Overcast — Info for Podcasters →

August 13, 2018 · 10:53

Marco Arment published a new page detailing what Overcast does and doesn’t do with your podcast. It also includes some technical information, which is worth reading, including a new upcoming feature:

In an update coming in fall 2018, Overcast will display a currency-symbol button that opens a payment, membership, donation, Patreon, etc. URL when present in the currently playing episode’s HTML body (“show notes”).

Use the rel=”payment” attribute on a standard HTML <a> link in an episode’s HTML body […]

If you publish your own podcast, make sure to read this.


Logitech Powered — Inductive Charging Dock for iPhone →

August 8, 2018 · 11:07

I currently use Samsung chargers but this actually looks nicer. I have been considering getting an AirPower from Apple, if they ever come out, especially since I have AirPods, an Apple Watch, and an iPhone, but I’m worried that I won’t be able to justify paying the price for it — somehow I doubt it’ll be inexpensive.

The Logitech Powered isn’t cheap and I don’t quite understand why it only supports 5W charging for Android phones, but it looks like a nice product. I might go for it but I’ll wait for AirPower first.


Instapaper Returns to Europe →

August 8, 2018 · 10:57

This year Instapaper celebrated its tenth birthday and, now that we are an independent company, we’ve been thinking a lot about the next ten years of Instapaper and beyond.

To ensure Instapaper can continue for the foreseeable future, it’s essential that the product generates enough revenue to cover its costs. In order to do so, we’re relaunching Instapaper Premium today.

As a reminder, Instapaper Premium is a subscription for $2.99/month or $29.99/year that offers the following features […]

Instapaper recently changed owners again — Pinterest sold it back to the people who bought it from Marco Arment.

Additionally, today we are bringing back Instapaper to European Union users. Over the past two months we have taken a number of actions to address the General Data Protection Regulation, and we are happy to announce our return to the European Union.

We are very sorry for the extended downtime and, as a token of our apology, we are giving six months of Instapaper Premium to all EU users affected by the outage.

I haven’t used Instapaper since Marco Arment sold it a few years ago but I’m considering a comeback.


124,000 Electric and PHEV Cars From VW, Audi and Porsche Could Be Recalled Due to Poisonous Cadmium →

August 8, 2018 · 10:51

Fred Lambert, for Electrek:

The Volkswagen group confirmed that it might have to recall as many as 124,000 electric and hybrid cars from its VW, Audi and Porsche brands due to poisonous cadmium finding its way into a charger component.

First #dieselgate and now this. I have been driving solely German cars for the past 21 years and I am seriously considering not supporting their industry anymore.


Computers Are Supposed to Help Us Solve Our Problems

August 7, 2018 · 10:08

Sameer Samat details the new Android Pie on Google’s blog:

The latest release of Android is here! And it comes with a heaping helping of artificial intelligence baked in to make your phone smarter, simpler and more tailored to you. Today we’re officially introducing Android 9 Pie […]

I wanted to comment on two of the new features…

That’s why Android 9 comes with features like […] Adaptive Brightness, which learns how you like to set the brightness in different settings, and does it for you.

I have been using iPhones and iPads since 2008, and always relied on Automatic Brightness. I don’t know what Apple did, but I never had an Android phone which handled this function, as well as iOS does — I’ve always had stuttering or sudden brightness shifts, including flickering while it’s been adjusted. All this on many flagship phones, including older Nexus devices and more recent ones like the Galaxy S8.

At-a-Glance on Always-on-Display: See things like calendar events and weather on your Lock Screen and Always-on Display.

I have always found it curious that Apple chose not to use the Lock Screen in a more productive fashion (widgets do not count). Just weather information could be easily included and it’s something I miss every day. And since we have a OLED screen on the iPhone X, that could be taken advantage of even further. Burn-in could present a problem and perhaps that is why Apple isn’t in on this, but I can imagine a scenario where one tap on a screen shows upcoming calendar events and the weather, while two taps wake the screen.


Computers are (partly) supposed to help us solve our problems. This isn’t being pursued as I had hoped it would be. We’re 11 years in and iOS still can’t do things that my simple Nokia could, such as setting it to Do Not Disturb mode for a precisely set amount of time. iOS 12 will introduce a few new features that help in this regard but there’s so much more that could be done. My iPhone know’s my daily schedule and how I use it — it should adapt automatically. When I walk into the gym, it should suggest launching Overcast and Workouts (on my Apple Watch). When I leave, it should suggest that I text my wife, informing her that I am on my way and share my ETA. When I get into my car in the parking lot beneath the gym, it should launch Waze and guide me to where she is. I do this every single day and I should not have to manually repeat these steps every time — the OS should have learned by now. It has my location, it knows my routine; it should help automate repetitive tasks automatically.


The Interrobang — an Attempt to Expand the Typographical Toolkit →

August 6, 2018 · 10:54

Joe Rosenberg, for 99% Invisible:

Aristophanes’ system became the basis for Western punctuation. A partial thought — followed by the shortest pause — was called a comma. A fuller thought was called a kolon. And a complete thought — followed by the longest pause — was called a periodos. These rhetorical units eventually lent their names to the comma, colon and period we know today.

More punctuation followed. Medieval scribes gave us the earliest forms of the exclamation mark. And in the 8th century, Alcuin of York, an English scholar in the court of Charlemagne, quietly introduced a symbol that would evolve into the modern question mark. Ever since, we’ve ended our sentences with one of these three ancient marks, called end marks.

There have, however, been attempts to expand this typographical toolkit, and include other end marks. One such example has made it into dictionaries: the interrobang (‽).

I love these types of stories.


The Bullshit Web →

August 3, 2018 · 11:08

Nick Heer:

An honest web is one in which the overwhelming majority of the code and assets downloaded to a user’s computer are used in a page’s visual presentation, with nearly all the remainder used to define the semantic structure and associated metadata on the page. Bullshit — in the form of CPU-sucking surveillance, unnecessarily-interruptive elements, and behaviours that nobody responsible for a website would themselves find appealing as a visitor — is unwelcome and intolerable.

Whenever I stumble upon a web page which falls under Nick’s “bullshit” category, I just close it. This includes sites that demand I turn off my script blocker, which I use to block “CPU-sucking surveillance” and similar items.

It’s really past time that we started cleaning up this dump that we created.


Andrzej Bargiel Completes the First Descent of K2 on Skis →

August 2, 2018 · 10:01

Josh Sampiero:

How many first descents are left in the world? Deep in the Himalayas, probably quite a few, but not a single one taunted and teased ski mountaineers like K2. Just 200m shorter than Mt Everest, and a lot more dangerous, it was one of the few well-known peaks still un-skied from the summit. Until July 22, 2018 that is, when Polish ski mountaineer Andrzej Bargiel clicked into his bindings at an altitude of 8,611m and jump-turned, side-slipped and skied his way down to glory.

Balls of steel.

P.S. Watch the video clips on the linked article’s page.


2018 MacBook Pro Core i9 vs. Both Core i7s →

August 2, 2018 · 09:55

Finally got our hands on the 2018 MacBook Pro 15 inch 2.9GHz 6-core i9. In this article we compare it to the 2.6GHz i7 6-core. Plus we have partial results for the 2.2GHz 6-core i7.

I am still constantly surprised when the i9 turns out to be slower in certain tasks than the Core i7, though I shouldn’t be. Most users shouldn’t pay the i9 tax — the i7 will be plenty fast.


Problems With Gmail’s “Confidential Mode” →

August 2, 2018 · 09:50

Gennie Gebhart and Cory Doctorow, for the EFF:

While many of its features sound promising, what “Confidential Mode” provides isn’t confidentiality. At best, the new mode might create expectations that it fails to meet around security and privacy in Gmail. We fear that Confidential Mode will make it less likely for users to find and use other, more secure communication alternatives. And at worst, Confidential Mode will push users further into Google’s own walled garden while giving them what we believe are misleading assurances of privacy and security […]

Ultimately, for the reasons we outlined above, in EFF’s opinion calling this new Gmail mode “confidential” is misleading. There is nothing confidential about unencrypted email in general and about Gmail’s new “Confidential Mode” in particular. While the new mode might make sense in narrow enterprise or company settings, it lacks the privacy guarantees and features to be considered a reliable secure communications option for most users.

The one thing I trust Google with is their uncanny ability to try to create an illusion of privacy and security, while in reality doing the exact opposite.


Apple Financial Results — FY Q3 2018 →

August 1, 2018 · 09:01

Apple PR:

Apple today announced financial results for its fiscal 2018 third quarter ended June 30, 2018. The Company posted quarterly revenue of $53.3 billion, an increase of 17 percent from the year-ago quarter, and quarterly earnings per diluted share of $2.34, up 40 percent. International sales accounted for 60 percent of the quarter’s revenue.

Apple sold:

  • 41.300 million iPhones (41.026 million in FY Q3 2017)
  • 11.553 million iPads (11.424 million in FY Q3 2017)
  • 3.720 million Macs (4.292 million in FY Q3 2017)

More graphs →


Intel Says Not to Expect Mainstream 10 Nm Chips Until Q2 2019 →

July 30, 2018 · 10:21

Peter Bright, writing for Ars Technica:

While the company’s 14nm manufacturing process is working well, with multiple revisions to improve performance or reduce power consumption, Intel has struggled to develop an effective 10nm process. Originally mass production was planned for as far back as 2015. In April, the company revised that to some time in 2019. The latest announcement is the most specific yet: PC systems with 10nm processors will be in the holiday season, with Xeon parts for servers following soon after. This puts mainstream, mass production still a year away.

Looking at the problems Intel has been having with their CPUs, we should reasonably wait until their second generation 10 nm series, which will probably arrive late 2020 (2021 in Macs?).

I wonder if my late 2016 MacBook Pro will last that long. I shouldn’t have to worry about this, and I normally wouldn’t, but the current generation isn’t very reliable.


Limited Edition Tesla Surfboard →

July 30, 2018 · 10:14

Designed by the Tesla Design Studio in collaboration with Lost Surfboards and Matt “Mayhem” Biolos, surfboard shaper for World Surf League Championship athletes. The Limited Edition Tesla Surfboard features a mix of the same high-quality matte and gloss finishes used on all our cars. The deck is reinforced with light-weight “Black Dart” carbon fiber, inspired by the interiors in our cars, and featuring tonal logos in subtle contrast gloss.

Model S, X and 3 can comfortably accommodate this surfboard on either the inside or outside of the vehicle.

I know nothing about surfboards but it is beautiful. And sold-out already.


New iPad Pro to Drop Headphone Jack, Move Smart Connector to Bottom to Accommodate Vertical-Only Face ID →

July 30, 2018 · 09:49

Chance Miller, for 9to5Mac:

First off, the report offers additional details on the 2018 iPad Pro dimensions. The 10.5-inch model is said to come in at 247.5mm (H) x 178.7mm (W) x 6mm (T), compared to the current dimensions of 250.6mm x 174.1mm x 6.1 mm.

Meanwhile, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro is said to stack up at 280mm (H) x 215mm (W) x 6.4mm (T), which compares to the current-generation model at 305.7 x 220.6 x 6.9 mm. With these dimensions, it seems that Apple is focused more on reducing the overall footprint of the 12.9-inch model, fitting the same size display into a considerably smaller body.

While a larger screen to body ratio is always good, I hope the new iPads are lighter than the current models. If Microsoft can create an 800 gram Core i7 15” tablet (just the screen part from a Surface Book 2), I hope Apple can lower its 12,9-inch iPad from 692 grams to something more reasonable.

The report goes on to explain that Apple is likely to ditch the headphone jack with this year’s iPad Pro models, a move the company first made with the iPhone 7. While Apple includes a Lightning to 3.5mm headphone adapter to ease the blow for iPhone users, it will not do the same for iPad Pro users, according to today’s report.

I don’t much care for the headphone jack anymore but I am a bit concerned about the new iOS 12 gestures — I’ve come to really like how iOS 11 handles all the swipes — and the fact that the Face ID camera will only work in one orientation. Oh, and about that adapter — Apple used to include many small accessories in their products (cloths for wiping MacBook screens for example), which were a nice touch. I miss those.

What exactly this means is unclear, but the report explains that “the next iPad Pro Smart Keyboard may be changed to vertical position specifications.” This is seemingly implying that the iPad Pro would dock vertically into the Smart Keyboard, but how that would work is vague at the moment.

The iPad really should feature two Smart Connectors, so that it can be used in both portrait and landscape. I vastly prefer typing in portrait mode but prefer landscape for other things.


Liquid Water Lake Revealed on Mars →

July 26, 2018 · 10:15

Mary Halton, for the BBC:

Researchers have found evidence of an existing body of liquid water on Mars.

What they believe to be a lake sits under the planet’s south polar ice cap, and is about 20km (12 miles) across.

Previous research found possible signs of intermittent liquid water flowing on the martian surface, but this is the first sign of a persistent body of water on the planet in the present day.

While we’re looking for a new home, Earth is currently experiencing a “Shit! There goes the planet!” moment, as writes Jane Dalton:

Humans are using up the planet’s resources so quickly that people have used a year’s worth in just seven months, experts are warning.

And the rate at which we are consuming the Earth’s natural resources is still speeding up.

This year the annual date when people have caused a year’s worth of ecological damage – Earth Overshoot Day – comes two days earlier than last year.

It falls on August 1 as calculated by Global Footprint Network, an international research organisation that observes humanity’s use of materials such as food, timber and fibres, as well as carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels and the environmental damage caused by building infrastructure.


The Man Who Invented the Self-Driving Car (In 1986) →

July 26, 2018 · 10:07

Janosch Delcker, writing for Politico:

The other drivers wouldn’t have noticed anything unusual as the two sleek limousines with German license plates joined the traffic on France’s Autoroute 1.

But what they were witnessing — on that sunny, fall day in 1994 — was something many of them would have dismissed as just plain crazy.

It had taken a few phone calls from the German car lobby to get the French authorities to give the go-ahead. But here they were: two gray Mercedes 500 SELs, accelerating up to 130 kilometers per hour, changing lanes and reacting to other cars — autonomously, with an onboard computer system controlling the steering wheel, the gas pedal and the brakes.

Decades before Google, Tesla and Uber got into the self-driving car business, a team of German engineers led by a scientist named Ernst Dickmanns had developed a car that could navigate French commuter traffic on its own.

I did not know this! Just the lack of computational power in those days was a major hurdle but creativity (cutting corners?) still made it possible. I wonder what would have happened if Daimler had continued to invest in that technology. I assume we would already have truly self-driving cars on sale today.


Supporting Michael Tsai’s Blog →

July 26, 2018 · 09:50

Michael Tsai:

Thank you for reading my blog. After all these years, it’s still a bit of a surprise that people are paying attention to what I write, with some even asking whether I’m OK if I don’t post anything for a while […]

That was me. I got worried after Michael not posting for a few days because he was on holiday (how dare he!)

I’ve been told this is overdue, but I’d like to ask you to help support this site financially. This is optional. I’m not creating a paywall, and I don’t want you to feel guilty if you aren’t able to help. But if you enjoy what I’m doing here, please consider joining via Patreon.

To be clear, I see this site as a labor of love. I’m not interested in making it more commercial or in giving up software development. I would like to keep it going more or less as it’s been: a personal site with a regular posting schedule. However, the writing does consume a substantial amount of my time, and I’m hoping that patronage will help me to justify that.

If you don’t follow Michael’s blog, you should — he manages to capture many interesting points of view on specific subjects, collating them all in one post.


July 26, 2018 · 08:17

Sometimes I wish I could follow people’s tweets via RSS (without jumping through any hoops).


John Poole’s Initial MacBook Pro Core i9 Benchmarks (With Apple’s Fix) →

July 24, 2018 · 23:14

After applying the latest update from Apple, I re-ran the Geekbench build test on the i9. It’s slightly faster, but processor frequency stays stable when building (which is comforting).

Still technically slower than the i7, but close enough that, practically, it doesn’t matter.

He later adds:

It’s thermally constrained. The processor is at 95-99C consistently throughout the test. Both the i7 and i9 run all cores at ~3GHz.


macOS High Sierra 10.13.6 Supplemental Update for MacBook Pro (2018) →

July 24, 2018 · 23:02

Apple:

Following extensive performance testing under numerous workloads, we’ve identified that there is a missing digital key in the firmware that impacts the thermal management system and could drive clock speeds down under heavy thermal loads on the new MacBook Pro. A bug fix is included in today’s macOS High Sierra 10.13.6 Supplemental Update and is recommended. We apologize to any customer who has experienced less than optimal performance on their new systems. Customers can expect the new 15-inch MacBook Pro to be up to 70% faster, and the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar to be up to 2X faster, as shown in the performance results on our website.

Let further throttling testing begin.


HomePod OS 12 Private Beta Reportedly Includes Siri Multiple Timers, Make and Answer Phone Calls, More →

July 23, 2018 · 14:17

Benjamin Mayo, for 9to5Mac:

Apple has seeded a private beta for HomePod to Apple corporate and (some) retail employees for a while. iGeneration is reporting that the HomePod OS 12.0 beta, presumably set to be released alongside iOS 12 in the fall, has several major new features for Siri on the HomePod.

The beta reportedly includes phone call features, allowing the user to start and answer calls from the HomePod, as well as Find My iPhone Siri command, and perhaps most dramatically — support for multiple timers are apparently on the cards.

I talk to my HomePod several times per day, just to control the music being played. I really hope Apple figures out how to minimize the need to constantly repeat “Hey Siri” — this is currently the most frustrating element of my experience with this particular assistant. I would love feature parity between platforms too, with the ability to hand off queries to my iPad or iPhone, whichever I happen to be closest too or pick up first.


July 21, 2018 · 22:55

There’s something amazing about using a 15-inch tablet, weighing only 800 grams or so. It might not be as refined as an iPad but there are areas where it offers so much more. Kudos to Microsoft for the Surface Book.


How to Install Python3 via Homebrew on macOS

July 20, 2018 · 12:25

I just had to install Python 3 on both Macs and the whole process had some issues, so this is what I had to do to get everything running correctly:

  • I assume you already have Homebrew installed; if not then follow the instructions here and then run the following commands…
  • brew update
  • brew upgrade
  • sudo mkdir -p /usr/local/Frameworks
  • sudo chown -R $(whoami) /usr/local/* if using bash or sudo chown -R (whoami) /usr/local/* for fish
  • brew install python3
  • brew link python3
  • brew doctor

That’s it.


Google Is Quietly Working on a Successor to Android — Project Fuchsia →

July 20, 2018 · 12:05

Mark Bergen, for Bloomberg:

For more than two years, a small and stealthy group of engineers within Google has been working on software that they hope will eventually replace Android, the world’s dominant mobile operating system. As the team grows, it will have to overcome some fierce internal debate about how the software will work […]

The company must also settle some internal feuds. Some of the principles that Fuchsia creators are pursuing have already run up against Google’s business model. Google’s ads business relies on an ability to target users based on their location and activity, and Fuchsia’s nascent privacy features would, if implemented, hamstring this important business. There’s already been at least one clash between advertising and engineering over security and privacy features of the fledgling operating system, according to a person familiar with the matter. The ad team prevailed, this person said.

This sounds very disappointing. I really hope they decide to change course and focus on security and privacy instead.