Design as Branding | Daring Fireball

Farhad Manjoo, in his column for The New York Times:

And while Apple has slowed its design cadence, its rivals have sped up. Last year Samsung remade its lineup of Galaxy smartphones in a new glass-and-metal design that looked practically identical to the iPhone. Then it went further. Over the course of a few months, Samsung put out several design refinements, culminating in the Note 7, a big phone that has been universally praised by critics. With its curved sides and edge-to-edge display, the Note 7 pulls off a neat trick: Though it is physically smaller than Apple’s big phone, it actually has a larger screen. So thanks to clever design, you get more from a smaller thing — exactly the sort of advance we once looked to Apple for.

An important caveat: Samsung’s software is still bloated, and its reputation for overall build quality took a hit when it announced last week that it would recall and replace the Note 7 because of a battery defect that caused spontaneous explosions. To the extent that making a device that doesn’t explode suggests design expertise, Apple is still ahead of Samsung.

To which John Gruber responds:

The Note 7’s larger display in a smaller form factor is, unquestionably, a design win. But I would call the fact that it’s been recalled (and banned from use on all flights) for exploding batteries more than just a “caveat”. And Manjoo’s claim that “Samsung’s software is still bloated” comes just a few paragraphs after he wrote, “Apple has squandered its once-commanding lead in hardware and software design.” Which is it?

Gruber gives Manjoo a lot more credit than I do. His two paragraphs here are completely laughable. Samsung grossly copied Apple design various times, now makes a phone that explodes, and they’re the ones he chooses to compare Apple to? And yes, using the word “caveat” is a major understatement when airlines are banning the phone.

This highlights the problem with critiques of Apple. Instead of critiquing things Apple isn’t actually doing well—their iPhone Upgrade Program, iCloud Space, Apple Music just to name a few—the focus is on creating arguments from thin air about how their best days are behind them. “The magic is gone” isn’t a valid argument, and yet tech critics are paid to write this ignorant word vomit. Obviously Mr. Manjoo, design is something you know nothing about, so either educate yourself or swallow.

New Policies for iOS | Webkit Blog

Jer Noble for Webkit speaking on some new features in iOS 10:

<video autoplay> elements will now honor the autoplay attribute…

This is an older piece of news but became relevant to me recently. For folks working on editorial and video platforms, it certainly has some interesting implications. Noble outlines some common-sense conditions that allow autoplay video in Mobile Safari:

  • No Audio track or <video muted>
  • Elements will only play when visible in the viewport

Additionally, the play() method will be supported and <video playsinline> will act as expected. A lot of good news for video marketing on the mobile platform.

Why I don’t use CSS preprocessors

Roger Johansson:

Whenever I mention that I don’t use CSS preprocessors I tend to get strange looks from people who cannot imagine writing CSS without Sass. And so I have to defend my choice and explain why, over and over. Some people will understand, most won’t. Or they don’t want to. But here’s an attempt to explain my reasoning.

Roger makes a mostly compelling argument even though he has moments where his reasons fall flat. What makes me the most happy is that his article isn’t filled with dogma, it’s more a this-works-for-me type piece. As long as you know how to write CSS, it shouldn’t matter what you use to write it.

iOS 10 is A Major Shift for iOS | The Brooks Review

Ben Brooks:

We’ve seen a shift where macOS is now looking and acting like a manual transmission — robust, accurate, and putting the user in full control. On the other hand iOS is very much acting like an automatic transmission — anticipatory, seamless, and convenient. What kind of transmission does your car have?

Ben makes a great point with his analogy: iOS 10 is a major shift for iOS. However, his analogy implies that just like most of us drive automatic cars, we’ll all eventually be using the “automatic transmission” of iOS.

While iPhone and iPad are more capable every year because of the advances in operating system and hardware, it’s a platform for consumers first. macOS is robust—and “manual” shall we say—because it’s what professionals need. While some signs seem to point to the fact that Apple has forgotten what “pro” means, my gut tells me they haven’t forgotten about us.

In the end, I have two cars. One automatic, the other manual, and I use each for what they’re best at.

Apple Removing Ports from MacBook Pro?

Juli Clover at MacRumors:

In recent weeks, Apple has been sending out surveys to users asking about MacBook Pro features, most notably the headphone jack. A survey question shared by MacRumors reader Blake asks “Do you ever use the headphone port on your MacBook Pro with Retina display?”

This is, of course, a strong indication that Apple wants to remove the headphone jack from the upcoming MacBook Pro. Here’s something even more concerning:

Apple is also asking users about battery life and other ports, including the SD card slot. One question asked “How do you upload photos from a digital camera or phone to your MacBook Pro with Retina Display?”

Based on a leaked MacBook Pro shell, the upcoming MacBook Pro will include four USB-C ports and a headphone jack, with Apple doing away with all other ports on the machine. If the shell is an actual part, the machine will not include an SD card slot, HDMI port, USB-A port, or a MagSafe connection.

This is extremely concerning to me. I have to wonder what the word “pro” even means anymore. The thing is, I fully support Apple removing the headphone jack from the iPhone. It certainly is an aging standard that needs to be replaced with something better. And on the iPhone, where space is at a premium, it very much makes sense. Wireless is the way forward and we need to push that standard. The standard will get better when forced.

However, removing all the ports from a “pro” computer at this time does not make any sense to me. I use every single port on my 15” MacBook Pro, most of them every day. I use external monitors plugged in via Thunderbolt/DisplayPort and HDMI — yes, when I’m at my desk I have three monitors and it is glorious. I have a USB hub that I plug in when I’m at my desk that connects various devices like my local backup disk. I use the headphone jack to connect to my somewhat-better-than-average sound system on my desk. And when I’m not at my deak, I usually plug my headphones into the computer while I’m working. And I use the SD card slot when I’m the one tasked with recording the weekly sermon at my church to get the file off of the recorder’s SD card.

In short, I’m a pro and I need these ports to do the things I do as a professional. Remove all the ports from the non-pro devices. It makes sense and it allows things to move forward. But space is not at a premium in the MacBook Pro — particularly the 15”. So let’s not remove ports for no good reason. Please, Apple, remember what pro means.

Focused on the Grass by Chris Bowler

Chris Bowler:

I’ve noticed an issue with our young industry. I’m not sure of the exact problem, but the symptom is this: people rarely stay at a job for long periods of time.

Chris is right, most people don’t stay a long time at their jobs. In my experience, someone staying 3 years or more is first, pretty rare, and second, must’ve found a really good fit.

Chris alludes to it being something about our Western culture, and I agree with that in many ways. I come from a family of immigrants, and most of my aunts, uncles and grandparents worked at the same place for 15+ years, and never quit a job.

Our generation has a different opinion on these things though. Our generation wants to “change the world,” which to a certain extent is supposed to give meaning to life. I personally wouldn’t go that far, but I do realize you spend a lot of the time working so you should enjoy what you do.

That’s the main reason I think people move jobs, they want to enjoy doing what they do. We are an industry of smart people, who want to work on new challenges and often those are only found by moving on. I think that’s completely understandable.

The last part is very interesting though:

For myself, I want Wildbit to be the last stop for a long time. Part of cultivating contentment is to keep your eyes off the grass.

You need to decide what the bar for contentment is. There are things that will exist no matter what job you go to, and how awesome they say their culture is. That’s where to develop contentment, because no job will ever be perfect. But I do think that if you fundamentally don’t align with the values of an organization, fitting a square peg into a round hole will only make you bitter and not fun to be around.

In the end, it’s not about keeping your eyes off the grass. It’s about being realistic and knowing when to look.

Signed Git Commits with Tower by Aaron Parecki

Aaron Parecki:

My favorite Git client is Tower. I wanted to find a way to sign my git commits despite that not being a supported feature of Tower. Turns out it only took a couple configuration options to make it work.

I also happen to love Tower, so setting things up so that I could do signed commits easily is very nice. However, there’s no way—that I know of—to automatically sign git tags so you’ll have to do that from the command line.

# First you’ll sign the tag
$ git tag -s v.1.1.0

# Then you’ll verify the tag
$ git tag -v v1.1.0

To be honest though, the difficulty with GPG signing from Tower has made me use the command line more. I hope they add this feature because switching back and forth to do this is cumbersome.

Introducing Night Owl

We are super excited to launch Night Owl today with a brand new show, Retake, and a brand new episode of an existing show brought over to Night Owl, Top Brew.

As our about page says, Night Owl is a hobby-driven podcast network for people that love creativity, technology, the arts, and enjoy a delicious cup of joe. In the coming weeks we hope to add a few more podcasts produced by both us (the founders) and some friends who have been waiting (very) patiently for us to boot up this network.

My friend’s Joe Darnell and TJ Draper launched their new podcast network Night Owl today. Joe and TJ are amazing gentleman who are producing some really great podcasts.

Here are some ways you can show support:

  1. Follow Night Owl on Twitter. This way, you’ll never miss a new show or announcement from them.
  2. Share the episodes and recommend them in Overcast. At the end of the day, word-of-mouth are really the lifeblood of any podcast.
  3. Subscribe and Review on iTunes. No matter what app you use to subscribe to the shows, as soon as you see they’re on iTunes, go leave a review. Not only does that make the hosts feel great about what they’re doing, but it also helps others find the show.

A huge congratulations to Joe and TJ for launching this network, and I really look forward to all the awesome shows to come.

Hey, Apple: It’s Time to Rethink iCloud | Macworld

Dan Moren writing for Macworld on the problems with iCloud:

It’s not just that the amount of space is a little sparse—especially for people looking to store, say, all the data that fits on their phones—it’s that iCloud can be pretty obnoxious about making sure you get the message.

Inevitably, when my friends and family talk to me about tech problems, iCloud is among the most prominent culprit in their tales of woes and frustration. Of late, I’ve especially heard several friends’ tales of being constantly bugged by messages that there’s not enough space in iCloud to store their backup, along with a wheeling dialog box encouraging them to upgrade their storage plan.

Dan makes a lot of sense here. The 5GB iCloud limit looks pretty ridiculous at this point, especially since the quality of the camera continues to increase with every iPhone update. Not to mention, we live in an increasingly digital world, where not only us computer geeks are managing many of our documents through the cloud.

While of course, there’s the argument that for .99¢, you could get 50GB of space, I think the argument of increasing the free space still holds water. Very much like we’d been clamoring for Apple to increase the space on the smallest iPhone, this seems a natural move. We just saw them increase the base model to 32GB. To me, that means Apple is listening when it comes to this stuff, but it happens very much on their timeline.

How to Make Money From Your Tiny Podcast by Justin Jackson

Justin Jackson:

The general consensus right now is that if your show doesn’t have 30,000 – 50,000 downloads per month, you can’t get any sponsor to look at you seriously. To really get the big advertisers (MailChimp, Squarespace) you need 50,000 downloads per episode.

If you’re looking to earn an income from a podcast with smaller download numbers, here’s what’s worked for me.

Let’s be honest here. Your podcast probably doesn’t have 30k to 50k listeners. Don’t feel bad about that, none of my podcasts ever reached those numbers and I still made some nice side income from them. Justin here has some great ideas on how you can do it too. The crux of the matter here isn’t really the size of your audience, it’s how engaged they are with you.