The Interrobang — an Attempt to Expand the Typographical Toolkit →

August 6, 2018 · 10:54

Joe Rosenberg, for 99% Invisible:

Aristophanes’ system became the basis for Western punctuation. A partial thought — followed by the shortest pause — was called a comma. A fuller thought was called a kolon. And a complete thought — followed by the longest pause — was called a periodos. These rhetorical units eventually lent their names to the comma, colon and period we know today.

More punctuation followed. Medieval scribes gave us the earliest forms of the exclamation mark. And in the 8th century, Alcuin of York, an English scholar in the court of Charlemagne, quietly introduced a symbol that would evolve into the modern question mark. Ever since, we’ve ended our sentences with one of these three ancient marks, called end marks.

There have, however, been attempts to expand this typographical toolkit, and include other end marks. One such example has made it into dictionaries: the interrobang (‽).

I love these types of stories.


The Bullshit Web →

August 3, 2018 · 11:08

Nick Heer:

An honest web is one in which the overwhelming majority of the code and assets downloaded to a user’s computer are used in a page’s visual presentation, with nearly all the remainder used to define the semantic structure and associated metadata on the page. Bullshit — in the form of CPU-sucking surveillance, unnecessarily-interruptive elements, and behaviours that nobody responsible for a website would themselves find appealing as a visitor — is unwelcome and intolerable.

Whenever I stumble upon a web page which falls under Nick’s “bullshit” category, I just close it. This includes sites that demand I turn off my script blocker, which I use to block “CPU-sucking surveillance” and similar items.

It’s really past time that we started cleaning up this dump that we created.


Andrzej Bargiel Completes the First Descent of K2 on Skis →

August 2, 2018 · 10:01

Josh Sampiero:

How many first descents are left in the world? Deep in the Himalayas, probably quite a few, but not a single one taunted and teased ski mountaineers like K2. Just 200m shorter than Mt Everest, and a lot more dangerous, it was one of the few well-known peaks still un-skied from the summit. Until July 22, 2018 that is, when Polish ski mountaineer Andrzej Bargiel clicked into his bindings at an altitude of 8,611m and jump-turned, side-slipped and skied his way down to glory.

Balls of steel.

P.S. Watch the video clips on the linked article’s page.


2018 MacBook Pro Core i9 vs. Both Core i7s →

August 2, 2018 · 09:55

Finally got our hands on the 2018 MacBook Pro 15 inch 2.9GHz 6-core i9. In this article we compare it to the 2.6GHz i7 6-core. Plus we have partial results for the 2.2GHz 6-core i7.

I am still constantly surprised when the i9 turns out to be slower in certain tasks than the Core i7, though I shouldn’t be. Most users shouldn’t pay the i9 tax — the i7 will be plenty fast.


Problems With Gmail’s “Confidential Mode” →

August 2, 2018 · 09:50

Gennie Gebhart and Cory Doctorow, for the EFF:

While many of its features sound promising, what “Confidential Mode” provides isn’t confidentiality. At best, the new mode might create expectations that it fails to meet around security and privacy in Gmail. We fear that Confidential Mode will make it less likely for users to find and use other, more secure communication alternatives. And at worst, Confidential Mode will push users further into Google’s own walled garden while giving them what we believe are misleading assurances of privacy and security […]

Ultimately, for the reasons we outlined above, in EFF’s opinion calling this new Gmail mode “confidential” is misleading. There is nothing confidential about unencrypted email in general and about Gmail’s new “Confidential Mode” in particular. While the new mode might make sense in narrow enterprise or company settings, it lacks the privacy guarantees and features to be considered a reliable secure communications option for most users.

The one thing I trust Google with is their uncanny ability to try to create an illusion of privacy and security, while in reality doing the exact opposite.


Apple Financial Results — FY Q3 2018 →

August 1, 2018 · 09:01

Apple PR:

Apple today announced financial results for its fiscal 2018 third quarter ended June 30, 2018. The Company posted quarterly revenue of $53.3 billion, an increase of 17 percent from the year-ago quarter, and quarterly earnings per diluted share of $2.34, up 40 percent. International sales accounted for 60 percent of the quarter’s revenue.

Apple sold:

  • 41.300 million iPhones (41.026 million in FY Q3 2017)
  • 11.553 million iPads (11.424 million in FY Q3 2017)
  • 3.720 million Macs (4.292 million in FY Q3 2017)

More graphs →


Intel Says Not to Expect Mainstream 10 Nm Chips Until Q2 2019 →

July 30, 2018 · 10:21

Peter Bright, writing for Ars Technica:

While the company’s 14nm manufacturing process is working well, with multiple revisions to improve performance or reduce power consumption, Intel has struggled to develop an effective 10nm process. Originally mass production was planned for as far back as 2015. In April, the company revised that to some time in 2019. The latest announcement is the most specific yet: PC systems with 10nm processors will be in the holiday season, with Xeon parts for servers following soon after. This puts mainstream, mass production still a year away.

Looking at the problems Intel has been having with their CPUs, we should reasonably wait until their second generation 10 nm series, which will probably arrive late 2020 (2021 in Macs?).

I wonder if my late 2016 MacBook Pro will last that long. I shouldn’t have to worry about this, and I normally wouldn’t, but the current generation isn’t very reliable.


Limited Edition Tesla Surfboard →

July 30, 2018 · 10:14

Designed by the Tesla Design Studio in collaboration with Lost Surfboards and Matt “Mayhem” Biolos, surfboard shaper for World Surf League Championship athletes. The Limited Edition Tesla Surfboard features a mix of the same high-quality matte and gloss finishes used on all our cars. The deck is reinforced with light-weight “Black Dart” carbon fiber, inspired by the interiors in our cars, and featuring tonal logos in subtle contrast gloss.

Model S, X and 3 can comfortably accommodate this surfboard on either the inside or outside of the vehicle.

I know nothing about surfboards but it is beautiful. And sold-out already.


New iPad Pro to Drop Headphone Jack, Move Smart Connector to Bottom to Accommodate Vertical-Only Face ID →

July 30, 2018 · 09:49

Chance Miller, for 9to5Mac:

First off, the report offers additional details on the 2018 iPad Pro dimensions. The 10.5-inch model is said to come in at 247.5mm (H) x 178.7mm (W) x 6mm (T), compared to the current dimensions of 250.6mm x 174.1mm x 6.1 mm.

Meanwhile, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro is said to stack up at 280mm (H) x 215mm (W) x 6.4mm (T), which compares to the current-generation model at 305.7 x 220.6 x 6.9 mm. With these dimensions, it seems that Apple is focused more on reducing the overall footprint of the 12.9-inch model, fitting the same size display into a considerably smaller body.

While a larger screen to body ratio is always good, I hope the new iPads are lighter than the current models. If Microsoft can create an 800 gram Core i7 15” tablet (just the screen part from a Surface Book 2), I hope Apple can lower its 12,9-inch iPad from 692 grams to something more reasonable.

The report goes on to explain that Apple is likely to ditch the headphone jack with this year’s iPad Pro models, a move the company first made with the iPhone 7. While Apple includes a Lightning to 3.5mm headphone adapter to ease the blow for iPhone users, it will not do the same for iPad Pro users, according to today’s report.

I don’t much care for the headphone jack anymore but I am a bit concerned about the new iOS 12 gestures — I’ve come to really like how iOS 11 handles all the swipes — and the fact that the Face ID camera will only work in one orientation. Oh, and about that adapter — Apple used to include many small accessories in their products (cloths for wiping MacBook screens for example), which were a nice touch. I miss those.

What exactly this means is unclear, but the report explains that “the next iPad Pro Smart Keyboard may be changed to vertical position specifications.” This is seemingly implying that the iPad Pro would dock vertically into the Smart Keyboard, but how that would work is vague at the moment.

The iPad really should feature two Smart Connectors, so that it can be used in both portrait and landscape. I vastly prefer typing in portrait mode but prefer landscape for other things.


Liquid Water Lake Revealed on Mars →

July 26, 2018 · 10:15

Mary Halton, for the BBC:

Researchers have found evidence of an existing body of liquid water on Mars.

What they believe to be a lake sits under the planet’s south polar ice cap, and is about 20km (12 miles) across.

Previous research found possible signs of intermittent liquid water flowing on the martian surface, but this is the first sign of a persistent body of water on the planet in the present day.

While we’re looking for a new home, Earth is currently experiencing a “Shit! There goes the planet!” moment, as writes Jane Dalton:

Humans are using up the planet’s resources so quickly that people have used a year’s worth in just seven months, experts are warning.

And the rate at which we are consuming the Earth’s natural resources is still speeding up.

This year the annual date when people have caused a year’s worth of ecological damage – Earth Overshoot Day – comes two days earlier than last year.

It falls on August 1 as calculated by Global Footprint Network, an international research organisation that observes humanity’s use of materials such as food, timber and fibres, as well as carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels and the environmental damage caused by building infrastructure.


The Man Who Invented the Self-Driving Car (In 1986) →

July 26, 2018 · 10:07

Janosch Delcker, writing for Politico:

The other drivers wouldn’t have noticed anything unusual as the two sleek limousines with German license plates joined the traffic on France’s Autoroute 1.

But what they were witnessing — on that sunny, fall day in 1994 — was something many of them would have dismissed as just plain crazy.

It had taken a few phone calls from the German car lobby to get the French authorities to give the go-ahead. But here they were: two gray Mercedes 500 SELs, accelerating up to 130 kilometers per hour, changing lanes and reacting to other cars — autonomously, with an onboard computer system controlling the steering wheel, the gas pedal and the brakes.

Decades before Google, Tesla and Uber got into the self-driving car business, a team of German engineers led by a scientist named Ernst Dickmanns had developed a car that could navigate French commuter traffic on its own.

I did not know this! Just the lack of computational power in those days was a major hurdle but creativity (cutting corners?) still made it possible. I wonder what would have happened if Daimler had continued to invest in that technology. I assume we would already have truly self-driving cars on sale today.


Supporting Michael Tsai’s Blog →

July 26, 2018 · 09:50

Michael Tsai:

Thank you for reading my blog. After all these years, it’s still a bit of a surprise that people are paying attention to what I write, with some even asking whether I’m OK if I don’t post anything for a while […]

That was me. I got worried after Michael not posting for a few days because he was on holiday (how dare he!)

I’ve been told this is overdue, but I’d like to ask you to help support this site financially. This is optional. I’m not creating a paywall, and I don’t want you to feel guilty if you aren’t able to help. But if you enjoy what I’m doing here, please consider joining via Patreon.

To be clear, I see this site as a labor of love. I’m not interested in making it more commercial or in giving up software development. I would like to keep it going more or less as it’s been: a personal site with a regular posting schedule. However, the writing does consume a substantial amount of my time, and I’m hoping that patronage will help me to justify that.

If you don’t follow Michael’s blog, you should — he manages to capture many interesting points of view on specific subjects, collating them all in one post.


July 26, 2018 · 08:17

Sometimes I wish I could follow people’s tweets via RSS (without jumping through any hoops).


John Poole’s Initial MacBook Pro Core i9 Benchmarks (With Apple’s Fix) →

July 24, 2018 · 23:14

After applying the latest update from Apple, I re-ran the Geekbench build test on the i9. It’s slightly faster, but processor frequency stays stable when building (which is comforting).

Still technically slower than the i7, but close enough that, practically, it doesn’t matter.

He later adds:

It’s thermally constrained. The processor is at 95-99C consistently throughout the test. Both the i7 and i9 run all cores at ~3GHz.


macOS High Sierra 10.13.6 Supplemental Update for MacBook Pro (2018) →

July 24, 2018 · 23:02

Apple:

Following extensive performance testing under numerous workloads, we’ve identified that there is a missing digital key in the firmware that impacts the thermal management system and could drive clock speeds down under heavy thermal loads on the new MacBook Pro. A bug fix is included in today’s macOS High Sierra 10.13.6 Supplemental Update and is recommended. We apologize to any customer who has experienced less than optimal performance on their new systems. Customers can expect the new 15-inch MacBook Pro to be up to 70% faster, and the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar to be up to 2X faster, as shown in the performance results on our website.

Let further throttling testing begin.


HomePod OS 12 Private Beta Reportedly Includes Siri Multiple Timers, Make and Answer Phone Calls, More →

July 23, 2018 · 14:17

Benjamin Mayo, for 9to5Mac:

Apple has seeded a private beta for HomePod to Apple corporate and (some) retail employees for a while. iGeneration is reporting that the HomePod OS 12.0 beta, presumably set to be released alongside iOS 12 in the fall, has several major new features for Siri on the HomePod.

The beta reportedly includes phone call features, allowing the user to start and answer calls from the HomePod, as well as Find My iPhone Siri command, and perhaps most dramatically — support for multiple timers are apparently on the cards.

I talk to my HomePod several times per day, just to control the music being played. I really hope Apple figures out how to minimize the need to constantly repeat “Hey Siri” — this is currently the most frustrating element of my experience with this particular assistant. I would love feature parity between platforms too, with the ability to hand off queries to my iPad or iPhone, whichever I happen to be closest too or pick up first.


July 21, 2018 · 22:55

There’s something amazing about using a 15-inch tablet, weighing only 800 grams or so. It might not be as refined as an iPad but there are areas where it offers so much more. Kudos to Microsoft for the Surface Book.


How to Install Python3 via Homebrew on macOS

July 20, 2018 · 12:25

I just had to install Python 3 on both Macs and the whole process had some issues, so this is what I had to do to get everything running correctly:

  • I assume you already have Homebrew installed; if not then follow the instructions here and then run the following commands…
  • brew update
  • brew upgrade
  • sudo mkdir -p /usr/local/Frameworks
  • sudo chown -R $(whoami) /usr/local/* if using bash or sudo chown -R (whoami) /usr/local/* for fish
  • brew install python3
  • brew link python3
  • brew doctor

That’s it.


Google Is Quietly Working on a Successor to Android — Project Fuchsia →

July 20, 2018 · 12:05

Mark Bergen, for Bloomberg:

For more than two years, a small and stealthy group of engineers within Google has been working on software that they hope will eventually replace Android, the world’s dominant mobile operating system. As the team grows, it will have to overcome some fierce internal debate about how the software will work […]

The company must also settle some internal feuds. Some of the principles that Fuchsia creators are pursuing have already run up against Google’s business model. Google’s ads business relies on an ability to target users based on their location and activity, and Fuchsia’s nascent privacy features would, if implemented, hamstring this important business. There’s already been at least one clash between advertising and engineering over security and privacy features of the fledgling operating system, according to a person familiar with the matter. The ad team prevailed, this person said.

This sounds very disappointing. I really hope they decide to change course and focus on security and privacy instead.


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.


MacBook Pro Performance (July 2018) →

July 16, 2018 · 12:00

John Poole, on the Geekbench blog:

Apple announced updated 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pros last week. Let’s take a quick look at the performance of these new laptops using Geekbench 4 results from the Geekbench Browser.

I’d go for the high-end Core i7 13-inch MacBook Pro or the low-end 15-inch model. The Core i9 does not offer significant performance gains, unless someone really needs to use every last drop of power that it offers.


I Just Tripped Over My 2017 rMBP’s Power Cord →

July 15, 2018 · 15:05

Reddit user seditiousseals:

It went flying off the table. It landed on carpet (fortunately), so nothing is damaged, but I still miss MagSafe. It also pisses me off that they no longer give the extension cable. If they still included the extension cable (which can’t cost more than a dollar per unit), this wouldn’t have happened. I’m annoyed they got rid of MagSafe, and I’m annoyed they got rid of the extension cord, but I’m *really* annoyed that they got rid of both at the same time.

I miss it too.


Use True Tone on Your MacBook Pro →

July 15, 2018 · 14:43

Apple Support:

True Tone can also adjust these external displays when they’re connected to your MacBook Pro:

  • Apple Thunderbolt Display, using the Apple Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) to Thunderbolt 2 adapter
  • LG UltraFine 5K Display
  • LG UltraFine 4K Display

I assume this won’t function if you’re working in clamshell mode, but otherwise this is great.


How Jackson Cunninghan Got Banned for Life From AirBnB →

July 15, 2018 · 13:22

Jackson Cunningham:

A few months ago, I received a cryptic message from AirBnB that sounded like something straight out that Black Mirror episode with Jon Hamm.

Dear Jackson,

We regret to inform you that we’ll be unable to support your account moving forward, and have exercised our discretion under our Terms of Service to disable your account(s). This decision is irreversible and will affect any duplicated or future accounts.

Please understand that we are not obligated to provide an explanation for the action taken against your account. Furthermore, we are not liable to you in any way with respect to disabling or canceling your account. Airbnb reserves the right to make the final determination with respect to such matters, and this decision will not be reversed.

Most of us are used to the justice system, presenting evidence, the right to defend ourselves, and these types of methods employed by private companies are shocking. These type of authoritarian practices should not take place, even when private corporations have a legal right to do, for ethical and moral reasons if non other.