I’m shocked to find rumors going on here

Just for the record, John Gruber of Daring Fireball seems like a smart guy, and he certainly knows a lot about Apple. How he knows so much isn’t clear, but he appears to be pretty well connected. Everything he said in advance of the Apple event yesterday (as far as I can tell) turned out to be true. But is that enough for John? No. Just to rub it in, he takes some time in a post today to call out those who were wrong, including a long section about Duncan Riley at The Inquisitr, who started the rumors about Apple launching an $800 laptop, which of course turned out not to be true.

I’ve had issues with Duncan in the past, but this seems more than a little mean-spirited. Was the report from his reliable source wrong? Sure it was. And as Gruber points out, today’s post on The Inquisitr does more or less try to weasel out of that by claiming that the $899 monitor effectively fulfilled most of the rumor. I think Duncan should have come out and said his source was wrong and then moved on. But that’s just me. Still, was it really necessary to do an all-out takedown of Duncan’s blog post, as though such things never happen on the Web? I mean, come on.

As Peter Kafka notes at Silicon Alley Insider, the combination of Apple’s secrecy and the huge interest in new products is a recipe for a rumor-fest (something Apple seems to have become resigned to). There are dozens of sites that exist solely to propagate rumors about what Apple is up to, and 90 per cent of those turn out to be wrong. Even Engadget and Gizmodo have been wrong in the past. For all I know, Gruber himself may have actually been wrong about something once or twice. Has that somehow become a blogosphere crime now?

If Duncan had no source whatsoever, and simply made up the $800 rumor out of thin air, then I think he would deserve that kind of criticism. But he says he had a reliable source, and I have no reason to think otherwise (of course, they aren’t all that reliable any more). The other sites that come under fire from Gruber seem even more petty: so 9to5 Mac was wrong about the plastic shell. Is that the end of the world? Hardly. And then he slams Mac Soda for having the apostrophes facing the wrong way in ’08 and ’09. Come on, John — time for a few deep breaths. Back away from the keyboard slowly. What the heck, maybe even go outside for awhile.

Has Apple really muzzled the lawyers?

One of the new faces at The Daily Beast — the online magazine launched today by former New Yorker and Vanity Fair editor Tina Brown — is actually kind of an old face: Nick Ciarelli is the former teenaged blogger behind Think Secret, an Apple rumour site he started when he was just 13, and he has written a piece about how the tech company’s approach to rumours seems to have changed. Just a couple of years ago, Apple was happily suing sites like Think Secret (which shut down after the lawsuit), as well as Apple Insider and PowerPage for posting rumours about new products. Now, Ciarelli says such behaviour doesn’t seem to draw as much attention.

“There are signs that Apple … has thrown in the towel on fighting leaks. This year, advance details about a number of Apple products spilled onto the web, including photos of the iPhone 3G and the latest lineup of iPod nanos. In the past, Apple would’ve fought like hell — including threatening legal action — to get the leaks off the web. But when I spoke to many of the sites that published the images, all of them said that the company’s lawyers had been strangely silent.”

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Steve Jobs and the licence plate mystery

Every once in a while, a mystery comes along that seems bizarre but is just too powerful to resist. The twin mysteries of Steve Jobs and his car are just such a case. According to dozens of reports from Apple insiders over the years — reports that have surfaced in various ways on the Internet, and turned up again recently — the mercurial Apple co-founder and design visionary has a passion about two things when it comes to his car: Number one is driving without licence plates, and the other is parking in handicapped parking spots. Why does he do this? You might as well ask why there is gravity, or why the moon revolves around the sun.

According to some reports, Jobs routinely gets his licence plates stolen, and so he either a) has special dispensation from the California authorities to drive without plates; b) drives with a licence plate either on his dashboard or in his glove compartment, or c) doesn’t worry about the whole licence plate thing and just pays the tickets when they come along. According to some, the California government doesn’t go around handing out special permits, so it has to be either b) or c). There were reports that he had a special bar-code licence plate, but these have also been debunked.

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iPhone: Just sit there and take it

Someone named Dan Kimerling, writing at TechCrunch, has some simple advice for developers who are upset about Apple’s opaque approval process for the iPhone app store: Quit yer whining, or as he puts it “don’t complain, just keep coding.” Dan — who, at least according to his LinkedIn profile, doesn’t appear to have any development experience, either with the iPhone or any other device — argues that a) it’s Apple’s store, and therefore the company can do whatever it wants, and b) given the popularity of the iPhone, you have to develop for it whether you like it or not.

Both of those statements are undoubtedly true, at least to a certain extent. Apple is well known for its attention to detail and its firm control over the design and use of its devices, software, platforms, etc., so it’s hardly surprising that it would take the same attitude towards the app store. And there’s no question that it is the hot mobile platform at the moment, and so most developers — those who don’t decide to quit Apple and develop for the Google Phone — will grit their teeth and develop apps for it regardless of how the company behaves. Fair enough, I suppose.

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Should I get an iPhone or an Android?

So the Wall Street Journal says that the long-awaited, much-ballyhooed Google Phone is coming soon, and TechRadar says that Google execs demonstrated a working prototype at a developer event recently in London. Meanwhile, some of the bloom has come off the iPhone rose in the past little while (for some people at least), with much discussion of how Apple maintains an iron fist when it comes to which apps are allowed on the device. So if given the choice between the two — which I admit is pretty hypothetical at the moment — which one should I buy?

The iPhone is tres cool, no question about that. It looks great, it feels great, and (for the most part) it works great. The size of the screen and the auto-rotation feature, not to mention the multi-touch interface, makes Web browsing and photo viewing almost as appealing as on a desktop, and puts it miles ahead of any other mobile device so far. Apps like Shazam — which identifies the music you’re listening to on the radio or your stereo, or pretty much anywhere in the immediate vicinity of your phone — make the phone a pleasure to use. Unfortunately, Apple won’t let iPhone users install certain apps, even when they sound really useful.

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