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‘Moonraker’ — The Insane Attempt to Turn James Bond Into ‘Star Wars’ in 1979

24 May, by John Gruber[ —]

James Whitbrook, writing for io9:

Moonraker might not be the best Bond movie — it might not even be the best of Moore’s time with the Bond mantle. But all these years later, its goofy charm perhaps best represents the joyful camp that Moore brought to his role as 007, something we will always remember now that he’s gone.

Over the years, my youthful resistance to campiness has faded, and my esteem for Moonraker has grown.

‘Spectre’ Trailer Re-Cut to With Roger Moore as Bond

24 May, by John Gruber[ —]

This is so well done it gave me goosebumps. Makes me think the franchise could use some Moore-like suaveness when they recast the roll post-Craig.

From the Annals of Anal

24 May, by John Gruber[ —]

The New York Daily News:

At approximately 6:30 a.m. Monday, a car crash involving two pickup trucks sent one of the vehicles inside the AnalTech building of Newark, Del., leaving a giant hole. The truck damaged the facility’s laboratory and caused an odor to emanate from the cavity, WDEL reports.

Regarding the company name:

In an email sent to the Houston Chronicle, a spokesperson revealed, “In 1964, the company paid a marketing firm to come up with a different name. They said, ‘Well, you guys do Analytical Technology — why don’t you put the two words together and call it ‘AnalTech!’”

However, the spokesperson admitted that “AnalTech faces certain challenges because of the ‘juvenile’ humor that has developed in the past few decades and current web filters that may block the company name” and has considered rebranding as a result.

I don’t see anything “juvenile” about this humor. Good butt jokes are funny to all ages.

(Via Paul Kafasis.)

★ Safari vs. Chrome on the Mac

24 May, by John Gruber[ —]

Eric Petitt, writing for The Official Unofficial Firefox Blog yesterday:

I head up Firefox marketing, but I use Chrome every day. Works fine. Easy to use. Like most of us who spend too much time in front of a laptop, I have two browsers open; Firefox for work, Chrome for play, customized settings for each. There are multiple things that bug me about the Chrome product, for sure, but I‘m OK with Chrome. I just don’t like only being on Chrome. […]

But talking to friends, it sounds more and more like living on Chrome has started to feel like their only option. Edge is broken. Safari and Internet Explorer are just plain bad. And unfortunately, too many people think Firefox isn’t a modern alternative.

In an update posted today, he walked that back:

In my original post I made a personal dig about Edge, IE and Safari: “Edge is broken. Safari and Internet Explorer are just plain bad.” I’ve since deleted that sentence.

It’s true, I personally don’t like those products, they just don’t work for me. But that was probably a bit too flip. And, if it wasn’t obvious that those were my personal opinions as a user, not those of the good folks at Firefox and Mozilla, then please accept my apology.

It’s easy when making an aside — and it’s clear that the central premise of this piece is about positioning Chrome as the Goliath to Firefox’s David, so references to Safari and IE are clearly asides — to conflate “I don’t like X” with “X is bad”. So I say we let it slide.1

But I’ve been meaning to write about Safari vs. Chrome for a while, and Petitt’s jab, even retracted, makes for a good excuse.

I think Safari is a terrific browser. It remains the one and only browser for the Mac that behaves like a native Mac app through and through. It may not be the fastest browser but it is fast. And its energy performance puts Chrome to shame. If you use a Mac laptop, using Chrome instead of Safari can cost you an hour or more of battery life per day.2

But Chrome is a terrific browser, too. It’s clearly the second-most-Mac-like browser for MacOS. It almost inarguably has the widest and deepest extension ecosystem. It has good web developer tools, and Chrome adopts new web development technologies faster than Safari does.

But Safari’s extension model is more privacy-conscious. For many people on MacOS, the decision between Safari and Chrome probably comes down which ecosystem you’re more invested in — iCloud or Google — for things like tab, bookmark, and history syncing. Me, personally, I’d feel lost without the ability to send tabs between my Macs and iPhone via Continuity.

In short, Safari closely reflects Apple’s institutional priorities (privacy, energy efficiency, the niceness of the native UI, support for MacOS and iCloud technologies) and Chrome closely reflects Google’s priorities (speed, convenience, a web-centric rather than native-app-centric concept of desktop computing, integration with Google web properties). Safari is Apple’s browser for Apple devices. Chrome is Google’s browser for all devices.

I personally prefer Safari, but I can totally see why others — especially those who work on desktop machines or MacBooks that are usually plugged into power — prefer Chrome. DF readers agree. Looking at my web stats, over the last 30 days, 69 percent of Mac users visiting DF used Safari, but a sizable 28 percent used Chrome. (Firefox came in at 3 percent, and everything else was under 1 percent.)3

As someone who’s been a Mac user long enough to remember when there were no good web browsers for the Mac, having both Safari and Chrome feels downright bountiful, and the competition is making both of them better.

  1. What really struck me about Petitt’s piece wasn’t the unfounded (to my eyes) dismissal of Safari, but rather his admission that he uses “Firefox for work, Chrome for play”. I really doubt the marketing managers for Chrome or Safari spend their days with a rival browser open for “play”, and even if they did, I expect they’d have the common sense not to admit so publicly, and especially not in the opening paragraph of a piece arguing that their own browser is a viable alternative to the rival one. ↩︎

  2. Back in December, when Consumer Reports rushed out their sensational report claiming bizarrely erratic battery life on the then-new MacBook Pros (which was eventually determined to be caused by a bug in Safari that Apple soon fixed), I decided to try to loosely replicate their test on the MacBook Pro review units I had from Apple. Consumer Reports doesn’t reveal the exact details of their testing, but they do describe it in general. They set the laptop brightness to a certain brightness value, then load a list of web pages repeatedly until the battery runs out. Presumably they automate this with a script of some sort, but they don’t say.

    That’s pretty easy to replicate in AppleScript. I used that day’s leading stories on TechMeme as my source for URLs to load — 26 URLs total. When a page loads, my script waits 5 seconds, and then scrolls down (simulating the Page Down key), waits another 5 seconds and pages down again, and then waits another 5 seconds before paging down one last time. This is a simple simulation of a person actually reading a web page. While running through the list of URLs, my script leaves each URL open in a tab. At the end of the list, it closes all tabs and then starts all over again. Each time through the loop the elapsed time and remaining battery life are logged to a file. (I also logged results as updates via messages sent to myself via iMessage, so I could monitor the progress of the hours-long test runs from my phone. No apps were running during the tests other than Safari, Script Editor, Finder, and Messages.)

    I set the display brightness at exactly 68.75 percent for each test (11/16 clicks on the brightness meter when using the function key buttons to adjust), a value I chose arbitrarily as a reasonable balance for someone running on battery power.

    Averaged (and rounded) across several runs, I got the following results:

    • 15-inch MacBook Pro With Touch Bar: 6h:50m
    • 13-inch MacBook Pro With Touch Bar: 5h:30m
    • 13-inch MacBook Pro (2014): 5h:10m
    • 11-inch MacBook Air (2011): 2h:15m

    I no longer had a new 13-inch MacBook Pro without the Touch Bar (a.k.a. the “MacBook Esc”) — I’d sent it back to Apple. I included my own personal 2014 13-inch MacBook Pro and my old 2011 MacBook Air just as points of reference. I think the Air did poorly just because it was so old and so well-used. It still has its original battery.

    I saw no erratic fluctuations in battery life across runs of the test. I procrastinated on publishing the results, though, and within a few weeks the whole thing was written off with a “never mind!” when Apple fixed the bug in Safari that was causing Consumer Reports’s erratic results.

    Anyway, the whole point of including these results in this footnote is that I also ran the exact same test with Chrome on the 13-inch MacBook Pro With Touch Bar. The average result: 3h:40m. That’s 1h:50m difference. On the exact same machine running the exact same test with the exact same list of URLs, the battery lasted almost exactly 1.5 times as long using Safari than Chrome.

    My test was in no way meant to simulate real-world usage. You’d have to be fueled up on some serious stimulants to read a new web page every 15 seconds non-stop for hours on end. But the results were striking. If you place a high priority on your MacBook’s battery life, you should use Safari instead of Chrome.

    If you’re interested, I’ve posted my battery testing scripts for Safari and Chrome↩︎︎

  3. If anyone has a good source for browser usage by MacOS users from a general purpose website like The New York Times or CNN, let me know. I honestly don’t know whether to expect that the split among DF readers is biased in favor of Safari because DF readers are more likely to care about the advantages of a native app, or biased in favor of Chrome because so many of you are web developers or even just nerdy enough to install a third-party browser in the first place. Wikimedia used to publish stats like that, but alas, ceased in 2015↩︎︎

The Marc Newson Hourglass for Hodinkee

24 May, by John Gruber[ —]

Watch the video and read this. I’ll update this post with my comments later today.

Meeting Roger Moore

24 May, by John Gruber[ —]

Amazing story from Marc Haynes about meeting Roger Moore as a 7-year-old in 1983.

(This tweet I’m linking to has screenshots of Haynes’s post on Facebook; here’s the same story in text copied and pasted into a forum, without attribution. Have I ever complained about how much I dislike Facebook?)

Implementing JSON Feed

24 May, by John Gruber[ —]

Dr. Drang, after adding JSON Feed support for both his blog publishing engine and his homegrown feed reader:

JSON Feed, for all its advantages, may be a flash in the pan. Not only do bloggers and publishing platforms have to adopt it, so do the major aggregator/reader services like Feedly and Digg and the analytics services like FeedPress and FeedBurner. But even if JSON Feed doesn’t take off, the time I spent adding it to my blog and aggregator was so short I won’t regret it.

Again I say: easier to generate, easier to parse.

Update: Rob Wells on adding JSON feed to his site:

I think this is what all the people complaining on the Hacker News thread missed. Working in JSON is comfortable and familiar — the tools are good and you get told when something goes wrong. Working with XML can be unclear and a bit of a pain, and creating an invalid document is a risk.

So my super-duper advanced JSON Feed implementation is… constructing a dict, adding things to it and passing it off to the JSON module that I use all the time. Taken care of.

I do something similar to what Wells and Drang do. DF’s RSS and Atom XML feeds are generated via templates: skeleton XML documents with tokens and loop constructs where the actual content gets filled in. But for JSON Feed I just build a Perl data structure that maps exactly to the JSON Feed spec, and just call a single function from the standard JSON module and it gets printed. That’s it. A template would add complexity.

Roger Moore Dies at 89

23 May, by John Gruber[ —]

A terrific and much-loved actor, but also by all accounts a good man.

“Who’s your favorite James Bond?” is a fun game to play, because there’s no wrong answer. I have at least two friends who swear their answer is Lazenby. But one thing I would argue is undeniable about Moore’s run as Bond is that he was the perfect Bond for the 70s. He didn’t just keep the franchise going, he helped adapt it to the times. Sean Connery made Bond a sensation. Roger Moore turned it into a cinematic and pop-cultural institution.

Feedbin, Too

23 May, by John Gruber[ —]

Ben Ubois, announcing support for JSON Feed in Feedbin:

One of the criticisms I’ve seen of JSON Feed is that there’s no incentive for feed readers to support JSON Feed. This is not true. One of the largest-by-volume support questions I get is along the lines of “Why does this random feed not work?” And, 95% of the time, it’s because the feed is broken in some subtle way. JSON Feed will help alleviate these problems, because it’s easier to get right.

I also want JSON Feed to succeed because I remember how daunting RSS/Atom parsing were when building Feedbin. If JSON Feed was the dominant format back then, it would have been a non-issue.

Easier to generate and easier to parse — that’s the whole point of JSON Feed in a nut.

NewsBlur Now Supports JSON Feed

23 May, by John Gruber[ —]

Samuel Clay, founder of NewsBlur:

Starting today, NewsBlur now officially supports the new JSON Feed spec. And there’s nothing extra you have to do. This means if a website syndicates their stories with the easy-to-write and easy-to-read JSON format, you can read it on NewsBlur. It should make no difference to you, since you’re reading the end product. But to website developers everywhere, supporting JSON Feeds is so much easier than supporting XML-based RSS/Atom.

According to Clay, there are 15,000 NewsBlur users who subscribe to Daring Fireball. It’s very cool to see a feed reader that popular adopt JSON Feed so quickly.

The DF RSS feed isn’t going anywhere, so if you’re already subscribed to it, there’s no need to switch. But JSON Feed’s spec makes it possible for me to specify both a url that points to the post on Daring Fireball (i.e. the permalink) and an external_url that points to the article I’m linking to. The way I’ve dealt with that in the RSS (technically Atom, but that’s sort of beside the point) is a bit of a hack that’s caused problems with numerous feed readers over the years.

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