The Same-Old-Issues Edition Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The New And Improved MacBook Keyboards Have The Same Old Problems, by Casey Johnston, The Outline

Every time I described the 2017 MacBook Pro I sold because I couldn’t stand its non-functional keyboard and asked an Apple store employee if the new one would screw me over the same way, each assured me that Apple had changed the keyboards so that that would never happen again. I described my issues with “dust” to one shop associate at the Apple Store at the World Trade Center and asked if the new computers were any better. “Yeah, yeah, they fixed that problem… it was a BIG problem,” she told me. “So it doesn’t happen at all?” I asked. “No, it shouldn’t happen,” she said. Maybe the bad days were finally over.

But checking around online, it appears the new keyboards have the same old issues. They may be delayed, but they happen nonetheless. The MacRumors forum has a long thread about the the “gen 3 butterfly keyboard” where users have been sharing their experiences since Apple updated the design. “How is everyone lse’s keyboard doing? I rplaced th first one because ‘E’ and ‘O’ gave double output. The replacment ither eats “E”, “O”, “I” and “T”, or doubles them,” wrote one poster. “I didn’t correct the typos above on purpose.”


Thoughts On The Ambition Of Apple Watch, by Jonny Evans, Computerworld

The problem with all the other so-called smartwatches on the market is that they lack ambition. They seem to be designed as either exercise trackers or as smartphone extensions.

Apple’s plan is far more ambitious.

A Review Of The Apple Watch Series 4, by Josh Ginter, The Sweet Setup

To me, the Series 4 Apple Watch is an inflection point. The gentler corners, classier (when customized) Infograph watch face, less bombastic LTE indicator, smoothed dock button, and gold stainless steel materials have pushed the Apple Watch into a new jewelry echelon, for both men and women.

For the first time, I’d wear an Apple Watch with a sport coat. For the first time, the Apple Watch has become a “timepiece,” with every bit of snobbery assumed in that title.

Voice-Enabled Accessibility

When Alexa Can’t Understand You, by Moira Corcoran, Slate

People with speech disabilities use the same language and grammar that others do. But their speech musculature—things like their tongue and jaw—is affected, resulting in consonants becoming slurred and vowels blending together, says Frank Rudzicz, an associate professor of computer science at the University of Toronto who studies speech and machine learning. These differences present a challenge in developing voice-enabled technologies.


Andy Theyers, who’s written about his struggle to use voice assistants due to his stutter, says that this is, in part, a reflection of an industry that doesn’t always prioritize accessibility from the beginning of a product’s development. Sean Lewis, a motivational speaker with cerebral palsy, agrees. “Unless [tech developers] personally know someone with a disability,” Lewis says, they “have no idea how a lack of technology affects people’s lives.”


Beats By Dre Unveils Special Edition Mickey Mouse Solo 3 Wireless Headphones For 90th Anniversary, by Michael Potuck, 9to5Mac

These special edition Mickey Solo 3 headphones feature the same hardware and specs as the standard version, but come with a custom Disney/Beats carrying case, 90th anniversary pin, and decal in addition to the Mickey Mouse design.

Skydio’s Self-flying Drone Can Now Be Controlled Using Just An Apple Watch, by Nick Statt, The Verge

Skydio, the California-based drone maker that specializes in self-flying software, is announcing a new update today that will let owners of its R1 drone launch, control, and even manually fly the drone entirely from an Apple Watch. Since the R1’s launch earlier this year, the company has positioned its self-flying drone, which uses artificial intelligence to provide advanced obstacle avoidance and automated piloting, as perfect for action sport enthusiasts. Now, with Apple Watch support, Skydio hopes it will open up new possibilities for people to easily film themselves with the R1, while doing all types of outdoor activities.

Review: The Philips Hue Outdoor Lightstrip With HomeKit Integration Lights Up Your Backyard, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

As is typical with Hue lighting products, the Outdoor Lightstrips aren't cheap, but they're certainly well made and are able to hold up to continued exposure to outdoor conditions.

The Ember Travel Mug Smartly Heats Your Hot Drinks, by Jessica Dolcourt, CNET

Using data the device collects, what you drink and how often, Apple Health then estimates your caffeine intake. While this may sound like a stretch, the Ember already senses quite a bit about its (and your) activity.


App Bundles Are Coming To The Mac App Store, by John Voorhees, MacStories

The process for setting up a bundle, which will allow developers to offer up to 10 Mac apps as a single purchase, appears to be the same as it is for iOS developers.

Browser Vendors Unite To End Support For 20-year-old TLS 1.0, by Peter Bright, Ars Technica

The current recommendation is that sites switch to TLS 1.2 (which happens to be the minimum required for HTTP 2.0) and offer only a limited, modern set of encryption algorithms and authentication schemes. TLS 1.3 was recently finalized, but it currently has little widespread adoption.

Deprecation Of Legacy TLS 1.0 And 1.1 Versions, by Christopher Wood, Webkit

If you own or operate a web server that does not support TLS 1.2 or newer, please upgrade now.


Apple Seemingly Cracking Down On 'Scammy' Subscription Apps, by Mikey Campbell, AppleInsider

Apple, however, appears to be cracking down on dubious titles. Both QR Code Reader and Weather Alarms are no longer available on the U.S. App Store, while 11 of the 17 apps mentioned in the Forbes article have also disappeared.

The matter boils down to customer awareness and vigilance, and Apple is at perhaps partially to blame for aberrant behavior after carefully pruning the apps in its walled garden.

How Lisp Became God's Own Programming Language, by Sinclair Target, Two Bit History

When programmers discuss the relative merits of different programming languages, they often talk about them in prosaic terms as if they were so many tools in a tool belt—one might be more appropriate for systems programming, another might be more appropriate for gluing together other programs to accomplish some ad hoc task. This is as it should be. Languages have different strengths and claiming that a language is better than other languages without reference to a specific use case only invites an unproductive and vitriolic debate.

But there is one language that seems to inspire a peculiar universal reverence: Lisp. Keyboard crusaders that would otherwise pounce on anyone daring to suggest that some language is better than any other will concede that Lisp is on another level. Lisp transcends the utilitarian criteria used to judge other languages, because the median programmer has never used Lisp to build anything practical and probably never will, yet the reverence for Lisp runs so deep that Lisp is often ascribed mystical properties. Everyone’s favorite webcomic, xkcd, has depicted Lisp this way at least twice: In one comic, a character reaches some sort of Lisp enlightenment, which appears to allow him to comprehend the fundamental structure of the universe. In another comic, a robed, senescent programmer hands a stack of parentheses to his padawan, saying that the parentheses are “elegant weapons for a more civilized age,” suggesting that Lisp has all the occult power of the Force.

Google To Charge Phone Makers For Android Apps In Europe, by Adam Stariano, New York Times

The new arrangement is the latest sign that global technology companies are adjusting their business practices in Europe to account for stiffer regulations there.


By obligating handset makers to load the free apps along with the Android operating system, regulators said, Google had boxed out competitors. With the company now required to separate its services in Europe, handset manufacturers like Samsung and Huawei will now have more flexibility there to choose what applications they want to pre-install on phones.

Bottom of the Page

I support Apple's drive to make its devices thinner and lighter. (If I have to choose, I'll prioritize on lighter. But I guess thinner comes with lighter.) I want devices that are so light that I don't have to think twice before putting them in my bag.

However, if something as critical as the keyboard is not working -- and by working, I'm not talking just about the failure rate, which I assume Apple has all the stats, but the lack of confidence from Apple's customers -- Apple should have the courage to revert back to an earlier design, as soon as possible.


Thanks for reading.