reviewing our records, we've determined that your AdSense account
poses a risk of generating invalid activity. Because we have a
responsibility to protect our AdWords advertisers from inflated costs due
to invalid activity, we've found it necessary to disable your AdSense
account. Your outstanding balance and Google's share of the revenue will
both be fully refunded back to the affected advertisers.

Please understand that we need to take such steps to maintain the
effectiveness of Google's advertising system, particularly the
advertiser-publisher relationship. We understand the inconvenience that
this may cause you, and we thank you in advance for your understanding and
cooperation.

If you have any questions or concerns about the actions we've taken, how
you can appeal this decision, or invalid activity in general, you can find
more information by visiting
http://www.google.com/adsense/support/bin/answer.py?answer=57153.

Sincerely,

The Google AdSense Team

I followed the instructions and appealed, but received only an automated reply:

Hello,

We're currently in the process of reviewing your account with the
additional information that you've provided. Please understand, however,
that there is no guarantee that your account will be reinstated into
AdSense. As a reminder, Google does reserve the right to disable an
account at any time, as stated in the AdSense Terms and Conditions
(http://www.google.com/adsense/terms).

Thank you for your patience.

Sincerely,

The Google AdSense Team

When I had heard nothing after several weeks, I wrote back by e-mail:

Hi,
I just wanted to follow up on this. I sincerely believe we have always remained in perfect compliance with Google's TOS. It appears with the disabling of our account, we've also lost our Custom Search Engines. I'm looking into alternatives to replace them, but would love to keep using Google's services if at all possible. I've always been a big fan of Google, so it is disheartening having to look elsewhere.

Thanks,
Tim

They finally answered a few weeks after that:

Hello,

Thank you for your appeal. We appreciate the additional information you've
provided, as well as your continued interest in the AdSense program.
However, after thoroughly re-reviewing your account data and taking your
feedback into consideration, our specialists have confirmed that we're
unable to reinstate your AdSense account.

As a reminder, if you have any questions or concerns about your account,
the actions we've taken, or invalid activity in general, you can find more
information by visiting
http://www.google.com/adsense/support/bin/answer.py?answer=57153.

Sincerely,

The Google AdSense Team

I wrote back again hoping to be able to talk to someone who could give a real reason for what was happening. This letter went unanswered:

Hello,
I am very disappointed Google did not follow up on my offer to provide whatever evidence was necessary to restore my account. I did not violate the TOS and don't understand why I am being accused of doing so. As a long time AdSense publisher and fan of all things Google, this is very disheartening and (I believe) unfair. I would really appreciate it if I could talk to an actual human representative about this.

Best,
Tim

I even contacted Google's press relations department in hopes of better understanding the company's policies. But, as it turned out, they had no interest in clarifying them. The best I received was a message from a PR agent who insisted on not being attributed:

Hi Tim —

Sorry for the delay. I can't provide any official comment or provide specific guidance on your questions, but I can offer you some information on background (not for attribution):

We can't comment on specific publishers, but we can say, generally, that we base any decision to disable an AdSense account on the specifics of that account, not on unverified charges from a third-party. Notices of alleged copyright infringement from rights holders are handled differently than typical violations (see [LINK] for more information), but again, we do not remove publishers from the network solely based on an unverified accusation.

Once an AdSense account has been disabled, a publisher cannot use AdSense to monetize content or any other digital assets (such as search results and mobile applications). However, publishers can still use some other Google products and platforms, including implementing a Custom Search Engine on their sites.

Best,
[Name withheld]

In the end I simply had to give up because Google would give me nothing to work with. Shouldn't reasonable companies at least allow their clients the opportunity to prove innocence?

Fonts

By Tim Butler | Posted at 23:42

An interesting study:

Results showed male subjects had an easier time recognizing Frutiger and thus spent less time glancing at the display and more time focused on the road ahead. Average glance time with Frutiger was 10.6 percent lower for men, and while that may sound insignificant, researchers say it works out to about 50 feet when traveling at typical highway speeds.

And people pretend that fonts don't matter.

Jeff Bezos is the New Steve Jobs

By Tim Butler | Posted at 23:22

Gruber writes:

Om Malik argues that Bezos is the inheritor to Steve Jobs’s crown. I agree. Not because Bezos has copied anything Jobs did, but because he has not. What he’s done that is Jobs-like is doggedly pursue, year after year, iteration after iteration, a vision unlike that of any other company — all in the name of making customers happy.

The jury is still out on whether the new Kindle Fires can be the first real competitor to the iPad. But, Amazon already has the only alternative vision to Apple's that is compelling on its own right. The expansion of Prime makes it easier and more enjoyable simply to go to Amazon for everything. If Amazon can get the Kindle Fire software to be mature enough to stand up to iOS, I wouldn't want to have to compete with Amazon.

HP Introduces the New iMac

By Tim Butler | Posted at 14:45

A brilliant headline for an on spot article. To be sure, it isn't an exact clone, but to the average consumer, it would be easy enough to confuse the new HP Spectre One with an iMac — it has many design cues that originated with the Apple iMac. Most blatant of all are the keyboard and trackpad, which are inexcusable knockoffs of the Apple Keyboard and Magic Trackpad. I'm sure many of the same people who defend Samsung for its most dubious acts of iOS cloning will defend HP too, but I don't really see how anyone wins when some of the biggest technology companies spend more time trying to create fake Apple products than they do innovating.

What if HP had kept producing its innovative WebOS product line instead?

HT: Gruber

Navsop

By Tim Butler | Posted at 0:04

An intriguing developing technology:

Unlike GPS, Navsop doesn't need satellites once it's got going, so it doesn't rely on a signal coming from the sky. That means it can be used indoors and even underground, both places that GPS can't go because the signals are too weak, having journeyed all the way from space. By contrast, radio, TV and mobile signals are much stronger.

Most cell phones already use EGPS, which works in a similar way, but this sounds like a significant expansion of that concept.

Hybrid Devices

By Tim Butler | Posted at 0:16

Bill Gates “speaks on”: Microsoft Surface and the “other” tablets:

“I actually believe you can have the best of both worlds. You can have a rich ecosystem of manufacturers and you can have a few signature devices that show off, you know, wow, what's the difference between a tablet and a PC.

As nice as the idea is in theory, so long as Metro and Classic Windows are almost like two different systems that can run parallel on the same system, I don't think Microsoft has found the “best” of any world. Whether having a traditional Windows “experience” next to the tablet interface is something people will want will be telling when Windows 8 comes out.

Impact

By Tim Butler | Posted at 23:46

It is hard to believe that the iPhone landed five years ago today. I remember heading out to observe the launch day festivities and trying an iPhone for the first time — it felt like using something out of Star Trek. However, as nifty as it was even at a demo kiosk, the iPhone was significantly different from anything before it, and so it was hard to figure out precisely how useful it would actually prove to be. I wrote about my buyer's indecision after I succumbed to the temptation to buy one.

While very little about the iPhone was “innovative” when the first generation model's features were placed in isolation, putting them all together into a very thin, capacitive touch screen-only device was strikingly innovative. Often times, these are the best sorts of innovations: ones that take a pile of good ideas that are sitting scattered around and putting them together into something new that has a cohesive vision. Before the iPhone, smartphones weren't terribly easy to use and presented users with a very strong step backwards in usability from the mouse driven interface of a desktop computer. With the iPhone, suddenly common tasks such as web browsing were as easy, if not easier, to do on a phone than on the computer.

That's why the iPhone made such a big impact. It is also why these stock growth statistics look as they do.

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