Marco Arment on User Decisions

A comment by Marco Arment at around the 50 minute mark of episode #29 of the Build & Analyze Podcast vindicates something I have suspected for quite a while: Most users are confused by choice and this can lead to lost sales or downloads of your product.

Specifically, he mentions that when he switched from having two versions of his Instapaper iOS app to only one version, overall downloads increased. Of particular note is the fact that this single available version was the paid or “pro” version. By removing the choice between “free” and “pro”, users were more likely to purchase the single available choice, the paid version, which had by then dropped the “pro” suffix and was simply known as “Instapaper”.

I’ve always believed that removing user choice at the point of sale is beneficial to avoid mental roadblocks. By all means offer users the ability to choose once they’re using your product and give them options by way of settings or customisations, but don’t limit your sales by allowing a customer to leave, ponder and maybe never come back to decide.


After upgrading to Handbrake 0.9.3, I recently got caught by a gotcha resulting from the removal of Handbrake’s automatic DVD decryption on the Mac.

No more internal DVD decryption
Yeah, we know, no one reading this is going “Oh wow, no more DVD decryption–what a great new feature!” but…deal.

HandBrake will dynamically load VLC’s copy of libdvdcss if you have it in your Applications folder in Mac OS X, and if you’re on Linux, and you want to live on the wild side, you can install libdvdcss on your system and get the same effect.

Translation of the last paragraph from nerdese:

We’re not about to stop you from choosing to decrypt DVDs. If you’re on a Mac, and you have VLC 0.9.x installed, you won’t even notice the internal capability’s gone. If you’re on Linux, all you have to do is install a library.

Anyone who ran into the same issues can just download the latest version of VLC Media Player for Mac OS X. As the release notes state, as long as the VLC app is in your Applications folder, Handbrake will auto-load the libdvdcss library for DVD decryption.


MySQL Timezone Create Table SQL Script

I did a lot of searching to find a pre-made SQL script for MySQL for timezone information. Not finding one, I did it the hard way and looked up timezone info on the web, then compiled it into a neat little MySQL table to share with other developers. You can download the source files in different formats as well as a HTML select menu.



Being a frequent traveller often faced with exorbitant WiFi fees in airports and such places within Australia, I turned my head towards equipping my Sony Ericsson K700i for use as a Bluetooth Modem. This should have been really easy, the only problem being that I couldn’t find comprehensive instructions for setting it up under Mac OS X. The data tech support at Vodafone was fantastic, but was mostly Windows centric.

After a bit of searching and trial and error, I finally got a successful Bluetooth Modem connection via GPRS on my PowerBook. I decided to write my own tutorial for any other users hoping to set up their phone for use with the Vodafone Internet gateway and a Sony Ericsson phone as a Bluetooth Modem.

There are modem scripts available for other phones and the settings described below are likely to also work with them, although the phone set up will be slightly different from the instructions I give below.