January 3, 2017

» What Apple gives you for $100 as a Safari Extension Developer 

Turns out, however, Apple did eventually publish the extension — they just never told us. We don’t know when it happened, but it was likely around or after Thanksgiving, because we’d checked a few times since receiving that last email saying we were still under review.

There’s very few cool/new extensions for Safari nowadays. This dev makes the case that it’s a terrible experience for programmers. iOS/Mac codebase consolidation is likely the cause, and again, the Mac gets a downgrade in experience because of it.

Snippets
January 2, 2017

Not sharing is uncaring

It’s amazing the influence social network have in our life. The topic of followers and how to get more came up more than once during our Christmas family gatherings.

How many posts are ok? What sort of content is best? These were questions that didn’t need much explanation across generations.

The basic utility that social networks have become in the smartphone era is probably one of the fastest adopted applications ever.

I do hope this oversharing phenomenon will become this decade’s bell bottoms. Something my son will shudder and laugh at in the future.

Social
January 1, 2017

Extrovert and introvert

Most people would describe their first impression of my Dad as quiet, and of my Mom as fun. I have always enjoyed hearing that I’m certainly my mothers son.

For a long time I wondered: am I good fun? or bad at being quiet?

There’s two situations that have given me clues that I’m more of an introvert that I let myself believe. Big social events and personal conflict. Both of these extremes exhaust me. More than swimming 5k, more than doing an all-nighter. I’m knocked out when I get home, and I’m tired for days.

In both cases, my extrovert script fails. There’s too many interactions in which you can’t plan ahead… or think about it for a while. But I’m OK with this.

My concern recently has been that I feel a kind of regret when I let myself go off script. When I’m perfectly honest and spontaneous, I later look back at the conversation with uneasiness. Because I know it could have gone better somehow.

I’m planning to work on this on 2017.

Personal
December 31, 2016

Cooking is coding. Your guests are QA , they just don’t know it.

During the last year, I started cooking a lot more. Mostly because I got into sous-vide cooking, and suddenly a lot of weird complex steps had a methodological process with logical flow.

By starting with something that was also new to my wife — which is an awesome cook — I managed to defeat my initial fear of failure. That’s dumb I know, but smart I’m not.

In just a few weeks I noticed the benefits of cooking. Not only did I help Ana during the week, but in most cases I felt happier after I finished cooking. Even if you’re preparing a vinaigrette for a salad, all the work cruft that’s top of mind when you arrive home is pushed away.

As with every new topic, I quickly realized how much I don’t know. Yet, there’s many shortcuts that with a 80/20 level of effort, get you to some delicious meals.

Since I mostly did meats this year, I’ll close with the easiest one: temperature. So much anxiety in my past cooking could have been avoided with a thermometer. Some people might have a 6th sense with cooking times, but for everyone else, there’s a target temperature and you’re done with it.

December 30, 2016

Does key clickiness hold the key for ideas to click?

Of course not. But as I go through the list of chapters of The Elements of Eloquence, this was only polyptoton I could come up with today.

Still, something strange is happening with my reaction to keyboards. And my preference is changing.

When my 12in MacBook arrived, I had a common first reaction: the keyboard click is weird — and the arrows layout sucks. For a few weeks the keyboard in the 2015 MacBook Pro and old wireless keyboard felt just right and at home.

Then last week I borrowed the newest Magic Keyboard from the someone on vacation at the office. Although it has more key travel than the MacBook keyboard, it’s closer than the old keyboards.

By the end of the week, the keyboard of the MacBook Pro 2015, started to remind me of the keyboard of the MacBook 2008 I use as a media server. The key’s felt mushy and too far apart.

As I write this, I’d rather reach for my MacBook 12in than my MacBook Pro. Maybe it’s complacency or muscle memory. But maybe just maybe, the new keyboards are better.

Keyboard
December 29, 2016

Placing a pledge on micro.blog

Next week Manton Reece is expected to launch a kickstarter campaign for Micro.blog — his upcoming social network / mini publishing tool.

I will place my pledge without pause.

My past software pledges (Ghost and Macaw) have not been a great personal investment, but I felt strongly about both. Ghost is the most similar, and the biggest disappointment since it hasn’t become the cheap and easy blog platform I’ve hoped.

But Manton has been dreaming and working on this project for a long time. His attention to details — such as how links should work — make me excited about his vision for a service. And his experience developing against Twitter, App.net and Flicker is a good enough reasons of why he’d want an alternative.

Software Snippet
December 28, 2016

Apple can make anything, just not everything

I’m in love with my AirPods. They’ve made me understand Apple’s priorities.

If Apple had to decide that in 2016 it would launch the AirPods or a new Mac Mini, I’m happy with the decision.

In just 1 week, small headphones without wires have changed how/when/where I listen to my iPhone. The effects of a sub $200 gadget are going to be significant in my behavior.

There’s no wire you can cut on a Mac that will have this effect.

Apple biggest constraint is opportunity cost. It’s a new MacPro vs augmented eyewear, it’s macOS features vs Siri features, it’s a new old thing vs a new new thing.

Snippet
December 25, 2016

Holiday tidbits

Blade Runner 2049 Announcement I’ll allow myself excitement over this. The look is right and feel right — as in uncomfortable.

Shake Shack’s mobile app now takes orders across the US This could get ugly — and by this I mean me.

Spotify Updates Mac App With Full Touch Bar Support for MacBook Pro That was fast. Sadly no AppleTV or Apple Watch version in sight.

Duet Adds Touch Bar This is cool. If you have a 9.7in iPad, it’s fairly good Touch Bar test.

tidbits
December 23, 2016

Top 5 2016 iOS Apps

I was planning to post this next week, but App Santa includes so many good apps, that I want to share early:

  1. Castro: With the release of version 2.0, this is my new default player.
  2. Tweetbot: The one and only. Likely I’d quit Twitter if Tweetbot wasn’t around.
  3. Day One: I use this app everyday. Version 2.0 shows promise, but speed is lagging. Still, best journaling app out there.
  4. Happy Scale: If you’re serious about tracking your weight, there’s no better app. I’ve tried them all.
  5. Inbox by Gmail: There’s something about Inbox’s UX that just works for me. Still can’t use it on the Desktop, but on mobile it’s my default mail client.

Finalist1:

  • Launch Center Pro: I always return this app to my homescreen. Even without complex scripts, it’s faster than going through screens and folders (Castro, Tweetbot and Happy Scale are launched from this App)
  • The Economist Espresso: At $2.99, it’s how I currently keep up-to-date with non-tech news.
  • Morning Reader: For tech news, this site/App has replaced Techmeme as my source.
  • Carbo: If it’s in a piece of paper, whiteboard, desk or post-it, I scan it with Carbo.
  • Plane Finder: I love looking at planes on final approach or taking off. Even at cruising altitude, this app lets you check everything you’d want to know about the flight.

  1. The easiest way to include more than 5, without including more than 5.

Review 2016 Apps
December 23, 2016

» Encryption App Signal’ Fights Censorship With a Clever Workaround

Andy Greenberg on Wired:

Now when people in Egypt or the United Arab Emirates send a Signal message, it’ll look identical to something like a Google search,” Marlinspike says. The idea is that using Signal will look like using Google; if you want to block Signal you’ll have to block Google.”

Smart. Since Signal is not as widely used as WhatsApp, blocking it doesn’t cause same uproar. This workaround ties its fate with Google, which is like using Godzilla for your canary in a coal mine test.

Snippets
December 23, 2016

» Cars and Trucks and Mac SUVs

Excellent point by Jason Snell:

So maybe it’s a mistake to think that Macs are trucks. Maybe today’s Macs are more like SUVs: they’re more expensive and better appointed cars. It’s a category that’s just as popular as the car, and way more popular than the pickup truck.

Any analogy taken too far always breaks down. But I think this observation works very well.

Snippets
December 22, 2016

Books of Summer

Summers in Miami are fairly long — or at least that’s the excuse I’m using for procrastinating on so many reviews. Rather than wait until next year to catch up with them, here are some quick notes from the books I read/heard from July to October:

Fiction

  • Grass by Sheri S. Tepper (★★★★☆)
    A great example of Sci-Fi as an unobtrusive setting where a story takes place. Some interesting gender roles topics and religious discussions. A denser than normal book that made me think after closing it on many days.

  • Ringworld by Larry Niven (★★★★☆)
    Classic Sci-Fi, which while enjoyable seemed a bit banal after reading Grass. Still, a fun ride in an amazing universe. Not sure I’ll come back for the sequels, but I may re-read it at some point.

AbominationAbomination

  • Abomination by Gary Whitta (★★★★★)
    Excellent. A page turner, but with a different twist on many fantasy stories. I felt for a few of the characters and will love to return to this world if follow-up books are published.

  • Red Rising (Book 1) by Pierce Brown (★★★☆☆)
    If you like The Hunger Games as a genre, then you may really like this. It felt too similar for me, and I found myself struggling to finish it. It did leave me curious with the setup for the next book in the series, so I’ll likely read one more.

  • Steelheart (Book 1) by Brandon Sanderson (★★★★☆)
    Not a great story, but a fantastic world. Some cliché conflicts as a result of the its young adult target. I love the rules and restrictions the characters have, so I’ll read the next book for sure.

  • The Fold: A Novel by Peter Clines (★★★☆☆) A solid book with a very intriguing main character in a different setting. This could make a great movie. The story gets weird for the resolution, but it’s a good page-turner.

  • Changer (Book 1) by Matt Gemmell (★★☆☆☆)
    I’m glad most reviewers don’t agree with me. I really wanted to love this book — since I’m a fan of @mattgemmell tech writing, but it was predictable without any strong characters.

Non-Fiction

  • Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown (★★★☆☆)
    This books has a very important message, but it suffers from booktitis. What could have been a short and to-the-point (essential?) booklet, gets inflated with stories that don’t add much and get repetitive. But if you’re interested in the topic, I’d still recommend it.

  • The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph by Ryan Holiday (★★★☆☆)
    I thought this book could go two directions: either summarizing stoic principles or bring up some insights from stoicism for today’s age. It rather goes somewhere in between, and it didn’t work that well for me. Still, if the topic is new for somebody, I’ll probably consider this book as a good gift.

  • Scrum by Jeff Sutherland, JJ Sutherland. (★★★★☆)
    Sprints, backlog, scrum meetings — if you’ve heard any of these words a few times, I recommend this book. You won’t become a scrum master, or have to do exercises, but it’s a great overview of the reasoning behind the scrum process. Even you don’t practice it religiously, it has some good stories.

Losing the SignalLosing the Signal

If you’re curious of what I’m currently reading and plan to read, visit my Book List Trello board, which I keep up-to-date.

December 20, 2016

The Mac is not dead, maybe. Right?

A self-delusion in three acts:

Act 1 — No surprises.

Almost 7 years ago, I wrote the following regarding the launch of the iPad:

The arrival of the iPad at Apple Stores next month is going to mark the beginning of a deadly fight. Not with Google or Microsoft, but within Apple product lines. This is not a problem for Apple, since Jobs probably believes that if anyone is going to cannibalize Mac sales, it better be Apple itself.

However, for Mac fans, it’s judgement time. It’s now time to pay for sins against the Apple II.

Companies have limited resources. Customers have limited budgets. My dad programmed with punched cards, I used a Newton in high school, and my 1 year old is already bored with my iPhone 7. The deadly fight was likely over before it started in the minds of Jobs and Cook, but iOS sales sealed the deal.

Within the incoming tsunami that iOS devices represent, the Mac is the foamy crest a the top: clearly visible but irrelevant in the context of the wave. The end game is clear: an iPad(ish) device will be on desktops in 10 years. We’re just arguing and lamenting over the minutia of the transition.

Act 2 — (Nice Dream).

A leaked Tim Cook message yesterday:

Some folks in the media have raised the question about whether we’re committed to desktops. If there’s any doubt about that with our teams, let me be very clear: we have great desktops in our roadmap. Nobody should worry about that.

Just the fact that it needs to be made very clear, shows that it’s not completely clear. But while the overall message is dipped in shit, let’s not miss the chocolate filling: the Mac is not dead. Tim Cook wrote this knowing full well it was going to be leaked outside Apple — he wrote it to us.

Act 3 — Everything in its right place.

People-familiar-with-the-matter whisperer, Mark Gurman, today published a fascinating exposé of the alleged state of Mac affairs within Apple.

Gurman has proven to have excellent sources, so there’s little reason to doubt the overall story here. I’m a little skeptic of some of the details — not because they might not be true, but because without context the twists and turns of product development always looks messy in hindsight.

But the main point rings true:

Interviews with people familiar with Apple’s inner workings reveal that the Mac is getting far less attention than it once did. They say the Mac team has lost clout with the famed industrial design group led by Jony Ive and the company’s software team. They also describe a lack of clear direction from senior management, departures of key people working on Mac hardware and technical challenges that have delayed the roll-out of new computers.

On 2017 we will be accept this new reality. Our great expectations will give way for appreciation of at least being invited to the party: AirPods, Apple Pay, Apple Music, TouchID, Siri, APFS; they could not be supported.

The Mac’s are now the trucks Steve predicted. Heavy lifters with basically the same functionality over the years and limited innovation — other than features inherited from other vehicles in the product line. But they’re still needed, because until drones get big enough — you’ll need a pickup to move a stiff dead horse.

Apple Mac Opinion
December 18, 2016

Weekly tidbits

Microsoft: more people are switching from Macs to Surface than ever before No numbers, so it’s a marketing statement. But still not surprised.

Google Signs Deal With Cuba to Speed Services (Paywall) Now even Cuba will play faster YouTube videos than Venezuela. I’m not bitter.

Google has reportedly stopped developing its own self-driving car Not surprising. Seems all self-driving rumored projects are getting a reality check.

Apple Support’ App Launches in U.S. App Store Simple app with very useful purpose. Will be testing it soon.

Yahoo discloses hack of 1 billion accounts I find it hard to believe that they found out from law enforcement. Irresponsible.

Evernote reverses privacy policy that allows employees to read users’ notes There has to be more to this story — maybe an upcoming technical feature poorly explained. Otherwise, this was a stupid change from the start.

tidbits
December 15, 2016

» Displays for designers and developers

Apple’s interface design in macOS is set up so it is comfortable for most people at a density of about 110 pixels per inch for non-Retina, and about 220 pixels per inch for Retina — text is readable and button targets are easy to hit at a normal viewing distance. Using a display that isn’t close to 110PPI or 220PPI means text and interface elements will either be too big, or too small.

The trick is not to focus in the screen size and assume a 4K resolution is good enough. For true retina you need 4K on a 21.5in or 5k on a 27in. Otherwise it’s better to go for a non-retina 27in at 2560x1440.

Snippets