Archive for September 6, 2018

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Why You’re Not Supposed to Call Swift’s description

Ole Begemann:

However, you should absolutely not use the following pattern, where a function argument is constrained to Custom[Debug]StringConvertible, either with a generic constraint or a plain type specification[…]


Instead, the function should accept any type, because anything is printable:

func doSomething3<T>(with x: T) {
    // ...
    // Call String(describing: x)


When you rely on LosslessStringConvertible semantics, you should absolutely access the description property directly, despite the above advice to the contrary. As we have seen, the alternative String(describing:) prefers Text​Output​Streamable’s representation over description if it’s available, and you can’t be 100 % certain that representation is identical to the value’s description, however unlikely any differences are.

The “Post-PC Era” Never Really Happened

Mark Lowenstein:

Tablets have had a good run, but sales have tailed off of late. I’d say they’ve had greater influence on the evolution of the smartphone and the PC, rather than leading to a significantly different nomenclature for what most of us carry around today. My Techpinions colleague Ben Bajarin says that Creative Strategies surveys indicate that only about 10% of tablet users have ‘replaced their PC’ — a number that has held steady for several years. And that 10% is concentrated in a handful of industries, such as real estate and construction. PC sales aren’t exactly surging, but they’re steady. Your average white collar professional today still carries around a smartphone and a laptop, with the tablet being an ancillary device, used primarily for media/content consumption.


And if anything, the tablet segment might fall off somewhat, squeezed by bigger and more functional phones on one end, and by more versatile laptops on the other end.

Previously: Post PC Cars, Trucks, and Motorcycles.

Update (2018-09-07): Zac Cichy:

Alternatively: post-pc happened, but the phone was underestimated.

James O’Leary:

this is why I rant about Apple’s laptop story - it’s not that they’re fundamentally broken, it’s that devotion to the iPad as laptop story has them easily 2-3 years behind Windows + ChromeOSJames O’Leary added,

Damien Petrilli:

This is why doubling down on iOS could be a problem for Apple: macos and Mac hardware lagging behind with all resources invested in a dead end.

Ben Szymanski:

Imagine if Apple had invested all of the effort they put in to make try and make the iPad line replace desktop computing, into the Mac line and keeping that up to date.

Colin Cornaby:

Seems like Apple’s post-PC era is about not trusting users. Don’t let users have the option of buying a modular Mac. Don’t let users have the option of running touch unfriendly software on a tablet.

The existence of these things would not hurt Apple. But they think we’re dumb.

I keep thinking about the declining tablet sales numbers, but what I want to know is if those numbers count convertibles.

Convertibles trust the user to make choices. You can run any software. You can run it as a laptop or a tablet. You’re trusted to make choices.

Every modern Apple device seems to be an exercise in single function purity. It’s simply absurd to me I have to buy a laptop AND a tablet. But Apple is so concerned about me not understanding touch vs. mouse that they sell them as different devices.

Zac Cichy:

No one did. The larger point is that everything iPad was meant to take over actually turned out to be iPhone. Beyond the wildest dreams of the PC.

This is a post-PC world.

Matt Birchler:

It would disingenuous of me to say I’m not a little disappointed with the glacial progress tablets have seen in the last few years. After years of explosive growth, things have cooled down quite a bit. The iPad is staying mostly level, with some growth over the past year, but Android tablets are turning to dust in the wind. In the Windows world, tablets are far more rare than laptops with touch screens.

See also: Hacker News.

Update (2018-09-10): See also: Hacker News.

Update (2018-09-11): Eugene Belinski:

8 years ago, people would buy $1000 computers and $100 flip phones. Now they’d buy $800 smartphones and $200 chromebooks.

It’s amazing how much the utility of phones and computers have realigned.

Previously: Chrome OS Is Set to Expand Beyond the Education Market.

Inside the World of Eddy Cue, Apple’s Services Chief

Mitchel Broussard:

As he looked into Cue’s history with Apple, The Information’s Aaron Tilley interviewed more than two dozen people who have worked with Cue.


According to former employees, Cue “seemed to lack much interest in [Siri]” from “the moment he gained responsibility.”


The profile also looks at Apple’s entry into streaming music, following former CEO Steve Jobs’ derision of the idea of renting music. Apple reportedly “fought tooth and nail” to keep Spotify out of the United States following its debut in Europe, with Jobs going so far as to privately threaten Universal Music by stating Apple would remove its content from iTunes if it worked with Spotify in the U.S.

Aaron Tilley (tweet):

During meetings, Mr. Cue is sometimes known to fall silent, shut his eyes and tilt his head back, leaving other participants to wonder whether he is staring at the ceiling or sleeping, said several former Apple employees and one outside partner present on multiple occasions when it happened over the past few years. In at least two of these situations, Mr. Cue began snoring, one source said.

A lot of Apple’s problem areas are (or were) Cue’s responsibility. But I don’t blame him that much because I think he was given an impossible job, too many disparate things to manage, many of which didn’t seem to be in his wheelhouse.

An interesting detail is that Cue is said to have a “hands-off leadership style” and doesn’t like to “mediate between warring factions.” That sounds a lot like his boss, Tim Cook, contra Jobs and Forstall.

Previously: What Went Wrong With Siri, Apple Services, Apple’s MobileMess, iCloud’s First Six Months.

Update (2018-09-08): See also: John Gruber.


John Gordon:

Twitter will become a blend of home shopping network, daytime TV, and tabloid news. That might be quite profitable.

There is money in sane social communication, but there isn’t big money. In particular there isn’t publicly traded corporation money.

Joe Rosensteel:

The short version is that Mastodon clones features of Twitter with open source software that can be run on any server. Those servers talk to each other and form a larger world than any one server could. The default place most people land is but they have halted admissions because of the large influx of people leaving Twitter at the same time. You can join or any other server. Since your server can talk to the others, and you can move your account to another one, there’s no immediate pressure. There’s a timeline which is functionally like Twitter - or at least how it was back when it was chronological. You can mute, block, follow, etc.


Unfortunately, there aren’t polished apps like that for Mastodon. The majority of apps are wrappers around a webview - fancy browsers. They have certain features, or present user-facing data in a way that is more appealing that the web site. Unfortunately, none of them are much better than the website. I would really suggest getting started on the website just because options for things will be in places you can google or ask any other user about.

Joe Rosensteel:

The benefit of Mastodon is that it’s not a company, but a series of instances all run by different people. Think of it more like email. Anyone can host an email server (but why), and they can send emails to other people not on their email server. Just in this case it’s an “instance”. I can block instances I don’t like, and I can still communicate with others that I do. There’s an admin for each instance to moderate and shape the kind of conduct that’s allowed on the instance. I’m on a private instance with a few friends, after having an account on the large “” instance which is the default place most people start. You can redirect followers if you move to another instance. All your data can be exported, including follow, block, and mute lists. I can take my stuff anywhere I would like to go. A “federated” timeline view exists, which shows all the stuff people on your instance are interacting with and saying. I found it unusable on, but on a smaller, more focused instance it’s worth looking at.

Brent Simmons:

I’ve joined Mastodon, and I find myself constantly confused. It’s not the idea of the federation — I get that. Not a problem. It’s just that the apps I’ve tried (including the web app) are difficult to use and/or don’t do the things I want them to do, or do them confusingly.

Bob Burrough:

Wil Wheaton leaves Twitter for Mastodon because Twitter wouldn’t ban people, is promptly banned by Mastodon.

Wil Wheaton:

I thought that if I left Twitter, I could find a new social network that would give it some competition (Twitter’s monopoly on the social space is a big reason it can ignore people who are abused and harassed, while punishing people for reporting their attackers), so I fired up this account I made at Mastodon a long time ago.

I thought I’d find something different. I thought I’d find a smaller community that was more like Twitter was way back in 2008 or 2009. Cat pictures! Jokes! Links to interesting things that we found in the backwaters of the internet! Interaction with friends we just haven’t met, yet! What I found was … not that.

Brent Simmons:

The power of mobs in Mastodon reminds me of the power of mobs in baby Twitter of 2009. Which is to say: it’s entirely possible it will get worse and worse — as it did on Twitter — to the point where lives can be ruined and even threatened.

So I’m thinking about whether or not to stay.

David Chartier:

Like many other people recently, I jumped ship to Mastodon, an alternative, bite-sized social network with an odd name and some great new ideas. I’ve spent time learning about Mastodon’s mission and open-source, decentralized design, and I’m starting to think that this should be the way forward for social networks in general.

Previously: The Struggle for Twitter Alternatives.

Update (2018-09-14): David Anson:

Many of us are looking at Twitter alternatives and there are two services that stand out: and Mastodon.

These services take different approaches, so choosing one is challenging. This page highlights some of the differences and is meant for non-nerds who don't want to get bogged down by implementation details. Every attempt has been made to be accurate, but some technical details are deliberately glossed over.