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.
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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
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 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.
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
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
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…
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
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
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 ★
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
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
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
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
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:
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.
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 ★
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.
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
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
(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.
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 ★
Here’s a tiny proof of concept for a @jsonfeed viewer, built in an
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
“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
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 ★
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 ★
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 ★
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
MP3 is supported by everything, everywhere, and is now
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.)
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
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.
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.