How Stable Are Democracies? ‘Warning Signs Are Flashing Red’ ★
Amanda Taub, in an eye-opening piece for the NYT:
Across numerous countries, including Australia, Britain, the
Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden and the United States, the
percentage of people who say it is “essential” to live in a
democracy has plummeted, and it is especially low among younger
The graph showing the results for this question is terrifying.
Support for autocratic alternatives is rising, too. Drawing on
data from the European and World Values Surveys, the researchers
found that the share of Americans who say that army rule would be
a “good” or “very good” thing had risen to 1 in 6 in 2014,
compared with 1 in 16 in 1995.
That trend is particularly strong among young people. For
instance, in a previously published paper, the researchers
calculated that 43 percent of older Americans believed it was
illegitimate for the military to take over if the government were
incompetent or failing to do its job, but only 19 percent of
millennials agreed. The same generational divide showed up in
Europe, where 53 percent of older people thought a military
takeover would be illegitimate, while only 36 percent of
Militaries that answer to democratic civilian authority are the bedrock of Western civilization.
Mark Gurman: Amazon Planning Alexa Speaker With 7-Inch Display ★
Mark Gurman, reporting for Bloomberg:
Amazon.com Inc. is developing a premium Echo-like speaker with a
screen, a sign the world’s largest online retailer is trying to
capitalize on the surprise success of its voice-controlled home
gadgets and fend off competition from Google and Apple Inc.
The new device will have a touchscreen measuring about seven
inches, a major departure from Amazon’s existing cylindrical home
devices that are controlled and respond mostly through the
company’s voice-based Alexa digital assistant, according to two
people familiar with the matter. This will make it easier to
access content such as weather forecasts, calendar appointments,
and news, the people said. They asked not to be identified
speaking about a product that has yet to be announced.
The latest Amazon speaker will be larger and tilt upwards so the
screen can be seen when it sits on a counter and the user is
standing, one of the people said.
Interesting — but unsurprising — to see Gurman getting scoops about companies other than Apple.
Andy Baio on the Decline of Independent Blogging ★
Andy Baio, earlier this month:
More people than ever before are able to express themselves on
Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Medium, YouTube, Pinterest,
and countless other social platforms. All of that is great.
But there a few reasons why I’m sad about the decline of
independent blogging, and why I think they’re still worth
Ultimately, it comes down to two things: ownership and
Last week, Twitter announced they’re shutting down Vine.
Twitter, itself, may be acquired and changed in some terrible way.
It’s not hard to imagine a post-Verizon Yahoo selling off Tumblr.
Medium keeps pivoting, trying to find a successful revenue model.
There’s no guarantee any of these platforms will be around in
their current state in a year, let alone ten years from now.
Here, I control my words. Nobody can shut this site down, run
annoying ads on it, or sell it to a phone company. Nobody can tell
me what I can or can’t say, and I have complete control over the
way it’s displayed. Nobody except me can change the URL structure,
breaking 14 years of links to content on the web.
Couldn’t say it better myself.
Jonathan Chait: ‘Trump Wants You to Burn Flags While He Burns Constitution’ ★
Donald Trump, in a seemingly bizarre (even by his standards) tweet this morning:
Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag - if they do,
there must be consequences - perhaps loss of citizenship or year
This is an unusual “issue” for the president-elect to highlight,
given the dire conditions he claims the country faces. The odd
protester has torched the odd flag every so often for decades. The
Supreme Court in 1989 held that burning the flag constitutes
political speech, and thus cannot be banned. Republicans have
occasionally used the issue as a cheap political stunt, since a
majority of the public viscerally opposes flag-burning. To that
standard tactic, Trump added the new Trumpian touch of proposing
to revoke citizenship for violators, which would make his
unconstitutional proposal even more unconstitutional, and also
more attention-getting. And he did not send this one in the middle
of the night, as he often does, but at 6:55 a.m., a moment
probably calculated to seize the morning news cycle.
But why would he choose to pick this strange fight? Here is a case
where the common complaint that he is distracting the public from
unflattering stories rings true. Proposing a flag-burning ban is a
classic right-wing nationalist distraction, and Trump has a number
of ugly stories from which to distract: his plan for massive,
unprecedented corruption, the extreme beliefs of his
appointees, a controversy over a recount that highlights his
clear defeat in the national vote.
Trump using this as a distraction aside, the 1989 Supreme Court decision that held flag-burning to be a legal form of First Amendment protest is an interesting one. It was a 5-4 decision, but the split among justice was not along party lines. The majority decision was written by William Brennan, perhaps the staunchest liberal ever to sit on the court, and joined by Harry Blackmun, Thurgood Marshall, conservative Anthony Kennedy, and arch-conservative Antonin Scalia. Dissents were written by conservative chief justice William Rehnquist and liberal John Paul Stevens. Different times.
(Scalia, notably, is Trump’s proclaimed model for the type of justice he plans to nominate to the court.)
Update: Fox News ran a segment on flag-burning at a Massachusetts college half an hour prior to Trump’s tweet. So it probably wasn’t strategic. He just tweets grotesquely unconstitutional thoughts that pop into his head while watching Fox News.
AP Style Guide on the ‘Alt-Right’ ★
John Daniszewski, vice president for standards at the Associated Press:
“Alt-right” (quotation marks, hyphen and lower case) may be
used in quotes or modified as in the “self-described” or
“so-called alt-right” in stories discussing what the movement
says about itself.
Avoid using the term generically and without definition, however,
because it is not well known and the term may exist primarily as a
public-relations device to make its supporters’ actual beliefs
less clear and more acceptable to a broader audience. In the past
we have called such beliefs racist, neo-Nazi or white supremacist.
Again, whenever “alt-right” is used in a story, be sure to include
a definition: “an offshoot of conservatism mixing racism, white
nationalism and populism,” or, more simply, “a white nationalist
Trump’s Lease for His Brand-New D.C. Hotel Forbids Him From Being ‘An Elected Official’ ★
Steven L. Schooner and Daniel I. Gordon, reporting for Government Executive magazine:
The Post Office Lease differs from many of Mr. Trump’s other
business arrangements. That’s because, in writing the contract,
the federal and D.C. governments determined, in advance, that
elected officials could play no role in this lease arrangement.
The contract language is clear: “No … elected official of the
Government of the United States … shall be admitted to any share
or part of this Lease, or to any benefit that may arise
The language could not be any more specific or clear. Donald Trump
will breach the contract on Jan. 20, when, while continuing to
benefit from the lease, he will become an “elected official of the
Government of the United States.”
One gets the sense Trump hasn’t thought this through.
James Fallows: ‘A Reflexive Liar in Command: Guidelines for the Media’ ★
Most people would hesitate before telling easily disprovable
lies like these, much as shoplifters would hesitate if the store
owner is looking at them. Most people are fazed if caught in an
outright lie. But in these cases and others, Trump never blinked.
As part of his indispensable campaign coverage this summer, David
Fahrenthold (and Robert O’Harrow) of The Washington Post offered
an astonishing documentation of Trump being caught in a long
string of business-related lies and simply not caring.
The news media are not built for someone like this.
Our journalistic and political assumption is that each side to a
debate will “try” to tell the truth — and will count it as a
setback if they’re caught making things up. Until now the idea has
been that if you can show a contrast between words and actions,
claim and reality, it may not bring the politician down, but it
will hurt. For instance: Bill Clinton survived “I did not have
sexual relations with that woman,” but he was damaged then, and
lastingly, when the truth came out. To close the loop, knowledge
of the risks of being caught has encouraged most politicians to
minimize provable lies.
None of this works with Donald Trump. He doesn’t care, and at
least so far the institutional GOP hasn’t either.
How can the press gird for action? Here are three early
indications from the news.
A very good read, including this note from one of Fallows’s readers, on dealing with a narcissist:
The Times got in trouble by trying to make sense of his words.
It’s an easy mistake for people in a word-saturated medium to
make, but anyone who’s dealt with a narcissist knows you never,
ever believe what they say — because they will say whatever the
person they are talking to wants to hear. DT is a master at
phrasing things vaguely enough that multiple listeners will be
able to hear exactly what they want. It isn’t word salad; it’s
overt deception, which is much more pernicious.
But the Times fell for it. I’m watching the same mistake get made
over and over again, but I don’t know how to help journalists get
out of the trap. If we are going to survive the days ahead,
someone needs to teach reporters the difference between naming
narcissism vs. dealing effectively with a narcissist.
Case in point, The New York Times staff seemed buoyed by Trump’s claim during his interview that he would keep “an open mind” about “pulling out of the Paris climate agreement.” It was bullshit. He was simply telling The Times staff what they wanted to hear.
The Ethical Double-Standard ★
E.J. Dionne, writing for The Washington Post, “An Ethical Double Standard for Trump — and the GOP?”:
“If Hillary Clinton wins this election and they don’t shut down
the Clinton Foundation and come clean with all of its past
activities, then there’s no telling the kind of corruption that
you might see out of the Clinton White House,” Sen. Tom Cotton
(R-Ark.) told conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt.
Presumably Cotton will take the lead in advising Donald Trump to
“shut down” his business activities and “come clean” on what came
before. Surely Cotton wants to be consistent. […]
“The deals that she and her husband were pocketing — hundreds of
thousands of foreign money,” Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.)
told the Breitbart website, the right-wing outlet once led by
the soon-to-be White House chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon.
Issa added that Clinton wanted her activities “to be behind closed
doors” and “did that because she doesn’t know where the line is.”
We can assume that Issa will press the president-elect about the
dangers of doing business deals “behind closed doors” and instruct
him about where the ethical “line” should be.
My only objection to this column is the question mark in the headline.
It’s pure hypocrisy. And no, both sides don’t do it. There is no precedent for this.
Justin Pot: ‘The Mac App Store Is Full of Scams’ ★
Justin Pot, writing for How-To Geek, on top result for “Microsoft Excel” in the Mac App Store:
It’s possible for a collection of templates to be worth $30, and
for all I know these are really great. But let’s review:
- This is the top result if you search for “Microsoft Excel.”
- The word “template” is not in the name of the product.
- The word “template” is not in the product’s description.
- The product’s description outlines several functions that are
specific to Microsoft Office, and have nothing to do with what
customers will acquire by purchasing a collection of templates.
- It’s literally impossible to find this product by searching for
It’s easy to see that users could be deceived by this, and it’s
hard to imagine that it’s not intentional on the developer’s part.
Whatever the intention here, people were deceived.
Matt Yglesias on Apple’s Functional, Rather Than Divisional, Corporate Structure ★
Matt Yglesias, “Apple May Have Finally Gotten Too Big for Its Unusual Corporate Structure”:
Even Apple’s more popular laptop products show some signs of the
same kind of neglect. The latest iteration of the MacBook Pro
offers a number of impressive features, but it maxes out at a
relatively low level of RAM, doesn’t offer many ports, and isn’t
equipped with truly top-of-the-line internal chips. The computer
is impressive in many ways — certainly the innovative new
TouchBar looks cool — but, like most of Apple’s other products,
it appears to be optimized for lightness and thinness rather than
for true professional use.
But this all raises a more fundamental question. If GE can build
jet engines, tidal energy farms, freight rail data systems, mining
equipment, and medical devices, how is it that the world’s most
valuable company can’t find the time to make a full line of
personal computers and PC peripherals alongside its market-leading
smartphones and tablets? The answer goes back to Apple’s corporate
structure, which, though fairly common for a startup, is extremely
unusual for an enormous company.
It’s an interesting read, especially for anyone who isn’t aware of just how atypical Apple’s functional, rather than divisional, structure is for a large corporation (let alone for the largest, by market cap).
I think it’s almost certainly true that if there were, say, a “Macintosh” division within Apple, that we’d see more frequent updates to all Mac hardware. That doesn’t mean Apple should change its structure, though — and in the long run, I don’t even think that would be good for the Macintosh. Apple’s functional structure is absolutely central to their success over the past 20 years.
I think what Yglesias shows is that Apple’s functional structure is not a panacea — but not that their structure should become more traditional. Like with almost everything else in the world, there are tradeoffs. The Mac going through a years-long period of sporadic (or non-existent) hardware updates is a downside of these tradeoffs. But if Apple had a standalone Macintosh division, there might never have been an iPhone or especially iPad, because the Mac division chief would have been motivated to protect the Mac. We would have had a MacPhone and MacPad instead, and they’d have been lesser products for it.
Also, this problem is not new at Apple. There are certainly growing pains with regard to Apple’s enormous size today. The iPhone’s extraordinary success creates a sort of gravity that has warped the company. But Apple ran into “can’t walk and chew gum” problems even when they were a much smaller company.
Auto Safety Regulators Seek a Driver Mode to Block Apps ★
Neal E. Boudette, reporting for the NYT:
The guidelines call on electronics manufacturers like Apple and
Samsung to design future operating systems that limit the
functionality and simplify interfaces while a vehicle is in motion
and to develop technology to identify when the devices are being
used by a driver while driving. That would ensure the limits are
placed on drivers and not other vehicle occupants.
The new guidelines from N.H.T.S.A. are the agency’s first
recommendations specifically for portable devices that are used
while driving. The agency cannot force electronics companies to
comply, but in the past it issued a set of guidelines for the
navigation and entertainment systems built into cars by the
manufacturer and carmakers adopted them, for the most part. […]
A driver mode would present a simplified interface and detect when
the device is being used by a driver. In this mode, a smartphone
would block any video or distracting graphics; eliminate scrolling
text; and prohibit keypad use for texting or email. Any social
media content or content from web pages like news reports should
be blocked as well, the guidelines say.
In theory, this is a great idea that I would support wholeheartedly. Studies suggest that drivers distracted by their phones are more dangerous than those who are intoxicated by alcohol. But how could it work? A phone with GPS can detect when it’s moving at a high speed, but how could you detect that the phone belongs to the driver of the vehicle, and not a passenger?
Blocking everyone — drivers and passengers alike — from using their phones in a moving vehicle is not going to fly. The only solution I can think of is to greatly increase the penalties for causing an accident while using your phone. We greatly decreased incidents of drunk driving the same way — serious legal penalties, combined with making the act socially unacceptable.
Trump Picks El Chapo to Run D.E.A. ★
Just days after picking Betsy DeVos to run the Department of
Education, President-elect Donald Trump has tapped another wealthy
outsider by naming Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán to head the Drug
In an official statement, Trump said that El Chapo’s “tremendous
success in the private sector” showed that he has what it takes to
“shake things up” at the D.E.A.
How Serenity Caldwell Drowned Her Fiancé’s iPhone 7 Plus on Vacation ★
Unfortunately, even if you wind up with a defective model — as we
did — Apple doesn’t officially cover water damage in its
warranty. You’ll need AppleCare+ not to pay an outrageous sum to
replace your device. Thanks to the phone being covered, it was
just $99, but you only get two incidents at that price — drown
your iPhone a third time, and you’ll be paying half of your
original purchase price for a replacement.
The Genius we spoke to did note that one-time drownings were rare;
they were sending our phone to Apple’s engineering department to
dissect and check on the seals, and if one of the display seals
was indeed found to be faulty, we might get our money and
AppleCare+ incident back. But that’s a long shot, and not one I’m
necessarily banking on.
My general takeaway from the week’s misadventure is this: You can
probably use your iPhone in the shower, at the beach, or wash
debris off its screen under the faucet with no ill effects. But
when you completely submerge it, you’re putting stress on every
water-resistance gasket in the phone — and if just one of those
gaskets fail, you’re looking at an Apple Store visit and a costly
to very costly repair.
How to Fight iCloud Calendar Spam ★
Most of the calendar spam I’ve seen has originated from China.
Somebody has a big list of email addresses and sends out calendar
invites with spammy links embedded. By default, the Mac looks at
these invites and gives them to you via the calendar app along
with a notification.
Historically, I’ve really liked this feature. My family uses
multiple calendars and we routinely send each other invites. If I
need to drive my daughter to a particular event, she sets the
event in her calendar and sends me an invite. (We also have a
shared family calendar but that includes everyone and in this case
it would just be me and my daughter.)
This is what makes me so pissed about calendar spam. It’s taking
something I use often and corrupting it. My guess is this is only
going to get worse and I really hope Apple intervenes. In the
meantime, there are a few steps you can take.
I started getting these last week. Same as a lot of you, I’ll bet: spam for Ray-Ban sunglasses and Ugg boots. Knock on wood, but I haven’t gotten one in about three days as I write this, so maybe Apple figured out a way to stop this? If you’re still getting them, let me know.
Update: A large number of readers report being hit by this spam yesterday and today, so I must just be lucky that it has (temporarily?) subsided for me. The most interesting thing about this is that it’s a way to send completely unauthenticated spam, and it has been just sitting around unexploited until now. This feature has been around for years, but the spammers seemingly didn’t find it until very recently.
Update 2: Apple is “actively working to address this issue by identifying and blocking suspicious senders and spam in the invites being sent.”
Doxie Q ★
My thanks to Doxie for sponsoring last week’s DF RSS feed to promote their new Doxie Q. It’s a smart new rechargeable document and receipt scanner that flips open to scan stacks of paper automatically — anywhere, with a rechargeable battery, built-in Wi-Fi, and no computer required. Get all the power of a big desktop scanner with the flexibility of being able to scan anywhere. You’ve never seen anything like it.
Best off, Doxie’s lightweight design and elegant Mac and iOS apps make it easy to go paperless. Doxie handles any workflow — save scans to your desktop, share with your favorite apps, or send to cloud services like iCloud Drive, Evernote, or Dropbox.
Check out the new Doxie Q here — and, through November 30, every Daring Fireball reader gets a super secret discount — $60 off every new Doxie Q.
Donald Trump Lost Most of the American Economy in This Election ★
Jim Tankersley, writing for The Washington Post:
In the modern era of presidential politics, no candidate has ever
won the popular vote by more than Hillary Clinton did this year,
yet still managed to lose the electoral college. In that sense,
2016 was a historic split: Donald Trump won the presidency by as
much as 74 electoral votes (depending on how Michigan ends up)
while losing the nationwide vote to Clinton by 1.7 million votes
and counting. [Note: It’s now over 2.2 million votes
But there’s another divide exposed by the election, which
researchers at the Brookings Institution recently discovered as
they sifted the election returns. It has no bearing on the
election outcome, but it tells us something important about the
state of the country and its politics moving forward.
The divide is economic, and it is massive. According to the
Brookings analysis, the less-than-500 counties that Clinton won
nationwide combined to generate 64 percent of America’s economic
activity in 2015. The more-than-2,600 counties that Trump won
combined to generate 36 percent of the country’s economic activity
I will say it flatly: Trump voters are ignoramuses, bigots, and/or fools. But time is not on their side. This is their last gasp.
David Remnick: ‘Obama Reckons With a Trump Presidency’ ★
David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker, had extraordinary access to Barack Obama both before and after this election. Regardless of your feelings on Trump’s election, this is a sharp and insightful take on Obama’s perspective:
Even in the midst of what he can only see as a disastrous turn of
history, Obama retained the uncanny capacity to view his
quandaries as if he were drafting a research paper. “A President
who looked like me was inevitable at some point in American
history,” he said. “It might have been somebody named Gonzales
instead of Obama, but it was coming. And I probably showed up 20
years sooner than the demographics would have anticipated. And, in
that sense, it was a little bit more surprising. The country had
to do more adjusting and processing of it. It undoubtedly created
more anxiety than it will twenty years from now, provoked more
reactions in some portion of the population than it will 20 years
from now. And that’s understandable.”
How did he speak with his two daughters about the election
results, about the post-election reports of racial incidents?
“What I say to them is that people are complicated,” Obama told
me. “Societies and cultures are really complicated.… This is
not mathematics; this is biology and chemistry. These are living
organisms, and it’s messy. And your job as a citizen and as a
decent human being is to constantly affirm and lift up and fight
for treating people with kindness and respect and understanding.
And you should anticipate that at any given moment there’s going
to be flare-ups of bigotry that you may have to confront, or may
be inside you and you have to vanquish. And it doesn’t stop… .
You don’t get into a fetal position about it. You don’t start
worrying about apocalypse. You say, O.K., where are the places
where I can push to keep it moving forward.”
If you read only one thing this Sunday night, this should be it.
Democrats Won the Most Votes in the Election. They Should Act Like It. ★
More Americans voted for Hillary Clinton than for Donald Trump.
More Americans voted for Democratic Senate candidates than for
Republican Senate candidates.
So why aren’t Democrats acting like it? Why aren’t they trying to
force Republicans, the media, and the emergent Trump White House
to act like it?
This is not an argument that the election was rigged, or that
Trump’s win is somehow illegitimate. The president is chosen by
the Electoral College. The Senate is built to favor small states.
Gerrymandering is legal. America does not decide national
elections by simply tallying up votes.
But the will of the voters still matters, or at least it should.
Thus far, Democrats have slipped comfortably into the position of
minority party. They aren’t demanding that Trump put forward
compromise candidates for key posts. They aren’t laying out a
proactive agenda that would serve as their basis for negotiations
with Trump and the Republicans. And they aren’t, in their public
messaging, emphasizing that most voters opposed Trump’s agenda,
and that both Democrats and Republicans need to take that
We lost the election, but we’re the plurality. That’s the truth. It doesn’t change the results, but it’s so uncomfortable for Trump that he’s just making shit up that he somehow actually won the popular vote.
Adam Geitgey: ‘The New MacBook Pro Is Kind of Great for Hackers’ ★
But in some ways, the new MacBook Pro is the most techy and expandable laptop Apple has ever made. They are trusting their pro users to wade into murky USB-C waters in search of the holy grail of a universal, open standard for moving data and power between devices.
I’m not here to change your mind about the MacBook Pro. Yes, it’s probably too expensive and more RAM is better than less RAM. But everyone posting complaints without actually using a MBP for a few weeks is missing out on all the clever things you can do because it is built on USB-C. Over the past week or two with a new MacBook Pro (15in, 2.9ghz, TouchBar), I’ve been constantly surprised with how USB-C makes new things possible. It’s a kind of a hacker’s dream.
One of his observations: it makes life easier for high-end Android users, because it uses the same port.
Victory: A Charting Library for React.js and React Native ★
My thanks to Formidable for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote Victory, their data visualization library for React.js and React Native.
Simple question: are you building custom charts? Victory is used by companies like Airbnb, FiveThirtyEight, and speedtest.net. Victory makes it easy to get started without sacrificing flexibility. Use the same API to create charts for web and mobile devices. And the results are gorgeous. Seriously, even if you’re not a web developer, you should go check out their website and see how beautiful these charts are. And not in a show-y off-y bullshit way like using “3D” for two-dimensional data. No — Victory lets you easily create charts that are gorgeous in the sense of traditional graphic design and serious data visualization practices. The documentation is alive — you can play with the charts just by clicking and dragging.
Victory is created and supported by the open source team at Formidable, free use under the MIT license. There is no catch here. It’s an open source library that you can just use.
The Talk Show: ‘Fork the Universe’ ★
Jason Snell returns to the show to talk about the new MacBook Pros and the Touch Bar, and Apple’s new book chronicling the last 20 years of their industrial design, Designed by Apple in California.
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‘Quite Literally’ ★
Michael Jurewitz on why kakistocracy is even more apt a description of Trump’s incoming administration than I thought.
The Right Way to Oppose Trump ★
Luigi Zingales, writing for the NYT:
Mr. Berlusconi was able to govern Italy for as long as he did
mostly thanks to the incompetence of his opposition. It was so
rabidly obsessed with his personality that any substantive
political debate disappeared; it focused only on personal attacks,
the effect of which was to increase Mr. Berlusconi’s popularity.
His secret was an ability to set off a Pavlovian reaction among
his leftist opponents, which engendered instantaneous sympathy in
most moderate voters. Mr. Trump is no different.
Perfectly applies this very morning. Twitter is full of people talking about Mike Pence getting booed by the audience at Hamilton last night. Now Trump himself is tweeting about it, focusing news media on the incident. Booing is not meaningful opposition. But it has served to distract from a legitimate scandal: Trump settling a fraud lawsuit for $25 million yesterday. The smart opposition is focused on that today.
And the real news — what is happening this week that will have serious repercussions — is that the Trump administration is being filled with cronies, fools, and white nationalist bigots. Trump just nominated an avowed racist to head the Department of Justice and we’re talking about Mike Pence getting booed at a play? If you’re truly opposed to Trump, get serious and stay focused.
Putting the Price of ‘Designed by Apple in California’ in Context ★
Brian Fagioli, writing for BetaNews:
While you may disagree with me that the price is appropriate, let
us remember that this is not some book you will bring into your
bathroom to read on the toilet. It is intended to be a collectible
piece of art. You don’t evaluate the value of a Picasso painting
by adding up the cost of the ink and canvas. This is a collection
of Andrew Zuckerman photographs meant to be appreciated beyond raw
Heck, some design and art students may want to buy it for college.
If you haven’t bought a college textbook in a while, please know
that $200 or $300 is not out of line.
A better comparison would be to high-end coffee table books, particularly those from Taschen. I bought their James Bond Archives book for $200, and The Stanley Kubrick Archives was about the same price, but the collector’s edition version of The Making of Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” was $1,250, and Stanley Kubrick’s Napoleon was even more than that.
Taschen came out with lower-priced editions of those books eventually, but $200/300 is not out of line for a premium book like this. I just think Apple would have been better served allowing someone like Taschen to do it for them, in terms of optics.
My guess is that Apple doesn’t care about the optics — Jony Ive wanted to do this, so of course they were going to do it their way, creating new papers and inks and photographic processes.
And here’s a devil’s advocate take: imagine if Apple had created this exact same book, but only made it available to Apple employees. If that were the case, I suspect there’d have been a clamor today from people begging them to sell it to everyone.
No, Apple Probably Should Not Have Bought Harman ★
Larry Dignan, in a piece titled “Why Samsung’s Harman Purchase Will Be Seen as Apple Blunder Decades From Now”:
Samsung’s purchase of Harman is strategically sound, worth the $8
billion, and positions Samsung well in the connected car market.
Meanwhile, Samsung diversifies from a saturated smartphone market.
The deal makes so much sense you have to wonder why Apple didn’t
There has been an argument floated for months if not years that
Apple should use some of its cash to acquire Harman. The crux of
the case, outlined by Jim Cramer repeatedly, is that Apple could
diversify and become the hub of the connected car.
I disagree. Arguing that Apple should have bought Harman is arguing that Apple should evolve into a conglomerate. It might make perfect sense for Samsung, because Samsung is a conglomerate — a company that makes everything from washing machines to refrigerators. They used to make construction vehicles. Samsung makes phones because there is money to be made making phones. Apple makes the iPhone because they love making personal computers.
Jacob Kastrenakes Reviews the MacBook Pro With Touch Bar ★
Jacob Kastrenakes, writing for The Verge:
I know a lot of people are concerned about how shallow the new
keyboard’s keys are — I was, too; I’m pretty picky about
keyboards — but this keyboard isn’t a problem at all. I don’t
even mean that in an “it’s an acceptable compromise for the size”
kind of way; this is simply a great keyboard with nice, clicky
keys. I didn’t need to adjust to it at all, and in the moments
I’ve gone back to type on my old Pro, I’ve found myself missing
the new one. (The keyboard is also much improved from the similar
one introduced on the 12-inch MacBook last year.)
After reading a slew of these reviews, Kastrenakes seems to be a bit of an outlier in terms of just how much he likes the keyboard. But the consensus seems to be “I don’t like it as much as the old MacBook Pro keyboard, but it’s not bad”.
I’m hearing from friends and DF readers who’ve already gotten theirs that they do think the keyboard is too loud. And one friend who thinks the clicking sounds “cheap”. Obviously a lot of subjectivity involved.
Andrew Cunningham on the New MacBook Pros With Touch Bar ★
Andrew Cunningham, writing for Ars Technica:
When you hook one of LG’s 5K monitors to one of the new MacBook
Pros, what you’re actually seeing on the screen is two pictures
stitched together to make a single seamless image. This is because
the version of the DisplayPort spec supported by Intel’s GPUs and
almost all monitors these days — version 1.2 — doesn’t have
enough bandwidth to drive a 5K display at 60Hz all by itself. This
will change with DisplayPort 1.3, which is right on the cusp of
going mainstream, but it’s not here yet. Apple is actually pushing
two DisplayPort 1.2 streams to the monitor over the single
Thunderbolt 3 cable.
These kinds of workarounds were common in the early days of 4K
displays before the DisplayPort 1.2 spec went mainstream, although
you’d typically actually need two physical DisplayPort cables to
make it happen. Apple actually uses a variation of the same idea
for the 5K iMac’s internal display.
There’s nothing wrong with this method, except that it cuts down
on the number of external displays your computer can support.
Intel’s integrated GPUs can drive a total of three displays, but
you use up two of those three streams to drive one 5K monitor and
one of them to drive the laptop’s internal display. AMD’s GPUs
support up to six displays, so you can use two of those
connections for one 5K monitor, two of them for the other 5K
monitor, one for the laptop’s internal display, and still have one
left over for yet another monitor if you really wanted to use one.
This is why the 13-inch Pros can only use one 5K Thunderbolt
display and the 15-inch Pros can use two of them, and it explains
why Apple chose to go with AMD’s GPUs across the entire 15-inch
lineup. It’s difficult enough to explain the differences between
the $1,499 “MacBook Escape” and the model with the Touch Bar;
imagine how much more complicated that becomes if you’re selling
some 15-inch models that can drive two 5K monitors and some that
can only drive one.
If you’re looking for a review with a thorough set of benchmarks — CPU, GPU, SSD, and more — this one is it. There’s quite a bit about the new MacBook Pro with function keys that’s different from its Touch Bar equipped siblings — the “MacBook Escape” feels apt.
Gizmodo: ‘Facebook’s Fight Against Fake News Was Undercut by Fear of Conservative Backlash’ ★
Michael Nunez, reporting for Gizmodo:
According to two sources with direct knowledge of the company’s
decision-making, Facebook executives conducted a wide-ranging
review of products and policies earlier this year, with the goal
of eliminating any appearance of political bias. One source said
high-ranking officials were briefed on a planned News Feed update
that would have identified fake or hoax news stories, but
disproportionately impacted right-wing news sites by downgrading
or removing that content from people’s feeds. According to the
source, the update was shelved and never released to the public.
It’s unclear if the update had other deficiencies that caused it
to be scrubbed.
“They absolutely have the tools to shut down fake news,” said the
source, who asked to remain anonymous citing fear of retribution
from the company. The source added, “there was a lot of fear about
upsetting conservatives after Trending Topics,” and that “a lot of
product decisions got caught up in that.”
Paul Krugman, two years ago:
“The facts have a well-known liberal bias,” declared Rob Corddry
way back in 2004 — and experience keeps vindicating his joke.
Not long ago Ezra Klein cited research showing that both liberals
and conservatives are subject to strong tribal bias — presented
with evidence, they see what they want to see. I then wrote that
this poses a puzzle, because in practice liberals don’t engage in
the kind of mass rejections of evidence that conservatives do. The
inevitable response was a torrent of angry responses and claims
that liberals do too reject facts — but none of the claims
Just to be clear: Yes, you can find examples where some liberals
got off on a hobbyhorse of one kind or another, or where the
liberal conventional wisdom turned out wrong. But you don’t see
the kind of lockstep rejection of evidence that we see over and
over again on the right. Where is the liberal equivalent of the
near-uniform conservative rejection of climate science, or the
refusal to admit that Obamacare is in fact reaching a lot of
previously uninsured Americans?
Facebook can stay above the political fray, or they can filter out false news. They can’t do both.
Jason Snell on the New MacBook Pros ★
Jason Snell, writing at Six Colors:
But what really surprised me were the animations. The Touch Bar is
an animated interface through and through. Items don’t just fade
in and out, but also slide smoothly back and forth. The arrow
pointing from the Touch Bar to the Touch ID sensor during a
request for an unlock grows and shrinks, practically begging you
to put your finger down. There’s a lot more personality here than
Another aspect of the Touch Bar that I hadn’t really thought about
is that every label can now provide context in a way that a fixed
key can’t. Yes, there’s a volume button on the Touch bar, but the
number of sound waves radiating out from the speaker on the
volume’s icon indicates the current volume level. When you tap the
Mute button, the sound waves disappear from the volume button. The
Play/Pause media control button isn’t a Play/Pause button — it’s
a pause button when audio is playing, and a play button when it’s
paused. When you’re editing text and you tap the Bold style
button, the button remains lit up as long as you’re still within
the bold style.
“More personality than I expected” is my take too.
Good observation here:
While I appreciate the idea of the Now Playing Control Strip item,
I don’t particularly like the way it’s implemented. When I expand
it while playing audio from iTunes, there’s an iTunes icon, a very
large scrubber, and playback controls. I can appreciate the iTunes
scrubber as a fun demonstration of alternate interfaces on the
Touch Bar, but for the life of me I can’t imagine how often I’d
want to scrub through the contents of a song. I’d rather have
volume control, the name of the song and artist, and a
I think it’s a sign of just how new the Touch Bar is, conceptually. Developers, even those within Apple, are only beginning to understand how best to use it. There will come to be a “Mac-like way” to use the Touch Bar, but we’re not there yet. Snell has a nice video review, too, which shows the Touch Bar in action very well.
Joanna Stern on the New MacBook Pros ★
The new models even defy our expectations on power and pricing.
Not only are they missing the newest Intel chipset, they don’t
even fit in the standard Apple-nomics model where hot new products
slot in at last year’s pricing. The old MacBook Pro models remain
on shelves for $1,300 and up, right next to the three new pricier
What we’re left with are two great sets of laptops with different
sets of compromises.
Confused? It’s OK to be. After hours of testing, my advice is see
where the new MacBook Pro is better, the same and, yes, worse than
the old MacBook Pro, then decide what matters to you.
Very good take, as usual.
The biggest hardware advancement isn’t the Touch Bar, it’s the
fingerprint sensor. Tapping the shiny black square is much
speedier than punching in passwords. Why this isn’t available on
all of Apple’s MacBook laptops — especially the entry-level,
13-inch, no Touch Bar Pro — is baffling.
Not baffling at all: with Apple you have to pay for the awesome new stuff. I think Touch ID (combined with the secure enclave) is at least half the value of the entire Touch Bar.
Google PhotoScan: Turn Printed Photos Into Digital Images Using Your Phone Camera ★
This is a clever idea from Google.
Jason Snell’s take:
The results I got were… only okay. Some photos were distorted, and
none of them looked particularly great. In other words, you get
what you pay for — this is free and easy and better than never
getting old photos in digital form, but it’s also not going to
give you the quality of scanning items yourself or sending prints,
slides, and film to a photo-scanning service.
Wherefore Art Thou Macintosh? ★
Lovely bit of analysis from Horace Dediu on how he thinks Apple sees the Mac:
Which brings me to the question of what it is allowed to be and
hence what it is. It cannot take on the role of being the future.
That belongs to the touch screen devices. It will not morph into a
touch device any more than a teen’s parent will become cool by
putting on skinny jeans. What it will do is become better at what
it is hired to do.
The key to the Mac therefore becomes that which the iPad/iPhone
isn’t: an indirect input device. The keyboard and mouse/trackpad
are what define the Mac. The operating system, the apps, the UX,
are all oriented around the indirect input method. The iPhone’s
capacitive touch brought about the direct input method, a third
pivot in input methods (first was mouse, second trackpad/scroll
wheel). Each pivot launched a new set of platforms and the Mac is
the legacy of the second.
It’s not obsolete but it is a decreasing share of engagement.
Alternate ways of doing the jobs it does well with direct input
are emerging on the third pivot but they are not yet good enough.
The children are still adolescent and making lots of stupid
mistakes. There’s still life in the parents.
“It will not morph into a touch device any more than a teen’s parent will become cool by putting on skinny jeans” is the best analogy I’ve heard in a long time. That’s exactly what touchscreen support on Windows feels like.
Apple’s App Store Purge Is Now Underway ★
Sarah Perez, reporting for TechCrunch:
Earlier this year, Apple promised it would clean up its iOS App
Store by removing outdated, abandoned apps, including those that
no longer meet current guidelines or don’t function as intended.
That great App Store purge now appears to be underway, according
to new data from app intelligence firm Sensor Tower. The company
found that app removals increased by 238 percent in October 2016,
with mobile games seeing the most deletions.
Apple had originally stated that the deadline for developers who
wanted their outdated apps spared was September 7, 2016. However,
Apple didn’t take immediate action during the month in terms of
That seems to have changed in October, when 47,300 apps were
removed from the App Store, Sensor Tower discovered.
What the Hell Just Happened? ★
I’ve been reading and listening to a lot of analysis about what
happened on election day. Some of it is valid, much of it is
absurd. I’m gonna try to make some sense of it here. And yes, that
makes me a modern day contrarian.
This has been a rough week for me, and, I know, for many of you. I have many thoughts about Donald Trump’s election last week. I’ve waited until now to share them, for several reasons. One, I’ve struggled mightily to put my thoughts together. This piece by Dave Pell does a hell of a good job of that.
Second, because I know that many of you are struggling with this, Daring Fireball can serve as a place where you turn to think about something else. It felt good to write yesterday’s analysis of the new MacBook Pros. But I can’t ignore it forever, and you shouldn’t either.
Wallpaper Interview With Jony Ive on ‘Designed by Apple in California’ ★
The biggest challenge for us was the fact that our focus and
preoccupation is always on the future. So that tends to exclude
much time to look back at the work we have previously done.
Sometimes if we are struggling with a particular issue then that
gives us reason to go back and look at the way we have solved
problems in the past. But because we’ve been so consumed by our
current and future work we came to realise we didn’t have a
catalogue of the physical products. So about eight years ago we
felt an obligation to address this and build an objective archive.
Many of the products that you see, we actually had to go out and
purchase [laughs]. It’s a rather shameful admission, but it’s just
not an area that we really invested much time or energy in, so we
started to build an archive of the physical products. […]
Interestingly, the only way we realised we would finish the
project was to treat it like one of the projects in the studio.
There were a few things we needed to do to accurately and
objectively portray these products. Of course, many of these
products are white, so the off-the-shelf printing processes
really didn’t do an adequate job in describing the colour and
surface of those products. So, unsurprisingly we ended up
developing custom forms of paper [from British papermaker James
Cropper] and custom inks.
It really does look like a marvelous book. Wallpaper has a short video with a behind-the-scenes look at Apple’s design team at work, and it also shows some pages from the book. I absolutely love that they include this well-worn original iPhone.
Apple Releases $200/300 Coffee Table Book Chronicling 20 Years of Apple Design ★
Apple today announced the release of a new hardbound book
chronicling 20 years of Apple’s design, expressed through 450
photographs of past and current Apple products. Designed by Apple
in California, which covers products from 1998’s iMac to 2015’s
Apple Pencil, also documents the materials and techniques used by
Apple’s design team over two decades of innovation.
The book is dedicated to the memory of Steve Jobs.
Two sizes, “small” and “large”, $200 and $300 respectively.
Initial thoughts, without having seen the book:
Apple’s products deserve this sort of treatment, but part of me says someone else should have published it, not Apple. TechCrunch’s snarky headline for this book announcement is “Apple Is Releasing a Coffee Table Book About How Awesome It Is”, and I’d file that one under “It’s only funny because it’s true”. It feels like this is for Apple, not for us. And it is backward-looking, not forward-looking. It makes Apple seem insular.
There have been previous third-party attempts at this, notably Jonathan Zufi’s excellent 2013 book, Iconic. Iconic covers not only the modern era of Apple design (the 20 years covered by Apple’s book), but the entire history of Apple’s products.
Update: Also, Apple Design, a 2011 book by Friedrich von Borrie; Keep It Simple: The Early Design Years of Apple, a 2014 book by Frog Design founder Hartmut Esslinger; and AppleDesign: The Work of the Apple Industrial Design Group, an out-of-print book from 1997 by Paul Kunkel and photographer Rick English. Update 2: One more: Apple T-Shirts, a 1998 compendium of just what you think.
Only Microsoft Could Make Teams ★
Pramit Nairi, comparing Microsoft Teams to Slack:
The thing with Slack is that using it doesn’t feel like work. The
UI and the experience is designed to be as effortless as possible
with everything feeling natural and human. From subtle things to
the more overt, the service feels likable and encourages
interaction and participation. Sure, it has its shortcomings —
what software doesn’t? — but at the heart of it, it is truly
reimagining how things get done. It keeps the computer-y aspect
behind the curtain and, consciously I’m sure, delivers an
experience that feels almost magical.
Long ago I wrote about how bad user experiences feel like fighting your way uphill and good ones feel like you’re coasting downhill. An uphill UI feels like you’re fighting against the app; a downhill UI makes it feel like the app is helping you along. I spent an hour or so kicking the tires with Microsoft Teams, both on the Mac and iOS, and it’s definitely a fighting your way uphill feeling.
I have many complaints about Slack, but 95 percent of them are about the lack of a native client and truly native UI for Mac. If I brush those concerns aside — and I acknowledge that most people don’t feel nearly as opinionated as I do about native Mac apps — and just accept that Slack is a web app running in a web view, I would describe it as delightful. Slack is a “going downhill” experience.
Slack looks and feels like an app that was made by people with taste — albeit very different taste than mine. My taste is for native UIs. Slack’s taste is for web UIs. Microsoft Teams looks and feels like it was made by people with no taste.
Nairi, on Teams:
It’s certainly not user-centric and definitely not user-friendly.
It has no heart and will not elicit love back in return. It truly
is the PC and Windows in response to the Mac and MacOS. It is 100%
Microsoft and is something only they can create. While there are
many things Microsoft has done right and arguably functionally
superior, creating software that makes people feel good when used
is certainly not one of them.
This is my impression as well.
Reaction to the ‘New’ 13-Inch MacBook Pro ★
MacRumors forum member, in the first comment after the announcement of new MacBook Pros:
Well, I’m sure I’ll be attacked for this, but I’m gonna say
Tiny harddrive, barely enough RAM (and not upgradable to the
“enough” level), no dedicated graphics, only dual-core processors.
It certainly isn’t bad, but Apple just took the “pro” out of the
13-inch line. And come on - it’s freaking expensive. […]
The 13” is NOT a pro device in my opinion. It’s more like a
beefed-up and slightly heavier MacBook Air. For that, it just
costs way too much.
This isn’t a new comment. This was posted 4 years ago, in response to the last major MacBook Pro redesign. Déjà vu. (Via.)
Explaining Thunderbolt 3, USB-C, and Everything in Between ★
Glenn Fleishman, writing at TidBITS:
I anticipate that, now that Thunderbolt 3 is out and available in
a mainstream Mac, other manufacturers will ship more new high-end
computers with Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C. USB 3.1 Gen 2 tops out at
10 Gbps, which will be fine for lower-end systems, which don’t
require 40 Gbps performance and aren’t intended to support more
than two displays. Mobile devices outside of the Apple ecosystem
will stick with and continue to adopt USB-C without Thunderbolt 3
for simplicity, power consumption, and controller cost.
With nothing else like either USB 3.1 Gen 2 or Thunderbolt 3 on
the horizon and the broad industry support of the USB-C connector,
USB is finally living up to the Universal part of its name — even
with Thunderbolt thrown in on top.
Great explanation of a surprisingly complicated situation.
HP Spectre Laptop: All Ports Are USB-C ★
I asked the other day whether any other computer maker offers a notebook that doesn’t have at least one USB-A port. HP does — their ultra-thin Spectre is USB-C-only. Spec-wise, it’s clearly more of a MacBook competitor than a MacBook Pro competitor, but still, points to HP for being forward-thinking.
Testing the Limits of 16 GB of RAM on a MacBook Pro ★
Jonathan Zdziarski, pushing back on the notion that “pro” users need more than 16 GB of RAM:
I fired up a bunch of apps and projects (more than I’d ever work
on at one time) in every app I could possibly think of on my
MacBook Pro. These included apps you’d find professional
photographers, designers, software engineers, penetration testers,
reverse engineers, and other types running — and I ran them all
at once, and switched between them, making
“professionally-type-stuff” happen as I go.
Here’s a list of everything I ran at once:
- VMware Fusion: Two running virtual machines (Windows 10, macOS
- Adobe Photoshop CC: Four 1+gb 36 MP professional, multi-layer
- Adobe InDesign CC: A 22 page photography-intensive project
- Xcode: Four production Objective-C projects, all cleaned and
- Microsoft PowerPoint: A slide deck presentation
- Microsoft Word: A 20* page document with graphics
- MachOView: Analyzing a daemon binary
- Mozilla FireFox: Viewing a website
- Safari: viewing a different website
- Preview: Three PDF books
- Hopper Disassembler: Performing an analysis on a binary
- WireShark: Performing a live network capture as I do all of this
- IDA Pro 64-bit: Analyzing a 64-bit intel binary
- Apple Mail: Viewing four mailboxes
- Tweetbot: Reading all the flames and trolls in my mentions
- iBooks: Currently viewing an ebook I paid for
- Skype: Logged in and idling
- Terminal: A few sessions idling
- Little Flocker
- Little Snitch
- Activity Monitor
- Path Finder
- Probably a lot I’ve missed
The result? I ran out of things to do before I ever ran out of
RAM. I only ever made it to 14.5GB before the system decided to
start paging out, so I didn’t even have the change to burn up all
that delicious RAM.
I think it’s a legitimate complaint that you can’t get a new MacBook Pro with 32 GB of RAM, but agree with Zdziarski that the practical effects of having “only” 16 GB are overblown for most typical use cases, even with “pro” software.
The Macintosh Startup Chime ★
Michael Agge, writing for The New Yorker, on the removal of the iconic startup chime from the new MacBooks:
For me, the startup chime has always been a pleasing sound,
suggesting a child suddenly striking the keys of a power chord or
even the excited microprocessors themselves, getting organized,
springing to life. The chime represents beginnings, fresh starts,
new plans: the start of a pop song, the first turn onto the
highway, the title page of an unread book. I often re-start my
work iMac during the day to hear the chime — it’s a reset, the
virtual equivalent of taking a shower.
The chime is dead; long live the startup chime.
My thanks to Dave Pell for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote NextDraft. NextDraft is a quick, entertaining look at the day’s best stories, from the top of the news, to the very bottom. Written by Dave Pell, a news junkie’s news junkie, NextDraft is smart and funny.
It’s a once-per-weekday newsletter, delivered either by email or a very nice iOS app. The once-a-day pace keeps you up to date on the news, but keeps you from feeling pestered by frequent emails or notifications. NextDraft is not about breaking news — it’s just a carefully curated and cleverly written daily update. You like email? Sign up for the newsletter. Hate email? Get the app.
Here’s the kicker: NextDraft is free of charge. There is no catch. I’ve been a subscriber ever since it launched, and NextDraft is one of those rare things that makes me want to look at my email inbox.
Apple’s Lenovo ★
Craig Hockenberry wants Apple to do with the Mac Pro what IBM did with the ThinkPad:
Licensing just the operating system was a disaster for Apple.
Professional customers don’t have the time to build and maintain
their own Hackintoshes. Any partnership to build Mac hardware
would need to be structured so that it benefits Apple, the
partner, and customer alike.
Just like IBM and their clients have benefitted from Lenovo.
I don’t foresee Apple actually doing this, but then again, I never would have foreseen Apple going over 1,000 days without touching the Mac Pro, either.
A World Without the Mac Pro ★
The 5K iMac is a truly great computer. It’s the best
general-purpose desktop Apple has ever made. It almost replaces
the need for the Mac Pro. Many of us can get by with the 5K iMac.
But there are some things that only a Mac Pro can deliver.
I’ve been thinking for a long time that of course Apple is “soon” going to reboot the Mac Pro. Now I’m starting to worry they’re not. They don’t have to, but they really should. Make it fast, make it quiet, and make it easy to keep updating with CPU and GPU speed bumps every year or so.
Analyst Pegs iPhone Share of Phone Industry Profit at 104 Percent ★
Patric Seitz, Investor’s Business Daily:
Apple’s smartphone market share by unit shipments is declining,
but it continues to dominate where it counts: profits.
BMO Capital Markets analyst Tim Long estimates that Apple
accounted for 103.6% of smartphone industry operating profits in
the third quarter. Its share is over 100% because other vendors
lost money in the business, resulting in Apple having more
smartphone profit than the industry netted overall. In the
year-earlier period, Apple grabbed 90% of smartphone profits, Long
said in a research report Thursday.
Apple was No. 1 by a mile in smartphone operating profit in Q3.
Among major vendors, Samsung was No. 2 in smartphone profits with
a tiny 0.9% share, he said. Money-losers in the smartphone
business last quarter included LG and HTC, Long said.
A very different story than the one painted by the aforelinked “Android has 88 percent market share so Apple is in trouble” story.
Still Banging the Market Share Drum ★
Douglas A. McIntyre:
The global market share of Alphabet Inc.’s Android rose to 88%
last quarter, further cornering Apple Inc.’s iOS. Sales of the
iPhone 7 are Apple’s only way out of the dilemma, and its numbers
are not growing briskly enough to solve the problem. Android has
the built-in advantage of its presence on smartphones made by an
army of manufacturers, led by Samsung.
The problem with this story is that it’s based on the premise that market share is all that matters. I can’t believe it’s 2016 and people are still making this argument with a straight face.
Apple Drops Prices of 4K and 5K LG Displays by 25 Percent ★
Juli Clover, reporting for MacRumors:
The LG UltraFine 5K Display is now priced at $974, a $325
price cut from its original price of $1,299.95.
The LG UltraFine 4K Display is now priced at $524, a $175
price cut from its original price of $699.95. […]
The price drops on the two displays are labeled as “Special
Pricing” and will last until the end of the year. Apple also plans
to discount its USB-C adapters until the end of 2016.
The 5K model now costs less than Apple’s old $999 Thunderbolt Display.
Developers Read 1-Star App Store Reviews ★
Fun video from this year’s Úll conference.
From the DF Archive: On the Switch From 30-Pin to Lightning ★
Yours truly, back in September 2012:
Last but not least, and speaking of $29 add-ons, we have the new
Lightning port. My first thought: it’s about fucking time. The old
30-pin adapter was ugly and cumbersome, and always struck me as
one of the most un-Apple-like designs in the company’s history.
Its design served several practical purposes — but those purposes
only made sense a decade ago. Compatibility with both FireWire
(for Macs) and USB (for PCs). The fact that it was designed
primarily as a dock connector for heavy hard-drive-based iPods,
not a cable connector. It used to lock into place. Remember that?
Back then we (and Apple) expected users to charge and sync their
iPods by placing them on docks, but it wound up we largely
preferred just using cables. The old 30-pin adapter’s usefulness
peaked years ago.
What does Apple do when it deems a technology past its expiration
date? They abandon it. What do tech writers do when Apple abandons
these outdated but ubiquitous technologies? They pitch fits.
Happened with the floppy drive. Happened when the original iMac
went USB-only. Happened with optical drives. Happens every few
years with display adapters.
Apple Is Cutting Prices on USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 Accessories Until the End of the Year ★
Apple, in a statement to iMore and a few other sites (including Daring Fireball):
“We are extremely excited about the new MacBook Pro, which is the
best pro notebook we’ve ever made. It has the fastest CPU,
graphics, memory, storage and I/O, best display, the innovative
Touch Bar and more. MacBook Pro uses the most advanced
industry-standard connector, USB-C with Thunderbolt 3, to provide
maximum performance, expandability and compatibility.
“We recognize that many users, especially pros, rely on legacy
connectors to get work done today and they face a transition. We
want to help them move to the latest technology and peripherals,
as well as accelerate the growth of this new ecosystem. Through
the end of the year, we are reducing prices on all USB-C and
Thunderbolt 3 peripherals we sell, as well as the prices on
Apple’s USB-C adapters and cables.”
This price drop on dongles and gear seems to be the
money-where-the-mouth-is to that sentiment. Here’s the new pricing
for Apple’s adapters:
Not included are Apple’s USB-C power adaptors or the USB-C Charge
Cable (2m), but a variety of third-party accessories are also
discounted at Apple Online and at Apple Stores.
Based on the interview and, now, the discount, it feels like Apple
was genuinely shocked by the reaction to the new MacBook Pro.
I think Apple wants to counter the notion that moving to all USB-C is a money grab — that they did it to make money selling adapters. $9 for the USB-C to USB-A adapter is the same price as the Lightning to headphone jack adapter.
The RCS Mirage ★
David Ruddock, writing for Android Police:
There has been much noise made about Google’s launch of its RCS
messaging platform via the Messenger app on Sprint today. Sprint
announced it would support Google’s RCS platform, formerly known
as Jibe, back in February, though, and remains the only US
provider to do so.
But T-Mobile and AT&T have launched RCS messaging, right? Yes. But
their versions don’t work with Google’s (Sprint’s) RCS. And AT&T’s
RCS messaging doesn’t work with T-Mobile’s, and vice versa. And
there’s no indication that this will change any time soon. While
both T-Mobile and AT&T have signed on to the GSMA’s
soon-to-be-published intercompatible RCS messaging standard,
carriers seem much more interested in making “advanced messaging”
a carrier feature rather than the universal SMS replacement it was
developed to be. “Come to AT&T, our Advanced Messaging(TM) offers
features others don’t!” (read: “Don’t leave AT&T or you’ll lose
the unique features we’ve built into our messaging client that
don’t work on other carriers”). Verizon, for its part, hasn’t even
committed to using RCS at all (update: it is apparently a
signatory on the GSMA Network2020 Universal RCS Profile, but AT&T
weirdly isn’t) — the carrier has its own proprietary messaging
platform not based on RCS, and that doesn’t work with any other
Meanwhile Apple, the U.S.’s dominant phone maker by far, has zero motivation to ever support RCS.
Samsung Recalling Almost 2.8 Million Washing Machines ★
Lucy Bayly, reporting for NBC News:
Samsung has one more fire to put out: The South Korean company
announced on Friday that it was recalling 2.8 million top-load
washing machines, following reports of “impact injuries” that
included a broken jaw.
The problem stems from unbalanced drums, which can separate from
the washer and generate enough internal force to cause other parts
of the washer to detach — and, in some cases, be launched out of
Samsung is also the subject of an August lawsuit from owners who
said their machines “explode during normal use.”
Design to Bring About the Future ★
Marco Arment, “Design for the Present”:
A pro laptop released today should definitely have USB-C ports —
mostly USB-C ports, even — but it should also have at least one
Including a port that’s still in extremely widespread use isn’t
an admission of failure or holding onto the past — it’s making a
pragmatic tradeoff for customers’ real-world needs. I worry when
Apple falls on the wrong side of decisions like that, because it’s
putting form (and profitability) over function.
This is perfectly sensible, and this is how every other computer maker thinks about transitions to new ports. Does anyone else make a notebook today that doesn’t have at least one USB-A port? Will anyone else make one next year that doesn’t?
But this is not how Apple thinks about transitions like this. They design for the future, and in doing so, they bring the future here faster. In the alternate universe where the new MacBook Pros ship with one USB-A port, the transition to ubiquitous USB-C peripherals and cables will happen at least a little slower.
Just the other day I wanted to move a really big file to my MacBook Pro review unit. I figured I’d use a USB memory stick. I was halfway up the stairs to my office before I realized that it wouldn’t work, because all my USB memory sticks are USB-A, and I don’t yet have any USB-A to C adapters. What a pain in the ass. But soon enough, all my shit will be USB-C. I’ve already bought a USB-C to Lightning cable from Apple. I just today ordered a couple of these USB-A to C adapters from Monoprice. I’m not sure I’d have bought any of those things if the new MacBook Pro had a USB-A port.
I’m not saying Marco is wrong. I’m just saying Apple’s not wrong either. It’s the same trade-off with the iPhone 7 headphone jack.
Cmra: Dual-Camera Strap for Apple Watch ★
A real Dick Tracy peripheral for Apple Watch: two HD cameras, a microphone, and a charging dock that charges both the Cmra strap and your Apple Watch at the same time. Pre-orders are just $149, and they’ve got a fun Sandwich Video. The catch: an estimated ship date of “spring 2017”.
Requiem for MagSafe ★
If there’s one extra topic I wish David Phelan had asked Phil Schiller about regarding the new MacBook Pros in his aforelinked interview, it’s the absence of MagSafe. I see the advantages of having four universal ports, and I definitely see the advantages of being able to connect to a charger from either side. But man, MagSafe was such a good idea. Apple even made this great ad about it back in the “Get a Mac” campaign.
Why not put MagSafe on the charger, or on the cable somehow? It’s the one thing I truly miss on these new MacBook Pros. Update: Also, I miss the ability to see the charging status from the MagSafe indicator light (orange for charging, green for fully charged, off for “whoa, this thing isn’t actually connected to power”).
Phil Schiller Interview With The Independent on the New MacBook Pros ★
Terrific interview by David Phelan.
Q: The evolution of the Touch Bar — how did it come about?
A: It’s part of our thinking about where to take the notebook
next. Others are trying to turn the notebook into the tablet.
The new MacBook Pro is a product that celebrates that it is a
notebook, this shape that has been with us for the last 25
years is probably going to be with us for another 25 years
because there’s something eternal about the basic notebook form
You have a surface that you type down on with your hands, with a
screen facing you vertically. That basic orientation, that L shape
makes perfect sense and won’t go away. The team came up with this
idea that you can create a multi-touch surface that’s coplanar
with the keyboard and the trackpad but brings a whole new
experience into it, one that’s more interactive, with multi-touch.
Q: Will macOS and iOS (the operating systems for Macs and
iPhones) always be different?
A: We’re steadfast in our belief that there are fundamentally two
different products to make for customers and they’re both
important. There’s iPhone and iPad which are single pieces of
glass, they’re direct-manipulation, multi-touch and tend
towards full-screen applications. And that’s that experience.
And we want to make those the best in that direction anyone can
imagine. We have a long road ahead of us on that.
Then there’s the Mac experience, dominated by our notebooks and
that’s about indirect manipulation and cursors and menus. We want
to make this the best experience we can dream of in this
I know a lot of people — DF readers, developer friends — who are deeply worried that Apple is sunsetting the Mac. And it is a fact that the Mac Pro hasn’t seen an update in over 1,000 days — Apple deserves scathing criticism for that.
But I would hold up as proof of Apple’s commitment to the Mac two things: the annual update cycle of the OS and the MacBook lineup. (Personally, I would prefer if they slowed down on major updates to MacOS and updated hardware more frequently with minor speed bumps.)
I truly believe that what Schiller says above is the honest truth: iOS and MacOS are not converging, and neither are the hardware form factors.
Jason Snell: ‘Some More Hands-On Experience With the New MacBook Pros’ ★
That’s a big trackpad. The trackpad on the 13-inch model is more
than half again as big as on its predecessor, and on the 15-inch
model it’s doubled in size. As Phil Schiller said on stage
Thursday, Apple can make the Trackpad bigger now that it’s a Magic
Trackpad rather than an older hinged model because even at large
sizes the entire surface is clickable. (The previous generation of
MacBook Pros finished life with Magic Trackpads, but they were
tucked into the space designed for older, hinged models.)
The trackpads are large enough that Apple has had to build in more
palm-rejection intelligence, because when you’re typing on these
things, you’re going to inevitably slide your palms across them.
In my experience writing this article on a 13-inch MacBook Pro,
the palm rejection worked well — I never felt that I had to
change my typing approach just to avoid weird mouse movements.
I’ve been using a non-Touch Bar review unit since last week, too (to my knowledge, no reviewer yet has a Touch Bar model), and I’ve had the same experience with the bigger touchpad, which is to say no problems at all with palm detection.
Baldur Bjarnason: ‘The Downside of Believing in Apple’ ★
I suspect many of those annoyed about the event are in my
position: the fact that the Touch Bar is interesting just makes it
more annoying that Apple just announced a line of computers that
I can’t really use.
For a developer work machine, 16 GB is the uncomfortable minimum
requirement. It does not cover the needs of a developer’s average
workday without us making some compromises in our workflow and
Most of us, if given the choice between making compromises to our
productivity and compromises to the battery life of the machines
we buy, would choose a shorter battery life every time.
This is the nut of the argument against the new MacBook Pros. If the 16 GB RAM limit in the previous MacBook Pros was a limiting factor for your productivity, the new ones are no help at all. And I’m sure Bjarnason is correct that those people would gladly trade battery life for the ability to install 32 GB of RAM.
But that’s not most MacBook Pro users. Most MacBook Pro users will do just fine with 16 GB of RAM (in fact, most will do just fine with the 13-inch models’ default configuration of 8 GB). For most MacBook Pro users, Apple is right to prioritize battery life over the maximum RAM configuration. That is, if they’re only going to offer one lineup of “pro” notebooks — which is how they’ve done it for at least 15 years.
But they can’t make a portable Mac with 32GB of RAM.
And, if you’re an illustrator or animator like my sister, they
can’t make a good Mac for drawing (like Microsoft’s Surface line,
Neither of those are can’ts. They’re both won’ts. This might make people who want such things even angrier (than if they were technical limitations), but they’re both deliberate design choices.
Because we’ve bought into Apple’s design myth, we are forced to
come to one and only one conclusion:
Apple really, really doesn’t care about its professional
I disagree with that conclusion. If your priority is the display, the new displays are brighter (500 nits) and offer wide color gamut. The new MacBook Pro SSDs offer industry-leading read and write performance, years ahead of the competition. The 15-inch MacBook Pro offers a quad-core i7 with speeds up to 3.8 GHz. For many demanding use cases, these are professional machines. Just not all professions.
A less punchy, but more accurate title for Bjarnason’s piece would be “The Downsides of Depending Upon a Company With a Relatively Sparse Product Lineup When Your Personal Needs Are Outside the Mainstream”.
Kottke.org Memberships ★
Anyone who relies on an audience of some kind — artists, writers,
businesses, etc. — has to focus on serving regulars while keeping
an eye on attracting new readers/customers/users. As much as I
feel that everyone in the world would enjoy reading the world’s
best blog — I mean, who wouldn’t? — it’s difficult for me to
take time out from writing the site to reach out to potential new
readers. I love being a regular myself and at this point in the
site’s evolution, it makes sense to focus mostly on the people who
read and love the site. Part of that focus is building up the
financial link between us. In an ideal world: I write for you, you
pay me, I write some more. No middlemen. I’m not sure that’s an
entirely feasible arrangement at this point, but we can get part
of the way there and work on the rest.
It really did only take 20 seconds to sign up from my iPhone.
Chuq Von Rospach on the State of the Mac ★
Chuq Von Rospach:
I long ago got used the the idea that no matter what Apple said or
released, the Internet would fall over itself proving how much
smarter they were than Apple, only to see Apple make another
truckload of money on the product everyone was criticizing.
That said, this event’s criticism has been louder and more
widespread and angrier than I remember seeing for a long time. I
finally had to basically unplug for a while because I found myself
getting into the “someone is wrong on the internet” mentality.
Writing my piece over the weekend was about as difficult as
anything I’ve ever written because there are a lot of legitimate
gripe points with Apple right now, but so much of what’s being
thrown around is trivial and petty and often outright wrong, or
just plain silly.
A lot of it boils down to this concept: We demand Apple innovate,
but we insist they don’t change anything.
Best piece I’ve seen on last week’s announcements.