Joe Girardi to CC Sabathia: ‘I Love You, Man’ ★
Hard not to choke up watching Girardi talk about Sabathia.
Facebook’s Origin, Then and Now ★
Behold Mark Zuckerberg’s revised origin story for Facebook, as a
way to give people voice during the Iraq war.
(And compare to the Harvard Crimson on Zuckerberg’s hot-or-not
“I understood that some parts were still a little sketchy” holds up as a description of Facebook, 16 years later.
16-Inch MacBook Pro Seemingly Pictured in MacOS 10.15.1 Beta ★
Nice find by French site MacGeneration. Looks very similar to the current 15-inch MacBook Pro, but with smaller bezels around the display. As rumors have suggested, it even looks like it has a nice big physical Esc key.
Oregon Judge Ordered Woman to Type in Her iPhone Passcode So Police Could Search It for Evidence Against Her ★
Aimee Green, reporting for The Oregonian (via Dave Mark at The Loop):
Police wanted to search the contents of an iPhone they found in
Catrice Pittman’s purse, but she never confirmed whether it was
hers and wasn’t offering up a passcode. Her defense attorney
argued forcing her to do so would violate her rights against
self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment of the U.S.
Constitution and Article 1 Section 12 of the Oregon Constitution.
But a Marion County judge sided with police and prosecutors by
ordering Pittman to enter her passcode. On Wednesday, the Oregon
Court of Appeals agreed with that ruling — in a first-of-its-kind
opinion for an appeals court in this state.
This is bullshit — being forced to produce a password is clearly a violation of the Fifth Amendment. If you’ve got the password written down on a sticky note and the police get a warrant to search your home and find it, that’s evidence. But being compelled to produce something in your mind is the definition of self-incrimination.
A password is different than biometric authentication. There are debates on whether law enforcement should be able to compel someone to provide their fingerprint or look at a facial recognition scanner to unlock a device. Are they allowed to just wave your phone in front of your face? (With a Pixel 4, closing your eyes won’t protect you.)
As a reminder, you can temporarily disable Touch ID and Face ID just by going to the power-down screen. On a X-class iPhone, that means pressing and hold the power button and either volume button for a second or two. Once your phone is at this screen, even if you tap “Cancel”, you must enter your passcode to unlock the phone. If you’re ever worried about anyone — law enforcement or otherwise — taking your phone from you and unlocking it with your face, just squeeze those two buttons. You don’t even need to take it out of your pocket or purse — you’ll feel haptic feedback once you’ve held the buttons long enough. And, if you keep holding the two buttons down for five seconds, your iPhone will call emergency services and contact your emergency contacts.
Quick Video Always Records With a 4:3 Aspect Ratio ★
Joseph Keller, writing at iMore:
Something to keep in mind about quick video: it doesn’t record
in 4K. No matter what resolution you’ve set for taking video on
your iPhone, whether above or below 4K, quick videos on the
iPhone 11 series of phones will always record at a resolution of
1920 × 1440.
“HD” video is usually 1920 × 1080, but Quick Video shoots 1920 × 1440 because it always records with a 4:3 aspect ratio. That’s not what I expected, but you don’t lose anything — the 1920 × 1080 image recorded by default in the “Video” mode is a 16:9 center crop of the 4:3 sensor. If you want a 16:9 aspect ratio from a clip shot using Quick Video, you can just crop it in post, right in the Camera or Photos app using the new video editing tools in iOS 13. (And not only can you crop to 16:9 in post, you can decide to raise or lower the centerline on the video when you do so.)
Jason Snell on Baseball Telecast Graphics ★
Jason Snell, in a lovely piece at Six Colors that feels like it was written just for me:
And then there are the out dots.
This is one of the delightfully stupid controversies that comes up
when you write about baseball graphics. In a nod to skeuomorphism
and old ballpark scoreboards, many networks display the number of
outs in an inning not as a numeral, but as dots. These dots
generally appear as gray circles that are filled in with a bright
color as the inning progresses.
The controversy is this: How many dots should there be? There are
three outs in an inning, so you’d think the answer would be
three. But some folks will point out that since getting the
third out ends the inning, having a third dot would be
superfluous. Once the third out is made, the inning is over and
there are no outs at all.
I get the argument, but I firmly reject it. Outs come in threes,
not twos. If you must represent it by a series of faux light
bulbs, you should have three bulbs. Better, I think, to light up
that third bulb momentarily, then turn it off and indicate the end
of the inning. It improves the clarity of the graphic at the
expense of a few pixels — and gives you the opportunity to make a
fun animation at the end of the inning.
I strongly agree with Snell on this: if you’re going to use dots to represent outs, there should be three. When there are two outs, the batting team still has an out to give — the empty third dot represents that out. And when the third out is made, fill it in for the few seconds before the telecast cuts to the commercial break.
Another note: nearly all modern baseball telecasts show the strike zone live. This box, though, should be subtle. When you look at Snell’s screenshots, compare ESPN’s live strike zone (far too prominent) with Fox’s (perfectly subtle).
Here’s an example of the in-game graphics from YES, the Yankees’ regular season broadcaster. Good strike zone indicator (including the speed at the pitch location), good legibility, but boo hiss for the two-dot out display.
Jonathan Morrison Shot His Pixel 4 First Thoughts Video With Front-Facing iPhone 11 Camera ★
Interesting take on the Pixel 4, but what really grabbed my attention was Rene Ritchie pointing out that Morrison shot this video using the front-facing iPhone 11 camera. It’s 4K 60 FPS and, like everything Morrison shoots, looks fantastic. Most high-end Android phones — including the Pixel 4 — can’t shoot 4K/60 with the rear camera.
There are nuanced arguments to be had regarding the competitive landscape in high-end phone camera still photography, but video is another area where Apple is indisputably years ahead of all competition.
Luna Display Introduces Mac-to-Mac Mode ★
We’re always looking for ways to give our users the freedom and
flexibility that their workflow deserves. Luna Display’s launch in
the fall of 2018 blasted us off into an arena that no company had
successfully played in before — we’d created a device that could
turn your iPad into a second display for Mac.
Since then, we’ve continued to ask ourselves, “Is there more that
we could be doing with Luna Display?” The answer was sitting right
under our noses in the form of all the idle Macs we had laying
around our development space. What if we could turn people’s
e-waste into extra screen space!
What a great idea — a fantastic use case for older 5K iMacs that would otherwise be put out to pasture. Here’s how Luna Display co-founder and CEO Matt Ronge introduced it on Twitter:
After Apple “sherlocked” @LunaDisplayHQ, we put our heads together
on how we could make Luna even better
So I’m excited to announce today… Mac-to-Mac Mode for Luna
Display! Turn any extra Mac into a second display. Apple
zigs, we zag.
The “sherlocking”, of course, is the new Sidecar feature in iPadOS 13 and MacOS 10.15 Catalina that allows recent Macs to use iPads as external displays. Zigging when Apple zags is exactly the right attitude for third-party developers.
Trump Has Awarded Next Year’s G-7 Summit to His Doral Resort ★
Toluse Olorunnipa, David A. Fahrenthold, and Jonathan O’Connell, reporting for The Washington Post:
President Trump has awarded the 2020 Group of Seven summit of
world leaders to his private company, scheduling the summit for
June at his Trump Doral golf resort in Miami, the White House
That decision is without precedent in modern American history: The
president used his public office to direct a massive contract to
Trump’s Doral resort — set among office parks near the Miami
airport — has been in sharp decline in recent years, according to
the Trump Organization’s own records. Its net operating income
fell 69 percent from 2015 to 2017; a Trump Organization
representative testified last year that the reason was Trump’s
Now, the G-7 summit will draw hundreds of diplomats, journalists
and security personnel to the resort during one of its slowest
months of the year, when Miami is hot and the hotel is often less
than 40 percent full. It will also provide a worldwide spotlight
for the club.
We’ve now reached the point where Trump’s kleptocracy is just out in the open. Any true believer in democratic norms would agree that the same ethical standards — not to mention laws — apply equally to everyone, regardless of their party. Democrats still believe this; there’s no way Democrats would stand for a president from their own party who used the office to line their own pockets. Nor would they stand for a president who used foreign policy as a cudgel to persuade other countries to open investigations into the president’s political rivals here in the U.S. Republicans’ continuing support for Trump is a rejection of democracy and the rule of law. It really is that simple.
Serious question: Shouldn’t the other G-7 nations refuse to attend? Attending — and spending their nation’s money at a Trump resort — will make them complicit in Trump’s kleptocracy. This is as much a violation of ethical norms — and the Constitution’s emoluments clause — as it would be if the summit were held at a neutral location but the other world leaders were expected to hand Trump envelopes stuffed with cash. Even if Trump were willing to foot the bill for the entire summit out of his own pocket — which, let’s face it, is not his style — it would still be grossly inappropriate and illegal on the grounds of the event’s significant promotional value alone.
Not quite as serious question: What happens if Trump is impeached (which is very likely) and removed from office before June? Do they still hold the summit at Doral? What a delightful problem that would be to have.
Google Pixel 4 Face Unlock Works Even if Your Eyes Are Shut ★
Chris Fox, writing for BBC News:
On Tuesday, BBC News tested the Face Unlock feature on the new
Pixel 4. Using the default settings, the phone still unlocked if
the user pretended to be asleep. The test was repeated on several
people, with the same result.
It’s right there in Google’s own support document for the Pixel 4: “Your phone can also be unlocked by someone else if it’s held up to your face, even if your eyes are closed.”
Speaking before the launch, Pixel product manager Sherry Lin said:
“They are actually only two face [authorisation] solutions that
meet the bar for being super-secure. So, you know, for payments,
that level — it’s ours and Apple’s.”
Sounds like it’s still only Apple’s, which is now in its third-generation of devices. Biometric authentication is an area where Apple has been, and remains, several years ahead of all its competitors.
Samsung Galaxy S10 Fingerprint Sensor Can Be Circumvented With $3 Screen Protector ★
After buying a £2.70 gel screen protector on eBay, Lisa Neilson
registered her right thumbprint and then found her left
thumbprint, which was not registered, could also unlock the phone.
She then asked her husband to try and both his thumbs also
unlocked it. And when the screen protector was added to another
relative’s phone, the same thing happened. […]
Samsung said it was “aware of the case of S10’s malfunctioning
fingerprint recognition and will soon issue a software patch”.
When the iPhone 5S debuted with Touch ID, we were inundated with news stories about “easy” ways to spoof it that were, in fact, not easy at all.
Now we learn that Samsung’s flagship phone’s fingerprint sensor can in fact be spoofed trivially — and… crickets.
What’s the Deal With Instagram and iPad? ★
Joanna Stern, in her review of the Samsung Galaxy Fold:
The Fold’s hardware gets lots of attention, but its Android
software tricks deserve some, too. Open an app on the small
screen, unfold the phone, and the app automatically supersizes.
(In some cases, I got a pop-up that the app needed to restart.)
Samsung has also worked directly with Android app makers,
including Instagram and Spotify, to refine the apps for the
The sized-right-for-the-display version of Instagram caught my eye after watching Stern’s (outstanding) video review of the Fold. So Instagram is willing to update their Android app to adjust to the extraordinarily niche Galaxy Fold, but still hasn’t updated their iOS app to adjust to the extraordinarily popular and much-used iPad?
It makes no sense to me why Instagram doesn’t support the iPad natively. As far back as 2014 it seemed hard to believe that the best way to use Instagram on an iPad — an ideal device for scrolling through photos — was “still” the iPhone app in 2× mode. And yet here we are in 2019, with Instagram already supporting dark mode (nicely, too) but still without proper iPad support. At this point Instagram feels like the only reason iPadOS still lets you run iPhone-only apps. It boggles the mind.
What the hell is the deal with this?
My only plausible theories are (a) simple spite on Facebook’s part, a byproduct of their cold war with Apple; and/or (b) a belief that ads perform better on iPhone, where they can nearly fill the screen, and so withholding a proper iPad app is Facebook’s way of discouraging using Instagram anywhere but on your phone.
The Time Signature of ‘The Terminator’ Score ★
Seth Stevenson, writing for Slate:
Fiedel was at heart an improviser. To create the Terminator theme, he first set up a rhythm loop on one of the primitive, early-’80s devices he was using. (In those days, Fiedel was firing up a Prophet-10 and an Oberheim.) He recorded samples of himself whacking a frying pan to create the clanking sounds. Then he played melodic riffs on a synthesizer over the looped beat. Amid the throes of creation, what he hadn’t quite noticed—or hadn’t bothered to notice—was that his finger had been a split-second off when it pressed the button to establish that rhythm loop. Being an old machine, there was no autocorrection. Which meant the loop was in a profoundly herky-jerky time signature. Fiedel just went with it. The beat seemed to be falling forward, and he liked its propulsiveness. He recorded the score that way and (not being classically trained) never wrote down any notation. The music he’d improvised went straight into the film. With its collaboration between fallible humanity and rigid machinedom, the score was especially well-suited to the material at hand.
A great little story about a great and memorable score.
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.
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.) ★