Archive for June 2, 2017

Friday, June 2, 2017 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Preparing for WWDC 2017

Nick Heer:

Ryan Jones’ gigantic WWDC Bingo spreadsheet returns on Google Docs. So far, fifty-four people — including yours truly — have added their best guesses for what will be announced this year.

Brendan Shanks (tweet):

I’m starting a new series of posts looking back at past WWDCs. My aim is to make original slides/videos publicly available for the sake of preservation, add historical context, and to find interesting tidbits: undelivered promises, unrealized possibilities, presenters who would later rise through the ranks, etc. First up: WWDC 97.

Frank Lefebvre is posting some of the CDs from the early 90s.

Outsourcing Your Online Presence to FaceBook

Dave Winer:

I don’t know what your privacy settings are. So if I point to your post, it’s possible a lot of people might not be able to read it, and thus will bring the grief to me, not you, because they have no idea who you are or what you wrote.

It’s supporting their downgrading and killing the web. Your post sucks because it doesn’t contain links, styling, and you can’t enclose a podcast if you want. The more people post there, the more the web dies.

John Gruber (Hacker News):

You might think it’s hyperbole for Winer to say that Facebook is trying to kill the open web. But they are. I complain about Google AMP, but AMP is just a dangerous step toward a Google-owned walled garden — Facebook is designed from the ground up as an all-out attack on the open web. Marc Haynes’s Facebook post about Roger Moore is viewable by anyone, but:

It is not accessible to search engines. Search for “Marc Haynes Roger Moore” on any major search engine — DuckDuckGo, Google, Bing — and you will get hundreds of results. The story went viral, deservedly. But not only is the top result not Haynes’s original post on Facebook, his post doesn’t show up anywhere in the results because Facebook forbids search engines from indexing Facebook posts.

Joe Cieplinski:

Look, I get that I’m the nut who doesn’t want to use Facebook. I’m not even saying don’t post your stuff to Facebook. But if Facebook is the only place you are posting something, know that you are shutting out people like me for no good reason. Go ahead and post to Facebook, but post it somewhere else, too. Especially if you’re running a business.

The number of restaurants, bars, and other local establishments that, thanks to crappy web sites they can’t update, post their daily specials, hours, and important announcements only via Facebook is growing. That’s maddening. Want to know if we’re open this holiday weekend? Go to Facebook.

Tossrock:

I deactivated my Facebook account several months ago, and it’s been about 90% great, 10% frustrating. It’s great for all the obvious reasons (less timesuck, less compulsion to endlessly scroll your life away, no notification interruptions).

The frustrations are real, though. Primarily it’s around events and photos. There are some communities I participate in that regularly organize events through Facebook, and now I don’t really get invited to those anymore. It’s also harder to organize events where you casually invite people you don’t know as well.

Pinboard Acquires Delicious

Maciej Cegłowski (Hacker News):

If you’re a Delicious user, you will have to find another place to save your bookmarks. The site will stay online. but on June 15, I will put Delicious into read-only mode. You won’t be able to save new bookmarks after that date, or use the API.

[…]

As for the ultimate fate of the site, I’ll have more to say about that soon. Delicious has over a billion bookmarks and is a fascinating piece of web history. Even Yahoo, for whom mismanagement is usually effortless, had to work hard to keep Delicious down. I bought it in part so it wouldn’t disappear from the web.

Nick Heer:

Delicious was ultimately saved from sunsetting by being passed from one company to another, never staying very long under any particular ownership.

A Year of Teaching Swift

Fraser Speirs:

I have taught a range of programming languages over the years. Primarily Visual Basic, Ruby and Python. I liked Ruby the best so far and hated Python for its crazily inconsistent library programming.

Swift is the closest thing to Ruby I’ve used. It is very consistent and predictable in its syntax and mostly makes sense as you read it.

[…]

In the Learn to Code curriculum, I found that everyone got something working. The difference between the stronger students and the weaker students then was more to do with evaluations of the complexity of their solution, the understandability and style of their solutions or other factors like memory and time efficiency.

I have never really had these kinds of conversations in classes at this level before.

Apple:

Apple today announced that Swift Playgrounds, its educational coding app for iPad, will offer an exciting new way to learn to code using robots, drones and musical instruments. Swift Playgrounds is perfect for students and beginners learning to code with Swift, Apple’s powerful and intuitive programming language for building world-class apps. Apple is working with leading device makers to make it easy to connect to Bluetooth-enabled robots within the Swift Playgrounds app, allowing kids to program and control popular devices, including LEGO MINDSTORMS Education EV3, the Sphero SPRK+, Parrot drones and more. The Swift Playgrounds 1.5 update will be available as a free download on the App Store beginning Monday, June 5.

Why Do So Few People Major in Computer Science?

Dan Wang (via Tyler Cowen, Hacker News):

That means that the share of people majoring in computer science has decreased, from 3.76% of the all majors in 2005 to 3.14% of all majors in 2015. Meanwhile, other STEM majors have grown over the same period: “engineering” plus “engineering technologies” went from 79,544 to 115,096, a gain of 45%; “mathematics and statistics” from 14,351 to 21,853, a gain of 52%; “physical sciences and science technologies” from 19,104 to 30,038, a gain of 57%; “biological and biomedical sciences” from 65,915 to 109,896, a gain of 67%. “Computer sciences and information technologies?” From 54,111 in 2005 to 59,581 in 2015, a paltry 10.1%.

[…]

It might be true that being a software developer is the field that least requires a bachelor’s degree with its associated major. Still: Shouldn’t we expect some correlation between study and employment here? That is, shouldn’t having a CS major be considered a helpful path into the industry? It seems to me that most tech recruiters look on CS majors with favor.

[…]

Wow, the number of people graduating with CS degrees is really cyclical. The first peak in 1985 corresponds to the release of the IBM Personal Computer. The second peak corresponds to the 2001 dotcom bubble. I agree now that the ’01 bubble explains a lot of the decline afterwards; people graduated into a bad job market and that scared many students away. That year, however, may have been the worst of it; by 2005, Google had IPO’d, Facebook was spreading on campuses, the iPod was a success, and the iPhone would be released two years later. Those companies drew students back into studying CS, and we can see that from the rise again in 2009.

This is a neat story, but still I have to confess some surprise. Should it take 15 years before the popping of the bubble before we see that college students are graduating with the same degrees again?

I found studying computer science to be very helpful and greatly enjoyed it. However, lots of people, including people who knew at the time that they liked tech and programming, seem to dislike it and perceive it as unnecessary or not relevant.

Where Is E-book Interoperability?

Kirk McElhearn:

Not only do I need to sign into two different accounts, but I don’t get all the benefits of Amazon Prime on my Kindle account (my Prime subscription is on my main account; I’ve added the second account, and I can get free shipping, but nothing else: no Kindle Lending Library, no Prime Video, etc.).

[…]

This wouldn’t be a problem if these ebooks didn’t have DRM. I would be able to simply download them to my Mac, then send them to the Kindle account of the main account. But Amazon offers no solution to this issue; a problem that they created back in 2009.

[…]

If music has managed to shed DRM, why have ebooks resisted? Part of what caused Jobs to issue his statement was a European Commission investigation into interoperability of digital files; why have there been no similar investigation regarding ebooks?

And he’s talking about e-books that are part of the same platform, to say nothing of interoperability with iBooks and Nook. The situation is even worse for video, as you can often by e-books direct from the publisher (e.g. objc.io and Take Control).