Archive for May 3, 2018

Thursday, May 3, 2018 [Tweets] [Favorites]

The 2017 Panic Report

Cabel Sasser (tweet):

How’d it do, then? What’s the business side of macOS productivity software like? I’m happy to say Transmit 5 sold quite well, all directly through our store. And the timing was (accidentally) totally great — just as Firewatch revenue was starting to wane as the game ran its course, Transmit 5 fully picked up the slack. It was comforting to see that people are still willing to pay real money for good Mac software. That’s why we’re here and can continue to do what we do.

One interesting note: We added a ton of new cloud services in Transmit, which is great, but it definitely adds an exponential burden to our QA process (many connection types × many functions = many many tests). Interestingly, to this day, still nothing beats the popularity of plain old SFTP, and, oh my stars, FTP.

Wade Cosgrove:

The first and most obvious change we made to Transmit was how it handled transferring large file hierarchies. In prior versions of Transmit, when you started transferring a group of files and folders, it would transfer the top-level items using individual connections to the server, but the folders and their contents would be processed serially using one connection. This worked well if you were transferring many top-level folders, as they would be transferred concurrently, but transferring a single folder would only ever use one connection. With today’s fast internet connections and multi-core devices we felt it was time to fully multi-thread every possible transfer scenario. In Transmit 5, almost all transfers will use the maximum available connections regardless of their contents. (Some cloud services restrict the amount of API calls you can make to the service over a period of time, so those services are limited to two transfer connections.) This allows multiple connections to work on the contents of a single folder, which results in much faster transfers.

[…]

In some cases we found the entire transfer could be completed in the amount of time it was taking Transmit just to compute the overall transfer size! Transmit 5 now computes the overall transfer size dynamically and asynchronously with the transfers themselves, so your transfers start immedately and you still get that sweet double progress bar.

Previously: Panic Discontinues Transmit for iOS, Transmit 5, The 2016 Panic Report.

Pocket Casts Acquired

Russell Ivanovic (tweet, Hacker News):

We’ve had a lot of companies in the past contact us about acquiring us and or Pocket Casts and we’ve always had one simple answer for them: thanks, but no thanks. In talking to each of them it was obvious that they didn’t have the best interests of our customers or us at heart and as much as cashing out and walking off into the sunset is a nice ideal, it’s a crummy outcome for all of you and in turn for us. You see we care so damn deeply about what we’ve built and our relationship with each and every one of you that we know deep down inside that would just eat away at us. That’s why when a combined group comprised of WNYC, NPR, WBEZ and This American Life approached us with the goal of partnering for the good of the entire podcast industry, we knew that this opportunity was something else entirely. Everything from their not for profit mission focus, to their unwavering belief that open and collaborative wins over closed walled gardens resonated deeply with us. Together we have the passion, scale and laser focus needed to achieve some truly great things.

Chris Welch:

Pocket Casts, widely considered to be one of the best mobile apps for podcast listening, has been acquired by a collective group that includes NPR, WNYC Studios, WBEZ Chicago, and This American Life. “This unprecedented collaboration furthers public radio’s leading role as an innovator in audio discovery and distribution, while ensuring the continued support and growth of one of the most popular listening platforms on the market,” the companies said in a press release announcing the news. That team of stations and podcast producers are responsible for some of the format’s biggest hits like This American Life (duh), Serial, Radiolab, and Planet Money.

Moving forward, Pocket Casts will operate as a joint venture between the new owners. Philip Simpson and Russell Ivanovic, who formed Shifty Jelly (Pocket Cast’s developer) in 2008, will have unspecified “leadership roles.” The existing staff and development team is staying put. Owen Grover, a veteran of iHeartRadio / Clear Channel, has been named as Pocket Cast’s CEO. NPR’s apps including NPR One will remain in development.

Update (2018-05-04): John Gruber:

I hope this works out great, but I would wager money that this is about user-tracking (for user profile-based dynamic ad inserting) and embedding crap like listener surveys right in the player. Many of the shows in this collective are already doing dynamic ad insertions based on their best guess of your location based on your IP address. I could be wrong, and hope I am, but I’ll bet Pocket Casts will soon ask for permission to access your location. A CEO from Clear Channel is not encouraging.

Russell Ivanovic:

I get the cynical angle about OMG DATA MINING. But Pocket Casts is staying Pocket Casts. We are a seperate organisation and still a tiny company with the same values we’ve always had. We had plenty of chances to sell your data, we said emphatically no to all of them.

Russell Ivanovic:

We were very profitable before being acquired, so we did this deal from a place of wanting to keep the podcast industry open.

Ryan Jones:

why don’t you say what it IS about then?

Russell Ivanovic:

We’ve never talked about specifics of future plans. That’s just a business/ethos thing, you talk after you do, not before.

Update (2018-05-08): Renaud Lienhart:

And I think they’re being naive. Things are bound to turn sour very, very quickly.

Shifty Jelly:

Perhaps, but I also feel like that’s not giving us enough credit. We structured this entire deal in the best way we could to minimise that. We didn’t have to partner with anyone, we chose to because we agreed with them: bad things are coming for this industry.

Shifty Jelly (tweet):

The industry is amazing because it’s open. Anyone can publish a podcast and distribute it everywhere. No podcast is treated differently than another. However, “open” is not the default state of markets as they mature, as we’ve seen in other content businesses. When power is consolidated into the hands of just a few closed platforms, creators rarely win. And we care deeply about the fate of podcast producers everywhere.

It’s our mission to ensure that this doesn’t happen. If we succeed, we all benefit. If we lose, well, we feel it was a thing worth attempting. In the meantime there are some steps we need to take to get where we want to go, and we’ll talk about those when we’re ready. It’s early days, but we’re really excited for the future. Hope you all are too!

Cabel Sasser:

I got no horse in this race (someday I’ll listen to podcasts!!), but it seems like the “easy question to answer” in #6 isn’t actually answered? Consolidation bad… closed platforms bad… our mission is to ensure that doesn’t happen… isn’t that the opposite of selling the app?

Russell Ivanovic:

We didn’t have the resources or legitimacy to scale to the level required to fend that off. We could have taken VC funding but this seemed far better. Partner with the people who this affects and work together to solve it.

Announcing Stack Overflow for Teams

Joel Spolsky (Hacker News):

Today’s new thing is called Stack Overflow for Teams. It lets you set up a private place on Stack Overflow where you can ask questions that will only be visible to members of your team, company, or organization. It is a paid service, but it’s not expensive.

[…]

Quick background: every development team since the beginning of time has been trying to figure out how to get institutional knowledge out of people’s heads and into written, searchable form where everyone can find it. Like new members of the team. And old members of the team working on new parts of the code. And people who forgot what they did three years ago and now have questions about their own code.

iMac Pro and Secure Storage

Pepijn Bruienne (via Hacker News):

Given all of these changes, we wanted to explore how the T2 coprocessor was being used by Apple and how it currently fits into the larger system security model, as well as how this may evolve in the future. What follows is the first part of this exploration where we describe how the T2 coprocessor is used to implement Secure Boot on the iMac Pro, as well as comparing and contrasting this Secure Boot approach to those that have been present in Apple’s iDevices for a number of years.

[…]

The unique pairing here provides some very important security properties that prevent the memory chips that comprise the SSD itself from being physically removed from the system and connected to a different system, or from having their contents extracted from the chips and flashed onto SSD chips in another system. Apple states in further detail the way in which the T2 coprocessor and the SSD chips are uniquely bound together to provide these protections when the SSD chips are first initialized[…]

[…]

We believe that, with the introduction of always-on disk encryption in the iMac Pro, the FileVault activation process is now essentially identical to how a passcode protects an iOS device. When enabled, the user’s passphrase is entangled with the device’s hardware UID and used to create further derived keys that are used to encrypt and decrypt.

Previously: The T2 Chip Makes the iMac Pro the Start of a Mac Revolution, The iMac Pro.

20 Years of iMac

Michael Steeber:

Placed side-by-side with today’s models, the original Bondi blue iMac is nearly unrecognizable as a member of the same family. Yet, the iMac’s lineage follows one unbroken thread over the past two decades. Apple’s goal to make a powerful, easy to use all-in-one has not wavered. Perhaps Jony Ive summed it up most succinctly when he said Apple’s approach was to “evolve a solution until it seems completely inevitable, completely essential.”

The iMac’s design story is one of endless evolution, proof that innovation is the result of unrelenting iteration.

See also: ATPM 4.08, 4.09, and 4.10.

Update (2018-05-08): Josh Centers:

The iMac has now been around for 20 years, and 9to5Mac’s Michael Steeber documents its history from the original Bondi blue model (see “Welcome, iMac!,” 6 May 1998 and “iMac Hoopla,” 17 August 1998) to the current iMac Pro (see“Apple Releases the iMac Pro,” 15 December 2017).

Jason Snell:

Anyway, Andy Gore pretty much nailed his commentary on the iMac. Jobs choosing Flint Center at the venue was appropriate.

Jason Snell:

It’s hard to believe today that a Steve Jobs product presentation would be met with indifference, but there was a huge amount of skepticism about Apple’s product announcements back in early 1998.

John Gruber:

Until the iMac was unveiled, the only thing Apple had really shipped in the post-NeXT-reunification era was the Think Different ad campaign. That was a great campaign, but still, mere words, not action. The iMac was the first real product, and it set the stage for everything that has come since.

Tim Cook:

20 years ago today, Steve introduced the world to iMac. It set Apple on a new course and forever changed the way people look at computers.

Peter Cohen:

The first iMac was everything that PCs (and many previous Macs) weren’t. Bulbous, round, organic-looking, colorful. Free of legacy ports like parallel and serial connections, equipped instead with the then-novel USB interface for easy peripheral connectivity. An integrated design that didn’t lend itself to tinkering, but made the iMac less scary to people who weren’t familiar with computers.

Geekable:

I really enjoyed this weekend’s 20th anniversary celebration of the iMac.

It reminded me of when Apple still released new Macs

Lance Newcomb:

Apple took 8 months to design and ship the iMac. Yet it takes you TWO YEARS to design a new Mac Pro?

Update (2018-05-10): See also: Riccardo Mori, Jason Snell.