Recent reports of a magic IE 8 performance boost make me smile because this kind of thing is simply human. We all see what we want to see, what we expect to see. It's just part of our DNA. It explains UFO and Bigfoot sightings. And, apparently, it explains Apple fanatics. Because these guys believe. Here's a fun example:

According to a report on iPhones.ru, found via Gizmodo, the latest claim is that, somehow, magically, the upcoming iPhone 3.0 software update is making the iPhone camera (which is an absolute steaming pile of you-know-what)--get this take--take better pictures. :) Yeah, right.

According to one series of tests, the [iPhone] firmware 3.0 is taking better photos than its predecessor.

iPhones.ru took side by side photos with new iPhone firmware and old iPhone firmware. That lead comparison photo is not the result of a single snapshot, but 30 that produced similar results: Firmware 2.2.1 blurred the cat, then 3.0 blurred the cat ever so slightly less.

Updated firmware, in general, can make a huge difference in the SLR world, so the theory isn't complete mad science. Time will tell if these results are duplicated elsewhere. Until then, anyone running 3.0 is free to share their own anecdotal evidence.

OK, I'd like to do so now. I've been using each beta iteration of the iPhone 3.0 update since Beta 2 (so, three releases so far) and I can state unequivocally, as I can with the IE 8.0 speed-up myth, that no such thing is happening in my experience. I use the iPhone regularly, and while the 3.0 software, so far, is most obviously marked by bugginess and, annoyingly, the inadvertant triggering of the unnecessary new search panel, it has most certainly not resulted in better pictures. For that, alas, I suspect we would need new camera hardware. Optical and/or mechanical zoom. A flash. Better resolution and optics. You know, something real.

I don't have the religious fervor required to believe this sort of thing. But I do have iPhone photos you can look at. They're at twitpic.com. The ones that are over 30 days old are the old firmware. The newer ones are various versions of iPhone 3.0. Of particular interest: I've taken pictures of different Celtics games over time, from the same location in the stadium.

-- Updated so you can actually see the pictures. :)

So. Which one looks "better"? The one on the left or the one on the right?  I think the one on the right looks better, personally (though they're really close). And guess what? That's the old firmware. There are many other similar pictures up there.

Anyway. Anything is possible, of course. But I'm not seeing it personally.