‘Apple Watch, WatchKit, and Accessibility’

In my latest for iMore, I discuss what WatchKit might mean for accessibility.

‘Is Baseball a Racket?’

Mike Gold, in a piece for the Daily Worker, published in October 1934:

Like everything else in the country, baseball is not run primarily for the fans, but for the pocketbooks of the stockholders. Communists are often ridiculed for their insistence that everything in the present capitalist system is a “racket.” Hollywood recently caricatured the Communist who shouts on Mother’s Day, “It’s a racket!” Well, it is. It’s a racket for the flower merchants, for the candy manufacturers, for the pulpit. The sickening sentimentality that is deliberately fostered by the manufacturers, the false mother-love decorations that surround the price on the box of flowers, attest to the way the emotions of people are deliberately and viciously exploited by the manufacturer for his own profit. Baseball, too, the love of sport, is deliberately and viciously exploited by the promoters.

[…]

Workers love baseball. But baseball, in its own way, is used as an “opium of the people.” The “bosses” are cashing in on the “heroes” and cashing in on the frustrated love of the people for sports.

‘Apple Is Grinding Small Developers Underfoot’

Adam Engst for TidBITS, “iOS 8 App Development Becomes a “Bring Me a Rock” Game”:

Apple is in essence telling developers, “Bring me a rock.” When the developer returns with an app that seems to meet the published guidelines and Apple rejects it, the company is saying, “No, not that rock. Bring me a different rock.” Repeat the game until the developer gives up in frustration. This isn’t speculation — Launcher developer Greg Gardner wrote:

If developers don’t have explicit guidelines to go on and we can’t even use apps available on the App Store as an indicator of what is acceptable, our only choice is to potentially waste huge amounts of time working on apps that ultimately get rejected in an attempt to find something that will get accepted. I pleaded with this person to make public whatever guidelines they make available for app reviewers to decide what is acceptable and what is not regarding widgets. The Apple representative responded by saying that they prefer that the rules remain vague because that allows developers to come up with innovative ideas and also allows Apple to be flexible in case they change their minds later. When pressed on the issue of their policies leading to wasted developer time, I was told, “If you are afraid something you are working on will be rejected, then don’t work on it.”

Great piece, and a great analogy.

Twitter Apps in 2014

Federico Viticci wrote an epic piece for MacStories examining iOS Twitter apps:

For the past six months, I’ve been reevaluating my entire Twitter experience based on the apps I use to read tweets and interact with people. The idea made a lot more sense once I stepped out of my preconceptions: I wanted to understand what 2014 Twitter was like and if that meant sacrificing my nerd cred and use a Muggle’s Twitter app, so be it. But at the same time, I’ve gone back and forth between Twitter and third-party clients, primarily out of habit, but also because they still offer powerful features and design details that I appreciate.

I’ve been using the official Twitter client on my iPhone and iPad over the last couple weeks, and I’m generally satisfied with it. While there are things about Tweetbot which I miss, Twitter for iPhone really is a good app. Whether I stick with it long-term remains to be seen, but for the time being, I’m not missing Tweetbot that much.

See also: “Hacking the Tweet Storm”, by MG Siegler.

The Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room

Hayley Petersen, reporting for Business Insider:

Starbucks is delving into the high-end coffee market with a new kind of store that looks nothing like the coffee chain we know.

The first Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room opened Friday in Seattle, and the company has plans to build another 100 locations in the coming years.

[…]

In addition to coffee, the roastery will also offer a food menu prepared by James Beard Award-winning chef Tom Douglas. The menu includes seasonal pizzas from a Serious Pie restaurant located inside the building, as well as pastries, sandwiches, salads, and sweets.

‘Longform Overload’

Marco Arment, on the “fetish” that is long-form prose:

Rather than fetishize length, which is completely misguided, focus on quality. Length isn’t the problem that most people are looking to solve in their online reading, but we will always have an infinite appetite for high-quality material, and it’s increasingly difficult to find.

I’ve found myself lately writing shorter pieces — say, 500 to 1000 words — and find them to be among the best. They’re clear, concise, and short; I don’t feel compelled to compete with War and Peace, length-wise, all the time.

On Orion’s Test Flight

NASA, “NASA’s Journey to Mars”:

In the not-too-distant future, astronauts destined to be the first people to walk on Mars will leave Earth aboard an Orion spacecraft. Carried aloft by the tremendous power of a Space Launch System rocket, our explorers will begin their Journey to Mars from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, carrying the spirit of humanity with them to the Red Planet.

The first future human mission to Mars and those that follow will require the ingenuity and dedication of an entire generation. It’s a journey worth the risks. We take the next step on that journey this Thursday, Dec. 4, with the uncrewed, first flight test of Orion. (Follow along on the Orion Blog, or see the full schedule of events and launch viewing opportunities).

Orion is the first spacecraft built for astronauts destined for deep space since the storied Apollo missions of the 1960s and 70s. It is designed to go farther than humans have ever traveled, well beyond the moon, pushing the boundaries of spaceflight to new heights.

As I type this, my girlfriend, her mom, and I are in the midst of a two-week vacation in Florida. Our first stop was the Kennedy Space Center, and it was such an awesome tour. Space tech is so cool, and the ambitions of humankind to (further) explore the universe is even cooler. I have new respect for the US’s space program as a result of visiting the KSC.

(via 512 Pixels)

On Jeff Bezos’s Heir Apparent

Jason Del Rey reports for Recode that Amazon’s chief exec knows his successor:

At 50 years old, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said he’s having so much fun that he still dances into the office each morning. But for perhaps the first time publicly, Bezos acknowledged today that he has chosen a successor to take over when he leaves the top job.

“There is a succession plan,” Bezos said in an onstage interview on Tuesday with Henry Blodget, CEO of Business Insider, in which Bezos is an investor. “There is someone who would take over.”

Blodget, of course, asked Bezos to divulge who it is. Bezos didn’t budge, calling it a “secret,” before releasing his trademark bellowing laugh.

Intel Chips to Power Next-Gen Google Glass

Alistair Barr and Don Clark, reporting for the WSJ:

Intel Corp. will supply the electronic brains for a new version of Google Inc. ’s Glass device expected next year, people familiar with the matter said, part of a push by the semiconductor giant into wearable technology.

An Intel chip will replace a processor from Texas Instruments Inc. included in the first version of Glass, the people said.

Intel plans to promote Glass to companies such as hospital networks and manufacturers, while developing new workplace uses for the device, according to one of the people.

Powered by Intel. Bought by no one.

(via John Gruber)

‘I’m Pretty Thankful This Year’

Kevin Drum for Mother Jones, on his cancer diagnosis and health care:

[H]ealth care is suddenly a lot more real to me than ever before. Sure, I’ve always favored universal health care as a policy position. But now? It’s all I can do to wonder why anyone, no matter how principled their beliefs, would want to deny the kind of care I’ve gotten to even a single person. Not grudging, bare-bones care that’s an endless nightmare of stress and bill collectors. Decent, generous care that the richest country in the richest era in human history can easily afford.

This illustrates my problems with the condemnation of Obamacare. Why shouldn’t the government ensure that their citizens have access to healthcare? The issue shouldn’t be about “liberty” or Big Brother; it should be about the welfare of the people. (Nationalized health care would be ideal, but the ACA is the next best thing, I suppose.) From my perspective, Obamacare is a clear win: without it, I would continue to not have a health plan, and thus wouldn’t be proactively getting the care I need.

(via Daring Fireball)