The Coding-Club Edition Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Apple CEO Tim Cook Pays Surprise Visit To Orlando Teen Computer Whiz, by Marco Santana, Orlando Sentinel

The Lyman High School sophomore has grown a coding club he started in November to 16 people, equally split between boys and girls.

His mobile app, which converts images into art made up of symbols and numbers known as ASCII, has a 4.2 rating on the App store. He also has two other apps in development, including one that teaches musicians how to tune their instruments through game play.

Why The Mac Won’t End Up Locked Down Like iOS, by Jason Snell, Macworld

Despite the fear that the introduction of the Mac App Store meant that Apple would eventually limit the Mac software market to App Store apps only, that has never happened. In part, this is because a huge array of important Mac apps have not qualified for inclusion in the Mac App Store, something Apple seems now to be dedicated to rectifying.

But Apple has also spent the last few years finding alternate paths to offer software security outside of the Mac App Store—an approach that I doubt the company would bother with if it was planning on dropping the hammer and killing all non-App Store apps.

Sidestepping Apple: The Third-party Tinkerers Fighting For Your Right To Repair, by Oscar Schwartz, The Guardian

Proctor says that while in the past there was a legal balance between protecting manufacturers’ intellectual property and empowering consumers to tinker with, modify, and repair their own products, the rise of software in electronics has shifted power to manufacturers. Not only are the products more complex and harder to fix, the line between self-repair and hacking has become nebulous, meaning that manufacturers have been able to use digital copyright law to gain a legal monopoly over repair. This, in turn, has created a broader cultural anxiety around self-repair, a sense that when our devices malfunction, the problem can only be dealt with by so-called experts at a specific company.


Those at the forefront of the online repair community are sometimes met with hostility from manufacturers. Apple has brought suits against unauthorized repair shops and have had their intellectual property lawyers directly contacted some YouTube tinkerers.

iPad Typing

Review: Brydge Pro 12.9 Keyboard, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

Whether the Brydge 12.9 Pro keyboard will be the right choice of accessories to pair with your iPad Pro’s naked robotic core really depends on how you plan on using it. I have spend a couple of decades writing on laptops, and expect a stable laptop-style typing surface that can sit in my lap or on a desk or table.

While the Smart Keyboard Folio is more stable in a lap than its predecessor, it’s not as stable as the Brydge 12.9 Pro, nor is it as enjoyable to type on. It’s lighter, I’ll grant you, and if I needed to carry an iPad keyboard everywhere I went, I’d probably give the Smart Keyboard Folio strong consideration.

Review: Logitech Slim Folio Pro, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

The Slim Folio Pro traps the iPad Pro in a less than ideal form. Both Apple’s Smart Keyboard Folio and the Brydge Pro let you switch from keyboard to tablet quickly. Apple’s device excels because it’s small enough to carry around as a cover; Brydge’s excels because it provides the full laptop experience. I would choose either of those products over this one. But if you’re seeking value in an iPad keyboard case and don’t mind fussing with getting the thing on and off of your iPad, the Slim Folio Pro won’t let you down. It’s a solid product—as long as you know what you’re getting into. And out of.

Review: Zagg Slim Book Go For iPad Pro Adopts A Detachable Bluetooth Keyboard, by Andrew O'Hara, AppleInsider

From a physical standpoint, the Zagg stand is also so adjustable and takes up very little space. When we just want to lean back and watch a movie, the small footprint sans-keyboard is wholeheartedly welcomed.

Typing is a very enjoyable experience — not quite as nice as it is on the Smart Keyboard Folio — but solid overall. It also wins out by being backlit and including the function keys. Most would rather have those trade-offs.


Apple Challenges Customers To ‘Do One Last Great Thing’ With iPhone In New Trade-in Video, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Apple is continuing its iPhone trade-in push today with a new ad imploring users to “do one last great thing with your iPhone.” Apple’s pitch is that by trading in your iPhone, it can be refurbished and sold to someone else, or recycled in a responsible manner.

Jamf School Simplifies Apple Device Management For Education, by Malcolm Owen, AppleInsider

Based on the Jamf Cloud infrastructure, Jamf School is a system for teachers to manage and use Apple devices in a learning environment. Created with a simpler interface than the more technically-minded versions, the system is used to control what can or cannot be used on Apple devices during classes.

Collision-detecting Suitcase, Wayfinding App Help Blind People Navigate Airports, by Carnegie Mellon University, TechXplore

Carnegie Mellon University researchers say a smart suitcase that warns blind users of impending collisions and a wayfinding smartphone app can help people with visual disabilities navigate airport terminals safely and independently.

The rolling suitcase sounds alarms when users are headed for a collision with a pedestrian, and the navigation app provides turn-by-turn audio instructions to users on how to reach a departure gate—or a restroom or a restaurant. Both proved effective in a pair of user studies conducted at Pittsburgh International Airport.


Dear Client, Here’s Why That Change Took So Long - Simple Thread, by Al Tenhundfeld, Simple Thread

Changes in complex software systems seem like they take forever, don’t they? Even to engineers it often feels like changes take longer than they should, and we understand the reasons for the underlying complexity in the system!

For stakeholders it can be even more obtuse and frustrating. This can be exacerbated by the incidental complexity introduced over time in systems that haven’t been properly maintained. It can feel like we are bailing water out of a ship with a thousand leaks.

So it can be incredibly frustrating and deflating when one day you get a message from a stakeholder saying, “Why in the world will this take so long?” But we have to remember that as software engineers we have a window into a world that our stakeholders often don’t have visibility into. They put a lot of trust in us to deliver for them, but sometimes a seemingly small change can end up taking a large amount of time. This leads to a frustration that results in a curt “explain to me why this takes so long.”


Apple Teams Up With SAP To Help Clients Develop iPhone Business Apps, by Douglas Busvine, Reuters

Business software maker SAP and Apple are teaming up to help clients develop their own mobile business applications using Apple’s machine-learning technology.

This will make it possible, with the help of augmented reality, to use iPhones or iPads for a range of business tasks, such as accurately stocking store shelves or machinery repairs.

Apple Design Lead Jony Ive To Discuss iPhone Design With Stephen Fry, by Malcolm Owen, AppleInsider

Taking place at the Dalkey Book Festival on June 15, the discussion between the well-known British celebrity and Apple's design chief is titled "The Object of Language and the Language of Objects," and is advertised as an event where the two will share "wit and wisdom" on a variety of subjects.

Google’s Sundar Pichai Snipes At Apple With Privacy Defense, by Jon Porter, The Verge

In the op-ed, Pichai contrasted Google’s approach to privacy with Apple’s. In a thinly veiled snipe at the iPhone-maker, Pichai said that “privacy cannot be a luxury good” that’s only available to “people who can afford to buy premium products and services.”

Bottom of the Page

I do agree that customers should have the right to repair. But, customers should also be notified by the manufacturer when it no longer can guarantee a device is secured. And, customers should also be notified that the end-to-end-encrypted communicaiton may not be secured because the other parties' devices may be compromised.

Discussions about customers' right-to-repair must go hand-in-hand with security and privacy considerations.


Sundar Pichai of Google, I feel, is being dishonest. Apple, as far as I am aware, has never justified its typcially-higher prices on better privacy. If you ask Tim Cook, I'm sure he will tell you that all products at all price-points -- even ad-supported free stuff like Facebook -- should respect customers' privacy.


Thanks for reading.