The Daring Fireball Linked List

The Talk Show: ‘Retina Quality’ 

New episode of my podcast, The Talk Show, with special guest Paul Kafasis. Topics include the new Pebble Time watch, the imminent arrival of Apple Watch, Paul’s clever new doorbell (and unfortunate refrigerator situation), a little bit of baseball, and why I can’t attend next week’s Apple event in San Francisco.

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Why Apple Doesn’t Report Jony Ive’s Compensation 

Eric Jackson, examining a question I raised on The Talk Show a few weeks ago:

Normally, all companies have to report the pay for the CEO, CFO, and three next most important “Named Officers.” Most would assume Ive would be among the next 3. Yet, Apple reports them as Ahrendts, Cue, and Williams. Why? I agree with Gruber that it’s likely because they just don’t want to report Ive if it’s high for fear of it becoming an issue when they don’t think a public discussion is warranted.

Update: Here are the relevant SEC rules (emphasis mine):

In the annual proxy statement, a company must disclose information concerning the amount and type of compensation paid to its chief executive officer, chief financial officer and the three other most highly compensated executive officers. A company also must disclose the criteria used in reaching executive compensation decisions and the relationship between the company’s executive compensation practices and corporate performance.

So it’s not the three “most important”, but the three “most highly compensated”. Ahrendts’s large signing bonus last year guaranteed her placement on this list.

Now my question is, is Jony Ive an “officer of the company”? What is the legal difference between “senior executive” and “executive officer”? DF reader @GadgetGav speculates that Ive is not an “executive officer”, and thus not subject to SEC compensation disclosure rules.

Notch, Post-Minecraft 

[**Update: Re-linked with the correct URL this time. Forbes’s “forward you to the next article” JavaScript dingus screwed me earlier.]

Interesting profile by Forbes, including some insight on the negotiations with Microsoft:

It was June 16, 2014, and Persson bunkered in his penthouse apartment with a cold. Minecraft users had been up in arms that week about the company’s decision to start enforcing its End User License Agreement, which barred players from charging others for certain game-play features, such as stronger swords. As hundreds of tweets an hour flowed in, Persson, feverish from his cold, tapped out a 129-character outburst that would change his life forever.

“Anyone want to buy my share of Mojang so I can move on with my life?” he asked. “Getting hate for trying to do the right thing is not my gig.”

Mojang CEO Carl Manneh was sitting at home with his family when he first saw the tweet. Within 30 seconds of his reading it, his phone rang. A Microsoft executive who coordinated with Mojang wanted to know if Persson was serious. “I’m not sure–let me talk to him,” said Manneh.

OneShot, a One Week Design Case Study 

Daniel Zarick goes behind-the-scenes on the making of OneShot, a new iOS app for sharing screenshots of article excerpts.

When I first heard about OneShot a few weeks ago, I hardly paid any attention to it. The idea of sharing screenshots — static images — of article excerpts seemed goofy to me. Twitter’s 140-character limit is a big motivator here, so I see the appeal, but it just sounded like a bad premise.

But Zarick’s design write-up (and Neven Mrgan’s aforelinked good words) made me want to try it, and I’m glad I did. The app is full of clever details, including smart use of OCR to make the text in screenshots un-static. I probably won’t use it much, because, well, I have a place where I post excerpts from interesting articles. But I can see why people use it.

Try 

Neven Mrgan on OneShot:

I’d like to see more software try to do a good job of a fuzzy task, let you help it with the last mile, and give you a fallback option. That kind of magic can be more delightful than behind-the-scenes, guess-and-stick-with-it magic we’re often promised.

I think this is a good rule of thumb.

Matt Haughey Retiring From MetaFilter 

Matt Haughey:

After 16 years of doing a bit of everything under the sun here, I’m stepping away from the day to day of running MetaFilter and moving into the background. Never fear, I’m leaving it in the best of hands and things are looking good for the future.

Godspeed, Matt. And thank you.

Unreal 4 for Animation 

Interesting not because of the film itself but the tool used to create it: Unreal Engine 4, with everything rendered at 30 FPS in real time. Via Sean Heber, who aptly notes:

It wasn’t that long ago that you’d only see this kind of quality in animated films. Now it’s realtime.

Wes Anderson’s The Uncanny X-Men 

Fun parody by Patrick Willems. (Via Josh Centers.)

How the iPhone Helped Federico Viticci Achieve a Healthier Lifestyle 

Inspiring story from Federico Viticci:

Two years after my last treatments, sometimes I still turn to my girlfriend and I tell her that it’s amazing we’re able to be together and walk and laugh and go shopping and drive and not be stuck in a hospital room that smells like aseptic plastic bags and wet floors. And I also feel like I’m not communicating this well or concisely enough — the instinct of walking and going places is so intrinsic in mankind, the joy of getting it back sounds grandiose to most people. I get it. But it still feels incredible and I want to write it.

Small steps, literally. Today I’m free and I can count steps on my iPhone. Big deal — cue sarcastic tweet. Yes. It is a big deal to me. Because every day that I open the Health app and I see a plunge in that chart or I launch Pedometer++ and I see a red bar, it’s a day that I wonder whether I’m wasting my time trying apps and workflows and being obsessed with the urgency of news instead of going out and holding my girlfriend’s hand or walking with my dad, whom I don’t call enough.

Headline of the Day 

Rurik Bradbury, writing for Trustev:

A hot and heavy headline at the Wall Street Journal, “Fraud Comes to Apple Pay,” gives the impression of some kind of security weakness in Apple’s new payment system, but it’s not justified.

What has happened is that Apple Pay itself is basically fraud-proof, so fraudsters have turned their attention to the next weakest link: credit cards before they’re added to an Apple Pay wallet.

This is classic fraud via social engineering. Criminals use stolen credit card details (which can easily and cheaply be bought on sites like Rescator.cm) and then trick banks into allowing them to be loaded onto an iPhone. Once loaded onto a phone, they can make purchases until the card is canceled.

Anything to get “Apple” into a headline at the WSJ.

Recode: ‘Sony’s $840 Smart Glasses Are Too Dorky to Be Believed’ 

Eric Johnson:

Hard as it might be to swallow, this is a real promotional video for a real product made by a real company with a $30 billion market cap. It’s the developer edition of Sony’s smart glasses, which are called SmartEyeglass (great name!) and will be available to the eager buying public in the U.S., U.K., Germany and Japan on March 10.

They cost $840.

I know they’re a “developer edition”, but jiminy are these things ugly. They make Google Glass look cool.

iOS 8 vs. iOS 3: Allowing Touch Input During Animations 

William Van Hecke made an interesting video showing a difference in iOS 7 and 8 from all prior versions of iOS — touch gestures are now ignored during system animations. For example, when you unlock your iPhone and the home screen animates into place. It used to be that you could start swiping between home screens during the animation. Now, you can’t.

I’d more or less gotten used to this, but now that he’s called my attention to it, it does seem rather annoying, and an inexplicable regression. A seven-year-old original iPhone shouldn’t feel more responsive than a brand new iPhone 6.

Update: I’m not sure that Van Hecke’s description of how older versions of iOS worked is quite right. I think it’s more like the old animations ended abruptly, whereas starting in iOS 7 they ease out slowly. The difference isn’t between being interruptible or not, but rather between ending quickly and ending slowly. The result, though, is what matters, and the result is that it feels slower.

PCWorld: ‘Microsoft, Intel Join Forces on Low-Cost Windows 10 Phones’ 

Imagine going back in time 10 years and trying to convince someone that this headline from 2015 would produce nothing but yawns and eye-rolling.

Apple Found Its Newest Billboards on the Internet 

Brendan Klinkenberg, writing for Buzzfeed:

Last December, when the Bay Area had one of its rare rainy days, Cielo de la Paz took her kids out to play. She’s an avid photographer, “willing to wake up at five in the morning and hike 10 miles to get that shot of the sunrise,” and when she saw the reflection of her red umbrella on the wet concrete, she knew she had a good one.

“It took a few shots,” she said, “this was the last one I took, I was finally happy with how the wind arranged the leaves for me.”

She edited the shot with Filterstorm Neue, uploaded the picture to Flickr (she was taking part in the photo365 challenge), where Apple found it.

Then, they put it on a billboard.

On Raising the Price for Vesper 

Jason Snell asked me a few questions about our decision to raise the price of Vesper:

Instead, we want to embrace the users who are looking for the best app, and who are willing to pay a fair price for it if they think Vesper might be it. Going low didn’t work; we lose nothing by trying to go high.

I would like to see other developers follow.

What I see is that among long-time Mac indie developers, almost all of them are still making the majority — often the vast majority, sometimes the entirety — of their revenue from Mac apps. That’s good business — the Mac market is willing to pay reasonable prices for apps. But it’s a lost opportunity for iOS as a platform. I think we’re lacking for good, deep quality apps on iOS.

Jony Ive’s Newton 

Another funny bit regarding Mark Wilson’s calling the Apple Watch “Jonathan Ive’s Newton” — the actual Newton 110 was Jony Ive’s Newton.

‘Becoming Steve Jobs’ — New Book by Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli 

Becoming Steve Jobs is a remarkable new book by Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli. Crown Publishing Group was gracious enough to send me an advance copy a few weeks ago, and I am delighted to be the first to announce it.

It is, in short, the book about Steve Jobs that the world deserves. You might wonder how such a book could be written without Jobs’s participation, but effectively, he did participate. Schlender, in his work as a reporter for The Wall Street Journal and Fortune, interviewed Jobs extensively numerous times spanning 25 years. Remember the 1991 joint interview with Jobs and Bill Gates? That was Schlender. As the book makes clear, Jobs and Schlender had a very personal relationship.

The book is smart, accurate, informative, insightful, and at times, utterly heartbreaking. Schlender and Tetzeli paint a vivid picture of Jobs the man, and also clearly understand the industry in which he worked. They also got an astonishing amount of cooperation from the people who knew Jobs best: colleagues past and present from Apple and Pixar — particularly Tim Cook — and his widow, Laurene Powell Jobs.

The book is an accurate, engaging retelling of the known history of Jobs’s life and career, but also contains a significant amount of new reporting. There are stories in this book that are going to be sensational. (I’ve promised to keep them to myself for now.) I’ll have much more to say about the book when it comes out, but for now, take my word for it and pre-order your copy now. It even has a great cover. Becoming Steve Jobs is going to be an essential reference for decades to come.

Mark Wilson: ‘You Guys Realize the Apple Watch Is Going to Flop, Right?’ 

Kudos to Fast Company’s Mark Wilson for having the stones to predict, boldly, that “Apple Watch is going to flop”, calling it “Jonathan Ive’s Newton”. Pretty sure he has a bad read on the battery life though:

There’s only so much you can do with sapphire glass [sic] and power-efficient microprocessors. Current reports say the Apple Watch could burn out in times as short as 2.5 hours before needing a recharge. Best-case scenarios (you know, when you use it a lot less), might stretch its life to 19 hours. But a loyal user of the Apple Watch would be forced to take it off and recharge it four times during a workday. That’s absurd.

It would be absurd, which is why it’s not true. Wilson links to a CNBC report for that “2.5 hours” figure, but CNBC’s source is this original report by Mark Gurman at 9to5Mac. Gurman reported:

Apple initially wanted the Apple Watch battery to provide roughly one full day of usage, mixing a comparatively small amount of active use with a larger amount of passive use. As of 2014, Apple wanted the Watch to provide roughly 2.5 to 4 hours of active application use versus 19 hours of combined active/passive use, 3 days of pure standby time, or 4 days if left in a sleeping mode.

Battery life may well be a serious problem for Apple Watch. It’s no surprise that it was and will remain one of the hardest engineering problems on the project. But no one is saying you’re going to have to recharge it every three hours. That’s so dumb it makes one think Wilson is being willfully obtuse so as to bask in the contrarian limelight for a few days.

Google Backs Away From Requiring Android Lollipop Devices to Be Encrypted by Default 

Andrew Cunningham, writing for Ars Technica:

Last year, Google made headlines when it revealed that its next version of Android would require full-disk encryption on all new phones. Older versions of Android had supported optional disk encryption, but Android 5.0 Lollipop would make it a standard feature.

But we’re starting to see new Lollipop phones from Google’s partners, and they aren’t encrypted by default, contradicting Google’s previous statements. At some point between the original announcement in September of 2014 and the publication of the Android 5.0 hardware requirements in January of 2015, Google apparently decided to relax the requirement, pushing it off to some future version of Android.

Ars’s guess as to why is performance, which seems likely. It just shows how hard it is for Google to move the state of the art forward with Android — everything takes a year, or longer, before hitting the market.

Gallery of iPhone 6 Photography 

So many great photographs in this new collection from Apple. (Note, though, that nearly all of them were taken outdoors. Low-light indoor photography is the next frontier for iPhone cameras.)

Update: Apple is going to use these photos in an upcoming ad campaign. Great idea, and must be a real thrill for the photographers. Also interesting to note just how many of them were edited using VSCO Cam.

Samsung’s Galaxy S6 ‘Looks Like the Love Child of an iPhone 4 and an iPhone 6’ 

Dan Seifert, reporting for The Verge from MWC in Barcelona:

Hallmarks of Samsung’s phones, such as removable batteries, microSD card slots, and waterproofing are nowhere to be found on the S6 or S6 Edge.

Welcome to 2007.

That will likely upset some die-hard users and Samsung loyalists that relied on those features, but it’s clear that Samsung prioritized the phone’s design and its look and feel over things that appeal to a smaller segment of its customer base. Samsung also trimmed back the software features, claiming that there are 40 percent fewer features in the Galaxy S6 than the S5.

A sign of just how bad Samsung is at software: they’re now bragging about removing a huge number of “features”.

It’s easy to see where Samsung took its inspiration for the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge: the design is strikingly similar to the iPhone 6 in many places, and the features that Samsung did focus its efforts on are all things the iPhone has had for years. Look at the S6 from certain angles and you’d immediately think it’s an iPhone. Put your thumb on the home key and the phone unlocks almost instantly, just like an iPhone. Even the camera mount protrudes out from the rear of the phone, preventing the S6 from lying flat on a table, just like an iPhone 6. (The flat S6 looks like the lovechild of an iPhone 4 and an iPhone 6, while the S6 Edge is a little more distinctive.) Samsung has be known to copy Apple’s design before, which led to record sales and record-breaking lawsuits. It’s hard to say if the Galaxy S6 will bring about any lawsuits, but the similarities between it and the iPhone 6 are undeniable.

Shameless.

Apple Employees Speak to Brian X. Chen Off-the-Record Regarding Apple Watch 

Brian X. Chen scored a few Apple Watch scoops:

Inside Apple, members of the team that worked on the watch product, code-named Gizmo, say it was a difficult engineering challenge. Three employees briefed on the project agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity. […]

Apple has said the watch battery is estimated to last a full day, requiring a user to charge it at night, similar to a smartphone. The company also developed a yet-to-be-announced feature called Power Reserve, a mode that will run the watch on low energy but display only the time, according to one employee.

Apple will release the watch a bit later than it had hoped because of technology challenges. It probably didn’t help that several important employees jumped ship. Nest Labs, the smart appliance maker that was acquired by Google last year, poached a few engineers who were the very best on the watch team, according to two people. Among them was Bryan James, Apple’s former director of iPod software, who became a vice president for engineering at Nest in early 2014, these people said.

The Ultra-Premium Mac Bundle 

My thanks to StackSocial for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote their Ultra-Premium Mac Bundle, a terrific collection of apps including: ScreenFlow 5 ($99, Apple Design Winner), Things 2 ($49, Mac App Store Hall of Fame), Data Rescue 4 ($99, Macworld Editor’s Choice), ExpanDrive 4 ($49), Civilization: Beyond Earth ($49), and more. For a limited time, you get all of these apps for just $44.99. Any one of them would be a value for this price — bundled together, you’ll save over $400.

Even better: Daring Fireball readers can save an extra $5 with coupon code “ULTRA-DF5”.

Swatch Introduces Touch Zero One Smartwatch 

David Bredan, writing for A Blog to Watch:

Today, as news both expected and unexpected, Swatch has introduced what will be its first widely available smartwatch: the Swatch Touch Zero One. What we all expected to see sooner or later — preferably sooner — was a smart / notification / fitness watch to be offered by one of the Swiss watch industry giants. The unexpected part, is that there’s a direct link to, there’s no other way to put it, beach volleyball.

That’s quite a focused niche.

Google Unveils Proposal for New Mountain View Campus 

Ambitious, to be sure, and very Google-y. From the Google blog:

The idea is simple. Instead of constructing immoveable concrete buildings, we’ll create lightweight block-like structures which can be moved around easily as we invest in new product areas. (Our self-driving car team, for example, has very different needs when it comes to office space from our Search engineers.) Large translucent canopies will cover each site, controlling the climate inside yet letting in light and air. With trees, landscaping, cafes, and bike paths weaving through these structures, we aim to blur the distinction between our buildings and nature.

Vesper: Now With Native Support for iPad and Landscape 

Highlights of today’s update to Vesper:

  • Native iPad support.
  • Landscape support on all iOS devices.
  • iOS 8 sharing sheet support.
  • A new price that reflects the actual value of Vesper.

Yours truly, writing at the Vesper blog:

Now that Vesper supports all iOS device layouts, we’re raising the regular price for the app to $9.99. With fast, reliable, unlimited sync, we think that’s a great value. But for a limited time, we’re making this version available for just $7.99. And it’s a free update for everyone who’s already purchased any previous version of Vesper, all the way back to 1.0.

Stay tuned for more.

Put another way, we’re going to charge something sane or die trying. We tried following the iOS App Store trend by pricing Vesper at just $2.99 for months. It didn’t work. Prices like that are not sane, and not sustainable, at least for well-crafted productivity apps. So Q Branch is drawing a line in the sand, and we hope other iOS developers will follow.

On Heroes: Annie Jean Easley 

Great piece by Ashley Nelson-Hornstein on Annie Easley, an amazing computer science pioneer I’d never heard of before:

Each systemic microaggression Easley faced, she met with poise and tenacity. Her motto was “if I can’t work with you, I will work around you.” When her supervisor refused to find out if NASA would help pay for her Mathematics degree — a luxury known to be afforded to other employees — Easley paid her own way. When management at NASA refused to give her paid leave like another co-worker to finish the remaining four courses of her degree, Easley took unpaid leave. When Easley was cut out of a photo taken of the six people who worked on a project, she didn’t let that discouragement affect her life.

The word that comes to mind after reading this: perseverance.

Tim Cook on Apple Watch and Retail Stores 

The Telegraph’s Allister Heath spent some time with Tim Cook in London. Their headline emphasizes Cook’s revelation that Apple Watch will eventually be able to replace your car keys, but I thought the best part of the story was Cook’s impromptu visit to Apple’s Covent Garden retail store.

(Spitball idea: If Apple uses their March 9 event to reveal changes to their retail stores to accommodate Apple Watch, it could mark Angela Ahrendts’s first on-stage appearance at an Apple event.)

TypeSnippets 

Clever new iOS 8 keyboard from Nice Mohawk. You get a “keyboard” listing the snippets of text you type most frequently (e.g. your email address, frequently pasted URLs, etc.). Free to try with up to three snippets, upgrade to unlimited snippets for just $2.99. I’ve been beta testing TypeSnippets for a few weeks, and it works like a charm.

Brace Yourselves 

Citigroup analyst Jim Suva on Apple Watch:

We expect Apple to give specifics on the launch time, price, and geographic locations, which we estimate as: Launch date: April 16th; Price points: $350, $550 and $950; with a launch limited to the U.S., followed by Europe and Asia in the subsequent months.

That pricing makes no sense. People who believe this are going to shit their pants when Edition pricing is announced.

Leonard Nimoy Dies at 83 

What a remarkable career. His final tweet from a few days ago is poignant.

The Best Tesla Model S Easter Egg 

So great, I don’t want to spoil it.

A-Rod Issues Hand-Written Letter of Apology to Fans 

Alex Rodriguez returns to spring training:

I served the longest suspension in the history of the league for PED use. The Commissioner has said the matter is over. The Players Association has said the same. The Yankees have said the next step is to play baseball.

I’m ready to put this chapter behind me and play some ball.

25 Years of Photoshop 

Nice celebratory site from Adobe. Really enjoyed this interview with Photoshop co-creator Thomas Knoll. It’s hard to overstate just how far ahead of its time Photoshop was when it appeared.

‘Must Fix for Next Release’ 

Good suggestion from Craig Hockenberry:

I think there’s an easy way to fix these minor transgressions that would benefit both parties: add a new kind of approval with strings attached. A “Must Fix for Next Release” state where the app can go into “Ready for Sale” but the issue remains in the Resolution Center. At that point, both the app reviewers and developer know that an issue has to be dealt with before it’s approved the next time.

It would be like getting pulled over for a broken taillight on your car. You don’t need to visit your mechanic immediately to get the problem fixed. But you’ll certainly have to get things in order the next time you register the vehicle.

Why Google’s Blink (and I Think, Apple’s WebKit) Rejected the Pointer Events Spec 

From the Chromium developer mailing list:

Very briefly, pointer events has 3 main drawbacks relative to the alternative:

  1. Mobile-first web: Pointer events would likely never supplant touch events on the web (especially without support from Safari). Since touch events are here to stay, supporting another largely redundant input model has a high long-term complexity cost on the web platform.

  2. Performance: The hit testing model required by pointer events imposes a non-trivial performance penalty (hit test on every movement event) that neither Android, iOS or touch events has. We’re not willing to add any feature that increases the web’s performance disadvantage relative to native mobile platforms.

  3. Richness: Pointer events requires that scrolling and event handling are mutually exclusive. This precludes some UI effects which are common on on mobile platforms (eg. pull to refresh). Recently strong developer feedback has lead us to change Chrome in the opposite direction here - enabling event handling while scrolling (see issue 293467 ).

If there’s a performance hit and a decrease in expressible UI effects, it’s no wonder Apple and Google aren’t pursuing Pointer Events in WebKit or Blink. It’s not fair to categorize Google’s decision as simply “Because Safari won’t support it”. It’s a question of performance and user experience richness on one side, and developer convenience on the other.

How John Hofsess Learned to Stop Worrying and Love ‘Barry Lyndon’ 

Speaking of Kubrick, this 1976 review of Barry Lyndon by John Hofsess for the NYT is interesting:

Eventually, Kubrick may end up in a cul-de-sac, for he is following a similar line of development — using the “grammar” of the film medium — to that pursued by James Joyce and Vladimir Nabokov in fiction. There is no question that Joyce and Nabokov — more than any other writers in the 20th-century — brilliantly explored and expanded the limits of language and the structure of novels, yet both were led irresistibly and obsessively to cap their careers with those cold and lifeless masterpieces, “Finnegans Wake” and “Ada,” more to be deciphered than read by a handful of scholars whose pleasure is strictly ratiocination. It is characteristic of such careers that people keep saying, “This time you’ve really gone too far! We liked your last film or novel — but that’s it!” The price of growth is disaffection.

That wasn’t true of The Shining, but it seems remarkably prescient regarding Full Metal Jacket and especially Eyes Wide Shut.

Adam Savage Recreates the Overlook Hotel Maze Model 

Glorious attention to detail. (Thanks to Joel Irwin.)

Brikk to Sell Platinum and Diamond-Encrusted Apple Watches for Up to $75,000 

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at this sort of aftermarket bling.

Lack of Support From Apple Scuttles W3C Pointer Events Spec 

Tim Kadlec:

I was willing to give the Blink folks the benefit of the doubt, because I do remember they had specific and legitimate concerns about the spec awhile back. But after reading through notes from a Pointer Events Meeting in August, I’m forced to reconsider. The Chrome representative had this to say:

No argument that PE is more elegant. If we had a path to universal input that all supported, we would be great with that, but not all browsers will support PE. If we had Apple on board with PE, we’d still be on board too.

Doesn’t sound very good, does it?

Let’s set any opinions about Pointer Events aside. Frankly, I need to do a lot more digging here before I have any sort of strong opinion in one direction or another. There is a bigger issue here. We have a recurring situation where all vendors (save for Apple) show interest in standard, but because Apple does not express that same interest, the standard gets waylaid.

Peter-Paul Koch is even more scathing:

Apple has a huge following and essentially could do as it pleased for the past seven years or so. In order to forcibly educate Apple to become a responsible web citizen, it is necessary to create a counter-weight; to find a company that will support the open Web and has enough market share to force even web developers who’d prefer to work in iOS only to pay attention to pointer events.

That company is Google. There is no other candidate. Firefox essentially doesn’t exist on mobile, mobile IE is too small, as are the minor browsers such as BlackBerry and UC.

In that light, Google’s refusal to implement the pointer events is a victory for Apple. Now I don’t know about the high-level politicking going on, and I certainly don’t want to argue that the Chrome team intends to increase Apple’s hold on mobile web dev, but that will be the net result of their actions anyway.

Is there a good summary somewhere explaining Apple’s argument against the Pointer Events spec?

Update: There are some technical arguments against Pointer Events here and here (via Google engineer Ray Cromwell). I think, in layman’s terms, Apple objects to the way that the way Pointer Events unifies mouse, stylus, and touch events — losing the user experience differences between them for the sake of developer convenience.

Let’s Declare GPG a Dead End for Encrypted Email 

Moxie Marlinspike:

Looking forward, however, I think of GPG as a glorious experiment that has run its course. The journalists who depend on it struggle with it and often mess up (“I send you the private key to communicate privately, right?”), the activists who use it do so relatively sparingly (“wait, this thing wants my finger print?”), and no other sane person is willing to use it by default. Even the projects that attempt to use it as a dependency struggle.

These are deep structural problems. GPG isn’t the thing that’s going to take us to ubiquitous end to end encryption, and if it were, it’d be kind of a shame to finally get there with 1990’s cryptography. If there’s any good news, it’s that GPG’s minimal install base means we aren’t locked in to this madness, and can start fresh with a different design philosophy. When we do, let’s use GPG as a warning for our new experiments, and remember that “innovation is saying ‘no’ to 1000 things.”

Any solution that isn’t easy to use and easy to understand is a poor solution. And GPG is neither.

F.C.C. Votes for Net Neutrality, a Ban on Paid Fast Lanes, and Title II 

Jon Brodkin, reporting for Ars Technica:

The Federal Communications Commission today voted to enforce net neutrality rules that prevent Internet providers — including cellular carriers — from blocking or throttling traffic or giving priority to Web services in exchange for payment.

The most controversial part of the FCC’s decision reclassifies fixed and mobile broadband as a telecommunications service, with providers to be regulated as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act. This decision brings Internet service under the same type of regulatory regime faced by wireline telephone service and mobile voice, though the FCC is forbearing from stricter utility-style rules that it could also apply under Title II.

An amazing turnaround for net neutrality, which looked dead just one year ago.

Tim Cook at the Yad Vashem Holocaust History Museum in Israel 

Tim Cook is in the midst of a European tour. This photo from his tour of the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum caught my eye. You can feel the solemnity.

WSJ: ‘YouTube: 1 Billion Viewers, No Profit’ 

Rolfe Winkler, reporting for the WSJ:

The online-video unit posted revenue of about $4 billion in 2014, up from $3 billion a year earlier, according to two people familiar with its financials, as advertiser-friendly moves enticed some big brands to spend more. But while YouTube accounted for about 6% of Google’s overall sales last year, it didn’t contribute to earnings. After paying for content, and the equipment to deliver speedy videos, YouTube’s bottom line is “roughly break-even,” according to a person with knowledge of the figure.

Shows just how hard it is to make money from a “give something valuable away for free” model, even at YouTube’s massive scale and with Google’s advertising expertise.

Apple Announces Media Event for March 9 

Jim Dalrymple:

Apple on Thursday sent out invites for a special event to be held on March 9, 2015. The event will be held in San Francisco at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, a venue that Apple has used many times before for special events.

It is widely expected that Apple will use the event to give more details about the Apple Watch, which was introduced last September.

I’ll eat my hat if this isn’t largely — maybe even solely — about Apple Watch.

Farhad Manjoo Interviews Dick Costolo 

Interesting interview:

Q: You recently sent a memo to employees saying, “We suck at dealing with abuse.” And you said that you lose users because of it.

A: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Of all the emails I’ve ever sent to the company, that’s probably the first one where I said “we suck at” instead of using more eloquent language. My parents aren’t delighted about that. But I meant what I said. One of the reasons I was so blunt about it was that I wanted to really send a wake-up call to the company that we’re going to get a lot more aggressive about it, and it’s going to start right now.

Q: For years people have called on you to do more. So why did you need that wake-up call?

A: Well, it’s a complex issue. By way of example, in the wake of the news of that internal memo going out, I’ll get emails from people that say, “I agree, and here’s a great example of someone being harassed on the platform” — and it’s not at all harassment, it’s political discourse. And, in fact, fairly rational political discourse. So you know these things have lots and lots of varying degrees: Was that really harassment and abuse? Or is that discourse?

Google Plans New Headquarters 

Conor Dougherty, reporting for the NYT:

Google owns or leases about 7.3 million square feet of office space in Mountain View — roughly equivalent to three Empire State Buildings. That includes most of the property around its headquarters on the north side of the city near Highway 101, which cuts the length of the valley, according to Transwestern, a commercial real estate brokerage.

“Three Empire State Buildings” really puts their holdings in scale. For comparison, Apple’s new spaceship campus will have about 3.5 million square feet of office space.

Mountain View, about 40 miles south of San Francisco, has close to 80,000 people; with its strip-mall thoroughfares and streets of single-family homes, it looks like a sleepy suburb. But since hiring has boomed, the city’s roads swell with commuters during the morning and evening rush.

The Times used a brief video instead of a still photo to illustrate rush hour traffic in the area. A great idea that works very well.

Tim Cook on Apple Watch Water Resistance 

Mitchel Broussard, writing for MacRumors on this report from French-language iGeneration (Google translation to English) about Tim Cook’s trip to Germany:

While on a trip in Germany to visit with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and meet with a few German-based Apple staff members, Apple CEO Tim Cook told Apple Store employees in Berlin that he wears his Apple Watch constantly, “even in the shower”, according to iGen.fr.

The new piece of information from the Apple CEO could mean the company’s been working on adding more water resistant features to the upcoming wearable, since at its early-September reveal event the company warned off wearing the device in the shower.

Good news, if this means Apple is going to officially describe it as water resistant.

Gemalto Doesn’t Know What It Doesn’t Know 

Jeremy Scahill, reporting for The Intercept:

Gemalto, the French-Dutch digital security giant, confirmed that it believes American and British spies were behind a “particularly sophisticated intrusion” of its internal computer networks, as reported by The Intercept last week.

This morning, the company tried to downplay the significance of NSA and GCHQ efforts against its mobile phone encryption keys — and, in the process, made erroneous statements about cellphone technology and sweeping claims about its own security that experts describe as highly questionable.

To say security experts are skeptical is an understatement:

“Gemalto learned about this five-year old hack by GCHQ when the The Intercept called them up for a comment last week. That doesn’t sound like they’re on top of things, and it certainly suggests they don’t have the in-house capability to detect and thwart sophisticated state-sponsored attacks,” says Christopher Soghoian, the chief technologist at the American Civil Liberties Union. He adds that Gemalto remains “a high-profile target for intelligence agencies.”

Matthew Green, a cryptography specialist at the Johns Hopkins Information Security Institute, said, “This is an investigation that seems mainly designed to produce positive statements. It is not an investigation at all.”

Paging Auric Goldfinger 

Josh Centers does some back-of-the-envelope math to estimate how much raw gold Apple might need for Apple Watch Edition production:

There are two conclusions we can draw from this scattering of data. The first is that Apple is about to take over the world. Not only will it be the most valuable company on the planet, but it will also be bidding for a third of the world’s annual gold supply, wreaking havoc on gold prices and doing who knows what to the global economy.

The alternative is that the esteemed Wall Street Journal is off on its Apple Watch Edition sales by an order of magnitude (or more). That would put the number at 100,000 per month, which seems more plausible.

I think the WSJ’s sources are deeply suspect on these production numbers. There’s no way Apple is planning on selling one million Edition models a month. That’s just nutty. Rolex sells only 600,000 watches a year.

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