software

Flash sucks. Install ClickToFlash on your Mac to disable flash in Safari. And enhance your browsing experience

Yes, I’m a huge flash hater. Flash has no place on the iPhone, I’m happy that it’s not on the iPad, and I really hope that it’s phased out of the desktop in the next few years. Flash eats resources, slows computers, drains batteries, and causes my fans to spin!

So I was thrilled when I learned about ClickToFlash.
  • It disables flash throughout your browser
  • Pages load much faster, and it blocks out many ads
  • You can click on any flash element to activate it instantly
  • Youtube videos are replaced by quicktime players with higher quality mp4 videos
My browsing experienced is much better. I’m a huge fan. So why are people so obsessed with flash? Flash is commonly found in three different forms:

1. Actually website design. This is horrible, and being phased out. You should AJAX your site, use CSS3, HTML5, and other techniques to make your sites smooth, and fast. Flash is no longer necessary. If I go to a site implemented in flash, it feels like going to a site with Java on it. Remember those days? Load times, can’t copy text, no bookmarking. No thanks.

2. Video. Yes, most online video is played in flash. But I am very confident that this will not be the case in a year or two, especially given HTML5 has built in support for video playback. Most online video (including Posterous video) is encoded in h.264 mp4 files. These don’t need flash to play. These play just fine on the desktop and on mobile platforms in quicktime.

3. Games. You still need flash for web based games. But I don’t play games so I don’t really understand that user base. Seems like it’s a pretty small minority, and they can install the plugin if they need it.

Flash on the web is like the floppy disk. In 1998, the floppy’s days were numbered. But it took a company like Apple to drive a nail into the coffin. Only Apple has the balls to stop supporting old standards and let the industry move forward. “Sorry guys, we aren’t supporting flash. It stinks.”

Pastedgraphic

This is what Youtube looks like with ClickToFlash. Click here to download it.

Why do people think software should be free?

When I was at Apple yesterday, I was describing Posterous and our upcoming iPhone app to many people. Everyone asked me, “How much does Posterous cost?” It’s free. I think people at Apple don’t have an expectation for free software like people on the web do. At a traditional software company, you build something, then you charge for it.

 But people have a hard time paying for software these days. Google has definitely led the way in providing great free alternatives to desktop software, that have become the de facto tools for most users. That’s great, but makes it harder for new companies to charge money. Users aren’t willing to pull out their credit cards on the web (unless it’s at Amazon.com).

 And I never hear about people purchasing traditional desktop software, other than creatives who need Photoshop, Final Cut Pro, or other professional tools. This is partially because most machines these days come with great software (iLife, iWork).

 The exception to all this is the iPhone. The distribution model is magnificent. Every iPhone owner has an iTunes account, and every iTunes account has a credit card on file. Most iPhone owners probably already had one for buying music at the iTunes music store. So now these same people have an iPhone and can buy $0.99 applications with one click. Zero friction, it just appears on your iTunes statement. Even my mom does it. (This, btw, is the same on the Apple TV and it’s brilliant)

 I wonder how many people are buying software for the first time ever, now that Apple has made it so easy.

SuperDuper! The way to backup your Mac

Forget about Time Machine, use Super Duper!

I backup religiously (every week or so) and just use command line rsync. But i’m going to switch to this guy. It’s so simple.

Like Time Machine, you just point it at an external hard drive and you’re done. It backs up. Unlike Time Machine, Super Duper creates a fully bootable drive. So if your hard drive crashes, just plug in the external drive, boot from it and it’s like nothing happened! Use the external drive like your main drive. All your programs and files are there.

At your leisure get a new hard drive (hey there’s no rush, you have zero downtime). Just tell SuperDuper to copy from the external drive to the new drive. You’re instantly back in business, including all the stuff you did while you used the external as your main.

So simple, so well thought out. Backups are a must! Don’t be without one.

Use APXML in your iPhone app to parse XML

For some strange reason, the iPhone SDK left out NSXMLDocument. This forces you to use NSXMLParser to process an XML document manually. It’s all event driven, and not the friendliest class to use.

A few weeks ago I was put in touch with Arash Payan after I purchased his great iPhone application, Jabeh. I actually worked with Arash many years ago when he was an intern on Final Cut Pro. (Though I feel terrible about that because we made him work on some pretty terrible stuff).

While developing Jabeh, Arash created APXML, a great library to read and write XML. It simply does what you need it to do. I would have been forced into many hours of mundane coding without it.

Overall I’ve been really impressed by the entire process of writing an iPhone application. I thought the networking part of it would be hard, but it’s actually been the easiest piece:

1. In Ruby on Rails, use ActiveRecord to do the Object-relational mapping and pull data out of your database
2. Use Rails RXML templates to write XML with this data incredibly fast
3. Use APXML on the iPhone end to parse it out into objects you can use

You get a bunch of data on the phone coming from the internet, and the you can design the interface and views to your heart’s content. Since developing an iPhone app focuses on the views, you get a beautiful application to show off your stuff.

Great developer tools + a great developer community = super fast development :). Thanks, Arash.

Posterous.com is NOT in beta

Garry and I have been in a lot of meetings recently talking about Posterous. Most of the time, the people we are talking to have used the product and know what we’re working on. Sometimes they haven’t. And a couple of those people asked us if we are “in beta.”

Fuck no. “Beta” is just an excuse to release buggy software and not have to take responsibility for it. Posterous.com is NOT in beta. We write the highest quality code we can, and if shit breaks, we take responsibility and fix it.

While I do think there are certain reasons to do beta releases of software, I don’t believe in mass distribution of software in “beta” quality. I really hope we never have to do that for Posterous, or anything else I work on.