Standard Notes

On my radar, for if (when) Evernote stumbles: Standard Notes

A writing experience unlike any other. Standard Notes is free to use on every platform, and comes standard with cross-platform sync and end-to-end privacy. For those wanting a little more power and flexibility, we created Extended, which unlocks powerful editors, themes, and automated backups.

There’s an argument to be made that Evernote has been stumbling from the moment it aspired to become a Unicorn, but I’m thinking more of the way the company recently started haemorrhaging senior executives and seems directionless. The only saving grace it has right now from where I’m sitting is that it isn’t OneNote, which I have use of at work and which plainly satisfies the needs of lots of people who are deeply tied into the Microsoft Office ecosystem but which definitely isn’t for me, especially not when I do my personal computing nowadays on iOS.

[Via 4 Short Links, via Things That Have Caught My Attention]

Comment of the day

From a story about the idea that while Apple are moving into producing content directly they are keen to differentiate Apple’s own content from the sort of grittier, adult fare that seems to be a hallmark of the ongoing Golden Era of Television Drama. In particular:

Apple CEO Tim Cook reportedly killed a semi-autobiographical drama about Dr. Dre’s life. Named Vital Signs, the drama had scenes that included drug use, sex, and guns. Those scenes were apparently too scandalous for Apple to feature. Which prompted this observation, from commenter ignite ice:

macduff wrote: Why did Apple commission a Dre series in the first place? Apple bought out his company for $3 billion, did they not bother to do a background check on Dre? His gangsta rap is hardcore.

It would seem, at least on the surface, that although they bought his company, they forgot about Dre.

Yes, really.

Root?

Darius Kazemi might just be some kind of evil genius:

I gave a talk at CornCon 2018 about the history of the cron utility in UNIX systems, in the character of a man who gradually realizes that he is not speaking at CronCon, a conference about the time-based scheduler, but rather at CornCon, a conference about the cereal grain, also known as “maize”. Thanks to Casey Kolderup for taking video, and Jen Tam for hosting me.

Be sure to follow the link to see his entire performance. The moment when he started on the significance of root in the two contexts at hand, I just lost it.

[Via A Whole Lotta Nothing]

Choices, choices

As of Google Chrome version 69, Google are treating being logged in to any Google service as the same thing as being logged in to Google Chrome:

Most Google services have for me this in common with Facebook: these services are too deeply integrated and impossible to use in part or isolation. It’s either the entire system or nothing, based on how the question of consent is approached. You would like to use GMail (logged in obviously) but Google search, Youtube, Chrome etc without a login? No can do. You selected strict settings in Facebook for your profile data? You’re just an API/permission redesign away from having your choices nullified. Part of me feels that this Chrome shared computer issue that Googlers mentioned is real, but it’s also just too convenient to solve this by tieing Chrome closer to Google, you know? Note to Google: any time you find the software engineering decisions you’ve made being compared with those made by Facebook, that’s probably not a good thing for your end users these days.

[Via Extenuating Circumstances]

Rejection

Sad to say, the Apple Store and Greg Knauss have a little problem:

[Including…] the phrase “iPhone XR” or alluding to some announced, advertised, demoed but technically theoretical new phone will result in another rejection, up until October 26, 2018, when something will be released. Maybe it will be a flamethrower, or humane treatment for Foxconn workers, a phone for less than I paid for my first car! Who can say?

I know this is a ridiculous fight. I know that I agreed to this particular barrel of foolishness when I signed up to be an Apple developer. I know this is small potatoes, and that the country is on fire. I know that millions of people are battling every day for their dignity and their families and their lives. But, goddammit, this is a bridge too stupid, and I can’t cross it.

AROOGA-THUMP

I realise this is not the right time of year for posting this, but I came across this yesterday and the notion of Javier Grillo-Marxuach bringing The Middleman and the Doctor together was just too delicious to keep to myself just because it’s not Xmas again just yet:

[…] By the time The Middleman fired his grappling gun and was halfway through his arc over the ball of light and dread where the salt-and-pepper-shaker dudes had once stood – hoping to make the final, desperate act of his life the simultaneous rescue of his sidekick and dropping of a Hydrogen Atomizing, Incendiary Load, Multi-Armament-Radiating Ypsillon (so named for it’s Y-shaped form-factor) into the opening maw of the Cinderellica, the fate of the world had already been signed, sealed and delivered.

The Middleman’s final desperate act of self-sacrifice was to have been in vain.

Had he not heard – over the clamor of exploding cyborgs and henchmen – an aural phenomenon he had many years ago vowed to never forget… an echoing, pulsating mechanical howl best described as the animal husbanding of the arooga-horn from a Ford Model-A and a 1930’s Parisian hotel elevator inside one of the vacuum tubes of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop circa 1963.

AROOGA-THUMP…AROOGA-THUMP…AROOGA-THUMP!

By the time The Middleman’s swashbuckling trajectory had taken him to the spot where Wendy Watson hanged unconscious – but before he was able to flip the switch arming the Hydrogen Atomizing, Incendiary Load, Multi-Armament-Radiating Ypsillon – both he and his sidekick were in a different place altogether.

Inside the cobalt blue police call box which had inexplicably materialized over the late Kanimang Kang’s Coliseum-like lair and briefly hovered in space before vanishing with a final echoing AROOGA-THUMP!

Say what you will about the Doctor, s/he knows how to make an entrance.

[Via Grillo-Marxuach Design Bureau, via somewhere else I forgot to keep a note of at the time]

Of Interest

It’d be marvellous if writers about TV could spend a few years never mentioning Lost at the drop of a hat,1 but otherwise Person Of Interest Was Anti-Prestige TV And Too Smart For Primetime is a pretty great tribute to a genuinely great show that never got the credit it deserved.

Reese and Shaw are brute-force objects, fighting for what they believe is right. Root and Finch argue over letting the machine free, with Finch understanding that his Machine is just another interpretation of Samaritan, with Root’s belief that Samaritan is simply a badly taught God. Fusco, even when he knows the full scale of the stakes, acts as moral anchor. Faced with two giant computers fighting a global war, he mostly says things like “What the fuck?” and “All right, I’ll shoot at the bad men, but there better be a hot dog in it for me.”

And that’s the beautiful thing: You view the whole struggle from varied but understandable perspectives. That’s just sharp TV writing. You see the plot for what it is, you know who dies or survives, you know why things happen and who everyone is, and you are never thrown into the quagmire of Lost. I’ve deliberately left out the fact that J.J. Abrams was an executive producer of Person of Interest as it feels so distinctly not like the J.J. Abrams of Lost. It certainly feels more like Alias, with an ensemble cast, a shadowy enemy, a truly shitty bad guy (Arvin Sloane is a top-10 television shithead) – but it corrects many of that show’s mistakes. Person of Interest rarely leads you astray, avoids red herrings and rewards you for watching flashbacks. It’s a show with little filler, few eye-rolling twists, and yet deals with some absolutely batshit science-fiction elements.

It’s a crying shame that Peter Watts never got to release his tie-in novel for the show.

[Via Extenuating Circumstances]

Love Notes to Newton

I’d somehow failed to notice that a documentary about the Apple Newton had been released: Love Notes to Newton is a mix of historical footage about the machine’s development and tributes to the dwindling band of Newton aficionados who have tried hard to keep their Newtons in daily use in the modern world where the smartphone in your Pocket utterly outclasses its ancestor.

It’s fair to say that the Newton was an inspiring failure: Palm were the most visibly successful company that tried to follow in the Newton’s footsteps, but they didn’t ever get beyond the geek market. 1 While few users refer to their smartphones as a PDA that’s just what it is. The biggest difference between a smartphone/PDA and a Newton is that the Newton’s operating system took great pains to revolve around collections of object-oriented data that it made available to any other program on the device, where modern smartphones run standalone Apps and tend to have tighter constraints on what data is visible to different apps. To a large extent, if you can trust Newton fans to be objective for a minute, is that smartphones substitute sheer processor horsepower for smart software.

It’s tantalising to wonder what could have happened if the Newton had survived a bit longer after the return of Steve Jobs to Apple: might the improvements in Newton OS 2 (and whatever might have come to pass in Newton OS 3 if they’d got that far) have allowed the platform to flourish, or was it unfortunate enough to be a revolutionary product from a company that couldn’t afford to wait for it to outgrow the bad reputation it was saddled with because they over-promised what it was one day going to be capable of, and doubly cursed because it was a highly visible effort by a recently ousted CEO to be a visionary in the mould of his predecessor/successor?

The thing is, right now Apple’s iOS team would look at this documentary and think it couldn’t happen to them. It not only can, but one day it almost certainly will.2

Anyway, Love Notes to Newton is definitely worth a watch if you have any sense of how things were when John Sculley was running the show and it wasn’t at all clear where Apple’s next hit product was coming from.

[Via 512 Pixels]