Jason Snell’s Fruitless Quest to Replace Skype →

May 4, 2017 · 10:05

Jason Snell:

Every now and then when I complain about Skype, which most of my podcast peers and I use for our conversations, someone suggests an alternative voice-over-IP service and asks why we don’t switch.

I get asked about why I use Skype for podcasting from time to time, including questions about why I don’t switch to other platforms. My answer is that it just works and I have yet to find something visibly better. Jason has much more experience in this field, so I invite you to read about his thoughts and findings.


What’s Next for Micro.blog →

May 4, 2017 · 09:41

Manton Reece:

Now that Micro.blog is available to Kickstarter backers, we’re working on many improvements leading up to the public launch. Here are some of the features and bugs we’re working on…

If you’re interested in the future of Micro.blog, Manton Reece added a handy ‘What’s Next’ page, listing all the functions and features that can be expected in the near future, in preparation for the public launch.


May 3, 2017 · 23:04

I’ve been paying more and more attention recently to the elegant and beautiful Alfa Romeo Giulia and Stelvio. Alfa is finally doing what’s right and what I’ve always wanted in a car — great style and rear wheel drive (AWD optionally).


Apple Financial Results — FY Q2 2017 →

May 3, 2017 · 21:18

Apple PR:

Apple® today announced financial results for its fiscal 2017 second quarter ended April 1, 2017. The Company posted quarterly revenue of $52.9 billion and quarterly earnings per diluted share of $2.10. These results compare to revenue of $50.6 billion and earnings per diluted share of $1.90 in the year-ago quarter. International sales accounted for 65 percent of the quarter’s revenue.

Apple sold:

  • 50.8 million iPhones (51.2 million in FY Q2 2016)
  • 8.9 million iPads (10.3 million in FY Q2 2016)
  • 4.2 million Macs (4 million in FY Q2 2016)

May 3, 2017 · 13:56

Saw this amazing villa while taking a walk — stunning colour choices. Completely in love with it.


May 3, 2017 · 01:51

OK, so here’s a quick summary of what I did: instead of using WordPress as my back-end, I set up a plugin called WPeMatico which pulls posts from my moridin.micro.blog feed and then posts everything as new posts on my site. Automatically.


May 3, 2017 · 01:33

I felt I wasn’t getting everything out of Micro.blog when using it in conjunction with WordPress as its back-end. Decided to try out the experience that Manton Reece envisioned, so here I am… testing everything.


Modern Hackintoshes Show That Apple Should Probably Just Build a Mac Tower →

May 2, 2017 · 22:20

Andrew Cunningham, writing for Ars Technica:

“The hassle of getting everything working has stagnated my updates throughout the years,” Nolan said. “After El Cap’s new Disk Utility and rootless feature temporarily breaking brew, I simply left the machine on 10.10.5. Besides security updates, I let it chug along and I have had little reason to consider upgrading it past that.”

Sometimes, perhaps as a side effect of software updates, things just stop working properly for obscure reasons. Sleep and audio were the two issues that I saw brought up repeatedly—one developer has never been able to get his front audio ports working properly, and a TV producer I talked to sometimes has to log out and back in to get the audio jacks to work. Graphics cards and USB can also be fiddly.

That’s one of the reasons I haven’t upgraded my Hackintosh since I built it — there’s nothing much worth upgrading to at the moment, although there is a small light in the tunnel in regard to NVMe. My current build is practically bulletproof in terms of updates — I only have to worry about Clover, while the rest works 99.9% of the time.

“I’m fine with spending hundreds, if not thousands of [dollars] having a top-of-the-line system to avoid any hiccups or slowdown on any of my applications,” he told Ars. “And here I ran into the problem—the lack of Apple hardware to be upgraded really began freaking me out. I wanted a system I could upgrade the parts at a reasonable cost, and without dealing [with] the opaqueness of Apple support.”

JC is one of several people who told me they would be happy to shell out for a new Mac Pro if it had a more traditional PC’s flexibility.

There is an issue with Apple desktop hardware which irritates me to no end — when anything in a Hackintosh (or PC) fails, I can just go out and buy a new SSD, HDD, GPU, CPU, fan, stick of RAM, or whatever else broke. I’ll be up and running in a few hours tops. If anything happens to an iMac or Mac Pro, I can expect to be without it for up to a week or two, depending on the severity of the issue and the queue at the Authorised Service Centre1. This is unacceptable for most people.

  1. Still no official Apple Store or Genius Bar in Poland.

Poland Police Forcibly Remove Anti-Nationalist Protesters →

May 1, 2017 · 20:51

Associated Press:

WARSAW, Poland — Police in Poland used force Saturday to remove a few dozen protesters who tried to block a march in downtown Warsaw by a nationalist organization celebrating its anniversary.

The protesters chanted “Poland, free from fascism!” and sat down in the street as they waited for marchers from the National-Radical Camp to arrive.

The group, supported by Poland’s nationalist government, was celebrating 83 years since its foundation. A few hundred members marched with white-and-red flags, chanting anti-migrant slogans.

Police detained and handcuffed some in the group protesting the march, since they had not obtained authorization for it. The new law regulating public gatherings was introduced by the conservative ruling Law and Justice party. Police also used force on journalists reporting about the event, pushing and even kicking them.

The shit that’s currently going on in our country is completely unacceptable by any standards.


April 30, 2017 · 21:26

I’m still trying to figure out all the Micro.blog stuff needed to correctly configure it for WordPress as its back-end. Currently trying to decide if I need cross-posting or not, since WordPress can do that for me.


Apple Speaker — Rumours Say Apple Is Finalising Its Design →

April 28, 2017 · 17:09

Joe Rossignol writing for MacRumors:

Apple is widely rumored to be working on a Siri-based smart home device with a speaker, and Australian leaker Sonny Dickson has shared new details about its possible design and features on Twitter and with MacRumors.

I actually thought the ‘Apple Speaker’ with Siri on-board was dead and that the company would focus on just using the device closest to you, be that an iPhone, iPad, Mac, or Apple TV.

Dickson was told Apple’s smart speaker could be unveiled at WWDC 2017 in early June, but as always, the company’s plans could change.

That would actually surprise me, especially since the iPads are still waiting for an update and the MacBook Adorable for a speed bump.

In the meantime, Siri still makes little sense in countries without language support, even for people who know English well enough.

‘Hey, Siri! What’s the population of Wrocław, Poland?’

Hmm… Well that’s an improvement! I genuinely did not expect it to catch my hometown’s name, especially since it’s not pronounced ‘rock-law’. Now Siri, please start understand foreign street addresses in a similar fashion!


April 28, 2017 · 13:17

I’m looking for a Husky puppy to adopt — I’ve always wanted one. I miss the time I spent with my Chow Chow, who died 10 or so years ago.


April 27, 2017 · 09:34

I received my Micro.blog invite last night, so naturally I quickly registered my username. Testing its functionality and trying to configure it now.


My Mac, Hackintosh, and iOS Setup →

April 24, 2017 · 21:11

Jeffrey Abbott, on The Sweet Setup:

Every week we post a new interview with someone about what software they use on their Mac, iPhone, or iPad. We do these interviews because not only are they fun, but a glimpse into what tools someone uses and how they use those tools can spark our imagination and give us an idea or insight into how we can do things better.

My Mac and iOS setup is up today, with detailed specs of my Hackintosh! Yay!


Size Comparison: Sony a9 vs a7R II, Canon 5D Mark IV, and 1DX Mark II →

April 24, 2017 · 15:21

DL Cade on PetaPixel:

One of the biggest selling points of Sony’s mirrorless full-frame cameras is how much smaller and lighter they are than comparable DSLRs, but does the new Sony a9 live up to that promise? Let’s see.

I currently use its older brother and the small size of the Alpha series was one of its biggest selling points. Great cameras, especially when you’re looking to travel light.

You’ll find more great comparison shots on PetaPixel.


Leaked NSA Malware Threatens Windows Users Around the World →

April 20, 2017 · 13:57

Sam Biddle:

The ShadowBrokers, an entity previously confirmed by The Intercept to have leaked authentic malware used by the NSA to attack computers around the world, today released another cache of what appears to be extremely potent (and previously unknown) software capable of breaking into systems running Windows. The software could give nearly anyone with sufficient technical knowledge the ability to wreak havoc on millions of Microsoft users.

Keep your system up-to-date!


Google Plans Ad-Blocking Feature in Chrome Browser →

April 20, 2017 · 13:54

Jack Marshall:

Alphabet Inc.’s Google is planning to introduce an ad-blocking feature in the mobile and desktop versions of its popular Chrome web browser, according to people familiar with the company’s plans.

The ad-blocking feature, which could be switched on by default within Chrome, would filter out certain online ad types deemed to provide bad experiences for users as they move around the web.

Google could announce the feature within weeks, but it is still ironing out specific details and still could decide not to move ahead with the plan, the people said.

I wish this meant that they would block their own ads, which I find incredibly offensive. Especially aesthetically.


Three New iPhones in 2017, According to Bloomberg →

April 19, 2017 · 09:06

Mark Gurman, reporting for Bloomberg:

Apple is preparing three iPhones for launch as soon as this fall, including upgraded versions of the current two iPhone models and a new top-of-the-line handset with an overhauled look, according to people familiar with the matter. For the redesigned phone, Apple is testing a new type of screen, curved glass and stainless steel materials, and more advanced cameras, the people said. Those anxiously awaiting the redesigned iPhone, however, may have to wait because supply constraints could mean the device isn’t readily available until one or two months after the typical fall introduction.

A fourth year, using the same design would be as surprising to me as Intel’s quick jump from their ‘tick-tock’ to a three-tier strategy and then almost immediately ending that for a four-tier one.

Mark’s words also suggest that the new ‘iPhone Edition’ will be available in only one size, which would be a poor show, especially since Samsung is already offering the S8 in two different sizes.

For the premium model, Apple is testing a screen that covers almost the entire front of the device, according to people familiar with the matter. That results in a display slightly larger than that of the iPhone 7 Plus but an overall size closer to the iPhone 7, the people said. Apple is also aiming to reduce the overall size of the handset by integrating the home button into the screen itself via software in a similar manner to Samsung’s S8, the people said.

This sounds like it will be similar to the Galaxy S8 then. At the same time, the S8+ is still smaller than a 7+, but with a larger screen. It’s smaller width also makes it easier to hold and use.

I just hope Apple decides to forgo the curved display in the style of the new Galaxy S8 — something akin to the current curve of the iPhone 7 would be a better design, hopefully not distorting the edges of the screen like the Galaxy does.


Rethinking Apple →

April 5, 2017 · 10:36

Dr Drang:

Apple is making money hand over fist. By market share, it’s the biggest company in the world. Why is it continually putting itself in positions where it’s either apologizing, like today, or should be apologizing, as with the once long-overdue MacBook Pro update and the currently long-overdue iMac, Mac Mini, and iPad Pro updates.

While I appreciate Apple voicing their commitment to the Mac, I cannot fathom why this is even necessary. They are one of the biggest companies in the world and surely they can create teams that will constantly only work on Mac hardware. While I understand that simple updates to components seem perhaps too easy to do, with Apple’s aspirations being much higher, regular updates should be present in all line-ups. For example, the Mac Mini perhaps doesn’t fullfill Apple’s dreams of what a small Mac could or should be, but while they figure this out, it would be nice to have current generation hardware inside, regularly updated to the latest and greatest technologies, including Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C. I know of a lot of people holding off, just because the Mini is 900+ days old.


The 2016 Panic Report →

April 5, 2017 · 10:28

Cabel Sasser:

iOS continues to haunt us. If you remember, 2016 was the year we killed Status Board, our very nice data visualization app. Now, a lot of it was our fault. But it was another blow to our heavy investment in pro-level iOS apps a couple years ago, a decision we’re still feeling the ramifications of today as we revert back to a deep focus on macOS. Trying to do macOS quality work on iOS cost us a lot of time for sadly not much payoff. We love iOS, we love our iPhones, and we love our iPads. But we remain convinced that it’s not — yet? — possible to make a living selling pro software on those platforms. Which is a real bummer!

This is what worries me most about the state of iOS. While Apple’s motives to bring the price of software down seemed like a good idea at the time — developers would make up their profits by the sheer volume of the platform — it appears that app sales are slowing, especially in the more demanding part of the market. Most people already have everything that they need and are not spending as much money on new software as in the early days. While I continue to be able to do about 90% of my work on an iPad, most don’t even try. I’m still keeping my fingers crossed for iOS, hoping that it will start evolving at a faster pace, making it easier to work productively on it. Also, I’m still waiting for a full Adobe Lightroom experience on iPad, with the ability to transfer catalogs between platforms, not using Adobe’s cloud.


Apple Pushes the Reset Button on the Mac Pro →

April 5, 2017 · 10:20

Matthew Panzarino:

As representatives of the largest company on the planet, it’s not shocking that they need to consider how everything they say could be interpreted both by users and by the market. But it does highlight the difficulty of the balancing act they’re trying to pull off. Having a dialog with pro users (and other users) is healthy in the long run, and seeing Apple make an attempt at this is gratifying. On the other hand, I definitely get the impression that scaling from an audience of five to millions with that dialog is very much an experiment.

As we file out of the building, I can hear the whine of machines beginning to carve away on the next generation of Macs, now promised explicitly for the first time ever.

Great piece on the new Mac Pro, some tidbits about the ‘iMac Pro’, and lots more interesting conversation from Apple. The whole briefing was a huge surprise — this is definitely not something Apple would have done years past — but it’s a welcome one. As is the apology Apple issued to its pro users — it might not be enough to keep everything happy, waiting another year for the next Mac Pro, but it had to have calmed many people down, showing them a future without needing to change software platforms.


I Envy John Gruber’s Writing Style →

April 5, 2017 · 10:12

The bomb dropped yesterday — midday for me — that Apple was still working on the Mac Pro. Five people were invited for a unique briefing by four — Phil Schiller, Craig Federighi, John Ternus and Bill Evans. This was amazing news which I was not expecting. Quite frankly, I had assumed that the Mac Pro was dead, having gone so long without any updates. I was genuinely happy for most of the day because that meant that my favourite software platform — macOS — has a future. But as I write these words, I can’t help but go back to reading and re-reading John Gruber’s words:

We’re inside a nondescript single-story office building on Apple’s extended old campus, across De Anza Boulevard from One Infinite Loop. This is Apple’s “product realization lab” for Mac hardware, better known, internally, as “the machine lab”. This is where they make and refine prototypes for new Mac hardware. We don’t get to see anything cool. There is no moment where they lift a black cloth and show us prototypes of future hardware. The setting feels chosen simply to set the tone that innovative Mac hardware design — across the entire Mac lineup — is not a thing of the past.

There are only nine people at the table. Phil Schiller, Craig Federighi, and John Ternus (vice president, hardware engineering — in charge of Mac hardware) are there to speak for Apple. Bill Evans from Apple PR is there to set the ground rules and run the clock. (We had 90 minutes.) The other five are writers who were invited for what was billed as “a small roundtable discussion about the Mac”: Matthew Panzarino, Lance Ulanoff, Ina Fried, John Paczkowski, and yours truly.

The discussion is on the record.

I have been following John’s writing for many years now and these are the posts which always fascinate me most. Gruber has a knack for setting the mood for the reader, despite writing about a ‘normal’ meeting between technology executives and journalists — it reads as well as good thriller fiction.

While I did not appreaciate the other invitees articles as much, Matthew Panzarino’s piece was great too, although writting in his own style:

As representatives of the largest company on the planet, it’s not shocking that they need to consider how everything they say could be interpreted both by users and by the market. But it does highlight the difficulty of the balancing act they’re trying to pull off. Having a dialog with pro users (and other users) is healthy in the long run, and seeing Apple make an attempt at this is gratifying. On the other hand, I definitely get the impression that scaling from an audience of five to millions with that dialog is very much an experiment.

As we file out of the building, I can hear the whine of machines beginning to carve away on the next generation of Macs, now promised explicitly for the first time ever.

It’s John’s personal style and the way he describes the most mundane things that make me envious. I still remember his piece from 2012 about Mountain Lion:

“We’re starting to do some things differently,” Phil Schiller said to me.

We were sitting in a comfortable hotel suite in Manhattan just over a week ago. I’d been summoned a few days earlier by Apple PR with the offer of a private “product briefing”. I had no idea heading into the meeting what it was about. I had no idea how it would be conducted. This was new territory for me, and I think, for Apple (…)

Handshakes, a few pleasantries, good hot coffee, and then, well, then I got an Apple press event for one. Keynote slides that would have looked perfect had they been projected on stage at Moscone West or the Yerba Buena Center, but instead were shown on a big iMac on a coffee table in front of us (…)

Schiller has no notes. He is every bit as articulate, precise, and rehearsed as he is for major on-stage events. He knows the slide deck stone cold. It strikes me that I have spoken in front of a thousand people but I’ve never been as well-prepared for a presentation as Schiller is for this one-on-one meeting. (Note to self: I should be that rehearsed.)

This is an awful lot of effort and attention in order to brief what I’m guessing is a list of a dozen or two writers and journalists. It’s Phil Schiller, spending an entire week on the East Coast, repeating this presentation over and over to a series of audiences of one. There was no less effort put into the preparation of this presentation than there would have been if it had been the WWDC keynote address.

What do I think so far, Schiller asks.

These two articles are probably my two favourites pieces from his full archive. They could have just as easily not mentioned any products or Apple news itself — just reading about the atmosphere, settings, and people is fascinating enough for me.

Keep writing John. And Phil, please keep inviting John into stranger and stranger surroundings and situations.


Seasons Of Norway — A Time-Lapse Adventure In 8K

April 4, 2017 · 09:47

Morten Rustad:

With its imposing mountains, endless plateaus and echoing valleys, Norway is a country where nature takes the lead. Using time-lapse, this film attempts to capture the ebb and flow of the seasons and is a result of one year of planning, a second year of shooting and four months of editing.

20,000 kilometers have been travelled, 200,000 photos taken and 20 terabytes worth of hard drives filled. Months have been spent hiking through the mountains, sleeping in tents and travelling through the entire country hunting for the best locations.

Simply fantastic.

Watch the video →