This is what Apple is training their Geniuses to tell people: It’s your fault. You’re using it wrong. Spend an entire day to reset the phone, install all of the apps again. Reconfigure them all. Place them all in folders and on home screens again. Kill your apps.
I don’t know why Apple hasn’t yet explicitly told all retail employees that “killing apps” in the multitasking tray is unnecessary, unlikely to solve any problem, and actually unlikely to have any effect at all due to the way iOS multitasks.
It’s one thing to hear this myth from the idiots at AT&T and Verizon stores, but it’s just embarrassing for Apple’s own retail employees to be peddling placebos that imply that iOS can’t multitask without constant babysitting and manual maintenance.
I recently had a good reason to look through my blog archive for a handful of articles that were very good, relatively timeless, interesting to a broad audience, and G-rated that didn’t include any references to celebrities, political figures, or well-known trademarks. I thought I could easily come up with 5–10 suitable picks.
I found very few. And the most recent pick, the weakest by far, was almost a year old.
It was sobering.
Most of my favorite writing over the last few years was about specific products or technology companies. There’s a place for that, but in one year or three years or thirty years, who’s really going to care about the politics of technology and the nuances of gadgets in 2012?
My primary outputs, professionally, are software and writing. This is what I’m contributing to the world. None of the software I write today is likely to still be in use in thirty years, but if I write a truly great and timeless article, that could be valuable to people for much longer.
I’m going to continue to write about what’s happening in our industry. But I’m also glad that I had this chance to step back and get some perspective on my work, because I haven’t written nearly enough articles recently that I’ll be proud to show off more than a few months from now.
I had the same problem, and it drove me crazy until I worked around it by enabling push.
As the commenters pointed out, the settings don’t really make sense. The relevant settings are under “Mail, Contacts, Calendars”, “Fetch New Data”. I found that even with the big “Push” switch enabled, it didn’t really push contacts or calendar events when the apps aren’t running — it would fall back to the Fetch setting below it, which I had kept set to Manually since 2007 to conserve battery life. Once I changed Fetch to “Hourly”, the problem was “solved”, I guess.
But it really just seems like Dr. Drang and I aren’t receiving proper “push” data when the Phone and Calendar apps are closed. I assumed it was a bug. I sure hope this isn’t the intended behavior.
Bathroom fans are great. Half-baths have one great reason to have one, and bathrooms with showers have two.
First of all, if you’re in the market for a bathroom fan — granted, not a frequently purchased item for most — you should definitely consider the Panasonic WhisperCeiling. It’s much quieter than any other household bathroom fan I’ve ever heard. I got an 80 CFM for a half-bath and 110 CFM for a full-bath, although I think the 80 would have been sufficient for both and it’s significantly quieter than the 110.
The problem with bathroom fans is that they’re inconvenient to use: ideally, you want the fan to run for a little while after you leave the bathroom. If you turn it off when you leave, it’s not very effective, and if you leave it running, you’ll probably forget about it for hours and waste tons of electricity. It may even be a fire risk.
A timer switch fixes this problem. After convincing my skeptical wife to let me install them, she only had two criteria: they couldn’t be the old giant-knob style, and they had to look good.
Amazon research led me to two top models: the fancier-looking Lutron Maestro MA-T51 and the more utilitarian-looking Leviton LTB60-1LZ. We couldn’t decide between them, so I got one of each:
From left: Lutron, Leviton.
They both work. (Exciting.) But beyond that, they’re very different.
The Lutron looks nicer, but in use, it’s more complicated: the small rocker on the right side selects the duration from the numbers on the left, and the giant center button is the on/off switch. The currently-selected time LED glows constantly, even when off. When on, the LEDs pulse down sequentially from the selected time to the bottom in a cycling animation, starting lower as the remaining time nears zero. It’s visually and conceptually busy and overly complicated.
The Leviton is simpler: just tap the time you want, and its LED glows. If you tapped “30M” but there are only 20 minutes left, only the “20M” LED will glow, and so on. When off, the bottom-center LED glows orange. If you change your mind about the time when it’s on, just tap a different duration. To lock it on, hold down one of the time buttons for a few seconds, and the bottom LED glows green.
Visitors have been confused by both. Many have figured out the Leviton, but none have successfully used the Lutron — even a contractor working on the bathroom was scared to touch the Lutron and asked me how to turn the fan on.
The Lutron is also more work if you often choose different durations. After a shower, you probably want the full hour to clear out the humidity, but after ruining the air in a half-bath, you probably only need 15–20 minutes of runtime. With the Leviton, you just tap the button for whatever duration you want each time. With the Lutron, you’re effectively using a menu to change the duration whenever it’s not the same as the previous selection.
Both switches could be even simpler by offering fewer durations. I bet a switch that just offered 15- and 45-minute durations would be fine for nearly everyone. (The Leviton comes in a few variants with different durations, but always the same number of them. The 30-minute-max model is fine for a half-bath, while the 60-minute-max model is probably better for showers.)
The difference between them isn’t big enough for me to replace either with the other model, but the Leviton is definitely my favorite. My formerly skeptical wife loves it, and is now convinced of the value of bathroom fan timers.
Last week, I wrote that I was disappointed to find so few of my recent posts with long-term, general relevance, and I was going to make an effort to increase the number of such posts in the future. So when I posted about bathroom fans and timer switches a few hours ago, I got a few responses that were mocking me for writing something seemingly frivolous after making such a proclamation.
To clarify, I only said I was going to increase the number of long-term-value posts, not that I was never going to post anything light or fun in the meantime. And I think people who complain about my seemingly frivolous subject matter probably have a different idea of “lasting value” than my interpretation.
Installing timer switches on my bathroom fans has eliminated a daily annoyance from my life. Deciding on a pillowcasing strategy has made me sleep more comfortably every night since I wrote that stupid article seven years ago. By caring about what type of headphones I use, I satisfy my own needs better and annoy the people around me less every day.
These may sound trivial, but they add up. As Joel Spolsky wrote 12 years ago:
So that’s what days were like. A bunch of tiny frustrations, and a bunch of tiny successes. But they added up. Even something which seems like a tiny, inconsequential frustration affects your mood. Your emotions don’t seem to care about the magnitude of the event, only the quality.
And I started to learn that the days when I was happiest were the days with lots of small successes and few small frustrations.
I’m constantly seeking other little ways to improve my life: ways to eliminate frustrations and create even more tiny successes and little delights every day. As I wrote four years ago:
I try to be discerning in everything, because I love it. I love the research and acquisition of specialty things, I love finding new and better versions of the things I like, and I love discovering the immense depth of hobbies and goods that most people never see.
All of these minutiae — every little thing I care about in my life, some of which I take the time to write about — adds up to a life full of little victories, and I’m extremely happy.
By sharing insights and opinions on these little things, I can make other people’s lives better, too, a little at a time.
When I first started writing, I was reaching dozens of people. Now I’m reaching hundreds of thousands, a great honor. But the far more satisfying honor is when I hear from a few of them after writing one of my life-minutiae posts, and they tell me that I’ve just made their lives a little bit better.
That’s why I do this.
If you don’t care about such minutiae, that’s fine. I just hope you have something that you do care about. But I care about this sort of thing, and I get immense joy and satisfaction from improving the minutiae in other people’s lives.
This week’s podcast: Instacast 2.0’s interesting pricing, RubyMotion, seemingly impossible requirements in programming job postings, undercutting competitors on price, dollar-store meat thermometers, and why 5by5 probably shouldn’t do a parenting show. I think this was a very strong episode.
In the After Dark, I elaborate on my decision to go from my 15” MacBook Pro back to a Mac Pro once new ones (hopefully) become available.
CocoaConf is an exciting multi-track conference series for iPhone, iPad, and Mac developers. We start by bringing together some of the best developers, authors, and trainers in the community, giving them the freedom to cover the technologies that they are most passionate about. Next, we sell a limited number of tickets, which provides for an incredibly low attendee-to-speaker ratio. Then we throw in some interesting keynotes and fun, informative panels. And we do it all in a manner that is designed to maximize your learning and networking experience.
Our next CocoaConf event will be held on June 28–30, 2012, in Herndon, VA (Washington, DC area). Registration is now open and there are still some tickets available. We will have 18 great speakers, including Daniel Steinberg, Chris Adamson, Mark Dalrymple, Saul Mora, Mike Ash, and more. Get all of the details at CocoaConf.com. When you register, use the coupon code MARCO for a $100 discount off of the regular registration rates.
To hear about future CocoaConf events and other interesting information, follow us on Twitter at @cocoaconf.
Thanks to CocoaConf for sponsoring the Marco.org RSS feed this week.
Why not to believe much of anything in rumor-site headlines:
In the suggestion submitted to Apple, the developer simply requested that the company add support for multiple users to the iPad.
“After further investigation it has been determined that this is a known issue, which is currently being investigated by engineering,” the official response from Apple Developer Connection’s Worldwide Developer Relations team reads.
That’s the standard “duplicate bug” response email. It’s a form letter. It means nothing, except that he was not the first person to make that suggestion.
In related news, Verizon cares about its customers because the automated voice in the phone menu said so, and they really are sorry about this delay because of this truly unexpected volume of calls right now.
Speaking of Apple’s bug reporter (“Radar”), here’s an open call for campaigning Apple to improve it. Some of its suggestions go too far or aren’t necessary, but this, I think, is the biggest problem:
Radar is also a black hole. We file radars and we’re lucky to hear back about them. The majority of radars are either left untouched or marked as duplicates of other radars we cannot see. … All this makes us feel like our radars make little difference. …
By making radars so hard and painful to file, most developers end up not filing them. For every radar that is filed, there are many more that developers would file but don’t consider it a big enough issue to be worth the time. It may be a small bug or feature request, or it may be a common issue that we figure someone else has already filed so there’s no point wasting our time telling you about it.
I hardly ever file bug reports for this reason.
Despite reassurances from Apple people to the contrary at WWDC, it sure looks to us outsiders that most of our bug reports go unread or skimmed, filed away, and ignored. But it takes a lot of time to file a good bug report, since the filer should take reasonable measures to ensure that it’s truly an Apple bug and not something else in their code.
An Apple engineer once told me that if a bug gets even 10 duplicate reports, that’s considered a lot. Given the scope of the iOS and Mac developer community, that’s pretty low. Clearly, then, filing bugs isn’t a complete waste of time.
But it feels that way. Maybe if it didn’t, more people would take the time to file good bug reports.
“At a certain point, I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married,” Mr. Obama told ABC News in an interview that came after the president faced mounting pressure to clarify his position.
Mr. Obama said his views had changed over the years, in part because of prodding from friends who are gay and conversations with his wife and daughters.
“I had hesitated on gay marriage in part because I thought that civil unions would be sufficient,” Mr. Obama said. “I was sensitive to the fact that for a lot of people, the word marriage was something that invokes very powerful traditions and religious beliefs.”
This is certainly progress and worthy of celebration. But does it disappoint anyone else that he was so obviously holding it back all this time because he didn’t want to offend all of the bigots?
His statements are couched in so much equivocation and accommodation that it’s barely an endorsement. And it’s easy to question his motives as he finally says something to energize Democratic voters a few months before his re-election campaign.
It doesn’t feel sincere: rather, it feels like the good-politician move of just telling people whatever they want to hear to maximize campaign contributions and keep themselves in office.
And for such an important social and civil-rights issue, that’s just not enough.
I use a Jambox in my bathroom during the same two situations that necessitate a fan timer. When showering, I like to put the Jambox on a shelf just outside of the shower and listen to podcasts, but it’s hard to get enough volume out of the Jambox for speech to be clearly audible over the shower and fan noise.
The SoundLink looks decent and has great-feeling build quality, as you’d expect from Bose.
It produces a very impressive amount of volume relative to its very small size, as you’d expect from Bose.
But it also produces a very strange tonal balance: the mid-highs are weak, and surprisingly for something this size and battery-powered, the bass is ridiculously strong and boomy. It’s completely imbalanced.
As you’d expect from Bose.
I played a few different kinds of songs, and in all of them, the boomy bass was distractingly strong. It’s all I could hear.
And that was just in my office, a normal room. When I tried listening in the bathroom, a much smaller room, the bass completely took over like a horrible aftermarket car stereo. It was unlistenable.
The original Jambox, not known for particularly great sound quality but very good for volume in a small package, is much more listenable.
Maybe it’s just my preferred tonal balance: neutral. I leave EQs off and I listen with close-to-reference headphones and bookshelf speakers. I don’t like standalone subwoofers and don’t own any. But this is an unusual preference: most buyers like big, boomy bass, and Bose is clearly designing for them. That’s good for business, but not good for me.
I’m returning the SoundLink to Amazon, and I just ordered a Big Jambox. Hopefully that will be better.
An amazing rant-comment by “wast334” on The Verge’s post about Instapaper 4.2, which I hope he won’t mind me posting in its entirety:
While I don’t fully fault you for indulging in this kind of app, due to reasons, it’s good to hear that finally someone has recognized this issue, instead of blindly and dangerously praising these ‘developers’. The problem with iOS developers, and indeed all OS X developers, are that they all carry this sense of superiority and disregard of the efforts of those who program for other platforms. They claim on their high horse by bragging and flashing ‘design’ and eye-candy.
Contrast this with true developers writing for real life daily use platforms, who develop for functionality and the user, not trying to take control of the user.
Marco is actually a part of the Apple cult along with Gruber and the rest of them. These guys have no idea what actual software development is actually like. For this you truly need to look beyond the closed box that is Objective-C, Cocoa, and look out into the world of real languages. These guys won’t have the mindset to code natively in C/C++, for widely adopted frameworks such as .NET, utilizing modern languages like C#. They will not be able to write cross platform code using Java, and hence their inherent hate for Android (of course that is just a side reason for hating, we all know what the real reasons are).
Due to this lack of ability to comprehend development at a mature level they will onot be able to really do any web development using things such as PHP, Python, or fully understand and appreciate true RDBMS, as they stick to their Core Data hand-holding playground.
All these “delightful” frameworks, built upon a very questionable language, being forced to use and pay for official development tools and being mostly locked into these without any other free alternative. Indeed, look at any Mac OS X development program out there, they are all paid. All made by developers with the same close-minded goals and appreciations. Yet none of them can even appreciate the origin of their sugar coated painted kingdom.
Stolen open source projects rebranded by license exploitation by their one true ruler they all look up to. This is after all how the fruit flavored bunch operate, by stealing. Good riddance for companies like Google who saved WebKit from ruining the web world, otherwise we would have all these stupid -web-kit tags everywhere.
I could go on but I will just say that be careful about these evangelists. Their only reason for existence or high profile is this. Nothing else. You all need to start reading accounts of true innovators, such as Linus Torvalds, Richard Stallman. These are all people who do not give a crap about making a fame in the world, they are there to help the world. And finally, you are better off using Windows anyway.,
Thanks again for finally seeing this problem.
Hi, I’m Marco, Apple-cult member and Instapaper author.
I have no idea what actual software development is like, although I’ve worked full-time as a software engineer for the last 8 years since graduating from college with a computer science degree. I’ve only been working full-time in the closed box of Objective C for the last year and a half — before that, I coded full-time in real languages.
I’ve never visited the Core Data hand-holding playground, but it sounds fun. Instead, the Instapaper app’s database layer is written directly against SQLite’s C API. The server-side code is all in PHP, and before moving to the sugar coated painted kingdom, I spent 4 years writing the PHP back-end code to a little site to handle thousands of dynamic requests per second. Before that, I wrote enterprise search software in C.
Nice to meet you. I’m sorry our cult makes you so upset. I hope you can find happiness.
Our source has indicated, however, that the 7-inch iPad will be identical to the current 9.7-inch iPad, just scaled down. That seems to include a 2048x1536 resolution display, just like the new iPad.
All of this sounds plausible except that screen resolution. A 7” display is so much smaller by total area than the iPad’s 10” that most apps’ interfaces will need to be manually adjusted or redesigned. You can’t get reliably usable results by just scaling down 10” apps to a 7” screen automatically.
And if they can’t reuse 10” apps without modification, why would they need to make the display so dense to keep the same resolution? They’re having enough trouble cramming that resolution into a 10” device and getting enough of the panels manufactured to keep up with demand.
If this 7” iPad is real, maybe it has a 1024x768 resolution, yielding a logically 512x384 area, in half of the 10” iPad’s screen area. Effectively, it’d be the iPad 3’s screen cut in half. (Then apps could keep a consistent scale for interface elements, which would make development a lot easier.)
That sounds a lot more likely if they want to hit a $249 price and make a profit.
Adobe released a security upgrade for Adobe Photoshop CS5 and earlier for Windows and Macintosh. This upgrade addresses vulnerabilities that could allow an attacker who successfully exploits these vulnerabilities to take control of the affected system. …
Adobe has released Adobe Photoshop CS6, which addresses these vulnerabilities. For users who cannot upgrade to Adobe Photoshop CS6, Adobe recommends users follow security best practices and exercise caution when opening files from unknown or untrusted sources.
Note the euphemism, “released a security upgrade”: this is not an update, but a paid upgrade. This is not a “Security Bulletin”, it’s a giant middle finger.
In English: Photoshop CS5 will not be patched for this vulnerability. The only way to remain secure is to upgrade to Photoshop CS6 for $200.1
My wife and I each bought copies of Photoshop CS5 two years ago, since we both use it for our professions. It is now unsafe for us to use this $700-each professional app, and the only responsible course of action is to pay another $200 each for an upgrade that we weren’t planning on buying because we were perfectly happy with the version we have.
Adobe’s message is clear: if you need or want to continue using Photoshop, the only responsible course of action is to buy every new version, which most Photoshop customers never needed to do before.
Maybe the right course of action is to stop using Photoshop. My wife can’t, so Adobe is just robbing her of $200. But I might be able to.
This week’s podcast: the new 5by5 Radio app, why Apple may not want to add paid upgrades to the App Store, the infinite market for podcast clients and to-do apps, Instacast’s in-app-purchase backlash, how and why to remove features from an app, the new 15” MacBook Pro rumors, Thunderbolt’s likely overshadowing by USB 3, and near-future concerns for a Retina laptop.
On the After Dark, we discuss horrible German cup holders, and my wife and baby son make their podcasting debuts.
It sounds plausible. Assuming that’s all or mostly true:
The optical drive’s gone, but at this point, that’s neither radical nor newsworthy. Its removal saves a lot of space, which is nice, but it won’t save much weight — the optical drive is extremely lightweight.
To achieve the thinner case and reduce the weight, I’m curious to see if they finally removed the glass in front of the screen. On the current 15” design, the glass adds around 0.4 pounds over the matte option, and its extremely high reflectivity is problematic for a lot of people. If the new 15” offers a plastic-glossy screen instead, like the MacBook Air’s screen, that would save a lot of weight and be far less reflective for people (myself included) who don’t like glass screens.
The 13” MacBook Air is 3 pounds and the current 15” MacBook Pro is 5.6. Assuming Apple drops the optical drive and glass screen, they continue to offer at least the same battery life, and they continue to use 45W CPUs and discrete GPUs, I’d expect the new model to weigh 4.5 to 5 pounds. If they drop the GPU and pursue lower-wattage CPUs, they might get a more significant reduction, and the reduced power demands and heat output would result in a better computer for most use.
The thin case also means that Gigabit Ethernet and Firewire 800 won’t fit and are probably just being dropped. Expect video pros to complain.
I suspect USB 3 is going to do to Thunderbolt what USB 2 did to Firewire 800: serve as the dominant interconnect for most peripherals, with the more-expensive Thunderbolt being relegated only to high-end niches.
Thunderbolt has been out for over a year, but there’s still a disappointing lack of peripherals. The few that are available are very expensive, and many potentially useful ones — such as Gigabit Ethernet or Firewire 800 adapters — don’t exist yet as standalone peripherals. (You can get a Thunderbolt-to-Gigabit-and-FW800 adapter for $1000 with a free Apple Cinema Display attached.)
It will be interesting to see if Apple addresses this rumored MacBook Pro’s lack of Firewire 800 and Gigabit Ethernet by making adapters available, and if so, whether those adapters use USB 3 or Thunderbolt.1
I’m not sure I’d want a Retina MacBook Pro yet. I suspect that adoption of Retina assets among Mac apps will be slower than we saw with Retina iOS devices, and more importantly, Retina graphics for websites will likely take significantly longer.
Since non-Retina graphics look worse on Retina screens than on older screens, Retina MacBook users would have significantly worse-looking web browsing for a while — probably years, not months. So I don’t think I’d rush out to get a Retina Mac, but I wouldn’t necessarily avoid a Retina screen when it comes time to upgrade for other reasons.
Apple has sold a 10/100 USB Ethernet Adapter for years, but since it’s limited to USB 2, it’s extremely slow. A modern MacBook Air can generally transfer files faster over wireless (if it’s 802.11n) than over the USB Ethernet Adapter. ↩︎
The AeroPress recipe (really) at the World AeroPress Championship (yes, really) that took home the Gold AeroPress (these are all real things) this year is remarkably simple.
I tried it, and the result isn’t really my style, but it’s quite different than what I usually drink. It’s nice to know that today, almost two years in, I still haven’t explored every brew that the AeroPress is capable of.
And you might work on a lot of devices – a Mac, an iPhone, an iPad – in a lot of places. You might work on the road or maybe from home (with your Aeropress and clickity keyboard). And that makes it hard to securely use a shared drive, coordinate with clients and collaborate with your team.
Igloo offers a complete digital workplace – you get full access to all your files, project discussions and plans for world domination. The information you need to work is available anywhere in the world, literally at your fingertips.
Igloo has a space for your team. Each team gets dedicated file sharing, Twitter-like microblogs, activity streams and a host of other collaboration tools in one cloud-based platform. Plans start at just $4/user/month.
I like the proposed <picture> markup except for the tag name. “Picture” is much more specific than “image”, and I bet a very large portion of images used on the web are not pictures. “Photo” would be worse, but “picture” still implies a complete photo, illustration, or diagram, whereas “image” encompasses those plus patterns, textures, gradients, and every other use of image data in use on the web today.
How about using that proposed <picture> markup but instead calling the top-level tag <image>?
We know of two next-generation iPhones in testing with a larger display: the iPhone 5,1 and iPhone 5,2. These phones are in the PreEVT stage of development and are codenamed N41AP (5,1) and N42AP (5,2). … Both of these phones sport a new, larger display that is 3.999 inches diagonally. … The new iPhone display resolution will be 640 x 1136. That’s an extra 176 pixels longer of a display. The screen will be the same 1.9632 inches wide, but will grow to 3.484 inches tall. This new resolution is very close to a 16:9 screen ratio, so this means that 16:9 videos can play full screen at their native aspect ratio.
The rumors about a taller-screened iPhone are piling up so much recently that it’s looking fairly likely. I’ll reserve final judgment until I use an iPhone with this display shape, but tentatively, I’m skeptical.
Why do people like larger-screened phones? My guesses on the biggest reasons:
Photos look much better.
They look better in the store.
To get LTE, which in practice still requires a larger phone and battery, and therefore, a larger screen.
The rumored ≈16:9 iPhone doesn’t really solve any of these. And I still think it would look weird in portrait.
Newton Academy is a revolutionary school training students for careers developing apps for iPhone and iPad. Apple is selling more than 500,000 of these magical devices every day. The App Economy is skyrocketing, and iOS app developers are in incredibly high demand, with over 5,000 jobs available now.
Our training program takes about a year to complete, and does not require any prior programming experience. You can learn on your own time, at your own pace, in your own space. Our immersive video lessons include graphics, animations, diagrams, and tutorials. Collaboration with fellow students is encouraged in our Virtual Workshop. You’ll also have real time support from your instructor available for exercises and assignments. Our graduates have been very successful, in large part because we offer every student an apprenticeship, during which we’ll mentor and guide you through every step of the process of completing your first full-fledged app. We can even help you find a job, or if you prefer, set up shop as an independent or indie aiming for fame and fortune. Available spots are filling fast, so apply today.
Thanks to Newton Academy for sponsoring the Marco.org RSS feed this week.
I’ve known about this for about a week (thanks, various Twitter and email tips). I wouldn’t be surprised if offline support showed up in iOS 6, too. It’s a glaring feature omission, and it’s far more important on iOS than on Macs.
Like today’s Reading List, it will certainly prevent some people from buying Instapaper, but might encourage more customers to seek out a more robust app to solve this problem.
Since Reading List’s release in Lion and iOS 5 last year, a lot of people have asked me about its effect on Instapaper. It’s effectively impossible to correlate long-term App Store sales trends to their causes, so I really can’t be sure. So far, Instapaper’s sales are still strong despite far more (and far stronger, and all free) competition this year. Maybe sales would have been stronger without Reading List, but I doubt it.
I predict approximately the same effect — nothing obvious — when Mountain Lion and presumably iOS add offline saving to Reading List this year.
So, you code for the web. And in Coda 1, we revolutionized that process, and put everything you needed in one place. An editor. Terminal. CSS. File management. SVN. But we knew we could do more.
Now, with Coda 2, we went beyond expectations. We added tons of highly-requested features, and a few nobody expected, then wrapped it all up in a shiny, groundbreaking UI fit for the future.
Today it’s half-price from Panic’s site or the Mac App Store.
And the new, perfectly named Diet Coda for iPad looks like an amazing app itself.
I’ve previously done all of my web development in TextMate, but I bought both Codas today and I’m going to give them a shot. Panic’s other apps are so great that I trust them enough to take the chance.
The startup culture is similar to professional sports in that it requires a fleet of fresh-out-of-college kids to trade their lives and their health for the potential of short-term glory.
“Old farts” are often excluded from that culture, not because we’re lousy coders but because we won’t put up with that shit. We have lives, we have families, we have other things that are important to us.
I never put up with that shit, even in my twenties, and it definitely damaged my relationship with various bosses that expected it.
In addition to the sexism that has been discussed a lot recently, software engineering suffers from extreme ageism and workaholism.
I’m about to turn 30, I’m married, and we just had a baby. This will implicitly (and illegally, of course) disqualify me from working at almost any startup.
It sounds like Airfoil Speakers Touch wasn’t removed for no reason — it was removed for what many developers might consider a bad reason. According to Underscore David Smith:
In order for these apps to simulate an AirPlay receiver they must reverse-engineer the AirPlay protocol. The protocol (outlined here) is cryptographically secured to prevent anyone other than Apple or its approved vendors from using it. Last year James Laird hacked out Apple’s private key from an old Airport Express and published it.
As best I understand the technical details of this, in order for any of these apps to operate they must then make use of this private key to impersonate an Airport Express. It seems entirely reasonable that Apple would not condone the use of their hacked private key in this manner, least of all in an App Store app.
It’s debatable whether this is fair. But, at the very least, Apple’s communication to developers still needs improvement, and it sucks that this app was approved and had been promoted, improved, supported, and maintained by Rogue Amoeba for three months before being pulled by Apple, probably permanently, with only two days’ notice.
Bob Sullivan reporting on the radical pricing strategy implemented by former Apple Retail head Ron Johnson:
No more coupons or confusing multiple markdowns. No more 600 sales a year. No more deceptive circulars full of sneaky fine print. Heck, the store even did away with the 99 cents on the end of most price tags. Just honest, clear prices. …
Shoppers hated it.
The campaign, which launched on Feb. 1, appears to be a disaster. Revenue dropped 20 percent for the first quarter compared to last year. Customer traffic fell 10 percent. Last year, the company made $64 million in the first quarter; this year, it lost $163 million.
The Mac Pro seems like a ridiculous computer in the age of quad-core laptops. Even I thought so when I switched to a MacBook Pro last fall. But I had some major issues that have only been partially resolved. And in many other ways that I didn’t expect, this setup is far more complex, less elegant, and less reliable than a Mac Pro.
I really hope Apple isn’t done with the Mac Pro yet, because a Xeon E3/E5 update would be awesome.
Back in March, I speculated that the dual-2.9 GHz E5s would reach around 36,000 on Geekbench (64-bit). This now looks like it’ll be correct: Rob-ART Morgan just tested a PC workstation with a pair of the new, Mac Pro-ready Xeon E5 CPUs, with 16 total cores at 3.1 GHz. It scored a whopping 41,242 on Geekbench in Windows.
The fastest Mac Pro you can buy today, the two-year-old, $6200, dual-X5670 2.93 GHz model, scores “only” about 24,262.1
I’m still not sure that the Mac Pro delay is a sign of Apple not caring about it. Remember, they haven’t been waiting for two years because they didn’t feel like updating the line: it has taken Intel two years to deliver the next generation of Xeons.
Assuming Apple still cares a bit about the Mac Pro, what might an update be like?
I don’t think we’ll see a switch to consumer-level CPUs or the price drop that could bring, since consumer chips would require Mac Pro buyers to give up a lot of what they need. If the Mac Pro is going to continue to exist, it should still be a Xeon workstation.
The current Mac Pro is so old that it’s the only Mac still shipping without Thunderbolt, since it predates the introduction of Thunderbolt by six months. Obviously, Thunderbolt would be nice to have on the new Mac Pro. But so would USB 3.0, which inconveniently isn’t built into Intel’s Xeon-compatible chipsets yet. (It’s supposedly coming to the Ivy Bridge updates to the laptops because Intel’s Ivy Bridge chipsets natively support USB 3 for “free”.) Incorporating either of them will require dedicated controller chips on the motherboard. This doesn’t preclude them, but makes them slightly less likely if Apple isn’t particularly dedicated to getting them in there.
I’d love to see the optical-bay area and SATA controller modified to natively support a cluster of four 2.5” drives to accommodate SSDs. (Current Mac Pros can be modified with aftermarket bay adapters and SATA controller cards, but that’s a complex and messy solution.) To make room without other case modifications, one or both optical bays could be removed, or the optical drive could be changed to a slot-loading, slim laptop drive.
I suspect that Blu-ray will still be ignored, mostly for software reasons: while you can buy any BD-RW drive on the market and read or burn data discs from a Mac, you still can’t legally watch Blu-ray movies on OS X. Advertising Blu-ray support without being able to play Blu-ray movies is questionable, and it serves Apple’s strategic interests better to continue pretending that Blu-ray doesn’t exist. Anyone who wants to add a BD-RW drive to their Mac Pro, internally or externally, can do it themselves very inexpensively.
One big question is Retina-display support. If Retina displays are coming to the MacBook Pro soon, would they spread to the rest of the Mac line within a year or two? If so, wouldn’t the next Mac Pro generation need to support them, presumably with the release of a Retina Thunderbolt Display? That’s a big requirement alone, and it would also require special video cards that could drive two or three of them. (The sheer amount of manufactured pixels and GPU throughput required to pull that off makes me think that Retina Thunderbolt Displays might not exist for a while.)
The lack of a Mac Pro update until this point is slightly suspicious, but not cause for much concern. I’m guessing that Apple’s holding back the Mac Pro until USB 3 debuts in the MacBook Pro, a Retina Thunderbolt Display is available, or Mountain Lion is released. If we don’t have a new Mac Pro by the end of the summer, I’ll start to be worried for its future.
To put Mac Pro performance into perspective, the fastest Mac outside of the Mac Pro line is currently the 3.4 GHz 27” iMac at about 12,532, with the recent 2.5 GHz i7 MacBook Pro close by at 11,851. That’s approximately the same performance as a midrange early 2008 Mac Pro. ↩︎
Rene Ritchie goes into great detail with excellent mockups of what apps may look like in 16:9 on the rumored taller-screened iPhone.
I still don’t like it. Video looks better in landscape, but I think apps and photos look worse in both orientations. I’m still hoping that any screen-size changes maintain the current aspect ratio, although the rumor mill seems to think that the chances of that are pretty slim.
A big one I’d add: Apple’s software quality is declining.
I’m not just talking about the most recent releases of everything, or the last couple of months — I’ve noticed this trend for about 2–3 years. As Apple’s software has grown to address larger feature sets, hard-to-solve problems such as sync and online services, shorter release cycles, increasingly strong competition, and Apple’s own immense scale, quality has slipped.
The list of exceptions to “It just works” is growing quickly.
That, more than anything, scares me about Apple’s future.
Regular, light running is the best way to keep your body fit. Go Couch to 5k is the perfect app to get you off the sofa and introduce you to the world of running. It shows animated (near) real-time speed while you run, keeps detailed history of runs (with maps), works great with background music, and features voice coaching guides telling you when to change pace. In the end, you can share your achievements to dailymile, Facebook, Twitter, and more.
Don’t forget: your mind will work better if your body is fit.
Bonus for Marco.org readers: the first 5 people to contact Radiant Tap will get free promo code — use “Marco sent me” in the subject line or as first line in the message.
Thanks to Radiant Tap for sponsoring the Marco.org RSS feed this week.
Anyone with enough money can buy the equipment, but most people don’t have a good source of freshly roasted beans. Very few people live within a convenient distance of a coffee roaster, and even for those who do, the nearest roaster might not be particularly good: it might roast poor-quality beans, or it might roast them much too light or dark for your taste.
I solved this problem by home-roasting. But home-roasting is impractical, time-consuming, and fussy. If you’re asking yourself whether you should home-roast, the answer is definitely “No.” (I shouldn’t, either, but I do it anyway.)2
I wasn’t able to roast for a few months during a recent home renovation, so I signed up for Tonx, a coffee subscription service. The deal is simple: every two weeks, they mail a 12-ounce bag of freshly roasted coffee to you for $19. (It’s billed at $38 every 4 weeks, so it’s effectively $19 per bag.)
As coffee goes, this is very expensive. But for high-quality, freshly roasted, mail-ordered coffee, it’s competitive: ordering a similar 12-ounce bag from Stumptown runs about $23 after shipping.
No good mail-order service will compare well to buying it locally: Tonx is effectively $25.33 per pound, while I’ve rarely seen beans at local roasters priced above $16 per pound. But even “expensive” coffee isn’t completely out of reach: if you use 15 grams of beans per cup, a cup brewed with Tonx beans only costs about $0.84. By comparison, $16-per-pound local coffee is about $0.53 per 15-gram cup. We’re not talking about a lot of money either way.
Since I signed up on February 1, Tonx has been very consistent: they’ve sent very good coffees reliably every two weeks, and I usually get them about 3 days after they’ve been roasted, since they’re sent via Priority Mail from Los Angeles.
This is close to ideal. Coffee actually doesn’t taste very good right after it’s been roasted — the full flavor takes 2–3 days to develop.3
While every Tonx coffee has been very good so far, none of their picks have blown me away. This might be because they roast a bit too light for my taste:
I’m not qualified to tell you exactly what roast level they use, but my home-roast above is between City and Full City.4 Maybe their roasts are a fairly light City. Regardless, I like it a bit darker, but I think most coffee nerds would be very pleased with their roasts.
Their customer service is excellent: my first shipment got misrouted by the USPS and was going to be almost a week late, so they sent me another one, expedited, at no additional cost. That was the only issue I’ve had to date, and they handled it extremely well.
Tonx is a great option if you want great coffee delivered to your house without having to think about it.
Now, I have a great universal answer whenever anyone asks me how to make great coffee: Get a burr grinder, get an AeroPress, and subscribe to Tonx.5
A lot of people have asked me about manual hand-crank burr grinders. I have the Hario MSS-1B for occasional travel use, and it’s acceptable for a coarse or medium grind (although people nearby will make fun of you). But it takes far too long and far too much cranking to achieve a fine grind, and since the AeroPress is best with a fine grind, I don’t recommend using a manual grinder with it. ↩︎
If you decide to home-roast, well… you really shouldn’t. But if you decide to do it anyway, get the Behmor. Roast under a window and put a good box fan on the sill, blowing out. Open a window on the other side of the room for intake. ↩︎
I once imagined inventing a truly all-in-one coffee machine that would roast, grind, and brew the beans freshly for each cup. The flavor-development delay after roasting is one of many reasons why such a machine should never exist. I have many terrible ideas. ↩︎
Normally I roast to Full City, sometimes just before Vienna, but that would be a poor choice for a fine Kona. ↩︎
You can even save some money on a great grinder if you buy it via Tonx after you subscribe. See the “Tonx Perks” section in your account’s control panel. They ask that people keep this relatively quiet, so it’s in a footnote. Nobody reads footnotes. ↩︎
Great article from Dan Frommer on the not-very-subtle hints that Tim Cook dropped last night.
Within a year, I’d expect an Apple TV set, Facebook integration in iOS 6 and Mountain Lion, and the cancellation of iAd and Ping. (It wouldn’t surprise me to see iAd canceled as soon as iOS 6’s release.)
None of these are big surprises, but Cook all but confirmed them.
Information Architects arguing against the pervasive third-party “share” buttons that publishers and bloggers vomit all over their post headers and footers:
Or do you seriously think that in ten years we will still have those buttons on every page? No, right? Why, because you already know as a user that they’re not that great. So why not get rid of them now? Because “they’re not doing any harm”? Are you sure?
I don’t embed any sharing buttons for one big reason: they look cheap and desperate. They would devalue my voice and reduce my credibility.
For me, every other issue — clutter, load times, scrolling speed, privacy, security — is secondary to that.
After years of living in areas unserved by FiOS, I finally got it in 2011.
My 35/35 Mbps plan is by far the best internet connection I’ve ever had. Looks like I’ll be able to upgrade it to 75/35 shortly, possibly for the same price. I may even look into that 150/65 option, although the 300/65 option would be far more than what I need (and probably priced accordingly).
Remember when it was ridiculous to think that your home network’s transfer speed could be the bottleneck for your internet connection?
In fact, the performance of iAd has grown so solid over the past 6 months or so that I recently dropped all other advertising platforms from Audiobooks (previously I’ve integrated with MobClix, Admob, and Adsense).
It sounds like my prediction for iAd’s death was premature.
I used a makeshift standing desk at Tumblr for over a year, and then a few of us got nice electric-lift Details AdjusTables desks (copied directly from Fog Creek). I liked mine so much that when I left Tumblr, I negotiated to take it with me.
Part of the reason I took it was that at the time, it was effectively impossible for one person to buy one good electric-lift standing desk. Tumblr and Fog Creek had to get the AdjusTables through expensive office-furniture dealers (the kind of dealers whose websites don’t contain any prices and who take 6–8 weeks to do anything), and they ended up costing almost $2,000 each after all of the fees. These dealers probably wouldn’t even sell just one, they probably wouldn’t bring it to a house in the suburbs, and it would probably cost a fortune if they did.
The original GeekDesk was the only consumer-accessible electric-lift desk on the market at the time, but it lacked a critical feature: programmable height memories. Trust me, as a long-time user of standing desks: you want that. Find your most comfortable sitting and standing heights and program them into memory. You don’t need a lot — I’d be fine with just one each for standing and sitting. (Mine has three, but I’ve never used the third.)
Today, there are more electric-lift options with programmable heights: the GeekDesk Max, the NewHeights, and the attractive NextDesk Terra. I’m glad Mark found these: now I don’t need to worry that I won’t be able to replace my desk when the AdjusTables’ unreliable lift mechanism inevitably breaks.