Archive for November 11, 2021

Thursday, November 11, 2021

FastScripts 3

Daniel Jalkut (tweet):

Specifically, scripts are now run independently from the app and in their own application processes. This guarantees a consistent execution environment, and allows for an arbitrary number of scripts to run in parallel without impacting the performance of the app itself, or of other scripts being run.


When the Script Menu is opened, the search field is made active by default, so any typing will immediately filter the menu contents to scripts that match your search. If the top result is the script you’re looking for, just press return to immediately run the script.


FastScripts now supports the standard AppleScript progress updating mechanism. Scripts that report their progress will have timing and text feedback conveyed to users by way of the FastScripts menu[…]


Little things, like the ability of the app to detect when you attempt to assign a shortcut that is already being used for another script, to improvements to the appearance of the app’s built in “display message” panels, to the long-awaited support for symbolic links in the script folder, will perpetually surprise and delight you!


This update marks the departure of FastScripts from the Mac App Store. Apple’s restrictions on advanced functionality made it impossible to release a completely updated version of the app that Apple would allow in the store.

Great update to an essential app that I’ve used just about every day for more than 15 years. It’s $39.95 or $19.95 to upgrade, though almost all the features work in free mode.

Brad Ellis:

Just made a new app icon for the folks at @redsweater for a new release of FastScripts 3, a menu bar app to run scripts on the fly.


Update (2021-11-12): Daniel Jalkut:

Here’s some attention to detail, [in FastScripts 3], that you won’t see in many (any?) other apps that invoke scripts with keyboard shortcuts. It detects THE SCRIPT trying to synthesize the same shortcut that invoked it. And Apple wonders why I can’t sandbox.

Unity Buys Weta Digital

Greg Kumparak (via Hacker News):

Unity has just announced its intent to acquire Weta Digital, the legendary visual effects company co-founded by Peter Jackson, for a massive $1.625 billion.


Leading into this deal, Weta Digital was both a team of artists creating visual effects and a team of engineers developing many of the tools those artists use. It’s those tools and engineering teams, specifically, that Unity is acquiring; the visual effects artistry team, meanwhile, will be split off into its own new thing.

Weta Digital’s 275+ engineers will join Unity. The VFX artists will be spun out into a new entity, “Weta FX,” of which Peter Jackson will continue to own the majority.

Marc Whitten:

Our goal is to put these world-class, exclusive VFX tools into the hands of millions of creators and artists around the world, and once connected with the Unity platform, enable the next generation of RT3D creativity. Whatever the metaverse is or will be, we believe it will be built by content creators, just like you.

John Gruber:

Even just a few years ago, if you told me Unity and Weta were merging, I’d have assumed Weta was the buyer and Unity the acquisition. But it’s the other way around — and that represents the fact that gaming is now a bigger industry than movies. (As a friend notes, gaming is bigger than movies + sports combined.)

Update (2021-11-23): Ben Thompson:

Notice the transition here; at the beginning everything was integrated from the movie shot to the development process to the software to the individual computer[…] Over the ensuing 28 years, though, each of these pieces has been broken off and modularized, increasing the leverage that can be gained from the software itself; Unity’s approach of selling tools to the world is the logical endpoint.


It is striking how the fundamental strengths and weaknesses of Weta and Unity are mirror images of each other: Weta has cutting edge technology, but it’s only available to Weta; Unity’s technology, meanwhile, continues to improve, but its biggest asset is the number of developers on its platform and integration with all of the other components a developer needs to build a business.


Weta increases Unity’s market from not just developers but to artists, who can be plugged into Unity’s land-and-expand model. Weta, meanwhile, immediately gains leverage on all of the investment it has made in its software tools.

Apple Business Essentials

Apple (Tim Cook, MacRumors, Hacker News):

Apple today announced Apple Business Essentials, an all-new service that brings together device management, 24/7 Apple Support, and iCloud storage into flexible subscription plans for small businesses with up to 500 employees. The company also unveiled a new Apple Business Essentials app that enables employees to install apps for work and request support.


Within Apple Business Essentials, Collections enable IT personnel to configure settings and apps for individual users, groups, or devices. When employees sign in to their corporate or personally owned device with their work credentials, Collections automatically push settings such as VPN configurations and Wi-Fi passwords. In addition, Collections will install the new Apple Business Essentials app on each employee’s home screen, where they can download corporate apps assigned to them, such as Cisco Webex or Microsoft Word.


When a business adds AppleCare+ for Business Essentials to its plan, they get 24/7 access to phone support, training for both IT administrators and employees, and up to two device repairs per plan each year.

Jason Snell:

The subscription plan uses device-management features Apple introduced in iOS/iPadOS 15 and macOS Monterey, and is in a free beta test beginning Wednesday and lasting through next spring. Per-user pricing will start at $2.99 per month and increase based on the number of devices and amount of iCloud storage allotted to individual users.

Company IT managers can administer users on an Apple-hosted web interface, and then instruct their users to log in with a company-assigned Apple ID. Managers can enforce certain security policies and distribute apps (via the new Apple Business Essentials app). On personal devices, corporate-based data and personal data are kept cryptographically separate.

John Gruber:

Unless I’m misreading this, Apple is entering the same market as Jamf and Kandji (editor’s note: both are previous sponsors at DF) and the other MDM companies that specialize in Apple devices. I’m curious what they mean by “backup” here, because iCloud only does backup for iOS devices. Does this program somehow back up Macs to iCloud, or, is Apple just pretending like that’s not a problem?

Horace Dediu:

Regarding Apple’s release of a subscription service for small businesses today, the addressable market is 212 million world-wide with about 30 million in the US alone. Apple’s attack from below is well underway.

Update (2021-11-12): Armin Briegel:

It looks as if ABE uses MDM commands only, with no local agent other than a “Apple Business Essetials” self-service app. This is standard for iOS and iPadOS, but will make the management options for Macs very limited. For many MacAdmins this will disqualify ABE for “serious” Mac management.

Keep the target audience in mind, though. For many organizations managing iPhones and iPads in business will be the main benefit of ABE and enforcing some management settings on the Macs will be a nice bonus. After all, even the little management possible with MDM commands will be better than no management at all.


Apple is targeting the “low-end” for device management. They are competing less with Jamf Pro and Workspace One, and more with Jamf Now, SimpleMDM, Mosyle Business, Kandji and Addigy. But when you look at the feature set, Apple’s cannot really compete with any of these, but they provide a minimal or, well, “essential” step up from “no management.” It’ll be up to the vendors to provide features and value above this new, essential, base line.

Overall, I think this is an exciting and promising announcement. There is also the hope, that since Apple is now building and selling their own management system*, this will result in improvements to the MDM protocol and Apple platform management for all.

Firefox Is the 45th Result When Searching for “Firefox” on Windows Store

Zagrebian (via Hacker News):

The biggest problem is that in order to even see all the results, the user has to [click] “View all”. Most users will probably only look at the first five results, four of which are paid Firefox guides.

The ranking seems to be improving as more people download and rate it. Currently, there are no search ads.


On “On Background”

Nilay Patel (tweet):

The Verge is updating our public ethics policy to be clearer in our interactions with public relations and corporate communications professionals. We’re doing this because big tech companies in particular have hired a dizzying array of communications staff who routinely push the boundaries of acceptable sourcing in an effort to deflect accountability, pass the burden of truth to the media, and generally control the narratives around the companies they work for while being annoying as hell to deal with.


• A big tech company PR person emailed us a link to the company’s own website “on background.”


• A big tech company refused to detail a controversial new privacy policy on the record, allowing it to amend details about it in repeated background follow-up briefings for over a week.

• A big tech company insisted on describing the upgrade requirements for its new operating system on background. Details which it then repeatedly changed… on background.


This list could go on and on — the clear pattern is that tech companies have uniformly adopted a strategy of obfuscating information behind background.

Rory Cellan-Jones:

It’s got so absurd that I have had PRs tell me “on deep background” bland stuff that’s already in a press release

Brian Merchant (via David Zarzycki):

“On background” has been a scourge throughout my career. Every single conversation I have had with a big-five tech company representative this year has been on background. It has become the default method by which Silicon Valley disseminates information to reporters.

This is a toxic arrangement. The tactic shields tech companies from accountability. It allows giants like Amazon and Tesla an opportunity to transmit their preferred message, free of risk, in the voice of a given publication. It leaves no trace of policy that might later be criticized—that could form part of the public record to be scrutinized by regulators, lawyers, or investors. If the company later reverses course or modifies its position, the egg is on the reporter’s face, not the company’s.

Corporations such as Apple, Google, and Uber have become infamous for their secrecy and unwillingness to comment on most matters on the record. And tech reporters, myself very much included, have not done enough to push them to do otherwise.

Update (2022-01-17): Wired:

Many powerful companies make a practice of obfuscating or dodging accountability when speaking to media outlets by providing information while insisting it not be attributed to anyone in particular, and sometimes not even to the company itself. For that reason, WIRED is joining the Verge, Quartz, and others in making its editorial standards clearer.