Archive for March 24, 2020

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

macOS 10.15.4

Apple (combo update):

macOS Catalina 10.15.4 introduces iCloud Drive folder sharing, Screen Time communication limits, Apple Music time-synced lyrics view, and more. The update also improves the stability, reliability, and security of your Mac.

There’s no mention of Mail fixes, and I already have multiple reports that the bug where messages disappear when dragged to another mailbox is still present. Another customer said that the update did fix the bug he was seeing where rules copied messages instead of moving them.


Update (2020-03-27): See also: Howard Oakley, MacRumors.

Joachim Fornallaz:

A great update of macOS with changes to Photos improving library upgrades, exports, printing, and iCloud downloads.

Tanner Bennett:

macOS update notifications are so user-hostile nowadays. No way to dismiss without agreeing to another notification within the next 24 hours, and really no way to turn them off at all either.

I have update checking turned off but I got a notification just now.

Adam Engst (forum):

To share an iCloud Drive folder in 10.15.4, Control-click it in the Finder and choose Share > Add People. macOS’s odd modal dialog appears, letting you set who can access the folder (invitees or anyone with the link) and what permissions they have (view only or make changes). Select a sharing mechanism at the top and enter the name of the person with whom you want to share, click Share, and you’re done.

Gus Mueller (tweet):

This is a quick developer PSA. MacOS 10.15.4 was just released, and there was a minor change in the way NSAttributedString’s -initWithHTML:options:documentAttributes method works. Previously (10.15.3 and earlier) if you passed a HTML snippet using HelveticaNeue with a size of 20, the minimum line height for the attributed string was set to 25 (and if you passed 40 for the font size, you’d get 49). With 10.15.4 the minimum line height is now set to 0. I’m actually in favor of this change, but if you were expecting certain layouts to happen based on the previous defaults, things might look different for you.

Howard Oakley:

A few users are reporting that, following upgrading their Mac to Catalina 10.15.4, one or more of its USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports stops working.

Although uncommon, if your Mac suffers this the remedy is straightforward: reset its SMC.

Aerial Brings Apple TV Screen Savers to the Mac

Josh Centers:

One of the best features of the Apple TV is its Aerial screen saver. That’s not hyperbole—Apple always makes a big deal out of the new scenes it adds to tvOS, often promoting them as a marquee feature of major tvOS updates. If you have liked these screen savers on your TV, you can get them on your Mac, thanks to the free and open-source app Aerial.

I’m not really a screen saver person, but I really like this one.

It uses a ton of disk space—unless you turn off caching, in which case it uses a ton of bandwidth. Unfortunately, Catalina sandboxing issues mean that the cache folder has to be stored on the system drive, i.e. your SSD, rather than on a hard drive that may have more free space.


Update (2020-03-27): Tanner Bennett:

Yeah, Catalina really ruined a lot about what I loved about that screensaver. You used to be able to use the arrow keys to skip to a different one too.

Making Swift Properties Overridable Only in Debug Builds

John Sundell:

Occasionally, we might want to override certain properties in order to facilitate testing, to be able to work on a new feature, or to debug a problem.


Here’s a way to mitigate that problem, using Swift’s new property wrappers feature in combination with the DEBUG compiler flag. By creating a DebugOverridable property wrapper, we can enforce that the properties that we wish to override during testing and development are not actually overridden within any of our code that we’re shipping to production[…]

This is a neat trick, though unfortunately property wrappers don’t work with @NSManaged. What I have been doing is having my tests use underscored versions of the properties. These are a declared in an extension, which is conditionally compiled only when the TEST flag is set.

I’d still like to see Swift’s access controls reworked to make testing easier. @testable import doesn’t really do the job because it only works for symbols that are already visible at the package level. So you can only use private for stuff that will never be used from tests.



Patrick Collison (Hacker News):

Dee Hock was given 90 days to launch the BankAmericard card (which became the Visa card), starting from scratch.


Walt Disney’s conception of “The Happiest Place on Earth” was brought to life in 366 days.


Brendan Eich implemented the first prototype for JavaScript in 10 days, in May 1995. It shipped in beta in September of that year.


Work on the Xerox Alto, the first GUI-oriented computer, started in November 1972 because of a bet: “Chuck said that a futuristic computer could be done ‘in three months’ and a Xerox exec bet him a case of wine that it couldn’t be done”.


Tony Fadell was hired to create the iPod in late January 2001 […] and shipped the first production iPod to customers in November 2001, around 290 days after getting started.


Linus Torvalds started working on Git on April 3 2005. It was self-hosting 4 days later. On April 20 2005, 17 days after work commenced, Linux 2.6.12-rc3 was publicly released with Git.

But modern physical infrastructure projects take longer.


Update (2020-03-27): Patrick Collison:

I asked Tony Fadell about the iPod timeline for my fast project page. Summary: 😯.

Amazon Prime Delivery Delays

Jason Del Rey:

During normal times, Amazon Prime deliveries typically arrive in one or two days in the US. Now, some Prime deliveries for in-stock items are showing five-day delivery promises on the lower end, but those waits are as long as a month on some items.

An Amazon spokesperson confirmed to Recode on Sunday evening that the new April 21 delivery dates are not the result of a technical bug or error; they accurately reflect Amazon’s current reality.

“To serve our customers in need while also helping to ensure the safety of our associates, we’ve changed our logistics, transportation, supply chain, purchasing, and third-party seller processes to prioritize stocking and delivering items that are a higher priority for our customers,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “This has resulted in some of our delivery promises being longer than usual.”

Update (2020-03-27): See also: Hacker News.

Brian Heater:

Amazon today confirmed that an employee in its Queens, N.Y. fulfillment center has tested positive for the novel coronavirus.


It may be the first of its kind in the facility, but it almost certainly won’t be the last. Even as companies encourage workers to stay home at the first sign of sickness for both their benefit and that of customers, many will no doubt come to work. And then there’s the matter of those who are largely asymptomatic.

Brian Fung and Sara Ashley O’Brien:

Amazon warehouses are facing a growing tide of coronavirus cases with at least 11 facilities hit so far, according to Amazon and local media reports.


Amazon has temporarily closed some sites, such as the Queens location, but has largely refrained from mass closures. The company told CNN that it is taking “extreme measures to ensure the safety of employees at our site[s].”


Amazon is witnessing spikes in demand that are comparable to the surge surrounding peak holiday periods such as Black Friday, Jay Carney, Amazon’s senior vice president of global corporate affairs, told CNN’s Poppy Harlow in an interview last week. In response, the company is ramping up hiring.

David Dayen (via Marina Epelman):

How has this filtered down to people like Tyler Hamilton, a worker at Amazon’s warehouse in Shakopee, Minnesota? He gets a couple more bucks an hour now, as Amazon raised its base pay to $17 to attract workers. And amid other complaints from Senators about hazard pay, on Sunday Amazon made overtime work double time instead of time and a half. “It helps, but to get the hazard pay you have to be there for 40 hours a week and the overtime,” said Hamilton, who has been organizing with The Awood Center, a community group that’s part of a larger grassroots coalition pressuring Amazon called Athena. “A lot of people are going to be there for longer. People will take as much OT as they can get, because we’re all poor.”

What Amazon gives with the overtime pay, then, comes at the expense of worker safety, which is nearly impossible to manage in the warehouse and delivery environments. The amount of people in warehouses and the workload makes physical distancing difficult. Amazon has put tape on the floor of Hamilton’s warehouse using a standard of maintaining a three-foot distance from co-workers, half of the recommended six-foot standard.

Josh Centers:

It’s safest and cheapest to wait at least 72 hours before handling or opening the package. While the virus dies off on cardboard in about 24 hours, it lives much longer on plastic. If the warehouse worker who packed the item or delivery person who dropped it off was infected, then there could be virus present not only on the cardboard or paper of the package, but on any plastic tape, labels, or inside the packaging.

If you choose to disinfect instead of waiting it out, use a cleaner from the EPA’s approved list.

You can use ultraviolet light to disinfect, but it’s complicated, expensive, and hard to recommend.

Josh Centers:

Today, the New York Times published an article attempting to refute mine (without mentioning my article, of course). Long story short, they’re telling people not to worry, which I think is highly irresponsible.