Stephen Hackett's weblog about Apple, Apple history, technology, journalism and design.

On the Oxford Comma

Walt Hickey at FiveThirtyEight:

FiveThirtyEight and SurveyMonkey Audience ran a poll from June 3 to 5 asking 1,129 Americans which camp they fell into, and wouldn’t you believe it? We’re split on that comma.

We asked respondents which sentence was, in their opinion, more grammatically correct: “It’s important for a person to be honest, kind and loyal.” Or: “It’s important for a person to be honest, kind, and loyal.” The latter has an Oxford comma, the former none.

The result was pretty much down the middle, with pro-Oxford partisans commanding 57 percent of the vote and opponents to the tyranny of the extra comma grabbing 43 percent. Although those numbers might be enough to defeat Eric Cantor, it’s hardly a clear victory for the Oxfordians.

As a general rule, AP drops punctuation and spaces to preserve space. While newspapers are dying (and the guys who used to set type by hand are gone), I prefer the style. I learned AP style in high school and college and my brain barely registers that the punctuation exists, much to the chagrin of my wife and her fancy English degree.

via The Loop

Computerworld going digital-only

Scot Finnie:

On June 23, we will publish the last print issue of Computerworld.

It was 47 years ago, almost to the day, that Computerworld's very first issue rolled off the presses: June 21, 1967. The newspaper's first publisher was the late Patrick J. McGovern, who was the founder and chairman of International Data Group (IDG), Computerworld's parent company.

It's sad to lose anything that has endured so long. But we are merely taking part in the natural evolution of the media industry, like so many great publications before us. Trains, after all, were once powered by coal and steam; Computerworld is moving from paper to electrons.

NYT Innovation Report 2014

It's not hard to look at The New York Times' and wonder what the newspaper's leadership is doing on the digital front. This 96-page internal report is a hard look at the company's missteps in the online arena. It's a fascinating read.

via Vox

The iPhone rumor that just won't die

Richard Padilla at MacRumors:

Apple is gearing up to incorporate Near Field Communication (NFC) technology in the iPhone 6, according to a report from BrightWire citing sources familiar with the matter. The report also notes that Apple has struck a deal with China UnionPay to integrate the banking company's services into Passbook and elsewhere.

Here's Eric Slivka in March 2013:

China Times reports [Google translation, via Mac Otakara] that Taiwanese chip firm Chipbond has been selected to provide a number of components for the iPhone 5S, including the touch display driver as well as chips to support fingerprint sensor and near field communications (NFC) capabilities. The report suggests that Apple will use the fingerprint sensor functionality to enhance the security of NFC features such as mobile payments.

...and in June 2012:

9to5Mac reports that it has reanalyzed the previously-obtained hardware code dump for Apple's next-generation iPhone prototypes and discovered that the code makes reference to hardware components supporting near field communication (NFC) capabilities.

...and in November 2011:

Following conflicting rumors about whether the iPhone 4S would include near field communication (NFC) technology (rumors that were eventually decided in the negative), Digitimes reports that Apple is indeed one of the vendors still expected to introduce NFC-enabled operating system software (and thus hardware) in 2012. Apple's inclusion of NFC in next year's iPhone would appear to come as part of a tipping point for the technology, with the technology's prevalence in the smartphone industry set to increase from about 10% to over 50% in the span of two to three years.

Here's Arnold Kim in January 2011:

According to this source, Apple has already made prototype payment terminals intended for small businesses to scan NFC-enabled iPhones and iPads. These terminals could be subsidized or even given away to encourage adoption.

Apple has been hiring NFC experts as well as applied for several patents on the technology. A couple of previous reports have also pegged the next generation iPhone as having NFC technology built in.

...and in November 2010:

Apple's interest in Near Field Communication (NFC), the short-range wireless technology that supports such services as "tap and go" credit card payments, has been well-established, but a new report claims that Apple maybe be planning to include the technology in the fifth-generation iPhone to allow Mac users to essentially keep a portable version of their Mac on their iPhone and wirelessly allow any compatible Mac to run as if it was their own Mac.

MacStories 4.0

Federico Viticci:

For MacStories 4.0, we wanted to get back to basics. We deleted the old design and codebase and decided to focus on what, ultimately, readers come to MacStories for: reading articles.

We realized very early on that our readers don’t need to see dozens of boxes or widgets in a sidebar, nor do they want to deal with multiple toolbars, menus, or guessing RSS feeds on their own. Readers want a readable article, not an article hidden somewhere in a cluttered sea of stuff. We redesigned MacStories with the idea of prioritizing articles over everything else, using a responsive layout to let content take advantage of every screen size.

I've been reviewing the site's new design for several weeks now, and boy, is it good. I welcome our new Italian responsive web design overlords.

What the Freedom of Speech actually means

We all hear people complaining that their right to free speech is being taken away, or that if some jerk on TV says something terrible and is fired, their First Amendment rights have been violated by a television network.

In reality, however, the right to free speech is a contract between the federal government and its citizens. It says nothing — and offers no protection — from real-world consequences for saying something others disagree with or find inflammatory.

Colbert to replace Letterman

Merissa Marr at the WSJ:

CBS said in a news release that it had signed a five-year agreement with Mr. Colbert to take over its flagship show when Mr. Letterman retires next year.

Mr. Colbert, 49 years old, will retire the character he plays on his Comedy Central show—a sendup of Republican talk-show hosts—and will be himself as the host of the CBS show, the company said.

I truly enjoy The Colbert Report, and will miss the character, but Stephen Colbert is a genius nonetheless.

This seems like a good a time as any to remember the 2006 White House Correspondents' Dinner:

On the Apple TV's future, the Chromecast and headlines

When I saw someone tweet a link to this article, I thought:

Apple already has a "Chromecast killer." It's AirPlay, and it's been around for years.

Then I clinked the link and noticed the URL:


The headline it ran with is certainly more inflammatory than the slug is, and I certainly fell for the bait.

Here's Adario Strange lede:

With rumors surfacing that Apple may be working on a streaming television service with Comcast, it's only natural that some observers are beginning to wonder what form Apple's smart TV will take in the future.

To that end, Germany-based Curved has come up with a very realistic-looking take on what it might look like if Apple decided to launch an answer to Google's Chromecast HDMI dongle.

The rest of his story is filled with some product mockups of an HDMI dongle. That's it. There's nothing about the features of the Chromecast, or of the Apple TV. Nothing about AirPlay, or the technology Google has developed in its product.


On the whole 'Apple dropping Snow Leopard from support' thing

Gregg Keizer at Computerworld:

Apple on Tuesday made it clear that it will no longer patch OS X 10.6, aka Snow Leopard, when it again declined to offer a security update for the four-and-a-half-year-old operating system.

As Apple issued an update for Mavericks, or OS X 10.9, as well as for its two predecessors, Mountain Lion (10.8) and Lion (10.7), Apple had nothing for Snow Leopard or its owners yesterday.

Keizer fails to mention that Snow Leopard wasn't affected by Apple's goto fail; bug, but hey, I'm not a security reporter. Let's move on:

Snow Leopard was also ignored in December, when Apple patched Safari 6 and 7 for newer editions of OS X, but did not update Safari 5.1.10, the most-current Apple browser for the OS.

In that paragraph, Keizer links to this article, in which he writes:

Apple has apparently decided to kill support for OS X Snow Leopard, the 2009 operating system that has resisted retirement for more than a year.

On Monday, Apple did not update Safari 5.1 when it patched the later Safari 6 and 7 for newer editions of OS X, including 2011's Lion, 2012's Mountain Lion and this year's Mavericks.

Keizer is referring to the release of Safari 6.1.1 and Safari 7.0.1, which took place in December of last year.

According to CVE Details, the issue related to user credentials and autofills weren't an issue in Safari 5.1, as were none of the other CVE-IDs listed in Apple's document.

I don't know if Apple's dropped support for OS X Snow Leopard. It would be weird for the company do it mid-stride, but Keizer's evidence of Apple's "apparent" change just don't add up.