2016 MacBook Pro Butterfly Keyboards Failing Twice as Frequently as Older Models →

April 30, 2018 · 23:20

Mike Wuerthele, writing for AppleInsider:

Following anecdotal reports of a keyboard more prone to failure than in previous years, AppleInsider has collected service data for the first year of release of the 2014, 2015, and 2016 MacBook Pros, with an additional slightly shorter data set for the 2017 model year given that it hasn’t been available for a year yet.

Not including any Touch Bar failures, the 2016 MacBook Pro keyboard is failing twice as often in the first year of use as the 2014 or 2015 MacBook Pro models, and the 2017 is better, but not by a lot.

I have had an issue with my 2016 13” MacBook Pro, which is described by Apple as a “popping sound”. I contacted Apple Support and sent them a video, and they immediately set up an appointment with my closest AASP to fix the issue. They fixed it in 24 hours by replacing the whole top case, which includes the keyboard, battery, and speakers. The “popping sound” happens when the keyboard gets too warm and some keys start making a different sound. They also feel marginally stickier when pressed.

The new keyboard feels and sounds different — it’s quieter and a bit stiffer. I’m not sure if this is the same one as in the 2017 model, but I hope it stays fixed. Since this is a problem with the design and the fix is very expensive, I expect Apple to support their users indefinitely (or at least 5-6 years) — we already paid a lot for the MacBook Pro and we should not pay more for design mistakes.

Despite this being a frustrating issue, Apple Support and my AASP were stellar in helping me out.


Rama Works M60-A Keyboard →

April 30, 2018 · 10:25

The M60-A represents the benchmark and equilibrium between function and design for us at Rama Works. The gently exaggerated design of the frame is not understated, but rather provocative. Inspiration and evolution from previous models are evident in the beautifully articulated design and the well defined aesthetic, the fingerprint of our ‘Industrial Modern’ designs. The M60-A offers a unique contender in the traditional 60% form factor.

The attention to detail in this design is quite amazing. If not for its considerable height and lack of arrow keys, I would be ordering it right now.


Marco Arment’s Stellar Privacy Update →

April 28, 2018 · 08:46

Marco Arment, on his blog:

One of the ways publishers try to get around the limitations of the current model is by embedding remote images or invisible “tracking pixels” in each episode’s HTML show notes. When displayed in most apps, the images are automatically loaded from an analytics server, which can then record and track more information about you.

In Overcast 4.2, much like Mail (and for the same reason), remote images don’t load by default. A tappable placeholder shows you where each image will load from, and you can decide whether to load it or not.

This is one developer I would trust with my data without hesitation. I’m keeping my email-based login for Overcast, even though he’ll probably hate me for burdening him with it.


3D Touch Is the Single Best Way to Manipulate the Cursor and Text on the iPhone →

April 28, 2018 · 08:27

John Gruber, on Daring Fireball:

3D Touch is the sort of feature that either needs to be on all iPhones or else should be dropped. If it’s not pervasive across the entire platform, developers can’t count on it. I think that’s why it’s underutilized today. But it’s one thing to wait for older iPhones from the pre-3D Touch era to drop out of usage. It’s another for Apple to sell a brand new phone in 2018 without it.

I would happily replace my iPhone X with this new rumoured cheaper 6.1” device, but it will supposedly lack two things: the aforementioned 3D Touch layer and a dual camera system.

Apple will be able to use the camera as a differentiator in the close future, but as more and more Android phones adopt this technology, it will become a standard and expected feature quickly. But I cannot imagine them shipping a new iPhone without 3D Touch. We’ve been using it for three generations now, so it’s high time for it to be more pervasive across all devices, including iPads. Even if developers don’t actively support it, this is the single best way to manipulate the cursor and text on the iPhone. The iPad gets away with two fingers for now, but it really could use this tech.


Witold Pilecki — the Man Who Volunteered for Auschwitz →

April 27, 2018 · 13:34

Marina Amaral, on her blog:

Witold Pilecki was a reserve officer in the Polish Army born 13 May 1901 in Olonets, Russia. During World War II while attached to a Polish resistance group, he volunteered for an operation that saw him intentionally imprisoned in Nazi Germany’s Auschwitz death camp in order to gather intelligence on the site’s operations. As early as 1941, Pilecki’s reports informed the Western Allies of the atrocities being committed at the death camp. Before escaping Auschwitz, Pilecki organized a resistance movement right under the noses of the camp’s Nazi German overseers, kapos and administrative staff.


Apple Officially Discontinues AirPort Routers →

April 27, 2018 · 13:28

Zac Hall received Apple’s official statement on the topic of their AirPort routers:

We’re discontinuing the Apple AirPort base station products. They will be available through Apple.com, Apple’s retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers while supplies last.

I’m surprised they chose to exit this market, especially since integrating mesh Wi-Fi into their existing products could be such a huge feature. I’d love for my HomePods and Apple TVs to extend the internet automatically in and around my house. This would additionaly be a great incite to actually buy more HomePods and would allow people to have less clutter in their houses.


Choosing a Wi-Fi Router to Use With Apple Devices →

April 27, 2018 · 13:22

Apple Support:

For the most compatibility, reliability, and performance when used with Apple devices, look for a Wi-Fi router that offers these features…

If you just have a regular-sized apartment, just get a good 802.11ac router from a reputable manufacturer, but if you need great coverage over a larger area, mesh Wi-Fi, such as Eero or their competitors, is the way to go. Personally, I wouldn’t ever get Google’s WiFi mesh solution — I simply wouldn’t trust them with so much of my data.

If you are however looking for a Time Capsule replacement, just additionally get a 2 or 4-bay QNAP NAS and configure the Time Machine backup feature on it. I have been using mine for years now and it has been flawless, better than Apple’s own product, which required me to reset my backups every few months, due to some sort of error.


How to Get Webmention Working Under WordPress

April 26, 2018 · 14:56

I learned about Webmention from Manton Reece, after he launched Micro.blog. Basically, Webmention is a standard for having conversations on the web, between different websites. These can be interpreted as comments or whatever a site’s owner wants them to be, e.g. likes, etc. To get these running under WordPress, you will need to either code Webmention into your theme or take the easy path and install two plugins…

Continue reading →


April 26, 2018 · 09:49

Micro.blog seems like the only sensible alternative to Twitter and Facebook at the moment. I love that it’s built on open web technologies even if it isn’t yet as frictionless as Twitter. I strongly feel that this is the way to go in the age of closing everything down.


1Blocker X for iOS — New App, More Rules

April 25, 2018 · 12:15

The guys behind 1Blocker for iOS and macOS are launching 1Blocker X tomorrow, with support for many more rules by combining several content blockers into one app — this rewrite took them 6 months, which is why I completely understand their need to make back their investment. Salavat Khanov wrote up all the new features of 1Blocker X on their blog — it’s an interesting read — and now that I finally understand how it works under the hood, I’m upgrading tomorrow, when the app goes live. You can pre-order it today though…

1Blocker X — $4.99 / €5,49 / 23,49 PLN


My Photography (41) — Another Beautiful Day, Praslin, Seychelles, 2017

April 24, 2018 · 11:49

Taking this shot at sunrise turned out to be a bad idea. I quickly found that most of the beaches in the Seychelles have sand flies, to which I am slightly allergic. They’re mostly active at sunrise and sunset, and they seemed to have a taken a liking to my smell/blood, which meant that I returned with over 20 bites. The itching started a few hours later and it was torture — much worse than a typical european mosquito

Shot with Sony A7R II + FE 28 mm f/2: f/8, 1/400 s, ISO 100.


Google Has More of Your Personal Data Than Facebook →

April 23, 2018 · 11:04

Christopher Mims, for The Washington Post:

As justifiable as the focus on Facebook has been, though, it isn’t the full picture. If the concern is that companies might be collecting some personal data without our knowledge or explicit consent, Alphabet’s Google is a far bigger threat by many measures: the volume of information it gathers, the reach of its tracking and the time people spend on its sites and apps […]

It’s likely that Google has shadow profiles on at least as many people as Facebook does, says Chandler Givens, chief executive of TrackOff, which develops software to fight identity theft. Google allows everyone, whether they have a Google account or not, to opt out of its ad targeting. Yet, like Facebook, it continues to gather your data […]

Google also is the biggest enabler of data harvesting, through the world’s two billion active Android mobile devices. Because Google’s Android OS helps companies gather data on us, then Google is also partly to blame when troves of that data are later used improperly, says Woodrow Hartzog, a professor of law and computer science at Northeastern University.

A good example of this is the way Facebook has continuously harvested Android users’ call and text history. Facebook never got this level of access from Apple ’s iPhone, whose operating system is designed to permit less under-the-hood data collection. Android OS often allows apps to request rich data from users without accompanying warnings about how the data might be used.

Meanwhile, we still don’t have the tools or means to protect ourselves from being targeted by Google, Facebook, and others, or to block their tracking practices completely.


Smothered by Smog — Polish Cities Rank Among Europe’s Dirtiest →

April 23, 2018 · 10:23

Maciek Nabrdalik and Marc Santora, for The New York Times:

High atop the ski lift at Zar Mountain in southern Poland, the villages below disappear. At first, they seem obscured by morning fog. But the yellow haze does not lift. It hangs heavy, the contrast with the white snow making it clear that something is off.

What is off is the air. Poland has some the most polluted air in all of the European Union, and 33 of its 50 dirtiest cities. Not even mountain retreats are immune.

The problem is largely a result of the country’s love affair with coal. Like elsewhere in Poland, most of the homes in the villages below Zar Mountain are still heated by coal. Some 19 million people rely on coal for heat in winter. In all of the European Union, 80 percent of private homes using coal are in Poland.

Our past and current governments’ policies are unacceptable. I’m afraid not much will change for the better until we finally have fresh, forward-thinking, and honest candidates that manage to win elections. I’m not holding my breath, although I guess I should be.


My Photography (40) — Resting Rickshaw Driver, Agra, India, 2014

April 21, 2018 · 12:02

I took this photo on the day we arrived in Agra, a day before we went to see the fantastic Taj Mahal — we caught a taxi at the train station and asked him to take us to our hotel, which was around 1.5 km away from the aforementioned landmark. Unfortunately, the driver had no clue where our hotel was and as it turned out, it wasn’t where Google said it was. We found it half an hour later, not more than 300 metres from the Taj Mahal entrance gate, in an electric-vehicle-only zone. As we walked to check in to the hotel (calling it that is a stretch), I saw a rickshaw driver taking a nap under a tree — he struck my emotions, obviously exhausted from working in the heat of the day.

Shot with Nikon D700 + Nikkor 35 mm f/2D: f/2, 1/4000, ISO 200.


Why You’ve Never Heard of the Six Chinese Men Who Survived the Titanic →

April 21, 2018 · 10:55

Amy B Wang, writing for The Washington Post:

Hundreds of passengers fled in lifeboats. Hundreds more perished, going down with the ship or freezing to death in the icy water. The only one of Titanic’s lifeboats to turn back to the wreckage found body after body — until it discovered a young Chinese man, still alive, clinging to a piece of wood.

That man would be one of six Chinese passengers who survived the Titanic, a little-known fact about the historic disaster that has largely remained untold or distorted, owing to a racially hostile environment toward Chinese people in the West at the turn of the 20th century.

Fascinating read.


Wavelength for Micro.blog →

April 20, 2018 · 12:03

Manton Reece:

We’re rolling out a new hosted plan on Micro.blog to accommodate microcasts. When you upload an audio file to your site — either from the web, Wavelength, or a third-party app — Micro.blog will automatically create a podcast feed for your microblog. Listeners can subscribe directly, or you can add the feed to the Apple Podcast Directory and it will show up in popular apps like Overcast and Castro. Everything can be served from your own domain name, just like a normal microblog. We’ve been using this infrastructure for all the episodes of our weekly Micro Monday microcast.

New hosted microblogs with microcasting support will be $10/month. Microcast audio files will be limited to 20 MB. Existing microblogs hosted on Micro.blog can be upgraded to support microcasting for an additional $5/month.

It’s fascinating watching how fast Manton is innovating and expanding Micro.blog. I have immense respect for him and his project, especially since it focuses on utilizing open technologies. I hope his next logical step will be to offer support for longer podcasts.


Are External GPUs for Macs Viable in macOS 10.13.4? →

April 20, 2018 · 11:05

Samuel Axon, writing for Ars Technica:

We tested an eGPU enclosure with a Thunderbolt 3-equipped MacBook Pro, and found that, in most applications, performance didn’t disappoint. Unfortunately, we also found limitations and software support inconsistencies that prevent the Mac eGPU dream from being fully realized at this time.

This is an extremely tempting solution. I imagine my current setup changing from a Hackintosh and MacBook Pro 13” to just a MacBook Pro 13” with a eGPU setup and external monitor. There would be a few caveats: I’d need a 2 TB SSD in the MacBook, at least a 4K monitor, preferably supporting Display P3 (my current 4K Eizo is sRGB), and I’d want one of those new quad-core Core i7s from Intel. They’re already available but Apple hasn’t yet ingested them into the lineup.

That and a reliable keyboard — my MacBook Pro is currently in for service for a new one.


Jason Snell on His iPad Setup →

April 20, 2018 · 10:59

Jason Snell, on Six Colours:

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 […]

I found what I think is the exact same model of stand that Jason is using, but available on Amazon.de in Europe — it’s under a different name though. I will be ordering this stand later today and hope it’s not a cheap knock-off.

[…] I replaced the Mini Tactile Pro with the Matias Laptop Pro, a Bluetooth mechanical keyboard with a silver-and-black style that fits in pretty well with my iPad and its stand. Until I find something better—let’s face it, I appear to be collecting mechanical keyboards—this is my preferred writing environment when I’m away from my desk. At least until my kids come home from school, at which point I have to go back into my office and close the door.

I’ve been tempted to buy a mechanical keyboard for my Hackintosh for a number of years now, but the WASD V2 that I want, with custom keys, is a bit too expensive to ship to Europe from USA. It doesn’t have Bluetooth either, so I couldn’t use it with my iPad Pro. Jason has tempted me to get the Matias, but it’s over 150 GBP to have it shipped to Poland from the UK — I’ll leave it on my wish list for now and continue using my Apple Wireless Keyboard in the meantime.


Tim Cook: “Users Don’t Want iOS to Merge With macOS” →

April 20, 2018 · 10:48

Peter Wells, speaking with Tim Cook:

“I generally use a Mac at work, and I use an iPad at home,” Cook tells me, “And I always use the iPad when I’m travelling. But I use everything and I love everything.”

Later, when I ask about the divide between the Mac and iOS, which seems almost conservative when compared to Microsoft’s convertible Windows 10 strategy, Cook gives an interesting response.

“We don’t believe in sort of watering down one for the other. Both [The Mac and iPad] are incredible. One of the reasons that both of them are incredible is because we pushed them to do what they do well. And if you begin to merge the two … you begin to make trade offs and compromises.

This is nothing new — Tim Cook already made this statement a few years go.

I spent many days working solely with a Microsoft Surface Pro 4 the quickest summary I can come up with would be: it’s a good enough notebook, but a terrible tablet, at least in comparison to the iPad. The one situation I really liked it in, was editing photos in Lightroom, where I could detach the keyboard and focus on using touch. The iPad on the other hand, which I use every single day since it came out in 2010, is a great tablet and not a very good notebook. I guess it all depends where you’re coming from — Windows 10, as a desktop operating system, hasn’t yet evolved to be a great mobile OS1, while iOS is the exact opposite, even though iOS 11 helped a lot in that regard.

We’re currently at these strange crossroads between the past and future, while everyone is trying to figure out how to go forward, but it appears they don’t yet know which turn to take.

  1. It’s not a stellar desktop OS at the moment either — they still haven’t figured out HiDPI.

My Airplay Speakers Have Become Obsolete →

April 18, 2018 · 16:00

Chaim Gartenberg, writing for The Verge:

So, it turns out that I can never change my Wi-Fi network’s name ever again, or my speakers will stop working. That may sound ridiculous, but let me walk you through the series of bad decisions and technological quirks that have brought me here.

This is my biggest worry regarding my HomePod. I wouldn’t be as worried if it had a newer SoC, Bluetooth, and a backup 3.5 mm line-in port.


The Cameras That Shot the Winning Photos of World Press Photo 2018 →

April 17, 2018 · 09:25

Michael Zhang, on PetaPixel:

World Press Photo announced the 2018 winners of its prestigious photojournalism contest last week, and most of the winning photos (97 of 129) were accompanied by details of the cameras they were shot with. This year, Nikon took the lead from Canon.

Quite frankly, I’m more interested in the people who took those photos than the cameras themselves. You don’t rank pots and pans (to the best of my knowledge) when chefs take part in a contest — you interview the people behind the recipes. Realistically, the camera is just a tool and I’m sure the photographers would have gotten as near as indistinguishable results whatever gear they used.


Mapping Apple’s Space Gray Shades →

April 17, 2018 · 00:50

Michael Steeber, writing for 9to5Mac:

Silver aluminum, once the defining look of Apple products, has been met with increasing variety over the last several years by a range of colors and finishes that customers can choose from. One of the earliest and most popular options – space gray – has permeated across almost every product line Apple offers.

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.

Car manufacturers use a different name for every single shade of grey they offer. I can’t help but think that Apple was very uncreative in their Space Grey endeavor — they had all the words in the world to use and decided “Space” was good enough, despite the shades being completely different between generations and devices.

I would love to understand their reasoning behind this (bad) decision.


Facebook Won’t Disclose What Information It Has Gathered on Non-users →

April 16, 2018 · 12:13

David Ingram, for The Huffington Post:

Zuckerberg said on Wednesday under questioning by U.S. Representative Ben Luján that, for security reasons, Facebook also collects “data of people who have not signed up for Facebook.”

Lawmakers and privacy advocates immediately protested the practice, with many saying Facebook needed to develop a way for non-users to find out what the company knows about them.

“We’ve got to fix that,” Representative Luján, a Democrat, told Zuckerberg, calling for such disclosure, a move that would have unclear effects on the company’s ability to target ads. Zuckerberg did not respond. On Friday Facebook said it had no plans to build such a tool.

While I don’t want Facebook to keep any records about me or my doings online, I do strongly support an open internet, which technically means that I consent to this sort of behaviour. There will always be bad actors in the world and the internet is no different. I can however attempt to block as much of Facebook as possible, by using an appropriate DNS and content blocker or host file.