Friday, 11 October 2019
Mark Gurman, writing for Bloomberg1:
But the first iteration, which appears to still be quite raw and
in a number of ways frustrating to developers, risks upsetting
users who may have to pay again when they download the Mac version
of an iPad app they’ve already bought.
I get this, and Gurman has reported previously that one goal of the Marzipan/Catalyst project is to have universal apps that work across iOS/iPadOS/MacOS, the way that the exact same app can work on both iOS and iPadOS today. But Catalyst is a developer technology. Users have no idea what it is and shouldn’t need to. “You have to pay for iPad and Mac versions separately” doesn’t seem like a big deal to me because it’s been that way all along, regardless of Catalyst.
Worse, the expectation that you should pay only once for both iPad and Mac versions of an app makes it hard for developers of commercial software to justify doing a Mac app, period. The rest of Gurman’s article is about how much work it takes to create a good Mac app even with Catalyst.
Developers have found several problems with Apple’s tools for
bringing iPad apps over to Mac computers. Some features that only
make sense on iPad touchscreens, such as scrollable lists that
help users select dates and times on calendars, are showing up on
the Mac, where the input paradigm is still built around a keyboard
and mouse or trackpad.
Troughton-Smith said Mac versions of some apps can’t hide the
mouse cursor while video is playing. He’s also found problems with
video recording and two-finger scrolling in some cases, along with
issues with using the keyboard and full-screen mode in video
games. Thomson, the PCalc developer, said some older Mac computers
struggle to handle Catalyst apps that use another Apple system
called SceneKit for 3-D gaming and animations.
Other than that, how do you like the APIs, Mrs. Lincoln?
Two anticipated Catalyst apps, featured on Apple’s website since
June, were abruptly removed this week: the video-playing and
comic-book-browsing DC Universe and the car-racing game Asphalt 9.
Gameloft, which makes the racing game, said on Tuesday that the
title has been “slightly delayed” in order to “polish the
experience” and that it will launch later this year.
At WWDC in early June — four months ago — Apple showcased the catalyzed Asphalt 9 port on stage, with the following quote from Gameloft: “We had Asphalt 9: Legends for Mac running on the first day. It looks stunning and runs super fast using Metal on powerful Mac hardware.”
Maybe it’s not so easy, and maybe Catalyst is not good for games.
One last tidbit from Gurman:
However, Netflix Inc., the largest U.S. video-streaming service
with the second most popular free iPad app, said on Tuesday that
it won’t be taking part.
That’s all Gurman says about Netflix. No quote, no link to a Netflix statement. There have been no rumblings about a native Mac app — and word on the street has suggested it is not in the works — but Gurman reports this as categorical.
It’s a shame, because there are two features a native Netflix Mac app could deliver that you can’t get through their website using a Mac: downloads for offline viewing (essential for air travel) and 4K video. 4K might eventually get support from WebKit, but there’s no way Netflix could ever allow offline downloads from the website. I’m not sure what Netflix’s calculus is here, but the simple truth is that if Netflix wanted a native Mac app they would have made one long ago. ★
MacOS Tip of the Year: Turn Off Spotlight Suggestions in Look Up ★
Do you three-finger-tap to get definitions in macOS? Does it drive
you bonkers that the lookup overlay tries to access Wikipedia and
other random non-dictionary things?
Sysprefs → Spotlight → [uncheck] Allow Spotlight Suggestions
in Look up
Enjoy blazing fast definitions.
What a fantastic tip, if, like me, you only ever use this feature to get Dictionary lookups. I didn’t realize how slow this feature sometimes gets until I turned this off. Now it’s always instantaneous, as it should be. Remember: fast software is the best software.
(Remember too that in addition to the three-finger tap, you can use the right-click contextual menu to look up the current text selection, and ⌃⌘D to look up whatever word is adjacent to the insertion point (while editing) or under the mouse pointer (while reading a web page or PDF). These shortcuts work system wide on MacOS.)
Crazy Apple Rumors Site: ‘Apple Revokes Panic Developer License’ ★
John Moltz, at the rejuvenated Crazy Apple Rumors Site:
“Untitled Goose Game represents a clear and present threat to
Chinese sovereignty,” said Yang Cheung, a spokesperson for the
Gesturing to a video of Untitled Goose Game gameplay, Cheung
explained. “The goose is a lawless force of rampant
anti-nationalism. It encourages violence against the state and
NYT: ‘China Blows Whistle on Nationalistic Protests Against the NBA’ ★
Keith Bradsher and Javier C. Hernández, reporting for The New York Times from Beijing:
After three days of fanning nationalistic outrage, the Chinese
government abruptly moved on Thursday to tamp down public anger at
the N.B.A. as concerns spread in Beijing that the rhetoric was
damaging China’s interests and image around the world.
You don’t say.
Now, the Chinese government appears to be reassessing its campaign
against the N.B.A. and dialing down the clamor. The government is
already in a bruising trade war with the United States, and a
backlash against China could hurt its image in the sporting world
ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics near Beijing. The dispute with
the N.B.A. was also quickly politicizing an audience of sports
fans who would not normally focus on issues like the protests in
Pretty sure there wouldn’t be as many “Free Hong Kong” signs at NBA games — or any at all — if the Chinese government had simply let this slide.
Hong Kong Legislator Charles Mok Writes Open Letter to Tim Cook ★
As a long-time user of Apple products and services, I highly
appreciate that Apple has been championing freedom of expression
as one of the corporation’s tenets. I sincerely hope Apple will
choose to support its users and stop banning HKmap.live simply out
of political reason or succumbing to China’s influence like other
American companies appear to be doing.
We Hongkongers will definitely look closely at whether Apple
chooses to uphold its commitment to free expression and other
basic human rights, or become an accomplice for Chinese censorship
As quoted in Tim Cook’s own Twitter bio:
“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” —Martin Luther King Jr.
Tim Cook’s Company-Wide Memo on HKmap.live Doesn’t Add Up ★
I’ve seen a copy of Cook’s company-wide memo, and the copy reproduced here is accurate. Maciej Ceglowski — who has been in Hong Kong for weeks — responds:
The first allegation is that “the app was being used maliciously
to target individual officers for violence”. This makes no sense
at all. The app does not show the locations of individual officers
at all. It shows general concentrations of police units, with a
As the developer and @charlesmok, a Hong Kong legislator, have
pointed out, the app aggregates reports from Telegram, Facebook
and other sources. It beggars belief that a campaign to target
individual officers would use a world-readable crowdsourcing
format like this.
Moreover, what are these incidents where protesters have targeted
individual police for a premeditated attack? Can Mr. Cook point to
a single example? Can anyone? […]
So not only is there no evidence for this claim, but it goes
against the documentary record of 18 weeks of protests, and is not
even possible given the technical constraints of the app (which
tracks groups of police).
The second, related allegation is that the app helps “victimize
individuals and property where no police are present”. Again, does
Mr. Cook have any evidence for this claim? The app does not show
an absence of police, it shows concentrations of police, tear gas,
riot flags etc.
So, three questions, no answers:
- When was HKmap.live “used maliciously to target individual officers for violence”?
- When was it used to “victimize individuals and property where no police are present”?
- What local laws in Hong Kong does it violate?
I can’t recall an Apple memo or statement that crumbles so quickly under scrutiny. For a company that usually measures umpteen times before cutting anything, it’s both sad and startling.
Hong Kong Officials on Why HKmap.live Should Be Removed From App Store: Ask Apple ★
Transcript from journalist Tim McLaughlin:
Reporter: Two questions about the HKmap.live app. Which local laws
the HKmap.live app violates and why should Apple remove HKmap.live
when apps which allow users to track the location of police
checkpoints remain in the app store? Thank you. […]
Chief Secretary for the Administration Matthew Cheung: I suppose
the Police have already explained the reasons for it, okay? And,
we have nothing further to add.
Secretary for Transport and Housing Frank Chan Fan: Indeed the
taking down of the app from the Apple store is the decision made
by the operating company — Apple. So, if you want to know the
reason for them to take down the app, maybe you can approach Apple
and the Apple store.
Complete non-answers to both questions.
(One sidenote I confirmed with Apple: While they pulled HKmap.live from the App Store, anyone who already has it installed still has the app. No more software updates, but copy of the app they have installed still works.)
Apple Removes HKmap.live From App Store ★
Jack Nicas, reporting for The New York Times:
A day earlier, People’s Daily, the flagship newspaper of the
Chinese Communist Party, published an editorial that accused Apple
of aiding “rioters” in Hong Kong. “Letting poisonous software have
its way is a betrayal of the Chinese people’s feelings,” said the
article, which was written under a pseudonym, “Calming the Waves.”
“The app displays police locations and we have verified with the
Hong Kong Cybersecurity and Technology Crime Bureau that the app
has been used to target and ambush police, threaten public safety,
and criminals have used it to victimize residents in areas where
they know there is no law enforcement,” Apple said in a statement
late Wednesday. “This app violates our guidelines and local laws.”
I still haven’t seen which local laws it violates, other than the unwritten law of pissing off Beijing.
Capitulation is a bad look for Apple.
HKmap remains available on the web, and on the Google Play Store.
Apple Removes Quartz News App in China Over Hong Kong Coverage ★
Nick Statt, reporting for The Verge
News organization Quartz tells The Verge that Apple has removed
its mobile app from the Chinese version of its App Store after
complaints from the Chinese government. According to Quartz, this
is due to the publication’s ongoing coverage of the Hong Kong
protests, and the company says its entire website has also been
blocked from being accessed in mainland China.
The publication says it received a notice from Apple that the app
“includes content that is illegal in China.”
The law’s the law. You want to do business in China, you obey the law.
The question is: Why do business in China if this is the type of shit they pull? No one is alleging that anything Quartz has reported on the Hong Kong protests is false. It’s just unflattering to the Chinese regime.
‘The Making of Operator 41’ ★
Looks like a very cool game for Apple Arcade — a sneak-around puzzle game with a Cold War era spy motif. Looks cool, great music.
Amazingly, developer Spruce Campbell is 14 years old.
Bloomberg: ‘Trump Urged Tillerson to Help Giuliani Client Facing DOJ Charges’ ★
Nick Wadhams, Saleha Mohsin, Stephanie Baker, and Jennifer Jacobs, reporting for Bloomberg*:
President Donald Trump pressed then-Secretary of State Rex
Tillerson to help persuade the Justice Department to drop a
criminal case against an Iranian-Turkish gold trader who was a
client of Rudy Giuliani, according to three people familiar with
the 2017 meeting in the Oval Office.
Tillerson refused, arguing it would constitute interference in an
ongoing investigation of the trader, Reza Zarrab, according to the
people. They said other participants in the Oval Office were
shocked by the request.
Tillerson immediately repeated his objections to then-Chief of
Staff John Kelly in a hallway conversation just outside the Oval
Office, emphasizing that the request would be illegal. Neither
episode has been previously reported, and all of the people spoke
on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the
Josh Marshall: “Expect a wave of time travel whistleblowers.”
* Bloomberg, of course, is the publication that published “The Big Hack” in October 2018 — a sensational story alleging that data centers of Apple, Amazon, and dozens of other companies were compromised by China’s intelligence services. The story presented no confirmable evidence at all, was vehemently denied by all companies involved, has not been confirmed by a single other publication (despite much effort to do so), and has been largely discredited by one of Bloomberg’s own sources. By all appearances “The Big Hack” was complete bullshit. Yet Bloomberg has issued no correction or retraction, and seemingly hopes we’ll all just forget about it. I say we do not just forget about it. Bloomberg’s institutional credibility is severely damaged, and everything they publish should be treated with skepticism until they retract the story or provide evidence that it was true.
Blizzard Sets Off Backlash for Penalizing Hong Kong Gamer Who Expressed Support for Protesters ★
Daniel Victor, reporting for The New York Times:
Activision Blizzard became the latest American company to find
itself caught between its business interests in China and the
values of its core customers after it suspended an e-sports player
who voiced support for the Hong Kong protests during a live
The decision to suspend Chung Ng Wai, a professional Hearthstone
player in Hong Kong, for a year, while forcing him to forfeit a
reported $10,000 in prize money, prompted a backlash in the United
States similar to the public relations debacle the N.B.A. has
faced this week. Gamers posted angrily on social media and in
forums, while politicians saw it as another troubling sign of
China’s chilling clampdown on speech worldwide.
“Recognize what’s happening here. People who don’t live in China
must either self censor or face dismissal and suspensions,” Senator
Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, wrote on Twitter. “China using
access to market as leverage to crush free speech globally.”
Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, a Democrat, concurred, saying on
Twitter that Activision Blizzard showed “it is willing to
humiliate itself to please the Chinese Communist Party.”
No partisan divide on this issue.
Fox News Poll: 51 Percent of Voters Want Trump Impeached and Removed From Office ★
Dana Blanton, reporting for Fox News:
A new high of 51 percent wants Trump impeached and removed from
office, another 4 percent want him impeached but not removed, and
40 percent oppose impeachment altogether. In July, 42 percent
favored impeachment and removal, while 5 percent said impeach but
don’t remove him, and 45 percent opposed impeachment.
Now Fox News is getting in on the fake news racket. You really can’t trust anyone other than Breitbart these days.
On the Disposability of AirPods ★
Geoffrey Fowler, writing for The Washington Post:
If your AirPods are out of warranty, Apple will replace them for
$49 per stick — so in reality, $98 total. A replacement for the
charging case, which doesn’t wear out as quickly, is also $49. The
key phrase to say is “battery service.” (Apple is providing
additional training to customer service representatives on that
point, but if you still have trouble, show them this link —
or this column.)
When you think about it, it is rather ridiculous that once the batteries in AirPods die, they’re disposable. Paul Kafasis and I talked about this back in March on my podcast.
But what’s the alternative? Fowler holds up Samsung’s Galaxy Buds:
Sealing up electronics with glue instead of screws and latches can
help make devices lighter and more resistant to moisture and dust.
But great ear buds — even ones tiny enough to sit in your ears —
don’t have to be impenetrable. iFixit found a way to pop open
Samsung’s $129 Galaxy Buds, so replacement batteries can slip in
kind of like on a watch. Samsung doesn’t officially offer this
repair option, but iFixit sells a pair of replacement batteries
They’ll sell you the batteries (although at this writing iFixit’s website claims to be sold out), but good luck installing them. iFixit does not have a repair guide for the Galaxy Buds, and the teardown video they do have is expressly labeled “not a repair guide”. There’s a reason why Samsung doesn’t offer a repair option. As for being “great ear buds” — reviewers disagree.
AirPods’s disposability is a problem, and it runs counter to Apple’s staunch pro-environmental messaging, but it’s a problem shared by every set of ear buds in the category. Keep in mind too, that a solution to this problem needs to account for weight, waterproofing, appearance, comfort, and cost. It’s a hard problem to solve, obviously. I’d be happy with next-generation AirPods that solve nothing but this problem.
Why the HKmap.live App Is Important to Hongkongers ★
Maciej Ceglowski, tweeting from Hong Kong:
Tear gas in Hong Kong used to be unheard of. Now I’ve seen HK cops
fire tear gas because they were taunted and someone got them good
with a zinger. The use of this substance has become absolutely
routine, and it can be deployed without warning in densely
A point that needs reiterating is that the @hkmaplive app doesn’t
contravene any Hong Kong law that I am aware of. This app helps
answer questions like “Will I get shot with a bean bag round if I
come out of this MTR station, because the police raised a colored
flag I can’t see?”
‘ESPN Forbids Discussion of Chinese Politics When Discussing Daryl Morey’s Tweet About Chinese Politics’ ★
One of those cases where the headline — from a piece by Laura Wagner for Deadspin — says it all.
ESPN, of course, is owned by Disney. Disney, of course, now owns most of Hollywood.
Apple Under Fire From Chinese State Media Over HKmap.live App ★
Owen Churchill, writing for the English-language South China Morning Post:
Chinese state media on Tuesday accused Apple Inc of protecting
“rioters” in Hong Kong and enabling illegal behaviour, after the
US-based technology giant listed on its app store an application
that tracks police activity in the city. […]
The app relies on crowdsourced information to track the location
of police presence in the city, alerting users to police vehicles,
armed officers and incidents in which people have been injured.
The app — a website version is also active — displays hotspots
on a map of the city that is continuously updated as users report
“By allowing its platform to clear the way for an app that incites
illegal behaviour, [does Apple] not worry about damaging its
reputation and hurting the feelings of consumers?” said a
bellicose commentary published on the app of People’s Daily, the
Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece. […]
Such delicate feelings.
The piece made no mention of the fact that the app is also
available to Android users via the Google Play store.
For what it’s worth, Google’s services are blocked in China, but they do have business there. Nothing on the scale that Apple does, though.
Sixers Fans Ejected From Exhibition Game in Philadelphia After Supporting Hong Kong ★
Avi Wolfman-Arent, reporting for WHYY:
Seeking to bring attention to the issue, Wachs and a companion
purchased seats behind the bench of the Chinese team and wore face
masks — which have been banned at ongoing protests in Hong Kong.
They held up a pair of signs. One read, “Free Hong Kong” and the
other, “Free HK.”
“We sat in our seats silently and just held up the signs,” he
said. About five minutes into the game, Wachs said, security
confiscated the “Free Hong Kong” sign and asked what the second
“And I said HK stood for [former Phillies announcer] Harry Kalas,”
“He said, ‘Isn’t Harry Kalas dead?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, free Harry
Kalas.’ And he said, ‘Why would you free Harry Kalas?’ And I said,
‘Hey, I just wanna free Harry Kalas.’ And he said, ‘OK.’”
About ten minutes later, Wachs recalled, security returned to take
the “Free HK” poster.
This would be funny if it weren’t so utterly symbolic of the NBA’s capitulation to China. In the very city where the First Amendment was drafted and ratified — fans got ejected from a basketball game for the message “Free Hong Kong”, rooting for a team named for the year America declared its own freedom.
It’d be a real shame if NBA fans around the country — especially here in Philadelphia — brought more “Free Hong Kong” signs to NBA games.
‘The China Cultural Clash’ ★
Speaking of Ben Thompson, his column this week at Stratechery is so good:
“It” refers to the current imbroglio surrounding Daryl Morey, the
General Manager for the Houston Rockets of the National Basketball
Association (NBA), and the latter’s dealings with China. The
tweet, a reference to the ongoing protests in Hong Kong, “hurt the
feelings of the Chinese people” (a rather frequent
occurrence). The Global Times, a Chinese government-run
English-language newspaper, stated in an editorial:
Daryl Morey, general manager of the NBA team the Houston Rockets,
has obviously gotten himself into trouble. He tweeted a photo
saying “fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong” on Saturday
while accompanying his team in Tokyo. The tweet soon set the
team’s Chinese fans ablaze. It can be imagined how Morey’s tweet
made them disappointed and furious. Shortly afterward, CCTV
sports channel and Tencent sports channel both announced they
would suspend broadcasting Rockets’ games. Some of the team’s
Chinese sponsors and business partners also started to suspend
cooperation with the Rockets.
There’s one rather glaring hole in this story of immediate outrage
from Chinese fans over Morey’s tweet: Twitter is banned in China.
(This whole NBA/China story broke over the weekend, after Ben and I had recorded the new episode of my podcast — otherwise we’d have spent an hour on it, I’m sure.)
The gist of it is that 25 years ago, when the West opened trade relations with China, we expected our foundational values like freedom of speech, personal liberty, and democracy to spread to China.
Instead, the opposite is happening. China maintains strict control over what its people see on the Internet — the Great Firewall works. They ban our social networks where free speech reigns, but we accept and use their social networks, like TikTok, where content contrary to the Chinese Community Party line is suppressed.
Worse, multinational mega corporations like Apple and Disney are put in a bind — they must choose between speaking up for values such as the right to privacy and freedom of speech, or making money in the Chinese market. The Chinese government portrays its citizenry as having such oh-so-delicate sensibilities, that they simply can’t bear to hear an opinion with which they disagree — expressed on a social network banned in China.
This, one can rightly argue, is what we should expect, if we’re looking for leadership from for-profit corporations on this front. But in the meantime, we’re stuck with a president who promised Xi Jinping he’d remain quiet on the Hong Kong protests in exchange for a trade deal, despite protestors’ pleas for our support.
Drexel to Pay Back $190,000 Former Professor Used for Strip Clubs, Other Purchases Over 10 Years ★
A former Drexel University professor used almost $190,000 in
federal grants at gentlemen’s clubs and toward other improper
purchases, according to a news release Tuesday from the US
Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
Drexel, in Philadelphia, has agreed to pay the amount to
resolve potential false claims liability, according to the US
Chikaodinaka D. Nwankpa made improper charges for items such as
“personal iTunes purchases and for ‘goods and services’ provided
by Cheerleaders, Club Risque and Tacony Club.” The purchases
totaling $189,062 were made between July 2007 and April 2017,
Always good to see my alma mater in the news.
The Talk Show: ‘Thompson’s Razor’ ★
Special guest Ben Thompson returns to the show. Topics include the latest Surface hardware announcements from Microsoft, the state of the iPhone, and bulk purchases of charcoal.
Somehow, we managed to avoid talking about any sports at all.
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Andy Rubin Teases Long, Skinny Form Factor for New Essential Phone ★
The phone’s form factor and UI are certainly interesting.
Rubin, of course, left Google ignominiously but with a $90 million payout that prompted thousands of Google employees to walk out. Good to see Rubin hasn’t let that get him down.
Catalyst’s Glaring Shortcomings ★
Speaking of James Thomson, he’s written a short piece on his experience porting his Dice by PCalc app from iOS to Mac using Catalyst:
Some user interface elements like the spinning carousel pickers
felt especially out-of-place, and unintuitive — you can’t click
and drag on them to change the value, you have to use a scroll
The nearest equivalent on the Mac would be something like a popup
menu button. But there’s no popup menu button on iOS, so I have
resorted to writing my own — and that is one of the classic
It’s the kind of thing that Apple should supply as standard, but I
get the feeling they just ran out of time. The OS releases don’t
seem to have gone very smoothly in general, from my outside
I don’t buy the “ran out of time” excuse. Catalyst has had this particular problem — touch-based spinners in place of pop-up menus — since 10.14 Mojave last year. It’s madness. Has there ever been a GUI toolkit for any mouse-pointer-based platform that didn’t offer pop-up menus as a standard control? Mac, Windows, Motif, Amiga, all the various toolkits for Unix X11 systems — they all had pop-up menus. Catalyst is the only GUI toolkit in history that doesn’t have them. Catalyst remains woefully incomplete and woefully under-documented. (No share sheets? I get it, it would be a lot of work on Apple’s part to bridge iOS’s robust share sheets with MacOS’s rather anemic ones — but that’s Apple’s job.)
The Mac version of Dice looks like a great Mac app for dice-rolling. But it’s absurd that Thomson had to write his own pop-up menu controls to do it.
DragThing Officially End-of-Lifed ★
DragThing is written using the 32-bit Carbon APIs that Apple have
now removed in macOS 10.15 Catalina. It will no longer run if you
update to Catalina, and there are no plans to make a new version
We are sorry to say, DragThing has launched its last app.
64-bit support would require completely rewriting the code from
the ground up, a process which would take us at least a year to
complete, with no guarantees we could re-implement all the
existing functionality, or how much of a future it would have
if we did.
Updated the DragThing website with a very definitive final
statement on Catalina. Goodbye, old friend.
Pour one out for DragThing, which has had a great run.
DragThing’s heyday was back in the classic Mac OS era, but it was a very credible utility in the early days of Mac OS X as well. It was the Dock before Mac OS had a built-in dock. And TLA founder James Thomson actually worked for Apple and helped create the Dock — it’s a complicated story.
DragThing hasn’t been updated in years — it wasn’t even updated to support retina displays. It was felled not by the transition from classic Mac OS to OS X but by the gradual sunsetting of Carbon APIs. But it’s the sort of app that is going to make some users sad that MacOS 10.15 Catalina has dropped 32-bit app legacy support.
I haven’t used DragThing in many many years, but for a long time it was essential to my workflow, and I firmly believe it was a much better launcher than Apple’s own system Dock ever has been. DragThing had features — like the ability to create custom palettes that only appeared in a certain app — that I don’t know how one would replicate today.
BBEdit 13 ★
Another great update to my favorite app for the last 27 years. I still have the receipt for my student-discount purchase of BBEdit 2.5 — the first commercial release — in 1993.
Tentpole new features include Pattern Playgrounds (a great way to learn regular expressions — “grep patterns” in BBEdit parlance — and to craft complex ones), a Grep Cheatsheet, and some great improvements to Dark Mode support and text color schemes. The full release notes, as always, set the bar for completeness, clarity, and concision.
For the last few years, BBEdit has offered two modes: free and premium. The free mode is incredibly useful for many users, and completely obviates BBEdit’s retired sibling TextWrangler. If you’re still using TextWrangler, run, don’t walk, to upgrade to BBEdit 13 in free mode (and enjoy the 30-day free trial of the premium features).
Apple Delays iCloud Drive File Sharing Until ‘Next Spring’ ★
Killian Bell, writing for Cult of Mac:
Apple’s All Features webpage for macOS, which lists
everything that’s new in Catalina, stated earlier this week
that iCloud Drive file sharing would launch before the end of
The page has been updated following the public rollout of macOS
Catalina on Monday, however. File sharing will now be available in
spring of next year.
Disappointing to a lot of us who are looking to move away from Dropbox.
NBA Commissioner Defends Freedom of Speech as Chinese Companies Cut Ties ★
Sopan Deb, reporting for The New York Times:
In its statement, the broadcaster, China Central Television,
chided Adam Silver, the N.B.A. commissioner, for expressing
support for the free speech rights of Daryl Morey. Morey, the
Houston Rockets general manager, posted a supportive message about
protests in Hong Kong on Friday night that drew an angry response
from Chinese officials and set off debate about how corporations
should balance their public images with their eagerness to do
business in China.
“We voice our strong dissatisfaction and opposition to Adam Silver
offering as an excuse the right to freedom of expression,” CCTV
said in its statement announcing the cancellation of the N.B.A.
broadcasts. “We believe that no comments challenging national
sovereignty and social stability fall within the scope of freedom
NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s response was heartening:
Silver issued a new written statement on Tuesday morning which
said in part: “It is inevitable that people around the world —
including from America and China — will have different viewpoints
over different issues. It is not the role of the N.B.A. to
adjudicate those differences.”
It continued, “However, the N.B.A. will not put itself in a
position of regulating what players, employees and team owners
say or will not say on these issues. We simply could not operate
Silver was more blunt during his news conference: “We will protect
our employees’ freedom of speech.”
More of this, please.
MacOS 10.15 Catalina and the 32-Bit App Reckoning ★
Jim Dalrymple, writing at The Loop:
For those that have been following along, 64-bit is not that new.
Apple has been talking to developers about the 64-bit transition
for several years. Chances are your apps have already been updated
to take advantage of the architecture.
However, if your apps haven’t been updated, they won’t run on the
new operating system. You should be aware of that before you
In typical Apple fashion, the company has made it easy to find out
if you’ll have a problem with your apps. In your current macOS,
you can go to About this Mac > System Report > Applications and
get a list of all applications and whether they are 64-bit or not.
If you decide not to do that and try to install macOS Catalina,
the installer will post a warning that some of your apps are not
compatible with the new operating system. It will also give you a
list of these apps. You can decide to stop the install process and
contact the developers about updates or continue, knowing those
apps won’t work.
I don’t have any remaining apps of consequence that are 32-bit only, but it’s certainly worth checking before you upgrade.
Monday, 7 October 2019
When I wrote “Richard Stallman’s Disgrace”, I included the following anecdote from a 2011 email from a DF reader:
I worked 10 years ago at VA Linux which had Richard Stallman on
its board of directors. You might have heard that Stallman applied
his open source ideas to his publicly open marriage as well. The
problem was that he was more than open. He made overt sexual
advances to women at work. One young woman who worked next to me
was so upset from his multiple advances that she took it to senior
management. She was able to deal with the problem without taking
the issue outside the company. I don’t know the details, but she
was given advanced warning anytime Stallman was headed over so
that she could leave. He was a creep and women at the company knew
to stay away.
And he smelled horrible.
Zed Shaw, among several people on Twitter, realized this rang untrue in several regards:
This sexual harassment report about Richard Stallman is actually
about Eric S. Raymond:
- Stallman never worked for VA Linux, ESR did.
- Stallman has never been married, ESR was.
- Stallman would not run an “open source” marriage, ESR did
I believe what happened is people constantly refer to the two men
with acronyms “RMS” and “ESR”. The reporter then misidentified one
“TLA Old Nerd” for another “TLA Old Nerd” and for nearly a decade
has been telling people Stallman harassed her when it was Eric S.
As soon as I read this, I was nearly certain my email correspondent had made exactly this mistake, conflating Stallman with Raymond, and that I had passed the error along. I sincerely and deeply regret the error. I should have known Stallman would never have worked with VA Linux (he’d have insisted upon it being named “VA GNU/Linux”, and likely would have had no interest in what was a very commercial enterprise no matter what its name) and also should have remembered that Stallman was never married.
I conferred with my source for the anecdote, and he confirmed it, sending the following by email:
OMG, I was referring to the guy on our board, so it must have been
Eric Raymond. I’m so sorry. I did conflate them. I guess I assumed
there were not two creepy guys talking about free and open
I’m positive it was Eric Raymond. In retrospect, I don’t know for
sure if he smelled or if the woman I worked with and who was
propositioned by him merely found him disgusting.
To be clear, my source is a man, and it was he who conflated Raymond (“ESR”) with Stallman (“RMS”). His former colleague at VA Linux, the woman who was propositioned by Raymond, surely remembers it clearly.
I have updated the original article to remove the anecdote quoted above, and to point to this correction. My source for the anecdote made an honest error — as Shaw suggests conflating two well-known “TLA Old Nerds”. It was my fault and mine alone for publishing it. Again, I regret the mistake, and apologize for it. ★
Friday, 4 October 2019
Kieren McCarthy, writing for The Register:
“Your app contains content — or facilitates, enables, and
encourages an activity — that is not legal … specifically, the
app allowed users to evade law enforcement,” the American tech
giant told makers of the HKmap Live on Tuesday before
The makers, and many others, have taken exception to that
argument, by pointing out that the app only allows people to note
locations - as many countless thousands of other apps do - and so
under the same logic, apps such as driving app Waze should also
To deny the people of Hong Kong one of the few tools that defends
them against police aggression is such a craven act that I can’t
even put it into words. Is Apple going to side with “law
enforcement” in every dictatorship on the planet? Is coddling
China worth that much to them?
On behalf of tech people in America, I would like to apologize to
the people of Hong Kong for this humiliating display by our
biggest tech company. These are not the fundamental American
values you have in mind when you wave our flag at your protests,
and we must do better.
Hanlon’s Razor — “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity” — has never applied to anything more aptly than App Store rejections (although “incompetence” might be a better word than “stupidity”). So I think there’s a good chance that there’s nothing to this other than a bad decision on the part of a rank-and-file App Store reviewer. The HK Map developers think the same thing. (And to be clear, this is a new app that was rejected, it’s not an app that Apple pulled from the App Store. Also, the good news for iPhone-owning Hongkongers is that HK Maps has a good mobile web app.)
But here’s the thing. What’s going on in Hong Kong is important. A small liberal democracy is standing up to a gargantuan authoritarian communist dictatorship with a superpower-grade military force.
Apple is reliant on China in two ways: they manufacture most of their products there, and the Chinese market is roughly equal to all of Europe as Apple’s second biggest for sales. If Apple wants to avoid any suspicion that the company is kowtowing to China, they need to avoid any inadvertent screw-ups in a case like this. Everything related to the App Store approval process that might be perceived as kowtowing to China should receive the utmost scrutiny.
This one doesn’t pass the test.
Update: Good news: the developer of HKmap reports that Apple has approved the app, and it’s now propagating through the App Store. The developer is also asking for donations to defray hosting costs, which, for anonymity, can only be sent via Bitcoin. (An easy, trustworthy way to buy and send Bitcoin is with Square’s Cash app.) ★