John Roderick Reviews Michael Bublé's Latest Album

John Roderick, The Talk House:

The appeal of Sinatra/Martin/Davis Jr. in Vegas in 1965 is obvious, but their slick suits, whiskey and cigarettes can’t be divorced from the fact that they were all in their forties, they’d been through a war, they were Italians and Jews and blacks in an unintegrated country, their audience was shitfaced and angry, and there were mobsters waiting by the stage door. To whatever degree big-band music and Rat Pack culture seem suave and cool, it was a product of a pressure-cooker of violence, racism, alcohol and PTSD. Bublé wants to be suave, and his fans want a little taste of being smooth, but they simply don't have as much pain to put behind them.

If you've never listend to Roderick on the Line, you're missing out.

My New Job

Adam Engst, TidBITS:

It gives me great pleasure to share the news that Josh Centers has agreed to join TidBITS Publishing Inc. full time as the managing editor of TidBITS, effective immediately.

Today, I became managing editor of TidBITS -- a lifelong dream come true. I devoured tech mags as a kid, and after deciding that I wasn't meant to be a coder, majored in journalism with the intention of eventually working for one. That dream eventually died, until my 29th birthday when I realized, with much panic, that my life was going nowhere fast.

I started this blog last August with the intention of writing about how to follow one's dreams. But I got sidetracked along the way. I started writing about tech stuff, and pretty soon, high profile people in the tech journalism community started to notice. So in spite of this detour, I ended up fullfilling the blog's mission after all.

Adam and Tonya Engst, the husband and wife duo behind TidBITS, are two of the sweetest, kindest people I've ever had the pleasure of knowing, and it's a thrill to be working for them. I'm their first full-time employ, so thanks to them for taking a chance on me.

And of course special thanks to Glenn Fleishman, my champion and mentor, without whom this wouldn't have happened.

Last, but not least, thanks to my mom. We've had our ups and downs, but she birthed me, raised me, and put me through school after my father, the blue collar Tony Stark, passed away. I've had a lot of great friends, supporters, and mentors over the years, but without her, I would literally be nothing.

Find What You Love and Let It Kill You

James Rhodes, The Guardian:

The government is cutting music programmes in schools and slashing Arts grants as gleefully as a morbidly American kid in Baskin Robbins. So if only to stick it to the man, isn't it worth fighting back in some small way? So write your damn book. Learn a Chopin prelude, get all Jackson Pollock with the kids, spend a few hours writing a Haiku. Do it because it counts even without the fanfare, the money, the fame and Heat photo-shoots that all our children now think they're now entitled to because Harry Styles has done it.

Quit fucking around.

iCloud's Documents in the Cloud is Fundamentally Broken

Ellis Hamburger, The Verge:

Many veteran developers have learned their lesson and given up on iCloud’s Core Data syncing entirely. "Ultimately, when we looked at iCloud + Core Data for [our app], it was a total no-go as nothing would have worked," said one best-selling iPhone and Mac developer. "Some issues with iCloud Core Data are theoretically unsolvable (stemming from the fact that you’ve put an object model on top of a distributed data store) and others are just plain bugs in the implementation," he said. Syncing alternatives exist, but none of them live up to the goals iCloud set out to achieve nearly two years ago: creating a seamless syncing solution that "just works" without logging in or setting up anything.

It's no secret that developers have been abandoning iCloud, and for good reason, as I learned last year. However, Hamburger's piece shows just how bad the situation is. It's not just a buggy, poorly documented implementation, it in fact just doesn't work.

Steve Jobs was visually imaginative, which is wonderful for hardware and even most types of software. But you can't just dream up a network infrastructure. Having every app be its own self-contained database sounds great, but in practice just does not work, as the piece goes on to explain:

Second, Dropbox uses Document-based syncing. If you’ve ever tried to sync an iPhoto library with Dropbox, you know that Dropbox also chokes on databases. As Jumsoft and several developers have confirmed, document-syncing isn’t what they’re after: the dream is to have databases on two or more devices that stay perfectly in sync. In truth, nobody has been able to do the job well in the iOS space, so iCloud was a beacon of hope at its inception.

The article insinuates that Apple doesn't care enough to fix the problem. I don't think that's the case. Rather, I don't think they know how to fix the problem. They aimed high, but ultimately bit off more than they can chew.

Sometimes the simplest solution is the best:

When Apple does use iCloud, it most often doesn’t even use Core Data to sync information. Apps like Keynote, for example, use the far simpler Document-based syncing method. Keynote must work, so Apple keeps a close eye on Document-based syncing functionality. And when it does rely on Core Data, Apple’s software has no more luck than third party developers. Apple’s simple Trailers app uses Core Data to sync, and periodically loses track of user Favorites. "The best Apple technologies are ones they use themselves," one developer told me.

Google Kills Reader


We launched Google Reader in 2005 in an effort to make it easy for people to discover and keep tabs on their favorite websites. While the product has a loyal following, over the years usage has declined. So, on July 1, 2013, we will retire Google Reader. Users and developers interested in RSS alternatives can export their data, including their subscriptions, with Google Takeout over the course of the next four months.

Google's transition from free Web services to hardware products shows just how hard the advertising market has been hit these past few years. If you use ad blockers, you have no right to cry about losing Reader.

But as Marco Arment points out, this will likely lead to a new golden age of RSS. Good ideas don't die on the Internet: they either last forever or evolve into something better. If file sharing is still around, why worry about RSS?

Fire Eric Holder

Earlier this week, Attorney General Eric Holder defended the prosecution of the late Aaron Swartz with some rather convoluted reasoning:

Eric Holder: "There was never an intention for him to go to jail for longer than a three-, four-, potentially five-month range. That was what the government said specifically to Mr. Swartz. Those — those offers were rejected."

Sen. John Cornyn: "Does it strike you as odd that the government would indict someone for crimes that would carry penalties of up to 35 years in prison and million-dollar fines and then offer him a three- or four-month prison sentence?"

Eric Holder: "Well, I think that’s a good use of prosecutorial discretion to look at the conduct, regardless of what the statutory maximums were, and to fashion a sentence that was consistent with what the nature of the conduct was. And I think that what those prosecutors did in offering three, four, zero to six was consistent with that conduct."

Sen. John Cornyn: "So you don’t consider this a case of prosecutorial overreach or misconduct?"

Eric Holder: "No, I don’t look at what necessarily was charged as much as what was offered in terms of how the case might have been resolved."

So, despite threatening to throw Swartz in the slammer for 35+ years, all they were trying to do was bully him into pleading guilty, so they could lock him away for a few months for essentially nothing. Instead, they bullied him into tying a rope around his neck.

Then later in the week, Holder admitted that he is completely and totally unable to uphold the law:

"I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if you do prosecute, if you do bring a criminal charge, it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy," he said. "And I think that is a function of the fact that some of these institutions have become too large."

If he's not willing to stand for justice, or at least the law, then what are we paying him to do?

An Awkward Moment at Best Buy

Karin Hernandez,

However, in the case of the remote Yahoo! employees, Meyer decided that the data indicated a true problem, and took steps to remedy it. Whether this drastic solution will help to solve Yahoo!’s problems or not remains to be seen.

In the meantime, critics have been brutal. Jody Thompson and Cali Ressler, designers of the flexible work policy at Best Buy, said “…last week, you didn’t just mess up. You dug yourself a hole that no one can see to the bottom of. You made a move that has effectively painted you as 2013’s CEO Who Doesn’t Get It. And we might as well just give that award to you right now for the next 7 years… because what you’ve done has sealed your place at the top of that list for a very long time.

Karin Hernandez, later that day:

A few days after Yahoo!’s new CEO Marissa Mayer issued the news that Yahoo employees are no longer permitted to work from home, Best Buy terminated its own flexible work policy, reported on March 5.

Project Amy Adds App.Net Messaging to the Mac

Great work from Pocket developer Steve Streza. Just install the package, and you'll be able to send messages to users from the built-in Messages app. I'm excited to see what else comes out of yesterday's hackathon.

I didn't give a flip about until the File API was released, and I saw that isn't just trying to be a Twitter clone, it's trying to become a new sort of infrastructure for applications. I'm so excited about the possibilities, I'm considering learning the API and coding something myself.