Apple’s Current MacBook Pro Keyboards Are Badly Designed →

December 29, 2018 · 10:49

Marco Arment:

After a week of unexpected Overcast work on vacation, I have as much of a love-hate relationship with my 2018 13″ MBP as ever. I’m so glad I have it. I’m so glad it’s as fast and capable as it is. Still HATE the keyboard. Still make tons of errors due to the spacing and layout.

It’s not the butterfly switches, though they’re still unpleasant, ungraceful, unreliable, and a huge unforced error.

It’s the damn layout. There’s not enough space between the keys. There’s not enough curvature on the keycaps. There’s no inverted-T arrow keys. It’s a bad design.

I know this is beating a dead horse, but time doesn’t solve bad designs.

It was a bad design in 2015, it was a horrible decision to make it the only choice in 2016, and it continues to be a horrendous keyboard in 2018.

I’ll move on when Apple does.

I loved the keyboards on the 2008 MacBook Pros and I was surprised when I found that the ones on my 2013 MacBook Air and 2014 MacBook Pro are even better. I have to agree that the most recent iteration is worse and my biggest complaint is the layout of the arrow keys. I have been typing on this keyboard for over two years now and I still make mistakes when trying to press the arrows without looking at them. Turns out that the empty space above the left and right arrows was really important.


Hands on With the Brydge 12.9 Pro Keyboard →

December 29, 2018 · 10:38

Jason Snell, on Six Colours:

iPads with new shapes usually require new accessories. While I’ve been writing on my new iPad Pro with Apple’s Smart Keyboard Folio, I’ve been anxiously awaiting the release of a new version of my go-to travel keyboard for iPad, from Brydge. It’s a Bluetooth keyboard that’s designed like the bottom half of a laptop, with a couple of clips into which you slide the iPad Pro.

While the new $170 Brydge 12.9 Pro keyboard isn’t yet shipping, the company sent me a prototype to use for a week. It’s going to be hard to send it back and wait for the final version to ship in early spring. It’s the same great laptop-style experience, in a new smaller design that’s shaped like the new iPad Pro itself.

I only wish either iOS or Brydge offered a way to remap keys. Otherwise, while larger than the Smart Keyboard Folio from Apple, this seems like a much better product and something Apple should have made. Though looking at their current pricing policies, I’m glad they didn’t, because it would probably cost $399.


Jason Snell About His Keyboard — The Vortex Race 3 →

December 28, 2018 · 12:00

Jason Snell, on Six Colours:

[…] I’ve tried a lot of keyboards over the last few years, but I realized that I haven’t yet described my current choice for writing when I’m at my desk. It’s the Vortex Race 3. (The switches are my preferred Cherry Brown style, but other keyswitches are also available.)

This is the rare mechanical keyboard that’s civilized to come with a set of alternate keycaps for Mac users (Command and Option rather than Win and Alt), as well as a few variant color keycaps for modifier keys and the arrow keys. (It’s also got a Mac keyboard mode, so all the keys work properly without any remapping required.) The keycaps feature very pleasant capital letters dead center, and come in shades of gray. I’ve swapped in a red Esc key, yellow arrow keys, and a blue Enter key.

The Race 3 is a “75% keyboard”, which means it doesn’t have a number pad, but it does have dedicated arrow keys and a function-key row. […] It’s got an anodized aluminum base that doesn’t wrap around the bottom of the keys, so they “float” above the board. It’s a nice effect and sure makes it easy to extract crumbs and other detritus from the keyboard from time to time.

This is the keyboard I would love to buy but I can’t get over the fact that it doesn’t have Bluetooth. I’d love to be able to carry it around to use with my iPad Pro without the hassle of having to connect it with a cable.


Logitech Will Re-enable Local Harmony API in January →

December 27, 2018 · 08:59

Will Wong, on Logitech’s forums:

We’ve heard your concerns. We understand that some customers are frustrated with the recent security fix we put in place, as it closed access to private local API controls. While security continues to be a priority for us, we are working to provide a solution for those who still want access despite the inherent security risks involved. 

If you would like to participate in an XMPP beta program, which will allow access to local controls, see the below instructions. Over the coming weeks, we will qualify a regular firmware release that still allows XMPP control for those who need it. We expect to send out an update that will be available to all Harmony customers in January.

This is a good call. Pity it took a ruckus for them to fix this issue, but I’m just happy that I’ll get my HomeKit integration back.


A Major Die Hard Plot Hole Was Just Explained… 29 Years Later →

December 25, 2018 · 10:12

Sam Warner:

The makers of Die Hard have explained a big plot hole in the middle of the movie, and it’s only taken them three decades to give us the truth.

To jog your memory in case you’ve forgotten, baddie Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) pretends to be a hostage when he first comes face to face with John McClane (Bruce Willis).

McClane suspects that something is off and manages to get away – but it is never specified what exactly set off his alarm bells.

Missed this last year! Perfect for the film’s 30th anniversary though.


Kensington Surface Pro Dock Turns Your Surface Pro Into a Mini Surface Studio →

December 21, 2018 · 11:56

Daniel Rubino, for Windows Central:

Saying the Kensington SD7000 is just a port expander is like saying Surface Studio 2 is just an expensive desktop computer – you’re missing the point.

Slotting in the Surface Pro 6 into the Kensington SD7000 you immediately experience how this hinged-mount changes everything. Now at eye-level, the Surface Pro now feels like a mini-Surface Studio.

The Surface Pro’s screen might be a bit on the small side for some but this is amazing. I’m sure people could do with a cheaper version without all the additional I/O. I could see definitely see something like this for the iPad Pro too, but I would like an option to change the orientation to portrait — I prefer vertical screens for typing. However, just the ability to lower the screen and use it at an angle for drawing would go a long way.


Logitech Shuts Down Local API Making Harmony Hub Incompatible With Homebridge and HomeKit →

December 20, 2018 · 13:19

Paulus Schoutsen, on Home Assistant’s blog:

Logitech has decided to remove a widely used local API of their Logitech Harmony hub. We’ve been tracking the story here. This has caused a lot of commotion among our users, and users of other smart home solutions, that integrated with the Logitech Harmony hub and all of a sudden were surprised with a broken smart home. Not a nice way to start the already busy holiday season!

Unfortunately, this means that without rolling back the firmware of my Harmony Hub, my TV’s, AV receiver’s, and Apple TV’s HomeKit integration is broken.


More Lies from Facebook — Users’ Private Data Disclosed to Other Companies →

December 19, 2018 · 13:23

Gabriel J.X. Dance, Michael LaForgia and Nicholas Confessore, for The New York Times:

For years, Facebook gave some of the world’s largest technology companies more intrusive access to users’ personal data than it has disclosed, effectively exempting those business partners from its usual privacy rules, according to internal records and interviews […]

Facebook allowed Microsoft’s Bing search engine to see the names of virtually all Facebook users’ friends without consent, the records show, and gave Netflix and Spotify the ability to read Facebook users’ private messages.

The social network permitted Amazon to obtain users’ names and contact information through their friends, and it let Yahoo view streams of friends’ posts as recently as this summer, despite public statements that it had stopped that type of sharing years earlier.

There’s a lesson to be learned here for other tech companies, which I’m sure they’ll completely ignore. Lying to users and toying with the privacy should not be taken lightly and I keep on wondering when most will realise they don’t need Facebook anymore.


Building a Spotify Player for a Mac SE/30 →

December 19, 2018 · 11:23

68kMLA forum user ants:

Hi all, I built a Spotify player for my Macintosh SE/30 […] The app is called MacPlayer and works thanks to the magic of Spotify Connect. The speaker itself streams and plays the music, and the Mac simply tells the speaker which song to play (as well as volume, current playlist, shuffle mode and other settings) […] The first version is pretty basic, it just plays your Spotify playlists. You can browse tracks, and the app displays 1-bit album art, which I think is a bit of fun […]

Brilliant!

via Steve Troughton-Smith


The New Apple Pencil Gestures Are Pretty Bad →

December 17, 2018 · 09:17

Steve Troughton-Smith:

The new Apple Pencil gestures are pretty bad, accidentally invoked all the time; think I’m gonna disable it. Should have had a button.

I disabled mine. Turns out that I like to give my Pencil a single tap from time to time, which is more often registered as a double tap for some reason. Perhaps this happens when I move it around a little too vigorously, when preparing to use it, and the movement itself (with the shock of resting my palm on the iPad’s screen) registers as the first tap.


Shirley Wang’s Dad’s Friendship With Charles Barkley →

December 15, 2018 · 22:16

Shirley Wang:

When Charles Barkley’s mother, Charcey Glenn, passed away in June 2015, Barkley’s hometown of Leeds, Alabama, came to the funeral to pay respects. But there was also an unexpected guest.

Barkley’s friends couldn’t quite place him. He wasn’t a basketball player, he wasn’t a sports figure, and he wasn’t from Barkley’s hometown. Here’s what I can tell you about him: He wore striped, red polo shirts tucked into khaki shorts and got really excited about two-for-one deals. He was a commuter. He worked as a cat litter scientist in Muscatine, Iowa. In short, he was everyone’s suburban dad. More specifically, he was my dad.

“You know, it was obviously a very difficult time,” Barkley told me recently. “And the next thing I know, he shows up. Everybody’s like, ‘Who’s the Asian dude over there?’ I just started laughing. I said, ‘That’s my boy, Lin.’ They’re, like, ‘How do you know him?’ I said, ‘It’s a long story.’ “

Amazing story. Get a tissue ready. And #fuckCancer.


Horrific Tesla Customer Experience in Europe →

December 13, 2018 · 13:43

When asked what should my employee [do], left in the middle of the road, he answered “take a taxi”, and said he could not help me, and ended the conversation.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, read the whole thing. There are many other such examples in Europe. What’s worse, Tesla actively organizes test drives for Poles, inviting them to buy their cars in Berlin — I took part in one personally. They even went out of their way to collaborate with a Polish company to offer a simple way to lease their cars.

There’s more to being a “luxury” car maker than just selling expensive cars. Tesla obviously has a lot to learn and a long way to go.

via @janmazurczak


How to Open a New Safari Tab Next to the Current Tab, Instead of at the End of the Lot

December 13, 2018 · 10:36

John Gruber, on Daring Fireball, detailing how he got to change Safari’s behaviour to open new tabs next to the active tab:

If I have, say, 10 tabs open in a window and I’m currently using, say, tab 2, when I type ⌘T to open a new tab it feels like the rightmost end of the row of tabs is “way over there”, but what I want is the new tab to open “right next to where I am” — like what happens when I ⌘-click a link.

A few months ago I asked on Twitter if there was a secret preference in Safari that would change this to what I want — which is for new tabs to always open right next to the current tab. There is no such preference. I set about trying trying to figure out if this could be done using AppleScript, but I couldn’t figure it out.
Jeff Johnson figured it out, though, and was kind enough to share the solution and explain the rather ungainly syntax required.

John used FastScripts for this but I decided to try my luck with Keyboard Maestro…

Continue reading →


Your Apps Know Where You Were Last Night, and They’re Not Keeping It Secret →

December 12, 2018 · 10:07

Jennifer Valentino-Devries, Natasha Singer, Michael H. Keller and Aaron Krolik, for The New York Times:

More than 1,000 popular apps contain location-sharing code from such companies, according to 2018 data from MightySignal, a mobile analysis firm. Google’s Android system was found to have about 1,200 apps with such code, compared with about 200 on Apple’s iOS.

The most prolific company was Reveal Mobile, based in North Carolina, which had location-gathering code in more than 500 apps, including many that provide local news. A Reveal spokesman said that the popularity of its code showed that it helped app developers make ad money and consumers get free services.

Apple is a better proprietor than Google in this regard, but a lot more can and should be done to protect users.


Facebook Filed a Patent to Calculate Your Future Location →

December 12, 2018 · 10:03

Nicole Nguyen, for Buzzfeed:

Facebook has filed several patent applications with the US Patent and Trademark Office for technology that uses your location data to predict where you’re going and when you’re going to be offline.

Have you deleted your Facebook account yet?

In a statement, Facebook spokesperson Anthony Harrison said, “We often seek patents for technology we never implement, and patent applications — such as this one — should not be taken as an indication of future plans.”

Yeah… it really should in Facebook’s case.


My Photography (58) — Sunrise Somewhere Over the Alps, Kleinarl⁩, Austria, 2018

December 11, 2018 · 13:47

We had an early morning flight to Italy last week and I was sound asleep, minding my own business, when my wife brutally shook me awake and told me to look out of the window. I checked the flight log and this photo was taken somewhere above or close to the city of Kleinarl in Austria but I am uncertain which exact city is visible in the photo.

Shot with Sony A7R II + FE 28 mm f/2: f/2, 1/60 s, ISO 1600.


iCloud Drive Still Has Sync Issues in 2018

December 11, 2018 · 11:31

I still rely on Resilio Sync (formerly BitTorrent Sync) to sync my files between Macs, an iPad, and an iPhone. It works perfectly but I have been considering switching to iCloud Drive ever since I upgraded to the 2 TB storage option (please give me a cheaper 500 GB and 1 TB option Apple — I don’t need 2 TB at this point in time).

I was trying to transfer an edited photo from my iPad to my MacBook Pro a few minutes ago. I saved it to iCloud Drive and went to look for it on my Mac. Not there. I checked my iPhone and verified it was synced. So I restarted my Mac. Nope, nothing.

Want to know what triggered the sync process? I created a new folder in Finder.

Seriously, Apple?


Poland Is Europe’s Smog Capital →

December 9, 2018 · 12:06

Josh Gabbatiss, for The Independent:

Poland is Europe’s smog capital, home to 33 of Europe’s 50 most polluted cities. As delegates gathered in Katowice last week, data collected by the European Environment Agency revealed it was the second most polluted city on the continent. Its levels of particulate matter were twice as high as those deemed safe by the World Health Organisation.

Considering the toxic air, the mounting pressure to drop coal altogether and the dire climate warnings, it seems remarkable that Polish politicians are gripping on to fossil fuel with such tenacity.

What’s even more frightening is that normal people — not politicians — want us to use coal, because that’s what they heard our beloved government say is good for us (insert facepalm emoji here). I have personally seen and heard their arguments. Unbelievable.


The Quality of Apple Software and Marzipan

December 9, 2018 · 07:15

iKyle:

The quality of software Apple ships shows what Apple considers good enough quality. Including the marzipan apps in the released OS signals the state they are in now is officially good enough quality for macOS software as far as Apple is concerned. That’s worrying.

Steve Troughton-Smith:

They are absolutely ‘good-enough’. Apps updated day and date with iOS? With the complete, up-to-date featureset? This is leagues beyond what we usually get from Apple’s work on macOS. I am not worried about macOS actually getting software on par with iOS, because that’s a step up.

Personally I’m horrified at what these apps look like and how they function. They appear to be foreign entities among all the software designed for MacOS. Despite understanding Apple’s reasoning behind shipping them now and not when their backbone is ready, I cannot quite fathom who said: ‘Yes, this is good enough.’ Not at Apple in any case.

Apple chose their own path. Two separate operating systems, with their own look and feel, with some points of overlap. We’re in the middle of an evolution of both OSes, waiting to see where they’ll both end up. Maybe it’ll be better but it sure as hell feels that it’ll get a lot worse in the short-term.


HTTP Server on iPad via iSH →

December 9, 2018 · 07:09

Dandy Weng:

It’s definitely mind-blowing that you can set up a simple HTTP server on your iPad. All I need now is a more sophisticated Files integration so I can copy files into @iSH and edit them with another app to do some real work! Huge shout out to @tblodt.

iSH is amazing but… this shouldn’t be mind-blowing. iOS is 8 years old and based on MacOS — we should have been able to do this years ago (without jailbreaking).


Download Procreate’s Undo Gesture Project →

December 8, 2018 · 08:33

Procreate Team:

We think Procreate’s Undo gesture is one of the best things we’ve ever made. Apple highlighted it as an exceptional user experience when Procreate Pocket was lucky enough to win iPhone App of the Year 2018, and it’s one of our most beloved features. It’s simple, fast, and takes full advantage of multi-touch […]

Whether you’re one of our competitors, or in an entirely different field, please feel free to grab the project below. Take it, use it, and give your users the most instinctive Undo and Redo method available.


The Biggest Threat to the Mac →

December 8, 2018 · 08:08

John Gruber, on Daring Fireball:

The biggest threat to the Mac isn’t iPads, Chromebooks, or Windows 2-in-1’s — it’s apathy towards what makes great Mac apps great.

Apple’s own software quality is slowly going down hill over these past few years, as if they stopped caring. There are too many examples to list, but it’s long past due to sound an alarm. Even on iOS, Apple often fails to have updates for its own apps ready in time for new screen resolutions or features.


Apple Security Expert Jon Callas Moves to ACLU →

December 5, 2018 · 03:28

Joseph Menn for Reuters:

A senior Apple Inc security expert left for a much lower-paying job at the American Civil Liberties Union this week, the latest sign of increasing activity on policy issues by Silicon Valley privacy specialists and other engineers.

Jon Callas, who led a team of hackers breaking into pre-release Apple products to test their security, started Monday in a two-year role as technology fellow at the ACLU. Prior to his latest stint at Apple, Callas designed an encryption system to protect data on Macs and co-founded communications companies Silent Circle, Blackphone and PGP Corp. […]

Callas said he felt particular kinship with Google employees pressing to have more of a say in the company’s prospective deal to return to mainland China with a censored search engine.

“A bunch of people have in fact woken up and said ‘Where are we, where are we going?’” Callas said. “These employees are wanting more discussion and access to what’s going on.”

Callas said phone makers had improved security and he wanted to see progress continue and widen without companies succumbing to pressure to install back doors.

There could be a simple explanation for his choice but the elephant in the room is Apple in China.