g r o t t o 1 1

Peeve Farm
Breeding peeves for show, not just to keep as pets
Brian Tiemann
Silicon ValleyNew York-based purveyor of a confusing mixture of Apple punditry, political bile, and sports car rentals.

btman at grotto11 dot com

Read These Too:

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James Lileks
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As the Apple Turns
Entropicana
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Capitalist Lion
Red Letter Day
Eric S. Raymond
Tal G in Jerusalem
Aziz Poonawalla
Corsair the Rational Pirate
.clue
Ravishing Light
Rosenblog
Cartago Delenda Est



Cars without compromise.





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Thursday, April 8, 2010
08:01 - Talkin' 'bout a resolution

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There's been some buzz of late that one of the biggest faults of the iPad (and, indeed, of the iPhone) is the relatively low screen resolution compared to the competition. Gruber:

The only complaint I have about the display is that the pixel resolution isnít all that dense. The iPadís 1024 ◊ 768 display has a resolution of 132 pixels per inch. The iPhoneís 480 ◊ 320 display has a resolution of 163 pixels per inch. The difference isnít huge, but itís definitely noticeable. Type looks crisper on the iPhone than the iPad, and type rendering falls far short of even newspaper-caliber resolution, let alone glossy-magazine caliber.

(Those of you who doubt that the pixels-per-inch resolution isnít high enough, just wait until you see the type rendering on this summerís new iPhones.)

And later:

(My dream iPad Pro: double the displayís pixel resolution and include a gigabyte or two of RAM.)

What I don't get is how Apple's supposed to change the screen resolution of these devices. To my way of thinking it's the only thing about them they really can't change.

The iPad may not be "just a big iPod touch", but it is exactly that from a development perspective. A few specialty feature differences aside, the biggest distinction between developing an iPhone app and developing an iPad app is the size of the simulator. An iPad app, in its most simplified conceptual form, is just an iPhone app with more pixels to play with.

And therein lies the problem. Developers know by now what "iPhone" means in terms of screen size. They know what "iPad" means. They can create an iPhone app, and it'll run pixel-perfect on every iPhone back to the first generation, because they all have 480 by 320 pixels. But what happens when Apple brings out a new iPhone at 768x512 or whatever? Do developers have to make apps that will only run on the new high-res devices? Do they have to make variants for low-res iPhone, high-res iPhone, and whatever models of iPad we imagine might come out in the future? Wouldn't that pretty much torpedo the whole basis of the iPhone's appeal, both for developers and for end usersóthat they all can be more or less guaranteed to work the same way?

That's not even the biggest problem. What happens to existing iPhone apps on a high-res display? Do they get pixel-doubled like on the iPad, interpolating their screen elements to a blurrier larger size to fit the new screen? Maybe text rendering could get sharper, but all the bitmapped UI elementsóthose have to be scaled up in order to look and work right, and then they're not only not taking advantage of the sharper screen, they're actually going to look worse than on a low-res one.

The iPhone's chrome and UI widget set is designed around a specific screen resolution and pixel size. Even more so than in a desktop OS, the physical size of the widgets is of paramount importance. They're based specifically on the size of your finger. Unless they're resolution-independent, vector-based elements, which I highly doubt, they're going to get much smaller on a higher-res screen, which means tapping will be that much more difficult. And what if they are resolution-independent? Or if Apple brings out a whole new custom widget set for the iPhone HD (or whatever), which I'm sure is what they'd prefer? All the third-party apps with their own custom widget graphics would suffer; not to mention all the web apps built around iPhone-workalike libraries like iUI, which expects the traditional 480x320 screen size in order to work properly at all.

What's the point, anyway? Fitting more app icons on the home screen at a time? Is that really a problem? Because app icons are of a fixed bitmap size as well, and I'm far from convinced that making them smaller (to map smoothly onto the new screen resolution) or scaling them up (making them blurrier in order to fit into the old grid and tap size expectations) is anything but a step backwards no matter which you choose.

The fact that the iPad's resolution is so much lower than the iPhone's lends credence to the idea that the widgets are standard bitmaps and aren't being groomed for a resolution-independence revolution. The iPad is designed to sit further from your eye than the iPhone is, and taps are going to be a little vaguer, so the sensitivity zone is naturally a little larger. Without changing the size of the widgets in the library, if you just make the resolution a little chunkier, there's your ideal tap size right there. No need to worry about making it super-razor-sharp and using up that much more RAM and display horsepower. But naturally that also means the resolution they came out of the gate with is the one that the developers will consider synonymous with "iPad" from now on, for better or worse.

I think Apple's really kind of high and dry with this one. They've cast their lot in with the iPhone and iPad screen sizes we all know and love; and most pundits I've read seem to be of the mind that they really don't need to be any sharper, and that competitors' devices with sharper screens are solving a problem nobody cares about, at the expense of higher hardware requirements. Sure, text might look sharper on a Nexus One or a JooJoo Pad, but is anyone really complaining about text looking fuzzy or blocky on an iPhone or iPad? Or is this one of those "Yeah, sure, your computer might work and stuff, but at least I can compile my own kernel!" kinds of arguments?

UPDATE: I guess we'll find out soon enough.

UPDATE: Multitasking, app folders, and a sexed-up Mail so far. Taking each criticism and shooting it one by one in the head... which may or may not be advisable, depending on whether the criticisms are actually well founded.

UPDATE: My, my. Not a word about resolution.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010
10:40 - And here I'd thought they were out of fairy tales
http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/sc-mov-0323-sleeping-beauty-hahn-2010032

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If you can't keep a movie formula going forever, hey, at least you can always do a Making Of.

For a period of 10 years, from the mid-1980s to the mid-'90s, Disney's sleepy animation division underwent a complete overhaul to become a financial and pop cultural powerhouse for the first time in decades ó a phenomenon Don Hahn, a longtime producer of animated films at Disney, recently described as a "perfect storm of people and circumstance that changed the face of animation forever."

Full of behind-the-scenes nuts-and-bolts information, Hahn's new documentary "Waking Sleeping Beauty" (which he directed) examines the era that begat "The Little Mermaid," "Beauty and the Beast" and "The Lion King."

"I've been trying to get this movie made for 10 years," the film's producer, Peter Schneider, said over lunch when he and Hahn were in Chicago last month. "We wanted to capture some of the stories from this time before we all end up in the motion picture home and can't remember anything."

Sounds like it could be fun. Naturally, of course, it'll have to end on a down note, since after all it's talking about a Golden Age that ended, and we'll get to see all the gory details of why it did so, playing out in wrenching inevitability. Still, as Hahn says, "10 years is a long winning streak for any studio". I guess you kinda have to take what you can get.

Monday, April 5, 2010
08:21 - Little Bobby Tables Rides Again

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Hey, who knows, it could work...



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