MousePoint

This is a complete waste of time. But I loved every minute of it.

The idea of this game is a game minimalist’s dream. Click and roll your mouse to generate points. Get enough points, wheel over and grab a multiplier or other bonus thingy. All to increase the points you gather with your mad mouse skills.

Eventually, you will win. Works on iOS Safari, but not nearly as free wheeling.

Human curated illustration in the App Store

Khoi Vinh, on last year’s App Store redesign:

I myself paid it scant attention until one day this past winter when I realized that the company was commissioning original illustration to accompany its new format. If you check the App Store front page a few times a week, you’ll see a quietly remarkable display of unique art alongside unique stories about apps, games and “content” (movies, TV shows, comics, etc.). To be clear: this isn’t work lifted from the marketing materials created by app publishers. It’s drawings, paintings, photographs, collages and/or animations that have been created expressly for the App Store.

This whole writeup is terrific, but what really struck me was this Pinterest catalog pulled together from screen grabs Khoi took of various App Store pages. Fantastic work on all counts.

And bravo to the App Store team for pulling this off.

Epic Bill Gates e-mail rant from 2003

Boing Boing:

In 2003 Bill Gates tried to download Microsoft Movie Maker from Microsoft.com. His confusing, frustrating, futile experience prompted him to write a terrifically scorching email to the managers in charge of the project. It starts off pretty mild, with just a hint of the brutally funny sarcasm to come. (“I typed in movie maker. Nothing. So I gave up and sent mail to Amir saying – where is this Moviemaker download? Does it exist? So they told me that using the download page to download something was not something they anticipated.”) It gets better from there.

Here’s a link to a PDF of the actual email exchange. Start at the bottom with Bill’s email, then work your way up.

I feel your pain, Bill.

Federico Viticci’s second life

I can’t praise this essay from Federico Viticci enough. After a long, harrowing bout with cancer, Federico writes about his second life, and a renewed focus on exercise, mindfulness, and gratitude.

There’s not one bit of preachy here. This is personal reflection. Take a few minutes to read it. This really resonates with me. There’s value here.

How I became The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

[VIDEO] If the headline rings any bells at all, spend a few minutes watching this well edited and entertaining video (embedded in main Loop post) of Will Smith talking through all his trials and tribulations to get to the job that would change his life.

Adobe Photoshop: Original Pascal source code and screen shots of one of the first versions

The Computer History Museum originally posted this back in 2013, but for some reason, this made it all the way to the top spot on Hacker News this morning.

I saw it, found it fascinating (especially since my very first Mac programming experience was with Pascal), and thought you might enjoy this look back at the early days of Photoshop.

Inside Consumer Reports: How iPhone, iPad, Mac, and HomePod testing is performed

Stephen Silver, Apple Insider:

After years of controversies over Consumer Reports’ assessments of Apple products, AppleInsider paid a visit to the organization’s headquarters for an inside look at the testing process.

The whole thing was fascinating, but start things off with a read of this actual Consumer Reports press release, specifically targeted at Apple Insider.

Glad those fences are mended.

Apple is changing the process of downloading a copy of everything it knows about you

A few weeks ago, we linked to an article that talked you through the process of requesting a copy of the data Apple associates with your AppleID. In a nutshell, that process had you jump through hoops to identify your location, then fill out a form requesting your data.

Apple just made the process both easier and more logical for EU users, and according to this post from Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac, the new process “will roll out worldwide in the coming months”.

No matter your location, follow this link, to privacy.apple.com, and log in with your Apple ID. All users should see options to correct your data and permanently delete your account.

If you don’t see the ability to download your data, check back in periodically. If you are outside the EU and see the download link, please do ping me so I can update this post. And take a look at Benjamin’s article, linked above, to get a sense of what data is being made available.

This is part of the process of complying with GDPR, but I like how front and center Apple has placed the ability to delete your account.

Next generation iPhone chips go into production

Bloomberg:

Apple Inc. manufacturing partner Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. has started mass production of next-generation processors for new iPhones launching later this year, according to people familiar with the matter.

The processor, likely to be called the A12 chip, will use a 7-nanometer design that can be smaller, faster and more efficient than the 10-nanometer chips in current Apple devices like the iPhone 8 and iPhone X, the people said.

7 nanometers is the next planned design threshold for semiconductor manufacturing, with 5 nanometer designs about 3 years away.

To give a sense of the curve here:

  • 2008: 45nm
  • 2010: 32nm
  • 2012: 22nm
  • 2014: 14nm
  • 2017: 10nm
  • 2018: 7nm
  • 2021: 5nm

A nanometer is one billionth of a meter. Next step smaller? An angstrom is one tenth of a nanometer. So the 7nm threshold we are about to breach is also the 70 angstrom threshold. Tiny.

[VIDEO] The Prince Purple Rain performance that became the actual release version

[VIDEO] This is a video (embedded in the main Loop post) of Prince doing a benefit at a Minneapolis club, performing a version of Purple Rain that would go on, after editing, to become the album version of the song.

As you watch the video, check the comments/subtitles to watch for where the album version edits occur. Fascinating to watch this source material of such an important (to me at least) work.

Check this link and this link for some more detail on that 1983 benefit.

Jason Snell: 7 iPhone features I’d like to see in iOS 12

Thoughtful post from Jason Snell for Tom’s Guide, with some interesting suggestions for iOS 12.

One section focuses on Notification Center:

Notification Center on iOS is kind of a mess. It’s time for an overhaul. App notifications should be grouped together, with more opportunities to act on notifications directly from the notifications list. Clearing all notifications should be an obvious feature, and one that’s available even on devices without 3D Touch.

I’d add this: Consider requiring a longer tap to jump from a notification to the app tied to that notification.

Why? I frequently find myself going to tap on something toward the top of the screen and, just as I’m about to make contact, a notification appears and I end up tapping the notification instead, launching myself out of my app. If a bit of a long press was required to respond to a notification, my simple tap would be ignored by the notification and I could dismiss it and return to my tap-happiness.

These 299 macOS apps are so buggy, Apple had to fix them in AppKit

First things first, not sure “so buggy” is the right note here. Might be that, or might be more a combination of “so important” and taking advantage of a feature or bit of code that has been put out to pasture or has been replaced.

That said, this post from Worth Doing Badly is an interesting read, developer or not. The list of apps is long and familiar and, if you are a dev, there’s some depths to plumb.

Getty is trying to bring disability inclusion to stock photos

Fast Company:

Getty has seen searched for disability-related images spike in the past year–“wheelchair access” searches were up 371% from 2016 to 2017, and autism-related searches climbed 434%–and the issue of representation became impossible to ignore.

That also became clear to Oath, the parent company of Yahoo and Tumblr, as they were working to set up a website highlighting their work around accessibility in tech and having difficulty finding representative images. So the company, with consult from the National Disability Leadership Alliance, tapped Getty to help change the current representation paradigm from the inside out. Launched May 17, The Disability Collection, a new subcategory of Getty images, will feature people with disabilities in everyday settings.

And:

If more images of people with disabilities in the workplace, attending sporting events, and taking on leadership positions begin to flood the media, perhaps it will help barriers to participation in these fields come down.

Exceptionally well said. One nit, though. As stated by Steven Aquino in this tweet:

The use of “able-bodied” to describe non-disabled people in this story isn’t great.

How about changing that, Fast Company? And if you need some help with wording, I’m sure Steven would be more than happy to help sort that out.

Apple spotlights Animoji in dazzling ‘Taxi Driver’ ad

[VIDEO] Michael Steeber, 9to5Mac:

After releasing two Animoji-themed music spots just in time for the Grammy Awards earlier this year followed by another for the UK BRIT music awards in February, Apple has extended the series by featuring South Korean group HYUKOH‘s new single “Citizen Kane,” which was released yesterday on Apple Music ahead of an EP release on May 31st.

Nice find. I love this ad (embedded in the main Loop post). Love the music, love the dazzling neon-infused graphics. Enjoy.

“Apple to give Siri new voice at WWDC” – No. Old news.

Big wave of posts over the last day or so, all of them quoting this post, which says, in part:

With Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) inching closer, Siri has revealed plans for Apple to give the assistant a “brand new voice”, most likely as part of its iOS 12 release.

As discovered by Nathan Simpson when users ask “Hey Siri. Tell me about WWDC”, Siri responds with “La la la, Siri is getting a brand new voice!”.

And in this associated post, they say:

As discovered by The Apple Post on Monday, when users ask “Hey Siri. Tell me about WWDC” the assistant responds with a couple of different answers, however, the most interesting is when the reply implies of a new “meshey & matte” home for Siri.

First things first, these Siri responses are from the leadup to WWDC 2017, when the HomePod was first announced. Seems like Apple neglected to tweak Siri for this year’s WWDC, leaving those old responses in place, waiting to be rediscovered.

I gave Siri the exact same query, “Tell me about WWDC” and invariably got some form of “You can get all the details on Apple’s web site” with a button to take me there. So this seems fixed now.

Siri: Joanna Stern is 18

Over the weekend, this tweet appeared:

https://twitter.com/adriankovacs14/status/997881481325416448

First things first, Joanna Stern is one of the founders of The Verge and now writes a widely read tech column for the Wall Street Journal.

Here’s Joanna’s delighted response:

That’s it, I finally love Siri. Apple finally did it.

Here’s a link to Joanna’s Wikipedia page. This turns out to be important since this is the page Siri quotes in the response to the question, “How old is Joanna Stern?”, as shown in the embedded tweet.

I went to the Wikipedia page and did not find any reference to a birthdate. Birthdates are common for most biographical Wikipedia pages. So how did Siri come up with an age as a response to this request?

And to make matters even more confusing, when I posed the same question to Siri, I get the same link, but this response:

Joanna Stern is 32

Siri also helpfully provides a date of birth of December 5, 1985.

According to Joanna’s response on Twitter, both of these are wrong.

This anecdote made me think about the source of Siri’s information and how vulnerable Siri, Alexa, Cortana and Google-person are to misinformation. I’m also interested in how Siri came up with that birthdate, given the link was to a page with no embedded birthdate field.

Steve Jobs and the bullet-hole T-shirt meeting

Jim Black, former technology evangelist at Apple, tells the story of legendary game developer John Carmack (Doom, Quake, lots more) coming to Apple to meet with Steve Jobs:

I never knew whether it was by design or not, but on that day John wore a T-shirt that featured a smiley face with a bullet hole in the forehead from which trickled a few drops of blood. After an hour of waiting for Steve in IL1, he marched into the room, and immediately mistook me for John Carmack, extending his hand to shake mine (we had never met). I locked eyes with Steve Jobs and looked down significantly at the Apple badge on my belt. Without missing a beat, Steve shifted his extended hand to John’s.

That’s when Steve noticed the T-shirt and the meeting, as soon as it had begun, took a turn for the worse.

I love a good Steve anecdote. I wonder if John was wearing a T-shirt with the Watchmen Comedian’s Badge logo.

How I targeted the Reddit CEO with Facebook ads to get an interview at Reddit

Chris Seline:

I decided I would target the CEO of Reddit with Facebook ads.

But how? I didn’t have a big budget so I needed to be clever.

It turns out the Reddit CEO had a public Facebook profile, so I could go there to see details about him. Where he lived. What he was interested in. I took that info to the Facebook platform to help narrow down the campaign. But I didn’t want everyone to click on it, just one person. So I custom tailored the ad to directly target the one person I wanted to read it.

I applaud Chris’ initiative here. Incredibly clever to figure out how to get in front of a difficult to reach person via a highly personalized Facebook ad. His strategy worked. Read the post for the details.

As to how much Chris spent:

The ad reached 197 people. 4 People clicked on it. One of them was the CEO of Reddit. I spent a total of $10.62.

Steve Huffman, CEO of Reddit, saw my ad, clicked on it, read (probably skimmed) my article, and liked it well enough to send a note to Reddit HR to contact me about a position.

Mission accomplished.

Clever as this is, I can’t help but see a stalker/creepy side to this story as well. The thought that someone could use information easily available on the internet to build a low cost ad that is almost guaranteed to reach the targeted individual seems custom made for a stalker. Or for someone trying to win an election.

I tried to watch a video of a puppy and accidentally sent every photo I’ve ever taken to Google

Jason Koebler, Motherboard:

When Google Photos was announced in 2015, I downloaded it. I had no intention of giving every photo I’ve ever taken to Google—which categorizes them, runs them through image recognition and facial recognition algorithms, makes weird algorithmic slideshows out of them, and adds them to its massive photo database—but I wanted to try it out in any case. I quickly realized it was not for me, but I did not delete the app.

And:

I texted him asking to see a picture. He responded with a video that he uploaded to Google Photos. Because I had Google Photos installed on my phone, it tried to open in the app. You cannot use Google Photos on iOS—even to view photos that have been shared with you—without granting the app access to all the photos on your phone. Because I was drunk, and because I wanted to see the puppy, I changed my app permissions. I watched the video (very cute, embedded below), the band started, I put the phone in my pocket.

You know what happened next. All his photos went up to Google’s servers, and went through the AI analysis that all photos go through.

Two sides to this. First, obviously, Jason made a mistake giving Google Photos permission to access his photos. Google Photos asked, as it should.

That said, this is the text of the alert Google Photos put up:

Google Photos needs access to your photo library to show photos in the app

Reading Jason’s piece, I don’t get any sense that Google Photos notified him that they were going to start uploading his photos to the Google servers, to start AI-analyzing them.

Should Apple require a finer grain notification when something like this happens? Or, at the very least, should Google recognize that this is a major change in the equation, let the user know that permission to show you a photo from another user gives them permission to suck up and analyze all your photos.

Playing detective, hunting down the truth about that Google Duplex restaurant

Start off by reading John Gruber’s take on the fact or fiction of Google Duplex AI calling a restaurant and making a reservation.

Lot’s of interesting details here. Almost like a crime drama. Was the Google Duplex demo genuine? Was it staged?

Was the restaurant called without prior notice? If so, was a phone call recorded without prior consent?

From the Digital Media Law Project:

California’s wiretapping law is a “two-party consent” law. California makes it a crime to record or eavesdrop on any confidential communication, including a private conversation or telephone call, without the consent of all parties to the conversation.

It’s possible the demo was genuine and the Duplex team didn’t think this through. Seems to me more likely that this was staged, showing off technology that certainly exists, at least in pieces. And if it was staged, that call seems likely to have been recorded with the restaurant’s permission.

Also worth reading is the Twitter thread that shows John Gruber reaching out to followers to help figure out which restaurant was the one in question. Here’s the start of the thread. I found the whole thing fascinating.

And for dessert, here’s Google Duplex calling your parents.

The most sophisticated piece of software/code ever written

This story was at the top of hacker news this morning. It’s a fascinating read, even if you know nothing about programming. And it’s a riveting true story. I’m convinced this would make a fantastic movie.

I didn’t quote any of it because it’d be hard to do so without including spoilers. But read it to the end. Fantastic.

Strategy Analytics: Apple shipped 600,000 HomePods, Amazon smart speaker market share drops to 43.6%

According to Strategy Analytics:

  • Apple sold 600,000 HomePods last quarter.
  • Amazon sold 4 million smart speakers.
  • Google sold 2.4 million smart speakers.

Amazon’s marketshare dropped to 43.6%. Apple’s is at 6%, though without an entry level product, the percentage of unit sales doesn’t mean much.

I’d be very interested in:

  • The same chart, but showing percentage of revenue.
  • The same chart in one year.

Samsung Apple hating ad brings notch-guy back, this time with a kid

[VIDEO] This ad screams spite, taking on the iPhone 6 and “battery throttling”. Nothing in the ad makes a case for the Galaxy S9 being better than anything remotely recent from Apple. They also brought back the guy with the notch haircut, this time with a kid.

I just found the ad (video embedded in the main Loop post) puzzling and dark, not at all clever or entertaining. Just me?

Lathe simulator

Pick your material, press and hold the spacebar to start the lathe spinning, then click and move the mouse to start cutting.

Have not figured out how to get this to work on my iPhone. Please ping me if you work that out.

But on my Mac? Surprisingly satisfying.

Apple exploring North Carolina, Northern Virginia for new campus

Juli Clover, MacRumors:

The Washington Post says Apple has explored opening a campus for 20,000 employees in Northern Virginia, an area Amazon is also considering for its new campus.

And:

Separately, the Triangle Business Journal says that Apple is considering establishing its new campus in Research Triangle Park in North Carolina. Research Triangle Park, a 22 million square foot research park, has become an attractive site for tech companies and is known as North Carolina’s technology hub due to its proximity to NC State, the University of North Carolina, and Duke University.

And:

North Carolina news site WRAL says that its sources believe Apple is close to announcing a deal that could bring up to 10,000 new jobs to North Carolina. Many of those jobs are “high-tech research and development jobs.”

This is me parsing here, but this is from Apple’s original announcement:

The company plans to establish an Apple campus in a new location, which will initially house technical support for customers.

And the WRAL North Carolina article mentions “high-tech research and development jobs.” Is it possible Apple will be pursuing two different campuses? Or will the campus host a blend of high tech R&D as well as tech support?

Regardless, I’d expect some housing speculation in the winning location.

The fascinating history of the “orchestra hit”

[VIDEO] This is an amazing walk through history, from Stravinsky all the way to Bruno Mars, all connected by that same sample, known as the orchestra hit. Terrific video (embedded in the main Loop post), learned a lot, lots of great musical samples, too.

[Via Kottke.org]