Rolling Stone: ‘How Dommes Are Convincing Submissives to Get Jabs’ 

E.J. Dickson, reporting for Rolling Stone:

“I think I had the same reservations that many people had,” Bob, who requested that his last name be withheld to protect his privacy, tells Rolling Stone.

Then Bob saw a tweet from Goddess Alexandra Snow, a professional dominatrix and dungeon owner who operates Wicked Eden, a BDSM collective based in Columbus, Ohio. The tweet stated that any submissives who wanted to session with Snow in person would have to show proof of vaccination. Bob had been subscribing to Goddess Snow’s OnlyFans and “tributing” her (giving her money) for almost two years, and he got in touch with her to discuss whether or not he should get the vaccine. “It was less about convincing me and more about her confirming to me that it was the right thing to do,” he says. He got his final shot three weeks ago. “It [feels] good to know that I’m (hopefully) contributing to others not falling seriously ill,” he says. “And of course, it’s gratifying to know I’ve done something that Goddess Snow approves of.”

More like this, please.

The Talk Show: ‘You Called Him Pixel Mature’ 

Special guest: John Moltz. Special topics: Playdate preorders, MagSafe battery packs, iPad keyboard covers, Facebook and NSO Group, Safari 15 betas, and Loki.

Brought to you by:

  • LinkedIn Jobs: Find and hire the right person. Your first job post is free.
  • Away: Because this season, everyone wants to get Away.
  • Squarespace: Everything you need to grow online. Use code talkshow for 10% off your first order.
  • Linode: Instantly deploy and manage an SSD server in the Linode Cloud. New accounts get a $100 credit.
  • Mack Weldon: Reinventing men’s basics with smart design, premium fabrics, and simple shopping. Get 20% off your first order with code talkshow.
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to Mandate COVID-19 Vaccination for Employees 

Aubrey Whelan, reporting for The Philadelphia Inquirer:

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia will soon require all its on-site employees to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, as most of their patients are too young to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The hospital did not specify a deadline for employees to receive the vaccine, but said in a statement Thursday that it is “currently preparing for the implementation of a vaccine requirement.”

“We believe that it is our duty to protect those who cannot protect themselves, especially our young patients,” the statement read.

More like this, please.

Mandate Vaccinations, Not Masks 

Aaron E. Carroll, chief health officer for Indiana University, in a guest column for The New York Times:

Many may read the C.D.C.’s continued focus on masking and distancing as an acknowledgment that the vaccines don’t work well enough. Leaning heavily on masking and distancing is what we did when we didn’t have vaccinations. Today, such recommendations are less likely to succeed because they are more likely to be followed by those already primed to listen — the vaccinated — and to be fought and ignored by those who aren’t.

Hospitalizations and deaths are rising in some areas not because someone didn’t wear a mask at the ballgame. They’re occurring because too many people are not immunized.

This is why I’ve advocated vaccine mandates. I don’t understand how we can mandate wearing masks but not getting vaccinations.

Here’s German Lopez, making the same case at Vox:

A year ago, requiring masks as cases spiked would have been an obviously smart decision. Mask mandates work, and for most of 2020, they were among the best methods we had to stop the spread of Covid-19. But masks were never meant to be the long-term solution; they were a stopgap until the US and the rest of the world could stamp out epidemics through vaccination.

Now those vaccines are here. And the changed circumstances of summer 2021 call for new approaches. Any entity thinking about a mask requirement — from private businesses to local, state, and federal governments — should consider mandating something else first: vaccination.

Asking the vaccinated to wear masks to protect the voluntarily unvaccinated is not going to work. The backlash is growing.

Google and Facebook to Require Employees Get Vaccinated 

Heather Kelly and Gerrit De Vynck, reporting for The Washington Post:

Google on Wednesday became the first Big Tech [sic] company to announce that it will require employees who work in its offices to be fully vaccinated. Facebook later announced a similar policy requiring all in-person workers to get vaccinated before coming into a Facebook office in the United States.

More like this, please (ahem, Apple).

Danny Meyer’s Restaurants Will Require Both Employees and Patrons to Be Vaccinated 

Shake Shack founder Danny Meyer, appearing on CNBC’s Squawk Box:

“We’re following the lead of both city, state, and federal government. We’re going to do this ourselves in our restaurants in New York City and in Washington D.C. … We feel like we have an amazing responsibility to keep our staff members and our guests safe, and that’s what we’re going to do.”

More like this, please.

Remember When Facebook Wanted to Use NSO Group’s Spyware to Surveil iOS Users? 

One angle I didn’t see resurface amidst all the attention this month on NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware that exploits iOS — last year Motherboard reporter Joseph Cox revealed that Facebook attempted to purchase the right to use Pegasus to spy on their own iOS users. That seemed really fucked-up then, and even more fucked-up now.

Mitch McConnell Is Going to Run Ads Urging Kentuckians to Get Vaccinated 

David Morgan, reporting for Reuters:

“Not enough people are vaccinated,” said McConnell, a polio survivor. “So we’re trying to get them to reconsider and get back on the path to get us to some level of herd immunity.”

McConnell, who was vaccinated for COVID-19 in December and has been promoting vaccinations in public remarks ever since, plans to run 60-second radio ads on more than 100 Kentucky radio stations in the coming days promoting the vaccine with money from his re-election campaign.

More like this, please.

Charles Barkley: Sports Leagues ‘Should Force Guys to Get Vaccinated’ 

Jade Scipioni, reporting for CNBC:

“Yes, I’m vaccinated,” says NBA legend Charles Barkley. “Everybody should be vaccinated. Period.”

“The only people who are not vaccinated are just assholes,” he says.

The 58-year-old NBA Hall-of-Famer says he personally thinks sports leagues should force players to get vaccinated. “Can you imagine if one of these guys that are not vaccinated, if they get one of these players’ kids, wives, girlfriends, moms and dads sick and they die over some unnecessary conspiracy bullshit,” Barkley says. “I think that would be tragic.”

More like this, please. (Via Paul Kafasis.)

Techdirt Is Now Entirely Without Any Google Ads or Tracking Code 

Mike Masnick:

Techdirt is one of the very, very, very few truly independent media brands around. Almost none of the independent media brands that existed when we started remain. Some have been sucked up into larger companies or shut down entirely. Others have decided to go behind expensive paywalls. We’ve had to adapt and change over the years in many ways just to stick around, but in the end the reason we do this is because of the community we’ve built up here. For us to stick around, I need to ask the community to help support us as well. We have some cool experiments and projects in the works, so stay tuned for that, but in the meantime, if you can help us out, it would be hugely appreciated.

Techdirt is irreplaceable. There’s no other site like it. And indeed, indie websites that neither run crappy ads nor put their content behind a paywall are a dying breed. You go to an article at Techdirt and you see the article. No annoying popovers begging you to subscribe to a newsletter. You just see the article.

Apple Reports Record Third Quarter Results 

Apple Newsroom:

Apple today announced financial results for its fiscal 2021 third quarter ended June 26, 2021. The Company posted a June quarter record revenue of $81.4 billion, up 36 percent year over year, and quarterly earnings per diluted share of $1.30.

Jason Snell, as usual, has charts. Long story short: very strong quarter across the entire company.

As Promised, Safari for iPadOS 15 Beta 4 Has a Standalone Tab Bar, Like the Mac Version 

Juli Clover, MacRumors:

Prior to this beta, Safari on iPad was similar to Safari on iOS with no dedicated tab bar, but after the update, Apple has added a dedicated tab bar that’s activated by default, which is the same layout that’s now used in macOS Monterey.

While the separate tab bar is enabled automatically when updating, in the Safari section of Settings, there is an option to toggle on the original compact tab bar that merged everything together.

This is a significant improvement for Safari on iPad, and showing the tab bar is the correct default. If you love the new unified design, it’s still there. But my big problem with this tab bar — both on Mac and now iPad — is that it’s very hard to see which tab is the current (selected) tab. The visual indication for “selected” is just a very slightly different background tint — whether you’ve got “Show color in tab bar” enabled or not. You can even scroll the current tab out of view. Why is that possible? I don’t see how this is better than the Safari 14 tab bar in any way, and I see a lot of ways that it’s worse.

Safari’s Crowded Toolbar in iOS 15 Beta 4 

Federico Viticci, on Twitter:

There’s a total of six different touch targets in the iOS 15 beta 4 tab bar in Safari.

These exclude the ability to long-press the tab bar, swipe across it to change tabs, and swipe it up to open the Tabs view.

I’m … starting to think a single, small toolbar just won’t do. 😬

I responded that there are actually nine tap targets in the new toolbar in beta 4 — Viticci didn’t count the left / right edges that can be tapped like buttons to switch to the previous / next tabs. That’s nine tappable buttons (or effective buttons) on a single phone-width toolbar. (My tweet says eight, but there are two separate tappable areas to bring up the URL address bar, one on each side of the minuscule reload button.)

Apple’s own example in the HIG of a toolbar that’s too crowded has … nine items.

Curtis Herbert:

I really do appreciate the experimentation, but the new Safari feels like something I’d take to the UI Design Labs at WWDC and they’d push me to use native controls that users expect and already know, have better tap targets, and stop cramming too many things in a small space.

Safari UI Changes in iOS 15 Beta 4 

On iPhone:

  • The Share button is back in the toolbar, replacing the “···” don’t-call-it-a-hamburger-button. But there’s an awful lot of non-sharing stuff crammed into the Share menu — the ᴀA menu items from the current version of Safari (text size, Reader mode, disabling content blockers temporarily, etc.) are all in “Share” now. It’s better than the “···” menu in betas 1–3, but really, this is more like changing the “···” glyph to the Share glyph. It’s still two menus’ worth of features stuffed into one monolithic menu.

  • The Reload button is back. But it’s bizarrely tiny — way smaller than the minimum recommended tap target size of 44 x 44 points. And it shares space with the newly restored Reader mode button. When you load a page, if Reader mode is available, the Reader mode button shows briefly (maybe for 1–2 seconds?) along with the text “Reader Available” under the website’s domain name. But then the “Reader Available” label fades out and the Reader mode button turns into the Reload button. To enable Reader mode at this point, you either need to long-press the URL domain name to bring up a shortcut menu, or tap the — you guessed it — Share button, which has its own “Reader” item near the top.

  • Bookmarks are supposed to be easier to access, but I think most users accustomed to previous versions of Mobile Safari — which heretofore has always had a bookmarks button right in the main toolbar — are going to struggle to find them.

Apple is clearly trying to address the numerous complaints about the Safari 15 design for iPhone, but beta 4 feels like they’ve decided that the solution to finding themselves in a hole is to dig faster.

WSJ Investigation Into How TikTok’s Algorithm Figures Out Your Interests 

Fascinating video from The Wall Street Journal:

A Wall Street Journal investigation found that TikTok only needs one important piece of information to figure out what you want: the amount of time you linger over a piece of content. Every second you hesitate or rewatch, the app is tracking you.

Not surprising it works this way, but creepy nonetheless. Update: I’ve long suspected that Instagram does something similar, with regard to its often uncanny “Hey, I was just looking at pictures of those…” ads.

Brief Grief 

Nick Hobbs and Andrea Huey:

We’re excited to announce that Brief is joining Twitter! Our team has always been inspired by Twitter’s mission to improve public conversation, and we can’t wait to work with the kind, brilliant folks we’ve met there. Together, we’ll do great things. Sadly, this transition also means that our work at Brief is coming to an end. The newsroom will publish our final news bulletins on July 31. […]

We founded this company to foster healthy discourse by rethinking the way we read the news. The only way we can tackle the world’s complex challenges is by doing it together. In this next chapter, we’ll continue our efforts to push the conversation forward, and we hope that everyone who believed in us will do the same.

Ugh.

Congrats to Hobbs and Huey (presuming this is a good outcome for them), but man, this is the second iOS app from my first home screen that Twitter has acquired and killed in the last few months. (The other was Nuzzel, which shut down in May, and which I continue to miss every day.)

Brief is an extraordinary app. It cost $5-6/month (it varied over the time I was using it), and you got about 5 major news stories a day. Each story was short — a neat summary with links to sources for more information if you wanted more. That’s it. It was like reading the front page of a good newspaper. Brief didn’t tell you everything — it told you the most important news, and that’s it. No needless notifications, and most importantly, no infinite scroll. Brief wasn’t designed or edited to keep you in Brief for as long as it could. Quite the opposite: Brief was designed and edited to get you in, get you up to date on major national and world news, and get you out. Brief is the only news app I’m aware of that gave you a sense of completeness — the point was to catch up, quickly, and be done. No ads. Just a fair subscription price (that I would have happily paid much more for.) For god’s sake Brief defaulted to not sending you any notifications at all. No notifications. They just assumed you’d open Brief when you wanted to see if there was fresh news. When’s the last time you saw a news app that defaulted to not trying to send you notifications, let alone not bombarding you with them?

Even the company’s name — Broadsheet — harkened back to the days of print newspapers and their finiteness. When you finish reading Section A of The New York Times, you’re done. You can stop, without worrying that you’re missing anything. Brief is like that, except just 5 or so stories per day.

Also, Brief is a beautiful app, designed specifically for iOS. It has a better and more iOS-like design and interaction model than Apple’s own News app. I don’t say this lightly, but its design was nearly perfect. I don’t know what Twitter plans to do with it, but given that Brief was pretty much the opposite of Twitter, experience-wise, I’m deeply pessimistic. Twitter’s apps have non-native designs and all try to keep you “engaged” for as long as possible.

I want more apps with a finite scroll, which respect, rather than seek to consume, my time and attention.

MacOS 12 Monterey Beta 4 Now Supports Live Text on Intel Macs 

When announced at WWDC last month, Live Text required Apple silicon on MacOS, because the implementation required the Neural Engine. Good news for everyone with an Intel Mac that Live Text is now slated to work on all Macs supported by MacOS 12.

JP Morgan Analysts Claim Apple to Use Titanium Alloy for iPhones Pro in 2022 

William Gallagher, reporting for AppleInsider:

In a note to investors seen by AppleInsider, investment firm JP Morgan Chase’s China office has reported to its clients that Apple intends to introduce a titanium alloy to the iPhone for the first time. Apple has already used titanium in some Apple Watch models, for the physical Apple Card, and at times for the PowerBook.

Titanium’s toughness, though, is only achieved when it used as part of a titanium alloy with other metals. Titanium is also prone to smudges from fingerprints, and its finish can be unattractive. Apple is therefore certain to be using an alloy, and it presumably addresses these issues.

I hope this is true. Stainless steel is just too heavy; titanium would be a much nicer premium upgrade over aluminum. The titanium Apple Watch models are great, especially the Space Black model with a highly scratch-resistant DLC finish.

First Person Charged Under Hong Kong Security Law Found Guilty 

Al Jazeera:

The first person charged under Hong Kong’s national security law has been found guilty of “terrorism” and “inciting secession”, in a landmark case with long-term implications for how the legislation reshapes the city’s common law traditions.

Former waiter Tong Ying-kit, 24, was accused of driving his motorcycle in July last year into three riot police officers while carrying a flag with the protest slogan: “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times”, which prosecutors said was secessionist.

An alternative charge of dangerous driving causing grievous bodily harm was not considered in Tuesday’s widely anticipated ruling, much of which has hinged on the interpretation of the slogan. […]

The ruling imposes new limits on free speech in the former British colony. Pro-democracy activists and human rights groups have also criticised the decision to deny Tong bail and a jury trial, which have been key features of Hong Kong’s rule of law.

This is utterly unsurprising, but crushing nonetheless.

Not Kidding About Those Blue Bubbles 

Mirin Fader, in an excerpt from her new book, Giannis: The Improbable Rise of an NBA MVP:

Knight searches for the right words. “I don’t want to sound negative,” he says. Knight explains some of Kidd’s methods, such as how Kidd would embarrass the culprit of an error by making everyone but that person run sprints for his mistake. “He just had his way of getting his point across,” Knight says.

Little things were made to be a big deal: At one point center Thon Maker didn’t have an iPhone, messing up the team’s blue-bubble iPhone group chat. Kidd was upset about it and made the team run because Kidd felt that Maker not getting an iPhone was an example of the team not being united.

So now we know there’s a basketball court inside Apple’s walled garden.

The History of Regular Expressions 

Buzz Andersen, in a guest post for Why Is This Interesting:

Eventually, a Russian artist and Twitter user named Gregory Khodyrev realized what was going on: someone at Russia’s state Internet censor, Roscomnadzor, had attempted to block the Internet domain “t.co” (used by Twitter’s URL shortener), but had instead managed to cut off access to any domain containing the text pattern “t.co.” This meant that sites such as “microsoft.com,” “reddit.com,” and even Russia’s own state media outlet “rt.com” were rendered suddenly inaccessible.

Readers with a modicum of technical knowledge may already have an inkling of what likely happened here: some hapless censor, attempting to curb Twitter’s political influence, installed a URL pattern matching rule on Russia’s national firewall that turned out to have been just a tad overzealous. The rule in question was almost certainly expressed using a notoriously abstruse notation called a “regular expression.”

TextSniper 

OCR was a big part of WWDC last month, with the new Live Text feature. But a few of my friends turned me on to a Mac utility called TextSniper that’s offered instant OCR for any text on your screen for a while now. Very convenient, very accurate. I used it last week to turn this screenshot — written by a Facebook user attempting to obfuscate many of the words with extra spaces — into text to include in this post, and TextSniper got it exactly right, weird spelling and spacing included. $10 in the App Store.

Chrome Home — Abandoned Redesign of Mobile Chrome Circa 2016, With Goals Similar to Those of Mobile Safari 15 

Chris Lee, on Twitter:

I’ve been fascinated to watch the reaction to Safari in iOS 15 because in 2016-2017, I worked on a similar redesign for mobile Chrome that we never launched. Finally decided to tell a bit of that story here.

His story:

I created the original concept and pitch for Chrome Home in 2016. It was based off two insights:

  1. Phones were growing in size, and we had opportunity to innovate in creating a gestural, spatial interface that would still be usable with one hand.

  2. Mobile Chrome was also growing in features — but because its minimalist interface kept everything behind a “three dot” menu, these features were underutilized and hard to access.

The idea caught traction internally, eventually becoming a Chrome org priority. […]

We heard a mixture of reactions. The feature gained a cult following among the tech community, but for many mainstream users, the change felt disorienting. Chrome serves billions of users around the globe with varying tech literacy. Over the course of many iterations, I became increasingly convinced that launching Chrome Home would not serve all our users well.

So just as I strongly as I had pitched the original concept, I advocated for us to stop the launch — which took not a small amount of debate.

Really curious to see what the next betas of Safari look like on iOS and iPadOS. I spent all weekend with my spare phone running iOS 15 b3 and the new Safari design is not growing on me, at all.

Toyota, Behind on Electric Cars, Lobbies Against Higher Fuel-Efficiency Standards 

Hiroko Tabuchi, reporting for The New York Times:

Last month, Chris Reynolds, a senior executive who oversees government affairs for the company, traveled to Washington for closed-door meetings with congressional staff members and outlined Toyota’s opposition to an aggressive transition to all-electric cars. He argued that gas-electric hybrids like the Prius and hydrogen-powered cars should play a bigger role, according to four people familiar with the talks.

Behind that position is a business quandary: Even as other automakers have embraced electric cars, Toyota bet its future on the development of hydrogen fuel cells — a costlier technology that has fallen far behind electric batteries — with greater use of hybrids in the near term. That means a rapid shift from gasoline to electric on the roads could be devastating for the company’s market share and bottom line.

This sounds like a once-great company that has lost its way. The real Toyota would lead the way to the future.

Flatfile Portal 

My thanks to Flatfile for once again sponsoring DF. Importing critical B2B data shouldn’t require messy CSV templates or clunky data importers. Enable your users to import their own spreadsheet data, securely, and with confidence using Flatfile, the data onboarding platform.

No formatting Excel files for hours, no relying on complicated import scripts, and no burdening your engineers with building yet another custom data import solution.

Integrate an intuitive data onboarding experience with Flatfile, in minutes.

Facebook Brings Cloud Games to iOS via Web App 

Alex Heath, reporting for The Verge:

Starting Friday, Facebook is bringing its nascent cloud gaming service to iPhones and iPads through a web app people will be able to add to their homescreens like a native app. The site will let you play simple web games like Solitaire and match-threes and stream more graphically intensive titles like racing games. […]

“We’ve come to the same conclusion as others: web apps are the only option for streaming cloud games on iOS at the moment,” Facebook’s vice president of gaming, Vivek Sharma, told The Verge in a statement. “As many have pointed out, Apple’s policy to ‘allow’ cloud games on the App Store doesn’t allow for much at all. Apple’s requirement for each cloud game to have its own page, go through review, and appear in search listings defeats the purpose of cloud gaming. These roadblocks mean players are prevented from discovering new games, playing cross-device, and accessing high-quality games instantly in native iOS apps — even for those who aren’t using the latest and most expensive devices.”

There’s a lot to roll your eyes at in this brief statement, but the big one is the last clause, implying that Apple’s stance on cloud gaming has anything at all to do with pushing people to buy the “latest and most expensive devices”. Say what you want about Apple’s App Store policies, they go to great lengths to keep older devices relevant for as long as possible — including with their own library of Apple Arcade games.

Will be interesting to see if these web app games are actually good, and if so, actually become popular.

Winners of the 2021 iPhone Photography Awards 

Inspiring work. Lot of winners using years-old iPhones, too.

Iconfactory’s A.F.C. Richmond Wallpapers Are Now Free 

Nice way to celebrate today’s debut of season 2.

Playdate Preview 

Sam Machkovech, writing for Ars Technica:

Sometimes, I want companies to lighten up and put the “fun” in “functionality.”

That bias contributes in some part to my interest in the Playdate, a $179 portable gaming system that errs on the side of childish, low-powered fun. I’ve spent three weeks testing the system’s “near-final” hardware ahead of preorders opening up on 1 pm ET on Thursday, July 29, and I can confirm that it’s indeed fun to look at. Luckily, it’s also fun, simple, and accessible to hold, play with, and share with every friend that I can.

Andrew Webster at The Verge got an early look too, and had a similar reaction. I can’t wait for it — Playdate looks like it’s going to be such fun.

Apple Will Continue Releasing Security Updates for iOS 14 After iOS 15 Ships This Fall 

From a good roundup of security updates announced at WWDC last month, by Carly Page for TechCrunch:

To ensure iPhone users who don’t want to upgrade to iOS 15 straight away are up to date with security updates, Apple is going to start decoupling patches from feature updates. When iOS 15 lands later this year, users will be given the option to update to the latest version of iOS or to stick with iOS 14 and simply install the latest security fixes.

“iOS now offers a choice between two software update versions in the Settings app,” Apple explains (via MacRumors). “You can update to the latest version of iOS 15 as soon as it’s released for the latest features and most complete set of security updates. Or continue on iOS 14 and still get important security updates until you’re ready to upgrade to the next major version.”

I missed this news last month, and misspoke about it on the latest episode of my podcast, while talking about holding onto iOS 14 indefinitely if Apple doesn’t sufficiently improve the design for Safari in iOS 15.

Tom Hanks Introduces the Cleveland Indians’ New Team Name 

A+ choice of name. Feels right, looks right.

MacRumors: ‘Apple to Pull “iDOS 2” DOS Emulator From App Store’ 

Cited for violating rule 11.38, which prohibits excessive harmless nostalgic fun.

A Natively Flexible 32-Bit ARM Microprocessor 

Worth it just for the name: PlasticARM.

Anti-Vaccine Groups Changing Into ‘Dance Parties’ on Facebook to Avoid Detection 

Ben Collins and Brandy Zadrozny, reporting for NBC News:

Some anti-vaccination groups on Facebook are changing their names to euphemisms like “Dance Party” or “Dinner Party,” and using code words to fit those themes in order to skirt bans from Facebook, as the company attempts to crack down on misinformation about Covid-19 vaccines.

The groups, which are largely private and unsearchable but retain large user bases accrued during the years Facebook permitted anti-vaccination content, also swap out language to fit the new themes and provide code legends, according to screenshots provided to NBC News by multiple members of the groups.

One major “dance party” group has more than 40,000 followers and has stopped allowing new users amid public scrutiny. The backup group for “Dance Party,” known as “Dinner Party” and created by the same moderators, has more than 20,000 followers.

Collins has an accompanying thread on Twitter where he includes a bunch of screenshots showing the coded language. These people are clearly fucking nuts. Here’s one example, all spelling and spaces exactly as posted:

After being around many dancing folks, my teenage son’s Ly mph No des on his neck swelled into little lumps like gum balls. Our very wise, non-dancing doctor says he has an ear infection and a sinus infection. Could this be related to other dancer’s glitter? Has anyone else had this experience? My side F X were different (exhaustion and mega moon occurrences).

Collins, in his tweet thread:

When Facebook reports on vaccine misinfo, they don’t mention Dance Party’s 40k members. They can’t. They don’t know it exists.

It’s also how these groups actually operate. They know what gets caught by moderation bots. They maneuver around it.

The second part of that is clearly true: the groups are obviously evading moderation with these transparent coded terms. The first part I think is wrong: Facebook could identify this and they almost certainly already know what’s going on. They don’t moderate it because letting it go allows them to have their cake (“Look, no more explicit anti-vax propaganda on our platform, see?”) and eat it too (actual engagement continues unabated).

Texas Has Seen Nearly 9,000 COVID-19 Deaths Since February; All but 43 Were Unvaccinated 

Colleen DeGuzman, reporting for The Texas Tribune:

Of the 8,787 people who have died in Texas due to COVID-19 since early February, at least 43 were fully vaccinated, the Texas Department of State Health Services said.

That means 99.5% of people who died due to COVID-19 in Texas from Feb. 8 to July 14 were unvaccinated, while 0.5% were the result of “breakthrough infections,” which DSHS defines as people who contracted the virus two weeks after being fully vaccinated.

I got an email yesterday from a reader (well, supposedly former reader now) who was angered by my item linking to the “I’m sorry, but it’s too late” story from the Alabama ICU doctor who said the last thing her unvaccinated patients, hospitalized and unable to breathe on their own, do before being intubated is to beg for the vaccine. His email:

Your incessant corona whinery is getting rather long in the tooth, but this disgusting gloating piece takes the cake. Even though it probably is fake Facebook bullshit anyway, to even imply that this disgusting ‘told you so, now you’re dead’ attitude is somehow commendable is just tasteless, and it reflects on you personally as you are sharing it.

Unsubscribed.

I’m a natural born gloater, I know, but there’s nothing gloating about my posts about COVID and vaccinations. These stories are heartbreaking at the micro level, and infuriating at the macro level. I am sad and I am angry about the state of vaccination denial, and the roles that powerful sources like Fox News and Facebook — neither of which should be trusted by anyone but both of which are trusted by zillions — have played in promoting it.

You don’t need any aptitude for numeracy at all to look at numbers like these from Texas to see that if you can get vaccinated for COVID, you should, as soon as possible. Both for your own personal good and for the good of humanity.

Sarah Miller: ‘All the Right Words on Climate Have Already Been Said’ 

Sarah Miller, who wrote a widely-read feature story two years ago on the real estate market in Miami in the face of rising ocean levels (linked from DF here), on declining an offer to write about climate change again:

Let’s give the article she was starting to maybe think about asking me to write that I was wondering if I could write the absolute biggest benefit of the doubt and imagine that people read it and said, “Wow this is exactly how I feel, thanks for putting it into words.” What then? What would happen then? Would people be “more aware” about climate change? It’s 109 degrees in Portland right now. It’s been over 130 degrees in Baghdad several times. What kind of awareness quotient are we looking for? What more about climate change does anyone need to know? What else is there to say?

(Via Kottke.)

Activision Blizzard Sued by California Department of Fair Employment and Housing Over ‘Frat Boy’ Culture, Harassment 

Maeve Allsup, reporting for Bloomberg Law:

According to the complaint, filed Tuesday in the Los Angeles Superior Court, female employees make up around 20% of the Activision workforce, and are subjected to a “pervasive frat boy workplace culture,” including “cube crawls,” in which male employees “drink copious amounts of alcohol as they crawl their way through various cubicles in the office and often engage in inappropriate behavior toward female employees.”

The agency alleges male employees play video games during the workday while delegating responsibilities to female employees, engage in sexual banter, and joke openly about rape, among other things.

Female employees allege being held back from promotions because of the possibility they might become pregnant, being criticized for leaving to pick their children up from daycare, and being kicked out of lactation rooms so male colleagues could use the room for meetings, the complaint says.

Some seriously fucked-up allegations, to say the least.

The Talk Show: ‘Holes in the Blast Door’ 

Matthew Panzarino returns to the show. Topics include: Apple’s new MagSafe Battery Pack, the Amnesty-International-Led exposé of NSO Group’s state-sponsored phone hacking, Safari 15’s controversial new UI and Apple’s response, and a look back at year one of Apple silicon for Macs. Also: pizza.

Brought to you by these fine sponsors:

  • Hello Fresh: America’s #1 Meal Kit
  • Squarespace: Everything you need to grow online. Use code talkshow for 10% off your first order.
  • Memberful: Monetize your passion with membership.
  • Linode: Instantly deploy and manage an SSD server in the Linode Cloud. New accounts get a $100 credit.
Breathable 1.0 

New app from Garrett Murray (who should be familiar to long-time readers):

Air quality has become an increasing concern for many people around the globe. While stressing about it constantly isn’t necessarily helpful, the goal of the Breathable widget is to provide a quick, glanceable answer to a new daily question: Is it safe to go outside?

Breathable can use AQI data from two services: IQAir.com and, optionally, AirNow.gov (in the USA). Both of these services offer free accounts and API access for personal use. Breathable uses the United States Air Quality Index for all values world-wide.

The entire point of Breathable is to offer widgets — the app itself just lets you configure how the widgets look. Brilliantly simple, and in a way, fun, with its clever “emoji scale”. I started using it last week after Murray pinged me about it, but only because I was interested in the idea of a widget-only weather app — Philadelphia generally doesn’t have air quality issues. I should have known better. Turns out, the whole world now has air quality issues.

Breathable costs just $2, and Murray is donating a portion of the proceeds to foundations focused on climate change initiatives.

‘I’m Sorry, but It’s Too Late’ 

Dennis Pillion, reporting for AL.com:

Dr. Brytney Cobia said Monday that all but one of her COVID patients in Alabama did not receive the vaccine. The vaccinated patient, she said, just needed a little oxygen and is expected to fully recover. Some of the others are dying.

“I’m admitting young healthy people to the hospital with very serious COVID infections,” wrote Cobia, a hospitalist at Grandview Medical Center in Birmingham, in an emotional Facebook post Sunday. “One of the last things they do before they’re intubated is beg me for the vaccine. I hold their hand and tell them that I’m sorry, but it’s too late.”

Good link to spread. Fox News should put this doctor on the air in prime time. (Via Dave Winer.)


Document Proxy Icons in MacOS 11 and 12 as a — Ahem — Proxy for Apple’s Current UI Design Sensibilities

You should only see a button when you need it” seems to explain many of Apple’s recent UI directions. File proxy icons in MacOS document windows, for example, disappeared last year in MacOS 11 Big Sur — or rather, were hidden until you moused over them. This post from Michael Tsai has documented reactions and tips regarding this change over the last year — including the fact that in the MacOS 12 Monterey betas, proxy icons can be turned back on using an Accessibility setting in System Preferences. (If you think Accessibility is just for people with vision or motor skill problems, you’ve been missing out on some great system-wide settings for tweaking both MacOS and iOS.)

Does removing proxy icons from document window title bars reduce “clutter”? I can only assume that’s what Apple’s HI team was thinking. But I’d argue strenuously that proxy icons aren’t needless clutter — they’re useful, and showing them by default made them discoverable. Keeping them visible reminds you that they’re there. There’s a one-to-one relationship between a document icon in the Finder and the open application window for that document; showing the document icon in the window title bar reinforced that concept. This hidden Finder preference for MacOS 11 Big Sur delights me, because in addition to showing proxy icons, it also restores grabbable title bars in MacOS 11.

In a sense, no personal computer interface can out-minimalize an old terminal command line — just a blinking cursor on a black screen, awaiting your commands. The Mac’s breakthrough was establishing an interface where you could see — and thus discover through visual exploration — not just what you had done, but what you could do. Proxy icons in title bars weren’t added to classic Mac OS until version 8.5 in 1998, but they exemplified that philosophy. They said: Even though this document is open in an editing window, you can still do things with the file — here it is.

It’s devilishly hard work deciding what to expose at the top level of a user interface. Microsoft went overboard for decades of versions of Windows with way too many inscrutable tiny toolbar icons. But like almost every design challenge, it’s a Goldilocks problem — you can go too far in the other direction, and there is no “just right” that will please everyone. 


If You Guys Are Really Us, What Number Are We Thinking Of?

A good mid-summer silly story from earlier today. Chaim Gartenberg, writing at The Verge, “Apple’s Weather App Won’t Say It’s 69 Degrees”:

If you’re an iPhone user, the weather is always a particularly nice 70 degrees. Or 68 degrees. Any temperature but 69 degrees, actually, because it turns out that the built-in weather app on some versions of iOS — including the current version, iOS 14.6 — will refuse to display the internet’s favorite number, even if the actual temperature in a given location is, in fact, 69 degrees, along with several other (less meme-able) numerals like 65 and 71 degrees.

It’s not clear if this is a bug or an intentional attempt from Apple to cut down on 69-related humor. The rounding is only visible in the weather app itself: clicking through to Apple’s source data from Weather.com will show the proper temperature, as do Apple’s home screen widgets. But the iOS weather app will refuse to show 69 degrees anywhere in the forecast, whether it’s for the current temperature, the hourly forecast for the day, or the extended forecast.

Marques Brownlee followed with a quick side-by-side demo with an Android phone. But it was soon pointed out by commenters on Twitter that while true for the Weather app in iOS 14.6, it’s not the case in the current betas for iOS 15. (It’s also not the case for iOS 13, which I still have running on a spare phone.) Gartenberg soon updated his story at The Verge with the following:

A possible explanation for the issue (as pointed out by several people on Twitter) is that Apple may be sourcing data for its iOS Weather app in Celsius and then converting it to Fahrenheit. For example, 20 degrees Celsius converts to 68 degrees Fahrenheit, while 21 degrees Celsius converts to 69.8 degrees Fahrenheit — which rounds up to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The app appears to have similar issues with temperatures like 65 degrees (where 18 degrees Celsius converts to 64.4 degrees Fahrenheit, while 19 degrees Celsius is 66.2 degrees Fahrenheit).

This theory that it’s a side effect of converting Celsius integer values to Fahrenheit integer values strikes me as almost certainly correct — especially considering that it affects un-notable values like “65”. Or that even in iOS 14.6, negative 69°F displays just fine. But it’s amusing to me that so many people bought into the possibility that someone at Apple thought it was a good idea to avoid showing 69° as a temperature.

Apple’s Compass app will show you 69°. The Finder will tell you if you have 69 files in a folder. Once you start down this path it’s hard to find an app from Apple that won’t display “69” some how, some way, if that’s the value that ought to be displayed. Apple even has products that cost $69.

But Apple’s reputation for prudishness precedes it.

What didn’t pass the sniff test for me with this “won’t show 69°F” idea is that it would cross the line into losing integrity, or at least losing accuracy. Can I imagine a third-party weather app being rejected from the App Store because its screenshots show a big “69°F” current temperature? Yes. But to program the iPhone Weather app to avoid displaying 69°F when it really is 69°F? (Or to demand a third-party weather app not show “69°F” in the app?) No.

Sometimes a cigar is just an integer math conversion glitch.


I’m reminded of the spate of articles a few years ago, when Apple’s original TV+ titles were ramping up production, that Apple executives were squeamish about R-rated content. E.g. this widely-cited report by Tripp Mickle and Joe Flint for The Wall Street Journal in September 2018, which claimed, “The tech giant wants to make scripted shows for streaming, only without violence, politics and risqué story lines.” It didn’t seem preposterous in the least that Apple might have been looking for a Disney-esque “family-friendly only” image for its original content.

Problem is: it wasn’t true. Ted Lasso sure is a feel-good show, but Apple’s acclaimed The Morning Show is just as surely not. Servant is R-rated horror (or pretty close to R-rated). See was a show about a future world where everyone is blind and they pray to their god by masturbating. Disney+ probably wasn’t bidding on that. 


Regarding the Safari 15 Public Betas for Mac and iOS

Michael Tsai:

I think I like the changes for iPhone. The controls are easier to reach at the bottom of the screen, and it’s quicker to switch between tabs.

I get the move to the bottom, in theory — clearly this is about reachability. But I use Safari on my iPhone a lot and I have never minded using a second hand to get to the controls that, heretofore, were at the top: the “ᴀA” menu, the location field, and the reload/stop button.

Here are screenshots from Safari on iOS 14.6:

Screenshot of mjtsai.com in Safari on iOS 14.6.

and iOS 15 beta 2:

Screenshot of mjtsai.com in Safari on iOS 14.6.

Both the old and new designs put these controls one tap away: back/forward, location field, and the tabs button.

The only other one-tap control in the new design is the “···” junk drawer menu button, which can be long-pressed to toggle Reader Mode. All the other controls are inside the “···” popover menu.

The old design has no “···” menu because it doesn’t need one. It has an “ᴀA” button at the top which can be long-pressed to toggle Reader Mode and when tapped shows a popover menu of site-specific viewing options. At the bottom it has one-tap buttons for Share and Bookmarks. I use the Share and Bookmarks buttons all the time on my iPhone.

The system-wide standard iOS/iPadOS Share popover menu is one of the best UIs Apple has come up with in the last decade. It is extremely useful, very well supported by both first- and third-party apps, and extraordinarily consistent across the entire system. Because it is widely supported and very consistent, it is well understood by users. I realize that the nature of my work is such that I deal with URLs more frequently than most people, but sharing URLs is really common.

I also think the “ᴀA” button is a much better idea than putting all the options previously contained therein in the catch-all “···” menu. Long-pressing “ᴀA” to toggle Reader Mode feels intuitive; long-pressing “···” to toggle Reader Mode feels like they just didn’t know where else to put it. The new iOS Safari “···” menu could have been a “here’s what not to do” example from Apple’s own WWDC session this year on “Discoverable Design”.

Bookmarks are almost completely lost in the new design, and unless I’m missing something, there’s no longer any way to run bookmarklets. I know bookmarklets are an old-school web nerd thing, but I have a few I use frequently, which, if Apple sticks with this design for the next year, I guess I’ll have to rewrite as Shortcuts shortcuts or something.1

The only new thing the new iOS Safari design has going for it is that you can swipe side-to-side on the floating browser chrome at the bottom to switch between tabs. I don’t think that is significantly more convenient than tapping the Tabs buttons to switch tabs. How often you want to swipe through tabs one at a time rather than see your tabs and select one in particular? And if you swipe just a little bit too low, you wind up switching between apps, not tabs.

All that said, I agree with Tsai that the new Safari for Mac is even worse:

For Mac, the new design makes no sense to me, and I’ll likely switch to Chrome if it can’t be disabled:

  • Not only does the location bar move when you change tabs, but, because it changes width, all the other tabs move, too. It feels disorienting.
  • With everything on one line, there’s less space for tab text than before.
  • It’s harder to get at buttons and extensions hidden under the … menu.
  • There’s less empty space where it’s safe for me to click in order to drag the window.
  • Having the page background color bleed into the tab area makes it harder to read, and it feels weird for the current page’s color to affect the way other tabs look. It also works inconsistently, even on the same pages on Apple’s site. At least there’s a preference to turn it off.

You don’t have to install MacOS 12 Monterey to use the new Safari design; the latest versions of Safari Technology Preview have it too, and Safari Technology Preview is installed as a separate app, not a replacement for the current version of Safari.

Tabs in Safari on Mac (and, in my opinion, iPad) were a solved problem. The new Safari tab UI strikes me as being different for the sake of being different, not different for the sake of being better. The new design certainly makes Safari look distinctive. But is it more usable or discoverable in any way? I honestly can’t think of a single problem the new design solves other than saving about 30 points (60 @2× pixels) of vertical screen space by omitting a dedicated tab bar. But I think the tab bar was space put to good, obvious use with traditional tabs. Matt Birchler points out that horizontally, the new tab design uses space less efficiently. Good luck convincing Chrome users to switch to Safari with this design. Not to mention that every other tabbed app in MacOS 12 still uses a traditional tab bar. It’s consistent neither with other popular web browsers nor with the rest of MacOS 12.

Nick Heer, writing at Pixel Envy:

Over the past several releases of MacOS and iOS, Apple has experimented with hiding controls until users hover their cursor overtop, click, tap, or swipe. I see it as an extension of what Maciej Cegłowski memorably called “chickenshit minimalism”. He defined it as “the illusion of simplicity backed by megabytes of cruft”; I see parallels in a “junk drawer” approach that prioritizes the appearance of simplicity over functional clarity. It adds complexity because it reduces clutter, and it allows UI designers to avoid making choices about interface hierarchy by burying everything but the most critical elements behind vague controls.

If UI density is a continuum, the other side of chickenshit minimalism might be something like Microsoft’s “ribbon” toolbar. Dozens of controls of various sizes and types, loosely grouped by function, and separated by a tabbed UI creates a confusing mess. But being unnecessarily reductionist with onscreen controls also creates confusion. I do not want every web browser control available at all times, but I cannot see what users gain by making it harder to find the reload button in Safari.


There’s an axiom widely (but alas, probably spuriously) attributed to Albert Einstein: “Everything should be as simple as possible, but not simpler.” But I don’t even think that applies to this new Safari design. It’s worse. It just looks simpler. All the old functionality remains — it’s just harder to access, harder to discover intuitively, and more distracting. One can only presume that Apple’s HI team thinks they’re reducing needless “clutter”, but what they’re doing is systematically removing the coherence between what apps look like and the functionality they offer.

Here’s another axiom, whose attribution is certain: “Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like. People think it’s this veneer — that the designers are handed this box and told, ‘Make it look good!’ That’s not what we think design is. It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” 


  1. “AppleScript scripts” has always felt a little repetitively awkward, but talking about shortcuts in Shortcuts is worse. I wish Apple had called them “workflows” or something instead. I might use that here at DF when I’d otherwise write “Shortcuts shortcuts” though. ↩︎