rufous + via:daringfireball   4265

Opinion | Am I Going Blind? - The New York Times
Frank Bruni:

They say that death comes like a thief in the night. Lesser vandals have the same M.O. The affliction that stole my vision, or at least a big chunk of it, did so as I slept. I went to bed seeing the world one way. I woke up seeing it another.

This was about four months ago, though it feels like an eternity. So much has happened since. I don’t mean all the tests and procedures: the vials upon vials of blood; the mapping of major arteries in my neck; the imaging of tiny vessels in my brain; the first injection of an experimental treatment (or, maybe, a placebo) into my right, dominant eye, where the damage occurred; then the second injection; and then, last week, the third.

I mean the rest of it. I went to bed believing that I was more or less in control — that the unfinished business, unrealized dreams and other disappointments in my life were essentially failures of industry and imagination, and could probably be redeemed with a fierce enough effort. I woke up to the realization of how ludicrous that was.

Bruni’s issues are far worse than I what I’ve been through, but this really hit home for me.

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10 hours ago by rufous
Why Can Everyone Spot Fake News But The Tech Companies?
Charlie Warzel, writing for BuzzFeed:

The companies ask that we take them at their word: We’re trying, but this is hard — we can’t fix this overnight. OK, we get it. But if the tech giants aren’t finding the same misinformation that observers armed with nothing more sophisticated than access to a search bar are in the aftermath of these events, there’s really only one explanation for it: If they can’t see it, they aren’t truly looking.

How hard would it be, for example, to have a team in place reserved exclusively for large-scale breaking news events to do what outside observers have been doing: scan and monitor for clearly misleading conspiratorial content inside its top searches and trending modules?

It’s not a foolproof solution. But it’s something.

It’s the same reason why Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are overrun with state-backed troll accounts from Russia. Engagement leads to growth, growth is all that matters, and if the trolls and fake news are engaging, better not to look for them. The oft-quoted Upton Sinclair quote fits perfectly: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

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10 hours ago by rufous
Aura - Alastair’s Place
Alastair Houghton on the story behind Aura, a new utility he’s just released that allows any Mac to output 5.1 surround sound. Long story short, he spent a year working on it but was on the cusp of shelving it, unreleased, due to licensing problems. It was saved only through serendipity. I don’t want to say any more — it’s a great story.

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yesterday by rufous
Meet Dorsen, 8, who mines cobalt to make your smartphone work
Alex Crawford, reporting for Sky News:

At one cobalt mine, children toiled in the drenching rain carrying huge sacks of the mineral.

Dorsen, eight, had no shoes and told us he hadn’t made enough money to eat for the past two days - despite working for about 12 hours a day. His friend Richard, 11, talked about how his whole body ached every day from the tough physical work. […]

The mine tunnels are dug by hand by miners who have no protective equipment. The tunnels have no supports and are prone to collapse, especially in the rain.

There are thousands of unofficial, unregulated, unmonitored mines where men, women and children work in what can only be described as slave conditions. In one group, we found a circle of children with a four-year-old girl picking out cobalt stones.

Perhaps Apple’s rumored decision to begin buying cobalt directly is less about operational strategy and more about humanitarian concerns.

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yesterday by rufous
Soderbergh's thriller shot on iPhone premieres in Berlin | Reuters
Reuters:

Soderbergh said the overall experience of making a film on an iPhone was good, although there were some drawbacks such as the phone being very sensitive to vibrations.

“I have to say the positives for me really were significant and it’s going to be tricky to go back to a more conventional way of shooting,” he said.

Not having to make a hole in a wall or secure a camera to the ceiling are big advantages, as is being able to go straight from watching a rehearsal to shooting, Soderbergh said.

Putting this in a bit of context: the original iPhone didn’t even shoot video.

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yesterday by rufous
The #1 reason Facebook won’t ever change – Om Malik
Om Malik:

Google’s core DNA is search and engineering, though some would say engineering that is driven by the economics of search, which makes it hard for the company to see the world through any other lens. Apple’s lens is that of product, design, and experience. This allows it to make great phones and to put emphasis on privacy, but makes it hard for them to build data-informed services.

Facebook’s DNA is that of a social platform addicted to growth and engagement. At its very core, every policy, every decision, every strategy is based on growth (at any cost) and engagement (at any cost). More growth and more engagement means more data — which means the company can make more advertising dollars, which gives it a nosebleed valuation on the stock market, which in turn allows it to remain competitive and stay ahead of its rivals.

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yesterday by rufous
Gun Rights, ‘Positive Good’ and the Evolution of Mutually Assured Massacre – Talking Points Memo
Must-read column by Josh Marshall on how the false notion that more guns make us safer — which has now come to the absurd point where the president of the United States is endorsing the notion of arming schoolteachers — came to be.

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yesterday by rufous
Hey, things:/// - Things Blog - Cultured Code
Cultured Code:

Things now supports a special kind of link (or URL) that starts
with “things:”. These links are just like the ones you use every
day on the web, except they allow you to send a variety of
commands to Things.

Here’s an example: . Tapping this link will
open Things and tell it to show your Today list. Try it now if you
already have Things 3.4 installed.

This is pretty neat, and they’ve gone out of their way to make these URLs easy to create and understand, with a nifty helper tool and ample documentation.

And this is in addition to solid AppleScript support on the Mac, which I think Things has had for years. But there is no AppleScript on iOS, so for cross-platform automation, these URLs are an interesting alternative.

The Omni Group has gone even further, creating their own JavaScript-based automation system that works on both Mac and iOS.

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yesterday by rufous
The AR-15 Is Different: What I Learned Treating Parkland Victims - The Atlantic
Radiologist Heather Sher, writing for The Atlantic:

In a typical handgun injury that I diagnose almost daily, a bullet leaves a laceration through an organ like the liver. To a radiologist, it appears as a linear, thin, grey bullet track through the organ. There may be bleeding and some bullet fragments.

I was looking at a CT scan of one of the victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, who had been brought to the trauma center during my call shift. The organ looked like an overripe melon smashed by a sledgehammer, with extensive bleeding. How could a gunshot wound have caused this much damage?

The reaction in the emergency room was the same. One of the trauma surgeons opened a young victim in the operating room, and found only shreds of the organ that had been hit by a bullet from an AR-15, a semi-automatic rifle which delivers a devastatingly lethal, high-velocity bullet to the victim. There was nothing left to repair, and utterly, devastatingly, nothing that could be done to fix the problem. The injury was fatal.

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yesterday by rufous
www.washingtonpost.com
Alexandra Petri, in an op-ed for The Washington Post:

There are certain sorts of people whom we once thought we should give respect and space to. Gold Star mothers. Gold Star fathers. The victims of unthinkable tragedies, in the few days after those tragedies. But that was when they had the grace to be silent and let us determine, for ourselves, the moral of what they had lived through. That was when they did not demand that we take responsibility.

Now, if you don’t want to hear from any more high schoolers traumatized by gun violence, then you either decide to try to create a world where high schoolers are not traumatized by gun violence, or decide to create a world where you do not have to listen to the high schoolers. It looks like we’re picking the latter!

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yesterday by rufous
The Life and Death of Twitter for Mac - YouTube
Rene Ritchie had me and a few special guests on his show to talk about the late great Twitter for Mac. Forget about the fact that I’m on it — I’m really intrigued by what Rene is doing with this show and the video format.

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yesterday by rufous
Apple in Talks to Buy Cobalt Directly From Miners - Bloomberg
Jack Farchy and Mark Gurman, reporting for Bloomberg:

Apple Inc. is in talks to buy long-term supplies of cobalt directly from miners for the first time, according to people familiar with the matter, seeking to ensure it will have enough of the key battery ingredient amid industry fears of a shortage driven by the electric vehicle boom.

The iPhone maker is one of the world’s largest end users of cobalt for the batteries in its gadgets, but until now it has left the business of buying the metal to the companies that make its batteries.

I am assuming this just means Apple is buying out/taking over an existing cobalt brokerage or two, just to have total control over the whole process, as opposed to sending Jeff Williams out to the mines with suitcases full of cash.

But this idea feels very Apple-y: one of the keys of the Cook/Williams operational success has been staying a few years ahead of the curve for in-demand resources, like the deal they made to secure ample supply of flash storage back in 2005, which they announced just weeks after Apple unveiled the first iPod that used flash storage instead of a hard drive.

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2 days ago by rufous
Inside The Federal Bureau Of Way Too Many Guns | GQ
Jeanne Marie Laskas, writing for GQ in 2016:

“It’s a shoestring budget,” says Charlie, who runs the center. “It’s not 10,000 agents and a big sophisticated place. It’s a bunch of friggin’ boxes. All half-ass records. We have about 50 ATF employees. And all the rest are basically the ladies. The ladies that live in West Virginia — and they got a job. There’s a huge amount of labor being put into looking through microfilm.”

I want to ask about the microfilm — microfilm? — but it’s hard to get a word in. He’s already gone three rounds on the whiteboard, scribbling, erasing, illustrating some of the finer points of gun tracing, of which there are many, in large part due to the limitations imposed upon this place. For example, no computer. The National Tracing Center is not allowed to have centralized computer data.

“That’s the big no-no,” says Charlie.

That’s been a federal law, thanks to the NRA, since 1986: No searchable database of America’s gun owners. So people here have to use paper, sort through enormous stacks of forms and record books that gun stores are required to keep and to eventually turn over to the feds when requested. It’s kind of like a library in the old days — but without the card catalog. They can use pictures of paper, like microfilm (they recently got the go-ahead to convert the microfilm to PDFs), as long as the pictures of paper are not searchable. You have to flip through and read. No searching by gun owner. No searching by name.

The legislation that keeps the ATF from computerizing these records is lunacy, based entirely on the fever dream that such a database would lead to mass confiscation.

See also: Guns Found Here, a bracing, compelling 10-minute short from MEL Films that really hammers home how insane the constraints on the ATF National Trace Center are. All they’re trying to do is help law enforcement solve gun crimes and they’re forced to do it in the most inefficient way possible.

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2 days ago by rufous
the economist
The Economist:

It is impossible to say whether erasing the Second Amendment would bring down gun deaths in America. But this is an academic query: changes to the constitution require the unlikely assent of two-thirds majorities in the House and Senate and three-quarters of the states. The better question is whether repealing the amendment is a must for pursuing gun control. It is not. The Heller majority opinion did not, in the words of its author, the late Justice Antonin Scalia, secure an “unlimited” right to buy or carry weapons. The Second Amendment would not, for example, scuttle bans on concealed weapons or machine guns. And Justice Scalia emphasised that nothing in Heller “should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings”. Nearly every gun regulation under discussion today — from expanded background checks to bans on military-style weapons — would seem to pass constitutional muster.

It’s remarkable how effective the NRA has been at convincing people that the 2nd Amendment means something that it does not. We almost certainly cannot repeal the 2nd Amendment in the foreseeable future, but we absolutely can pass meaningful new gun regulations with the 2nd Amendment in place.

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2 days ago by rufous
Why Apple Is The World’s Most Innovative Company
Robert Safian, interviewing Tim Cook for Fast Company after the magazine named Apple the world’s most innovative company:

Fast Company: What makes a good year for Apple? Is it the new hit products? The stock price?

Tim Cook: Stock price is a result, not an achievement by itself. For me, it’s about products and people. Did we make the best product, and did we enrich people’s lives? If you’re doing both of those things–and obviously those things are incredibly connected because one leads to the other — then you have a good year.

FC: Do you look back at some years and say, Oh, that was a good year, that year wasn’t as good?

TC: I’ve only had good years. No, seriously. Even when we were idling from a revenue point of view–it was like $6 billion every year–those were some incredibly good years because you could begin to feel the pipeline getting better, and you could see it internally. Externally, people couldn’t see that.

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2 days ago by rufous
Apple Maps vs. Google Maps vs. Waze – arturrr
Artur Grabowski (no relation, presumably, to [Steve]):

In early 2017, a conversation with yet another Waze fanboy finally nudged me to start a navigation app experiment. I was skeptical that the Alphabet owned company could meaningfully best its parent’s home grown Google Maps. I was also curious whether Apple Maps had discovered competence since its iOS 6 release.

I thus set out to answer three questions:

Which navigation app estimates the shortest travel time?

How does each app over/underestimate travel times?

Which navigation app actually gets you to your destination most quickly?

This whole comparison was interesting, but particularly interesting to me was that Apple Maps was the only one of the three to under-promise and over-deliver on estimated time.

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2 days ago by rufous
Gingrich says arming teachers only long-term solution to school shootings | TheHill
This is fucking insane:

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) on Tuesday argued that the only long-term solution to school shootings is to train teachers and administrators in the use of guns.

Gingrich offered the remarks in an interview on “Fox & Friends.”

“I think the only long-term solution, depending on the size of the school, is a minimum of six to eight teachers and administrators who are trained in the use of firearms and have conceal carry permits and are prepared to defend the kids,” said Gingrich, a Fox News contributor and former CNN “Crossfire” co-host.

It’s funny when an Onion story on five-blade razor cartridges becomes a real product just a few years later. It’s fucking insane when an Onion story on arming schoolteachers becomes a Republican talking point just a few years later.

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3 days ago by rufous
Switzerland makes it illegal to boil a live lobster
Jason Kottke:

Come March 1, it will be illegal to throw a lobster into a pot of boiling water. Chefs and home cooks alike will need to quickly kill the lobster first and then cook it. […]

But really, this is just an excuse to revisit a sublime piece of journalism that David Foster Wallace wrote in 2004 for Gourmet magazine called Consider the Lobster (later collected in a book of the same name). In it, Wallace travels to the Maine Lobster Festival and comes away asking similar questions that the Swiss had in formulating their law.

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3 days ago by rufous
Welcome to Azure China 21Vianet | Microsoft Docs
Microsoft:

Microsoft Azure operated by 21Vianet (Azure China 21Vianet) is a physically separated instance of cloud services located in mainland China, independently operated and transacted by Shanghai Blue Cloud Technology Co., Ltd. (“21Vianet”), a wholly owned subsidiary of Beijing 21Vianet Broadband Data Center Co., Ltd.

The services are based on the same Azure, Microsoft Office 365, and Microsoft Power BI technologies that make up the Microsoft global cloud service with comparable service levels. Agreements and contracts for Microsoft Azure in China, where applicable, are signed between customers and 21Vianet.

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3 days ago by rufous
What to do with a problem like Nikkei Asian Review? | Philip Elmer‑DeWitt
Philip Elmer‑DeWitt:

But I know a dog whistle when I hear it, and in the Nikkei stories below the verb “to slash” — to cut with a violent sweeping motion — is code for Apple is doomed.

Jan. 29: Apple will slash its production target for the iPhone X

Feb. 16: OLED panel glut looms as Apple slashes iPhone X production

Feb. 20: Samsung to slash OLED panel output as iPhone X slumps

Here’s the thing about a verb like that: It’s almost irresistible. Here are a few reporters who couldn’t resist.

As Elmer-DeWitt points out, kudos to Jack Purcher at Patently Apple for pushing back on this.

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3 days ago by rufous
How Apple is paving the way to a ‘cloud dictatorship’ in China | Hong Kong Free Press HKFP
Lo Shih-hung, writing for The Hong Kong Free Press:

The US-based global tech giant Apple Inc. is set to hand over the operation of its iCloud data center in mainland China to a local corporation called Guizhou-Cloud Big Data (GCBD) by February 28, 2018. When this transition happens, the local company will become responsible for handling the legal and financial relationship between Apple and China’s iCloud users. After the transition takes place, the role of Apple will restricted to an investment of US one billion dollars, for the construction of a data center in Guiyang, and for providing technical support to the center, in the interest of preserving data security. […]

Apple Inc. has not explained the real issue, which is that a state-owned big data company controlled by the Chinese government will have access to all the data of its iCloud service users in China. This will allow the capricious state apparatus to jump into the cloud and look into the data of Apple’s Chinese users.

I wish that Apple would provide a definitive list of all types of data that goes through iCloud, showing what is end-to-end encrypted (iMessage and FaceTime?) and what is not. This whole situations reeks to high hell, but I don’t know what Apple could do other than pull out of the Chinese market entirely.

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4 days ago by rufous
The Talk Show ✪: Ep. 215, With Special Guest Marco Arment
Special guest Marco Arment returns to the show for a brief discussion. Topics include Apple’s OS development strategy, HomePod and Siri, the sad state of Apple TV apps, where to get a good cheesesteak, and more.

Brought to you by these fine sponsors:

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5 days ago by rufous
Twitter Support on Twitter: "For the full Twitter experience on Mac, visit Twitter on web. 👉 https://t.co/fuPJa3nVky"
Twitter:

We’re focusing our efforts on a great Twitter experience that’s consistent across platforms. So, starting today the Twitter for Mac app will no longer be available for download, and in 30 days will no longer be supported.

For the full Twitter experience on Mac, visit Twitter on web.

It’s hard to overstate just how great a native Mac experience Twitter owned when they acqui-hired Tweetie and Loren Brichter. It was pure Twitter and pure forward-thinking Mac UI. Now, Mac users get the same first-party experience that everyone gets on any other platform.

Twitter dumped Tweetie’s codebase years ago, of course, and their Mac app has been garbage ever since they did. It’s all fine, really, so long as they continue to allow third-party clients like Tweetbot and Twitterrific to exist. But this “Mac users should just use the website” attitude is exactly what I was talking about here as an existential threat to the future of the Mac.

People choose the Mac because they want the best experience — not the same experience they can get on a $200 Chromebook.

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7 days ago by rufous
Versus is back, and we are kicking it off with iPhone X vs. Pixel 2 | The Verge
Such a gimmicky gimmick, yes, but Lauren Goode does this so fucking well. I just love it. Technically it’s pretty darn good, but substantially it’s downright amazing: she makes wonderfully accurate cases for both phones.

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7 days ago by rufous
How the NRA Rewrote the Second Amendment - POLITICO Magazine
Michael Waldman, writing for Politico in 2014:

From 1888, when law review articles first were indexed, through 1959, every single one on the Second Amendment concluded it did not guarantee an individual right to a gun. The first to argue otherwise, written by a William and Mary law student named Stuart R. Hays, appeared in 1960. He began by citing an article in the NRA’s American Rifleman magazine and argued that the amendment enforced a “right of revolution,” of which the Southern states availed themselves during what the author called “The War Between the States.”

At first, only a few articles echoed that view. Then, starting in the late 1970s, a squad of attorneys and professors began to churn out law review submissions, dozens of them, at a prodigious rate. Funds — much of them from the NRA — flowed freely. An essay contest, grants to write book reviews, the creation of “Academics for the Second Amendment,” all followed. In 2003, the NRA Foundation provided $1 million to endow the Patrick Henry professorship in constitutional law and the Second Amendment at George Mason University Law School.

This fusillade of scholarship and pseudo-scholarship insisted that the traditional view — shared by courts and historians — was wrong. There had been a colossal constitutional mistake. Two centuries of legal consensus, they argued, must be overturned.

We don’t need to repeal the 2nd Amendment — although I think we should, insofar as it is inexplicably ambiguously written and punctuated — we just need to flip the Supreme Court to interpret it as it had been from 1789 through 2008.

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7 days ago by rufous
Paul Ryan: No 'knee jerk' reactions on guns. Ever.
These mass shootings in the U.S. are like a perverse version of Groundhog Day. Republicans say the exact same things in response, every time, as though it’s the first time.

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7 days ago by rufous
Guess What? Sonos One Speakers Also Damage Wood
Mike Prospero, writing for Tom’s Guide:

When I got home, I saw a large white ring, a telltale indication that the HomePod’s silicone base had messed up the finish. But, as I was inspecting the damage, I noticed a series of smaller white marks near where the HomePod was sitting.

A closer inspection revealed that the Sonos One speaker, which also has small silicone feet, had made these marks on my cabinet. Looking around the top of the cabinet, I noticed a bunch of little white marks, all left from the Sonos Ones as I moved them around. So, they will damage your wood furniture, too.

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8 days ago by rufous
Apple, Inc. Just Hit a Ridiculously Impressive Milestone
Evan Niu, The Motley Fool:

Strategy Analytics executive director Neil Mawston points out that “Apple now accounts for more revenue than the rest of the entire global smartphone industry combined.” iPhone ASP is flirting with $800, while the broader industry’s ASP is approximately $300. This latter metric was up 18% year over year, as both Apple and Samsung saw success with their respective premium flagships. Samsung’s Note 8 and Galaxy S8 remain popular, but Samsung is also a large player in terms of unit volumes at the lower ends of the market. However, the South Korean conglomerate has seen its position in low-cost smartphones slip in large markets like China, leading to its ASP jumping 21% to $254.

Their numbers put iPhone revenue at 51 percent of the market, Samsung’s at 16, and Huawei’s at 7. You don’t hear much these days from the folks who thought the higher-price of the iPhone X was a bad idea.

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8 days ago by rufous
In the wake of the Florida shooting, should you homeschool? | Miami Herald
Actual headline in an op-ed from the Miami Herald today: “In the Wake of the Douglas High Massacre, Is Home Schooling a Better Option?”. That’s how ridiculous our situation has become. People are starting to question whether the problem is with sending kids to school, not with pervasive access to military weapons.

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8 days ago by rufous
Our Moloch | by Garry Wills | NYR Daily | The New York Review of Books
Garry Wills, writing for The New York Review five years ago, after the Sandy Hook grade school massacre:

The gun is not a mere tool, a bit of technology, a political issue, a point of debate. It is an object of reverence. Devotion to it precludes interruption with the sacrifices it entails. Like most gods, it does what it will, and cannot be questioned. Its acolytes think it is capable only of good things. It guarantees life and safety and freedom. It even guarantees law. Law grows from it. Then how can law question it?

Its power to do good is matched by its incapacity to do anything wrong. It cannot kill. Thwarting the god is what kills. If it seems to kill, that is only because the god’s bottomless appetite for death has not been adequately fed. The answer to problems caused by guns is more guns, millions of guns, guns everywhere, carried openly, carried secretly, in bars, in churches, in offices, in government buildings. Only the lack of guns can be a curse, not their beneficent omnipresence.

Our gun laws are insane. We, collectively, have agreed that regular mass shootings, often at schools — schools! — are a reasonable price to pay as a nation for unfettered access to military-grade killing machines for anyone and everyone who wants one.

It’s sick. Everyone outside the U.S. knows this. A majority of Americans knows this and supports stricter gun control.

There are new gun laws being drafted. But you know what most of them are for? For making guns even easier to purchase legally, without background checks.

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8 days ago by rufous
Daring Fireball: Sponsoring Daring Fireball, Early 2018 Edition
There’s a part of me that loathes posting self-promotional stuff here on Daring Fireball. There’s another part of me that wants to sell ads and keep this thing afloat, and knows that I sell more ads when I periodically mention that there are ads for sale.

Right now there are three ways to sponsor my work:

Weekly sponsorships. I just updated the public-facing schedule, and there are a few openings in the coming weeks. And, this very week remains open (long story short: last-minute cancellation). Given that it’s already Wednesday, the remainder of this week could be yours for a substantial discount. Get in touch.

These weekly sponsorships have been the number one source of revenue for Daring Fireball ever since I started selling them back in 2007. They’ve succeeded, I think, because they make everyone happy. They generate good money. There’s only one sponsor per week and the sponsors are always relevant to at least some sizable portion of the DF audience, so you, the reader, are never annoyed and hopefully often intrigued by them. And, from the sponsors’ perspective, they work. My favorite thing about them is how many sponsors return for subsequent weeks after seeing the results.

Display ads. These are new — my little homegrown replacement for The Deck (R.I.P.). I’ve been selling these since last summer, but I don’t think I’ve mentioned them enough here. Right now I’m selling spots for March for $3,500. I don’t have a landing page to promote them, but if you’re interested, get in touch. (You can also buy both a weekly sponsorship and a display ad and get a discount.

Sponsoring The Talk Show. This is something I seldom mention here on Daring Fireball, but I think sponsoring The Talk Show would be a great opportunity for a lot of the same services and products that sponsor the website. I love the regular sponsors of the show — and the fact that so many of them return repeatedly speaks well to the results they see. But I would love get some more variety into the list of sponsors for the show. I don’t sell these myself, but if you have a product or service you think would be of interest to The Talk Show’s audience, get in touch with Jessie Char at Neat.fm. We still have a few openings for the remainder of Q1, and first-time sponsors are eligible for a rate below the listed price of $4,000 per spot.
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9 days ago by rufous
Reports of Google’s Newfound Design Prowess Have Been Greatly Exaggerated — Pixel Envy
Nick Heer on the new YouTube app for Apple TV:

None of these elements behaves as you might expect, primarily because the YouTube app doesn’t interpret swipes and scrolls like any other app. There’s no audible blip whenever you select something, and swiping around manages to be both sluggish and jerky.

The frustratingly slow scrolling is especially pronounced on the aforementioned horizontal navigation element because swiping just a little too far to the left will open the modal main menu panel that covers a third of the screen.

The slow scrolling is also apparent in the main menu panel. The scrolling “friction”, for lack of a better term, is such that swiping down just a little is unlikely to have any effect, and swiping down just a little bit more will move the selector down two menu items. It can be very difficult to get it to move one menu item at a time.

It’s a terrible, terrible Apple TV app. Much like Amazon’s new Prime Video app, it looks and feels like it was designed and implemented by people who’ve never even used an Apple TV.

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9 days ago by rufous
Facebook is pushing its data-tracking Onavo VPN within its main mobile app | TechCrunch
Sarah Perez, writing for TechCrunch:

Onavo Protect, the VPN client from the data-security app maker acquired by Facebook back in 2013, has now popped up in the Facebook iOS app itself, under the banner “Protect” in the navigation menu. Clicking through on “Protect” will redirect Facebook users to the “Onavo Protect — VPN Security” app’s listing on the App Store.

This is spyware. If you use Onavo, Facebook can and will track you everywhere you go on the Internet.

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9 days ago by rufous
Last blog standing, “last guy dancing”: How Jason Kottke is thinking about kottke.org at 20 » Nieman Journalism Lab
Jason Kottke, in a fascinating interview with Laura Hazard Owen for the Nieman Journalism Lab:

Melancholy, I think, is the exact right word. Personally, I think I felt a lot worse about it maybe three, four years ago. I was like, crap, what am I going to do here? I can see where this is going, I can see that more and more people are going to go to Facebook, and to mobile, and to all of these social apps and stuff like that, and there’s going to be less and less of a space in there for blogs like mine. I can’t churn out 60 things a day and play that social game where you use the shotgun approach to spit stuff out there and see what sticks. I’ve got to do four, five, six things that are good, really good. Since then, though, I’ve sort of come to terms with that. I’m like: Okay, if I can just keep going it, just keep doing it, it will work itself out somehow. I don’t know why I think that, but I kind of do.

The membership thing was actually really helpful in that regard, because within a pretty short amount of time, there was a lot of signal that people really appreciate what it is I do, enough that they’re willing to pay for it. It was kind of like, holy shit, we’re all in this together. I knew before that there were people who really into the site and who really like it, and that’s always been great to know and to get that feedback in the inbox and via Twitter and stuff like that. But to actually have those people pony up some dough changed my whole mindset about how I feel about the site.

I have many thoughts on the rise and decline of blogging — many of them stirred up recently, with Dean Allen’s death. Dean’s passing felt like the punctuation mark ending an era. There are a lot of great blogs still going, but as old ones drop off, there aren’t many new ones taking their places. It ain’t like it used to be.

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9 days ago by rufous
Head to head, does the Apple HomePod really sound... - David Pogue
David Pogue:

Of course, I knew what the results would be. I’d heard them myself in the Apple demo; I’d read the other reviews; and I’d done the dress rehearsal the night before. Every time, the HomePod won the match easily.

At the end of my own listening test, then, I handed out signs that said “A,” “B,” “C,” and “D,” and asked the panelists to hold up their winners’ signs on the count of three. I knew what they would say: “B,” “B,” “B,” “B,” and “B” (that was the HomePod’s letter).

That’s not what happened.

Interesting results. I wonder about Pogue’s claim that the curtain he hid the speakers behind didn’t affect the sound, though.

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9 days ago by rufous
Apple HomePod Review: It Only Sounds Great: Reviews by Wirecutter | A New York Times Company
Jon Chase, in Wirecutter’s review of HomePod:

An unhappy discovery after we placed a HomePod on an oiled butcher-block countertop and later on a wooden side table was that it left a defined white ring in the surface. Other reviewers and owners (such as Pocket-lint, and folks on Twitter) have reported the same issue, which an Apple representative has confirmed. Apple says “the marks can improve over several days after the speaker is removed from the wood surface,” and if they don’t fade on their own, you can basically just go refinish the furniture — the exact advice Apple gave in an email to Wirecutter was to “try cleaning the surface with the manufacturer’s suggested oiling method.” This really undermines the design aspect of the HomePod — especially if you were thinking of displaying it on some prized piece of furniture — and it will surely be a sore point for many potential buyers. In other testing, we have seen no visible damage when using it on glass, granite countertop, nice MDF, polyurethane-sealed wood, and cheap IKEA bookcases. We also tested the HomePod in the same place a Sonos One regularly lives — and the Sonos hasn’t caused damage in months of use.

I haven’t seen anything like this, but I haven’t placed a HomePod on stained wood, either. Anyone who runs into this should be outraged. I honestly don’t see how this could happen. Apple has been making products that go on shelves and tables for years — AirPort base stations, Apple TV, various docks — and I’ve never seen a report of damage to a surface. I guess the difference with HomePod is that the base factors into the acoustics, but still, this seems like an issue that should have been caught during the period where HomePod was being widely tested at home by many Apple employees.

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9 days ago by rufous
Android Wear is getting killed, and it’s all Qualcomm’s fault | Ars Technica
Ron Amadeo, writing for Ars Technica:

Ars Technica would like to wish a very special second birthday to the Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100 SoC. While most flagship SoCs have a life cycle of about one year on the top of the market, over the weekend the Wear 2100 will celebrate two years as the least awful smartwatch SoC you can use in an Android Wear device. It’s positively ancient at this point.

Seriously though, Qualcomm has seemingly abandoned the smartwatch market. The Wear 2100 SoC was announced in February 2016, Qualcomm skipped out on an upgrade for February 2017, and it doesn’t seem like we’re getting a new smartwatch chip any time soon.

At this point, Apple and Samsung are the only two names in the game. And you don’t hear any stories about Samsung watches selling well, so I’m not sure how much in the game they are, either.

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11 days ago by rufous
Daring Fireball: Claim Chowder: HomePod Touchscreen
Yours truly in June, after first seeing HomePod:

HomePod has a touchscreen on top.

Clearly, we now know [that’s wrong]. Paul Kafasis called me out on this during the most recent episode of The Talk Show, and it’s clear that I was wrong. It certainly is a touch panel, and it does light up and animate, but whatever you want call the part that lights up and animates, it’s not a screen in the sense of being a display that can render arbitrary pixels. The “+” and “-” buttons are hardware touch buttons, and the Siri animation is the only thing that can be shown in the middle.

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11 days ago by rufous
🧘🏻‍♂️Steven Sinofsky ॐ on Twitter: "1/ Apple has a software problem. Here's how it plans to fix it. https://t.co/dJaikfRhs7 via @markgurman // Let’s take a step back and talk about the broader context and product development at scale. Lots
Terrific Twitter thread by Steven Sinofsky:

What is lost in all of this recent discussion is the nuance between features, schedule, and quality. It is like having a discussion with a financial advisor over income, risk, and growth. You don’t just show up and say you want all three and get a “sure”.

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11 days ago by rufous
Inside Apple’s HomePod Audio Lab
Jim Dalrymple:

The noise and vibration lab was set up years ago to work on unwanted noise from Macs. At the time, this lab was very focused on fan and hard drive noise, but over the years it has expanded into electronic noise as well.

“Reducing fan and hard drive noise” is such a fun origin story for a lab that is more relevant (and seemingly better-funded — see below) to the company today than ever. This is the same lab that tests and helps design the ever-improving speakers in iPhones and iPads — neither of which product has ever had a fan or hard drive.

The last chamber I saw was designed to listen specifically for electronic noise. For example, you don’t want HomePod to make any kind of noise when it’s plugged in, but not in use. If it was sitting on your night table, you wouldn’t want a hum or buzz coming from it.

Geaves said that the extent you have to isolate this chamber is even more important because you are listening for really small sounds.

The chamber itself sits on 28 tons of concrete. The panels are one foot thick which is another 27 tons of material, and there are 80 isolating mounts between the actual chamber and the concrete slab it sits on.

The chamber is designed to be -2 dBA, which is lower than the threshold of human hearing. This basically provides complete silence.

I was on the same tour of this lab that Dalrymple was, and at this moment Geaves had us remain silent for 10 seconds or so, just to appreciate what true silence sounds like. It was… unnerving.

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11 days ago by rufous
Rogue Amoeba - Under the Microscope » Blog Archive » Designing Farrago
Neale Van Fleet on designing Rogue Amoeba’s new soundboard app Farrago:

Despite a key element of the app being up in the air, work was progressing in many other areas. Eventually, I knew we needed to figure out a way to solve the problem of how tiles would look. To break out of my rut, I decided to bring in outside viewpoints.

I reached out to my social network here in Montreal, and sought out the sort of people who might use a soundboard app — podcasters, radio folks, theatre techs, and more. I bribed several of them with free lunches, during which I showed them mockups and got their responses.

The feedback I got was immediate and consistent: Prospective users didn’t want to rely on a mouse or trackpad to play clips at all! They wanted to use their Mac’s physical keyboard to play sounds. Though I’d been focused on providing access to many controls right on the tile face, it turned out that mouse-based controls should be secondary.

I love looking at an app progress from a pencil sketch all the through to the end result.

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11 days ago by rufous
Apple HomePod - The Audiophile Perspective + Measurements! : audiophile
Reddit user “WinterCharm”:

TL;DR: 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.

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11 days ago by rufous
Apple outsold the entire Swiss watch industry in 2017 - Business Insider
Kif Leswing, writing for Business Insider:

The company best known for making iPhones outsold Rolex, Omega, and even Swatch last quarter — combined.

That’s according to Apple Watch sales estimates from industry researcher Canalys and IDC, and publicly released shipment statistics from the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry. Canalys estimates that Apple sold 8 million Apple Watches in the last quarter of 2017.

This doesn’t really prove anything other than that Apple Watch is selling pretty well, but you can see that with your own eyes just by looking for them on people’s wrists out in the world. I see Apple Watches every day, worn by people from all walks of life. These stats from 2016 claim the average price of a Swiss watch was $739. Last fall Horace Dediu pegged the average selling price of an Apple Watch at $330, which sounds about right to my ears — most people buy the base aluminum models, and if they “upgrade”, it’s by buying an extra band or two.

Leswing:

Apple doesn’t reveal official sales figures for the Apple Watch, making comparisons like this one difficult.

Instead, it bundles Apple Watch sales into an “other products” category — which led some people, including yours truly, to brand the device a “flop,” as it seemed like Apple was glossing over lackluster sales.

And for awhile, especially in 2016, it did look like sales growth stalled. But based on data points provided by Apple officials on earnings call earlier this month, it’s possible for analysts to calculate a strong estimate of units and revenue.

I can get being bearish on Apple Watch sales back in 2015, when you just didn’t see many of them in the wild, and when Apple’s “Other” category didn’t seem to have a large bump. But the fact that Apple has reported Apple Watch sales in the “Other” category is something Tim Cook announced in September 2014, more than six months before the product went on sale, and he was very clear that the reason was the competitive value of the information. Apple could have sold 10 times more watches than expected and they still would have reported them under “Other”.

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11 days ago by rufous
How Apple Plans to Root Out Bugs, Revamp iPhone Software - Bloomberg
Mark Gurman, in a solo-bylined piece for Bloomberg:

These features were delayed after Apple Inc. concluded it needed its own major upgrade in the way the company develops and introduces new products. Instead of keeping engineers on a relentless annual schedule and cramming features into a single update, Apple will start focusing on the next two years of updates for its iPhone and iPad operating system, according to people familiar with the change. The company will continue to update its software annually, but internally engineers will have more discretion to push back features that aren’t as polished to the following year.

This is the best story from Gurman in a while (see below), but I’m not so sure the above is a new strategy so much as a tacit admission of what’s actually been going on the last few years. Take iMessage in the Cloud — it was supposed to ship with iOS 11 (and I think MacOS 10.13) in the fall, but still hasn’t shipped. It’s in the iOS 11.3 beta, but even if 11.3 ships this month, it’ll be nearly 6 months late. It sounds to me like Apple is just being realistic, acknowledging that some projects can’t be finished in a year. I don’t expect any fewer new features than usual in the iOS 12 demo at WWDC — but perhaps more of them will actually ship in the fall.

The other takeaway from Gurman’s report is that it sounds like Apple senior management is aware that they’ve taken a hit on public perception of Apple software quality in recent years.

But the feature-packed upgrades place huge demands on Apple’s beleaguered engineers.

It’s good to see beleaguered back in the Apple news story vernacular.

Some actual scoops about what is forthcoming:

Also in the works for this year: a redesigned version of Apple’s stock-tracking app and updated version of Do Not Disturb that will give users more options to automatically reject phone calls or silence notifications. Apple is also working to more deeply integrate Siri into the iPhone’s search view, redesign the interface used to import photos into an iPad on the go and make it possible for several people at once to play augmented reality games.

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11 days ago by rufous
Why Paper Jams Persist | The New Yorker
This feature by Joshua Rothman for The New Yorker is custom-made for the Daring Fireball audience:

Unsurprisingly, the engineers who specialize in paper jams see them differently. Engineers tend to work in narrow subspecialties, but solving a jam requires knowledge of physics, chemistry, mechanical engineering, computer programming, and interface design. “It’s the ultimate challenge,” Ruiz said.

“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.”

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13 days ago by rufous
How "Hey Siri" works with multiple devices - Apple Support
Apple Support:

When you say “Hey Siri” near multiple devices that support “Hey Siri,” the devices quickly communicate to each other using Bluetooth to determine which one should respond to the request. The device that heard you best or was recently raised will respond.

HomePod responds to most Siri requests, even if there are other devices that support “Hey Siri” nearby. If you want to use Siri on a specific device, raise to wake that device or press the button to use Siri, then make your request.

Works pretty well (and very quickly) in my experience.

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14 days ago by rufous
The Talk Show ✪: Ep. 214, With Special Guest Paul Kafasis
Special guest Paul Kafasis returns to the show. Topics include Apple’s new HomePod, Farrago (Rogue Amoeba’s new soundboard app for the Mac), the Philadelphia Eagles’ triumph over the “New England” Patriots in Super Bowl 52, and we stir up a controversy regarding a 10-year-old cocktail devised by the boys at You Look Nice Today.

Brought to you by these fine sponsors:

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14 days ago by rufous
Branded in Memory: NFL Edition
Branded in Memory:

Considering how important the NFL and its teams are to millions of people, we asked over 150 people to draw 12 of the most popular team logos from memory. With nothing to go off of but their own recollection, we wanted to know just how well these sports icons stand out in the mind of NFL fans and non-fans alike. Here’s what they showed us.

I love stuff like this. Via Paul Kafasis at One Foot Tsunami, who astutely points out a well-rendered, clearly knowledgeable, but totally wrong logo for the Dallas Cowboys.

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14 days ago by rufous
JASON KELCE FULL UNEDITED SPEECH - PHILADELPHIA EAGLES SUPER BOWL PARADE [2.8.18] - YouTube
I’ve never seen a speech quite like it. (That’s a Mummers costume he’s wearing.)

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14 days ago by rufous
Philadelphia Eagles beat Patriots to win Super Bowl 52 | SI.com
Peter King, writing for Sports Illustrated:

The Eagles are NFL champions for the first time in the Super Bowl era, for the first time since three weeks before the inauguration of John F. Kennedy. And it never would have happened without the head coach whom USA Today ranked seventh of seven new NFL coaching hires in January 2016.

“He’s got a big set of stones,” offensive coordinator Frank Reich said, trying to find the words just before the clock struck 12 Sunday night.

The inside story of the play that defined last night’s game.

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18 days ago by rufous
Here’s Why Alexa Won’t Light Up During Amazon’s Super Bowl Ad - Bloomberg
Brad Stone, writing for Bloomberg:

The patent broadly describes two techniques. The first calls for transmitting a snippet of a commercial to Echo devices before it airs. Then the Echo can compare live commands to the acoustic fingerprint of the snippet to determine whether the commands are authentic. The second tactic describes how a commercial itself could transmit an inaudible acoustic signal to tell Alexa to ignore its wake word.

About a year ago, a Reddit user calling himself Asphyhackr did a little more legwork and concluded that Amazon was creatively employing this second technique.

Will be amusing — insofar as silly patent fights are ever truly amusing — if Amazon tries to keep Apple and Google from doing the same thing in commercials.

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21 days ago by rufous
Can self-taught rocket scientist Mike Hughes prove Earth is flat?
We all know questions in headlines are generally bullshit. But this one really takes the cake. For shame, NBC.

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21 days ago by rufous
Twitter
Walt Mossberg:

A footnote on @apple and tablets: the iPad alone brought in nearly $6 billion in the holiday quarter, and unit sales were up very slightly at over 13 million. Most companies would kill for a single product with those kinds of numbers, even if they’re well down from the peak.

Steven Sinofksy, in the same thread:

@waltmossberg @Apple Also, worldwide 2017 there were perhaps 100 million consumer laptops sold. iPads selling at ~half that puts the number in context, especially considering the price, durability, and lifespan of an iPad compared to PC laptop.

In short, iPad sales are way down from their peak, but amount to a unit sales market half the size of the entire PC laptop market. And iPads tend to last longer.

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21 days ago by rufous
HomePod’s real problem: It works only with Apple products | Macworld
Michael Simon, writing at Macworld:

And in many ways, it is. If anyone rushed to Apple.com to buy a HomePod after seeing one of the Grammy ads, they might be in for a surprise after it arrives on February 9, especially if they missed the disclaimer at the end of the commercial: Requires compatible Apple device. More than any other Apple product on the market today, HomePod is indelibly tied to Apple’s iEcosystem, so if you have an Android phone, you’re out of luck, even if you happen to subscribe to Apple Music.

It all reminds me of the early days of the iPod: a high-priced device that only works with Apple products. But while the strategy might have worked back in 2001, it’s going to be a much harder sell now.

This was the knock on the Apple Watch as well — which didn’t just require “a compatible Apple device”. It required one specific (expensive) Apple product: the iPhone. I think it has done OK.

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22 days ago by rufous
Surface Pro 4 owners are putting their tablets in freezers to fix screen flickering issues - The Verge
Tom Warren, writing for The Verge

Some owners have even started freezing their tablets to stop the screen flickering temporarily. “I get about half an hour’s use out of it after ten minutes in the freezer,” says one owner. Another user posted a video showing how the flickering stops as soon as the Surface Pro 4 is placed in a freezer. The Verge understands that the screen flickering problem is a hardware issue that Microsoft won’t be able to fix with a software update. It’s currently affecting less than 1 percent of all Surface Pro 4 devices.

This is not a “fix”.

This sounds like a bad idea even as a temporarily salve. Condensation is a thing.

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22 days ago by rufous
KDK12 | Rodney Dangerfield in Kubrick's The Killing
This is amazing. (Thanks to DF reader François Kahn for the tip.)

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22 days ago by rufous
Apple Reports First Quarter Results - Apple
Apple:

“We’re thrilled to report the biggest quarter in Apple’s history, with broad-based growth that included the highest revenue ever from a new iPhone lineup. iPhone X surpassed our expectations and has been our top-selling iPhone every week since it shipped in November,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO.

So what whole narrative about iPhone X being less popular than expected? Never mind.

Jason Snell has done his usual sorcery to get Apple’s numbers into charts. On the iPhone, unit sales were down about 1 percent year-over-year, but revenue was up about 6 percent. Seems like proof that the iPhone X strategy is working.

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22 days ago by rufous
Podcast Listeners Really Are the Holy Grail Advertisers Hoped They'd Be | WIRED
Miranda Katz, reporting for Wired:

Apple’s Podcast Analytics feature finally became available last month, and Euceph — along with podcasters everywhere — breathed a sigh of relief. Though it’s still early days, the numbers podcasters are seeing are highly encouraging. Forget those worries that the podcast bubble would burst the minute anyone actually got a closer look: It seems like podcast listeners really are the hyper-engaged, super-supportive audiences that everyone hoped. […]

Across the podcast ecosystem, the results are similarly uplifting. At Panoply, home to podcasts like Slate’s Political Gabfest and Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History, CTO Jason Cox says that listeners are typically getting through 80-90 percent of content; the same is true at Headgum, the podcast network started by Jake Hurwitz and Amir Blumenfeld. Those numbers tend to be steady regardless of the length of the show — and according to Panoply, the few listeners who do skip ads continue to remain engaged with the episode, rather than dropping off at the first sign of an interruption. “I think people are overall very relieved to see that people are actually listening the way that we hoped,” says Headgum CTO Andrew Pile. “There are really audiences out there who listen to every word that comes out of [a host’s] mouth.”

Marco Arment:

The podcast business didn’t really need precise listener behavioral data. Who knew?

I don’t obsess over these iTunes Podcast analytics, but I’ve taken a look now that Apple is offering them, and the results for my show jibe with what’s being reported in this story: most people stick around to the end, and most people don’t skip the ads.

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22 days ago by rufous
I Quit Twitter and It Feels Great - The New York Times
Lindy West, writing for The New York Times:

I’m frequently approached by colleagues, usually women, who ask me about quitting Twitter with hushed titillation, as if I’ve escaped a cult or broken a particularly seductive taboo. Well, here’s what my new life is like: I don’t wake up with a pit in my stomach every day, dreading what horrors accrued in my phone overnight. I don’t get dragged into protracted, bad-faith arguments with teenage boys about whether poor people deserve medical care, or whether putting nice guys in the friend zone is a hate crime. I don’t spend hours every week blocking and reporting trolls and screen-grabbing abuse in case it someday escalates into a credible threat. I no longer feel like my brain is trapped in a centrifuge filled with swastikas and Alex Jones’s spittle. Time is finite, and now I have more of it.

At the same time, I know this conversation is more complicated than that. I’ve lost a large platform to self-promote and make professional connections, which isn’t something many writers can afford to give up (less established writers and marginalized writers most of all — in a horrid irony, the same writers disproportionately abused on Twitter). I get my news on a slight delay. I seethe at the perception that I ceded any ground to trolls trying to push me out. I will probably never persuade RuPaul to be my friend. Also, I loved Twitter. Twitter is funny and smart and validating and cathartic. It feels, when you are embroiled in it, like the place where everything is happening. (Scoff if you like, but the president of the United States makes major policy announcements there. This is the world now.)

I really hope Jack Dorsey reads West’s piece and takes it to heart. She’s the last sort of person Twitter should want to leave the platform.

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22 days ago by rufous
Instagram Is Turning Into Facebook, and That’s Bad - WSJ
Katherine Bindley, writing for the WSJ:

I understand why Instagram is adopting Facebook features: They work. But for years I logged into Instagram and enjoyed it more than Facebook. I fear a day when I wake up, open my phone and can no longer tell the difference between the two.

Regarding ads:

I can now make it through three new posts on Instagram before seeing an ad. After that, I get one every six to eight posts.

Instagram’s spokeswoman confirmed ad load is up: “We’ve been able to do this by improving the quality and the relevance of the ads.”

I really do enjoy using Instagram less these days, and it’s precisely for the reasons why I never signed up for Facebook. My biggest complaint the algorithmic timeline — I truly miss the old timeline where I just saw photos from the people I follow in the order in which they were posted. I’m sure Instagram has detailed metrics showing that the new timeline increases “engagement”, but I’m equally certain that it’s led me to check the app less frequently.

But I still don’t see ads in my Instagram feed. Literally none. This might be because I don’t have a Facebook account, or might be because my Instagram account is flagged in some sort of hidden way because of my prominence from here at Daring Fireball, or might be a bug. This has been a years-long mystery to me (that I probably shouldn’t complain about).

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22 days ago by rufous
The Publisher of Newsweek And The International Business Times Has Been Buying Traffic And Engaging In Ad Fraud
Speaking of good reporting from BuzzFeed, here’s a report from Craig Silverman on publications that are pretty much doing the opposite:

The publisher of Newsweek and the International Business Times has been engaging in fraudulent online traffic practices that helped it secure a major ad buy from a US government agency, according to a new report released today by independent ad fraud researchers.

IBTimes.com, the publisher’s US business site, last year won a significant portion of a large video and display advertising campaign for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a federal agency. Social Puncher, a consulting firm that investigates online ad fraud, alleges in its report that the ads were displayed to an audience on IBTimes.com that includes a significant amount of “cheap junk traffic with a share of bots.”

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22 days ago by rufous
Subscribe to read
Matthew Garrahan and Shannon Bond, reporting for The Financial Times (paywall, alas, which you can sometimes poke through via Google News):

The editor of BuzzFeed has had discussions with the company started by Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of the late Steve Jobs, about investing in the digital media company’s news division, according to two people with knowledge of the talks.

Discussions between Ms Powell Jobs’ company, the Emerson Collective, which last year took a majority stake in The Atlantic magazine, and Buzzfeed’s editor, Ben Smith, are at a preliminary stage and people close to the talks cautioned that a deal may not materialise.

BuzzFeed is doing great work, so I’m surprised Powell Jobs would be interested.

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22 days ago by rufous
Apple in 2017: The Six Colors report card - Six Colors
Jason Snell:

It’s time for our annual look back on Apple’s performance during the past year, as seen through the eyes of writers, editors, developers, podcasters, and other people who spend an awful lot of time thinking about Apple.

This is the third year that I’ve presented this survey to a hand-selected group. They were prompted with 11 different Apple-related subjects, and asked to rate them on a scale from 1 to 5, as well as optionally provide text commentary on their vote. I received 50 replies, with the average results as shown below.

If you’re curious why there aren’t any quotes from me, that’s because, dummy that I am, I forgot to fill out the form. But with 50 well-chosen panelists, it wouldn’t have made much difference to the consensus.

The biggest year-over-year changes were iPad (up 0.7 on a scale of 1-5) and software quality (down 0.7). The highest rated product is the iPhone, at 4.4. Those numbers all sound about right.

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22 days ago by rufous
HomePod - Technical Specifications - Apple
Apple updated the specs page for HomePod, with the full list of supported audio sources:

Apple Music

iTunes Music Purchases

iCloud Music Library with an Apple Music or iTunes Match subscription

Beats 1 Live Radio

Podcasts

AirPlay other content to HomePod from iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple TV, and Mac

iCloud Music Library support was the one that left a lot of us scratching our heads last week. Good to know it’s officially supported. This means any music in your personal library is available through HomePod, even if they are tracks that aren’t available in Apple Music or the iTunes Store.

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22 days ago by rufous
Ken Case on Omni’s 2018 Roadmap
I really love what Brent Simmons and The Omni Group are doing with this podcast. This episode went down like a glass of ice cold water on a hot day.

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23 days ago by rufous
Letter of Recommendation: Rodney Dangerfield - The New York Times
Alex Halberstadt, writing for The New York Times Magazine:

Imagine having no talent. Imagine being no good at all at something and doing it anyway. Then, after nine years, failing at it and giving it up in disgust and moving to Englewood, N.J., and selling aluminum siding. And then, years later, trying the thing again, though it wrecks your marriage, and failing again. And eventually making a meticulous study of the thing and figuring out that, by eliminating every extraneous element, you could isolate what makes it work and just do that. And then, after becoming better at it than anyone who had ever done it, realizing that maybe you didn’t need the talent. That maybe its absence was a gift.

 ★ 
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24 days ago by rufous
Camera Historica: The Sean Flynn Leica M2 - Japan Camera Hunter
Japan Camera Hunter:

This is a story about a camera, a rather special camera. Every camera has a history, so they say. But it is not all that often that one has such a rich and documented history. One that was thought to be lost but has been found again. This is the story of Sean Flynn’s Leica M2.

 ★ 
via:daringfireball 
24 days ago by rufous
Bug Reporting for iOS and Android
My thanks to Instabug for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote their comprehensive bug reporting SDK for mobile apps. Instabug allows mobile developers and product managers to receive detailed bug reports and feedback from their testers and users.

With each report, Instabug attaches screenshots, screen recordings, device details and repro-steps in one organized dashboard. Also, Instabug integrates with tools like Slack, Jira, and GitHub to help your team focus on developing not debugging.

They have a cool sample app in the App Store that you can try for free, to experience their reporting interface first hand. Then, you can log into their demo dashboard and see what the reports look like from the developers’ end. I tried it out and it looks and works great, on both sides.

Tens of thousands of companies like Lyft, eBay, and T-Mobile rely on Instabug to iterate faster and enhance their app quality.

Try Instabug now for free. Even better, they’re offering a special 25 percent discount on all paid plans to Daring Fireball readers with promo code “DARING18”.

 ★ 
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25 days ago by rufous
Bethany Bongiorno on Twitter: "(4) at one point steve wanted to turn UIKit elements orange. not just any orange, he wanted a particular orange from the button on a certain old sony remote. we got a bunch of remotes from sony with orange buttons to try and
Bethany Bongiorno recently left Apple after a long stint, including work on the original iPad. She tweeted some terrific stories, including this one:

At one point Steve wanted to turn UIKit elements orange. Not just any orange, he wanted a particular orange from the button on a certain old Sony remote. We got a bunch of remotes from Sony with orange buttons to try and find the right one. In the end, Steve hated it.

I retweeted it with the comment that this is as Steve Jobs-y as any Steve Jobs story gets. No detail too small. Strong opinions loosely held.

 ★ 
via:daringfireball 
25 days ago by rufous
How HomePod works with Apple Music, iTunes Match, iCloud Music Library, AirPlay, and FLAC files | iMore
Serenity Caldwell:

I’m still trying to sort a lot of this out myself, but here’s how everything is supposed to work, from what I’ve been able to confirm.

In addition to what she reports here, I have heard from a friend seeded with HomePod that it does work with tracks that are not Apple Music or purchased from the iTunes Store if you have iCloud Music Library enabled. That’s huge.

 ★ 
via:daringfireball 
27 days ago by rufous
Logic Pro X 10.4 release notes - Apple Support
A few thoughts:

This seems like a huge release to only get a + .1 version number update. But I get it — it looks like the Logic team took this release to tackle a ton of little things that have been on their list for a long time.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if we got public release notes that were this detailed for all apps from Apple?

The reaction from Logic users seems over the moon. You don’t typically see pro users so happy with a software update.

 ★ 
via:daringfireball 
27 days ago by rufous
HomePod can play purchased iTunes music, podcasts and stream Beats 1 without Apple Music subscription | 9to5Mac
Benjamin Mayo, writing for 9to5Mac:

Whilst HomePod works best with an Apple Music subscription, allowing users to ask Siri to play any of the 40 million tracks in the Apple Music catalog, it does not require a subscription to function. We have learned that the HomePod can play content purchased from iTunes, stream Beats 1, and listen to podcasts without needing a subscription.

If you add music to your home iTunes library that was not acquired through a purchase, HomePod will not be able to access it. It appears HomePod doesn’t have Home Sharing, which would enable that kind of feature.

Shouldn’t it work with iCloud Music Library? I get it that it might not be able to access songs that only exist as MP3 files on your Mac, but if you have iCloud Music Library, it seems obvious that HomePod ought to be able to access them, no? It’s one thing if it doesn’t work with third-party streaming services like Spotify. But iCloud Music Library is Apple’s own thing.

 ★ 
via:daringfireball 
28 days ago by rufous
Daring Fireball: Apple’s App Problem
Adam Engst’s aforelinked piece on iCloud Photo Library problems reminded me of this piece I wrote two years ago, that might still be of use to anyone who encounters this bug:

I’ll offer a small personal anecdote. Overall I’ve had great success with iCloud Photo Library. I’ve got over 18,000 photos and almost 400 videos. And I’ve got a slew of devices — iPhones, iPads, and Macs — all using the same iCloud account. And those photos are available from all those devices. Except, a few weeks ago, I noticed that on my primary Mac, in Photos, at the bottom of the main “Photos” view, where it tells you exactly how many photos and videos you have, it said “Unable to Upload 5 Items”. Restarting didn’t fix it. Waiting didn’t fix it. And clicking on it didn’t do anything — I wanted to know which five items couldn’t be uploaded, and why. It seems to me that anybody in this situation would want to know those two things. But damned if Photos would tell me.

Eventually, I found this support thread which suggested a solution: you can create a Smart Group in Photos using “Unable to upload to iCloud Photo Library” as the matching condition. Bingo: five items showed up. (Two of them were videos for which the original files couldn’t be found; three of them were duplicates of photos that were already in my library.)

I haven’t run into this problem again and am now up to 25,000 photos and just under 900 videos.

 ★ 
via:daringfireball 
28 days ago by rufous
Bad Apple #1: iCloud Photo Library Re-uploading - TidBITS
Adam Engst, writing for TidBITS:

However, there’s a nasty side effect of turning iCloud off and back on: iCloud Photo Library needs to re-upload all your photos. It does this in order to compare the library’s contents to the synchronization “truth” at iCloud. Fair enough, except that this process can take days, depending on the size of your Photos library and the speed of your Internet connection. Bad Apple! We don’t see that sort of poor performance with Dropbox or Google Drive, and this behavior is both unnecessary and driving people away from iCloud Photo Library. […]

It’s bad enough that Photos wants to upload every photo to iCloud Photo Library again, but here’s the scenario that triggered this article. When I tried to turn iCloud Photo Library on again, I was told that I didn’t have enough space: my 200 GB iCloud storage plan had only 56 GB free, but my Photos library contained 113 GB of photos. All that was true, except for the fact that the reason my iCloud account was so full was because it already held every one of those photos! Every time I clicked Continue to acknowledge that I realized this fact, Photos turned iCloud Photo Library off again.

This is the first of a new column at TidBITS that they’re calling “Bad Apple”, in which they plan to “dive into a particular aspect of something that Apple got wrong”. Dive into being the right term for why this is so good.

iCloud Photo Library is pretty great in most regards — but it’s not good enough. But the ways it’s not good enough are often complicated and take time to describe, which is exactly what Engst has done here.

 ★ 
via:daringfireball 
28 days ago by rufous
Shaker & Spoon with Daring Fireball!
My thanks to Shaker & Spoon for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Shaker & Spoon are, in my opinion, the ideal DF sponsor — they’re selling a great product targeted at people with discerning taste.

Shaker & Spoon is a subscription box that solves the toughest challenges of a home bar with great ingredients and interesting recipes. Every box is built around a different spirit, and showcases various styles of cocktail-making. Each box arrives with 3 brand-new, original recipes created by world-class bartenders, and enough ingredients (syrups, bitters, mixers, garnishes) for 12 cocktails — 4 from each recipe. It’s perfect for get-togethers and special gifts. All you need to bring is the alcohol, and the box will use up the whole bottle for all 12 drinks.

If you love making (and drinking) cocktails and are looking to expand your repertoire, you should sign up for Shaker & Spoon.

 ★ 
via:daringfireball 
28 days ago by rufous
From Q With Love: 12 Best Bond Watches | HiConsumption
J.D. DiGiovanni, writing for HiConsumption:

So why is it that some slick British spook with a specific taste in cocktails has managed to weather all this change?

In part, it’s because Bond is a kind of cultural chameleon. The character first written by Ian Fleming in his 1953 novel Casino Royal, reflects the tastes and preferences of whatever moment he’s in. One of the best ways to track that change over time? By looking at Bond’s wrist.

Good list.

 ★ 
via:daringfireball 
28 days ago by rufous
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