Archive for February 5, 2024

Monday, February 5, 2024

T? and Optional<T> Are Not the Same in Swift

Nick Lockwood:

I once again got bitten by the fact that T? properties in a Swift struct become optional parameters in the synthesized initializer, making it easy to accidentally omit a property that you meant to set.

The workaround is either to use let instead of var, or to use Optional<T> instead of T?

Swift has lots of syntactic sugar, which usually makes writing it simpler and easier, but sometimes multiple bits of sugar interact or obscure what’s going on.

Jonathan Joelson:

The fact that something is nullable does not remotely imply that null is a sensible default.

Tom Dowdy and SimpleText

Mike Piontek:

I was looking at this [SimpleText document] icon for inspiration and now I’m wondering what the name of the newspaper is meant to be. pnop? 🤔 I like that the front page photo is a screenshot of a desktop.

John Calhoun (via Cabel Sasser):

Tom Dowdy was a software engineer at Apple back in 1995 when I was still writing Macintosh games in Lawrence, Kansas. One of Tom’s programming responsibilities was to maintain Apple’s SimpleText (aka TeachText) application (see document icon above) — a basic text editor that shipped with the Macintosh. He was also the tech-lead (engineering technical leader) for the graphics component of Apple’s newest graphics framework called Quickdraw GX.


But for all the stress and feeling like I was a fake among all these super-star programmers, Tom Dowdy always put me at ease. I’m not sure why. Anyone that knew him though would agree with me when I say that he was laid back and had a friendly demeanor.


It was the supposed “dark times” to be at Apple: whole teams would be suddenly let go (the rest of us that lingered still might go through the abandoned offices of once co-workers looking to pull RAM out of their hardware for our own development machines). Some engineers like Tom, could see the writing on the wall early enough and knew when to switch teams. Tom ended up moving to the QuickTime team where he was able to continue to use his graphics talents. Later he worked on the iTunes visualizer if I recall correctly.


SimpleText had been one of Tom’s responsibilities even before Steve Jobs had returned [and frowned on Easter eggs].

It turns out that the top of the newspaper icon has “Dowdy” written upside down and backwards.


Update (2024-02-07): See also: Hacker News.

The Origin of Comic Sans

Thomas Steeles (via Jason Kottke):

[Most] people know of the font. By that notion, Vincent Connare, the creator of Comic Sans, has exclaimed that “I made the best font in the world.” Whether you believe that or not, it doesn’t exclude the fact it was, at one point, the second most complained about thing on Twitter and has a whole website dedicated to its banishment.


It’s understandable to see why Connare chose comics as his main source of inspiration; there’s a clear parallel to make between the speech bubbles used in comics and the speech bubbles that Rover uses. Additionally, the accessible, child-friendly atmosphere that Microsoft Bob wanted to achieve could be seen in the design of comic books – with the less-rigid hand drawn sans serif type, and bright colours.

Connare, in around three days, created Comic Sans; however, the curvy, soft-edged font that we all know wasn’t the intended final form of the font. Comic Sans was meant for screen-use only, and due to the technical limitations in the mid 90s, Windows didn’t have anti-aliasing technology, which meant fonts were pixelated – as a result most fonts looked jagged and sharp. Knowing this, Connare specifically designed Comic Sans with aliasing in mind, so actually Comic Sans was only intended to be seen like what is shown in Figure 1.


Joe Rogan No Longer Exclusive to Spotify

Ashley Carman (2021, Hacker News):

Spotify hoped he would bring much of that audience along with him when he signed exclusively to the platform in 2020 in a reported $100 million deal, giving it the reach and power needed to take over the podcasting industry. Although Spotify hasn’t given specific numbers detailing Rogan’s listenership since he came on board, it has repeatedly boasted about his success. The company confirmed that he quickly became the platform’s biggest podcaster after jumping to Spotify.


However, a new data investigation by The Verge finds that the powerful podcaster’s influence has waned since he went behind Spotify’s wall. His show has declined as a hype vehicle for guests, and Rogan’s presence as a mainstay in the news has plummeted.

Ashley Carman (2022):

Spotify reportedly paid Joe Rogan at least $200 million to commit to podcasting on the platform exclusively for three and a half years, according to a New York Times report.

Ariel Shapiro (Hacker News):

Joe Rogan, podcasting’s biggest star, has renewed his deal with Spotify. The new multiyear deal will allow his show, which is currently exclusive to the streamer, to be distributed to YouTube, Apple, and other podcasting platforms.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed by Spotify, but The Wall Street Journal reports that the deal is estimated to be worth $250 million, including revenue share.


Even while being exclusive to Spotify, Rogan managed to have the No. 1 podcast in the world. With the new arrangement, during an election year, no less, it seems likely his listenership will only grow. Once his show gets wide distribution, Spotify will no longer have any podcasts exclusive to the platform.

There are a bunch of unknowns with this. Spotify says the $250M figure is incorrect. And we don’t know the number of years. Is Spotify getting some of the YouTube revenue? Do they control the distribution on other platforms? Regardless, it makes sense that Rogan would want wider distribution—apparently a traditional podcast with RSS again. Spotify’s strategy is not totally clear but certainly seems to have shifted.

Podnews (via Hacker News):

Spotify tells Podnews that The Joe Rogan Experience podcast saw a 45% increase in revenue in 2023; and since the podcast went exclusive to Spotify, overall podcast consumption on the platform has increased by 232%.


Spotify does still have exclusives. The Riddler: Secrets in the Dark is described as a “Spotify Audio Series”, and is not available outside of the Spotify platform. It’s part of Spotify’s multi-year agreement with DC and Warner Bros. We did note at the time that the press release studiously avoided using the word “podcast”.


Update (2024-02-07): Dare Obasanjo:

Spotify: 602 million users of which 236 million are paying subscribers and it lost €75M last quarter.