BusyCal

Thanks to BusyMac for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote BusyCal, their new alternative to iCal. On their web site, they say “Think of it as iCal Pro”, and I know that’s a bold statement, but that’s exactly what it is. It does nearly everything iCal does, does it better, and adds so much more. The biggest feature is sharing calendars — both on the local network and across the Internet. BusyCal contains all the features of BusySync, which I’ve raved about for years.

BusyCal also offers: a superior event-editing interface, recurring to-dos, a list view, and it syncs with Google Calendar and the iPhone. I consider BusyCal a must-have utility.

Through 1 December 2009, DF readers can save 20 percent off BusyCal with coupon code “DARINGFIREBALL”.

Fighting Fantasy Gamebook Flowcharts

Per yesterday’s link regarding the Fighting Fantasy series of gamebooks, and my desire to see their decision trees mapped out as info-graphics, DF reader Neil E. Hobbs kindly pointed me to this collection of SVG flowcharts. Excellent.

(Note: I couldn’t get the SVG images to render properly using Safari, but they seem to render fine in Firefox and Opera. They’re enormous. For those of you using browsers where they don’t render, I’ve exported the map for the first book, The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, as a GIF file here.)

NASA Mission Finds Water on Moon

Kenneth Chang, reporting for the NYT:

The satellite, known as Lcross (pronounced L-cross), slammed into a crater near the Moon’s south pole a month ago. The impact carved out a hole 60 to 100 feet wide and kicked up at least 24 gallons of water.

“We got more than just whiff,” said Peter H. Schultz, a professor of geological sciences at Brown University and a co-investigator of the mission. “We practically tasted it with the impact.”

Do Music Artists Fare Better in a World With Illegal File-Sharing?

Fascinating data assembled by Times Online, indicating that music artists are making more money in the post-file-sharing era than before, because of a big jump in live performance revenue. The only group that is making less revenue are the record labels.

(Terrible choices on the chart colors, though. Almost impossible to discern the different shades of blue.)

★ The Airfoil Speakers Touch Situation

Regarding today’s aforelinked tale from Rogue Amoeba regarding the four-month-long process to get a minor bug-fix update to Airfoil Speakers Touch published on the App Store, several readers who insist upon defending Apple in this matter have pointed me to [Jeff LaMarche’s response]. LaMarche writes:

I’m going to risk the ire of the maddening crowd once more, but I think somebody needs to come to Apple’s defense this time. I love a good mob scene as much as the next guy, and I keep my pitchfork nice and sharp just in case the need should arise. But… the picture that Rogue Amoeba has painted in their farewell post doesn’t look quite so black and white to me. Certainly, Apple could have handled many things about the situation better, but so could have Rogue Amoeba. Let’s strip it down to the basics.

  1. Airfoil Speakers Touch included pictures of Apple products;
  2. These were images owned by Apple;
  3. The iPhone SDK Agreement specifically prohibits the use of images, icons, and logos owned by Apple in iPhone applications;
  4. The first rejection clearly and unambiguously stated why the app was being rejected and how it could be fixed.

There is much that is wrong with LaMarche’s synopsis.

Point 1 is simply wrong; the Airfoil Speakers Touch iPhone app does not contain any of these images. It contains no pictures of Apple computers. It contains no icons of Apple applications. It displays these images after they are sent across the network by Airfoil for Mac. Airfoil for Mac reads these images using public official Mac OS X APIs. I.e. Airfoil Speakers Touch can only show a picture of the Mac it is connected to because the image is sent from the Mac it is connected to.

Point 3, I disagree with. I’ve just re-read the entire iPhone SDK Agreement (again), and I find no clause that prohibits what Airfoil Speakers Touch was doing. Here’s section 3.2 (d), which is perhaps what LaMarche is referring to (bold emphasis added):1

(d) To the best of Your knowledge and belief, Your Application and Licensed Application Information do not and will not violate, misappropriate, or infringe any Apple or third party copyrights, trademarks, rights of privacy and publicity, trade secrets, patents, or other proprietary or legal rights (e.g. musical composition or performance rights, video rights, photography or image rights, logo rights, third party data rights, etc. for content and materials that may be included in Your Application);

One can argue that Airfoil Speakers Touch is somehow “violating”, “misappropriating”, or “infringing” on Apple trademarks here. I would strongly disagree, and argue instead that Airfoil Speakers Touch was using these images very much appropriately. And note that the SDK agreement does not state you cannot “use” Apple trademarks.

There’s also section 2.6:

This Agreement does not grant You any rights to use any trademarks, logos or service marks belonging to Apple, including but not limited to the iPhone or iPod word marks. If You make reference to any Apple products or technology or use Apple’s trademarks, You agree to comply with the published guidelines at http://www.apple.com/legal/trademark/guidelinesfor3rdparties.html, as modified by Apple from time to time.

This clearly suggests that iPhone apps can make use of Apple trademarks, if they comply with the terms of Apple’s guidelines. I’ve read that document, too, and see no clause therein which would suggest that what Airfoil Speakers Touch was doing was in violation of the guidelines.

In his write-up regarding the situation, Rogue Amoeba’s Paul Kafasis includes this bit from their App Store rejection notice:

Apple Logo and Apple-owned Graphic Symbols:

You may not use the Apple Logo or any other Apple-owned graphic symbol, logo, or icon on or in connection with web sites, products, packaging, manuals, promotional/advertising materials, or for any other purpose except pursuant to an express written trademark license from Apple, such as a reseller agreement.

That’s less ambiguous. However, note that this language is not contained within the SDK agreement itself. The only way Rogue Amoeba got this language was by designing, building, and submitting the application that did it. (And this gets to LaMarche’s fourth point, wherein he claims the notice was “unambiguous”. It was not. It did not state where Rogue Amoeba had violated this rule. Was it the Mac icons? The app icons? Both? Rogue Amoeba was left to guess — and, when they asked for clarification, left to wait.)

Is Apple within their rights to reject this app for this reason? Sure. The bottom line is that they can reject apps for whatever reasons they want — that’s the rule that matters here. But was Rogue Amoeba foolish for designing their application this way? No. There’s nothing in the SDK agreement that they’ve violated.

It’s just good design. In UI design, just as in cinema, it is almost always better to show rather than tell. How else can you show which computer the Airfoil iPhone client is connected to? Apple certainly agrees with the design — showing an icon of the machine is exactly how their own Remote app solves the same UI problem. Obviously, the iPhone Remote app is Apple’s own app, so they can’t be accused of violating/misappropriating/infringing their own trademark. But if the de facto rule is “Apple can show a representation of the computer its iPhone apps connect to, but third-party developers can’t”, that doesn’t exactly refute Rogue Amoeba’s conclusion that developing for this platform just isn’t worth it.


  1. I can’t link to the SDK agreement, as it resides behind the iPhone Developer Portal

App Store Four-Month-Long Wait for a Bug Fix to Be Accepted of the Week: Airfoil Speakers Touch 1.0.1

Rogue Amoeba submitted a small bug fix update to Airfoil Speakers Touch in July. It wasn’t accepted until this week. The reason: when you use it to stream audio from a Mac on your local network, it (a) shows a picture of the type of Mac doing the streaming, and (b) shows a small icon of the app on the Mac playing the audio. Version 1.0 did these things and was in the Store. Version 1.0.1 did the exact same things and was not accepted.

Paul Kafasis:

Rogue Amoeba no longer has any plans for additional iPhone applications, and updates to our existing iPhone applications will likely be rare. The iPhone platform had great promise, but that promise is not enough, so we’re focusing on the Mac.

At a certain point good developers are just going to say, “I don’t need this.” Also, judging from the comments on the piece from die-hard defenders of the App Store, there’s clearly a misconception about where these images of Mac computers and app icons are coming from. These images — which, yes, are copyrighted by Apple — are not stored within the Airfoil Speakers Touch application. They are being sent from Airfoil on the Mac over the network, live, as the audio streams. Airfoil on the Mac is using public APIs to get these images. It’s petty nonsense. It’s like if you wrote a VNC client for the iPhone and Apple rejected it because when you connect to the display of a remote Mac, you can see Apple trademarked icons in the Dock. The UI problem Rogue Amoeba solved was the question of which computer your iPhone Airfoil client is connected to. Which computer? This computer, look at it. Apple, of all companies, should know that a visual solution is better than a textual one.