The Bread-And-Butter Edition Sunday, March 26, 2017

Nintendo Chases More Than Profit With 'Super Mario Run', by Masashi Isawa, Nikkei Asian Review

Nintendo aims to do more with its smartphone games than make money. The Japanese company seeks to bring its games and characters to a wider audience and create synergy with game consoles such as the new Switch.

The problems with the [freemium] model, such as the large amounts of money often required for success, risk undermining the value of Nintendo's characters, which in turn could dent the company's bread-and-butter console-game business. Nintendo's apparent goal with smartphone games is to attract more users even if the company loses out on some profits in the process.

Teardown And Exploration Of Apple's Magsafe Connector, by Ken Shirriff

The center pin of the connector - the adapter sense pin - controls a tiny chip that both identifies the charger and controls the status LED. It is part of a complex interaction between the charger and the Mac. Using an Arduino microcontroller, this chip can be accessed and controlled using the 1-Wire protocol. Is this useful? Not really, but hopefully you found it interesting.


Head To Head: The Best Calendar Apps For iPhone, iPad, And macOS, by Mike Wuerthele, AppleInsider

The winner of the best calendar app for every user of macOS and iOS is...not included in this showdown. It's not that we're on a peculiar quest to determine which is the second best, though. Instead, it's because the best app for most people is Apple's own Calendar.


The Hidden Power Of Stack Overflow, by Brian Feldman, New York Magazine

In much the same way that Googling any proper noun will bring up its Wikipedia page as one of the first few links, or searching for a product will immediately bring up Amazon, searching for code will lead you to Stack Overflow. Given the amount of code currently being produced — not to mention the libraries of it undergirding essential and nonessential functions of daily life — this means that Stack Overflow is, quietly, one of the most important websites on the planet. Not to mention one of the most popular: Launched in 2008, the site now has an Alexa traffic ranking of 52, making it one of the top 100 sites on the web.

That means that in the semi-collaborative tech industry — where everyone is directly or indirectly building off of the ideas and innovations of one another — whole swaths of coders are being driven, by Google, to the same handful of resources for whichever problem they’re trying to crack. Of the 36,932 developers who responded to the site’s annual survey, fewer than 1 percent said that they had never heard of or used Stack Overflow as a resource. Furthermore, 90 percent of devs “find solutions that solve their coding problems here multiple times a month, and half of them find code snippets they can incorporate directly into their own work.” In other words, Stack Overflow often powers the programs that power… everything else. (It’s worth noting that the site’s own dev survey is not necessarily reflective of the industry as a whole. Case in point, 88.6 percent of respondents were male, which is readily apparent across the site’s many threads.)


(PRODUCT)RED iPhone 7 Plus Gets Black Front In New Part Swap Video, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

This method essentially ruins the Jet Black iPhone 7 involved, making it a rather pricy project, and it destroys the waterproofing seal on the red iPhone.

It's also worth noting that this is a highly complicated process that essentially requires tearing apart two iPhones, melding them together, and hoping nothing goes wrong, something that the average person won't want to attempt.

Burned Once, Publishers Are Wary Of Medium’s New Subscription Offering, by Benjamin Mullin, Poynter

"It's almost as if Ev Williams wasn't concerned that he was pulling out the rug from underneath publishers who had placed their trust in his vision for the future of journalism," he said.

Medium, which sold publishers on being a home for quality journalism, is now putting the sites it recruited in jeopardy, Miller said.

"I sincerely hope it works out, but at this point there's a lot of uncertainty in the viability of Medium as a platform for independent publishers," he said. "We'd love to stay with them on this journey, but I worry that it will be impossible without significantly damaging our ability to operate our business."

Pokémon Sunday

The Strange Case Of The Phantom Pokemon, by Matthew Tompkins, BBC

In Moscow this past summer, a woman drifted-off to sleep after playing Pokemon Go on her smartphone. Later that night, she was awoken by a crushing pressure. She opened her eyes and reportedly saw that she was being assaulted by a real-life Pokemon character. Not a person in a Pokemon outfit, an actual Pokemon. Panicking, but unable to speak, she struggled with the creature while her boyfriend slumbered ignorantly beside her. Eventually, she was able to rise, and the Pokemon vanished. After a brief search of her home, the woman proceeded to report the assault the police.

News of the woman’s police report was quickly, and somewhat gleefully, picked up by a variety of international tabloids. It rattled about the internet, and eventually surfaced on my Twitter feed. But my first thought, as an experimental psychologist with a particular focus in anomalous perceptual experiences was, “Well, that could have happened to anybody.” Although it’s impossible to definitively explain this woman’s experience, I nevertheless felt quite confident that this late-night Pokemon assault fit neatly into our existing understanding of sleep. Indeed, given what we now know about this mysterious neuropsychological state – and the strange sensations it can bring – one might arguably describe her experience as ‘normal’.

Bottom of the Page

Now that Apple has bought Workflow, it is time for all app developers to step up and embrace URL schemes and automation.

For example: I want a single Play Stuff workflow, that will either start playing the current audiobook in Audible, the current podcast in the Downcast/Overcast/Pocketcast/Podcast/WhateverCast's queue, or a random playlist in the Music app, depending on my location and the time of day.

For example, I want a single Read Stuff workflow, that will bring me the next article in my Instapaper queue, or, if the queue is empty, my current iBook/Kindle/Kobo e-book.


Thanks for reading.