Archive for May 2, 2019

Thursday, May 2, 2019

The Future Is Weird

Paul Kafasis:

Thinking quickly, I whipped out my phone and opened up an app called “Plane Finder AR”. Simply aiming my phone in the direction of the fast-departing plane let me learn all about it. Plane Finder AR is an augmented reality app that overlays plane details on a view of the real world. Below is an example of what this looked like, using another random flight (the red circle showing the difficult-to-spot plane has been added)[…] And sure enough, I confirmed the pandas I thought I saw, because I found B-6998 was apparently painted in a special all-red “Kung Fu Panda” livery.

AppleCare Support Is Broken

Kirk McElhearn:

Several times in the past couple of years, I’ve had cases where senior advisors give me hope, have me send data to them, then nothing happens. They just drop the cases. There is no further communication, no information, nothing. They just forget me. On their end, they probably close the cases so they can juke the stats. And I don’t get that common request for feedback regarding my case, so they don’t get negative feedback.

In one case, I was having battery issues on a MacBook, which dragged on and on, as it was hard to figure out exactly what was happening. I eventually traded that MacBook in to buy a new MacBook Pro, because it wasn’t worth my hassling with Apple’s support any more.


And that’s the general result of my contacts with AppleCare. They “consult with engineering,” promise to call back, and never do.

I will second that I never seem to get the request for feedback when my issue wasn’t resolved.


Update (2019-06-20): Wojtek Pietrusiewicz:

Same here. No fix = no email asking me to grade them.

Nils Nilsson, RIP

Yann LeCun (Hacker News, Andrew Ng):

Nils Nilsson passed away.

He is best known for the invention of the A* algorithm for path finding, and for his leading role in the Shakey project at SRI, one of the first mobile robots with visual perception and trajectory planning....

Bob Nystrom:

There’s a good chance you’ve never heard of him because he didn’t stick his name on an algorithm. But, if you’ve ever made or played a videogame, you have benefitted from his work. A* is the foundation of most enemy behavior in games.

Fangyu Cai:

Nilsson was the first Kumagai Professor of Engineering (Emeritus) in Computer Science at Stanford University, and his contributions to search, planning, knowledge representation, and robotics have been long respected and broadly applied. In his twenty-three years with Stanford’s Artificial Intelligence Center Nilsson worked on statistical and neural-network approaches to pattern recognition, co-invented the A* heuristic search algorithm and the STRIPS automatic planning system, and co-directed work on the integrated mobile robot, SHAKEY.

See also: Story of A* and STRIPS by Nils Nilsson.

Google’s Response to Edge Chromium

Tom Warren:

We understand that Google doesn’t have a block list for Google Meet, rather an allow list, and that Google should be supporting Meet on the new version of Edge very soon. Microsoft’s latest version of Edge initially worked before it switched to a new user agent string, and Google Meet stopped working. There might have been genuine fears about Chrome-only sites only a year ago, but it seems the worries about Google blocking out the new Edge are just fears, for now.

Tom Warren:

Google has added “unsupported browser” warnings for Edge Chromium on Google Docs


Lobbying Against Right to Repair

Jason Koebler (via Kay-Kay Clapp, Hacker News):

In recent weeks, an Apple representative and a lobbyist for CompTIA, a trade organization that represents big tech companies, have been privately meeting with legislators in California to encourage them to kill legislation that would make it easier for consumers to repair their electronics, Motherboard has learned.


The lobbyists brought an iPhone to the meetings and showed lawmakers and their legislative aides the internal components of the phone. The lobbyists said that if improperly disassembled, consumers who are trying to fix their own iPhone could hurt themselves by puncturing the lithium-ion battery, the sources, who Motherboard is not naming because they were not authorized to speak to the media, said.

The argument is similar to one made publicly by Apple executive Lisa Jackson in 2017 at TechCrunch Disrupt, when she said the iPhone is “too complex” for normal people to repair them.


Though Apple hasn’t publicly talked much about repair in recent months and years, Motherboard reported in March that Apple has quietly approached independent repair companies with a new program called “Apple Genuine Parts Repair,” which would allow a select few companies to purchase repair parts from Apple with few restrictions. The slides associated with the program, obtained by Motherboard, suggest that Apple could comply with right to repair legislation without much burden.

Rory Prior:

Apple’s stance against making hardware user repairable seriously negates all their ambitions towards being a ‘green’ company. Recycling hardware for raw materials is hugely wasteful (in the rare instances it even happens) vs. extending useful life.


Update (2019-06-03): Nick Heer:

I find it frustrating that Apple — and others — are working so hard to kill legislation rather than trying to find a middle ground closer to what they’re already doing. There are certainly components in a highly-miniaturized device that would not be sensible for most users to repair or replace themselves — though I do think battery and screen replacements should be doable by customers. (And they are, by the way; I have done both for friends’ devices.) Of course, it is less freeing that so much of our computing these days is obfuscated and less welcoming to tinkering, but that may be a price we must pay to have devices that feel less like an assemblage of parts.

Still, I can see nothing but good for users in helping third parties get the right tools and parts to do these repairs.

Mark Munz:

I think the repairability (and increased longevity of hardware) should be part of report on environment.

Apple should not fear their computers lasting a long time. People will upgrade BECAUSE OF THAT REASON.