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Nine Minutes of Doubt

27 July, by John Gruber[ —]

At 8:55am, Donald Trump tweeted the following:

After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow……

Six trailing periods, sic.

Nine minutes later, he finished the sentence:

….Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming…..

There are all sorts of reasons to be furious about these tweets. But one that’s been largely overlooked is that 9-minute gap between tweets.

BuzzFeed reports:

At the Pentagon, the first of the three tweets raised fears that the president was getting ready to announce strikes on North Korea or some other military action. Many said they were left in suspense for nine minutes, the time between the first and second tweet. Only after the second tweet did military officials receive the news the president was announcing a personnel change on Twitter.

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis is on vacation this week, and defense officials said Mattis knew that Trump was considering the policy change. It is unclear if he approved it.

Suspecting that Trump was using Twitter to announce military action against North Korea was a perfectly reasonable conclusion by the Pentagon. It also would have been a perfectly reasonable conclusion by North Korea. The policy decision is terrible, the lack of any consultation with the Pentagon is terrible, but the way that it was made, starting with a belligerent tweet without follow-up for nearly 10 minutes, is jaw-droppingly dangerous.


Jason Snell on Apple Park’s Open Work Spaces

27 July, by John Gruber[ —]

The same passage that caught my eye in the WSJ’s profile on Apple Park — on employees being upset at having to move from private offices to open work spaces — caught Jason Snell’s as well:

No battle plan survives contact with the enemy. Some of the initial resistance will be the natural human response to any change, of course. But beyond that, there will almost certainly be real issues with moving productive Apple employees out of their offices and into big white open-plan workspaces. It’s going to be a period of adaptation for everyone who works at Apple.

We moved to an aggressively open plan, with almost no offices, when I was at IDG. I think it worked for some people, but it definitely didn’t work for others. Sometimes I think people who work in fields where an open collaborative environment makes sense don’t understand that people in other fields (writers, editors, programmers) might not share the same priorities when it comes to workspaces.


ARKit’s A-Ha Moment

27 July, by John Gruber[ —]

Really impressive stuff.

Makes me think about this passage from today’s WSJ profile of Jony Ive:

In other technologies, from digital assistants to driverless vehicles to augmented and virtual reality, Apple seems to lag other tech giants, including Google, Amazon and Tesla.

Who exactly is Apple lagging in AR?


★ Unordered Lists in Markdown

26 July, by John Gruber[ —]

In Markdown, you can create unordered lists using any of three characters as the “bullets”: asterisk (*), hyphen (-), or plus (+). Why all three? More or less: why not? Better to let people choose the character that feels most natural to them. I know a lot of Markdown users choose different characters for different levels of hierarchical lists, and that went into the original thinking as well.

I’ve always been curious which list markers people actually use, so I did a poll on Twitter. The results:

  • 42% Asterisk (*)
  • 54% Hyphen (-)
  • 04% Plus (+)

You can only respond to Twitter polls using Twitter’s official clients, and because a lot of my followers have the good taste to use third-party clients like Tweetbot and Twitterrific, I wound up getting a lot of “responses” by way of replies to my tweet. They don’t show up in the results above, but eyeballing them, they’re right in line: lots of fans of asterisks and hyphens, crickets chirping for plus.

I’m most surprised by how unpopular plus is. I use it a lot myself. The funny thing is, I’m not even sure how I’d answer the poll personally — I use all three, depending on my mood. Part of the reason Markdown supports all three characters is that I couldn’t decide on just one back in 2003, and I still can’t.

The glaring omission in supported characters, of course, is an actual bullet (). If Markdown had only been something I’d meant to use myself, or among friends, I would have made use of punctuation characters outside the 7-bit ASCII range, and literal bullets would have been first on the list. But at the time, character-encoding mismatches were still a daily problem. Today, UTF-8 is sufficiently universal that using such characters in an update to Markdown would probably work out fine.


WSJ Profile on Jony Ive and Apple Park

26 July, by John Gruber[ —]

Christina Passariello, in a gorgeously photographed profile for WSJ Magazine:

Ive’s friend Bono, writing in an email, says he’s “restless and relentless in pursuit of perfection,” while Norman Foster, whose architecture firm was hired by Apple to build the headquarters at a reported cost of $5 billion, calls him “a poet.” Other designers are “amazing essayists, but the difference between an essay and a poem is that you really have to work harder at the poem. It’s much more distilled, it’s much more the essence,” Foster says. “He works tirelessly at the detail, evolving, improving, refining. For me, that makes him a poet.”

That rings true to me.

The thousands of employees at Apple Park will need to bend slightly to Ive’s vision of the workplace. Many will be seated in open space, not the small offices they’re used to. Coders and programmers are concerned that their work surroundings will be too noisy and distracting. Whiteboards — synonymous with Silicon Valley brainstorming — are built into floor-to-ceiling sliding doors in the central area of each pod, but “some of the engineers are freaking out” that it isn’t enough, says Whisenhunt.

This would drive me nuts, I suspect.


Batch Processing in Apple Photos

26 July, by John Gruber[ —]

Kirk McElhearn:

Apple’s Photos app does not allow you to perform batch processing. However, there is a way that you can quickly apply the same changes to multiple photos.

Copy and pasting adjustments is better than nothing, and this is a very good tip. But man, Photos for Mac really needs to up its game when it comes to batch processing and triaging new photos.


Trump Says Tim Cook Has Promised to Build Three Manufacturing Plants in U.S.

26 July, by John Gruber[ —]

Tripp Mickle and Peter Nicholas, reporting for The Wall Street Journal:

Mr. Trump, in a 45-minute interview with The Wall Street Journal, said Mr. Cook promised him Apple would build “three big plants, beautiful plants.” Mr. Trump didn’t elaborate on where those plants would be located or when they would be built.

“I spoke to [Mr. Cook], he’s promised me three big plants — big, big, big,” Mr. Trump said as part of a discussion about business-tax reform and business investment. “I said you know, Tim, unless you start building your plants in this country, I won’t consider my administration an economic success. He called me, and he said they are going forward.”

Apple declined to comment.

This is odd in so many ways. If it’s true, this is a massive strategic shift for Apple, and it makes me wonder why Cook would share this news with Trump prior to Apple announcing it on their own terms. And if it’s not true, boy did Trump just send Cook a huge shit sandwich.

Apple’s most recent foray into U.S. assembly is a facility in Texas for the Mac Pro. There was quite a bit of publicity about that, but until now it doesn’t seem to have led to anything else. And Apple doesn’t even own that plant — they partnered with a company named Flex. According to Vindu Goel, Apple only owns one factory in the world — in Ireland.


Adobe Announces End-of-Life for Flash

26 July, by John Gruber[ —]

Adobe:

Today, most browser vendors are integrating capabilities once provided by plugins directly into browsers and deprecating plugins.

Given this progress, and in collaboration with several of our technology partners — including Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Mozilla — Adobe is planning to end-of-life Flash. Specifically, we will stop updating and distributing the Flash Player at the end of 2020 and encourage content creators to migrate any existing Flash content to these new open formats.

Apple’s key decision was never supporting Flash on iOS, and sticking with that decision even when they were under significant marketing pressure to do so. Steve Jobs’s famous “Thoughts on Flash” was not the cause of Flash’s demise — it was an explanation for why Flash was doomed.

iOS never supporting Flash, combined with the size and appealing demographics of iOS users, hastened the demise of Flash by several years. Web publishers switched to HTML5 technologies for video and interactive content sooner than they would have otherwise. But I think Flash was doomed regardless. The world was going mobile whether Apple led the way or not, and Flash was never a good fit for mobile computing.

This official “end of life” statement is an important step, but Adobe saw the writing on the wall six years ago when they officially stopped developing Flash Player for Android. Strategically, that was the death of Flash.


David Remnick Interviews Maggie Haberman

25 July, by John Gruber[ —]

The New Yorker’s David Remnick has a terrific interview with New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman. Much of what we know of the inner workings of the Trump White House, we know from Haberman.

D.R.: What do you make out to be the ideology of Donald Trump? Or is it purely situational? We saw him running as a new kind of populist. At moments, he seems very right-wing; at other times he undermines that kind of conservative ideology.

M.H.: I think he has no clear ideology. I think he has a couple of base impulses he’s held onto since the nineteen-eighties, when he was taking out those newspaper ads about how Japan is “ripping us off.” A lot of the language that he used then is the same as what he uses now, but it’s more of a feeling than an ideology. It’s a sense that the United States is being taken advantage of. Can he name by whom, accurately? Not necessarily. He ran as a Republican, and he really appealed to this hard-right base that believes in less government. But, in reality, this is a man who grew up in Ed Koch’s New York City, and I think he has a very specific view of the role that government is supposed to play in people’s lives.


The Verge: Bragi Dash Pro Wireless Earbuds

25 July, by John Gruber[ —]

Sean O’Kane, writing for The Verge:

Bragi hasn’t completely solved this problem with the Dash Pro, and I still think its other, cheaper, wireless earbuds are a better buy. But the company’s gotten much closer this time around. You can put your phone in basically any pocket, or in a bag, and the connection only hiccups about 10 percent of the time, maybe even less depending on your height.

I’m not saying my AirPods never suffer Bluetooth hiccups, but it happens very rarely. Apple is so far ahead of its competition on this front.


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