Archive for January 5, 2017

Thursday, January 5, 2017 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Renewing Medium’s Focus

Ev Williams:

As of today, we are reducing our team by about one third — eliminating 50 jobs, mostly in sales, support, and other business functions. We are also changing our business model to more directly drive the mission we set out on originally.

[…]

Upon further reflection, it’s clear that the broken system is ad-driven media on the internet. It simply doesn’t serve people. In fact, it’s not designed to. The vast majority of articles, videos, and other “content” we all consume on a daily basis is paid for — directly or indirectly — by corporations who are funding it in order to advance their goals. And it is measured, amplified, and rewarded based on its ability to do that. Period. As a result, we get…well, what we get. And it’s getting worse.

[…]

So, we are shifting our resources and attention to defining a new model for writers and creators to be rewarded, based on the value they’re creating for people.

John Gruber:

Sounds good, but with no details as to what this “different — and bolder — approach” is, it’s hard to judge.

[…]

Does anyone actually like those “highlights from other users” on Medium? I find them distracting and gross, and the more popular an article is, the more of them I see (and the more nonsensical some of them are).

Dave Winer:

Through all the zigging, the thing that has remained constant at Medium is the high quality and usability of the software. But it’s possible for others to do what they do, to be as easy to use, without the uncertainty about its future as an archiving system.

This became especially relevant as people in government, including the president and members of Congress, used Medium to publish official statements. Those should be preserved at a constant location over time. Yes, they will be in archive.org, but we should strive to do better.

Manton Reece:

On Monday, I launched my Kickstarter project about independent microblogging, with a focus on owning your own content and making blogging easier. On Tuesday, Lindy West left Twitter in a post about Twitter’s inability to deal with harassment. On Wednesday, Ev Williams announced that Medium would lay off 50 employees.

The message is clear. The only web site that you can trust to last and have your interests at heart is the web site with your name on it.

Previously: Anywhere But Medium.

Apple Removes New York Times Apps From Chinese App Store

Katie Benner and Sui-Lee Wee (tweet, Hacker News, MacRumors):

Apple, complying with what it said was a request from Chinese authorities, removed news apps created by The New York Times from its app store in China late last month.

The move limits access to one of the few remaining channels for readers in mainland China to read The Times without resorting to special software. The government began blocking The Times’s websites in 2012, after a series of articles on the wealth amassed by the family of Wen Jiabao, who was then prime minister, but it had struggled in recent months to prevent readers from using the Chinese-language app.

[…]

Apple has previously removed other, less prominent media apps from its China store. It is unclear how the company evaluates requests from Beijing to take down apps and whether it ever resists them.

[…]

When the Chinese government began blocking the Times websites in 2012, it also prevented users with Times apps from downloading new content.

But readers in China can still gain access to The Times using software that circumvents the government’s firewall. And in July 2015, The Times released a new version of its Chinese-language app that adopted a different method for retrieving articles, one that the government appeared unable to stop.

So the app would still work if only people were able to get it. But Apple doesn’t allow iOS users to download and install apps directly; you have to go through the App Store.

Update (2017-01-06): John Gruber:

I don’t think Apple had any choice here, other than pulling out of China.

And given that The Times’s website has been blocked in China since 2012, the closed, proprietary App Store has given Chinese readers four years of access to The Times that they couldn’t get over the open web.

Update (2017-01-11): See also: The Talk Show.

Update (2017-01-22): Farhad Manjoo:

In the last few weeks, the Chinese government compelled Apple to remove New York Times apps from the Chinese version of the App Store. Then the Russian government had Apple and Google pull the app for LinkedIn, the professional social network, after the network declined to relocate its data on Russian citizens to servers in that country. Finally, last week, a Chinese regulator asked app stores operating in the country to register with the government, an apparent precursor to wider restrictions on app marketplaces.

[…]

But that’s not the end of this story. The banning of apps highlights a deeper flaw in our modern communications architecture: It’s the centralization of information, stupid.

Intel Core i7-7700K Kaby Lake Review

Mark Walton (Hacker News):

The Intel Core i7-7700K is what happens when a chip company stops trying. The i7-7700K is the first desktop Intel chip in brave new post-”tick-tock” world—which means that instead of major improvements to architecture, process, and instructions per clock (IPC), we get slightly higher clock speeds and a way to decode DRM-laden 4K streaming video.

There are apparently power consumption improvements, however.

Dan Luu:

Dear linkbait authors, I’m pretty sure Intel is trying. If you look at research $, they appear to be trying exponentially harder over time.

Marcel Weiher:

We are in an effective post-Moore’s law world, and have been for a couple of years. Yes, we can still put more transistors on the chip, but we are pretty much done with single core performance, at least until some really big breakthrough.

[…]

Most of the things that go into squandering CPU don’t parallelize well, so removing the bloat is actually starting to become cheaper again than trying to combat it with more silicon.

Lloyd Chambers:

[There] are at least a few reasons why the Intel ‘Kaby Lake’ release is significant:

  • Improved graphics performance.
  • My understanding is that the Kaby Lake ‘H’ series supports 32GB memory, thus making a MacBook Pro with 32GB of DR 23000 DRAM possible. But whether the power draw is viable on a laptop is unclear (meaning what we could expect from Apple, given the rationalizations seen with the Nov 2016 MacBook Pro).
  • The i7-7920HQ 3.1 GHz (turbo boost to 4.1 GHz, 4 real CPU cores) might be suitable for a MacBook Pro.
  • The i7-7700K 4.2 GHz (turbo boost 4.5 GHz) shoudl be suitable for an iMac. This perhaps is the “standstill” point—that’s only 5% faster than the 4.0 GHz iMac 5K that sits on my desk today—at the cost of a 95 watt TPD.

Paul Haddad:

Every PC manufacturer today announced Kaby Lake updates. I’m guessing Apple will wait until at least April to announce a MacBook with one.

Razer’s “Project Valerie” Triple Display Laptop

Juli Clover:

Razer, known for its gaming laptops and accessories, today unveiled its latest product, the world’s first triple display laptop. Project Valerie features a Razer laptop that’s equipped with one main display and two fold out side displays, all of which are 4K.

[…]

According to Razer, though its equipped with three displays, Project Valerie has a form factor that’s comparable to other 17-inch gaming laptops on the market, fitting neatly into a laptop bag so it can be taken anywhere. It’s about 1.5 inches thick and weighs approximately 12 pounds.

Apple once made a MacBook Pro with a single 17-inch display, and it was great. I don’t really expect Apple to make something like this, but it’s not as crazy as it sounds. Many notebooks are transported from one location to another and not used on the go (making battery life irrelevant). I would love to be able to work remotely with a larger display or (better) multiple displays. The weight and dimensions compare favorably with lugging an actual external display, which I’ve considered, though I’ve not tried one like this.

Update (2017-01-05): I meant to also link to the new Acer laptop (via Mike Rundle):

As if gaming laptops weren’t already bulky and expensive enough, Acer is taking things a step further in the new year with its massive Predator 21 X, whose pricing it announced at CES 2017 today.

The $9,000 (not a typo) machine features a curved 21-inch display that offers a resolution of 2560×1080 pixels with 120Hz refresh rate, as well as G-Sync support to eliminate visual artifacts and issues like screen tearing.

Under the hood, it packs a 7th-gen Intel Core i7-7820HK Kaby Lake processor paired with not one, but two GeForce GTX 1080 GPUs in SLI configuration. They’re accompanied by 64GB of RAM and there’s room for five storage drives – a 1TB HDD and four 512GB SSDs[…]

Previously: New MacBook Pros and the State of the Mac.

Hiya: Filter Spam Calls

Katie Floyd:

Out of desperation, I’ve tried a few of these Apps claiming to screen or block suspected spam callers as they’ve popped up in the App store. Thus far the only one I’ve found that has worked somewhat reliably is Hiya. (Glenn Fleishman writing for Macworld has a more extensive review)

[…]

One concern of note, Hiya requires users to provide access to their contacts, a request that always makes me leery. Hiya told Macworld the data is required to add contacts to its whitelist and the information is kept private. Still, be aware. After a few months of use I’ve found Hiya overall accurate with a few bugs that have been fixed by uninstalling and reinstalling the app.

Update (2017-01-09): Marco Arment (tweet):

I had Hiya installed for weeks and it never identified a single spam call, during which time I got about ten. I followed all of their voodoo troubleshooting steps, but it just never worked, so I deleted it. (Too bad I can’t un-send them my contacts. Thanks a lot.)