Archive for April 15, 2020

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Cloudflare Dumps reCAPTCHA

Matthew Prince and Sergi Isasi (via Hacker News:

We recently migrated the CAPTCHA provider we use from Google’s reCAPTCHA to a service provided by the independent hCaptcha. We’re excited about this change because it helps address a privacy concern inherent to relying on a Google service that we’ve had for some time and also gives us more flexibility to customize the CAPTCHAs we show.


Earlier this year, Google informed us that they were going to begin charging for reCAPTCHA. […] In our case, that would have added millions of dollars in annual costs just to continue to use reCAPTCHA for our free users. That was finally enough of an impetus for us to look for a better alternative.

Nick Heer:

In general, it is a good thing to see fewer elements of the web’s infrastructure being controlled by the same handful of companies. I am painfully aware of how limited that line of argument is when the company that runs hCAPTCHA is touting in its press release that Cloudflare controls 12% of the web’s traffic. But, still, at least all that traffic is not being protected by the web’s biggest advertising network, too.

See also: Uncaptcha: Defeating Google’s audio reCaptcha with 85% accuracy (via Hacker News).


Intercepting Economic Impact Payments

Brian Krebs:

The U.S. federal government is now in the process of sending Economic Impact Payments by direct deposit to millions of Americans. Most who are eligible for payments can expect to have funds direct-deposited into the same bank accounts listed on previous years’ tax filings sometime next week. Today, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) stood up a site to collect bank account information from the many Americans who don’t usually file a tax return.


However, the possibility that fraudsters may intercept payments to these individuals seems very real, given the relatively lax identification requirements of this non-filer portal and the high incidence of tax refund fraud in years past.

It sounds like the only defense is to register yourself first.


AirPods Pro Thoughts

I’ve been using AirPods Pro since early December. There are several aspects of them that I haven’t seen much coverage of, so I decided to write up my notes:

Overall, I find it difficult to evaluate AirPods Pro because I have such mixed feelings about them. If I had to pick one model, I would buy the Pros because the seal and noise cancellation make them usable in situations where I couldn’t use the regular AirPods. That said, in situations where I don’t need noise cancellation or a long battery life, I always reach for my original AirPods. They feel better in my ears, and the case makes me happy.

Currently the regular AirPods are on sale for $130 or $150 with wireless charging case, with the Pros going for $235 (via MacRumors).


Update (2020-04-17): Kyle Howells:

I don’t actually like my AirPods Pro very much. I use my normal AirPods for everything and live them! Unless that is I’m going to be traveling and want the noise cancelling, then I use the Pros.

I use them instead of over ear noise cancelling headphones, not instead of AirPods.

Update (2020-04-23): David Roth:

I’m so glad Apple makes 2 models of AirPods, for people with differently sized and shaped ears, and different needs. AirPods Pro itch once in a while, but generally feel much more comfortable and secure than regular AirPods. They’ve essentially ended my quest for a perfect pair

Crafting Interpreters

Bob Nystrom (via Gus Mueller):

This book contains everything you need to implement a full-featured, efficient scripting language. You’ll learn both high-level concepts around parsing and semantics and gritty details like bytecode representation and garbage collection. Your brain will light up with new ideas, and your hands will get dirty and calloused. It’s a blast.

Starting from main(), you build a language that features rich syntax, dynamic typing, garbage collection, lexical scope, first-class functions, closures, classes, and inheritance. All packed into a few thousand lines of clean, fast code that you thoroughly understand because you write each one yourself.

See also: Crafting “Crafting Interpreters”, Jordan Rose.

iPhone SE 2020

Apple (Phil Schiller, MacRumors, Hacker News):

Apple today announced the second-generation iPhone SE, a powerful new iPhone featuring a 4.7-inch Retina HD display, paired with Touch ID for industry-leading security. iPhone SE comes in a compact design, reinvented from the inside out, and is the most affordable iPhone. The new iPhone SE is powered by the Apple-designed A13 Bionic, the fastest chip in a smartphone, to handle the most demanding tasks. iPhone SE also features the best single-camera system ever in an iPhone, which unlocks the benefits of computational photography including Portrait mode, and is designed to withstand the elements with dust and water resistance.

iPhone SE comes in three beautiful colors — black, white and (PRODUCT)RED — and will be available for pre-order beginning Friday, April 17, starting at just $399 (US).

When the original iPhone SE came out, I loved it because it had the easy pocketability and the comfortable, square edges of the iPhone 5s, combined with the processor and camera of the then-flagship iPhone 6s. The 2020 iPhone SE has the hard-to-hold shape of the iPhone 6–8, the processor of the flagship iPhone 11 Pro, and the camera (it seems) of the previous-generation iPhone XR.

So, this is a better, cheaper iPhone 8, but unlike the original SE it seems unlikely to inspire down-switchers. The wildcard is that, if we all end up wearing face masks for an extended time, Touch ID could end up being more important than any new feature in the forthcoming iPhone 12.


Update (2020-04-17): Loren Brichter:

Also if I was Steve Jobs coming back from the dead the iPhone lineup would look like this. No more of this iPhone 11 XR XS PROMAXX Dell-circa-1999 shit.

S/M/L :: Consumer/Pro

John Gruber:

We’ve had size choices ever since the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus in 2014. But those choices have always felt like a choice between big and bigger, not between small and big. And it’s not just about how it feels in your hand, or how it fits in your pocket or purse. There’s a philosophical aspect to it, which was evident even back in 2016, when the 4.7-inch size still felt “big”, and it’s why that Obi Wan quote still feels so apt. It’s about the role our phones play in our lives — how big a chunk of our attention they consume, how big a space they occupy in our minds. We are all cognizant of how ever-present phones now are in our lives. Cutting back on the time we spend staring at, poking, and swiping them — paying more attention to the world and to the people around us rather than the content on our phones — is something most of us try to be mindful of.


The new SE betters the iPhone 8 with a main camera that is physically — sensor and lens — equivalent to that of the iPhone XR. But in practice the SE should be more capable than the XR as a camera system because of the A13 imaging pipeline (compared to the XR’s A12). This is evident from the fact that the new SE supports Portrait mode features the XR does not — the background-masking “stage light” and “high-key light” effects.

Mike Rockwell:

As the commenter points out, the $399 iPhone SE is more powerful than every flagship Android phone released last year, this year, and likely next year too. Yes, the $399 iPhone will be more powerful than the entire Android ecosystem into at least early 2022.

Nick Heer:

Even after carrying it every day for the last two and a half years, I still find that my iPhone X feels uncomfortable in my pocket.

Joe Fabisevich:

Worth noting that 4.7” screen that’s zoomed in for accessibility will have the same screen size as a 4.0” phone, so it’s something you should still support.


Update (2020-04-22): Philip Michaels:

There’s not much at this point that could dissuade me from buying an iPhone SE 2020. The size is right, and so is the feature set. Apple may have bigger and better phones coming down the pipeline in 2020, but there’s unlikely to be a phone better suited for me.

David Heinemeier Hansson:

In celebration of the SE2, I switched to my original SE for the weekend. It still feels like a completely magical device. You’d think if there’s room for fifteen different iPads, there’s room for a 4” SE with an A13 and a proper camera?

John Gruber:

The way Apple’s iPhone lineup has shaken out over the years, device size has correlated to camera quality to some degree.


I think what makes truly small phones — let’s say iPhone 5S-sized phones — hard to gauge the demand for is that no one has made one since the original iPhone SE 4 years ago.