slug meets bug (or, the iphone update rocks)

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strange fruit at ya fuen market

Back in Hong Kong for a last look around before heading to the airport and home, the strangest fruit in this picture is probably the three sad apples at rear. Still, I’ve been wondering all day about what those pale clusters in the foreground could possibly be. They look like baby potatoes – growing like bunches of champagne grapes.

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apple, unveiled

Apple’s flagship 5th Avenue store finally emerged from its reconstructive shell yesterday morning. The iconic glass entrance to the subterranean shop got itself something of a modernist facelift. Where once there were 90 interlocking panes of glass there’s now just 15. It’s the Apple ethos distilled: spare, simple, and oh so elegant.

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pie-a-palooza

Yesterday I was honored to be one of the judges at an apple pie contest.  I’ve nicknamed it pie-a-palooza because it wasn’t just a handful of pies, it was twenty-one pies; all completely different:  apple-pear, apple-cranberry, apple-blueberry, apple-crumb.  There were single crusts, double crusts, lattice tops; marscapone crusts, cheddar crusts, vodka crusts, and an inedible no-bake, raw vegan pie.  Some smart aleck even tossed in a handful of McDonald’s in an effort to trick-up the judging. (They weren’t half bad, by the way.) Sweet, savory, sour, spicy – even one surprisingly bitter pie – there was a panoply of apple flavors to choose from, depending on your mood and your particular tastes.  The winner?  Well, technically there was a tie.  But in the push to crown a winner the crumble-topped, whiskey and walnut apple pie was edged out by a sour-cream infused deep dish concoction with the humble name, Best. Pie. Ever.  I think perhaps it was the addition of homemade vanilla ice cream that pushed it to the top.

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it takes a tough man to make a tender chicken

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iPad wars

Is the iPad really going to save the publishing world?  According to Wooden Horse, as of this week it hadn’t:

“While USA Today and New York Times claimed downloads in the three hundred thousands, and Wall Street Journal a hundred thousand less, it’ll be interesting to see what happens when readers have to pony up real money (WSJ is free to current subscribers and the other two totally free.)

Lucia Moses at mediaweek.com reports that magazine publishers Time Inc. and Rodale aren’t talking – but let’s hear it for the geeks: Bonnier’s Popular Science announced they had 22,000 downloads of its April issue.  At $4.99 a click, total sales would be nearly $110,000.

But the iPad wars are heating up.  There are a long string of tablet gadgets either already here or coming, including Hewlett-Packard’s Palm-based “Hurricane,” the Dell “Looking Glass” and a likely “companion” device from BlackBerry.

And Google seems to be out to break Apple’s stranglehold on download sales — Time Inc. and Sports Illustrated are already onboard.  According to Media Memo, SI Editor Terry McDonell showed off a digital version of the magazine at Google’s I/O developer conference this week.  Readers would purchase this one from a Google app store, not the Apple iTunes.  “It’s potentially a big deal,” writes Peter Kafka at Media Memo.  “It opens up a much wider audience for the company’s publications, since they should work on any device that supports Google’s Chrome browser.  Just as important, it gives Time Inc another vendor to work with, one that might be willing to grant it concessions Apple won’t – like control over subscriber information, perhaps.”

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