Archive for October 3, 2022

Monday, October 3, 2022

BBEdit 14.6

Bare Bones Software (tweet):

Added settings to the “Editing” preferences to specify alternative characters for Show Invisibles, for tabs and for line breaks.


The low-level text rendering in BBEdit’s editing engine has been reworked to improve performance and OS compatibility (including future macOS releases).

This change also marks the triumphant return of font ligatures (when supported by the display font in use), and brings improvements to Unicode character rendering.


Made changes so that Open File by Name doesn’t completely tie up the application in cases where building the search cache takes a very long time. In such situations it’ll be the same amount of time before you get search results, but the application will remain responsive for other uses in the meantime.

This last one is particularly welcome, as if I’ve opened a file on an external drive that’s since gone to sleep it can take a while for it to spin up. For whatever reason, I’ve lately been seeing temporary hangs throughout the system and various apps as drives wake from sleep or finish mounting. Most code seems to be written as if small file system operations will be quick, but with Monterey sometimes they aren’t.

Gareth Simpson:

Some code fonts use [ligatures] in clever ways


Bypassing IAP With In-Game Currencies

Florian Mueller:

One of the world’s largest games companies, China’s Tencent (which is also Epic’s largest shareholder besides founder Tim Sweeney), has just doubled down on its efforts to circumvent the infamous app tax. Finland-based Supercell is an almost-wholly-owned Tencent subsidiary. Its Supercell Store, which since late June has already been offering digital items (named Gold Pass and Gold Pass Bundle) for the Clash of Clans strategy game, now also comes with a section related to the Hay Day farming game, which has been an enormous commercial success for about a decade.


The leading Hay Day YouTuber, R3DKNIGHT (Ricky Burnett), released a video yesterday that shows how one can purchase digital currencies (diamonds and gold) as well as a premium feature called Farm Pass (which is purchased for a given month, accelerates one’s gameplay progress, and provides access to additional decorative and entertaining elements) through the web-based Supercell Store, where Apple and Google can’t tax purchases[…] On the web store, they cost approximately 10% less than inside the app.

It seems like this is allowed by the guidelines, so long as IAP is also offered and the Web store isn’t linked. Some other games are also allowing Web purchases of gold/credits, but this technique doesn’t seem to be widespread elsewhere. Amazon lets you buy Audible books using credits, which you can purchase online. They also have a deal to make in-app video purchases from a credit card. And you can purchase stuff other than digital content directly from the Amazon app. But there is still no way to purchase Kindle books from an app.


Kindle Scribe

David Pierce (via Hacker News):

The newest Kindle is the first truly new Kindle in years. It’s called the Kindle Scribe, and it’s both a reading device and a writing one. With a 10.2-inch E Ink screen, a stylus that attaches to the side of the device, and a bunch of new software, the $339.99 Scribe is trying to be as much a tablet as an ebook reader. It’s available for preorder today, and Amazon promises it’ll be out before the holidays.


Ultimately, how the Scribe’s writing experience works and feels is the biggest question about this device. You can buy it with one of two stylus options: a “Basic Pen” or a “Premium Pen” for $30 more that also includes a customizable shortcut button and an eraser sensor on the top. Both use the same Wacom EMR technology and magnetically attach to the side of the Scribe but don’t have batteries or need to be charged.


Amazon built new note-taking capabilities into its reader so you can tap on a passage and scribble a note, similar to the way you’d highlight or type a note on the on-screen keyboard.

I’m not really interested in handwritten notes (without handwriting recognition), and I wish it had page-turn buttons, but the large display is interesting. It also looks surprisingly responsive in the video.


Update (2023-01-05): Scott McNulty:

I have to say the note-taking aspect of the Kindle Scribe is the least interesting thing about it to me. And yet I bought one immediately.

Why? That glorious screen. This is the best Kindle screen I’ve ever read on—I’ve read four books on it so far—and I’ve used a few Kindle screens in my day. I could list all the tech specs, but I’m not going to because they don’t matter to me. I’ll just say that the crispness combined with the even lighting and size make it a joy to read on.


The one thing (or, technically, two things) missing from the Scribe are its page-turn buttons. Even the flippin’ DX(s) had them, so I am slightly perplexed by their absence. It doesn’t keep me from loving the Scribe, but it keeps me from truly madly loving it.


I’m very impressed with how much writing on the Scribe feels like jotting a note on a piece of paper. Every stroke from the pen pretty much appeared on the screen in real-time.

Update (2023-02-14): Parker Ortolani:

After using the Kindle Scribe I can no longer enjoyably write on an iPad with the Apple Pencil, it just feels wrong… maybe a paper like screen protector would help but I don’t want to hurt the quality of the display…

Update (2023-05-03): Frank Reiff:

Listening to the e-reader debate on @atpfm this week: the Kindle Scribe is by far the most responsive Kindle ever.

Really makes a huge difference.

The pen and paper feel is second to none; there is no lag and crosshatching on a screen is uncanny.

Update (2023-05-25): Sheena Vasani:

Starting today, you can now actually convert handwriting to typed text on your Kindle Scribe and write on pages.

Kirk McElhearn:

I very much like the Kindle Oasis, but it always felt a bit small to me. I like to read with fonts larger than in most print books, and this means that I have to switch pages very often. With the Kindle Scribe, I can have fonts the same size, yet the pages look more like real pages; the width of the lines and the number of lines is closer to what I see in a paperback book.


Perhaps Amazon made a mistake: there are probably people like me who want a Kindle with a larger screen, but who don’t want to take notes, and don’t want to pay a premium for a feature they won’t use. After all, what made the Kindle successful was the fact that it was a single task device, for reading and nothing else. At the discounted price, it makes sense as a larger Kindle; at full price, it’s just too expensive.

I think the ideal Kindle would be somewhere between the size of the Oasis and the Scribe. While you get more portability with the Oasis, it feels cramped with larger fonts, because the line lengths are too short.

Update (2023-09-04): Kyle Hughes:

I have every Kindle. The Scribe is the most luxurious reading experience for sure. Same PPI as the Oasis but perceptibly clearer with better contrast. Feels as solid. Obviously heavier, not one-handable, and no hardware page-turn buttons; all overwhelmed by how nice it is to fit that much text on the screen. Also much faster than the Oasis.

If you want the most deluxe reading experience and understand the two-handed size then it’s a winner.


Matt Ronge (last October):

We launched Astropad in 2015, and rapidly bootstrapped the business to just shy of 20 people. In 2017 we launched our first hardware product Luna Display.

Things were going well. Sales were strong. We made more in a month than we made in our first year alone!

Then Apple noticed us. They had us fly out to present our products to some senior execs.


Time passes, until WWDC 2019... At that event Apple revealed Sidecar, which was clearly inspired by our products. On top of that they created private APIs that Sidecar used which are eerily similar to our suggestions.


For over two years we worked on rewriting and designing for the PC. It was an incredibly complex and difficult project.

Juli Clover (Giovanni Donelli):

Astropad, known for Astropad Studio software and the Luna Display dongle, today announced the launch of its latest project, called Darkboard. The Darkboard is a lightweight drawing surface designed to be used with the iPad, providing a more ergonomic way to sketch and draw wherever you are.

Weighing in at 1.4 pounds, the Darkboard is made from a rigid foam material that cushions the arm and wrist while still providing comfort and support. Astropad says that the Darkboard is ideal for using on the couch, in bed, and in other situations where you don’t have the best ergonomic setup.

I don’t think this product will get Sherlocked.