Archive for October 11, 2015

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Why the Floppy Disk Is Still Used Today

Brad Jones:

But while the average user might not have any cause to use a floppy disk, there are those out there who can’t settle for anything else. They’re in dire need of the disks, which most manufacturers have stopped producing. The floppy disk might seem like something better left in the 1990s. Instead it’s a product that’s alive and well in the 21st century.


“There are people who love floppy disks,” he tells me, giving the example of a court reporter who uses the format for sheer convenience and force of habit. “There’s a large embroidery company that does 500 jobs a day,” he goes on. “They could do that on a hard drive — except their machinery doesn’t work with a hard drive.”

Therein lies the biggest reason that floppy disks are still in demand in some corners of industry. “In the 1990s, hundreds of thousands of industrial machines were built around floppy disks, which were high-tech of the time,” he tells me. “They were built to last fifty years.”


Last year, a broadcast of 60 Minutes surprised many viewers with the discovery that 8-inch floppy disks were still the preferred method of removable storage for the computers in a U.S. Air Force nuclear silo. That report indicated that changes were in the pipeline, but the security of this outmoded technology was difficult to replicate with modern materials.

Lightroom 6.2’s Import Dialog


Customers were universally unable to decipher the Import dialog without getting frustrated. Some people pushed forward, bolstered by spending time searching the web for help. They might have been successful in importing files, but they didn’t feel successful. Others gave up, deciding that Lightroom might not be the right product for them.

The previous Import experience literally made people push back from their computers in frustration. Keeping the existing Import experience isn’t an option, and we needed to evolve the Import experience.

Tom Hogarty:

The simplification of the import experience was also handled poorly. Our customers, educators and research team have been clear on this topic: The import experience in Lightroom is daunting. It’s a step that every customer must successfully take in order to use the product and overwhelming customers with every option in a single screen was not a tenable path forward. We made decisions on sensible defaults and placed many of the controls behind a settings panel. At the same time we removed some of our very low usage features to further reduce complexity and improve quality. These changes were not communicated properly or openly before launch. Lightroom was created in 2006 via a 14 month public beta in a dialog with the photography community. In making these changes without a broader dialog I’ve failed the original core values of the product and the team.

The team will continue to work hard to earn your trust back in subsequent releases and I look forward to reigniting the type of dialog we started in 2006.

We already knew that Apple no longer cares to make software for professional or even prosumer photographers. Now Adobe is dumbing down the best remaining photography app. Lightroom’s old import dialog had its problems. The biggest one, in my opinion, was that it took so long to display lots of thumbnails only to hide most of them later when the window finished loading. But the new dialog buries some of the most important options (Copy as DNG/Copy/Move/Add) and removes others (various destination folder options), while making even the basic functionality worse (covering the bulk of each thumbnail with a giant checkbox).

Adobe has already committed not to provide new features for those of us who don’t subscribe to Creative Cloud. But it never said they wouldn’t take them away.

Update (2015-10-16): Tom Hogarty:

I’d like to thank our customers for their patience while the team reviewed several options for restoring import workflows and addressing quality in Lightroom. We can now confirm that, in our next dot release, we will restore the previous import experience.

New FogBugz Security Features

Tim Kington:

It’s very easy to set up – just enable two-factor authentication on the user preferences page and we’ll walk you through it. You’ll need an authentication app on your phone, and then it’s as easy as scanning a QR code. Once two-factor authentication is turned on, you’ll be asked for a code from the app each time you log in. This means even if someone gets your password, they can’t get into your account without the current valid code.


To this end, we have added a new Session Management page that administrators can access from the gear menu. This page displays all of the active login sessions, the IP addresses they originated from, and the time of last access. It also gives you three ways to invalidate tokens – you can delete individual tokens, all of the tokens for a user account, or you can choose the nuclear option and reset everything in the site.


On the case page, Administrators can now completely delete any event (comments, edits, emails) by entering edit mode and clicking the ‘X’ next to it.

I requested the latter two features long ago. It’s nice to finally see them implemented.

NSData, My Old Friend

Rob Napier:

I see a lot of Swift devs behaving as though Cocoa has somehow disappeared. Cocoa has become the embarrassing uncle that no one wants to acknowledge, even though he’s sitting right there at Thanksgiving dinner passing you the potatoes. And this is crazy. First, Cocoa is a great framework, filled with all kinds of tools that we use every day, implemented well and refined for years. And second, Cocoa is a required framework, filled with tools that we have to use every day if we want to write apps.


This “but is it correct?” came up all over the place. Would this operation cause a copy? Exactly how long is an UnsafeBufferPointer valid? There’s a lot of bridging magic in Array, and it’s not always clear what is promised. Testing only gets you so far if the current implementation just happens to work. Sometimes behaviors change just by importing Foundation.


In the end, I spent hours trying to be certain of the precise behaviors of Array bridging and copying. And all that to replace NSData code that is perfectly fine.