More on Apple’s Cross-Platform API Project →

A few months ago, Mark Gur­man re­por­ted that Apple was work­ing on a way to en­able de­velopers to write ap­plic­a­tions that run on both ma­cOS and iOS. I briefly men­tioned it on this blog. Now John Gruber at Dar­ing Fire­ball re­ports more de­tails:

THE NAME: There is in­deed an act­ive cross-plat­form UI pro­ject at Apple for iOS and Ma­cOS. It may have been code­named “Mar­zipan” at one point, but if so only in its earli­est days. My vari­ous little bird­ies only know of the pro­ject un­der a dif­fer­ent name, which hasn’t leaked pub­licly yet. […]

WHAT IS IT? I don’t have ex­tens­ive de­tails, but ba­sic­ally it sounds like a de­clar­at­ive con­trol API. The gen­er­al idea is that rather than writ­ing clas­sic pro­ced­ur­al code to, say, make a but­ton, then con­fig­ure the but­ton, then po­s­i­tion the but­ton in­side a view, you in­stead de­clare the but­ton and its at­trib­utes us­ing some oth­er form. HTML is prob­ably the most eas­ily un­der­stood ex­ample. […]

WHEN: I’m nearly cer­tain this pro­ject is not de­b­ut­ing at WWDC 2018 in June, and I doubt that 2018 was on the table in Decem­ber. It’s a 2019 thing, for Ma­cOS 10.15 and iOS 13.

On June 6, 2009 (bear with me, I prom­ise this is go­ing some­where), Palm, Inc. launched its an­swer to Apple’s iPhone: the palm prē. At the heart of the palm prē was Palm’s long-awaited suc­cessor to its aging PDA/smart­phone op­er­at­ing sys­tem Palm OS: webOS. webOS moved Palm’s plat­form in­to the then-mod­ern age in many ways but its sig­na­ture fea­ture—the whole reas­on it was called webOS—was that its “nat­ive” ap­plic­a­tion API used web tech­no­lo­gies: HTML, CSS, and JavaS­cript. Around the same time, Mi­crosoft an­nounced that Win­dows 8 would en­able de­velopers to write ap­plic­a­tions for that OS us­ing HTML, CSS, and JavaS­cript as well.

I re­mem­ber think­ing at the time that Palm and Mi­crosoft had got­ten the wrong end of the stick. Web-based ap­plic­a­tions were hit­ting something of a peak of pop­ular­ity at the time and those two com­pan­ies, among oth­ers1, wanted to cap­it­al­ize on it. But I felt (and still do) that de­vel­op­ing web ap­plic­a­tions was (and is) pop­u­lar in spite of the spe­cif­ic tech­no­lo­gies in­volved—HTML, CSS, and es­pe­cially JavaS­cript—not be­cause of them. Web ap­plic­a­tions are pop­u­lar for two reas­ons: (1) they are cross-plat­form and (2) they en­able a de­clar­at­ive style of de­vel­op­ment2. I thought that what plat­form pro­viders should be do­ing was cre­at­ing a de­clar­at­ive style of ap­plic­a­tion de­vel­op­ment without us­ing HTML, CSS, and JavaS­cript and in­stead us­ing a new, pur­pose-built de­clar­at­ive syn­tax for the user in­ter­face and ex­ist­ing pro­gram­ming lan­guages for the ac­tu­al code.

We still don’t have many de­tails on ex­actly how Apple’s de­clar­at­ive APIs will work but giv­en Apple’s past work, I’d be sur­prised if it ac­tu­ally used HTML, CSS, and JavaS­cript. It seems more likely that they will cre­ate a new, pur­pose-built de­clar­at­ive syn­tax for the user in­ter­face and use an ex­ist­ing pro­gram­ming lan­guage for the ac­tu­al code.

  1. Elec­tron rep­res­ents the open source equi­val­ent of these ef­forts; it en­ables de­velopers to write cross-plat­form desktop ap­plic­a­tions in HTML, CSS, and JavaS­cript. It is the core tech­no­logy en­abling ap­plic­a­tions like Atom and Slack

  2. What these tech­no­lo­gies al­low de­velopers to do is sep­ar­ate the user in­ter­face from the code that runs it. The user in­ter­face be­comes a mat­ter of de­clar­ing, us­ing a re­l­at­ively simple text-based syn­tax, that the de­veloper wants a but­ton here or a text la­bel there, etc. Sep­ar­ately, then, the de­veloper defines what should hap­pen when that but­ton gets clicked. 


T-Mobile and Sprint to Merge →

Jon Brodkin, re­port­ing for Ars Tech­nica:

T-Mo­bile USA and Sprint today an­nounced an agree­ment to merge, a deal that would com­bine the US mo­bile in­dustry’s third and fourth biggest car­ri­ers to cre­ate a gi­ant nearly as large as AT&T or Ve­r­i­zon Wire­less. The all-stock mer­ger deal would have T-Mo­bile ac­quire Sprint for $26 bil­lion worth of stock, ac­cord­ing to Re­u­ters.

As also noted in the art­icle, this is not the first time that these two com­pan­ies have tried to merge. A 2014 at­tempt was in es­sence blocked by the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion. And, of course, this is just the latest at­tempt at con­sol­id­a­tion among the US’s four ma­jor car­ri­ers: AT&T tried to merge with T-Mo­bile in 2011 but that ef­fort also faced op­pos­i­tion from the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion and even­tu­ally col­lapsed.

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion, however, is far more ac­com­mod­at­ing to the whims of large cor­por­a­tions. While it is true that the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has sued to stop the AT&T/Time Warner mer­ger, the op­pos­i­tion to that par­tic­u­lar deal ap­pears to be largely mo­tiv­ated by Trump’s hatred of CNN1. It seems likely to me that this deal will be rub­ber-stamped by the rel­ev­ant agen­cies this time around. Con­sequently, the cell­phone oli­go­poly will shrink from four mem­bers to three.


Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee Release Final Report →

Matt Za­po­tosky, Ka­roun De­mirji­an, and Greg Miller re­port­ing for The Wash­ing­ton Post:

House In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee Re­pub­lic­ans re­leased a re­dac­ted ver­sion of their fi­nal re­port from a year-long probe of Rus­sia’s “mul­ti­fa­ceted” in­flu­ence op­er­a­tion, gen­er­ally clear­ing Pres­id­ent Trump and his as­so­ci­ates of wrong­do­ing while ac­cus­ing the in­tel­li­gence com­munity and the FBI of fail­ures in how they as­sessed and re­spon­ded to the Krem­lin’s in­ter­fer­ence in the 2016 elec­tion.

The re­port charges the in­tel­li­gence com­munity with “sig­ni­fic­ant in­tel­li­gence trade­craft fail­ings,” sug­gest­ing, without say­ing ex­pli­citly, that Rus­sia’s main goal was to sow dis­cord in the United States and not to help Trump win the elec­tion. It says in­vest­ig­at­ors found “no evid­ence that the Trump cam­paign col­luded, co­ordin­ated, or con­spired with the Rus­si­an gov­ern­ment,” even as it de­tails con­tacts between cam­paign of­fi­cials and Rus­si­ans or Rus­si­an in­ter­me­di­ar­ies.

The real news here isn’t the re­port it­self. The re­port is so glar­ingly di­vorced from real­ity as to be laugh­able. The real news is that this re­port isn’t from the House In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee. The re­port is from the Re­pu­bic­ans on the House In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee. The tra­di­tion­al bi­par­tis­an nature of the House In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee has com­pletely broken down. It is but one of many tra­di­tion­al norms on which our demo­cracy rests which has ut­terly dis­solved in the with­er­ing on­slaught of Trump­ism.

How many norms will still re­main when Trump fi­nally leaves of­fice?


Jackson Withdraws as VA Nominee →

Lisa Rein, John Wag­n­er, and Josh Daw­sey re­port­ing for The Wash­ing­ton Post:

Ronny L. Jack­son, Pres­id­ent Trump’s em­battled nom­in­ee to lead the De­part­ment of Vet­er­ans Af­fairs, with­drew from con­sid­er­a­tion Thursday amid mush­room­ing al­leg­a­tions of pro­fes­sion­al mis­con­duct that raised ques­tions about the White House vet­ting pro­cess.

Jack­son’s nom­in­a­tion had be­come im­periled even be­fore Cap­it­ol Hill Demo­crats on Wed­nes­day re­leased new al­leg­a­tions of mis­con­duct. The claims in­clude that he had wrecked a gov­ern­ment vehicle after get­ting drunk at a Secret Ser­vice go­ing-away party.

Could it be any clear­er that Ad­mir­al Jack­son’s nom­in­a­tion was an im­pulse on the part of Don­ald Trump and that it was not giv­en the con­sid­er­a­tion or vet­ting that it so badly needed?


School District Prepares for Gun Violence With Rocks →

Tan­ya Chen, re­port­ing for BuzzFeed News:

The su­per­in­tend­ent of a Pennsylvania school dis­trict has taken a unique ap­proach to keep his stu­dents safe in the event of a school shoot­ing. He’s equipped his classrooms with 5-gal­lon buck­ets of river rocks for stu­dents to throw at an armed in­truder.


His idea to lit­er­ally stone an armed shoot­er is not in dir­ect re­sponse to the Park­land shoot­ing. [Su­per­indendent] Helsel told BuzzFeed News his schools have had buck­ets of stones ready to use in their classrooms for two years now.

It’s bad enough that our chil­dren have to worry about be­ing shot in school. Now we are ask­ing them to be pre­pared to lit­er­ally stone an armed in­truder while be­ing shot at. When will this mad­ness end?


“Why People Really Want to Move to Idaho but Are Fleeing Its Neighbor, Wyoming” →

An­drew Van Dam re­port­ing for The Wash­ing­ton Post (em­phas­is ad­ded):

Idaho is the fast­est-grow­ing state in the uni­on.

Half of its neigh­bors are in the top five. All but one are in the top 13.

The “but one” is Wyom­ing. It’s dead last. 51st out of a pos­sible 51 (our rank­ing is ad­jus­ted for pop­u­la­tion and in­cludes Wash­ing­ton, D.C.). Wyom­ing lost 1.0 per­cent of its pop­u­la­tion in 2017 even as Idaho was gain­ing 2.2 per­cent.


So why are so many people leav­ing Wyom­ing while Idaho booms?

For clues, look at the full rank­ing [of states by pop­u­la­tion growth]. The Pa­cific North­w­est and Moun­tain West are ex­tremely well rep­res­en­ted at the top of the chart but Wyom­ing and West Vir­gin­ia are stuck to the bot­tom. Those two, and oth­ers in the lower ech­el­on, have something in com­mon: re­source de­pend­ence. In their case, it’s primar­ily coal min­ing.

Wyom­ing has long been the na­tion’s coal king. The vast op­er­a­tions of the Powder River Basin pro­duce more coal than all but a hand­ful of states put to­geth­er. But cheap nat­ur­al gas has re­duced power plants’ de­pend­ence on the min­er­al and, with it, its price and pro­duc­tion. Wyom­ing’s mines are ship­ping out few­er tons of coal and get­ting paid less for each of them.

It’s hard not to think of Trump’s ef­forts to bring back coal while read­ing this art­icle. Much has been said and writ­ten about why those ef­forts are ill-ad­vised. There’s been a lot of talk about coal’s neg­at­ive en­vir­on­ment­al im­pacts (all true), and about its de­clin­ing value as the world (even in­clud­ing the United States!) turns away from fossil fuels to re­new­al sources of en­ergy such as wind and sol­ar (also true). But there’s an­oth­er, more prim­al, eco­nom­ic factor at work: ex­trac­ted re­sources, like coal, are in­her­ently volat­ile. They boom and bust as new de­pos­its are dis­covered, ex­trac­ted, and ex­hausted, and as de­mand waxes and wanes.

In­creas­ing our de­pend­ence on coal makes our eco­nomy less stable. Even if Trump can ush­er in the coal boom times that he has prom­ised, the bust will in­ev­it­ably fol­low.


Tax “Overhaul” Bill Passes Congress →

Dami­an Paletta and Jeff Stein re­port­ing for The Wash­ing­ton Post:

Con­gress on Wed­nes­day passed the most sig­ni­fic­ant over­haul of the U.S. tax code in 30 years, de­liv­er­ing a land­mark le­gis­lat­ive vic­tory to Pres­id­ent Trump and the Re­pub­lic­ans that had once seemed im­possible for the frac­tured party.

The sweep­ing meas­ure im­prints a clear con­ser­vat­ive vis­ion on the tax code that will af­fect nearly every house­hold and busi­ness. Cor­por­a­tions will see a massive tax cut, while most Amer­ic­ans will see tem­por­ary sav­ings of vari­ous sizes. And in a move that may prove polit­ic­ally per­il­ous, Re­pub­lic­ans de­livered the biggest gains to the wealthy.

I do have to take is­sue with some of the char­ac­ter­iz­a­tions of this bill in that art­icle. The idea that this bill is an “over­haul” and “im­prints a clear con­ser­vat­ive vis­ion on the tax code” is a com­plete farce. First and fore­most, there is ab­so­lutely, pos­it­ively noth­ing that is clear about this bill:

The pas­sage kicks off an in­tense peri­od of un­cer­tainty for con­sumers and busi­nesses as both scramble to un­der­stand the changes[…]

Second, this bill does noth­ing to real­ize the vis­ion con­ser­vat­ives have talked about for dec­ades with re­spect to taxes: “A tax sys­tem so simple, your tax re­turn would fit on a post­card.” If any­thing, this bill makes the tax sys­tem more com­plic­ated, not less.

The bill is also deeply un­pop­u­lar. It’s al­most as if the Re­pub­lic­ans are resigned to los­ing in a big way in the 2018 elec­tions and are just try­ing to line their pock­ets be­fore they go.



Apple to Introduce Ability to Write Apps That Work on Both macOS and iOS →

Mark Gur­man re­port­ing for Bloomberg:

Start­ing as early as next year, soft­ware de­velopers will be able to design a single ap­plic­a­tion that works with a touch­screen or mouse and track­pad de­pend­ing on wheth­er it’s run­ning on the iPhone and iPad op­er­at­ing sys­tem or on Mac hard­ware, ac­cord­ing to people fa­mil­i­ar with the mat­ter.

The re­port is thin on de­tails as to how this would work, so the floodgates have opened for spec­u­la­tion. Some have sug­ges­ted that this means Macs are mov­ing to ARM pro­cessors. I think this move, however, is en­tirely un­re­lated to the pos­sib­il­ity of ARM-based Macs; a single app can con­tain mul­tiple bin­ar­ies, each com­piled for a dif­fer­ent pro­cessor. And such a trans­ition would take years, any­way, just like the trans­ition to In­tel pro­cessors.

I think this is much more likely to be the out­come of a uni­fied set of lib­rar­ies and APIs that will be avail­able on both plat­forms.


Comcast’s Infrastructure Investment →

Jon Brodkin, re­port­ing for Ars Tech­nica:

Com­cast yes­ter­day claimed that it will in­vest more than $50 bil­lion in in­fra­struc­ture over the next five years be­cause of the re­peal of net neut­ral­ity rules and the new tax over­haul.

But the num­bers show that Com­cast’s in­vest­ments soared while the net neut­ral­ity rules were in place and would hit the “new” mile­stone if its in­vest­ments con­tin­ued in­creas­ing by a mod­est amount.


Thus, if Com­cast con­tin­ues in­creas­ing cap­it­al ex­pendit­ures by the same rate as it did with net neut­ral­ity rules in place, the com­pany would eas­ily break the $50 bil­lion fig­ure that Roberts at­trib­uted to the net neut­ral­ity re­peal and tax break.

In­dustry-wide, cable broad­band speeds soared dur­ing the years net neut­ral­ity rules were in place.

Is any­one sur­prised that a ma­jor ISP with mono­pol­ies or near mono­pol­ies in sev­er­al mar­kets would be dis­hon­est about why it wanted net neut­ral­ity re­pealed?


Democrat Doug Jones Wins in Alabama →

Jes­sica Taylor re­port­ing for NPR:

Demo­crat Doug Jones has won the Alabama Sen­ate spe­cial elec­tion, a vic­tory that was a stun­ning up­set in a deeply red state that voted over­whelm­ingly for Pres­id­ent Trump. The pres­id­ent, who had backed Re­pub­lic­an Roy Moore des­pite mul­tiple ac­cus­a­tions of sexu­al mis­con­duct and as­sault, con­grat­u­lated Jones on Twit­ter.

It’s un­for­tu­nate that a pe­do­phile and pro­fes­sion­al loony came so close to win­ning but in the end san­ity pre­vailed, if only by 21,311 votes1 (as of this writ­ing).

  1. If we define san­ity as “could not bring one­self to vote for pe­do­phile and pro­fes­sion­al loony Roy Moore” then we could in­clude the write-in votes, cur­rently total­ing 22,777, as vot­ing for san­ity. But one could also in­ter­pret the write-in voters as say­ing, “I don’t want to be per­son­ally re­spons­ible for it, but I would rather risk pe­do­phile and pro­fes­sion­al loony Roy Moore be­com­ing a United States Sen­at­or than vote for a Demo­crat.” That at­ti­tude is un­deni­ably bet­ter than a vote for Roy Moore, but it is still troub­ling.