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Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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It’s a new year! Disney has moved another Pixar movie out of theaters and onto Disney+. Why “Don’t Look Up” was the perfect movie for Netflix. “Yellowstone” is a legitimate hit and yet nobody is truly happy about it.

Massachusetts offers digital vaccine records to all residents

Just as a follow up to my post about digital vaccine cards, I was pleased to hear this week that my home state, Massachusetts, is now following in the footsteps of California and offering digital vaccine records for all residents.

The new My Vax Records service lets any Massachusetts resident enter their name, phone number or email, and birthdate to retrieve their vaccine records online. While the page says it can take up to 24 hours, I received a text immediately, allowing me to not only view my records but download a SMART Health Card that can be added to my iPhone’s Wallet.

While I’d already done that in my previous piece, this has the advantage of also showing my booster shot, which I received at different location from my first two vaccine doses. Also, it doesn’t require me to fill out a form and email it to someone so, you know, that’s also a win. (It also shows me vaccine information besides my COVID-19, so I can tell that I’m up to date on my flu shot, as well as the Typhoid vaccine I got several years back before traveling abroad.)

Kudos to Massachusetts for rolling this out, especially before more cities in the state are starting to require proof of vaccination for indoor locations like restaurants, museums, gyms, and more. Here’s hoping that more states quickly follow suit.

—Linked by Dan Moren

Apple to allow alternative App Store payments in South Korea

The Korea Times:

Apple said it plans to provide an alternative payment system at a reduced service charge compared with the current 30 percent charge, as the tech giant turned in its compliance plans to the Korea Communications Commission (KCC).

The company did not provide the exact date of when the policy will take effect or the service fee to be applied but said it plans to discuss with the KCC on further details.

“We look forward to working with the KCC and our developer community on a solution that benefits our Korean users,” Apple said in a statement.

This is, of course, the result of legislation passed in the country last year. Google’s already made a similar move, saying it would cut the commission for those not using its payment system by a modest 4 percent.

The details of such an implementation are going to be interesting. In the U.S., Apple’s victory over Epic seems to not only have solidified the company’s position, but also more or less tacitly acknowledged that even if alternative payments were allowed, Apple would still be within its rights to collect a commission from developers. But that’s according to U.S. law, and the South Korean law has its own restrictions.

It’s probably going too far to view how Apple handles this as a blueprint for how it might deal with a similar law enacted in the U.S., but it will at least give us some idea of how the company adapts to a significant change to one of its most criticized services.

—Linked by Dan Moren

We discuss why it’s useful to take time every once in a while to pull back and look at the big picture instead of getting bogged down in the day-to-day grind. Also, Jason built himself a tool to make his life easier, Apple may be gearing up for its next event, and listeners have lots of questions about Apple displays.

By Dan Moren for Macworld

Why Intel, AMD, and Nvidia will never beat an Apple silicon Mac

Once upon a time, you could watch a keynote presentation from any major computer chip company and rest easy in the confidence that the name “Apple” would never pass the lips of any presenter. The message always seemed to be, as per the classic Mad Men meme, “I don’t think of you at all.”

But oh how the tables have turned. With the transition to Apple silicon well underway, and the debut of the high-powered M1 Pro and M1 Max chips last summer, major players in the silicon market are hastening to not only mention Apple, but to prove how much better their latest products are than that computer company that nobody used to care about.

This past week’s Consumer Electronics Show was a news cavalcade for the likes of Intel, AMD, and Nvidia, all of whom took their time to reassure the vendors that rely on them that, yes, they could play in the same league as Apple.

Continue reading on Macworld ↦

By Jason Snell

NightWatch: An Apple Watch stand, if you want it


This is a tricky one. On the one hand, the NightWatch Apple Watch stand is ridiculous. It’s an $85 hunk of plastic. No hunk of clear plastic should cost $85.

And yet… I bought one in June after hearing about it on the Connected podcast, and… I kind of love it? You’ll need to make your own decision about whether it’s worth it.

The NightWatch is a clear lucite bubble designed to fit your Apple Watch. You push an Apple Watch charging puck into the back of it, set it on your nightstand, and at night, you drop the Apple Watch in and it charges. But more than that, the curved plastic bubble serves as a magnifier. If you use your Apple Watch in Night Stand mode—and I do, my Apple Watch now serves double duty as my alarm clock—you’ll be able to see the time a little bit larger.

The makers of NightWatch say that it also has some sound channels to amplify the sound of the Apple Watch when it makes an alarm in the morning. I haven’t really noticed much difference, since my Apple Watch is pretty effective at waking me up regardless.

For a couple of years I used elago’s Classic Mac-themed Apple Watch stand, and it was just fine. It costs $14, quite a bit less than the NightWatch. I like the NightWatch—which is solid, hard plastic, not squishy silicone—better. Do I like it $70 better? I don’t know about that, but I didn’t return the NightWatch, so I guess maybe I do.1

If you want a nice way to hold your Apple Watch on your nightstand, the NightWatch will give it to you. The rest is between you, your wallet, and this Amazon link.

  1. Turns out it was $60 when I bought it? I don’t understand the price, either way. 

January 7, 2022

Zoom and FaceTime are weird. Apple and the home (again). The G4 iMac turns 20. It floated above your desk like a VESA-mounted iMac.

Become a member (members, sign in) to listen to this podcast and get more benefits.

20 Macs for 2020: iMac G4

Speaking of the iMac G4, here’s my look back at that great, weird, beautiful computer from my 2020 tour of the most notable Macs of all time.

—Linked by Jason Snell

By Jason Snell for Macworld

iMac G4 review: Bold system avoids the sophomore slump

[From 20 years ago:]

As the best-selling Mac of all time, the original iMac set a standard for Apple that’s tough to top. To stand a chance, the design of any follow-up iMac would have to be just as bold, as remarkably different as the original. Apple has succeeded–its new pivoting two-piece flat-panel iMac is a triumph in terms of design, computing power, and value.

Continue reading on Macworld ↦

By Shelly Brisbin

TV for Picky Eaters

Tcm appletv

I’ve noticed that folks who write about cord-cutting tend to be maximalists: “How can I get the most of all the things available?” Fair enough. A lot of people like lots of TV.

But I am not them. I am but a humble fan of classic moves with a less-than-12-hours-per-week TV habit. I’m also budget-minded, which some people might call “cheap.” Since we cut the cord a few years ago, I’ve simply done without access to TV, outside of streaming services. But recently, I’ve been on a journey to figure out how I can get the TV morsels I want, at a reasonable cost.

What I care about is the back catalog—classic movies, arthouse fare, restorations, and the odd vintage TV show. And live news. In that last interest, I’m not alone. Live news and sports are big reasons people stick to cable, or add an over-the-top service to their lives.…

This is a post limited to Six Colors members.

By Jason Snell

In case of podcast problem, push button

Tell me how the panelist caused you extra work.

Last year I decided I was spending too much time doing jobs because I could do them, not because they were an essential part of my job. (My friend Myke Hurley would, in the spirit of his podcast Cortex, call this my “Year of Essentials.”)

So I resolved to, among other things, stop editing weekly episodes of The Incomparable. Since 2010, I’ve spent most Saturday mornings editing that podcast. And while I enjoy having complete editorial control and using that regular editing session to try out new techniques, it’s not an essential part of my life and my friend Steven Schapansky can edit it just fine.

But giving up editing meant that I’d need to relay any issues that need to be smoothed out in editing to Steven—and that was a problem. I’d file mental notes about stumbles, interruptions, digressions and the like, and then play them back when I was editing the podcast. When someone swore, I’d switch to the Finder, make a new folder, and give that folder a name like “poop1 23 min”.

This is an untenable situation if I’m going to hand over editing duties, so I needed to resolve to make a change. (Especially about making notes in folder names—one of the weirdest and saddest acts of desperation, and yet one I keep doing a decade later.) I needed to fully commit to taking edit notes while recording the podcast, so I could pass those notes on to Steven.

The logical thing to do is what Myke and my friend Antony Johnston both do, which is keep a paper notebook handy and mark down these events in writing while the recording session is going on.

Myke's notebook
Myke Hurley’s notes.

I have several pens and several Field Notes notebooks on my desk, and yet I almost never use this approach. Part of that is my general aversion to pens and paper—they’re just never my first choice—and part of it is that to make a good podcast editing note, you need to note the time that the problem happened—and the act of looking at the time on my recorder and writing the result down on paper is distracting, time consuming, and not particularly accurate. (Even my folders in the Finder are pretty vague in terms of timing, since by the time I’ve clicked and made a new folder, quite a bit of time has passed since the crime was committed. Was that “poop” at 23 minutes? Probably more like 22:15 or 23:40. Somewhere in there. Good luck.)

The final result: two Stream Deck buttons I can push.

And so, realizing that using paper was probably not going to be an approach that would work for me, I decided to spend a few hours in late December building a script that would help me automate the note-taking process, aided by some Keyboard Maestro macros and tied to buttons on a Stream Deck macropad.

Before I describe what I did, I should point out that other people have built tools to handle this very issue. Dave Hamilton of The Mac Observer detailed his approach, which is similar to mine, but relies on a manual timer that you set when you start recording. It’s a totally valid approach—if you remember to reset the timer, that is.

What I wanted was something a bit more foolproof. I use Rogue Amoeba’s Audio Hijack to record podcasts, and those recordings save right to my Desktop, so I wrote an AppleScript script that looks at the Desktop and finds the creation time of the most recent podcast recording. (This could be based on a file name or type—in my case, the names of all my podcast recordings include the current date in the format YYYYMMDD, so I can search for all files matching that pattern and then find the newest one. Once I know the file’s creation time, the rest is just math—subtract it from the current time, and you’ve got the current time code of the file.

When my script runs, it appends a line to a file on the Desktop (creating one if necessary) that includes the current time code, as well as any text I’ve passed to the script.

To trigger the script, I created two Keyboard Maestro macros. The first one displays a list of common issues, so I can quickly select “cough” or “swear” and it’s appended when I press return. (If I just press return, no text is passed to the script.) The second one displays a text entry field, so I can add anything I want as a note. I assigned both macros to individual buttons on my Stream Deck.

Keyboard Maestro runs the script.

The note file generated by the script looks like this:

00:00:08 – Swear
00:00:44 – Overtalk
00:01:54 – Cough

Nothing too inspiring, but very useful if you’re a podcast editor looking out for issues!

I tried this approach with a podcast I recorded on New Year’s Day, and it worked really well. My plan is to use this on all the podcasts I hand off to others, as well as the podcasts I edit myself, from now on. Only time will tell if it sticks, but I’m optimistic that this simple approach—hear issue, push button—will win the day.

I’ve posted the code of the AppleScript script and my Keyboard Maestro macros if you’re interested in adapting them for your own uses.

  1. They didn’t really say “poop.” 

How we turn our digital photographs into physical media, our experiences with external monitors, our thoughts on an audiobook service from Apple, and the AR/VR headset features that would appeal to us.

We spend our first episode of 2022 discussing what we think Apple will do this year. Is it finally time for an Apple product you put on your face? Jason and Myke also discuss changes they’re planning on making in their working lives for the new year.

David Sparks goes all in on MacSparky

My friend David Sparks has been leading a double life for a while now. To his law colleagues and friends, he has had a strange side hustle writing and talking about tech. To the rest of us, he’s a Mac expert who still practices law, too.

No more. David has embraced his inner MacSparky and shut down his law practice:

So here goes. No longer do I split my time between two careers. For the first time since 1992, I will have complete control of my schedule. No longer will a client emergency force me to set aside the work that has become my calling. I’m all in, and I have big plans.

I know David agonized over this decision, but as someone who has been talking about career stuff with him for seven or eight years now, it feels like the logical next step. I think he’s going to be a smashing success, and I’m excited that the rest of us will now get David’s full attention.

You can join David’s new membership program, MacSparky Labs, if you want to help support this career transition.

—Linked by Jason Snell

Microsoft Exchange finds a Y2K22 bug

Microsoft Exchange admins felt a great disturbance in the Force last night as it became 2022:

The “long” type allows for values up to 2,147,483,647. It appears that Microsoft uses the first two numbers of the update version to denote the year of the update. So when the year was 2021, the first two numbers was “21”, and everything was fine. Now that it’s 2022 (GMT), the update version, converted to a “long” would be 2,201,01,001 – which is above the maximum value of the “long” data type. @Microsoft: If you change it to an ‘unsigned long’, then the max value is 4,294,967,295 and we’ll be able to sleep easy until the year 2043!

Happy New Year, everyone.

—Linked by Jason Snell

By Dan Moren

The Back Page: Perennial Predictions, 2022 Edition

Some predictions are like sweet denim jackets or A-Ha’s “Take On Me”: they never go out of style. As 2021 draws to a close, you’ll see tech pundits from across the Internet carefully calculating their predictions of what exactly is going to happen in the year ahead. Many of these will be right, but they will also be boring.

But where’s the fun in that? I too can tell you Apple’s going to make a 27-inch iMac or an iPhone 14 or that Tim Cook will start an event with “Good mooooorninnnng,” but none of that is any more surprising than telling you that Apple will make a hojillion dollars.

So instead, I welcome you to the first installment of my Perennial Predictions. You know, the ones we make every year which never seem to come true. But even an iPhone screenshot is right twice a day, so when the clock does tick over to 9:41, you’ll look like a genius.…

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