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The Talk Show: ‘Camera Beer Belly’

1 December, by John Gruber[ —]

Nilay Patel returns to the show and we have nothing to talk about. You know, other than the M1 Macs and entire iPhone 12 lineup.

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Amazon EC2 Now Offers Mac Mini Cloud Computing

1 December, by John Gruber[ —]


Built on Apple Mac mini computers, EC2 Mac instances enable customers to run on-demand macOS workloads in the AWS cloud for the first time […]

EC2 Mac instances are powered by a combination of Mac mini computers — featuring Intel’s 8th generation 3.2 GHz (4.6 GHz turbo) Core i7 processors, 6 physical/12 logical cores, and 32 GiB of memory — and the AWS Nitro System, providing up to 10 Gbps of VPC network bandwidth and 8 Gbps of EBS storage bandwidth through high-speed Thunderbolt 3 connections. […] EC2 Mac instances are available in bare metal instance size (mac1.metal), and support macOS Mojave 10.14 and macOS Catalina 10.15, with support for macOS Big Sur 11.0 coming soon. Customers can connect to Mac instances via both SSH for Command Line Interface and active remote screen sharing using a VNC client for a graphical interface.

Intel-only for now, but support for Apple Silicon Macs is surely just a matter of time — “planned for 2021” according to an AWS post targeted to iOS and Mac developers.

At $1/hour, it’s expensive if you want to leave it running all the time.

Reuters: ‘Samsung May Discontinue Galaxy Note Smartphones’

1 December, by John Gruber[ —]

Joyce Lee and Heekyong Yang, reporting for Reuters:

Samsung Electronics Co Ltd may discontinue its premium Galaxy Note phone next year, sources with knowledge of the matter said, a move that would reflect the sharp drop in demand for high-end smartphones due to the coronavirus pandemic. […]

At present, the South Korean tech giant does not have plans to develop a new version of the Galaxy Note for 2021, three sources said, declining to be identified as the plans were not public. Instead, the Galaxy S series’ top model, the S21, will have a stylus and the next version of Samsung’s foldable phone will be compatible with a stylus, which will be sold separately, one of the sources said.

This sounds like it has nothing to do with demand for high-end phones in general, and everything to do with the Note’s raison d’être — integrated stylus support — being rolled out across Samsung’s entire high-end lineup.

‘The Paranoid Style in American Politics’

1 December, by John Gruber[ —]

Richard Hofstadter, in his seminal 1964 essay:

American politics has often been an arena for angry minds. In recent years we have seen angry minds at work mainly among extreme right-wingers, who have now demonstrated in the Goldwater movement how much political leverage can be got out of the animosities and passions of a small minority. But behind this I believe there is a style of mind that is far from new and that is not necessarily right-wing. I call it the paranoid style simply because no other word adequately evokes the sense of heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy that I have in mind. In using the expression “paranoid style” I am not speaking in a clinical sense, but borrowing a clinical term for other purposes. I have neither the competence nor the desire to classify any figures of the past or present as certifiable lunatics. In fact, the idea of the paranoid style as a force in politics would have little contemporary relevance or historical value if it were applied only to men with profoundly disturbed minds. It is the use of paranoid modes of expression by more or less normal people that makes the phenomenon significant. […]

Since what is at stake is always a conflict between absolute good and absolute evil, what is necessary is not compromise but the will to fight things out to a finish. Since the enemy is thought of as being totally evil and totally unappeasable, he must be totally eliminated — if not from the world, at least from the theatre of operations to which the paranoid directs his attention. This demand for total triumph leads to the formulation of hopelessly unrealistic goals, and since these goals are not even remotely attainable, failure constantly heightens the paranoid’s sense of frustration. Even partial success leaves him with the same feeling of powerlessness with which he began, and this in turn only strengthens his awareness of the vast and terrifying quality of the enemy he opposes.

Written 56 years ago, or written yesterday? You make the call.

I, for one, take solace in knowing we’re not seeing something new.

Isaac Asimov on the ‘Cult of Ignorance’

1 December, by John Gruber[ —]

I meant to re-link to this quote from the great Isaac Asimov last month, but it remains as relevant post-election as it was pre-election:

There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge”.

Update: Here’s Asimov’s original column for Newsweek, from January 1980.

[Sponsor] Halide Mark II

1 December, by Daring Fireball Department of Commerce[ —]

Halide is the acclaimed camera from the makers of Apple’s 2019 iPhone App of the Year, Spectre. Halide does one thing, and one thing only: still photography.

The huge Mark II update adds the best tools for pros, while remaining true to its elegant and approachable design that makes it perfect for new photographers.

An app with no tracking, no ads, and no bullshit. Now offering a 7-day trial with subscription, or one-time purchase option. Get ready for ProRAW and get Halide now.

‘Now Has Stories’ Is the New ‘Jumped the Shark’

30 November, by John Gruber[ —]

Kris Holt, writing for Engadget:

If you’re in the festive spirit and you’re already listening to seasonal music, you might have noticed Spotify’s Christmas Hits playlist is looking a little different. […] If you open it on the iOS or Android app, you may get a peek at Spotify’s Instagram-style stories.

Stories are popular and engaging, so we should add stories.” This year’s featuritis fad.

Also: demerits to Engadget for calling them “Instagram-style”, rather than “Snapchat-style”. That’s like calling the Mac a “Windows-style” graphical user interface.

Growl in Retirement

30 November, by John Gruber[ —]

Chris Forsythe:

Growl is being retired after surviving for 17 years. With the announcement of Apple’s new hardware platform, a general shift of developers to Apple’s notification system, and a lack of obvious ways to improve Growl beyond what it is and has been, we’re announcing the retirement of Growl as of today.

It’s been a long time coming. Growl is the project I worked on for the longest period of my open source career. However at WWDC in 2012 everyone on the team saw the writing on the wall. This was my only WWDC. This is the WWDC where Notification Center was announced. Ironically Growl was called Global Notifications Center, before I renamed it to Growl because I thought the name was too geeky. There’s even a sourceforge project for Global Notifications Center still out there if you want to go find it.

What a great open source project Growl was. It proved itself as a feature that should have been built into MacOS — and then it was. Growl arguably defined “notifications” as we know them, not just on Mac, but iOS and Android as well.

Peter Hosey:

One thing that working on Growl helped shape in me: A militant respect for people’s attention as well as what they do and do not want their tools to do.

Long after the official end of @GrowlMac, I will always have that.

Cheers to that. Growl respected the user — it served the notifyee, not the notifier, and that made all the difference.

David Brooks: ‘The Rotting of the Republican Mind’

30 November, by John Gruber[ —]

Good column from David Brooks over the weekend:

For those awash in anxiety and alienation, who feel that everything is spinning out of control, conspiracy theories are extremely effective emotional tools. For those in low status groups, they provide a sense of superiority: I possess important information most people do not have. For those who feel powerless, they provide agency: I have the power to reject “experts” and expose hidden cabals. As Cass Sunstein of Harvard Law School points out, they provide liberation: If I imagine my foes are completely malevolent, then I can use any tactic I want.

Under Trump, the Republican identity is defined not by a set of policy beliefs but by a paranoid mind-set. […]

What to do? You can’t argue people out of paranoia. If you try to point out factual errors, you only entrench false belief. The only solution is to reduce the distrust and anxiety that is the seedbed of this thinking. That can only be done first by contact, reducing the social chasm between the members of the epistemic regime and those who feel so alienated from it. And second, it can be done by policy, by making life more secure for those without a college degree.

“You can’t argue people out of paranoia” nails the deep dark conundrum we face. A good example, from his NYT op-ed page colleague Maureen Dowd, who for years now has turned over her Thanksgiving column to her Republican brother, a supposed conservative. This tradition of Dowd’s drives many readers nuts, but I have always enjoyed — well, no, not enjoyed, but appreciated — it for the insight into how a large group I’m not a part of, and generally disagree with, thinks. This year, Kevin Dowd revealed himself to be well on his way to Kookville:

The Democrats remain mystified by the loyalty of Trump’s base. It is rock solid because half the country was tired of being patronized and lied to and worse, taken for granted. Trump was unique because he was only interested in results.

Yes, yes, Trump’s base remains united behind him because they’re … tired of being lied to. That’s it. It’s certainly not that they’re tired of being told truths they do not want to hear.

A word of caution to Fox News: Your not-so-subtle shift leftward is a mistake. You are one of a kind. Watching the quick abdication of Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum following the election (joining an already hostile Chris Wallace) was like finding out my wife was cheating.

This treachery that Kevin Dowd equates to his wife cheating on him was acknowledging that Joe Biden soundly beat Donald Trump in the election. That’s not a leftward shift. It’s a statement of fact. A truth, inconvenient or not.

Om Malik on Tony Hsieh

28 November, by John Gruber[ —]

Om Malik:

Nick Swinmurn started Zappos in 1999, raised $500,000 in funding from Tony & Alfred. It was originally called Shoesite.com Tony later became CEO in 2000. Swinmurn left the company, in 2006. Amazon bought Zappos for $1.2 billion in 2009.

“Shoesite.com” is adorable. The name alone captures the ethos of that late ’90s “dot com” era. Of course the original name was just “shoesite.com”. And of course it still redirects to Zappos.

“I believe that getting the culture right is the most important thing a company can do.” —Tony Hsieh

I wrote about LinkExchange for Forbes, even though I never met Tony or Alfred till much later in life. My startup was housed in the same office as LinkExchange in SOMA through some strange twist of fate. I later got to know Tony socially through non-tech friends. Quiet, kind, quirky, but always open to the impossible.

With Tony’s passing, I feel something special has ended. I can’t put my finger on it. Maybe a certain innocent aspect of the early possibilities of the Internet. Maybe I feel the contrast of those days to a now that is more mercenary, less friendly, and more polarized. Whatever, without knowing Tony as well as I should, I mourn him deeply.

“Zappos is a customer service company that just happens to sell shoes.” —Tony Hsieh

The outpouring of love and admiration for Hsieh from those who knew him is just remarkable.

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