Linked List: November 2016

Netflix Finally Allows Downloads 

You know I don’t like the overuse of “finally” in a headline, but here’s a case where it’s justified.

Nintendo World Coming to Universal Theme Parks 

Nintendo press release:

Imagine the fun of stepping into a larger-than-life Nintendo adventure. Gigantic Piranha Plants spring to life. Question blocks, power-ups and more surround you. And Mario and all his friends are there to pull you into a brand-new world.

You will enter an entire realm filled with iconic Nintendo excitement, gameplay, heroes and villains. And it is coming to three Universal theme parks around the globe.

The creative visionaries behind Nintendo’s legendary worlds and characters are working together with the creative teams behind Universal’s blockbuster theme park attractions. Their goal: to bring the characters, action and adventure of Nintendo video games to life within Universal theme parks. And to do so in new and innovative ways that capture what makes them so special. All of the adventure, fun and whimsy you experience through a screen will now be all around you — in breathtakingly authentic ways.

Universal did a good job with the Harry Potter franchise — the Hogsmeade land at Islands of Adventure is kind of meh, but Diagon Alley at Universal Studios is amazing. If they can do something as good as Diagon Alley for Nintendo, it’ll be great. (Universal Studios did a good job with their area for The Simpsons, too.)

Penn and Teller Burn a Flag in the White House 

“You go to law school?”

“No, clown school.”

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 generations.

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 millennials agreed.

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: 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 fighting for.

Ultimately, it comes down to two things: ownership and control.

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 in jail!

Jonathan Chait:

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 movement.”

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 therefrom…

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’ 

James Fallows:

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 “templates.”

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. 

Andy Borowitz:

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 Enforcement Administration.

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 

Serenity Caldwell:

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 

David Sparks:

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 and counting.]

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 last year.

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. 

Ezra Klein:

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 seriously.

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’ 

Adam Geitgey:

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.

White Nationalists Exult in Donald Trump’s Election With a Salute: ‘Heil Victory’ 

Joseph Goldstein, reporting for the NYT:

Earlier in the day, Mr. Spencer himself had urged the group to start acting less like an underground organization and more like the establishment.

But now his tone changed as he began to tell the audience of more than 200 people, mostly young men, what they had been waiting to hear. He railed against Jews and, with a smile, quoted Nazi propaganda in the original German. America, he said, belonged to white people, whom he called the “children of the sun,” a race of conquerors and creators who had been marginalized but now, in the era of President-elect Donald J. Trump, were “awakening to their own identity.”

As he finished, several audience members had their arms outstretched in a Nazi salute. When Mr. Spencer, or perhaps another person standing near him at the front of the room — it was not clear who — shouted, “Heil the people! Heil victory,” the room shouted it back.

These are neo-Nazis, and they now think they are the establishment. This is not normal; this has nothing to do with the pre-Trump partisan divide — deep though it was — in the U.S. Neo-Nazis weren’t pulling for Mitt Romney or John McCain, and they didn’t celebrate George W. Bush’s election.

If you think this is no big deal, you are either with them, or you are in denial regarding a grave crisis.

A Nepotistic Kook for National Security Advisor 

Nicholas Kristof, writing for the NYT:

The announcement that Trump has recruited Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn as national security adviser is particularly alarming. Flynn is smart and knows the world very well, but he was fired from his last government job for incompetence. Worse, he today is regarded by many Republican and Democratic foreign policy specialists as a kook. […]

Indeed, for an intelligence officer, Flynn seems to have trouble distinguishing truth from falsehood. Earlier this month, he tweeted an obviously fake story claiming that the police had found emails linking Hillary Clinton to sex crimes with children. When he was in government, subordinates had a special name for his delusions: “Flynn facts.” […]

For his chief of staff, Flynn chose his son, who is a looney on social media, calling President Obama a communist and fascist, tweeting racially insensitive comments and sharing absurd conspiracy theories.

Follow the link to those tweets. This is Jack D. “sap and impurify my precious bodily fluids” Ripper stuff. No national security advisor should be hiring one of his own children as chief of staff, let alone one who by all appearances lost his mind five years ago.

Now Is Not the Time to Criticize the Galaxy Note 7 

Wen Powers, writing for McSweeney’s:

Here’s the thing though, we did choose, and you should all stop protesting against it. Yes, more of you voted for the iPhone, but you also seem to forget that the mail room staff liked how the Galaxy Note 7 has such fun games, and their votes count more. That’s the system that we have always used, that’s the system we will always use. Get used to it.

Jony Ive and Marc Newson Create Room-Size Christmas Tree for Claridge’s 

The whole installation is the project, not the unlit, undecorated tree itself.

Bloomberg: ‘Apple Abandons Development of Wireless Routers’ 

Mark Gurman, reporting for Bloomberg:

Apple Inc. has disbanded its division that develops wireless routers, another move to try to sharpen the company’s focus on consumer products that generate the bulk of its revenue, according to people familiar with the matter.

Apple began shutting down the wireless router team over the past year, dispersing engineers to other product development groups, including the one handling the Apple TV, said the people, who asked not to be named because the decision hasn’t been publicly announced.

Not surprising, given that their current hardware hasn’t been updated in three years. Apple used to refresh its AirPort routers frequently, to keep up with the state of the art. They often weren’t first to adopt new standards, but they never sat still for three years.

The question is, are they really out of the router game (and will start selling Belkin or Eero routers in their stores), or are they working on something new, a HomeKit hub, that will include the functionality of a router?

Just seems like Apple is abandoning a lot of stuff without having replacements ready these days.

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 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.


Ryan Lizza, writing for the New Yorker:

Seven days may not be enough time to fully assess any new leader, especially in the case of Trump, whose first week was marked by seeming chaos in his efforts to put together an Administration. But what we’ve learned so far about the least-experienced President-elect in history is as troubling and ominous as his critics have feared. The Greeks have a word for the emerging Trump Administration: kakistocracy. The American Heritage Dictionary defines it as a “government by the least qualified or most unprincipled citizens.” Webster’s is simpler: “government by the worst people.”


Extended version of Apple’s commercial for the new MacBook Pros. Captures the Mac at its heart.

Nikkei Asian Review: Apple Is Looking Into Assembling iPhones in the U.S. 

Debby Wu, reporting for the Nikkei Asian Review:

Key Apple assembler Hon Hai Precision Industry, also known as Foxconn Technology Group, has been studying the possibility of moving iPhone production to the U.S., sources told the Nikkei Asian Review.

“Apple asked both Foxconn and Pegatron, the two iPhone assemblers, in June to look into making iPhones in the U.S.,” a source said. “Foxconn complied, while Pegatron declined to formulate such a plan due to cost concerns.”

I have a really hard time believing this could happen.

The person added that one view among the Apple supply chain in Taiwan is that U.S. President-elect Donald Trump may push the Cupertino, California-based tech titan to make a certain number of iPhone components at home.

I had a really hard time believing this could happen.

Firefox Focus 

New iOS app from Mozilla. The app itself works as a super-simple totally private web browser, and it offers a system-wide content blocker focused mostly on privacy invasive trackers.

Doug Adams on Sal Soghoian 

Doug Adams, of Doug’s AppleScripts for iTunes:

Before we get all crazy, it is Sal that is no longer at Apple. The technologies remain. Let’s hope it stays that way.

Sal is a great guy. I’ve met him and chatted with him numerous times. He’s been evangelizing AppleScript since the System 7 days when he caught the AppleScript fever through his desktop publishing work with Quark. He always paid thoughtful attention to me and my site. He once told me he would make a point of showing my site to Apple engineers as an example of the power and public popularity of AppleScript.

Meanwhile, I am optimistic about the future of desktop automation on the Mac. I guess I have to be.

Sal Soghoian Departs Apple 

Sal Soghoian:

Q. I hear you no longer work for Apple; is that true?

A. Correct. I joined Apple in January of 1997, almost twenty years ago, because of my profound belief that “the power of the computer should reside in the hands of the one using it.” That credo remains my truth to this day. Recently, I was informed that my position as Product Manager of Automation Technologies was eliminated for business reasons. Consequently, I am no longer employed by Apple Inc. But, I still believe my credo to be as true today as ever. […]

Q. What does the termination of the position of Product Manager of Automation Technologies mean for the future of user automation in macOS?

A. Ask Apple. Seriously, if you have any questions or concerns about the future of user automation, ask Apple. If user automation technologies are important to you, then now is the time for all good men and women to reach out, speak up and ask questions. The macOS user automation technologies include: UNIX CLI (shell, python, ruby, perl), System Services, Apple Events (JavaScript, AppleScript, AppleScriptObj-C, Scripting Bridge), Automator, Apple Configurator (AppleScript, Automator), and Application scripting support in Photos, iWork, Finder, Mail, and other Apple applications.

This sounds ominous. Just this week in my review of the new MacBook Pros, a huge part of my argument for why I feel so much more productive on a Mac than an iPad revolves around the automation technologies that Soghoian’s group developed. I have the impression that Soghoian was a bit of a rebel within Apple, fighting the good fight to keep advancing the Mac’s automation tools. If they had simply fired him, that’d be one thing, but the fact that they’ve eliminated his position is another. This is shitty news. I find this to be a profoundly worrisome turn of events for the future of the Mac. I hope I’m wrong.

On a personal note, I’ve known Sal for a long time. I first met him at a WWDC in the early years of Daring Fireball. I didn’t expect him to know who I was, I just wanted to thank him for his and his team’s work. But it turned out he was a fan of the site, and he thanked me for my posts about AppleScript tips and tricks. You’ll never meet a warmer, nicer, more gregarious guy.

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 materials.

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 buy Harman.

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. But why?

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 measured up.

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 I expected.

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 shuffle/repeat control.

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 

Joanna Stern:

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 Pro models.

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 large-scale removals.

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? 

Dave Pell:

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’ 

Jony Ive:

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.

Steven Levy Talks to Phil Schiller on the New MacBook Pros 

Steven Levy:

When I suggested that this might be only the latest in a number of mobile innovations moving to the Mac, in an overall annexation of the Macintosh platform, Schiller pushed back, hard. “Its implementation is pure Mac,” he said. “The thought and vision from the very beginning was not at all, ‘How do we put iOS in the Mac?’ It was entirely, ‘How to you use the [iOS] technology to make a better Mac experience?’”

I love Levy’s description of the Touch Bar:

So what is it like to use the Touch Bar? First of all, it looks great: a strip of arcade-bright fettuccine. The high resolution, especially when it displays color, is a delightful contrast to the doggedly steampunk preserve of a physical keyboard.

Is the New MacBook Pro Keyboard Too Loud? 

Here’s a video from Louis Rossman comparing his old MacBook Pro keyboard to the brand new one. I think the new one is definitely louder. At one point during my review process, I was thinking the same thing, and I asked my wife and son to corroborate. They both told me it just sounded different, not louder. But now I’m thinking maybe I was right.

To me it’s of a piece with the clicky feel of the new keyboard, which I like. The premium clickiness is what made me say in my review that it’s a mixed bag, not a complete regression from the old ones. People who work in quiet rooms might disagree.

Update: Joanna Stern:

Yes! It is louder. I mentioned it in both video and column. I think part of it is that you think you need to hit the keys a bit harder.

Touché: Touch Bar for Everyone 

New free utility from my friend Daniel Jalkut: a simulated Touch Bar. This isn’t a good idea for usability (and it wasn’t intended to be), but it’s a great way to see what apps are doing with the Touch Bar.


My thanks to Intercom for sponsoring this past week’s DF RSS feed. Using Intercom, Typeform achieved conversion rates as high as 92 percent on key in-app messages. See how you can increase user retention by automatically sending every new user a personalized series of push, email, and in-app messages based on real-time behavior.

They have a short video on their website that explains how it works, and shows just how simple it is to use. Try Intercom for free today.

A Pro Video Editor’s Look at the New MacBook Pro 

Thomas Grove Carter:

On the 27th October Apple unveiled their new line of MacBook Pros. Since then half of what I read online seems to be “Professionals” (those guys), telling me it’s not Pro at all, not Pro enough or not the right kind of Pro. How many of these people have even touched the new devices?

Very few.

I’ve been using the new 15” MacBook Pro (with Touch Bar) for the last week or so for actual work, so here’s my “Professional” opinion. […]

First off, It’s really fast. I’ve been using the MacBook Pro with the new version of FCP X and cutting 5k ProRes material all week, it’s buttery smooth. No matter what you think the specs say, the fact is the software and hardware are so well integrated it tears strips off “superior spec’d” Windows counterparts in the real world. This has always been true of Macs. If you’re running software with old code which doesn’t utilise the hardware well, you’re not going to get great performance (as pointed out here). I understand people need to use programs from other developers, but at some point they need to play catch up. Otherwise it’s akin to asking for a more powerful engine because you like to buy tire-less wheels for your car. For all the kinds of work I do it’s been excellent.

The Talk Show: ‘Holiday Party’ 

Merlin Mann returns to the show to discuss the election, by which I mean we mostly talk around the election. I hope we never do another show again with such heavy hearts, but whatever you think about this election, I think you’ll like this show.

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Donald Trump Is Elected President in Stunning Repudiation of the Establishment 

The NYT:

Mrs. Clinton’s loss was especially crushing to millions who had cheered her march toward history as, they hoped, the nation’s first female president. For supporters, the election often felt like a referendum on gender progress: an opportunity to elevate a woman to the nation’s top job and to repudiate a man whose remarkably boorish behavior toward women had assumed center stage during much of the campaign.

New York Times Election Front Pages, 1852–2012 

Interesting just to watch the graphic design evolve over the years. In the mid-1800s they didn’t even use large type for the headlines.

Four-Year-Old Reddit Thread on the Then-New MacBook Pros 

More déjà vu: they’re way too expensive, graphic cards are weak, maximum RAM configuration isn’t high enough, and they’re clearly not designed for pros.

Twitter Still Might Save Vine by Selling It 

Josh Constine, reporting for TechCrunch:

Vine may survive after all. Twitter is currently vetting multiple term sheets from companies offering to buy Vine, and hopes to make a deal soon, multiple sources tell TechCrunch. After announcing its plan to shut down Vine last month, Twitter received a large number of bids, including several from Asia. It’s now working to decide who should run the short-form video app.

While TechCrunch couldn’t confirm the names of any of the companies interested in Vine, a rumored bidder was Japanese messaging and gaming company Line.

Would be kind of funny for Line to buy Vine.

I was in the media area waiting for Apple to open the doors to their MacBook Pro event last month when the news broke that Twitter was going to shut down Vine. As word spread through the room, every conversation was exactly the same:

“Hey, did you hear Twitter is going to shut down Vine?”

“Wow. Why don’t they sell it instead?”

“No idea.”

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 it anyway:

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 Sierra)
  • Adobe Photoshop CC: Four 1+gb 36 MP professional, multi-layer photos
  • Adobe InDesign CC: A 22 page photography-intensive project
  • Xcode: Four production Objective-C projects, all cleaned and rebuilt
  • 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
  • iTunes
  • Little Flocker
  • Little Snitch
  • OverSight
  • Finder
  • Messages
  • Veracrypt
  • Activity Monitor
  • Path Finder
  • Console
  • 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 

Marco Arment:

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 aforelinkedAndroid 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.”

Rene Ritchie:

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 services.

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 the machine.

Samsung is also the subject of an August lawsuit from owners who said their machines “explode during normal use.”

‘At Last’ 

Roger Angell, who is 96 years old but 12 years too young to have seen the Cubs win before:

Good game, great game, and worth the wait. The Chicago Cubs, who had trailed in this World Series by three games to one and in the record books by a hundred and eight seasons to none, beat the Indians last night, 8–7, in ten innings, and deserve all praise, however outlandish.

Or not so outlandish, if we look back at the game one more time.

The Cubs Win 

Last night’s Game 7 was one of the most dramatic baseball games I’ve ever seen. Cubs fans deserved every moment of it.

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 USB-A port.

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 factor.

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 direction.

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’ 

Jason Snell:

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’ 

Baldur Bjarnason:

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 productivity.

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, for example).

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 Mac users.

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”. Memberships 

Jason Kottke:

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.