Archive for May 10, 2019

Friday, May 10, 2019

2019 Apple Keyboard Problems

These days I mostly use the old USB aluminum keyboard.

Update (2019-05-13): Alejandro Ramirez:

Not on the blog: Backlit keycaps on Macbook Pro are transparent plastic coated with black UV paint and laser engraved. A big hand hits ⌘ with the nail, eventually exposing the full brightness of the LED. This wouldn’t happen with double-shot keycaps (a few cents more expensive).

Damien Petrilli:

Same happened to me. It didn’t last longer than 2y.

Craig Grannell:

Even the Magic Keyboards have problems. They are mechanically reliable but not durable with heavy (but standard) use (I’m a writer). This looks like I’ve gouged the A, S and C keys. Not good enough for something that cost me £100.


I bought a couple of wired keyboards and mice after it became clear that they would be discontinued. What a completely silly state of affairs…

Google Is Turning Off the Works-with-Nest API

Nest (via John Feminella, Hacker News):

We want to unify our efforts around third-party connected home devices under a single developer platform – a one-stop shop for both our developers and our customers to build a more helpful home. To accomplish this, we’ll be winding down Works with Nest on August 31, 2019, and delivering a single unified experience through the Works with Google Assistant program. See the Works with Nest FAQs section below.

Previously: Twitter Shutting Down APIs.

iPhone XR Sales in Q1 2019

Juli Clover:

Apple shipped over 4.5 million iPhone XR devices during the quarter, and it made up 13 percent of total North American shipments. Samsung’s Galaxy S10+ and Galaxy S10e were the other two most popular smartphones in Q1 2019, accounting for 6 percent of shipments each.

Though Apple’s iPhone XR was the top selling smartphone in North America during the quarter, Apple still saw a 19 percent drop in year-over-year shipments.

It’s no iPhone 5c. These results are from North America, so they can’t be blamed on China, but they don’t seem to be iPhone-specific, either, as the overall market declined by 18%.


Dark Mode Support in WebKit

Timothy Hatcher:

With the Safari 12.1 update in macOS 10.14.4, dark mode support in WebKit has arrived.


Not all web content is simple. For this reason Safari and WebKit do not auto-darken web content — documents will need to opt-in to dark mode. The main way to signal that your content supports dark mode it to adopt the new color-scheme style property, specified in this proposal.


Defining color-scheme will get you going for simple content. For most web content, you will need to adopt the prefers-color-scheme media query, specified in this proposal, to style elements with custom colors or images. You can use this media query anywhere media queries are supported, such as in <picture> elements or window.matchMedia() for script triggers.

The best way to deploy a dark and light color scheme in your documents is to utilize CSS variables. Then you can easily specify the colors in one place with the media query, and use those variables throughout your stylesheets. When the media query matches, the variables will change wherever they are used — auto switching with any appearance change.

Safari’s Web Inspector now lets you test dark mode without having to switch the entire system.

Steven Sinofsky:

All the energy going into “dark mode” in every app AND every OS while each attempt yields more, not fewer, bugs…feels like just about everyone could prioritize differently.

There I said it.

Ken Kocienda:

I agree with @stevesi. “Dark mode” isn’t bad in any deep sense, and some people like using it, but the effort to implement it everywhere will not yield benefits in line with the cost. It’s a sideways move. It’s industry-wide bike-shedding.

Howard Oakley:

So when you print a window which the user can see, AppKit lets it get printed in Dark Mode if that is in use. That’s not at all helpful, is it?

The answer is to print from a separate off-screen view, which you can set to Light Mode.


Update (2019-05-13): Nikita Vasilyev:

Dark Mode in Web Inspector was introduced in Safari Technology Preview last year. This article highlights implementation details which could be helpful for anyone adapting Dark Mode for their websites or web views.

A Conspiracy to Kill IE6

Chris Zacharias (via Tom Warren):

The plan was very simple. We would put a small banner above the video player that would only show up for IE6 users. It would read “We will be phasing out support for your browser soon. Please upgrade to one of these more modern browsers.” Next to the text would be links to the current versions of the major browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, IE8 and eventually, Opera. The text was intentionally vague and the timeline left completely undefined. We hoped that it was threatening enough to motivate end users to upgrade without forcing us to commit to any actual deprecation plan. Users would have the ability to close out this warning if they wanted to ignore it or deal with it later. The code was designed to be as subtle as possible so that it would not catch the attention of anyone monitoring our checkins. Nobody except the web development team used IE6 with any real regularity, so we knew it was unlikely anyone would notice our banner appear in the staging environment. We even delayed having the text translated for international users so that a translator asking for additional context could not inadvertently surface what we were doing. Next, we just needed a way to slip the code into production without anyone catching on.


Once they realized what had happened, they cornered our boss for details, grappled with the consequences of our actions and begrudgingly arrived at the conclusion that the ends had justified the means. Between YouTube, Google Docs, and several other Google properties posting IE6 banners, Google had given permission to every other site on the web to add their own. IE6 banners suddenly started appearing everywhere. Within one month, our YouTube IE6 user base was cut in half and over 10% of global IE6 traffic had dropped off while all other browsers increased in corresponding amounts. The results were better than our web development team had ever intended.


Windows to Include a Full Linux Kernel

Microsoft (via Miguel de Icaza):

We will be shipping a real Linux kernel with Windows that will make full system call compatibility possible. This isn’t the first time Microsoft has shipped a Linux kernel, as we have already shipped one in 2018 when we announced Azure Sphere. However, this will be the first time a Linux kernel is shipped with Windows, which is a true testament to how much Microsoft loves Linux! We’ll be building the kernel in house from the latest stable branch, based on the source available at


WSL 2 uses the latest and greatest in virtualization technology to run its Linux kernel inside of a lightweight utility virtual machine (VM). However, WSL 2 will NOT be a traditional VM experience. When you think of a VM, you probably think of something that is slow to boot up, exists in a very isolated environment, consumes lots of computer resources and requires your time to manage it. WSL 2 does not have these attributes. It will still give the remarkable benefits of WSL 1: High levels of integration between Windows and Linux, extremely fast boot times, small resource footprint, and best of all will require no VM configuration or management.

What a time to be alive. Does this mean that Microsoft will now ship more up-to-date Unix tools than Apple?

Owen Williams:

Including a Linux kernel in Windows changes the game. Instead of a Linux environment that has barriers and known edge cases, this is a full-on, no-limitation, macOS-esque Linux environment—with a notable improvement: it’s containerized so you can dispose of it and get a fresh environment in a second, then just keep working.


The master stroke here is that including a Linux kernel in Windows also dramatically changes the cloud story for Microsoft. Windows Server just gained a huge leg up, now able to run Linux and Windows tooling side-by-side on the same system, making developer tooling and deployment of code significantly easier.


By building the absolute best developer experience—from acquiring GitHub, to creating the most popular coding tool VSCode, and now, a fully-functioning Linux environment, Microsoft can say it provides the best tools for developers, period, wherever they are.

Tom Warren:

Microsoft also announced Windows Terminal today, a new command line app for Windows. It’s designed to be the central location for access to environments like PowerShell, Cmd, and the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL).

Casey Liss:

Everyone doing web development switched to using then-OS X back in the aughts because we could run the entire stack locally, natively. And the keyboards worked.

Seems like soon you’ll be able to do the same on Windows. Where the keyboards work.


Paul Haddad:

MSFT has two different ways of running Linux binaries on a Windows machine but 32 bit Mac binaries are just too much work for Apple.

Alex Stamos:

This is smart and well-timed. Windows is becoming a legitimate competitor to OS X for cloud-native development at a moment when Macbook Pro users are screaming for working keyboards and features like LTE.

Stephen Nellis:

I can envision developers on their 3rd trip to the overrun Union Square SF Apple store to get a MBP keyboard fixed, thinking...well, maybe it”s time to take a look?

Peter Steinberger:

I admire the new Microsoft. Not only are they super transparent about their plans, release everything open source - they also share Twitter handles of the main folks responsible.

Damien Petrilli:

Microsoft is making great progress at attacking macos exactly where it hurts: development.

We are really not far from seeing how Tim Apple miss management is going to kill a lot of Apple’s value for good.

Doug Gregor:

People are excited about a terminal. Either the 90’s are back or it’s a really slow news day in the tech world

Damien Petrilli:

Nope, it just means that now, there is a real competition to macos on the dev side.

A lot of people including myself are on macos because of its UNIX subsystem. It’s the best platform for all open source / programming language.

This could change soon.

Marco Arment:

If you’ve wondered why Microsoft made the VS Code editor, note how many lines go from “First” to “OSX” [sic] to “Visual Studio Code”.

Macs OWNED web development for a decade. But when Apple lost years alienating and neglecting pros, Microsoft had their foot on the gas.

Alex Harden:

VS Code is not my primary editor (@AtomEditor is) but I may end up using it more if/when I end up on Windows 10 this fall on my work computer. I simply can’t justify staying on MacOS for work when @Apple isn’t designing MacBooks for developers any longer.

Marco Arment:

This perspective (a common one) should be most worrisome to Apple:

“The MacBook Pro seems designed for other people’s needs, not mine.”

…especially coming from developers, which Apple has said are their largest category of “pro” users.

Anonymous Genius:

The irony is that Apple messed up the Mac Pro and the MacBooks Pro by solving problems that didn’t need to be solved. They didn’t neglect them: they over-designed them, fixed what wasn’t broken, and then didn’t fix the keyboards when they broke.

Justin Flood:

I’m a pro photographer. I don’t feel like the MacBook Pro is made for me anymore. I work with video editors and VFX people, and musicians who feel the same. This asks the question:

Who IS the MacBook Pro designed for?

Ken Kocienda:

The success of the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch relieves much of the burden from Macs to be the “computer for the rest of us”. It means the Mac can stress power and flexibility as a platform for pros, a tool for developers, and a playground for hobbyists.

After all, pros, developers, and hobbysists are the people that feed the iOS ecosystem with content, apps, and new ideas. Mac and iOS devices already support each other in a virtuous cycle, but that could be stressed more by producing machines that pros and geeks truly love.

I sure hope Apple soon gets through this period of problematic hardware (MacBook keyboards), “Where is it?” hardware (Mac Pro), and of new languages and frameworks that do mostly what the old ones did, only differently (Swift, Marzipan). Bring back “Insanely Great”!

Ken Kocienda:

The reliability and usability failings of the MacBook Pro are rooted in thinness and weight-saving—yet Apple makes the MacBook Air to optimize for those design goals. Let’s face it. Apple doesn’t make a pro laptop today. Sticking “Pro” on the end of the name does not make it so.

Petter Ahrnstedt:

Ex Apple employee here (PR manager). They stopped caring about prosumers in 2011-12. The prosumer managers were made redundant. Entire focus is (was) on consumers.

See also: The Talk Show, Hacker News (3).


Update (2019-05-13): Rosyna Keller:

It’ll only have the kernel itself as an optional developer install. Windows still won’t ship with any user space tools. You’ll still have to get those from a distro.

Kyle Howells:

Unrealistic WWDC Wishlist

- Gatekeeper for iOS
- Relaxed AppStore restrictions with new categories, like Dev Tools.
- UIKit for Mac uncrippled (no mandatory sandboxing or AppStore only)
- Redesigned & relaxed notarisation system
- Pro user, automation & performance focus
- A sign that ‘easy things should be easy, hard things should be possible’ has been deeply and culturally accepted into Apple, iOS and macOS.

Rather than the seeming current philosophy of ‘easy things should be easy, and anything more is a security risk’.

Brad Chacos (via Steven Sinofsky):

After years of endless jokes, 2019 is truly, finally shaping up to be the year of Linux on the desktop.

Rui Carmo:

I came to the Mac as a haven from the (then crappy and useless) Windows NT-era desktops we ran. Even though I was one of the first people to use NT 4.0 as a “workstation” (and even ran maliing-lists and web sites on it using the ancient EMWAC servers), I wanted:

  • A powerful UNIX workstation
  • Great hardware that “just worked”

Switching to the Mac was so amazingly great that I even named this site after the overall experience, a little over fifteen years ago.


And so it has come to pass that, even though I am typing this on my MacBook Pro, I have been using a Surface Laptop for nearly six months as a semi-daily driver[…]