The Initial Charge Linked List

 
The Initial Charge Linked List is a frequently updated list of notable links and commentary. You can subscribe to the Linked List with its dedicated RSS feed or you can follow along on the main feed, which includes both Linked List items and feature articles from the site.
 

Sonic Mania ➝

Timothy Seppala, writing for Engadget:

From the trailer below, Mania looks unapologetically old school, replete with chiptune music and the series’ trademark hyper-colorful pixel-art style. Three playable characters are on tap (Sonic, Tails and Knuckles) and in addition to a new move like the drop dash and new levels, Mania will apparently put a couple of twists on old stages as well.

This sounds like the kind of game I can get excited about. I was a huge fan of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and Sonic & Knuckles growing up and I wouldn’t mind reliving those memories with this.

Pokémon Go Isn’t the Solution to Nintendo’s Problems ➝

Chris Kohler, writing for Wired:

You can attribute the fluctuations to irrational exuberance on the part of investors, as Nintendo doesn’t publish Pokemon Go. It co-owns the rights to the franchise, and holds stakes in Go publishers Niantic and The Pokemon Company, so it is surely making some money from Go. But nobody knows how much. More to the point, Nintendo didn’t create the game, and so its existence doesn’t suggest that Nintendo’s management finally “gets it.”

I think this piece paints a gloomier picture of Nintendo’s future than I’d prefer. But I agree that we shouldn’t be treating Pokémon Go as the beginning of Nintendo truly understanding the mobile marketplace. The reality is that Nintendo had little —likely zero — to do with Pokémon Go’s development. My assumption is that this the game’s success will teach them that it’s okay to release some of their franchise games on iOS and Android, but I don’t expect the flood gates to open just yet. Things will probably get a lot worse before they get better.

Disable Find My Mac by Resetting NVRAM ➝

Adam Engst, writing for TidBits:

In essence, Apple stores the Find My Mac data in NVRAM, which is good for keeping it around even if the hard drive is removed, but bad in the sense that it’s easy to reset NVRAM — just restart while holding down Command-Option-P-R. A quick test confirmed the problem in OS X 10.11 El Capitan, and nothing has changed in the public beta of macOS 10.12 Sierra.

The only way to prevent this is to set a firmware password.

Backup and Restore in Ulysses ➝

Alisdair Daws:

Ulysses handles backups automatically. (My iPhone asked if I wanted to correct that to automagically. I was tempted.) The default setting is for Ulysses to keep hourly backups for the past 12 hours, daily backups for the past 7 days, and weekly backups for the past 6 months. You can also make a backup yourself at any time.

I’ve used Ulysses everyday for months and had no idea it was keeping Time Machine-like backups of my work. But I’m not surprised to hear that this feature exists — this type of attention to detail is the reason I chose it as my primary writing app.

Firefox to Start Blocking Flash Content in August ➝

Sebastian Anthony, reporting for ArsTechnica:

Firefox will begin retiring Adobe Flash on August 2 with the release of Firefox 48. In 2017, probably with Firefox 53, Flash plug-ins will require the user to actively click-to-play.

First we learned that Google Chrome was going to begin phasing out Flash later this year and now Firefox is following in their footsteps. This is a trend I can get behind.

Taking a Closer Look at iOS 10’s New Lockscreen ➝

Mike Bates takes a deep dive into iOS 10’s new Lockscreen — comparing it to previous iterations and discussing the easy access to common interactions.

Twitter Now Lets Anyone Request a Verified Account ➝

Nick Statt, writing for The Verge:

Starting today, the company will let users request a verified account on its website by filling out a form with a verified phone number and email address, a profile photo, and additional information regarding why verification is required or helpful. In defining who will get approved, Twitter still says “an account may be verified if it is determined to be of public interest.” Prior to today, Twitter tended only to verify public figures, brands, and people in media, politics, sports, business, and other high-profile sectors.

That line about “public interest” is going to keep normals from having verified accounts. Hell, they won’t even give the checkmark to Federico Viticci. This is definitely a step in the right direction, but I hope they continue to lower the barrier to entry.

Apple Begins Rolling Out iTunes Match With Audio Fingerprint to Apple Music Subscribers ➝

Jim Dalrymple:

Apple has been quietly rolling out iTunes Match audio fingerprint to all Apple Music subscribers. Previously Apple was using a less accurate metadata version of iTunes Match on Apple Music, which wouldn’t always match the correct version of a particular song. We’ve all seen the stories of a live version of a song being replaced by a studio version, etc.

Using iTunes Match with audio fingerprint, those problems should be a thing of the past.

It makes no sense that they launched Apple Music with the vastly inferior metadata matching system. I’m glad it’s finally being fixed, but this shouldn’t have been a problem to begin with.

Opera Browser Sold to a Chinese Consortium for $600 Million ➝

I was a huge fan of Opera in the mid-2000s, but I probably haven’t touched the browser in over five years. I’m not surprised they had to sell — the writing’s been on the wall for a while. There just isn’t much room for them when Chrome and Firefox make up nearly 90% of the market.

The New Glif, a Tripod Mount for Smartphones ➝

From the Kickstarter page:

Almost 6 years ago, we launched the Glif, a tripod mount for the iPhone 4, on Kickstarter. The response to our campaign was incredible, and it allowed us to build our company, Studio Neat. Since then, we have released several updates to the Glif, but we are back where we started, on Kickstarter, to launch the best version yet.

I love the quick release mechanism and multiple tripod mount locations. This is such a brilliant piece of kit.

How Apple Could Improve Family Sharing ➝

Jason Snell, writing for Macworld:

Family Sharing feels very much like a version 1.0, a first crack at the idea that people with their own Apple IDs also have intermingled real lives that should probably be intermingled digitally. Nearly two years after the release of iOS 8, however, not a whole lot has changed in the realm of family sharing. And it’s got some glaring deficiencies that really need to be addressed.

Jason runs down a few features that Apple could add to improve Family Sharing. And his list includes the one feature I want most — family photo libraries. It doesn’t make any sense that my wife and I have to maintain two separate libraries. It makes ordering prints, creating photo albums, and working on other creative projects significantly more difficult. I hope Apple fixes this soon.

Netflix Launches Flixtape, ‘Mixtapes’ for Movies and TV Shows ➝

Sarah Perez, writing for TechCrunch:

Just in time for the weekend, Netflix today announced the launch of a new service called Flixtape, which the company describes as a way to make short playlists of your favorite Netflix titles. “It’s like a mixtape, but for Netflix,” the site explains. The new tool lets you create these lists based on a genre or theme of some sort, then share them with friends or family over text message, email or social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

This is one step closer to the feature I asked for a couple years ago — genius playlists.

Goolge Erases Writer and Artist’s Weblog Without Warning ➝

Mazin Sidahmed, writing for The Guardian:

Two weeks ago, writer and artist Dennis Cooper was checking his Gmail when something peculiar happened: the page was refreshed and he was notified that his account had been deactivated – along with the blog that he’d maintained for 14 years.

This is why I advocate for a reduced dependence on services controlled by others. And, at the very least, keep regular backups.

IDC Estimates That Macintosh Sales Slipped at Nearly Twice the Market Rate ➝

Nick Heer:

Apple’s sales decline is an 8.3% reduction compared to the year-ago quarter. Given that the most recent Macintosh news — the discontinuation of the Thunderbolt Display notwithstanding — was a spec bump of the MacBook, this is completely unsurprising. MacRumors’ own buyers’ guide shows a “Don’t Buy” indicator below every Mac except the MacBook.

I think the reduction in Mac sales can be primarily attributed to the recent lack of updates. Once Apple starts refreshing the lineup, sales will bounce back.

Fixing Media Controls in watchOS 3 ➝

Matt Birchler:

My solution is pretty simple, and is a combination of watchOS 2’s glance as well as iOS 10’s new Control Center. Instead of having a Now Playing app on the watch, why not bake those controls into the watch’s Control Center? Swipe up on your watch face currently brings up Control Center, so just add the ability to swipe right on Control Center to bring up media controls.

For some reason I thought this was a feature of watchOS 3, but as it turns out, that’s not the case. Count me in with Matt, though, I hope Apple adds this before the final release. It’s a better implementation than forcing users into their dock and would bringfurther uniformity to iOS and watchOS.

Here’s What Apple Really Meant to Say Today About Its Plans to Sell Web Video ➝

Peter Kafka, on the Hollywood Reporter’s interview with Eddy Cue:

Again, this doesn’t square with Apple’s longstanding efforts — led by Cue — to deliver a skinny bundle. I asked Apple to explain the cognitive dissonance, and they referred me back to the Hollywood Reporter piece.

So now that we’re done with that exercise, I’m going to suggest that there are some things Cue would say differently if he were speaking to someone privately, instead of in an on-the-record interview.

Kafka offers his thoughts on what Cue would have said if he was speaking more candidly, and I think it’s spot-on.

At ARM’s Length ➝

Jesper discusses the options Apple has for transitioning their Mac lineup to ARM processors.

Nintendo Is Releasing a Miniature NES With Thirty Built-in Games ➝

Andrew Webster, writing for The Verge:

Today the company announced what it’s calling the Nintendo Entertainment System: NES Classic Edition. It looks just like a NES, only a lot tinier, and it comes with 30 games built in. You can connect it to your TV via a HDMI cable, and it also includes a controller designed to work just like the iconic rectangular NES gamepad. (The new controller will also connect to a Wii Remote, so that you can use it to play Virtual Console games on a Wii or Wii U.)

Some highlights from the game list:

  • Balloon Fight
  • Dr. Mario
  • Excitebike
  • Kirby’s Adventure
  • Mega Man 2
  • Super Mario Bros. 3
  • The Legend of Zelda

The NES Classic Edition will be available November 11 for $59.99 and extra controllers will be sold for around $10.

The most exciting part about this announcement, for me, is that these NES Controllers can be plugged into the bottom of the Wii Remote. That means you’ll be able to use them to play Virtual Console games on the Wii and Wii U. I expect I’ll pick up a pair of these so my wife and I can use them to play classic Mario games on our Wii U.

Amazon’s Chinese Counterfeit Problem Is Getting Worse ➝

I buy a lot of goods from Amazon, but I had no idea this was going on. In the future, I’m going to be much more leery of purchasing products that are labeled with “Fulfilled by Amazon”

Recapture Time With Moment ➝

John Voorhees, on Moment’s app usage feature:

There are no public APIs for tracking app use on an iOS device, so Moment reminds you every morning to go to the Battery screen in the iOS Settings app and take a screenshot of the number of minutes you used each app. Moment reads the time each app was used from the screenshot using optical character recognition. If you use more apps than fit in the screenshot, you won’t get data on the ones that don’t fit, but in my experience, there was space to fit about a dozen apps, which covered my most heavily used apps.

It’s unfortunate that developers have to resort to these types of solutions, but it’s definitely a clever workaround.

The Pokémon Go Craze ➝

Mike Bates:

It sounds odd, but the best parts of playing Pokémon GO happen when you’re not touching the phone. It’s a little tough to summarize, but I think I’d group those best-experiences into exploring, spending time with friends, and meeting new people while out and about.

I haven’t had much time to play Pokémon Go myself, but from everything I’ve seen on Twitter, this is the perfect way to explain it’s popularity.

Dividing the Work Between Two iPads ➝

Ben Brooks:

There used to be endless posts online on how to best work with two Macs — how to keep things in sync between a desktop and a laptop — and all the other messes that technology had yet to solve. I was right there with everyone, trying to divvy the work between two computers. In a way, having two iPads reopens this same discussion.

Though, I must say, things have changed considerably for the better.

It’s been a long time since I used a two-Mac setup, but I’ve definitely had my share of discussions about the topic. It used to be an incredibly tedious task to keep everything in sync between the two machines.

It’s amazing how much has changed over the past decade, though. Now I can jump back and forth between my iPad and iPhone, seamlessly. Every application or service I use that I’d want to sync, has it built in.

Because of iCloud and handoff, I’m starting to think Ben’s on the right track with this:

I think it is likely that we do end up computing on many devices instead of one or two.

The hiccups that occur when switching between devices are only going to decrease in frequency as the software we interact with becomes more intricate. Apple will continue to add more features like universal clipboard until moving from one device to another feels like moving your mouse cursor to a second display connected to the same Mac.

Roadblock, a Powerful Content Blocker for Mac ➝

From the application’s product page:

Roadblock has a comprehensive and optimized built-in block list for blocking and hiding different types of content. You can easily block ads, tracking, social media, and web resources.

Custom Rules provide a powerful yet simple way to create, manage, and share your own rules. You can create custom rules to block resource and website loads, hide webpage elements, strip cookies from web requests, and whitelist websites.

This is a great looking content blocker for the Mac. If I used OS X on a regular basis, this would be an insta-buy.

Design Better Forms ➝

Andrew Coyle points out common pitfalls of form design and how you can fix them. There’s a lot of great tips in here.

Apple Publishes iPad Starter Guides for Educators ➝

AppleInsider:

Released through iTunes U, the new series consists of six starter guides recently published by Apple Education, the company’s in-house edtech team. Apple advertised the collection’s launch in an email sent out to iTunes U users, and is featuring in the Education section of the iBooks Store.

I hope these iPad-based education initiatives are successful. I’d love to see more iPads in classrooms.

iOS 10’s Control Center Fixes Apple’s Longstanding Mess at Last ➝

As I mentioned in my initial thoughts on iOS 10, I hated these changes to Control Center when I first saw them. I didn’t like the idea of my music controls being an additional level deeper. But I’ve grown to love the simplified and focused interface that keeps the most useful controls front and center.

Audible Launches a Subscription Podcast Network ➝

Jacob Kastrenakes, writing for The Verge:

Audible is expanding outside of audiobooks in a big way. It’s launching a new service today called Channels, which offers short-form news and podcasts for people who’d rather not listen slowly through an entire book.

Channels will include spoken recordings of news from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and, of course, Audible’s not-quite-step-sibling, The Washington Post, among others. There will also be more entertaining content, featuring everything from standup comedy and Onion articles to horror, sports, and celebrity channels.

Audible is also building out a selection of exclusive podcasts and shows, with perhaps the most notable being a new series from Dan Savage. Other original programming will launch at a later date and include talk shows and journalistic investigations.

Despite everyone’s best efforts, large companies will be entering the podcasting market in an effort to get a piece of the pie.

iOS 10 and Removing Built-in Apps From the Home Screen ➝

Dave Mark points out an little known aspect of iOS 10’s ability to “uninstall” default apps:

Interestingly, some apps have a fallback and others do not. For example, if you delete the Calendar app and have Fantastical installed, Fantastical will automatically fill the calendaring role (you can add calendar events to Fantastical via Siri, for example). But if you delete the Mail or Calculator app, nothing fills the gap, even if you have alternatives installed. This is a beta, so that behavior might change.

Why I’m Not Crazy for Making Safari My Default Browser ➝

Matt Birchler:

I don’t think that Safari is the best browser for everyone, and I don’t think Chrome is the only other game in town either. Some people love Opera, while others are getting excited for Vivaldi, and Firefox still has its supporters. But there is a mass of people who scoff at those who use anything besides Chrome, and I wanted to explain why some of us use it over the Goliath in the room. Chrome is great, but so is Safari.

Matt makes some great points in this piece, but I think he missed one of the biggest reasons for using Safari instead of Chrome — significantly better battery life. I can understand why it was omitted from his list, though, his primary home computer is a Mac mini.

Continuous, a C# and F# IDE for iPad ➝

Frank Krueger:

Over the past six months I have been working on a new .NET IDE for the iPad, and today I am very pleased to release it on the App Store.

Continuous gives you the power of a traditional desktop .NET IDE – full C# 6 and F# 4 language support with semantic highlighting and code completion – while also featuring live code execution so you don’t have to wait around for code to compile and run. Continuous works completely offline so you get super fast compiles and your code is secure.

It’s a good time to be an iPad user.

(Via MacStories.)

New Mac Malware Can Remotely Access FaceTime Camera, but macOS Gatekeeper Users Are Protected ➝

Mike Wuerthele, writing for AppleInsider:

The newly unleashed EasyDoc Converter installs a wide array of malware on a victim’s computer — but it isn’t signed by Apple, which means the Gatekeeper tool in macOS should adequately protect users with default settings.

This is a great reason to keep Gatekeeper turned on and a reminder to exercise caution when it prevents a newly installed app from launching.

iPhone 7 to Ditch 16GB Storage Option in Favor of 32GB ➝

Chance Miller, writing for 9 to 5 Mac:

Following several sketchy reports, The Wall Street Journal is now reporting that the iPhone 7 will indeed ditch the 16GB tier. For the first time ever, the base iPhone model will come in at 32GB.

It’s about damn time.

Apple to Add Organ Donor Registration to Health App ➝

Brandon Bailey, reporting for the Associated Press:

Apple wants to encourage millions of iPhone owners to register as organ donors through a software update that will add an easy sign-up button to the health information app that comes installed on every smartphone the company makes.

The State of Hackintosh ➝

Mike Rundle, writing on Medium:

To be honest, I hadn’t thought about the Hackintosh community in years, I actually forgot it was still a thing. Ian said the community was now organized around a website called TonyMacx86.com and it had hardware guides, build tutorials, forums, lots of updates, and had been extremely lively in the past 18 months or so as it’s now easier than ever to build a Hackintosh.

I’d love to have a project like this. I’ve always enjoyed building PCs, but haven’t had the opportunity to in years.

Introducing Sidebar 2.0 ➝

Sacha Greif, writing on Medium:

Almost four years ago, I started Sidebar with a simple concept: showcase the five best design links from around the web, every day. The funny thing is: that first version was supposed to be little more than a prototype, a placeholder for the real site that would be coming soon.

I hadn’t heard of Sidebar until Préshit Deorukhkar linked to this piece about the redesign. It’s a good looking site with great content and I immediately signed up for the email newsletter.

Where Should You Put Your Ideas? ➝

I’m with Dave Winer on this. I’ve been writing on the web for nearly a decade and I can’t imagine putting my ideas anywhere other than on my own weblog. Don’t get me wrong, I tweet a lot, but anything that I feel is truly important and that I want people to read, I publish here.

‘In Short, It’s All Kind of a Mess’ ➝

Dan Moren, on returning his smart bulbs to “condition normal”:

The issue here is twofold: first, when you specify “white” it gives you essentially pure white, which I find an overly harsh tone. Secondly, there are a ton of different systems for quantifying colors, and the versions that Philips uses in its app don’t easily translate into hex code.

I turned again to Yonomi, but this presented its own problems. It presents two methods for specifying color: first, choosing from a menu of common, specific values—”white”, “green”, “yellow”, and so on—or second, picking from a discrete list of color temperatures measured in Kelvin. With the latter I was able to get close to the value I wanted, but it fell between two of the options presented—2500 and 3000—and there’s no way to specify an arbitrary value.

The move away from incandescent light bulbs has left me a little lost. What I’d consider to be the gold standard of light bulbs — 75W Philips Natural Light incandescents — aren’t available anymore and I’m stuck using their EcoVantage branded version. The bulb is closer to what I want than anything else that I’ve found on the market, but the light it gives off isn’t quite up to par.

My hope is that I’ll be able to limp along using these bulbs until a smart bulb is able to recreate the light output of the Philips Natural Lights. Unfortunately, none of the smart bulbs I’ve looked at are capable of outputting enough lumens to brighten my rooms and, as Dan Moren points out, the level of customization might not allow for the color temperature I’m looking for.

I’ll continue to wait for a smart bulb that’s capable of meeting my requirements. But until then, I’ll keep buying the EcoVantage bulbs — they’re available in a two-pack from my local Wegmans for $2.99. They’re not perfect, but they’re a lot closer than anything I’ve found.

Searching for a Good Reason to Remove the Headphone Jack ➝

Jason Snell:

I have a point of view on all this, but I’m trying very hard not to get mad about something that hasn’t happened. This is a tech unicorn, an unannounced feature on a nonexistent product, and it’s important to keep that in mind. Still, it’s not a bad intellectual exercise to ponder why Apple might make such a move, and what the ramifications might be.

Let’s just keep in mind that Apple has actually done nothing yet. We don’t know the whole story, or if there’s even a story.

An incredibly rational take on the whole headphone jack thing. Definitely worth reading, regardless of what side of the fence you currently reside on.

Apple Responds to Spotify’s Complaints ➝

Apple’s Bruce Sewell, in response to Spotify, as reported by BuzzFeed:

Our guidelines apply equally to all app developers, whether they are game developers, e-book sellers, video-streaming services or digital music distributors; and regardless of whether or not they compete against Apple. We did not alter our behavior or our rules when we introduced our own music streaming service or when Spotify became a competitor. Ironically, it is now Spotify that wants things to be different by asking for preferential treatment from Apple.

Sewell also addresses the potential antitrust issues that Spotify suggested in their original complaint, saying “There is nothing in Apple’s conduct that ‘amounts to a violation of applicable antitrust laws.’ Far from it.”

This spat will undoubtedly continue, but I don’t think Spotify’s complaints hold water. They’re in violation of Apple’s rules on a platform that doesn’t have a majority stake in the market — there are still more Android phones sold than iPhones. We can talk about the need for Apple to change their policies, but that’s not what Spotify is lobbying for.

Marco Arment on the Headphone Jack Rumor ➝

Marco Arment:

Apple better have very good benefits for this that customers will want, but none of the reports so far indicate any.

Combined with the disappointment sure to result from the same physical iPhone design for three years in a row — a mediocre one, at that — I fear for the public perception of this fall’s iPhone and Apple as a result.

I agree, Apple needs a way to defend their decision to remove the headphone jack. And it must be better than “it’s time to move on” or the outcry of complaints will be beyond anything we’ve ever seen.

Update: I suppose it would be better if I clarified my position: I believe Apple should remove the headphone jack. Not just because “it’s time,” but because it would allow for thinner devices, a massive push toward wireless audio, and more simplified devices — wires are a bit fiddly.

The transition will be painful for some, but in five years we’ll look back in shock that we ever connected headphones with wires.