MacPaint and 416 pixels

Hardware and software working together in tandem. That’s what makes Apple special.

Why MacPaint’s Original Canvas was 416 Pixels Wide

Of course one can critique it now and point out well what happens when you add color. And when you have a resizable window? But remember, this was the age of the Mac 128k, running on a 68k at 8Mhz. The ROM itself was just 64k and all of the core graphics (Quickdraw) was squeezed into 24k. This was an algorithm born of necessity. Without this optimization the original MacPaint would have been sluggish in many of its operations (the ScrnToBuf and the BufToScreen are foundational to MacPaint).

iA Writer Pro controversy

The award winning iOS writing app Writer has recently been in the spotlight for good and bad reasons. The good news is that Information Architects (iA), the company behind Writer, has released Writer Pro, which touts some useful features.

iA’s Writer Pro maximizes the minimalist text editor

Syntax Control is a far more powerful version of the Focus mode in the original Writer, which faded out all sentences except the one that you were working on. Writer Pro lets you do the same thing for different types of words — the idea is to make it easier for writers to edit themselves by searching for repeated terms, unnecessary adverbs, and so on. “Syntax Control was planned as an original feature of iA Writer,” says Reichenstein, “but since it is a feature for editing, not drafting, it never really sat right in the basic concept of iA Writer which was, in one word: just write.”

The bad news? iA seemed to try and preempt other folks from implementing similar features by indicating that they’re willing to protect those features via legal battles. Such a stance is underestandable for new features and technology, but the issue is that some of the new features we’re talking about are intrinsically tied to a new NSLinguisticTagger Class that Apple has included in iOS for developers to harness. As a result, it’s hardly surprising that it has sparked off a healthy debate as to whether they’re being proactive, or just being jerks about it.

John Gruber of Daring Fireball and Markdown fame tweeted a pretty witty response to the whole deal.

The Internet is becoming increasingly vocal about the whole deal. Marco Arment has chimed in, and many folks are also blatantly telling others not to support iA.

iA obviously hasn’t been blind to the whole situation, as the company has apparently backtracked slightly by tweeting that it has dropped its patents pending. The obvious guess would be that this change of heart is related to the suddenly backlash from the Internet, but at least it shows that iA is paying attention.

Love them or hate them. I do like a previous interview with Oliver Reichenstein, the founder and director of Information Architects, in which he talks about the design and concept of the app.

The principles of good design have not changed. Dieter Rams said: “Good design is as little design as possible. Less, but better – because it concentrates on the essential aspects, and the products are not burdened with non-essentials.” This applies to all disciplines of design, including web design. Web design looks like graphic design because it appears visually flat, but it is actually closer to electro-mechanical engineering than any form of drawing. As a web designer you need to consider what people do with their hands and heads. You need to design your products in a way that requires minimal input, and delivers maximal output.

BlackBerry loves Jakarta, codenames a phone after it

Tech in Asia writes about BlackBerry using the code name “Jakarta” for its new phone targeting the Indonesian market.

What better way to woo customers from a country than by code-naming a phone after its capital?

The phone better be a hit or BlackBerry will continue to see its market share slip away.

About that Apple holiday ad

Ken Segall writes about Apple’s holiday advertisement.

Most of these people mistake their personal opinion, instinct, values and/or taste for actual marketing talent. There are tens of millions of people who will stop in their tracks at this commercial and wipe a tear from their eye. As a result, they will feel slightly more attached to Apple, which is the marketing purpose of this spot.

Couldn’t agree more. It follows along the lines of the Life on iPad ad campaign to show how Apple devices are enriching lives.

Japanese Apple Stores likely to kick off lucky bag sales on Jan 2

Apple Insider reports on Apple’s annual “lucky bag” sale in Japan.

As it has done in years past, Apple Stores in Japan will likely start 2014 with sales of Fukubukuro, roughly translated to “lucky bags,” in celebration of the Japanese new year. Apple retail locations across the country are scheduled to open at 8 a.m. local time on Jan. 2, some two hours earlier than usual, strongly hinting at an as yet unannounced sales event, reports Mac Otakara.

So what is a Fukubukuro?

In practice, retailers participating in the custom bundle various goods in a bag, which is then sold for a preset price. The contents of each bag can vary, but customers never know exactly what is inside until the package is opened after purchase. If tallied up separately, the products are usually worth more than the package sales price, thereby offering consumers a discount, albeit sight-unseen.

Snapchat introduces a big change with a small tweak

TechCrunch reports on Snapchat’s new feature that allows replays of its disappearing messages.

My least favorite part of Snapchat is mistakenly opening a video Snap when I can’t hear it, like in a noisy public place or when my sound is off. Snapchat tried to address that today with an experimental new Replay feature that lets you rewatch one old Snap per day. But by fixing that problem it created a much bigger one. It killed off some of its ephemerality.

Is Snapchat trying to reposition itself? I would think so. It added its Stories feature back in October to allow users to share posts that disappear after 24 hours. This latest addition is a big bet by Snapchat. Either it will turn out to be a success or it will diminish the appeal of Snapchat, just like how Facebook’s Timeline and News Feed changes caused huge uproars with its users. However, users are more likely to be less invested in Snapchat than Facebook, making it easier to ditch the service.

Google updates Chrome Web Store policy to keep Chrome extensions simple

Google announced an update to the Chrome Web Store policy to only allow single-purpose extensions.

Existing extensions that has multiple functions might have to be split into different extensions.

To keep with our principle of simplicity, we decided to take a different approach. Chrome extensions would be simple and single-purpose in nature, and each would only be allowed a single visible UI “surface” in Chrome, a single browser action or page action button. Toolbars wouldn’t be supported by design, and users would have more control over which features they added to their browser.

This initiative is to combat the clutter that builds up when users install many extensions, leading to a cluttered Chrome toolbar.

I loved browser add-ons back when I was on FireFox. However, those made the browser so bloated that when I switched to Chrome, I made a conscious effort to be selective when it comes to installing extensions.

Now, I use Safari with only three extensions. Pocket, Evernote and Buffer. This is the maximum in my new minimalist approach to browser add-ons.

Facebook Year in Review showcases the top moments from your friends

Mashable reports on Facebook’s Year in Review for your friends.

On top of the Year in Review feature that highlights your top 30 moments, Facebook has introduced the Year in Review for your friends.

Facebook uses a different algorithm than the one that surfaces News Feed content. The Year in Review is made up exclusively of “life events and popular posts,” according to a spokesperson. The “popular posts” are determined based on engagement like comments and Likes.

Another new feature that will soon become a Facebook tradition.

BlackBerry’s $4.4 billion net loss

Mashable reports on BlackBerry’s $4.4 billion net loss in this quarter.

BlackBerry’s revenue in the third quarter fell by more than 50% from the same period a year earlier. The company’s net loss for the quarter topped $4 billion due to restructuring costs and unsold devices. Yes, billion with a “b.” And it barely sold more than 1 million BB10 devices, proving once more that its make-or-break smartphone product line is broken.

BlackBerry has decided to fight smaller battles by focussing on markets where they are strong in, such as in Indonesia. I know many Indonesians who love their BlackBerry devices but if the company does no prove to be an attractive alternative to the iPhones or Android devices, it will be a futile move.

Similarities between the new Mac pro and the Power Mac G4 Cube

When the Mac Pro was unveiled, the first thing I thought about was the Power Mac G4 Cube, which in my personal opinion is one of the most beautiful machines ever designed. I think the Museum of Modern Art agrees with me.

Stephen Hackett has done a brief but good comparison of the technologies and concepts from the Power Mac G4 Cube that were brought over and implemented in the new Mac pro.

On the new Mac Pro and the Power Mac G4 Cube

If I have any gripes, it would be that I prefer a cube to a cylinder, but I do agree that the Mac Pro’s design is superior.