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CDC gets list of forbidden words: fetus, transgender, diversity - The Washington Post
Lena H. Sun and Juliet Eilperin, reporting for The Washington Post:

The Trump administration is prohibiting officials at the nation’s top public health agency from using a list of seven words or phrases — including “fetus” and “transgender” — in any official documents being prepared for next year’s budget.

Policy analysts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta were told of the list of forbidden words at a meeting Thursday with senior CDC officials who oversee the budget, according to an analyst who took part in the 90-minute briefing. The forbidden words are “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based.”

In some instances, the analysts were given alternative phrases. Instead of “science-based” or “evidence-based,” the suggested phrase is “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes,” the person said. In other cases, no replacement words were immediately offered.

That evidence and science are dirty words to these shitheads tells you everything you need to know about them. This is pre-Enlightenment bullshit. 300 years later and it’s still a fight to argue that reason, science, and tolerance should guide us. I said it a year ago and it stands today: Trump voters are ignoramuses, bigots, and/or fools.

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2 days ago by rufous
China's Top Phone Makers Poised to Challenge Apple on Home Turf - Bloomberg
Headline for a Bloomberg report by Mark Gurman, Yuan Gao, Scott Moritz, and Selina Wang, “China’s Top Phone Makers Poised to Challenge Apple on Home Turf”:

China’s top smartphone makers are ready to challenge Apple Inc. on its home turf after trouncing the iPhone maker in their own market.

Huawei Technologies Co. and Xiaomi Corp. are in talks with U.S. wireless operators about selling flagship smartphones to American consumers as soon as next year, according to people familiar with the matter. The handset makers are negotiating with carriers including AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc., said the people, asking not to be identified because the matter is private. Talks are still fluid and it’s possible no agreements will materialize, they said.

Apple only competes in the high end of the market in the U.S. This entire article compares these companies only by “market share”, which is never a good way to evaluate Apple’s success. The idea that phones sold in the U.S. from Huawei and Xiaomi are going to be targeted at Apple is highly questionable.

It seems more likely that if Huawei and/or Xiaomi were to achieve any sort of success here in the U.S., it would come at the expense of Samsung, which has phones that run the gamut from high-end to low-end. And though Apple’s sales in China have indeed waned in the last few years, the iPhone X seems poised to turn that around — not by market share, of course, but by capturing a larger share of the premium market. The company that is truly getting “trounced” — to use Bloomberg’s terms — in China is Samsung, which is a non-player in China.

Apple has a lot at stake in the U.S., where it is the leading smartphone maker. In years past, it’s been insulated from competition by strong support from carriers, which used to subsidize its expensive iPhones and lowered the upfront price for customers. These subsidies or discounts have gone away, as carriers moved to phone financing that spreads costs over two years.

The idea that Apple was “insulated from competition” in the U.S. has got to be a joke. It’s not like carrier subsidies only applied to iPhones. They applied to all phones, from all handset makers. Verizon and AT&T spent untold millions trying to prop up BlackBerry and Motorola as alternatives to the iPhone.

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2 days ago by rufous
Vector: 037: MarsEdit, with Daniel Jalkut and John Gruber
Vector episode 37:

Rene speaks with MarsEdit developer, Daniel Jalkut, and John Gruber of Daring Fireball about the history and release of MarsEdit 4, blogging tools, the Mac App Store, and more.

Much fun talking about one of my most-used and most-loved apps.

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2 days ago by rufous
Exclusive interview: Apple’s Phil Schiller on how the iPhone X 'seemed impossible at the start' | T3
Phil Schiller on the development of the iPhone X, in a wide-ranging interview with Dan Grabham for T3:

At the time, at the beginning, it seemed almost impossible. Not just almost. It seemed impossible. And to pull off what feels impossible and make it possible — and not only that, but just something we love using — is just a great achievement.

“Clearly there was a point in the process where we had to commit to the fact that it would be a full top-to-bottom screen on the front with no home button, which means you’re counting on Face ID working as we’d hope, and being as good.

That’s an exciting moment, when you have to sort of… the old saying: ‘Burn the boats. Leave the past behind, and commit.’ Knowing that the team was willing to make that gamble was a key point early enough in the process.

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5 days ago by rufous
Cabel Sasser on Twitter: "⚠️ iMac Pro Alert! Apple (amazingly/unprecedentedly?) provided me with a loaner iMac Pro a few days ago to check out, and in turn, I'm very… https://t.co/os6SCdYuDU"
Speaking of Twitter threads, here’s a short one from Cabel Sasser, after a few days with the iMac Pro:

Games. Fired up the ol’ Firewatch, to test the iMac Pro (Radeon Pro Vega 64) vs. my current Retina 5K iMac (Radeon R9 M295X). At 2560 × 1440, the iMac topped out at 25 FPS, the iMac Pro at 62 FPS (!).

You have to love the black Lightning cable.

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5 days ago by rufous
Nice Threads
Sasank Reddy, product manager at Twitter:

Now, hundreds of thousands of threads are Tweeted every day! But this method of Tweeting, while effective and popular, can be tricky for some to create and it’s often tough to read or discover all the Tweets in a thread. That’s why we’re thrilled to share that we’re making it simpler to thread Tweets together, and to find threads, so it’s easier to express yourself on Twitter and stay informed.

We’ve made it easy to create a thread by adding a plus button in the composer, so you can connect your thoughts and publish your threaded Tweets all at the same time. You can continue adding more Tweets to your published thread at any time with the new “Add another Tweet” button. Additionally, it’s now simpler to spot a thread — we’ve added an obvious “Show this thread” label.

This is a good idea. People are creating threads without official support, so true support can only make it better. This sounds like it’ll be easier to create threads, and — importantly — it will be easier to ignore threads you’re not interested in.

I think this is a much better idea than increasing the character limit per tweet to 280, but one month into 280 Twitter, I have to say I don’t mind it much.

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5 days ago by rufous
iMac Pro: 1 Week Impressions! - YouTube
Marques Brownlee’s “one week with the iMac Pro” video. Really does seem like everything we were hoping for, including the fact that it runs quietly.

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5 days ago by rufous
2017 iMac Pro Review
Craig Hunter:

When you get into an intense development or debug cycle that involves a lot of compiles, saving fractions of seconds here and there adds up and can give you extra hours in a day. This is one area where the 10-core iMac Pro shines when combined with Xcode’s ability to automatically take advantage of multiple cores to compile multiple source files simultaneously.

Most of my apps have around 20,000-30,000 lines of code spread out over 80-120 source files (mostly Obj-C and C with a teeny amount of Swift mixed in). There are so many variables that go into compile performance that it’s hard to come up with a benchmark that is universally relevant, so I’ll simply note that I saw reductions in compile time of between 30-60% while working on apps when I compared the iMac Pro to my 2016 MacBook Pro and 2013 iMac. If you’re developing for iOS you’ll still be subject to the bottleneck of installing and launching an app on the simulator or a device, but when developing for the Mac this makes a pretty noticeable improvement in repetitive code-compile-test cycles.

Hunter also has some impressive benchmarks from his work in aerospace engineering.

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5 days ago by rufous
Apple’s new iMacPro has an impressive 200%-300% speed bump. « Vincent Laforet's Blog
Photographer/filmmaker Vincent Laforet, after a week with the upcoming iMac Pro:

Last week I received a pelican case from Apple with a very special Mac inside of it… It was an iMac Pro configured as a 10 Core 3GHZ Intel Xeon W, 2TB SSD, 128 GB RAM, Vega 64 Radeon.

After unpacking the (to be expected) beautiful Space Grey hardware, keyboard, mouse and trackpad, it was time to get down to the brass tacks, I had ONE question that I needed to answer: how fast is this thing, and how much time will it save me in my everyday imaging tasks?

I found a very consistent set of results: a 2X to 3X boost in speed (relative to my current iMac and MacBook Pro 15”) a noticeable leap from most generational jumps that are generally ten times smaller.

Whether you’re editing 8K RED video, H.264 4K Drone footage, 6K 3D VR content or 50 Megapixel RAW stills — you can expect a 200-300% increase in performance in almost every industry leading software with the iMac Pro.

I’ve seldom seen a jump this dramatic before on any new generation of Macs — 20%-30% speed increases are the norm … NOT 200%-300% increases. That’s SIGNIFICANT.

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5 days ago by rufous
Apple Opens App Pre-Orders to All Developers – MacStories
Federico Viticci, writing for MacStories:

You may recall that when Super Mario Run was announced in 2016, customers could request notification of its release, which was a first at the time on the App Store. Now, all developers can do something similar by offering their apps for pre-order.

Nice touch: it’s available for all platforms, not just iOS.

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6 days ago by rufous
Former Facebook exec says social media is ripping apart society - The Verge
James Vincent, writing for The Verge:

Another former Facebook executive has spoken out about the harm the social network is doing to civil society around the world. Chamath Palihapitiya, who joined Facebook in 2007 and became its vice president for user growth, said he feels “tremendous guilt” about the company he helped make. “I think we have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works,” he told an audience at Stanford Graduate School of Business, before recommending people take a “hard break” from social media. […]

He went on to describe an incident in India where hoax messages about kidnappings shared on WhatsApp led to the lynching of seven innocent people. “That’s what we’re dealing with,” said Palihapitiya. “And imagine taking that to the extreme, where bad actors can now manipulate large swathes of people to do anything you want. It’s just a really, really bad state of affairs.” He says he tries to use Facebook as little as possible, and that his children “aren’t allowed to use that shit.” He later adds, though, that he believes the company “overwhelmingly does good in the world.”

These former Facebook executives coming out against Facebook remind me of former NFL players who won’t allow their own kids to play football.

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6 days ago by rufous
Apple's Ive Regains Management of Design Team After 2 Years - Bloomberg
Mark Gurman and Alex Webb, reporting for Bloomberg:

Apple Inc.’s Jony Ive, a key executive credited with the look of many of the company’s most popular products, has re-taken direct management of product design teams.

Ive, 50, was named Apple’s chief design officer in 2015 and subsequently handed off some day-to-day management responsibility while the iPhone maker was building its new Apple Park headquarters in Cupertino, California. “With the completion of Apple Park, Apple’s design leaders and teams are again reporting directly to Jony Ive, who remains focused purely on design,” Amy Bessette, a company spokeswoman, said Friday in a statement.

I can’t decide if this is actually news. It was public knowledge that Ive was spending a lot (most?) of time on Apple Park and other architectural projects (retail), but that obviously wasn’t going to last forever. I suppose it’s news, though, insofar as there was some speculation that he had one foot out the door. This should put an end to that.

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9 days ago by rufous
Sources: Apple is acquiring music recognition app Shazam | TechCrunch
Ingrid Lunden, reporting for TechCrunch:

As Spotify continues to inch towards a public listing, Apple is making a move of its own to step up its game in music services. Sources tell us that the company is close to acquiring Shazam, the popular app that lets people identify any song, TV show, film or advert in seconds, by listening to an audio clip or (in the case of, say, an ad) a visual fragment, and then takes you to content relevant to that search.

We have heard that the deal is being signed this week, and will be announced on Monday, although that could always change.

One source describes the deal as in the nine figures; another puts it at around £300 million ($401 million). We are still asking around. Notably, though, both of the numbers we’ve heard are lower than the $1.02 billion (according to PitchBook) post-money valuation the company had in its last funding round, in 2015.

I wonder if they’ll keep it as a standalone app (and will they keep the Android version?), or if they’ll just roll it into Siri.

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9 days ago by rufous
Trump admin scraps Obama-era proposal requiring airlines to disclose bag fees | TheHill
Melanie Zanona, reporting for The Hill:

The Trump administration has scrapped an Obama-era proposal requiring airlines and ticket agencies to disclose baggage fees as soon as passengers start the process of buying a ticket.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) posted a notice on the Federal Register this week that it is withdrawing the proposed rule, along with another plan to force air carriers to disclose how much revenue they make from charging other ancillary fees.

What is wrong with these people? Who, other than airline beancounters, thinks scrapping this regulation is a good idea?

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9 days ago by rufous
Zero-day iOS HomeKit vulnerability allowed remote access to smart accessories including locks, fix rolling out | 9to5Mac
Zac Hall, reporting for 9to5Mac:

A HomeKit vulnerability in the current version of iOS 11.2 has been demonstrated to 9to5Mac that allows unauthorized control of accessories including smart locks and garage door openers. Our understanding is Apple has rolled out a server-side fix that now prevent unauthorized access from occurring while limiting some functionality, and an update to iOS 11.2 coming next week will restore that full functionality.

The vulnerability, which we won’t describe in detail and was difficult to reproduce, allowed unauthorized control of HomeKit-connected accessories including smart lights, thermostats, and plugs.

The most serious ramification of this vulnerability prior to the fix is unauthorized remote control of smart locks and connected garage door openers, the former of which was demonstrated to 9to5Mac.

Fast response from Apple, and responsible reporting by Hall and 9to5Mac.

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9 days ago by rufous
iPhone models dominate Flickr’s list of most popular cameras in 2017 with 54% of top 100 devices | TechCrunch
Sarah Perez, writing for TechCrunch:

This year, iPhone has scored the majority (54%) of usage on Flickr’s site, up from 47 percent of the top 100 in 2016, and 42 percent the year prior. The iPhone also passed Nikon to score the spot as the second-most popular camera back in 2014.

Nikon was the third most popular brand with 18 percent in 2017, and Canon was number two, responsible for 23 percent of the top 100 devices.

The iPhone is so popular as a camera that its share on Flickr now exceeds all Canon and Nikon cameras combined.

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10 days ago by rufous
Google's AlphaZero Destroys Stockfish In 100-Game Match - Chess.com
Mike Klein, reporting for Chess.com:

A little more than a year after AlphaGo sensationally won against the top Go player, the artificial-intelligence program AlphaZero has obliterated the highest-rated chess engine.

Stockfish, which for most top players is their go-to preparation tool, and which won the 2016 TCEC Championship and the 2017 Chess.com Computer Chess Championship, didn’t stand a chance. AlphaZero won the closed-door, 100-game match with 28 wins, 72 draws, and zero losses.

Oh, and it took AlphaZero only four hours to “learn” chess. Sorry humans, you had a good run.

That’s right — the programmers of AlphaZero, housed within the DeepMind division of Google, had it use a type of “machine learning,” specifically reinforcement learning. Put more plainly, AlphaZero was not “taught” the game in the traditional sense. That means no opening book, no endgame tables, and apparently no complicated algorithms dissecting minute differences between center pawns and side pawns.

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11 days ago by rufous
Forecast: Podcast MP3 Chapter Encoder — Overcast
Marco Arment has released a public beta of Forecast, a Mac app for podcast producers. Among a slew of other great features, Forecast is hands-down the best MP3 chapter editor I’ve seen. If you’ve noticed the chapter support in The Talk Show that started earlier this year, that’s thanks to Forecast. Forecast is free of charge, too.

See also: Jason Snell’s review of Forecast at Six Colors:

There’s also a perceptual trick that Forecast uses to make encoding seem quick: When you add a file to be encoded, encoding begins immediately in the background. By the time you edit your file’s metadata, the encode may have already completed in the background. The first time I used Forecast, I thought something had gone wrong — because when I typed Command-S to save the file, it just saved. There was no wait. The file had already encoded — it was waiting for me, the slow human, to finish typing in episode titles and show descriptions.

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11 days ago by rufous
The case against building an iOS laptop—and why it might happen anyway | Macworld
Jason Snell, writing for Macworld:

Which is why, when someone tells me that it’s stupid for there to be an iOS laptop because it wouldn’t run Xcode and couldn’t be used by professional developers or pro video editors or power users who have spent a decade building up productivity-boosting workflows based on macOS, I don’t have much of a response for them. The iBook wouldn’t be for those people. It would be for people who don’t need all of the features and flexibility that macOS brings. It would be one in an array of products Apple makes — iPhones, iPads, desktop Macs, laptop Macs — that appeal to different users with different needs.

There are simply some use cases where a laptop is the best form factor. An iPad with a keyboard cover is laptop-ish, but not a laptop. If you prefer to use iOS in a scenario that calls for a laptop, you’re stuck between making a go of it with an iPad with a keyboard, or using a proper laptop and another OS.

You could throw this right back at me — and my firmly held belief that MacOS should not support touchscreens — and point out that there are other scenarios where a tablet is the best form factor, and if you prefer MacOS, there therefore ought to be a Mac tablet. I don’t think that argument holds, though. The difference is that I think iOS could work in a laptop form factor (especially if Apple added support for a trackpad, in ways like Snell suggests, but even if they don’t), whereas the Mac interface as it stands would not work well with touch, and changing the Mac interface to work well with touch would (I say) ruin it for use with a mouse pointer.

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11 days ago by rufous
HP, Asus announce first Windows 10 ARM PCs: 20 hour battery life, gigabit LTE | Ars Technica
Peter Bright, writing for Ars Technica:

This ability to upgrade is particularly important because the new Always Connected PCs are different from Microsoft’s previous Windows-on-ARM attempt, Windows RT. Windows RT was a version of Windows 8 for ARM processors, and it too could only run applications from what was then called the Windows Store. But Windows RT had two constraints not found on these new systems: there was no facility to unlock it, and run non-Store apps, and there was no facility to run existing x86 programs. On Windows RT, not only did software have to come from the Store, it also had to be compiled specifically for ARM processors.

That’s not so with Always Connected PCs. They contain an x86 emulator that will enable most 32-bit x86 applications to run unmodified. This includes x86 applications in the Store and, when upgraded to the full Windows 10 Pro, arbitrary desktop applications. Full details of the x86 emulator haven’t been disclosed yet, with the performance in particular currently unknown, but we do know some broad elements of its design.

The emulator runs in a just-in-time basis, converting blocks of x86 code to equivalent blocks of ARM code. This conversion is cached both in memory (so each given part of a program only has to be translated once per run) and on disk (so subsequent uses of the program should be faster, as they can skip the translation). Moreover, system libraries — the various DLLs that applications load to make use of operating system features — are all native ARM code, including the libraries loaded by x86 programs. Calling them “Compiled Hybrid Portable Executables” (or “chippie” for short), these libraries are ARM native code, compiled in such a way as to let them respond to x86 function calls.

A few years ago I would have wagered a small sum on Apple shipping ARM-based Macs before ARM-based Windows PCs arrived. (It could still happen, I suppose, given that these PCs aren’t set to arrive until spring.) What’s interesting to me is that these ARM CPUs are fast enough to emulate x86 software. If that’s true for a Snapdragon CPU, then Apple’s even-faster ARM chips are certainly more than capable of doing the same.

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11 days ago by rufous

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