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America the plum blossoms are falling

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It is five in the morning. After a little over four hours of restless sleep, I got out of bed before my tossing and turning woke up Anne. I’m not sleeping much recently, and what sleep I do get is plagued by nightmares.

It’s been raining all night, which I realize isn’t something worth mentioning for most people, but it hasn’t rained here in Los Angeles since 1856, so it’s kind of a big deal. Back in the old days, when it rained a few times a year, before the myth of climate change tricked us all into believing that we’re having a terrible drought that apparently doesn’t really exist, we would sleep with the window open on rainy nights, so we could hear and smell the rain.

My dogs looked at me with confusion when I got out of bed, then did the dog equivalent of shrugging their shoulders and burying themselves back into the covers. My cat wants me to let him out, stop the rain, dry off the patio, and then let him back in. And then back out. And then back in again because he’s a cat.

So. Let’s get to it: we’re fucked. Nothing matters, everything is terrible, and we’re living in a nightmare that hasn’t even begun to hint at how bad it’s going to get. I’ve been spending a lot of time going through the stages of grief, and though it’s mostly a lot of anger, I’m bargaining: maybe the Electoral College will step in and prevent this fucking catastrophe from happening. Maybe the vote will be audited in some of these states where the devil won by just barely over one percent, which is honestly kind of suspicious. Maybe the Democrats in Congress will be joined by a few principled Republicans (they exist, right? They have to exist, don’t they?) and the white nationalist cabinet this president elect wants to install won’t be confirmed.

Bargaining. I know it isn’t going to happen. I know we’re fucked.

Twenty-five percent of eligible voters elected a racist demagogue who has never held a single elected office in his life, a seventy year-old man who has the temperament of a child. I still can’t believe it. When I hear the news say “President Elect Trump” it turns my stomach. It’s such an affront to the country, to the office of the presidency, it feels like it isn’t real.

Hate crimes are happening all over the country. White supremacists, anti-semites, and the absolute worst of humanity feels validated by this election, and they are boldly and fearlessly attacking people, declaring that this election — votes cast by one in four eligible voters — endorses their hateful, bigoted, regressive world view.

Anger. This never should have happened.

How can so many people, even if they are a statistical minority, have no problem supporting a racist for president? What are these fucking idiots going to do when all the things he promised them don’t happen? They say they were voting against corruption and lobbyists and Establishment Washington, but one look at the men this narcissistic sociopath wants in the highest positions of government reveals that none of those things will be reflected in his administration. They won’t get their jobs, they won’t get their draining of the swamp, but we’re all going to get the racism, bigotry, ignorance, and white supremacy they had no problem voting for.

Denial. Somehow, someone is going to do something to stop this from happening. He’s breaking all sorts of ethical rules. He’s breaking diplomatic norms. He doesn’t even want to live in the fucking White House! He doesn’t want the job, he just wants the attention. This can’t be happening.

And back to Anger. And then more Bargaining.

And Depression. So much Depression.

Paul Ryan is going to destroy Medicare, just because he can. Because he is a selfish, evil, despicable man. For the first time in the history of the nation, the Senate refused to confirm a Supreme Court justice (and apparently even the fucking Democrats who we’re supposed to count on to fight back are fine with it) and now our nation will deal with a regressive, right-wing majority on the court for the rest of my life. The Republicans are going to roll back and undo and destroy as much of the social progress of the last 40 years as they can, and in the richest country in the world, our citizens will suffer needlessly, because people like Paul Ryan subscribe to a selfish, hateful, myopic philosophy created by an asshole who never had to experience the consequences of her bullshit.

All of this, and more, because of twenty-five percent of voters.

Oh, there’s Anger again.

And so it goes, this cycle of grief, for my country, for the freedom and hope and opportunity I’ve always believed is fundamental to the American identity, for my fellow humans who are going to suffer now and in the future.

All because twenty-five percent of voters looked at this despicable, hateful, ignorant liar, and voted for him and everything he represents.

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Images of New MacBook Pro With Magic Toolbar Leaked in MacOS Sierra 10.12.1

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Something something doubling down on secrecy.

Noteworthy: there is no hardware Esc key.

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johnparkinson
270 days ago
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As a daily vim user, the lack of a hardware escape key makes me very sad.
London
tingham
270 days ago
Dealing with that on the iPad pro has prevented me from using it daily; which basically makes it a really fantastic media consuming device (and sketchpad.)
gazuga
270 days ago
Coura[Esc][Esc][Esc][Eject][Eject][Eject][Eject]~~~~~ge
leonick
269 days ago
10.12.1 apparently allows you to set any of the modifier keys or caps lock to act as escape. Of course, apps like terminal might just present you with an esc button on the "Magic Toolbar" in the same palce you expect it.
johnparkinson
269 days ago
Remapping is in no way a suitable replacement, since it's the muscle memory of hitting the Esc key in the top left corner that's built in. Just like some laptop keyboards that put a different key to the left of Escape are similarly troublesome. Configurable toolbar is certainly the only thing that can redeem this removal, but I'm concerned how user-accessable that will be. I'm sure there will be cases I would prefer to have access to the Esc key and the developer will think they know better.
leonick
269 days ago
That's completely fair. Hopefully there'll be some global configuration for the user, not just control given to apps. There are other buttons like volume or brightness users may want available at all times too.

★ On iMessage’s Stickiness

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Lauren Goode, writing for The Verge a few weeks ago, “iMessage Is the Glue That Keeps Me Stuck to the iPhone”:

As someone who vacillates between iOS and Android fairly often, but who considers a lightly cracked iPhone 6S her daily driver, I’m also considering whether the Pixel phone is the next phone to buy. All of the software I use now is available on Android: all of my top email, calendar, music, fitness, photography, task-based, work collaboration, and social networking apps are there.

But one app is not, and that’s iMessage.

There is a lot of truth here, especially for people who are largely in the Google ecosystem for email, calendaring, photos, etc. A lot of them use iPhones with Google apps, not Android phones. I know several people who think iPhones are better client devices for Google’s ecosystem than Android devices running Google’s own operating system. In particular, I think this is very common in Silicon Valley. I notice it frequently when I see the homescreens on iPhones used by members of the press who cover the wider industry (as opposed to those who focus more on Apple). That’s who I think Google’s Pixel phones are aimed at: not the mass market, per se, but the technical elite who are currently using a lot of Google services on iPhones. Another way to put it: if the Pixels don’t get Google employees who use iPhones to switch, nothing will.

See, for example, this year-old BuzzFeed column by Charlie Warzel, “Apple’s Junk Drawer Problem”:

There’s a folder on the homescreen of my iPhone affectionately labeled “Apple Crap.” Inside, a colony of flattened, painstakingly designed app icons gather dust. With the exception of the Health and Podcast apps, I’ve become accustomed to relegating Apple’s (undeletable) native apps to the junk drawer. The containment strategy started back in 2012, when Apple Maps suggested I head to a work meeting in the middle of the Hudson River, and I’ve never looked back. An informal office poll also concluded that I’m not alone. We’ll wait hours in line in the cold/heat/rain/snow for a shiny new piece of Apple hardware — but once we get it, the first thing we do is fill it with third-party services, leaving Apple’s proprietary apps tucked away in lonely folders on third or fourth screens.

That doesn’t sound like a typical iPhone user, who is likely to use all or most of Apple’s built-in apps. Apple Maps, for example, is far more popular on iOS than Google Maps. But Warzel’s description sounds exactly like the sort of iPhone users who might be tempted by the Pixel. There’s a split between iPhone users who are primarily part of the Apple ecosystem (iCloud, Safari, Apple Mail, …) and those who are part of the Google ecosystem (Google Drive, Google Calendar, Chrome, Gmail, …).

iMessage is an exception. With iMessage you get to connect both with iPhone users in the Google ecosystem and iPhone users in the Apple ecosystem. For a lot of us here in the U.S., that’s just about everyone we know. It’s no coincidence that two of Google’s major Android initiatives this year are Allo and Duo, their answers to iMessage and FaceTime. I don’t think it’s going to work. iPhone users on the Google ecosystem might install Duo and Allo, and those who switch to Pixel phones will have them installed by default. But I don’t see why iPhone users on the Apple ecosystem will install either Duo or Allo in large enough numbers to make a difference. Anyone who switches to a Pixel phone from an iPhone is still going to miss iMessage and FaceTime.

iMessage and FaceTime are tied to the same Apple ID system, but there’s a subtle difference between their rises in popularity. iMessage gained traction by replacing SMS — you just did what you used to do before iMessage existed and the messages went over iMessage instead of SMS if both people were signed into iCloud. The way Apple usurped SMS for their own users and let SMS remain as a fallback for texting with everyone else was simply genius.

FaceTime, on the other hand, introduced something new: low-latency, high-quality video chat. FaceTime wasn’t the first video chat to exist, but it was the first one to matter in the mass market. I’ve lost track of the TV shows and movies where I’ve seen characters using FaceTime, often mentioning it by name. FaceTime is a meaningful part of the lives of millions of families.

Back to Goode:

Back in June, when Apple showed off a bunch of new iMessage features and said it would be opening up iMessage to third-party app developers, some people wondered whether the company would go even a step further and bring iMessage to Android phones. It was a valid question in the “who-really-knows-what-Apple-will-do” sense, but still, the idea made little sense to me. Of course Apple wasn’t going to allow iMessage to function on Android: iMessage is the glue that keeps people stuck to their iPhones and Macs.

The iMessage-for-Android rumor was started by MacDailyNews, and while I wouldn’t have bet on it, I wasn’t entirely dismissive. I still think it might happen sooner or later. Here’s what I wrote in June:

It’s a little surprising if true, but remember that Apple is now boasting about its prowess as a services company. Messaging is a service. And it makes even more sense if, as rumored, there’s a payments component coming to iMessage.

I’ve heard from little birdies that mockups of iMessage for Android have circulated within the company, with varying UI styles ranging from looking like the iOS Messages app to pure Material Design.1 iMessage for Android may never see the light of day, but the existence of detailed mockups strongly suggests that there’s no “of course not” to it.

As an iOS/MacOS exclusive, iMessage is a glue that “keeps people stuck to their iPhones and Macs”, not the glue. iMessage for Android would surely sure lead some number of iPhone users to switch to Android, but I think that number is small enough to be a rounding error for Apple. Apple wins by creating devices and experiences that people want to use, not that they have to use. Apple creates desire, not obligation. If the iPhone isn’t thriving simply by being the best, then Apple is already in deep trouble. I would argue that in some ways Apple might be better off releasing iMessage for Android, simply to remove a crutch.2

But for a company that has failed at most attempts to create social networks, Apple has inadvertently built one with all of those little blue bubbles.

There’s nothing inadvertent about iMessage’s success.


  1. Apple Music for Android, for example, is very Material Design-y. It uses Android’s system font, the Android standard hamburger menu for the sidebar, Android’s sharing menu icon, Android-style navigation controller transition animations, and more. I may not be well-enough attuned to idiomatic Android UI design to notice where Apple Music is iOS-y, but I can categorically state that Apple Music for Android is far more Android-y than any of Google’s iOS apps are iOS-y. ↩︎

  2. Every time I bring up FaceTime, at least one reader will pipe up asking about Steve Jobs’s on-stage promise at its premiere in 2010 to release FaceTime as an “open standard”. That went wrong two ways. First, the story I’ve been told is that releasing FaceTime as an open standard was a decision Jobs made unilaterally while working on the 2010 WWDC keynote. The FaceTime engineering team learned about it when we did — when Jobs promised it on stage. It wasn’t designed or engineered from the outset to be by open, and so even under the best of circumstances, it might have taken years for FaceTime to go open. But even worse, Apple lost a patent lawsuit over FaceTime that required them to change FaceTime’s architecture.

    So I don’t think we’re ever actually going to see FaceTime as an open standard. But I think the sentiment that drove Jobs to want it to be an open standard applies to the idea of releasing iMessage for Android. Apple doesn’t need to rely on platform-exclusive lock-in. ↩︎︎

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satadru
270 days ago
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Of course does iMessage hold a candle to the dominance of Whatsapp outside the US?
New York, NY
johnparkinson
270 days ago
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I like iMessage, but in the UK I don't see (or hear of) it as anything more than a simple SMS replacement. It's just that when I text someone, sometimes there's some other options. I don't think there is any of this supposed 'glue' that makes people stick with iOS.
London
invinciblegod
270 days ago
I think the main thing is that you can use imessage from any apple device on your account. On an android phone, there are no sms syncing services so you always have to pick up your phone to text someone.
duerig
270 days ago
Actually, I think that the best thing about iMessage is that it is anti-sticky. Since it works both as its own protocol and a simple SMS client, switching from iMessage to an Android messaging app doesn't mean losing all of your contacts. If you leave any other service, you have to figure out anew how to talk to that same set of people again. Assuming that they are even on the new service. The relative ease of moving between iMessage and normal texting is the best thing about it.

“The New Timer App in watchOS 3 is a Disaster”

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Matt Birchler writing on his blog about why the new Apple Watch timer app in watchOS 3 is not well implemented:

This is good in theory, but in my case is a disaster in usability. This app that used to let me set a timer incredibly fast has been slowed down considerably. Apple may have the data to show that the times listed in the above screenshot are the ones I’m most likely to use, but I never find myself using any of these.

I use a 4 minute timer for my coffee, a 46 minute and 75 minute timer for my laundry, and a whole mess of different times for cooking. But what remains constant is none of them line up well with the presets that Apple has provided. This means that every interaction with the Timer app is now lengthened because I need to scroll to the bottom of the app to select the Custom timer option and enter it there.

The timer is one my the complications that I have set on my Apple Watch at all times. Like Birchler, I use it for coffee brewing as well as for cooking. It’s one of those things that has become so valuable to me in the kitchen, that that alone is worth having the Apple Watch for me.

watchOS 3 time app

What Birchler thinks Apple should do is exactly what I think Apple should do.

I don’t think that Apple’s design for the app is completely wrong, I just think they need to modify it a bit. First, I’d move the Custom timer option to the top. Even if there are common timers you set, I would wager that most people want to set a custom one most of the time. I could be wrong, but if I’m not, this would make most people’s default interaction a little easier.

I think the Timer app is better on watchOS 3 than it is on watchOS 2, but it’s not as great for people who set custom timers and for that I’d rather see Apple do what Birchler suggests: move the Custom timer to the front.

The post “The New Timer App in watchOS 3 is a Disaster” appeared first on WatchAware.

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johnparkinson
397 days ago
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I set timers on the Watch by asking Siri, so honestly it makes no difference what the actual app UI is like.
London
yoruneko
397 days ago
I was about to say the same, using Siri is way esier especially while cooking or driving. It might be the only use of Siri were she never fails

How many Apple engineers does it take to fix iTunes?

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In the ranking of unpleasant life experiences, using Apple's iTunes lies somewhere between filing your taxes and having your wisdom teeth pulled out. It's not good even at the best of times, but two weeks ago it was downright harmful to one James Pinkstone of Atlanta, who found 122GB of his own musical creations had been deleted by Apple's renegade software. The response from Cupertino has been swift and decisive, with two engineers being sent out this weekend to diagnose the cause of Pinkstone's agony and try to fix it.

Alas, two full days of testing were not able to recreate the bug that had caused the original file obliteration, and none of the people on site seemed to consider uninstalling iTunes as a solution (probably because...

Continue reading…

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johnparkinson
430 days ago
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It isn't broken. It works fine, I use it literally every single day. I fucking hate the tech press bullshit where they moan about it constantly for no good reason.
London
lywyn
430 days ago
Yet Apple admit there is bug. Plus one guy has provided video evidence of it happening which prompted Apple to admit it is bug. So maybe you should moan at Apple for saying there is bug?
johnparkinson
430 days ago
A bug is one thing. The repeated nonsense saying that's it's hard to use or should be burnt down because it's not fit for purpose is the problem. That's just hyperbolic bullshit.
lywyn
430 days ago
That's your opinion and they have theirs. For me iTunes is bloat for just playing media, I use good folder scheme and VLC.
johnparkinson
430 days ago
Yep, it's an opinion. So the tech press should write it as their opinion and not as fact.

★ Apple Music and Coherent Product Design and Marketing

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Bloomberg, “Apple to Revamp Streaming Music Service After Mixed Reviews, Departures”:

Apple is altering the user interface of Apple Music to make it more intuitive to use, according to people familiar with the product who asked not to be identified because the plans aren’t public. Apple also plans to better integrate its streaming and download businesses and expand its online radio service, the people said. The reboot is expected to be unveiled at the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference in June. The changes will be accompanied by a marketing blitz to lure more customers to the $10-per-month streaming service.

This is a good test for today’s Apple on two fronts. First, will they actually succeed in streamlining the interface to Apple Music? I still think the most obvious solution is to make Apple Music its own standalone app. “All your music in one app” sounds like a great idea in theory, but in practice, I believe that is what has led to the confusing UI. It’s yet another major feature added to iTunes on Mac and Windows — an app that everyone seems to agree already has too many features and responsibilities. What do you see when you open the Spotify or Pandora apps? Just the streaming music you have access to. too. That makes them less complicated, by definition. “Everything you see is in the cloud, and you have access to it because you are a subscriber” is easy to understand. “Some of this is in the cloud, some of this you own” is more complicated.

A big aspect of iOS’s success, from day one in June 2007, is that it emphasized smaller focused apps that do less over larger monolithic apps that do more. The monolithic style leads to desktop iTunes — a single app for managing your personal music collection, buying music from the iTunes Store, buying and playing TV and movies, podcasts, iOS app purchases, and device syncing and backups. The iOS style leads to dedicated separate apps for music playback, video playback, podcasts, and store purchases. Maybe there’s a way to design “all your music in one app” that is completely clear, convenient, and obvious. But the bottom line is that a music app shouldn’t be confusing. I think that’s held Apple Music back.1

Second, it’ll be a test of Apple’s presentation skills. Last year’s Apple Music announcement in the WWDC keynote was the worst segment in an Apple keynote in modern history. It was rambling, awkward, left important questions unanswered, and went on way too long. I don’t break out my “This wouldn’t have happened if Steve Jobs were still around” stamp very often, but I broke it out for that one.

I believe these two things are related. Coherence in product design leads to coherence in product marketing. And vice versa: incoherence in product design leads to incoherence in product marketing. If the product isn’t logical and consistent throughout, how can it be marketed in a logical and consistent way? That’s what we saw with Apple Music last year, and the meandering music segment of the WWDC keynote exemplified it. It will be telling to see if that was a one-time blip, or the beginning of a trend.


  1. To be very clear, Apple Music seems to be doing pretty well. Apple announced last week that they’re up to 13 million paying subscribers. They’re still behind Spotify and Pandora, but Apple Music is only nine months old and seems to be growing faster than Spotify. I just don’t think it’s as fun and easy to use as it should be. ↩︎

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johnparkinson
443 days ago
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There's nothing at all confusing about how Apple Music works right now.
London
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