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Scripting News: Long ago, I designed a language
Dave Winer:

Little-known fact: I designed and developed a programming language.

My goal was to create an environment I would work in for the rest of my career. I just realized it’s exactly 30 years later, and I’m still using it.

30 fucking years. I think I earned the right to say it that way.

Now that I also work in JavaScript, it amazes me how easy the simple things are in Frontier, compared to JS, esp when you have to tack on a database. You really have to work at seeing what’s going on. In Frontier, you just click around expanding things. You can even look at the runtime stack that way.

If you never used Frontier, it’s hard to explain what made it so special. My very favorite thing about Frontier is the “object database”. It wasn’t like using a database in the SQL sense. It was just persistent storage. You didn’t have to deal with the file system at all. You just wrote to, say, scratchpad.foo or examples.bar or any other unique identifier and whatever you wrote would be there when you went to read it. And, even better, there was a visual interface for exploring everything in the object database. You could see it and explore it, because in addition to being a language, Frontier was also a real Mac app. You could even customize the app’s menu items just by editing the system.misc.menubar table in the object database. It’s a wonderfully self-contained design. Re-reading the documentation makes me wonder why there’s nothing like Frontier’s object database in other scripting languages.

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3 hours ago by rufous
Tim Cook and Lisa Jackson attend President Trump's first state dinner
Cook met with Trump in the White House this afternoon, ostensibly to talk about trade policy.

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5 hours ago by rufous
Don’t buy the MacBook Pros even on sale, in my opinion | The Outline
Casey Johnston, writing for The Outline:

A few months ago, I wrote about how my one-year-old MacBook Pro’s keyboard keys stopped working if a single piece of dust slipped under there, and more importantly, that neither Apple nor its Geniuses would acknowledge that this was actually a problem. Today, Best Buy announced it is having a significant sale on these computers, marking them hundreds of dollars off. Interesting. Still, I’d suggest you do not buy them.

Since I wrote about my experience, many have asked me what happened with the new top half of the computer that the Apple Geniuses installed, with its pristine keyboard and maybe-different key switches. The answer is that after a couple of months, I started to get temporarily dead keys for seemingly no reason. Again.

This keyboard has to be one of the biggest design screwups in Apple history. Everyone who buys a MacBook depends upon the keyboard and this keyboard is undependable.

Jason Snell:

I know that we Apple-watchers sit around wondering if Apple will release new laptops with new keyboards that don’t have these issues, but Apple’s relative silence on this issue for existing customers is deafening. If these problems are remotely as common as they seem to be, this is an altogether defective product that should be recalled.

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5 hours ago by rufous
Nintendo’s Switch can be hacked to run custom apps and games - The Verge
Tom Warren, writing for The Verge:

Nintendo’s Switch was hacked to run Linux in February, and now it’s clear that hackers could go further and run homebrew apps and games on the device. Eurogamer reports that two exploits have been detailed this week that allow hackers to exploit a hardware flaw in Nvidia’s Tegra X1 (that powers the Switch) and gain access to the Switch’s operating system. Nintendo cannot patch the hardware flaw without releasing a new version of the Switch, which means that at least 14 million devices are vulnerable.

It’s a jailbreak that’s similar to a “tethered” iPhone jailbreak, meaning it needs to be performed on every boot via USB. The hack doesn’t require a modchip, although it’s likely that third parties will now create Switch hardware mods to assist with the jailbreak.

It’s not what you want, but I’m going to say this is not a “nightmare scenario” for Nintendo. A nightmare scenario would be something that exposes people to a remote exploit, and this isn’t that. Nintendo must be pissed at Nvidia though.

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7 hours ago by rufous
How merchants use Facebook to flood Amazon with fake reviews - The Washington Post
Elizabeth Dwoskin and Craig Timberg, reporting for The Washington Post:

On Amazon, customer comments can help a product surge in popularity. The online retail giant says that more than 99 percent of its reviews are legitimate because they are written by real shoppers who aren’t paid for them.

But a Washington Post examination found that for some popular product categories, such as Bluetooth headphones and speakers, the vast majority of reviews appear to violate Amazon’s prohibition on paid reviews. Such reviews have certain characteristics, such as repetitive wording that people probably cut and paste in.

What a shitshow. I don’t understand why Amazon doesn’t clean this mess up — it does them no good whatsoever to have all these fraudulent reviews. Same thing with counterfeit products, but they’ve let that fester too. (Via Dave Mark.)

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yesterday by rufous
Apple Has a Focus Problem – Luke Kanies – Medium
Luke Kanies:

Unlike touch, keyboards are inherently targeted. While touch is powerful specifically because of your ability to directly manipulate the software you’re using, keyboards must first be pointed at a place that needs text. They need focus. And here’s where the iPad falls down.

It has no concept of focus. Or rather, it obviously does, but its designers are in denial about it. Keyboard focus is littered throughout the platform, from the presence of a cursor when inputting text, to the software keyboard auto-hiding when no text field is in use. When you’re producing text, this generally works pretty well.

But the keyboard is used for far more than typing. Whether it’s command-tabbing between applications or using shortcuts within them, the keyboard is a critical control device. And it just does not work right on the iPad.

I tweeted about this same thing over the weekend, while testing out a new keyboard that Jason Snell convinced me to buy. It seems crazy to me the iPad lets you command-tab between full-screen apps, but when you’re in split screen mode there’s (a) no watch to switch between the apps on screen using the keyboard, and (b) no indication of which app has keyboard focus.

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yesterday by rufous
Facebook And Google: Skip The F8 And I/O Infomercials; Fix Your Problems
John Paczkowski, writing for BuzzFeed:

A few weeks from now, Facebook and Google will hold their yearly developer conferences, massive events meant to celebrate their platforms and visions for the future. They’re typically packed full of grand pronouncements, flashy demos, and Google Glass-wearing skydivers or CEO-impersonating celebrities. Bands play. Drinks flow. They are spectacles, intended to ignite enthusiasm and burnish the Facebook and Google brands. But after a year in which Facebook and Google played pivotal roles in spreading misinformation and were exposed as data-greedy growth goblins, there should be little cause for celebration.

If the platforms are serious about healing themselves, you should be able to see it in a show that’s more about fixing what’s broken rather than building something new. And if they aren’t serious? Expect the same shiny, happy-fun wow-fests.

I would bet big money on “the same shiny, happy-fun wow-fests”.

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yesterday by rufous
turntouch.com
My thanks to Turn Touch for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote their beautiful wooden smart home remote. Ever wanted to control Spotify on your phone without looking at your phone? Do you have smart lights like Philips Hue and want a phone-free way to change scenes and colors? Turn Touch is your answer.

Turn Touch is a wooden smart home remote. Forget plastic, this is a remote as stylish as your home. It controls every smart home device that speaks Wi-Fi. You can also use it to control your Mac and iOS devices over Bluetooth. This includes Keynote, iTunes, Quicktime, Spotify, Sonos, and lots more.

Buy a remote for your home or office for only $59 (with free shipping). It’s a great gift for friends or yourself.

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4 days ago by rufous
techpinions.com
Ben Bajarin, on the result of a survey of iPhone X owners conducted last month:

When it came to overall customer satisfaction, iPhone X owners in our study gave the product an overall 97% customer satisfaction. While that number is impressive, what really stands out when you do customer satisfaction studies is the percentage who say they are very satisfied with the product. Considering you add up the total number of very satisfied, and satisfied, to get your total customer satisfaction number a product can have a high number of satisfied responses and lower number of very satisfied responses and still achieve a high number. The higher the very satisfied responses, the better a product truly is. In our study, 85% of iPhone X owners said they were very satisfied with the product.

That number is amongst the highest I’ve seen in all the customer satisfaction studied we have conducted across a range of technology products. Just to contrast that with the original Apple Watch research with Wristly I was involved in, 66% of Apple Watch owners indicated they were very satisfied with Apple Watch, a product which also ranked a 97% customer satisfaction number in the first Apple Watch study we did.

Wait until you see the feature-by-feature results.

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4 days ago by rufous
Exclusive: Chat is Google’s next big fix for Android’s messaging mess - The Verge
Dieter Bohn, writing for The Verge:

Instead of bringing a better app to the table, it’s trying to change the rules of the texting game, on a global scale. Google has been quietly corralling every major cellphone carrier on the planet into adopting technology to replace SMS. It’s going to be called “Chat,” and it’s based on a standard called the “Universal Profile for Rich Communication Services.” SMS is the default that everybody has to fall back to, and so Google’s goal is to make that default texting experience on an Android phone as good as other modern messaging apps.

As part of that effort, Google says it’s “pausing” work on its most recent entry into the messaging space, Allo. It’s the sort of “pause” that involves transferring almost the entire team off the project and putting all its resources into another app, Android Messages. […]

But remember, Chat is a carrier-based service, not a Google service. It’s just “Chat,” not “Google Chat.” In a sign of its strategic importance to Google, the company has spearheaded development on the new standard, so that every carrier’s Chat services will be interoperable. But, like SMS, Chat won’t be end-to-end encrypted, and it will follow the same legal intercept standards. In other words: it won’t be as secure as iMessage or Signal.

It is unconscionable for Google to back a new protocol that isn’t end-to-end encrypted. End-to-end encryption is table stakes for any new communication platform today. Apple should ignore this — if it’s not secure it should be a non-starter.

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4 days ago by rufous
The Woman Who Gave the Macintosh a Smile | The New Yorker
Alexandra Lange, writing for The New Yorker:

Kare, who is sixty-four, will be honored for her work on April 20th, by her fellow designers, with the prestigious AIGA medal. In 1982, she was a sculptor and sometime curator when her high-school friend Andy Hertzfeld asked her to create graphics for a new computer that he was working on in California. Kare brought a Grid notebook to her job interview at Apple Computer. On its pages, she had sketched, in pink marker, a series of icons to represent the commands that Hertzfeld’s software would execute. Each square represented a pixel. A pointing finger meant “Paste.” A paintbrush symbolized “MacPaint.” Scissors said “Cut.” Kare told me about this origin moment: “As soon as I started work, Andy Hertzfeld wrote an icon editor and font editor so I could design images and letterforms using the Mac, not paper,” she said. “But I loved the puzzle-like nature of working in 16 × 16 and 32 × 32 pixel icon grids, and the marriage of craft and metaphor.”

Susan Kare deserves every award in the world. Her work was central — essential — to what made the Macintosh the Macintosh. The early Macintosh was not just the most endearing computer ever made, I’d argue that it remains the most endearing computer ever made — and in large part that was due to Susan Kare’s icons and fonts.

My interview with Kare at the Layers conference in 2016 is one of the highlights of my career.

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5 days ago by rufous
SmugMug snaps up Flickr photo service from Verizon's Oath
Jessica Guynn, reporting for USA Today

Flickr has been snapped up by Silicon Valley photo-sharing and storage company SmugMug, USA Today has learned.

SmugMug CEO Don MacAskill told USA Today he’s committed to breathing new life into the faded social networking pioneer, which hosted photos and lively interactions long before it became trendy.

SmugMug, an independent, family-run company, will maintain Flickr as a standalone community of amateur and professional photographers and give the long neglected service the focus and resources it deserves, MacAskill said in an exclusive interview.

I hope it works. Flickr was so great back in the day. But I fear it’s too late, and the world has moved on.

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5 days ago by rufous
Popular YouTuber Says Apple Won't Fix His iMac Pro Damaged While Disassembled - Mac Rumors
Joe Rossignol has an excellent piece at MacRumors on the saga of Linus Sebastian’s iMac Pro that Apple has declined to repair:

After the repair was declined by Apple, Sebastian and his team contacted an Apple Authorized Service Provider in Canada, where they are located. The repair shop also declined the repair, but their reason was allegedly that Apple has yet to offer the required certification courses to service the iMac Pro.

However, Apple’s internal iMac Pro Service Readiness Guide obtained by MacRumors states that ATLAS online training and learning resources for servicing the iMac Pro have been available in English since December. We also spoke to multiple sources who completed the course and received certification months ago.

The guide adds that iMac Pro service parts availability began in early to mid January, with replacement logic boards, flash storage, and memory available by late February. Multiple sources at Apple Authorized Service Providers also confirmed that iMac Pro displays are available with two-week-or-less delivery estimates.

MacRumors contacted a reliable source who confirmed that Apple Authorized Service Providers are permitted to deny service for any product that has been opened or modified by a customer, regardless of warranty, both for safety reasons and to avoid responsibility if the machine cannot be fixed.

Sebastian’s video about his saga is deeply disingenuous — he makes it sound as though Apple isn’t able to repair any iMac Pro with a damaged display. As Rossignol’s reporting makes clear, that’s not true. On the surface it does sound wrong that Apple refuses to repair Sebastian’s iMac Pro, even though he’s willing to pay for it. But in car terms, Apple is saying his iMac is totaled. Apple should just quote him a repair price that’s higher than the retail price of a replacement machine.

See also: Rene Ritchie’s video on the saga.

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5 days ago by rufous
Apple adds Earth Day donations to trade-in and recycling program - Apple
Among Apple’s Earth Day-related announcements:

Apple’s newest disassembly robot, Daisy, is the most efficient way to reclaim more of the valuable materials stored in iPhone. Created through years of R&D, Daisy incorporates revolutionary technology based on Apple’s learnings from Liam, its first disassembly robot launched in 2016. Daisy is made from some of Liam’s parts and is capable of disassembling nine versions of iPhone and sorting their high-quality components for recycling. Daisy can take apart up to 200 iPhone devices per hour, removing and sorting components, so that Apple can recover materials that traditional recyclers can’t — and at a higher quality.

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5 days ago by rufous
Trade in with Apple GiveBack - Apple
New recycling program from Apple:

Trade in your eligible device for an Apple Store Gift Card. If it’s not eligible for credit, we’ll recycle it for free. No matter the model or condition, we can turn it into something good for you and good for the planet.

And through April 30, we’ll make a donation to Conservation International for every device we receive — getting us even closer to leaving the world better than we found it.

I tried my space black first-generation Apple Watch — which I paid $1,100 for in 2015 — and Apple is offering me $75. I suspect I could sell it for more than that, no? It’s fully functional and the display and case are in near-mint condition, thanks the scratch resistance of sapphire and DLC-coated stainless steel.

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5 days ago by rufous
Apple iPhone X will be killed off this year, analyst says
Arjun Kharpal, writing for CNBC under the jacktastic headline “Apple’s iPhone X Will Be Killed Off This Year, Analyst Says”:

TSMC’s record inventory levels are due to Apple not buying components for any future iPhone X models, suggesting the device will be killed off this year, Campling said.

“With the declines in iPhone X orders and the inventory issue at TSMC at record highs, which basically reflect a need to burn off inventory. Why? Because the iPhone X is dead,” Campling wrote in his note.

“The simple problem with X is that it is too expensive,” Campling told CNBC by phone on Friday, talking about the device’s $999 price tag. “Consumers are turning their backs on high-priced smartphones.”

It might be true that the iPhone X will be discontinued in September when new iPhones are announced, but I guarantee it will be replaced by a successor. It actually makes sense that Apple wouldn’t keep the iPhone X around for another year at a lower price — that’s the iPhone 8’s role.

I don’t know why CNBC is paying credence to Campling on this, because by all accounts the iPhone X is selling well or very well. Tim Cook told CNBC in February that “iPhone X was our most popular iPhone, despite not beginning to ship until November.” A report this week from Counterpoint claims the iPhone X alone accounted for 35 percent of all profits in the industry in Q4 2017 — even though it only went on sale in November. (The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus combined for 34 percent; all iPhones combined accounted for 86 percent. I don’t know how much credence to give to Counterpoint’s report because I don’t know their methodology, but if their numbers are even vaguely accurate, Apple has almost no competition in the premium handset market — Samsung’s top two phones combined account for less than 5 percent of industry profits, and no other company had a phone that cracked the top 10, and every single iPhone model currently sold by Apple is in the top 10.)

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5 days ago by rufous
“2001: A Space Odyssey”: What It Means, and How It Was Made | The New Yorker
Nice piece by Dan Chiasson for The New Yorker “on the tedium and the triumph of 2001: A Space Odyssey:

Kubrick brought to his vision of the future the studiousness you would expect from a history film. 2001 is, in part, a fastidious period piece about a period that had yet to happen. Kubrick had seen exhibits at the 1964 World’s Fair, and pored over a magazine article titled “Home of the Future.” The lead production designer on the film, Tony Masters, noticed that the world of 2001 eventually became a distinct time and place, with the kind of coherent aesthetic that would merit a sweeping historical label, like “Georgian” or “Victorian.” “We designed a way to live,” he recalled, “down to the last knife and fork.” (The Arne Jacobsen flatware, designed in 1957, was made famous by its use in the film, and is still in production.) By rendering a not-too-distant future, Kubrick set himself up for a test: thirty-three years later, his audiences would still be around to grade his predictions. Part of his genius was that he understood how to rig the results. Many elements from his set designs were contributions from major brands — Whirlpool, Macy’s, DuPont, Parker Pens, Nikon — which quickly cashed in on their big-screen exposure. If 2001 the year looked like 2001 the movie, it was partly because the film’s imaginary design trends were made real.

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5 days ago by rufous
Exclusive: YouTube ran ads from hundreds of brands on extremist channels
Paul P. Murphy, Kaya Yurieff, and Gianluca Mezzofiore, reporting for CNN:

Ads from over 300 companies and organizations — including tech giants, major retailers, newspapers and government agencies — ran on YouTube channels promoting white nationalists, Nazis, pedophilia, conspiracy theories and North Korean propaganda, a CNN investigation has found.

Companies such as Adidas, Amazon, Cisco, Facebook, Hershey, Hilton, LinkedIn, Mozilla, Netflix, Nordstrom and Under Armour may have unknowingly helped finance some of these channels via the advertisements they paid for on Google-owned YouTube.

US tax dollars may have gone to the channels, too. Ads from five US government agencies, such as the Department of Transportation and Centers for Disease Control, appeared on the channels.

Facebook is getting a lot of attention lately, but it’s starting to feel like YouTube is losing its credibility too.

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6 days ago by rufous

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