David Emery Online

Hi there, I’m David. This is my website. I work in music for Apple. You can find out a bit more about me here. On occasion I’ve been known to write a thing or two. Please drop me a line and say hello. Views mine not my employers.

Signup to receive the latest articles from de-online in your inbox:

Amazon in Talks to Launch Digital-Book Library

Amazon.com Inc. is talking with book publishers about launching a Netflix Inc.-like service for digital books, in which customers would pay an annual fee to access a library of content, according to people familiar with the matter.

Or: Spotify for Books.

I think I’ve blogged before how I think this is a potential killer product; people only read (most) books once, so a rental model rather then a ownership model makes way more sense.

There’s also nothing stopping them replicating the ad-supported free service as well, or how about you get a year’s free service when you buy a Kindle? Could be very interesting indeed.

Visit ➔

Sane RSS usage

RSS is a great tool that’s very easy to misuse. And if you’re subscribing to any feeds that post more than about 10 items per day, you’re probably misusing it. I don’t mean that you’re using it in a way it wasn’t intended — rather, you’re using it in a way that’s not good for you.1

You should be able to go on a disconnected vacation for three days, come back, and be able to skim most of your RSS-item titles reasonably without just giving up and marking all as read. You shouldn’t come back to hundreds or thousands of unread articles.

I disagree with a lot of the points both Marco and Jacqui are making here – mostly that it’s possible to use RSS “wrong”. It’s akin to saying that everyone should stop using SMS as that can be distracting – it’s using your phone “wrong”.

I am a heavy RSS user, but I find it immensely useful. According to Google Reader I’m currently subscribed to 990 feeds and have read over 50,000 items in the last 30 days, but I find this in no way stressful or counter productive. I follow some feeds that average over 100 posts per day, and some that don’t even post once every month. You can use RSS this way, and in fact I’d argue that it’s the best source of news you could ever come up with.

Now, that’s not to say there aren’t some good pieces of advice in their two articles. Firstly, I don’t check my feeds all day – that would be impossible. RSS is not twitter, and it’s not really best I don’t think for real time news (although you could use it for that if you wanted). What it’s best for is assembling a custom built newspaper of all your interests, or at least that’s how I treat it. Roughly 3 times a day – in the morning, at lunch and in the evening – I check my feeds, and skim through them exactly as I would a newspaper. The articles allude to a fear of marking all as read which is ridiculous – does any one really read a newspaper cover to cover, every word? RSS is the same, a source of interest to flick through and dip into, not to labour over like email.

Visit ➔

Apple's iTunes Match beta doesn't technically stream music

Despite evidence that appears to show streaming playback through iTunes Match, an Apple spokesperson confirmed to Peter Kafka of All Things D that content played from the service must first be "stored" on an iPhone or iPad. The service appears to be streaming because it begins playback instantly, but instead of true streaming it is downloading and storing the file while beginning simultaneous playback.

"Apple's system, as it's currently constructed, still requires users to keep stuff on their machine in order to play with it," the report said. Kafka speculated that files that are not "downloaded" through iCloud but still played will sit in a "temporary cache" on the machine.

The semantics of this are pretty ridiculous – every major streaming service works in the same way, using a local cache. iTunes Match is streaming just as much as Spotify is.

And it’s also not very surprising that iTunes Match does supports streaming – it’ll be interesting to see what other features it gains before it launches (my bet: a web based version of iTunes, alongside a whole new version on the desktop).

Visit ➔

Introducing geofences on Flickr!

Geofences are special locations that deserve their own geo privacy settings. For example, you might want to create a geofence around the your “home” or “school” that only allows “Friends and Family” to see the location of the photos you geotag in that area. So the next time you upload a photo with a geotag in the radius of a geofence, it will follow the default geo privacy you’ve designated for that hotspot.

This is great for two reasons 1) it’s an obviously useful but also nifty feature 2) Flickr is innovating again; I was getting worried that they might not have it in them any more.

Visit ➔

A Super Mario Bros version of Portal?!

Wow. Someone is making a video game featuring the original Super Mario Bros worlds but Mario is outfitted with a Portal gun. Watch the demo:

This looks amazing.

Visit ➔

Twelve steps for saving webOS

10) Make sure that webOS apps can also run on other platforms. That’s in the browsers of that platform, of course. User has nice webOS app and shows it to a friend who uses Android. User sends app via Bluetooth, friend can open and use it straight away in the Android browser. That is the true strength of the web platform; a strength you should capitalise on.

WebOS could become something really interesting if they went down this route (and truly live up to this name). Although – and people forget this – Apple is already quite a long way down this path. I find it a little odd when you see articles along the lines of “HTML5 breaks the App Store lock-in” and the like; maybe it does, but only because Apple lets it.

In fact, not only is Apple letting HTML5 apps work on iOS, they’re positively encouraging them by letting them work as proper apps and pushing ahead with WebKit developments (like hardware accelerated animations, for example) to make them work better then on any other mobile platform.

Visit ➔

The futility of QR codes on Tube adverts

Travelling on the London Underground ‘Tube’ recently I have noticed that more and more adverts have a QR code, I am not too sure if this is a recent phenomena or that I have been paying more attention as a number of the projects that I’ve been recently looking at are about the ‘web of no web’: the interface between the web and the real world. I am a big fan of progressive approaches to marketing, however, the more I thought about the phenomena, the greater the waste of time that it seemed to be.

The explosion of QR codes on adverts, almost all of which are completely useless, really does show how little some advertisers think through what they’re doing.

I particularly like the ones I regularly see on the large posters on the other side of the track on tube platforms, which are almost always too far away to work – are you supposed to jump onto the rails to scan a QR code to visit some movies Facebook page? And that’s ignoring the fact that it’s displayed in one of the only places left 100% guaranteed not to have any form of internet connection…

Visit ➔

BBM Music aims to make song-sharing even more social for BlackBerry users

BBM Music will be a subscription service costing $4.99 a month in the US, although how that converts elsewhere in the world has yet to be announced. Users will choose 50 songs from the BBM Music catalogue for their profiles, which can be used to create playlists, and cached locally on their BlackBerry smartphone for offline listening.

50 songs? That's not much, but this is where the BBM angle kicks in. Users will also be able to access the 50 songs of any of their BBM contacts who subscribe to the service. That means a theoretical choice of 100 songs if one friend signs up, 200 songs if three do, and 2,000 songs if 39 do. And so on.

I can’t see this succeeding – the concept is just too complicated, and I can’t see the BBM user base (who primarily use it because it’s free) shelling out $5/month – but it’s certainly an interesting idea.

There’s a lot to be done in the area of ‘social music’ – this isn’t it (in the same way iTunes Ping wasn’t either) but it’s way more interesting then another iTunes clone, or another Spotify clone for that matter.

Visit ➔


That left a third option, and it was after a few (decaf) lattes and advice from Ethan, that I decided the best thing to do was compromise for now. Let’s keep the same content and code that’s been powering the large-screened version that Dribbble has always been, and then let’s do something adaptive to it—using media queries to effectively make the site fluid and as vertical as possible when rendered at 480px wide and smaller. In other words, let’s take a step towards a responsive design by crafting an adaptive stylesheet that overrides the master to make things usable and readable on phones and small-screened things. Our tiny team can continue to maintain just one codebase.

A good reminder that even if – because of constraints that probably apply to 99% of web projects – you can’t do everything perfectly, doing a bit is better then nothing.

Visit ➔

Why You Must Code

First, let me state my opinion up front: if you are making a living using computers, and in your area consider yourself an “expert,” you should know how to program.

Simple. If you are a “social media” expert, a “product person,” and especially anything tied to the Internet, you should be able to program. It doesn’t mean that you will do it for a living, but you should know how, and do so regularly, if only to keep skills up.

I agree wholeheartedly with this – you don’t need to be able to do anything properly complicated, but you should have a grounding in how it all works underneath.

Visit ➔

Push Pop Press acquired by Facebook

Now we're taking our publishing technology and everything we've learned and are setting off to help design the world's largest book, Facebook.

Although Facebook isn't planning to start publishing digital books, the ideas and technology behind Push Pop Press will be integrated with Facebook, giving people even richer ways to share their stories. With millions of people publishing to Facebook each day, we think it's going to be a great home for Push Pop Press.

This seems like a big loss to the digital publishing world; there’s no doubt that Push Pop Press had the best eBook tech out there, and it seems a shame that this won’t get further use.

On the other hand, it’s very interesting that Facebook are aggressively hiring amazing designers at the moment – with their resources, they could come up with something really interesting. It would be very easy for them to rest on their laurels and simply keep iterating Facebook.com, but it feels like they’re aiming much higher then that.

Visit ➔

How Social Media Is Hurting Your Ability To Obtain New Fans

Using Google+ as a marketing tool is EXACTLY THE SAME as using Facebook or Twitter; while they’re might be small differences with the interface or how to specifically do something, the actual value in using them only comes from exactly how you use it. Do you post interesting an engaging content? Do you thank fans and respond to them? Do you make being a fan or follower a rewarding experience? Awesome, your doing the right things.

The problem is, most musicians are not doing this. Nope, they sign up for each and every new thing thinking that JUST BECAUSE it’s the new thing, thinking it’s going to help them. So they post songs, spam friends with events, do the whole “wave my hands in the air look at me” typical bullshit, and then sit on the porch and pout because they don’t have any new “fans”.

I do love a good rant, although he does lose the point a bit when he starts talking about Digg and Reddit – those places are great for getting lots of traffic, but it’s not necessarily the kind of traffic you want.

Visit ➔

Beirut Pushes Up Digital Release Date

Beirut's new album, The Rip Tide, is out August 30 physically via bandleader Zach Condon's own Pompeii Records. If your music collection largely consists of ones and zeroes, though, you can hear it a lot sooner: the album's digital release date has been moved up to next Tuesday, August 2.

This sort of thing really frustrates me; there’s no doubt this is just a reaction to the record leaking, and actually it does far more damage then a leak could ever do. Firstly, it’s a pretty good advertisement that the record has leaked but more importantly rushing the digital release just screws up any change of the release making a big impact when it properly comes out. Beirut – I would have said – is in a prime place to establish themselves as a serious band, and a good chart entry would have done a lot to aid that; by doing this, the album will look a lot less impressive when it does finally come out properly.

And sadly, chart positions do matter; I don’t think – unless you’re in the top 5 – they make a huge amount of difference to fans, casual or not, but they make a massive difference to the rest of the industry; a good chart position opens doors, a bad (or lower then expected) chart position closes them.

A leak only really impacts people that probably weren’t going to buy the record anyway – rushing forward a digital release can – in some cases, not all – destroy your campaign.

Visit ➔

Web Typography for the Lonely

Web Typography for the Lonely aims to excite designers about the possibilities of cutting-edge web standards and javascript through beautiful and inspiring typographic explorations.

All of this is awesome.

Visit ➔

Ninja Tune on Leaks

It was with considerable disappointment that we learnt in the last week that two records we have been working on have been leaked, despite the use of watermarked CDs. Toddla T's Watch Me Dance (Ninja Tune) and another upcoming release were both leaked from copies sent to the journalist Benjamin Jager at the offices of Backspin magazine in Germany.

For my non-music industry readers, most releases these days are distributed to journalists, radio DJs and other folks that need the music before an album release either via watermarked CDs or digitally via watermarked downloads or streams.

Watermarking does actually work – it’s a pretty advanced technology, and you really can trace things back as shown by this Ninja Tune post. The thing is, though, is that it actually doesn’t do anything at all – technically speaking, at least – to prevent an album leaking; it’s not like the days of copy-protected CDs that would only play in certain CD players if you looked at them in the right way (on a Tuesday. When it’s sunny.). You can take a watermarked CD, rip it to MP3 and upload it anywhere you like unrestricted.

Watermarking is protection by fear.

Fear that if you did leak it the person who sent it to you would find out and there would be repercussions.

Figuring out what those repercussions actually are is pretty difficult, however. Obviously you stop sending them music, which is you’re a freelance journalist could be an issue I guess, but it’s hardly the end of the world. I have heard of people suing, but most of the time that’s going to be a bit of an extreme measure. So, naming and shaming as Ninja Tune have done seems like an effective solution – if they didn’t do anything, their social copy protection goes out the window.

Although as Darren from PIAS mentions on Twitter, they better be really sure they know who leaked it…

Visit ➔

The Liberated Camera

About a year ago a young photographer came to me with a question I'd never heard before. What did I think about "face detect" autofocus?

Probably I sighed. Then said something about how modern cameras left us with so little to do that any half-competent photographer just might want to decide where to focus on his own.

There was one problem with this expert advice—I'd never used the feature, not for a single frame. Every photographic instinct told me I was right. But then ignorance is a splendid way of maintaining our pet prejudices. So I resolved to give face detection a fair shake.

You know those articles you read where it feels like a lightbulb has gone off above your head? This is one of those articles for me as a photographer.

Like most ‘photographers’ I’ve been pretty snooty about things like Face Detect autofocus, but that’s pretty ridiculous really considering I spend a lot of my time trying to make sure faces are in focus. In practice it may well not work well enough for what I want, but it’s just the fact that I haven’t even tried that’s the kicker.

In short: don’t forget what the goal is (taking good photos); it doesn’t matter what tools you use to get there.

Visit ➔

Watch these kids play Star Wars on a giant touch screen

Coolest thing ever, right? The world needs an iPad version of this, stat.

Visit ➔

Internet angered by website redesign

With radical features like black text typeset in Helvetica against a white background, a traditional blog river, bold headlines, faster load times and a fashionable 8-bit style logo, there are .. wait, there's nothing crazy at all! So what on Earth are its readers complaining about?

I like the focus on readability, the reduced clutter etc but – like most people, I hazard a guess – the problem I have with the new TechCrunch redesign is it doesn’t look very nice. It’s just not very aesthetically pleasing.

Just because the mob is up in arms about every redesign (or even slight tweak) doesn’t mean there’s not some truth to it every once in a while.

Visit ➔

'How I Met Your Mother': Your Face Here

The news is this: thanks to groundbreaking technology, it is now possible to sell ads in old episodes of TV shows by digitally inserting things like TV screens in bar scenes or billboards on sidewalk scenes, and having those digital screens carry timely ads, for example, as EW noted, for the release of 'Bad Teacher' in an episode that was shot in 2009.

Great technology and all, but do advertisers seriously think they get a return on investment from taking the time to insert a product into the background on a rerun of a TV show?

I mean, really?

Visit ➔

Things that are blogs

Things that are blogs:

Frequently updated webpages with content arranged in reverse chronological order

Things that are not blogs:



The Hype Machine

Blog posts

Blog comments


See also: “I’ve just posted a blog”.

Visit ➔