Saturday, 30 January 2010

Prediction: Apple’s Next 2 iPads: iPad iChat & iPad One

When the first rumors of the iPad began circulating – I immediately dismissed them on the grounds it wasn’t clear to me how a tablet fit into Apple’s deliberately simple product line.

I’m still not convinced it does.

It could be argued there’s enough space between the iPod Touch and the Mac Book for another product – but it could be easily argued the $400 – $900 is actually a black hole for consumer electronics. Too costly to be considered disposable, too cheap to be elite.

Enter the Apple iPad.

Aimed squarely – if awkwardly – at that price point.

Awkwardly – because the iPad is, essentially a stretched iPod Touch. Or more accurately – a stretched iPhone without the phone part. With a higher price point of both. (There’s an interesting argument in thinking of the iPad as Apple TV version 3 – but that’s for a different post.)

In addition to awkwardly straddling a space between Apple’s product lines – the iPad’s currently announced feature set feels simultaneously too little and too much. The combination of the open Web and constrained App Store at the software level and free WiFi and subscription-fee AT&T at the hardware level continues to feel like a conflict of intention.

So I predict Apple will quickly extend the iPad family by this time in 2011:

  • iPad iChat: webcam1, microphone, no AT&T – just WiFi, $699. This would finally fulfill The Future’s promise of portable video phones. Only WiFi because AT&T wouldn’t want to risk their 3G network stability. This would also be the Kitchen computing device – hang it on the wall, talk with extended family while making dinner, or voice control the playback of a NetFlix streaming movie, etc.
  • iPad One: only App Store, no web browser, no WiFi – just AT&T, $399. Think of this as Simple Finder as a distinct device. The complexity and unknowns of the ‘raw’ internet completely removed.


“All this argument over whether the iPad is too simple — if anything it’s probably still too complex.” – John Gruber, Daring Fireball

1. According to CrunchGear, the current iPad already thinks it has a webcam anyway.

Friday, 29 January 2010

Introducing Garrick-by-the-Month

Sometimes you could use a small boost on a web project. Maybe the
small boost is help refining a use experience design. Maybe
it’s quickly building out the first version of a new web app.
Maybe it’s simply having access to a trusted advisor on a regular basis.

These projects don’t require a full-time user experience consultant
or a full-time developer – though they benefit from the expertise
of both.

To help you move those projects forward – I’m pleased to announce
my consulting services are now available as a monthly subscription.

Each of the 4 monthly subscription tiers are designed to give you
and your project that small boost – with the appropriate degree
of engagement.

TIER 1: START UP – $250/month
I’ll be another pair of eyes for your team – reviewing your
strategy, user experience and help you identify the next steps for
your project and help you maintain forward progress.
6 month minimum.

TIER 2: GUIDE RAIL – $1000/month
If you have an existing web application – I’ll help you add new
functionality or optimize existing functionality. For new products
– I’ll help you architect a product strategy and interview customers
to help identify the core product offerings.
3 month minimum.

TIER 3: BUILD OUT – $2500/month
I’ll lead your user experience design and we’ll build some early
prototypes with core functionality.
3 month minimum.

TIER 4: LAUNCH READY – $5000/month
I’ll lead your user experience or development effort to build the
core functionality and we’ll launch a beta.
3 month minimum.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Installing ImageMagick & RMagick on OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard

This marks hour 4 of setting up ImageMagick & RMagick on my MacBook Pro – without MacPorts (MacPorts and I had a falling out years ago).

In an effort to save all of us that time, here’s how I got ImageMagick and RMagick working on my MacBook Pro running 10.6.2 Snow Leopard

  1. Download and unpack masterkain’s install script from github:
  2. open up a terminal, cd into the install script’s directory.
  3. run ./ .
  4. Let it run. Note – you will need to provide your admin password a couple times.
  5. Give the kids a bath.
  6. Download and unpack RMagick (I couldn’t get the gem to work)
  7. cd into the resulting RMagick directory and run ruby setup.rb config --disable-htmldoc
  8. then, provided no errors are thrown run sudo ruby setup.rb install

ImageMagick didn’t correctly guess the location of the Ghostscript fonts and threw the following error in my log when it ran

Magick::ImageMagickError (unable to read font `/usr/local/lib/ImageMagick-6.5.8/config//usr/local/share/ghostscript/n019003l.pfb' @ annotate.c/RenderFreetype/1043: `(null)'):

To fix this, navigate to ImageMagick’s config directory in the terminal, cd /usr/local/lib/ImageMagick-6.5.8/config then open up configure.xml in your favorite text editor. Then look for --with-gs-font-dir= and set it to the correct path (in my case I just appended /fonts to the path).

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Ongoing Homebrew Beer Idea List

Here’s my ongoing list of homebrew beer ideas that seem like interesting explorations. If you know of existing beers or recipes that explore some of the ideas below – leave a comment. Thanks.

  • A beer inspired by Too Much Joy/Wonderlick/The Its
  • A beer inspired by Mike Watt/Minutemen/fIREHOSE

Saturday, 16 January 2010

What Were You Doing?

“I shut down a whole bunch of experimental Twitter apps. I feel a phase ending. I don’t see Twitter as my platform.” – Dave Winer

In my work to bring Cullect back from hiatus, I’ve been doing a full code review and asking myself what should stay, what should be fixed, and what should go.

A number of the services Cullect originally integrated with no longer exist (Ma.gnol.ia for example). Cullect had fairly deep Twitter integration (at the time) but that seems extraordinarily less useful or valuable today.

Importance is difficult to discern with a 5-minute half-life.

Adding to that – I’ve got another project with fairly significant Twitter integration – and I’m just not terribly interested in building it out. Nor am I seeing the demand for it.

Friday, 15 January 2010

First Crack #125. Open Font Licensing with David Crossland

David Crossland (Cantarell font family, Open Font Library) and I dive into font licensing – specifically open font licensing – and the cultural benefits of open licensing.

Links and topics we mention:

. [37 min]

Friday, 8 January 2010

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

On-going List of Unpublished Books I’ll Happily Pre-Order

I only have one right now.

“4. Alex Tabarrok should write a book reconciling his Randian youth with his current views. The book would begin by convincing social scientists that Ayn Rand’s views are at least plausible. Then he would explain which arguments he’s rejected, which ones he still believes, and why. Working title (there’s got to be a better one): Yes, I Still Like Ayn Rand.”

I’ll buy that right now. In fact – Tabarrok – if you’d like I’ll even host the blog for you to work through the material.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Minimum Viable Product as 5-Words or Fewer

8 years ago or so, I was helping an client build out a new business unit. Their first step – add a checkbox to their ecommerce checkout process. Their question to me: “Where do we put the checkbox?”

The entirety of this new business and the aspirations of the entire team – rolled up into a single checkbox with a 5-word label.

I’m still taken aback by the simplicity of the effort.

Minimum. Viable. Product.

Fast forward to a month ago, where Dan and I are discussing social networks and message triage over lunch.

To test of my assumptions on the ideas we explored, I added single line of text to my email signature.

Just 3 words actually.

The results have been good enough to warrant some additional work.

Maybe I’ll add 2 more words.