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Archive for July 2019

The Keep-Competitors-at-Bay Edition Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Apple Plans To Bankroll Original Podcasts To Fend Off Rivals, by Lucas Shaw, Bloomberg

Apple Inc. plans to fund original podcasts that would be exclusive to its audio service, according to people familiar with the matter, increasing its investment in the industry to keep competitors Spotify and Stitcher at bay.

Executives at the company have reached out to media companies and their representatives to discuss buying exclusive rights to podcasts, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the conversations are preliminary. Apple has yet to outline a clear strategy, but has said it plans to pursue the kind of deals it didn’t make before.

Apple Might Be Getting Into The Podcast-making Business. Is Its Reign As The Industry’s Benevolent Overlord Coming To An End?, by Nicholas Quah, Nieman Lab

Let’s assume there’s ambition within Apple to start digging for money in these podcast hills. Are we talking about Apple pursuing a “Netflix for podcasts” model? I highly doubt it. Exclusive paywalled podcasts…well, they haven’t really proven that they can drive a paid subscription business at scale yet. And when I say “scale,” I mean “scale at the level that would make it worth it for Apple to abandon its noble, beloved position as impartial steward of the podcast ecosystem.” Sure, Spotify has exclusives, but I don’t think those exclusives are the primary reason that the Swedish platform has become the second major podcast distributor. (Not yet.) If anything, it’s the simple fact of access, plus maybe all this increased attention.

Is Apple Planning Exclusive Podcasts?, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

Given Apple’s deep pockets and its focus on services, I can’t see how the company wouldn’t at least investigate the possibility of adding original audio content to its portfolio, both to strengthen the pull of the Podcasts app and increase the value of one of its existing services or a forthcoming services bundle.

📅 #worldemojiday

Emoji For Falafel, Service Dogs And Sloths Are Finally Here, by Abrar Al-Heeti, CNET

Apple and Google both unveiled dozens of new emoji ahead of World Emoji Day on Wednesday. They include animals like a flamingo, orangutan and sloth, as well as foods such as waffles, falafel and garlic.

The companies will also roll out new emoji depicting couples with a variety of skin tones, and there'll be gender-neutral characters, too.

😂 😘 And ❤️ Named Most Popular Emoji In New Adobe Study, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

Today is World Emoji Day, and in celebration of emojis, Adobe released its 2019 Emoji Trend Report, giving us some insight into the most popular emoji characters that people are using. For its report, Adobe surveyed 1,000 emoji users in the United States.

Why Does Apple Hate Falafel?, by Jon Porter, The Verge

There are a couple of interesting designs in there. For example, I can’t help but think that Apple’s design for a plate of falafel kinda looks like a big pile of shit? Not human shit, and not a fun cartoony soft-serve ice cream poop like the classic Pile of Poo, but like a pile of dung from a farmyard animal. Especially when viewed at the proper emoji scale of an Instagram comment or iMessage response. Meanwhile, someone at Google has clearly actually eaten falafel at some point in their lives, and has produced a design more befitting of something you’re supposed to put in your mouth.

Security Matters

Apple Is Silently Updating Macs Again To Remove Insecure Software From Zoom’s Partners, by Dieter Bohn, The Verge

Apple informed us that it has sent out a silent security update to Macs to remove software that was automatically installed by RingCentral and Zhumu. These video conferencing apps both used technology from Zoom — they’re essentially white labels — and thus they also had Zoom’s security flaws. Specifically, they installed secondary pieces of software that could take commands from websites to open up your webcam in a video conference without your intervention.

Apple Is Sending Out Another Silent Update To Fix The Webcam Flaw In Zoom’s Partner Apps, by John Gruber, Daring FIreball

I think Apple has struck a nearly perfect balance here, between doing what’s right for most users (installing these rare emergency updates automatically) and doing what’s right for power users who really do want to control when updates — even essential ones — are installed. I also think Apple is doing the right thing by going to the press and explaining when they issue such updates.

Stuff

Review: 2019 Entry-level $1299 MacBook Pro With Touch Bar And Touch ID, by Jeff Benjamin, 9to5Mac

It’s been two years since we last saw an update to the entry-level MacBook Pro, but the wait was well worth it. Not only did we get Touch ID and Touch Bar access, but we got the T2 chip and all of the security and performance advantages that it brings to the table, along with a speedy quad-core CPU.

The CPU upgrade, in particular, gives this machine a large leap over its predecessor. The strong CPU provides impressive performance for multicore workloads, even if it is somewhat bottlenecked by the integrated graphics.

My Very Last Macbook Pro, by Tibor Bödecs, The Swift Dev

I don't want to buy a Macbook with this crappy keyboard anymore.

[...]

I'd instantly trade my macbook if I could use only two apps on the iPad. Terminal & Xcode. That's it.

Notes

Apple Tests AirPod Production In Vietnam As It Cuts China Reliance, by Cheng Ting-Fang and Lauly Li,

Nikkei Asian Review

China's GoerTek, one of Apple's key contract manufacturers, will this summer begin testing the resilience of its manufacturing processes for the newest generation of AirPods at its audio factory in northern Vietnam, two sources with knowledge of the plan said.

This will mark the first production of the wireless earbuds -- which came to market in 2016 -- outside the world's second-largest economy. They are Apple's fastest growing product, racking up 35 million shipments last year against 20 million in 2017.

What The Superhuman Controversy Reveals About The Shifting Ethics Of Software, by Anna Wiener, New Yorker

At issue, ultimately, is the ethical question of what makes software “good.” The qualities of good software include seamlessness, efficiency, speed, simplicity, and straightforward user-experience design. Failing to maximize these values may feel, for a software engineer, like driving a Ferrari below the speed limit—a violation of the spirit of the enterprise. But the seamlessness, efficiency, and power experienced by users don’t necessarily translate to positive social experiences; the short-term satisfactions offered by software can upstage its longer-term implications.

A Feisty Google Adversary Tests How Much People Care About Privacy, by Nathaniel Popper, New York Times

Gabriel Weinberg is taking aim at Google from a small building 20 miles west Philadelphia that looks like a fake castle. An optometrist has an office downstairs.

Mr. Weinberg’s company, DuckDuckGo, has become one of the feistiest adversaries of Google. Started over a decade ago, DuckDuckGo offers a privacy-focused alternative to Google’s search engine.

The company’s share of the search engine market is still tiny — about 1 percent compared with Google’s 85 percent, according to StatCounter. But it has tripled over the past two years and is now handling around 40 million searches a day. It has also made a profit in each of the last five years, Mr. Weinberg said.

Bottom of the Page

I am already using five different apps for my audio entertainment on the iPhone. Yes, I only use one app for all my podcasts. But I also have apps for audiobooks, music, and BBC radio. And that's not counting the two additional apps that are essentially MusicKit-based presentation of my Apple Music library.

So, I don't see any problem having to use one more app to listen to Apple-exclusive podcasts. (Or, more probably, it will be the same Apple Music app.)

~

Thanks for reading.

The Vocal-Part Edition Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Apple Preaches Privacy. Lawmakers Want The Talk To Turn To Action, by Reed Albergotti, Washington Post

But when DelBene discussed her own privacy bill, which would require companies to obtain consent before using consumers’ most sensitive information in unexpected ways, Cook didn’t specifically endorse it, she said.

A number of privacy advocates and U.S. lawmakers — who did not attend the meeting — say Apple has not put enough muscle behind any federal effort to tighten privacy laws. And state lawmakers, who are closest to passing rules to limit data sharing, say Apple is an ally in name only — and in fact has contributed to lobbying efforts that might undermine some new data-protection legislation.

While Apple formally supports the notion of a federal privacy law, the company has yet to formally back any bills proposed on the Hill — unlike Microsoft. “I would argue there’s a need for Apple to be a more vocal part of this debate,” said Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), a fierce critic of tech companies for their privacy violations.

Apple’s Statement On Privacy Lobbying, by Reed Albergotti, Washington Post

“We would be the first to say we can do more and constantly challenge ourselves to do so. We have offered to help write the legislation and reiterate this offer. We do not believe however in having a company PAC or in using company funds to donate to any political candidate and have no intention of ever doing so.”

Washington Post: ‘Apple Preaches Privacy. Lawmakers Want The Talk To Turn To Action.’, by John Gruber, Daring Fireball

But do we really want any private companies, even Apple, dictating the terms of public policy? Do Facebook and Google get a seat at the table?

Before Bashing Big Tech, Politicians Should Visit An Apple Store, by Ira Stoll, Reason

One of the best ways to succeed long-term in capitalism is by treating customers well rather than ripping them off. That's something you won't hear Democrats or Republicans admit these days.

Ye Olde Touch Bar

Apple's Touch Bar Doesn't Have To Be So Terrible, by Alex Cranz, Gizmodo

While I won’t fault an indie app maker, or even Google, for failing to do better with the Touch Bar, I can lay blame at Apple’s feet. The company introduced a cool new feature and then has just let it sit there. It has provided no incentives nor has it led by example with the Touch Bar.

Security Matters

RingCentral Is Also Affected By The Zoom Flaw That Gives Hackers Access To Your Mac’s Camera, by Nicole Nguyen, BuzzFeed

Both RingCentral and Zhumu license Zoom’s technology. Lyons explained, “If a lettuce producer has an E. coli outbreak, everyone who resells that lettuce under myriad brands in stores, or uses that lettuce in their sandwiches now also has vulnerable customers.”

[...]

RingCentral released an update for users of the company’s MacOS app. The company is urging all customers to accept the update (v7.0.151508.0712) patching the flaw. While the update removes a hidden web server containing the vulnerability from customers’ laptops, Lyons told BuzzFeed News that for people who have uninstalled the RingCentral app, there is no way to easily remove the hidden server.

Stuff

Apple Shares New 'Remembering Apollo 11' Video With Details On Upcoming Apple TV+ Show 'For All Mankind', by Juli Clover, MacRumors

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, Apple this afternoon shared a new video featuring clips from its upcoming Apple TV+ show "For All Mankind" along with commentary from show creator Ronald D. Moore and others who have worked on the series.

"For All Mankind," which stars Joel Kinnaman, features an alternate history that explores what might have happened had the global space race never ended and had the USSR landed the first humans on the moon. In the series, the U.S. will race to get astronauts on Mars and Saturn.

Apple Included Slower SSD In The New MacBook Air, by Danny Zepeda, iMore

Apple's newer laptop improved slightly on the writing side, but its performance downgraded by 35% on the reading side. That can be attributed to a slower SSD Apple included in the new MacBook Air.

This M’sian Baking Class Has Mixers, Ovens And All The Ingredients—But No Human Teachers, by Sade Dayangku, Vulcan Post

The iPad app-based baking class project was established in May 2019 by sole founder Michelle Young.

She found out there was an abundance of people interested in learning how to bake, or who simply wanted to bake a cake for loved ones but lacked the space, ingredients and equipment at home.

So, she decided to do something about it.

Airmail Users Frustrated About Sudden Switch To Subscription-Based Pricing On iPhone And iPad, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

The app's release notes vaguely suggest that existing users will have a four-month grace period, but Airmail user Vito Meznaric told us that he is no longer receiving push notifications from the app starting today. Either way, it sounds like existing users will eventually have to subscribe to regain access to all features.

Notes

iWork, Office And Google Docs Banned From German Schools, by Killian Bell, Cult of Mac

Well, Office is GDPR compliant if users give consent to their data being processed by Microsoft. But because school children are unable to do that, it poses concerns about their protection.

40 Years Later, Lessons From The Rise And Quick Decline Of The First ‘Killer App’, by Christopher Mims, Wall Street Journal

It was the first killer app, the spark for Apple ’s early success and a trigger for the broader PC boom that vaulted Microsoft to its central position in business computing. And within a few years, it was tech-industry roadkill.

The story of VisiCalc, a humble spreadsheet program that set the tech world ablaze 40 years ago, has reverberated through the industry and still influences the decisions of executives, engineers and investors. Its lessons include the power of simplicity and the difficulty of building a hypergrowth company in a hypergrowth industry.

Disneyland Makes Surveillance Palatable—and Profitable, by Austin Carr, Bloomberg

Despite these familial concerns, Disney’s data mining never faced the sort of scrutiny that Silicon Valley has. The reason is fairly simple: Disney World is the real-world manifestation of a walled garden, a family-friendly environment without a perceived risk of children being exposed to inappropriate content like on YouTube or Twitch. Wired once called this data-driven customer relationship “exactly the type of thing Apple, Facebook and Google are trying to build. Except Disney World isn’t just an app or a phone—it’s both, wrapped in an idealized vision of life that’s as safely self-contained as a snow globe.”

Bottom of the Page

These days, I don't have too much hopes in things. If things go my way, good. If things go another way -- well, I've expected that.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Pay-Up Edition Monday, July 15, 2019

Apple Arcade Won’t Save Us From The Scourge Of Freemium Gaming, But It’s A Start, by Jason Cross, Macworld

But what Apple Arcade will do is give us meaningful alternatives to the flood of F2P games. Dozens of premium games with good production values and design, some destined for consoles and PC, and none of them designed to steadily become less fun until you pay up again, and again, and again. Those are few and far between today.

Apple: Macintosh Forks, by Jean-Louis Gassée, Monday Note

How far up the product line? Certainly not all the way to the new Mac Pro. Apple’s silicon work focuses on hundreds of millions of chips and battery-saving designs; the Pro’s sales volume is likely to be in the tens of thousands, not the iPhone’s hundreds of millions. For the Pro, Intel’s high-end designs will be economically more attractive, sharing the investment with other Intel clients.

If (or, more likely, when) the Mac switches to Axx chips, the change won’t be instantaneous. Some Macs will become powered by Apple’s home-grown CPU chips, others, like the Mac Pro, will remain on x86 processors. And thus we’ll have a fork of macOS. Two forks, actually: A sliding break as the transition progressively moves from low end machines up the product line, and then a permanent “fork ceiling” that separates the extreme-end Mac Pro from its lower-powered siblings.

Into The Wild: These Apps Will Make Any Camping Adventure Go Smoothly, by DPA

Where’s the nearest camping site? Does it have free space? And where is the nearest WiFi? These are common questions camping enthusiasts face. Some go into the wild without knowing what awaits; others prefer to organise everything in advance. Whether you leave at the last minute or plan ahead, apps can make your trip go smoother.

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I hope Apple is more ambitious with its programming languages. I hope, somewhere, Apple is orchestrating the replacement of Javascript and CSS with SwiftUI.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Erase-Your-Tracks Edition Sunday, July 14, 2019

How To Clear Out Your Zombie Apps And Online Accounts, by David Nield, Wired

The more unused, unloved accounts you’ve got hanging around, the more targets would-be hackers have got to aim at. It’s therefore good practice to tidy up the digital trail you leave behind you, and shut down accounts you’re not regularly using. Unfortunately, there’s no big button you can press to do this all at once, but with a little bit of detective work and a few minutes of your spare time, you can effectively erase your tracks.

Big Tech Tussles With Congress This Week, by Ian Sherr, CNET

These hearings represent the latest in the ever-evolving dance between tech giants and lawmakers on Capitol Hill -- one that's quickly becoming an issue in the upcoming US presidential race. At stake is how government will regulate the tech industry, which has grown to be one of the world's largest and most powerful groups. Amazon and Apple are both worth nearly a trillion dollars, while Google and Facebook draw audiences that number into the billions.

Facebook’s $5 Billion FTC Fine Is An Embarrassing Joke, by Nilay Patel, The Verge

Facebook’s stock went up after news of a record-breaking $5 billion FTC fine for various privacy violations broke today.

That, as the New York Times’ Mike Isaac points out, is the real story here: the United States government spent months coming up with a punishment for Facebook’s long list of privacy-related bad behavior, and the best it could do was so weak that Facebook’s stock price went up.

‘I Hope You’re Well’, by Kerry Elson, New York Times

Is it possible to send an email anymore without this phrase?

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I hope you're well. Thanks for reading.

The Peace-of-Mind Edition Saturday, July 13, 2019

Why The Zoom Hack Showed Apple's Strength, Not Its Weakness, by Alex Blake, Digital Trends

It’s that combination of quick action and ingrained security systems that go to highlight Apple’s security strengths. These days no operating system is truly “malware-proof,” but the actions of the company that distributes it — be that Apple, Microsoft or anyone else — go a long way to keeping it secure and bringing peace of mind to us all.

Apple Restores Banned Parental Control App OurPact To The App Store, by Chaim Gartenberg, The Verge

Apple has reversed course on its ban of parental control app OurPact, allowing the ousted software to return to the App Store in its original form and without any limitations or restrictions. The move marks an end to a months-long dispute between Apple and a variety of parental control companies affected by Apple’s restrictions.

Stuff

2019 13-inch MacBook Pro Teardown Reveals Soldered-down SSD, Slightly Larger Battery, Modular Ports, by Michael Potuck, 9to5Mac

iFixit has gotten its hands on the 2019 13-inch MacBook Pro that was released this week, giving a detailed look at the changes under the hood. The base 13-inch Pro has a marginally larger battery, modular ports, but now has a soldered-down SSD. The teardown also checks out the notebook’s keyboard and more.

How AR Helps Online Retailers Build A New Sales Experience, by Gadjo C Sevilla, PC Magazine

Since the first e-commerce websites started selling products, a large segment of those online sales has always suffered from a second-rate customer experience. Customers buying certain goods—such as clothes, shoes, and watches—can't interact with the goods they are considering like they can in a brick-and-mortar store; this often adversely affects their buying decision. Now some of that is set to change, however, through the use of augmented reality (AR), which could well become a game changer for online micro-retailers that don't have any physical stores. These merchants will be able to use AR to retain customers and help influence a buying decision by making it easy to "try on" or interact with virtual versions of their products.

Develop

Beyond The Confetti: The Dark Side Of Startup Success, by Shalini Ramachandran and Rolfe Winkler, Wall Street Journal

Stress, of course, is a part of any leadership role, and startup leaders often have more resources than most to cope with mental-health woes. But it is also becoming clear that the swashbuckling creativity that pushes many startup founders to take bold leaps often comes with inner demons.

Notes

Jewel Changi Airport Photo Walk Launches Second Apple Store In Singapore, by Michael Steeber, 9to5Mac

Waiting in line for Apple Store grand openings has been a fun tradition for enthusiastic fans since the very first countdown in 2001. There’s still something special about being one of the first in the line, but the most recent store openings have been largely defined by their unique opening day Today at Apple performances and events. At the grand opening of Apple Jewel Changi Airport today in Singapore, early customers celebrated the day with the first public Photo Walk exclusive to the new location.

The End Of The Free Internet Is Near, by Declan McCullagh, Reason

Not too long ago, conventional wisdom held that the internet should enjoy minimal government oversight precisely because it was a technology that enabled open and free speech for everyone. The remedy for hateful and offensive remarks, that 1990s-vintage argument went, was more speech—or logging off.

This principle, which can be traced back through the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas and John Stuart Mill, was nicely captured in the U.S. Supreme Court's 1997 decision striking down certain speech-chilling provisions of the Communications Decency Act. "Through the use of chat rooms," Justice John Paul Stevens wrote, "any person with a phone line can become a town crier with a voice that resonates farther than it could from any soapbox. Through the use of Web pages, mail exploders, and newsgroups, the same individual can become a pamphleteer."

A generation later, Stevens' argument has been not merely discarded. It has been inverted.

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Someday, I've probably got to get down to Changi Airport and take a look at Jewel... Someday.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Thirty-Six-Seconds Edition Friday, July 12, 2019

A Timeline Of iOS Accessibility: It Started With 36 Seconds, by Shelly Brisbin, MacStories

For a total of 36 seconds, Schiller spoke somewhat awkwardly about VoiceOver, Zoom, White on Black (called Invert Colors from iOS 6 onward), and Mono Audio – the first real accessibility features on the iPhone OS platform, as it was then called.

[...]

I surveyed a number of liveblogs from that day. About half noted the mention of accessibility features in iPhone OS. The others jumped directly from Compass to Nike+. Accessibility hadn’t made much of a splash.

But in the blindness community, things were very different. Time seemed to stop somewhere after 1:51:54 in the video. Something completely amazing had happened, and only a few people seemed to understand what it meant.

Your Spotify And Apple Music Subscriptions Pay Artists You Never Listen To, by Dan Kopf, Quartz

The way Spotify and Apple Music pay artists is simple. They take all of the money generated from users, whether by advertisements or subscriptions, and put in a big pot. They then divide that pot by the total share of streams each artist received. So, if Apple Music gave $100 million of their revenues to artists in a month, and Drake songs accounted 1% of all streams that month, then Drake (and the writers of Drake’s songs) would receive $1 million. Essentially, 1% of Anna’s money is going to Drake. (About 70% of Spotify and Apple Music’s revenues go to music labels and artists.)

This is called a “pro-rata” system. Not everybody likes it. Many people in the music industry would prefer a payment system that was “user-centric.” Under this system, each user’s payment would be distributed based on what they streamed. If half of a user’s streams are Rolling Stones songs and half are Beyoncé, then those two artists are the only ones who earn money from that user. In this case, all of Anna’s money would have gone to The Expressionists.

Does Apple’s Simplified Mac Lineup Have A Hole In It?, by Dan Moren, Macworld

So, what gives? Is Apple all in on desktops over laptops now? One interpretation might be that Apple has realized mobile computing has shifted towards iOS devices, especially for the kind of lightweight category that the 12-inch MacBook used to fill.

Still, the MacBook line-up seems to be missing something. Since the MacBook Air’s introduction back in 2008, Apple’s always had a thin, light laptop in the mix, usually representing the puck towards which the company is skating with its portable offerings. But with the 12-inch MacBook, the consensus often seemed to be that the company had skated too far too fast, made too many trade-offs. It didn’t help that the revamped MacBook Air seemed to address much the same market, and provided better bang for the buck.

Stuff

The New 1.4 GHz Entry-level MacBook Pro Is Probably Faster Than You Would Expect, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

In Geekbench scores, the new MacBook Pro naturally outpaces its predecessor on multi-core thanks to the two additional cores but it also outpaces on single-core too, likely due to the additional Turbo Boost headroom.

It’s Tough To Choose The Best Apple Laptop To Buy Right Now, by Mike Murphy, Quartz

But if you’re in the market for a new Apple laptop—perhaps you’re gearing up to go back to college, or your old one finally gave out—you have a tough decision ahead of you. There’s no clear choice as to which laptop is best, but here’s a quick rundown on the options available right now, and what might be best for you:

Notes

Lightning-to-Ethernet Cables And Lightning To USB-C Audio Adapters Added To Apple's MFi Program, by Tim Hardwick, MacRumors

Apple will soon allow hardware developers to manufacture additional Made for iPhone (MFi) certified adapters including USB-C to Lightning audio adapters, reports Japanese site Mac Otakara. Apple is said to have recently informed developers who participate in the MFi program about the change.

The Families Who Use Slack And Asana At Home, by Taylor Lorenz, Joe Pinsker, The Atlantic

When Tonya Parker, a mom in Illinois, wanted to better organize her family life a little over a year ago, the first thing she did was set her kids up on Trello, a web-based project-management tool. Parker’s four children, ages 9 to 18, now use Trello, which is more typically used at work, to keep up with chores, to-do lists, shopping, and homework. “I use it every day to keep track of what schoolwork I need to do, or places I need to be, things to buy,” Hannah, her 15-year-old daughter, says.

“College was my first experience of having to keep track of my own stuff,” Tonya said. “I wanted [my kids] to have that sooner.” Incorporating Trello, along with Gmail, into the Parker family’s life has been a godsend, in Tonya’s view. It streamlined family communication, helped keep everyone organized, and added a layer of accountability to tasks. Now, instead of wondering if her children forgot to do something, Parker says she can ask, “How are you doing on your checklist?”

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I think we are starting to see a significant differentiation between the iPad and the MacBook lines.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Listen-without-Consent Edition Thursday, July 11, 2019

Apple Disables Walkie Talkie App Due To Vulnerability That Could Allow iPhone Eavesdropping, by Matthew Panzarino, TechCrunch

Apple has disabled the Apple Watch Walkie Talkie app due to an unspecified vulnerability that could allow a person to listen to another customer’s iPhone without consent, the company told TechCrunch this evening.

[...]

Apple was alerted to the bug via its report a vulnerability portal directly and says that there is no current evidence that it was exploited in the wild.

Apple Has Pushed A Silent Mac Update To Remove Hidden Zoom Web Server, by Zack Whittaker, TechCrunch

The Cupertino, Calif.-based tech giant told TechCrunch that the update — now released — removes the hidden web server, which Zoom quietly installed on users’ Macs when they installed the app.

Apple said the update does not require any user interaction and is deployed automatically.

The MacBook Error, by M.G. Siegler, 500ish Words

As such, it’s probably true that Apple doesn’t need to sell three distinct MacBook products and three distinct iPad products. And given the volumes we’re talking about, again, the MacBook was likely the easiest candidate to cut. Especially if a new, larger MacBook Pro is on the way.

But I’m still holding out hope for the MacBook to be resurrected with ARM power. Until then, I’m hanging on to mine. That nearly one pound difference to the Air matters to me. And my keyboard hasn’t broken here — yet.

Sweeping Glass Facade Of Apple Jewel Changi Airport Unveiled In Singapore, by Michael Steeber, 9to5Mac

Apple Orchard Road has grown in distinction thanks to its exclusive Today at Apple sessions featuring talented creative professionals. That won’t change. But for the first time, travelers stopping on a layover or those who can’t make it to the downtown store will have access to Apple’s free educational resources. The team staffing the store collectively speaks 11 languages.

Goodnight and Goodbye

Flint Center’s Half-century Run As Silicon Valley Entertainment Hub Comes To An End, by Thy Vo, San Jose Mercury News

It’s where a young Steve Jobs unveiled the first Macintosh computer in 1984. Where singer Johnny Cash, actor Cary Grant, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and every U.S. president since Richard Nixon except George W. Bush and Donald Trump took the stage over the decades.

But Silicon Valley’s iconic Flint Center for the Performing Arts recently closed and eventually will be torn down. Its last act was a Palo Alto University graduation ceremony, on June 22.

Photos: Where Steve Jobs Introduced The Original Apple Macintosh For The First Time, by Dai Sugano, San Jose Mercury News

The Flint Center for the Performing Arts, the place where Apple co-founder Steve Jobs unveiled the first Macintosh computer in 1984, will close its doors after nearly 50 years.

Stuff

How I Kept My iMac Running For A Decade, Charlie Sorrel, Cult of Mac

Spoiler: It was pretty easy, although it required some simple home surgery from time to time. The only sad part is that the current lineup of iMacs almost certainly won’t last as long, at least not without professional attention.

Collecting Your Thoughts Is Good. Organizing Them Is Even Better., by J. D. Biersdorfer, New York Times

Whether the task is making a simple grocery list or organizing a complex projects like a home renovation, there is a note-taking program for you. Here’s how to sort through the options and get started.

How To Automatically Clean Up Your Desktop With Hazel, by Rose Orchard, The Sweet Setup

If you’re anything like me, your desktop gets cluttered with screenshots, random documents you wanted easy access to, and (above all) duplicate files! Thankfully, there’s a program out there that can help people like me handle this automatically, and it’s called Hazel. I’m going to walk you through my setup here, which you can customize to meet your needs, of course.

Develop

Searchable Transcripts Of WWDC 2019 Session Videos Now Available, by Eric Slivka, MacRumors

Individual transcripts can be searched by keyword or phrase, and clicking on search results will jump you straight to the corresponding timestamps in the video.

I’ve Been Designing Offices For Decades. Here’s What I Got Wrong, by Verda Alexander, Fast Company

Fast forward another decade. Open offices are in full swing, and so are their critics. O+A is firmly established as a creator of work environments with an almost endless variety of amenity spaces. Remember the early interactive drumming game Rock Band? The year it debuted, several clients asked us to design rooms exclusively to play Rock Band in. We did skateboard ramps with DJ turntables, lots of game rooms with pool and ping-pong tables; we did music rooms and cafeterias with sophisticated barista bars and beer taps. We did many, many “living rooms.”

We continue to design these pleasure assets today and have found new reasons to justify them: for recruitment and retention, to increase creativity, to satisfy the introverts and the extroverts. But at the back of my mind, one thought nags: Do these spaces really help us get our work done? Do they really make for better work, more creative work, a more productive day? Or is that claim just our version of sinking a dunk shot 24/7?

Notes

Google’s 4,000-Word Privacy Policy Is A Secret History Of The Internet, by CHARLIE WARZEL Charlie Warzel, New York Times

The late 1990s was a simpler time for Google. The nascent company was merely a search engine, and Gmail, Android and YouTube were but glimmers in the startup’s eye. Google’s first privacy policy reflected that simplicity. It was short and earnest, a quaint artifact of a different time in Silicon Valley, when Google offered 600 words to explain how it was collecting and using personal information.

That version of the internet (and Google) is gone. Over the past 20 years, that same privacy policy has been rewritten into a sprawling 4,000-word explanation of the company’s data practices.

This evolution, across two decades and 30 versions, is the story of the internet’s transformation through the eyes of one of its most crucial entities. The web is now terribly complex, and Google has a privacy policy to match.

Here’s Why You Can’t Escape Instagram Swimsuit Ads, by Rebecca Jennings, Vox

“I kept clicking them because the women in the ads were hot,” writer Jamie Lauren Keiles told me over DM. “Then I guess because I click them, Instagram serves me more and more, which I keep looking at because I am horny, which begets more ads for a product I don’t wear or buy. Anyway, now my whole feed is bathing suits.”

Besides our collective horniness, the real reason Instagram has transformed into one giant bikini store is multifold. It relates to quirks in the algorithm, the sudden explosion of swimwear brands in the 2010s, and the foundational difficulties of shopping for the tiny pieces of clothing in which most people, multiple brands reminded me, will be the most naked they’ll ever be in public.

The Messy Reality Of Personalized Learning, by E. Tammy Kim, New Yorker

A half hour west of downtown Providence, Rhode Island, past potholed highways lined with maple, ash, and pine trees, is the town of Foster, population four thousand and seven hundred. Its residents live on small farms and in aging, widely spaced homes; the closest grocery store is in Johnston, twenty miles away. Down Route 6, not far from the Shady Acres Restaurant and Dairy, is Captain Isaac Paine Elementary School. Kristen Danusis, a former school psychologist who became the principal in 2013, tells me that many of her students live “off the grid,” in households that earn little regular income.

Yet, inside Isaac Paine, tech abounds. Teachers project lesson plans onto interactive screens, and little hands reach for black Chromebook laptops, which are stacked like cafeteria trays in a large box called a Chromecart. In one class, Danusis introduces me to a lanky child in rain boots, who clicks through an online math program while chatting about a baby goat that’s being weaned in her back yard. In another room, children rotate through learning stations, sometimes at screens, sometimes putting pencils to paper. Kids work alone and in small groups; they sit at tiny desks and on beanbags and sofas scattered around the classroom. It looks unlike any school I ever attended. The ratio of children to Chromebooks, in grades three through five, is one to one.

The Prestige-TV Edition Wednesday, July 10, 2019

The Great Race To Rule Streaming TV, by Jonah Weiner, New York Times

One big question is what all this means for us, at home, fishing in the cushions for our remotes: If even a network as seemingly sacred as HBO can be pressured by corporate bosses to crank out more shows in order to better compete with smartphones, what new era are we entering?

MacBook Air: Why Didn’t It Die?, by Jason Snell, Macworld

Part of the unlikely story of the MacBook Air’s revival is Apple’s failure to create its replacement. When the 12-inch MacBook was released in 2015, it seemed like an obvious replacement. And in late 2016 the 13-inch MacBook Pro shared many features with the Air. Yet both of those Mac models are gone, as of Tuesday. Why?

R.I.P., MacBook, by Om Malik

As someone with minimalist tendencies, it is not a surprise that I fell in love with the idea of a super-skinny and minimal laptop that could slide into a manila envelope. I was on a hospital bed when Apple introduced the clearly underpowered and feature-challenged notebook in 2008. It was called MacBook Air then, though eventually, it became just a MacBook. The initial response to the laptop was harsh – I mean, everyone hated it.

Except me.

Stuff

Apple Significantly Lowers Mac SSD Upgrade Pricing Across The Board, 1 TB MacBook Air Now Available, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

In addition to launching refreshes to the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, Apple has lowered the cost of Mac solid state storage options, cutting the price in half for many of the configurations.

Apple Music Doubles Free Trial For Students, by Joe Wituschek, iMore

Since its launch, new subscribers to the service have always been eligible to receive three free months of service before paying the usual $9.99 per month. Students had enjoyed the same luxury, with an added benefit as they received a special rate of $4.99 per month. That offer is getting even better today as Apple is extending the free trial period for students, doubling from three months to now six months.

Free Apple Workshops For Londoners At Risk Of Being Caught Up In Gangs, by Naomi Ackerman, London Evening Standard

Made in LDN, created in partnership with City Hall, aims to enable teens to “unlock their creativity” in their communities over the summer.

Bi-weekly sessions, which will also include workshops on photography and health and fitness tech, will be led by the company’s London team members, with Instagram influencers and industry experts brought in to speak and provide demonstrations.

The program will initially launch with 10 community groups already working with at-risk young people, selected by the Mayor’s Young Londoners Fund.

Develop

Apple Opens App Design And Development Accelerator In Shanghai, by Tim Hardwick, MacRumors

Located in Pudong District, the Accelerator is being launched to give Chinese developers a chance to work closely with Apple experts to enhance their app development skills, learn how to take advantage of the latest Apple software and hardware, and get tips on app marketing and distribution.

Bottom of the Page

Everyone -- Netflix, Disney+/Hulu, NBCU and HBO Max -- are just throwing everything and the kitchen sink into their streaming service. Can Apple TV+ be successful, however Apple defines success?

I wonder how many people are knocking on Viacom/CBS or Sony's doors?

~

Thanks for reading.

The MacBook-Day Edition Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Apple Updates Retina MacBook Air, Adds True Tone, Lowers Price To $1099 — $999 For Students, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

The price drop of the Retina MacBook Air to $1099 means that Apple has finally killed off the previous-gen non-Retina MacBook Air, which held the $999 price point for more than eight years.

The addition of True Tone is a nice gesture for Retina MacBook Air fans, but the $100 price drop is the real news here.

$1299 Entry-level MacBook Pro Now Features 8th-gen Intel Processors, Touch ID And Touch Bar, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

Apple has upgraded the entry-level $1299 MacBook Pro. The laptop now features the latest 8th-generation quad-core processors, and adds the Touch Bar for the first time. This means it also adds a Touch ID biometric sensor and the Apple T2 Security chip. The 13-inch Retina display now supports True Tone.

Apple Stops Selling The 12-inch MacBook, A Computer You Either Loved Or Were Confused By, by Darrell Etherington, TechCrunch

Ultimately, the MacBook resembles the original MacBook Air more than anything – an oddball that had both lovers and haters, but that didn’t meet the needs or expectations of the masses. Like the Air, the MacBook could rise from the ashes with a future incarnation, too – perhaps one made possible by the much-speculated future Apple transition to ARM processor architecture. Or maybe it’ll just make way for an ever-evolving iPad powered by the more sophisticated iPadOS coming this fall.

Regardless, the MacBook was an eccentric machine that I enjoyed using (and was potentially considering using again pending an update), so here’s hoping it’s not gone forever.

Apple No Longer Sells A MacBook Pro Without A Touch Bar, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

In other words, it is no longer possible to buy a new MacBook Pro with a physical escape key directly from Apple.

Stuff

Apple Revives Classic Texas Hold ’Em iOS Game To Mark 10 Years Of The App Store, by Michael Potuck, 9to5Mac

The update to the original game comes in celebration of the 10-year anniversary of the App Store and includes new characters, improved graphics, more challenging gameplay, and more.

The Best On-the-Go Headphones You'll Ever Buy, by Justin Kirkland, Esquire

You don’t buy the Powerbeats Pro to get you to your next pair of headphones. You get these when you’re ready to settle in for the long haul.

Due 3.0 Is My New App For Concurrent Timers, by Josh Ginter, The Sweet Setup

There are a wide range of timer apps available on the App Store, so there may very well be one out there better suited for my specific cooking needs. However, Due’s great design, simple user interface, and extra easy timer and reminder creation make it an instantly great option for concurrent timers.

Serious Zoom Security Flaw Could Let Websites Hijack Mac Cameras, by Dieter Bohn, The Verge

Today, security researcher Jonathan Leitschuh has publicly disclosed a serious zero-day vulnerability for the Zoom video conferencing app on Macs. He has demonstrated that any website can open up a video-enabled call on a Mac with the Zoom app installed. That’s possible in part because the Zoom app apparently installs a web server on Macs that accepts requests regular browsers wouldn’t. In fact, if you uninstall Zoom that web server persists and can reinstall Zoom without your intervention.

Develop

Apple Development With Swift Curriculum Now Available In Canvas Commons, by Dennis Sellers, Apple World Today

Canvas Commons is a digital library full of educational content that enables Canvas educators to find, import, and share resources. It allows educators to share learning resources with each other, as well as import learning resources into a Canvas course.

It's Never Too Late To Be Successful And Happy, by Invincible Career

First, don’t ever feel like it’s too late to have what you want in life. Don’t give in to a feeling of hopelessness. History shows us that talented people are capable of having amazing success for the rest of their lives. Grit matters. I know people who are still pursuing their big dreams in their 70s and 80s. Don’t give up!

Second, stop comparing yourself to others in all the wrong ways. I know you've heard this before. We all have. And, yet, we keep doing it. Sometimes it is a conscious comparison (e.g., “My friend just took his company public and became a billionaire. What have I accomplished?”). Sometimes it is a subconscious comparison that is happening in the back of your mind as you mindlessly scroll through Instagram and see your friends doing exciting things on an amazing vacation.

Notes

Superhuman’s Superficial Privacy Fixes Do Not Prevent It From Spying On You, by Mike Davidson, Mike Industries

I will say this: if you were skeptical of Superhuman’s commitment to privacy and safety after reading the last article, you should probably be even more skeptical after these changes. The company’s efforts demonstrate a desire to tamp down liability and damage to their brand, but they do not show an understanding of the core problem: you should not build software that surreptitiously collects data on people in a way that would surprise and frighten them. Superhuman needs to realize that the people their customers send emails to aren’t “externalities”. They are people. And they deserve not to be spied on by software they don’t even know about and never signed up to use.

The Sinkhole That Saved The Internet, by Zack Whittaker, TechCrunch

Hutchins and Hankins knew if the kill switch went down, the malware would pick up where it left off, infecting thousands of computers every minute. Puffy eyed and sleep deprived, they knew the domain had to stay up at all costs. The researchers fended off several attacks from an angry operator of a botnet trying to knock the domain offline with junk internet traffic. And, at one point, law enforcement seized two of their servers from a datacenter in France amid confusion that the domain was helping to spread WannaCry and not preventing it.

With the pressure on but running on empty, Hankins — who was also only pseudonymously known as @2sec4u — fought to stay awake, and would fall asleep on his couch where he worked for hours at a time, laptop still open, only to be jolted awake by messages on Slack or Skype, which the researchers used to talk.

Every time he heard an alert, he feared the kill switch had gone offline.

Bottom of the Page

Just when we thought Apple has successfully simplified its product naming strategy, along came the iPad Air and an updated iPad Mini, and then an updated MacBook Air, and the disapperance of the MacBook.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Again-and-Again Edition Monday, July 8, 2019

Why You Have To Keep Logging In To Read News On Your Phone, by Rani Molla, Vox

It might seem like the problem lies with publishers — I pay you good money, dammit, Wall Street Journal! — but in reality, they have little control. Instead, on the most basic level, the apps where you find those stories (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, among others) are largely responsible. That’s because they require you to read most publications’ content within their apps, which don’t communicate with the publications’ websites — forcing you to log in again and again.

Still, the problem is complicated and involves numerous stakeholders with competing interests. Beyond app makers trying to keep you in their apps, other factors like privacy concerns, advertising, and the fragmented ways in which we read news also contribute to why it’s so annoying to read paywalled stories on your phone.

Apple: Misunderstanding Design And Jony Ive’s Role, by Jean-Louis Gassée, Monday Note

Ive is a living representative of the relatively new lineage of industrial designers, of artists and engineers who understand that to design a product means taking care of the Look and Feel and the operational factors that are required to deliver their wares in extremely large quantities, on time, while meeting cost and reliability targets.

Apple Tests New iCloud Sign In For iOS 13 Beta Users, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

For iOS 13, iPadOS 13, and macOS Catalina beta testers, Apple is trying out a new sign-in process for iCloud on the web. When you head to beta.icloud.com on a device running the betas, you can now sign-in to your account using Face ID or Touch ID.

Stuff

In New 'Nap' TV Commercial, Apple Says Face ID Is 'Even Easier And More Secure Than Touch ID', by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

The ad shows the man opening his eyes and merely glancing at the phone to unlock the device and reveal the notifications. The ad closes with the tagline “Face ID. Even easier and more secure than Touch ID.”

Why I Made An App To Document The Seclusion And Restraint Of Special Education Students, by Gabriela Marcu, Midland Reporter-Telegram

The first app that we designed enables the classroom staff to use an iPad instead of a clipboard for documenting behaviors in real time. A web portal allows the data collection interface to be customized and gives the rest of the team access to review the data. This allows teams to have more informed discussions about whether the child is responding to things they have tried, and to adjust the strategies they use as needed.

By swapping out their clipboard for an iPad, my research group gave them a portable tool that has enabled them to make the process as paperless as possible. The app also gives educators more space to write notes than the small paper forms they used to use. This has led educators to write more detailed notes than they did before.

How An App Made Hiking Easier – With Unintended Consequences, by Taylor Gee, Outside Magazine

It took the entire set of tools needed for thru-hiking – a map, compass, guidebook and water reports – and consolidated them into a single virtual location. It functioned offline and crowdsourced updated information about trail conditions and campsites when online. Such an app might have been inevitable, but for ultralight-obsessed thru-hikers, it was a revolution.

[...]

But as the the app’s empire continues to grow, many thru-hikers worry about its unintended consequences. They see themselves and fellow hikers depending on their phones to decide where to sleep and eat and to discover exactly how far, down to the tenth of a mile, they are from those places. They fear that American thru-hiking, once the ultimate test of self-reliance, is no longer as wild as it once was.

Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge Becomes A Live-in Video Game With The Disney Parks App, by Todd Martens, Los Angeles Times

Amid this bounty of theme park activity I stood alone near the clustered shopping stalls of the Black Spire Outpost marketplace, my face buried in a phone. While an obsession with personal screens is often considered a modern societal affliction, here on Galaxy’s Edge it’s encouraged.

Nestled inside the 1-year-old Play Disney Parks mobile app is an exploration-encouraging experience called the Star Wars Datapad. Largely a home to mini-puzzles and short quests that can only be activated while inside Disneyland’s recently opened 14-acre area, the Datapad not only fleshes out the Galaxy’s Edge back story but also contains an ongoing game for control of the land itself.

Develop

Privacy And Security Risks As Sign In With Apple Tweaks Open ID Protocol, by Sophos

The OIDF published this list of ways in which Sign In with Apple differs from OpenID Connect and what security and/or privacy risks those deviations entail.

Notes

Logitech Keyboards And Mice Vulnerable To Extensive Cyber Attacks, by Ronald Eikenberg, Heise

Many Logitech wireless input devices are vulnerable to wireless attacks and can pose a security risk. This is the conclusion of security expert Marcus Mengs, with whom c't has been in contact for quite some time. Mengs has investigated the wireless connections of several Logitech devices and found numerous weaknesses. They affect keyboards, mice as well as wireless presenters.

Social Media Could Make It Impossible To Grow Up, by Kate Eichhorn, Wired

Several decades into the age of digital media, the ability to leave one’s childhood and adolescent years behind is now imperiled. Although exact numbers are hard to come by, it is evident that a majority of young people with access to mobile phones take and circulate selfies on a daily basis. There is also growing evidence that selfies are not simply a tween and teen obses­sion. Toddlers enjoy taking selfies, too, and whether intentionally or unintentionally, have even managed to put their images into circula­tion. What is the cost of this excessive documentation? More spe­cifically, what does it mean to come of age in an era when images of childhood and adolescence, and even the social networks formed during this fleeting period of life, are so easily preserved and may stubbornly persist with or without one’s intention or desire? Can one ever transcend one’s youth if it remains perpetually present?

Bottom of the Page

Today, I discovered I can be happy doing a little bit of programming work while I am sleepy and hungry.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Spell-Casting Edition Sunday, July 7, 2019

The Surprising Story Behind The Apple Watch's ECG Ability, by Andrew Tarantola, Engadget

In February 2016, a small start-up company called AliveCor hired Frank Petterson and Simon Prakash, two Googlers with AI expertise, to transform their business of smartphone electrocardiograms (ECG). The company was struggling. They had developed the first smartphone app capable of single-lead ECG, and, by 2015, they were even able to display the ECG on an Apple Watch. The app had a "wow" factor but otherwise seemed to be of little practical value. The company faced an existential threat, despite extensive venture capital investment from Khosla Ventures and others.

But Petterson, Prakash, and their team of only three other AI talents had an ambitious, twofold mission. One objective was to develop an algorithm that would passively detect a heart-rhythm disorder, the other to determine the level of potassium in the blood, simply from the ECG captured by the watch. It wasn't a crazy idea, given whom AliveCor had just hired. Petterson, AliveCor's VP of engineering, is tall, blue-eyed, dark-haired with frontal balding, and, like most engineers, a bit introverted. At Google, he headed up YouTube Live, Gaming, and led engineering for Hangouts. He previously had won an Academy Award and nine feature film credits for his design and development software for movies including the Transformers, Star Trek, the Harry Potter series, and Avatar. Prakash, the VP of products and design, is not as tall as Petterson, without an Academy Award, but is especially handsome, dark-haired, and brown-eyed, looking like he's right out of a Hollywood movie set. His youthful appearance doesn't jibe with a track record of twenty years of experience in product development, which included leading the Google Glass design project. He also worked at Apple for nine years, directly involved in the development of the first iPhone and iPad. That background might, in retrospect, be considered ironic.

A Journalist's Wrecked MacBook Keyboard Tells A Terrible Story, by Chris Matyszczyk, ZDNet

Not so long ago, a Best Buy salesman told me that the best Windows laptop is a MacBook. The simple reason, he said, is that MacBooks last twice as long as other laptops.

These latest MacBooks, though, seem incapable of lasting very long at all before beginning to disintegrate like a coalition of vast political egos.

Gates Says Steve Jobs Cast ‘Spells’ To Keep Apple From Dying, by Ros Krasny, Bloomberg

“I have yet to meet any person who” could rival Jobs “in terms of picking talent, hyper-motivating that talent, and having a sense of design of, ‘Oh, this is good. This is not good,’ ” Gates added of his sometime collaborator and competitor.

Even when he failed, he succeeded, Gates said, citing the 1988 introduction of NeXT, the computer that “completely failed, it was such nonsense, and yet he mesmerized those people.”

Stuff

UnitedMasters Launches IPhone App For The Artists To Distribute Their Music Online, by David Mosley, Irvine Observer

The iPhone app works just like the service they used to supply solely through the web, giving artists the possibility to add their tracks (from iCloud, Dropbox or directly from text messages), then distribute them to a full vary of streaming music platforms, together with Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal and more. In alternate for this distribution, in addition to analytics on how your music is performing, UnitedMasters takes a 10% share on revenue generated by tracks it distributes. However, artists retain full ownership of the content they create.

Review: Mophie Powerstation Hub Solves Your Charging Woes, by Andrew O'Hara, AppleInsider

When not plugged into a wall, the internal battery or a USB-C cord can be used to turn the powerstation Hub into a wireless charging pad.

Nature Walk Teaches How To Identify Native Plants, Noxious Weeds Through App, by Juliana Sukut, Billings Gazette

An app, iNaturalist, is a desktop, tablet, or phone app that brings a community of naturalists to your fingertips. The app uses your photos to help identify plants, wildlife, and insects within a larger online community of other naturalists.

Harry Potter: Wizards Unite Is Great Till You Start Paying For It, by Clifford Colby, CNET

For me, the richness of the game may work against it. I don't really want to spend my time managing items and Foundables and Portkeys when I'd rather be doing what the game does best: playing.

Notes

Apple Is One Step Closer To Setting Up Its Retail Stores In India, by Harish Jonnalagadda, iMore

Apple hasn't had much to celebrate in India of late, but 2019 is becoming a turning point for the company. The Indian government has signed off on two key factories, allowing Apple to locally manufacture iPhones. That's a huge deal because India has a prohibitive 30% import tax on devices that are imported from other markets, and local assembly allows Apple to negate that tax.

Another development is around Apple's ambitions to set up a retail store in the country. India's local sourcing norms — which required a brand to source 30% of its comonents locally — disallowed Apple from setting up its stores here, but the government is relaxing that particular norm as it looks for an influx of cash from foreign brands.

An Online Preschool Closes A Gap But Exposes Another, by Nellie Bowles, New York Times

A government-subsidized program fills up fast and fits only a small fraction of the town’s 4-year-olds, he said. A private program that closed a decade ago was unaffordable for many of the 6,500 residents of Fowler, a predominantly Latino community of agricultural workers in California’s Central Valley. Otherwise, there are a handful of private day cares.

So Mr. Cardenas recently seized on an unusual preschool alternative that a group from Utah presented to him. “This is something that I have never seen before,” he said. “I wanted to be on the front line right away.”

Mr. Cardenas was referring to a “kindergarten readiness program” for 4-year-olds that takes place almost entirely online. Called Waterford Upstart and run by a nonprofit group, Waterford.org, it has children spend 15 minutes a day, five days a week over the course of nine months, tapping through lessons on a computer. About 16,000 children in 15 states graduated from the program this year, and the Waterford expects to expand the program to a projected 22,000 students by 2020.

The Private-Joy Edition Saturday, July 6, 2019

In A Brilliant Yet Simple Twist, The Apple Watch Solves Problems Handed To Us By Its Predecessors, by Calum Marsh, National Post

When I first started carrying a BlackBerry, in the late 2000s, it provided its own kind of liberation: Suddenly I no longer felt chained to my laptop, where I’d been checking my email on my web browser near-constantly. Smartphones made the concept of checking your email redundant, because push notifications, that brilliant idea, told you precisely when you had an email to check, obliterating the need to look at an empty inbox, hopeful for mail. The Apple Watch just takes that notion one step further. Now the notifications themselves are less obtrusive, demanding less of your attention, making it possible to deal with work, engage with a social network and remain available when needed, without reaching into your pocket and pouring over your phone every 30 seconds. It’s another win for private joy.

This Is The Apple Watch's Most Useful Feature By Far, by Dave Smith, Business Insider

I'll admit it: I lose my iPhone all the time. I don't lose it in public or anything serious like that, but it's constantly going missing around my apartment. Sometimes I leave it in my bedroom, sometimes it's in my den around my desk area, and most of the time it's lost inside a couch cushion in my living room. Before the Apple Watch, trying to find my perennially misplaced iPhone, especially when I was in a rush to head out the door, was a pain in the butt.

Thankfully, my Apple Watch never has a problem finding my phone.

The Best Travel Tech For A Stress-free Holiday, by Samuel Gibbs, The Guardian

But holidays no longer mean leaving all your worldly possessions behind. Your phone, your tablet, your e-reader, headphones and even your smartwatch come along for the ride, which means you need to keep them charged, organised and connected.

Here’s a gadget guide to help take the stress out of keeping your digital life up and running when travelling.

The Zima-Blue Edition Friday, July 5, 2019

Jony Ive, by John Siracusa, Hypercritical

If Ive has overstayed his usefulness at Apple, it is only by a little. Few careers in any field will ever match his run at Apple. His designs changed the tech industry forever, and he hit home run after home run on the playing field that he built.

It's often said that the best creative work requires limitations. In this case, another piece of industry wisdom also applies: success hides problems. But in the years to come, when I look back on Jony Ive's work at Apple, I doubt I'll dwell much on tail end, when he very nearly caught that thing he'd been chasing for his entire career. Will he ever catch it? Does anyone? I'm not sure it matters to me. After all, it's the chase that I love.

Diet Apps 'Can Exacerbate Eating Disorders', by BBC

An investigation by the BBC found more than 20 harmful entries generated by users of MyFitnessPal, Lose It! or Lifesum, including some promoting dangerous cycles of starving and binging.

Phrases such as "starved", "I overate and I hate my life", and "failure, fatty" were logged, among hundreds of thousands of legitimate food items.

Google Project Zero Reveals Bad iMessages Could Have Bricked Your iPhone , by Chris Duckett, ZDNet

"Receiving this message will cause Springboard to crash and respawn repeatedly, causing the UI not to be displayed and the phone to stop responding to input," the security researcher added.

"This condition survives a hard reset, and causes the phone to be unusable as soon as it is unlocked."

Stuff

Agenda 6 Adds Full Reminders Integration, Revamped Timeline View, by Mike Schmitz, The Sweet Setup

Agenda is a unique date-based note taking app that allows you to organize your notes into a timeline that can help drive your projects forward. It takes some getting used to, but it’s a beautifully designed application for macOS and iOS that won an Apple Design Award at WWDC18. And with the recent release of version 6, it now offers full integration with the built-in Reminders app.

Swing: The Apple Watch Tennis App That Will Track Your Shots, by Stuart Miles, Pocket Lint

Swing is an Apple Watch app that uses machine learning to track how you hit a ball on the tennis court - giving you a chance to benefit from similar technologies to those used at Wimbledon.

Notes

From The Mac Startup Tone To The Skype Ring, Sound Designers Talk About The Legacy Of Their Work, by Thomas McMullan, Medium

"Today, most people around the world can recognize what the sound of a camera shutter means. Such specific sounds have a universal association that transcend languages and cultures, creating a global language of their own."

Apple Reimbursed Samsung $683 Million After Missing OLED Display Targets, by Tim Hardwick, MacRumors

Apple reimbursed Samsung 800 billion won ($683 million) to cover the cost of OLED panels after Apple missed a sales target both companies had agreed upon.

Apple originally said it would buy a certain number of the display panels from the South Korean company, but disappointing iPhone sales meant it was unable to live up to the agreement. The payment was made in the second quarter of this year.

Bottom of the Page

We have millions and millions of songs in Apple Music's database. It will be a shame if the only means of browsing and discovering these songs is limited by Apple resources and imagination.

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Thanks for reading.

The Design-Career Edition Thursday, July 4, 2019

Jony Ive’s Real Legacy, According To Apple Designers Who Worked With Him, by Suzanne LaBarre, Fast Company

Everyone had an opinion last week, when news broke last that Apple’s longtime design chief Jony Ive was stepping down. But what of the people who worked with him? What better way to evaluate the legacy of a design leader than through the colleagues who toiled alongside him?

We reached out to three former Apple employees—Don Norman, Ken Kocienda, and Imran Chaudhri—who collaborated with Ive during different eras and in various capacities at Apple. Their stories shed new light on one of the most remarkable, if checkered, design careers of the past 30 years.

The Horrible Place Between The Apps, by John Herrman, New York Times

Everyone has that one app. The one that mocks you from your home screen. The app that lures you to the folder where you’ve tried to hide it. The app you’ve signed out of and deleted — only to download again the next morning. The app you can’t quite quit.

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Apple’s Newest Billboards Tout Its Stance Of Privacy, by Danny Zepeda, iMore

Apple's latest round of billboards continue to tout is strict stance on user privacy. The billboards are a continuation of Apple's marketing campaign focusing on privacy that began at CES in January.

The new billboards spotted in Canada feature catchy slogans like "We're in the business of staying out of yours" and "Privacy is King" punctuated with the line "That's iPhone." The rest of the billboard is black and white with a silhouette of the iPhone XS. It's simple and direct to the point.

Miximum Review: Smart Apple Music Playlists On iOS, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

Miximum addresses a key missing feature from Apple Music on iOS, and in a way that elegantly complements Apple’s native app. Through integration with your Apple Music library via MusicKit APIs, the app becomes a natural extension to Music and an important utility for users who wish the iPhone and iPad had a more powerful Music app.

LogMeIn Pro Review: The Right Remote Access When You Have Many Users That Need To Control A Few Computers, by Glenn Fleishman, Macworld

While LogMeIn could refresh its interface and clean up its graphics, it provides solid remote access at an affordable price when at several people need to access the screen and files on a desktop computer.

How To Turn You ‘Reminders’ App Into A 100 Percent Free Personal Trainer, by Kells McPhillips, Well+Good

You know what happens next. Right on schedule, as if my device has turned into a Black Mirror-style personal trainer, I get a push notification (this time, one I actually like!) pumping me up for my workout and telling me exactly what’s on deck for the day. It allows me to mentally prep for what’s ahead and, once I get to the gym and crush the workout, I can even—gasp—check my workout off in the Reminders app.

Develop

Why A Good Boss Likes It When People Complain, by Cate Huston, Quartz

I know some managers say “don’t bring me problems, bring me solutions,” but personally I don’t subscribe to it.

I love when people complain to me. Of course, complaining is a national past time for the British, and we don’t just limit ourselves to complaining about the weather, or the poor availability of good tea when traveling. Brexit has provided some strong fodder for complaining (where do we begin?) but really your average British can complain about anything.

But, here’s why complaining is so useful to me as a manager.

Notes

Apple To Take Voluntary Action To Correct Unfair Practices In Korea, by Shin Ji-hye, The Korea Herald

Apple applied for a consent order June 4, the Fair Trade Commission said, meaning the company has initiated a process to close a case early by voluntarily agreeing to take corrective action to restore order to the market and rectify the harm it has caused, if the FTC approves the application.

[...]

The FTC did not disclose any details about the consent order but said such a path normally involves the company agreeing to take two kinds of corrective action. First, it agrees to halt its unfair practices and restore order to the market. It also agrees to rectify the harm it has caused other companies and consumers.

MAD Magazine To Effectively Shutter After 67 Years, by Trilby Beresford, Abid Rahman, The Hollywood Reporter

The beloved satire publication will no longer be sold on newsstands after the August issue, and future editions will no longer feature new content and instead shift to previously published material — with new covers.

MAD Magazine, the irreverent and highly influential satirical magazine that gave the world Alfred E. Neuman, will effectively cease publication some time later this year after 67 years, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed.

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My iPhone is jealous that my iPad will soon be able to have both home app icons and Shortcuts widgets on the same screen, side-by-side.

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Thanks for reading.

The New-Center Edition Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Apple Sans Ive, by Matthew Panzarino, TechCrunch

But the argument that Jony derailed product at Apple looks like complete nonsense when you observe the facts. And every design team member I’ve spoken to over the last 4 years has said that Jony, while at times difficult, demanding and intense, has also been an enormous enabling force when it comes to spending the time, resources and energy it took them to get a product or feature to the level they wanted. Resources like on-the-ground materials consultation in China, collaborations with artists around the world, research into the effects of a design — the willingness to ‘do the most’ in search of a solution. None of that went away.

[...]

I think it’s also smart of Apple not to announce a single ‘Jony replacement’ at this juncture. Any immediate comparison would likely not do them any favors and this gives the team time to find a new center and a new direction over the next couple of years. I think someone will emerge as the design lead here eventually, but I’m not sure who.

There’s Only One Important Question To Ask About Apple’s Future, by Nilay Patel, The Verge

It’s not like Apple is going to put Intel stickers on Macs, or preload some silly virus scanner on the iPhone. But will Apple degrade the user experience in order to push its own services? It’s a conflict that’s playing out as iPhone sales flatten out and the company explicitly shifts its focus to paid services across news, TV shows, games, payments (even a credit card!), and music. The temptation to boost those services by littering the iPhone with crap is growing stronger every day, and you can see some clear examples of Apple compromising user experience to drive them already.

HomePod Owners Complain Hey Siri Is Activated By Apple's Ad, by Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac

When the guy in the Bounce ad says Hey Siri at the beginning and asks it to play him something new, HomePods are being triggered.

[...]

Apple seems to have gotten the message, as the version posted to the company’s YouTube channel omits the Hey Siri command.

Coming Soon

Can Apple Hack It In Hollywood? We Talk To The Man Behind Apple TV+, by Stuart McGurk, GQ

“The best,” says Cue simply. “If you want to watch the best shows, we have them.” Better than anything on HBO? “You know, it’s hard to compare. I think HBO has had a great reputation.” There is definitive emphasis on the word. Had? Past tense?

“Look, they have Game Of Thrones that’s just finished... but no, I don’t think it’s past tense.”

Apple’s iOS 13 Update Will Make FaceTime Eye Contact Way Easier, by Darrell Etherington, TechCrunch

The feature, spotted in the third beta of the new software update that went out this week, apparently does a terrific job of making it look like you’re looking directly into the camera even when you’re looking at the screen during a FaceTime call.

Security Matters

The Simple Way Apple And Google Let Domestic Abusers Stalk Victims, by Andy Greenberg, Wired

After years of neglect, the antivirus industry has finally begun to recognize stalkerware's danger and flag the apps as malicious, a development that's long overdue given that a quarter of women in the US and one in nine men experience some form of physical abuse or stalking by an intimate partner.

But antivirus alone may not be enough, one group of researchers at Cornell Tech and NYU warned me. Abusive phone-snooping, they point out, doesn't necessarily require software explicitly built for that purpose. Mainstream app stores are well-stocked with what those researchers call "dual-use" applications. These are apps that advertise features for a legitimate purpose—such as letting families consensually track one another for convenience or safety, or for locating stolen and lost devices—but can easily be abused by stalkers who install them without their target's knowledge, or secretly change the configuration of those apps to share the victim's location or data.

Stuff

Apple Shares New Apple Watch 'Close Your Rings' Stories, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Apple has overhauled its “Close Your Rings” webpage today with new stories from Apple Watch users. The webpage highlights how everyday Apple Watch users are taking advantage of features such as competitions, heart rate tracking, and more.

Review: Brydge Keyboard For iPad Pro, by Rosemary Orchard and Curtis McHale, The Sweet Setup

Overall, the Brydge Keyboard for the latest iPad Pro is a great keyboard that carries on the quality and experience of previous Brydge keyboard models. If typing is the majority of what you do on your iPad, then it provides an excellent typing experience. If you mark up PDFs or use your iPad to draw regularly, then another keyboard may be better, and if you’re big on portability, then Apple’s Smart Keyboard Folio is the lightest. The Brydge is also cheaper than some of the other offerings, including Apple’s own, and more flexible than many like the Logitech Slim Folio Pro. At any rate, it makes the act of typing on an iPad Pro feel more like a “Pro” experience, and that’s easily worth the cost of admission.

How I Dropped Dropbox, by Khoi Vinh, Subtraction

More to the point, disconnecting from Dropbox was time consuming, but it wasn’t difficult. Which is to say that although the process was high friction it was relatively straightforward, and not at all technically challenging. At the outset I had expected that switching away from Dropbox would break many parts of my workflow; in practice, very little has, even though the iCloud Drive features that are ostensibly allowing me to switch are still in beta. I’m certainly not extolling the virtues of leaving Dropbox if you find it indispensable in your own work—it’s still the best option if you need to share files across non-Apple platforms. But the relative ease with which I was able to leave it illustrates well Steve Jobs’s famous criticism that Dropbox is a feature, not a product.

Develop

Why It's So Dangerous When Star Employees Check Out, by Sarah Todd, Quartz

If you’re a high achiever who feels unusually distant from work, take stock, says Davis-Laack. “I always say that if your health or close relationships are being negatively impacted, you need to have a serious conversation about whether you are in the right environment,” she advises.

Should the problem turn out not to be burnout but simple ennui, there’s no shame in admitting you’re just not feeling your job anymore. Just keep in mind, if you’ve really checked out of your job, perhaps it’s a sign there’s somewhere else you want to check in.

Can Pods Save America?, by Sarah Holder, CityLab

Now, as open-office backlash mounts, companies are trying to figure out a way to bring back the privacy of the closed-plan office but without the square footage. To do it, they’re buying their own mini-isolation chambers in the form of personal phone booths, or “pods.”

Notes

Apple Reveals App Store Takedown Demands By Governments, by Zack Whittaker, TechCrunch

In its latest transparency report published Tuesday, the tech giant said it received 80 requests from 11 countries to remove 634 apps from its localized app stores during July 1 and December 31, 2018.

Apple didn’t list the apps that were removed but noted in most cases why the apps were pulled. China made up the bulk of the requests, seeking to remove 517 apps claiming they violated its gambling and pornography laws. Vietnam and Austria also requested the takedown of several apps which violated its gambling laws, while Kuwait asked Apple to pull some apps that fell foul of its privacy laws.

Superhuman Is Spying On You, by Mike Davidson, Mike Industries

What I see in Superhuman though is a company that has mistaken taking advantage of people for good design. They’ve identified a feature that provides value to some of their customers (i.e. seeing if someone has opened your email yet) and they’ve trampled the privacy of every single person they send email to in order to achieve that. Superhuman never asks the person on the other end if they are OK with sending a read receipt (complete with timestamp and geolocation). Superhuman never offers a way to opt out. Just as troublingly, Superhuman teaches its user to surveil by default. I imagine many users sign up for this, see the feature, and say to themselves “Cool! Read receipts! I guess that’s one of the things my $30 a month buys me.”

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I blame Javascript for so many things wrong with the web, and I blame HTML for so many things wrong with email.

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Thanks for reading.

The Don't-Match-Reality Edition Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Tim Cook Disputes 'Absurd' Reports About Jony Ive's Departure From Apple, by Dylan Byers, NBC News

In a rare, scathing statement sent exclusively to NBC News, Cook took issue with a report published Sunday night by The Wall Street Journal that said Ive had grown frustrated with Cook’s leadership and alleged lack of interest in the design production process. Cook said the report does not match reality and fails to understand how Apple's design team actually works.

"The story is absurd," Cook said in an email. "A lot of the reporting, and certainly the conclusions, just don’t match with reality.”

’CrescentCore’ Malware Attacks Your Mac, Evades Antivirus Tools, by Killian Bell, Cult of Mac

Security researches have discovered new malware that targets macOS users and evades popular antivirus tools.

“CrescentCore” is distributed as a DMG package that’s disguised as Adobe Flash Player. It can now be found on multiple websites — one of which is “a high-ranking Google search result,” according to Intego.

Stuff

Apple Announces 'Up Next Live' Concerts For Its Retail Stores, Featuring Artists Like Khalid And Lewis Capaldi, by Mitchel Broussard, MacRumors

Apple recently announced a new series of live concerts that will be held in retail locations around the world this summer, under a new initiative called "Up Next Live." All of the artists playing concerts are alumni of Apple Music's Up Next program, which highlights up-and-coming musicians.

Expansion Slot Utility Returns In Catalina For New Mac Pro, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

In the app, Mac Pro users will be able to manually assign bandwidth between pools or enable automatic bandwidth configuration. The latter option will allow the Mac Pro itself to dynamically assign bandwidth between PCI Expansion accessories.

The app will also tell users when their installed PCI cards are not arranged in a configuration that will produce the best performance. In this case, Expansion Slot Utility will offer suggestions on where to move specific cards in order to improve performance.

Agenda 6.0 Adds Full Integration With Apple’s Reminders, by Ryan Christoffel, MacStories

Apple has a big update coming to Reminders in iOS 13, and despite all that’s changing in the app, one important thing is not: developers will still be able to integrate with Reminders so you can create, check off, and manage your tasks from a third-party app. The latest app to take advantage of this is Agenda, the date-based note-taking app which launches full Reminders integration in version 6.0 today on both iOS and the Mac.

While some apps aim to be a complete Reminders replacement, such as GoodTask, Agenda’s approach is to use Apple’s built-in task system for two main purposes: creating to-dos linked to Agenda notes, and complementing the existing calendar integrations.

Build The Skyscraper Of Your Dreams In Lego Tower For iOS, by Killian Bell, Cult of Mac

The free-to-play title lets you build a Lego skyscraper world, with apartments, hospitals, stores, and more. The higher you build, the more options you have — and you’ll collect a bunch of awesome Lego toys along the way.

Bottom of the Page

Today, I've decided that a pizza cannot be called a pizza, if I cannot taste the difference between the pizza pie and an ordinary piece of bread.

And, get off my lawn.

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Thanks for reading.

The Future-of-Software Edition Monday, July 1, 2019

Catalyst Deep Dive: The Future Of Mac Software According To Apple And Devs, by Samuel Axon, Ars Technica

Dubbed Project Catalyst, it promised to increase the number of quality native apps on the Mac platform by leveraging developers' existing work in the arguably more robust iOS (and now, iPadOS) app ecosystem. But it does raise questions: what does this mean for Mac users' future experiences? Will this change the type of software made for Macs? Is Apple's ecosystem a mobile-first one?

Then there are developer concerns: is Catalyst just a stepping stone to SwiftUI? What challenges can devs expect when adapting their iPad apps for the Mac?

Ars spoke with key members of the Apple team responsible for developing and promoting Project Catalyst, as well as with a handful of app developers who have already made Mac apps this way. We asked them about how Catalyst works, what the future of Apple software looks like, and what users can expect.

Jony Ive Is Leaving Apple, But His Departure Started Years Ago, by Tripp Mickle, Wall Street Journal

Mr. Cook, an industrial engineer who made his name perfecting Apple’s supply chain, sought to keep Mr. Ive happy over the years, in part with a pay package that far exceeds that of other top Apple executives, a point of friction with others on the executive team, people familiar with the matter say. Apple doesn’t disclose Mr. Ive’s pay. But people in the design studio rarely saw Mr. Cook, who they say showed little interest in the product development process—a fact that dispirited Mr. Ive.

Mr. Ive grew frustrated as Apple’s board became increasingly populated by directors with backgrounds in finance and operations rather than technology or other areas of the company’s core business, said people close to him and to the company.

[...]

Members of the human interface and industrial design teams viewed approval from their new leaders as merely tentative. “They still wanted Jony’s thumbs-up to go forward,” this person said.

Mr. Ive promised to hold a “design week” each month with the software designers to discuss their work. He rarely showed up.

Streaming Is Secretly Fixing Your Mainstream Taste In Garbage Music, by Joan E. Solsman, CNET

The world's most-streamed artists are a parade of major-label household names: Ariana Grande, Post Malone, Billie Eilish. But hidden below the top rankings, independent artists and labels are taking over a greater share of the music channeling into your headphones.

Why? Music-streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music and Pandora -- and the quirks of how they funnel music you may never have heard otherwise -- are helping fuel an indie golden age just below the surface.

Stuff

Apple Clarifies Which PCI-e GPU Cards Are Suitable For Which eGPU Enclosures, by William Gallagher, AppleInsider

Apple has updated its list of recommended eGPUs and chassis for specific graphics cards. More than a list of supported products, Apple's recommendations include some suggestions for what each item is suited, plus how different apps may utilize them to a greater or lesser degree.

JustPlay Review: Slick Media Player Shines Where QuickTime Player Is Weak, by J.R. Bookwalter, Macworld

What JustPlay lacks in pro features, it more than makes up for in overall presentation and utility—for the money this is a slick, more than capable Mac media player.

Notes

A Brief History Of Smartphone Notifications, by Lauren Goode, Wired

Some of the earliest architects of smartphone notifications were simply trying to come up with ways to bring popular desktop communication apps to emerging mobile platforms. One of those people is Matías Duarte. His current role is head of material design at Google. But from 2000 to 2005, Duarte was the director of design at Danger, the predecessor to Android. (Remember the Hiptop, also known as the Sidekick? That was Danger.)

'We All Suffer': Why San Francisco Techies Hate The City They Transformed, by Julia Carrie Wong, The Guardian

A quarter of a century after the first dot-com boom, the battle for San Francisco’s soul is over and the tech industry has won. But what happens when the victors realize they don’t particularly like the spoils?

Tech workers are increasingly vocal about their discontent with the city they fought so hard to conquer. In May, the median market rent for a one-bedroom apartment reached an all-time high of $3,700 a month, according to the rental site Zumper. Meanwhile, the city saw a 17% increase in its homeless population between 2017 and 2019, and residents complain of visible drug usage, fear of crime and dirty streets. Even Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce and a San Francisco native who has long urged comity between the techies and the city, has taken to calling his hometown a “train wreck”.