Archive for February 25, 2022

Friday, February 25, 2022

Musings on Modern Mapping

Adam Engst:

Because I’m a runner and race director, I often need to map out a running course to determine distances and share with others. Numerous services provide such features, but I’ve found On The Go Map best at providing the features I need in an easy-to-use interface. (For mapping out a biking route, where ending up with a cue sheet listing all the turns is incredibly helpful, I would switch to Ride With GPS.)


On The Go Map is all you need when you know where you want your course to go or when the number of possibilities is quite limited. But what if you are looking for a 10-mile course in an unfamiliar area? might be helpful in that case. It has all of On The Go Map’s features and more, albeit in a cluttered, difficult-to-use interface.


I want to mention another mapping service that’s unique as far as I know: RunGo. Visual maps work well for courses on well-marked roads, as shown above, but they’re less helpful for people trying to follow a trail course in the woods. […] Instead, RunGo lets you create custom routes that provide users with turn-by-turn audible directions on an iPhone, Apple Watch, or Android smartphone, just like Apple’s Maps and Google Maps.

Twitter Needs a Retraction Mechanism

Will Truman (via Nick Heer):

I think the concerns about an edit button are overblown, but there would be very little downside to Twitter having a “retraction” option, wherein the tweet is left up but with a strikethrough indicating it is not or is no longer valid.

If you want to combat misinformation, make it easy for people to retract inaccurate information they have relayed.

Right now it’s kind of a choice of deleting it and causing confusion, or leaving it up and potentially misinforming people who don’t see the update.

I think strikethrough plus a link to a replacement tweet would be good.


Web3 Choke Point: App Stores

Elizabeth Lopatto:

One problem with cryptocurrency is that the technology is fairly user-hostile, at least to normal users of the internet. And so centralized services have sprung up for the non-technical, such as Coinbase, OpenSea, Metamask, VeVe, and Rarible. Meanwhile, mainstream payment apps — Venmo, PayPay, and so on — have added cryptocurrency capabilities. This is likely how the general public will get involved with crypto, assuming they do so at all. These services may also be used by people who do understand cryptocurrency since even the savvy may appreciate user-friendly interfaces and protection from scams.

To get to these apps, users will go through the Google and Apple app stores. So if those centralized ways of accessing cryptocurrency want to stay in Apple’s and Google’s app stores, well, functionally, Apple and Google will be setting the terms of content moderation for Web3.


So Apple’s mores are perhaps less of a problem for pure cryptocurrency and more of a problem for NFTs, an area Coinbase is planning to get into this year.


System Preferences Reimagined


As features have continued being added to macOS, Apple has opted to force new preferences inside existing ones to avoid icon overcrowding. Focus Mode on iOS is crammed into the new ‘Notifications & Focus’ tab on macOS, Night Shift is a tiny button on the bottom right under the Display settings, and the Control Centre is managed behind the ‘Dock & Menu Bar’ icon through a process of having the user individually click-through 15+ different tabs to customize their Menu Bar.

And while some settings are crammed together, others feel needlessly scattered. AppleID, Family Sharing, Internet Accounts, & Users & Groups are four different preference icons, while on iOS they are essentially all managed under a single tab.

I’m not thrilled with this particular reimagining, but this is an area that Apple should be looking at.

Shawn Adrian:

Am I the only one who can literally never find a thing on this panel without using search?

I used to know exactly where each icon was, but several versions ago the order changed, then the icons changed, and now I spend a long time hunting every time I open the window. It’s better to just open the relevant pane using LaunchBar.


OSXPhotos Python Tool

Rhet Turnbull (via Stephan Arlt):

OSXPhotos provides the ability to interact with and query Apple’s library on macOS. You can query the Photos library database — for example, file name, file path, and metadata such as keywords/tags, persons/faces, albums, etc. You can also easily export both the original and edited photos.


If you encounter missing photos you can tell osxphotos to download the missing photos from iCloud using the --download-missing option. --download-missing uses AppleScript to communicate with Photos and tell it to download the missing photos. Photos’ AppleScript interface is somewhat buggy and you may find that Photos crashes. In this case, osxphotos will attempt to restart Photos to resume the download process. There’s also an experimental --use-photokit option that will communicate with Photos using a different “PhotoKit” interface. This option must be used together with --download-missing[…]


Photos tracks a tremendous amount of metadata associated with photos in the library such as keywords, faces and persons, reverse geolocation data, and image classification labels. Photos’ native export capability does not preserve most of this metadata. osxphotos can, however, access and preserve almost all the metadata associated with photos.

This uses SQLite and reverse engineering rather than the more limited PhotoKit.