The Initial Charge Linked List


I’ve Decided on the Mario Maker Bundle

After thinking about it for a couple more weeks, I’ve decided to ask my fiancée for the Super Mario Maker bundle for Christmas this year. That’s not entirely in-line with the thought process I outlined in On Console Gaming, but I think it’s the right call. We decided on a budget of $300 for gifts this year, which means if I wanted a new system (not refurbished or used) I was only going to have the bundled games for the first few weeks. Given that, I just had to go with the bundle which included the game that spurred my interest in the system to begin with.

I won’t have the casual games that I wanted right away, but I can always acquire those over time. I also won’t have a physical disc for Mario Maker, but that’s something I can purchase down the road if I continue to feel strongly about it. No big deal.

The upside, though, is that I’ll be able to play the game I’m most excited for, right out of the box (after downloading it, naturally) and I’ll have a nifty 30th Anniversary Mario Amiibo, to boot.

Twitter Introduces Public Policy Page

Tom Tarantino, writing on Twitter’s official weblog:

Because Twitter stands for open communication, we’re pleased to unveil, our new site covering the most critical policy issues facing our users, as well as providing an unprecedented level of transparency into how and with whom we engage politically in the U.S. We hope to expand this feature to cover our global activities outside the U.S. soon. From here you can also visit our Twitter for Good page, which showcases the Public Policy team’s work on corporate social responsibility, and the Twitter Safety Center, where you can find tools and resources to help everyone have a safe, secure, and enjoyable Twitter experience.

HTC’s One A9 Commercial

In the words of Biff Tannen, “There’s something very familiar about all this.”

Apple TV Updated With A New Categories Section

Application discoverability was another common complaint about the new Apple TV that ended up on the cutting room floor when I was writing my piece for Samantha Bielefeld’s site. The addition of categories in the App Store will go a long way toward improving that aspect of the user experience. Rest assured, the software developers at Apple are diligently working to fix all of the other minor annoyances that we’ve spent the past week reading and ranting about. We’ll soon have that “well-crafted software platform” that we were hoping for.

Eddy Cue at Dropbox Open


Apple SVP of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue made a surprise appearance at the Dropbox Open event on Wednesday, where he touted Apple’s efforts in enterprise and showed off the new Dropbox Paper app for iPad Pro.

The Tools and Toys Holiday Gift Guide

Tons of great products this year — the folks at Tools and Toys certainly have good taste.

The Apple TV’s Mixed Reception

Samantha Bielefeld was kind enough to ask me to write a guest piece for her site and I jumped at the opportunity. The result is something I’m incredibly proud of.

Here’s one of my favorite paragraphs:

What gets me about this is how everyone’s complaints about small problems have obfuscated what makes the new Apple TV a big deal — apps. The company that revolutionized software distribution, controls the lion’s share of profits in the smartphone industry, and also happens to be the largest company in the world, is attempting to do the same for the television as they did for mobile phones. This is a huge deal and something that seems to have been completely overlooked by everyone discussing the new device.

If you are even mildly interested in the Apple TV, I encourage you to read the entire piece.

And if you aren’t already reading Samantha’s site regularly, you should definitely start doing so — her work is thoughtful, well-written, and worthy of your attention.

Apple Predicted to Launch New 4-Inch iPhone in Early 2016

Eric Slivka, writing for MacRumors:

KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has released a new research report outlining his expectations for Apple’s 2016 iPhone launches, including several interesting tidbits about the upcoming devices.

First, Kuo believes Apple still has a new 4-inch iPhone in the works that “resembles an upgraded iPhone 5s”. The device is said to be targeted for launch in the first half of next year and will come equipped with an A9 processor.

Although Kuo doesn’t expect the new 4-inch device to feature 3D Touch, I couldn’t be happier to hear that Apple isn’t abandoning the smaller form factor. My fiancée is still using her two year old iPhone 5s and has been holding out hope that Apple will introduce a modern 4-inch iPhone for her to upgrade to.

Kuo claims the device is targeted for the first half of next year — if I was forced to guess, I’d say we’ll probably see it in March or April.

Anandtech Reviews the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus

Saved to Instapaper.

Amazon Opens Physical Bookstore

This was unexpected. And a little odd. Why would Amazon even do this?

Apple TV Gains Charts for Top Apps

Joe Rossignol, writing for MacRumors:

The new Apple TV launched on Friday with an all-new App Store, but early adopters were quick to realize that app discovery was limited to a single featured section and a manual search option […]

Apple has partially addressed this issue today by adding top charts to the tvOS App Store, listing the top paid apps, top free apps and top grossing apps. Confirming our previous report, games make up the majority of the top spots so far, while apps from content providers such as HBO, FOX and CBS are also popular.

Hands-on with Apple’s Remote Loop

If you have kids and plan on playing a lot of motion control-based games on the Apple TV, it might be a good idea to pick one of these up.

On the Magic Keyboard’s Arrow Keys

Riccardo Mori:

I’m absolutely baffled by this change, because it’s simply poor design. It impacts usability, it goes against the majority of keyboards out there, it seems completely unnecessary and arbitrary, something like Let’s fill up all the space because the empty areas above the left/right keys don’t look cool. Something users have to take time and adjust to for no justifiable reason. […]

You may think I’m making a big deal out of a minor detail. It’s that I utterly dislike arbitrary design impositions such as these. Sure, one may get used to that arrow keys arrangement eventually, but if you — like me — usually type on more than one keyboard, and all the other keyboards you own have the traditional ‘inverted T’ design, good luck getting used to the other design while you switch from the Magic Keyboard to another and back.

Maybe I’ll stick it out with my pre-magic Apple wireless keyboard for a little while longer.

New Life for an Old MacBook Pro

Jason Snell, writing on Six Colors:

Let me state this point clearly in case you missed it: If you think your laptop is slow, and it uses a spinning hard drive, you can probably make it much, much faster by replacing it with flash storage. In almost every case, the storage is the bottleneck, not the processor (or even the RAM, though more RAM can help too).

I interact with exactly one computer that still uses a spinning hard disk. And I’m hoping to change that fairly soon.

Inside Apple’s Perfectionism Machine

An outstanding piece by Lance Ulanoff for Mashable, including interviews with Phil Schiller and John Ternus, VP of Mac and iPad engineering.

Apple: Quit Weighing Things on Your iPhone 6s

Luke Dormehl, writing for Cult of Mac about a scale app’s rejection from the App Store:

Called Gravity, they submitted it to the App Store, only to have it rejected for “having a misleading description.” To show the app in action, the team then submitted a video to Apple, but were told that “the concept of a scale app was not appropriate for the App Store.”

I could see why Apple doesn’t like the idea of applications which encourage users to put heavy objects on their iPhone to see how much they weigh.

YouTube Red Offering One Month Free Trial

I doubt I’ll continue using the service after the free trial — $9.99 a month might be too much considering I’ll only be using it to skip ads. But I’ll at least give it a try.

Apple TV Aerial Views as Screensavers on your Mac

Preshit Deorukhkar, writing for The Platter:

John Coates has put together this open source screen saver for Mac that uses the absolutely stunning Aerial views that Apple uses on the new Apple TV. These videos are shot over places like New York, San Francisco, Hawaii, China, etc. and look really gorgeous on the screen.

I’ll be installing Aerial the next chance I get.

Eddy Cue Interviewed by CNN

Eddy Cue discusses the new Apple TV with CNN’s Brian Stelter.

Bloomberg: Apple’s Secrecy Hindering Their AI Advancements

Maybe I just don’t get it, but how is Apple at a disadvantage because they choose not to share their artificial Intellegence research with the public? Isn’t that more likely to put other companies at a disadvantage because they’re working with less information than Apple?

Engineers and computer scientists in the field of AI might be hesitant to work in a closed environment. But I’d imagine the opportunity to work for the biggest company in the world with some of the smartest people could outweigh any potential downsides of not being able to share your work with the scientific community.

Upthere, a New Cloud Storage Service

Casey Newton, writing for The Verge:

Suffice to say the company says it has built a new way of saving, storing, and organizing files, and done it in a way that takes advantage of the cloud. It pays special attention to metadata, enabling faster searches. “There was no one who did what we envisioned,” Serlet said in an interview with The Verge. “So we started from scratch.”

I remain unconvinced that Upthere is any better than their competitors, but I did sign up for the beta and wouldn’t mind giving it a try.

How Often Should You Upgrade Your Gadgets?

Matt Hauger responds to my hardware acquisition strategy by sharing his own. He also briefly outlines his budgeting method for long-term expenses:

Rather than scrape together last-minute cash—or worse, take on credit card debt—we plan ahead. First, we estimate the total cost of any sizeable future purchase. Next, we pinpoint the date we’d like to pull the trigger. Finally, we start saving—splitting the cost across the number of months remaining until the buy date.

I’ve been managing my money in a similar fashion for years and it’s helped me avoid the pitfalls of credit card debt and prevented irrational impulse purchases. I would highly recommend everyone consider implementing a similar system for their own finances.

Twitter is Listening to Suggestions From Developers

Twitter’s been cataloging responses after Jack Dorsey asked developers for ideas and requests shortly after his Flight 2015 keynote. This gets me really excited about the future of the company — they look like they’re finally headed in the right direction.

Amazon’s Missing Apple TV App

John Paczkowski, writing for BuzzFeed News:

Incidentally, that Amazon Prime Video is the exception to the conga line of content offerings above is entirely Amazon’s doing. A ~magnanimous~ Apple tells BuzzFeed News that “all are welcome” on its new Apple TV platform. But Amazon — which recently purged Apple TV from its store — doesn’t have a Prime Video app in the Apple TV App Store. And as of a few days ago, it hadn’t submitted one. (An Amazon spokesperson told BuzzFeed News the company “doesn’t have anything to share” on the topic.)

As I suspected, it looks like Amazon does view themselves as a platform company first. Unfortunately for them, I think this is a foolish and short-sighted decision. Maybe they’ll start taking the Apple TV more seriously when Apple eventually upgrades it from its hobby status.

Apple News Format Documentation Published

Federico Viticci does a great job pointing to all of the resources regarding the Apple News format, including documentation and API details.

Initial Charge has been available in Apple News since the launch of iOS 9 in September, but Apple had not yet made the tools available to the public for publishing specifically in the Apple News format. Aside from a few publications hand-picked by Apple, everything has been fed into the service by RSS (which has been less than perfect, to put it lightly).

I’m not sure if I’ll actually be publishing anything in the Apple News format in the future. But at the very least, I plan on digging though the documentation to see how it works and to gauge how long it might take to build it into my workflows — even if only for a select few feature articles.

Nintendo’s First Mobile Game Won’t Be Available Until March

Jon Russel, writing for TechCrunch:

The company, which partnered with Japanese mobile games specialist DeNA back in March, had originally aimed to out its first title this year. That isn’t happening now, according to Nintendo CEO Tatsumi Kimishima, who — speaking at an investor meeting live-blogged by the Wall Street Journal — said that more time is needed to promote its mobile debut. That first game was revealed to be Miitomo, in which user-created avatars connect with others. It will be free-to-download with optional add-ons available via in-app purchases.

That’s hardly an electric opening launch — Nintendo’s share price dipped 7.5 percent right after the reveal — and it isn’t likely to appeal to mainstream mobile games worldwide like, say, a Mario game, but there will be more to come.

This is a little disappointing, but should have been expected. Say what you will about the Wii U’s poor sales compared to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, but Nintendo has dominated the handheld gaming market for over twenty five years. And it’s only natural for them to be a little hesitant to develop games for a competing platform.

First Apple TV Apps and Games Unveiled

Benjamin Mayo showcases some of the Apple TV apps that you can expect to find in the App Store on day one.

Podcasts Coming to Google Play Music

Elias Roman, writing for the Official Android Blog:

To that end, today we’re launching a portal for podcasters to start uploading their shows to Google Play Music before we open up the service to listeners. Along with direct searches and browsing for podcasts, the service will connect new listeners with podcasts based on what they’re doing, how they’re feeling, or what they’re interested in. Similar to our contextual playlists for music, this will give podcast fans and new listeners a way of finding and listening to content that’s unique to Google Play Music.

It’s not all good news, though. G. Keenan Schneider did some digging into the terms of service and found something abhorrent:

As much as I’d like another avenue to expand Limitless Adventure and potentially introduce it to a larger audience, I do take issue with how they’re planning on injecting ads. […]

No injecting ads before or during a show, but there can be ads after the show is over. Google obviously sees this as serving an ad that is separate from the show itself–and the TOS says that they won’t sell or target ads against episode content or individual podcast creators–but there are plenty of shows (mine included) that end with a cold close. It’s reasonable to assume that in that case, an ad that follows directly after would be misconstrued as being connected (even tangentially) with the show.

And here’s the kicker, Google isn’t even offering to share advertising revenue with podcasters. That’s just slimy. Aside from greed, I can’t see any reason why Google wouldn’t treat these post-rolls ads the same way they do ads on YouTube. If Google’s going to have the audacity to serve advertising against podcasts and create potential confusion for listeners inadvertently associating those ads with their shows, they should at the very least be sharing revenue with producers.

Sizing up the Apple TV

Weighing in on the 32GB vs. 64GB debate, Dan Moren decided to preorder the 32GB model. His primary reason: app thinning.

Apple TV with Your Choice of Storage

Samantha Bielefeld:

Both models carry the same abilities, but really, I feel like the 32GB model makes as much sense for a device so centrally focused around video consumption, and apps, as a 16GB model makes for a 4K recording capable device like the new iPhone. Just as there are very casual, minimalist users of the iPhone, there will be a category of Apple TV users that will, for various reasons, never experience a storage limit warning on the smaller storage tier. Though, for a majority of those interested in picking up one of these set-top boxes, I would be hard-pressed to recommend anything but the top-of-the-line model.

I haven’t ordered the new Apple TV yet, but I’m leaning towards the 32GB model. I’m just not sure if I’ll need a ton of storage. Samantha is probably right, though, I would probably be better off with 64GB. But if I get it home and find that I need the extra space, I can always demote the 32GB model into my bedroom and purchase a second unit for the living room. And I suspect that if I do find that I need the extra storage, I highly doubt I’ll want it for every room in the house.

Best case scenario, I don’t end up needing the extra storage and save myself $50. Worst case scenario, I’m stuck with an anemic set-top box for a short while until I am able to upgrade the TV setup in every room of the house. Not a bad plan if you ask me.

Siri and the Music Chart Question Kerfuffle

Dave Mark, writing on The Loop:

This issue is getting a lot of coverage. Some of the reaction, perhaps predictably, is quite negative, implying that Apple is intentionally holding back data from non-subscribers.

I’ve barely paid attention to this story, mostly because I don’t think it’s a big deal. Claiming that Apple is “holding back data from non-subscribers” is a bit facetious — isn’t that the whole point of paywalls and subscription content?

In short, some people are mad that Apple is requiring them to pay for data that sits behind a paywall. Oh, woe is me.

Chase Announces Chase Pay

Just what the world needs, a contactless payment solution which uses QR codes. I wonder how CurrentC is doing these days.

Fuzzy User Interfaces

Interesting thoughts from Nick Heer on the inherent fuzziness of Siri’s user interface and the patient building of trust that the feature requires from users — it’s still far from perfect, but it’s steadily increasing in accuracy.

Fraser Speirs on iPad Pro

9 to 5 Mac’s Chance Miller recaps Fraser Speirs‘ comments regarding the iPad Pro in education after spending some time with the device at a preview event in London.

Better than a ‘Real Computer’

Matt Birchler:

I absolutely think that iOS is the future and desktops are going to be relegated to more and more niche audiences all the time. We’re reaching the point where these “mobile” operating systems are becoming better than traditional PCs at most tasks and for most people. We’re not quite there yet, but we’re damn close and I’m more than happy to move on.

I’ve been using iOS as my primary operating system since I purchased an iPad Air 2 in February. There are still a few tasks that are easier to perform on my MacBook, but the list is getting smaller and smaller. I’m excited about a future where I can do all of my work while tapping away at a piece of glass in my hands.

Introducing Twitter Polls

This is a great way to enhance Twitter’s functionality without going too far afield from what the service is at its core. Users had already come up with a way to hack this functionality into a tweet — fave if this, retweet if that — but having it built-in natively is vastly superior. I just hope Jack’s apology wasn’t a hollow gesture and that they allow developers to build polls into their applications.

‘Goodbye, Apple News’

Samantha Bielefeld isn’t happy with Apple News and has decided to send a request for her site to be removed from the service.

I’ve only launched Apple News out of sheer curiosity and to ensure that my site’s latest articles are showing up. But News isn’t for me. It just isn’t powerful enough for my needs — I need more diverse tools for sharing, a simple way to add new sites, and an interface that I can trust is showing me all of the articles. News doesn’t do that for me.

I will continue to check in and test my site, but I don’t think the application will ever grow to be as feature-rich as I would like it to. I’ll continue using Fever, Mr. Reader, and Reeder for the foreseeable future. But unlike Samantha, I don’t plan on removing my site from the service — I would consider that to be a “never eat chips again” decision (a concept that I’ll eventually write about, someday).

The Subject of Live Photos

Matt Birchler, reviewing the iPhone 6s Plus:

But here’s the thing: they only show their worth when taking pictures of living things like, you know, people. Many of the reviews I have seen showed off Live Photos of inanimate objects. Pictures of their desks, of trees, of gear… Of course Live Photos don’t add much to these images. But give me a Live Photo of my wife and it’s something else. It gives context to each picture, which I really love having.

Nobody needs a Live Photo of their desk.

iPhone 6s Wins Android Authority’s Blind Camera Shootout

Nirave Gondhia:

It turned out to be quite a close-run race between the iPhone 6S and the Galaxy Note 5 for the title but Apple’s latest just beat Samsung’s latest with 38.2 and 34.1 percent of the 7810 votes respectively. Sony’s Xperia Z5 comes in third with 17.7 percent of votes while the LG G4 brings up the rear with 10 percent of all the votes.

As I pointed out in my piece about the iPhone 6s camera, I don’t consider myself to be much of a photography enthusiast. But if I was to guess as to why the iPhone is capable of producing better quality photos, I’d point to the “pixel size” section of Android Authority’s comparison table. Bigger pixels are capable of capturing more light which allows for more clarity in the resulting photos.

Don’t Be Daring Fireball

Joe Caiati:

John wrote like a mad-man in the beginning of Daring Fireball’s infancy and he kept writing and kept writing until his audience trusted and supported him. That is what has allowed John to have DF’s current format of commentary on link posts with bigger pieces written in between. […]

It is going to take hard work. Not everyone will be an overnight success, but if writing is a passion, you are going to want to get better each time you hit “publish”.

Here’s my take: don’t lean on link posts and expect them to get you to where John Gruber is. The long form is an essential part of the equation that cannot be overlooked. Rather than discouraging the use of link posts, Joe is encouraging a mindset.

For me, links are an important part of my workflow. They serve as a repository of articles that I can quickly recall months or years later with the site’s search bar. They allow me to make more than 120-character comments on news stories — which is typically about the length you’re afforded on Twitter when tweeting a link. But most importantly, they’re often a jumping-off point for longer form articles that I didn’t know I had in me. I can’t count the number of times I sat down to write a short link and ended up with far more to say than I originally expected.

‘The Steve Jobs I Knew Isn’t in This Movie’

Walt Mossberg doesn’t seem to have liked the movie.

Facebook on Background Audio Fix

Ari Grant, engineering manager for iOS at Facebook:

The second issue is with how we manage audio sessions. If you leave the Facebook app after watching a video, the audio session sometimes stays open as if the app was playing audio silently. This is similar to when you close a music app and want to keep listening to the music while you do other things, except in this case it was unintentional and nothing kept playing. The app isn’t actually doing anything while awake in the background, but it does use more battery simply by being awake. Our fixes will solve this audio issue and remove background audio completely.

I’m just glad Facebook wasn’t trying anything nefarious.

(Via MacStories.)

YouTube Forcing Video Producers’ Hands

Speaking of YouTube Red, turns out video producers aren’t entirely thrilled about it. And for good reason.

Josh Constine, writing for TechCrunch:

YouTube made its top video creators an offer they literally couldn’t refuse, or they’d have their content disappear. Today YouTube confirmed that any “partner” creator who earns a cut of ad revenue but doesn’t agree to sign its revenue share deal for its new YouTube Red $9.99 ad-free subscription will have their videos hidden from public view on both the ad-supported and ad-free tiers. […]

According to Chief Business Officer Robert Kyncl at today’s YouTube Red launch event, 99% of content consumed on YouTube will be still available, noting that the vast majority of creators signed the deal. But they didn’t have much choice, otherwise they’d lose out on both the previous ad revenue, the new subscription revenue, and the connection with fans.

In the world of user-created video, YouTube is king. And as such, they can basically do whatever they want without having to worry about losing producers to competing services — there just isn’t anywhere else to go. Facebook might change that when they eventually build a revenue sharing system for producers, but even that might not be enough to sway leverage back into the hands of the content creators — where it belongs.


On YouTube Red

Matt Birchler on YouTube Red:

I’m probably not going to pay for YouTube Red. The ads on YouTube honestly don’t bother me that much, and the additional features added to the YouTube app would be nice, but I wouldn’t use them enough to justify the cost. I also have no interest in the original shows they are producing right now. […]

But here’s the thing: I do think that I will end up paying for Red sometime in the next 12-24 months. I have faith the original content will get better and the draw of an ad-free YouTube will eventually be something I want. The real question is how many people are going to go in on this in the early days? With the original content still months away, I doubt this will blow up right away. Over the long term though, I think it has more than a fair chance of being a big deal. Netflix is the king of online paid video, but if anyone can catch them it’s YouTube.

I’m with Matt on this — I don’t plan on signing up anytime soon. But, if I continue spending as much time on YouTube as I have over the past few weeks (non-stop Mario Maker videos, obviously), it might be worth the $9.99 a month just to skip ads. I, too, am not intrigued by the current crop of original programming, but I expect that will change as more shows are introduced.

‘Death to Analytics’

Ben Brooks:

Had Shawn [Blanc] followed what his analytics told him though, he would still be writing about Reeder. And I am sure that would have been great writing, but he would have never changed my life with The Focus Course — nor the lives of many others he has touched through his writing of late. […]

If you are starting a new blog, or have one already, the best thing you can do is turn off all analytics. If you are worried about knowing when your site is “big” then worry no more. Trust me when I tell you: you will know when you site is big, with or without analytics, I promise that you will know.

This is advice that Ben has suggested in the past and something I was strongly considering, but eventually rejected because I thought I’d be better off having the information than not. But, I’m starting to think I should at least limit how often I check my analytics. I’m probably spending too much time thinking about where traffic is coming from and what my most popular pages are — that’s time that would be better spent writing.

Although I’m not going to join Ben by removing analytics from my site entirely, I do plan on making a concerted effort to check my Initial Charge’s statistics far less frequently.

Western Digital To Aquire SanDisk For $19 Billion

Matt Burns, reporting for TechCrunch:

Western Digital just bought a bunch of memory cards. The storage giant just announced that it has agreed to buy SanDisk Corp for about $19 billion. This comes after speculation that SanDisk was shopping for a buyer.

The deal values SanDisk at $86.50 a share, which is a 15% premium on the previous day’s closing price, giving the company a value of $15.4 billion.

I was a huge fan of Western Digital hard drives back in my PC building days and they’re now my go-to brand when I buy external drives today.

Jack Dorsey Apologizes to Twitter Developers for Chasing Them Away

This is a huge step in the right direction and I have high hopes that the company is able to back up his statements.

The Magic Mouse 2’s Lightning Port Placement

Nick Heer:

my crazy theory on this is that this is intentional to make sure people use it as a wireless mouse and don’t leave it plugged in all the time.

While its most likely for aesthetic reasons, I do like the theory.

Apple Bans Over 250 Apps That Secretly Accessed Users’ Personal Information

Nick Statt, writing for The Verge:

Apple today removed more than 250 apps from its App Store that were using software from a Chinese advertising company that secretly accessed and stored users’ personal information. The firm, called Youmi, provided app makers with a software development kit that would glean which apps a user had downloaded, that user’s email address, and the serial number of their smartphone, according to mobile security company SourceDNA. The apps in total received 1 million downloads.

The app makers that relied on Youmi’s SDK, most of which are ​based​ in China, may not have knowingly violated Apple’s security and privacy guidelines. “We believe the developers of these apps aren’t aware of this since the SDK is delivered in binary form, obfuscated, and user info is uploaded to Youmi’s server, not the app’s. We recommend developers stop using this SDK until this code is removed,” reads SourceDNA’s blog post.

The HTC One A9 Looks Familiar

Remember when HTC was considered a top-tier handset manufacturer that was churning out unique smartphone designs? I guess those days are behind us as the company has found its true calling — selling iPhone knockoffs.