Archive for August 13, 2019

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

NetNewsWire 5 Public Beta

Brent Simmons:

NetNewsWire has reached public beta! It only took like five years. :)

Our definition of beta is release candidate. With each beta release, we believe that the app is ready to ship. But we want to do further testing to make sure.

It’s come a long way since debuting as Evergreen and now supports syncing via Feedbin.

Brent Simmons:

NetNewsWire isn’t the answer — it’s an answer. It’s just a small part of what needs to be done. But it’s the work we personally know how to do, so we do it.

We also love high-quality Mac and iOS apps, and we hope that NetNewsWire will be an example. The code is available for anyone to learn from and use. We believe it’s one of the largest open source projects written (mostly) in Swift.


Update (2019-08-21): Brent Simmons:

Before every major release I like to try and think of everything mean that people might say about the app. It’s fun!


This took five years? I could write an RSS parser in a weekend.

Locked Out of an Apple Account

Luke Kurtis (via Andrew Orr):

About a week after I redeemed the gift card, I noticed my iTunes account wasn’t working. When I tried to log in, it said my account was locked. I searched online for help, but I couldn’t find a solution. I called up Apple support. […] The senior agent informed me my account had been locked because I’d used a fraudulent gift card. […] Apparently all she had to do was to escalate this to Apple’s internal security team who, because she had vetted my account, would re-enable everything within 24 hours.


Except that after 24 hours, there had been no word. Even after a few days, the agent was nowhere to be found, even after I emailed her directly. I ended up calling back into the main support line to start with a new agent […] “There is nothing else you can do, there is no escalation path.”


But when Apple locked my account, all of my devices became virtually unusable. At first, it seemed like a mild inconvenience, but I soon found out how many apps on my iOS and Mac devices couldn’t be updated, not to mention how I couldn’t download anything new. When I had to take a trip for a family emergency, the JetBlue app wouldn’t let me access my boarding pass, saying I had to update the app to use it.


All in all, I was locked out of my account for roughly two months. Had I not taken advantage of my internal Apple contacts, I may not have gotten my account back.

Update (2019-08-15): Isaiah Carew:

pretty much what happened to me about three years ago. but the account was disabled for ~6mnths. long enough that i totally gave up. i wrote off thousands of dollars in apps, movies, music, trashed 2 apple TVs, and stopped “buying” any kind of digital content on any platform.

Apple Card Lacks Web Interface, Sends Push Notifications

Nicole Nguyen:

Apple Card has an iPhone-only interface. If you lose said iPhone and need to make a payment, Apple’s recommendation is to use a second iOS device (eg. iPad) or call support (not, presumably, with the phone you just lost).

In other words, despite its titanium, futuristic-veneer Apple Card does not afford you what nearly every other credit card does: a website accessible on desktop that gives you the flexibility to pay bills or see transactions from any device.

Great, so you can’t export your data or view it on a large screen. And this will probably be like Apple’s other purchased/billing interfaces, where you can’t select and copy text and the searching is very basic, if there at all.

The Tape Drive:

Apple will target users for marketing emails and push notifications based on their transaction history. “For example, Apple may send a message to your device that is relevant to people who typically purchase travel.” Apple might have been able to negotiate reduced fees by agreeing to allow advertising to Apple Card users.

Via CM Harrington:

This is the kind of bullshit you get when you become a ‘services’ company… “We don’t allow marketing push notifications unless they’re our marketing push notifications”. No thanks, Tim Apple.


I WANT to have push notices for my transactions. I don’t want Apple to look at my transaction history and decide I should be marketed at OD is even creepier. it means there’s a daemon always watching my purchases for marketing opportunities.

Jon Alper:

Apparently the message is sent globally and then evaluated on device as to whether to delver to you based on what the device knows. Yes, sucks you can’t get notifications of transactions and not get marketing messages.

And receiving these marketing messages is going to use up cellular data, too.


Update (2019-08-15): Nick Heer:

Based on what I’m reading here, it sounds like Apple is sending push notification message text to all Apple Card users, but only displaying it if it’s relevant to a specific user. It’s a clever way of doing semi-targeted ads without violating users’ privacy.

I think that’s less relevant to users than whether they expect to receive ads in their email account and on their lock screen because they signed up for Apple’s credit card. The more nihilistic user might, but Apple is supposed to be the company that doesn’t point to some clause in their terms and conditions as a free pass to exploit users.


Apple’s solution is in agreement with the letter of these statements, but certainly not the spirit.

Daniel Storm:

PSA: Apple Search Ads are included in the 3% back on Apple Card 💰

Update (2019-08-19): See also: Accidental Tech Podcast.

Update (2019-08-20): John Gruber:

I don’t think the reason for this is to keep you locked to your iPhone, although that’s certainly a side effect. I think this simply reflects Apple’s internal culture. Apple’s culture is to make native apps for everything as a first priority, with web interfaces as a much lower priority. And in recent years, that’s shifted from native apps for iOS and Mac to just native apps for iOS. (E.g. the craptacular Catalyst apps for Stocks, News, Voice Memos, and most especially Home.) It feels ridiculous that you can’t access your Apple Card account from a Mac, whether from a native Mac app or from a website.

Update (2019-10-04): Despite the lack of a Web interface, I did get an e-mail notification about a PDF statement:

Your September statement is ready to view.

You can view your statement balance or pay your bill by tapping Apple Card in your Wallet App.

To view a PDF of your statement, tap Apple Card in your Wallet app, tap Total Balance, and tap the month.

Amber Neely:

Apple Card users who have checked their Apple Card PDF statements for September may notice that their statements are not itemized. While the Apple Card still shows itemized transactions within the Wallet app itself, the downloaded PDF currently shows a single monthly transaction, rather than an itemized list.

AppleInsider received a tip from a reader who noticed that their statements were not itemized. Staffers who own the Apple Card were able to recreate this problem upon checking their own statements.


“We are aware that some PDF billing statements are not showing transaction level detail. Transaction details in the Wallet app are correct,” said the Goldman Sachs representative. “The PDF Statements are being regenerated and will be available in Wallet later today.”

Juli Clover:

Things you can’t use Apple Card for: renting a car at enterprise.

Andrew Abernathy:

1. Went to pick up Redbox reservation but the box didn’t recognize me. Searching online, others say the issue is that the card # encoded on the card is different from the one shown in Wallet. (Chatted w/ Redbox; they cancelled.)

2. Yesterday an online transaction was rejected, forcing me to use different card. In case of suspected fraud, aren’t they supposed to send a notification? In my case they didn’t — fraud services called, left voicemail ~10 minutes later. (I don’t answer unrecognized numbers.)

Update (2020-07-03): Juli Clover:

Apple today launched a website that’s designed to allow Apple Card holders to check their balances, view statements, and make Apple Card payments online.

Verizon Sells Tumblr to Automattic

Julia Alexander (Hacker News):

Verizon has agreed to sell Tumblr to WordPress owner Automattic Inc. for an undisclosed amount, TheWall Street Journal reports.

Verizon, which first acquired Tumblr in 2017 after it purchased Yahoo, started to explore a sale earlier this year. Automattic reportedly bought Tumblr for less than $3 million, according to Axios, a stunning drop in value from the $1.1 billion Yahoo paid for it in 2013.

Marco Arment:

This is pretty cool. Can’t think of a better owner today than Automattic for Tumblr’s huge creative publishing community.

Matt Mullenweg:

Will do our best to make you proud about this next chapter for @tumblr.

Matt Mullenweg:

When the possibility to join forces became concrete, it felt like a once-in-a-generation opportunity to have two beloved platforms work alongside each other to build a better, more open, more inclusive – and, frankly, more fun web. I knew we had to do it.

In the underlying technology of our platforms, I think there are some good opportunities to standardize on the Open Source WordPress tech stack, but the front-end user experience on Tumblr will evolve on its own path. It has been so successful already, and we want to keep that going.

Colin Devroe:

This is good for a variety of reasons. It ensures Tumblr will very likely be around in some form or another in perpetuity while still retaining its unique posting UI that its community no-doubt loves. I know I love it. I wish I had the same thing for my WordPress blog. Maybe I will get that now?

Brian Krogsgard:

The most recent controversy for Tumblr was a community revolt over the treatment of adult content. Matt says Tumblr’s new adult content policy will stay in place under the new ownership. On Hacker News, he said, “Adult content is not our forte either, and it creates a huge number of potential issues with app stores, payment providers, trust and safety… it’s a problem area best suited for companies fully dedicated to creating a great experience there. I personally have very liberal views on these things, but supporting adult content as a business is very different.”


Tumblr will remain a separate brand. There is a dedicated Tumblr community even after years of neglect and confusion. Still, Matt says Tumblr’s user base is “several times larger than [’s].”


Update (2019-08-16): Daniel Jalkut:

A 950-employee, completely distributed company, is taking on 200 employees who are accustomed to urban office life. I think that will be one of the most interesting challenges in this merger.

Matt Mullenweg:

Tumblr is multi-office, so does have a distributed aspect. But I see moving toward being natively distributed as taking a few years, and we don’t want to disrupt things that are already working.

Nilay Patel:

One thing that jumped out in this interview: the real sense that Tumblr didn’t lose nearly as many users due to the porn ban as people think.

Fred Wilson:

Tumblr was both a blogging platform and a social media application and while I always loved the versatility of the platform, native mobile applications benefit from simplicity, not complexity.


David Karp, the founder of Tumblr, always focused on making Tumblr a “positive” experience. That is why he refused to have comments, even though I pushed him to do it and hacked Tumblr by putting Disqus on mine. That is why he made the primary (only?) form of engagement a heart.

And it worked. Tumblr was a happy place and using it made people feel good about themselves.


Chris Mohney:

Your one million paying Tumblr users just brought in $24 million for the year—or, almost double what Tumblr made the first year it sold advertising. Assume the Tumblr active user base is more like 20 million, and/or entice more of them to pay, and/or offer various Tumblr-appropriate upsells, and/or implement and charge for all the years’ worth of community-driven functionality asks … well, getting to the $100 million revenue goal that Tumblr publicly shot for (and likely never achieved) seems not unreasonable.

And you do this without selling ads. I will forever and repeatedly die on the hill that pursuing advertising as Tumblr’s revenue strategy was what killed the site’s independence and alienated users long before the porn ban. I personally believe the management/investor/industry advice to sell ads was not only bad advice, but quite possibly given in bad faith and maybe even predatory in nature. Advertising has pros and cons depending on the situation, but anyone who looked at Tumblr back in the day and saw a Facebook-style infinite-ad-revenue reservoir was fooling themselves and/or others. Demonstrably so.

Buzz Andersen:

Tumblr is my go to example of a company that could have evolved into a fine independent business but instead was destroyed by the decision to “go big” with venture capital.

Nick Heer:

Automattic will obviously be a better steward of Tumblr than Yahoo or Verizon were, but I question whether the unique qualities of its communities can experience a resurgence. It has felt for years like it has been dying a protracted death, and its 99% discounted sale price speaks to that.

Matt Mullenweg (Hacker News):

First, [Verizon] chose to find a new home for Tumblr instead of shutting it down. Second, they considered not just how much cash they would get on day one, but also — and especially — what would happen to the team afterward, and how the product and the team would be invested in going forward. Third, they thought about the sort of steward of the community the new owner would be. They didn’t have to do any of that, and I commend them for making all three points a priority.