‘Google+ Is Walking Dead’

Alexia Tsotsis and Matthew Panzarino, reporting for TechCrunch:

What we’re hearing from multiple sources is that Google+ will no longer be considered a product, but a platform — essentially ending its competition with other social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

[...]

We’ve heard Google has not yet decided what to do with the teams not going to Android, and that Google+ is not “officially” dead, more like walking dead: “When you fire the top dog and take away all resources it is what it is.” It will take copious amounts of work for it to un-zombie, if that’s even a possibility.

I say this with no snark whatsoever, but Google+ is so far off my radar that I almost forget it exists.

On Mike Sandlock

Louie Lazar last year wrote a cool profile for the NYT of the oldest-living Brooklyn Dodger:

A switch-hitting catcher who was the Dodgers’ opening day shortstop in 1945, Sandlock is one of the few living athletes who played professional baseball before and during World War II. Only two living former major leaguers — Ace Parker, 100, a Philadelphia Athletics infielder in 1937 and 1938; and Connie Marrero, 101, a Cuban junk-ball pitcher for the Washington Senators from 1950 to 1954 — are older.

[...]

Sandlock played in an era before multimillion dollar salaries, when baseball players were “heroes but regular guys,” said John Thorn, Major League Baseball’s official historian. Many players used public transportation, held off-season jobs and fought in America’s wars. Teams traveled by train and journeyed no farther west than Chicago or St. Louis, where the major league map ended.

My favorite tidbit, though, is this line:

Sandlock said the modern game irks him. “Bunt, hit and run — they don’t do that anymore!” he said with a groan. “Everything is the long ball.”Sandlock added, “I mean, a guy on first and second, jeez, bunt that guy to third. Get that one run if you can!”

(via @TylerKepner)

On ‘The Talk Show’ 79

Great episode this week of John Gruber’s podcast. He’s joined by my pal Mark Gurman of 9to5 Mac to discuss Mark’s reporting background, OS X and iOS 8 rumors, Greg Christie’s retirement, and more.

Mark and I have been Internet pals for a while now, and I greatly admire his work. One of the best episodes of The Talk Show yet. Check it out!

Apple Launches OS X Beta Seed Program

Big, surprising news yesterday from Apple. Describing the new program:

The OS X Beta Seed Program gives users the opportunity to run pre-release software. Test-drive beta software and provide quality and usability feedback that will help make OS X even better.

I’ve been part of the Apple Seed program for a while now, in which customers get access to developer seeds of OS X. (In fact, I was running Mountain Lion betas before its release in 2012.) Previously, the Seed program was invite-only, but now it’s open to all. I wonder if Apple decided to just open Apple Seed to everyone; in any case, I, too, have a feeling that OS X will be getting some serious stage time at WWDC in June.

On Constellation.fm

Since it launched last October, my show has been part of the Fiat Lux network, owned and run by my pal and co-host, Ben Alexander. Accessible has seen much success since we recorded the first episode, and I owe much to Ben for bringing me aboard his ship.

Today, though, sees the launch of Constellation, the “podcasting arm” of Fiat Lux.

The new site is really great: it has responsive design, a easy-to-use audio player, and looks and works great on mobile and on the desktop. It’s been in the works for a while, and Ben and team worked their collective asses off to get the site ready to go.

The best part, to me, about the new site is how information is presented, particularly for show notes. There are detailed synopses of each segment of each episode, along with a description of each and every link that is in the show notes. Segments are marked with time stamps, so finding a particular place in an episode is easy, and everything is shareable as well. It’s this attention to detail and reimagining of the podcast network concept that we think —- Ben and team and the hosts —- sets Constellation apart from the rest, and pushes the medium forward.

As for my part, I’m still working hard on retrofitting the show notes for Accessible’s back catalog to meet the new standards, and have some ambitious plans for the show’s content too. It’s a slow process, but my goal is to have most (if not all) of the archived episodes readied in the new format as soon as possible. Overal, however, I’m extremely proud to be part of this small yet dedicated team, on the ground floor as we strive for Constellation’s full potential.

Be sure to check out the new site —- it’s well worth the look-see. In addition, Sid O’Neill wrote a great piece overviewing Constellation’s mission that’s a must read.

On Republicans and iPhones

Conor Finnegan, reporting for CNN:

In a call for free markets and open platforms, Alexander argued that government should be more like Apple, Inc. – working to give private citizens the means "to create a happier, safer, more prosperous life."

[...]

"Republicans want to enable and empower you. We want to be the iPhone party."

Methinks Senator Alexander knows not what he speaks.

(via @reckless)

‘Where the Hell Are the Android Tablets?’

James Kendrick, writing for ZDNet:

Most days I work all over the downtown Houston area. I move from place to place, paying particular attention to the mobile devices that people use. I see iPads, lots of them, everywhere I go. I see people carrying them in hand while walking down the street. What I rarely see, almost never in fact, are Android tablets.

All I see are iPads too. People buy iPads.

(via The Loop)

‘Apple, Samsung, and Intel’

Matt Richman makes a case that Intel, not Samsung, should fab Apple’s ARM chips:

This arrangement would benefit both companies in a number of ways. Apple would no longer depend upon Samsung, its biggest competitor, to produce the chips at the heart of its most successful products. (This is analogous to America asking China to build its most advanced missiles and hoping the country won’t use any of the top-secret technology it learns about for its own benefit when it’s clearly in China’s best interest to do so.) And because Intel has manufacturing capabilities that other companies don’t, Apple might well be able to create better chips than it would be able to if it were to continue using Samsung as its chip manufacturer. Finally, the company would have peace of mind knowing that its chip producer doesn’t stand to gain anything from a processor shortfall, as Samsung does. Even if the factory were to cost $5 billion — and it wouldn’t — it’d be worth it. Steve Jobs said Apple’s cash hoard is for “big, bold” “strategic opportunities”. This move exemplifies that thinking.

Sounds good to me.

It’s long amused me that Apple relies on Samsung — Samsung — to manufacturer the brains that go into the company’s most important and successful products. Apple’s A-series chips are custom-built by an in-house team, and, as Richman rightly points out, Apple’s taking a big risk in allowing its adversary access to top secret, critical information. Whether or not Apple moves away from Samsung for chip production is unknown, but the idea of Intel as a replacement is a plausible one.

(via John Gruber)

On Daniel Murphy and Paternity Leave

Molly Friedman and Nicole Lyn Pesce, reporting for the NY Daily News:

New father and Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy is the latest parental punching bag after three New York sportscasters mocked him for skipping the team’s first two games to be with his wife and son — but experts and parents say the ballplayer was right to take the paternity leave, help his wife, bond with his kid and then get back to work.

[...]

Father may know best on TV, but on sports talk radio, retribution was swift. On separate WFAN shows, broadcasters Mike Francesa, Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton said Murphy should have sucked it up to support his teammates not his wife.

Such asinine critcism — clearly, baseball should take precedence over the birth of your child.

‘The Right Can’t Admit That Obamacare Is Working’

Ezra Klein, writing for Vox:

Today, the right struggles with Obamacare Derangement Syndrome: the acute inability to see Obamacare as anything but a catastrophic failure that the American people will soon reject. For those suffering from ODS, all bad Obamacare news is good news, and all good Obamacare news is spin. In this world, delays of minor provisions in the law prove that the entire structure is collapsing, while surges of millions of people enrolling in insurance don’t prove anything at all.

ODS has kept Republicans from updating their mental model of how Obamacare is doing. To them, the law’s disastrous rollout proved that it was doomed. The fact that it recovered beyond anyone’s expectations — literally, not a single analyst or policymaker I spoke to in December thought it credible that the exchanges would sign up 7 million by April, much less 7.5 million — hasn’t made much of an impression.

To me, the anti-Obamacare rhetoric reeks of pure partisanship. Conservatives don’t like it because it was a Democrat who introduced the bill. If it were a Republican who had come up with the idea, right-wingers would be lauding that person as the second coming of Christ.

I still cannot fathom why the United States is so steadfastly against nationalized healthcare; it seems like our collective arrogance is the only thing stopping us from joining the rest of the industrialized world on this issue. That said, Obamacare is pretty damn good under the circumstances — certainly better than nothing — and I’m glad it exists. In fact, just yesterday I signed up (finally!) for insurance, and I couldn’t be more happy and relieved.

(via Stephen Hackett)