The Reckoning is Coming, or "You arrogant ass, you've killed us!!"

The coming reckoning for publishers is not “because of Apple”. It’s because of the choices the publishers themselves made, years ago, to allow themselves to become dependent on user-hostile ad networks that slow down the web, waste precious device battery life, and invade our privacy. Apple has simply enabled us, the users who are fed up with this crap, to do something about it. If aggressive content blocking were enabled out of the box, by default, I could see saying the result is “because of Apple”. But it’s not. What’s about to happen is thus because of us, the users.

I'll go a step further.

The reckoning is not because the publishers chose to ally themselves with user-hostile ad networks. The reckoning is coming because before they did that, they devalued their and all their competitors' content by refusing to consider a paid model for their work on the internet.

Publishers are morose when discussing how "it would be great if people paid for content on the web, but that's not the world we live in." They forget that it was they themselves who decided that what they published was all of a sudden not worth any money from any user as soon as they opened it in a web browser.

Once they establish that their work should be free to consume on the internet, the decsion to ally themselves with the only group that thinks their content has monetary value is a no-brainer. After that decision has been made, the idea that they then wouldn't conform to the needs of their true customer is baffling.

Apple stops development of Aperture

“With the introduction of the new Photos app and iCloud Photo Library, enabling you to safely store all of your photos in iCloud and access them from anywhere, there will be no new development of Aperture,” said Apple in a statement provided to The Loop. “When Photos for OS X ships next year, users will be able to migrate their existing Aperture libraries to Photos for OS.”

Aperture was one of the few programs for which the following things were obvious;

  • Apple didn't care about it's growth.
  • Apple wasn't actively developing it.
  • The market had moved to other, more actively-developed and feature rich alternatives.

A thousand 'no's for every 'yes'. It had to go.

Cruelty In Excelsis

But there is something different abroad in the politics now, perhaps because we are in the middle of an era of scarcity and because we have invested ourselves in a timid culture of austerity and doubt. The system seems too full now of opportunities to grind and to bully. We have politicians, most of whom will never have to work another day in their lives, making the argument seriously that there is no role in self-government for the protection and welfare of the political commonwealth as that term applies to the poorest among us. We have politicians, most of whom have gilt-edged health care plans, making the argument seriously that an insurance-friendly system of health-care reform is in some way bad for the people whom it is helping the most, and we have politicians seriously arguing that those without health-care somehow are more free than the people who have turned to their government, their self-government, for help in this area. In the wake of a horrific outbreak of violence in a Connecticut elementary school, we have enacted gun laws now that make it easier to shoot our fellow citizens and not harder to do so. Our police forces equip themselves with weapons of war and then go out and look for wars to fight. We are cheap. We are suspicious. We will shoot first, and we will do it with hearts grown cold and, yes, cruel.

Sometimes, when an article is submitted for publishing, it's headline is changed before it finally is released to the public. This can be for many reasons, sometimes as small as a hunch by the editor that one will engage with more readers. It generally doesn't have the same auteuristic pull that the text of the article has. However, in some cases (with some CMS') the original submitted title is preserved in the URL. In this case, it was: it's submitted headline was "Cruelty In Excelsis".

I like the double meaning here. One definition of In Excelsis is "of the highest order"; the other is "on high".

I think the reason that so much of the "personal responsibility" doctrine is offensive and cause for ridicule among so many is not that it in and of itself is offensive, but that it is so often communicated with and incredible amount of cruelty. The call to self-ownership and self-determination when our country was founded was uplifting and inspiring: now it's just "get a job and stop being poor if you don't want things to be terrible."

But, still, we make things terrible. I want to think that most of this is the last vestige of the baby boomer influence on politics and society. The generation of takers, of wars of choice, of economic madness and environmental disregard and Why Isn't This As Cheap As I Remember It and I Should Call The Manager is in its last decade or two, which will be highlighted with not only a rehashing of its greatest hits (like any farewell tour) but also new performances like Theres Not Enough For Both Of Us And I Was Here First (which will sound a lot like "we'll make sure to honor our existing commitments to our senior citizens before we enact the reforms we need to keep this country strong", or something of that nature) and Why Are You Pissed If You Have Nothing To Hide (pretty much what most of the non-internet savvy Congressmen think, let's be honest).

Even if some of this is an exaggeration or pointed at a smaller percentage of people than I think, the trend leans toward a majority of people who, guised under the doctrine of Pick Yourself Up By Your Bootstraps and No One Can Give This To You, treat people with astonishing cruelty.

One definition of In Excelsis is "of the highest order"; the other is "on high". Both are true.

A Finite Affair

But once all those steps are done and we arrive at a finished, fresh roasted, whole bean coffee product, coffee brewing is a finite affair – the ceiling of transcendence already established earlier in the chain. No amount of fussing, no fancy "perfect coffee" contraptions, no calibration tools, no deep finesse, will move the bean outside of its now establish bounds. Those that claim otherwise are either selling or sipping some snake oil. We often project onto the black box of our beans a potential that isn't really there, chasing dragons that no longer exist.

--Tony Konecny, founder of Tonx. (h/t to Marco Arment)

The Invisible Line

People can draw distinctions of all sorts with programmers based on their experience, what language they use, what their education is or whatever, and this distinction I think is the most important one - much more so than any of those other things, no matter what their education is, how long they've been doing it, what language they're writing in. I usually tend to bin programmers into two groups.

One is the programmers who take something that someone else wrote and use it to make a program. They learn Ruby on Rails and they make a web application. They learn UIKit and they make an iOS application, right? And those people distinguish between the magical elves that make the things theyre going to use to write their program and their program.

The second set of people make no distinction between the things they're using to write their program and their program. It's all one continuous thing, and those are the people that are going to write their own thing even though the vendor provides one, or those are the people who are going to write their own web frameworks or their own blog engines, or, you know, in the extreme case, their own language.

Its a complete continuum, and there's no hard and fast line between These are the words I type to make my program work and this is my program. I don't know if you call them "Tool Builders", it doesnt necessarily have to be that type of thing, but there are some people who will never cross that line, and in every environment they find themselves in programming, they will draw that distinction somewhere and say, "That is other, and I don't do that, and that is magic, and I call those things to make my program work, and then MY program is a series of conditionals and loops and variables and classes or whatever that use that thing to do their work."

I think that distinction is, well, being afraid and trying to draw that line and using it as a barrier and saying, "I shouldn't cross over the line." Now, one thing is practicality, like maybe you shouldn't write your own programming language and compiler to do this tip calculator program or something. That's one side of it.

The other side of it is that I see a lot of people who draw that line and are afraid to ever cross it. Everyone starts with that line, because nobody knows what the heck you're doing when you start out, right? But I would encourage everybody who thinks they can recognize that line to realize that line doesnt exist. It's all one big continuum of code written by people, and theres no reason you can't write a better one of whatever it is you're using, all the way up and down the chain, and in some cases you should.

I mean, obviously, knowing when you should and when you shouldn't is a whole separate matter, but if there's a reason not to do it, its not because "Oh, I'm going to screw it up, and I'm not as good as this," because the people who made those things are, at a certain point, they're just other people too. Who made FMDb? It's just another guy. The only way you'll ever get good at doing something like that is to decide "I'm going to make my own thing, here." And then your thing might not be as good, but the fifth version of your thing will be as good, and then you've just become one of those people and that line is gone.

--John Siracusa, from Ep. 24 of the Accidental Tech Podcast

iWork '13 New Feature: Bitching and Moaning

And as Goble points out, even before now, iWork apps haven't been a shining paragon of AppleScript virtue. iWork apps aren't the only Apple-made products that suffer from limited automation support. On balance when it comes to AppleScript, Apple is a somewhat lousy and really inconsistent eater of its own dog food. I've never been able to figure out why.

BECAUSE NOBODY GIVES A SHIT.

100 Million Lines of Bullshit

But while the numbers in the Times article don’t tell us much about the healthcare.gov codebase itself, they do tell us something about the “specialist” sources that inform the article. The sources are not programmers, because programmers would not speak in terms of lines of code with no further context.

You want to know how to do great reporting? Be informed about the subject of your writing beyond bare necessity.  

This isn't about just technology - this is across the board: journalists take what other people say and write it down without it passing through a moderately armed bullshit filter.  What really gets me is when technology writers do this about technology.   

Reeder 2

After Google Reader shut down (or, more directly, after Google killed Google Reader) I looked for a replacement RSS aggregator and syncing service. I only had one requirement: on my iPhone, I had to be able to use Reeder.

Reeder on my iPhone is without a doubt the app I spend the most time in, and that was also true on the Mac until Google Reader died. If 90% of the sites I read had a responsive design with a well laid out mobile version, I wouldn't know.

Reeder just hit 2.0 with a new universal app for iPhone and iPad. It's wonderful, and it's fully iOS7-ready for an even better reading and browsing experience. Plus, there's an added level of playfulness throughout the UI. If you use RSS, read news or blogs, or appreciate content brought to you in a pleasing, easy-to-read format, check this app out.

Buy it here.

More Self-Indulgent Prose Regarding Today's Event

Sunday was football day, which found me in three different places, prone, watching at least 30 football games, some concurrently, some given the full measure of their grandeur in full screen uninterrupted display. My companions vaired in both the locus of their support and their emotional climax: some victorious, some tensely relieved, some dejectedly defeated.

I've never been a huge football fan, unless there's a period of time I can't remember in my youth where I was passionate about these things. I can enjoy watching a game: I appreciate competition and sportsmanship as much as the next guy.

However, I'm a nerd, and throughout the celebration and grief and intensity of Sunday I had one inescapable thought:

My team's going to win on Tuesday.

As technology and their benefactors have entered pop culture and CEO's and SVP's of Design have become celebrities, lines inevitably were drawn and sides were taken. The period of the fanboy began, in an instant ratcheting up and infantilizing the debate, a debate which, if it existed, never contained the malice it contains now.

People viewing this event in that context might think that, regarding my previous statement, my "team" is Apple, Inc. Although I do follow them, and have a high regard for their products, their business and their engineering philosophy, that's not to whom I was referring.

I'm a nerd. My team is the future.