Archive for April 1, 2014

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Dropbox and the DMCA

Kyle Orland:

Dropbox did confirm to Ars that it checks publicly shared file links against hashes of other files that have been previously subject to successful DMCA requests. “We sometimes receive DMCA notices to remove links on copyright grounds,” the company said in a statement provided to Ars. “When we receive these, we process them according to the law and disable the identified link. We have an automated system that then prevents other users from sharing the identical material using another Dropbox link. This is done by comparing file hashes.”

Dropbox added that this comparison happens when a public link to your file is created and that “we don’t look at the files in your private folders and are committed to keeping your stuff safe.”

The Effect of Font Type on a School’s Ink Cost

Suvir Mirchandani and Peter Pinko (PDF) (via Chris Taylor):

This study identifies fonts that use ink most efficiently and estimates the amount of money a single school and a school district can save on ink by choosing efficient fonts for student handouts. […] Based on the analysis, it was concluded that a switch to Garamond, the most efficient font, would reduce ink consumption by 24%, thereby decreasing environmental damage and saving the school district approximately $21,000 per year.

Apple’s Cyclone Microarchitecture Detailed

Anand Lal Shimpi:

With six decoders and nine ports to execution units, Cyclone is big. As I mentioned before, it’s bigger than anything else that goes in a phone. Apple didn’t build a Krait/Silvermont competitor, it built something much closer to Intel’s big cores. At the launch of the iPhone 5s, Apple referred to the A7 as being “desktop class” - it turns out that wasn’t an exaggeration.

Cyclone is a bold move by Apple, but not one that is without its challenges. I still find that there are almost no applications on iOS that really take advantage of the CPU power underneath the hood. More than anything Apple needs first party software that really demonstrates what’s possible. The challenge is that at full tilt a pair of Cyclone cores can consume quite a bit of power. So for now, Cyclone’s performance is really used to exploit race to sleep and get the device into a low power state as quickly as possible. The other problem I see is that although Cyclone is incredibly forward looking, it launched in devices with only 1GB of RAM. It’s very likely that you’ll run into memory limits before you hit CPU performance limits if you plan on keeping your device for a long time.

Using ownCloud for Contacts and Calendar Syncing

Wolf Rentzsch:

I don’t want to use iCloud since Apple has a poor track record with online services (in both longevity and correctness) and I’d prefer not to upload my private information.


I’ve been using ownCloud for about four months now and have been happy with it. I’m happy to be able to use cloud syncing without being beholden to a questionable cloud provider.

App to Install Fonts on iOS

Erica Sadun on AnyFont (App Store) (via John Gruber):

I contact the developer, Florian Schimanke, who explained the steps the application takes. “[In iOS 7], it is possible to include fonts in configuration profiles. You can do this for example using the Apple Configurator from the Mac App Store,” he wrote.

“[AnyFont] takes the fonts that are added to the app’s storage by the user via iTunes file sharing or the ‘Open in…’ dialog and creates a configuration profile from it so it can be installed on the device. AnyFont hands over the newly created profile to Safari which then takes the user to the installation process. When finished, the user is then taken back to AnyFont.”

Announcing BusyContacts

John Chaffee:

BusyContacts brings to contact management the same power, flexibility, and sharing capabilities that BusyCal users have enjoyed with their calendars. What's more, BusyContacts and BusyCal integrate seamlessly together to become the ultimate contact and calendar solution on the Mac.

Looks good, and it won a Best of Show award from Macworld, but it won’t even be in beta until this summer.

Samsung 28-inch 4K Display for $700

James Galbraith:

The UD590 connects to your PC via HDMI or DisplayPort, and its specs are impressive: a 1-millisecond gray-to-gray response time, 370 cd/m2 brightness, and support for one billion colors. It uses LED backlights with a TN panel that offers 170- and 160-degree viewing angles. These angles are good, though not as wide as monitors using IPS or LPS panels.

How Gmail Happened

Harry McCracken:

If you wanted to pick a single date to mark the beginning of the modern era of the web, you could do a lot worse than choosing Thursday, April 1, 2004, the day Gmail launched.


Within Google, Gmail was also regarded as a huge, improbable deal. It was in the works for nearly three years before it reached consumers; during that time, skeptical Googlers ripped into the concept on multiple grounds, from the technical to the philosophical. It’s not hard to envision an alternate universe in which the effort fell apart along the way, or at least resulted in something a whole lot less interesting.

Git Source Code Review

Fabien Sanglard:

I wanted to get a better understanding of the “stupid content tracker” and see how it was built so I spent a few weeks in my spare time reading the source code. I found it tiny, tidy, well-documented and overall pleasant to read.

As usual I have compiled my notes into an article, maybe it will encourage some of us to read more source code and become better engineers.

QuickTime Banned From Mac App Store

Drew McCormack reports that he received the following error message in Xcode:

Deprecated API Usage. Apple no longer accepts submissions of apps that use QuickTime APIs.

Apple has long had a guideline stating that apps that use deprecated technologies will be rejected. QTKit classes such as QTMovieView were only deprecated in October 2013 with the release of Mac OS X 10.9. This is probably because the replacement, AVFoundation, did not initially support much of what was possible with QuickTime. For example, its QTMovieView equivalent, AVPlayerView was only added in 10.9. Prior to that, you had to build your own player using AVPlayerLayer.

I always took the guideline to mean deprecated as of the OS version the app is targeting. If, in fact, it means deprecated as of the current OS version, developers will need to choose between dropping support for older OS versions or writing extra code, i.e. implementing MyPlayerView in terms of AVPlayerLayer. The latter is not a very attractive use of time. If you’re going to rewrite your code, you probably want to use the latest and greatest, not reinvent the AVPlayerView wheel and maintain it into the future.

This puts developers in an artificially bad situation. Both the old and new OS versions already have the code to do what’s needed. It’s just put off-limits.

The other effect of this is that, since AVPlayerLayer was added in Mac OS X 10.7, there isn’t a good replacement for QTKit if your app targets 10.6. About 10% of my customers and 8% of Omni’s are currently using 10.6, so you might still want to provide updates for those customers—or at least fix bugs.