The Hunting-For-Keys Edition Saturday, October 29, 2016

What It’s Like To Use Apple’s New MacBook Pro ‘Touch Bar’, by Lisa Eadicicco, Time

My main criticism so far is that since the Touch Bar is so small, it can be hard to see which tab is which on the Touch Bar. It would be easier to differentiate between tabs if the Touch Bar showed the logo for the website instead of a miniature version of the page.

Why Apple’s MacBook Touch Bar Was The Right Thing To Do, by Matthew Panzarino, TechCrunch

Having a discrete bar that can update with context, allowing you to take those dozen daily actions makes total sense. Far more sense than bolting a touch screen onto a non-touch-optimized OS and forcing you to poke at tiny buttons meant for a mouse.

Why Apple’s MacBook Touch Bar Was The Right Thing To Do, by John Gruber, Daring Fireball

The Touch Bar is not the answer to “How do we bring touchscreens to the Mac?”, because that question is not actually a problem. The Touch Bar is the answer to “These keyboard F-keys are cryptic and inflexible — what can we replace them with that’s better?” That’s an actual problem.

Sober Thoughts On Apple's New Touch Bar For MacBook Pro, by Mark Sullivan, Fast Company

I’m wondering if we’ll look back a year from now and see the Touch Bar as a landmark improvement to the user interface, or as a cool-looking feature that nobody uses that much.

Apple’s New Touch Bar Is A Usability Disaster, by Boyang C., Medium

The hardware keyboard is something that the majority of us have learnt to navigate solely by touch over the years. Without providing any haptic feedback (which in itself is inferior to physical keys), the touch bar offloads this interaction to our eyes, which are already occupied by on-screen content.

Thunderbolt 3 Ports On Right Side Of 13-Inch MacBook Pro Have Reduced PCI Express Bandwidth, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

Apple has published a detailed support document highlighting the capabilities of the Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports on the new MacBook Pro, unveiling some previously unknown details and outlining the different adapters that are needed to connect various accessories.

Little Bit Of Joy

An Email History Of The 2001 iPod Launch, by Steven Levy, Backchannel

Finally, I asked [Steve Jobs] about the idea of introducing a device designed for fun in a time when the nation was still in mourning. He lowered his voice a register. “It’s a tough time, but life goes on,” he said. “It must go on. I think we’re feeling good about coming out with this at a difficult time. Hopefully it will bring a little bit of joy to people.”

Married To Their Smartphones (Oh, And To Each Other, Too), by Brooke Lea Foster, New York Times

Married or not, many of us sleep with our phones on our night stands, pocket them as we go from room to room and think nothing of using them in the presence of our partners, whether they are talking or snuggling or reading beside us.

Experts say that smartphone use is meddling in our marriages in ways that are sometimes benign but often frustrating, causing quarrels and forcing couples to address an ever more important question: At what point are we choosing to spend more time with our smartphones than with our spouses?

The Original In-App Purchase, by Ernie Smith, Tedium

Before software, purchases generally worked like this: You walked into a store, you bought a physical object, and that object was yours until it became damaged or outdated, and you threw it out. But software, being much smaller in physical space than any commercial object that came before it, wasn’t limited by these rules. Data came in bits and bytes, and could be dripped out or distributed in any number of ways. And that data was getting smaller by the day. Floppy disks begat smaller floppy disks, which begat hard drives, which begat CD-ROMs. If you had a modem, you didn’t even need another disk! It makes sense that shareware came out of this floppy-copyin’ state of affairs, because we needed a business model that encouraged copying.


Review: Civilization VI Is A Beautiful Prance Through History, by Steven Strom, Ars Technica

If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at exploring, expanding, exploiting, and exterminating ahistorical societies, but were always too afraid of numbers to give Civ a shot, there’s never been a better time to dive in. Newcomers will also be spared the trouble of un-learning all the franchise lessons that Civ 6 throws out of the series’ window. Civ 6 is both the easiest-on-the-eyes Civilization yet and the series’ biggest departure from tradition (among the mainline “numbered” games, that is).


Developers Now Able To Offer Promo Codes For In-App Purchases, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

Apple today announced that it is now letting developers create promo codes for in-app purchases, giving developers a way to allow early testers, reviewers, and press to unlock content that would normally only be available through a purchase.

How To Create A Travel App: The Story Of Esplorio, by Tim Fernado, Telegraph

If I could give one piece of advice for aspiring tech entrepreneurs, it would be this: hire a great team and get them to use the product that they build (what industry calls “dogfooding”). We found that our team understood the product, customer and pain points so much better.


Facebook Lets Advertisers Exclude Users By Race, by Julia Angwin and Terry Parris Jr., ProPublica

The ad we purchased was targeted to Facebook members who were house hunting and excluded anyone with an “affinity” for African-American, Asian-American or Hispanic people. [...]

When we showed Facebook’s racial exclusion options to a prominent civil rights lawyer John Relman, he gasped and said, “This is horrifying. This is massively illegal. This is about as blatant a violation of the federal Fair Housing Act as one can find.”

Bottom of the Page

I haven't use function keys for many many months now. Even on Windows machine, I haven't been using F1 for help, nor F5 for refresh. (Although I did just recently used F12 in Chrome.)

But, then, come to think of it, I've never considered those top rows of buttons on my current MacBook Pro as function keys. Rather, there's the Play/Pause button, which I use often. (After years of using an iPod, I still misses a physical Play/Pause button on my iPhone.) There are the volume buttons, and also the brightness buttons, all four of which I use often too.

And the Esc button. I use it all the time, when Safari pops up a dialog box, asking if I want to save the two-factor-authentication one-time-password when I use online banking. (I've never used Cmd-period.)

If Apple does want to get rid of buttons -- and we all know Apple enjoys getting rid of buttons, may I offer the following as sacrifice to please the industrial design gods?

1. Launchpad button. We're de-emphasising the grid of app icons on iOS and Apple TV already, so why keep this on the Mac?

2. The right-side Option key. One is enough.

3. The right-side Cmd key. Ditto.

4. The fn key. Who uses function keys?

5. Caps Lock. "Don't shout" have been in almost every USENET newsgroup's FAQ post since 1992.

6. Mute key. Just copy the iPad: long-press on the volume-down key.

And pick up some courage, and try rearranging the remaining keys, and I'm sure you can find enough space to put up a Touch Bar.



Thanks for reading.