Archive for March 16, 2016

Wednesday, March 16, 2016 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Apple Releases Its Proprietary Apple News Format

Eric Slivka:

Apple today opened up its Apple News Format to all publishers, giving independent publishers and individuals tools to offer rich media content within the Apple News app for iOS 9, as noted by Vanity Fair.

Nick Heer:

Creating an Apple News Format (hereafter, ANF) version of a site’s feed is not as straightforward as I had anticipated. Adding an RSS feed is as simple as plopping the link into News Publisher on icloud.com, filling in some contact information, and adding a logo. But ANF requires an API key which can be obtained from Apple and a complete conversion of a site’s feed from RSS to ANF, followed by manual approval. And that’s all before the first article will appear in Apple News. After that, it’s a matter of publishing in a way that pushes out to Apple’s servers for conversion to ANF while maintaining compatibility with your site’s existing CMS.

Why would anyone go through this? Well, the Apple News app doesn’t provide RSS analytics, and there are some additional monetization options exclusive to ANF. Additionally, ANF supports membership roles for writers and editors.

It’s curious that Apple News remains unavailable in most of the world.

Slopes 2.0 Business Model Experiment

Curtis Herbert:

My original napkin math for 2.0 included “if I can just get 1% of my downloaders to become subscribers”, but that goal changed a little with 2.1. If you don’t remember: originally my 2.0 business model was centered around acquiring yearly subscribers. My one month IAP existed as a trial where you’d lose all premium features if you didn’t upgrade. With 2.1, Slopes started following more of a consumable model where buying a one month pass just to cover your big once-a-year trip to Colorado now made sense since the data for that trip wouldn’t expire.

Curtis Herbert (tweet):

The easiest time I’ve had getting press coverage for Slopes was being a well-designed Watch app launching day one along side the Apple Watch. It was easier for me to stand out because Slopes was an example of an app that actually made sense to have on your wrist, not some “why do I need that on my wrist?” gimmick. Slopes also fit the fitness narrative Apple was already pushing with the Watch.

[…]

They had to write those articles, readers expected it looking for reasons to look forward to the Watch, so I was helping them when I pointed them to my app. And it worked: I was a part of dozens of those articles and I got healthy traffic from them.

Kirk McElhearn:

The biggest problem with the way developers of all sizes contact journalists is that they buy lists, and spam people. I don’t use that term lightly; most of the pitches I get are spam. The people sending them know nothing about me or my website, and they don’t know what types of apps I cover, either here at Kirkville, or at Macworld, where I am senior contributor.

Previously: What No Indie Developer Wants to Hear About the App Store.

Massively Speed Up Time Machine Backups

Keir Thomas:

Open a Terminal window, which you’ll find in the Utilities folder within the Applications list, and paste in the following, typing your login password when prompted:

sudo sysctl debug.lowpri_throttle_enabled=0

This command prevents Time Machine’s backup process assuming a low CPU priority, allowing backups to complete insanely quickly. In fact, you’ll see MB and GBs tick past on the Time Capsule progress display in a second-by-second fashion (provided your Mac isn’t very busy with some other task).

Alas, this command is forgotten when you reboot.

I suppose it’s a feature that Time Machine runs at a low priority by default, but this makes it much slower than other backup methods. Sometimes you’re waiting for it to finish and just want it to go faster. And with SSDs, running a backup doesn’t slow down the rest of the system as much, anyway.

Update (2016-03-16): Gwynne Raskind:

Make it stick with echo 'debug.lowpri_throttle_enabled=0' | sudo tee -a /etc/sysctl.conf (SIP-safe).

(however, I agree with the comments which suggest it’s questionable to do this on a global basis)

Update (2016-03-17): Rosyna Keller:

CPU isn’t throttled. The bottleneck is disk I/O. (lowpri_throttle_enabled is an I/O throttle, not a CPU throttle)

You can independently confirm it’s an I/O throttle by looking at the source that uses it.

There are even different throttles used depending on if the device is seen as an SSD or not an SSD by the system!

OS X detects drives in most USB/FireWire enclosures as non-SSD, even if they are SSDs

Update (2016-03-18): Daniel Jalkut:

As an experiment I disabled the low priority support as outlined in the post, and was curious to know whether it would affect the massive performance problems I suffer when browsing Time Machine history from my OS X Server hosted network backup volume.

It did seem to massively improve that experience.

[…]

If indeed I/O priority is throttled for Time Machine, please consider disabling that throttle or raising the priority while browsing backups. In this modal state it would seem like a reasonable thing to consume more of the computer’s I/O capacity in the name of providing a more responsive user experience.

Update (2017-10-13): St. Clair Software:

App Tamer 2.3.3 is now available – it’s a free update for App Tamer 2 users, and a $7.95 upgrade for version 1.x users.

It adds a checkbox that speeds up Time Machine backups, something that’s really helpful if you only plug in your backup drive occasionally, resulting in Time Machine needing to copy lots of data.