Roomba Wants to Sell Maps of Homes Its Robots Clean →

July 25, 2017 · 10:38

Jan Wolfe, reporting for Reuters:

Angle told Reuters that iRobot, which made Roomba compatible with Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant in March, could reach a deal to sell its maps to one or more of the Big Three in the next couple of years.

I was recently considering buying a Roomba or one of the copycats on the market but I have now changed my mind. I will gladly pay more for a product that does not make me the… product.


Poland — Basically A Dictatorship →

July 20, 2017 · 16:04

Rick Lyman, writing for the New York Times:

An enraged Jaroslaw Kaczynski — the former president’s twin brother and, as leader of Law and Justice, the most powerful political figure in Poland — seized the lectern and fired back: “Do not wipe your traitorous mugs with the name of my late brother. You are scoundrels.”

Law and Justice has long maintained that the 2010 crash was an assassination, perhaps involving Russia and members of the political opposition.

“You murdered him,” Mr. Kaczynski shouted.

Ewa Kopacz, the prime minister under the previous center-right government, declared herself flabbergasted. “This man is crazy with hate,” she said of Mr. Kaczynski. “He cannot control his emotions.”

When Trump won, I thought USA was worse off than Poland.

I was wrong.


Censoring Porn in the UK →

July 18, 2017 · 08:52

Kelly Fiveash, writing for Ars Technica:

Under the yet-to-be-implemented measures, free and fee-based porn operators—many of which are based abroad—will be required to insert age checkers on their sites in the UK, forcing users to dish up their credit card details to prove that they are 18 or over before being granted access to smut.

Hackers are dry-washing their hands right now.


Dell Is Selling the World’s First Wirelessly Charging Laptop →

July 12, 2017 · 09:09

Shannon Liao:

Well, it’s not the tablet part that has wireless charging capabilities, as Dell achieves that through a kind of hack. The company uses an attachable keyboard, sold separately, as a wireless charging base, although the keyboard cannot be charged beforehand and you can’t use it on any metal surfaces.

Dell said today that the Latitude 7285 12-inch is available for sale on its website starting at $1,199.99, and the Wireless Charging Keyboard and Wireless Charging Mat will run you $549.99. (You save $29.99 if you buy them together versus separately.)

This is not wireless charging — it’s inductive charging at best, with the wire moved from the laptop to the charging mat.


Winamp’s Woes: How the Greatest MP3 Player Undid Itself →

July 7, 2017 · 18:26

Cyrus Farivar, writing for Ars Technica:

Today, Winamp continues to be updated; AOL released its first Android version in 2010 and a Mac version in 2011. Amazingly, given all the time elapsed, AOL still makes a decent amount of money on the site and on the program—while the company has declined to release official figures, former employees who worked on Winamp estimate its current revenue at around $6 million annually. And Winamp still has an estimated user base of millions worldwide, a small fraction of which live in the United States.

When I first got my hands on Winamp, I learned that ID3 tags existed. That was when I started properly naming all my MP3 files, in both the file names and tags. I got my first iPod in 2006 and switched to iTunes, which I still use today. What’s more, I still have those 128 Kbps MP3 files — some I replaced with better rips, others I just left as they were. My iTunes library was automatically perfectly organized, thanks to Winamp. This was a time when the iTunes Music Store wasn’t yet available in Poland, so I solely relied on ripping my CDs. I did get an US account later and a few gift cards, which made things easier, but this was after Apple dropped DRM, if I recall correctly. I still have fond memories of Winamp, despite the fact that I’m probably one of the few people who like using iTunes, and was quite surprised recently, when I learned that one of my friends still uses it. I didn’t know there was a Mac version either…


RED is Making a $1,200 Smartphone With a ‘Holographic Display’ →

July 7, 2017 · 08:25

Sean O’Kane:

High-end cameramaker RED has just announced a premium smartphone called Hydrogen One, and the headlining feature is something the company is referring to as a “holographic display.” A buzzword-filled press release for Hydrogen One says that the 5.7-inch display somehow uses nanotechnology to “seamlessly [switch] between traditional 2D content, holographic multi-view content, 3D content, and interactive games.”

The teaser image paints it as hideously ugly. That design might work on RED’s cameras, but it sure doesn’t look good on a smartphone. Waiting to see the finished product, but there’s no way I’d put down $1200-1500 on that without seeing the whole picture.


How to Sound Good on a Podcast →

July 3, 2017 · 12:13

Collin Donnell:

If you read this blog, you know that I do a weekly interview podcast called The Run Loop. The show (generally) has remote guests with different audio setups and level of comfort in front of a microphone, so I wanted to write a short tutorial I could send to future guests to prepare them to be on the show and get the best audio quality. I then realized it made a lot more sense to make that a blog post so that other people could use it as a resource as well. So, here it is. Following this should help anyone sound good on a podcast regardless of previous experience.

This is worth reading even if you know what you’re doing (or think you do) — lots of small details, which can make a difference.


Google Stops Reading Emails For Gmail Ad Personlisation →

June 24, 2017 · 20:21

Diane Greene:

G Suite’s Gmail is already not used as input for ads personalization, and Google has decided to follow suit later this year in our free consumer Gmail service. Consumer Gmail content will not be used or scanned for any ads personalization after this change. This decision brings Gmail ads in line with how we personalize ads for other Google products. Ads shown are based on users’ settings. Users can change those settings at any time, including disabling ads personalization. G Suite will continue to be ad free.

This is a great decision. Surprising, but great. It still doesn’t change the fact, that Gmail’s proprietary implementation makes it terrible to use with third-party email clients, but hopefully this is the beginning of a more privacy-focused Google. I doubt this, but I can be hopeful, right?


The New iPad Pro Screen Is Amazing →

June 23, 2017 · 15:32

Gabe Weatherhead:

Most of what I’ve read or heard about the new iPad Pro is close to reality but I think the effect of the new 120 Hz refresh rate of the screen is being over stated. It’s nice but it is not dramatically better. It’s not even that noticeable. Scrolling looks better, but it’s minor. From the early reviews you might expect more but I think there was a lot of pent up excitement for the iPad Pro revision.

I cannot stress how much I don’t agree with this. The new ProMotion screen is jaw-dropping. The smoothness of the animations and scrolling are fantastic, and in a few short minutes, have ruined my iPhone’s screen. If you use an iPad a lot and can afford to get one, do so.


My First Three Years With FastMail →

June 18, 2017 · 08:47

Exactly three years have passed since I left Gmail and started using FastMail for all my needs. I chose a plan which included a custom domain, so this allowed me to get a bit more creative, but the service itself is most important after all. So how was it?

I cannot recall having a single problem or the service not working, which is a first for me. Google would always act up from time to time, requiring my time. So did iCloud for that matter. FastMail has been exemplary, performing all my requests perfectly over these past three years, pushing emails to all my devices. Not once did it falter or even slow down.

I just renewed my account for another three years, without hesitation.


Atari CEO Confirms the Company Is Working on a New Game Console →

June 17, 2017 · 20:34

Dean Takahashi:

Last week, Atari began teasing a new product called the Ataribox. The video released on a non-Atari web site showed a picture of some kind of hardware product, but many people wondered if the teaser was fake. Others had no idea what the video was showing about a “brand new Atari product years in the making.”

After all, nobody makes a game console with wood-grain siding. But at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), Chesnais told me that the rumors are true.

“We’re back in the hardware business,” he said.

Chesnais declined to describe a lot of details about the console. But he said it is based on PC technology. He said Atari is still working on the design and will reveal it at a later date.

My first console was an Atari Amigo. I still remember my Pac-Man and River Raid sessions with my friends. I’ll probably get one, purely for nostalgic reasons.


Hyper Key with Karabiner Elements →

June 16, 2017 · 12:21

A Hyper Key simulates the pressing of four modifier keys at the same time — Shift + Control + Option/Alt + Command. Brett Terpstra explained this back in 2012:

I’ve had my Caps Lock key remapped to an escape key for some time now. I’ve become quite used to it — to the point where using other people’s keyboards is inconvenient. Given that I’ve already ruined my muscle memory, I figured I’d take it a step further. The end result is that hitting my Caps Lock key once still gives me “Escape,” but holding it triggers a “Hyper” modifier key (simultaneous Control, Shift, Option and Command). I can map the Hyper key using any of an assortment of utilities to do all kinds of fun things.

Due to changes in macOS Sierra and Karabiner being rewritten as Karabiner Elements, we lost the Hyper Key, until the latest update:

Yesterday I posted excitedly about full Hyper key functionality being available in macOS 10.12+. I included a snippet of a config file that has apparently led to some confusion, so I’m elaborating here on the full configuration.

My current MacBook Pro config file, after adding Brett’s suggested changes, looks like this:

Everything works perfectly, but please do remember to set Caps Lock to No Action in Sierra’s System Preferences → Keyboard → Modifier Keys.

Thanks Brett!


Federico Viticci on the 10.5″ iPad Pro →

June 12, 2017 · 13:30

Federico on MacStories:

I’m not even a week into my tests with the 10.5” iPad Pro, and I think scrolling on my first-gen 12.9” iPad Pro looks choppy now. I’d be surprised if 120Hz displays with ProMotion don’t expand to the iPhone later this year and other Apple computers in the future. The combination of hardware and software really is that good.

At first I just wanted the 12.9″ UI in a 10.5″ form-factor, at 326 ppi. We didn’t get that. I am however extremely curious about ProMotion — I spend 4-6 hours a day on my iPad, scrolling a lot, and this could change everything.

I was curious to see if the larger screen could make the 10.5” iPad Pro a viable alternative to multitasking on the 12.9” model, but, as I imagined, working with Split View on this iPad is the same as the 9.7” version, showing enlarged iPhone interfaces instead of two full-size iPad apps at once. If you were expecting the same Split View experience from the 12.9” iPad Pro, the 10.5” doesn’t allow it.

I admit that I had hoped for the same experience as on my 12.9″ iPad but I think I’ll be able to accept the trade-off.

Unfortunately, Federico does not directly compare the 10.5″ Smart Keyboard with the 12.9″ model, but you can find a comparison to the 9.7″ version in his review.


“Full Size” Keyboard on 10.5″ iPad Pro →

June 12, 2017 · 13:19

Dieter Bohn:

I was all set to complain that increasing the size from 9.7 to 10.5 was not a big enough jump to justify requiring people to buy new keyboards and accessories. Then I started typing on the on-screen keyboard and on the new hardware Smart Keyboard. Even though I’m dubious about Apple’s claim that the software keyboard is “full size,” I find the slight size increase makes touch typing much easier. It’s still a little cramped, but it’s much easier to bounce between this and a real keyboard now.

I currently switch between a Magic Keyboard, a MacBook Pro (late 2016), and the 12.9″ iPad Pro’s Smart Keyboard. I don’t have any major issues doing so. The curious thing is that since getting the MacBook Pro, I now find the Magic Keyboard’s key travel to be too long — I actually prefer the shorter throw now.

I have the new 10.5″ iPad Pro on order — it will replace my 12.9″ — but I’m still hesitating about getting the Smart Keyboard for it. I just don’t like cramped ones…


Evergreen — RSS and JSON Feed Reader for Mac →

June 6, 2017 · 15:47

Brent Simmons:

Evergreen is an open source, productivity-style feed reader for Macs.

It’s at a very early stage — we use it, but we don’t expect other people to use it yet.

Not for me unfortunately, since I do almost all of my RSS reading on my iPad, but I’m so interested to see the release build. Oh, and Evergreen will be free!


Jason Snell Ears On with the HomePod →

June 6, 2017 · 15:42

Jason Snell:

In general, I found the HomePod to sound quite good, with a powerful bass and great clarity in the treble. However, in a few cases—Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” was the one that really struck me—I felt that the Sonos Play:3 more accurately reproduced the feel of the track, while the (extremely early, pre-release version of the) HomePod’s clever audio processing technology spread the bass and vocals out so much that it didn’t sound right anymore.

Of course, with the HomePod half a year away from shipping, there’s probably a lot of software tweaking yet to be done in terms of audio processing.

This sounds very promising! I’m definitely looking to get at least one. The HomePod is missing one feature that I would love to see — the ability to use two, three or five of them, to set up a 2.0, 3.0 or 5.0 surround sound system for my Apple TV. I realise that this wouldn’t be cheap, but… no wires!


Manton Reece and Brent Simmons Talk About JSON Feed, Micro.blog, and More →

June 3, 2017 · 14:18

Manton Reece:

Brent Simmons and I were guests on The Talk Show this week. We talk about JSON Feed, Userland Frontier, Micro.blog, and much more.

Brent also announced Evergreen for the first time on the show. Evergreen is a new open source feed reader for the Mac. I’m really looking forward to where this app could go.

Finished listening to it last night — lots of great details and tidbits I wasn’t aware of. Well worth a listen.


Apple Music Executive Bozoma Saint John Plans to Leave the Company →

June 3, 2017 · 14:11

Ina Fried:

Bozoma Saint John, the Apple executive who garnered significant attention for her demo at last year’s worldwide developer conference, plans to leave the company, Axios has learned. Saint John was head of Global Consumer Marketing for Apple Music (and predecessor Beats Music).

“Plans to leave” but “was head of”? She either left or she didn’t.


GTX 1080Ti Needs One Hour to Crack 8 Character Digit Password →

June 3, 2017 · 14:08

Jeff Atwood:

But that was 4 years ago. Exactly how secure are our password hashes in the database today? Or 4 years from now, or 10 years from now? We’re building open source software for the long haul, and we need to be sure we are making reasonable decisions that protect everyone. So in the spirit of designing for evil, it’s time to put on our Darth Helmet and play the bad guy – let’s crack our own hashes!

We’re gonna use the biggest, baddest single GPU out there at the moment, the GTX 1080 Ti. As a point of reference, for PBKDF2-HMAC-SHA256 the 1080 achieves 1180 kH/s, whereas the 1080 Ti achieves 1640 kH/s. In a single video card generation the attack hash rate has increased nearly 40 percent. Ponder that.

In the meantime, despite it being 2017, some websites and services still limit users to short passwords. Microsoft’s Outlook is limited to 16 characters as far as I remember and I know of even lower limits.

Edit

Fixed the title. Jeff pastes some examples later, using alphanumeric examples, hence my mistake.


Fuck Facebook →

June 2, 2017 · 11:28

John Gruber:

The Internet Archive is our only good defense against broken links. Blocking them from indexing Facebook content is a huge “fuck you” to anyone who cares about the longevity of the stuff they link to.

Treat Facebook as the private walled garden that it is. If you want something to be publicly accessible, post it to a real blog on any platform that embraces the real web, the open one.

Even though I have a Facebook account1, I hate what the company is doing and what it stands for. They are however so successful, that many people don’t even realise that they’re “on the internet” when “they’re on Facebook”, as noted by Leo Mirani for QZ:

[…] a closer look at the data […] shows that 11% of Indonesians who said they used Facebook also said they did not use the internet. In Nigeria, 9% of Facebook users said they do not use the internet […]

Considering the substantial percentages—about 10% of Facebook users in our surveys—the data suggest at the very least that a few million of Facebook’s 1.4 billion users suffer from the same misconceptions.

The web would actually be a better place without Facebook, even if it meant Instagram had to die in the process.

  1. Because “I have to.”

Google Sucks →

June 2, 2017 · 11:14

Google update on the Nik Collection:

The Nik Collection is free and compatible with Mac OS X 10.7 through 10.10; Windows Vista, 7, 8; and Adobe Photoshop through CC 2015. We have no plans to update the Collection or add new features over time.

I knew this would happen. This is fucking unacceptable. There’s also a petition going, if you want to try to save it.


John Siracusa on Apple’s Butterfly Mechanism Keyboards →

May 26, 2017 · 14:11

John Siracusa on ATP.fm (episode 223):

I do not like thinking about these keyboards. Almost makes me long for a non-moving iPhone 7 home button style keyboard where nothing actually moves.

Looking at the iPhone, Apple steadily worked over the years to eliminate the physical Home button, waiting until all the pieces were in place (Taptic Engine) to finally do it. I’m a fan. But a whole physical keyboard?

I have been using the MacBook Pro Escape since it premiered and while the keyboard is mostly fine, I do share Marco Arment’s thoughts in regard to its reliability — heat (using it in the sun) is definitely an issue. While the keyboards in the previous models were perhaps more flimsy and mushy, they didn’t have any reliability issues (that I know of). Nothing widespread at least…

This is what Apple has to say about the butterfly mechanism on their MacBook page:

Traditional keyboards use a scissor mechanism, which tends to wobble around the edges. This creates a lack of precision when you strike anywhere except the center of the key. We needed to reduce key wobbling for a keyboard this thin; otherwise, striking a key off-center could result in the keycap hitting bottom before a keystroke registers. So we designed a unique butterfly mechanism, which is wider than the scissor mechanism and has a single assembly made from a stiffer material — allowing for a more stable, responsive key that takes up less vertical space. This innovative design improves stability, uniformity, and control — no matter where you press on the key.

They say less on the late 2016 MacBook Pro page:

The keyboard has been redesigned to include our new, second-generation butterfly mechanism — meticulously refined for greater comfort and responsiveness.

While I do like the feel of the new keyboard, it does have a design flaw — heat causes the keys to stick or clack even louder than normal when pressed. The following steps are what I imagine Apple’s thought process for eliminating the problem could be.

  1. Eliminate reliable but mushy keyboard — replace with butterfly mechanism series “because thinness.”
  2. Find no solution to sticky keys over next few years. Lose a lot of money on replacements and warranty repairs.
  3. “Hey guys! We solved this problem already, in the iPhone!”
  4. Add improved Taptic Engine. Replace current keyboard with a new one, with unmoveable keys.
  5. Profit?

The next step will surely be just a glass surface with keys displayed on it, right?

P.S. I truly hope none of the above comes about in my lifetime — I’m worried that it will, sooner than we expect it too though. Keep your eyes peeled when watching The Fate of the Furious / Fast & Furious 8 and you’ll know what I mean.


How to Make the Perfect Martini — Roger Moore →

May 26, 2017 · 13:48

Roger Moore:

The sad fact is that I know exactly how to make a dry martini but I can’t drink them because, two years ago, I discovered I was diabetic. I prefer one with gin, but James Bond liked a vodka martini, “shaken not stirred” – which I never said, by the way. That was Sean Connery, remember him?

The worst martini I’ve ever had was in a club in New Zealand, where the barman poured juice from a bottle of olives into the vodka. That’s called a dirty martini and it is a dirty, filthy, rotten martini, and should not be drunk by anybody except condemned prisoners.

My dry martinis taste amazing and the day they tell me I’ve got 24 hours to live I am going to have six. Here’s how I make them […]

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