Archive for May 24, 2023

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Ivory for Mac


Ivory is free to download, but requires a subscription to use. You may subscribe and immediately cancel to activate a 7-day free trial and evaluate its features in full. Outside of the trial and subscription, the app is limited to one account and limited to read-only mode. The iOS+iPadOS app is a separate subscription, but there is a bundled discount if you want use Ivory across iOS, iPadOS, and macOS.

Joe Rossignol:

A new “Universal” subscription tier allows users to access Ivory across the Mac, iPhone, and iPad for $24.99 per year, or users can subscribe to the Mac app on its own for $14.99 per year.

John Voorhees:

What Ivory brings to the growing field of native apps is what we saw with iOS and iPadOS: impeccable taste and snappy performance that few other apps can match.


Ivory’s multi-column design is the most readable of any Mastodon app I’ve used. It’s easy with multiple columns of text and media for a multi-column window to look cluttered, so it’s a testament to Ivory’s design that it’s as readable as it is. One of the touches that helps a lot is that instead of including a tab bar for each column, Ivory uses drop-down menus at the top of each column to allow users to pick what the column shows. That eliminates a lot of duplicative interface elements you find in other apps like Mona.

I really appreciate the additional columns I can open on the Mac. When I use Ivory on my iPhone, it’s usually to read my own timeline. However, when I’m at my Mac, I’m usually working and want to keep tabs on the mentions coming into our MacStories accounts.

I discovered in the interregnum that the traditional Twitter client paradigm is not ideal for me. After using NetNewsWire to read Mastodon, I find that I prefer reading posts by account rather than mixed together in a timeline. I like having unread indicators and being able to bulk-mark certain ranges, accounts, or folders as read. I like not worrying about losing my scroll position or losing access to older posts if I take too long to read them. I like single-press archiving to EagleFiler.

That said, the combination of RSS and a Web browser is awkward and slow for basically any interaction other than skimming/reading, though Homecoming for Mastodon helps. I’d like to be able to use Ivory for these other tasks and to handle multiple accounts. I’m a bit put off, though, that it feels so much like an iOS app, in ways that Tweetbot didn’t. The Settings window seems even more constricted and rigid than System Settings, and I can’t close it with Command-W when it’s showing a subscreen. On the other hand, without Catalyst there wouldn’t be a Mac version today.

More importantly, I can’t stand being forced to use Universal Links. Universal Links that I could opt into would be great, but it seems like you can still only manually opt-out on a per-click basis. If every Mastodon link is going to switch to Ivory instead of staying in my browser—or, worse, open in Safari with a “Do you want to allow this page to open ‘Ivory’?” alert—I’m afraid I’ll probably have to uninstall it.


Update (2023-05-29): John Gruber:

Ivory for Mac is a Mac app. But, numerous Catalyst-isms show through. System-wide Services menu items don’t work. Smart punctuation (automatic curly quotes and proper em-dashes when you type two hyphens) only work when you type slowly. Some views scroll via standard keyboard shortcuts (space/shift-space, Page Up/Page Down), but some don’t. A lot of these are things that I consider shortcomings in Apple’s Catalyst framework — the whole point of Cocoa from 20+ years ago is that standard controls get standard behavior out of the box, relieving developers from the drudgery of making simple expected platform-standard features work. Catalyst isn’t like that — or at least isn’t like that yet.

Old Macs and Activation Lock

Brendan Nystedt:

Within the secondhand community, even Macs with soldered-down components are looked at as having value, and ingenious tinkerers are repairing, upgrading, and adding software support to old machines long after Apple moved on to something new.

YouTuber Collin Mistr, known as dosdude1, demonstrates his skilled approach to upgrading and modifying older Macs on his channel. The videos are far from polished but show off how modifications and soldered-on upgrades can give old Macs new life.


As old Macs are dropped from Apple’s supported list, the Open Core Legacy Patcher project swoops in, using tricks learned when running macOS on non-Apple hardware and gives its utilities away for free.


A hard reality may be coming up for these savvy hardware and software hackers. With the advent of tighter security, things like Apple’s T1 and T2 chips, along with device management software, can turn older Macs into trash, with little hope of resuscitation or repair. “I know Apple claims [Activation Lock] is mostly for anti-theft, which it does prevent, but they try to hide from you that most locked devices you find out there, on eBay or in surplus sales, are locked not because they were stolen, but because the organization that had the devices didn’t know the lock exists in the first place,” opines Colin Mistr. “[Apple] doesn’t care…they’d rather the device be destroyed than reused.”

Tom Shouler (via Hacker News):

Jordan works at a small business. On her first day, Jordan purchased a brand new MacBook at the Apple Store and signed into her personal iCloud account. A year later, Jordan enrolled the device in the company’s MDM solution, but shortly after that, she left the company and moved across the country for a new job. Jordan’s device was wiped two days after her last day, consistent with the company’s usual off-boarding procedures. A new hire replaced Jordan and was given that same MacBook a few weeks later, but the MacBook was Activation Locked behind Jordan’s iCloud account. The company reached out to Jordan for help, but she couldn’t remember the device password and felt uncomfortable sharing her personal iCloud credentials. The device was unable to be used, so it had to be eWasted.


This is an unfortunate story, especially since MacBooks are not a trivial investment for most businesses. We’ve heard from many administrators who have been caught by surprise with Activation Lock and now own a $2,000 paperweight. It’s critical for any company that owns macOS devices to understand this risk.


To best insulate your business from this pain, we recommend two things[…]

Activation Lock is tied to Find My, which I have always disabled because I’m more worried about remote wiping than losing my Mac. I kind of wish these settings weren’t all bundled together.

Mr. Macintosh:

You can remove the firmware password + erase all data on a 2018-2020 T2 Mac with Apple Configurator 2 (Does not remove Activation Lock)


Update (2023-07-11): See also: Hacker News.

The AARD Code and DR DOS

Geoff Chappell:

Some programs and drivers in some pre-release builds of Windows 3.1 include code that tests for execution on MS-DOS and displays a disingenuous error message if Windows is run on some other type of DOS. The message tells of a “Non-fatal error” and advises the user to “contact Windows 3.1 beta support”. Some programs in the released build include the code and the error message, and even execute the code, performing the same tests, but without acting on the result to display the error message.

Geoff Chappell (via Hacker News):

For roughly a year after I noticed on 17th April 1992 that the HIMEM.SYS driver from a Microsoft Windows 3.1 beta contained what eventually became known as the AARD Code, I had no idea which non-standard DOS had been affected.


By the late 1990s, the AARD code had no small role in a court case, Caldera, Inc. v. Microsoft Corp., 72 F. Supp.2d.1295 (D. Utah 1999), which Caldera, who was by then the owner of DR DOS after Digital Research and Novell, brought against Microsoft “for damages and injunctive relief under the antitrust laws of the United States, and for damages in tort”. The AARD code has ever since been for many some sort of pin-up for anti-competitive practices by Microsoft.


I, for the record, have tended to side with Microsoft on this: not on the general question of anti-competitive practices, for which Microsoft deserves far greater condemnation than the computer industry and various governments have allowed it to escape with, but on the AARD code specifically; and not then for the disingenuous error message and the code’s obfuscation, which I always thought childish and quickly also regarded as despicable, but for Microsoft’s general disposition to DR DOS.