The Iterative-Refinement Edition Saturday, July 16, 2022

The 2022 13-Inch MacBook Air, by John Gruber, Daring Fireball

The M2 13-inch MacBook Air should not be thought of as version 2 of an Apple silicon MacBook Air. It’s more like version — I don’t know — 40 of what Apple thinks a standard Mac laptop should be. Apple silicon is what’s been missing — no-compromise chips that enable Apple to make the laptops they’ve always wanted to make. It’s taken decades of iterative refinement to get to this point: a nearly perfect laptop for nearly everyone.

We Benchmarked The Base M2 MacBook Air’s Storage And (Surprise!) It’s Slow, by Monica Chin, The Verge

Going by the results we’re seeing in Blackmagic’s Disk Speed Test app, the base model of the M2 MacBook Air has write speeds that are generally 15 to 30 percent slower than those of the 512GB model Apple sent The Verge to review — and read speeds that can be 40 to 50 percent slower.

This is not an unexpected result since the base Air only includes a single NAND chip, while the M1 models and 512GB (and up) M2 models have two, which can allow for nearly twice as fast speeds.

On App Stores

Thanks To Subscriptions, iPhone Apps Finally Made More Money Than Games, by Samuel Axon, Ars Technica

This has been driven in part by the shift so many apps have made to a subscription-based model of late. For years, games generated more revenue not necessarily because they got more downloads (though they often did) but because their long-term monetization was clearer, more consistent, and more robust thanks to in-app transactions. Other types of apps didn't have that going for them, and many were sold for one-time purchase prices or offered a limited number of premium upgrades.


Why We Don’t Trust Apple’s HomeKit Secure Video—and You Shouldn’t Either, by Rachel Cericola, New York Times

Yet we continue to find that HomeKit Secure Video has problems—big ones. Since the service launched in 2019, we’ve tested just about every indoor camera, outdoor camera, and video doorbell that works with the service, and we’ve continuously experienced issues that cause us to recommend against relying on HSV for home security uses and against investing in any security camera that relies on this one particular cloud plan (even though we do recommend that you get some kind of plan). Here are the crucial areas in which HomeKit Secure Video has proven flawed or unreliable.

Alfred 5.0, by Agen Schmitz, TidBITS

It features a new palette for more efficient workflow creation, enables you to save preconfigured objects (or groups of objects) as Prefabs to get you started more quickly, and offers a collection of configurable actions that can be added to workflows as building blocks via the Automation Task object.

There's Now A Door Key With Integrated Apple Find My, by Chris Hall, Pocket-lint

Currently the KeyTag is going to be offering the Bluetooth side of things rather than UWB, but you'll be able to open up Find My and see where your devices are. That will mean you can then walk back to your lost key, using an alarm to locate it more precisely.


Writing And Running A BBS On A Macintosh Plus, by Joshua Stein

In 2015, I wrote a custom BBS server in Ruby and had been using it to run the Kludge BBS on a small OpenBSD server in my home office since then.

Last year after writing a lot of C on my Macintosh Plus, I had the itch to write a new BBS server so I could move the BBS to run on another Mac Plus. As with all software development projects, it took quite a bit longer than expected, but last month I finally got far enough with the development to deploy the new BBS on a Mac Plus.


Why Tim Cook Is Concerned About Coding Skills, by Jonny Evans, Computerworld

Apple CEO Tim Cook has given his backing to a major effort to convince state governors, government, and educators to make computer science classes available to every student in every school. But it’s not just philanthropy in play.

Try On Clothes Virtually To Save A Trip To The Store, by Amy Iverson, Deseret News

Virtual try-on is something companies have been working on so that customers can use their phones to get an idea of what apparel or accessories might look like on them. The ability to use augmented reality to virtually try-on glasses, makeup and watches has been around for a while, but clothing has eluded many online sites. It’s much more difficult to create the nuances of fabric texture and movement on a digital body than to superimpose eyewear on a selfie.

Not only can virtual try-on capabilities possibly persuade people to buy more clothing online, it could also cut down on the amount of returns.

Bottom of the Page

The old Windows desktop machine that I’ve been using for my work is, according to a friendly message from Microsoft that shouts at me every time I open up the Windows Update settings, not capable to be upgraded to Windows 11. I didn’t even try to figure out why, because I am really not that interested in Windows. So long as the programs (do we still call them programs on Windows?) continue to work, so long as I can still do my work, I am fine. No need for a faster machine, no need to whatever is new in Windows 11.

Then, of course, time marches on. And I’ve reached the front of the queue of getting a brand new machine. That comes with Windows 11. I’ve only used this new machine for less than a day, and I can already tell I will not be having a better time with Windows.

So, as we all know, Microsoft always copies Apple. Now, the Windows task bar is ‘centered’ in the screen, just like the Dock on macOS. The infamous “Start” icon is now somewhere to the left of the center of the screen. How far to the left? Well, that depends on how many programs I am running. Any muscle memory that one can build up to locate the “Start” icon is now useless.

Of course, as we all know, when Microsoft copies Apple, it will still miss important details. The taskbar on Windows 11 is now fixed at the bottom of the screen. I can’t move it to the sides, like how I configured my Windows 10 desktop. The laptop screen is wider than tall, so I am looking at all the wasted space that the wide taskbar is now occupying, and all the wasted space on the sides of the screen that I could be using.

If you think the notch on MacBooks is not good, this is so much worse.

Talking about bad…

If you think the new System Settings app on macOS Ventura is not good, go ahead and get your hands on Windows 11.

You don’t even have to go through all the settings and preferences in Windows 11. Just one fact: there is a Control Panel app, and then there is a separate Settings app. Some settings must be configured in the Settings app, while other settings can only be configured in the Control Panel app. And, sometimes, when I click on some things in the Control Panel app, the Settings app will pop up instead.

Oh, and there are definitely dialogs that look unchanged since Windows 95.

So bad.


Thanks for reading.