The Real-Access Edition Monday, August 22, 2016

Access, Accountability Reporting And Silicon Valley, by Adrienne Lafrance, Nieman Reports

This is what it’s like to be a technology reporter in 2016. Freebies are everywhere, but real access is scant. Powerful companies like Facebook and Google are major distributors of journalistic work, meaning newsrooms increasingly rely on tech giants to reach readers, a relationship that’s awkward at best and potentially disastrous at worst. Facebook, in particular, is also prompting major newsrooms to adjust their editorial and commercial strategies, including initiatives to broadcast live video to the social media site in exchange for payment. Other social platforms are becoming publishers, too, including Snapchat Discover and Reddit, which recently posted job listings for an editorial team.

The lines are blurring, in some cases dramatically, between what it means to be a media company and what it means to be a technology firm. The leaders of some websites with robust newsrooms, like BuzzFeed, even refer to themselves as tech companies first, journalism organizations second. Cash-rich media start-ups and at least one legacy newspaper, The Washington Post, are owned by titans of tech.

Pay This Way

The War On Cash, by Brett Scott, TheLong+Short

'Cashless society' is a euphemism for the "ask-your-banks-for-permission-to-pay society". Rather than an exchange occurring directly between the hotel and me, it takes the form of a "have your people talk to my people" affair. Various intermediaries message one another to arrange an exchange between our respective banks. That may be a convenient option, but in a cashless society it would no longer be an option at all. You'd have no choice but to conform to the intermediaries' automated bureaucracy, giving them a lot of power, and a lot of data about the microtexture of your economic life.

Apple Moves

Apple Acquires Personal Health Data Startup Gliimpse, by Christina Farr and Mark Sullivan, Fast Company

Silicon Valley-based Gliimpse has built a personal health data platform that enables any American to collect, personalize, and share a picture of their health data. The company was started in 2013, and funded by serial entrepreneur Anil Sethi, who has spent the past decade working with health startups, after taking his company Sequoia Software public in 2000. He got his start as a systems engineer at Apple in the late 1980s.

Apple Introduces Major Retail Changes, Including New Pro-Level Positions And Credo, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

Apple is implementing three new retail positions in the United States and United Kingdom, and likely elsewhere, including two pro-level positions and an all-new Technical Expert position to complement the Genius Bar/Grove.

In Review

Apple Chief Tim Cook’s Five Years In Five Charts, by Tim Bradshaw, Financial Times

“Cook gets a hard time for not being Steve Jobs, but Apple’s success is grounded in some of those mundane requirements that a lot of the companies fail at,” Mr Wood says, from manufacturing and quality control to diplomacy when dealing with governments such as the US and China. “On balance, Apple has consistently delivered really reliable products.”

Replacing Steve Jobs: How Apple CEO Tim Cook Has Fared Five Years Later, by Steven Russolillo, Wall Street Journal

In his first email to employees as CEO in August 2011, Mr. Cook said: “I want you to be confident that Apple is not going to change.”

But change is inevitable, even if Apple’s shareholders are slow to accept it.

Vesper After Sunset

All-star Notes App Vesper Reaches The End, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

Launched three years ago with fanfare by an all-star development team, the note-taking app Vesper is shutting down.

More Notes On Vesper, by Brent Simmons, Inessential

Belief inside Q Branch: if we had started with a Mac app rather than an iOS app, Vesper would have been much more successful. That wasn’t clear at the time we started, though (Dec. 2012).

Security Matters

The NSA Hack Proves Apple Was Right To Fight The FBI, by Paul Szoldra, Business Insider

Most in the technology community rallied around Apple at the time, arguing that weakened encryption might help government investigators, but it would also make customers vulnerable to hackers.

Now, with a massive top-secret archive of some of the NSA’s own exploits having been leaked online, it appears they were right.

Bounty Hunters Are Legally Hacking Apple And The Pentagon – For Big Money, by Nicky Woolf, The Guardian

Nathaniel Wakelam became a bounty hunter when he was 18.

Now 21, it is his full time job. This month so far he has earned $21,150, in installments: he counted them out over the phone – “400, plus 400, plus 300, plus 100, plus 1,000, plus 3,000, plus 4,000…”

Wakelam’s month-to-month profit varies considerably, but in an average year, he said, he can comfortably clear $250,000, working from his home in Melbourne or on his Macbook in coffee shops or nearby bars.


Swiftly Discovering An Error, by Casey Liss, Liss Is More

The point isn’t that Swift’s Optionals or guard let have no equivalents in Objective-C. The point is that thinking deliberately about these things—and proactively protecting yourself from error conditions—is a fundamental part of how you write Swift.

The Half-Life Of Joy, by Rands in Repose

Whether it’s writing an article or building a feature in software, the work of finishing is both the most important and the least interesting. My early reluctance to engage with an editor is the same gripe engineers have with building unit test, fixing bugs, and documenting their code. We told ourselves the same story, It works… it’s good enough, but what we were really saying was, the interesting work is done.

Bottom of the Page

When will my shoes gain wheels and become self-driving? (The shoes will need a helmet-cam though.)


Thanks for reading.