Convictions


John Gruber on the headphone jack:

Few companies other than Apple make decisions that they know will provoke outrage just because they think it’s the right thing to do.

Apple have done this time and time again. Floppy drive. Flash. Macbook.

Apple if anything are a company about convictions. Continually they make decisions on our behalf about what technology ought to be. Apple’s product decisions are patient and deliberate. Often they will hang back and see how the industry plays something put before they make their move, but when they see an area for genuine improvement they will push the technological envelope. They innovate. They make waves. They push the industry forward in ways no one else can - because of their convictions

Removing the headphone jack was the right call. Wireless is the future. In a few years we’ll finally see the headphone jack for how archaic it is.

We, as a species, are hooked up to focus on the short run, and we’re hooked up to seek popularity and avoid criticism. Choosing to do what you know will be unpopular in the short run but you believe will prove correct in the long run takes courage. Courage of one’s convictions, not courage running into a burning building to save a life, but courage nonetheless.


Typed on Octopage

Apple's iPhone 7 Event

Quick Thoughts

iPhone

iPhone 7 looks great. I can’t wait to get my hands on one.

I’ve been an iPhone guy since 2008. Over the past 9 years (has it really been that long?) I’ve had nearly all of them. I upgraded every year like clockwork. Last year was an exception - I stuck with my 6 Plus. My 6 Plus is the first phone I’ve ever had any longer than a year. I’m looking forward to moving from my gigantor 5.5” phone to a much more reasonable 4.7”. I decided long ago that the 5.5” 6 Plus was just too large, but I still held off for the 7, that said, I’m glad I didn’t upgrade last year, it was worth waiting for this.

Color

Apple of course kept the old standards of silver, gold, and rose gold. The standout color is of course Jet Black. Obviously I haven’t seen one of these phones in person yet, but I’ve spoken to folks who have - they tell me it looks gorgeous. There is no doubt in my mind that Jet Black will be second only to the new ‘black’. Apple was smart to limit Jet Black to the higher capacities (128GB & 256GB). Limiting it creates a bit of exclusivity, but you’re not paying any more than you would for another color in the same capacity. Ever since the 4S I’ve been a white iPhone man, I’ll be changing for the 7. I’m all aboard the Jet Black train.

Camera

Part of why I specifically chose the 6 Plus 2 years ago was for OIS camera (optical image stabilization). OIS was limited to the Plus models of the 6 and 6S. With iPhone 7, Apple is bringing OIS to the 4.7” product as well. Great!

The new dual camera system on the 7 Plus is brilliant. Apple is being conservative at first, when 7 Plus ships the OS will be able to use either the telephoto or wide angle lens. I would think a future software update will allow blending of the two images (perhaps to allow retroactive focus adjustment). 2 cameras isn’t incredibly powerful now, but it will be. I just wish this were on the 4.7” product as well.

CPU

Apple is once again proving how powerful it is to own the whole stack. They’re doing something interesting with A10 fusion. Not only are they producing a 4 core phone, but they’re actually using those cores intelligently (looking at you Android OEMs). I hope the promise of raw high performance, combined with better battery life for less intensive apps proves successful. This is clever engineering.

Headphones

I’m glad to see the headphone jack die. I used the headphone jack maybe half a dozen times with my 6S in the past two years, I won’t miss it on iPhone 7.

Apple Watch

Series 2 is a great product name. It’s clearly a revision on the earlier product, but doesn’t discount the original run either.

It’s a bit quicker, it’s got some GPS chips, but it maintains the same overall design as Series 1. Apple has successfully made a better product without making me feel like a peasant for only having a Series 1.

I’m still quite happy with my original Series 1. I’m quite looking forward to watchOS 3, but I have no plans to upgrade to a Series 2 watch.

Airpods

These are brilliant. Price seems reasonable (by Apple standards), functionality seems great. I love the idea of wireless headphones that just work. No stupid power buttons. No weirdo covers to remove to charge it. No crappy-ass bluetooth pairing. I love that they turn on and pair automatically, I really love that you can use only 1 Airpod if you wish. If Apple can actually deliver on the experience they’re promising, these will sell well. That said, at $159 Airpods are clearly not marketed towards the masses. Airpods will be for people who want a wireless experience and are willing to pay for it.

If I used headphones I’d seriously consider these.

The Keynote Itself

I still don’t understand why Apple didn’t announce new Macs on Wednesday. Sure, they won’t be ready to ship for another couple months (probably), but at least announce the damn things. This was a very odd keynote for me. Apple seemed to be killing time for the first hour with stupid software demos (I’ve hated the third-party software demos since they started doing it years ago) and overall very slow pacing. The latter half (the iPhone half) was rapid-fire, rapid-pace, as if they were rushing against the clock. There were only 3 things to announce, why waste time with filler in the first hour? Odd.


Typed on ErgoDox Test Board

Possible 40% w/Numpad Project


Yesterday, Hisfanator on Reddit posted this idea of a 40% keyboard with numpad. Not all that dissimilar to a RedScarf or a Monarch, just reduced to 40%.

I’ve had a Zenith Data Systems keyboard with glorious Alps SKCL Greens for a while, and I’ve been trying to think of a project for it. I’m over 60% boards for now - I love using them, but I don’t need to make another at this point. I’d considered just modifying the existing board and modernizing it. I’d also considered just harvesting the switches and using them in BlueNalgene’s upcoming Alps TKL.

What I really quite like about the Zenith (other than its switches) is the layout. It’s a QWERTY layout, but not standard ANSI. Even the bigass Enter isn’t standard.

No matter what type of board I make out of this, whether it’s a 60% or a TKL, I wouldn’t be able to reuse the Zenith’s original high quality keycaps as the layout isn’t standard. Alps keycaps are of course very very hard to come by. One either needs vintage keycaps, or inevitably lower quality modern-day ABS keycaps. Typically the modern day Alps keycaps only ever come in ANSI layout, so nothing truly innovative is possible with them.

Thus we get to this 40% concept. The notion I’ve had is to get a set of plates cut, then harvest the green switches and build a board around that. I quite like this idea as it would be a custom board from the ground up, but I could maintain the cool Zenith layout and keycaps. Essentially I would just be removing the F keys and the number row.

I’ve mocked up a version of this on Keyboard Layout Editor and then subsequently fed it through Swill’s plate building tool and generated this.

My thought is that I would do a simple sandwich design. Probably aluminum top and bottom plates with an acrylic middle plate. Nothing too complicated, but still high quality.

Obviously this is simply a concept at this time. I imagine that if I go into production with this that I’ll need to make significant changes to the plate and board design to make it fully compatible with the Zenith’s keycaps, but it’s an interesting start. I’ve slowly learned to like my Golbat and its 40% layout, so I think I could really like this. A 40% with numpad and green alps could be a hell of a combination.

With all the projects I’m working on currently, I won’t even be able to think about this seriously until next year, but I always like to keep my projects planned out months ahead of time. Maybe this one will come to fruition.


Typed on ErgoDox Test Board

WhatsApp Gets Zucked


Whatsapp

WhatsApp has updated its terms of service and privacy policy to reflect that it will begin sharing select data with Facebook, including the phone number a user verifies during the registration process and the last time a user accessed the service. Facebook, which acquired WhatsApp in 2014, will use the information to provide better friend suggestions and targeted ads and offers to users of its own service.

[via Macrumors]

WhatsApp insists that no messages or content will be shared with Facebook. That said, to reveal the data they are revealing to Facebook would require sending metadata to Facebook. As we know from Snowden, metadata is still incredibly powerful. This is just the beginning. Beleive you me.

Glad I never started using Whatsapp, even after they went encrypted by default.


Typed on ErgoDox Test Board

NBC Olympics


As a part of the millenial generation, I, like many of my peers do not watch traditional broadcast television. I am not merely a cord cutter, I am a cord never. At no point in my adult life have I had cable or satellite service. Hell, I haven’t even had an antenna for the past 5 years.

I’ve long said that if content companies deliver the content I want via the medium I want that I would pay for it. HBO did exactly what I wanted with HBO Now. They delivered a rock-solid streaming-only platform on all the devices I wanted at the price I was willing to pay. Most companies have yet to figure out that the HBO Now model is precisely what we want.

It is unsurprising then that NBC didn’t figure any of this out for the Olympics, as Brenton Harry noted on Medium yesterday.

On Friday of last week, Bloomberg wrote an insulting piece outlining the viewership stumbling blocks that NBC has faced with the 2016 Olympics in Rio, particularly with the coveted 18–49 age block which dropped 25%. Ok, so way more than Millennials, but I’ll continue to read. The article goes on to loosely blame the regulars like Snapchat and Netflix, with very little (read: none) criticism at NBC’s presentation of the Olympics themselves, from the actual coverage, to the user experience of the platforms.

Bloomberg is careful to note that NBC has made this Olympics a blowout, featuring more content than ever before. They even ‘allowed’ Buzzfeed to run NBC’s Snapchat:

From Bloomberg:

NBC Sports Chairman Mark Lazarus said the network has a plan to profit from its Olympics investment, by giving people more options. This year, for example, the network put more than 6,000 hours of coverage online and allowed BuzzFeed to run its Olympics Snapchat channel.

Sure, yeah, allowing a modern-day media company like Buzzfeed to integrate into your programming is a smart move to incline millenials to view your content, but they still fail to realize that the platforms themselves aren’t up to my generation’s standards.

In Harry’s response to Bloomberg, he notes the various ways he attempted to view the opening ceremony in Rio: Apple TV (including the NBC Sports and NBC apps), the web, and finally over the air. With both internet-based platforms Harry was greeted with several layers of authentication, all requesting that he be tied to a cable company of some sort. When he was able to finally watch over the air, there were ads after ads after ads, all interrupting the ceremony. Whenever he could watch the ceremony it was filled with commentary appealing to only the lowest common denominator.

After sitting through the same Nationwide and Chevy spots as I had just 10 minutes ago, we come back to the ceremony, and even though we’re watching the Mountain Standard Time delay feed, we’ve missed parts of the ceremony. We had just settled back into the rhythm of the presentation, when it’s back to commercials. It’s roughly the same ones we just saw, and again we return with time having passed in the ceremony, dropping us back in wherever NBC saw fit. It wasn’t until NBC cut out of “The History of Brazil” piece for yet another commercial break that I finally just turned the TV off.

Even when he was able to reliably watch the games over the air the directing was awful.

[We] sat and watched the Swimming and Gymnastics primetime presentation. It opened with Simone Biles and Co., but then, despite being filmed earlier in the day, inexplicably goes from the earlier rounds of Gymnastics to Swimming. Hours pass before we finally get to see the resolution to those Gymnastics rounds, even though Simone Biles and Michael Phelps both easily served as headlines for Primetime.

In short, NBC is serving badly directed programming and refuses to acknowledge and fully server any of the methods my generation uses to consume content. One of the very first things any broadcast or journalism student will learn is that the medium is the message.

From Bloomberg:

“If that happens, my prediction would be that millennials had been in a Facebook bubble or a Snapchat bubble and the Olympics have come, and they didn’t know it.”

We knew the Olympics were going on. Sure there’s a bubble that we live in, but if you want us to view your content, you’ve got to bring it into the bubble. NBC serves a crap product using an archaic technology, then wonders why an entire generation fails to consume it. There’s a reason why my content consumption is limited to HBO Now, Hulu, and Netflix: they are the only ones who get it.

Bloomberg and NBC want to blame the audience for not participating in their content the way they expected them to. But if the results were not what they expected, perhaps they should consider that maybe the problem is with the product.


Typed on ErgoDox Test Board</