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Archive for February 2018

The Long-Wait Edition Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Getting A New iPhone Battery Is Often A Frustrating, Weeks-long Process, by Hayley Tsukayama, Washington Post

When asked how many people have tried to get replacements, Apple did not say. But the company told Thune in a recent letter that it has seen "strong demand."

That demand has led to long wait times. Calls to 10 Apple stores in different regions of the country last week revealed that wait times for a new iPhone 6 battery ranged from three to five days to two to three weeks, with no discernible pattern about why certain stores had shorter wait times than others.

Apple Maps Vs. Google Maps Vs. Waze, by arturrr

For Apple, Maps is a basic solution for its average user who wants a maps solution out of the box. Apple Maps does not directly drive ad or subscription revenue for Apple so there is less reason for Apple to incentivize iOS users to use Apple Maps over other solutions. However, Apple does care about user experience, and sandbagging trip time estimates so that users arrive at their destination on time results in a great user experience. Hence, I believe that Apple is intentionally conservative with estimated arrival times.

At the other extreme, Waze (Alphabet) makes money through ads when you use their app. What better way to get people to use your navigation app than by over-promising short trip times when no one takes the time to record data and realize that you under-deliver? If an unsuspecting user opens Apple Maps and sees a 34-minute route and compares that to 30-minutes in Waze, the deed is done. Now Waze has a life-long customer who doesn’t realize they’ve been hoodwinked and Waze can throw at them stupidly annoying ads.

Bad Apple #2: Alphabetize Settings In iOS, by Adam C. Engst, TidBITS

So why doesn’t Apple provide a similar alphabetical organization within iOS’s Settings app? (Yes, I realize alphabetization would vary by language, but that has to be a solved problem.) The current functional groupings could remain, to the extent that they make sense, but within each grouping, rather than Apple grasping at logical straws that few users would be likely to understand, why not just organize everything alphabetically? And why doesn’t each collection at least have a label that would give the user a hint as to what the connection between the various settings is? Bad Apple!

[...]

Let’s consider the possibilities of what the main screen of Settings could look like.

iOS Messages And Smart Punctuation, by John Gruber, Daring Fireball

In short: if you stick to dumb quotes, you can put 160 characters in an SMS message. Include just one smart/curly quote, and you only get 70 characters.

I don’t know for sure that this is why iOS 11’s smart punctuation feature no longer works in Messages, but it’s the only explanation that makes sense.

How Does Apple Define Success? Any Way It Wants., by Shira Ovide, Bloomberg

Apple proclaims each new iPhone model is the best one it has ever made. The company says every software update is better than the last. In general, Apple believes everything it does is awesome.

There's a consequence to declaring victory no matter what: It becomes impossible to define success.

Stuff

10 Essential Tips For Using The macOS Finder More Efficiently, by Tim Hardwick, MacRumors

A lot of hidden power resides in every Finder window. In this article, we've highlighted some of our favorite Finder tips and tricks to help you work more efficiently with files and folders on your Mac.

Apple Shares New Video Tips On Shooting B&W Photos, Taking Overheads, And Editing Slow-mo Timing With iPhone, by Michael Potuck, 9to5Mac

Apple has released a trio of new how-to videos today with tips on getting the most of iPhone’s camera. Two of three focus on taking better photos, while one shares a tip on editing slo-mo video.

AirPlay 2 Removed From iOS And tvOS 11.3, Hinting HomePod Multi-room And Stereo Pairing Further Delayed, by Peter Cao, 9to5Mac

In today’s iOS 11.3 and tvOS 11.3 updates, Apple has removed AirPlay 2 support from both platforms, hinting that the feature will be delayed until further down the road, possibly coming with a future iOS 12 release.

Veeer Is A Fantastic (And Free) Window Manager For Mac, by Preshit Deorukhkar, Beautiful Pixels

Veeer is a fantastic, light-weight and free window manager for macOS that helps you get more productive. It allows you to take control of all the application windows you have open on your Mac and lets you move and arrange them in a better way, as and when you need to.

Alto’s Odyssey Now Available On iPhone, iPad And Apple TV, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

Alto’s Odyssey is the opposite with rich music and visuals and an incredibly engaging progression of missions and tasks, as well as the endless quest of getting an ever-higher score for the run. The game shines on the iPhone X’s wide-aspect ratio display.

Develop

Female-focused Co-working Spaces Offer A Kind Of Career And Child-care Help Still Lacking In Many Traditional Workplaces, by Michael Chandler, Washington Post

The booming co-working industry, launched to accommodate the increasing number of entrepreneurs and corporate employees who work remotely, is now tailoring itself for women by offering workspaces with female-focused networking and career seminars.

Increasingly, these workspaces, as well as those that cater to all working parents, are also offering child care, a service still lacking in many of America’s workplaces.

Notes

Judy Fiskin's Funny, Thought-provoking Confessions Of An iPhone Addict, by David Pagel, Los Angeles Times

With every picture and turn of phrase and musical interlude (from Bach to “The Hukilau Song”) you get a sense of Fiskin’s vision, her capacity to make everyday reality look beautiful while leaving it well enough alone. She never calls attention to her talents, which are nothing less than brilliant. Anonymity and genius never looked better or mixed as poetically as they do in Fiskin’s artistry.

The Case Against Google, by Charles Duhigg, New York Times

The implication is clear enough: Google and the other tech titans understand that the landscape is shifting. They realize that their halos have become tarnished, that the arguments they once invoked as a digital exception to American economic history — that the internet economy is uniquely self-correcting, because competition is only a click away — no longer hold as much weight. “When you get as big as Google, you become so powerful that the market bends around you,” Vestager told me. The notion that antitrust law isn’t needed anymore, that we must choose between helping consumers or spurring competition, no longer seems sufficient reason to exempt the tech giants from century-old legal codes. If anything, Vestager’s verdict and state investigations indicate that companies like Google may have more in common with the monopolists of old than most people thought. Silicon Valley’s bigwigs ought to be scared.

“If Europe can prosecute Google, then we can as well,” says William Kovacic, a law professor and former Republican-appointed chairman of the Federal Trade Commission. “It’s just a question of willingness now.”

Why We May Soon Be Living In Alexa’s World, by Farhad Manjoo, New York Times

When Amazon unveiled Alexa three and a half years ago, it was roundly jeered. Now, against all expectations, even though she’s sometimes unpredictable and unpolished, Alexa is here to stay. And that may be underplaying it; people in tech have recently begun to talk about Alexa as being more than just part of a hit gadget.

Something bigger is afoot. Alexa has the best shot of becoming the third great consumer computing platform of this decade — next to iOS and Android, a computing service so ubiquitous that it sets a foundation for much of the rest of what happens in tech.

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I'm pretty sure, internally, Apple has an idea or two on what success means. Apple probably also has the good idea that nobody outside Apple should know or dictate what success is. Different parties have different priorities that changes over time. You don't want others to hold you to standards you either never believe in or no longer believe in.

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I do enjoy playing New York Times’ daily mini crossword. I just wish that, sometimes, someone can explain to me a particular pair of clue/answer.

(I'm not that good at crosswords either.)

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Thanks for reading.

The Update-All Edition Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Apple Updates Its Operating Systems To Address Telugu Bug, by Josh Centers, TidBITS

In what seems to be an increasingly common refrain, we’re here to tell you that Apple has once again updated all of its operating systems, this time to address the Telugu character bug that would cause Apple’s operating systems to crash when displaying a particular character. In this case, the character in question was in the Indian language Telugu, perhaps not something that many users outside India would use intentionally, but something that could be employed by anyone with malicious intent. We hope Apple figured out the underlying cause of these crashes, since it’s not the first time a particular character or string has crashed Apple devices.

It’s relatively unlikely that any given person (outside India, of course!) would run across the Telugu bug or be targeted by a bad actor in the near future, so we recommend waiting a few days before installing to make sure these updates don’t introduce additional problems. But after that, make sure to update to eliminate the possibility of someone messing with you via this bug.

Readers Weigh In On Pogue's Apple HomePod Listening Test, by David Pogue, Yahoo

Soon enough, my little test started bouncing around the Twitterverse; here are some of the most popular theories and critiques of the test.

[...]

I suspect, in the end, that my original conclusions are correct: That different pieces of music are different, and the people listening to it are different. There is no right answer.

Apple’s Decision To Make Health Care Records Available On The iPhone Is A Game-Changer, by Aneesh Chopra, Wired

But the announcement portends great things for consumers and the app developers seeking to serve them, from our perspectives as the former US chief technology officer under President Obama, and as an early adopter of the Apple service as Rush University Medical Center’s chief information officer. That’s because Apple has committed to an open API for health care records—specifically, the Argonaut Project specification of the HL7 Fast Health Interoperability Resources—so your doctor or hospital can participate with little extra effort.

This move is a game-changer for three reasons: It affirms there is one common path to open up electronic health records data for developers so they can focus on delighting consumers rather than chasing records. It encourages other platform companies to build on that path, rather than pursue proprietary systems. And it ensures that the pace of progress will accelerate as healthcare delivery systems respond to the aggregate demand of potentially millions of iPhone users around the world.

10 Best Mindfulness Apps, by Jacqui Agate, Independent

Some apps take a traditional approach, with sessions guided by voice; others use music, stories or animation. Some are completely free, while others require a subscription. Some can be easily used on the go; others are better tried at home, when you’re free from distractions.

Your choice will depend on whether you’re a novice or a pro, how much time you can set aside and how you prefer to learn. It’s also worth remembering the difference between “meditation” and “mindfulness”. Though they're often used interchangeably, meditation is an umbrella term, while mindfulness is the specific practice of peaking your awareness of your surroundings, actions and physicality.

Stuff

Twitterrific Adds Multi-Account Features, Follower And Following Lists, And More, by John Voorhees, MacStories

One of the highlights of the update is enhancements to multi-account support. If you have more than one Twitter account set up in Twitterrific, right clicking on the reply, quote, retweet, or like buttons displays a popup window for choosing which account you want to use for each of those functions.

Life On An iPad, by Charles Arthur, The Overspill

The big advantage these days is that if you trust your documents to iCloud, then moving between Mac and iPad isn’t a problem. [...] I was able to go straight to my iPad and have all the tools I needed.

Setapp, The Netflix Of Mac Apps, Is Better Than Ever, by Bob LeVitus, Houston Chronicle

Setapp isn't for everyone, but, if you love checking out new apps (like I do), or you've considered buying one or more of the included apps (as I did), you're sure to find Setapp a bargain at $9.99 a month.

Hands On: Promise Apollo Cloud 2 Duo Provides Network Time Machine, iOS Files Compatibility, by Mike Wuerthele, AppleInsider

Promise's Apollo Cloud 2 Duo has a simple setup process on the iPhone that just about anybody can handle, and is the closest thing we've seen yet to network storage as an appliance.

Develop

A Taste Of CoreData - Part 0 - A Graph Framework, by Yannick Heinrich

I would like to start a series of post presenting CoreData using a different approach, starting more from the code documentation and trying to provide some explanations about how the framework seems to work under the hood.

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How many bloggers and reviewers and such who disagreed with David Pogue's little experiment conducted and published their own blind test? I'm interested to see the results.

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Thanks for reading.

The Delicate-and-Disposable Edition Monday, February 19, 2018

The Case For Using The iPhone X Without A Case, by Nick Statt, The Verge

We use our phones all day every day, for hours and hours and in a varsity of precarious activities and environments, from bike rides to dance floors to subway tracks. So it’s become easy to think of these devices as simultaneously delicate and disposable, an object we feel we should have the liberty to be careless about and yet one we remain terrified of disabling in any way whatsoever. But it is liberating to treat your smartphone with a level of care proportional to its role in your life, and to be able to enjoy the device as it was designed and not according to the whims of OttorBox, Spigen, JETech, and into the infinite void of Amazon-surfaced brand names.

Not All Great Tech Has To Be New, by Anthony Caruana, Macworld Australia

What I’ve realised is that Apple’s gear has great longevity. My Mac mini is over three years old and LED Cinema Display it’s connected is about seven years old. The MacBook Air is nudging six years but still works perfectly and looks great.

Google Chrome Now Blocks Irksome Ads. That’s A Good Thing, Right?, by John Herrman, New York Times

With the Chrome update, the company hopes to come out ahead by lessening the temptation of web users to install more comprehensive ad-blocking software. In other words, Google is betting that ridding the web of especially intrusive ads will render it more hospitable to advertising in general — and more profitable for advertisers and Google itself.

The new filter will be rolled out gradually to the browser’s hundreds of millions of users. Website operators had a few months before the launch to become compliant; going forward, those who violate the standards will be given 30 days to get in line. If they don’t, Google will demonstrate its leverage not by simply removing offending ads from a noncompliant site, but by disabling all of its ads. Revenue to the offending websites would presumably plummet as a result.

Utilizing Chrome’s popularity in this way is yet another example of Google’s singular position in the modern web.

Develop

Introduction To Apple WatchKit With Core Motion — Tracking Jumping Jacks, by Eric Hsiao, Heartbeat

The ultimate goal is to build a machine learning model that can automatically categorize and log an exercise from the motion data we collect from the watch. I decided to choose a ubiquitous exercise used in almost all traditional workouts: jumping jacks. In this post, we’ll focus on data collection by understanding Core Motion and building a WatchKit app to record jumping jacks. Future posts will discuss more sophisticated models that can recognize multiple exercises.

Rock Stars Have A Boss?, by Derek Sivers

The independent music revolution was so exciting because thousands of musicians were realizing that they didn’t need to sign these kinds of deals anymore. They didn’t need labels, distributors, publishers, or anything else to get their music to the public.

But years later, I still hear people making that trade-off. Giving up their rights and serving a company, in hopes of a greater reward.

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I have been using a case for my iPhone X from day one, mostly to avoid the camera bump from touching the table surface when I put the phone down. Someone is probably going to tell me that it's alright to do so because Apple has probably tested for that scenario. But, I am superstitious, and the camera is an important part of the phone for me.

I am also superstitious about avoiding the use of the physical buttons on the iPhone X. I will often just let the phone switch off by its own, rather than clicking the side-button to turn off the display. This supersition probably came from that button on my iPhone 3G which broke down -- ten years ago.

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Thanks for reading.

The Multiple-Timers Edition Sunday, February 18, 2018

Timers, Reminders, Alarms — Oh, My!, by Dr Drang, And Now It’s All This

I’ve said on Twitter that I think Apple intends timed reminders to be the substitute for multiple timers. I still think that, but I’m less certain now than I was a few days ago.

Would You Like A Daily Reminder That Death Is Round The Corner?, by Emma Reddington, The Guardian

Welcome to WeCroak, the app that reminds you of death five times a day. Created by 35-year-old Brooklyn-based publicist Hansa Bergwall and developer Ian Thomas, WeCroak couldn’t be simpler: a randomly timed reminder you swipe to reveal a death-related quotation, sometimes gloomy, sometimes uplifting. Based on a Bhutanese proverb that to be happy, you must contemplate death five times a day, it’s mindfulness noir.

I can see how the secret to happiness might lie in working out “how to have some element of being aware that life is precious and limited and fragile… just enough to make you value the good things but not to be so aware of it that the fear of that takes over” as Nigella Lawson said recently(discussing the death of her first husband, John Diamond), but aged 43 and wilfully disregarding my own mortality, I lack this awareness. I sweat all the small stuff, prey to piffling anxieties, career envy and rage at minor irritants (my free jazz saxophonist neighbour, my family’s oligarch-style insistence on using clean towels, disregarding the 17 discarded on the bathroom floor). Hopefully a week with WeCroak will leave me calmer, wiser and happier. No pressure, WeCroak.

macOS May Lose Data On APFS-Formatted Disk Images, by Bombich Software

Earlier this week I noticed that an APFS-formatted sparsebundle disk image volume showed ample free space, despite that the underlying disk was completely full. Curious, I copied a video file to the disk image volume to see what would happen. The whole file copied without error! I opened the file, verified that the video played back start to finish, checksummed the file – as far as I could tell, the file was intact and whole on the disk image. When I unmounted and remounted the disk image, however, the video was corrupted. If you've ever lost data, you know the kick-in-the-gut feeling that would have ensued. Thankfully, I was just running some tests and the file that disappeared was just test data. Taking a closer look, I discovered two bugs in macOS's "diskimages-helper" service that lead to this result.

Notes

Bill And Melinda Gates Hear You, by Jena McGregor, The Washington Post

Bill Gates said, “We’re very open in terms of what we’re doing,” saying Warren Buffett inspired him with his forthright letters when he started writing them 10 years ago.

Yet some experts on philanthropy said they believed the “tough questions” format of the letter was a sign the Gateses are aware there are storm clouds of public opinion gathering on the horizon. It suggests they are attuned to the times: Public distrust of global institutions is rising. Surging income inequality is triggering alarms. And there is a growing unease about the role that the ultrawealthy play in society.

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Stuffed Animal Wrangler is definitely a better-sounding job title than Ball Boys (and Girls).

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Thanks for reading.

The One-Simple-Goal Edition Saturday, February 17, 2018

Apple Launches “Close Your Rings” Webpage To Promote Healthy Living With Apple Watch, by Michael Steeber, 9to5Mac

The page, titled “Close Your Rings,” details realistic and effective ways that Watch wearers can live a healthier and more active lifestyle by completing one simple goal each day.

Is It Possible To Game The Apple Podcast Charts?, by Kevin Goldberg, Discover Pods

By following the Apple Podcast charts, you also quickly learn a little bit about how the Apple algorithm works. New podcasts often crack the top ten but then fall off, so it’s rational to assume growth rates and new subscribers are among one of the factors that go into podcast ranking. Though nobody outside of Apple knows the true weighting or factors that ultimately determine the rankings, Rob Walch of Libsyn, validates my anecdotal evidence and says Apple Podcasts charts are “100% about the total number of new subscribers in the past 7 days, with a weighted average for the last 24, 48, and 72 hours.” This makes sense to keep the list fresh with new and popular podcasts: only the absolute best and consistent podcasts remain on the top 10.

Enter my point of interest: Kickass News. The following details are public data points I’ve gathered and should be treated as circumstantial evidence. I’m not directly accusing them of manipulating the charts, but I believe there’s enough circumstantial evidence to suggest it’s a possibility.

Apple Marks Completion Of New Campus With First Corporate Address Change Since 1993, by Michael Steeber, 9to5Mac

On the heels of this past Tuesday’s annual shareholders meeting, Apple has made the transition to their new campus official by changing the company’s corporate address to One Apple Park Way. The change comes just weeks after Apple was given occupancy permits for several sections of the main campus building.

Stuff

6 Reasons iMac Pro Is Ready For The Enterprise, by Jonny Evans, Computerworld

Apple now boasts an end-to-end technology platform from which to drive a multitude of experiences on multiple formats — from VR glasses to movie theaters, smartphones and more. Not only that, but content created by its high-end solutions can now quickly reach hundreds of millions of compatible devices without risk of fragmentation.

Hands On: OmniPlan 3.9 Is Project Management For Complex Jobs On The Mac And iPad, by Mike Wuerthele, AppleInsider

You tend to know when you need a project management app. You'd be a little crazy to plan a small, intimate dinner party with a project management app but you'd be insane to build an office block without something like OmniPlan.

Twitter Puts Deadline On Mac Application, Says App Will No Longer Work In 30 Days, by Peter Cao, 9to5Mac

Today Twitter has announced that it will be killing its Mac application in favor of a web client. The social media giant tweeted on its platform today that the app has thirty days to live, and that it will no longer be supported beyond that.

Notes

The Tyranny Of Convenience, by Tim Wu, New York Times

Convenience is the most underestimated and least understood force in the world today. As a driver of human decisions, it may not offer the illicit thrill of Freud’s unconscious sexual desires or the mathematical elegance of the economist’s incentives. Convenience is boring. But boring is not the same thing as trivial.

In the developed nations of the 21st century, convenience — that is, more efficient and easier ways of doing personal tasks — has emerged as perhaps the most powerful force shaping our individual lives and our economies. This is particularly true in America, where, despite all the paeans to freedom and individuality, one sometimes wonders whether convenience is in fact the supreme value.

The I’m-Afraid-I-Can’t-Do-That Edition Friday, February 16, 2018

The Nosiest Assistant, by Daniel Jalkut, Bitsplitting.org

Any attempt to “Hey Siri” another device is met by a loud interruption by Siri either of the music, or of the silence of the room. It’s bad enough that it assumes all requests are being made to it, but it’s even worse that it insists on chiming in even when it isn’t capable of serving the request. Just to remind everybody that it’s not configured for personal requests

Friendly Reminders, by And Now It’s All This

There’s no way to have two timers running simultaneously and no way to give your timer a name that lets you know what it’s for.

But you do have Reminders. They have names and can be set to alarm not only at an absolute time, but also at a relative time.

Fun With Unicodes

A New iOS Bug Can Crash iPhones And DIsable Access To iMessages, by Tom Warren, The Verge

The bug itself involves sending an Indian character to devices, and Apple’s iOS Springboard will crash once the message has been received. Messages will no longer open as the app is trying and failing to load the character, and it appears that the only way to regain access to your iMessages is to have another friend send you a message and try to delete the thread that contained the bad character. The public beta versions of iOS 11.3 are unaffected, so Apple will clearly fix this once iOS 11.3 is available broadly.

How To Fix The Indian Character Bug On iPhone And iPad, by Joseph Keller, iMore

If you've been struck by this bug and can't open Messages or your third-party messaging or email app of choice, you should be able to fix it by having a friend send you a sort of "rescue message" in a different thread and tapping on that notification.

Picking Apart The Crashing iOS String, by Manish Goregaokar, In Pursuit Of Laziness

I don’t really have one guess as to what’s going on here – I’d love to see what people think – but my current guess is that the “affinity” of the virama to the left instead of the right confuses the algorithm that handles ZWNJs after viramas into thinking the ZWNJ applies to the virama (it doesn’t, there’s a consonant in between), and this leads to some numbers not matching up and causing a buffer overflow or something.

Stuff

Apple Music First Impressions, by Benjamin Mayo

My biggest disappointment, and complaint, does not come from the smart side of Apple Music. It’s the content directory that is a let down. It’s stuck in the past, just like the iTunes Music Store. The archaic concept of a standard album and a deluxe album are still in use. It’s a digitisation of a physical CD inventory, not a modern reset.

Shazam Updated With Synchronized Lyrics And A New Design, by John Voorhees, MacStories

Along the top of the results screen is a menu you access by swiping horizontally that includes lyrics, videos, additional songs by the artist, and related artists. If you swipe over to the lyrics screen while a song is playing, they are displayed in perfect synchronization with the song that’s playing, which is perfect for impromptu karaoke moments.

Default Folder Is On My List Of Must-have Mac Utilities, by Dennis Sellers, Apple World Today

If you're constantly saving things inside the same folder, Default Folder X can remember that folder for you. You can even set a different default folder for each application you use.

Four Simple Tech Hacks That Will Make You More Productive, by Michael Grothaus, Fast Company

While technology’s omnipresence in our lives affords us the opportunity to get work done from anywhere at anytime, being on devices all the time can lead us down time-wasting tunnels, making us less productive.

Thankfully most of the smartphones and computers we use now also have built-in settings or additional apps that can help you reclaim your productivity so you can get back to using your devices for work.

Develop

Apple Will Require All New Apps To Natively Support iPhone X Display From April, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

Apple has informed developers today that all new apps submitted to the App Store from April 2018 must support the iPhone X’s Super Retina display. This means developers of new apps must ensure they accommodate the notch and go edge-to-edge on the 5.8-inch OLED screen.

Considerate Communication, by Derek Sivers

There’s a huge benefit to getting personal and having a great conversation, but sometimes you need to be extremely succinct. So how do you reconcile this?

Notes

People Are Walking Into Glass At The New Apple Headquarters, by Max A. Cheney, Marketwatch

The company famous for its innovative design experienced at least two incidents of men walking into glass and causing injuries serious enough to warrant calls for local emergency services in the early days of its new “spaceship” campus, according to documents MarketWatch obtained via a public-records request. Both resulted in minor cuts but did not appear to require hospitalization, the records showed.

[...] California law requires that “employees shall be protected against the hazard of walking through glass by barriers or by conspicuous durable markings,” but the company has not been subject to citations, according to U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration data.

In The World Of Voice-Recognition, Not All Accents Are Equal, by The Economist

To train a machine to recognise what people say requires a large body of recorded speech, and then human-made transcriptions of it. A speech-recognition system looks at the audio and text files, and learns to match one to the other, so that it can make the best guess at a new stream of words it has never heard before.

America and Britain, to say nothing of the world’s other English-speaking countries, are home to a wide variety of dialects. But the speech-recognisers are largely trained on just one per country: “General American” and Britain’s “Received Pronunciation”. Speakers with other accents can throw them off.

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Text encoding is hard.

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Having multiple versions of Siri, each working in different contexts, but still having to cooperate between each other, is also hard.

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Thanks for reading.

The White-Ring Edition Thursday, February 15, 2018

Apple Confirms HomePod Can Leave White Rings On Wood Surfaces With Oil Or Wax Finishes, by Joe Rossignol, MacRumors

Apple has issued a statement confirming that the HomePod can possibly leave white rings on wood surfaces with an oil or wax finish.

Beware “Protect” In Facebook’s iOS App, by Adam C. Engst, TidBITS

It’s bad enough when some unknown company provides a free VPN service in order to collect data about its users. It’s another thing when the company in question is part of Facebook, and that data can be combined with both any data you’ve allowed Facebook to have and any data about you that people you know have inadvertently provided to Facebook.

New York Fashion Week: How A New App Could Economically Transform The Fashion Industry, by Tom Teodorczuk, Marketwatch

“People who were at the show are the decision-makers in the fashion industry — the buyers, the press, the bloggers,” said James Mischka. “[They are] the people who really do have a voice. We get to hear from them right now, what they think, instead of waiting for six months from now when we get the final feedback from the retailers.”

For the designers, this went beyond attempting to increase its credibility with a younger crowd. The instantaneous response on what proved popular will enable the company to manage its inventory better, operate faster and make its fall collection more cost-efficient.

Buying A Bay Area Home Now A Struggle Even For Apple, Google Engineers, by Marisa Kendall, San Jose Mercury News

These days even high-paid tech workers — the very people often blamed for driving up home prices — have to stretch to buy a house, according to a new study by Los Angeles-based real estate startup Open Listings. Techies do come closer to affording a pricey Silicon Valley home than teachers, service industry workers, and scores of other workers. But home ownership may not be a given for them anymore, a shift that signals how the region’s explosive housing costs are shutting out even the prosperous.

[...]

Software engineers at Bay Area tech companies including Apple, Google and Facebook would have to fork over more than 28 percent of their monthly salaries — a move frowned upon by financial experts — to pay for a home within a 20-minute commuting distance from their office, according to the study. The average software engineer at Apple, for example, makes $188,000 a year, and would have to spend 33 percent of his or her salary to afford a median-priced home in Cupertino, the study said.

Ideas and Notes

OmniOutliner 3 For iOS Review, by John Voorhees, MacStories

When I’m outlining, the last thing I want to do is fight the tool I’m using. I want to get the ideas out of my head quickly and get them organized with as little friction as possible. Omni understands this and makes creating an outline dead simple, especially with a keyboard connected to an iPad.

Hands On: OmniOutliner 3 For iPad Organizes Everything From Text To Ideas, by Mike Wuerthele and William Gallagher, AppleInsider

OmniOutliner Essentials lets you write down any stray thought you like and leave it there. Maybe you immediately write down twenty things that are on your mind.

Or maybe you come back in a month to add another idea. However long you want to take, you end up with a list of items in the order you thought of them.

Stuff

Use This Playlist To Remove Unwanted Apple Music Downloads, by Charlie Sorrel, Cult of Mac

Shuffle and skipping are two great tools for listening to new music on your iPhone, using Apple Music. You can download lots of new music to your iPhone, then set it to shuffle while you take a walk. If you’re also wearing a pair of AirPods, a double tap on one of them will skip any tracks you don’t like. It’s a great way to listen to new music, with one big, annoying side-effect: You end up with lots of unwanted downloads cluttering up your iPhone.

But with one simple smart playlist, you can fix that right now.

‘Sodes Is A New Podcast App Aiming To Simplify Things For Casual Listeners, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

The goal of ’sodes is to let users listen to podcasts when they want, without having to manage subscriptions or a download queue.

Develop

Getting To Doing, by Chris Bowler, The Sweet Setup

One of the traps — perhaps the biggest trap — of GTD and frameworks like GTD is to spend all your time on your system rather than on your important work. It can be easy to twiddle the knobs, review your process, and incessantly tweak how you organize your work. But eventually, you have to do the work itself.

Here are a few ways to help yourself move from organizing to the actual doing.

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Microsoft is auto-installing third-party apps -- presumably, I supposed, also receiving money from these third-parties -- on clean installs of Windows 10. This really demonstrates the level of confidence Microsoft has in future revenue potential of Windows.

What's next? Will Clippy now chimes in with 'I see you are writing a business proposal for a new Windows app. Do you want me to add in a paragraph about paying Microsoft to market your app?"

~

What's next for Homepod? Well, we know what's next for software improvement. But, how about hardware improvement?

1) HomePod + Apple TV. In sync, perfectly.

2) HomePod + Nightlight. With brilliant Siri colors.

3) HomePod + AirPort. Music, wired.

4) HomePod + Eggo Toaster. Just because.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Innovation-Ramifications Edition Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Universities Rush To Roll Out Computer Science Ethics Courses, by Natasha Singer, New York Times

Now, in the wake of fake news and other troubles at tech companies, universities that helped produce some of Silicon Valley’s top technologists are hustling to bring a more medicine-like morality to computer science.

[...]

The idea is to train the next generation of technologists and policymakers to consider the ramifications of innovations — like autonomous weapons or self-driving cars — before those products go on sale.

AAPL Shareholders Meeting Recap: Wearables Business Approaching Fortune 300 Size, Apple Pay Adoption Slower Than Expected, More, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

Cook opened the section by sharing that the iPhone X (drum roll please) has 99% customer satisfaction. There’s always that pesky one percent! Cook recently said that iPhone X has outsold other models since it launched in November. He also disclosed that Apple has nearly 1 billion subscribers (to services including iCloud and Apple Music) so there’s an upcoming milestone to watch for.

Regarding Apple Watch and other wearables, Cook said the category is approaching the size of a Fortune 300 company; Cook previously said that what it calls wearables (Watch, AirPods, Beats, etc.) collectively was the size of a Fortune 500 company last summer.

Stuff

Head To Head, Does The Apple HomePod Really Sound The Best?, by David Pogue, Tumblr

The Apple HomePod generally sounds better than any other smart speaker—but only somewhat, and only in direct A/B/C/D tests. If you listened to the HomePod, Sonos, and Google Home an hour apart, you’d never be able to declare one a clear winner.

Six Things I Learned From Using The iPad Pro For Real Work, by Andrew Orlowski, The Register

Overall, despite much carping over details here, I found the iPad surprisingly usable and likeable. After almost a decade, it's still early days. Remember that despite the version numbering, we're at the version 1.0 stage of the iPad Pro as a professional mobile platform.

MarsEdit 4 Review: Content-creation Tool For Websites Lets You Focus On The Important Things, by Glenn Fleishman, Macworld

I don’t consider the term blogger an insult, but I don’t really consider my online writing “blogging” anymore, either. And MarsEdit 4 can more aptly be called a content-management system’s content managing system: it shaves off the rough edges of web-based interfaces, letting you focus on composing messages and shaping their appearance.

New Mac App Brings Real-time WYSIWYG Interface To LaTeX Typesetting, by Dennis Sellers, Apple World Today

Karl Traunmueller has released Compositor 1.0, a new Mac app that brings WYSIWYG [what you see is what you get] features to the LaTeX document preparation system widely used in academia for preparation of scientific and technical publications.

Develop

Who Killed The Junior Developer?, by Melissa McEwen, Medium

For the junior devs out there, it’s going to be hard to land your first job. You might have to do things I really hate recommending, like working for free on various projects. if you do pick a really great open source project that you can stick on your resume. I’m less inclined to recommend working for a “startup” for free.

Also you’re going to have to hunt for your own mentors. In-person meetups are the best place, though I understand it’s not an option for everyone, so you might try private subject-related Slacks and Discords. And it’s going to suck about as much as dating does. You’re going to get rejected a lot. And you’re going to be on projects that suck or completely fail, because people working for free tend to be a bit more flaky than in business. Like one junior dev told me they stopped going to a particular meetup because the project they were on fell through. I had to tell them they need to keep going and picking projects up, knowing a lot of them are flake city.

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Do you think Apple is working on HomePod's Siri to make it understand different langauges? Can I 'Hey-Siri' in English, but specify a Mandarin song title using Mandarin? Or 'Hey-Siri' in English, but specifying a Cantonese song title using Mandarin?

(I just tried all these combinations on my iPhone X. Didn't work.)

~

Thanks for reading.

The Shazam-This Edition Tuesday, February 13, 2018

How To Use Shazam With Siri On HomePod Siri To Identify Songs Playing, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

Just walk over to your HomePod and say ‘Hey Siri, Shazam this’.

[...]

With a successful match, you can then say ‘Hey Siri, play it’. It will then start playing the matched track from your library or from Apple Music, assuming you are subscribed.

How To AirPlay To Multiple HomePods On Mac And PC Without Having To Wait For AirPlay 2 Support, by Lory Gil, iMore

Not only does AirFoil work with AirPlay speakers, it also works with Bluetooth. So, you can connect two HomePods in the living room, your Sonos in the kitchen, and a UE Boom in your bathroom and walk throughout your entire house, playing whatever you want from your Mac.

Collecting Money

Facebook Says It Has Solved Its Dispute With Apple And Will Roll Out A Subscription Tool For iOS, by Peter Kafka, Recode

Facebook has resolved a dispute with Apple that prevented the social network from launching a subscription tool for publishers on iOS devices.

Now Facebook says it will roll out a version of the tool, which has already been available on Android phones, on Apple phones in March.

The Platforms

Apple’s Software “Problem” And “Fixing” It, by Steven Sinofsky, Learning By Shipping

Growth hacking or “move fast break things” sounded great until it wasn’t. This especially doesn’t/never worked in enterprise. Again, adopting a methodology absent building a great product always fails. “Internet time” was kind of a bust the first time around.

So to me on Apple, even as an outsider, I feel confident saying that this isn’t reactionary/crisis or a response to externalities. Importantly it isn’t a massive pivot/“student body left”. It’s a methodical and predictable evolution of an extremely robust and proven system.

The Threat To The Mac: The Growing Popularity Of Non-Native Apps, by John Gruber, Daring Fireball

The sandboxed nature of all iOS apps works because that’s how iOS was designed from the ground up. That’s why iOS is a better platform than the Mac for non-expert users in most ways. But the Mac was not designed with sandboxing in mind, and in many ways sandboxing works against what keeps the Mac relevant alongside iOS.

Stuff

Apple Music Student Membership Expands To Over 80 New Markets This Month, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

New markets include Israel, Malaysia, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal and Taiwan.

Fiery Feeds 2 Review, by Federico Viticci, MacStories

The marquee addition in Fiery Feeds 2, and the reason why you should consider the app if you're an RSS power user, is a feature called Smart Views. No matter which RSS service you configure in the settings, Fiery Feeds 2 can automatically generate special folders that collect popular links, articles from websites that do not publish often, and high-frequency feeds. The processing for these folders is done entirely on-device, allowing any compatible RSS service to gain functionalities it doesn't normally offer thanks to Fiery Feeds.

Fiery Feeds 2.0 Is A Powerful RSS Reader App For iPhone And iPad, by Preshit Deorukhkar, Beautiful Pixels

It packs a rich set of features and is targeted towards users who subscribe to and consume a large number of RSS feeds and want to stay updated with a variety of topics in a single app.

Notes

Absurdist Dialogues With Siri, by Mariana Lin, The Paris Review

If the highest goal in crafting dialogue for a fictional character is to capture the character’s truth, then the highest goal in crafting dialogue for AI is to capture not just the robot’s truth but also the truth of every human conversation.

Since this is currently impossible, this is where all the unhappy paths come in. I’m in favor of them. Absurdity and non sequiturs fill our lives, and our speech. They’re multiplied when people from different backgrounds and perspectives converse. So perhaps we should reconsider the hard logic behind most machine intelligence for dialogue. There is something quintessentially human about nonsensical conversations.

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I'm not convinced that sandboxing wouldn't work in macOS.

Sure, I don't think we can simply transplant the current iOS sandbox model onto macOS and expect everything to just work. Certainly, macOS is more complicated than iOS. The user interface is the entire file system, and not a matrix of app icons. There are many different external ports and what-nots. Users also have higher expectations on what should be possible on the platform.

However, that shouldn't mean that I am okay with any web browser being able to read any of my files, or that the backup software can listen to me through the microphone, or that the text editor can secretly save my source code in some server somewhere out there.

Of course not. If you want all that, fine. Go use Windows or something else. Apple should aim higher.

Permissions to apps may be granted by user at both a more granular and broad level. I may tell macOS to allow the web browser to upload a file by asking me for a filename every single time. But I may, on the other hand, give the backup software the ability to read from the /Users folder on my internal disk as well as all external disks, forever.

Really, I can't think of a scenario where an existing macOS app simply cannot work with sandboxing. Of course, there's still more work to be done by both Apple and third-party developers, and we do need good user-interface people to come up with something that is unlike Windows Vista's problem of too-many-alerts-so-user-just-click-Allow-every-single-time.

I look forward for Apple to continue improve the sandboxing model on macOS. Please don't give up.

~

Apple does seem to be more accommodating -- but still careful -- in allowing alternative business models on the App Store. We now have lowered 'tax' on 2nd year of subscription, trials and pre-orders, tipping in China, and now paywall in Facebook.

This is certainly an encouraging sign, even though I still prefer pay-once-and-enjoy-the-whole-app mode of payment.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Audiophile-Grade Edition Monday, February 12, 2018

Apple HomePod - The Audiophile Perspective + Measurements!, by WinterCharm, Reddit

I am speechless. The HomePod actually sounds better than the KEF X300A. If you’re new to the Audiophile world, KEF is a very well respected and much loved speaker company. I actually deleted my very first measurements and re-checked everything because they were so good, I thought I’d made an error. Apple has managed to extract peak performance from a pint sized speaker, a feat that deserves a standing ovation. The HomePod is 100% an Audiophile grade Speaker.

How To Use HomePod With Apple TV … It Mostly Works But There Are Some Drawbacks, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

Any app that uses native media players (like iTunes Movies, Plex and many more) the onscreen video was synced up to the audio almost exactly. tvOS delays the video frames to account for the 2-second delay in sending the audio. When pausing and skipping between points in the video, the UI freezes whilst it waits for the HomePod to be in sync again.

When using custom apps like games that require continuous interaction, the lag is unavoidable.

I Went To Pick Up My Apple HomePod And Got A Dire Warning, by Chris Matyszczyk, CNET

The math is painful. The HomePod costs $350. Repairing it costs $279, as revealed by Apple support -- and my Apple store salesman -- on Friday.

As for AppleCare+ for HomePod, which extends your coverage to two years, that's $39.

The Apple store employee admitted that he was duty-bound to lay out his fears for my gadget-caring inadequacies.

The Three Factors That May Be Behind The HomePod’s Semi-removable Cable, by Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac

So if it’s removable, why not make it a user-replaceable part? I think this is an electrical safety issue. As we’ve seen in Jeff’s video, removing it means pulling on the cable itself – normally an absolute no-no where power cables are concerned – and yanking really hard. It then has to be pushed back into place onto two rather delicate-looking prongs.

HomePod Teardown Reveals Durable But Densely-packed Speaker Internals, LED Array And More, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

iFixit has now posted its teardown of the HomePod, shining light on exactly what is beneath the seamless fabric mesh. The company says that the HomePod is built like a tank, so whilst it only scores 1/10 on the repairability scale it is made to last. It was apparently one of the hardest ever projects, with iFixit even resorting to a hacksaw at one stage.

Focus on Quality

How Apple Plans To Root Out Bugs, Revamp iPhone Software, by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

Software chief Craig Federighi laid out the new strategy to his army of engineers last month, according to a person familiar with the discussion. His team will have more time to work on new features and focus on under-the-hood refinements without being tied to a list of new features annually simply so the company can tout a massive year-over-year leap, people familiar with the situation say. The renewed focus on quality is designed to make sure the company can fulfill promises made each summer at the annual developers conference and that new features work reliably and as advertised.

“This change is Apple beginning to realize that schedules are not being hit, stuff is being released with bugs – which previously would not have happened,” when Apple was a smaller company with fewer engineers, customers and devices to manage, says one person familiar with the company. Apple declined to comment.

Stuff

Can The Crisis Of Food Waste Be Solved With An iPhone App - Or Is Too Good To Go Too Good To Be True?, by Sasha Dovzhyk, Ecologist

This app allows you to buy some of the tasty, precious, surplus food that accumulates at local stores and restaurants at the shift’s end. Your smartphone tells you when, where and how many perfectly good meals are ready for pick-up.

Too Good To Go has already saved 120,000 meals in the UK since launch, with a projected total of 500,000 meals expected to be reached by the end of 2018.

Consider also the decrease in CO2 emissions related to food waste. Fully aware that this sounds too good to be true, I decided to record my interactions with the app for one week.

Niantic’s Harry Potter Game Will Be A Defining Moment For AR, by Yariv Levski, The Next Web

This announcement is a clear indication that AR is an industry gathering pace, but where does it leave the major players? Are they ready to sprinkle a little bit of their own magic on proceedings, or will they be left looking like muggles?

Well, I think we’re witnessing a defining moment for both AR and the wider IT consumer market. And just as so many were bewitched by the battle of Hogwarts, I’m captivated by another fascinating clash: Virtual vs Augmented Reality.

iPad App Gives Nonverbal Nepali Students A Voice, by Aakankshya Shrestha, TechLekh

“Some of the kids that were totally nonverbal kept pushing the button for, like, ‘orange,’ ‘hello,’ ‘goodbye,’ and they started to repeat the word,” Rose said. “I’m curious to know if kids are going to start to learn how to talk, specifically, from this, which wasn’t one of the features in the program when I went on the website to see how kids were using it.”

Notes

Ten Years Of Monday Notes, by Jean-Louis Gassée, Monday Note

In my case, I view the Monday Note as a way to find out what I really think. I have what Buddhists call “Monkey Brains”. Picture a cage filled with monkeys shrieking and jumping from bar to bar. I don’t put much trust in what I think I think. In the shower, all ideas look good. But the trouble starts when you attempt to couch them on paper. (I would continue, but the French extension of this feeble joke isn’t suitable for a family publication.)

In writing, I find constants and surprises. The persistent part is the need for an emotion without which my pen won’t work. No obligatory writing. Surprises are the good component. As I attempt to string together a coherent set of thoughts, links appear that take me in unexpected directions, or that give rise to emotions I didn’t know were lying close to the surface.

Inside Facebook's Two Years Of Hell, by Nicholas Thompson, Wired

The stories varied, but most people told the same basic tale: of a company, and a CEO, whose techno-optimism has been crushed as they’ve learned the myriad ways their platform can be used for ill. Of an election that shocked Facebook, even as its fallout put the company under siege. Of a series of external threats, defensive internal calculations, and false starts that delayed Facebook’s reckoning with its impact on global affairs and its users’ minds. And—in the tale’s final chapters—of the company’s earnest attempt to redeem itself.

In that saga, Fearnow plays one of those obscure but crucial roles that history occasionally hands out. He’s the Franz Ferdinand of Facebook—or maybe he’s more like the archduke’s hapless young assassin. Either way, in the rolling disaster that has enveloped Facebook since early 2016, Fearnow’s leaks probably ought to go down as the screenshots heard round the world.

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I've turned on the camera on my iPhone X while the phone was in my pocket. I've also turned on the torchlight while the phone was in my pocket. The phone has also butt-dialed other people too.

As far as I know, the phone hasn't called emergency service on my behalf, yet.

Currently, all of the items but one in the 'Allow Access When Locked' list are switched of. (The only one allowed is "Recent Notifications.") I've also turned off calling emergency service with side button, as well as "Auto Call". I don't think one can turn off the access to the camera and flashlight while the phone is locked. Maybe Apple should add that option.

Or maybe when the camera or the flashlight are being turned on in my pocket, the phone should sense that it is inside a pocket (it's dark in there -- even with the flashlight turned on), and switch off the camera and flashlight.

~

I think my next iPhone X case should be a hard-cased coffin-like box.

~

Is it time to scrap WWDC?

When the iPhone X was released, I remembered there was a few videos added to the WWDC app for developers who were "optimizing for iPhone X." If new technologies and features are going to be rolled out only when they are ready, maybe Apple need not wait until WWDC to teach developers how to use them. Instead, host some lectures at Apple Park (or some other conferences, like what they are doing at some game development conference), live stream the lectures, and perhaps do some interactive Q&As too.

Time to dust off that iTunes U app and give it some ooomph.

~

Apple can also do Labs at Apple Park. Think of this as Genius Bar (Groove?) for developers. Just book a time, and come on down to Cupertino.

(Well, maybe rotate through different technology groups throughout the year though. The Geninuses do need time to work.)

~

Thanks for reading.

The Write-An-App Edition Sunday, February 11, 2018

This Teenager Worried About Walking Alone, So She Created An App To Make It Safer, by Lori Aratani, Washington Post

Medha Gupta sometimes felt uneasy making the 20-minute walk from the corner where the school bus dropped her off to her home in Herndon, Va. — especially during the colder months, when it would get dark early.

Her mother had a suggestion: Write an app.

Divya Gupta was half-kidding, but Medha, a sophomore at Fairfax County’s Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, took the challenge ­seriously.

New Apps And Limitless Online Options Open Up Music For All, by Thomas Bruch, Journal Star

But before their respective jamming sessions begin, they both took one extra step — Caleb flipped off the cover of an iPad and booted up the Riffstation app, while Isaac positioned his iPhone on top of the soundboard to the right of this drum kit and started a multi-angle video of a drummer.

The Duhon brothers' set-up depicts a new form of music literacy, one that integrates the technology that has become part of everyday life into the process of learning a musical instrument. The easy access to thousands of online instruction videos, web-based music sheets and smartphone apps have been an asset to aspiring musicians, who are like the Duhons in that they are self-taught and have received minimal one-on-one instruction from teachers — whether it's piano, guitar or making beats for a hip hop song.

How Strava Got Me Into Bike Racing, by Christina Bonnington, Slate

I never thought of myself as competitive until, on my first ride tracked by Strava, a small yellow trophy indicated I was the fourth fastest woman to ride one particular segment in Golden Gate Park. Fourth place? I wasn’t even trying! A short time later, that fourth place became my first Queen of the Mountain. From there, I was hooked—QOM hunting became a hobby. My prework rides became longer as I wiggled and looped to discover new segments to steal. I might ride a hill casually at first, and then return the next day on the attack. Eventually, my co-workers convinced me that my efforts would be more fruitful on a road bike instead of my clunky commuter. I began to shed the weight I’d put on since college and found myself happier, healthier, and absolutely in love with bike life.

Pod News

HomePod’s Non-removable Cable Can Be Repaired For $29 USD Through Apple, by Jordan Kahn, 9to5Mac

Apple Store employees and authorized service providers have been provided with documentation to diagnose the issue for repair, requiring the device passes Apple’s usual Visual Mechanical Inspection screening to make sure the HomePod is otherwise in working order and hasn’t been tampered with by the user.

How To Trigger Siri On Your iPhone Instead Of HomePod, by AppleInsider

When you desire a bit of privacy, simply raise to wake a device and say "Hey Siri." A more direct method involves pressing the side or wake/sleep button on an iPhone or iPad to trigger the virtual assistant, which will interact with a user from that device, not HomePod.

Apple Talk

How Apple Is Paving The Way To A ‘Cloud Dictatorship’ In China, by Luo, Shi-hon, GlobalVoices

Apple says the handover is due to new regulations that cloud servers must be operated by local corporation. But this is unconvincing. China's Cybersecurity Law, which was implemented on June 1 2017, does demand that user information and data collected in mainland China be stored within the border. But it does not require that the data center be operated by a local corporation.

In other words, even according to Article 37 of the Cybersecurity Law, Apple does not need to hand over the operation of iCloud services to a local corporation, to say nothing of the fact that the operator is solely owned by the state. Though Apple may have to follow the “Chinese logic” or “unspoken rule”, the decision looks more like a strategic act, intended to insulate Apple from financial, legal and moral responsibility to their Chinese users, as stated in the new customer terms and conditions on the handover of operation. It only wants to continue making a profit by selling iPhone in China.

Apple Inc: A Pre-Mortem, by Dan Masters, Oh M Dee

The company’s marketing and engineering teams lack unity of vision, instead taking a throw-it-against-the-wall approach, and prioritising deadlines over delivering the very best product. This has resulted in unfocused product development and compromised products (the Apple TV being a further recent example).

Stuff

Hands On: Ulysses 12.3 For Mac And iOS Aims To Be Where You Do All Your Writing, by Mike Wuerthele, AppleInsider

The trouble with Microsoft Word, Apple's Pages and apps like Final Draft is that they were built in a time when you printed everything out. Ulysses 12.3 for Mac and iOS is a text editor for today when you aren't sure where your printer is and you definitely can't remember when it last worked. It's for writers whose work is going to go online.

Best AirPrint Printers In 2018, by Luke Filipowicz, iMore

Although printers may seem like old technology in today's world, they still are a reliable way of obtaining a physical copy of documents, even if you are mostly using your iPhone or iPad for your everyday computing AirPrint capable printers will keep you printing with no problems. Here are some of our favorites!

Join Me In Playing This Addictive Block-sliding Game, by Vlad Savov, The Verge

There’s a surprising amount of depth and nuance to this game, whose difficulty escalates by feeding you a higher proportion of large and unwieldy blocks to coordinate.

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There should be a Squarespace for apps. It should be easy for small businesses and individuals to create apps for their customers. Apple shouldn't be this insistence that Xcode be the one-and-only way to create apps. Let there be more tools for different people.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Hands-Free-Programming Edition Saturday, February 10, 2018

Coding Without A Keystroke: The Hands-free Creation Of A Full Video Game, by Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica

Longtime developer and Austin resident Rusty Moyher was diagnosed with Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) roughly five years ago—while in the middle of a time-crunched game-design project, no less—and found that his only true physical relief came when he took full, 100-percent breaks from typing and using a mouse. That wouldn't cut it for him, he admitted. "I still want to make games," Moyher told Ars. "It’s hard to imagine any career or job that doesn’t involve computers."

Moyher wanted to prove that his dream—of making legitimate video games without using his hands—was possible. For him, the only true answer was to make and launch a good, working game—and to tell the world how he did it, so that others might follow suit.

Here’s How Apple Is Displaying HomePod In Its Retail Stores, by Michael Steeber, 9to5Mac

While the store was busy and noisy at Michigan Avenue, I was impressed by how well HomePod’s audio came across. Even in the loud environment of the store and over music playing on the device, Siri was able to easily pick up my voice.

Despite Being A HomeKit Accessory, HomePod Does Not Work Within Custom Triggers Or Scenes, by Neil Hughes, AppleInsider

That means you cannot, for example, have the HomePod automatically stop playing music when you leave the house, even though you can configure lights, switches and other accessories to turn off upon departure.

How A Low-Level Apple Employee Leaked Some Of The iPhone's Most Sensitive Code, by Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai, Motheroard

According to these sources, the person who stole the code didn’t have an axe to grind with Apple. Instead, while working at Apple, they were encouraged to use their access to help their friends in the jailbreaking community with their security research by leaking them internal Apple code. And they did.

Stuff

Hands On: Rogue Amoeba's Loopback Is The Mac Utility Every Audio User Needs, by Mike Wuerthele and William Gallagher, AppleInsider

There are reasons why musicians choose Macs instead of PCs and Loopback 1.1.5 is one of them. It's an app that reroutes audio from one piece of hardware or software to another. From podcasting to music mixing, it's a small utility that does a lot.

VideoLAN VLC Releases Version 3.0 With HDR And 360-degree Video, by Samuel Axon, Ars Technica

The popular cross-platform, open-source video player VLC has received a significant update in 3.0, the first in what will be called the Vetinari branch. It adds support for HDR, including both 10-bit and 12-bit color and 360-degree video. [...] Other major added features include 3D audio support, audio passthrough for HD audio codecs, and support for browsing NAS drives.

Azio’s Retro Classic Typewriter-inspired Bluetooth Keyboard Is A Luxurious Treat, by Darrell Etherington, TechCrunch

The [...] accessory comes with a lot in the box you won’t get from comparably priced premium keyboards, including replaceable keycaps for both Mac and PC, as well as backlighting, and genuine metal, wood and leather finished surfaces. The wireless version works in both wired and Bluetooth configurations, and the 6,000 mAh battery on board can last for up to two months between charges.

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It is so very easy to accidentally call up somebody by just scrolling through the Recents list... My apologies to all the people who I accidentally called.

~

It is also very easy to accidentally download apps while scrolling through the pages in the App Store. Thankfully, there's the FaceID portion that cannot be accidentally by-passed.

~

Or is it just me?

~

Thanks for reading.

The GTD Edition Friday, February 9, 2018

Things Vs OmniFocus Vs Todoist: A Comparison Of The Best GTD App Suites, by Marius Masalar, The Sweet Setup

In another article, we have already written about how we believe Things is the best productivity and task management app. But we know that different people have different needs and preferences. And, with so many excellent task management apps to choose from, it can be difficult to know which one is right for you if you are still on the fence one way or another. Thus, we wanted to put together this comparison show how Things compares to OmniFocus compares to Todoist.

Apple Addresses iOS Source Code Leak, Says It Appears To Be Tied To Three-year-old Software, by Brian Heater, TechCrunch

“Old source code from three years ago appears to have been leaked,” the company said in a statement provided to TechCrunch, “but by design the security of our products doesn’t depend on the secrecy of our source code. There are many layers of hardware and software protections built into our products, and we always encourage customers to update to the newest software releases to benefit from the latest protections.”

[...]

“In terms of end users, this doesn’t really mean anything positive or negative,” Strafach said in an email. “Apple does not use security through obscurity, so this does not contain anything risky, just an easier to read format for the boot loader code. It’s all cryptographically signed on end user devices, there is no way to really use any of the contents here maliciously or otherwise.”

Reporters In China Should Close iCloud Accounts To Avoid Surveillance, Says Free Press Watchdog, by Shannon Liao, The Verge

In light of Apple’s intentions to outsource Chinese iCloud operations to a firm with ties to the local government at the end of the month, French nonprofit Reporters Without Borders — otherwise known as Reporters Sans Frontières or RSF — is telling journalists to take security precautions.

The nonprofit said in a post on Monday that members of the media who have Apple iCloud accounts in China should either move or close their accounts before the deadline, or face “control of their data [passing] to the Chinese state.” iCloud operations in China will be taken over by Guizhou-Cloud Big Data (GCBD), which is supervised by a board run by government-owned businesses.

Stuff

Apple TV App Gains Promised News Section First Shown In September, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Following the addition of a dedicated Sports section a few months ago, users can now use the TV app to access live streaming news content from several different sources.

Review: SandMarc’s Impressive Wide Lens For iPhone X, by Greg Barbosa, 9to5Mac

I’m happy with the overall package Sandmarc was able to put together here. Their lens is impressive and does a great job at what’s important. I do wish the mounting options were better, but I can’t overstate how solid the lens itself is.

Develop

Meeting Blur, by Michael Lopp, Rands in Repose

If I fail to recognize my overloaded mental state at the moment, I will undoubtedly recognize it later… in the middle of the night. My eyes pop open at 3:13 am like I’m in the middle of meeting with Tanya. I’m compiling, I’m working the problem, and my brain is fully engaged. In fact, it’s clear that my brain has been working the issue for some time, but it was 3:13 am when the compilation was complex enough to wake me.

For years, I diagnosed the 3:13 am wake-up call as stress. It is stress, but the root cause is bad leadership.

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Sentences that are getting obsoleted:

1) And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming... 2) Tune in next week at the same time on the same channel... 3) News at 11... 4) In tonight's very special episode...

~

And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming...

~

Thanks for reading.

The Social-Network Edition Thursday, February 8, 2018

Apple Music Is Already A Social Network, by Jon Mitchell

So like, I have no idea what proportion of my music listening data Apple is getting or using productively, but I do baaaaaasically have the musical lifestyle of my dreams right now. And you know what? When people follow me on Apple Music, I check out their profile, and if I like the look of their sounds, I follow them back. If the whole point of the algorithm part is to find new stuff, I probably shouldn’t be seeding it with 10 years of data about old stuff. Eventually it’ll learn which new stuff I like, and the recommendations will just keep getting better.

My question is, are we eventually going to be able to post stuff on Apple Music? Will we be able to share music into some kind of feed, maybe with a comment, surely with some emoji? Will we be able to post photos? Location? Fitness data? Other life story stuff alongside what we’re listening to right now?

Much more importantly, what about our own music? If I record a song in Logic or GarageBand — or, hell, any music app — will I be able to post it for my followers to hear? Will I be able to sell it?

HomePod Will Use Apple’s Analytics To Tune EQ On Each Song, Eddy Cue Says, by Peter Cao, 9to5Mac

Cue revealed how HomePod will adjust how it sounds to different music without offering user-facing bass and treble adjustments. We already knew that HomePod will tune itself differently based on its position in a room, but Cue describes Apple’s smart speaker adjusting its sound even when used in place.

With AI, Your Apple Watch Could Flag Signs Of Diabetes, by Megan Molteni, Wired

So how do Cardiogram’s algorithms make good guesses without directly measuring the amount of sugar in someone’s blood? Nobody really knows.

“Diabetes is very clearly a cardiovascular condition, but it’s not one with an obvious physiological connection to heart rate variability,” says Mark Pletcher, one of the principal investigators of the Health eHeart study and a co-author on the paper presented Wednesday. When you train machine learning algorithms on data without knowing the mechanisms behind the underlying patterns, you often get a signal without understanding why. “It makes me nervous, frankly. We’ve had a lot of internal discussions about whether this could be picking up medications diabetics use or some other extraneous factor. But we haven’t come up with anything.”

Key iPhone Source Code Gets Posted Online In 'Biggest Leak In History', Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai, Motherboard

Someone just posted what experts say is the source code for a core component of the iPhone’s operating system on GitHub, which could pave the way for hackers and security researchers to find vulnerabilities in iOS and make iPhone jailbreaks easier to achieve.

The GitHub code is labeled “iBoot,” which is the part of iOS that is responsible for ensuring a trusted boot of the operating system. In other words, it’s the program that loads iOS, the very first process that runs when you turn on your iPhone. It loads and verifies the kernel is properly signed by Apple and then executes it—it’s like the iPhone’s BIOS.

Stuff

Rescue Blurry Photos With Live Photos In iOS 11, by Josh Centers, TidBITS

In iOS 11, with Live Photos enabled, the Camera app actually captures 1.5 seconds of video before you press the shutter button. So when you choose a new key photo, it’s like editing your photo with a highly precise time machine that can show you every moment of the second and a half before the photo was taken.

Kap Is An Open Source Screen Recorder For Mac, by Preshit Deorukhkar, Beautiful Pixels

Kap is an open source screen recording app for macOS that is built using web technologies. It sits in your menubar and offers a number of different presets to quickly start a recording with a few simple clicks. Just pick a preset or app you want from the list, click on the record button, make adjustments to the area if needed and start recording.

Develop

Apple Says A Processing Error Led It To Send Developers Wrong App Install And Ad Spend Details, by Ingrid Lunden, TechCrunch

Today, Apple has sent out a note to developers to say that a processing error caused the problem, and that in the future it will only send alerts by email, but that developers will have to log in to their accounts to see any actual numbers or other details.

Notes

The House That Spied On Me, by Kashmir Hill, Gizmodo

In December, I converted my one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco into a “smart home.” I connected as many of my appliances and belongings as I could to the internet: an Amazon Echo, my lights, my coffee maker, my baby monitor, my kid’s toys, my vacuum, my TV, my toothbrush, a photo frame, a sex toy, and even my bed.

[...]

Why? Why would I do this? For convenience? Perhaps. It was appealing to imagine living like the Beast in the Disney movie, with animated objects around my home taking care of my every need and occasionally serenading me. As a result of the apartment upgrade, I could watch what was happening in the house when we weren’t there. I could use voice commands to turn on the lights, coffee maker, and music. I could exchange voice messages with our toddler (and her caregiver) through a toy. I got reminders from my toothbrush to brush and tips on how best to do it. If I got cold in the night, my bed could warm me up. And I no longer had to push a vacuum around the house, instead activating a robot to do it for me with a press of a smartphone button.

Thanks to the Internet of Things, I could live in my very own tech-mediated Downton Abbey. That’s the appeal of smart homes for most people, and why they are supposed to be a $27 billion market by 2021. But that wasn’t my primary motivation. The reason I smartened up my house was to find out whether it would betray me.

Bottom of the Page

I don't need a smart home. I just need a smarter brain.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Kicked-Ass Edition Wednesday, February 7, 2018

A Four-sentence HomePod Review (With Appendices), by Matthew Panzarino, TechCrunch

Walking around the HomePod from one corner of a room to another or around it in a circle is a really incredible experience. The sound does not fall off at any angle, and the characteristics of the audio don’t change. This just works.

[...]

But it really kicked ass in live performances, where it felt that the vocals were sitting out in the air between you and HomePod, no matter where you were standing, and the applause and high hats were coming from some place above and behind the speaker — being projected outwards and around. It’s one of the most three dimensional sounds I’ve heard from any music setup and absolutely the deepest stage from a “single speaker”.

Apple HomePod Review: A Stunning Smart Speaker, by David Phelan, Independent

The audio quality is way better than any other smart speaker I’ve heard, including the Sonos One and Google Home Max (a big, music-oriented speaker not yet on sale in the UK). What’s more, it sounds absolutely as good as, or better than, many decent stereo speaker setups. The wide sound stage and deep fidelity to the music means it has outshone some pretty full-on hi-fi systems I’ve heard. Nothing on the HomePod is muddy, every element is sharp and realised.

All from a single, pretty-small speaker. There’s plenty of bass: the woofer inside shifts a lot of air (and can move up to 20mm, Apple says) and sounds solid and strong. But vocals are also super-clear: rich, bright and detailed.

My HomePod Review, by Om Malik

For most of what they claim is true — I tried the HomePod in different locations and while sound stage changes a bit, it doesn’t sound very different to an amateur. I didn’t have an Apple Music subscription, but I have iTunes Match so I can stream some music from Apple. However, my first action was to AirPlay my favorite music tunes from Spotify. I have the premium version of Spotify, and the high-quality stream sounded perfect. Well, almost as perfect as a 384 kbps stream can sound. Next, I AirPlayed my FLAC files using the FLACBox app on my iPad.

And boy that is when I realized Apple had built something spectacular. The hi-res version of Peter Gabriel’s So sounded almost like my CD player. The mid-range and vocals were smooth and silky. The bass — thanks to a top firing woofer was tight and filled the room without sounding jarring and rattling the cutlery. Next up: Moon safari by Air. My FLAC collection is in love with its new friend.

Hey Siri

HomePod, by John Gruber, Daring Fireball

HomePod’s undestanding of voice commands is fast and accurate. The most interesting feature is that HomePod can hear your commands while loud music is playing even if you speak at a normal talking volume. This sounds (sorry) too good to be true, but in my testing it works uncannily well. I would go so far as to say that HomePod can understand commands spoken at normal volume while music is playing better than human ears do. It works so well that I’m not sure most people will even think to try it. Intuitively, one thinks one must speak over the music to be heard. And, with Amazon Echo, that’s true. But with HomePod, you don’t. You can’t just whisper to it, and HomePod can’t read lips like HAL can, but I think it’s worth emphasizing that you do not have to yell. Some impressive engineering went into this.

Apple’s HomePod Has Arrived. Don’t Rush To Buy It., by Brain X. Chen, New York Times

But after a week — during which I asked HomePod to play my favorite tunes from artists like Beck, The Talking Heads and David Bowie — the smart speaker still did not learn. Instead, like a stubborn D.J., Siri kept playing music by artists outside my music palette: Taylor Swift and Leroy Frances, to name just two.

That leads to my conclusion: The $349 HomePod, which costs roughly three times its competitors and arrives in stores on Friday, is tough to recommend to you, dear reader.

Apple HomePod Review: Locked In, by Nilay Patel, The Verge

And, in the worst omission, Siri on the HomePod doesn’t recognize different voices. This doesn’t sound like a big deal, but if you just click yes during all the setup prompts, literally anyone can ask the HomePod to send or read your text messages. Seriously, it’ll just read your texts to anyone if your phone is anywhere on the same Wi-Fi network, which usually reaches far beyond the same room as the HomePod. If your HomePod is in the kitchen and you’re in the basement, anyone can just roll up on the HomePod and have it read your texts. If you have kids, they can just text anyone at will while you’re in the bathroom and you can’t stop it. I tried it with the HomePod behind a closed door and it picked up my voice and it happily read my texts aloud, a nightmare for anyone who lives in a dorm.

This is also baffling: iPhones don’t answer to just anyone saying “Hey Siri” once you’ve trained them to your voice, and the HomePod runs a variant of iOS on an A8 chip, which allows for “Hey Siri” on the iPhone 6 when it’s plugged into the wall. I asked Apple about this, and there wasn’t a clear answer apart from noting that the personal requests feature that enables texting can be turned off. I agree: until Apple adds personalized voice recognition to this thing, you should definitely turn personal requests off.

Managing Power

Apple Explains Why Power Management Features Were Introduced In January 2017 But Not Disclosed Until February 2017, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

Apple says that iOS users were not immediately informed about the power management features in iOS 10.2.1 because it first needed to confirm that the update successfully solved the problem causing unexpected shutdowns.

Apple Is Exploring Whether To Offer Rebates To Customers Who Previously Purchased Full-price iPhone Batteries, by Tony Romm, Recode

Cynthia Hogan, the iPhone giant’s vice president for public policy in the Americas, told Thune in a reply released Tuesday: “Yes, we are exploring this and will update you accordingly.”

Stuff

Farrago: A Fun And Useful Soundboard For The Mac, by Andy Affleck, TidBITS

Farrago is a fresh new take, adding greater control and more options for each sound than previous soundboard tools for the Mac.

8 Easy Ways To Make iPhone X More Microsoft-friendly, by Mark Guim, Windows Central

My experience from switching to the iPhone X from Windows Phone was surprisingly painless. I'm able to continue using my favorite Microsoft services, while also benefitting from the iPhone X's excellent camera and vast app ecosystem.

The New York Times Puts Olympic Athletes In Augmented Reality, by Adi Robertson, The Verge

In one of its first mobile augmented reality experiences, The New York Times has launched an iOS-based visualization of four Olympic athletes. If you have a recent iPhone and the Times mobile app, you can see 3D models of figure skater Nathan Chen, speedskater J.R. Celski, ice hockey goalie Alex Rigsby, and snowboarder Anna Gasser overlaid on the real world.

SleepIn App Allows For Virtual Snooze When School Cancels Classes, by Theo Hayes, WBAL TV

Irani created coding that syncs to a school's notification system. It's essentially an alarm clock that won't go off if your school has been canceled.

Users can choose from a list of schools on the app, set it for the time they need to get up and, if class has been canceled, it won't make a sound.

Develop

iOS 11.3 Beta 2 Adds Brand New ClassKit Framework For Educational Apps, by Guilherme Rambo, 9to5Mac

From a brief look into the code for that framework, it looks like it will allow developers of educational apps to create student evaluation features, users will be able to answer questionnaires that will be automatically transmitted to teachers remotely via iCloud.

Bottom of the Page

My first audio-book listen, if I am remembering correctly, was back in the early 80s. I was just a little kid, and was quite curious about this Audio-Visual room in the public library that I frequented.

One fine day, I finally gathered up my courage and walked into the room to find out what was available. Looking through the paper catalogue, I picked up a short fairy tale title. The librarian helped me to check out the tape (I think) and set me down next to a tape machine. I put on the headphones, and proceeded to listen to the audio-book.

I believe this book-on-tape thing probably didn't make any impression on me, because I didn't listen to any other audio-books ever again in that library. Perhaps I didn't care much about listening when I could just read. Perhaps because I could bring home books to read, but I could only listen to audio-books in the library.

Many many many years later, after the invention of podcasts, after buying my first iPod, and after being bombarded by Audible's advertisements, I downloaded Stephen King's Bag of Bones to try out, and I've been hooked.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Strategy-101 Edition Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Apple’s Middle Age, by Ben Thompson, Stratechery

First, as a general rule, challengers pursue interoperability while incumbents strive for incompatibility. This is Strategy 101: seek to fight battles where you have the greatest advantage. When Apple was making the iPod, it’s advantage was a superior device; making that device interoperable with Windows let Apple fight the portable music player battle on its terms. Today, though, Apple already has dominant market share: better to make its devices exclusive to its ecosystem, preventing rivals from bringing their own advantage (superior voice assistants, in the case of Alexa and Google Assistant) to bear.

Secondly, the high-end smartphone market — that is, the iPhone market — is saturated. Apple still has the advantage in loyalty, which means switchers will on balance move from Android to iPhone, but that advantage is counter-weighted by clearly elongating upgrade cycles. To that end, if Apple wants growth, its existing customer base is by far the most obvious place to turn.

What I Learned From Watching My iPad’s Slow Death, by John Herrman, New York Times

I’ve lost plenty of devices before, but this death feels different. When my old iPad is powered down, it seems practically new; when I turn it on, it feels instantly old. Tap the familiar YouTube app, and I am met with a pregnant pause: one, two, three, app. Ditto for the App Store, Podcasts, Netflix and e-books. Newer games are often out of the question, which wouldn’t bother me much if Safari, the web browser, wasn’t constantly overwhelmed by complicated pages. My attempt to install an alternative browser ended with this message: Firefox requires iOS 10.3 or later. My old iPad stopped getting updates in the 9s. I wouldn’t say my old electronics always aged gracefully, but their obsolescence wasn’t a death sentence. My old digital camera doesn’t do what some new cameras do — but it’s still a camera. My iPad, by contrast, feels as though it has been abandoned from on high, cut loose from the cloud on which it depends.

It hasn’t been used up; it’s just too old. A pristine iPad from the same era, forgotten in a storeroom and never touched, would be equally useless. The moment it came online, it would demand to be updated; as soon as it was, it would find itself in the same grim predicament as my device, which has been at work for half a decade.

Apple Abruptly Pulled Telegram Last Week When It Learned App Was Serving Child Pornography, by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac

According to an email shared by a reader that includes a response from Phil Schiller who manages the App Store, Telegram was abruptly pulled when Apple learned that the app was serving child pornography to users.

[...]

Similar to Apple’s iMessage, Telegram offers a secure messaging feature that relies on end-to-end encryption for protecting the privacy of messages sent between users. This means the illegal content was likely not simply media being shared between users but more likely content being served up from a third-party plug-in used by Telegram.

Within hours of Telegram being pulled, the secure messaging app returned to the App Store with fixes in place to prevent the illegal content from being served to users.

Why I Decided To Install Messenger Kids, by Sarah Perez, TechCrunch

If you will give your kids a smartphone one day, shouldn’t you teach them how to use it, too? Shouldn’t that include messaging and social media? Shouldn’t you teach them while they’re still young enough to listen?

Facebook’s new app is one of the only messaging apps that exists to protect kids, and one of few that could scale.

Stuff

Lire RSS Client Adds Deeper iOS 11 Drag And Drop Support, by Federico Viticci, MacStories

I highly recommend lire if you've been looking for an RSS client that looks modern and native to iOS 11; and if you subscribe to a lot of feeds or peruse RSS as part of your daily work, I suggest you play around with lire's new drag and drop features alongside other iOS 11 apps.

Limerick Musician Amps Up Strum Skill With New App Smash Guitar, by Fintan Walsh, Limerick Leader

The interactive app, which has three levels of difficulty - beginner, intermediate, advanced - improves users’ technique by stroking the iPad screen to specific pattern and maintaining a constant rhythm.

Develop

Apple, Google CEOs Demonstrate True Leadership With This Simple, Free Action, by Catherine Clifford, CNBC

Of course, it is well within these CEOs best interests to brag about their teams as investors are listening, but there is a greater lesson to be had: It's good business to say "thank you" to employees. It doesn't cost anything and the return is potentially very large.

According to a 2013 survey from jobs website Glassdoor, more than half of respondents say they would stay longer at a company if they felt they were more appreciated by their boss. And 81 percent of survey respondents say they are motivated to work harder when their boss shows appreciation for their work, which is more than twice the 38 percent of employees who say they are motivated to work harder when their boss is demanding and 37 percent of employees who report being motivated to work harder because they are worried about losing their job.

Apple Is Sending Some Developers Ad Spend And Install Details For Other People’s Apps, by Jon Russell, TechCrunch

An issue at Apple appears to be resulting in app developers getting emails of ad spend and install summaries for apps belonging to other developers.

Bottom of the Page

There are more than enough audio content coming into my iPhone that I can enjoy not a second of silence 24/7.

And if one isn't too picky, I can have the same amount of video content on my iPhone.

And that's why I'm picky.

~

Thanks for reading.

The Incoming-Calls Edition Monday, February 5, 2018

Incoming Call Glitch Latest To Hit iPhone X, by Tim Bradshaw, Financial Times

When it rings, the iPhone’s touchscreen appears to be delayed from turning on for up to 10 seconds, preventing the user from tapping the virtual button required to answer a call.

[...]

Apple said that it was “looking into these reports”.

Suicide Prevention App Has Helped Ulster Population, County Executive Says, by Diane Pineiro-Zucker, Daily Freeman

Sections of the app are tailored to meet the needs or teenagers, adults, the military and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, he said. In the military section, veterans may be connected with “fellow veterans who can truly relate to the challenges and stresses one might be under,” Hein said.

The county executive said it has been “meaningful” for him to hear from individuals and families who have been helped by SPEAK, which stands for Suicide Prevention Awareness and Prevention Kit. “When someone tells you that ... you have changed their life, changed the course of their life ... you’re able to impact people’s lives and make a difference for them and their families,” he said. “I firmly believe it’s an area where we have an obligation to do something,”

NYPD Cops Switch To iPhones, The New Tool In Fighting Crime, by Thomas Tracy, NY Daily News

Today, 911 dispatches come over the phone before they’re heard on department radios, Clampitt said.

“We get to the location a lot quicker,” he said. “By the time the dispatcher puts out the job (on the radio) we’re already there.”

[...]

When cops are responding to a job, the phone will automatically provide them with the criminal history of the location, such as how many 911 calls have been at the address in the past and what type of calls. The phone also tells the officers if any wanted felons are at the address.

Apple Staff Share Pics Of NEW £3.5 Billion HQ That's Closed To The Public, by Sean Keach, The Sun

Employees are moving into the new Apple Park headquarters, giving us all a chance to see what it's like to work for the world's most valuable company

Apple’s Touch Bar Needs To Grow Up, by Chris Davies, SlashGear

It wouldn’t take much, however, for the Touch Bar to get a new lease of life. Partly that’s down to Apple trusting its power-users to make good use of it; another part is giving app developers, particularly those whose software plays in the browser not the Mac App Store, the flexibility to keep up with what local software can do. The Touch Bar itself wasn’t a bad idea, but Apple needs to elevate it beyond just an alternative to shortcuts our fingers memorized long ago.

Stuff

Hands On: Self Publish The Next Great Novel With Vellum 2.1.2 From Your Mac, by Mike Wuerthele and William Gallagher, AppleInsider

The latest version of the eBook creator application Vellum does just about everything to streamline book creation for iBooks, Kindle and paperback, other than write the text itself.

This iPhone App Lets You Test Drive New Art On Your Walls, by Emily Price, Lifehacker

Now with the app and an iPhone you can see what art will look like on your walls using the app’s Gallery Wall Designer. With the feature you can see how a particular piece of art will look on your way as well as a collection of art (if you’re trying one of those artsy collage things).

Notes

Why Paper Jams Persist, by Joshua Rothman, New Yorker

“I wouldn’t characterize it as annoying,” Vicki Warner, who leads a team of printer engineers at Xerox, said of discovering a new kind of paper jam. “I would characterize it as almost exciting.” When she graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technology, in 2006, her friends took jobs in trendy fields, such as automotive design. During her interview at Xerox, however, another engineer showed her the inside of a printing press. All Xerox printers look basically the same: a million-dollar printing press is like an office copier, but twenty-four feet long and eight feet high. Warner watched as the heavy, pale-gray double doors swung open to reveal a steampunk wonderland of gears, wheels, conveyor belts, and circuit boards. As in an office copier, green plastic handles offer access to the “paper path”—the winding route, from “feeder” to “stacker,” along which sheets of paper are shocked and soaked, curled and decurled, vacuumed and superheated. “Printers are essentially paper torture chambers,” Warner said, smiling behind her glasses. “I thought, This is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.”

There are many loose ends in high-tech life. Like unbreachable blister packs or awkward sticky tape, paper jams suggest that imperfection will persist, despite our best efforts. They’re also a quintessential modern problem—a trivial consequence of an otherwise efficient technology that’s been made monumentally annoying by the scale on which that technology has been adopted. Every year, printers get faster, smarter, and cheaper. All the same, jams endure.

The Playing-Our-Song Edition Sunday, February 4, 2018

How Sofi Tukker Got Tapped For Apple's iPhone X Campaign & Landed 'Best Friend' On The Hot 100, by Tatiana Cirisano, Billboard

When Tucker Halpern tuned in to Apple's September keynote event, he wasn't expecting to hear his own voice on the other end. Though Apple's music director had told Halpern and collaborator Sophie Hawley-Weld -- who together make up eclectic dance-pop duo Sofi Tukker -- that the company was a fan of their funky new single "Best Friend," the track's appearance during the keynote iPhone X reveal left the duo stunned.

"We were in Ibiza shooting the video, and I had the keynote on in the background," Halpern tells Billboard from his cell, which, he is pleased to note, is in fact an iPhone X. "They started playing our song, and I was like, 'SOPHIE!'"

Apple Begins Collecting Apple Watch Data For Heart Study, by Mikey Campbell, AppleInsider

The study relies on Apple Watch's specialized heart rate sensor and a dedicated app to collect data that can be used to identify irregular heart rhythms. If a study participant displays abnormal heart activity, they receive a notification on their Apple Watch and iPhone, a free consultation with a study doctor and an electrocardiogram peripheral for additional monitoring.

Apple's China Data Center To Open In 2020, by Xinhua

Starting Feb. 28, iCloud services on the Chinese mainland will be operated by a local partner, Guizhou-Cloud Big Data Industry Co,. Ltd.

Before the data center begins operations, the Chinese company will rent servers from China's three major telecom operators to provide iCloud services.

Stuff

Hands On: Keymand 1.1 Brings Touch-screen Options To Your Mac From A Connected iPad, by Mike Wuerthele and William Gallagher, AppleInsider

The Keymand iPad app connects to a Mac, and acts like a beefy, user-configurable MacBook Pro Touch Bar.

Develop

If You’re So Successful, Why Are You Still Working 70 Hours A Week?, by Laura Empson, Harvard Business Review

Your insecurities may have helped to get you where you are today, but are they still working for you? Is it time to acknowledge that you have “made it” and to start enjoying the experience a little bit more? And if your boss is an insecure overachiever, recognize how they are projecting their insecurity onto you — how they make you feel insecure for not being able to keep up with them.

Work exceptionally long hours when you need to or want to, but do so consciously, for specified time periods, and to achieve specific goals. Don’t let it become a habit because you have forgotten how to work or live any other way.

Notes

The AI Superstars At Google, Facebook, Apple—they All Studied Under This Guy, by Katrina Onstad, Tornoto Life

For more than 30 years, Geoffrey Hinton hovered at the edges of artificial intelligence research, an outsider clinging to a simple proposition: that computers could think like humans do—using intuition rather than rules. The idea had taken root in Hinton as a teenager when a friend described how a hologram works: innumerable beams of light bouncing off an object are recorded, and then those many representations are scattered over a huge database. Hinton, who comes from a somewhat eccentric, generations-deep family of overachieving scientists, immediately understood that the human brain worked like that, too—information in our brains is spread across a vast network of cells, linked by an endless map of neurons, firing and connecting and transmitting along a billion paths. He wondered: could a computer behave the same way?

The answer, according to the academic mainstream, was a deafening no. Computers learned best by rules and logic, they said. And besides, Hinton’s notion, called neural networks—which later became the groundwork for “deep learning” or “machine learning”—had already been disproven. In the late ’50s, a Cornell scientist named Frank Rosenblatt had proposed the world’s first neural network machine. It was called the Perceptron, and it had a simple objective—to recognize images. The goal was to show it a picture of an apple, and it would, at least in theory, spit out “apple.” The Perceptron ran on an IBM mainframe, and it was ugly. A riot of criss-crossing silver wires, it looked like someone had glued the guts of a furnace filter to a fridge door. Still, the device sparked some serious sci-fi hyperbole. In 1958, the New York Times published a prediction that it would be the first device to think like the human brain. “[The Perceptron] will be able to walk, talk, see, write, reproduce itself and be conscious of its existence.”

Bottom of the Page

What should I put into my when-I-am-sad Apple Music playlist? Should they be songs to cheer me up, or should they be songs to affirm my sadness?

~

Thanks for reading.

The Faulty-Logic-Board-Component Edition Saturday, February 3, 2018

Apple Activates Repair Program For iPhone 7 Models Impacted By 'No Service' Issue, by Mikey Campbell, AppleInsider

Apple on Friday initiated a repair program for iPhone 7 devices affected by an issue that caused a "No Service" message to display in the status bar even when cellular network coverage is available, saying a faulty logic board component is to blame for the error.

[...]

Apple has narrowed the component flaw down to a batch of iPhone 7 units manufactured between September 2016 and February 2018 and sold in China, Hong Kong, Japan, Macao and the U.S. According to supplied information, model numbers eligible for the repair program are A1660 or A1780 in China, A1660 in Hong Kong, Macao and the U.S., and A1779 in Japan.

Please, Somebody Save The Yo App Before It Dies, by Kerry Flynn, Mashable

Unlike many of the apps these days, they weren't seeking immediate profits, they weren't about making money. It was just a reminder that someone was thinking about you, or they needed you, and we could use our smartphones and technology without being invasive into our own or each other's lives.

4 Tidbits We Learned From Apple’s Record Quarterly Results, by Jason Snell, Macworld

Piper Jaffray’s Mike Olson apparently drew the short straw at the Analyst Club meeting this quarter, so he got to be the one to vainly attempt to get Tim Cook to spill secrets about future Apple products, which Apple, never, ever does.

Cellphones Are Still Safe For Humans, Researchers Say, by Denise Grady, New York Times

Despite years of research, there is still no clear answer. But two government studies released on Friday, one in rats and one in mice, suggest that if there is any risk, it is small, health officials said.

Stuff

iMac Pro 18-core Follow Up Review, by Craig A. Hunter

So in summary, we see performance increases ranging from 27% to 79% for the 18-core iMac Pro when compared to the 10-core model. I suspect many computations and applictions will be in the middle of that range depending on how well they can take advantage of multiple cores, but there will certainly be some hot rod uses that get closer to that 79% end of the scale (and may do even better).

February Apple Watch Activity Challenge Rewards Users With Animated iMessage Stickers, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

Apple will soon announce a new Activity Challenge for Apple Watch users, celebrating February as Heart Month. In this latest activity challenge, users must complete their exercise ring ring for seven days in a row, from February 8th to February 14th.

Can't Get Your News From Facebook Anymore? Try These 6 Apps, by Josie Colt, Wired

If you get your news primarily from Facebook, you may notice a growing void in your News Feed in the coming months. Maybe you'll miss interacting with the news like you used to: liking stories, sharing articles, joining the treacherous comment thread your cousin started. Even if you don't miss that stuff, you'll still need to get your news as Facebook begins its reincarnation.

Thankfully, a growing number of news-curating and news-aggregating apps are available either on your phone or through your desktop web browser. I can recommend these six based on their usability, their clean design, and their social sharing features.

This $4 Weather App Has Earned A Permanent Spot On My Phone’s Home Screen — Here's Why, by Brandt Ranj, Business Insider

Underneath is a chart of the projected precipitation for the next hour, along with a chart that shows whether the rain or snow will be light, medium, or heavy. This is the feature that's saved my bacon several times; knowing when the rain is going to break lets me plan my walks to and from the subway, or when to take my lunch break. In fact, it's rare that I'll leave my apartment at all without checking it.

Review: Lifeprint's 'Hyperphoto' Printer Lets You Instantly Print Your iPhone Photos And Videos, by Juli Clover, MacRumors

The Lifeprint is convenient and a lot of fun, but be prepared to shell out a decent amount of money for the paper if you purchase the printer.

Develop

App Review Rejecting Apps That Use Apple Emoji For User Interface Icons, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

App Review appears to be more strictly enforcing rules regarding the use of Apple intellectual property in third party apps, which now includes emoji. Developers are reporting that their apps are now getting rejected for using the Apple emoji icon set in screenshots, other marketing and parts of the user interface (such as using emoji in place of custom iconography).

Man Vs Machine

'Fiction Is Outperforming Reality': How YouTube's Algorithm Distorts Truth, by Paul Lewis, The Guardian

Company insiders tell me the algorithm is the single most important engine of YouTube’s growth. In one of the few public explanations of how the formula works – an academic paper that sketches the algorithm’s deep neural networks, crunching a vast pool of data about videos and the people who watch them – YouTube engineers describe it as one of the “largest scale and most sophisticated industrial recommendation systems in existence”.

Lately, it has also become one of the most controversial. The algorithm has been found to be promoting conspiracy theories about the Las Vegas mass shooting and incentivising, through recommendations, a thriving subculture that targets children with disturbing content such as cartoons in which the British children’s character Peppa Pig eats her father or drinks bleach.

If The Internet Is Addictive, Why Don’t We Regulate It?, by Michael Schulson, Aeon

‘Regulation’ is a scary word, especially for those of us accustomed to the libertarian mores that have governed the past two decades of internet growth. It’s understandable that we’re hesitant to talk about regulating distraction-inducing technologies. For one thing, we typically think of compulsive behaviour as the fault of machines or individuals, rather than as a designed experience, angled toward strategic ends. For another, we tend to associate regulation with paternalism that limits the choices of users.

In this case, though, it’s possible to imagine regulation that actually expands users’ choices. It doesn’t need to be especially invasive or dramatic, and it would be designed to give users more control over their experiences online.

The Literally-Walk-Through Edition Friday, February 2, 2018

This App Lets You Dive Into The Richness Of An Artist’s Studio From Anywhere, by Daniel Terdiman, Fast Company

There are a number of virtual reality apps that take art fans inside famous museums. But they require headsets and often have limited scope for allowing viewers to craft their own experience. Now, a new augmented reality app for Apple’s iOS is letting art lovers step inside the Los Angeles studio of a well-known visual artist, as well as literally walk through some of her three-dimensional VR pieces.

The app, known as 4thWall, showcases the multimedia work of artist Nancy Baker Cahill in two distinct ways. Cahill has spent the last year developing art in VR–360-degree pieces that seem to spread throughout a room and that headset-wearers can walk through. With the new app, anyone with a recent iPhone can do the same, visualizing one of her pieces and virtually walking through it as they physically move around with their phone, and, just as interesting, superimposing the pieces on any environment they want–a living room, a park, a foyer, and so on.

Apple’s New Vienna Store Is An Homage To The Wiener Werkstätte, by Fabian Pimminger, Medium

The glass walls, as well as the Apple logo, are decorated with black and white patterns, that look a little odd, old and kind of futura-esque. But actually, it’s an ingenious homage to the “Wiener Werkstätte”.

Apple Celebrates Chinese New Year With Short Film “Three Minutes” Shot On iPhone X, by Michael Steeber, 9to5Mac

Three Minutes was created to showcase how creative professionals can take advantage of the camera hardware and powerful software Apple offers. The website accompanying the production shares additional cinematography tips and behind the scenes footage from the making of the film.

A Traveling Frog Exposes The Fake App Problem In Apple’s Chinese App Store, by Jon Russell, TechCrunch

The iPhone-maker has a reputation among developers for its tough approach to vetting apps before they are allowed into the App Store — just yesterday it briefly pulled apps from popular messaging firm Telegram — but research from China-based social media marketing firm China Channel has shown that more than 30 apps imitating Tabi Kaeru were accepted into the Chinese App Store.

In one case, the most successful knock-off — an app named “旅行青蛙.” — was able to generate significant revenue after seeming to game the App Store and gain a prominent position in its charts.

Cupertino Business

Tim Cook: iPhone X 'Top-selling iPhone Every Week Since It Shipped In November', by Mike Wuerthele, AppleInsider

In Apple's quarterly earnings statement, Apple CEO Tim Cook declared that since it shipped to customers, the iPhone X was the biggest seller every week, outpacing the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus through November and December.

The iPhone X Is Apple’s Underrated Masterpiece, by Vlad Savov, The Verge

Everyone I have asked that has purchased an iPhone X has expressed happiness with that decision. No one has been stoked about the price, but after that minor qualifier, all I hear about are the fluid and intuitive gestures to navigate the UI, the gorgeous display, the improved battery life, the futuristic ease of Face ID, and a bunch of other small things that make the user experience a happy one. There’s no getting around this basic fact: the iPhone X is an excellent phone, as judged by the people who use it.

Apple Aims To Reduce $163B Net Cash Balance To 'Approximately Zero,' Hints At Investments And M&A, by Mikey Campbell, AppleInsider

In an earnings conference call on Thursday, Maestri said Apple is looking to shrink its cash balance, which currently stands at $285 billion or $163 billion excluding debt, down to nothing. The strategy is in stark contrast with Apple's traditional financial model that saw the firm hoard cash overseas in anticipation of lower U.S. tax rates.

This Is Tim: Transcript Of Apple's Q1 2018 Earnings Call, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

Every quarter Apple executives hop on an hourlong call with financial analysts and provide “a little more color” about its quarterly financial results. This quarter was no different. Here’s a complete transcript of the call, right down to the latest attempt by an analyst to get Tim Cook to reveal future iPhone product decisions seven months early. (Spoiler alert: It didn’t work.)

Stuff

Apple Clarifies HomePod Audio Sources, by David Sparks, MacSparky

A lot of people were questioning whether or not it would play iTunes Music Purchases and the iTunes Match music library. I'm glad it does.

YouTube TV Now Available Natively On Apple TV, by Peter Cao, 9to5Mac

The cable-cutter streaming TV service starts at $35/month, with no contracts, and allows users to stream TV from their iPhone and now, Apple TV.

Bottom of the Page

Maybe I should try writing some command-line tools in Swift...

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Thanks for reading.

The Cannot-Be-Misheard Edition Thursday, February 1, 2018

iPad Diaries: ‘Type To Siri’ As A Smart Command Line, by Federico Viticci, MacStories

Despite my annoyance with Apple's decision to make Type to Siri a simple on/off switch, I decided to give it a try on my iPad Pro last summer and, to my surprise, I've left it enabled for months now. Even with its current limitations – both in terms of the feature itself and Siri's overall intelligence – Type to Siri has proven to be a useful addition to my average work day on the iPad Pro. In fact, I'd even argue that getting used to Type to Siri on my iPad has been a gateway to more frequent conversations with Siri on the iPhone and Apple Watch as well.

[...]

The beauty of Type to Siri lies in the fact that it's regular Siri, wrapped in a silent interaction method that leaves no room for misinterpretation. For the tasks Siri is good at, there's a chance Type to Siri will perform better than its voice-based counterpart because typed sentences can't be misheard.

Apple Was Right To Throttle iPhones, But Some Things Still Need To Change, by Samuel Axon, Ars Technica

It’s easy to poke holes in the theory that Apple implemented throttling to drive quicker adoption of new phones [...]. Whether most users should have been given the choice is debatable. But Apple definitely should have been more transparent.

All that said, Apple's decision to throttle performance was the right one. But while many of the conspiracy theories are baseless, the controversy nevertheless exposed some of deepest weaknesses endemic in Apple's design philosophy and in its public relations and marketing strategy.

Is It The End Of The Line For The ‘I’ At Apple? Analyzing Apple’s Naming Scheme, by Jason Snell, Macworld

Let’s be realistic. It is highly unlikely that Apple is renaming iBooks to Books just because it wants to use the iBook trademark on a third product (after the pre-Intel Mac consumer laptop of yore, of course). Occam’s Razor tells us that the simplest explanation—this is part of a larger trend toward Apple simplifying the names of its apps into nouns—is probably the correct one.

And yet... if Apple did make such a product, it would be a pretty good name. Enough for me to question whether the conventional wisdom that Apple will never make another “i” product is really true.

The Mac, The Myth, The Legend: How Snow Leopard Became Synonymous With Reliability, by Michael Steeber, 9to5Mac

The myth of Snow Leopard is bigger than life, a cultural reference rooted in nostalgia.

Stuff

Reduce Backup Frequency With TimeMachineEditor, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

[TimeMachineEditor] turns off Time Machine’s automatic scheduling and instead provides its own scheduling system that kicks off a normal Time Machine backup when appropriate. It’s a very simple tool, with three modes of operation: back up when inactive, back up on a regular timed interval, or back up at various times you define. There’s also an override to block out time when backups should never be done.

Nintendo Officially Announces New Mario Kart Game Coming To iOS, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

After years of requests from users, Nintendo today officially announced that a mobile version of Mario Kart is under development. While specifics remain unclear, the company says the game will be released sometime in the next 13 months.

Telegram Apps Fall Foul Of iOS App Store Content Rules, by Natasha Lomas, TechCrunch

It’s not entirely clear what the problem is. But, responding to a Twitter user’s question about why both its iOS apps are AWOL, Telegram founder Pavel Durov tweeted that it relates to “inappropriate content”.

“We were alerted by Apple that inappropriate content was made available to our users and both apps were taken off the App Store. Once we have protections in place we expect the apps to be back on the App Store,” he wrote.

Notes

A Eulogy For The Headphone Jack, by Charlie Hoey, Medium

I don’t know exactly how losing direct access to our signals will harm us, but doesn’t it feel like it’s going to somehow? Like we may get so far removed from how our devices work, by licenses and DRM, dongles and adapters that we no longer even want to understand them? There’s beauty in the transformation of sound waves to electricity through a microphone, and then from electricity back to sound again through a speaker coil. It is pleasant to understand. Compare that to understanding, say, the latest BlueTooth API. One’s an arbitrary and fleeting manmade abstraction, the other a mysterious and dazzlingly convenient property of the natural world.

Bottom of the Page

Oh dear. Another visit to Kindle's Book Deals, just to take a peek. And now there is one more book in my going-to-read queue.

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Apple's iBook Store is still not available in Singaore.

Amazon's Kindle hardware is still not available in Singapore.

It's true, after all. Singapore is not a book-loving nation.

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So, I've more-or-less migrated to digital for my book-reading entertainment. E-books and audiobooks fill my days and nights.

Except for comics, I guess.

So, I've (finally) bought two books that I've heard so many good things about: The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye, and Watchmen.

These... er... things do not have pinch-to-zoom. I hope my tired eyes don't fail me in the coming days and nights.

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Thanks for reading.