Is This Exploding MacBook Pro Story Real? 

Daniel Dourvaris, writing at Medium:

One afternoon as I was lying on my bed browsing the internet, my MacBook Pro suddenly turned off.

One afternoon is pretty generic. Which afternoon? You’re just now writing about it? What prompted you now, as opposed to pecking this out on your phone as soon as it occurred? Is this story time, or cataloging an actual event that really happened? Better yet, why didn’t you tweet about it on your Twitter account that you haven’t touched since 2011? Actually, your Stack Overflow and Github are pretty quiet too. You’re not the sort of person who writes on the web much, are you? Maybe your quietness explains the weirdness of this?

I turned it back on and within a few seconds there was weird hissing sound, followed by white smoke and thin flames coming out of from the back. […]

Ok.

After I had opened up all the windows in the house and cleared out the smoke, I removed the back plate to observe the damage and hopefully see if the hard disk had survived.

Wait. You cleared out the smoke and then how long did you wait? This makes it sound like you opened the laptop immediately after you opened the windows, and yet you “had to let it drop” because it was so hot and it was “almost an hour” before it cooled down. Which is it?

There’s no denying that the pictures in this article are real. But I’m having a hard time understanding how these pictures would look differently if the fire had been started externally, and a few things don’t make sense to me.1 There’s no mention of contacting Apple about this despite the numerous reader comments inquiring about it. Not only would not contacting Apple be very unnatural, it’d also be strange to say nothing about it in this article, and yet such is the case. And this whole thing is suspiciously close to last week’s iPhone explosion, as if it’s riding on its popularity wave. Also it’s curious that he was able to remove the backplate on his own. The whole thing’s lacking detail.

Maybe this story is completely real, but it’s not doing a very good job persuading me.2 Hat tip to Daring Fireball for the link.

  1. There have been many alleged occurrences of spontaneous human combustion but all of them have external explanations that are much more plausible. Same deal here? ↩︎

  2. An story as odd as this means one of two things: either someone’s a bad liar, or the truth is stranger than fiction and needs no explanation. I’m not ruling out the latter, but I’m not yet sold on it as the sole possibility either. ↩︎

SpaceX to Send Two Private Citizens Around the Moon 

SpaceX:

We are excited to announce that SpaceX has been approached to fly two private citizens on a trip around the moon late next year. They have already paid a significant deposit to do a moon mission. Like the Apollo astronauts before them, these individuals will travel into space carrying the hopes and dreams of all humankind, driven by the universal human spirit of exploration.

Late next year is a long way away, but at some point the identity of these two travelers is bound to leak out.

Basic Introduction to UIScrollView in Xcode 8.2

My work with Quillify’s native iPhone app has plunged me into Swift and Xcode. I found auto constraints in UISCrollView to be non-obvious to a beginner such as myself, so I made a YouTube screencast of it once I figured it out.

Would Jim Lynch Be an “Asshole” if the Shoe Were on the Other Foot? 

Jim Lynch, in a great article complaining about Apple’s stance on transgender rights:

Suffice to say that the issue of transgenders in bathrooms and locker rooms has proven to be one of those hot-button social issues that has divided these United States. Regardless of where you stand on the issue, it’s something that is properly dealt with by individual citizens participating in the political process not through a large multi-national company pushing just one side of the issue.

Nick Heer’s response:

What an asshole.

The thing is, what if Apple had taken the opposite viewpoint? What if its CEO detested transgender rights, and the company issued a statement in favor of Trump’s reversal? In that case, if Jim wrote an article stating that “Apple should just stay out of this,” would Nick still be calling Jim an asshole, or would Nick be agreeing with him?

Before you get on a hobby horse and start advocating something, stop and think about if you’d still approve of your idea when the other team has the ball. Because the other team gets the ball sometimes, and there’s nothing you can do to stop that. Both sides of this debate claim to have the high moral ground. Both sides feel strongly about this issue. This is the exact sort of reason why all companies, including Apple, should stay out of it. This is Jim’s whole point. If employees within a company want to make statements about this on their own personal blogs and Twitter, they’re welcome to do so. But the company should stay out of this. Issuing statements like this one does nothing but alienate. Right now I’m sore at Apple about this, and I guarantee you that there are employees within Apple who aren’t happy about it either. I also guarantee you that there are many millions of Americans who share my viewpoint. People like Baudhuin.

Donald Trump’s Enemies Are as Sloppy with the Facts as They Accuse Him to Be 

Will Oremus should have never tweeted this tweet. It should have never been retweeted 4,000 times. It falsely claims that Trumps’ claim to reducing the national debt is propaganda when in reality it’s 100% true. Here’s the New York Times article to prove it. Trump’s exact numbers that he got from a “wacky-right” site are accurate. The actual fact is perhaps irrelevant - that’s debatable - but it’s not false. There’s a big difference between irrelevant and false. The moment you conflate the two, you lose your credibility.

Will Oremus found something that suited his cognitive bias and without fact checking he shared it. That’s exactly what Donald Trump does. There’s no difference. Here’s how this works:

  • Something goes in Trump’s favor, proving he maybe actually knows what he’s doing.
  • The media doesn’t report it, because it doesn’t fit their cognitive bias.
  • Trump complains on Twitter that the media isn’t reporting it.
  • The media is then forced to report it.

Trump’s got this down to a system, to a fine art. He knows how the machine works. Everyone talks about holding Trump accountable. The funny thing is, Trump’s holding everyone else accountable too. Both sides need this, because both sides are proving that they’re too biased to be trusted.

Trans Probs 

Kent Babb, Washington Post:

“You’ve got a kid who’s either going to quit the sport entirely or she has got to wrestle against girls, which she doesn’t want to do,” said Baudhuin, who said he still refers to Beggs by the female pronoun because he struggles to see his daughter’s old friend as a boy. “She’s in a no-win situation.”

I’m going to start doing this. From now on, I’m calling trans people by the gender they were born with. For example, Caitlyn Jenner is a he, and that’s how I’m going to refer to him.

Also, if this article’s goal is to make people feel sorry for trans people, it’s not doing a very good job. A girl who takes testosterone supplements and gets labeled as a cheater for it? That’s low persuasion.

Smash Hit 

I very rarely play iOS games but Smash Hit by Mediocre AB is addicting and I highly recommend it. On the premium app I have 5-shot rounds up to level 8, with 89 balls. It’s the same company that came out with PinOut! late last year. Check it out.

Jimmy Dore on Milo Yiannopoulos’ Dishonesty 

I began this with no intentions of watching the full 22 minutes but it’s too good to stop midway through. All I can say is that my love of reading leftist propaganda trumps my love of reading rightist propaganda, so I’ve been out of the loop on Milo Yiannopoulos’ work at the Breitbart News Network. But my, what a real creep.

Add This One to the Growing List of Evidence that Bernard-Henri Is Hallucinating 

Theodore Schleifer, writing for CNN:

Billionaire Sheldon Adelson declared Thursday evening that Donald Trump was likely to be “the best president for Israel ever,” an overwhelming endorsement delivered as a former Republican Vice President sat in the audience.

[…]

Trump has positioned himself as a fierce defender of Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Compare this to the clashing of Benjamin Netanyahu and the Obama administration. If actions speak louder than words, then Bernard-Henri’s opinion piece that I won’t stop criticizing has zero merit.

One of my biggest complaints with the left is that it often seems to pay more attention to what people say (with its spin, of course) than what they do. Right now, judging people by their actions, if you ask “Who likes Jews more - Obama or Trump?” then the answer is Trump. Bernard-Henri is hallucinating.

Here’s an Example of Someone with an Actual Jew Problem 

From ABC News:

A preschool teacher in Texas has been fired after a series of anti-Semitic posts on social media, including a tweet that said “kill some Jews.”

KTVT reports The Children’s Courtyard in Arlington said it fired teacher Nancy Salem after thoroughly investigating her tweets. Among those identified by the watchdog group Canary Mission was one in which she said “gassed a Jew. I’m sweating. Heil.”

In another, she asked, “How many Jews died in the holocaust? Not enough, hahaha.”

This is noticeably different from yesterday’s paper-thin claim chowder on Trump’s alleged Jew problem.

Also, Nancy Salem is wearing a hijab. Shocker.

Transgender Rights and Social Conscience

John Gruber, commenting on Wednesday’s transgender rollback by the Trump administration:

Trump’s retrograde stance on transgender rights is heartbreaking, but it’s not going to take us back. Trump’s administration can change how the law is enforced, but it can’t change society. Laws can (and sadly, will) be rolled back. Our collective social conscience cannot.

It’s interesting to see John’s use of conscience here. It’s pretty common to see this in the pro-trans community in general, too. My question is, from what is this conscience derived? Where is its basis? On internal gut? On social norm? These sorts of fluid metrics change from society to society and culture to culture. They change with the passing of time and with what’s considered acceptable. They’re unstable and impossible to control. What then?

This idea that being against transgender rights is going against conscience is interesting, because conscience is the very reason the other side is against it. From Deuteronomy 22:5, we read:

The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.

If I were a liberal I would say that failing to give credence to this verse as a valid viewpoint is anti-Semitic since it’s part of the Jews’ sacred writings, but I’ll forbear. That would be playing liberals at their own game.

If I did play liberals at their game, I’d also say this: why don’t you interview the average immigrants from the seven banned countries and see what their stance is on trans rights? Get back with me on that.

If your conscience is bound to the truth of the Bible then your conscience will tell you that transgender rights are an abomination. There is no way around that. That doesn’t mean that you treat trans people poorly - they deserve your respect as much as any other human being. But you don’t have to go around accommodating their abomination via legislature. That’s the difference between tolerance and acceptance. The government can tolerate trans people but it has no reason to accept their choice. If you choose to pursue a path that is an abomination, then life will be hard for you. Donald Trump makes no apology on God’s behalf on this, nor should he.

We live in a free country, and that freedom includes religious freedom. You have the freedom to say that the Bible is wrong. But if you’re going to do that, you also need to say why your conscience derivatives are superior. A Divine Creator who rules over all saying something is right or wrong is much more persuasive than a group of people who can’t even get the laws to be in their favor saying something is right or wrong. I like and respect Gruber a lot, but he doesn’t have a monopoly on conscience. On this issue, he’s got pretty low market share I’m afraid.

Claim Chowder about Trump’s Jew Problem 

In an op-ed piece that truly lives up to its name, Bernard-Henri Levy writes:

I had no idea how right I was, a month ago, when I wrote in The New York Times that American Jews should be wary of their new President.

I love reading liberal leftist propaganda. Saying that Trump has a Jew problem is the new “Apple is doomed.” It has no bearing on reality, but it’s still entertaining to see people who actually believe the conspiracy theory.

An Easy Way to Change Your RSS Guid Schema without Flooding Readers and Twitter with Old Posts

For a while now, I’ve been advocating having www in domains. I also believe in using HTTPS. Also I’ve fairly recently come to see the importance of having dates in your URLs.

A challenge comes when you’re trying to make such changes to your site’s permalink structure, however. Assuming you have your post’s full URL as the guid in your RSS (and if you’re not then you’re doing it wrong1), it means that scrapers will incorrectly think that all items in your XML feed are new.

A specific example should make this clear. Let’s say you decide to go from HTTP to HTTPS. You update your site URL in your site’s core configuration, and this update perpetuates across the board, including your RSS. Your feed’s guid entries went from this:

<guid isPermaLink="true">http://example.com/2017/02/22/some-post/</guid>

To this:

<guid isPermaLink="true">https://example.com/2017/02/22/some-post/</guid>

Since the guid is the unique identifier for RSS scrapers,2 you can see how the scraper is going to incorrectly think that you’ve published something new when in fact you’ve simply tweaked the URL of something previously published. If you’ve integrated something like dlvr.it as a means of auto-tweeting your new posts, this means you’re going to be sending out promiscuous tweets as well. It’s a real debacle.

Here’s how you fix it. You update your RSS so that any old items just don’t show up. Inside my main for loop of my feed.xml that loops through the most recent posts, here’s what that looks like in Jekyll:

{% capture posttime %}{{post.date | date: '%s' | minus: 1487640396 }}{% endcapture %}
{% if posttime contains '-' %}
  {% continue %}
{% endif %}

Change out the “minus” value to the timestamp cutoff you need. It’ll be a hardcoded value. In my experience this is usually the current timestamp at the time I’m needing the cutoff, and so I just head over to unixtimestamp.com and grab it from there. Once you do this, you’re all set. You can now make changes to your URL schema without having to worry about spamming your readers with a bunch of preexisting content. If you like keeping your code clean, after you’ve published enough new things that your posts prior to this change no longer appear in your XML feed, you can always revert your commit that added this conditional.

I wish I’d known about this “hack” years ago, because I’ve had clients, friends, and acquaintances that needed it. I’ve seen it plague 8-figure businesses.

You can add this to your growing list of things that Jekyll’s way better at than WordPress too, by the way. Editing your RSS feed in Jekyll is a breeze.

  1. To quote again from Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, the entity responsible for the official RSS spec:

    In all cases, it’s recommended that you provide the guid, and if possible make it a permalink.

    I’m a firm believer in following specs unless there’s a very good reason not to. ↩︎

  2. That’s assuming, of course, that the guid is present; otherwise, scrapers look for other means of uniqueness. But you can be very sure that in such situations, these scrapers mumble and grumble about how the feed they’re inspecting doesn’t adhere to the proper syntax specification. ↩︎

Securing Skype 

Nick Heer:

I rarely use Skype, so I was surprised when I was notified upon signing in yesterday that I needed to change my password. I didn’t really think much of it — I was about to jump into a meeting — but I was told today that one of my contacts, who I haven’t contacted over Skype in about a month, received a pretty sketchy link from me recently.

I just went through the consolidation process that Nick linked to. Feeling better already. Thanks Nick.

The Media’s Obsession with Donald Trump 

Farhad Manjoo, writing for the New York Times:

All presidents are omnipresent. But it is likely that no living person in history has ever been as famous as Mr. Trump is right now. It’s possible that not even the most famous or infamous people of the recent or distant past — say, Barack Obama, Osama bin Laden, Bill Clinton, Richard Nixon, Michael Jackson, Muhammad Ali or Adolf Hitler — dominated media as thoroughly at their peak as Mr. Trump does now.

Trump is to politics what Apple is to tech. He’s the one thing everyone wants to talk about. I’m as guilty as anyone in my obsession. I’m following Trump ten times as much as I followed Obama. Farhad’s right — all the major media outlets are a catalyst to this. You just know Trump is loving the attention, too. Sweet man.

Mark Zuckerberg 2020 

Ben Thompson:

It is certainly possible that, as per recent speculation, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is preparing to run for President.

With his usual thoroughness, Ben makes a compelling case that it might not be a good idea having the the world’s #1 website and the world’s #1 most powerful nation ruled by the same person. Still, it’s fascinating to conjecture the possibility. I’d love to watch a debate between Zuckerberg and Trump.

Scott Adams’ Video on Trump and Sweden

Yesterday Scott Adams had some compelling things to say about Trump’s recent comments about Sweden. A few things are worth visiting here.

First, I question whether Trump thought he was telling an untruth. Let’s look at what Trump said:

You look at what’s happening last night in Sweden — Sweden — who would believe this? Sweden, they took in large numbers, they are having problems like they never thought possible.

There are two ways that Trump could have said this without deliberately telling an untruth.

The first explanation is very simple, and I think it’s what actually happened: by “last night”, Trump could have been simply referring to when he viewed the Fox News story, and didn’t even have the timeframe of the events being reported in mind. We talk like this all the time without realizing it. The other night I rewatched the original 1960 Magnificent Seven. It would have been very natural for me the next day to say something like, “Last night when Calvera got shot, did you notice how he flipped backwards?” Do I really mean that Calvera got shot last night? No. What I really mean is “Last night when we saw Calvera get shot…” But we often leave this part out without even thinking about it.

The second way Trump could’ve said this without intent on falsehood is that he literally thought that the events Fox News was reporting occurred that very night. Given that this was a report and not a live broadcast, I find it pretty unlikely that he could’ve made this mistake, but sometimes he gets confused - does anyone doubt he gets frequently sidetracked with his antiquated Android while he’s watching TV? - and I wouldn’t eliminate this possibility.

Regardless, if you remove the words “last night” in Sweden, literally everything Trump said was 100% true in the above quote. There’s plenty of reporting to support the fact that Sweden has a Muhammadan problem. I’m a little bummed that Scott Adams doesn’t address this head on, but I understand that it would cost him followers and it’s a battle he’s not ready to fight (yet).

This brings me to my second point, which is this: if the truth isn’t powerful enough for you that you have to resort to lies, then I question your agenda. Trump shouldn’t have to resort to lies to get his agenda through, if his agenda is legitimate. If Muhammadans really are a problem then the truth should make that abundantly clear. In other words, Scott’s claim that truth has limited usefulness is only true to a politician who does not have the trust of the American people. If a politician strives to always be true, people will learn to trust that politician, even if most other politicians are not truthful. The real story here is that Trump told the truth about Sweden, and the truth served him well. Next time, he should choose the truth again. Truth works. Fiction doesn’t, because people find out you’re wrong and you become irrelevant. You can be somewhat inaccurate and get by with it, but the gist of what you’re saying has to be right on - and for Trump it was absolutely right on. Scott’s got the effectiveness of truth and falsehood backwards here.

That segues into my third point. There’s an important distinction that I’d like to see Scott Adams make: there’s a difference between factual inaccuracy and deliberate lies. It’s impossible to deny that Trump is often factually inaccurate, but I don’t get the vibe that he’s deliberately lying and telling things he knows to be untrue. He just choses to play fast and loose with reality, bypassing the expected step of fact-checking. The end result looks the same on the surface but the motive is different. The good news is that if Trump merely has a proclivity to being factually inaccurate but he really does cares about the truth, then he’ll change his story when the facts are brought before him. What we’re seeing is that he does indeed change his mind when he’s faced with irrefutable facts. The left would violently disagree with me on this, but oh well. I’m writing to the home team on this one.

Fourthly, something obvious: the video and audio quality of this video are truly horrendous. Scott streams something, puts in on the web, links a blog post to it, and moves on. Maybe production quality will be a priority later, but right now you can tell that he’s being very chill about it all. What I find fascinating about this is that his content is so engaging that in one dimension, the production quality doesn’t matter. I really don’t like the design of his blog, his font family, his font size, and the fact that it’s powered by Tumblr. But I still come back to it every time, because his content is engaging. Delivery is important, but engagement is the most important thing. And Scott’s got loads of that.

The Deadly Effects of Political Correctness, as Seen from Sweden 

Paul Joseph Watson, writing at InfoWars:

An unprecedented number of cars that have been set on fire in major cities over recent months, while film makers who attempt to document the problems caused by Sweden’s Islamic no-go ghettos are routinely attacked. Filmmaker Ami Horowitz was viciously assaulted by a gang of Muslim men in Stockholm recently, at one point fearing for his life.

The situation is so dire that even some Somali immigrants are considering returning home, saying that areas of some Swedish cities are more dangerous than their notorious homeland

How’s that political correctness working out for you, Sweden?

Yes, I’m unashamedly linking to InfoWars. Show me the coverage from CNN or New York Times, and I’ll link to that instead.

Sweden’s got a serious Muhammadan problem and instead of talking about it, the media is talking about how Trump’s timeline is off. It’s more fun for leftist media to talk about how Trump’s wrong with his specifics than about the fact that in general, he’s spot on.

NYTimes’ Deleted Tweet 

@nytimes, in an earlier tweet:

We’ve deleted an earlier tweet to this article that was poorly phrased

From web.archive.org, we can see exactly what that deleted tweet said:

It’s rare to see black and Latino students excel in math. These kids are changing that.

How’s that political correctness working out for you, NYTimes?

Inconsolata-g 

At a coworker’s suggestion, I’ve been using the Inconsolata-g font for the past 24 hours in my IDEs and Terminal. It’s a beautiful font and it’s free. I recommend checking it out.

A Textbook Example of Political Correctness from BBC 

An authorless entry from BBC an hour ago:

“The FAKE NEWS media (failing New York Times, NBC News, ABC, CBS, CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!” the president wrote on Twitter.

The reaction was swift. “Every president is irritated by the news media. No other president would have described the media as ‘the enemy of the people’”, tweeted David Axelrod, a former adviser to President Barack Obama.

Here’s what we’re to learn from this article:

  • If a bad guy says something (e.g. Stalin), that automatically makes it wrong. End of discussion.
  • Even if there are conceivably enemies of the American People, we can never ever admit that because it’s not very nice, it’s politically incorrect.
  • When Donald Trump tweets something, analyzing the truth claims in it comes secondary to seeing whether or not people on Twitter don’t like his opinion. After all, since there is no God and therefore no truth, we can only get guidance for right and wrong from the herd, not from any sort of objective reality.

Obviously BBC didn’t like what Trump tweeted, but the way to attack the tweet is by analyzing the truth claims first, and BBC didn’t do that. Instead, BBC failed to admit even the possibility of enemies existing, and even the possibility of calling out those enemies publicly. After all, Stalin did that once, so it can’t possibly be ok.

What Political Correctness and Racism Have in Common

Jacob Clifton has written a thought provking piece at Buzzfeed about the downfall of Felix Kjellber:

First, The Sun isolated audio from a video in which Kjellberg uses a racial slur during a particularly celebratory moment. A few days later, a steadily increasing propensity for referencing Nazis, Hitler, and anti-Semitic topics – the Wall Street Journal counts nine – exploded, in a sketch in which Kjellberg hired a pair of men in India to hoist a banner calling for the death of all Jews (a request that Kjellberg maintains he never thought they would carry out).

Political correctness is failing to say something that’s true, or saying something that’s untrue, to protect a guilty party. A couple of examples of political correctness:

  • You’re statistically just as safe among all racial groups in the United States.
  • Islam is just as good of a civilization and culture as Western civilization and should be as an equal.

Political incorrectness is a willingness to face the truth regardless of the cost and regardless of who it offends. Our nation needs more political incorrectness. Until we are willing to face reality, we’re hallucinating a narrative that has no connection to reality, to borrow a phrase from Scott Adams. You can never fix a problem that you deny exists. A civilization that doesn’t face its problems will not survive; I’d even go so far as to say that it doesn’t deserve to survive.

What Felix Kjellber is exhibiting here is not political incorrectness, however. He’s not boldly facing reality and telling it “like it is.” Instead, he’s being a racist. There’s a very clear line in the sand between willing to face the truth and being a racist. The two things have nothing to do with each other, and anyone who conflates the two is only serving the side of racism.

Political correctness and racism have this in common: they don’t care about what’s right and true. They focus on identity, not on behavior. They deny that something can be disproven by actions and character. They insist that you can rightly come to a conclusion about a group of people based simply on what you think, rather than what reality tells you. The politically correct person says, “No matter how much evidence you give me of the horrid treatment of women in Muslim countries, I will still be a feminist and praise Islam as a great religion.” The racist says, “No matter how much you tell me that this Christian from Syria is a nice person, I reject him for the simple fact that he’s from Syria, and nothing good can come out of Syria.”

When you stop and think about it, political correctness and racism are two sides to the same coin.

Next time you hear someone say or do something racist under the guise of being political incorrect, send them this link. The two things are not one and the same.

What Were You Expecting with a Trump Administration? 

Scott Adams:

I don’t know what you expected when Trump went to Washington, but it isn’t too different from what I imagined. I assumed there would be broken dishes. And I assumed it would take him months to get his systems in place.

The thing that makes Scott so comforting to read is that few things seem to take him by surprise. Amidst the chaos, it’s comforting to know that Trump’s administration is going more or less as expected for someone.