The new iTunes Connect redesign really is quite a nice improvement. Good work, Apple.

→ 2015/10/02 2:02 pm

Core Int 200 with Marco

Last night we published our 200th episode of Core Intuition. To mark the milestone, Daniel and I welcomed special guest Marco Arment. We talked about the goals behind Overcast, his thoughts leading up to version 2.0, the podcast industry, and supporting our products, with a closing discussion about the new iPhones and proper use of 3D Touch.

Thanks everyone for your support of the show. I hope you enjoy this one.

We recorded episode 200 of Core Intuition yesterday with a special guest. Should be posted later today after I finish editing it.

→ 2015/10/01 11:07 am

The Lightbox

In 1999, I started a link weblog to collect news about animated films. I updated it for a few years, until there were plenty of other good news sources from industry writers more qualified than I was to run such a site. I was just a fan.

The site was a homegrown MySQL database and set of PHP scripts. Somewhere along the way, I lost the archive, and never noticed that the site had broken until today. To make matters more difficult, I had blocked it in my robots.txt, so the Internet Archive copy (which existed, at least in parts) wouldn’t load cleanly.

I took some time today to piece it back together as a new static HTML file and (partial) RSS feed. I’ve preserved the original design and HTML tags. Fun rediscoveries in the HTML include spacer GIFs, <blockquote> to indent the entire page, and RSS 0.91.

I called it The Lightbox. It was just a linkblog. But now 16 years later, I’ve enjoyed skimming through the old posts.

iAd hypocrisy

I was looking for a different old post in my archives, and stumbled on this one: “I hope iAd fails”, which I wrote 5 years ago this month. One of my points was that we had a healthy marketplace in the App Store for normal people to actually pay for apps:

“Do we really want to give that marketplace up? Because once it’s gone, and iAds are the norm, it will be an uphill battle to get anyone to pay for anything.”

Fast-forward 5 years to today, and well, we’re on that hill right now. Except there’s a landslide and I don’t know who’s going to get buried.

On the Upgrade podcast, Jason Snell and Myke Hurley talked about whether iOS 9’s Apple News was relevant: what problems is it solving, if any, and — because it will feature unblockable ads powered by iAd — how does it fit into the larger issue of blocking web ads and closed platforms? The discussion starts about an hour in.

(If you’ve used Apple News already, you may not have even seen any ads yet. But Apple’s page on Apple News Format makes it clear that they will be encouraging iAd for publishers: “Monetization is made simple with iAd”.)

I stand by the opinion that iAd is a mistaken strategy. Apple, if you’re serious about this fight with Google, go all-in on the fight and abandon iAd. It seems hypocritical to attack web ads while rolling out your own news platform with ads that can’t be blocked.

Sitting out on the front porch with the kids for the lunar eclipse. Great view of the moon.

→ 2015/09/27 9:19 pm

Added a 3D Touch quick action to my in-progress iOS app. Almost makes me want to actually order an iPhone 6S.

→ 2015/09/26 10:26 am

I probably shouldn’t have started installing watchOS 2.0 right before needing to leave the house. Taking… for… ev… er.

→ 2015/09/24 7:38 pm

Instagram hits 400 million users

From Graham Spencer at MacStories, commenting on the latest Instagram numbers and that the service is only 5 years old:

“But I was really surprised to remember that Facebook acquired Instagram in April 2012, when Instagram had ‘only’ 40 million users. If I recall correctly, a lot of people thought Facebook was crazy to buy Instagram for $1 billion. Well, I think Facebook got the last laugh on that one, and as Forbes points out, Instagram now has more monthly active users than Twitter (316 million).”

Impressive growth, but it fits. Instagram has crafted a user experience that encourages thoughtful posts and never feels overwhelming in the way a Twitter or Facebook timeline can be. If Instagram was a paid product, I bet Instagram’s churn rate would be the lowest of any of the big social networks. They did it with a small team and weren’t afraid to grow slowly.

Complete mirror of this blog

I’ve been blogging here for 13 years. If you take any random post from that first year, the majority of the links to other web sites are broken. The default outcome for any site that isn’t maintained — including the one you’re reading right now — is for it to vanish. Permanence doesn’t exist on the web.

We can solve this, but it will take time. For now I think mirroring our writing is a great solution, to guard against domain names expiring and other inevitable failures. But where to mirror to?

Only 2 companies keep coming to mind: and GitHub. I believe both will last for decades, maybe even 100 years, and both embrace the open web in a way that most other centralized web sites do not.

Even though I self-host this weblog on WordPress, I’ve chosen to mirror to GitHub because of their focus on simple, static publishing via GitHub Pages. It has the best chance of running for a long time without intervention.

I exported all of with the httrack command-line tool and checked it into GitHub, with a CNAME for It works perfectly. I still need to automate this process so that it updates regularly, but I’m very happy to finally have a complete mirror for the first time.

Steve Jobs and ET

I watched two documentaries last week. The first was “Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine”, which I somewhat regret paying $7 to rent. It had its moments, but also seemed to become more negative and dramatic the longer it went on. I guess we should all hope to be so lucky and famous to have people try to bring out the best and worst of us.

The second documentary I watched was “Atari: Game Over”, which was free on Netflix. It was great, interspersing a history of the rise and fall of Atari with the effort to dig up the ET game cartridges supposedly buried in New Mexico. Highly recommended.

Peace, indies, and the App Store

You’ve probably heard that Marco Arment has pulled his content-blocking app Peace from the App Store. The app was extremely successful:

“As I write this, Peace has been the number one paid app in the U.S. App Store for about 36 hours. It’s a massive achievement that should be the highlight of my professional career. If Overcast even broke the top 100, I’d be over the moon.”

I’ve seen some comments asking why he didn’t think to do this sooner, before he even shipped the app. But we are just now starting to understand the impact of ad blockers in iOS 9. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that the web is different than it was a few days ago, and so our choices — and Marco’s — are different too. As I mentioned yesterday, content blockers are one facet of an overall shake-up for the web.

Brent Simmons writes that only indies can do what Marco did. Marco must have left a lot of money on the table with this decision. It will always look like the right call to me when someone goes with their gut feeling and not with profit.

Wrap-up thoughts on the TV web

I’m going to mostly let John Gruber have the last word on the Apple TV vs. the web debate, because I could write about this every day and my readers would run away before I run out of material. I’m glad John addressed the Mac vs. the command-line argument, though, because it didn’t seem quite right to me either. He says:

“The difference is that the command-line-less Mac was intended to replace command-line-based computers. The GUI relegated the command-line interface to a permanent tiny niche. Apple TV and Apple Watch aren’t like that at all — they’re not meant to replace any device you already use to access the open web.”

This is the most hopeful part of the Apple ecosystem as it relates to the web. Apple’s other platforms really do have a great web experience. Remember when web sites were faster and worked better on a PC than a Mac? If anything, the opposite is true now.

One of the themes I keep hearing is that a “web browser” on a TV will make for a poor user experience, so don’t bother. I tried to correct that misunderstanding in this post; it’s not about standalone Safari, it’s about web technologies that could be used in native apps. But ignoring that, I think everyone too easily forgets what the mobile web was like before the iPhone.

Steve Jobs, from the original iPhone introduction:

“We wanted the best web browser in the world on our phone. Not a baby web browser or a WAP browser — a real browser. […] It is the first fully usable HTML browser on a phone.”

That was a breakthrough. I believe the same evolution is possible on tvOS — to include parts of the open web and do it with a great user experience. You can start by weaving it together inside native apps. (I filed a bug with Apple yesterday with a suggestion. It was marked as a duplicate.)

The web is at a fascinating, pivotal time right now. It has been shaken up by centralized publishing, closed platforms, and now content blockers. Users no longer value the concepts that made Web 2.0 special. The web can still have a strong future, but we have to try something, and we have to try it on every platform we can.

Expecting two packages today: the new Apple TV, and my new iPhone 5S (32 GB, space gray).

→ 2015/09/18 8:43 am

2015, the year that web server logs mattered again. Can’t trust the numbers from Google Analytics and related tracking services anymore.

→ 2015/09/17 4:32 pm

I put Ghostery on my Mac. Only problem so far is I must have been a little aggressive about enabling all the options, because it was even blocking Gravatar.

→ 2015/09/17 11:19 am