Linked List: May 2017

The Talk Show: ‘The Original Sin Is XML’ 

Manton Reece and whisky-soaked baritone Brent Simmons join the show to talk about JSON Feed, the new spec they co-authored for syndicating things like blog posts and podcasts. We talk about their longstanding mutual interest in Userland Frontier — Dave Winer’s groundbreaking scripting environment from the early ’90s — and how that background and their mutual love for publishing on the open web and the democratization of technology ultimately led to the creation of JSON Feed, as well as their other new projects: Manton’s Micro.blog publishing platform, and Brent’s new open source Mac app, announced for the first time right here on the show. And of course a brief look ahead to next week’s WWDC 2017.

Brought to you by these fine sponsors:

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Pierce Brosnan Pays Tribute to Roger Moore: ‘A Magnificent Actor’ 

Pierce Brosnan:

Sean Connery had set the bar high, and George Lazenby, with mighty flair and a valiant heart, had given it his best. Now it was Roger’s turn. He knew his time was now, and he reigned over seven movies as James Bond with exceptional skill and comic timing laced with a stiletto vengeance. He knew his comedy, he knew who he was and he played onstage and off with an easy grace and charm. He knew that we knew.

“He knew that we knew” is the phrase I’ve been searching for for years to describe Roger Moore’s take on Bond. Just perfect.

The Incomparable: ‘The Godfather Part II’ 

Jason Snell invited John Siracusa, Moisés Chiullan, Merlin Mann, and yours truly to The Incomparable for an in-depth discussion of The Godfather Part II — a movie that’s both one of my all-time favorites and one of the best movies ever made. I had a blast watching it for the umpteenth time and then discussing it with these gentlemen.

Uber Fires Anthony Levandowski 

Mike Isaac and Daisuke Wakabayashi, reporting for The New York Times:

Uber said Tuesday that it had fired Anthony Levandowski, a star engineer brought in to lead the company’s self-driving automobile efforts who was accused of stealing trade secrets when he left a job at Google. […]

That was certainly the case for Mr. Levandowski. Last August, when Uber announced it had bought Otto, Mr. Kalanick described Mr. Levandowski as “one of the world’s leading autonomous engineers,” a prolific entrepreneur with “a real sense of urgency.”

“A real sense of urgency” is one way to put it.

The New Glif Is Out 

Speaking of the iPhone-as-a-camera, Studio Neat’s all-new Glif tripod mount is out. I just got one as a backer of their Kickstarter campaign, and it’s every bit as good as I’d hoped. It works with any size phone, in both portrait and landscape, and has additional mounts for things like microphones and hand grips.

Lovely little intro video, too, narrated by Adam Lisagor.

Update: Fixed the link, sorry about that.

Apple to Provide Podcasting Studio On-Site at WWDC 

Benjamin Mayo, writing for 9to5Mac:

The schedule for WWDC 2017 has just been announced and includes a new “Podcast Studio”. From Tuesday, podcasters will be able to reserve one hour slots and record in a specially-made recording studio inside the McEnery Convention Center.

Apple says that the “fully outfitted studio” allows for the creation of audio podcasts with up to four guests per show. Apple experts are on hand to provide support and podcasters are given a copy of their session to distribute freely how they see fit.

This is a great idea. I’d be all over this if I weren’t having my show in front of a live audience — recording podcasts while traveling is hard, even if you just consider the equipment you need to pack. Not sure the 60-minute limit would work for me, though.

Also, speaking of my live show, the first round of tickets should be available later today will go on sale tomorrow at 12n ET / 9a PT.

Cast Adds Experimental JSON Feed Support 

Julian Lepinski, creator of Cast:

So I sunk my teeth in, and in about half a day I’d added experimental JSON Feed support to podcasts published with Cast.

Half a day. If you’re wondering whether JSON Feed publishing is straightforward to implement, that’s your answer right there.

That half a day includes some custom extensions specific to podcasting (iTunes-style categories and sub-categories, and an “explicit” flag).

All the regular experimental caveats apply — JSON Feed support is experimental, and could change (or disappear) at some point in future. We’re not yet seeing widespread client support for JSON Feed, but someone has to be the first in the pool to get this party started, and I’m happy for that to be Cast.

Bootstrapping something new like JSON Feed often feels like it requires magic. Clients tend not to support a new format until publishers are generating it, and publishers tend not to support a new format until client software supports it. That’s why it matters that JSON Feed is so easy and fun to support. Being easy and fun is a path around the bootstrapping problem.

If you haven’t heard of Cast before, it’s a rather remarkable all-in-one web-based creative platform for recording, editing, and publishing podcasts. You literally don’t need anything other than Cast to record a podcast (with multiple guests, none of whom need anything other than a web browser and microphone), edit it, and publish it.

Cooperstown Celebrates 25th Anniversary of ‘Homer at the Bat’ 

Joe Posnanski, in his column for MLB.com:

“It is with great humility I enter the Hall of Fame,” Simpson said in his recorded acceptance speech. “And it’s about damn time. I’m fatter than Babe Ruth, balder than Ty Cobb and have one more finger than Mordecai ‘Three Finger’ Brown.”

The thing about “Homer at the Bat” that endures is the obvious love for baseball that fills the episode. Yes, of course, there are classic Simpsons bits in it, such as Boggs and Barney having a violent barroom argument over the greatest British Prime Minister (Lord Palmerston! Pitt the Elder!), Jose Canseco continuously running into a burning home to save a woman’s furniture, Roger Clemens clucking like a chicken, Bart and Lisa arguing about who gets to bring Homer a beer after he crushes a game-winning homer (“Kids, kids, you can BOTH bring me a beer”).

Mattingly, get rid of those sideburns!”

“What sideburns?”

“You heard me, hippie.”

Castro 2.4 With Enhanced Audio 

Speaking of Castro, the latest version adds a much-requested feature:

Enhanced Audio improves the listening experience for many podcasts and makes it easier to hear in loud environments. Under the hood, Enhanced Audio applies a dynamic compressor and a peak limiter to increase volume just where it’s needed.

Enhanced Audio helps when playing a show where voices are at different levels and makes it much easier to listen to podcasts in a car, on public transit, or in a busy noisy place.

These smart speed and equalizer features are becoming table stakes for a podcast player today.

Breaker Adds Support for JSON Feed 

Erik Michaels-Ober:

The decentralized structure of podcasts creates a chicken-and-egg problem for JSON Feed to gain adoption. There’s no incentive for podcasters to publish in JSON Feed as long as podcast players don’t support it. And there’s no incentive for podcast players to support JSON Feed as long as podcasters don’t publish in that format.

Breaker is hoping to break that stalemate by adding support for JSON Feed in our latest release. As far as we know, Breaker is the first podcast player to do so. Unlike other features that differentiate Breaker, we encourage our competitors to follow our lead in this area. The sooner all podcast players support JSON Feed, the better positioned the entire podcast ecosystem will be for the decades to come.

Three years ago I wrote that podcast players had replaced Twitter clients as the leading UI playground — the space where there’s a lot of competition and new ideas being tried out. I still think that’s true. Overcast and Castro keep getting better, and Breaker is a new and interesting take. The big difference with Breaker is that they have a social networking model, where you can follow your fellow Breaker-using friends and get podcast recommendations based on what they’re listening to.

Russian Hackers Are Using Google’s Own Infrastructure to Hack Gmail Users 

Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai, reporting for Motherboard:

The “Change Password” button linked to a short URL from the Tiny.cc link shortener service, a Bitly competitor. But the hackers cleverly disguised it as a legitimate link by using Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages, or AMP. This is a service hosted by the internet giant that was originally designed to speed up web pages on mobile, especially for publishers. In practice, it works by creating a copy of a website’s page on Google’s servers, but it also acts as an open redirect.

According to Citizen Lab researchers, the hackers used Google AMP to trick the targets into thinking the email really came from Google.

“It’s a percentage game, you may not get every person you phish but you’ll get a percentage,” John Scott-Railton, a senior researcher at Citizen Lab, told Motherboard.

So if the victim had quickly hovered over the button to inspect the link, they would have seen a URL that starts with google.com/amp, which seems safe, and it’s followed by a Tiny.cc URL, which the user might not have noticed. (For example: https://www.google[.]com/amp/tiny.cc/63q6iy)

A huge reason that phishing works is that most people just aren’t technically savvy enough to tell a phony-looking URL from a legitimate one. But a URL that really is coming from the google.com domain — that’s the sort of link that even a web developer might think looks legit, especially at a glance.

Flow: Simple Project Management 

My thanks to Flow for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Flow is simple project management for busy teams. It’s the easiest way to run your team, manage projects, track tasks, and stay up to date with everything happening at work.

Teams choose Flow when email, sticky notes, and to-do apps aren’t enough, but complex project management tools are overkill. Flow’s world-class design team has worked with companies like Apple, Slack, TED, and Starbucks. It’s simple, beautiful, and easy to use. Your team will love using it. Team-based “project management” is a really tricky problem, and Flow has solved it in a simple and elegant way. And of course they have great apps for iPhone, Mac, Android, and Windows.

Special offer for DF readers: Start your free trial today, and save 20 percent on a monthly plan or 30 percent on an annual plan at checkout.

The Talk Show: ‘He Ends Up Fighting Hervé Villechaize’ 

New episode of America’s favorite 3-star podcast, with special guest Jim Dalrymple. We speculate about what Apple might announce at WWDC 2017: Apple Watch, iPad, iOS, updated MacBooks, Apple TV, and more. Also: a celebration of the great Roger Moore.

Brought to you by these great sponsors:

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Washington Post: ‘Google Now Knows When Its Users Go to the Store and Buy Stuff’ 

Elizabeth Dwoskin and Craig Timberg, writing for The Washington Post:

Google has begun using billions of credit-card transaction records to prove that its online ads are prompting people to make purchases — even when they happen offline in brick-and-mortar stores, the company said Tuesday.

The advance allows Google to determine how many sales have been generated by digital ad campaigns, a goal that industry insiders have long described as “the holy grail” of online advertising. But the announcement also renewed long-standing privacy complaints about how the company uses personal information.

Here’s Google’s announcement about this. I can’t figure out how it works. But it sounds creepy as hell. This is why I don’t grant Google any background access to my location data.

Follow-Up on Edition Numbering and the Marc Newson Hourglass 

Small point of follow-up regarding my post the other day about Hodinkee’s $12,000 hourglass designed by Marc Newson. I wrote:

I do find it odd that every unit is numbered “1/100” rather than giving each piece a unique number.

I later clarified that to:

I do find it odd that every unit is numbered “1/100” rather than giving each piece a unique number — “1/100”, “2/100”, … “100/100”.

But I keep getting email about this. I am aware that this is how edition numbering works:

Edition Number: A fraction found on the bottom left hand corner of a print. The top number is the sequence in the edition; the bottom number is the total number of prints in the edition. The number appears as a fraction usually in the lower left of the print. For instance the edition number 25/50 means that it is print number 25 out of a total edition of 50.

That’s exactly what I think Hodinkee should be doing with these hourglasses, but from their own description, they’re not:

The Marc Newson Hourglass for Hodinkee is a limited edition of 100 pieces. Each is numbered “1 of 100” just below the “Hodinkee” signature on one side, with Marc Newson’s signature on the opposite side.

That says to me that all 100 pieces are numbered “1 of 100”. My guess is that the nature of the glass makes it difficult to print a unique number on each piece, but for $12,000 I would expect no expense to be spared. Also, when you label each piece with a unique number, owners of the pieces can feel more confident that theirs is unique. E.g. if it were ever discovered that two of them were labeled “12/100”, you would know something fishy is going on. I don’t think Hodinkee is secretly selling more than 100 of these, I’m just pointing out why it would be nicer if they were sequentially numbered.

Yoink 

Yoink is a terrific utility for MacOS by Matthias Gansrigler. It gives you a shelf at the side of your screen where you can drop files (or clippings, like URLs or text snippets). Think of it as a place to park drag-and-drop items temporarily, while you switch apps or whatever. Cheap too: just $7 (here it is in the Mac App Store). Be sure to check out the usage tips — I’ve been using Yoink for over six months, and I learned a few things just now.

Back in 2012 I recommended a similar utility called DragonDrop, but DragonDrop is on hiatus, and I think I much prefer Yoink’s interface.

Mossberg: The Disappearing Computer 

Walt Mossberg:

This is my last weekly column for The Verge and Recode — the last weekly column I plan to write anywhere. I’ve been doing these almost every week since 1991, starting at the Wall Street Journal, and during that time, I’ve been fortunate enough to get to know the makers of the tech revolution, and to ruminate — and sometimes to fulminate — about their creations.

Now, as I prepare to retire at the end of that very long and world-changing stretch, it seems appropriate to ponder the sweep of consumer technology in that period, and what we can expect next.

Godspeed on whatever’s next, Walt.

Nick Murray on Alcantara: ‘It’s Garbage’ 

Interesting video by Nick Murray, discussing the merits of Alcantara, the synthetic suede-like product that Microsoft has used for their new Surface Laptop. Murray is coming from the perspective of Alcantara’s use in cars, not laptops, but he says it wears terribly on things you touch, like steering wheels and gear shifters, losing all its softness after just a few thousand miles. This might bode poorly for the Surface Laptop.

The Marc Newson Hourglass for Hodinkee 

Watch the video and read this. I’ll update this post with my comments later today.

Update: OK, so my take on this is going to upset many of you. I first saw this last night via this tweet from Marco Arment, and I read through the replies and every single one of them was mocking either the entire premise of an exquisite hourglass or at the very least the price.

I think this looks beautiful, and I don’t think there’s anything crazy about it costing $12,000. I’m not buying one. But all sorts of pieces of art cost tens of thousands of dollars, and I say this is most definitely art. Newson’s previous hourglass design, for Ikepod, ranged from $13,000–40,000.

I do find it odd that every unit is numbered “1/100” rather than giving each piece a unique number — “1/100”, “2/100”, … “100/100”. And Hodinkee isn’t doing themselves any favors with some of the precious bits of copywriting (e.g. “approximately 1,249,996 little spheres” is not an approximation). But if you don’t see anything ludicrous about a mechanical watch costing in excess of $10,000 (or $100,000, or more) why is there something ludicrous about a $12,000 hourglass?

The world is full of cheaply-made mass-produced crap. Why not celebrate the creation of something genuinely beautiful?

‘Spectre’ Trailer Re-Cut With Roger Moore as Bond 

This is so well done it gave me goosebumps. Makes me think the franchise could use some Moore-like suaveness when they recast the role post-Craig.

‘Moonraker’ – The Insane Attempt to Turn James Bond Into ‘Star Wars’ in 1979 

James Whitbrook, writing for io9:

Moonraker might not be the best Bond movie — it might not even be the best of Moore’s time with the Bond mantle. But all these years later, its goofy charm perhaps best represents the joyful camp that Moore brought to his role as 007, something we will always remember now that he’s gone.

Over the years, my youthful resistance to campiness has faded, and my esteem for Moonraker has grown.

From the Annals of Anal 

The New York Daily News:

At approximately 6:30 a.m. Monday, a car crash involving two pickup trucks sent one of the vehicles inside the AnalTech building of Newark, Del., leaving a giant hole. The truck damaged the facility’s laboratory and caused an odor to emanate from the cavity, WDEL reports.

Regarding the company name:

In an email sent to the Houston Chronicle, a spokesperson revealed, “In 1964, the company paid a marketing firm to come up with a different name. They said, ‘Well, you guys do Analytical Technology — why don’t you put the two words together and call it ‘AnalTech!’”

However, the spokesperson admitted that “AnalTech faces certain challenges because of the ‘juvenile’ humor that has developed in the past few decades and current web filters that may block the company name” and has considered rebranding as a result.

I don’t see anything “juvenile” about this humor. Good butt jokes are funny to all ages.

(Via Paul Kafasis.)

Meeting Roger Moore 

Amazing story from Marc Haynes about meeting Roger Moore as a 7-year-old in 1983.

(This tweet I’m linking to has screenshots of Haynes’s post on Facebook; here’s the same story in text copied and pasted into a forum, without attribution. Have I ever complained about how much I dislike Facebook?)

Implementing JSON Feed 

Dr. Drang, after adding JSON Feed support for both his blog publishing engine and his homegrown feed reader:

JSON Feed, for all its advantages, may be a flash in the pan. Not only do bloggers and publishing platforms have to adopt it, so do the major aggregator/reader services like Feedly and Digg and the analytics services like FeedPress and FeedBurner. But even if JSON Feed doesn’t take off, the time I spent adding it to my blog and aggregator was so short I won’t regret it.

Again I say: easier to generate, easier to parse.

Update: Rob Wells on adding JSON feed to his site:

I think this is what all the people complaining on the Hacker News thread missed. Working in JSON is comfortable and familiar — the tools are good and you get told when something goes wrong. Working with XML can be unclear and a bit of a pain, and creating an invalid document is a risk.

So my super-duper advanced JSON Feed implementation is… constructing a dict, adding things to it and passing it off to the JSON module that I use all the time. Taken care of.

I do something similar to what Wells and Drang do. DF’s RSS and Atom XML feeds are generated via templates: skeleton XML documents with tokens and loop constructs where the actual content gets filled in. But for JSON Feed I just build a Perl data structure that maps exactly to the JSON Feed spec, and just call a single function from the standard JSON module and it gets printed. That’s it. A template would add complexity.

Feedbin, Too 

Ben Ubois, announcing support for JSON Feed in Feedbin:

One of the criticisms I’ve seen of JSON Feed is that there’s no incentive for feed readers to support JSON Feed. This is not true. One of the largest-by-volume support questions I get is along the lines of “Why does this random feed not work?” And, 95% of the time, it’s because the feed is broken in some subtle way. JSON Feed will help alleviate these problems, because it’s easier to get right.

I also want JSON Feed to succeed because I remember how daunting RSS/Atom parsing were when building Feedbin. If JSON Feed was the dominant format back then, it would have been a non-issue.

Easier to generate and easier to parse — that’s the whole point of JSON Feed in a nut.

NewsBlur Now Supports JSON Feed 

Samuel Clay, founder of NewsBlur:

Starting today, NewsBlur now officially supports the new JSON Feed spec. And there’s nothing extra you have to do. This means if a website syndicates their stories with the easy-to-write and easy-to-read JSON format, you can read it on NewsBlur. It should make no difference to you, since you’re reading the end product. But to website developers everywhere, supporting JSON Feeds is so much easier than supporting XML-based RSS/Atom.

According to Clay, there are 15,000 NewsBlur users who subscribe to Daring Fireball. It’s very cool to see a feed reader that popular adopt JSON Feed so quickly.

The DF RSS feed isn’t going anywhere, so if you’re already subscribed to it, there’s no need to switch. But JSON Feed’s spec makes it possible for me to specify both a url that points to the post on Daring Fireball (i.e. the permalink) and an external_url that points to the article I’m linking to. The way I’ve dealt with that in the RSS (technically Atom, but that’s sort of beside the point) is a bit of a hack that’s caused problems with numerous feed readers over the years.

Roger Moore’s Recipe for a Perfect Martini 

Worth a re-link today: Roger Moore, two years ago, writing for The Guardian:

The sad fact is that I know exactly how to make a dry martini but I can’t drink them because, two years ago, I discovered I was diabetic. I prefer one with gin, but James Bond liked a vodka martini, “shaken not stirred” — which I never said, by the way. That was Sean Connery, remember him?

The worst martini I’ve ever had was in a club in New Zealand, where the barman poured juice from a bottle of olives into the vodka. That’s called a dirty martini and it is a dirty, filthy, rotten martini, and should not be drunk by anybody except condemned prisoners.

My dry martinis taste amazing and the day they tell me I’ve got 24 hours to live I am going to have six. Here’s how I make them.

I hope he had all six yesterday.

Roger Moore Dies at 89 

A terrific and much-loved actor, but also by all accounts a good man.

“Who’s your favorite James Bond?” is a fun game to play, because there’s no wrong answer. I have at least two friends who swear their answer is Lazenby. But one thing I would argue is undeniable about Moore’s run as Bond is that he was the perfect Bond for the 70s. He didn’t just keep the franchise going, he helped adapt it to the times. Sean Connery made Bond a sensation. Roger Moore turned it into a cinematic and pop-cultural institution.

Spotlight Performance Problems on iOS 

Nick Heer:

I’ve generally had pretty good luck with Spotlight on iOS, but I’ve long noticed that results are delayed or nonexistent after not using it for a little while, particularly if I haven’t rebooted my phone recently. I thought I was losing my head a little bit, until I found a tip on Twitter from Anand Iyer :

Settings > General > Spotlight Search > toggle Slack off

A week or so ago I ran into this, where Spotlight was running so slowly on my iPhone that it was unusable. Restarting my phone fixed the problem, but I’ll bet it was this Slack problem.

Update: Sounds like there might be widespread problems with Spotlight indexing on iOS 10, because a bunch of readers have written to say they have the same problem but don’t even have Slack installed.

Update 2: Several readers are saying this was a bug in iOS 10.3.1 but has been fixed in last week’s 10.3.2 update.

How Anker Is Beating Apple and Samsung at Their Own Accessory Game 

Nice profile of Anker by Nick Statt for The Verge:

So in airports, the back of cabs, and on city streets we’re plugging into lithium-ion slabs in our pockets and bags to stay connected. The market for portable battery packs generated $360 million in the 12 months ending in March, 2017 in the US alone. The brands behind these packs are largely anonymous — Kmashi, Jackery, and iMuto — and they often stay that way.

Except Anker. The steady rise of the company’s profile is proof that it’s possible to meet one very specific consumer need and ride that wave as it continues to ripple out to other markets. A majority of Anker’s sales come from cables and wall chargers, and it’s now moving into the smart home and auto market — anywhere a plug and a cable can solve a problem.

It’s always satisfying to see a company thrive by focusing on making great products.

‘On Margins’ 

New podcast from the inimitable Craig Mod about the art of making books. The first episode is an interview with Jan Chipchase:

Researcher and author Jan Chipchase has a new book — “The Field Study Handbook.” We discuss how he came to produce this 500+ page magnum opus — a distillation of his life’s work — and why he is self publishing.

Boring Google 

Ben Thompson, in praise of Google’s “boring” I/O keynote:

Google Assistant has a long ways to go, but there is a clear picture of what success will look like: Google Photos. Launched only two years ago, Pichai bragged that Photos now has over 500 million active users who upload 1.2 billion photos a day. This is a spectacular number for one very simple reason: Google Photos is not the default photo app for Android or iOS. Rather, Google has earned all of those photos simply by being better than the defaults, and the basis of that superiority is Google’s machine learning.

Moreover, much like search, Photos gets better the more data it gets, creating a virtuous cycle: more photos means more data which means a better experience which means more users which means more photos. It is already hard to see other photo applications catching up.

Google Photos is Google at its best. Their visual recognition is clearly the best in the world right now, and Thompson makes a good point that the “virtuous circle” makes it difficult for anyone to catch up.

In addition to being a great product, technically, Google Photos also launched with a terrific ad campaign.

Every Color of Cardigan Mister Rogers Wore From 1979–2001 

Owen Philips, writing for The Awl:

Fortunately, Tim Lybarger, a 40 year-old high school counselor from just outside of Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, wondered the same thing a few years ago. Back in 2011, on his blog devoted to all things Mister Rogers, neighborhoodarchive.com, Lybarger recorded the color of every sweater Rogers wore in each episode between 1979 and 2001. “When I realized such a resource didn’t exist,” Lybarger told me over email, “I just felt like somebody needed to do it…might as well be me.”

The chart below uses the data Lybarger meticulously collected to show how Rogers’ preferences for the color of his cardigan changed over time.

When I was a kid I simply loved Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. (Via Kottke, of course.)

Scrolling Is Going to Change in Mobile Safari 

Here’s an interesting exchange in a Hacker News discussion about my criticism of AMP over the weekend. Malte Ubl, creator and tech lead of Google AMP:

With respect to scrolling: We (AMP team) filed a bug with Apple about that (we didn’t implement scrolling ourselves, just use a div with overflow). We asked to make the scroll inertia for that case the same as the normal scrolling.

Apple’s response was (surprisingly) to make the default scrolling like the overflow scrolling. So, with the next Safari release all pages will scroll like AMP pages. Hope Gruber is happy then :)

“Om2”, who seemingly works on WebKit for Apple added:

In current iOS Safari, webpage scrolling is inconsistent from all other scrolling on the system. This was an intentional decision made long ago. In addition, overflow areas are consistent with the rest of the system, and thus inconsistent with top-level webpage scrolling. This is semi-accidental. In reviewing scroll rates, we concluded that the original reason was no longer a good tradeoff. Thus this change, which removed all the inconsistencies: https://trac.webkit.org/changeset/211197/webkit

Having all scrolling be consistent feels good once you get used to it.

That doesn’t necessarily mean it was a good idea for Google’s hosted AMP pages to use overflow scroll all along. The inconsistency definitely did feel weird. And the way they do scrolling prevents Safari from auto-hiding its top and bottom bars. I believe all the desired scroll effects could have been achieved without the use of overflow scroll.

That’s a pretty big change, but I’ll bet Om2 is right that it soon feels normal. Web views have had different scrolling inertia than other scrolling views ever since the original iPhone. (My beef with scrolling in AMP is not that AMP’s fast scrolling is bad and Mobile Safari’s current slower scrolling is good, but rather that scrolling in AMP pages should not feel totally different than regular web pages. And I forgot to complain about the fact that AMP’s weird implementation also breaks Mobile Safari’s ability to hide the bottom and top browser chrome toolbars. Update: One more complaint: AMP breaks Safari’s Reader mode.)

News Explorer 1.6 Supports JSON Feed 

First native app I’ve seen with support for JSON Feed. Pretty interesting take on a modern Mac feed reader, including nice support for using the keyboard arrow keys to move around the UI.

‘Becoming Bond’ 

New documentary from Hulu on George Lazenby, who played James Bond in 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and then turned down an offer for a six-picture contract. Watched it over the weekend and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Stashword 

My thanks to Stashword for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Stashword is simple but feature-rich password manager for iOS and the web. In addition to passwords, Stashword can securely save notes, financial information, and more. You can even scan and save documents like your drivers license, insurance documentation, and passport.

Stashword is free to try for 15 days. Paid membership enables you to synchronize across all your devices and their website. As a special offer for Daring Fireball readers, through May 25 annual membership is just $7.99, which is 20 percent off the regular price.

MacStories’s iOS 11 iPad Wishes and Concept Video 

Federico Viticci:

I’ve been thinking about some of these ideas since iOS 9 (you can see a thread between my iOS 10 concept and this year’s version), while others would be a natural evolution for iOS on the iPad. Once again, Sam was able to visualize everything with a fantastic concept that, I believe, captures the iPad’s big-picture potential more accurately than last year.

Below, you’ll find our iOS 11 for iPad concept video, followed by an analysis of my iPad wishes with static mockups. I focused on foundational changes to the iPad’s software — tentpole features that would affect the entire OS and app ecosystem.

This isn’t a prediction of what Apple will announce at WWDC; it’s my vision for what the future of the iPad should be.

Viticci and Beckett put months of work into this, and it shows. Some of the ideas they present: system-wide drag-and-drop, a Finder app, a redesigned App Store, and much more.

The best part of this feature isn’t any specific idea, but rather Viticci’s profound enthusiasm for the iPad as a platform.

10-Year-Old Open Letter Calling for Apple to Make Glucose Monitors 

Amy Tenderich, 10 years ago, in an open letter to Steve Jobs:

If insulin pumps or continuous monitors had the form of an iPod Nano, people wouldn’t have to wonder why we wear our “pagers” to our own weddings, or puzzle over that strange bulge under our clothes. If these devices wouldn’t start suddenly and incessantly beeping, strangers wouldn’t lecture us to turn off our “cell phones” at the movie theater.

In short, medical device manufacturers are stuck in a bygone era; they continue to design these products in an engineering-driven, physician-centered bubble. They have not yet grasped the concept that medical devices are also life devices, and therefore need to feel good and look good for the patients using them 24/7, in addition to keeping us alive.

(Follow-up here in 2010.)

This was incredibly prescient, given the rumors that Apple is working on continuous non-invasive glucose monitoring for Apple Watch. Jobs didn’t live to see it, but I think it’s exactly the sort of thing he would be pushing for if he were still alive.

From chapter 37 of Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs:

Even when he was barely conscious, his strong personality came through. At one point the pulmonologist tried to put a mask over his face when he was deeply sedated. Jobs ripped it off and mumbled that he hated the design and refused to wear it. Though barely able to speak, he ordered them to bring five different options for the mask and he would pick a design he liked. The doctors looked at Powell, puzzled. She was finally able to distract him so they could put on the mask. He also hated the oxygen monitor they put on his finger. He told them it was ugly and too complex. He suggested ways it could be designed more simply. “He was very attuned to every nuance of the environment and objects around him, and that drained him,” Powell recalled.

Scott Gilbertson: ‘Kill Google AMP Before It Kills the Web’ 

Scott Gilbertson, writing for The Register:

Quite a few high-profile web developers have this year weighted in with criticism and some, following a Google conference dedicated to AMP, have cautioned users about diving in with both feet.

These, in my view, don’t go far enough in stating the problem and I feel this needs to be said very clearly: Google’s AMP is bad — bad in a potentially web-destroying way. Google AMP is bad news for how the web is built, it’s bad news for publishers of credible online content, and it’s bad news for consumers of that content. Google AMP is only good for one party: Google. Google, and possibly, purveyors of fake news.

It’s time for developers to wake up and, as Jason Scott once said of Facebook, stop: “Shoveling down the shit sherbet” Google is now serving with AMP.

I’m on the record as being strongly opposed to AMP simply on the grounds of publication independence. I’d stand by that even if the implementation were great. But the implementation is not great — it’s terrible. Yes, AMP pages load fast, but you don’t need AMP for fast-loading web pages. If you are a publisher and your web pages don’t load fast, the sane solution is to fix your fucking website so that pages load fast, not to throw your hands up in the air and implement AMP.

But other than loading fast, AMP sucks. It implements its own scrolling behavior on iOS, which feels unnatural, and even worse, it breaks the decade-old system-wide iOS behavior of being able to tap the status bar to scroll to the top of any scrollable view. AMP also completely breaks Safari’s ability to search for text on a page (via the “Find on Page” action in the sharing sheet). Google has no respect for the platform. If I had my way, Mobile Safari would refuse to render AMP pages. It’s a deliberate effort by Google to break the open web.

Arctic Stronghold of World’s Seeds Flooded After Permafrost Melts 

Damian Carrington, reporting for The Guardian:

It was designed as an impregnable deep-freeze to protect the world’s most precious seeds from any global disaster and ensure humanity’s food supply forever. But the Global Seed Vault, buried in a mountain deep inside the Arctic circle, has been breached after global warming produced extraordinary temperatures over the winter, sending meltwater gushing into the entrance tunnel.

The big takeaway from this should be that climate change truly is a threat to civilization. But, I have to say, that melting permafrost wasn’t taken into consideration during the design of this vault seems like a glaring oversight.

Update: Looks like The Guardian might have shamelessly sensationalized this story. Mary Beth Griggs, reporting for Popular Science:

“If there was a worst case scenario where there was so much water, or the pumping systems failed, that it made its way uphill to the seed vault, then it would encounter minus 18 [degrees celsius] and freeze again. Then there’s another barrier [the ice] for entry into the seed vault,” Fowler says. In other words, any water that floods into the tunnel has to make it 100 meters downhill, then back uphill, then overwhelm the pumping systems, and then manage not to freeze at well-below-freezing temperatures. Otherwise, there’s no way liquid is getting into the seed bank — so the seeds are probably safe. […]

Still worried? Maybe this will help you exhale: “We did this calculation; if all the ice in the world melted — Greenland, Arctic, Antarctic, everything — and then we had the world’s largest recorded tsunami right in front of the seed vault. So, very high sea levels and the worlds largest Tsunami. What would happen to the seed vault?” Fowler says. “We found that the seed vault was somewhere between a five and seven story building above that point. It might not help the road leading up to the seed vault, but the seeds themselves would be OK.”

Sounds like the vault itself is designed to survive a climate apocalypse — it’s just the entry that isn’t.

‘It’s Borderline Stupid How Easy It Was’ 

Niclas Darville, on creating a JSON Feed template for Jekyll:

It literally took me longer to write this blog post than the JSON feed code, because I couldn’t get Jekyll to escape the Liquid code example.

On Twitter, Darville wrote:

One of the best things about @jsonfeed is how well it works as a Hello World kind of programming exercise.

Sure beats to-do lists.

Jason McIntosh described adding JSON Feed support to his home-grown blog engine as a “blowing-off-steam project”.

These reactions are exactly what I mean about JSON Feed being fun. There’s a time and place for specs that are drop-dead serious, but I think it’s often overlooked just how important fun can be in having a new spec gain traction.

Headline of the Week 

Actual headline in the staid New York Times: “Trump Told Russians That Firing ‘Nut Job’ Comey Eased Pressure From Investigation”.

Requiring Facebook 

Jason Ditzian, writing for The Bold Italic on what happened when the car sharing service he’d been using for 10 years was acquired:

However, City CarShare was recently bought by a corporation, Getaround. And Getaround built its platform on top of Facebook. So when I went to migrate my account over to them, I found that there’s literally no way to do it as a non-Facebook user. If I want to share cars with my fellow city dwellers, I’m compelled to strike a Faustian bargain.

To access the services of Getaround, one must authenticate their identity through Facebook. […]

I know that for you Facebook-having people, this is no big deal. You have resigned yourself to the idea of Facebook owning your data. But if you don’t, haven’t and/or won’t resign to this fate, you might end up left, like me, in a peculiar situation: the price of “sharing” a car equals money plus forking over a huge trove of personal data. Personal information is supplanting money as a form of currency.

There’s clearly a problem here, but I don’t think it’s Facebook’s fault. I think the problem is that Getaround sucks.

FCC Votes to Begin Dismantling Net Neutrality 

Karl Bode, writing for TechDirt:

Surprising absolutely nobody, the FCC today voted 2-1 along strict party lines to begin dismantling net neutrality protections for consumers. The move comes despite the fact that the vast majority of non-bot comments filed with the FCC support keeping the rules intact. And while FCC boss Ajit Pai has breathlessly insisted he intended to listen to the concerns of all parties involved, there has been zero indication that this was a serious commitment as he begins dismantling all manner of broadband consumer protections, not just net neutrality.

As you might have expected, the FCC was quick to release a statement claiming that gutting the popular consumer protections would usher forth a magical age of connectivity, investment, and innovation.

(Via Nick Heer.)

‘You Know My Name’ 

One of my very favorite songs from Chris Cornell — the opening credits theme to Casino Royale. A great song that just fits the movie so damn well.

Chris Cornell of Soundgarden, Dead at 52 

The New York Times:

Chris Cornell, the powerful, dynamic singer whose band Soundgarden was one of the architects of grunge music, died on Wednesday night in Detroit hours after the band had performed there. He was 52.

The death was a suicide by hanging, the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office said in a statement released on Thursday afternoon. It said a full autopsy had not yet been completed.

Fuck.

jq 

There’s a cool command-line JSON processor called jq — easily installed on a Mac via download or Homebrew, and even more easily tinkered with using the online playground. Here’s how easy jq makes it to get, say, a list of the titles from DF’s JSON feed:

curl -s https://daringfireball.net/feeds/json | jq '.items[].title'
The World’s First JSON Feed Viewer 

Maxime Vaillancourt:

Here’s a tiny proof of concept for a @jsonfeed viewer, built in an hour: http://json-feed-viewer.herokuapp.com

One of the things I love about JSON Feed is that it’s fun. JSON is so simple, and so well-supported by almost all programming languages, that you can build something interesting in just a few minutes, and something useful in an hour. There was a comment on the Hacker News thread about JSON Feed that I loved:

It is very likely than I am an idiot, but I’ve always found parsing XML too hard, specially compared to JSON which is almost too easy.

“Almost too easy” are three words no one has ever said about XML.

Apple Is Testing an Apple Watch Glucose Monitor 

Christina Farr, reporting for CNBC:

Tim Cook has been spotted at the Apple campus test-driving a device that tracks blood sugar, which was connected to his Apple Watch.

A source said that Cook was wearing a prototype glucose-tracker on the Apple Watch, which points to future applications that would make the device a “must have” for millions of people with diabetes — or at risk for the disease.

As CNBC reported last month, Apple has a team in Palo Alto working on the “holy grail” for diabetes: Non-invasive and continuous glucose monitoring. The current glucose trackers on the market rely on tiny sensors penetrating the skin. Sources said the company is already conducting feasibility trials in the Bay Area.

Non-invasive continuous glucose monitoring would be a life-changer for anyone with diabetes. But I can’t even imagine how life-changing this will be for kids with diabetes and their parents.

CMD-D: Masters of Automation Conference 

This sounds very cool: a one-day conference in August devoted to Mac and iOS scripting and automation, hosted by Paul Kent, Naomi Pearce, and Sal Soghoian.

Final Cut Pro X and Closed Captions 

Kevin Hamm:

Captions can be just text at timecode, which is simple. In their most complex, they are styled, located text at timecode. That’s it. Nothing more. I work in text and titles and timecode every day in every video I do, so there is no reason that this simple function isn’t baked in at this point. Words at timecode. That’s all it is.

That Apple is making their systems and products accessible is great. Xcode grants programmers the ability to build accessible apps, and has from the beginning, which is even better as it makes a massive part of the ecosystem accessible.

That Final Cut Pro hasn’t ever and still doesn’t create closed captions is a smudge on that image.

It seems bonkers to me that Final Cut Pro X doesn’t have support for closed captions. Coming from Apple, you’d think it would have excellent support for them. How does Apple create closed captions for their own videos?

Source Code for Panic Apps Stolen By Malware Thieves 

Steven Frank:

Last week, for about three days, the macOS video transcoding app HandBrake was compromised. One of the two download servers for HandBrake was serving up a special malware-infested version of the app, that, when launched, would essentially give hackers remote control of your computer.

In a case of extraordinarily bad luck, even for a guy that has a lot of bad computer luck, I happened to download HandBrake in that three day window, and my work Mac got pwned.

Long story short, somebody, somewhere, now has quite a bit of source code to several of our apps.

This is one hell of a story and quite a shock, but the crew at Panic kept their heads together and did the right thing: they’ve opened up completely and honestly, refused to deal with the blackmailer, and I think they are correctly unworried about their source code being leaked publicly.

Dave Itzkoff Profiles Jimmy Fallon for The New York Times 

Fascinating behind-the-scenes look at The Tonight Show, including a look inside Fallon’s briefcase (he’s got a Nintendo Switch in there).

Announcing JSON Feed 

Brent Simmons and Manton Reece:

We — Manton Reece and Brent Simmons — have noticed that JSON has become the developers’ choice for APIs, and that developers will often go out of their way to avoid XML. JSON is simpler to read and write, and it’s less prone to bugs.

So we developed JSON Feed, a format similar to RSS and Atom but in JSON. It reflects the lessons learned from our years of work reading and publishing feeds.

I think this is a great idea, and a good spec. I even like the style in which the spec is written: for real humans (much like the RSS spec). If you want to see a real-life example, Daring Fireball has a JSON Feed. I’ve got a good feeling about this project — the same sort of feeling I had about Markdown back in the day.

New Apple Videos Highlight Real-World Accessibility 

Nice piece for Mashable by Katie Dupere on a bunch of new videos in Apple’s YouTube channel, highlighting real-world usage of iOS and MacOS accessibility features. People who can’t move, people who can’t talk, people who can’t see or hear — doing amazing things. Apple’s commitment to accessibility is one of my very favorite things about the company. It’s not just the right thing to do for people who truly need these features — it makes the products better for everyone.

Update: Jim Dalrymple has all 7 videos collected on one page.

Lyft and Waymo Reach Deal to Collaborate on Self-Driving Cars 

Mike Isaac, writing for The New York Times:

Waymo, the self-driving car unit that operates under Google’s parent company, has signed a deal with the ride-hailing start-up Lyft, according to two people familiar with the agreement who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. The deal calls for the companies to work together to bring autonomous vehicle technology into the mainstream through pilot projects and product development efforts, these people said.

The deal was confirmed by Lyft and Waymo.

Who knows, maybe Google would have made this same deal with Lyft even in the alternate universe where Uber didn’t steal Google’s tech. But it sure looks like Uber has made a powerful enemy.

Long Live MP3 

Marco Arment:

Until a few weeks ago, there had never been an audio format that was small enough to be practical, widely supported, and had no patent restrictions, forcing difficult choices and needless friction upon the computing world. Now, at least for audio, that friction has officially ended. There’s finally a great choice without asterisks.

MP3 is supported by everything, everywhere, and is now patent-free.

I wasn’t paying attention last week when Gizmodo, Engadget, and NPR got hoodwinked into writing “MP3 Is Dead” stories by an announcement from Fraunhofer pushing people to switch from the now-open MP3 to the still-patent-encumbered AAC.

On Twitter, Marco pointed to this 10-year-old piece from yours truly, describing the then-pipe-dream of Ogg Vorbis:

The ideal scenario would be for a genuinely open and free file format such as Ogg Vorbis to supplant MP3 as the de facto world standard. No patents, no licensing fees, a documented file format, open source libraries for encoding and decoding. That doesn’t seem to be in the cards, however. In the real world, major corporations only seem comfortable with multimedia formats backed by other large corporations.

Now that the MP3 patents have expired, the situation is even better, because MP3 has been so thoroughly vetted, patent-wise. Idealism seldom wins out in these format battles. But time always wins.

Engadget: ‘The First Television With Amazon Fire TV Built in Is Just Fine’ 

I think the big news isn’t that there’s a cheap TV with Fire built-in — it’s that Amazon is promoting it heavily on their home page. Google’s home page is probably still the most valuable advertising real estate on the Internet, but Amazon’s is almost certainly more valuable for selling consumer goods, because people visiting Amazon are ready to buy.

Loog Guitars 

Rafael Atijas, founder of Loog Guitars:

Loog Guitars are small, 3-string guitars designed to make it fun and easy for anyone to play music. They come with flashcards and an app that get you playing songs on day one.

I don’t know much about guitars, but these look cool, the prices seem very reasonable, and the app looks great. It’s a Kickstarter project, but it’s already fully-funded (several times over) and they expect to start shipping next month.

Today at Apple Launches 

Educational classes, photo walks, and more — from your local Apple Store. This, I think, is Angela Ahrendts’s biggest project at Apple to date. This is not just a program for the major flagship stores — it’s a program for every single Apple Store around the world. As I wrote a few weeks ago, Apple’s retail stores are one of the most overlooked / underestimated advantages in all of technology.

Via Sarah Perez, whose TechCrunch story points out that “The launch kicking off this week includes 4,000 sessions per day across Apple’s stores.”

Steven Levy Tours Apple Park 

Steven Levy, writing for Wired:

On a crisp and clear March day, more than five years after Jobs’ death, I’m seated next to Jonathan Ive in the back of a Jeep Wrangler as we prepare to tour the nearly completed Apple Park, the name recently bestowed on the campus that Jobs pitched to the Cupertino City Council in 2011. At 50, Apple’s design chieftain still looks like the rugby player he once was, and he remains, despite fame, fortune, and a knighthood, the same soft-spoken Brit I met almost 20 years ago. We are both wearing white hard hats with a silver Apple logo above the brim; Ive’s is personalized with “Jony” underneath the iconic symbol. Dan Whisenhunt, the company’s head of facilities and a de facto manager of the project, comes with us. He too has a personalized hat. It is an active construction site on a tight deadline — the first occupants are supposedly moving in within 30 days of my visit, with 500 new employees arriving every week thereafter — and I felt a bit like one of the passengers on the first ride into Jurassic Park.

Fantastic piece. Hard not to get a little choked up thinking about it as Steve Jobs’s final product:

“Could we have cut a corner here or there?” Cook asks rhetorically. “It wouldn’t have been Apple. And it wouldn’t have sent the message to everybody working here every day that detail matters, that care matters.” That was what Jobs wanted — what he always wanted. And the current leaders of Apple are determined not to disappoint him in what is arguably his biggest, and is certainly his last, product launch. “I revere him,” Cook says. “And this was clearly his vision, his concept. Our biggest project ever.”

When the World Is Led by a Child 

David Brooks has the line of the day:

We’ve got this perverse situation in which the vast analytic powers of the entire world are being spent trying to understand a guy whose thoughts are often just six fireflies beeping randomly in a jar.

The Washington Post: ‘Trump Revealed Highly Classified Information to Russian Foreign Minister and Ambassador’ 

Greg Miller and Greg Jaffe, reporting for The Washington Post:

In his meeting with Lavrov, Trump seemed to be boasting about his inside knowledge of the looming threat. “I get great intel. I have people brief me on great intel every day,” the president said, according to an official with knowledge of the exchange.

Trump went on to discuss aspects of the threat that the United States learned only through the espionage capabilities of a key partner. He did not reveal the specific intelligence-gathering method, but he described how the Islamic State was pursuing elements of a specific plot and how much harm such an attack could cause under varying circumstances. Most alarmingly, officials said, Trump revealed the city in the Islamic State’s territory where the U.S. intelligence partner detected the threat.

The Washington Post is withholding most plot details, including the name of the city, at the urging of officials who warned that revealing them would jeopardize important intelligence capabilities.

Is Trump a Russian collaborator? A bumbling idiot? Both? No matter what the answer is, he’s unfit to be president. This would be comical if the stakes weren’t so high. If a cabinet secretary had blabbed about this they’d be fired on the spot.

Derek Jeter on Why He Started the Players’ Tribune 

Matthew Panzarino did a terrific job with this interview with co-founders Derek Jeter and Jaymee Messler, on stage today at TechCrunch Disrupt in New York. (Matthew very kindly set me up with backstage passes — one for me, and one for my son. Very cool.)

Derek Jeter Day 

ESPN:

Derek Jeter is the only player in MLB history to play 20+ years without experiencing a single losing season .

Great ad from Budweiser celebrating Jeter’s number getting retired today.

The Talk Show: ‘Anything Luxury’ 

For your weekend listening pleasure, a new episode of The Talk Show, featuring special guest Ben Thompson. Topics include Microsoft’s announcements from Build 2017, search engines, Amazon’s new (confusingly-named) Look and Show devices, the need for HAL 9000, Apple’s WeChat problem in China, and more.

Brought to you by these fine sponsors:

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Squarespace: Customizable Design 

My thanks to Squarespace for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Squarespace is the simplest way to create a beautiful website. Every template is customizable, so you can make it your own. Add a portfolio to showcase your work, a store to sell your products or services, a blog to share your ideas, and more. Start now — you can try Squarespace for free. When you’re ready to subscribe, get 10 percent off at squarespace.com with offer code DARING17.

Malware, Described in Leaked NSA Documents, Cripples Computers Worldwide 

The Washington Post:

Cybersecurity experts said the malicious software works by exploiting a flaw in Microsoft software that was described in NSA documents stolen from the agency and leaked publicly in April by a criminal group called Shadow Brokers.

Microsoft released a “critical” patch fixing the flaw in March, before the NSA documents were publicly released, but the patch was apparently applied inconsistently, with many computers continuing to be unprotected. The malicious software — called “ransomware” because it encrypts systems and threatens to destroy data if a ransom is not paid — is spreading among computers that have not been patched, experts said.

The NSA did not respond to requests for comment.

Remember last year when a whole bunch of people wanted Apple to create a special version of iOS for the U.S. government, under the promise that it would never escape their safe hands and get into the wild? Like this ignoramus, who was then campaigning for president.

Apple Invests $200 Million in Corning, First Investment From $1 Billion Advanced Manufacturing Fund 

Apple press release:

Apple today announced Corning Incorporated will receive $200 million from Apple’s new Advanced Manufacturing Fund as part of the company’s commitment to foster innovation among American manufacturers. The investment will support Corning’s R&D, capital equipment needs and state-of-the-art glass processing. Corning’s 65-year-old Harrodsburg facility has been integral to the 10-year collaboration between these two innovative companies and will be the focus of Apple’s investment.

The Amazing Dinosaur Fossil Found (Accidentally) by Miners in Canada 

Michael Greshko, writing for National Geographic:

At first glance the reassembled gray blocks look like a nine-foot-long sculpture of a dinosaur. A bony mosaic of armor coats its neck and back, and gray circles outline individual scales. Its neck gracefully curves to the left, as if reaching toward some tasty plant. But this is no lifelike sculpture. It’s an actual dinosaur, petrified from the snout to the hips.

The more I look at it, the more mind-boggling it becomes. Fossilized remnants of skin still cover the bumpy armor plates dotting the animal’s skull. Its right forefoot lies by its side, its five digits splayed upward. I can count the scales on its sole. Caleb Brown, a postdoctoral researcher at the museum, grins at my astonishment. “We don’t just have a skeleton,” he tells me later. “We have a dinosaur as it would have been.”

Looks more like a movie prop than a fossil.

HP Laptops Covertly Log User Keystrokes, Researchers Warn 

Dan Goodin, writing for Ars Technica:

HP is selling more than two dozen models of laptops and tablets that covertly monitor every keystroke a user makes, security researchers warned Thursday. The devices then store the key presses in an unencrypted file on the hard drive.

The keylogger is included in a device driver developed by Conexant, a manufacturer of audio chips that are included in the vulnerable HP devices. That’s according to an advisory published by modzero, a Switzerland-based security consulting firm. One of the device driver components is MicTray64.exe, an executable file that allows the driver to respond when a user presses special keys. It turns out that the file sends all keystrokes to a debugging interface or writes them to a log file available on the computer’s C drive.

Whoops.

Apple Will Announce Amazon Prime Video Coming to Apple TV at WWDC 

John Paczkowski, reporting for BuzzFeed:

Sources in position to know tell BuzzFeed News that Amazon’s Prime video app — long absent from Apple TV — is indeed headed to Apple’s diminutive set-top box. Apple plans to announce Amazon Prime video’s impending arrive to the Apple TV App Store during the keynote at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) on June 5 in San Jose, CA. A source familiar with the companies’ thinking say the app is expected to go live this summer, but cautioned that the hard launch date might change. Amazon had previously declined to even submit a Prime Video app for inclusion in Apple’s Apple TV App Store, despite Apple’s “all are welcome” proclamations.

Recode earlier reported that Apple and Amazon were nearing an agreement that may finally bring the Prime Video app to Apple TV. It’s now official.

Still no word on what exactly the holdup was, or what, if anything, has changed.

Apple: ‘How to Shoot on iPhone 7’ 

Cool new series of videos from Apple, showing how to get the most from your iPhone camera.

The Girls’ Soccer Team That Joined a Boys’ League, and Won It 

Raphael Minder, reporting for The New York Times:

The ponytailed forward cut through the rain and the defense and drove a low shot past the outstretched arm of the goalkeeper. The pinpoint strike — her 38th of the season — confirmed Andrea Gómez as the top scorer for her championship team.

The boys Gómez left in her wake, though, were not the first ones forced to retrieve one of her shots from their net. Gómez, 13, and her teammates had been confounding boys all season, playing so well that their girls’ team recently won a junior regional league in Spain over 13 boys’ teams.

“I always try to show that soccer isn’t just for boys,” Gómez said. “If you’re technically better, you can compensate for being perhaps physically weaker.”

Quite telling who gave them the most heckling trouble:

The transition was not easy. The girls finished 12th in an 18-team league in their debut season. But as the team improved, and began to beat boys’ teams with more regularity, its progress generated unpleasant reactions.

“It’s really been more a problem for parents rather than their boys,” Salmerón said of comments directed at the team during matches. “It’s strange, but most of the macho comments and insults have come from the mothers of some of the boys we play.”

David Robinson:

On a typical day, developers ask over 8,000 questions on Stack Overflow about programming problems they run into in their work. Which technologies are they asking about, and how has that changed over time?

Today, we’re introducing the Stack Overflow Trends tool to track interest in programming languages and technologies, based on the number of Stack Overflow questions asked per month. For example, we could compare the relative usage of three programming languages.

MacPaw’s Museum of Apple Hardware 

MacPaw, on their acquisition of TekServe’s collection of Apple hardware:

As the shop grew and became a landmark Apple dealer, the Tekserve team found themselves surrounded by beautiful Macs of all kinds. In twenty years they decided to turn the best of them, groundbreaking models, as they put it, into a museum-like exhibition. And later, when the shop was shutting down, an Apple Lisa, an alien Nextstation Turbo machine, and the rest of the grand collection had to find a new home on an auction.

The prospects looked pretty grim, because a collection like that had a high chance of ending up in some millionaire’s basement. Luckily, MacPaw’s CEO Olexandr Kosovan heard about the auction and made an instant decision. He secretly bought all of the iconic Macintosh computers before the collection was taken apart and sold piece by piece.

That is how almost 40 Macs from every generation were reverently moved to MacPaw’s Ukrainian office, to the uncontrollable joy of a hundred Apple fans who work here. We think there’s hardly a better place for historical Apple computers than our futuristic Apple-inspired office. And hardly a better audience than a team of passionate Mac developers.

Just gorgeous.

(Via Stephen Hackett.)

‘Win-Win’ 

Josh Dawsey, reporting for Politico, “Behind Comey’s Firing: An Enraged Trump, Fuming About Russia”:

But the fallout seemed to take the White House by surprise. Trump made a round of calls around 5 p.m., asking for support from senators. White House officials believed it would be a “win-win” because Republicans and Democrats alike had had problems with the FBI director, one person briefed on the administration’s deliberations said.

Instead, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told him he was making a big mistake — and Trump seemed “taken aback,” according to a person familiar with the call.

By Tuesday evening, the president was watching the coverage of his decision and frustrated no one was on TV defending him, a White House official said. He wanted surrogates out there beating the drum.

So he fires Comey, calls Chuck Schumer expecting a pat on the back, Schumer instead tells him he’s making a big mistake, and Trump gets off the phone and mocks Schumer in a tweet. It’s almost comical that he expected this to be popular with Democrats.

Windows 10 S Apps Must Use System HTML Renderer and JavaScript Engine 

Ed Bott:

The restriction is spelled out in the latest revision of the Windows Store Policies. This section is from version 7.3, last revised on March 29, 2017:

10.2 Security

Your app must not jeopardize or compromise user security, or the security or functionality of the device, system or related systems.

10.2.1

Apps that browse the web must use the appropriate HTML and JavaScript engines provided by the Windows Platform.

A Microsoft spokesperson confirmed that policy in a statement today:

Windows Store apps that browse the web must use HTML and JavaScript engines provided by the Windows Platform. All Windows Store content is certified by Microsoft to help ensure a quality experience and keep your devices safer. With this policy, instated early this year, the browser a customer chooses in the Store will ensure the protections and safeguards of our Windows platform. If people would like to access apps from other stores and services, they can switch to Windows 10 Pro at any time.

So Windows 10 S is even more like iOS than I thought.

iTunes Affiliate Commission Cut Is Only for In-App Purchases 

Apple:

We’d like to clarify some changes being made to the Affiliate Program. Commissions for all iOS in-app purchases will be reduced from 7% to 2.5% globally, and all other content types (including music, movies, books, paid iOS apps and TV) will remain at the current 7%.

This is more than a “clarification”. The original announcement made it clear that paid apps were being cut too:

Starting on May 1st 2017, commissions for all app and in-app content will be reduced from 7% to 2.5% globally. All other content types (music, movies, books, and TV) will remain at the current 7% commission rate in all markets.

This policy change is good news though.

Amazon Unveils Touchscreen Echo Show 

Intriguing functionally — there are some things that are better seen than heard (and vice versa). But it’s a rather ungainly piece of hardware, particularly the “white” model, which looks black from the front. The audio-only Echo can be placed discreetly in a kitchen, living room, or bedroom. The Echo Show is a conspicuous device — by design, surely, given that it has a display. But at best I’d describe it as inelegant, and I’d actually say it’s homely ugly.

Update: In British English, homely means “simple but cozy and comfortable, as in one’s own home”; in North American English, it means “unattractive in appearance”. Sorry for any confusion.

The Talk Show: ‘Long Press on the French Fries’ 

[Update: The first version of the audio had a silent two-minute gap starting at the 48m:36s mark. Fixed now, sorry about that.]

For your weekend listening pleasure, a new episode of The Talk Show, with special guest Rene Ritchie. Topics include Apple’s Q2 2017 financial results, the iPhone’s decline in China over the past two years, Microsoft’s new Surface Laptop and Windows 10 S, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick getting called to Tim Cook’s office regarding Uber’s surreptitious “fingerprinting” of iPhones, judging Apple Watch’s success, Hulu’s entry into the cord-cutting “live TV” subscription market (and Apple’s conspicuous absence from that same market), and more.

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Amazon Web Service Device Farm 

My thanks to AWS for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote Amazon Web Service Device Farm. AWS Device Farm is an app testing service that lets you test and interact with your Android, iOS, and web apps on many devices at once, or reproduce issues on a device in real time. View video, screenshots, logs, and performance data to pinpoint and fix issues before shipping your app.

For a limited time, get 1000 device minutes as part of your one-time free trial, quadruple the usual 250. Furthermore, get 3 months for the price of 1 on your first device slot purchase, giving you additional time to set-up, tune, integrate, and ramp your testing efforts.

If you’re a developer targeting a wide range of devices, you should check it out.

Recode: Amazon Prime Video App May Be Coming to Apple TV This Summer 

Peter Kafka and Jason Del Rey, reporting for Recode:

Amazon and Apple may have reached a truce. The tech giants, who are increasingly competing for customers’ time, eyeballs and money, are close to an agreement to bring an Amazon video app to Apple’s Apple TV set-top box, according to people familiar with the two companies. Amazon employees expect the app to show up on Apple’s hardware in the third quarter of the year.

That move would allow Amazon Prime Video subscribers to easily watch TV shows and movies from the service using Apple TV. For the past few years, Amazon subscribers have only been able to watch their shows on Apple TV using Apple’s comparatively cumbersome Airplay system, which involves connecting another Apple product, like an iPhone, to an Apple TV using a Wi-Fi connection.

I watch a lot less Amazon Prime stuff than I otherwise would because it’s not on Apple TV. I hope this is true.

Consumer Reports: The Affordable Care Act Drove Down Personal Bankruptcy 

Allen St. John, writing for Consumer Reports:

As legislators and the executive branch renew their efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act this week, they might want to keep in mind a little-known financial consequence of the ACA: Since its adoption, far fewer Americans have taken the extreme step of filing for personal bankruptcy.

Filings have dropped about 50 percent, from 1,536,799 in 2010 to 770,846 in 2016. Those years also represent the time frame when the ACA took effect. Although courts never ask people to declare why they’re filing, many bankruptcy and legal experts agree that medical bills had been a leading cause of personal bankruptcy before public healthcare coverage expanded under the ACA. Unlike other causes of debt, medical bills are often unexpected, involuntary, and large. […]

“It’s absolutely remarkable,” says Jim Molleur, a Maine-based bankruptcy attorney with 20 years of experience. “We’re not getting people with big medical bills, chronically sick people who would hit those lifetime caps or be denied because of pre-existing conditions. They seemed to disappear almost overnight once ACA kicked in.”

Steve Jobs’ Custom Apple I and Other Historic Machines Are on Display at Seattle Museum 

Great feature by Devin Coldewey for TechCrunch on Steve Jobs’s souped-up Apple I:

The Apple I, you may or may not remember, wasn’t much of a hit. Only 200 were made — by hand — and it wasn’t long before the company put its hopes in the Apple II, which would go on to be more popular by far. One of the Is, however, Jobs kept in his office as a demo machine for industry people.

When Jobs left in 1985 he left in a hurry, and this I was left behind on a shelf. Don Hutmacher, one of the company’s first employees, grabbed it and it stayed in his possession until he passed away last year. His wife generously allowed the museum to take care of it, and you can imagine their gratitude.

Because the Apple I didn’t have a ROM, and Jobs didn’t want to have to program it from scratch any time someone wanted to see it in action, he had a custom EPROM attached to it that initialized the computer with BASIC when it started up. Its RAM, the engineering team suspects, was also augmented so it didn’t run out and crash during the demo.

And because it was Jobs’s, it had a nice case, too. Of course.

Why Do Some People Not Return Their Shopping Carts? 

Krystal D’Costa, writing for Scientific American’s Anthropology in Practice:

While some supermarkets are better than others, it’s probably not unusual to find a few stray shopping carts littering the parking lot to the dismay of shoppers who may think that a parking spot is open, only to find that it’s actually being used by a shopping cart. It seems like a basic courtesy to others: you get a cart at the supermarket, you use it to get your groceries and bring them to your vehicle, and then you return it for others to use. And yet, it’s not uncommon for many people to ignore the cart receptacle entirely and leave their carts next to their cars or parked haphazardly on medians. During peak hours, it can mean bedlam. Where does this disregard come from?

I always return my shopping cart. I don’t think I’ve ever once not done it. Part of it is that I had a job for two summers where I was the kid who had to collect them in the parking lot, so I sympathize, but I think it’s mostly just being a decent human being.

(Via Dave Pell’s NextDraft.)

‘An Act of Monstrous Cruelty’ 

Paul Waldman, writing for The Washington Post’s Plum Line:

Here at the Plum Line, we write a lot about the mechanics of politics — the processes of governing, the interplay of political forces, the back-and-forth between citizens and lawmakers, and so on. We do that because it’s interesting and because it winds up affecting all our lives. But there are moments when you have to set aside the mechanics and focus intently on the substance of what government does — or in this case, what government is trying to do.

I won’t mince words. The health-care bill that the House of Representatives passed this afternoon, in an incredibly narrow 217-to-213 vote, is not just wrong, or misguided, or problematic or foolish. It is an abomination. If there has been a piece of legislation in our lifetimes that boiled over with as much malice and indifference to human suffering, I can’t recall what it might have been. And every member of the House who voted for it must be held accountable.

Includes a solid point-by-point rundown of just what’s in this bill.

Tim Cook’s Interview With Jim Cramer 

Watch the full video segment, it’s pretty good. The headline is about Cook’s announcement that Apple is creating a $1 billion fund to promote advanced manufacturing jobs in the U.S., but there’s a lot of other interesting stuff in the video. (Cook says Apple Watch has helped him lose 30 pounds — if that’s true, he hid it well, because he doesn’t really look any different to me.)

‘This Isn’t AI’ 

Terence Eden, on trying to get his Amazon Echo to respond to a custom query:

I kinda thought that Amazon would hear “solar panels” and work out the rest of the query using fancy neural network magic. Nothing could be further from the truth. The developer has to manually code every single possible permutation of the phrase that they expect to hear.

This isn’t AI. Voice interfaces are the command line. But you don’t get tab-to-complete.

Amazon allow you to test your code by typing rather than speaking. I spent a frustrating 10 minutes trying to work out why my example code didn’t work. Want to know why? I was typing “favourite” rather than the American spelling. Big Data my shiny metal arse.

A voice interface that’s as rigid as the command line can still be very useful, but he’s right — it isn’t AI. (Via Charles Arthur.)

New Google Docs Phishing Scam, Almost Undetectable 

I have a few friends and some people I follow on Twitter who’ve been sent this already. Seems dastardly clever.

Windows 10 S Won’t Let You Change the Default Browser or Search Engine 

Tom Warren writing for The Verge:

In a FAQ for Windows 10 S, Microsoft admits “you are able to download another browser that might be available from the Windows Store, but Microsoft Edge will remain the default if, for example, you open an .htm file.” This means if you click a link from another app, or open a link from an email then you’ll be thrown into Microsoft Edge, even if you wanted to use another browser. It’s not clear if Google will even bring Chrome to the Windows Store, but if it does then it might be a pointless venture as it won’t be fully functional without being the default browser on Windows 10 S.

Likewise, Microsoft is also crippling its own Edge browser. The default search provider in Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer in Windows 10 S cannot be changed. Bing will be the default, and Microsoft is preventing users from switching to Google or other search providers for some unknown reason.

It’s not an “unknown reason”. It’s an obvious reason: they want more people to use Bing, and if they can only use Bing from Edge’s search feature, more people will use Bing.

Let’s compare and contrast these restrictions with iOS:

  • Both allow alternative browsers, but only from their respective app stores.
  • Neither allow alternative browsers to be set as the default web browser.
  • iOS does not allow alternative browsers to use their own HTML rendering or JavaScript engines — all iOS web browsers must use the system’s version of WebKit. I don’t think this is the case for the Windows App Store, but I’m not sure. Update 1: I was correct, third-party browsers can use their own rendering engines in the Windows App Store. Update 2: That’s true for the regular Windows App Store but for Windows 10 S, apps are restricted to the system HTML rendering and JavaScript engines, just like iOS.
  • iOS defaults to Google for web search, Windows 10 S to Bing. But iOS lets you change the search engine to Yahoo, Bing, or DuckDuckGo. Windows 10 S doesn’t let you change it.
You’re Not Going to Believe What The Oatmeal Is About to Tell You 

Just terrific. Read and pass along.

Apple Quarterly Results 

Nothing surprising, one way or the other. The numbers that stuck out to me are the year-over-year sales numbers:

  • iPhone was nearly dead even: units were down 1%, revenue up 1%.
  • iPad is down: 13% in units and 12% in revenue.
  • Mac is up: 4% in units and a solid 14% in revenue.
  • “Other” (Apple TV, Apple Watch, Beats products, iPod, accessories) was up a whopping 31 percent in revenue.
  • Services are up 18%.

My read: the new MacBook Pros are selling well, as are Apple Watch and AirPods (and maybe the wireless Beats?). No records were broken, but the results are all good other than iPad.

Leaked Photos of Fitbit’s Upcoming Smartwatch 

The “chin” on this watch is ridiculous.

Trump’s Dizzying Day of Interviews 

Josh Dawsey, summing up Trump’s array of interviews marking his 100th day in office:

President Donald Trump questioned why the Civil War — which erupted 150 years ago over slavery — needed to happen. He said he would be “honored” to meet with Kim Jong-Un, the violent North Korean dictator who is developing nuclear missiles and oppresses his people, under the “right circumstances.”

The president floated, and backed away from, a tax on gasoline. Trump said he was “looking at” breaking up the big banks, sending the stock market sliding. He seemed to praise Philippines strongman President Rodrigo Duterte for his high approval ratings. He promised changes to the Republican health care bill, though he has seemed unsure what was in the legislation, even as his advisers whipped votes for it.

And Monday still had nine hours to go.

“It seems to be among the most bizarre recent 24 hours in American presidential history,” said Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian. “It was all just surreal disarray and a confused mental state from the president.”

Republican political consultant Rick Wilson (whom you should follow on Twitter if you aren’t already):

Taken as a package, the 100 Days interviews sound like evidence submitted in an involuntary commitment hearing to a mental institution.

Google Maps, Amazon, and eBay Pull Apple Watch Apps From App Store 

Nice find by Neil Hughes at AppleInsider:

In the last few weeks, the latest update for Google Maps on iOS ditched support for the Apple Watch. Its removal was not mentioned in the release notes, and Google has not indicated whether support for watchOS will be reinstated.

It’s the same story with Amazon and eBay, both of which previously included Apple Watch support in their iOS apps. Both were updated in late April, and as of Monday, neither includes an Apple Watch app.

The striking thing is that no one noticed until today. It’s pretty clear that despite the significant improvements in WatchOS 3, Apple Watch is not a successful app platform. It’s a successful fitness tracker and notification platform, but not for apps. Also, it’s one thing for a developer not to have supported Apple Watch in the first place, but it’s something else when a developer has gone to the effort to create an Apple Watch app and now removes it.

There are an awful lot of apps where a Watch app doesn’t make sense. Amazon for one. No one is going to shop on their watch. But Google Maps is an app where a Watch app makes sense, for turn-by-turn directions.

It’s just too slow and finicky to even get apps installed on Apple Watch in the first place. And the thing most apps are useful for on the watch — notifications — you don’t even need a WatchOS app for. You can just have the notifications from your iPhone show up on your watch.

The ‘Orange Is the New Black’ Netflix Hack Was a Terrible Idea 

Brian Barrett, writing for Wired:

Although the hack offers a reminder that even the best security can be undone by the so-called “weakest link” — Netflix can’t do much if a vendor is compromised — it provides a bigger lesson in how the internet has largely shifted away from torrenting. If a show lands on The Pirate Bay and nobody watches, did it really stream?

Consider that in 2011, BitTorrent accounted for 23 percent of daily internet traffic in North America, according to network-equipment company Sandvine. By last year, that number sat at under 5 percent. “There’s always going to be the floor of people that are always going to be torrenting,” says Sandvine spokesperson Dan Deeth. That group will surely enjoy whatever Piper’s up to in season five. But the idea that so small a cohort might prompt Netflix to negotiate with hackers seems absurd.

I agree with this: Netflix’s best defenses against piracy are the facts that the actual Netflix service is so affordable and so convenient to use. The same thing happened with the iTunes Music Store back in the day.

On Windows 10 S Going App-Store-Only 

Dieter Bohn, on Twitter:

Microsoft beats Apple to releasing a locked down, App Store only computer.

Odd!

I think that fairly captures a lot of people’s reaction to Windows 10 S. But it’s interesting to me that the premise of the tweet ignores the iPad, which has been completely locked to the App Store all along. I’m not accusing Bohn of an oversight here. I don’t think he forgot about the iPad, but rather that he doesn’t even consider the iPad a “computer”.

I, for one, don’t find it the least bit odd or surprising that Microsoft has shipped a version of Windows that’s locked to their app store before Apple has done similarly with MacOS. That’s a fundamental aspect of Apple’s dual OS strategy. Microsoft only has one OS, Windows, so if they want to ship a laptop with the advantages of being restricted to software from an app store, they have to do it in a version of Windows. I wouldn’t go so far as to state with certitude that Apple will never ship a version of MacOS that is App-Store-only, but I would bet against it.

Windows 10 ‘S’ Is App-Store-Only Unless You Pay $50 

Business Insider’s Matt Weinberger calls the new Surface Laptop a “MacBook Killer”, because he works for Business Insider and they’ve got some sort of bot that changes the word “competitor” to “killer” in any headline related to Apple. This bit about Windows 10 S caught my eye:

The one thing to know, here, is that the Surface Laptop is the poster child for Windows 10 S, a new version of the operating system, also announced today, that Microsoft promises is more streamlined, more secure, and that offers better performance and battery life than the standard Windows 10.

The tradeoff for those perks is that Windows 10 S doesn’t let you install any software that’s not from the Windows Store app market — which means that, at the very least, you won’t be able to install the Google Chrome web browser.

If you’re not down with that, Microsoft lets you switch any Windows 10 S computer, including the Surface Laptop, to the regular Windows 10 Pro for a one-time $49 fee (less if you’re on a tablet or something else with a small screen size). But if you do that, Microsoft says, it can no longer guarantee you’ll get the improved battery life or higher performance.

I can see the argument for making the OS App-Store-only by default. I can also see the argument for an iOS-style system where it’s App-Store-only, period. But charging $50 for this feels like a shakedown. Imagine if Apple charged $50 to toggle the setting in the Security pane of System Prefs to allow the use of apps from outside the App Store.

Intro Video for Microsoft’s New $999 Surface Laptop 

Nice video for an interesting laptop. There’s an Apple-esque pride in the design of the internal components as well as the exterior.

Travis Kalanick Has Canceled His Code Conference Interview 

Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg:

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick is not the first exec to deal with sexual harassment and sexism issues. And he’s not the first to be accused of stealing technology. He’s also not the first to anger customers through cloddish statements. And he’s not the first to face significant doubts about his ability to manage a fast-growing startup.

But he is the very first speaker in the 15 years we have been putting on our tech and media events to cancel his interview due to the many embarrassing issues at his company. In this case, because the report from former Attorney General Eric Holder on Uber’s culture and management problems has been delayed until the week of Code at the end of May.

This might be the first good decision Kalanick has made in months. Swisher and Mossberg would have skewered him.

Interesting Survey of AirPod Users 

Ben Bajarin, writing for Techpinions:

We used every available resource to track down as many AirPod owners as we could. In the end, we found 942 people willing to take our study and share their thoughts on Apple’s latest product.

The big story is customer satisfaction with AirPods is extremely high. 98% of AirPod owners said they were very satisfied or satisfied. Remarkably, 82% said they were very satisfied. The overall customer satisfaction level of 98% sets the record for the highest level of satisfaction for a new product from Apple. When the iPhone came out in 2007, it held a 92% customer satisfaction level, iPad in 2010 had 92%, and Apple Watch in 2015 had 97%.

While the overall satisfaction number is remarkable, a second question we asked of these owners stood out even more. We used a standard benchmark question called a Net Promoter Score, which ranks a consumer’s willingness to recommend the product to others. This ranking is on a scale of 0 to 10 with 10 being extremely likely to recommend and 0 being not likely at all to recommend. It was this number that surprised me. Apple’s Net Promoter Score for AirPods came back as 75. To put that into context, the iPhone’s NPS number is 72. Product and NPS specialists will tell you anything above 50 is excellent and anything above 70 is world class. According to Survey Monkey’s Global Benchmark of over 105,000 organizations who have tested their NPS, the average is an NPS of 39.

If only they weren’t still backordered by 6 weeks.

A Hundred Days of Trump 

David Remnick, writing for The New Yorker:

On April 29th, Donald Trump will have occupied the Oval Office for a hundred days. For most people, the luxury of living in a relatively stable democracy is the luxury of not following politics with a nerve-racked constancy. Trump does not afford this. His Presidency has become the demoralizing daily obsession of anyone concerned with global security, the vitality of the natural world, the national health, constitutionalism, civil rights, criminal justice, a free press, science, public education, and the distinction between fact and its opposite. The hundred-day marker is never an entirely reliable indicator of a four-year term, but it’s worth remembering that Franklin Roosevelt and Barack Obama were among those who came to office at a moment of national crisis and had the discipline, the preparation, and the rigor to set an entirely new course. Impulsive, egocentric, and mendacious, Trump has, in the same span, set fire to the integrity of his office.

Andrew Sullivan made a similar point a few months ago:

A free society means being free of those who rule over you — to do the things you care about, your passions, your pastimes, your loves — to exult in that blessed space where politics doesn’t intervene. In that sense, it seems to me, we already live in a country with markedly less freedom than we did a month ago. It’s less like living in a democracy than being a child trapped in a house where there is an abusive and unpredictable father, who will brook no reason, respect no counter-argument, admit no error, and always, always up the ante until catastrophe inevitably strikes. This is what I mean by the idea that we are living through an emergency.