Archive for December 21, 2014

Sunday, December 21, 2014 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Apple Rejects Nintype Keyboard Calculator

John Brownlee:

Now, there’s another fatality of Apple’s weird App Store waffling. Jormy, the developer behind the popular (and absolutely insane) iOS 8 keyboard Nintype, has been informed by Apple that he needs to remove one of his app’s most useful functions in a future update.

One of Nintype’s many useful features is a built-in calculator, so if you’re typing to someone and need to make a quick calculation, you don’t have to quit out to a separate app. It was extremely useful, so of course, Apple wants it killed.

2015: The Year of Android

Russell Ivanovic:

Firstly screen sizes on Android are actually less fragmented on Android than iOS. If you don’t understand why, or don’t believe me then you need to read this, followed by this. Secondly platform fragmentation is largely not a concern anymore. If you launch an app today you can target Android 4.1 and above, and have access to far more users than the entirety of the iOS platform. If you really want to go Android 5.0 only, you can do that too. All of the Nexus devices, as well as high profile ones from LG, Motorola and many others are currently seeing Android 5.0 being rolled out to them.

So if I can convince you that there’s money to be made, that fragmentation is not as bad as people think it is, what’s left? To me the next most important thing is how the App Store on the platform works.

[…]

And that’s just the high profile developers. I shudder to think of how many small developers, with no contacts in the media are just being crushed on a daily basis. Do I see those things on Android? Nope. The only place I’ve seen Google crack down is on apps that download from YouTube and apps that do nefarious things. The first is against YouTube’s TOS, clearly so, and the second is obvious. I can’t tell you just how refreshing it is to push ‘publish’ on a brand new app or update, and see it in the store an hour later.

Crossy Road

Ben Grubb:

A new iPhone game created by two Australians and downloaded by more than 7.1 million people so far has wasted approximately 566 years of players’ time while earning its creators a seven-figure income.

Called Crossy Road and built by Victorians Andrew Sum, 24, and Matthew Hall, 39, the addictive app is a mix between 1981 arcade game Frogger and the wildly popular Flappy Bird, released earlier this year.

[…]

“Everyone else [in the industry] will tell you you need to squeeze people and you need to do this and hide [some things] behind a paywall,” Hall said.

“[You’re told that] if you’re not making a Clash of Clans clone you are doing it wrong. I felt very, very strongly that there were other ways of doing this.”

Via Accidental Tech Podcast, which also contains an epic spatial rant from Siracusa.

CalDigit’s Thunderbolt Station 2

Jeremy Horowitz:

Looking to grab market share from rival makers of Mac Thunderbolt docks, CalDigit today announced Thunderbolt Station 2, an aggressively-priced Thunderbolt 2 docking hub that promises to surpass earlier Belkin and Elgato units in features and build quality. Redesigned from a prior model, Thunderbolt Station 2 includes the expected twin Thunderbolt 2 ports, three USB 3.0 ports, Ethernet, HDMI and analog audio in/out ports. What’s new are twin eSATA 6G ports and an enclosure that can be mounted vertically or horizontally, saving space on a desk.

With a regular price of $200, it’s already $30 cheaper than Elgato’s Thunderbolt 2 Dock and $100 under Belkin’s Thunderbolt 2 Express Dock HD, but a special $170 pre-order price makes it the most affordable Thunderbolt 2 dock yet.

Unlike Belkin, CalDigit doesn’t obscure and mislead about how many Thunderbolt ports its dock has. I wonder whether eSATA via the Anker USB 3.0 Hard Drive Docking Station (Amazon) would get around the problems I had with various USB 3 drive docks.

Apple App Store Affiliate Payments

Dr. Drang:

But I am annoyed at PHG’s policies for releasing funds. First, there’s the 60-day delay between the sale and the payment of affiliate fees. Given that all these transactions are electronic, I don’t see why the delay is more than 30 days. Second, there’s the $30 threshold that has to be met before payment is sent. I understand that PHG doesn’t want to accumulate the administrative costs that come with lots of very small payments, but Amazon’s threshold is only $10 if you have the money sent directly to a bank account. Finally, there’s the fact that PHG applies the $30 threshold not to the aggregate of all fees, but to each individual currency used in the various iTunes Stores.

It’s this last policy that really bothers me. At the moment I have the equivalent of about $100 in fees from non-US purchases sitting at PHG, but because they’re spread across several currencies, I can’t collect any of it.

I’m guessing that the 60 days is related to credit card chargebacks. My own affiliate sales are even more modest than Drang’s. I barely cleared the $30 USD threshold for the first year. Most of the other currencies are under $3. For the last couple month’s, I’ve had a mystery $33.19 credit in my bank account from American Express. Neither the bank nor the credit card company was ever able to tell me where it came from. After reading Drang’s post, I logged into PHG for the first time in a long while and noticed that Apple had automatically paid me that same amount. I still don’t know why the credit shows up as from American Express, given that all my other Apple payments show up as from Apple.

Open URL From Today Extension

Daniel Jalkut:

A friend of mine mentioned in passing that he was having trouble getting an obvious, well-documented behavior of his Today extension to work … as documented. According to Apple, a Today extension should use NSExtensionContext when it wants to open its host app, e.g. to reveal a related data item from the Today widget, in the context of the host application.

[…]

So Apple’s Calendar widget, at least, is not using -[NSExtension openURL:completionHandler:]. It’s using plain-old, dumb -[NSWorkspace openURL:]. And when I change my sample Today extension to use NSWorkspace instead of NSExtensionContext, everything “just works.”

I ran into this with EagleFiler and ended up using NSWorkspace as well.

GitFS

I wondered about this a while ago, and now GitFS exists (via Andreas):

gitfs is a FUSE file system that fully integrates with git. You can mount a remote repository's branch locally, and any subsequent changes made to the files will be automatically committed to the remote.

gitfs was designed to bring the full powers of git to everyone, no matter how little they know about versioning. A user can mount any repository and all the his changes will be automatically converted into commits. gitfs will also expose the history of the branch you're currently working on by simulating snapshots of every commit.

Bad Code Isn’t Technical Debt, It’s an Unhedged Call Option

Steve Freeman (via Dave DeLong):

Call options are a better model than debt for cruddy code (without tests) because they capture the unpredictability of what we do. If I slap in an a feature without cleaning up then I get the benefit immediately, I collect the premium. If I never see that code again, then I’m ahead and, in retrospect, it would have been foolish to have spent time cleaning it up.

On the other hand, if a radical new feature comes in that I have to do, all those quick fixes suddenly become very expensive to work with.

Apple Mail: The Yosemite Progress Report

Joe Kissell:

Now that 10.10 Yosemite has been available for a couple of months (and the 10.10.1 update has been out for a month), I wanted to revisit the status of Apple Mail. Is it safe to use yet (or again)? Did Apple fix (fill-in-your-favorite-bug-here)? Are the new features worth it? Has Apple finally given Mail the care and attention it has needed for so long?

The short version is that Mail is (for better and worse) about as reliable as it was in Mavericks. There are a few interesting new features, a few odd changes, and a few bugs. But for the most part, if Mail was working for you in (later versions of) Mavericks, you’ll have the same experience using Yosemite. If it wasn’t working for you in Mavericks, you’re not likely to find it substantially improved.

[…]

If you want to know whether Mail “finally” plays nice with Gmail or Exchange, all I can really say as the most casual user of both account types is that I don’t notice anything significantly different from the way Mail worked in Mavericks. That is, there are no fundamental design changes, but at least some of the bugs that existed in 10.9.5 still exist in 10.10.1.

My own experience is that most of the bugs from Mavericks have been fixed, though there are a few new ones. Apple Mail was stable for me with Mavericks; with Yosemite, it now crashes and beachballs multiple times per day. I cannot recall a version that was less stable. I’ve also seen reports of a new bug where rules don’t always reliably move messages to another mailbox.

Like Kissell, I have heard of lots of problems with the new “Automatically detect and maintain account settings” option and recommend against using it.

Update (2014-12-23): There’s some discussion of this on App.net.