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.


MacBook Pro (mid 2018) throttling

July 19, 2018 · 11:14

As expected, the #ThrottleGate controversy is being looked into by anyone who has their hands on the new MacBook Pros.

John Poole on Geekbench’s blog, running a CPU-only test:

Why does this test not replicate the throttling seen in other tests? Part of the issue is the test themselves. Premiere uses both the CPU and the GPU, while Geekbench only uses the CPU.

The i7 ran at an average 3.0-3.1 GHz, which is above the CPUs base 2.6 GHz frequency, but below the advertised 4.0 GHz Turbo Boost for 6 cores. So is it throttling or is the test just not maximizing load on the CPU?

Jeff Benjamin, for 9to5Mac, ran a test based on Final Cut Pro X:

Leaving the Core-i9 configured as default, I exported the video in 5 minutes and 30 seconds. Throttling was definitely noticeable during the export, as you can see from the following chart created from Intel Power Gadget log data.

Curiously, when he set the CPU to utilize only four cores, it was faster than when using all six.

Mike Wuerthele, for AppleInsider, opted for Cinebench 15:

We shifted to a different benchmark for our own series of tests. Using Cinebench 15, we ran 10 total runs on the i9 MacBook Pro.

Immediately after starting the first test, the CPU clock speed shot up to 4.17 GHz. It rapidly drops to 3.86GHz until it hits the chip critical temperature of 100C. It then drops nearly immediately to 2.57GHz and also nearly immediately drops to 84C.

The speed of the processor varied between 2.33GHz and 2.9GHz generally, with one profound dip to 2.02GHz, and then the range drops to a peak of 2.65Ghz.

I think it’s same to assume that all MacBook Pros will throttle under load, especially when both the CPU and GPU are being taxed. A potential solution for this problem is running an eGPU, which should help (in addition to being significantly faster than the one on-board). Surprisingly, an iMac Pro may not solve everyone’s problems when it comes to video editing — it was a slower in 9to5Mac’s test than the MacBook Pro:

Xeon CPUs lack onboard hardware video encoding, dubbed Intel Quick Sync Video. So even though the iMac Pro runs circles around the MacBook Pro from a thermal perspective, it doesn’t really matter in this test.


The MacBook Pro Core i9 Cannot Maintain Its Base Clock Speed Under Load

July 18, 2018 · 13:44

Dave Lee posted a video yesterday, showing a Core i9 mid 2018 MacBook Pro averaging 2.2 GHz under load, during an Adobe Premiere render.

The results show just how badly Premiere is optimized for the Mac — a Gigabyte Aero 15X is over 30 minutes quicker (39:37 vs. 7:18) — which has led AppleInsider’s Mikey Campbell to write the following:

It should be noted that Premiere Pro is not optimized for Mac, as evidenced by the Aero 15X performance. Lee failed to test render speeds with Apple’s Final Cut Pro X, or any other app for that matter.

While thermal throttling is nothing new, especially in portables, Lee’s findings are somewhat questionable in that assumptions are being made based on a single machine’s performance with an unoptimized app. Making blanket statements without thorough testing is reckless at best and disingenuous at worst.

While Lee failed to reach out to Apple for comment, it is highly unlikely that the company would ship a flagship product without first rigorously testing its performance. That goes double for a device like MacBook Pro, considering the company’s renewed vigor to serve the professional market.

It took me about 30 seconds to find the following video which exposes the same issues in the 2017 models. The render was done in Final Cut Pro X this time…

In fact, there are many more videos on the subject, so while it is possible that this is a problem with Dave’s specific machine, I’ll go crazy here and suggest that it’s a design problem, especially since there are many reports that just using an external display is throttling some machines, which has led some users as far as replacing the thermal compound that Apple uses on its CPUs.

I have the same issue on my MacBook Pro Escape (late 2016) when rendering larger projects in Final Cut Pro X (especially in 4K) — it slows down considerably the further the render is along.


The Silicon Valley TV Show Is Horrible

May 16, 2018 · 10:01

Silicon Valley, the TV show from HBO, is probably the most horrific portrayal of the programmers/coders/tech crowd living and working in that area of the world. I realise that its supposed to be satire, but it simply isn’t. Thomas Middleditch’s character — Richard Hendricks — is particularly dreadful. He’s not only stupid, despite being a genius, he’s a criminal and displays many qualities that I despise, which are unfortunately so commonplace in the world. And Erlich? He’s even worse.

I can’t believe the show’s into its fifth season…


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 →


The Stupidest Trend In Online Journalism

October 20, 2017 · 12:25

For some completely obscure reason, websites have started requiring users to click a button/link after opening an article. I have had this happen multiple times on various sites over the past year or so. What happens is that I click on a link, which opens the page in my browser, which ten shows me usually part of the first paragraph, followed by a “Click here to read the whole article”.

I clicked the link. They got me interested. Now all they have to do is to let me read in peace. But no, they don’t. They require further clicks. What for? Engagement? Page views? And people wonder why people’s attention span is low…

Entertainment Weekly went to a whole new level today, in an article about Blade Runner 2049, which has a total of five short paragraphs, of which four are cut short, followed by a “More…” link. I had to click a total of five times to read the whole thing.

Well… I would have, had I been bothered too. Instead, I closed the tab.


I’ll get back on the subject when I have more time to spare.


Humans — The Most Destructive Parasites on Earth

October 12, 2017 · 08:29

We think of ourselves as smart, but we are in constant conflict with each other. We wage wars, kill, injure, hate, and focus on weapons of mass destruction, instead of making the world a better place to live in. We destroy the only planet in the universe which allows us to live — Earth. We have two genders, both equally important to our survival1, yet men believe they are superior. We all bleed red, but racism is more pervasive than acceptance. We look for guidance in our religions, but those divide us more often than not. We think and try to be different as individuals, and we are, but as a collective, we’re the same.

We are… doing it all wrong.

  1. Theoretically men are obsolete with today’s biotechnology.

Fixing Text Shortcuts Sync in iOS and macOS

September 27, 2017 · 07:15

One day, a few years ago, I got the runaround from Apple once again — my text shortcuts stopped syncing and they told me to wait for the next version of iOS. This was right after iOS 8.0 came out. Another year? No thanks. I found my own solution. I had to go through this again, after updating to iOS 10 last year. So that’s twice since the feature was added — not bad, not perfect.

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The 1Password Memberships/Subscription Conundrum

July 16, 2017 · 13:31

Dave Teare, writing about 1Password Memberships:

1Password is what it is today because we all love working here and have fun helping our customers. We are completely self-funded, independent, have turned down all offers from venture capitalists, and our board of directors consists entirely of people who work on 1Password and help customers directly each and every day.

I love indies who make it work, without outside help. That is what we’re doing with our publishing business, and it’s not easy.

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Quick Thoughts on WWDC 2017

June 13, 2017 · 21:44

I haven’t had enough time to think about all the WWDC 2017 announcements yet — there were so many — so I’ll most likely voice my thoughts and perhaps even come to some conclusions on a future podcast episode, but in the meantime, I wanted to share some of my thoughts and worries.

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Back to Using the System Font Stack in CSS

June 5, 2017 · 10:20

After looking at a variety of options from Google Fonts — Open Sans, Source Sans Pro, and a few others — I decided to go back to the system font stack for a number of reasons. Performance is definitely my main metric, but the lack of interesting options on Google Fonts is another. I could use TypeKit or Cloud.typography, but Adobe decided not to include the former in their Creative Cloud Photography Plan and the latter is just too much for my needs (in terms of price too).

I believe I’m targeting every relevant platform. As far as I know, these are the current popular system font stacks in use:

I went with Ghost. Let me know if you find any bugs or anything else out of the ordinary.


JSON Feed Added

June 4, 2017 · 22:55

With all the changes I made today, I went ahead and added support for Brent Simmons’ and Manton Reece’s JSON Feed. You can find it in the footer of any page on Infinite Diaries or at https://infinitediaries.net/feed/json/. It’s simple enough for WordPress installations — all you need to do is to download the plugin from here and follow the instructions:

Adds a /feed/json URL to your WordPress site. Drop the plugin folder in /wp-content/plugins and activate under WP Admin → Plugins.

P.S. After seeing how Titillium Web renders a double slash (//), I’m going to need to look for a new font. Not a fan of its italics either.


House of Cards Season 5 Thoughts [No Spoilers]

June 4, 2017 · 21:51

We just finished watching the fifth season of House of Cards and quite frankly I’m astounded at how stupid Claire is. I apologise for being blunt, but she’s blind and petty over the last two seasons or so. Treasonous and greedy too. The show is great — I give it a big thumbs up — make no mistake, but I don’t understand how she’s so far off Frank’s game.