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    Saturday
    May192012

    Unprofessional

    Earlier today, we learned that John Gruber has decided to leave the 5by5 podcasting network to join the Mule Radio Syndicate. For any fans of Gruber and Dan, this came as quite a surprise. I think I speak for a lot of fans of The Talk Show when I say that I'll really miss the interplay between them. I wish Gruber the best on his new show, though. Of course, I'll continue to read Daring Fireball, and I'll also continue to listen to a bunch of shows on 5by5, especially Hypercritical, Amplified, Build and Analyze, The Critical Path, and Back to Work.

    I'm not going to talk about whether or not Gruber made a bad decision switching to Mule Radio. Who knows? Maybe his show will become better than ever. Also, I'm certainly not going to argue that Gruber had no right to switch networks. Although Gruber and Dan were (are?) friends and had created an incredibly popular show together, every man has to make the choices that he thinks are best for himself and his family. However, I think both of them have handled this situation absolutely terribly, and I'm disappointed by the lack of respect shown to the fans of the show—many of whom have expressed dismay at the dissolution of their partnership.

    Gruber and Dan are both professionals, but in this they acted almost childishly. We didn't hear anything from Gruber about his move to Mule Radio until his post on Daring Fireball. We didn't hear—and haven't yet heard—anything from Dan about the cancellation of The Talk Show on 5by5. I can understand wanting to the keep the move a secret, but, after the secret was out, both of the guys should have said something publicly about what happened. I don't mean that they should have told everyone everything that led to the split, but, as professionals, they should have amicably acknowledged the split. A simple "I really enjoyed my time on 5by5, but I've decided to try something new" from Gruber and a simple "We'll miss John, but everyone here at 5by5 wishes him the best" from Dan would have sufficed. That would have been the correct (and professional) way to handle this situation. Petulant silence is most definitely the wrong way to deal with it.

    What bothers me most about this whole situation is that Gruber and Dan's behavior (as well as some not-safe-for-work remarks by others) shows a profound lack of respect for the fans of the show. Both of the guys have worked hard to create a show that people care about. They were incredibly successful at this. A lot of people tuned in every week to listen to The Talk Show and, by listening so often, have come to feel like they "know" Gruber and Dan (in the same way that some of the 5by5 hosts have said that they felt like they "knew" Steve Jobs because they followed his life and work so closely). These listeners are the ones who—by tuning in every week, visiting the sponsors, buying T-shirts, and purchasing an iPhone app—made the show possible and profitable. They deserve better than the silence they've received thus far from Gruber and Dan.

    Tuesday
    May152012

    Strange, random text messages

    Do you like mongrel?
    Friday
    May112012

    Altruism in China

    My friend, Colin, has been absolutely killing it recently on his blog. If you're at all interested in anything having to do with China, check it out.

    One post that especially resonated with me is entitled "Don't Be a Stranger," which details the dichotomy between the way Chinese treat their family, friends, and guests and the way they treat strangers.

    Colin isn't the first person to point out this contradiction. In fact, it has almost become cliché to say that China is a country full of contradictions. It's a country where people are, for the most part, incredibly friendly and polite. Yet, it's also a country where restaurant owners—with a smile on their faces—will serve their customers food prepared with gutter oil. Sometimes, I worry that Chinese people have lost their sense of being a single, united society—one that rises or falls together. Increasingly, it seems like more and more Chinese people are adopting the mindset of "if you're not a member of my family or one of my close friends, then I don't care about you."

    Tuesday
    May082012

    Don't let this happen to you

    My good friend Colin makes a list of deaths to avoid. The newest addition to the list is especially rough.

    Monday
    May072012

    Nice review of Sunstroke

    I really appreciated reading this review of Sunstroke by Michael at Initial Charge. Reading positive reviews first thing in the morning is a great way to start the day.

    Sunday
    May062012

    The "no Internet" podcast

    The newest episode of the Vergecast was entertaining, as always. However, the way Josh and Nilay had to awkwardly accommodate Paul Miller's decision to forgo the Internet for a full year was painful to listen to. Just one more example of how senseless it is for a technology blogger to leave the Internet for a year.

    Saturday
    May052012

    Apple is doomed in China

    Nathan T. Washburn is wrong. As is the case with most Western "analysts" (in this case, "analyst" stands for "assistant professor") commenting on China, he betrays his ignorance about China fairly quickly.

    To start with, more than half of the 30 million iPhone users in China have unlocked their phones (a hint that something isn't right) and are using them on an unauthorized network (China Mobile) that until recently limited them to 2G data speeds.

    First of all, China Mobile still "limits" users to 2G data speeds because its data network uses TD-SCDMA—a 3G format that the iPhone doesn't support. As for the unlocking issue, many of the iPhones in China were purchased before Apple started selling them officially within the mainland. Of those phones, the cheapest were American iPhones, which, until recently, were locked to AT&T. Therefore, in order to use those phone in China at all, they first had to be unlocked. The high incidence of unlocked, gray-market iPhones in China shows the overwhelming demand for them here. It is not, as he implies, a sign of Apple's impending doom in this market.

    To be fair, I'm nitpicking. However, these factual errors impinge the man's credibility, which is important to think about when considering his overall point.

    With its recent explosion of sales in China, Apple looks like the dominant force in the global smart-phone market. But that dominance could be very short-lived.

    Mr. Washburn makes this assertion based on an "impromptu survey" he took of 70 midlevel Chinese executives. This research led him to conclude that:

    Apparently, a lot if not most of the new iPhone users in China are women, and many women I spoke to said they had acquired their phones as gifts from husbands or rich boyfriends. For a gift that exudes exclusivity, functionality is secondary; slow downloads, sparse content, and kludgy fixes may not be important. Maybe on the next quarterly call, Tim Cook will tell analysts that Apple is now focused on selling expensive fashion accessories.

    He's right. A lot of Chinese women have iPhones. Do you know what, though? Tons of Chinese men also have iPhones. Since Mr. Washburn is making broad assertions based on anecdotes, let me share a few of my own. Nearly every guy in my gym has an iPhone 4/4S. Nearly every one of the male small business owners I know who can afford an iPhone has an iPhone. My Chinese friends who have iPhones love them. They use them all the time. They use them far more than they used their feature phones. Contrary to what he says, pretty much every major Chinese website (Youku, Tudou, PPTV, Sina, QQ, etc.) has good, frequently-updated apps on the App Store. To say that the iPhone's "functionality and user experience quickly dissipate when it leaves its natural environment" is absolute nonsense.

    I agree with one thing he says. Chinese language input in iOS is by no means perfect. Apple has made great strides since iPhone OS 3.0, however. Today, writing Chinese on the iPhone isn't too painful, but it's certainly not ideal. Since iOS' Chinese input method lacks autocorrection, a user has to be very accurate when typing. Mistyping is easy to do on the iPhone's small keyboard, and, since every mistyped letter must be corrected manually, writing in Chinese on the iPhone can be quite a time-consuming process.

    Contrary to what Mr. Washburn says, I see a lot of encouraging signs for Apple here in China. One of the most positive signs is that the Apple brand is widely admired. I've never heard any Chinese people speak negatively of Apple. Another positive sign is that iPhones and iPads are beginning to make their way into the hands of the average consumer. Young office workers and even college students are starting to buy iPhones. Most analysts miss this point and just focus on the purchases of iPhones by urban elites. When I bought my first iPhone in China (the iPhone 3G), it cost nearly $1000. My most recent iPhone (the iPhone 4S) cost only $700. During the same time period, my poorest Chinese friends' salaries increased from about $200 a month to $500 a month (this increase is due to both their increasing salaries and the decreasing value of the US Dollar compared to the Renminbi). An iPhone is still a luxury item, but it has become an affordable luxury item—one that many, many Chinese people desperately want to have.

    Saturday
    May052012

    RubyMotion

    1. Dispatch::Queue.concurrent.async do
    2. begin
    3. response = get "http://reddit.com/#{endpoint}"
    4. data = response["data"]["children"].map {|i| RedditPost.new i["data"] }
    5. Dispatch::Queue.main.sync { @posts = data; view.reloadData }
    6. rescueException => msg
    7. puts "Loading Failed: #{msg}"
    8. end

    …is all you need to see to be intrigued by RubyMotion. Read about it on Ars Technica.

    Tuesday
    May012012

    Shrink-wrapped fish

    There are many differences between China and America. There are also many similarities. You can decide which one this is.

    In America, a teacher will sometimes receive a small gift from a student. The stereotypical example is an apple.

    In China, a teacher will sometimes receive a small gift from a student. Here is one example:

    Shrink wrapped fish

    Tuesday
    May012012

    Goals

    I've been thinking about starting a blog for a long, long time. I never seemed to get around to it. With the release of Sunstroke (https://goneeast.com/sunstroke), I finally feel like I have enough time to blog.

    This is probably a bad idea, but this blog will encompass three different topics—technology, programming, and China. Sometimes, these topics will be distinct from one another. At other times, I'll write about their intersection.

    Let's see how this turns out.

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