Archive for September 10, 2014

Wednesday, September 10, 2014 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Swift Has Reached 1.0

Apple:

Today is the GM date for Swift on iOS. We have one more GM date to go for Mac. Swift for OS X currently requires the SDK for OS X Yosemite, and when Yosemite ships later this fall, Swift will also be GM on the Mac.

[…]

You’ll notice we’re using the word “GM”, not “final”. That’s because Swift will continue to advance with new features, improved performance, and refined syntax. In fact, you can expect a few improvements to come in Xcode 6.1 in time for the Yosemite launch. Because your apps today embed a version of the Swift GM runtime, they will continue to run well into the future.

How much overhead is there for that runtime?

Airspeed Velocity:

As such, the first beta of Xcode 6.1 saw more changes to the standard library than we saw in the pre-1.0 beta, and here they are […]

Update (2014-09-13): Tim Wood notes a strange bug.

iPhone 6

The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are pretty much what people expected, except it turns out that the ugly antenna lines are real. Although I welcome the larger form factors, I’m disappointed that there is no longer a 3.5-inch or even 4-inch model. If there’s a smaller watch for people with smaller wrists, why can’t there be a smaller phone? It’s not just a matter of physically fitting in one’s pocket. The larger size will simply not be as comfortable in the pocket when moving around or seated. I find the iPhone 5s to be less comfortable in that way than the previous, smaller models, but it’s still acceptable and the larger screen is nice. It’s not clear to me that the same will be true of the iPhone 6.

And I’m skeptical that the one-handed Reachability mode will work well.

Update (2014-09-10): Clark Goble:

No RAM increase. And no new compelling features at all beyond size. For many of us larger, despite the Anrdroid market, is a big step backwards. I hope that in the future they move to keeping the 4″ form factor as the low end but put the latest chip inside. Because the 4.7″ (the smallest) is just too big for my use. I remember the days when having a small phone was a plus.

Ryan Smith:

From a performance perspective Apple is promising 25% faster CPU performance than A7. As is usually the case with Apple, they aren’t talking about the underlying CPU core – though this is a problem we’re working to rectify – so it remains to be seen how much of this is due to CPU architectural upgrades and how much is from clockspeed improvements afforded by the 20nm process.

[…]

Meanwhile Apple is being even less specific about the GPU, but from their published baseline performance comparisons against the iPhone 1, the A8 is said to be 84x faster on graphics. This compares to a published figure of 56x for the A7, which implies that the A8’s GPU is 1.5x faster than the A7’s.

Joshua Ho:

Looking past the size of the iPhone 6, there are a lot of noticeable subtle changes to the device compared to the iPhone 5s. In terms of low-hanging fruit, the side-mounted power button definitely helps with keeping a firm grip while turning on the phone, and I didn’t find any real issues when trying to turn the phone on or off. The slightly curved glass that helps to make for a smooth transition when swiping off the edge of the display is also a nice touch, although I’m concerned about the implications that this has for drop resilience and screen protectors.

Joshua Ho:

However, dual domain pixels are actually not as complicated as they seem. […] Anyone that has tried the HTC One (M7) or One X will probably understand the effect of this change as these phones have had this type of skewed subpixel format to get better viewing angles and less color shifting with changes in viewing angles. This can carry some risk though as black backgrounds may have some color shifting towards purple instead of yellow/blue, which can look strange but is quite subtle in my experience.

Andrew Cunningham:

The back of the phones are made out of aluminum with some clearly visible cutouts made to allow wireless signals in and out. The design as a whole is more reminiscent of the 2012 iPod Touch than current iPhones, an observation that extends to the slightly protruding camera lens. You won’t notice this bulge if you keep your phone in a case or sit it on a soft surface, but if you set the phone on a hard table it definitely will wobble a bit in place.

[…]

We’ll need to spend more time with it, but Reachability feels like a compromise right out of the gate. It’s a necessary concession to reality—iOS relies overwhelmingly on navigation buttons kept in the upper-left and upper-right corners of the screen. These were reachable with one hand on 3.5- and 4-inch screens. They are emphatically not reachable on either iPhone 6. Android and Windows Phone both solve the problem by putting a hardware or software Back button at the bottom of the screen, an element that has been criticized for its inconsistency but generally gets the job done.

Reachability solves the problem for iOS, but it does so in a way that doesn’t feel very intuitive. First, it’s an odd gesture that sort of overlaps with an existing one (double tap the Home button without pressing to enter Reachability mode, double press the button to bring up the multitasking switcher). Second, every time you press a button in Reachability mode, the app “window” zooms back up to the top of the screen, and you have to double tap again to re-enable Reachability and press the button again. It’s an OK solution for when you need to press one button, less so when you need to tap several navigation buttons at once.

Dave Klein:

The first and most significant reason is that it shows that Apple is being directed by their competitors and detractors. I know that there are some number of iPhone users who wanted a larger phone, though I’d argue that the 4.7 would have sufficed most of them, but the vast majority of noise about Apple’s lack of a giant phone was coming from the phone manufacturers who currently make them, or from the media pundits who inherently hate Apple. It’s very similar to when you hear political party A saying that party B is doomed unless they do X. Then party B does X, and it backfires on them, just as party A had hoped. In other words, don’t take direction from your enemies. With the iPhone 6 Plus, it appears that Apple is doing just that. And that scares me.

Apple Pay

Apple:

Gone are the days of searching for your wallet. The wasted moments finding the right card. The swiping and waiting. Now payments happen with a single touch.

Apple Pay will change how you pay with breakthrough contactless payment technology and unique security features built right into the devices you have with you every day. So you can use your iPhone 6 or Apple Watch to pay in an easy, secure, and private way.

As a wallet replacement, I don’t really see the attraction. If it’s not ubiquitous, I’ll still have to carry my cards. I’ll need my driver’s license in any case. Even if everyone accepted Apple Pay, I wouldn’t want to leave home with all my eggs in one breakable basket. I’m not convinced that Passbook and NFC are easier than using a card.

But the potential for purchasing from third-party stores, within an app, is very promising:

Convenient checkout. On iPhone, you can also use Apple Pay to pay with a single touch in apps. Checking out is as easy as selecting “Apple Pay” and placing your finger on Touch ID.

Too bad it isn’t available on Macs or older iPhones.

Clover:

Apple Pay marks the first time a popular operating system is making payments a platform service for real-world, non-digital-good transactions, in a broad, inclusive manner that is compatible with the mainstream payments processing industry. At Clover we’re particularly excited because we believe it opens up lightweight apps that can interact and transact with small-and-medium brick-and-mortar restaurants. By lightweight, I mean that these apps won’t need to maintain a user database, require user logins, worry about getting cards on file, or being an unwilling payment aggregator. i.e., it will be at least 10x easier. I expect a huge amount of innovation in real-world mobile commerce as a result over the coming years because of the revolution that Apple Pay is starting.

Marko Karppinen:

Apple Pay comes with the key benefits of IAP: frictionless transactions, strong privacy protections for the consumer, and a user base that will soon number in the millions. It is backed, in part, by those same credit cards on file at iTunes.

The big difference is that Apple doesn’t charge anybody anything for the use of Apple Pay. That’s because Apple sees Apple Pay as an end-user feature of iPhone 6, not as an independent revenue source. (Update: According to Bloomberg, Apple is charging banks. But that is coming from the fees paid to banks by merchants, so the thesis about this being free for both merchants and customers still stands.)

The comparison with In-App Purchase is interesting:

A newspaper’s iOS app can sell print subscriptions using Apple Pay, get all the conversion benefits of the one-tap payment, and pay 2.9% (to Stripe or some other credit card processor) for the transaction. But if the paper offers the same content digitally, within the same app, Apple will charge 30% in IAP commission.

[…]

Apple’s overall business would be well served by dismantling of the IAP monopoly on iOS and allowing Apple Pay to be used for the payment of in-app goods and services.

DCKing:

So Apple Pay is a payment method management application. It is not a payment protocol. The payment protocol Apple Pay uses to interface with point of sale terminals is the same EMV protocol that is used for other solutions.

Update (2014-09-13): Rich Mogull:

Tokenization is great because it reduces or eliminates the need to update legacy systems that expect a credit card number, without ever exposing the real number. Tokenization is typically handled by the payment network, which (in some implementations) encrypts the credit card number right when you swipe it, sends it back for the token, and then provides that to the merchant to keep for things like refunds or customer tracking. If the merchant’s system is breached, no real numbers are exposed; the tokens can also be merchant-specific for any given credit card, making them useless anywhere else.

[…]

Using per-device tokens means that only the bank that issued the card (or its payment network) ever has your card: You don’t have to trust Apple with it. This is different from the Google Wallet system, in which Google holds your cards on their servers.

[…]

Apple is in a unique position due to its business model. It doesn’t want or need to track transactions. It doesn’t want or need to be the payment processor. It isn’t restricted by carrier agreements, since it fully controls the hardware.

Macworld Layoffs

Jason Snell:

I’ve been working continuously in what is now called “tech journalism” for 20 years, 8 months, and 7 days. In January 1994 I started at MacUser magazine while I still had a semester of grad school left to go. I haven’t had a day where I wasn’t either a full-time student or a full-time employee of a publishing company since the day I toddled into Kindergarten in the fall of 1975.

Until today, that is.

Roman Loyola:

Pretty much the whole Macworld staff has been let go. Looks like the end. Sad

Dan Frakes:

After 10 years as a Macworld editor, I’m a freelancer again (along with too many of my colleagues). Sad day for me, but also for Macworld.

Philip Michaels:

So, um... anyone hiring?

Best wishes to all of the Macworld folks. Thanks for so many years of great work. I have read, I think, every issue since about 1990. Thank you for the Eddy, which was one of the major factors in getting my business going. Thank you for holding the line with real journalism and lab testing in a world of click-bait headlines. I’m looking forward to seeing what you do next.

Update (2014-09-10): Dan Miller:

Macworld print is going away, but http://macworld.com will continue.

David Pogue:

My first writing job was Macworld magazine; 13 wonderful years. Today, nearly the entire staff has been laid off. Breaks my heart.

Adam C. Engst:

Also troubling is the demise of the print edition of Macworld. Since the launch of the Macintosh in 1984, Macworld has been a stalwart of the Mac community, a role that has continued through the 1997 merger with MacUser (see “MacUser and Macworld Merge,” 11 August 1997) and the disappearance of MacWEEK (“MacWEEK to Roll into MacCentral,” 5 March 2001). The print magazine world is tough, but it’s still surprising that Macworld would fold now, with Apple so dominant and Apple products used by so many millions around the world.

The Macalope:

My thanks also to @jsnell who took a chance on a furry mythical creature with a bad attitude. Guy’s like a cat, he’ll land on his feet.

Dan Moren:

If you haven’t heard: Today’s my last day at @macworld along with a lot of other fine folks. Thanks for all your support—you guys are swell.

Brent Simmons:

Is it just that it’s hard to make enough money to run a quality publication?

Update (2014-09-11): Serenity Caldwell:

Took a self-photobombed shot of yesterday’s liveblog crew in action. I’ll miss these jerks.

Tom Negrino:

Losing Macworld Lab is a real blow to the Mac community. Knowing how to do good performance testing on Apple gear requires deep knowledge.

Glenn Fleishman:

Be more pissed about 20 years of inadequate response to digital media through determined executive resistance. Cuz, you know, IDG could have owned the *world with the great staff they had.

Laura Blackwell:

The designers and photographer who made Macworld/PCWorld/TechHive look great have also been laid off. So much talent for hire!

Josh Centers:

RIP Macworld Labs. You will never see this awesomeness again.

Jon Seff:

To those saying Macworld layoffs related to print were inevitable, understand that the bulk of our/their jobs was daily online work.

Marco Arment:

Over the last few years, we’ve all seen Macworld’s website degrade further into reader-hostile designs and lower-rent ads, borrowing against their future goodwill and relevance just to keep the lights on, while hoping for better economic conditions that we all know will never return to that business. Like a beloved relative whose last years were difficult and undignified, I’m going to choose to remember only the good times.

Update (2014-09-13): Serenity Caldwell:

I’ve loved every second working for Macworld’s editorial staff. These are some of the best folks in the business, and they took a 22-year-old Apple-obsessed tech enthusiast who didn’t quite know what she was doing and helped her evolve into a full-fledged reporter. I am so grateful to every one of these people—both for what they’ve meant to me as my friends and as my colleagues. Working in this field is a dream job.

Jason Snell:

I should mention that PCWorld, TechHive, and Greenbot all lost staff yesterday. Macworld was most dramatic change, but far from the only.

Christopher Breen:

It’s easy to blame management because, hey, it’s always The Man, right? But the truth is that Macworld continued as a print publication for as long as it did because the people at the very top had a soft spot for it. They tried every way they could think of to make it work. Regrettably, the realities of economics eventually took hold.

[…]

But I’m not here to feed Internet tittle-tattle. Rather, as someone who’s been with Macworld (and MacUser before it) for a very long time, I’d like to provide potential employers (and those who are simply interested in their favorite writers) some details about my departed colleagues.

Dan Moren:

For the last eight years, I’ve devoted most of my waking moments to following Apple coverage. To say that I’ve loved every moment would be an overstatement: like any job, there are plenty of ups and downs; for every triumph, there was an opportunity to learn from mistakes. But I had the privilege of working alongside folks who I’d been a fan of from afar—Jason, Chris Breen, Dan Frakes, Jim Dalrymple, Peter Cohen, Rob Griffiths—folks who worked just as hard, even if their names didn’t always come to the forefront—Scholle Sawyer-McFarland, Philip Michaels, Dan Miller, Jon Seff, Jackie Dove, Jim Galbraith—and folks who I met along the way—Roman Loyola, Serenity Caldwell, Lex Friedman—as well as more freelance contributors than I can name.

Paul Kafasis:

For years, Macworld set the standard for Mac journalism, and the volume of talent that is presently unemployed is simply obscene. There’s little doubt that these talented folks will quickly find new opportunities. I only hope that many of them will remain in the Apple space, so that we can continue to benefit from their work for years to come.

Jon Phillips:

This week, the Macworld family lost many key staffers whose passion, creativity and tech knowledge made this website and our magazine an industry flagship. But amid the loss we’re excited about what the future holds. Please stay tuned for great things ahead.

Update (2014-09-18): Jason Snell:

Over the last decade we all made an enormous effort to transform Macworld editorial from a magazine mentality to a web site mentality. And honestly, it worked: By the end, the magazine was essentially a curated collection of the best stories from the website, cut down and copy edited and with nice photographs. The economics of the business just didn't make it possible to continue.

Apple Watch

Before the event, I was skeptical about a potential iWatch for two reasons:

  1. Competing smart watches are giant, unattractive bricks. Apple may have better taste, but how could they do much better without overturning the laws of physics?
  2. I have been incredibly happy not wearing a watch since I started carrying an iPhone. What could this type of device possibly do that would change my mind?

Apple itself hyped the announcement like crazy. So I thought, “I have no idea how, but maybe they really did crack this thing.” But, in the end, I don’t think Apple Watch (not so fond of WATCH) answers either of my questions.

  1. Maybe it’s different in person, but in the photos it looks big in every dimension, probably more so than a calculator watch. I don’t think it blows away Samsung’s products in appearance, and it’s not that far off from a parody of a mini original iPhone on a band. It will apparently need to be charged nightly. We don’t know yet whether it’s waterproof.
  2. There are lots of impressive features and creative ideas. But, based on the presentation, Apple itself doesn’t seem to have a clear explanation of what it’s for. Even if I somehow got one for free, I doubt I would wear it. The original iPhone announcement was the opposite: I wanted one yesterday, even at $600, even though it didn’t have apps, even though it only supported AT&T.

Right now, I think Apple Watch is an amazing technical achievement, but I just can’t see this one being a mass-market success. It seems like the type of product where you’d really feel burned buying the 1.0. In five to ten years, when it’s much thinner and lighter? And when, I presume, people will have more use cases figured out? That could be really interesting.

Today, though? What I want from Apple today is not new product categories. I would rather they put all those brilliant engineers to work fixing bugs and maintaining the apps that I use. That’s what would really make my life better.

Update (2014-09-10): John Gordon:

This isn’t the usual Apple 1.0 product. The usual 1.0 Apple product is interesting and somewhat useful for early adopters with high pain tolerance and it comes with a clear path to a strong 2.0. This is version 0.5. It’s far too ambitious for its time -- and it’s 6 months behind schedule.

Dave Winer:

The Apple Watch was basically paying a debt, and it’s not a product Steve Jobs would have shipped. The debt is that the new Apple management has to show investors that they can ship something new. It probably indicates that they don’t have anything better in the pipe, and that’s fine. It could be at this point in history there aren’t any new devices that make sense.

Clark Goble:

I just can’t quite figure out how many people would want the watch. I didn’t see that Apple made a compelling need case for it. Say what you will about Jobs. But he always had a killer function — even for the iPad. Exercise seems to be the attempt for the watch, but even that isn’t that compelling given the limits of the watch itself.

Brian Dunagan:

That’s the question for Apple’s iWatch. How does it go beyond a novelty? I use my Mac, my iPhone, and my iPad every day, not for the sake of using them, but to do things. The current assortment of smart watches still seem geared toward early adopters, who are interested in the device itself rather than doing things with the device.

Khoi Vinh:

As first sight, the look of the Apple Watch struck me as boxy and inelegant. Its vaguely space age-y curves seemed like the antithesis of what I personally favor in watch fashion, which is something more conservative.

[…]

There aren’t quite as many SKUs for the Apple Watch as there are, say, in the Nixon watches catalog, but there are far more variants on offer than for any Apple product that’s ever come before. And remember, this is a company that, at the onset of its comeback, prided itself on selling fewer things, on an almost flagrantly reductive product matrix.

Ben Thompson:

Then came the introductory video, and we never got an explanation of why the Apple Watch existed, or what need it is supposed to fill. What is the market? Why does Apple believe it can succeed there? What makes the Apple Watch unique?

Benjamin Clymer:

The overall level of design in the Apple Watch simply blows away anything – digital or analog – in the watch space at $350. There is nothing that comes close to the fluidity, attention to detail, or simple build quality found on the Apple Watch in this price bracket.

[…]

If I had to criticize the actual form of the Apple Watch, it would be a complaint you’ve heard from me before (most recently with the Habring2 in our latest Three on Three); the Apple Watch doesn’t fit under my shirt cuff without serious effort, if at all. I believe that great design should not disrupt daily life, and a watch that doesn’t fit under a shirt sleeve is missing something. Apple is amazing and building thin, elegant machines, and I was surprised by how bulky this is, especially when the 45 minutes prior to the introduction of the Apple Watch were spent discussing how svelte the new iPhone 6 is. I understand the physical limitations and the required dock on the rear of the watch, but the Apple Watch is bulkier than I would’ve liked.

Update (2014-09-13): Dave Chap shows how the Apple Watch is slightly thinner than two iPhones.

Om Malick has lots of photos.

Rainer Brockerhoff speculates that Apple Watch doesn’t run iOS.

Mark Bernstein:

My guess is that, somewhere around 2017, looking at your phone in company is going to be considered bad manners, but looking at your watch will be OK.

xkcd on smart watches (and thinkpieces).

Electronista:

The Apple Watch will use a unique system to authorize NFC mobile payments, reports say. Normally Apple Pay is authorized via Touch ID, but there's no such sensor on the Watch. Instead, when someone puts on the device for the day, they'll have to enter a PIN to authorize transactions. The sensors on the bottom of the watch can detect skin contact, and once that's lost, a person will have to re-enter their PIN.

Ken Segall:

One could also argue that the i has been hijacked by many other companies, while the Apple-word is un-stealable. So, the naming of Apple Watch could well be the start of a new naming direction, with more importance placed on Apple and less importance placed on the i.

[…]

What Samsung did with the Gear is somewhat predictable. It created a wrist-sized version of a phone. Apple took a more unexpected route, based on the realities of the small screen — with the digital crown being a highlight. Apple’s strength is in imagining solutions that feel simple and natural.

Alex Vollmer:

This is going to sound funny, but I think the tactile pulsing feature of the Apple Watch is one of its most intriguing. It got me thinking about how, paired with the right software, it could be a fantastic way to teach a wearer certain timing-related skills.

Update (2014-09-15): Andy Ihnatko:

This has been bothering me since Tuesday. I was at the iPhone and the iPad launch events and though I left with some questions and concerns, I left San Francisco tingling a little bit. I wasn’t unimpressed by Apple Watch, and my thoughts are overall positive. But it concerns me a little that it’s such an important new product for Apple and that they put so much effort into this event … and I’m still not entirely sure what the Apple Watch is or what role Apple thinks it will perform in people’s lives.

Marco Arment:

Apple didn’t find a way around the laws of physics. They didn’t somehow unveil a revolutionary battery or screen technology that the world had never seen before. They punted again. In the absence of any better alternative approaches, they just did what they could with today’s technology.

It’s kinda big, but the touch screen isn’t big enough for good touch input and can’t fit much text or UI. It seems fashionable enough, but it’s unquestionably electronic-looking. It’s about as thick as it could reasonably be, but the battery only lasts a day. And the primary functions still seem to be telling time and showing phone notifications.

This shouldn’t be a big surprise, though. This is what Apple usually does.

Update (2014-09-16): Kyle Baxter:

But that idea of what smartwatches are for, making it more convenient to deal with the flood of notifications and information our phones provide us, is unimaginative. I think what the smartwatch can do is make the phone unnecessary for many purposes, create new purposes altogether, and allow us to benefit from a wrist-sized screen’s limitations.

Benedict Evans:

If you wanted a nine inch touch-screen tablet, the iPad executed that idea pretty well, but did you want one? Was it a good idea? If you want a very small computer on your wrist, both Apple and Motorola (and perhaps Samsung, if that’s your taste) have each made one that’s pretty good, but do you want one?

Update (2014-09-17): Jean-Louis Gassée:

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves — we’re still barely past the demo. We’ll have to wait for the actual product to come to the wrists of real users. Only then will we have the Apple Watch make-or-break moment: Word-of-mouth from non-experts.

John Gruber:

I think Apple Watch prices are going to be shockingly high — gasp-inducingly, get-me-to-the-fainting-couch high — from the perspective of the tech industry. But at the same time, there is room for them to be disruptively low from the perspective of the traditional watch and jewelry world. There’s a massive pricing umbrella in the luxury watch world, and Apple is aiming to take advantage of it.

[…]

The most intriguing and notable thing about Apple Watch’s design, to me, is the dedicated communication button below the digital crown. The entire watch is fully operational and navigable using just the digital crown and touchscreen. You can go anywhere and do everything using taps, force presses, or turning and pressing the digital crown. There is no need for that extra button (which, in the unveiling video, Jony Ive described only as “the button below the digital crown”).

[…]

I’ve seen some skepticism about Apple Watch’s use of “force presses”. To wit, that this capability is unneeded — anything you can do with a force press could be done on a regular (non-pressure-sensitive) touchscreen using a long press. I disagree. Force pressing means you won’t have to wait. Talking to Apple people behind the scenes last week, they are very keen on the force press thing.

It would be nice to be able to force press to select text in iOS.

Amy Worrall:

thing it was lacking was something telling us “Here’s why you need Apple Watch”. There was a big list of things the watch could do, but nowhere did they tell us how much better our life would be for being able to do those things. I bought the Pebble (which was less than half the price of the lowest end Apple Watch) because I was interested in what the future might bring for smart watches. Do I buy the Apple Watch for the same reason, or do they have a unique selling point yet?

New iCloud Pricing

Like Dropbox, Apple has reduced its cloud pricing:

Customers will continue to get 5GB of storage for free, with 20GB available for $0.99 per month. 200GB of storage costs $3.99 per month, and 500GB is $9.99 per month. Apple’s top tier storage, 1TB, costs just $19.99 per month, slightly more than Dropbox’s new $9.99/month price for 1TB storage.

(Is 2x really “slightly”?)

Apple’s September 9th Live Event Stream

Dan Rayburn (via Amy Worrall):

The bottom line with this event is that the encoding, translation, JavaScript code, the video player, the call to S3 single storage location and the millisecond refreshes all didn’t work properly together and was the root cause of Apple’s failed attempt to make the live stream work without any problems. So while it would be easy to say it was a CDN capacity issue, which was my initial thought considering how many events are taking place today and this week, it does not appear that a lack of capacity played any part in the event not working properly. Apple simply didn’t provision and plan for the event properly.

All the other recent Apple streams have worked really well for me. That said, the refreshing and JSON don’t explain why the stream was also unreliable on Apple TV.

Update (2014-09-13): igrigorik:

Why? No idea. All of them are served via images.apple.com, which is also fronted by Akamai, but once again, a short TTL really doesn’t help with caching, which means there were a lot of requests hitting the Apple origin servers. Those poor Apache servers powering Apple’s site must have been working really, really hard. I’m not surprised the site was experiencing intermittent outages.

Oh, and speaking of load on origin servers… Remember feed.json? Every 10 seconds the page makes a polling request to the server to fetch the latest version. Combine that with a really short maxage TTL and missing gzip compression, and you’ve just created a self-inflicted DDoS.

Simon Fredsted (via John Gruber):

I’m sure that at this point Apple and their streaming partner has done a complete investigation of the causes of the many problems of the stream. Here’s what I think they have found.

Markdown and CommonMark

Jeff Atwood has been repeatedly trying to hijack Markdown rather than fork it. It’s hard to believe that he would think Common Markdown would be acceptable when Standard Markdown was not. Gruber clearly doesn’t want to give him the name, so this reads as Atwood increasingly trying to rationalize just taking it.

Dave Winer:

Whatever his feelings for Gruber are, he’s hurting himself a lot more by taking the name of the project. It isn’t his to take. If he wants to make a contribution, let it stand on its own and accept competition from others.

Gruber did the hard work, had the vision, and used his goodwill to get Markdown to happen. He can’t and shouldn’t stop anyone from building on what he did (and as far as I can tell he doesn’t want to), but they shouldn’t stop him either.

Winer (of course) sees parallels with RSS:

Now it is what it is. A bunch of programmers fighting over who gets to be the Holy Father of Markdown is only going to create confusion, it won’t actually change what Markdown is.

Programmers always underestimate deployment, and think they can wave a magic wand and get everyone to upgrade.

Werner Vogels:

It is a case of “Worse is better” - instead of excellent formalized frameworks we favor tools that work. Help us (in this case writers) do our jobs. My two favorite tools in this case (e.g. Textmate and Byword) seem to be fine with the definition as is and as such I don’t see reason to resort to an standardization effort.

I think it’s great that people have been able to extend Markdown in different ways, for different purposes, even creating domain-specific derivatives. However, the argument that it’s good for the basic features to remain underspecified has never been clear to me. Today, people wouldn’t say that about HTML and the Web, so why should Markdown be different? How is it more user-friendly to the writer to get different output from different tools?

So I think the formalization effort is a good thing, and (given Gruber’s wishes) that it’s also good for it to proceed under a different name, CommonMark:

Because there is no unambiguous spec, implementations have diverged considerably. As a result, users are often surprised to find that a document that renders one way on one system (say, a GitHub wiki) renders differently on another (say, converting to docbook using Pandoc). To make matters worse, because nothing in Markdown counts as a “syntax error,” the divergence often isn’t discovered right away.