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‘Hello, Bob’

25 March, by John Gruber[ —]

Washington Post reporter Robert Costa:

President Trump called me on my cellphone Friday afternoon at 3:31 p.m. At first I thought it was a reader with a complaint since it was a blocked number.

Instead, it was the president calling from the Oval Office. His voice was even, his tone muted. He did not bury the lead.

“Hello, Bob,” Trump began. “So, we just pulled it.”

At a meta level, it’s fascinating to me that Trump made these phone calls personally. It reminds me of Steve Jobs’s phone call to New York Times columnist Joe Nocera back in 2008:

On Thursday afternoon, several hours after I’d gotten my final “Steve’s health is a private matter” — and much to my amazement — Mr. Jobs called me. “This is Steve Jobs,” he began. “You think I’m an arrogant [expletive] who thinks he’s above the law, and I think you’re a slime bucket who gets most of his facts wrong.” After that rather arresting opening, he went on to say that he would give me some details about his recent health problems, but only if I would agree to keep them off the record. I tried to argue him out of it, but he said he wouldn’t talk if I insisted on an on-the-record conversation. So I agreed.


Black Screen on a Red iPhone 7

25 March, by John Gruber[ —]

I’m 100 percent convinced this looks better than the white bezel.


‘Repeal and Replace’ Claim Chowder

25 March, by John Gruber[ —]

Philip Bump, reporting for The Washington Post:

“I never said I was going to repeal and replace in the first 61 days,” he said to Costa with a laugh — undercounting his time in office by a bit. When he offered a public statement a bit later, he’d figured out the proper number. […]

Trump is correct: At no point in time did he pledge to repeal and replace Obamacare in 61 or 64 days. Instead, he pledged to demand a repeal on Day One — even if it took a special session of Congress to make it happen. He pledged on several occasions to repeal it “immediately.” The message he conveyed to his voters was very much not that “this is something we will get to eventually” but that this was something that would come first on the agenda.


‘Pass the Heinz’

25 March, by John Gruber[ —]

Brilliant. Heinz is actually running ads from Don Draper’s rejected ketchup campaign from Mad Men:

Fifty years ago, in the fictional world of Mad Men, Don Draper pitched a daring ad campaign to Heinz execs, for the brand’s ketchup, that proposed not showing the product at all. Instead, the ads would show close-ups of foods that go great with ketchup — french fries, a cheeseburger, a slice of steak — but without any ketchup in sight.

Don’s proposed tagline: “Pass the Heinz.”

They’re great ads, and this is a great gimmick.

(Via Kottke.)


How Paul Ryan Played Donald Trump

25 March, by John Gruber[ —]

Ezra Klein, writing for Vox:

Donald Trump promised to be a different kind of president. He was a populist fighting on behalf of the “forgotten man,” taking on the GOP establishment, draining the Washington swamp, protecting Medicaid from cuts, vowing to cover everyone with health care and make the government pay for it. He was a pragmatic businessman who was going to make Washington work for you, the little guy, not the ideologues and special interests.

Instead, Trump has become a pitchman for Paul Ryan and his agenda. He’s spent the past week fighting for a health care bill he didn’t campaign on, didn’t draft, doesn’t understand, doesn’t like to talk about, and can’t defend. Rather than forcing the Republican establishment to come around to his principles, he’s come around to theirs — with disastrous results.

Here’s how Trump learned the news that the vote on the AHCA bill had been called off:

In the mid-afternoon, a beaming Mr. Trump climbed into the rig of a black tractor-trailer, which had been driven to the White House for an event with trucking industry executives, honking the horn and posing for a series of tough-guy photos — one with his fists held aloft, another staring straight ahead, hands gripping the large wheel, his face compressed into an excited scream.

At a meeting inside shortly afterward, Mr. Trump announced that he was pressed for time and needed to go make calls for more votes.

A reporter informed him that the vote had already been called off.

Here’s the “tough guy driving a truck” pose.


FedEx Offers Customers $5 for the Inconvenience of Requiring Adobe Flash

24 March, by John Gruber[ —]

Ina Fried, writing for Axios:

Adobe Flash has been on the ropes since Steve Jobs went on his famous tirade 7 years ago, but that doesn’t mean some sites don’t still require it.

For its part, FedEx is apologizing to customers and offering $5 discount for the fact that printing labels online still requires the browser plug-in.

FedEx needs to get its shit together. This is pathetic.

Also, “tirade” is a terrible description of Steve Jobs’s “Thoughts on Flash”. The dictionary defines tirade as “a long, angry speech of criticism or accusation”. Go ahead and re-read Jobs’s essay. There’s not a single angry word in it. What made it so devastating is that it wasn’t angry. It was calm, cool, collected, and true.

If it had been an angry rant, it would have been easily dismissed without needing to be factually refuted — “That’s just Jobs being a prick again.” The fact that it wasn’t angry, and because it was all true, made it impossible to refute.

(Via Dave Pell’s NextDraft.)


Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin Has a Shitty Radar

24 March, by John Gruber[ —]

Kim Hart, Axios:

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin riled the tech community this morning when he told Axios’s Mike Allen that displacement of jobs by artificial intelligence and automation is “not even on my radar screen” because the technology is “50-100 more years” away. Mnuchin also said he is “not worried at all” about robots displacing humans in the near future. “In fact, I’m optimistic.”

Report issued today from PricewaterhouseCoopers:

Millions of workers around the world are at risk of losing their jobs to robots — but Americans should be particularly worried. 38 percent of jobs in the U.S. are at high risk of being replaced by robots and artificial intelligence over the next 15 years, according to a new report by PwC.


4-Year-Old Boy in U.K. Saved His Mother’s Life Using Siri

24 March, by John Gruber[ —]

From the 999 transcript:

Operator: Hello, this is the police. What is your emergency?

Roman: Hello, I’m Roman.

O: Where’s your mummy?

R: She’s at home.

O: Where are you?

R: At home as well.

O: Can you do me a favour? Can you go and get mummy?

R: We can’t, she’s dead.

O: You said mummy was there – what do you mean she’s dead?

R: It means that she’s closing her eyes and she’s not breathing.


The Talk Show: ‘Hubbo Is in Decline’

23 March, by John Gruber[ —]

New episode. Special guest Merlin Mann. Enjoy.

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Apple Acquires Workflow

23 March, by John Gruber[ —]

Whoa, huge news for iOS nerds. Matthew Panzarino has the scoop:

Workflow has been around for a couple of years and we’ve covered it and its updates. It shares some similarity with the service IFTTT, in that it allows people to group together a bunch of actions that can allow them to perform complicated tasks with one tap. It had built up a sizeable number of users and downloads over the past few years.

Workflow the app is being acquired, along with the team of Weinstein, Conrad Kramer and Nick Frey. In a somewhat uncommon move for Apple, the app will continue to be made available on the App Store and will be made free later today.

This certainly provides ammunition against the argument that Apple no longer cares about power users. For me this is Apple’s most intriguing and exciting acquisition in years.

Personally, Workflow never really clicked for me, but I’ve been meaning to give it another try. The problem for me isn’t Workflow itself, but iOS. MacOS, at a conceptual level, matches the way my brain works for nerdy custom automation stuff — I just get Unix shell scripting languages, AppleScript-able Mac apps, and NeXTstep’s brilliant system-wide Services menu. Doing things the iOS way via Workflow looks cool, but whenever it comes down to it, it always feels easier to me to just wait until I’m at a Mac and create it there.

But one of the things that has always impressed me, and which has paid off for them in the end, is that Workflow stayed true to the platform. Workflow was designed from the ground up as a true and native iOS service. It is one of the most iOS-y pieces of software ever created. They took the severe limits of inter-application communication on iOS and embraced them.


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