Vox Media Acquires Recode in All-Stock Deal ★
Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher, announcing the deal:
We are thrilled to announce that Re/code’s parent company, Revere
Digital, is being wholly acquired by the highly respected
digital-native media company Vox Media. This is the next big step
in our mission to bring you quality tech journalism, because our
work will now be amplified and enhanced by Vox Media’s deep and
broad skill set.
We want to assure you that this combination is designed to bolster
and enrich Re/code, and that we will continue to publish under the
same name and leadership, with editorial independence. We will
also continue to hold our signature Code conferences, and even add
new ones, again with the same core team and the same philosophy.
Not sure what to make of this. Feel like I’ve felt that way about a lot of news the past few days.
This bit from the NYT report on the acquisition surprised me:
ReCode said it had 44 full-time employees and three contract
employees. They were expected to join Vox, though Vox would not
elaborate on potential staffing changes.
44 full-time employees sounds crazy for Recode.
Apple Drops discoveryd in Latest OS X Beta ★
Benjamin Mayo, writing for 9to5Mac:
Looking at Activity Monitor on OS X 10.10 seed 4, discoveryd is no
longer loaded by the system — instead relying on mDNSResponder.
The ‘new’ process is really the one Apple used to use pre-Yosemite
and did not have these problems.
It is still unclear why the change in the networking stack was
ever made given that the old process worked so well and the new
process had so many issues. There has been some speculation that
the new stack is related to AirDrop and Handoff functionality
although testing showed that these features still worked when the
system was reverted back to the old process.
The saga of discoveryd is baffling to me. I would love to hear the backstory on how it shipped. And I still haven’t heard a plausible theory on what Apple was hoping to accomplish with it in the first place. What was the point of it?
And now to go back and abandon it after all this time? Someone at Apple is eating a lot of crow.
Filling the Green Circle ★
Ever since getting the Apple Watch, not only have I been getting
more consistent exercise, but I’m pushing myself further. I take
more walks, and I walk faster and further than ever before. I’ve
been walking Hops around the same streets for four years, but now
I’ve been discovering new streets and paths just to extend our
walking distance and try to beat my previous walks.
I’ve never cared before, but now, I care.
Seth Weintraub on Jony Ive’s Move to Chief Design Officer ★
Good take from Seth Weintraub:
New position. Get two subordinates to handle the day-to-day
operations and pack your bags? Not quite that easy. If Ive left
Apple, he’d be betraying Steve Jobs and abandoning his power as
the most influential designer in the world. But he also can’t run
the iOS UI and hardware design teams over FaceTime. You simply
can’t just ‘call in’ such an important role.
So there’s this compromise. Ive gets two subordinates to run his
two incredibly important programs, then gets to spend a reasonable
amount of time in the UK with his kids who then aren’t forced to
grow up talking like Americans and pronouncing ‘aluminum’ like
The Reverse Crown ★
Luckily, I had spent some time digging around in the settings in
the Apple Watch app and remembered seeing some odd settings in
General > Watch Orientation. The wrist selection is obvious
enough, but being able to change the position of the digital crown
had no obvious benefit. That is, until I tried it.
I like the default position of the crown, but I can see why Craig (and others) prefer it reversed.
Recode: ‘Twitter Has Held Talks to Acquire Flipboard’ ★
Not sure how this acquisition would help either company — sounds like a deal just for the sake of making a deal.
Update: Here’s a loose theory, formed after reading a few very thoughtful emails from readers that were all along the same lines. Facebook is killing it — they’re thriving in every way that anyone would want them to. Twitter is measured against Facebook, and they come up (far) short both financially and in terms of active users. Twitter feels compelled to “do something, anything” over and over to ignite growth. And so blowing a billion dollars on the world’s best-looking, slickest-designed RSS aggregator is their next “something”.
Jason Snell on the ‘Utility’ Apple Watch Face ★
Utility works for me as a more minimal face, but it also works as
an information-dense one. It’s adaptable and beautiful. What I’m
saying is, Utility has quickly settled in to be my favorite Apple
‘Finally’ of the Day, iPhone Dock Edition ★
G. Keenan Schneider, writing at No Octothorpe on the widespread description of today’s new iPhone dock from Apple as the first in the Lightning era:
It’s obnoxious enough to have the inane insertion of the word,
“finally,” into the headline, but tech blogs have decided that’s
the new goto when they want to subversively neg Apple. What’s even
more obnoxious is that this story isn’t even factually correct.
Apple did release a Lightning dock with the 5c and 5s. I have
one. It’s great.
Gene Munster Gives Up ★
Also on CNBC:
For years Piper Jaffray’s closely followed analyst Gene Munster
proclaimed that Apple would soon launch a television set. On
Tuesday, he offered a mea culpa after a report surfaced that the
company gave up on the project more than a year ago.
“This is a tough day for me. It’s a hard reality to accept, and I
think that is the reality of it: the TV is on hold,” Munster told
He continued to say, “It’s a small consolation that they were
aggressively looking at this. At the end of the day, I was wrong.”
$10 says he doesn’t stop asking about it on the quarterly analyst calls.
Carl Icahn Still Thinks Apple Will Make TV Sets ★
Appearing on CNBC, to discuss Daisuke Wakabayashi’s aforelinked WSJ report claiming Apple has abandoned plans to make TV sets:
Moreover, Icahn still thinks there will be an Apple TV. “I read
the article,” Icahn said, “not what Tim Cook said or didn’t say,
but the whole thing is ridiculous … I’m not backtracking in
anyway. I believe they will do a TV. That’s my belief.”
Icahn posted a rather rambling “open letter” to Tim Cook, reiterating his belief that Apple will release an “ultra high definition television set” in 2016 and an electric car in 2020.
Wakabayashi reported that Apple has given up on plans for a standalone TV set, according to “people familiar with the matter”.
One way to read it is that Apple gave Wakabayashi this scoop in order to throw cold water on Icahn’s speculation — they’re not doing a TV set and they want everyone to know it, so that when they announce a new Apple TV box at WWDC next month (I know nothing about that other than that it’s widely rumored) everyone will understand that there is no TV set coming next year to wait for.
WSJ: Apple Shelved Plans to Make TV Set ★
Daisuke Wakabayashi, reporting for the WSJ:
Investor Carl Icahn said he expects Apple Inc. to introduce an
ultra-high-definition television in 2016. But after nearly a
decade of research, Apple quietly shelved plans to make such a
set more than a year ago, according to people familiar with
Apple had searched for breakthrough features to justify building
an Apple-branded television set, those people said. In addition to
an ultra-high-definition display, Apple considered adding
sensor-equipped cameras so viewers could make video calls through
the set, they said.
Ultimately, though, Apple executives didn’t consider any of those
features compelling enough to enter the highly competitive
television market, led by Samsung Electronics Co. Apple typically
likes to enter a new product area with innovative technology and
The most surprising thing about this, if true — and with Wakabayashi and “people familiar with the matter”, that’s a big if — is that Apple was still pondering their own TV sets as recently as a year or two ago.
Making boxes that connect to TVs — like Apple TV as it stands today — that makes sense to me. Making actual TV sets, though, I’ve long been skeptical about. Years ago, I thought, “Why should Apple settle for selling a $100 box connected to a $2000 TV instead of just selling the $2000 TV set with the box built in?” The problem, though, is that TV set prices have dropped dramatically, and people don’t replace their TV sets that frequently. The only way to build a large TV-based platform is to make boxes that connect to the TV sets people already own. There has to be a standalone Apple TV box. In theory, Apple could make an actual TV set, too, but I’m unconvinced that makes strategic sense.
The Dalrymple Report ★
New podcast, co-hosted by Jim Dalrymple and Merlin Mann. First episode is mostly non-tech (unless you consider electric guitars to be “tech”). Good stuff. Here’s a shortcut to subscribe in Overcast.
Apple Introduces New iPhone Lightning Dock ★
Truly curious about the timing on this — why not unveil it back when the iPhones 6 came out last year? I like using docks for my phone, and for years I used Apple’s. Ever since I switched to the iPhone 6 last year, though, I’ve used two third-party docks, both of which I like very much.
On my desk I use a black Twelve South HiRise Deluxe. It’s a bit fiddly to set up, but that’s because it’s adjustable to perfectly fit any iPhone or iPad Mini. It doesn’t block the home button, keeping the phone completely usable while docked. It’s lightweight, but it’s still easy to undock the phone one-handed. (Be sure to get the the HiRise Deluxe, not the regular HiRise. I have one of those, too, and the Deluxe model is definitely better. Twelve South should just discontinue the regular one.)
On my bedside table, I have a black and walnut Spool Dock from Quell and Company. The Spool Dock covers the home button (mostly), so it’s not a good option for my desk, where I sometimes actually use the phone while it’s docked. But I love it as a bedside dock. The “micro-suction pads” on the bottom really work — it never moves, and it’s easy to dock and undock the phone one-handed.
One thing both the HiRise and Spool Dock have in common with the new dock from Apple: they’re designed to work with iPhones of any width and thickness — past, current, or future.
Apple Watch OS 1.0.1 ★
Finally, support for the new emoji on Apple Watch.
Here’s Apple’s support document with instructions for how to install it. The first-ever software update for a new product always gives me pause, but it went just fine on my watch.
CleanMyMac 3 ★
My thanks to MacPaw for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote CleanMyMac 3, their utility for cleaning up the unwanted junk taking up space on your hard drive. CleanMyMac frees up space on your Mac’s system, iTunes, iPhoto, Mail, and more. If you’re skeptical, check out the reviews from sites like iMore and MacStories. The latest version even has a great Yosemite-style interface.
Even better, they’re offering Daring Fireball readers 30 percent off through May 20.
The Incomparable: Monkey Cam ★
Speaking of podcasts, Jason Snell put together an excellent episode of The Incomparable devoted to David Letterman’s career and imminent retirement. It’s not a panel discussion, but rather a very well edited series of interviews with Andy Ihnatko, Tim Goodman, Philip Michaels, Aaron Barnhart, and yours truly.
The Talk Show: ‘Workin’ in Pajamas’ ★
This week’s episode of my award-winning1 podcast, The Talk Show. Joining the show for the first time David Sparks. Topics include “power users”, Markdown, Apple Watch, the new MacBook, iCloud Photo Syncing and the new Photos for Mac, WWDC, and wearing slippers as “work” shoes.
Brought to you by these excellent sponsors:
- Last Bottle Wines: Get the new app for free. Enjoy curated fine wine daily. 30-75% off.
- The Best Caesar: Get the app for free. Learn the recipe. Enjoy it for a lifetime.
- Hover: The best way to buy and manage domain names. Use promo code: “missinglinks” for 10 percent off.
- Fracture: Your pictures, printed directly on glass. Use code “daringfireball” and save 15 percent.
Debug 64: Horace Dediu of Asymco ★
Speaking of Horace Dediu, I much enjoyed his appearance on Guy English and Rene Ritchie’s Debug podcast, recorded a few weeks ago in front of a live audience at the Úll conference. Great stuff.
iPhone, Killer ★
In reality, the killers seem to have all faded away while the
iPhone continues. We could just shake our heads and move on, but a
deeper analysis is possible. Take a look at the graph above. Note
that iPhone’s (and hence Apple’s) ascent has not caused decline in
its nominal competitors. When seen in the context of the graph
above, the success of the iPhone has in fact been complementary to
those companies who would be its killers.
Interesting point. Obviously Apple has profited the most from iPhone, but it’s pretty clear that it’s led to a boom in the whole industry.
‘Upon This Wrist’ ★
Speaking of “a week or so with Apple Watch” reviews, I much enjoyed Craig Mod’s:
Very few notice the thing on the wrist. That makes me happy. But
some do see it. Once they see it they say, Oh is that the thing?
And I say, Yes it is the thing. And they ask, Has it changed your
life? And I shrug. And they are so disappointed. They want me to
say, Yes. Yes it has changed my life. The wrist thing. It’s made
me a better man, a stronger man, a more thoughtful man. But, no.
This is what I say: I say, Look, it shows maps. And they Ooooo.
And I show them the remote camera and they Ahhhhh. And I say,
look — my heartbeat. And they say, Wow, you have a high resting
heart rate. And I sigh and say, I know. Oh, how I know.
Longtime Pebble User Stephen Orth on Apple Watch ★
Interesting “one week with Apple Watch” piece by Stephen Orth:
However, to get back, you must tap the tiny on-screen navigation
button in the upper left corner (much like the standard navigation
controls in iOS). This seems weird to me. I find myself wanting an
actual physical button on the upper-left side of the watch that
takes me back (much like the Pebble, or even one of my beloved
Casios.) What I think could have really worked is if Apple had
placed the “friend” or Side Button on the upper left side of the
watch instead of below the Digital Crown — the functionality
could be the same — if you’re viewing a watch face and you press
the friend button, it works exactly as it does today. However, if
you’re deep in an email, or an iMessage, or a Yelp review, you
merely hit the friend button a couple of times to get back to the
app screen and maybe once again to the watch face.
A hardware Back button at the top left is an interesting idea, but, I think, a bad one. I do agree about the problem though: those tiny on-screen back buttons are too small to tap reliably. I’ve found that swiping from the left edge is a far better way to go back on Apple Watch — so much so that I never actually try to tap those back buttons any more.
For one thing, putting a button directly across from the digital crown would lead to the same problem some people have with the iPhones 6: when they try to press the power or volume up buttons, they accidentally press the wrong one, because they’re right across from each other, and the natural way they hold the phone is with a finger on one of the buttons and their thumb on the other.
William Zinsser, Author of ‘On Writing Well,’ Dies at 92 ★
Douglas Martin, writing for the NYT:
William Zinsser, a writer, editor and teacher whose book “On
Writing Well” sold more than 1.5 million copies by employing his
own literary craftsmanship to urge clarity, simplicity, brevity
and humanity, died on Tuesday at his home in Manhattan. He was
His advice was straightforward: Write clearly. Guard the message
with your life. Avoid jargon and big words. Use active verbs. Make
the reader think you enjoyed writing the piece.
He conveyed that himself with lively turns of phrase:
“There’s not much to be said about the period except that
most writers don’t reach it soon enough,” he wrote in “On
I’ve mentioned Zinsser and On Writing Well a few times over the years. I could not recommend that book any more highly. Everyone could benefit from reading it — and, every few years, re-reading it. A classic for the ages.
Apple Says First HomeKit Smart Devices Coming in June ★
Daisuke Wakabayashi, writing for the WSJ:
Apple said the first HomeKit-enabled smart-home devices are coming
out next month, refuting a report that said delays with the home
automation software platform would push back the launch until
August or September.
“HomeKit [hardware certification] has been available for just a
few months and we already have dozens of partners who have
committed to bringing HomeKit accessories to market and we’re
looking forward to the first ones coming next month,” said Apple
spokeswoman Trudy Muller.
Apple’s statement comes on the heels of a report in Fortune that
said Apple’s software platform — which will allow the company’s
devices to control connected home appliances — was experiencing
problems and that the introduction of the first HomeKit devices
were being delayed.
Update: The Fortune story, reported by Stacey Higginbotham, has since been updated to add “for some devices” to the headline, but as published originally, and until Apple gave this story to the WSJ, stated unequivocally “Apple Delays HomeKit Launch”. You can see it in the URL slug, which comes from the original headline. Fortune blew this one.
This feels like another case of the new, more open, Apple PR. They used to never respond to stories like this, or, if they did, it wasn’t with an on-the-record statement from a named company representative like Trudy Muller.
Apple Watch Can Be Reset Without Passcode ★
I’m not sure whether this is a bug, or by design. But at least for now, you can force a factory reset on Apple Watch by:
- Locking the watch. (Take it off your wrist.)
- Long press on the side button to bring up the “Power Off” screen.
- Force tap on the “Power Off” screen.
At this point, you’ll see a new screen with two buttons: “Erase all content and settings” and “Cancel”. It’s a rather ugly layout, which makes me think this is a diagnostic feature, not something that was intended to be exposed to actual users. The only restriction on erasing all content and settings is that the watch has to be connected to a power source — you’re never prompted to enter your passcode.
(Calling this “How to Steal an Apple Watch” earns Philip Elmer-DeWitt a Clickbait Headline of the Day award. Congratulations.)
Facebook Instant Karma ★
With Instant Articles, Facebook has not only done a 180 from
what Mark Zuckerberg has called the company’s biggest
they’ve now done another lap just to prove a point. Not only
is the web not fast enough for apps, it’s not fast enough for
And you know what, they’re right.
Such a stance will be considered blasphemy in some circles. But it
doesn’t change the very real and very obvious truth: on mobile,
the web browser just isn’t cutting it.
Speaking of that “end,” it’s important to note that Facebook is,
of course, still powered by that very same web. What it’s no
longer powered by is a web browser. That’s very different.
Apple Intervening in RadioShack Sale to Protect Customer Data ★
Joseph Keller, writing for iMore:
Apple is intervening in the sale of RadioShack, filing a motion to
prevent the sale of some customer data to bidders for RadioShack’s
assets. While the company doesn’t object to the sale in general,
they are hoping to block the sale of the personal data of
customers who purchased Apple products from RadioShack stores.
Apparently selling that data would violate Apple’s reseller
agreement with RadioShack, according to Law360.
Seems like they’re going above and beyond on this one.
Johnny Carson on Late Night With David Letterman in 1985 ★
“You will find out, after a few years, that this is the only way I can talk with anybody.”
AMC Running Marathon of ‘Mad Men’ Leading Up to Series Finale ★
Rick Kissell, reporting for Variety:
AMC is going all out for the series finale of “Mad Men,” setting a
marathon of episodes as a lead-up and asking its sister networks
to forgo regularly scheduled programming during the acclaimed
The network on Tuesday said that every episode from all seven
seasons of “Mad Men” will air consecutively, starting at 6 p.m.
on Wednesday and concluding with last week’s episode at 9. And
then at 10 p.m., while AMC airs the series finale, BBC America,
IFC, SundanceTV and We TV will air a special message
commemorating the series.
Probably my favorite show of all time. The Sopranos is the only one that makes it a close call.
‘The Detail in Seymour Hersh’s Bin Laden Story That Rings True’ ★
Add The New York Times to the list of news agencies backing aspects of Seymour Hersh’s blockbuster expose on the killing of Osama bin Laden. Carlotta Gall writes for the upcoming issue of their Sunday magazine:
Among other things, Hersh contends that the Inter-Services
Intelligence directorate, Pakistan’s military-intelligence agency,
held Bin Laden prisoner in the Abbottabad compound since 2006, and
that “the C.I.A. did not learn of Bin Laden’s whereabouts by
tracking his couriers, as the White House has claimed since May
2011, but from a former senior Pakistani intelligence officer who
betrayed the secret in return for much of the $25 million reward
offered by the U.S.”
On this count, my own reporting tracks with Hersh’s. Beginning in
2001, I spent nearly 12 years covering Pakistan and Afghanistan
for The Times. (In his article, Hersh cites an article I wrote for
The Times Magazine last year, an excerpt from a book drawn from
this reporting.) The story of the Pakistani informer was
circulating in the rumor mill within days of the Abbottabad raid,
but at the time, no one could or would corroborate the claim. Such
is the difficulty of reporting on covert operations and
intelligence matters; there are no official documents to draw on,
few officials who will talk and few ways to check the details they
give you when they do.
Two years later, when I was researching my book, I learned from a
high-level member of the Pakistani intelligence service that the
ISI had been hiding Bin Laden and ran a desk specifically to
handle him as an intelligence asset.
Drip, drip, drip.
Verizon Security Flaw Left Millions of Home Internet Users Vulnerable to Attack ★
Joseph Bernstein, reporting for BuzzFeed:
Last week, BuzzFeed News received a tip from Eric Taylor — now
the chief information security officer of a company called Cinder,
but probably better known by his former hacking alias, Cosmo the
God. Taylor and Blake Welsh, a student at Anne Arundel Community
College in Maryland, had found a way to easily access Verizon user
information by spoofing IP data. They passed along the information
to BuzzFeed News on the condition that we would report it to
Verizon before publishing — which we did. […]
Within a few hours of the tip, and despite having no technical
background, with the explicit permission of several Verizon
account holders, I was able to convince Verizon customer service
to reset an account password, giving me total control of a Verizon
account. It was surprisingly easily done.
So far, it sounds like no customers were actually attacked by this flaw but it’s pretty scary. Especially the social engineering angle:
Even worse, customer support gave me that reset information
despite the customer having a security PIN set up. In order to get
a reset when someone has set a PIN, Verizon customer support
requires either that number, the amount of the most recent
payment, or access to the phone listed on the account; Verizon
will call customers at that number with their PIN. None of these
were listed in the source code, and I obviously didn’t have access
to the account phone.
So I called back, and asked for the amount of my last payment,
claiming to be balancing my checkbook. Verizon happily gave it to
me. Now armed with one of the requisite pieces of verification
information, I called back a third time and got a friendly rep to
reset the password. We were able to successfully repeat this
procedure on demand.
By the Numbers: AOL Then and Now ★
What UberX Drivers Actually Earn ★
Emily Guendelsberger, in a thorough and thoroughly entertaining first-person story for Philadelphia City Paper:
I talked to lots of drivers. But few kept a meticulous enough log
of hours worked, miles driven and expenses paid that I felt
comfortable using their data alone. Many drivers worried about
getting in trouble, too — Uber can “deactivate” a driver for any
reason. I needed someone on the record, someone whose data I knew
I could trust.
So, in January, I applied to be an UberX driver myself.
Eye-opening figures on what drivers actually earn. Brutal.