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Friday, June 04, 2010

For Apple, Web Standards Equals Safari Only

Apple's campaign to push HTML5 as the alternative to plug ins has taken a very odd turn. They've added a page to to demo HTML5 with this particular twist:

You need to use Safari to access the demos.

Now, I'm browsing in the latest version of Chrome - which also uses WebKit for rendering and JavaScript. I'm sure there is a fork in the road from the Chromium project but they should be extremely close when it comes to features and standards.

And Apple won't even let me use that.

Instead of championing the supposedly future thinking open development that Jobs insists is superior to the "old ways" - the page highlights exactly what is wrong with the stance Apple has taken. First, net users have never really cared if a feature set is blessed by some committee - they want things to work in the browser of their choice. Second, Apple's concern for the use of these standards is directed in one direction: users of Safari ... and in reality, users of Mobile Safari.

Together and you can see that this is actually the same strategy Apple took with the cross-compilation issue. They're not concerned with creating content consumable across the net - if they did then they wouldn't block this demo down to Safari and conversely, developers would not need to worry about an iPad version of their website. No, they are concerned with content which falls under the umbrella of Apple software.

Game Play: 3D Dot Game Heroes

3D Dot Game Heroes is essentially a love song to any gamer old enough to have played nearly any 2D Zelda game ever made. As a Zelda clone, it is such a spot on implementation of the game mechanics which worked so well for these games that it is truly impressive.

Somewhat because of this - this will be a pretty short review. If you loved these games and have a PS3, you certainly owe it to yourself to pick up a copy. However, even as brilliant of homage as the game is - an in no small part due to the incredible sense of humor that the game manages, starting from the very premise of the art style being that the king declares nobody cares about 2D games anymore - it is also burdened with the fact that it is a spot on implementation of the game mechanics, with very little twist applied. So fans who love this genre will be all too familiar with what's going on.

So in other words, it's pretty brilliant while at the same time not the deepest gameplay you've ever met. For the price point, under $40, it is probably about right. I would put it in the safely, though not highly, recommend category.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Even A Lost Writer Can't Really Explain Lost

I swear, almost *this* close to never talking about the damn show again - but this was too much to pass up. Apparently someone stating that they worked on the show as a writer posted to a forum and sure enough, it has been making the rounds.

And for people like me still trying to figure out just how far Lost got from actually explaining anything, it is wildly unsatisfying as an explanation.

Here's a big chunk:

Thus began Jacob's plan to bring candidates to the Island to do the one thing he couldn't do. Kill the MIB. He had a huge list of candidates that spanned generations. Yet everytime he brought people there, the MIB corrupted them and caused them to kill one another. That was until Richard came along and helped Jacob understand that if he didn't take a more active role, then his plan would never work.

Enter Dharma -- which I'm not sure why John is having such a hard time grasping. Dharma, like the countless scores of people that were brought to the island before, were brought there by Jacob as part of his plan to kill the MIB. However, the MIB was aware of this plan and interferred by "corrupting" Ben. Making Ben believe he was doing the work of Jacob when in reality he was doing the work of the MIB. This carried over into all of Ben's "off-island" activities. He was the leader. He spoke for Jacob as far as they were concerned. So the "Others" killed Dharma and later were actively trying to kill Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Hurley and all the candidates because that's what the MIB wanted. And what he couldn't do for himself.

Dharma was originally brought in to be good. But was turned bad by MIB's corruption and eventually destroyed by his pawn Ben. Now, was Dharma only brought there to help Jack and the other Canditates on their overall quest to kill Smokey? Or did Jacob have another list of Canidates from the Dharma group that we were never aware of? That's a question that is purposley not answered because whatever answer the writers came up with would be worse than the one you come up with for yourself. Still ... Dharma's purpose is not "pointless" or even vague. Hell, it's pretty blantent.
Someone From Bad Robot's Take

I almost believe this is someone from Bad Robot because that's the kind of "of course it makes sense!" bullshit I expect it would take to sleep at night after writing for Lost. Let's quickly tick off some of the things wrong with all of that:

  • If Jacob has really been trying for centuries to kill MIB and this is how things turn out ... then Jacob is officially the only character on the show who is a bigger loser than Jack. The worst part of Richard's flashback was the revelation that these two have probably thought of nothing better than having others run at them with knives for decades.

  • So for the explanation of why DHARMA is even on the island to be "Jacob brought them there to kill MIB" ... well, that's the most over engineered failure in the history of attempted murders. Time Travel! Polar Bears! But, in the end all DHARMA and The Others figure out about their target is that it doesn't like sound waves.

  • So Ben was tricked by MIB and Richard was ... wait, no - Richard had a direct line to Jacob. That's clearly laid out in Richard's flashback. And we have no reason to think that MIB could pose as Jacob, or any explanation as to why Jacob couldn't pose as himself. AND The Others were clearly not actively trying to kill the Lostaways as they could have offed the whole bunch of them several times during the first couple of season. Tom Friendly could have easily killed Jack, Sawyer and Locke personally in one scene during Season Two.

    Gah. And even more annoying is how much this dovetails back into the first two seasons when Lost was like, you know, good. Now, this might be just another rabid Lost fan, or maybe the guy who got coffee or something. I'd rather believe that, because if this was someone actually involved in writing the show then I've been closely following the events of a show from writers who can't really grasp cause and effect.

    However, if anyone thought that the producers were to leave the finale as final middle finger to Lost fans, be warned: they apparently saved over ten minutes of material showing Ben and Hurly as protectors of the island.

    Course, in order to see it - you have to buy the DVD.

    Somehow, I don't see that happening. Anyway, I have a rough of a post on final thoughts on the show. I may or may not post it. Starting to feel like the guy still at the scene of a crime when even the cops have gone home.

  • Apple to Pull "Widgety" Apps

    Apple can't even be nice to Apple fans anymore:

    In late April, an unnamed Australian — one of a small team of cross-platform developers known as Shifty Jelly — made a point of telling the world that the Apple App Store is a mighty wonderful place. "I love the app store and the amazing hassle-free distribution it provides and I only really have a few niggling concerns with how Apple has dealt with us, as developers," he wrote in a blog post entitled "Sorry Media, But Apple Isn’t Evil."

    But little more than a month later, this outspoken Aussie has accused himself of talking nonsense after the Jobsian cult said it was booting his company's photo-centric iPad application, My Frame, from the App Store. "A month ago I wrote a blog post about how Apple were not actually evil, because I was getting sick of all the media hype and bashing that was going on," he now says. "Little did I know that a month later that blog post would come back and smack me in the face."
    -- Steve Jobs beheads iPad apps for acting like desktops

    This really is the evil part of the App Store. This app violates no terms of service, appears to be pretty well done, and was getting popular. So why would Apple ban it? The common wisdom, and about the only thing that makes any sense, is that Apple wants to reserve the idea of a widget based desktop to ... Apple. So this is not an app that can do any harm to you, or your phone, or anything - but it may do harm to Apple at some point in the future.

    So gone it goes. This isn't just developer unfriendly, this is outright hostile. You might have a good idea, and a good execution - but if it gets too close to competing with Apple, you've just wasted all of your developer money.

    Apparently the developer emailed Steve Jobs to see WTF. Jobs responded with:

    We are not allowing apps that create their own desktops. Sorry.

    Sent from my iPad

    Anyone else find the "Sent from my iPad" particularly annoying in that setting?