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Archive for May 2018

The More-Likely-to-Bend Edition Friday, May 25, 2018

Internal Documents Show Apple Knew The iPhone 6 Would Bend, by Jason Koebler, Motherboard

Apple’s internal tests found that the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are significantly more likely to bend than the iPhone 5S, according to information made public in a recent court filing obtained by Motherboard. Publicly, Apple has never said that the phones have a bending problem, and maintains that position, despite these models commonly being plagued with “touch disease,” a flaw that causes the touchscreen to work intermittently that the repair community say is a result of bending associated with normal use.

The information is contained in internal Apple documents filed under seal in a class-action lawsuit that alleges Apple misled customers about touch disease. The documents remain under seal, but US District Court judge Lucy Koh made some of the information from them public in a recent opinion in the case.

Valve Accuses Apple Of Rejecting Steam Link Mobile Streaming App, by Sean Hollister, CNET

Valve says that Apple actually approved the iOS version for release on May 7, but decided to renege -- due to "business conflicts with app guidelines that had allegedly not been realized by the original review team," according to Valve's statement.

Stuff

Apple Promotes Free Month Of Upgraded iCloud Storage To Non-paying Users, by AppleInsider

Apple is advertising free one month trials of its premium iCloud storage plans to Apple device owners not currently paying for a subscription and who have reached their 5GB limit.

When these users attempt to perform an iOS device backup, a pop-up message appears promoting the step-up 50GB plan. A similar notification without mention of the free trial has long been part of iOS.

Beats 'Decade Collection' Headphones Revealed Online Ahead Of Release, by Mikey Campbell, AppleInsider

Apple's planned celebration of Beats' 10th anniversary — a line of special "Decade Collection" hardware — hit the web late this week prior to an official announcement, with major retail chains advertising the limited edition ahead of a scheduled launch in June.

Pro Camera App Obscura 2 Launches With New Filters, Metadata Viewer, And One-hand Friendly UI That Looks Great On iPhone X, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

The main screen incorporates all controls into a bottom third of the screen, easily accessible when using the iPhone one-handed. There are dedicated buttons for common actions of changing exposure and focus, and a simple ‘control wheel’ dial houses the rest of the controls. Obscura includes a rich set of filters, gestures and a beautifully integrated photo library browser.

Notes

Jury Finds Samsung Owes Apple $539M In Patent Case Stretching Back To 2011, by Devin Coldewey, TechCrunch

A patent case that began back in 2011 has reached a conclusion, with Samsung ordered to pay about $539 million to Apple over infringements of the latter’s patents in devices that are now long gone. The case has dragged on for years as both sides argued about the finer points of how much was owed per device, what could be deducted and so on. It’s been eye-wateringly boring, but at least it’s over now. Maybe.

The patents in question are some things we take for granted now, UI cues like “rubber-banding” at the bottom of a list or using two fingers to zoom in and out. But they were all part of the “boy have we patented it” multi-touch gestures of which Steve Jobs was so proud. In addition there were the defining characteristics of the first iPhone, now familiar (black round rectangle with a big screen, etc.). At any rate, Apple sued the dickens out of Samsung over them.

Woman Says Her Amazon Device Recorded Private Conversation, Sent It Out To Random Contact, by Gary Horcher, KIRO7

"I felt invaded," she said. "A total privacy invasion. Immediately I said, 'I'm never plugging that device in again, because I can't trust it.'"

Danielle says she unplugged all the devices, and she repeatedly called Amazon. She says an Alexa engineer investigated.

"They said 'our engineers went through your logs, and they saw exactly what you told us, they saw exactly what you said happened, and we're sorry.' He apologized like 15 times in a matter of 30 minutes and he said we really appreciate you bringing this to our attention, this is something we need to fix!"

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When I go to bed at night, there are seven devices with microphones surrounding us. Two of the devices are typically inside my bag, which is next to my bed.

Out of the seven devices, six of them also contain one or more cameras. (None of the cameras are pointing at me when I sleep, though.)

Out of the same seven devices, six of them can connect to the internet directly via the wi-fi router. They all know my password. One of them can also connect to any of the other six devices via Bluetooth, if it so desires.

So, yes. If your company is making devices with microphones and cameras and what-nots, you will need to gain our trust first.

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I find it strange that there are people clamoring for the Apple Watch (and other wrist-based wearable devices) to have a camera. I don't wear any watches, but if I do, I don't want a camera there. Especially since one wears a watch everywhere one goes to, including the restrooms. I'm not sure about you -- especially if you belong to the other half of the human population of which I am not a member -- but the position of my wrist while I'm in there is quite near places of my body where I don't really want a camera that may be on to be pointing at.

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Thanks for reading.

The Life-After-Cancer Edition Thursday, May 24, 2018

Second Life: Rethinking Myself Through Exercise, Mindfulness, And Gratitude, by Federico Viticci, MacStories

It's been over five years since my cancer-free diagnosis; I went into complete remission in February 2013 and hit the 5-year-clear mark following a long series of annual check-ups and routine tests. Because of the type of cancer I had – Hodgkin's Lymphoma Stage IV with the involvement of my right lung – I had to go through a cycle of radiotherapy (in addition to aggressive chemotherapy and the then-experimental immunotherapy). As it turns out, the proton beam that was shot into my lung left that area slightly "denser" than normal – hence the something that needed to be double checked after a chest X-ray in March.

It's also been three years since I last wrote about my life after cancer, and how I was using the iPhone and various HealthKit apps to help me recover from treatments and get back in shape. The story, which came out before the debut of the original Apple Watch, outlined my plans to follow a strict diet and exercise regularly. At the time, I thought I had my post-treatment life figured out; I was ready to go back to my old, normal routine.

And that was exactly the problem. Three years later, I'm here today to admit that I failed. It took me a long time – too much time – to realize that I wasn't keeping the promises made in that article from March 2015. I was so eager to return to my previous concept of "normality", I didn't notice that my euphoria for beating cancer slowly morphed into a craving for old and comfortable habits. In hindsight, I wasn't ready to begin a new chapter of my life after cancer; I just wanted my old life back.

Apple Will Partially Refund Some iPhone Users Who Paid For Battery Replacements Last Year, by Ashley Carman, The Verge

Apple said today it’ll refund customers who paid for out-of-warranty battery replacements on their iPhone 6 or later devices between January 1st, 2017 and December 28th, 2017. They’ll receive a $50 credit so long as the battery swap was done at an Apple authorized service location. It’s not a total refund, but it brings the price down to the discounted one that Apple is currently offering for battery changes.

Growing Number Of iPhone X Users Report Easily Cracking Camera Lens, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Over the last few months, a growing number of iPhone X users have taken to Apple’s support forums and Reddit to complain of cracked camera lenses. Furthermore, affected users say that Apple won’t replace the device under warranty, instead charging for a full device replacement.

European Data

Instapaper Says It Will Temporarily Go Offline In Europe Due To GDPR, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Instapaper made its announcement in an email to users, saying it will essentially go offline for all European users as it works to ensure all of its practices are GDPR compliant. The company does not provide a timetable for when service will be restored, nor does it elaborate on the reason for the delay when GDPR was originally announced a good while ago.

No One’s Ready For GDPR, by Sarah Jeong, The Verge

Part of the problem is how companies are set up, and part of it is that “personal information” is a wishy-washy category. Names, email address, phone numbers, location data — those are the obvious ones. But then there’s more ambiguous data, like “an oblique reference, like the tall bald guy who lives on East 18th Street. If someone said that in an email, that would be information you’d need to provide me with access to under the GDPR,” says Straight.

Stuff

Make Sure Your iPhone Is Capturing Video, by Josh Centers, TidBITS

It’s surprisingly easy to think you’re recording a video on your iPhone, only to realize later that you didn’t tap the record button and totally missed that great moment. Adam Engst and I have both flubbed recordings in this way on multiple occasions, and we know from helping our families that we’re not alone. Here’s how to make sure your iPhone is recording, so you don’t fail to capture a special video.

How I Use Day One — And An Aside About The Differences Between Bear And Day One, by Josh Ginter, The Sweet Setup

As a whole though, there’s very little that makes my Day One workflow different from anyone else. I’ve been at it for a long time, so my Day One history has really started to show its value. Other than that, my Day One-specific workflow is fairly hum drum.

I think the more interesting workflow is how Day One is part of my broader, information- and research-based workflow.

Beware "iCloud Breach" Phone Scam, by Adam Engst, TidBITS

The automated message claims to be from “Apple Support Care” and warns that your iCloud account has been breached and that you should stop going online. It then tells you to press 1 to be connected to Apple Support. Yeah, right, that’s going to happen.

Notes

Today Mac OS X Is As Old As The Classic Mac OS, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

Here’s a bit of numerology for you. Today marks 17 years, one month, and 29 days since Mac OS X 10.0 was released on March 24, 2001. That’s a strangely odd number—6269 days—but it also happens to be the exactly length of time between January 24, 1984 (the launch of the original Macintosh) and March 24, 2001.

Apple, Spurned By BMW And Mercedes, Signs Deal With Volkswagen For Driverless Cars, by Jack Nicas, New York Times

For the past several years, Apple sought partnerships with the luxury carmakers BMW and Mercedes-Benz to develop an all-electric self-driving car, according to five people familiar with the negotiations who asked not to be identified because they weren’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly. But on-again, off-again talks with those companies have ended after each rebuffed Apple’s requirements to hand over control of the data and design, some of the people said.

Instead, Apple has signed a deal with Volkswagen to turn some of the carmaker’s new T6 Transporter vans into Apple’s self-driving shuttles for employees — a project that is behind schedule and consuming nearly all of the Apple car team’s attention, said three people familiar with the project.

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The only beta operating system from Apple that I used full-time on my only computer was that first Mac OS X public beta. I bought a used Powerbook that was running Mac OS 9, which I quickly discovered often didn't go to sleep when I closed the lid of the laptop. I installed the public beta, and it worked perfectly. So I switched to using beta software full-time, often running programs in classic mode.

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Thanks for reading.

The Keep-In-Touch Edition Wednesday, May 23, 2018

You Can Now Download A Copy Of Everything Apple Knows About You, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

Apple has today launched its new Data and Privacy website, allowing Apple users to download everything that Apple personally associates with your account, from Apple ID info, App Store activity, AppleCare history to data stored in iCloud like photos and documents. It appears this is currently only available for European Union accounts, to comply with GDPR, and will roll out worldwide in the coming months.

The Apple Watch Has Found A Surprisingly Useful Home, by Mike Murphy, Quartz

You might’ve noticed that the person who took your order at the bar, brought you the shoes you wanted to try on, or perhaps even patted you down at the airport security line, is sporting an Apple Watch, which starts at $329 for the newest Series 3 watch. And there’s a pretty simple explanation: Many service-industry jobs where employees have to be on their feet all day don’t allow workers to check their phones while they’re on the clock. But that rule doesn’t necessarily apply to a piece of unobtrusive jewelry that happens to let you text your friends and check the weather.

Quartz spoke with airline attendants, bartenders, waiters, baristas, shop owners, and (very politely) TSA employees who all said the same thing: The Apple Watch keeps them in touch when they can’t be on their phones at work. Apple has increasingly been pushing the watch as a health device, and seems to have moved away from marketing it as one that offers more basic utility, as Apple continues do with the iPhone. But given that roughly 23% of the US labor force works in wholesale or retail operations, perhaps it’s a market Apple should reconsider.

Craig Federighi Says Apple Intends To Address APFS Support For Fusion Drives 'Very Soon', by Juli Clover, MacRumors

Apple is planning to share news on APFS support for Fusion Drives "very soon," Apple software engineering chief Craig Federighi told MacRumors reader Jonathan in an email this afternoon.

In Which Apple Destroys My Daughter’s iPad Forever, by Erica Sadun

The other day, Apple locked her out of her iCloud account and her iPad. We don’t know why. The Apple support people don’t know why. I think it may have to do with when I modernized my AppleID to use an email address, which is what the iTunes account on the iPad is registered to.

UCLA Smartphone App Translates Meanings Of Your Baby’s Cries, by Rich Haridy, New Atlas

The app is called Chatterbaby and is initially being directed at assisting deaf parents in identifying when their baby is crying, as opposed to simply making loud noises. Remote noise monitors, while helpful for hearing-impaired parents, cannot distinguish between a cry of distress and a loudly talkative baby.

The second function of Chatterbaby is where things begin to get really interesting. The team at UCLA set out to create an algorithm than can place different cries into three categories: pain, hunger and fussiness.

Stuff

A Redesigned 1Password 7 For Mac Enhances Watchtower And Adds Flexibility To Vaults, App Login Support, And More, by John Voorhees, MacStories

1Password 7 is a comprehensive update that touches every corner of the app. The app will still be familiar to long-time users, but features like Watchtower and Vaults have been extended with new capabilities that are worth exploring if you haven’t in a while. 1Password also works better than ever with app logins.

Spark 2 Hands-On: Email For Teams With App Integrations, by Federico Viticci, MacStories

Spark 2 is all about teams and reimagining email as a shared, collaborative space akin to Google Docs or Dropbox Paper. Again, Readdle isn't first to the market with this type of product, but I think Spark is the first modern email client that has been able to blend business-y features such as message sharing and real-time drafts with a native iOS experience that doesn't feel like a cheap web app.

Notability For iOS Adds Handwriting Search & Conversion, Side-by-side View, More, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

The update brings the app to version 8.0 and includes handwriting recognition and conversion, a new Multi-Note feature, and much more.

Develop

How To Become A Part-time Programmer: An Interview With An Expert, by Itamar Turner-Trauring, Code Without Rules

"For me it was putting a premium on my time, and wanting to have that time to do other things. I’ve got hobbies, always had hobbies, different sports over the years which takes time. But even just stuff like having time to work on your own programming project, which I think is really valuable. Valuable enough to me that I’ll actually pay money for it in the form of taking less salary."

Notes

Illustration In The App Store, by Khoi Vinh, Subtraction

We don’t see this particular flavor of artistic ambition from many companies today, especially tech companies. The predominant mode of product design almost exclusively favors templates and automation, what can be done without human intervention. The very idea of asking living, breathing art directors who need to be paid real salaries to hire living, breathing illustrators who also need to be paid a living wage in order to create so-called works of art that have no demonstrably reproducible effect on actual profits is outlandish, absurd even. The mere suggestion would get you laughed off of most design teams in Silicon Valley. Design in this century has little use for anything that can’t be quantified.

And yet, here is Apple’s App Store, presenting new, original illustrations several times a week. Of course, not everything shown is bespoke. For some recurring editorial features they use wallpaper-like designs made from app icons; other stories borrow graphics right from the apps themselves; and sometimes the art directors will sneak in a graphic that they might have used in the past.

Yammering On One More Time Regarding Google’s Duplex Recordings, by John Gruber, Daring Fireball

The job of journalists is to verify these things, not just to take a company’s word for it.

Batteries Still Suck, But Researchers Are Working On It, by Lauren Goode, Wired

Better batteries mean better products. They give us longer-lasting smartphones, anxiety-free electric transport, and potentially, more efficient energy storage for large-scale buildings like data centers. But battery tech is frustratingly slow to advance, due to both the chemical processes involved and the challenges that exist around commercializing new battery designs. It remains incredibly tough for even the most promising battery experiments to find their way out of research labs and into the devices we carry.

That hasn't stopped people from trying. In recent years researchers and technologists have presented a variety of ways in which the materials in rechargeable lithium batteries—the kind in your phone right now—can be tweaked to improve battery density and, more importantly, battery safety. These technologies aren't going to make it to market in time for the Next Big Product Launch, but as we watch our phones slurp up the last dribble of power at the end of a long day, we can dream about the future.

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Is Apple re-looking the whole app notification system over all the Apple platforms? I have never use Android, but many reviewers seem to agree that the notification system is better on Android than iOS. If this is indeed true, and that Apple is playing catch-up, I do hope that Apple is also figuring out how the Apple Watch fits into all these, to give the Watch more purposes besides physical health.

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Is the share-my-heartbeat still a thing on the watchOS?

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Thanks for reading.

The One-Missing-Feature Edition Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Castro 3 Review: The Castro You’ve Always Wanted, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

If an absent feature ever kept you from sticking with Castro 2, that almost certainly won't be a problem anymore. Castro 3 addresses nearly all of those "one missing feature" requests in a single release.

Castro Podcasts, by Ben Brooks, The Brooks Review

Isn’t the entire point of a podcast that the entire podcast is relevant and entertaining?

Instagram Testing New ‘You’re All Caught Up’ Feature To Improve Digital Health, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Once a user has seen all of the content their friends have shared in the last 48 hours, Instagram will display a new mid-feed banner that says there’s nothing left to see. “You’re all caught up, you’ve seen all new posts from the past 48 hours,” the notification reads.

Hospital Taps iPad-based Language Interpretation That Takes Half The Time Of Phone Calls, by Bill Siwicki, Healthcare IT News

Southcoast Health shows how video-based interpretation is improving patient engagement and experience, and allaying the fears of patients with limited English proficiency.

Stuff

Apple Cuts USB-C To Lightning Cable Price To $19, by Shannon Liao, The Verge

Apple has dropped the price of its USB-C to Lightning cable by $6 to $19; it previously sold for $25. The price cut comes amid rumors that this year’s iPhones could include a USB-C to Lightning cable in the box and finally move on from the old USB-A cable.

Apple Updates Clips With New Soccer Content Ahead Of FIFA World Cup, by Chance Miller, New Yorker

Apple touts that the update brings soccer graphics including an animated sticker, label, and poster with customizable text.

Evernote Adds Ability To Transcribe Voice-to-Text Notes Via AirPods, BeatsX, And More, by Mitchel Broussard, MacRumors

Note-taking app Evernote was updated over the weekend with a new feature that allows you to connect your Bluetooth headphones to the app and use them to record audio and transcribe voice-to-text notes. The company says that as long as the headphones have a microphone they will work, so if you own AirPods or BeatsX you'll be able to use the wireless earphones to quickly jot down notes and reminders using your voice and Evernote.

Procreate Pocket Receives Major 2.0 Update That’s Built From The Ground Up, by Jeff Benjamin, 9to5Mac

Procreate Pocket 2.0 features 136 handcrafted brushes, wet painting effects, new time-lapse features, brush imports and exports, and hundreds of additional features that will empower creatives on the go.

Develop

10 Ways To Take Beautiful Photos Of Kids, by Stella Blackmon, A Cup of Jo

Do you like taking family photos? Growing up, the only time my family took a real picture was for our annual holiday card. And 100% of the time, you could point out at least one sibling in the midst of a total meltdown. (For two years in a row, it was all three of us.) “Good enough,” I remember my mom saying. Why is getting kids to stand still — let alone to smile on command — so impossible? We asked four family photographers to share their secrets for getting joyful reactions from kids…

How Smarter Living Taught Me To Be An Adult, by Tim Herrera, New York Times

I’ve learned a lot in the last two years: how to actually manage my finances; how to eat better and stick with an exercise routine; how to say no effectively; and how to build good habits (and break bad ones), among many, many other things. Most meaningfully, I’ve learned how to find and focus on the things that truly matter to me and let the rest fade into the background. It’s a slight exaggeration to say that S.L. has taught me how to be an adult, but only just.

With that in mind, dear reader …

Notes

Animoji Go On A Wild Ride In Crazy K-pop iPhone X Ad, by Buster Hein, Cult of Mac

Apple has tapped into the power of K-pop for its wild new Animoji ad that came out today. The South Korean group HYUKOH gave Apple exclusive rights to their catchy new song for the fun ad that features a dazzling array of lights and animated cityscapes.

How The Math Men Overthrew The Mad Men, by Ken Auletta, New Yorker

Once, Mad Men ruled advertising. They’ve now been eclipsed by Math Men—the engineers and data scientists whose province is machines, algorithms, pureed data, and artificial intelligence. Yet Math Men are beleaguered, as Mark Zuckerberg demonstrated when he humbled himself before Congress, in April. Math Men’s adoration of data—coupled with their truculence and an arrogant conviction that their “science” is nearly flawless—has aroused government anger, much as Microsoft did two decades ago.

The power of Math Men is awesome. Google and Facebook each has a market value exceeding the combined value of the six largest advertising and marketing holding companies. Together, they claim six out of every ten dollars spent on digital advertising, and nine out of ten new digital ad dollars. They have become more dominant in what is estimated to be an up to two-trillion-dollar annual global advertising and marketing business. Facebook alone generates more ad dollars than all of America’s newspapers, and Google has twice the ad revenues of Facebook.

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Any time someone starts to argue whether Apple is a hardware or a software company, I will lose interest in the argument real quickly. Apple builds computers, not hardware nor software.

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Any time now, someone will start to argue whether Apple is a computer company, or a service company.

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Thanks for reading.

The Keep-'Em-Working Edition Monday, May 21, 2018

This New Smartphone Feature Should Be Used By Every Driver, From Teen To Seasoned Commuter, by Rob Pegoraro, USA Today

On iPhones running the current iOS 11 software, you should have gotten a prompt to enable Apple’s “Do Not Disturb while driving” option the first time your iPhone detected motion akin to driving. But if you ignored that, you should revisit this “do not disturb” feature, which suppresses notifications and only shows turn-by-turn navigation on the lock screen.

These 299 macOS Apps Are So Buggy, Apple Had To Fix Them In AppKit, by Worth Doing Badly

Apple gets a bad reputation for their supposed lack of backwards compatibility. Nothing is further from the truth: macOS includes tweaks for specific important apps to keep them working on new OS versions. The list of 299 apps macOS checks is fascinating, and shows what Apple believes to be essential applications for the platform.

Stuff

CloudMounter 3.2 Review: Easily Access Dropbox, Google Drive, And OneDrive Through A Single Mac Icon, by J.R. Bookwalter, Macworld

After installing CloudMounter and logging into one of the aforementioned accounts, your remote storage appears as a volume with a colorful icon on the desktop, which can be used to drag and drop files just like local hard drives.

It’s Easy To Get Serious About Self-care With The Quirky, Fun Aloe Bud App, by Brenda Stolyar, Digital Trends

Aloe Bud is a self-care companion app that gives users gentle reminders via push notifications. Whether it’s staying hydrated throughout the day or making sure you’re taking a break from work, you have the freedom to choose from a variety of different activities to set for yourself.

Review: Logi Circle 2 Is The Best HomeKit Camera, But Apple's Support Is Lacking, by Andrew O'Hara, AppleInsider

In actual use, the camera works very reliably. We receive alerts when we should, Day Brief is super useful when we want to catch up on what has been going on on our door or around our home.

HomeScan Helps Find Signal Weak Spots For Your Bluetooth HomeKit Smart Home Accessories, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

There’s not really a good way to diagnose the issue using Apple’s built-in apps. HomeScan attempts to fill that gap by displaying a dashboard of the signal strength of Bluetooth accessories as you move around your home, in real time.

Notes

iPads Set To Become Key Tools At Limerick’s Newest School, by Jess Casey, Limerick Leader

“The iPad will be a key tool in terms of what happens in the classroom,” Mr Shinners said. “We’re big into sustainability and the environment so we’ll be as paperless as we possibly can be. Students will be using what we call a virtual learning environment.”

One of the biggest concerns parents have around iPads is that they don’t have any control of the device, he said.

“But parents will have full control over the iPad using (a programme called) Zuludesk,” he added.

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So, I have three different apps that i use often to read text. I use Kindle to read e-books that I buy from Amazon. I use Overdrive to read e-books that i borrow from the local library. Then there’s Instapaper, which i use to read (almost) everything else. (There are also other ‘reading’ apps such as RSS clients and news apps and so on, but the text here are typically shorter.)

And I have to do the text settings for each of these reading apps - the font, the text size, the margins, the background color, and the distance between each line of text.

Moreover, even while I configure again and again for these apps, limitations in the preferences set by each app meant that i cannot get the same reading experience for me across the apps. Each app ended up rendering text differently, and there isn’t a settings in any of the apps that i feel is the best for my eyes.

For something as basic as reading text on a rectangular screen, I hope there is a standard rendering that all apps can adopt. Not only do I only want to set the text rendering preference only once and get the same rendering across multiple reading apps, I want the preferences to be good, and not up to the wimps of individual developers.

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Thanks for reading.

The Remove-CallKit Edition Sunday, May 20, 2018

Apple Cracking Down On CallKit Apps In China App Store Due To Government Regulation, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Apple has started sending notices to developers who offer apps in China with CallKit integration. The notice explains that apps cannot offer CallKit functionality in China due to government regulations. In order for developers to make their application available on the China App Store, they must remove that CallKit integration. Alternatively, they can remove the application from China altogether.

[...]

CallKit was introduced in iOS 10 as a way for developers to integrate calling services with other call-related applications.

Five Reasons To Prefer Apple Maps Over Google Maps, by Bradley Chambers, 9to5Mac

Now that we are almost six years into Apple Maps, I am of the opinion that Apple was right, certainly in a post Facebook privacy scandal world, to replace Google Maps with their in-house mapping product. In fact, Google Maps isn’t on my iPhone, and here are five reasons I prefer Apple Maps over Google Maps.

How The Music Industry Messed Up Legal Streaming The First Time Around, by Ernie Smith, Motherboard

But it’s not hard to forget that the music industry, caught off-guard by new technology in the late 1990s, tried to force the issue of getting paid through the launch of forgotten services like MusicNet and PressPlay—and despite the similarities to the way we stream music now, it got burned, badly.

Perhaps that was a foregone conclusion, but the response to Napster is still very much worth analyzing. Why did a very similar spin on today’s streaming services crash and burn, anyway?.

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"Enjoy it, it's your last chance anyhow"

If I have to have a song stuck in my head for the next few days, I'm glad it's this song.

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Thanks for reading.

The Allow-Free-Trials Edition Saturday, May 19, 2018

Fed Up With Apple's Policies, App Developers Form A 'Union', by Lauren Goode, Wired

In an open letter to Apple that published this morning, a group identifying themselves as The Developers Union wrote that "it's been difficult for developers to earn a living by writing software" built on Apple's existing values. The group then asked Apple to allow free trials for apps, which would give customers "the chance to experience our work for themselves, before they have to commit to making a purchase."

The grassroots effort is being lead by Jake Schumacher, the director of App: The Human Story; software developer Roger Ogden and product designer Loren Morris, who both worked for a timesheet app that was acquired last year; and Brent Simmons, a veteran developer who has made apps like NetNewsWire, MarsEdit, and Vesper, which he co-created with respected Apple blogger John Gruber. ("Brent's been developing for Apple products since before any of us were born," Schumacher quipped.)

Apple Faces LGBTQ Backlash For Considering North Carolina For Expansion, by Craig Jarvis, The News & Observer

Apple is running into a backlash from gay-rights advocates just like Amazon has over the companies' consideration of North Carolina for major expansions.

Opposition stems from the legacy of the HB2 "bathroom" law that became a national flashpoint for anti-discrimination efforts. It was later partially repealed.

Stuff

How To Make Journaling In Day One Even Better With Automation, by Matthew Cassinelli, The Sweet Setup

As my life changed and habits shifted, I realized I didn’t write as many entries on a regular basis, I would batch all my photo entries and enter them later instead of closer to the moment, and there started to be more gaps in between the blue marks on the calendar view.

So, I started setting up automations for Day One in Workflow, Drafts, and Launch Center Pro, aiming to give myself more ways to add entries while making them better to enjoy and easier to create.

Notes

What The Microsoft Antitrust Case Taught Us, by Tim Wu, New York Times

It might seem like a cruel irony that the immediate beneficiaries of the Microsoft antitrust case — namely, Google, Facebook and Amazon — have now become behemoths themselves. But this is how the innovation cycle works: It creates room for saplings to grow into giants, but then prevents the new giants from squashing the next generation of saplings. (Microsoft was itself, in the early 1980s, the beneficiary of another antitrust case, against IBM, the computing colossus of its time.)

Which takes us to the present day. Unfortunately, ever since the Microsoft case there has been remarkably little oversight of the technology sector, despite the obvious signs of corporate consolidation and outsize market power. Enforcement of the antimonopoly laws has fallen: Between 1970 and 1999, the United States brought about 15 monopoly cases each year; between 2000 and 2014 that number went down to just three.

Antitrust efforts have become too fixated on the idea that the only real harm consists of raising of prices for consumers. Yet in the Microsoft case, Internet Explorer was “free,” even though Microsoft was bent on destroying competition with it. Today, both Google and Facebook offer products that are free. Society has grown to rely on them, but because they have no dollar price, antitrust regulators have been hesitant to take action.

Apple Pays Ireland First Tranche Of Disputed Taxes, by Graham Fahy, Reuters

Apple has paid 1.5 billion euros ($1.76 billion) into an escrow account set up by the Irish government to hold 13 billion euros in disputed taxes, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said on Friday.

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Maybe we should convince Kit Kat to set up similar machines here in Singapore, so that we can all have a break whenever the subway trains are delayed.

Or: let's see how fast can we bankrupt Nestlé.

:-)

(Just this past week: Thursday, Friday, Saturday.)

~

Thanks for reading.

The Go-Wild Edition Friday, May 18, 2018

For Apple, This Year’s Global Accessibility Awareness Day Is All About Education, by Steven Aquino, TechCrunch

In hindsight, Apple’s viewpoint for how they support special education makes total sense if you understand their ethos. Tim Cook often talks about building products that enrich people’s lives — in an education and accessibility context, this sentiment often becomes a literal truism. For many disabled people, iOS and the iPad is the conduit through which they access the world.

Apple ultimately owns the iPad and the message around it, but in actuality it’s the users who really transform it and give it its identity. This is ultimately what makes the tablet exceptional for learning. The device’s design is so inherently accessible that anyone, regardless of ability, can pick it up and go wild.

In The Golden Age Of Television, Can Narrative Podcasts Compete?, by Jake Nevins, The Guardian

Now, radio fiction is experiencing something of a renaissance on the shoulders of the podcast boom, which has spawned more than 525,000 active shows and, according to Apple, another 50bn episode downloads. The rising tide, however, has lifted some boats more than others. Where conversation-based podcasts and true-crime narratives have thrived, with dozens of them being adapted for the screen, audio fiction has been slower to rise, hampered by the innate constraints of audio-based platforms and television’s stranglehold on episodic fiction. But that hasn’t stopped podcast producers from trying to revive the radio drama as a form of contemporary prestige entertainment.

Dear MacOS: Stop Forcing Yourself On Me, by Elger Jonker, Medium

I love you very much. But why did do you seem to be growing being an annoying old hag? Did you look to much to your brothers? Trust me, there is little to look up to. Questions, dialogs and bugs that interrupt my workflow and ruin my precious train of thought are what you have become.

You knew what was right for me. So to help you, i’ve kept some records of your behavior. I hope some introspection will help you become a better OS.

Real Intelligence

What The History Of Math Can Teach Us About The Future Of AI, by Nathan Myhrvold, Scientific American

Like mathematics, intelligence is not just one simple kind of problem, such as pattern recognition. It’s a huge constellation of tasks of widely differing complexity. So far, the most impressive demonstrations of “intelligent” performance by AI have been programs that play games like chess or Go at superhuman levels. These are tasks that are so difficult for human brains that even the most talented people need years of practice to master them.

Meanwhile, many of the tasks that seem most basic to us humans—like running over rough terrain or interpreting body language—are all but impossible for the machines of today and the foreseeable future. As AI gets more capable, the sphere of jobs that computers can do faster or more accurately than people will expand. But an expanding universe of work will remain for humans, well outside the reach of automation.

What Google Isn't Telling Us About Its AI Demo, by Dan Primack, Axios

Google may well have created a lifelike voice assistant that we'll all eventually use to complete mundane tasks like appointment scheduling. It also might be close to creating such a thing, but not quite there yet. Or it was partially staged. Or something else entirely. We just don't know, because Google won't answer the questions.

Develop

How To Stick To A Schedule When You Work From Home, by Whitson Gordon, New York Times

Maybe that flexible schedule keeps you from daily basics like exercising and eating, or maybe it just causes you to work 12 hour days without realizing where the time has gone. Whichever camp you fall into, it’s important to make sure your day doesn’t become a black hole.

Notes

Why Lithium And Cobalt Producers Are The Hot New Acquisition Target, by Amrith Ramkumar, Wall Street Journal

Both lithium and cobalt, which is also used in these batteries, face potential shortages in the years ahead as electric-vehicle use grows.

That concern is driving a growing number of companies reliant on lithium and cobalt to strike deals now, even if it means partnering with suppliers that haven’t started producing yet.

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Today is one of those work-days when I felt that I have done quite a lot of things but still accomplished so very little in the grand scheme of things.

(I'm definitely not cut out to be doing sales nor marketing.)

~

Thank goodness I'm not selling sugar water though.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Digital-Hub Edition Thursday, May 17, 2018

These $500 Medical Records Show Why Apple Could Upend The Health Data Industry, by Anita Balakrishnan, CNBC

Charges for records vary from state to state, and requests can come into hospitals in person, over email, by snail mail, through a fax, over the phone or via a proprietary online portal. Privacy must be ensured every step of the way. Also, medical centers are stuck on older systems, with 78 percent of physician practices in the U.S. using legacy software as of 2013, despite the fact that one-third to two-thirds of physicians surveyed are dissatisfied with the technology, according to a 2016 report in the online journal "Perspectives in Health Information Management."

The dream scenario for Apple, and potentially for iPhone users, is a digital hub similar to how iTunes centralizes your music.

Can You Handle It? Bosses Ban Cellphones From Meetings, by John Simons, Wall Street Journal

Many managers are conflicted about how—or even whether—to limit smartphone use in the workplace. Smartphones enable people to get work done remotely, stay on top of rapid business developments and keep up with clients and colleagues. But the devices are also the leading productivity killers in the workplace, according to a 2016 survey of more than 2,000 executives and human resource managers conducted by CareerBuilder, an HR software and services company.

There is also some evidence that productivity suffers in the mere presence of smartphones. When workers in a recent study by the University of Texas and University of California had their personal phones placed on their desks—untouched—their cognitive performance was lower than when their devices were in another location, such as in a handbag or the pocket of a coat hanging near their workspace.

Is A Dumber Phone A Better Phone?, by John Herman, New York Times

Smartphones are now trapped inside the world we’ve constructed around them, and so are we. If we want to escape, it won’t be another phone that gets us out.

My Watch Is Killing Me, by Stephanie Davis, Florida Weekly

Just once, I’d love to Google a symptom and have a screen pop up that says, “You’re fine. Don’t worry so much. Calm down. Have a glass of wine. Call your best friend, and if she thinks you really need a medical opinion, make a doctor’s appointment. Love, Google.”

iPhone Error

Programming Error Exposes Thousands Of iOS Apps To Hijacking, by Michael Kan, PC Magazine

Pangu Team, a group of iPhone jailbreaking experts, say they discovered the problem while auditing several iOS apps. The programming error can let a hacker on the same Wi-Fi network as an iPhone to overwrite data and execute code within the affected apps.

Apple Corrects Its IPhone Map, Stops Sending Unsuspecting Travelers Into Unfinished Tunnel, by Iceland Magazine

Users of the IPhone map app are a little bit safer while traveling in Iceland, thanks to Apple correcting an error in its maps: IPhones will no longer be telling travelers to use an unfinished and unsafe tunnel when taking the Ring Road between the towns of Akureyri and Húsavík in North Iceland.

Stuff

Head-to-head: Apple News Vs. Google News On iOS, by Andrew O'Hara, AppleInsider

Google News has replaced Google Play Newsstand on iOS, directly competing with Apple News. Both services have their clear benefits, but which ones wins out?

Develop

Apple Wants Bay Area-based Blind, Deaf Students To Learn How To Code, by Seung Lee, San Jose Mercury News

Apple announced on Thursday it is partnering with the California School for the Blind and the California School for the Deaf, along with six other schools nationwide, to teach blind and deaf students how to code. Starting this fall, the schools will teach their students how to code using Swift, Apple’s customized coding language.

The announcement is the latest news about Apple’s growing investments in the education sector, centered on its push to educate millions of students how to code via Swift.

How Apple’s iPad, Swift And VoiceOver Teach The Blind To Code, by Jonny Evans, Computerworld

This may not sound so revolutionary to those of us sufficiently privileged to take these opportunities for granted, but when one-in-seven people around the world has some form of disability such chances mean much more.

Empowering one person empowers us all.

“We see this as a way to get them interested in coding and realize this could open job opportunities," said Vicki Davidson, a technology teacher at TSBVI.

What If JavaScript Wins?, by Anil Dash, Medium

The truth is, we’ve never seen one open language become a nearly-universal programming language for coders. We don’t know what kind of benefits might accrue if the majority of coding effort starts to happen in one language, unless there’s a particular reason to use a domain-specific language that insists we do otherwise.

We just might be on the precipice of an era in coding that’s unprecedented, where we might actually see something new in the patterns of adoption and usage of an entire programming language. That potential has us excited, and waiting with bated breath to see how the whole ecosystem plays out. But even more than that, we’re excited that all of these developments will allow the Glitch community to make apps that are even more expressive and meaningful, while being even easier to realize in code.

Notes

It’s Not Just Amazon: Apple Quietly Explores Northern Virginia Campus For 20,000 Jobs, by Jonathan O'Connell, Washington Post

Apple has quietly explored the idea of opening a campus for 20,000 employees in Northern Virginia, further advancing the possibility that the Washington area could evolve into an East Coast outpost for Silicon Valley.

Apple’s consideration of the region comes eight months after Amazon selected three local jurisdictions there as part of its high-profile search for a North American headquarters outside of Seattle.

Apple And Its Rivals Bet Their Futures On These Men’s Dreams, by Ashlee Vance, Bloomberg

The ideas behind modern AI—neural networks and machine learning—have roots you can trace to the last stages of World War II. Back then, academics were beginning to build computing systems meant to store and process information in ways similar to the human brain. Over the decades, the technology had its ups and downs, but it failed to capture the attention of computer scientists broadly until around 2012, thanks to a handful of stubborn researchers who weren’t afraid to look foolish. They remained convinced that neural nets would light up the world and alter humanity’s destiny.

While these pioneers were scattered around the globe, there happened to be an unusually large concentration of neural net devotees in Canada. That’s only partly through luck: The government-backed Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (Cifar) attracted a small group of academics to the country by funding neural net research when it was anything but fashionable. It backed computer scientists such as Geoffrey Hinton and Yann LeCun at the University of Toronto, Yoshua Bengio at the University of Montreal, and the University of Alberta’s Richard Sutton, encouraging them to share ideas and stick to their beliefs. They came up with many of the concepts that fueled the AI revolution, and all are now considered godfathers of the technology. This is the peculiar story—pieced together from my interviews with them—of why it took so long for neural nets to work, how these scientists stuck together, and why Canada, of all places, ended up as the staging ground for the rise of the machines.

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Octopuses came from outer-space!

The next time I'm eating octopuses in some Korean restaurant, I'm going to pair it with some astronaut ice-cream.

~

Speaking about Korea: Erection Wine and Penis Fish.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Digital-Afterlife Edition Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Give Your Old Mac Software Eternal Life, by Jason Snell, Macworld

It’s been a long time coming, but having your Mac tell you that some of your apps will stop working brings some immediacy to the issue: If there’s a 32-bit Mac app you rely on to get work done, and it’s no longer being updated, on forthcoming versions of macOS it will only work with compromises, and ultimately it won’t work at all.

Don’t fear the death of your old software, my friends. Your current long-in-the-tooth favorites, and old friends you said goodbye to years ago, can live on and still be useful, thanks to the miraculous digital afterlife known as virtualization.

Old Memories, Accidentally Trapped In Amber By Our Digital Devices, by Jason Kottke

Part of what humans use technology for is to better remember the past. We scroll back through photos on our phones and on Instagram & Flickr — “that was Fourth of July 5 years ago, so fun!” — and apps like Swarm, Timehop, and Facebook surface old locations, photos, and tweets for us on the regular. But sometimes, we run into the good old days in unexpected places on our digital devices.

Designer and typographer Marcin Wichary started a thread on Twitter yesterday about “UIs that accidentally amass memories” with the initial example of the “Preferred Networks” listing of all the wifi networks his computer had ever joined, “unexpected reminders of business trips, vacations, accidental detours, once frequented and now closed cafés”.

I Don’t Know How To Waste Time On The Internet Anymore, by Dan Nosowitz, New York Magazine

What happened is that the internet stopped being something you went to in order to separate from the real world — from your job and your work and your obligations and responsibilities. It’s not the place you seek to waste time, but the place you go to so that you’ll someday have time to waste. The internet is a utility world for me now. It is efficient and all-encompassing. It is not very much fun.

Stuff

The New AI-powered Google News App Is Now Available On iOS, by Nick Statt, The Verge

It centers around using machine learning to train algorithms to comb through complex, fast-breaking news stories and break them down in easy-to-understand formats like chronological timelines, local news aggregation, and stories presented in a developing and evolving sequence.

Listen To Audio Everywhere With Twelve South's New Wireless Transmitter, by Tory Foulk, iMore

Called AirFly, the device is a small Bluetooth transmitter that allows you to use your AirPods in situations where usually only jacked-in headphones would function, such as on a plane or on the treadmill at your favorite fitness center.

Develop

Apple News Officially Lets Publishers Use Google’s DoubleClick To Serve Ads, by Tim Peterson, Digiday

The move is meant to make it easier for publishers to sell their Apple News articles with inventory on their own sites and their Google Accelerated Mobile Pages and Facebook Instant Articles inventory. That way, publishers may start to see some real revenue from Apple News and be more willing to produce the higher-quality, exclusive content that Apple seeks, especially on the video side, where the company has even started paying publishers for premieres. Publishers keep 100 percent of the revenue from the Apple News ads they sell directly.

Notes

Is A Stronger Social Mission What Apple Is Missing?, by Phillip Haid, Fast Company

While Apple has admirably leveraged its talent and tech to improve people’s health, and spoken about the importance of product recycling, it’s hard to know what sits at the core of the company’s social impact efforts. It doesn’t have the same legacy of community impact as many other large companies, and as such, lacks the long-term commitment many consumers look for when assessing a company’s credibility as a purpose-driven organization.

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Some of the old Mac software that I may someday want to run again:
1) Games from Ambrosia Software
2) Userland's Frontier
3) HyperCard
4) After Dark
5) Internet Explorer.

(Okay, I'm kidding about that last one. But who wouldn't want a web browser that matches the color of your computer?)

~

Thanks for reading.

The Being-Fixed Edition Tuesday, May 15, 2018

What You Need To Know About The EFAIL Vulnerability, by Joe Kissell, Take Control Blog

Yes, there is a problem, but (a) the odds that you will encounter it, even if you regularly use email encryption—and most people don’t—are incredibly small; (b) there are easy temporary workarounds; and (c) it is being fixed even as I type these words.

Let’s go over the details.

No, PGP Is Not Broken, Not Even With The Efail Vulnerabilities, by Andy Yen, ProtonMail Blog

Recommendations to disable PGP plugins and stop encrypting emails are completely unwarranted and could put lives at risk. The correct response to vulnerable PGP implementations should not be to stop using PGP, but to use secure PGP implementations. If a vulnerability is discovered in your operating system, you don’t throw away your computer. Instead, you update it and patch it. When it comes to vulnerabilities in PGP implementations, the same principle applies. If you are a PGP user, we recommend the same strategy. Apply updates to your PGP software when they become available (if necessary). Because the vulnerabilities are in the PGP implementations and not the OpenPGP protocol itself, these bugs are very easy for PGP plugin developers to patch.

Lots Of People Own Apple Stock, So It's Hard To Find Jurors For The Apple-Samsung Patent Trial, by Stephen Shankland, CNET

More than a half dozen times, US District Judge Lucy Koh excused potential jurors in the case because they owned Apple stock. As she tried to find eight jurors from among 74 candidates on Monday, three were excused because their spouses worked at Apple or a Samsung subsidiary. One electrical engineer who works at Google was excused after he pulled out his Android phone and said his job is working on them.

[...]

It's a tricky process finding people who don't tilt one way or another in Silicon Valley. Apple and Samsung are massive tech companies whose businesses bleed into many lives, retirement funds and careers. And if you're on the jury in this case, forget about making small talk about that slab of electronics that's ubiquitous in our lives.

Stuff

Apple Touts ‘Studio In Your Pocket’ With iPhone X’s Portrait Lighting Camera Ad, by Peter Cao, 9to5Mac

The ad is set in a busy subway station and features professional lighting equipment that pops out of the iPhone X after trying to take a picture; suggesting that iPhone X takes professional, studio-like photos.

Hands On: FileMaker Pro 17 Beefs Up Its App Development Features, by William Gallagher, AppleInsider

FileMaker Pro 17 has been released, in what is now an annual cycle. The aims of FileMaker Pro haven't really changed since it was launched in 1985 but its audience definitely has.

Now, FileMaker is a platform providing tools for people to make custom apps and improvements in the latest version are chiefly directed at new users. FileMaker Pro 17 tries to make it easier for more people to make more apps - and to do so faster than before.

Adobe Makes XD Design Software Free Through New XD CC Starter Plan, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

Adobe today announced the launch of the XD CC Starter plan, which provides users with free access to Adobe's all-in-one UX/UI design platform. Adobe's new XD CC Starter plan offers no-cost usage of Adobe XD for Mac and Windows and mobile apps for iOS and Android to allow users to design, prototype, and share user experiences.

Make Sure You Take Work Breaks With The macOS App 'Time Out', by David Murphy, Lifehacker

I’m busy. You’re busy. We’re all busy. Sometimes, the sheer amount of crap you have to deal with can almost feel overwhelming, but a good way to get control of your chaotic to-do list without going crazy is to make sure you’re getting enough downtime, too.

The Gadgets And Apps I Used To Lose Over 130 Pounds And Get Fit And Healthy, by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, ZDNet

There were no shortcuts. No magic pill or injection, and no "vibrate yourself to fitness" infomercial-esque, gimmicky solution. The past year and a half has been one that's seen a lot of lifting of heavy things, yoga, swinging kettlebells, calisthenics, sweaty weight vest workouts, more yoga, lots of pull ups and dips, and miles of going nowhere on my Schwinn AirDyne AD6 bike.

But it's also been incredibly rewarding, and I've learned a lot about myself on the journey. I've now got about 10 pounds left to lose before I hit my goal weight, and when I get to that goal, I will use tech to keep my weight down.

Notes

It Looks Like Apple's Tool That Stops Cops From Hacking Your iPhone Isn't Coming To iOS 11.4, by Rhett Jones, Gizmodo

The fifth beta for iOS 11.4 is out now for developers and public testers, but the full release notes contain no mention of the “USB Restricted Mode” that the team at mobile forensics firm Elcomsoft previously claimed was included in the beta. Gizmodo has repeatedly requested confirmation from Apple about the feature over the last week, but our messages have received no reply.

My Wife Once Asked Me “Why Do You Drop What You Are Doing When Steve Jobs Asks You To Do Something? You Don’t Do That For Anyone Else.”, by John Carmack, Facebook

I was debriefing the team after the launch when I got a call. I was busy, so I declined it. A few minutes later someone came in and said that Steve was going to call me. Oops.

Everyone had a chuckle about me “hanging up on Steve Jobs”, but that turned out to be my last interaction with him.

As the public story of his failing health progressed, I started several emails to try to say something meaningful and positive to part on, but I never got through them, and I regret it.

“Podcasting Patent” Case Is Finally, Totally, And Completely Dead Now, by Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica

On Monday, the Supreme Court of the United States declined to hear the case of Personal Audio v. Electronic Frontier Foundation. In short, the case is all said and done.

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The first new thing that I am going to do while I am (slowly) reading the Getting-Things-Done book: I will be cleaning up all my notes in Evernote, and purging notes that are not useful.

There are probably quite a few notes in there that I haven't even looked at once. (Yes, I could have typed with my eyes closed.)

:-)

~

The thing that I appreciate most about Evernote: it is available on all the computers and devices that I use, at work and at home. The other 'app' that I willingly fork over subscription money to have it on all the computers and devices that I use is Todoist.

(The list of devices I use in a typical 24-hour weekday: iPhone, iPad, Mac, Windows. I don't use Android and Chromebooks. Both Evernote and Todoist are also available on a web browser.)

This may be my overarching basic requirement if any of the other apps that I use start asking me for subscription money.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Magical-Experience Edition Monday, May 14, 2018

How Apple Devices Help 'Take Disability Out Of The Equation', by Ben Fox Rubin, CNET

Pruitt has cerebral palsy from the knees down, which forces him to walk slowly, but he's able to compete on the world stage by racing in a wheelchair. He said he used to set up a bunch of trackers on his chair to log his workouts, but now uses just an Apple Watch instead.

"This has everything," he told me. "This has my wheelchair and my walking, all in one."

Ahead of Global Accessibility Awareness Day this Thursday, which focuses on making technology more usable for people with disabilities, Apple sought to highlight the work its been doing in recent years to benefit people like Pruitt by building more capabilities into its devices.

Why The Apple Store Is Selling A Bike Helmet, by Christina Bonnington, Slate

The Apple Watch can do a host of useful things, but this third-party product integration is the sort of magical experience we’ve largely been waiting to see. Without opening an app on your watch or your iPhone, you can automatically record an activity. With a stretch of your arm, you can control the function of the device. It works because it’s very specific: Without the helmet turned on, you’ll never accidentally set its lights ablaze. Apple has explored expanding its gesture-based functions, but we move around so often that it would be challenging to differentiate a dedicated command from an accidental arm wave. Still, Lumos’ example could pave the way for other devices to integrate Apple Watch gestures and automatic functions into their feature sets.

A 'Technologically Illiterate' New Yorker Illustrator Explains Why He Finally Started Drawing On An iPad, by Kif Leswing, Business Insider

"When I would see digital work in a publication, I go, 'how do they do that, how do they get that that texture, how do they get the splatter? How they get it to look so, you know, rough and tumble, because you know because I don't know how to do that as a painter so well," he said.

After experimenting with every brush in Procreate, he had his answer.

"And so all of a sudden it's like, it's the brushes! That's how they do it. There's texture brushes and there's splatter brushes and there's paint roller brushes," Ulriksen said. "Now I've learned that secret."

No Reliable Fixes

EFAIL, by Efail.de

The EFAIL attacks exploit vulnerabilities in the OpenPGP and S/MIME standards to reveal the plaintext of encrypted emails. In a nutshell, EFAIL abuses active content of HTML emails, for example externally loaded images or styles, to exfiltrate plaintext through requested URLs. To create these exfiltration channels, the attacker first needs access to the encrypted emails, for example, by eavesdropping on network traffic, compromising email accounts, email servers, backup systems or client computers. The emails could even have been collected years ago.

The attacker changes an encrypted email in a particular way and sends this changed encrypted email to the victim. The victim's email client decrypts the email and loads any external content, thus exfiltrating the plaintext to the attacker.

Critical PGP And S/MIME Bugs Can Reveal Encrypted E-mails. Uninstall Now, by Dan Goodin, Ars Technica

The Internet’s two most widely used methods for encrypting e-mail--PGP and S/Mime--are vulnerable to hacks that can reveal the plaintext of encrypted messages, a researcher warned late Sunday night. He went on to say there are no reliable fixes and to advise anyone who uses either encryption standard for sensitive communications to remove them immediately from e-mail clients.

Disabling PGP In Apple Mail With GPGTools, by Soraya Okuda, Starchy Grant, and Bill Budington, Electronic Frontier Foundation

Researchers have developed code exploiting several vulnerabilities in PGP (including GPG) for email. In response, EFF’s current recommendation is to disable PGP integration in email clients.

Disabling PGP decryption in Apple Mail requires deleting a “bundle” file used by the application. Your existing keys will remain available on your machine.

Stuff

Scrapbooking On The Go, by Avinash BaliAvinash Bali, India Times

Preserving previous memories in the form of scrapbooks is a tradition that has continued even into the digital age. Families gets together to laboriously and lovingly put together scraps of paper, photos, ticket stubs, glitter, hand-drawn typography into one beautiful ensemble that perfectly represents memories of babies born, holidays enjoyed, and festivities enjoyed.

Scrapbooking is a great way to keep kids busy too. But while it is fun, it can also get messy with pieces of frilly detritus, glue mishaps and glitter where it doesn’t belong. If that’s got you thinking that “there has got to be a neater way of doing this,” well, there is. Here are a bunch of great apps that help you scrapbook your heart out, even when you’re out and about.

Develop

Surviving Mediocrity Inside The Bowels Of A Business: Think Like A CEO, by Jean-Louis Gassée, Monday Note

If you really believe in your idea and are convinced it’s the right thing to do for the company (and not just for your ego), go over your bosses’ heads and write to the C-level exec, the Corporate VP of Software or something similar. Describe what you propose to do, explain how it will change the game, tell him or her how much time it will take and what resources you’ll need (as few as possible, at least in the beginning). And don’t forget to say good things about your colleagues and especially your boss, no matter how much it pains you. This won’t fool the top dog but it will make you sound like a Team Player, a must if you want to be heard.

Assuming you have something of substance, rinse and repeat once a month. You’ll get noticed, if only for your polite insistence and for the fact that actual execs — the ones who haven’t exceeded their Sell-By date — are beset by the Fear of Missing Out, the concern that they’ll miss something that would make an actual difference — to the company, or to their political power position.

That’s it. Simple and difficult.

Notes

How Fortnite Captured Teens’ Hearts And Minds, by Nick Paumgarten, New Yorker

Fortnite, for anyone not a teen-ager or a parent or educator of teens, is the third-person shooter game that has taken over the hearts and minds—and the time, both discretionary and otherwise—of adolescent and collegiate America. Released last September, it is right now by many measures the most popular video game in the world. At times, there have been more than three million people playing it at once. It has been downloaded an estimated sixty million times. (The game, available on PC, Mac, Xbox, PS4, and mobile devices, is—crucially—free, but many players pay for additional, cosmetic features, including costumes known as “skins.”) In terms of fervor, compulsive behavior, and parental noncomprehension, the Fortnite craze has elements of Beatlemania, the opioid crisis, and the ingestion of Tide Pods. Parents speak of it as an addiction and swap tales of plunging grades and brazen screen-time abuse: under the desk at school, at a memorial service, in the bathroom at 4 A.M. They beg one another for solutions. A friend sent me a video he’d taken one afternoon while trying to stop his son from playing; there was a time when repeatedly calling one’s father a fucking asshole would have led to big trouble in Tomato Town. In our household, the big threat is gamer rehab in South Korea.

Inbox Zero And The Search For The Perfect Email Client, by Ars Technica

Are you the sort of person who needs to read and file every email they get? Or do you delight in seeing an email client icon proudly warning of hundreds or even thousands of unread items? For some, keeping one's email inbox with no unread items is more than just a good idea: it's a way of life, indicating control over the 21st century and its notion of productivity. For others, it's a manifestation of an obsessively compulsive mind. The two camps, and the mindsets behind them, have been a frequent topic of conversation here in the Ars Orbiting HQ. And rather than just argue with each other on Slack, we decided to collate our thoughts about the whole "inbox zero" idea and how, for those who adhere to it, that happens.

Silicon Valley Faces Regulatory Fight On Its Home Turf, by Daisuke Wakabayashi, New York Times

The California measure has three major components: It gives consumers the right to ask companies to disclose what data they have collected on them; the right to demand that they not sell the data or share with third parties for business purposes; and the right to sue or fine companies that violate the law.

Google, Facebook, major telecommunications companies and California’s Chamber of Commerce have already come out against the initiative, saying it is flawed and a threat to the economic model supporting the internet. They’ve created an organization to fight the measure with a decidedly populist name, “The Committee to Protect California Jobs.”

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I still do inbox-zero, but my target is one-hour before end of the workday. That is: Any email that arrives into my inbox after that magical hour will stay in my inbox -- and possibly unread -- until the next day.

~

Thanks for reading.

The White-Fixtures Edition Sunday, May 13, 2018

Even The Parking Lot Underneath Apple's $5 Billion Campus Is Beautifully Designed, by Kif Leswing, Business Insider

At one point, you see an underground intersection complete with traffic lights. But since it's Apple, the lights are horizontally mounted and embedded into stark white fixtures.

Hands On: WeatherKit For iPhone And iPad Is A Beautiful Forecasting App For Everyone, by Andrew O'Hara, AppleInsider

WeatherKit, or Aerium as it used to be called, is meant to be a general purpose weather app for everyone. It doesn't have quite as many features as some other apps do, but it is designed to present the information that you need, clearly, accurately, and with a beautiful layout.

Tax Reform Gave Apple More Cash Than It Knows What To Do With, by Chris Macke, The Hill

Even if Apple and other large companies did invest more and increased production, consumer spending wouldn’t be able to keep up and therein lies the real source of our uninspiring economic growth: the imbalance between large company cash piles and the limited cash consumers have available to spend.

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I am anxious about the traffic lights that doesn't look like your typical traffic lights.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Unacceptable-Conduct Edition Saturday, May 12, 2018

Apple Music, Pandora Join Spotify In (Sort Of) Muting R. Kelly, by Amy X. Wang, Rolling Stone

Sources told Pitchfork and The Blast that Apple Music had quietly pulled R. Kelly from featured playlists before Spotify's announcement and that Pandora does not currently promote the singer's music. R. Kelly’s music is still available on both streaming platforms – and Spotify's – but users have to search for it specifically, rather than coming across it on company-curated playlists. Apple Music said its decision was made weeks ago; Pandora said it has been overhauling its approach to "artists with unacceptable conduct" for months. "Pandora's policy is to not actively promote artists with certain demonstrable behavioral, ethical or criminal issues," the company said in a statement.

#MeToo Is Succeeding Where Others Failed -- To Mute R. Kelly, by Brandon Griggs, CNN

R. Kelly is still singing, but in the #MeToo era his voice is getting more and more muffled.

Spotify’s Ban On Hateful Content And Conduct Is ‘Too Subjective’ And ‘Dangerous,’ Experts Say, by Jem Aswad, Variety

As anyone who’s been paying attention knows, the announcement hasn’t quite worked out the way that Spotify may have hoped. Through a combination of apparent naivete and hubris and, to put it mildly, clumsy messaging, the company has managed to do the near-impossible: Get people to defend R. Kelly.

Health Matters

Does Wearing Headphones All The Time Mess With My Hearing?, by Nick Keppler, Tonic

It’s generally safe to ease the overload of city life through earbuds. Just make sure not to stack that sound on other loud noises and don’t crank the volume to insane levels. Does your daily regimen of earbud audio sound as loud as a piece of industrial equipment up close? Do you hear ringing or have periods when your ears seemed burned out and you can’t hear normally? If so, turn down the volume or take a break from the Slayer discography.

Fitness Apps Found To Make Almost No Difference To Users' Health, by Melissa Davey, The Guardian

An app developed by the Swedish government to curb drinking among university students actually led to them drink more, while a globally popular fitness app made almost no difference to the weight of those who used it, a review of the effectiveness of health apps has found.

Stuff

You Can Now Watch Apple's 'Carpool Karaoke' For Free, by Sean Hollister, CNET

You know those videos? The ones where comedian/late night host James Cordon magically picks up a celebrity or two in his car and they belt out songs to the radio?

How A Parent Can Take Some Control Of Kids’ iPhone, iPad And iPod Use, by Jeff Carlson, Seattle Times

This will come as no surprise, but the balance lies in a mixture of personal guidance and technology. I can’t tell you what to say to your kids — that’s the ongoing communication you should be having — but I can help you with advice on how to configure iPhones, iPads and iPods to use Apple’s parental-control features to restrict what they can be exposed to.

Develop

Just Keep At It, by M.G. Siegler, 500ish Words

Even if the next post gets zero readers too. And the next one. Eventually, zero turns to one and then one to two and then you’re off to the races.

Bottom of the Page

This year, I have started to really aim for that 10,000 steps everyday. Not because this is going to improve my health and I get to live past the age of 100 or something, but because it is making me happier.

And I have no desire to 'up' the number of steps, because I don't think that will make me any more happier.

~

Oh, and 95% of the time when I am walking towards that 10,000 everyday, I am wearing headphones, listening to either podcasts or audiobooks. And I know I am going deaf.

:-)

~

Thanks for reading.

The Just-A-Second Edition Friday, May 11, 2018

Communication Multitasking: You Only Get 1h 12min/day Without Email, by RescueTime

Our research shows that the majority of us have a problem with multitasking communication tools. And while there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to when to use communication tools, it is your choice how you use them.

The next time you feel like jumping into email for “just a second,” take a moment to think about the true cost of that action.

In Defense Of Peeking At Someone Else’s iPhone Screen, by Heather Schwedel, Slate

I’ve given it some thought, and I’m not going to stop screen snooping. Instead, I’m going to defend the practice: It is perfectly fine to read along as you watch people in your line of vision write emails and compose texts and scroll through the internet. In fact, it’s an extension, and basically a harmless one, of one of life’s greatest pleasures: people-watching.

I Played Fortnite And Figured Out The Universe, by Robin Sloan, The Atlantic

Based on my experiments in the laboratory of Fortnite, I think Liu Cixin is wrong. Or at least, he’s not entirely right. Fortnite is more Dark Forest theory than not, and maybe that’s true of the universe, too. But sometimes, we have a lever against the vise of game theory, and in this case, it is a single bit of communication. I mean “bit” in the programmer’s sense: a flag with a designated meaning. Nothing more. My heart emote didn’t make Fortnite cuddly and collaborative, but it did allow me to communicate: “Hold up. Let’s do this a different way.”

Stuff

Apollo 1.2 Is Packed With Redditors’ Feature Requests, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

Version 1.2 isn't focused so much on major new features, but instead a huge wealth of small improvements based on feedback from the Reddit community that make for an even more delightful user experience.

There’s No Perfect Transcription App, But Otter Is Getting There, by Jared Newman, Fast Company

While Otter’s algorithms don’t produce perfect transcriptions, but it’s accurate enough to help you pick out which passages deserve more time for manual cleanup.

Find And Remove The Most Troublesome Apps On Any Device, by David Nield, Gizmodo

Bad apps are draining your battery life, sucking up your local storage, and causing your devices to crash more often than they should—and the worst part is, you might not realize who the worst offenders are. Here’s how to track down badly behaving apps on the major desktop and mobile platforms, and kick them to the curb.

Notes

Apple Invests $10M In Greenhouse Gas-free Aluminum Smelting, by Brian Heater, TechCrunch

Alcoa and Rio Tinto are creating a joint venture in based in Montreal called Elysis, to help mainstream the process, with plans to make it commercially available by 2024. Along with swapping carbon for oxygen as a byproduct of the production process, the technology is also expected to reduce costs by around 15 percent.

Apple Leaves Overseas Cash Out Of Its Latest Quarterly Report, by Brandon Kochkodin, Bloomberg

There’s nothing rule-breaking about leaving it out -- some tax experts say it makes perfect sense -- but the move could make it more difficult to gauge whether one of the federal tax changes enacted last year is stoking corporate investment in the U.S., as the Trump administration said it would.

Bottom of the Page

I used to treat checking email as just a communication thing. Someone talked to me, I gotta figure out what he or she is talking about there and then. It's like I am watching television, and someone asked me who the actor is, and I do a quick googling at imdb, and answer back.

People smarter than me are probably shouting at me right now: that's not how emails should work.

Yes I realize that now.

Now, I treat checking email as another task in my to-do list. I only choose to do this task when I want to do this task, not when I get notified that someone is talking to me. I now have multiple inbox-rules to channel any emails I received to other different mailboxes. Only emails that meet a very narrow and strict set of criteria get to remain in the inbox and trigger my email alert notification.

(That's the situation with my work email. I don't check my personal email until I'm at home in the evening.)

~

The only snail mail I receive are either bills that tell me that I owe somebody money or statements that tell me that I don't have much money.

(Maybe I should declare I want to get into the Guinness World Book of Records by having the most postcards mailed to my mailbox.)

~

Once upon a time, I printed out all my important emails for safe-keeping. Floppy disks were expensive.

I have no idea where those print-outs went to.

(This was in the early 1990s.)

~

Thanks for reading.

The Available-Without-Delay Edition Thursday, May 10, 2018

Apple Says Inventory Of All iPhone Replacement Batteries Now Available Without Delay, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

Apple has confirmed that "service inventory of all iPhone replacement batteries is now available without delay," in an internal memo distributed to Apple Stores and its network of Apple Authorized Service Providers on April 27. The document was obtained by MacRumors from a reliable source.

What this means is that Apple Stores and Apple Authorized Service Providers can now order iPhone replacement batteries from Apple and receive them without facing extended shipping delays, but that doesn't necessarily mean that every Apple Store or authorized repair shop will have supply available right away.

Microsoft Windows, Apple macOS, Linux, BSD: All Hit By Same 'Serious' Security Flaw, by Liam Tung, ZDNet

Windows, macOS, major Linux distributions, FreeBSD, VMware, and Xen on x86 AMD and Intel CPUs are affected by a serious security flaw caused by operating system developers misinterpreting debug documentation from the two chip makers.

The affected OS and hypervisor makers on Tuesday released fixes for the common flaw that may allow an authenticated attacker "to read sensitive data in memory or control low-level operating system functions", according to CERT.

Respect and Deference

Apple, Influence, And Ive, by Benjamin Clymer, Hodinkee

"We knew there was so much to appreciate in this space that in order to ground ourselves, we had a series of people that helped. Just to begin to understand the historical space, having tremendous respect and deference for watchmaking. This was highly unusual for us, speaking to anyone outside of our team early on in a product development stage. But, normally there are no parallel products from which to learn."

"You know, we call this (pointing at my MacBook Pro), a MacBook, but you won’t learn more about this by understanding the nature of a physical book – so we didn’t talk to librarians. With the watch, we did. We spoke to an incredible list of experts in watchmaking throughout our development process."

Microsoft Reflects On The Failures Of Courier, KIN, And Ultra Mobile PCs, by Tom Warren, The Verge

Microsoft’s had a variety of weird and wonderful consumer devices over the years that haven’t gone so well. Jon Friedman, now chief designer of Office 365, has been at the center of Microsoft’s notorious product failures, including the SPOT watches from 2004, ultra mobile PCs, the KIN phone, and the unreleased Courier device. At Microsoft’s Build developer conference this week, Friedman reflected on his personal career at the software giant and why some of these products weren’t successful.

Wonder and Worry

Google’s AI Sounds Like A Human On The Phone — Should We Be Worried?, by James Vincent, The Verge

For example, does Google have an obligation to tell people they’re talking to a machine? Does technology that mimics humans erode our trust in what we see and hear? And is this another example of tech privilege, where those in the know can offload boring conversations they don’t want to have to a machine, while those receiving the calls (most likely low-paid service workers) have to deal with some idiot robot?

In other words, it was a typical Google demo: equal parts wonder and worry.

No Thanks, Google. I'll Speak For Myself., by Avram Piltch, Tom's Hardware

As a tech geek I'm impressed, but as a human who values communication, I'm bummed out. The language you choose when writing and the intonations you make when speaking are your own. If a computer does the talking for you, then your "word" isn't really yours.

Tech’s Two Philosophies, by Ben Thompson, Stratechery

That there are two philosophies does not necessarily mean that one is right and one is wrong: the reality is we need both. Some problems are best solved by human ingenuity, enabled by the likes of Microsoft and Apple; others by collective action. That, though, gets at why Google and Facebook are fundamentally more dangerous: collective action is traditionally the domain of governments, the best form of which is bounded by the popular will. Google and Facebook, on the other hand, are accountable to no one. Both deserve all of the recent scrutiny they have attracted, and arguably deserve more.

That scrutiny, though, and whatever regulations that result, must keep in mind this philosophical divide: platforms that create new possibilities — and not just Apple and Microsoft! — are the single most important economic force when it comes to countering the oncoming wave of computers doing people’s jobs, and lazily written regulation that targets aggregators but constricts platforms will inevitably do more harm than good.

Stuff

How To Pack And Prepare Your Smartphone For Traveling This Summer, by Brian X. Chen, New York Times

To help you plan a smooth summer vacation, here’s an overview of the tech you should pack to use a smartphone abroad, and more important, what you need to do with your phone before you depart.

Signal’s “Disappearing Messages” Live On In macOS Notifications, by Sean Gallagher, Ars Technica

Signal, the privacy-focused voice and text messaging application, offers an attractive bit of operational security: ephemeral text messages that "self-delete" after a predetermined amount of time. There is just one small problem, however, with that feature on the Mac desktop version of the application, as information security consultant Alec Muffett discovered: if you sent a self-deleting message to someone using the macOS application, the message lives on in macOS's Notifications history.

Notes

Apple Plans To Sell Video Subscriptions Through TV App, by Lucas Shaw, Bloomberg

For the first time, Apple plans to begin selling subscriptions to certain video services directly via its TV app, rather than asking users to subscribe to them through apps individually downloaded from the App Store, according to people familiar with the matter.

This would simplify the process and bolster Apple’s TV app on Apple TV, iPhones and iPads, making it a central place for people to find, watch, and buy content. It would also be another way for Apple to keep boosting it’s services business, which it expects to generate $50 billion a year in revenue by 2021.

iMac At 20: The Reaction After The 1998 iMac Introduction, by Jason Snell, Macworld

From the perspective of 2018, the iMac is history, and history is written by the victors. But in 1998, the iMac was controversial, especially among the sorts of dedicated Mac users who subscribed to Macworld. It ditched the floppy drive that had been on every single Mac to that date, as well as several ports—SCSI, serial, and ADB—that had been on basically every Mac since the Mac SE. Imagine Apple removing the headphone jack from the iPhone 7, multiplied by four. Literally every Mac accessory ever made was no longer compatible without an adapter.

Alexa And Siri Can Hear This Hidden Command. You Can’t., by Craig S. Smith, New York Times

A group of students from University of California, Berkeley and Georgetown University showed in 2016 that they could hide commands in white noise played over loudspeakers and through YouTube videos to get smart devices to turn on airplane mode or open a website.

This month, some of those Berkeley researchers published a research paper that went further, saying they could embed commands directly into recordings of music or spoken text. So while a human listener hears someone talking or an orchestra playing, Amazon’s Echo speaker might hear an instruction to add something to your shopping list.

Apple Scraps $1 Billion Irish Data Center Over Planning Delays, by Reuters

Apple ditched plans to build an 850 million euro ($1 billion) data center in Ireland because of delays in the approval process that have stalled the project for more than three years, the iPhone maker said on Thursday.

Bottom of the Page

In 2007, Google helped Apple find a Starbucks in San Franciso so that Steve Jobs could ordered 4,000 lattes to go.

In 2018, Google removed the middleman.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Black-Dot Edition Wednesday, May 9, 2018

'Black Dot Of Death' Unicode Bug Crashes iOS Messages App, by Luke Dormehl, Cult of Mac

The bug affects iOS 11.3 and the current iOS 11.4 beta seeds. A similar message recently did the rounds on Android. As of yet, Apple has yet to release a fix.

How To Fix The 'Black Dot' Unicode Bug On iPhone Or iPad, by Rene Ritchie, iMore

While new crash-inducing Unicode strings are discovered regularly, the fix typically remains the same: You need to delete the conversation with the "Black Dot" string in it.

Talk to Me, Talk For Me

We Asked Google Assistant, Amazon's Alexa And Apple's Siri 150 Questions. Here's Who Won., by Jefferson Graham, USA Today

But seriously, it's Apple that has its work cut out for it, not Google. And we'd like to offer a simple suggestion. Stop having Siri direct us "to the Web," and instead announce actual answers, just like Google Home and Alexa.

Siri's super low 55% response rate on our survey is due to the fact that it keeps offering non hands free, "Here's what I found on the Web," links, when its rivals offer true audio replies. For many of the questions, Apple is competitive. even when it's system clearly had the answers.

Google’s Latest Assault On Apple Proves How Far Behind Siri Really Is, by Jack Morse, Mashable

As the day-one Google I/O keynote came to a close Tuesday in Mountain View, California, it was clear that the tech giant had left the right impression on the developers in attendance: Specifically, one of awe. Of particular note was the wide range of tasks handled by Google Assistant — tasks that, at present, Apple's Siri could only dream of (could Siri dream).

No I/O For You

iOS 11.4 Disables Lightning Connector After 7 Days, Limiting Law Enforcement Access, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

In developer documentation, Apple says the new mode is meant to bolster security on the iPhone and iPad: "To improve security, for a locked iOS device to communicate with USB accessories you must connect an accessory via Lightning connector to the device while unlocked - or enter your device passcode while connected - at least once a week."

Stuff

Agenda Offers A New Take On Note-Taking And Task Management, by Jeff Porten, TidBITS

Agenda lends itself to a narrative organizational style: a long list of self-documentation in chronological order. With Agenda, all of your notes are in one place, and you don’t need to go hunting for individual files where you might otherwise keep such notes.

Best Apps For Making Mother's Day Awesome!, by Lori Gil, iMore

Mother's Day is just around the corner, and if you're still brainstorming what to do for your mom to show just how much she means to you, we have a list of apps that will facilitate the best day of recognition she's ever had.

Develop

Apple Cracking Down On Applications That Send Location Data To Third-parties, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Over the last few days, Apple has seemingly started cracking down on applications that share location data with third-parties. In such cases, Apple has been removing the application in question and informing developers that their app violates two parts of the App Store Review Guidelines.

Apple Opens Developer Center In World’s Fourth Most Populous Country, by Luke Dormehl, Cult of Mac

Opening the developer center was a trade on Apple’s part for permission to sell its devices in Indonesia, which is Southeast Asia’s largest smartphone market. It is also the world’s fourth most populous country — after China, India and the U.S.

Notes

What Use Is Apple’s Mac Mini, Anyway?, by Jonny Evans, Computerworld

With that storyline now pretty much managed, the iMac Pro in the here and now and a Mac Pro promise next year, will Apple now improve Mac mini or quietly put the product out of its misery?

Important is an adjective, not a noun — and all Apple products are important until the company decides to delete them. Even the iPod HiFi enjoyed the Californian sunshine once upon a time.

Apple Hiring Activity Shows A Clear Mission To Get Deeper Into Editorial Publishing, by Joshua Fruhlinger, Thinknum Media

Apple's listing for a "Politics Editor", for instance, has remained on Apple's job site since November, 2017 when the hiring spree began. And Apple's not looking for just any editor - it's looking for someone with at leasst seven years experience and a "strong understanding of high-quality journalism". Around that same date, Apple was hiring a TV & Movies Editor, an Editorial Director, a News Desk Editor, a Culture Editor, and a Business Editor. More recent job listings include editorial Art Directors and Production Designers, as seen in the table above.

Sounds like a real news room to us.

Bottom of the Page

I am guessing many 'regular' people only use the lightning connector to do the two most common things: charging and earphone. I am guessing if Apple restrict the lightning port to just these two activities, and that any other data trasnfer requires the phone to be unlocked first, not many people will mind.

Forget about the one-week limit. Secure the box all the time.

~

When I launch your app, it is typically because I want to do something now. And now is not the right time to pop up a dialog box to tell me that a new version of your app is now avaiable, and would I be willing to not do that something now and instead download and install the new version of your app, and that I have no idea how long the downloading and installing is going to take, and that I have no idea if after installing that new version will something break and I cannot do the thing I want to do now then.

Please invest in a little revamp of the UI so that I am aware of a new update but that I don't have to stop everything and do that upgrade. Think like iOS's little red dot, but maybe not so red and alert-y.

Thank you.

~

Speaking as someone who had to do tech support for many people who complain to me that the text files I sent over to them 'looked funny': Microsoft, what took you so long?

~

Thanks for reading.

The Everything-In-Disarray Edition Tuesday, May 8, 2018

iOS Design Inconsistencies Across Apple's Apps, by Benjamin Mayo

All the icons I’ve showed you here are from Apple’s built-in default apps. I expect them to set the standard for the iOS design language … but the reality is far from a perfect point. It’s scattershot, it’s a mess of competing visions. I couldn’t say what Apple’s human interface team wants the share icon to look like, let alone the structure and experience of iOS apps as a whole. Everything is in disarray.

What Do Security Updates Actually Fix?, by hoakley, The Eclectic Light Company

Apple makes great play of taking security seriously. Unfortunately, just now, that doesn’t include keeping users informed. When you can’t even trust the release notes for a security update, what can you trust?

People Can’t Put Their Phones Down, And It’s Ruining Museums, by Emily Codik, Washington Post

The problem is how we interact with other people, and whether anything will fill the void left by more traditional exhibitions. Freeing ourselves from Twitter and breaking-news alerts has never left more necessary. The etiquette that allowed for that in museums is gone — and it’s not phones, but people, who have ruined it.

Stuff

Google's Gmail App For iOS Gains Snooze Button, Support For Sending/Receiving Money With Google Pay, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

Google today updated its dedicated Gmail app for iOS to introduce two important new features, which include support for snoozing messages and Google Pay integration.

Develop

Apple Enforcing iOS 11 Support, iPhone X Resolution In App Updates, by Peter Cao, 9to5Mac

Today, Apple has informed developers that all new apps, whether updates or new submissions, will be required to support the iPhone X’s screen resolution, beginning in July of 2018.

With this new rule, means that all apps must now be built with the iOS 11 SDK, in addition to supporting the iPhone X’s edge-to-edge display.

Setting Up An iPad For Coding Is My Greatest Feat As A Computer User, by Paul Miller, The Verge

But I’m older and wiser now, and after an entire Saturday spent bashing my head against a wall, I’m happy to report that I can use a $799 tablet computer to write software. Will I ever actually use it for this purpose? Maybe! But we’ll get to that.

Feel free to follow in my footsteps if you, too, wish to code on the iPad. I can’t promise you it’s a worthwhile destination, but I learned a lot on my way there.

Microsoft Brings Its Visual Studio App Center Lifecycle Management Tool To GitHub, by Frederic Lardinois, TechCrunch

Late last year, Microsoft launched Visual Studio App Center, its new unified mobile app development lifecycle solution for developers who want to write iOS, Android, Windows and macOS apps. The service allows developers to automate the building, testing, distribution and monitoring of their Objective-C, Swift, Java, C#, Xamarin and React Native apps through a single service.

As the company announced today, it is now partnering with GitHub to make Visual Studio App Center natively available in GitHub through the GitHub marketplace.

Notes

Apple Agrees To Settlement In Shareholder Derivative Complaint Over E-book Antitrust Case, by Mikey Campbell, AppleInsider

More than two years after Apple was forced to pay out $450 million to resolve an e-books antitrust case, the company is looking to close the book on the long-running debacle, and on Monday informed shareholders that it has agreed to stipulations for settlement of a lingering derivative complaint.

Microsoft Tries A New Role: Moral Leader, by Nick Wingfield, New York Times

“The irony for Microsoft is that they lost in search, they lost in social networks and they lost in mobile, and as a consequence, they have avoided the recent pushback from governments and media,” said David Yoffie, a professor at the Harvard Business School. “This has given Microsoft the freedom to take the high road as the ethical leader in technology.”

Since taking the reins at Microsoft in 2014, Mr. Nadella has brought a more sensitive style of leadership to the company than his two predecessors, Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates. That shift has proved to be more suitable for Microsoft in this era.

Google’s Got Our Kids, by Joanna Petrone, The Outline

The issue isn’t that Google has nothing of value to offer schools — clearly, it has — but rather at what price are we buying it. If it’s too steep we might want to recall lessons from our own educations, not about how to be savvy, polished consumers of technology, but about how to be citizens.

Bottom of the Page

I can put an analog clock on the menu bar in macOS, but it wasn't very useful because the clock face is very small. Dear Apple: how about giving us the option to put an analog clock on the iPhone's lock screen too?

Maybe, if more kids see analog clocks more often, they will be able to tell time the old-fashioned way. Then we don't have to rewrite all the board-game rule-books just because the players cannot differentiate between clockwise and anti-clockwise. And I hope teachers will have an easier time teaching magentic fields too.

:-)

~

Well, I watched the first episode of the fourth series of Sherlock last week, and I came away with the impression that the whole episode was a mess.

Then, last night, I finished watching the last episode of the fourth series of Sherlock. And this, my dear Watson, was an even bigger mess.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Face-Problem Edition Monday, May 7, 2018

Apple Now Performing Rear Camera Repairs For iPhone X Face ID Issues, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Essentially, the document explains that employees should first run a diagnostics test to see if the customer’s Face ID issues could be resolved with a rear camera repair. If that doesn’t turn out to be the case, the employee should simply perform a whole unit replacement, giving the customer a new phone.

While repairing the rear camera to fix Face ID problems may seem counterintuitive, this isn’t the first time we’ve heard of it. Several users on various support threads have noted that when their rear camera fails, Face ID also fails.

The Original iMac: 20 Years Since Apple Changed Its Fate, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

It’s hard to believe today that a Steve Jobs product presentation would be met with indifference, but there was a huge amount of skepticism about Apple’s product announcements back in early 1998. Though there were definitely signs that the company was turning it around, I also recall being summoned to Apple product events where nothing much at all was announced. Regardless, only the editor in chief of Macworld, Andy Gore, even bothered to go to the announcement at the Flint Center that day.

As soon as the event ended, I got a phone call—I was working at home that day—and was told to immediately get in to the office, for an all-hands-on-deck meeting, because Apple had announced a new computer that was going to change everything. I have to give Andy credit—the moment he saw the iMac he knew it was going to be huge. We tore up our magazine issue in the matter of about a day in order to get first word about the iMac out to people in the days before instant Apple news was a thing.

Stuff

The Best To-do List To Help Boost Your Productivity, by Wired

Sometimes, pen and paper just don't cut it. It's easy to forget or lose where you've written down everything you want to get done. On other occasions, it's just impossible to fit everything on one Post-It note.

Thankfully, there are plenty of options when it comes to digital to-do lists. The productivity sections on most app stores are crammed with tools to help you organise your life. There's a real range of to-do software out there: some are feature rich and others are little more than a simple checklist. Whatever your way of working, there's a technology-enabled solution.

Bottom of the Page

The first Mac that I bought with my own money was not the Bondi-blue iMac. (That was the second Mac that I bought.) Instead, it was the low-cost Macintosh LC 630.

This particular Mac included a TV card inside that allowed me to watch over-the-air television. It even came with its own infra-red remote control.

So, all the way back in the mid-90s, I was watching television on an Apple-branded device. Just like I am watching Netflix on an Apple-branded device now in 2018.

~

But what I remember too was that the Mac can also display teletext pages. Hence, during this age of dial-ups, where ISP charge internet by the hour, my Mac could reach out to the ether and get news and stocks and weather and (lame) jokes updates. When I was making my public-housing purchase here in Singapore, I was using this teletext machine to find out which units have been purchased by others and which unit was available to me.

I think I've also started a small project to write scripts to extract news and what-nots from the teletext screens. Now, I don't have any evidence that I even attempted doing so, but I remember it wasn't easy (for me).

~

A few years later, the TV output developed purple lines that run from the top to the bottom. And that was the end of my first phase of watching-television-on-an-Apple-device days. The machine was still usable as a Mac, of course, but it was less cool.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Demanding-More-Features Edition Sunday, May 6, 2018

At Top Of WorkFlowly Founder’s To-do List: Keeping His App’s Cult-like Following Happy, by Tony Lystra, Geekwire

It wasn’t your usual Silicon Valley product announcement, but this isn’t a typical app. WorkFlowy is basically a cloud-based list-making program with a cult-like following. Unlike other apps, like OneNote or Omnifocus, WorkFlowy places almost zero restrictions on how you organize your ideas. Just open it up and start typing. People speak of the way WorkFlowy structures information not as technology so much as religion.

But the app has hardly changed in its eight years, and calls for new features have grown louder among the WorkFlowy faithful. A feature-rich but less-charming WorkFlowy clone called Dynalist has been siphoning away customers. And in recent years, some have questioned whether WorkFlowy is even in development anymore. It’s not difficult to see why Patel and his team would be feeling a little beat up these days.

Now, Patel, 37, is rebooting WorkFlowy with new features and a smoother interface. He faces a tough challenge: How to win over customers demanding more features while staying true to the thing purists love most about WorkFlowy — its bare-bones simplicity.

Screen Guilt? Kiwi-made App Makes Kids Earn Tech-time, by Jamie Morton, New Zealand Herald

Research shows nine out of 10 Kiwi kids aged between 10 and 14 gaze at screens for longer than the recommended two hours each day.

More alarmingly, most have no limit at all on the time they spend playing computer games, using their phones, or browsing the internet.

Now, one Kiwi family has come up with their own clever solution: a home-made app that makes kids earn screen-time, while ensuring they get enough play, human interaction and space to get their homework done.

Warren Buffett Wants Apple To Spend Its Cash Buying More Apple Shares, Not On Mega-deals, by Peter Kafka, Recode

The Berkshire Hathaway CEO, who makes a point of saying he doesn’t understand technology, now owns a large slug of Apple stock. And he says he likes Apple’s plan, announced last week, to spend $100 billion buying its own shares.

It’s a better idea, he says, than spending that money on other companies, which have the disadvantage of not being Apple.

Bottom of the Page

What am I reading currently: David Allen's Getting Things Done. I've read and hear so much about this GTD thing, but, I just realized, I haven't actually read the actual book yet.

What am I watching currently: BBC's Sherlock. Series 4. I quite agree with some of the negative reviews I've read. What a mess of a first episode.

What am I listening currently: Carlo Rovelli's The Order of Time. Read to me by Benedict Cumberbatch. I am so savoring this.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Nine-Megabytes Edition Saturday, May 5, 2018

Apple Took 8 Days To Give Me The Data It Had Collected On Me. It Was Eye Opening., by Jefferson Graham, USA Today

The zip file I eventually received from Apple was tiny, only 9 megabytes, compared to 243 MB from Google and 881 MB from Facebook. And there's not much there, because Apple says the information is primarily kept on your device, not its servers. The one sentence highlight: a list of my downloads, purchases and repairs, but not my search histories through the Siri personal assistant or the Safari browser.

Apple Acknowledges Microphone Issue With Some iPhone 7 And 7 Plus Models On iOS 11.3 And Later, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

In an internal document distributed to Apple Authorized Service Providers this week, obtained by MacRumors, Apple said affected customers may experience a grayed-out speaker button during phone calls. The issue may also prevent affected customers from being heard during phone calls or FaceTime video chats.

GymKit Is The Best Thing To Happen To Treadmills In A Long Time, by Daniel Bader, iMore

To be fair, I'm not unfamiliar with the gym environment, but in recent years I've kept my training mostly at home, both to save money and to save myself the embarrassment of having to come face to face with perfect lungers.

I shouldn't have been worried, because before long my head was buried exactly where I like it: in a screen. I was there to demo Apple's nascent GymKit platform, which was announced at 2017's WWDC keynote but didn't debut in the U.S. until December. Having since arrived in several other countries, it's now available to use in Canada at Equinox gyms and on Life Fitness equipment, and it's a really great experience.

Stuff

Apple Shutting Down Texture’s Windows Magazine App After Acquisition, by Jacob Kastrenakes, The Verge

While this might sound like a case of Apple immediately cutting off users outside of its ecosystem, the discontinuation of Texture’s Windows app may have been a long time coming. The app seemingly hasn’t been updated in some time, and on the Windows Store, it’s inundated with bad reviews dating back years about how poorly the app works. Multiple reviews mention being unable to download magazines, which is kind of the entire point of the app.

Get Your Life In Order With These Apps, by Blayne Slabbert, Stuff

Here's a selection to consider if you want help organising your life.

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As an experiment, I've turned off 3D touch on my iPhone. (The setting is under General > Accessibility, if you want to follow along.) And, so far, I have not noticed my phone being less usable.

In fact, the two annonying buttons on the lock screen -- the torchlight and the camera buttons -- are gone. Which made me happy.

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Thanks for reading.

The Little-Imperfections Edition Friday, May 4, 2018

20 Years Of iMac: Behind The Scenes Of Apple’s ‘Simplicity Shootout’ Video, by Michael Steeber, 9to5Mac

Neither Adam nor Johann were shown the iMac until the day of the shoot. Johann remembers seeing the new computer for the first time. “It was vastly different from anything I’d ever seen before. In fact, I vividly remember doubting that it was a computer at all.” To make the ad as realistic as possible, Apple gave the actors little guidance or instruction ahead of time. “I remember it as mostly one take,” says Taggart. “We might have done it twice. But it wasn’t like I was doing a step and they filmed me doing that same step 10 times. The actual time was pretty real.” Johann recalls a similar process. “Little imperfections like fumbling to feel the kickstand were encouraged because they didn’t want it to read as a highly produced infomercial.”

Exoskeleton App Makes Life With Muscular Dystrophy Easier, by Layne Cameron, Futurity

Zach Smith has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a genetic disorder marked by progressive muscle degeneration. His lack of muscle control and use of a wheelchair made him a prime candidate for a computer-controlled exoskeleton arm.

Talem Technologies gave him an X-Ar exoskeleton that allows him to do many daily tasks, but keeping everything level proved to be a challenge. That’s where a team of Michigan State University students stepped in.

Disgruntled MacBook Pro Users Petition Apple To Recall Defective Keyboards, by Andrew O'Hara, AppleInsider

Created by Matthew Taylor on Wednesday, the Change.org petition asks for Apple to voluntarily recall and repair all MacBook Pro models released since late 2016.

Taylor is not simply asking for replacement keyboards, but instead an entirely new design not prone to constant failures suffered by some owners. Since the 2016 MacBook Pro launched, a number of users have complained of failed, unreliable and unresponsive keys, a critical flaw for a laptop boasting an integrated, hard-to-replace keyboard.

Phone Media

Why 'Stories' Took Over Your Smartphone, by Ian Bogost, The Atlantic

“Story” is a terrible name for this feature, because it’s so broad as to descend into meaninglessness. In ordinary parlance, a story is a generic name for a narrative account of something. But a Story, of the Instagram and Snapchat sort, is something much more specific. It’s a collection of images and short videos, with optional overlays and effects, that a user can add to over time, but which disappears after 24 hours. Users view a Story in sequence, either waiting out a programmed delay between images or manually advancing to the next.

That’s about the most bizarrely precise definition of “story” I’ve ever heard. But even if Stories aren’t really stories, they deserve careful attention, especially given Cox’s warning. Like them or hate them, Stories might be the first true smartphone media format. And that might mean that they will become the dominant format of the future.

Why BuzzFeed News Premiered A Show On Apple News Before Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, by Tim Peterson, Digiday

Apple has become so serious about competing with Facebook, Google/YouTube and Twitter as a distribution outlet for news publishers that it’s paying publishers to unveil shows on Apple News first.

Last month, BuzzFeed News premiered “Future History: 1968,” a documentary series that recaps major events that happened that year, such as the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and the race between the U.S. and Russia to land a person on the moon. BuzzFeed News released the first three episodes exclusively on Apple News, a week before uploading them to Facebook Watch, YouTube, Twitter and its own mobile app.

Stuff

iPhone X: Six Months Later, by Adam Clark Estes, Gizmodo

Even with the blemishes, my iPhone X experience amounts to a collage of positive experiences. I get the beautiful big display in a phone that fits handily in my pocket.

Twitter Urges All Users To Change Their Password After Bug Discovered, by Olivia Solon, The Guardian

Twitter has urged its 336 million users to change their passwords after the company discovered a bug that stored passwords in plain text in an internal system.

The company said it had fixed the problem and had seen “no indication of breach or misuse”, but it suggested users consider changing their password on Twitter and on all services where they have used the same password “as a precaution”.

Pocket Casts Acquired By NPR, Other Public Radio Stations, And This American Life, by Chris Welch, The Verge

Pocket Casts, widely considered to be one of the best mobile apps for podcast listening, has been acquired by a collective group that includes NPR, WNYC Studios, WBEZ Chicago, and This American Life. “This unprecedented collaboration furthers public radio’s leading role as an innovator in audio discovery and distribution, while ensuring the continued support and growth of one of the most popular listening platforms on the market,” the companies said in a press release announcing the news.

Develop

Is This The Most Ridiculous Xcode Feature Ever?, by Erica Sadun

Honestly, is the threshold of adding a comma and a new value so high that it justifies this feature?

Notes

Spectre-NG - Multiple New Intel CPU Flaws Revealed, Several Serious, by Jürgen Schmidt, c't

A total of eight new security flaws in Intel CPUs have already been reported to the manufacturer by several teams of researchers. For now, details on the flaws are being kept secret. All eight are essentially caused by the same design problem – you could say that they are Spectre Next Generation.

[...]

So far we only have concrete information on Intel's processors and their plans for patches. However, there is initial evidence that at least some ARM CPUs are also vulnerable. Further research is already underway on whether the closely related AMD processor architecture is also susceptible to the individual Spectre-NG gaps, and to what extent.

Apple And The Fruits Of Tax Cuts, by Paul Krugman, New York Times

But what does “bringing money to America” mean? Apple didn’t have a huge, Scrooge McDuck-style pile of gold sitting in Ireland, which it loaded onto a homeward-bound ship. It has digital claims — a bunch of zeros and ones on some server somewhere — which in effect used to bear a label saying “this money is in Ireland.” Now it has changed the label to say “this money is in America.” What difference does this make?

[...]

What would make a difference would be if Apple chose to spend more on actual stuff: hiring more workers, building new structures, installing more equipment. But it isn’t doing any of these things. Instead, this week it announced that it’s buying back $100 billion of its own stock, which is good for stockholders but does nothing for workers. Lots of other companies are doing the same thing.

And while many Americans own some stocks, the great bulk of stock value is held by a small, wealthy minority — 10 percent of the population owns 84 percent of the market. So the perception that this is basically a tax cut for the rich is right.

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I was still using a dial-up modem for the internet when I purchased that first Bondi-Blue iMac.

To get all the shareware for my Mac, it was cheaper to buy copies of MacAddict magazine, which was shipped all the way from U.S. to Singapore by plane, at ridiculous prices (viewed by today's standard), with its CD-ROM full of stuff, than to download from the internet.

After purchasing the iMac, the first accessories that I went out to purchase was an external floppy drive. I don't think I made much use of that piece of hardware.

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Apple threw in a free copy of Virtual PC when I purchased that iMac. I don't think I made much use of that piece of hardware.

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Thanks for reading.

The Explorations-Of-Color Edition Thursday, May 3, 2018

20 Years Of iMac: A Story Of Relentless Design Iteration, by Michael Steeber, 9to5Mac

This Sunday, Apple’s iMac line joins the 20-year club. Its ticket to entry is two decades of valuable lessons and ideas that tell the recent history of the personal computer industry and reveal Apple’s priorities and values. The iMac’s timeline tells many stories – some of reinvention and business strategy, others of software and hardware.

Perhaps none are more significant than the iMac’s design story. Explorations of color, form, material, and miniaturization have marked significant breakthroughs throughout the years. On this anniversary week, we’ll take a look at the design evolution of the iMac.

Tech Giants Hit By NSA Spying Slam Encryption Backdoors, by Zack Whittaker, ZDNet

"Weakening the security and privacy that encryption helps provide is not the answer," said the group's statement.

The tech coalition includes Microsoft -- Ozzie's former employer -- as well as Apple, Facebook, and Google, and Verizon and Yahoo's parent company Oath -- all of which were hit by allegations of complicity with the government's surveillance efforts.

Stuff

A Roundup Of Great Podcast Hardware, by Stephen Hackett, The Sweet Setup

This article isn’t meant to be a comprehensive review of every piece of audio gear you could purchase, but is rather a collection of recommendations based on where you may be.

Opinions about audio equipment are like belly buttons — everyone has them, but in my experience, this collection of equipment should serve you well, no matter the price point.

Notes

How To Write Personalities For The AI Around Us, by Mariana Lin, The Paris Review

If we design our AI to simply function well, our society may progress with increased speed in efficiency and convenience. But if we are also designing them to have thoughtful personalities and belief systems, our society may advance in areas where we have ostensibly made less progress—enhancing joy, delight, compassion, and deeper relationships.

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I think I may enjoy a Bondi-blue iPhone case that pays homage to the original iMac.

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Once upon a time, before any Apple keynotes, we were all guessing and speculating what will be the next iMac colors?

I wonder if there are Apple Watch enthusiasts that eagerly awaits each spring to find out what's next for Apple Watch's strap colors.

"Will Spring 2019 finaly bring us Flower Power?"

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Nobody is speculating what wallpaper colors will appear on the next iOS release, right?

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Thanks for reading.

The Inventory-Level Edition Wednesday, May 2, 2018

5 Takeaways From Apple’s Record Second-quarter 2018 Results, by Jason Snell, Macworld

So much doom and gloom about the iPhone X... and yet Cook said that it’s Apple’s best-selling iPhone model, and has been for every single week it’s been on the market. It’s also the best-selling smartphone in China. More than that, Cook pointed out that it’s the first time Apple’s most expensive phone has been its top seller. (Presumably, the iPhone Plus models never sold as well as their smaller equivalents.)

However, there was some truth in the report that Apple was adjusting its component purchases. As Maestri said, “Our inventory level has gone up temporarily... we have decided to make some [component] purchasing decisions given current market conditions, and that should unwind over time.” Seems like a snooze, right? It may be that this is the flip side of the panicked reports that Apple was slashing component purchases... in that Maestri’s reporting some increase in inventory (they’ve made more than they’ve sold), which may mean that Apple’s not selling quite as many iPhone X units as it thought it would. But it’s clearly still selling a lot.

A Refurbished iPad, The CAP Theorem, And A Lesson On Negotiation, by Itamar Turner-Trauring, Code Without Rules

When you’re negotiating, you need to ask for what you want, or you won’t get it. In practice most people won’t ask and won’t complain, and so it’s in Apple’s interest to start with a low offer: most people will get the email canceling the order, grumble a bit, and re-order something else.

Apple Faces Battery Pledge Complaints, by Joe Allen, BBC

Apple demanded that some customers pay 10 times the sum it referred to in its apology.

The company told customers this was because of existing damage to their phones that would impair the replacement of the batteries.

But Watchdog's investigation found that this is not always the case.

Stuff

An Apple Watch Can Now Be Used To Activate Bike Signals On The Lumos Helmet, by Jacob Kastrenakes, The Verge

Lumos is adding a smart new feature to its blinking bike helmet today: the ability to be controlled by an Apple Watch. Lumos’ helmet has turn signals on the back that are usually activated by a wireless remote clipped onto a bike’s handlebar. Now, Lumos Helmet owners will be able to automatically trigger those signals by using hand gestures instead, as long as they’re wearing an Apple Watch, too.

Olloclip’s New Camera Lenses For The iPhone X Don’t Require A Special Case, by Ashley Carman, The Verge

Olloclip, a mobile accessory company, is launching a set of iPhone X camera lenses today. The Connect X lens system, as the company calls it, includes a new mount that covers both the dual rear-facing cameras and the front-facing camera.

Develop

Making Apps Is Harder Than It Needs To Be, by Brent Simmons, Inessential

For most apps (except games, I suppose), a huge percentage of the code might as well be written in a scripting language. We absolutely do not need to be writing everything in Swift, Objective-C, C++, or C.

Notes

The Internet Women Made, by Anna Wiener, New Republic

For years, bolstered by an under-resourced, uncritical, or chummily compromised tech press, the tech industry comfortably shaped its own narrative. The industry’s promises, to outsiders and to itself, were idealistic and appealing: The public sphere would be democratized, barriers to education would be lowered, and daily life would become more open, efficient, and free. These narratives got some things right—and they got a lot wrong. As tech continues to make history, it seems crucial to ask what, and whom, these stories leave out.

In her book Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet, Claire L. Evans has written about women whose contributions to computing—and computer culture—are rarely highlighted in tech-history narratives (to say nothing of today’s tech mythos). Representing various phases in technological development, they are women who had a hand in building technical tools or were early explorers of the cultural applications of nascent digital technologies. They are mathematicians and programmers, academics and early-web personalities.

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What I really want to see is for Apple to provide multiple tools for different developers to create different iPhone apps. Sure, Xcode with Swift is fine, but it is probably an overkill for many who just want to use something like Hypercard to create a currency-converter app, or Myst. Or something like iWeb for content-based apps, such as small newsletter publishers or small museums or galleries. (Heck, Apple can even upsell hosting storage for apps like what they did back in the MobileMe days.)

Certainly, there are speculations that Apple is creating some form of a development tool on iOS (probably iPad only). I suspect, given the high profile of the programming language, this tool will also be targeting Swift developers. Perhaps more like Swift playground than Xcode, but Swift nevertheless. It will be a shame if that's all we get.

Maybe Apple can work with third-parties to create additional development tools, so that we can get Hypercards. Or iWebs. Or Visual Basic. (Okay, maybe not Visual Basic.) The scheme can be more like Apple's relationship with Made-for-iOS partners, with Apple dictating what must be included or excluded from the tools. (Support for Metal, yes. Support for cross-platform compilation to Android, no.) But I think this can work, and allows for more higher-quality apps on the iOS platform that doesn't come with shady third-party SDKs or templates.

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Thanks for reading.

The Book-Excerpt Edition Tuesday, May 1, 2018

‘Apple News Exclusive’ Promoting John McCain’s Upcoming Memoir With iBooks Excerpt, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

Here’s an interesting observation from Walt Mossberg: Apple News is promoting an ‘Apple News Exclusive’ today, complete with a special badge and top spot on the front page of the app.

The ‘News Editors’ Picks’ exclusive isn’t original reporting, however, but instead a book excerpt from Senator John McCain’s new book due out next month.

iPhones, Armed Robbery, And Hacking, by Gustavo Duarte

I hope this motivates you to enable 2FA on all of your accounts, even the unimportant ones. They can interact in incremental and unexpected ways to become your undoing. Moreover, using TOTP apps as the second factor is far safer than SMS.

2016 MacBook Pro Butterfly Keyboards Failing Twice As Frequently As Older Models, by Mike Wuerthele, AppleInsider

Apple launched its new butterfly key-switch keyboard with the MacBook, with some usability complaints starting nearly immediately, but it wasn't until its adoption in the MacBook Pro in 2016 that reliability concerns started popping up —and AppleInsider has the hard data on failure rates.

Stuff

Apple Releases Final Cut Pro 10.4.2 Bug Fix Update To Address Timeline Selections And XML Support, by Jeff Benjamin, 9to5Mac

Bug fix number one fixes an issue related to selecting multiple clips on the timeline using the Shift key or when using a marquee selection. This bug caused additional clips on the timeline to sometimes be inadvertently selected.

Bear 1.5: New Tag Icons, Note Archiving, An Additional Export Option, And More, by John Voorhees, MacStories

Users with large libraries of notes will appreciate the added flexibility as will anyone else who values customizing their apps to suit their work habits.

Develop

Swift Playgrounds Updated With Support For ‘What’s Next’ Suggestions, Speed Improvements, by Peter Cao, 9to5Mac

Today’s update brings the app to version 2.1 and adds support for a new What’s Next feature that suggests other playgrounds based on the progress of your current project.

In addition, this update also brings speedier downloads to those who have multiple Swift Playground users on their network.

Scuttlebutt Regarding Apple’s Cross-Platform UI Project, by John Gruber, Daring Fireball

The general idea is that rather than writing classic procedural code to, say, make a button, then configure the button, then position the button inside a view, you instead declare the button and its attributes using some other form. HTML is probably the most easily understood example. In HTML you don’t procedurally create elements like paragraphs, images, and tables — you declare them with tags and attributes in markup. There’s an industry-wide trend toward declaration, perhaps best exemplified by React, that could be influencing Apple in this direction.

Notes

AirPort Axed, by Benjamin Mayo

Maybe one day, the company will take another stab at it when they have a really good idea, when they can envision something that only Apple can do well. I think six years since the last update of any kind shows they were out of ideas, or at least weren’t motivated to continue it, for the time being.

WhatsApp Founder Plans To Leave After Broad Clashes With Parent Facebook, by Elizabeth Dwoskin, Washington Post

The billionaire chief executive of WhatsApp, Jan Koum, is planning to leave the company after clashing with its parent, Facebook, over the popular messaging service’s strategy and Facebook’s attempts to use its personal data and weaken its encryption, according to people familiar with internal discussions.

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I wish Apple will change Safari so that no stupid web sites will be able to hijack copy-and-paste.

Especially for those stupid web sites that believe their login and 2FA pages are so precious that they disable copy-and-paste so that I cannot use my password manager nor copy-and-paste passwords into their stupid web pages, and I have to type in a whole bunch of nonsense characters one-by-one. Like an animal.

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I blame all these problems with web browsers on Netscape, and its desire to be a platform that can replace Windows.

Today, both Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer has been abandoned. Leaving us with all these mess.

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Thanks for reading.