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Monthly Archives: March 2012

Pain at the Pump

March 13th, 2012 - 3:12 pm

Adjusted for inflation, gas prices are higher than they were in 1979-80, and not far off their 2008 peak.

What Do You Do With a Broken Android?

March 13th, 2012 - 1:01 pm

Android developers have a problem — Android. Here’s why one popular developer has given up:

We could re-engineer how Battleheart accesses its data to work with this new system. This isn’t an impossible task, but it doesn’t make a lot of sense to dedicate resources to it. For one, we’re in the middle of production on another game, and can’t simply drop everything to implement this because Google finally delivered on a year-old promise. And secondly, as I mentioned on Twitter, our Android apps aren’t making money. A few people took offense to the bluntness of this statement, so I’ll clarify in more delicate terms. There’s a big difference between generating revenue, and “making money” – It’s not that they haven’t generated income, but that income is offset by the additional support costs the platform has demanded. Where did your dollar go? We spent about 20% of our total man-hours last year dealing with Android in one way or another – porting, platform specific bug fixes, customer service, etc. I would have preferred spending that time on more content for you, but instead I was thanklessly modifying shaders and texture formats to work on different GPUs, or pushing out patches to support new devices without crashing, or walking someone through how to fix an installation that wouldn’t go through. We spent thousands on various test hardware. These are the unsung necessities of offering our apps on Android. Meanwhile, Android sales amounted to around 5% of our revenue for the year, and continues to shrink. Needless to say, this ratio is unsustainable.

“But, but — open is better!”

Maybe not. As it turns out, developers aren’t the only ones giving up:

Eric Chu has stepped down as manager of Google’s troubled software market for Android, and is being replaced by Jamie Rosenberg from Google Music as the company aligns all of its digital content under the Google Play umbrella.


Last January, Chu admitted to “anxious app developers” that Google was “not happy” about the limited number of apps actually being purchased in Android Market, and outlined plans for turning the beleaguered software store around in 2011.


However, Android app sales have not dramatically turned around since, despite the fact that the majority of smartphones not running Apple’s iOS incorporate some version of Google’s Android platform software, providing the search giant with a large installed base to sell apps.

The question not being asked is, which installed base? Android 4.x is quite good — but fewer than 2% of Android phones are running it. Because of the multitude of hardware platforms Android sits on (not to mention the jiggering phone vendors do to the OS), handset makers have to jump through all kinds of tech hoops before they can roll out new versions to existing users. Incremental iOS uptakes, on the other hand, are nearly universal — and as instant as an iPhone or iPad user wants it to be.

As a result, most Android users are running older versions of the OS. How old? The dominant Android for 2012 is expected to be… 2.3 “Gingerbread,” which was first released in December of 2010. On the iOS side, a majority of users were already using the latest-and-greatest version by Christmastime, just two months after its release.

What’s a developer to do, when the newest APIs can work for only a tiny sliver of a fraction of potential customers?

When it comes to tablets, the situation is even more dire. There’s only one serious Android tablet, and that’s Amazon’s Kindle Fire — which doesn’t even count as an Android tablet. Amazon uses a heavily-altered version of Gingerbread, which can run apps only from Amazon’s own store. (“But open is better!”)

So if you’re a developer, you have a couple choices:

1. Make one version of your app for the latest version of Apple’s iOS, which is running on almost every in-use iPhone. And then make a slightly-altered version for 60 million iPad users, too.

2. Try and figure out what the hell to do with Android, which has almost no additional tablet customers for you to exploit.

If that’s not daunting enough, check out this chart:

To a developer, Android users suck, because they won’t pay for anything. Apparently, they’re plenty happy playing “Angree Bürds” they downloaded for free off some skanky server in Russia or wherever — so why pay five bucks for the real deal?

And ad revenue? There might be pushback against the ad model, as more stories like this start coming out:

MWR Infosecurity found that a significant number of the top 50 “free” apps which generate money for the developer and advertisers by connecting to an American advertising network pass on details about the phone’s user to the network – a move that may breach European data protection laws. With roughly a quarter of the UK’s phone users using Android phones, and with millions of apps downloaded every month – often for free, supported by advertising, rather than paid-for – the gap in security is a source of concern.

Uncertain ad revenue from a fractured user base, versus a near-monolithic user base of people happy to pay a few bucks for a quality app — that’s not much of a choice, is it?

“California tumbles into the sea… “

March 13th, 2012 - 11:13 am

I hate to go all Keanu here, but whoa — just whoa:

State Controller John Chaing continues to uphold the California Great Seal Motto of “Eureka”, i.e., ‘I have found it’. But what Chaing is finding as Controller is that California’s economy as measured by tax revenues is still tanking. Compared to last year, State tax collections for February shriveled by $1.2 billion or 22%. The deterioration is more than double the shocking $535 million reported decline for last month. The cumulative fiscal year decline is $6.1 billion or down 11% versus this period in 2011.

While California Governor Brown promises strong economic growth is just around the corner, Chaing proves that the best way for Sacramento politicians to hurt the economy and thereby generate lower tax revenue, is to have the highest tax rates in the nation.

Brown’s big growth plans center on high-speed rail and green energy.

Sound familiar?

I Hate Hate Hate Hate Hate This Topic

March 13th, 2012 - 10:38 am

But I hosted it anyway, because somebody had to. So…

Trifecta: The Afghanistan massacre — now what?

Been There, Done That

March 13th, 2012 - 9:48 am

The-ever thoughtful Michael Tomasky says the GOP wants to “sink” the US economy.

Dude, that’s like sinking the Titanic.

How Do You Spell Obama? H-U-B-R-I-S

March 13th, 2012 - 8:28 am

From Jim Pethokoukis this morning:

One of my favorite moments from the new book The Escape Artists: How Obama’s Team Fumbled the Recovery:

Energy was a particular obsession of the president-elect’s, and therefore a particular source of frustration. Week after week, [White House economic adviser Christina] Romer would march in with an estimate of the jobs all the investments in clean energy would produce; week after week, Obama would send her back to check the numbers. “I don’t get it,” he’d say. “We make these large-scale investments in infrastructure. What do you mean, there are no jobs?” But the numbers rarely budged.

Hubris, much? Obama is going to get his green jobs, no matter how much reality stands between him and his goal. And why not — it isn’t his money.

And it reminds me of a scene from… now I can’t remember which book on the banking crisis… but I think it was Ron Suskind’s Confidence Men. Anyway, Campaign Summer or Fall of 2008, Obama and his team are putting together their economic plan. It’s pretty much a bull session, but one with enormous consequences, and Obama gets it in his head to simply restructure the health industry to create the nice clean jobs he thinks men will need after the recession is over.

Hey, boom, no problemo, fellas — I got yer back. Medical jobs!

And green jobs! All we have to do is pass some great big laws fundamentally restructuring the country, and spend a bunch of money, and it’ll all work out.


Anyway, here we are five trillion dollars later — and that’s just the new debt, mind you, not all of DC’s spending — and where are the jobs?

Where are they?

They’re still locked up in the President’s giant ego.

Hair of the Dog: Al Sharpton gives lectures on civility, Robert Gibbs is just the cutest thing ever, and John McCain gives up the dirt on what his presidential campaign was really like.

BONUS: The only thing you’ll ever need to say about Eliot Spitzer.

Program Note

March 12th, 2012 - 11:51 am

Taped Hair of the Dog a little while ago, and then the Trifecta shoot got bumped up this afternoon from the usual Tuesday schedule. Tonight, I’ll drive up to the KOA studios in Denver to do two hours with Michael Brown and Kelly Maher. There’s a good chance that by tomorrow morning, I’ll have absolutely nothing left to say. Ever.

My wife thanks me in advance.

The New iPad: Flop

March 12th, 2012 - 10:54 am

That’s what some of the pundits were claiming last week, anyway. Customers, not so much:

If you are hoping to score a new iPad from Apple, you might have to wait. Apple’s website shows March 19 as the earliest ship date for online orders of its popular tablet computer. And there is a limit of two per customer on the number of tablets that can preordered.

The shipping delays affect all models and price levels on preorders, according to the website.
“Customer response to the new iPad has been off the charts and the quantity available for pre-order has been purchased,” Apple said in a statement. “Customers can continue to order online and receive an estimated delivery date.”

Last year, Apple “disappointed” investors by selling not many more than four million iPad 2s in the first quarter of its availability, even though sales were constrained only by supply, and not by demand.

Apple CEO Tim Cook’s particular genius is managing the supply chain. So you can imagine, that when he announced a record-wide rollout of the new iPad, it’s because Apple had plenty of units stockpiled. And it’s a sure thing Apple’s manufacturing partners have their assembly lines expanded and working to max capacity.

Even so, it seems to have taken only a few days to blow through the stockpiles and two or three weeks worth of new ones coming off the lines. That doesn’t include the units Apple will have available at their retail stores — to long lines, undoubtedly. Then, to empty shelves.

This is a monster product launch.

Apologize for What, Dinner at Eight?

March 12th, 2012 - 10:15 am

Choosing a man in the 21st Century: “If you don’t know who Andrew Breitbart is you can’t go out with me.”

Sage advice for women and men.

An Army of One

March 12th, 2012 - 9:44 am

Trifecta: How many workers does it take to form a union in Detroit? Just one.


Talking About the Hard Issues

March 12th, 2012 - 9:16 am

Despite what you read, Republicans aren’t the only reproductive dunces:

COLUMBUS – Before getting a prescription for Viagra or other erectile dysfunction drugs, men would have to see a sex therapist, receive a cardiac stress test and get a notarized affidavit signed by a sexual partner affirming impotency, if state Sen. Nina Turner has her way.

The Cleveland Democrat introduced Senate Bill 307 this week.

Hey, Democrats — get your hands off my…

…well, you know.

Where’d All the Democrats Go?

March 10th, 2012 - 2:14 pm

Matt Taibbi proves himself the douche, we’re giving bits of Alaska back to Russia, and Joel Pollak is afraid of black people — all on another exciting episode of…

The Week in Blogs!

BONUS: The video of Osama bin Laden’s corpse the CIA doesn’t want you to see.

Friday Night Videos

March 9th, 2012 - 9:23 pm
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The older I get, the more I like this song. Bowie, live in 2003, performing “Never Get Old.”

Required Viewing

March 9th, 2012 - 9:17 am
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Consumer Reports got its hands on a Fisker Karma for testing. Pretty, isn’t it?

Too bad it’s a brick:

A $100,000-plus Fisker Automotive luxury car died during Consumer Reports speed testing for reasons that are still unknown, leaving the struggling electric car startup with another blow to its image.

“It is a little disconcerting that you pay that amount of money for a car and it lasts basically 180 miles before going wrong,” David Champion, senior director for the magazine’s automotive test center, told Reuters.

Fisker has benefited from the publicity generated when actor Leonardo DiCaprio was handed the first Karma last summer and pop idol Justin Bieber received one as a gift this month.

The breakdown of the Consumer Reports car is more bad news for a company that already recalled some Karmas. Fisker also has changed its CEO and halted production over the past month as it seeks to renegotiate the terms of a $529 million loan from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Your tax dollars, hard at work on a half-billion dollar brick.

Your Friday Morning Dose of Doom & Gloom

March 9th, 2012 - 7:46 am

So we’re in our third year of recovery — Year Four begins in June — and yet we’re still hitting record monthly deficits. Maybe it has something to do with today’s jobs report. Officially, the unemployment rate is 8.3%. Gallup says 9.1%. Jim Pethokoukis tweeted earlier that the rate is 10.8%, if the labor participation rate were the same as it was when President Obama was sworn in.

The Feds claim underemployment decreased slightly to a miserable 14.9%. Gallup figures it’s more than four points higher, at 19.1%. BLS says, I’m sure, “Who are you going to believe — me or your own lying eyes?”

Here are some figures from below the fold:

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 227,000 in February. Private-sector employment
grew by 233,000.

This is good, since the public sector shed a few thousand jobs. Fewer locusts helps with the crops.

Professional and business services added 82,000 jobs in February. Just over half of
the increase occurred in temporary help services (+45,000).

Whoops. That’s not helping the U-6.

In February, employment in leisure and hospitality increased by 44,000, with nearly all
of the increase in food services and drinking places (+41,000).

Drinks all around! Good.

Manufacturing employment rose by 31,000 in February. All of the increase occurred in
durable goods manufacturing, with job gains in fabricated metal products (+11,000),
transportation equipment (+8,000), machinery (+5,000), and furniture and related
products (+3,000).

Interesting, because durable goods orders were down sharply in January. Is there a disconnect here? A glitch in the numbers? Dunno.

Overall? 227,000 net jobs is OK — for the end of a robust recovery. We never had one of those, which is why underemployment remains stuck somewhere between 15-19%. There are still millions fewer Employed Americans than there were when the economy finally bottomed out in June, 2009. And construction jobs actually declined by 14,000 last month, and retailers shook off 35,000 employees, indicating we’re still pretty deep in the hole.

TSA: You’ve Been Punk’d

March 8th, 2012 - 1:47 pm

A billion dollars for naked scanners, and what do you get? This:

According to Corbett, who was the first person to sue the TSA when it introduced the scanners in early 2010, people can bypass the devices by simply fixing items they want to hide to their sides. The scanners bounce electromagnetic waves off of a subject to create an image that shows metallic items in black against the human body, which appears in bright white on the TSA’s equipment. The background of the scans is also black, however, so objects held in clothing on a person’s side will not appear over the dark background in the TSA’s scans.

Further down, the BGR story reports Corbett saying that

Rafi Sela, who ran security for Ben Gurion airport in Israel, which is known for being one of the most secure airports in the world, was quoted saying he could ‘overcome the body scanners with enough explosives to take down a Boeing 747,’ and Ben Gurion therefore refused to buy scanners.

Finally, here’s Corbett’s video. The TSA denies everything, of course.

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Yeah, We Went There

March 8th, 2012 - 12:01 pm

Trifecta: Fluke you, Democrats!

I Am Spartacus

March 7th, 2012 - 2:35 pm

Trifecta: Breitbart is here.

Realtime with Tim Cook

March 7th, 2012 - 10:47 am

If you want realtime coverage of the iPad HD, Engadget usually has the best liveblog of these things.

Other possible stars: AppleTV 3 and a new Mac Pro. And maybe a reduced-price, reduced-memory iPad 2. Although the more I think about it, the less sense an 8GB tablet makes. 8GB isn’t enough storage for a good smartphone — and tablets are more memory-hungry than phones.

Something Worth Celebrating

March 7th, 2012 - 8:41 am

Jeff Dunetz says that today, “Stephen Green the VodkaPundit becomes Jewish for a day.” But, really, Purim is when observant Jews all become VodkaPundit.

Heh. You’re welcome.

New delegate count from CNN: Romney 404; Santorum 165; Gingrich 106 and Paul 66.

So, after the biggest primary day of them all, it looks like:

• Romney – 404

• Not-Romney – 337

The superdelegates will, of course, side largely with the Establishment favorite.

That’s as clear a case of “game over” as can be made.

You Can Touch This

March 7th, 2012 - 7:23 am

Today’s big iPad 3 (or is it “iPad HD?”) rumor is that it will feature a touch screen you can really feel:

A series of last-minute rumors and speculation are suggesting that the iPad 3 might include haptic technology that would give on-screen objects texture. The rumors have linked Finnish company Senseg with Apple and have been fueled by Apple’s media event invitations carrying the tagline “We have something you really have to see. And touch.”

While speculation about Senseg and Apple has been floating under the radar for some time and a rationale for it was posted in our forums last week, The Guardian was the first major source to put forward the specific claim yesterday, noting that conversations with Senseg executives earlier this year left The Guardian with the impression that the company was indeed working with Apple.

All my usual go-to tech sites are reporting the rumor this morning, just hours ahead of today’s 10AM Pacific Apple event. Impressive, if true. I’d call it a game-changer, but the year-old iPad 2 is still so far ahead of the competition, there’s not much game to change.

Game Over, Man — Game Over

March 6th, 2012 - 7:32 pm

I hate to call it for Mitt, but the GOP needs some serious triage.

SC GOP to Fornicators: F*** Off!

March 6th, 2012 - 3:20 pm


Before you can join the Laurens County Republican Party in South Carolina and get on the primary ballot, they ask that you pledge that you’ve never ever had pre-marital sex — and that you will never ever look at porn again.

Last Tuesday, the LCGOP unanimously adopted a resolution that would ask all candidates who want to get on the primary ballot to sign a pledge with 28 principles, because the party “does not want to associate with candidates who do not act and speak in a manner that is consistent with the SC Republican Party Platform.”

As is their right. But it’s their privilege to be idiots.

Introducing the #DJBreitbart Project

March 6th, 2012 - 1:56 pm

What I’ll miss most about Andrew Breitbart is his DJ days on Twitter. The man had awesome and obscure taste in Alt and New Wave, and he loved sharing his favorites. He used — natch — the #DJBreitbart hashtag.

In tribute, Evan Pokroy is putting together the #DJBreitbart Project. 24 hours, 24 bloggers, ten songs per hour with commentary — this weekend. Evan twisted my arm until I sad yes, and I’ve got the 12NOON Easter/9AM Pacific hour. Big names are involved, too, including Kurt Loder, Michelle Malkin, Dana Loesch, Kurt Schlichter — so you ought to see some great variety.

I’m building my playlist already. Details to follow.

The End is Near

March 6th, 2012 - 1:17 pm

Trifecta: Is it time to circle the wagons around Romney, and show Newt and Rick the door?

Super Chat Day

March 6th, 2012 - 10:40 am

Over at sister-site, The Tatler, Bryan Preston is hosting a Super Tuesday live chat with news updates. I’ll be contributing a thing or three later in the day.

Rick Santorum: The College Years

March 6th, 2012 - 9:01 am

This is why I destroyed every picture I could find of myself from my teens and twenties.