DNA Lounge: Wherein the planning department is still going to confiscate your ice cream cones.

Photos of Blow Up vs. Popscene are up.

So, just down the street from us is a burned-out shell of a warehouse that used to be the Veterans' Cab lot. It has been vacant for many years, and it periodically catches on fire (apparently because homeless folks often break in to sleep there, and "falling asleep with a hot crack pipe" is a common problem). I've also heard that the owner of the property, sick of having to deal with their building catching on fire all the time, tried to get a permit to just tear it down, but some of the neighbors stopped that, thinking "as soon as he tears it down, he'll secretly build something else there!", which if true, betrays a fantastic misunderstanding of how these things work. But I digress.

Back in April, I heard about a proposal (PDF) to put some picnic tables and porta-potties in the adjacent lot and allow a dozen or so food trucks to park there during the day, turning it into a de-facto outdoor food court with almost no investment. This sounded like a fantastic idea to me, and apparently to many of our neighbors as well.

Then in July, there was this:

We will not be able to continue with the project. The project is currently being under review by the city, and we've been running into constant roadblocks, the latest being a fee of $20,000 to put in trees around the sidewalks. It's not that we wouldn't like to beautify the area, it's just that it's one fee after another and we don't have the funds to continue any further.

Which is just... wow. Someone wants to run a low-impact business experiment, and the city wants them to increase the scope of their investment by an order of magnitude before they can serve their first customer. Sounds familiar to me! You've watched this video that I posted a couple weeks ago, right? Go watch. I'll wait.

Then a couple weeks ago, there was another update saying that the project isn't quite dead yet. Reading between the lines here, I think this means that they've decided that maybe they'll suck it up and actually pay twenty grand to plant some anemic twigs on the sidewalk before being allowed to serve food.

But hey, great to see our fine city doing its best to make it easy for small businesses to start up. Oh wait, I meant the opposite of that. An idea starts with, "Hey, here's an unused vacant lot, let's get a few hundred dollars worth of tables and let some food trucks park there during the day!" and ends with a huge construction project and permit nightmare. Welcome to San Francisco.

In unrelated governmental antics, We got a very nice letter today from State Senator Mark Leno congratulating us on winning "Best Bar Staff" and "Best Party Venue" in this year's Best of the Bay.

Which is very kind of him, and we really appreciate the sentiment... but...

Someone, possibly Liz Taylor, once said, "Say what you want about me, just spell my name right." Well, I've seen my name spelled a lot of different ways over the years, but this is the first time that I've seen "Jamie Zawinski" spelled "John Schneider".



RIP WebOS, the Best Smartphone Platform Nobody Used

Today, HP showed just how little they cared about WebOS. In the third paragraph of a press release about the acquisition of some other company, they said: "In addition, HP reported that it plans to announce that it will discontinue operations for webOS devices, specifically the TouchPad and webOS phones. HP will continue to explore options to optimize the value of webOS software going forward." In their earnings call, HP spent a minute or two explaining that after releasing one tiny low-end WebOS phone (the HP Veer) and six weeks after releasing a WebOS tablet (the HP TouchPad), WebOS was somehow not making gangbusters money, and should be killed. Now, onto some enterprise printer news.

Long-time readers may recall that I was a huge PalmOS fan for many years, using their phones well past their sell-by date because I loved the keyboard, I loved the openness of the OS, and I loved the vast numbers of applications. Then PalmOS gave way to WebOS, and my experiences with that rewrite were... not good... causing me to finally, regrettably give up on my Palm brand-loyalty and jump ship to the iPhone.

You can read all about it in my palm tag, specifically in "Dear Palm, it's just not working out".

Even though I gave up on them years ago, I do still feel a twinge of sadness. It's like when your favorite band releases a string of shitty albums late in their career, and then announce that they're breaking up. You haven't listened to them for years, but it still bums you out.

But there's one thing that WebOS got right that iPhone still gets incredibly, shockingly wrong, and it still puzzles me why they haven't caught up. (Maybe the answer is patents. Maybe it's just hubris. Who knows.) Anyway, it's this:

The WebOS "Messaging" app was transport-agnostic.

When someone sent you a message, it didn't make a fuss about how that message arrived. SMS? AIM? Jabber? Who cares. All of those messages showed up in the same interface, in a single list, grouped under the sender's name (assuming both their AIM handle and their phone number were in your address book card). When you replied to a message, it would default to sending it back using the same transport that the last message came in on.

This was genius, and I seriously miss it. It's the only thing about WebOS that I miss, and it's the only feature that no other phone has yet cloned.

The IM situation on iPhone is so bleak that I've just given up on using it entirely. When I'm away from my desktop, I only use SMS and am unreachable by AIM/Jabber/whatnot. That's bogus, but the various other IM apps on iPhone are so relentlessly terrible -- and require incessant fiddling-with instead of just being always-on -- that I decided that I just didn't care enough.

So that's what I miss most about Palm. The UI of the Palm Pre "Messaging" app. I can't believe that hasn't become the standard way of doing things everywhere yet.

Well, also I miss that when I had a Treo, I was essentially carrying around an original toaster-Mac in my pocket, architecturally speaking. Yeah, an iPhone is arguably more like a Cray XMP, but come on, a toaster-Mac phone. That's cool.

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