rufous + via:daringfireball   4401

techpinions.com
Ben Bajarin, on the result of a survey of iPhone X owners conducted last month:

When it came to overall customer satisfaction, iPhone X owners in our study gave the product an overall 97% customer satisfaction. While that number is impressive, what really stands out when you do customer satisfaction studies is the percentage who say they are very satisfied with the product. Considering you add up the total number of very satisfied, and satisfied, to get your total customer satisfaction number a product can have a high number of satisfied responses and lower number of very satisfied responses and still achieve a high number. The higher the very satisfied responses, the better a product truly is. In our study, 85% of iPhone X owners said they were very satisfied with the product.

That number is amongst the highest I’ve seen in all the customer satisfaction studied we have conducted across a range of technology products. Just to contrast that with the original Apple Watch research with Wristly I was involved in, 66% of Apple Watch owners indicated they were very satisfied with Apple Watch, a product which also ranked a 97% customer satisfaction number in the first Apple Watch study we did.

Wait until you see the feature-by-feature results.

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11 hours ago by rufous
Exclusive: Chat is Google’s next big fix for Android’s messaging mess - The Verge
Dieter Bohn, writing for The Verge:

Instead of bringing a better app to the table, it’s trying to change the rules of the texting game, on a global scale. Google has been quietly corralling every major cellphone carrier on the planet into adopting technology to replace SMS. It’s going to be called “Chat,” and it’s based on a standard called the “Universal Profile for Rich Communication Services.” SMS is the default that everybody has to fall back to, and so Google’s goal is to make that default texting experience on an Android phone as good as other modern messaging apps.

As part of that effort, Google says it’s “pausing” work on its most recent entry into the messaging space, Allo. It’s the sort of “pause” that involves transferring almost the entire team off the project and putting all its resources into another app, Android Messages. […]

But remember, Chat is a carrier-based service, not a Google service. It’s just “Chat,” not “Google Chat.” In a sign of its strategic importance to Google, the company has spearheaded development on the new standard, so that every carrier’s Chat services will be interoperable. But, like SMS, Chat won’t be end-to-end encrypted, and it will follow the same legal intercept standards. In other words: it won’t be as secure as iMessage or Signal.

It is unconscionable for Google to back a new protocol that isn’t end-to-end encrypted. End-to-end encryption is table stakes for any new communication platform today. Apple should ignore this — if it’s not secure it should be a non-starter.

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12 hours ago by rufous
The Woman Who Gave the Macintosh a Smile | The New Yorker
Alexandra Lange, writing for The New Yorker:

Kare, who is sixty-four, will be honored for her work on April 20th, by her fellow designers, with the prestigious AIGA medal. In 1982, she was a sculptor and sometime curator when her high-school friend Andy Hertzfeld asked her to create graphics for a new computer that he was working on in California. Kare brought a Grid notebook to her job interview at Apple Computer. On its pages, she had sketched, in pink marker, a series of icons to represent the commands that Hertzfeld’s software would execute. Each square represented a pixel. A pointing finger meant “Paste.” A paintbrush symbolized “MacPaint.” Scissors said “Cut.” Kare told me about this origin moment: “As soon as I started work, Andy Hertzfeld wrote an icon editor and font editor so I could design images and letterforms using the Mac, not paper,” she said. “But I loved the puzzle-like nature of working in 16 × 16 and 32 × 32 pixel icon grids, and the marriage of craft and metaphor.”

Susan Kare deserves every award in the world. Her work was central — essential — to what made the Macintosh the Macintosh. The early Macintosh was not just the most endearing computer ever made, I’d argue that it remains the most endearing computer ever made — and in large part that was due to Susan Kare’s icons and fonts.

My interview with Kare at the Layers conference in 2016 is one of the highlights of my career.

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15 hours ago by rufous
SmugMug snaps up Flickr photo service from Verizon's Oath
Jessica Guynn, reporting for USA Today

Flickr has been snapped up by Silicon Valley photo-sharing and storage company SmugMug, USA Today has learned.

SmugMug CEO Don MacAskill told USA Today he’s committed to breathing new life into the faded social networking pioneer, which hosted photos and lively interactions long before it became trendy.

SmugMug, an independent, family-run company, will maintain Flickr as a standalone community of amateur and professional photographers and give the long neglected service the focus and resources it deserves, MacAskill said in an exclusive interview.

I hope it works. Flickr was so great back in the day. But I fear it’s too late, and the world has moved on.

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15 hours ago by rufous
Popular YouTuber Says Apple Won't Fix His iMac Pro Damaged While Disassembled - Mac Rumors
Joe Rossignol has an excellent piece at MacRumors on the saga of Linus Sebastian’s iMac Pro that Apple has declined to repair:

After the repair was declined by Apple, Sebastian and his team contacted an Apple Authorized Service Provider in Canada, where they are located. The repair shop also declined the repair, but their reason was allegedly that Apple has yet to offer the required certification courses to service the iMac Pro.

However, Apple’s internal iMac Pro Service Readiness Guide obtained by MacRumors states that ATLAS online training and learning resources for servicing the iMac Pro have been available in English since December. We also spoke to multiple sources who completed the course and received certification months ago.

The guide adds that iMac Pro service parts availability began in early to mid January, with replacement logic boards, flash storage, and memory available by late February. Multiple sources at Apple Authorized Service Providers also confirmed that iMac Pro displays are available with two-week-or-less delivery estimates.

MacRumors contacted a reliable source who confirmed that Apple Authorized Service Providers are permitted to deny service for any product that has been opened or modified by a customer, regardless of warranty, both for safety reasons and to avoid responsibility if the machine cannot be fixed.

Sebastian’s video about his saga is deeply disingenuous — he makes it sound as though Apple isn’t able to repair any iMac Pro with a damaged display. As Rossignol’s reporting makes clear, that’s not true. On the surface it does sound wrong that Apple refuses to repair Sebastian’s iMac Pro, even though he’s willing to pay for it. But in car terms, Apple is saying his iMac is totaled. Apple should just quote him a repair price that’s higher than the retail price of a replacement machine.

See also: Rene Ritchie’s video on the saga.

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16 hours ago by rufous
Apple adds Earth Day donations to trade-in and recycling program - Apple
Among Apple’s Earth Day-related announcements:

Apple’s newest disassembly robot, Daisy, is the most efficient way to reclaim more of the valuable materials stored in iPhone. Created through years of R&D, Daisy incorporates revolutionary technology based on Apple’s learnings from Liam, its first disassembly robot launched in 2016. Daisy is made from some of Liam’s parts and is capable of disassembling nine versions of iPhone and sorting their high-quality components for recycling. Daisy can take apart up to 200 iPhone devices per hour, removing and sorting components, so that Apple can recover materials that traditional recyclers can’t — and at a higher quality.

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16 hours ago by rufous
Trade in with Apple GiveBack - Apple
New recycling program from Apple:

Trade in your eligible device for an Apple Store Gift Card. If it’s not eligible for credit, we’ll recycle it for free. No matter the model or condition, we can turn it into something good for you and good for the planet.

And through April 30, we’ll make a donation to Conservation International for every device we receive — getting us even closer to leaving the world better than we found it.

I tried my space black first-generation Apple Watch — which I paid $1,100 for in 2015 — and Apple is offering me $75. I suspect I could sell it for more than that, no? It’s fully functional and the display and case are in near-mint condition, thanks the scratch resistance of sapphire and DLC-coated stainless steel.

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16 hours ago by rufous
Apple iPhone X will be killed off this year, analyst says
Arjun Kharpal, writing for CNBC under the jacktastic headline “Apple’s iPhone X Will Be Killed Off This Year, Analyst Says”:

TSMC’s record inventory levels are due to Apple not buying components for any future iPhone X models, suggesting the device will be killed off this year, Campling said.

“With the declines in iPhone X orders and the inventory issue at TSMC at record highs, which basically reflect a need to burn off inventory. Why? Because the iPhone X is dead,” Campling wrote in his note.

“The simple problem with X is that it is too expensive,” Campling told CNBC by phone on Friday, talking about the device’s $999 price tag. “Consumers are turning their backs on high-priced smartphones.”

It might be true that the iPhone X will be discontinued in September when new iPhones are announced, but I guarantee it will be replaced by a successor. It actually makes sense that Apple wouldn’t keep the iPhone X around for another year at a lower price — that’s the iPhone 8’s role.

I don’t know why CNBC is paying credence to Campling on this, because by all accounts the iPhone X is selling well or very well. Tim Cook told CNBC in February that “iPhone X was our most popular iPhone, despite not beginning to ship until November.” A report this week from Counterpoint claims the iPhone X alone accounted for 35 percent of all profits in the industry in Q4 2017 — even though it only went on sale in November. (The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus combined for 34 percent; all iPhones combined accounted for 86 percent. I don’t know how much credence to give to Counterpoint’s report because I don’t know their methodology, but if their numbers are even vaguely accurate, Apple has almost no competition in the premium handset market — Samsung’s top two phones combined account for less than 5 percent of industry profits, and no other company had a phone that cracked the top 10, and every single iPhone model currently sold by Apple is in the top 10.)

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17 hours ago by rufous
“2001: A Space Odyssey”: What It Means, and How It Was Made | The New Yorker
Nice piece by Dan Chiasson for The New Yorker “on the tedium and the triumph of 2001: A Space Odyssey:

Kubrick brought to his vision of the future the studiousness you would expect from a history film. 2001 is, in part, a fastidious period piece about a period that had yet to happen. Kubrick had seen exhibits at the 1964 World’s Fair, and pored over a magazine article titled “Home of the Future.” The lead production designer on the film, Tony Masters, noticed that the world of 2001 eventually became a distinct time and place, with the kind of coherent aesthetic that would merit a sweeping historical label, like “Georgian” or “Victorian.” “We designed a way to live,” he recalled, “down to the last knife and fork.” (The Arne Jacobsen flatware, designed in 1957, was made famous by its use in the film, and is still in production.) By rendering a not-too-distant future, Kubrick set himself up for a test: thirty-three years later, his audiences would still be around to grade his predictions. Part of his genius was that he understood how to rig the results. Many elements from his set designs were contributions from major brands — Whirlpool, Macy’s, DuPont, Parker Pens, Nikon — which quickly cashed in on their big-screen exposure. If 2001 the year looked like 2001 the movie, it was partly because the film’s imaginary design trends were made real.

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18 hours ago by rufous
Exclusive: YouTube ran ads from hundreds of brands on extremist channels
Paul P. Murphy, Kaya Yurieff, and Gianluca Mezzofiore, reporting for CNN:

Ads from over 300 companies and organizations — including tech giants, major retailers, newspapers and government agencies — ran on YouTube channels promoting white nationalists, Nazis, pedophilia, conspiracy theories and North Korean propaganda, a CNN investigation has found.

Companies such as Adidas, Amazon, Cisco, Facebook, Hershey, Hilton, LinkedIn, Mozilla, Netflix, Nordstrom and Under Armour may have unknowingly helped finance some of these channels via the advertisements they paid for on Google-owned YouTube.

US tax dollars may have gone to the channels, too. Ads from five US government agencies, such as the Department of Transportation and Centers for Disease Control, appeared on the channels.

Facebook is getting a lot of attention lately, but it’s starting to feel like YouTube is losing its credibility too.

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yesterday by rufous
Retail Rivals Amazon and Best Buy Team Up to Sell Smart TVs - WSJ
David Pierce:

Rivals Amazon.com Inc. and Best Buy Co. are joining forces to sell television sets powered by Amazon’s Fire TV operating system.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Best Buy CEO Hubert Joly revealed the partnership on Tuesday at a Best Buy store in Bellevue, Wash. The companies will sell 11 models, starting this summer with TVs by Toshiba and Best Buy house brand Insignia. Best Buy will feature the Amazon-powered TVs in its stores and on its website and become the exclusive merchant of these TVs on Amazon.com.

“What we’re doing is so deeply integrated,” Mr. Bezos said, acknowledging the fact that his company and Best Buy are often considered rivals. “It’s only possible because we trust each other.”

I don’t know if Best Buy should trust Amazon or not, but I do know I wish Apple would get it together and make some TVs with Apple TV built-in.

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yesterday by rufous
Majority of teens worry about school shootings, and so do most parents | Pew Research Center
Nikki Graf, writing for Pew Research Center:

In the aftermath of the deadly shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, a majority of American teens say they are very or somewhat worried about the possibility of a shooting happening at their school — and most parents of teens share that concern, according to new Pew Research Center surveys of teens ages 13 to 17 and parents with children in the same age range.

Meanwhile, when it comes to what can be done to prevent this kind of violence, far more teens view proposals focused on mental illness, assault-style weapon bans and the use of metal detectors in schools as potentially effective than say the same about allowing teachers and school officials to carry guns in schools.

It is absolutely shameful that we as a country have let it get to the point where a majority of teenagers are worried about a shooting at their school. When I was in high school 30 years ago, I don’t the notion that there’d be a shooting at my school even crossed my mind.

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yesterday by rufous
turntouch.com
Ever wanted to control Spotify on your phone without looking at your phone? Do you have smart lights like Philips Hue and want a phone-free way to change scenes and colors? Turn Touch is your answer.

Turn Touch is a wooden smart home remote. Forget plastic, this is a remote as stylish as your home. It controls every smart home device that speaks Wi-Fi. Also use it to control your Mac and iOS over Bluetooth. This includes Keynote, iTunes, Quicktime, Spotify, Sonos, and lots more.

Buy a remote for your home or office for only $59 (with free shipping). A great gift for friends or yourself.

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yesterday by rufous
time.com
Barack Obama, writing for Time magazine’s “Most Influential People of 2018” on Parkland, Florida students Cameron Kasky, Jaclyn Corin, David Hogg, Emma González, and Alex Wind:

America’s response to mass shootings has long followed a predictable pattern. We mourn. Offer thoughts and prayers. Speculate about the motives. And then — even as no developed country endures a homicide rate like ours, a difference explained largely by pervasive accessibility to guns; even as the majority of gun owners support commonsense reforms — the political debate spirals into acrimony and paralysis.

This time, something different is happening. This time, our children are calling us to account.

The Parkland, Fla., students don’t have the kind of lobbyists or big budgets for attack ads that their opponents do. Most of them can’t even vote yet.

But they have the power so often inherent in youth: to see the world anew; to reject the old constraints, outdated conventions and cowardice too often dressed up as wisdom.

The power to insist that America can be better.

He has such a distinct writing style — I can hear his voice as I read his words.

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yesterday by rufous
A flaw-by-flaw guide to Facebook’s new GDPR privacy changes – TechCrunch
Josh Constine, writing for TechCrunch:

Facebook is about to start pushing European users to speed through giving consent for its new GDPR privacy law compliance changes. It will ask people to review how Facebook applies data from the web to target them with ads, and surface the sensitive profile info they share. Facebook will also allow European and Canadian users to turn on facial recognition after six years of the feature being blocked there. But with a design that encourages rapidly hitting the “Agree” button, a lack of granular controls, a laughably cheatable parental consent request for teens and an aesthetic overhaul of Download Your Information that doesn’t make it any easier to switch social networks, Facebook shows it’s still hungry for your data.

A good example of the dark patterns they’re employing:

But the fact that the button to reject the new Terms of Service isn’t even a button, it’s a tiny “see your options” hyperlink, shows how badly Facebook wants to avoid you closing your account. When Facebook’s product designer for the GDPR flow was asked if she thought this hyperlink was the best way to present the alternative to the big “I Accept” button, she disingenuously said yes, eliciting scoffs from the room of reporters. It seems obvious that Facebook is trying to minimize the visibility of the path to account deletion rather than making it an obvious course of action if you don’t agree to its terms.

Not only is it a tiny hyperlink instead of a button, the link is just a few pixels above the big “I ACCEPT” button.

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yesterday by rufous
Writing on my iPad at home - Six Colors
I asked, Jason answered:

A reader on Twitter suggested I buy this iPad stand on Amazon, and I’ve been using it ever since. It’s surprisingly sturdy. The base that approximates the foot of an iMac is metal, not plastic. A hinge lets me pivot the iPad up and down and likewise doesn’t feel cheap. And the clip mechanism — the stand comes with clips for large and small iPads — is strong enough to hold my iPad without any worry of it sliding out. Best of all, the thing rotates, so I can use my iPad in portrait (for more words on the screen) or landscape (for use with Split View) as I see fit.

The stand is only $40, so I ordered one yesterday. I also ordered a Matias Laptop Pro, a Bluetooth mechanical keyboard that Snell — who’s in even deeper than I am with a mechanical keyboard collection — says feels and sounds quite a bit like an Apple Extended Keyboard II.

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yesterday by rufous
Exclusive: Facebook to put 1.5 billion users out of reach of new EU privacy law | Reuters
David Ingram, reporting for Reuters:

If a new European law restricting what companies can do with people’s online data went into effect tomorrow, almost 1.9 billion Facebook Inc users around the world would be protected by it. The online social network is making changes that ensure the number will be much smaller.

Facebook members outside the United States and Canada, whether they know it or not, are currently governed by terms of service agreed with the company’s international headquarters in Ireland.

Next month, Facebook is planning to make that the case for only European users, meaning 1.5 billion members in Africa, Asia, Australia and Latin America will not fall under the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which takes effect on May 25.

This sounds like bullshit to me, if they plan to continue funneling the revenue they generate from those users through their Irish subsidiary.

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yesterday by rufous
EX-99.1
Jeff Bezos, in his annual Amazon shareholder letter:

13 years post-launch, we have exceeded 100 million paid Prime members globally. In 2017 Amazon shipped more than five billion items with Prime worldwide, and more new members joined Prime than in any previous year — both worldwide and in the U.S. Members in the U.S. now receive unlimited free two-day shipping on over 100 million different items.

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2 days ago by rufous
The Menu Bar – Worms and Viruses
Jack Wellborn:

The menu bar has been, and in my opinion remains, the best mechanism for providing familiarity, discoverability, and progressive disclosure in user interfaces on any platform. Even beyond the Mac, anyone who has clicked on a File menu in one platform has a pretty good shot at guessing where a Save command might be when provided a File menu somewhere else. Likewise and also regardless of operating system, someone presented with an entirely new application can safely open and explore menus to try and locate features they might need. Never pivoted data before, but need to for the first time? Hey look, there’s a menu in the bar called Data! Finally, let’s say that same seemingly one-time operation becomes a regular course of action that is needed multiple times a day. The best menu bars provide an equivalent keyboard shortcut right next to the command so, for example, anyone can discover how to save using command — s without having to be told.

So then why are menu bars fading out of more modern UX conventions?

Such a great piece. The menu bar, in my opinion, is the single biggest reason why Mac apps can grow to a greater complexity than iOS apps. I’m not saying iOS should get a menu bar — I’m saying this is why it makes sense for Apple maintain its dual platform strategy.

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2 days ago by rufous
A tale of two QuickTimes - Six Colors
Dan Moren, writing for Six Colors:

Among the casualties of the impending transition to 64-bit apps is one long-lasting oddity: QuickTime 7 Pro.

What makes this app so unusual are a few factors. For one thing, it’s one of Apple’s own apps. For another, it was first released in 2005, making it almost 13 years old, though it hasn’t seen an update in about 8 years.

But despite its age and the fact that the writing was on the wall for QuickTime 7, news that it wouldn’t see an update when macOS makes the jump to all-64-bit-all-the-time sparked some cries of frustration from users, including both myself and Jason, who have carved out a place in their workflows — and their hearts — for this little anachronism.

The biggest reason that people are up in arms about the death of QuickTime 7 Pro is that its successor, QuickTime Player X, never quite filled its shoes when it came to features.

I still use QuickTime 7 Pro, too — I have it set as my default app to open any video file. When I checked my list of installed apps looking for any remaining 32-bit hold-outs, none of the apps I use regularly are 32-bit. But I spotted several irregularly used apps that are.

This was not the case with iOS’s deprecation of 32-bit apps. With iOS, the only apps I lost use of were a few old games (including Apple’s own Texas Hold ’Em game, which was really rather fun). With the Mac, I’ll be losing a few useful apps. But that was true of the PowerPC to Intel transition, and the Motorola 680 × 0 to PowerPC transition. I vaguely recall some software that ran under System 6 but broke under System 7 in 1991. This is the price we pay for a platform that remains both relevant and (at least compared to Windows) low-cruft.

What makes QuickTime 7 Pro particularly irksome, as Moren points out, is that it’s Apple’s own software. Maybe there’s an opportunity here for a third-party app to take up the mantle.

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2 days ago by rufous
Everybody copies everyone: iOS 9 features inspired by Android | Ars Technica
In response to my piece today on normalizing design rip-offs, a few readers who object to my statement that every company does not copy from everyone else pointed me to this 2015 piece by Ron Amadeo for Ars Technica, “Everybody Copies Everyone: iOS 9 Features Inspired by Android”:

Apple announced iOS 9 on Monday, and while watching the keynote, I had just a little bit of déjà vu. Most of iOS 9’s new features seem to be squarely aimed at Apple’s biggest rival in mobile: Android. Specifically, they were about catching up to Android.

Search improvements, proactive assistance, split screen, and transit directions? It’s been done, but the differences are the fun part, so we chased down the new iOS 9 screenshots and compared them to their Android counterparts. It’s not just about who copied whom; it’s also a chance to look at the different designs of the two operating systems. And hey, Apple isn’t the only one taking ideas from a competitor. Android M’s selectable app permissions are an exact copy of the iOS model.

This is not copying. Following? Sure. That’s how competition works. I’m not arguing that if Company A implements a certain feature first, that no other company can ever implement that feature without ripping off Company A. Look at the side-by-side screenshots in Amadeo’s article. Were all these features on Android first? Sure. Do any of these screenshots leave even one iota of confusion regarding which is iOS and which is Android? No. If you don’t see the difference between these examples and what Huawei did with their Portrait mode feature, I don’t know what to say.

That’s why I like the phrase “design plagiarism”. Maybe you think Amadeo’s examples are “copying”. But they’re not plagiarism. If you write an article, and then I write my own article about the same topic, that just means you were first. But if I copy your article and just change a few words, that’s plagiarism. There’s a big difference.

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3 days ago by rufous
Far more than 87m Facebook users had data compromised, MPs told | UK news | The Guardian
Alex Hern, reporting for The Guardian:

Far more than 87 million people may have had their Facebook data harvested by Cambridge Analytica, according to evidence from former employee Brittany Kaiser.

Speaking to the Commons digital, culture, media and sport select committee, Kaiser said Cambridge Analytica had a suite of personality quizzes designed to extract personal data from the social network, of which Aleksandr Kogan’s This Is Your Digital Life app was just one example.

In evidence to the committee, Kaiser wrote: “The Kogan/GSR datasets and questionnaires were not the only Facebook-connected questionnaires and datasets which Cambridge Analytica used. I am aware in a general sense of a wide range of surveys which were done by CA or its partners, usually with a Facebook login — for example, the ‘sex compass’ quiz.”

Called it.

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3 days ago by rufous
Daring Fireball: On Normalizing Rip-Offs
Vlad Savov, a few weeks ago at The Verge:

I know I’m supposed to be outraged about tech companies blatantly copying each other’s designs, but I don’t have the naivety for it anymore. Huawei, the company that’s been shipping copycat Apple EarPods with its Android smartphones for years, has decided to also clone Apple’s wireless AirPods, and the product of that is called the Huawei FreeBuds. I got my hands on the FreeBuds at Huawei’s P20 launch event, and I found myself pleasantly surprised by their styling and comfort. Yes, Huawei is copying Apple; but I’m not a patent lawyer, I just want to see good tech proliferate, and the FreeBuds look promising.

I have so many problems with this. First, it’s not “tech companies blatantly copying each other’s designs” in the abstract. That phrasing makes it sound like everyone copies from everyone. What’s going on, and which Huawei exemplifies, is that device makers from China and Korea blatantly copy hardware and software from one company: Apple.

In this case Savov was writing about Huawei’s copycat wireless earbuds. But the most telling example — and which Savov himself has documented better than anyone else — is the iPhone X notch. The notch is unquestionably the worst thing about the iPhone X design — it is a worthwhile compromise, but a severe and glaring one. But it lends the iPhone X a distinctive look and can be easily copied, and so of course these companies are shamelessly copying it. Anything they can copy from a successful Apple product, they do. (How many PC laptops look like MacBooks?)

Here’s a software example, from the same Huawei launch event last month: their camera app’s Portrait mode with a “Stage Lighting” effect. Huawei didn’t just copy the feature — they copied Apple’s UI almost to a T. (Apple uses a 3D wireframe cube to indicate the currently selected lighting effect; Huawei uses a 3D wireframe sphere.) This is design plagiarism.

I don’t think outrage is the right term for how the media should react to such rip-offs. I suggest a mix of contempt and mockery. But they certainly shouldn’t be pooh-poohed with an “Eh, everyone does it” attitude. Everyone does not do it, and the companies who do original design work are not ripped off in equal measure.
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3 days ago by rufous
Mapping Apple’s vast universe of space gray shades | 9to5Mac
Michael Steeber, writing for 9to5Mac:

Yet, ubiquity has not brought consistency. Each new generation of a product seems to bring with it a slightly different take on space gray. Those with large device collections have noted the discrepancies between shades, and discussions brew online over the term’s exact definition.

While subtle variations in material, texture, lighting, and even the shape of a product can play tricks on the eyes, every device Apple currently offers or has produced in space gray can be grouped into one of several loosely defined categories. Below, we’ve cataloged and categorized the vast universe of Apple’s recent dark material finishes in an attempt to unravel the mysteries of space gray.

Unsurprisingly, I found this article a lot of fun. Certainly seems comprehensive.

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4 days ago by rufous
Spotify and Hulu team up for $13 subscription bundle
Jackie Wattles, writing for CNN Tech:

The companies said Wednesday that a $12.99 per-month plan will get you access to Spotify’s ad-free music streaming service and Hulu’s basic package that allows you to stream TV shows and movies with some ad breaks.

Paying for both services separately would set you back about $18 — $9.99 for Spotify Premium and $7.99 for Hulu.

Seems like a good deal and a smart partnership.

This is why I think Apple will roll its upcoming exclusive TV shows into Apple Music — people are naturally reluctant to sign up for yet another subscription. Spitball: $10 a month for Apple Music only (same as now); $15 for Apple Music and TV. Or maybe just give the shows to everyone at the current $10 — focus more on getting as many people signed up as possible, not extracting additional revenue from those who are signed up.

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4 days ago by rufous
GrayKey iPhone unlocker poses serious security concerns - Malwarebytes Labs | Malwarebytes Labs
Thomas Reed, writing for the Malwarebytes Labs blog:

Thanks to an anonymous source, we now know what this mysterious device looks like, and how it works. And while the technology is a good thing for law enforcement, it presents some significant security risks.

GrayKey is a gray box, four inches wide by four inches deep by two inches tall, with two lightning cables sticking out of the front.

Two iPhones can be connected at one time, and are connected for about two minutes. After that, they are disconnected from the device, but are not yet cracked. Some time later, the phones will display a black screen with the passcode, among other information. The exact length of time varies, taking about two hours in the observations of our source. It can take up to three days or longer for six-digit passcodes, according to Grayshift documents, and the time needed for longer passphrases is not mentioned. Even disabled phones can be unlocked, according to Grayshift.

After the device is unlocked, the full contents of the filesystem are downloaded to the GrayKey device. From there, they can be accessed through a web-based interface on a connected computer, and downloaded for analysis. The full, unencrypted contents of the keychain are also available for download.

So the phone is only connected to the box for two minutes, and then the phone itself displays the passcode after it’s cracked? If I’m reading this right, the box must jailbreak the iPhone and install the cracking software on the iPhone itself. I guess that would explain how they get around iOS’s (optional) wipe-after-10-wrong-guesses feature, as well as the escalating delays after a few wrong guesses.

Hopefully Apple can figure out how to fix this jailbreak. If you’re concerned about this, you ought to switch to a stronger alphanumeric passphrase.

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4 days ago by rufous
Nikola Tesla predicted the smartphone in 1926
Remarkably prescient predictions from Tesla, in a 1926 interview with Collier’s:

When wireless is perfectly applied the whole earth will be converted into a huge brain, which in fact it is, all things being particles of a real and rhythmic whole. We shall be able to communicate with one another instantly, irrespective of distance. Not only this, but through television and telephony we shall see and hear one another as perfectly as though we were face to face, despite intervening distances of thousands of miles; and the instruments through which we shall be able to do his will be amazingly simple compared with our present telephone. A man will be able to carry one in his vest pocket.

We shall be able to witness and hear events — the inauguration of a President, the playing of a world series game, the havoc of an earthquake or the terror of a battle — just as though we were present.

Streaming video is getting to be old hat. It’s human nature that we take every breakthrough for granted after just a few years. But sometimes when I’m watching a live baseball game on my phone while I’m walking around, it strikes me just how futuristic it would seem to my younger self.

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4 days ago by rufous
My 9.7 iPad (2018) review: Drawn, written, edited, and produced with an iPad | iMore
Serenity Caldwell:

More than anything else, the Apple Pencil is the game changer for the 2018 iPad. So I used it to draw, write, and create a review done entirely on the 9.7-inch tablet.

Very impressive video. She even composed her own score in GarageBand.

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7 days ago by rufous
Alan Kay's answer to What did Alan Kay and Steve Jobs talk about at the 2007 iPhone keynote? - Quora
Alan Kay, on Quora:

I think he invited me to the 2007 iPhone unveiling partly because it was kind of a tiny “Dynabook” — and he had always wanted to do one — and partly because [he was going to use a quote of mineq that he had always taken to heart “People who are really serious about software should make their own hardware”.

The photo of us chatting was taken right after the event. He brought the iPhone to me, put it in my hands, and asked: “Alan, is this good enough to be criticized?”. My reply was to make a shape with my hands the size of an iPad: “Steve, make it this size and you’ll rule the world”.

The iPad is a huge hit, of course, but it turns out it’s the iPhone that rules the world. (Via Dave Mark.)

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7 days ago by rufous
32-bit app compatibility with macOS High Sierra 10.13.4 - Apple Support
Apple:

Starting with macOS High Sierra 10.13.4, apps that have not been updated to use 64-bit processes produce a one-time alert when opened. This gives users advance notice that they are running 32-bit software, which will not be compatible with macOS in the future.

It’s almost certain we’ll hear more about this at WWDC when MacOS 10.14 is announced. I think 32-bit apps might still work in 10.14, though.

Here’s how to check for 32-bit apps on your Mac:

From the Apple menu, choose About This Mac, then click the System Report button. From the system report, scroll down to Software, then select Applications. When you select an individual application, you will see a field titled ”64-bit (Intel)”. “Yes” indicates 64-bit; “No” indicates 32-bit.

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7 days ago by rufous
Finally! Closed Captions in FCPX | Hamm On Wry
Kevin Hamm:

You might have read my complaint that Apple, the tech leader in all things accessibility, somehow had managed for nearly two decades to not bother with Closed Captions in their media software for professionals. While adding in tools for effects, for color grading, key, multi-cam, and so many other useful tools, we all were stuck waiting for good captioning tools.

With the release of Final Cut Pro 10.4.1 we have closed captions for everyone!

A rare beast: a genuine finally.

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7 days ago by rufous
FCC appears to leak photos of gold iPhone X | 9to5Mac
Benjamin Mayo, writing for 9to5Mac:

Supply chain reports at the time strongly indicated that Apple had been planning to launch the iPhone X with a gold option, but the company could not reach the necessary yields.

I don’t care for gold personally, but this would have been popular I think. And will be popular, if Apple can pull off a similar look with a future iPhone. Ever since Apple started shipping gold-toned iPhones, I’ve thought they should try one with a black front face.

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7 days ago by rufous
Apple Outsider » Selling Secrets from Cupertino
Here’s an old piece by Matt Drance on a case from 2010 where an Apple leaker was indicted (and eventually pleaded guilty) for crimes:

The indictment claims Devine received approximately $2.5 million in kickbacks from these dealings, which he split with a co-conspirator. That was merely his share of the pot, though: the effect of his alleged actions on supplier contracts presumably cost Apple much more — perhaps tens of millions of dollars. A pending civil suit filed by Apple against Devine may or may not detail Apple’s estimated financial exposure.

Shin wasn’t a mere “leaker”. Presumably, most Apple employees who leak upcoming product information aren’t doing so for money. Shin was. He was sentenced to a year in prison and a $4.5 million fine.

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7 days ago by rufous
The Canadian Cheese Cartel - Allen Pike
Allen Pike on Canada’s protectionist trade policies on cheese:

How expensive is cheese in Canada, you ask? Well let’s consider pizza, everybody’s favourite cheese delivery mechanism. There’s a big nationwide chain here called Boston Pizza that sells, among other things, pizza. A large pepperoni pizza at Boston Pizza is $30.28.

At Pizza Hut in the US, they currently have a deal on where you get a large pepperoni pizza for $7.99. That is less than $30.28 — even after health insurance premiums.

Now, would I recommend paying $8 for a Pizza Hut pizza? No. Would I recommend paying $30 for a Boston Pizza Pizza? Also no. Should we be eating pizza in the first place? Well, yes, pizza is delicious. As is cheese — but it’s slightly less delicious in Canada, because it’s god damned expensive.

I had no idea cheese was so expensive in Canada. It tells you how popular pizza is that it still sells at prices like that.

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7 days ago by rufous
Apple’s Stumbling HomePod Isn’t the Hot Seller It Wanted - Bloomberg
Mark Gurman, writing for Bloomberg:

During the HomePod’s first 10 weeks of sales, it eked out 10 percent of the smart speaker market, compared with 73 percent for Amazon’s Echo devices and 14 percent for the Google Home, according to Slice Intelligence. Three weeks after the launch, weekly HomePod sales slipped to about 4 percent of the smart speaker category on average, the market research firm says. Inventory is piling up, according to Apple store workers, who say some locations are selling fewer than 10 HomePods a day.

I don’t put much value in comments from Slice Intelligence or anonymous suppliers, but Apple Store employees are saying they’re only selling single digits per day, that sounds bad. (Would love to hear from any readers out there who work in Apple retail.) But I’d love some context on this. How many iPhones does a typical Apple Store sell per day? MacBooks? Apple TVs?

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8 days ago by rufous
Teachers Get Baseball Bats to Confront Shooters in Pennsylvania District - The New York Times
Christina Caron, reporting for The New York Times:

A school district in Erie, Pa., has supplied teachers and other school employees with miniature baseball bats to use as a last resort if confronted with an active shooter.

“We don’t want to be sitting ducks,” William Hall, superintendent of the Millcreek Township School District, said on Wednesday. “We’re not just going to go hide.” […]

The 600 bats each cost $3, Mr. Hall said, and are akin to a ballpark souvenir.

They are no match, of course, for a gunman toting a semiautomatic weapon. Even so, Mr. Hall said, “I think a bat could disarm a pistol with a nice swing.”

Are these people out of their fucking minds?

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8 days ago by rufous
The Talk Show ✪: Ep. 219, With Special Guest Matthew Panzarino
Matthew Panzarino returns to the show to talk about his exclusive behind-the-scenes profile with Apple’s Pro Workflow Team and state of Apple’s professional Mac hardware and software.

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8 days ago by rufous
Donald Trump Takes Out Paul Ryan, and ‘It’s Going to Be a Civil War’
Longtime Republican political strategist Rick Wilson, hitting the nail on the head in his column at The Daily Beast:

Ryan and his caucus hoped to run on the tax cut, the economy, and infrastructure. All of these messages now will be swept aside. Ryan owns his share of the blame; too often, he behaved as if he was some deferential junior VP at a Trump resort and not the leader of the House of Representatives in a co-equal branch of government. The idea, popular among the House leadership, that a diet of ass-kissing and deference would make Trump into a normal President who didn’t need the political equivalent of Depends was always a strategic mistake.

Ryan is now paying the price. The rest of his caucus will pay in the fall.

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9 days ago by rufous
Apple Now Runs On 100% Green Energy, And Here’s How It Got There
Speaking of Lisa Jackson, Mark Sullivan has a detailed feature for Fast Company on Apple’s announcement that the company now runs on 100 percent green energy, and its push to get its suppliers there, too:

I asked Jackson to describe how Apple goes about persuading a supplier to switch to renewable energy, and she was blunt. The conversation, she says, might go something like “Hey this is something that’s becoming increasingly important to us, so get a leg up on the person that’s going to try to get this business away from you. Clean up your power act now.”

At the moment, this conversation involves a healthy dose of education. “What we say is that we’ll be there with you,” Jackson recounts. “We’ll help you scout deals, we’ll help you evaluate whether they’re real, we’ll help you know what to negotiate for, because most of these folks, they’re trying to make a part, and so what we can do for them is be sort of their in-house consulting firm.” But she adds that there will likely come a time where Apple will require suppliers to run their businesses on clean energy as a condition of a business relationship.

Even now, a Greenpeace report from last year noted, Apple is unique among big tech companies for tracking information about its suppliers’ green-energy progress. “Apple has thus far been fairly aggressive in pursuing its 2020 goal to deploy 4GW of renewable energy in its supply chain,” Greenpeace says in the report, “and has made significant progress with its suppliers as well.”

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9 days ago by rufous
www.nytimes.com
Lisa Friedman and Kenneth P. Vogel, reporting for The New York Times on the latest from the egomaniacal branch of the Trump kakistocracy:

When Scott Pruitt wanted to refashion the Environmental Protection Agency’s “challenge coin” — a type of souvenir medallion with military origins that has become a status symbol among civilians — he proposed an unusual design: Make it bigger, and delete the E.P.A. logo.

Mr. Pruitt instead wanted the coin to feature some combination of symbols more reflective of himself and the Trump administration. Among the possibilities: a buffalo, to evoke Mr. Pruitt’s native Oklahoma, and a Bible verse to reflect his faith.

Other ideas included using the Great Seal of the United States — a design similar to the presidential seal — and putting Mr. Pruitt’s name around the rim in large letters, according to Ronald Slotkin, a career E.P.A. employee who retired this year, and two people familiar with the proposals who asked to remain anonymous because they said they feared retribution.

Wanting his own name in large letters around a bigger coin — sounds like something I’ve heard before.

Another person who was involved in the debate said that Mr. Pruitt had expressed disapproval of the agency’s seal, a round flower with four leaves. He felt it looked like a marijuana leaf.

Hard to believe this clown now holds the job formerly held by Lisa Jackson.

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9 days ago by rufous
Here Is Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes’ Desperate Letter To Shareholders
Theranos founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes, accused of outright fraud by the SEC, in a letter to shareholders regarding the company’s impending default on a $100 million loan:

The most viable option that we have identified to forestall a near-term sale or a potential default under our credit agreement is further investment by one or more of you. In light of where we are, this is no easy ask. However, given your support of the company over the years, we wanted to provide this opportunity before we proceed too far down the current path.

Good luck with that. (And I thought Mark Zuckerberg was having a rough week.)

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9 days ago by rufous
Why Mark Zuckerberg’s 14-Year Apology Tour Hasn’t Fixed Facebook | WIRED
Zeynep Tufekci, writing for Wired:

In 2003, one year before Facebook was founded, a website called Facemash began nonconsensually scraping pictures of students at Harvard from the school’s intranet and asking users to rate their hotness. Obviously, it caused an outcry. The website’s developer quickly proffered an apology. “I hope you understand, this is not how I meant for things to go, and I apologize for any harm done as a result of my neglect to consider how quickly the site would spread and its consequences thereafter,” wrote a young Mark Zuckerberg. “I definitely see how my intentions could be seen in the wrong light.”

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10 days ago by rufous
Google and Facebook can’t help publishers because they’re built to defeat publishers - Recode
Peter Kafka, writing for Recode a few weeks ago:

For argument’s sake, let’s believe that Google believes its newest efforts to boost publishers — by promoting subscriptions, news literacy and other things publishers like — will help publishers.

Let’s also believe that Facebook believed it was helping publishers when it announced its own effort to boost publishers a year ago, and multiple times since then.

Here’s the problem: No matter how hard Google and Facebook try to help publishers, they will do more to hurt them, because that’s the way they’re supposed to work. They’re built to eviscerate publishers.

(I meant to post this in March, but somehow forgot. I was reminded of it today, as the news is filled with coverage of Mark Zuckerberg testifying to Congress.)

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10 days ago by rufous
Why are Fortnite players so frickin’ nice? - Polygon
Ben Kuchera, writing for Polygon:

Before I continue, I know that there are shitty players out there, and I’ve stumbled across more than a few. But the tone of Fortnite has, in my experience, been much more positive than negative. It’s an issue I’ve discussed with my colleagues at length, but that niceness is something I’ve been hesitant to write about because it’s so squishy and strange. It feels almost unbelievable.

The average player I hear from in Fortnite is younger than I am — by decades in many cases — and they’re incredibly well-behaved online. If someone says they’re unfamiliar with the game, a dedicated player will explain the rules. People cheer each other’s victories and offer pep talks when someone gets angry. Players will jump into group chat to apologize for not having microphones, and everyone seems to be playing to have a good time.

I’m not a gamer, but my son is, and he and his friends love Fortnite, and I enjoy watching him play. It is a first-person shooter, yes, but there’s something about the tone of it — the characters, the physics, the architecture — that just feels playful. Just look at the characters in the image accompanying Kuchera’s piece — they look like action figure toys.

It’s the most interesting game I’ve watched my son play in a long while. Even the business model is interesting: it’s a AAA game with high production values but is free-to-play. They make money only through in-game purchases.

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10 days ago by rufous
Apple lands Isaac Asimov Foundation Series David Goyer & Josh Friedman | Deadline
Mike Fleming Jr. and Nellie Andreeva, writing for Deadline:

In a competitive situation, Apple has nabbed a TV series adaptation of Foundation, the seminal Isaac Asimov science fiction novel trilogy. The project, from Skydance Television, has been put in development for straight-to-series consideration. Deadline revealed last June that Skydance had made a deal with the Asimov estate and that David S. Goyer and Josh Friedman were cracking the code on a sprawling series based on the books that informed Star Wars and many other sci-fi films and TV series. Goyer and Friedman will be executive producers and showrunners. […]

Even the Game of Thrones’ creative team would marvel at the number of empires that rise and fall in Foundation. Asimov’s trilogy has been tried numerous times as a feature film at Fox, Warner Bros (with Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne, who greenlit The Lord of the Rings), and then at Sony with Independence Day director Roland Emmerich. Many top sci-fi writers have done scripts and found it daunting to constrict the sprawling saga to a feature film format. Most recently, HBO tried developing a series with Interstellar co-writer and Westworld exec producer Jonathan Nolan, but a script was never ordered.

I haven’t read the Foundation series since I was a teenager, but I remember being absolutely enthralled. A TV series is definitely the way to go with material like this. I don’t even think a trilogy of feature films could do justice to a story this spralling — Foundation calls for the megamovie treatment.

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10 days ago by rufous
Bloom County 2018 - Bloom County 2018 by Berkeley Breathed for Apr 8, 2018 | Read Comic Strips at GoComics.com
Perhaps due to my general aversion to April Fool’s Day jokes, I missed this last week: a wonderful collaboration between Bill Watterson and Berkeley Breathed. (Or if Watterson wasn’t actually involved, Breathed sure can mimic his style well.)

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10 days ago by rufous
Apple introduces iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus (PRODUCT)RED Special Edition - Apple
I’m fully on board with the iPhone X, but these look amazing. The black face looks so much better than the white face on last year’s Product Red iPhone 7 models.

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11 days ago by rufous
Even if Magic Leap’s goggles suck, it can probably still make money off them - MIT Technology Review
Rachel Metz, writing for MIT Technology Review:

Few people outside the company have seen the device, let alone tried it. In March, Magic Leap released software tools for developers to start making apps for the device; those without access to the device have to use a software-based simulator to get a sense for what their creations will actually look like through the lenses of the headset.

The company has built up a trove of dozens of patents over the past several years that could be licensed to other companies as a sort of fallback plan if the headset fails.

There’s no “sort of” about it — becoming a patent troll would definitely be a fallback plan.

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11 days ago by rufous
HP goes up against the iPad Pro with its $599 Chromebook x2 - The Verge
Jacob Kastrenakes, writing for The Verge:

The Chromebook x2 seems to have a lot of potential, but there are some big questions — and not just about whether the hardware is as good as it looks. The real open question is whether Chrome OS is cut out to work on a tablet. Google has been overhauling the operating system to work better with touchscreens for a couple years now, but it’s still very much a desktop system. (It’s based on the Chrome desktop browser and its display of desktop websites, after all.) That’s likely to limit how useful it is, especially in comparison to an iPad, which was designed for touch from the ground up.

How good is Chrome on a tablet is my question exactly. And whatever happened to Google’s project to merge Android and Chrome OS into one operating system? Is that still a thing?

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11 days ago by rufous
Maelstrom 3.0
Speaking of video games, Brent Simmons reminded me that Maelstrom — the excellent Asteroids clone originally created for the classic Mac OS by Ambrosia Software — still runs natively on Mac OS X. I just played for the first time in probably at least 10 years and scored over 47,000. Not bad. Can’t say much for the graphics when running full-screen on a 27-inch display, but it’s still damn fun.

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11 days ago by rufous
Don’t Give Away Historic Details About Yourself — Krebs on Security
Brian Krebs:

Social media sites are littered with seemingly innocuous little quizzes, games and surveys urging people to reminisce about specific topics, such as “What was your first job,” or “What was your first car?” The problem with participating in these informal surveys is that in doing so you may be inadvertently giving away the answers to “secret questions” that can be used to unlock access to a host of your online identities and accounts.

I’m willing to bet that a good percentage of regular readers here would never respond — honestly or otherwise — to such questionnaires (except perhaps to chide others for responding). But I thought it was worth mentioning because certain social networks — particularly Facebook — seem positively overrun with these data-harvesting schemes. What’s more, I’m constantly asking friends and family members to stop participating in these quizzes and to stop urging their contacts to do the same.

Krebs is right (as usual), but at the end of his post he points to the real problem — the fact that so many websites, particularly banks, still rely on questions like these for verifying your identity. It’s not secure at all.

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11 days ago by rufous
Campo Santo
Campo Santo:

When will it be out? All we can say is “soon!” Reengineering the sprawling meadows and towering trees of Firewatch’s wilderness to play perfectly on new hardware is no small engineering task. We’ve been hard at work stripping much of Firewatch’s tech down to the studs and rebuilding it to render the world more quickly, to stream and load faster, and to generally be more responsive. Nearly everyone in the Campo Santo office has a Nintendo Switch (and the rest want one). We know what a good Switch game feels like, and want to make sure Firewatch feels like one too.

Plus, we’re hoping to throw in a couple surprises just for the Switch release.

I don’t spend a lot of times playing video games, but I absolutely loved Firewatch. It’s great to see so many games coming to the Switch.

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11 days ago by rufous
You've Seen This Letter Everywhere, But Can You Write It?
Lauren Sigfusson, writing for Discover:

Most of us learn the ABCs in our youth. We see and say the letters so many times they eventually become etched in our minds.

But researchers from Johns Hopkins University discovered that many people don’t know what the most common lowercase print version of the seventh letter of the alphabet really is. Heck, some didn’t even know there were two types.

There are two ways people write the lowercase letter G. The looptail, which we tend to read because it’s used in easy-to-read fonts like Times New Roman, Cambria and Calibri, and in most printed and typed material. The second is the opentail, which is the one we tend to write.

Go back to the top photo: Can you determine the correct looptail?

I got this correct, but if I had been asked to draw a looptail ‘G’ from memory I’d have failed. It is a really weird letter shape when you stare at it. Anyway, be sure to read through to the very end, for a fun editor’s note. (Via Paul Kafasis.)

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11 days ago by rufous
Facebook Says Cambridge Analytica Harvested Data of Up to 87 Million Users - The New York Times
Cecilia King, reporting for The New York Times:

Facebook on Wednesday said the personal information of up to 87 million people, most of them Americans, may have been improperly shared during the 2016 election with Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm connected to President Trump.

The new figure sharply increased the company’s previous estimate of how many users’ information was harvested by Cambridge Analytica. For weeks, Facebook had said that the data of about 50 million users was at issue.

Do you want to bet it’s actually a lot more than 87 million, and they’ll announce that bigger number in a few weeks? The drip-drip-drip PR strategy is an old trick, and Facebook utilizes every time they have bad news involving a number of users. First they announce a low number, then a higher number, and then an even higher number. Notice that their mistakes always — always — start low and then go high. They never once announce that their original number was too high.

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16 days ago by rufous
AirPods and the Three Stages of Apple Criticism – Jonathan Kim – Medium
I found myself nodding my head in agreement reading this piece by Jonathan Kim:

I really wish I was exaggerating, but these seven reasons are the main ways Apple critics attempt to explain why someone would choose to buy products critics believe are both overpriced and inferior to their competition. Because if you’ve already come to the conclusion that Apple products are overpriced and inferior, but hundreds of millions of people still buy them, the only conclusion must be that there is something seriously wrong with the people who buy them.

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16 days ago by rufous
Four snappy new iPhone X Apple Pay ads
It’s funny that these debuted the day after I called for Apple to release new Apple Pay commercials, and all four of these are very clever — they each tell a complete story in about 10 seconds. But I don’t think they solve the problem of educating about just what Apple Pay is, and especially why it’s more secure than using a credit or debit card.

What I’m thinking Apple ought to do to get Apple Pay skeptics on board is create a series of explain-it-to-me-like-I-have-no-idea-what-it-is spots like the original iPhone ads.

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16 days ago by rufous
Making The Grade: Why Apple’s education strategy is not based on reality | 9to5Mac
Bradley Chambers, in his summary of last week’s Apple education event:

Apple’s next book for education needs to be about reinventing everything. Part of the Tim Cook doctrine is this:

“We believe that we need to own and control the primary technologies behind the products we make, and participate only in markets where we can make a significant contribution.”

This doctrine should apply to education as well. If Apple believes they can make a significant contribution to schools, then they should go all in to change everything about school technology. They should buy major a textbook publisher and change the purchasing model for books when you deploy iPads. They should buy (or buy back) a student information system platform and integrate it with all of their new apps.

They should build a viable alternative to G-Suite that makes it easy for schools to manage communications. They should do all of this at a price where the least affluent districts can deploy it as easily as the most affluent ones.

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16 days ago by rufous
On Apple, Love Letters and Educators - Oh My Pizza Blog
Scott Yoshinga:

Want to manage all that hardware you just bought? Get JAMF Casper to do your Mobile Device Management. Want a place to store all that content you’re creating on your Mac or iPad? Buy some Dropbox storage or use Google Drive because Managed Apple ID has no way to purchase more iCloud storage from Apple. Looking for a Learning Management System? Subscribe to an app like Showbie or SeeSaw. Do you see a pattern? This isn’t to disparage any of the third-parties mentioned as my school currently depends on each of them to fill in the gaps that Apple won’t. However, all of those services cost money and can quickly add up to a significant amount spent year-over-year. Don’t get me wrong. It’s great to have choices in this space, but it’s hard to take Apple seriously when they don’t have any first-party solutions in these areas for the education market.

By comparison, Google with Chromebooks combined with GSuite for Education gives you an email account, unlimited file and media storage in Google Drive, a place for hosting student created web content in Google Sites, ability to use Google Accounts as a single sign-on for various services, constantly upgraded collaboration in Google Docs, Sheets and Slides and so much more for free. It’s a shame that schools that use Apple’s hardware need to depend on Google’s GSuite for many of the services Apple doesn’t provide. There are administrators that would love to go all in on Apple, especially because of their focus on privacy, but without integrated services, they need to lean on third parties which can render Apple’s strength in privacy moot.

My point is that even if my school wanted to go all-in with Apple, we simply can’t. It feels as if Apple has no desire to take care of the entire eco-system when it comes to education technology.

This is a long excerpt, but Yoshinga has many other interesting observations about the state of Apple and education. But this bit above gets to the heart of it. Back in 2012 (when Apple last held an education-focused event), Apple announced new hardware and software. That’s what Apple had always done to thrive in the education market. But what Apple clearly missed then was that what educators needed were thorough device and student account management systems. Apple didn’t and still doesn’t have that. Google does.

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16 days ago by rufous
Every Notes App Should Work Like Agenda + Subtraction.com
Khoi Vinh, on a killer feature in the new Mac notes app Agenda:

Unlike those competing apps, though, Agenda also gives me the
option of associating any given note to a specific event on my
calendar. The screenshot below shows how clicking on the calendar
icon lets me find a date, view the events on that date, and then
link that event with the current note. Even more powerfully, I can
also view my calendar in a right-hand pane, click on an event
there and initiate a new, linked note that automatically copies
over the event’s title, attendees and description. Brilliant.

I just tried this and it’s really simple, obvious, and clever. When you attach an Agenda note to an event, it simply puts an agenda://note/ URL in the event’s note field. Simple.

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16 days ago by rufous
“Trump Is Like, ‘How Can I F--k with Him?’”: Trump’s War with Amazon (and The Washington Post) Is Personal | Vanity Fair
Gabriel Sherman, writing for Vanity Fair:

Now, according to four sources close to the White House, Trump is discussing ways to escalate his Twitter attacks on Amazon to further damage the company. “He’s off the hook on this. It’s war,” one source told me. “He gets obsessed with something, and now he’s obsessed with Bezos,” said another source. “Trump is like, how can I fuck with him?” […]

Even Trump’s allies acknowledge that much of what’s fueling Trump’s rage toward Amazon is that Amazon C.E.O. Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post, sources said. “Trump doesn’t like The New York Times, but he reveres it because it’s his hometown paper. The Washington Post, he has zero respect for,” the Republican close to the White House said. While the Post says that Bezos has no involvement in newsroom decisions, Trump has told advisers he believes Bezos uses the paper as a political weapon. One former White House official said Trump looks at the Post the same way he looks at the National Enquirer. “When Bezos says he has no involvement, Trump doesn’t believe him. His experience is with the David Peckers of the world. Whether it’s right or wrong, he knows it can be done.”

Josh Marshall, earlier this week, in an excellent column at Talking Points Memo:

Having a sitting President launching scathing personal attacks on a federal law enforcement officer and demanding his firing or imprisonment for personal and political motives is wildly outside the norms that govern the American system. Similarly, a President who routinely threatens prosecutorial or regulatory vengeance against private companies because they are not sufficiently politically subservient to him personally is entirely outside of our system of governance. At present, Donald Trump is an autocrat without an autocracy.

Can you even imagine the reaction from Republicans if Barack Obama had gone after, say, Rupert Murdoch in this way? And of course, Trump’s main beef with Amazon, that the U.S. Post Office is losing $1.47 on every package they deliver for Amazon, is complete bullshit. How anyone supports this president at this point is beyond my comprehension.

Amazon’s stock is taking a hit as a result of Trump’s rhetoric, but if I were an Amazon investor, I wouldn’t worry. Jeff Bezos is very, very smart. Donald Trump is not.

 ★ 
via:daringfireball 
16 days ago by rufous
2001: A Space Odyssey Immersive Art Exhibit
Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum:

Did you know that 2001: A Space Odyssey premiered 50 years ago at Washington, DC’s Uptown Theater, just a few miles from the National Air and Space Museum? To celebrate the film’s impact on culture and technology, we’re opening a special temporary exhibition of the immersive art installation The Barmecide Feast. In this exhibit, walk into a fully realized, full-scale reflection of the iconic, neo-classical hotel room from the penultimate scene of the film.

The installation will be open to the public from April 8 to May 28, 2018.

Groups of six will be allowed in the room for two minutes.

First thought: This is amazing, can’t wait to see it. Second thought: Two minutes?

 ★ 
via:daringfireball 
16 days ago by rufous
2001: A Space Odyssey has haunted pop culture with anxiety about rogue AIs for half a century • The Register
Lucy Orr, writing for The Register:

Tucked in a downstairs corner of the maze that is the London College of Communication is the Stanley Kubrick Archives. It’s open to the public for pre-booked visits and on a recent nose-around, though initially distracted by the first-edition Robert Crumb comics, I managed to get to grips (touch gently with gloved fingers) with one of the first draft scripts of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Bound in black and looking very much like the monolith from the film, I was surprised by the extent to which this script differs from what we see and hear in the finished film. One of the most striking divergences is the presence of a benevolent second HAL, determined to thwart his evil twin.

 ★ 
via:daringfireball 
16 days ago by rufous
Apple Hires Google’s A.I. Chief - The New York Times
Jack Nicas and Cade Metz, reporting for The New York Times:

Apple has hired Google’s chief of search and artificial intelligence, John Giannandrea, a major coup in its bid to catch up to the artificial intelligence technology of its rivals.

Apple said on Tuesday that Mr. Giannandrea will run Apple’s “machine learning and A.I. strategy,” and become one of 16 executives who report directly to Apple’s chief executive, Timothy D. Cook.

Now this is some news that clearly shows Apple is getting more serious about Siri. “Google’s chief of search and artificial intelligence” sounds like the single best possible person in the world Apple could hire to make Siri what it needs to be. I think it’s important too that Giannandrea reports directly to Cook. If it works out, we’ll probably look back at this as one of the most significant Apple executive hires ever.

 ★ 
via:daringfireball 
17 days ago by rufous
Warner Bros. Pictures Celebrates 50 Years of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey | Business Wire
Warner Brothers:

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, Warner Bros. Pictures will debut an ‘unrestored’ 70mm print of the director’s groundbreaking science fiction epic at the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival. Widely considered among the greatest films of the 20th century, 2001: A Space Odyssey will return to select U.S. theatres in 70mm beginning May 18, 2018.

Set for Saturday, May 12, the world premiere will be held during the Cannes Classics section of the Festival, featuring an introduction by award-winning filmmaker Christopher Nolan. The screening will also be attended by members of Stanley Kubrick’s family, including his daughter, Katharina Kubrick, and longstanding producing partner and brother-in-law, Jan Harlan.

For the first time since the original release, this 70mm print was struck from new printing elements made from the original camera negative. This is a true photochemical film recreation. There are no digital tricks, remastered effects, or revisionist edits.

This is the unrestored film that recreates the cinematic event audiences experienced 50 years ago.

A longtime admirer of the late American auteur, Nolan worked closely with the team at Warner Bros. Pictures throughout the mastering process.

I am so insanely excited about this, I can barely contain myself. I’ve seen 70mm prints of 2001 on big screens twice. Once was a so-so older print. The other time was a cherry print. But this print sounds like something else altogether, and I can think of no one better than Christopher Nolan to have overseen it.

 ★ 
via:daringfireball 
18 days ago by rufous
Apple finally sells iMac Pro's Space Gray keyboard and mice separately
Raymond Wong, writing for Mashable last week:

Following Apple’s education-focused event, the tech giant has quietly added the coveted Space Gray Magic Keyboard, Magic Trackpad, and Magic Mouse 2 to its online store. In other words, you no longer need to buy a iMac Pro just to get them, or fork over your life savings to scalpers on eBay.

Apple’s selling the Space Gray Magic Keyboard for $149 — a $20 premium over the regular silver model which costs $129. The Space Gray Magic Trackpad is also $149 and also costs $20 more than the $129 silver version. As for the Space Gray Magic Mouse 2, it $99 compared to the $79 silver version.

Speaking of “working hard to charge you more”.

 ★ 
via:daringfireball 
18 days ago by rufous
Special Offer - JetPens.com
My thanks to JetPens for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Longtime readers are probably aware that one of my obsessions is stationery — particularly pens and notebooks. JetPens is one of my very favorite companies in the world — they offer an incredible selection of the best pens, pencils, notepads, and office toys from around the world. A few of their latest items:

Machined titanium pens that accept hundreds of different refills.

Sleek, minimal gel pens that extend with a twist.

A combination pen/stylus/ruler that’s sure to be any designer’s new favorite tool.

Award-winning Japanese notepads with water-resistant paper.

An improved, smear-free Sarasa that dries 85% faster than conventional gel pens.

A variety of pen samplers for the curious or indecisive.

Place an order through this link and JetPens will include a free gel pen with every $35.00 spent. One of your options is my very favorite pen in the world: the 0.4mm Zebra Sarasa push clip gel pen.

 ★ 
via:daringfireball 
18 days ago by rufous
Apple is hiring hundreds of engineers to make Siri smarter | Thinknum Media
Joshua Fruhlinger, writing for Thinknum:

Apple hiring trend data suggests that the company is finally taking its Siri intelligent assistant seriously. According to hiring data that we track at Thinknum, the number of open positions that contain the term “Siri” has accelerated in recent weeks, with a current all-time high of 161 job listings posted today alone. This marks a jump in hiring for the keyword of 24% in just over a month.

I would caution against drawing any conclusions from this other than that Apple has increased the number of job openings which include “Siri” in the title. Does this mean they’re taking Siri “more seriously”? Maybe. But I don’t think they ever didn’t take it seriously. A lot of people seem to take it for granted that because Siri has stalled compared to Google Assistant and Alexa, it means Apple doesn’t care about Siri. I don’t think that conclusion follows at all — you can care passionately about something and fail.

This increase in “Siri” job openings could mean Apple has concluded they need to increase the headcount on the Siri team. Or it could mean there’s been a lot of turnover. And keep in mind Fred Brooks’s axiom from The Mythical Man-Month, which is almost universally regarded as true: “Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later.” (I hesitated to include the Brooks’s law reference here, because Siri is not a single monolithic project. It’s more like a system of smaller sub-projects. But still, throwing engineers at a poorly organized software project can have the effect of throwing water on a grease fire.)

I think the true answer to the question “What’s gone wrong with Siri at Apple?” is almost certainly complex and multivariate. It’s naive to think it’s simply been understaffed.

 ★ 
via:daringfireball 
18 days ago by rufous
One Foot Tsunami: Stop Being Sexist, Siri
Paul Kafasis, writing at One Foot Tsunami:

Look, men’s sports are undeniably more popular than women’s sports. Given that, if both the men’s and women’s teams were playing at the same time, it might be reasonable to default to the men’s game. This, however, is simply ridiculous. Rather than showing what is likely the single most popular women’s college event (the championship game of the women’s basketball tournament), Siri is instead showing a fifteen day old men’s game from the second-rate NIT.

In a footnote, Kafasis notes that rather than defaulting to men’s sports if both teams are playing on the same day, it would better for Siri to ask. I will add that after asking, Siri should remember. And, on shared devices like HomePod, these voice assistants need to recognize our voices. I want Siri to recognize my voice and remember which sports (and which teams) I’m generally interested in. But if there’s another sports fan in my house, they shouldn’t necessarily be presumed to be fans of the same sports and teams.

 ★ 
via:daringfireball 
18 days ago by rufous
The Talk Show ✪: Ep. 218, With Special Guest Serenity Caldwell
Serenity Caldwell returns to the show to talk about Apple’s education-focused event last week in Chicago.

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 ★ 
via:daringfireball 
18 days ago by rufous
Apple Plans to Use Its Own Chips in Macs From 2020, Replacing Intel - Bloomberg
Bloomberg:

Apple is planning to use its own chips in Mac computers beginning as early as 2020, replacing processors from Intel, according to people familiar with the plans, Bloomberg News’ Ian King and Mark Gurman report.

The initiative, code named Kalamata, is still in the early developmental stages, but comes as part of a larger strategy to make all of Apple’s devices — including Macs, iPhones, and iPads — work more similarly and seamlessly together, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private information.

Hell of a scoop if it pans out. We’ve all been speculating about ARM-based Macs for years. In broad strokes it seems like a rather obvious idea:

Apple seeks to control its own future. With Intel, Apple has often been stuck waiting for new Intel chips. The update schedule for new Mac hardware is often in Intel’s hands, not Apple’s.

Apple’s internal chip team has been killing it. They’ve never had a bad year. I think you can argue that they’ve never had anything but a great year. iPhones and iPad Pros have been faster than most MacBooks for years now, and that just seems wrong.

But when you start thinking about the details, this transition would (will?) be very difficult. First, while Apple’s existing A-series chips are better for energy-efficient mobile device use (iPhone, iPad, just-plain MacBook), Apple’s internal team has never made anything to compete with Intel at the high-performance end (MacBook Pros, and especially iMacs and Mac Pros). I’m not saying they can’t. I’m just saying they haven’t shown us anything yet.

And then there’s all sorts of questions about the transition period. Will there be something like Rosetta — an emulator or translator that allows existing x86 Mac software to run on the new ARM-based Macs? How far in advance will Apple announce this, so that developers can adapt their apps? (Apple announced the switch from PowerPC to Intel at WWDC 2006, and started shipping Intel-based MacBook Pros in early 2007.)

 ★ 
via:daringfireball 
18 days ago by rufous
NHL stunner: A 36-year-old accountant who has never played pro stars in Blackhawks win - The Washington Post
Allyson Chiu, writing for The Washington Post:

“Among hockey’s great quirks,” as Hockey News explained, “is that it’s the only pro sport with the potential for someone not on the roster to come out of the stands and actually play in the game.” But, “it takes a very rare set of circumstances to open that door.”

This is a fabulous story, but one takeaway no one seems to be mentioning is that playing goalie in the NHL is not that difficult. I’m having trouble thinking of a another position in pro sports where this could happen. Maybe playing first baseman in baseball?

 ★ 
via:daringfireball 
21 days ago by rufous
Under Armour Says 150 Million MyFitnessPal Accounts Hacked - Bloomberg
Nick Turner, writing for Bloomberg:

Under Armour Inc., joining a growing list of corporate victims of hacker attacks, said about 150 million user accounts tied to its MyFitnessPal nutrition-tracking app were breached earlier this year.

An unauthorized party stole data from the accounts in late February, Under Armour said on Thursday. It became aware of the breach earlier this week and took steps to alert users about the incident, the company said.

It’s a little scary that this went undetected for a month. Makes me wonder how many of these data breaches are never noticed.

 ★ 
via:daringfireball 
21 days ago by rufous
System Fonts in CSS • furbo.org
Craig Hockenberry:

This whole process has been fascinating for me to watch. What started as a simple idea ended up being discussed and implemented by dozens of talented engineers. The result is a web that’s better and easier for a lot of folks.

 ★ 
via:daringfireball 
23 days ago by rufous
Facebook Container Extension: Take control of how you’re being tracked | The Firefox Frontier
Mozilla:

This extension helps you control more of your web activity from Facebook by isolating your identity into a separate container. This makes it harder for Facebook to track your activity on other websites via third-party cookies.

Rather than stop using a service you find valuable and miss out on those adorable photos of your nephew, we think you should have tools to limit what data others can collect about you. That includes us: Mozilla does not collect data from your use of the Facebook Container extension. We only know the number of times the extension is installed or removed.

In other words, Firefox is now treating Facebook as malware that you need to be protected from.

 ★ 
via:daringfireball 
23 days ago by rufous
The Curious Case of the Belkin Buy – Om Malik
Om Malik:

“I can’t put my finger on why, but this acquisition seems weird to me,” writes John Gruber, describing Foxconn’s decision to buy Belkin for $866 million. It is not that weird, especially when you take into account the competitive landscape.

TL: DR version: Foxconn needs to boost margins. Belkin has a great brand but faces an increasingly competitive landscape. It is weirdly about Taiwan vs. China.

I’ve always felt Belkin kit was kind of crappy — never more so than the comparison between their Qi charging pad and Mophie’s. Mophie’s is so much better — at the same price — it’s ridiculous. The big difference is that the Belkin charging pad has a very small sweet spot — you have to place your phone on it just so. And the Belkin one has an ugly bright green LED that turns on when you’re charging, and points up. Garish on a bedside table. The Mophie one has a subtle white light that points down, not up. I’ve also become a fan of Anker’s products (and have this Qi charger on my desk). I kind of feel like Foxconn bought a loser here.

Chris Pepper also made a keen observation about why this acquisition seems weird: “Because Foxconn manufactures a lot of Belkin’s competitors’ products.”

 ★ 
via:daringfireball 
23 days ago by rufous
Mac tetris game killed by The Tetris Company / Boing Boing
I’ve always enjoyed Tetris, even though I was never particularly good at it. After reading this story last week about the tragic life of Tetris co-creator Vladimir Pokhilko, I got the urge to play for the first time in years. I tried searching the Mac App Store for “Tetris”, expecting to find dozens of crummy knock-offs, but instead was surprised to find “Your search had no results”. Nothing. (There is an official iOS version from Electronic Arts, but come on, Tetris needs real buttons.)

I tried looking outside the Mac App Store, and as far as I can tell, there’s no official Tetris for Mac, nor are there any clones. Quinn was a decent clone I remember playing a decade ago, but as this Boing Boing report from 2006 says, the developer got a cease and desist from The Tetris Company and abandoned the game. (You can still play it on High Sierra, but it’s not retina, and worse, you can only download unsigned versions from sketchy download sites.)

So as far as I can tell, not only is there no official Tetris for Mac, there are no Tetris-like games either. Back in the 90s, there were several really good Tetris games for the Mac. Anyone remember Wesleyan Tetris? It was a goofy version in which the developer, Randall Cook, would rudely critique your gameplay.

If The Tetris Company wants to protect the name “Tetris”, fine, but I think it sucks that there’s no good way to play the game on a Mac today. Every computer should have a good version of Tetris.

 ★ 
via:daringfireball 
23 days ago by rufous
Facebook Delays Home-Speaker Unveil Amid Data Crisis - Bloomberg
Sarah Frier, reporting for Bloomberg:

Facebook Inc. has decided not to unveil new home products at its major developer conference in May, in part because the public is currently so outraged about the social network’s data-privacy practices, according to people familiar with the matter.

The company’s new hardware products, connected speakers with digital-assistant and video-chat capabilities, are undergoing a deeper review to ensure that they make the right trade-offs regarding user data, the people said. While the hardware wasn’t expected to be available until the fall, the company had hoped to preview the devices at the largest annual gathering of Facebook developers, said the people, who asked not to be named discussing internal plans.

I think it’s arguable whether anyone should have any of these speakers in their homes or offices. But if you buy one from Facebook, I think it’s inarguable that you’re insane.

 ★ 
via:daringfireball 
23 days ago by rufous
Apple CEO Tim Cook says Facebook should have regulated itself, but it’s too late for that now - Recode
Peter Kafka, writing for Recode:

Cook made that point again today: “The truth is, we could make a ton of money, if we monetized our customer - if our customer was our product. We’ve elected not to do that.”

Swisher posed a question for Cook: What would he do if he were Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg” His answer: “I wouldn’t be in this situation.”

Brutal, but not unfair. I think Cook is right: he wouldn’t be in this situation.

 ★ 
via:daringfireball 
23 days ago by rufous
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