Final Vacation Day

Highlights of the day.

Rainy Day

The mountains are gorgeous in the rain. Sitting outside and listening to the rain echo off the trees across the mountains is enchanting. Or ensorcelling.


I was worried last week, early in the week, that I would not be bringing enough podcasts with me on vacation. I’ve hit the end of my typical playlists (tech, economics) on regular weeks at home while working – so clearly a 10+ hour car trip and lots of time social-distancing in a cabin in the woods would drain my playlists immediately.

That did not happen.

I’ve now got a backlog. Oops.

Thank god for rainy days and Saturday’s. With podcasts.

A Cabin

It’s an amazing feeling to be up on a mountain-top, in a wood cabin, looking across the sky.

A wooden ceiling. Plain walls. Windows letting in as much natural light as they can muster.

Ready to Head Home

I do miss my cats. It will be nice to get back home and have Hamilton stepping on my eyes in the morning again. He probably misses that, too.

John’s Mac Pro Woes

From ATP episode 393, this entire chapter is wonderfully entertaining. I love tech support stories, and the “process of elimination” we all follow when trying to figure out what is causing a ghost-in-the-machine type problem.

  • Disconnect one thing
  • Disconnect another
  • Disconnect everything and hope that solves it
  • …Nuke and Pave

John Siracusa has not yet gotten to the “nuke and pave” option just yet, but it sounds like he’s getting close.

Quality Journalism and The App Store Cut

From 9To5Mac:

A letter signed by a trade group that represents top newspapers including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and the Washington Post says that Apple’s rules prevent them from investing in quality journalism. Among other changes, the letter asks for Apple’s cut of in-app purchases to be reduced to 15%.

Currently, Apple charges 30% commission on the first year of an in-app subscription. It then reduces its cut to 15% if the customer continues their subscription beyond that time. The news publishers are asking for Apple to change its policies so it only takes a 15% cut from the beginning.

If Apple is really taking a principled stand in certain places – device security, being the flagship one; software quality, perhaps a runner up – it would be great move to prioritize quality journalism as something where it says “this is an important thing our users should have”. That may not equate to charging no commission to newspaper publishers, but you’d think they could cut it down from 30%.

10% to those “quality news publications” which provide a “valuable public service” to everyone. To inform us, to educate us, to expose the reality of the world. That’s very principled.

Apple, the Corportation, is not very principled. There are some people at Apple who are principled, and we see their vision come through in certain places such as security and software quality. But to personify the Corporation itself is to make a grave error.

Reduce App Store commissions, primarily by allowing competition in key areas. Payment providers. Side-loading. Maybe (but not in the first wave) alternate app stores.

The Case of the Top Secret iPod

From Tidbits:

It was a gray day in late 2005. I was sitting at my desk, writing code for the next year’s iPod. Without knocking, the director of iPod Software—my boss’s boss—abruptly entered and closed the door behind him. He cut to the chase. “I have a special assignment for you. Your boss doesn’t know about it. You’ll help two engineers from the US Department of Energy build a special iPod. Report only to me.”

The next day, the receptionist called to tell me that two men were waiting in the lobby. I went downstairs to meet Paul and Matthew, the engineers who would actually build this custom iPod. I’d love to say they wore dark glasses and trench coats and were glancing in window reflections to make sure they hadn’t been tailed, but they were perfectly normal thirty-something engineers. I signed them in, and we went to a conference room to talk.

Interesting story. The theory that is was for a secret Geiger counter seems implausible, but definitely adds some intrigue to the tale.

Very interesting background around iPod software development, too!

Finally, the iPod team developed on Windows computers. Apple didn’t have working ARM developer tools yet, because this was before the iPhone shipped. The iPod team used ARM developer tools from ARM Ltd, which ran only on Windows and Linux.