The Did-It-All Edition Monday, April 17, 2017

The Guy Who Produced Kendrick Lamar’s Best New Track Did It All On His iPhone, by David Pierce, Wired

A few minutes after Steve Lacy arrived at a dingy, weed-clouded recording studio in Burbank, the 18-year-old musician flopped down in a plush leather chair in the control room. Vince, one of the studio’s proprietors, came in to show Lacy how the mixing boards and monitors worked. Lacy didn’t care; he was just in it for the chair. He picked up his new black-and-white Rickenbacker guitar, then reached into his Herschel backpack and yanked out a mess of cables. Out of the mess emerged his iRig, an interface adapter that connects his guitar directly into his iPhone 6. He shoved it into the Lightning port and began tuning his instrument, staring at the GarageBand pitch meter through the cracks on the screen of his phone.

Guitar ready, Lacy relocated into the studio. He usually works in the vocal booth, where he’ll light candles and hang for hours, but since I had a cameraman with me he agreed to sit somewhere a little more visually appealing—and bigger. Lacy, wearing jean shorts and a plaid khaki shirt underneath an unzipped blue hoodie, sat on a drum throne in the center of the studio and re-assumed his previous pose: right leg crossed over left, Beats headphones on his ears, iPhone perched precariously on his bare knee (he swears this isn’t how he cracked the screen) and connected to the guitar in his lap. Then he went to work, kind of. He’d never call it work. He doesn’t even call it recording, or songwriting, or producing. He calls it “making beats.”

Why Can’t All My Chargers Just Charge All My Stuff?, by Chaim Gartenberg, The Verge

Except for the fact that USB-C is still a maddeningly confusing standard. Your laptop’s USB-C charger will charge your phone, but not the other way around. That “Fast Charge 3.0 compatible” brick you bought on the cheap from Amazon works with some of your stuff, but not others. Or when you try to juice up your Switch from your MacBook Pro, it turns out your laptop is actually draining your console instead.

Classical Macs

I Built A Mini LEGO Macintosh Classic With E‑ink Display, by Jannis Hermanns, Ars Technica

Long story short: I built a Wi-Fi enabled LEGO Macintosh Classic running Docker on a Raspberry Pi Zero with an e‑paper display. Docker deployments via Read on for more details of how I built it.

Emulate The Golden Age Of The Macintosh Thanks To The Internet Archive, by Rhett Jones, Gizmodo

Along with its duties of maintaining copies of important news, literature, scientific information, and old MySpace pages, the Internet Archive also loves to create emulations for you to fiddle with inside your browser. Today, the lovable non-profit organization has made it easy for you to relive the glory years of the early Macintosh like it’s 1985 all over again.


Slack, An Upstart In Messaging, Now Faces Giant Tech Rivals, by Katie Benner, New York Times

The battle between Slack and its competitors is essentially a fight over who will make the next piece of workplace software that no one can live without. Many businesses, large and small, depend on Excel from Microsoft, Photoshop from Adobe and Gmail from Google.

Slack wants to be in that pantheon — as the place where people collaborate and hang out online, the world’s virtual conference room and water cooler.

How To Turn Your Mac Into A Digital Video Recorder For Over-the-air TV, by Glenn Fleishman, Macworld

What each of the DVRs offers is a program guide; the ability to record at will or via schedules, including recurring programs; and access to your recorded programs from within a network. Some offer Internet-based remote access, live TV viewing, and native apps for iOS and Apple TV as well as other platforms.

eyeTV is in commercial release. The other three I cover are in testing, so we aren’t ready to review them until they’re in release form as a server or service. Instead, I’ll provide a feature overview.

Face App Helps To Spot Rare Diseases, by Mark Bridge, The Australian

Doctors are using a smartphone app that can scan photos for the facial characteristics of more than 2,000 genetic syndromes within seconds. [...]

Its deep-learning algorithm analyses the shape of the face and position of the eyes, ears, nose and lips, comparing the data with a reference database to list any genetic conditions that could fit the measurements. In many cases the genes responsible give patients a distinctive look.

Trying To Plan Fun Things For Kids To Do? The Yuggler App Makes It Less Of A Struggle, by Jen Leo, Los Angeles Times

Parents, need an extra hand entertaining the kids? With your Yuggler app you can build a list of fun things to do at your destination that puts the kids’ interests first.


Are Software Developers Miserable?, by Michael Byrne, Motherboard

So, no, programmers aren't miserable at all. "This does not mean that software developers are happy to the point that there is no need to intervene on their unhappiness," Graziotin and co. conclude. "On the contrary, we have shown that unhappiness is present, caused by various factors and some of them could easily be prevented. Our observations and other studies show that unhappiness has a negative effect both for developers personally and on development outcomes."


Instant Recall, by Casey Newton, The Verge

But two years after it launched, a platform that aspired to build a more stable path forward for journalism appears to be declining in relevance. At the same time that Instant Articles were being designed, Facebook was beginning work on the projects that would ultimately undermine it. Starting in 2015, the company's algorithms began favoring video over other content types, diminishing the reach of Instant Articles in the feed. The following year, Facebook's News Feed deprioritized article links in favor of posts from friends and family. The arrival this month of ephemeral stories on top of the News Feed further de-emphasized the links on which many publishers have come to depend.

In discussions with Facebook executives, former employees, publishers, and industry observers, a portrait emerges of a product that never lived up to the expectations of the social media giant, or media companies. After scrambling to rebuild their workflows around Instant Articles, large publishers were left with a system that failed to grow audiences or revenues. Facebook says the adoption of Instant Articles is growing quickly, and that upcoming changes to the platform will lure back some of the major media companies that have abandoned it. But given Facebook’s other priorities, the future of Instant Articles is less certain than ever.