The Changed Narrative

On election night, the nation was in shock as the election outcome unfolded differently than had been promised. Political advisor David Plouffe tweeted:

Never been as wrong on anything on my life. Still a beating heart in WI and the 2 CDs. But sobriety about what happened tonight is essential

Read the replies to that tweet. People were furious at how wrong the mainstream political coverage was in its prediction.

But now, we’re seeing this sort of thing from John Aravosis:

The polls predicted Hillary winning the popular vote by 3%. She won it by 2%.

The narrative has changed, seemingly. How do we reconcile these two mindsets?

Here’s how I see it. The polling data was actually pretty accurate. The outcome was within 1-2% of the prediction. But the way the media packaged the polling data was off. The media didn’t say, Oh man it’s going to be really close. We think Hillary is barely going to win, but there’s enough room for error that we could be wrong. Instead it said on the morning of November 8, The election is over and now the only thing that’s left is the formality of the actual voting. I couldn’t find it 12 hours later, but I actually saw a headline in Apple News that said that. I’m sure you saw similar.

Here’s the thing. You’re either right or you’re wrong. If you’re wrong, it doesn’t matter how close you were to being right. You’re still wrong. Now, if you’re wrong about something you made clear you were uncertain about, then people will trust you next time. If you’re wrong about something you were highly confident of, they won’t. You can eventually gain that trust back, but it takes time.

This isn’t about the polls being just 1 or 2 percentage points off. That’s forgivable. This is about the media being highly confident about something about which it was wrong. That’s unforgivable. What the mainstream media predicts about the next election isn’t going to matter to a huge portion of the populace. Why should it? The media’s interpretation of poll data has lost its credibility — not because it was wrong, but because of how confident it was that it was right.

Just Because You Voted for Donald John Trump

Just because you voted for Donald John Trump doesn’t mean you have the duty to defend his every action.
Just because you voted for Donald John Trump doesn’t mean you have to approve every thing he does.
Just because you voted for Donald John Trump doesn’t mean you are a racist, white nationalist, or irrationalist.
Just because you voted for Donald John Trump doesn’t mean you can’t wish he had some of Hillary Clinton’s qualities and values.
Just because you voted for Donald John Trump doesn’t mean you mustn’t miss President Obama when he’s gone.
Just because you voted for Donald John Trump doesn’t mean you have a right to sit in judgement on those who did not.
Just because you voted for Donald John Trump doesn’t mean you must apologize for what you did (yet).
Just because you voted for Donald John Trump doesn’t mean you don’t value women’s rights (born or unborn).
Just because you voted for Donald John Trump doesn’t mean you think that valuing borders, language, and culture precludes neighborliness.
Just because you voted for Donald John Trump doesn’t mean there hasn’t and can’t come times when your criticism of him is obligatory.

We have a presidential inauguration coming up in two days. Maybe you’re excited, maybe you’re appalled, or maybe you were one of those months ago but now you’re indifferent. The guy’s got issues, but unless you choose to leave the country, he’s going to be your president. Some bad people put him there, some good people put him there. The red blindly defend him and the blue blindly condemn him.

What I’m asking is that you choose to be purple in 2017. The only way you’re going to be able to do that is by mixing two colors, two perspectives, two sides to the same coin. If all of your surroundings are one color, that’s going to be hard. In some cases, it’s going to be almost impossible. But give it everything you’ve got. Be a grownup; think critically and independently. Understand the concerns, priorities, and fears of both sides.

Be purple.

The Merits to a Colorless, Dark Wallpaper on macOS

For quite some time, I’ve been using a pitch black wallpaper for my home screen on my black iPhone 7. The focus it brings to the colorful apps is remarkable. Recently, a colleague prompted me to go with this same approach for my Mac. My Mac’s wallpaper isn’t pitch black though. It’s a slightly transparent version of black, so that it is completely indistinguishable from the background of macOS’ menu bar. Here are the steps involved to pull this off:

  • Go to System Preferences -> General and checkmark Use dark menu bar and Dock.
  • Go to System Preferences -> Desktop & Screen Saver and select in the left pane Apple -> Solid Colors. In the ensuing pallet, click the Custom Color... button in the lower right corner. Choose the Grey Scale Slider in the new window that appears, and set its brightness to 9%.

I’ve been doing it this way for about a week now and I’m not going back. I really love it. It lets me focus on the apps that I’m using and reduces the noise. You don’t realize how distracting wallpapers are until you remove them.

Wallpaper isn’t used in homes any more. Why would you use it with your electronics?1

  1. I’m still using a wallpaper on my iPhone’s lock screen. I view this as a totally separate thing. It makes sense having one there. ↩︎

Scott Adams’ Quest for Immortality 

Scott:

As part of my long-term strategy to achieve immortality, I’m building a permanent digital record of my life online.

There’s the optimistic approach, the in-between, and the pessimistic approach about how the technological future could turn out. If Scott is an optimist and most people are in-between, then the pessimist predicts that due to a series of unfortunate and catastrophic events, the Internet as we know it is suddenly wiped clean, forever gone. Only its memory lasts in the minds of an aging and dying populace who once knew it, and we stumble backwards 500 years in human knowledge, technology, and innovation. It wouldn’t take a very large group of well-researched and desperate men to sabotage an awful lot of the Internet in a single day. We have yet to see a 9/11 attack occur in the technological sphere. Also, we haven’t had a World War with modern weaponry, either. There’s the very real nature of EMP’s - a single one of which, if powerful enough, could destroy all electronics in the world instantly.

If I had to put my chances on the likelihood of Scott’s dream being fulfilled, I’d say it’s roughly equal to the chances of a technological doomsday scenario occurring.

David Heinemeier Hansson on the Real Cost of Free Software 

DHH:

No, monetizing is that word we need to explain how Facebook makes money. They’re monetizing friendships and privacy. Twitter is monetizing clever quips and the latest freak-out over Trump (often the same thing). Snap is monetizing looking silly to your friends with branded filters.

DHH is writing this on Medium, a free platform that’s desperately looking to find a way to monetize itself. Maybe he wasn’t the one who made the decision to use Medium. I rather hope that’s the case. I find it irksome and hypocritical when people criticize that of which they are recipients.

Here’s how I see it: ideally, some software is free for beginners, and then it’s paid to get access to all of the features. Sites that do this well include Github, Strava, Slack, MailChimp, and Chess.com. Then, ideally, the rest of software costs money for even the entry level. Think Zwift, Harvest, AWeber, and Basecamp. A lot of B2C software is the former and a lot of B2B software is the latter.

DHH goes on:

It wouldn’t surprise me if twenty years from now we view the likes of Facebook with the same incredulity we do now to smoking: How could they not know it did this to their health?

The funny thing is, if Facebook wanted to play by DHH’s rules, all it’d have to do is remove its data collecting and simply charge a price for a premium membership tier. Even if Facebook were to do that though, that wouldn’t fix half the problems DHH is describing. It wouldn’t fix the fact that users would seek to create an “echo chamber timeline” that would result in a “narrower field of vision.” Facebook is deeply flawed, and changing its business model would fix some things, but I’m not convinced it would fix the underlying problems.

I’ve got to say though. If Facebook didn’t exist in 20 years and was completely replaced by better things like micro.blog, I would dance with joy.

Stephen Hackett on the Mac Mini Family Tree 

Just 12 minutes before publishing my thoughts on switching to a Mac Mini, Mac Stories published a piece from Stephen Hackett detailing the family history of the Mac Mini, and where it’s hopefully headed. His conclusion:

From its humble beginnings as the BYODKM Mac to its role as a server, the Mac mini has been a faithful workhorse for 12 years now. It deserves another chance.

I couldn’t agree more.

Contemplating a Mac Mini

I’ll always associated larger Apple products with work and smaller ones with leisure, and lately I’ve been thinking about taking this to a new level. I’m thinking about selling my MacBook Pro and switching exclusively to a Mac Mini and an external monitor.

My workstation for the past 15 months has been a Mid 2015 15” MacBook Pro, entry level. It has 256GB SSD, 16GB ram, 2.2 GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i7. It’s served me well, but my dev setup is really resource intensive; I could use more power. Also, my SSD is 92% full. I’m due for a new Mac, and I’m trying to decide what to get. Ever since the Late 2016 MacBook Pro was announced, my gut’s been to go with the base model of the upper-end 15”: 512GB SSD, 16GB, 2.7 Quad-Core GHz Intel Core i7.

The problem is, this machine is annoyingly consumer oriented, in my book. I want my money to go towards hardware performance, not towards niceties like the Touch Bar. That’s why I’m thinking about going with a Mac Mini. Rumor has it that an update for it will be announced in March.

A Mac Mini wouldn’t work for people who are mobile all the time, but the vast majority of the time, I’m working at my desk with my laptop connected to an external monitor, keyboard, and mouse. I’m not using the laptop for its intended use. I’m paying twice as much for hardware performance as what I could be paying for a user experience that I would not find to be any inferior.

For those rare times where I am traveling or generally on the go, I could pick up an inexpensive mobile monitor and connect it to my Mac Mini. It wouldn’t be usable in my lap, but it would work great on a desk of any size, and it’d be as portable as a laptop. Also, I don’t enjoy using a laptop in the situations where a laptop is the only option; things like traveling in a car, waiting in an airport, or flying on a plane. It’s next to impossible for me to get serious work done in contexts where a desk isn’t available, so why even bother? Having only a Mac Mini would take that option off the table completely; good riddance.1 Those contexts are what iPhones and books are for.

Another option is to just buy an iMac. But aside from the fact that this wouldn’t be portable in any fashion, it also forces your screen technology to be bound to your computing technology. The beauty of a Mac Mini that it allows you to decouple your monitor upgrade cycle from your computer upgrade cycle. Right now I have a Thunderbolt monitor, but if I later want to upgrade to an LG 4K monitor, I can.

I haven’t fully made up my mind about going the Mac Mini route, and I won’t until I see what’s announced in March. But this is what I’m thinking, for now.

Update: I should have stated at the beginning that the Mac Mini isn’t going to be a serious option until it comes in quad-core. The difference between dual-cord and quad-core is too drastic. We’ll see whether this is an upgrade it gets in 2017 or not.

  1. Obviously everyone’s different, and some people really do have to get work done in situations where a desk and power source aren’t available. I’m just thinking aloud about what works for me, what I actually need and use, and I’m realizing that it’s very different from what I heretofore thought it was. ↩︎

Paraskavedekatriaphobia 

Happy Friday 13. I’m trying to commit this word to memory. Once you know how to pronounce it, you’re halfway there.

It Looks Like It’s Covered in Urine 

That’s how Gruber describes Night Mode, which has been available since iOS 9.3. Night mode isn’t for everyone for sure, but I find it amusing how appalling it is to him. Different strokes for different folks. I have night mode scheduled to turn off at 2:59 AM and to turn on at 3:00 AM. Until 2017’s iPhone comes with natural lightening - and it will - I’m going with the next best thing.

Hat tip to PodSearch for the handy link, by the way. Very cool service. Obviously since this is The Talk Show we’re talking about here, the link serves merely to trigger your memory of an episode you’ve already listened to.

The “Daring Fireball with Comments” Google Chrome Extension 

Install this Chrome extension and then head over to Daring Fireball and look in dismay at the comments. They’re all horrendous, every last one of them.

From Dicknose, for instance, on Gruber’s recent AirPods video:

A monkey could figure this out.

Grubers [sic] hands look like he hasn’t worked a day in his life.

If comments were natively built into Daring Fireball and were consequently publicly viewable to all, and if Gruber moderated them, then it’s reasonable to assume that the comments would be kinder and better.1 However, it’s not reasonable to assume that they would be kind and good enough to warrant being on the site. Public comments are a needless distraction. They’re psychologically wearing; when I don’t read them, I walk away with a sense that I’m missing the full story, and when I do read them, I reprimand myself for wasting time.

  1. If you look at the comments at the actual YouTube page for this video, you’ll see the difference. It’s striking. Everyone’s playing nice there, constructively. ↩︎

App.net Is Shutting Down 

This is exactly why I don’t use App.net or Twitter or anything else. I use static HTML files and old fashioned email. It’s technology that I’m in control of, it’s been around for decades, and it isn’t dependent on any single vendor.

Ideology aside though, it’s painful admitting that an idea that you had, which you turned into a reality through many hours of hard work, must be buried in the sea grave of unsuccessful software. That’s a sad narrative, and my genuine sympathies go to the talented team. There was a time when I was exuberant about App.net.

macOS Still Shows Duration Until Battery Charged

I find it ironic that macOS is still showing the amount of time until the battery is recharged. If user action on a computer is a determinant in how long it’s going to take to discharge a battery, wouldn’t you think that it would also be a determinant in how it takes to recharge that battery?

Update: as a reader has pointed out, it isn’t actually clear whether user action on a device would slow down a charge. A MacBook Pro can function just fine without a battery, so long as it is plugged in. I found this helpful tidbit on Quora:

When you are plugged in, your laptop is directly powered by the A/C adapter, not the battery; only excess power goes to the battery.

The MacBook Pro I’m using has a MagSafe power adapter of 85W. I’m not sure how much power my computer actually uses, but I’d be surprised if using my MacBook Pro to its limits would leave enough leftover wattage for the battery to get as much as it would if the machine were turned off. But even if that were the case, it wouldn’t be enough to give credibility to my original point. Not only would it have to be true, but the amount of excess wattage remaining during a heavy task versus a light task would have to vary enough to change the estimated time remaining until a full charge. Is that possible? Maybe. I don’t know.

When I was in college, the joke went around asking how many computer scientists it took to change a lightbulb. The smart answer was zero, because a lightbulb is a hardware problem. I’m a computer scientist, not a hardware technician. I have no idea about this stuff, truth be told.

Regardless, it’s an interesting inconsistency at this point that the duration until a full battery is viewable in macOS but not the duration until an empty battery. I’m glad for it though; I don’t agree that the latter was bad enough to warrant its removal, and even if it were, I’d want the former to remain. Consistency is good, but it comes second to user experience. Knowing how long you have to wait until your battery is recharged is a good user experience, and there are situations where it comes in handy. Here’s to it not being removed.

The Bagel Tongs at Stop & Shop: A Conspiracy of Depravity 

John Gruber on Fedora Review, 15 years ago:1

I would sooner use a pair of dirty socks to touch my food than use these tongs. And indeed, despite all the “Use the Tongs” propaganda at the Stop & Shop Au Bon Pain bagel kiosk, there is a tissue paper dispenser under the tongs. I, of course, use the tissue paper. But every time I pick up a bagel, I wonder if it has been touched by those tongs. This dictates how I choose my bagels – I pick from the back, looking for the bagels which appear least likely to have been contaminated.

Reading this piece, I realized that it’s not just his writing about technology that makes Daring Fireball so special. Gruber can write. He has something most people don’t. He is to prose what Vladimir Horowitz is to the piano: loathful to adhere to the expected status quo, tasteful, deeply engaging.

It’s a pity Fedora Review didn’t continue. I would read this site. Tastefully written reviews of things completely irrelevant to its audience. What could be better?

  1. A simple whois lookup on DaringFireball.net exposes this Fedora.net domain, but the way I came across it was by adding Gruber’s GPG public key from his contact page and noticing that the email address in it was not the same email address as the one provided. Curious, I went exploring. ↩︎

A Brief Followup from Tuesday's GPG Signature Implementation

A couple of days ago I installed GPG so I could have my commits signed. Just a few tips to get everything working correctly.

  • Don’t have both GPGTools Suite installed and GPG installed via Homebrew. Go with one or the other. I went with Homebrew. All manner of havoc will break loose if you do not follow this advice.
  • Add this to the end of ~/.gnupg/gpg.conf:
use-agent
  • Make sure this line is at ~/.gnupg/gpg-agent.conf:
pinentry-program /usr/local/bin/pinentry-mac

When I’m willing to spend more time exploring, I’ll seek to get GPG 2.x working. All the Github documentation assumes you are using GPG 1.x and I found it easier going with this, although my problems were probably caused by the fact that I was not adhering to bullet #1 above.

Meanwhile, I’ve added my GPG public key to the contact page just for fun. Why not? Send me an encrypted email, and if you attach your GPG public key, I’ll reply in kind.

Stopping Spaces Rearranging on macOS 

Here’s a small change to your macOS settings that you’ll thank me for. Go to Mission Control and uncheck the setting labeled “Automatically rearrange Spaces based on most recent use.”

Most of the time, when I’m changing a default macOS setting, I recognize that the default is good for most people and that I need an exception for reasons specific to me. However, this is one of those times where I really don’t approve Apple’s choice in defaults. Having spaces automatically rearrange makes it impossible to have an order to your spaces that you stick with and memorize. I didn’t know this setting existed until recently and I wish I’d disabled it years ago.

What's Going on with Consumer Reports?

Marco’s side goes like this:

Apple’s framing here is almost Trumpian, evading responsibility for the real problem — Apple’s bug — by attempting to insult the test (“does not reflect real-world usage”), discredit and imply malice by Consumer Reports (“a hidden setting”), and disregard the bug as irrelevant (“obscure and intermittent bug”).

It reframes the story to be about Consumer Reports’ own failings and Apple helping them see the right way forward.

And then there’s Gruber’s:

Disabling the cache should decrease battery life in a test like CR’s. And if there’s a bug, I can see why it might dramatically decrease battery life. But that still doesn’t explain how Consumer Reports’s testing showed results ranging from 3.75 hours (poor) to 19.5 hours (seemingly too good to be true).

I tend to lean more in favor of Apple on this one. Of course it’s going to do everything it can to minimize its bug. That’s to be expected. What’s less expected is for Consumer Reports to rush out an analysis with a battery varying this widely without doing more investigation first. If Consumer Reports’ second round shows a battery ceiling significantly lower than 19.5 hours - and I don’t see how it can’t, if the team is being careful and not falling asleep at the job - then I think this vindicates Apple in how it’s choosing to frame the story.

The narrative as I see it is this: Apple produces the best laptop it ever has in its history, with a bug so small that few people in real life would ever be affected.1 Consumer Reports does a sloppy benchmarking job and concludes it cannot recommend the laptop. Apple is rightfully infuriated, composes itself as best it can, and engages with Consumer Reports to find a resolution.

If I know anything about developers who feel their work has been maligned by incompetence, the snarky comments directed towards Consumer Reports will be internally ongoing among Apple’s Mac team for years to come.

They will have been earned, too.

  1. In his article, Marco footnoted:

    There are a lot of web developers out there, and I bet a lot of them use MacBook Pros. Power users, geeks, and developers are Apple’s customers, too.

    He has a point, and calling dev mode anything other than “real life” is an insult for those of us who spend 8+ hours per day at our computers writing code. But consider this: most developers I know who develop for the web prefer Google Chrome over Safari. The only web developers I know who use Safari are backend developers who don’t need a browser for all of its dev tooling. They’ve never created a breakpoint in JavaScript in their life. The kind of developer who would disable caching is the kind of developer who would prefer a rich tool set, and Chrome is the clear winner here. I could go into depth about why this is, but as far as I’m concerned it’s self-evident and there’s no question about it - it’s not even close. The only time I open Safari is when I’ve already got Chrome and Chrome incognito open and I need a third separate session going on. Oh, and when I’m fixing bugs that are Safari specific.

    When you look at it in this light, the steam really leaves Marcos’ footnote. Yes, there are a lot of web developers out there, but the universe of people who want to disable caching and who prefer to do this in Safari is exceedingly small. Yes, I’m nitpicking, but it’s important. ↩︎

Setting Up GPG Signature Verification on Github 

From start to finish it took me 20 minutes. Everything is very straightforward except for the part about actually installing GPG. It turns out that if you have Homebrew installed, this is the fastest way:

brew install gnupg gnupg2

And yes, I’m literally writing this article because I want to push a commit to Github and test my GPG signature.

Update: here’s a followup post.

“Imagine an Era Where All of Your Software Has to Be Paid Monthly” 

Such an era would be horrific, right? I think so.

It’s taken me 6 months to realize that 1Password has changed its pricing model from buy once with unlimited future upgrades to pay monthly. Rick weighed in the comments of the announcement:

Sorry for my bad English. (English is not my first language). […]

I would gladly pay for a stand alone upgrade, for hard work on a good upgrade, than forced monthly fees. Imagine an era where all of you’re software has to be paid monthly.

I hate recurring payments. At this point, if you are a preexisting customer of 1Password and want to stay on their platform, you have two terrible choices:

  1. Stick with the old version you’ve already paid for, and get the minor updates for free. The mental anguish of knowing that your app has a newer improved version that you don’t have access to will bring you to the grave prematurely. I can’t live like this.
  2. Shuck out the money and pay monthly. This is also anathema. Monthly payments for password software? Over my dead body.

The only reasonable option is to switch to a buy-up-front platform like Secrets.1

  1. Granted, businesses have to find a way to make money from preexisting customers; I get that. What I’d rather see instead of a monthly billing scheme is the model where you pay a premium for version 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, etc. That’s reasonable. You buy the whole thing all at once and if you like it enough to upgrade, you do so. The fact that more and more companies are moving to the monthly model shows that my preferred method isn’t as lucrative, apparently, and that’s a bummer. What I’d like to see is enough backlash from the community that people vote with their dollars elsewhere, and thereby make the monthly billing less lucrative due to customer base shrinkage. That’s what needs to happen. I don’t think it’s going to happen though. We’re moving away from the era where you buy a CD of software, install it on your computer, it works offline without ever connecting to the Internet, and you get to use it for the rest of your life. Software is moving into the cloud and being billed monthly. That’s the new reality but since I grew up knowing the old way, I fight it. ↩︎

Google's Data Centers 

When you think of Oklahoma you don’t really think of tech. But it’s interesting that less than a one hour drive from where I’m sitting resides one of Google’s 15 data centers in the world. That’s something that California, New York, and Washington can’t claim. This is going to be ammunition next time someone laughs at where I live.

When I was attending OSUIT, we had a speaker from the Mayes County datacenter. He said that it was when Google introduced realtime search that it became necessary to build the facility. I imagine the company had been planning on building a Midwest facility for some time and this was the straw that broke the camel’s back, but still. It gives you an idea of how much more intense realtime search is compared to only searching once you’ve completed writing your query.

I also love the description for the Mayes Country datacenter:

The data center interior reflects local Okie culture, with the name spelled out in barbed wire outside, employees dressed as cowboys in photos, and a mechanical bull. It even has its own mascot roaming the grounds, a one-eyed dog named Miss G.

That sounds like my state.

On Setting Up RSS for Microblogging

Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society is entrusted with the spec for RSS 2.0. Here’s a pertinent part of its spec for RSS entries:

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

When it comes to a site like Drinking Caffeine that publishes both Macro posts (such as this one) and Micro posts (that link to external things), getting this correct is a little tricky. I thought I’d share how I’m doing it here.

First, I strongly recommend following the spec and having a <guid>.1 The <guid> should always point to the post hosted on your domain. In addition to the <guid>, you also want a <link> element. In the case of a Macro, the <link> points to the same URL as the <guid> does. In the case of a Micro however, the <link> points to the external URL. Here’s an example of what these two look like together in an RSS entry for a Macro post:

  <link>[Link to your post]</link>
  <guid isPermalink="false">[Link to your post]</guid>

And here’s an example for a Micro post:

  <link>[Link to external post]</link>
  <guid isPermalink="false">[Link to your post]</guid>

Not only does this get you up to Harvard’s spec, but it gives RSS apps the information they need to distinguish between Macros and Micros. I use the Unread app (unusually great app, by the way) to read RSS sites. Unread is smart enough to show the linked domain name in the post excerpt if the <link> points to something external. In fact, there isn’t a link automatically setup anywhere in the Unread interface that takes you the <guid> if the entry is a Micro. This is one reason why a lot of writers put a custom “Read on [sitename]” link at the end of their Micro RSS entries. They want to make sure that if you want, you have a way of getting to it.

  1. Totally an aside, but it’s unfortunate that Daring Fireball doesn’t have a <guid> for its RSS entries. I’ve got to imagine that DF is one of the early pioneers of the Micro format, if not the pioneer. My beef with the DF RSS feed is that the entry URLs are all <link> elements and their differentiation is solely based on a rel attribute. If you’re scraping an RSS and want to grab the URL that links directly to the post, that’s easy if you can depend on the presence of a <guid>; but alas, such isn’t the case with DF’s RSS feed. ↩︎

Why Doesn't iPhone Use USB-C? 

Great read from Rene Ritchie. This part was particularly insightful:

There was no USB-C back in 2012 when Apple shipped Lightning on iPhone 5. It didn’t exist. The spec wasn’t even finalized until August of 2014.

My impression heretofore has been that Apple didn’t include USB-C on the iPhone because it didn’t like the spec, but that it subsequently changed its mind to incorporate it into the new MacBook Pro. I hadn’t realized that USB-C wasn’t even out when the first Lightning iPhone was released, the iPhone 5.

I would love to see all of Apple’s devices using the same port - whether that’s Lightning or USB-C. At this point, I’m not sure that’s going to happen anytime soon. Arguably, the device whose ports is hardest to change is the iPhone, since the iPhone is Apple’s most popular product. If Apple had had a longterm vision of having the same port across all of its devices, it would have done one of the following:

  • If its goal was to be all Lightning then it would have released the 2015 MacBook and late 2016 MacBook Pro with Thunderbolt ports instead of USB-C.
  • If its goal was to be all USB-C (a smarter idea at this point) then Apple would have kept the headphone jack on the iPhone until it could make the switch. Going from headphone jack and Lightning to USB-C for both - all at once - would have been less painful than going from headphone jack to Lightning and then a few years later going from Lightning to USB-C. The latter is madness. In this interim period people are buying Lightning headphones and cars and adapters that assume the port is Lightning. When you want to make these kinds of changes, time is not on your side.

Apple hasn’t followed either of these paths, of course, which shows that a unified port is a low priority for it. We’ll just have to get used to it, I guess.

The Tagalong OS 

Great post from Steve Hackett on the state of macOS. His conclusion has me thinking, though:

Whatever the reasons are, macOS isn’t in the driver’s seat anymore. iOS is, and it’s attempting lugging macOS along with it as the iPhone and iPad mature. I can’t blame Apple for that; they are an ecosystem company. It is focused on the big picture, not just the Mac anymore.

Mac users who don’t understand that will continue to be frustrated with the pace of things.

Those who do will still probably be frustrated.

Maybe I’m in the minority, but I’m actually okay with the current pace of macOS’s development. There’s nothing my Mac doesn’t do that I wish it did do. New features like bringing Siri to the Mac are nice but I never even use that. When an update comes out, the only thing I really get excited about is the new wallpapers. The last time a truly remarkable update occurred was in 2014 when Yosemite was released and the UI got a reboot. At this point, as far as I’m concerned, if macOS didn’t change for the next ten years except to ship with the latest version of Ruby and such, that’d be fine with me. It takes many years getting something polished, but once you’re there, overworking it is actually worse than just leaving it alone. Overwork has been the downfall to things like Evernote and Twitter.

Tickled 

If you’re looking for a very bizarre documentary, you need to see Tickled. The cheapest you can get it is $10 at Amazon, but it’s worth it. I won’t give away any spoilers. Just watch it.

An Iterative Improvement to Kramdown Footnotes

I’m excited to have made a code contribution towards today’s release of Kramdown 1.13.2, the sole processor of Markdown for Github Pages.

My desire for the contribution arose when I noticed that there was a standard white space between the end of a footnote and its reverse footnote link (the link that sends you back to the footnote in the body). The problem with a white space is that it allows this reverse footnote link to get pushed to the next line if there are the right amount of words on the preceding line. Kramdown 1.13.2 changes this so that we’re using &nbsp; instead of a whitespace. The effect of this is that it guarantees that if the reverse footnote link doesn’t have enough room to reside on the last line of the footnote and must be pushed down to the next line, it takes the final word with it. This guarantees a congruency that is otherwise lost. It’s a minor change, really, but it’s a subtle refinement that makes footnotes and Markdown a little better.

If you’re using Jekyll, to get the Kramdown 1.13.2 on your local machine, just run:

bundle update kramdown

Kramdown should get automatically updated on Github Pages server; I assume it refreshes its gem cache several times per day, or alternatively detects the change instantly during deploy.1

Here’s to an improved footnote experience!

  1. I don’t have to worry about this since I’m not beholden to Github Pages’ Jekyll engine. I use Codeship and it’s smart enough to cache gems but update them instantly as soon as a change has been detected; my first deploy on Kramdown 1.13.2 had its proper changes reflected. ↩︎

Manton Reece's Micro.blog Project 

Manton Reece, in his Kickstarter video for Micro.blog:

If we start to separate the publishing from the social network, it unlocks something. It empowers writers to feel like they own their own work, even if that’s short posts.

This really resonates with me. Twitter and Medium have taught people to be lazy. They’ve encouraged unsavory practices and in many ways, the Internet would be better off without them.1 Decoupling social media from publishing forces people to take things more seriously before they put things out there. It’s a completely different mindset.

Reece’s campaign is well-funded at this point, so it’ll be interesting to watch where it goes.

  1. I know that sounds very harsh, but I really believe it. ↩︎