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What vaccinated people should know about their risk from the delta varian

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Atlanta, GA
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Apple Launches $99 MagSafe Battery Pack

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It’s a little late in the annual iPhone cycle — we might learn about this year’s new iPhones in two months — but presumably this battery pack will work with MagSafe-compatible iPhones for a few years to come. (Mark Gurman first wrote about this product back in February.)

The closest competitor is probably Anker’s $46 PowerCore Magnetic 5K. Apple’s battery pack is smaller — maybe quite a bit smaller — but Anker’s has more storage capacity. With Apple’s, you can plug your iPhone into a wall charger and it will reverse-charge the battery pack, if attached. Anker’s only charges in one direction, from the battery pack to the iPhone, but you can charge the iPhone while the battery pack is connected to a wall charger.

Apple’s battery pack works at 15W — the full speed of MagSafe — but only when the battery pack itself is plugged into a wall charger. When it’s in your pocket, it charges your iPhone at 5W, the same speed at which Anker’s always charges. The other notable difference is that only Apple’s battery pack shows its charge level in the iOS Battery widget.

A bit of a shame that Apple is only selling it in white (for now?) — most of their recent battery cases have been available in both black and white (and sometimes pink and Product Red).

Link: macrumors.com/2021/07/13/apple-launches-99-magsafe-battery…

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11 days ago
That white battery pack will get stained easily and so, it's really not practical. I will laugh at that fellow who will buy a case for this battery pack.
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Hiding In Hospital Or Deadly Sick?

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Not looking good - Mahiaddin the day before hospitalisation

Not looking good – Mahiaddin the day before hospitalisation

It is now two weeks since the Malaysian prime minster arrived in hospital declaring a bout of diarrhoea.

In the process he left an already sinking ship government entirely rudderless at a time of total national crisis.

Despite this emergency within an ’emergency’ the public has since been offered the barest minimum in terms of detail about the health situation facing the chief decision maker of the country.

This at a time when millions are predominantly trapped inside thanks to failing anti-Covid measures, whilst a vast Cabinet of ‘Senior Ministers’ and other panjandrums have been caught having fun abroad, breaking lockdown rules, making ridiculous remarks (about the virulence of the ‘Spanish Fly’ compared to Covid, for example) and generally doing nothing useful for the nation.

The immediate and inevitable speculation was that for him to enter hospital at such a time it must be serious. Did Mahiaddin’s diarrhoea relate to a standard complication caused by the recurrence of pancreatic cancer problems many asked? However, when this hit the press some four days after his admission it provoked the single public comment issued so far on his condition.

Malaysians were told there was nothing at all serious behind ‘Moo’s complaint which was merely ‘an infection of the digestive system’ that a course of antibiotics would easily fix. These would be taken intravenously and he would be ‘discharged in a few days‘, according to the media statement.

That statement came out not last Sunday, but the Sunday before last on July 4th. Since then, complete and utter silence.

What are folk to think? Where else has such a cloud of secrecy descended at a time like this, when above all clear leadership is needed to save lives? North Korea would be more forthcoming.

So, what is really going on? According to the 4th July statement Mahiaddin is working from his hospital bed. Yet, although he has appointed a Deputy Prime Minister and agreed to finally allow Parliament to sit later in the month there has been no evidence to sustain the claim. Quite the opposite.

After two weeks there can only be two explanations for this lengthy sojourn. One is that the prime minister is in fact extremely ill indeed and the antibiotics are either not working or only form part of a wider picture of his failing health.

The other is that the PM is actually back in the pink but has decided to hide in his hospital bed rather than face the numerous calls for him to resign since he simply does not have the numbers to carry on. Perhaps he thinks he can re-build his following and is buying time by staying in his bunker?

Either way, as most Malaysians have long since concluded, the prime minister is useless to the nation in this time of crisis and loss of life, so he must step aside to let others tackle the myriad problems caused by his disastrous attempt at government.

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11 days ago
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Steve Jobs in Kyoto | NHK WORLD-JAPAN News

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When it came to Kyoto, Oshima Hiroshi was Steve Jobs' man. Oshima worked as a chauffeur and a tour guide for Jobs on four trips, the last in 2010, just one year before the Apple founder's death. Jobs would arrive with a vague idea of what he wanted to see but left the specifics to Oshima.

Over the years, the two grew close and Jobs gave Oshima his home address and phone number, urging him to call if he ever had the chance to visit the US. Oshima says he would even jokingly ask Jobs to name one of Apple's products 'Hiro.'

Oshima says one of Jobs' favorite destinations was Ryoanji, a 500-year-old Zen temple known for its rock garden. Oshima took Jobs there three times.

"On our first visit, I told him about the temple's unique visual trick," says Oshima. "The garden has fifteen stones but you cannot see all of them at once from a single vantage point."

Oshima says Jobs immediately checked to see if this was true. He paced around, looking for the perfect spot to view the garden, but couldn't find it.

"Then I explained the significance of the number: 15 means completion. In the past, men were recognized to have reached adulthood at the age of 15. A night with a full moon is called 'Jyugoya', or 15th night. The reason we can't find all 15 rocks is that we're still in a work in process."

Oshima says Jobs seemed to accept this, and nodded, keeping his eyes on the garden. Years later, he brought his children to the temple and told them what Oshima had explained to him.

Jobs spoke about the influence of Zen Buddhism on his life in his authorized biography: "I have always found Buddhism, Japanese Zen Buddhism in particular, to be aesthetically sublime. The most sublime thing I've ever seen are the gardens around Kyoto. I'm deeply moved by what that culture has produced, and it's directly from Zen Buddhism."

"I want a garden like that."

In July 2010, Oshima was driving Jobs through an upscale neighborhood near Nanzenji Temple. One particular residence caught Jobs' eye. It was the Nomura Villa, completed in 1928 by Nomura Tokushichi, the founder of Nomura Securities. The residence is known for its pristine garden and has been designated as a national important cultural asset. But it is rarely open to the public.

"I told him it would be impossible to enter but he said he might have a way," says Oshima. "He called his secretary in the US and ten minutes later, I got a call from the Nomura headquarters saying that we had a reservation for a personal viewing the following day."

When they returned, an interpreter was waiting for Jobs. Oshima waited outside in the car.

"When he came back out an hour later, he told me: 'I would like to have a garden like that.'"

Final lunch

In terms of Japanese cuisine, Oshima says Jobs always loved soba and that his favorite restaurant was Misoka-an Kawamichiya, a shop near the Tawaraya ryokan, where he always stayed during his visits.

"I once tried taking him to a different place but he didn't finish the meal," Oshima says. "He asked me to take him to his usual place to eat again."

Jobs also loved sushi, and on the final day of his last trip to Kyoto, he took his family for lunch at the renowned restaurant Sushiiwa. While his wife and daughter ordered the course menu, Jobs asked the owner for recommendations.

"He asked me for seasonal sushi," remembers Ohnishi Toshiya, owner of Sushiiwa.

Ohnishi started Jobs off with flounder sushi, then squid and shrimp. When he served toro, the fatty part of tuna, Jobs suddenly went quiet. Ohnishi asked if anything was wrong.

"He asked me what I was going to serve next and I told him I hadn't decided. He told me to keep serving toro until he asked me to stop."

The toro was from Oma Town in Aomori Prefecture. Tuna from the area is popular for its fatty meat. Ohnishi says he served six pieces in a row.

"He told me he had never eaten such delicious sushi," says Ohnishi.

At the end of the meal, Ohnishi asked for Jobs's autograph for his daughter. The Apple founder rarely accepted such requests but, perhaps in a good mood from the meal, said he would be glad to oblige. Ohnishi told him to visit again soon but Jobs said this would be difficult.

"He told me he was suffering from a serious illness and that this could be his last trip to Kyoto. It was shocking to hear. He also asked me to deliver sushi to his home in the US if he couldn't come back to my restaurant."

"All good things"

Jobs' autograph now adorns the wall of Sushiiwa. It comes with a message: "All good things", a shortened version of the saying "All good things must come to an end."

"He might have been aware of when his life would end, since he passed away just one year later," says Ohnishi. "Maybe that's why he chose not to write the whole sentence, and only the first three words."

Six years after Jobs' visit, one diner was especially shocked to see the autograph at Sushiiwa. John Sculley joined Apple as CEO in 1983, persuaded to leave his job at PepsiCo by Jobs himself. But the two had their differences, leading to Jobs' infamous departure from Apple just two years later.

In 2016, he happened to stop by Sushiiwa for a meal. Ohnishi told him about his old partner's visit and, despite the difficult end to their business relationship, Sculley broke down in tears.

"He told me that since they were retired from the frontlines of business, they could have enjoyed sushi at Steve's favorite restaurant and had a good time together," says Ohnishi. "But he has passed away and now he's in heaven."

The Secret Passion of Steve Jobs
You can watch the full program on demand.

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16 days ago
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From TextExpander to Keyboard Maestro… again

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After a good bit of thinking, I canceled my TextExpander subscription today. This is not the first time I’ve left TextExpander—I dropped it when Smile first adopted a subscription payment model about five years ago and stayed away even when Smile listened to the complaints and lowered the subscription price.

Eventually, though, I returned. TextExpander was the only realistic snippet solution for iOS and iPadOS, and as I found myself writing more and more on my iPad, I couldn’t live without it. Also, I like making temporary snippets to handle common phrases—like the name of a product or a company—that appear often in my writing as I work on a particular project but will never be used after the project is finished. TextExpander has a very efficient way of adding new snippets.

Things have changed over the past few months. My M1 MacBook Air has brought me back to the Mac in a big way. I no longer write anything longer than a text or an email on my iPad, and I don’t expect that to change. So cross-platform expansion isn’t as important as it once was.1 And although Smile seems to have fixed the crashing problem I was having a month or two ago, I’m still leery of TextExpander’s reliance on a bespoke syncing service.

So I’m back to using Keyboard Maestro as my snippet expansion tool. It works well, and I didn’t have to do too much work to switch over. In a rare display of forethought, I didn’t delete my snippet macros. I had merely disabled them when I started using TextExpander again—now I just had to re-enable them.

Keyboard Maestro snippet groups

Yes, there were some snippets from TextExpander that I’d made in the past few years that needed to be moved over to Keyboard Maestro, but that didn’t take much time. Some were even improved in the translation.

And I decided to tackle the one big advantage TextExpander had over Keyboard Maestro: the ability to make a new snippet quickly. By combining AppleScript with Keyboard Maestro itself, I now have a way to make a KM snippet out of what’s on the clipboard.

For example, let’s say I’m writing a report about products made by Mxyzptlk Industries. To make a snippet for that name, I copy it to the clipboard and invoke my new macro. That brings up this window,

Make Snippet input window

where I can define the trigger (I chose “;mi”) and adjust the expansion if necessary. After clicking OK, I have a new snippet in my group.

Mxyzptlk snippet

Here’s the macro that does it:

Make Snippet macro

The first step asks the user for the snippet information, prepopulating the expansion field with the contents of the clipboard. The second step does all the real work, running this AppleScript:

 1:  tell application "Keyboard Maestro Engine"
 2:    set trigger to getvariable "snippetTrigger"
 3:    set expansion to getvariable "snippetExpansion"
 4:  end tell
 6:  set triggerXML to "<dict>
 7:  <key>MacroTriggerType</key>
 8:  <string>TypedString</string>
 9:  <key>SimulateDeletes</key>
10:  <true/>
11:  <key>TypedString</key>
12:  <string>" & trigger & "</string>
13:  </dict>"
15:  set expansionXML to "<dict>
16:  <key>Action</key>
17:  <string>ByTyping</string>
18:  <key>MacroActionType</key>
19:  <string>InsertText</string>
20:  <key>TargetApplication</key>
21:  <dict/>
22:  <key>TargetingType</key>
23:  <string>Front</string>
24:  <key>Text</key>
25:  <string>" & expansion & "</string>
26:  </dict>"
28:  tell application "Keyboard Maestro"
29:    tell macro group "Snippet - Temporary"
30:      set m to make new macro with properties {name:expansion}
31:      tell m
32:        make new trigger with properties {xml:triggerXML}
33:        make new action with properties {xml:expansionXML}
34:      end tell
35:    end tell
36:  end tell

Lines 1–4 pull in the values of the variables set during the previous macro step. Lines 6–26 define the XML text that defines what will become the new macro’s trigger and action. Finally, Lines 28–36 create a new macro in the group and define it according to the XML. I took the overall structure of this section of the script from the Keyboard Maestro Wiki.

How did I know the XML format? I created a test macro by hand, exported it, and opened the Test.kmmacros file in BBEdit. From there, it was easy to see the parts that defined the trigger and the action. I did a little editing to accommodate the inclusion of the trigger and expansion variables and pasted the result into the script.

Making a Keyboard Maestro macro that runs an AppleScript that creates a new Keyboard Maestro macro is a lot of fun. More important, though, is that it brings KM up to TE’s level when it comes to making new snippets. Now I’m not making any compromises in using Keyboard Maestro for text expansion.

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16 days ago
From TextExpander to Keyboard Maestro… again
—And now it’s all this

“After a good bit of thinking, I canceled my TextExpander subscription today.”
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★ Regarding the Safari 15 Public Betas for Mac and iOS

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Michael Tsai:

I think I like the changes for iPhone. The controls are easier to reach at the bottom of the screen, and it’s quicker to switch between tabs.

I get the move to the bottom, in theory — clearly this is about reachability. But I use Safari on my iPhone a lot and I have never minded using a second hand to get to the controls that, heretofore, were at the top: the “aA” menu, the location field, and the reload/stop button.

Here are screenshots from Safari on iOS 14.6:

Screenshot of mjtsai.com in Safari on iOS 14.6.

and iOS 15 beta 2:

Screenshot of mjtsai.com in Safari on iOS 14.6.

Both the old and new designs put these controls one tap away: back/forward, location field, and the tabs button.

The only other one-tap control in the new design is the “···” junk drawer menu button, which can be long-pressed to toggle Reader Mode. All the other controls are inside the “···” popover menu.

The old design has no “···” menu because it doesn’t need one. It has an “aA” button at the top which can be long-pressed to toggle Reader Mode and when tapped shows a popover menu of site-specific viewing options. At the bottom it has one-tap buttons for Share and Bookmarks. I use the Share and Bookmarks buttons all the time on my iPhone.

The system-wide standard iOS/iPadOS Share popover menu is one of the best UIs Apple has come up with in the last decade. It is extremely useful, very well supported by both first- and third-party apps, and extraordinarily consistent across the entire system. Because it is widely supported and very consistent, it is well understood by users. I realize that the nature of my work is such that I deal with URLs more frequently than most people, but sharing URLs is really common.

I also think the “aA” button is a much better idea than putting all the options previously contained therein in the catch-all “···” menu. Long-pressing “aA” to toggle Reader Mode feels intuitive; long-pressing “···” to toggle Reader Mode feels like they just didn’t know where else to put it. The new iOS Safari “···” menu could have been a “here’s what not to do” example from Apple’s own WWDC session this year on “Discoverable Design”.

Bookmarks are almost completely lost in the new design, and unless I’m missing something, there’s no longer any way to run bookmarklets. I know bookmarklets are an old-school web nerd thing, but I have a few I use frequently, which, if Apple sticks with this design for the next year, I guess I’ll have to rewrite as Shortcuts shortcuts or something.1

The only new thing the new iOS Safari design has going for it is that you can swipe side-to-side on the floating browser chrome at the bottom to switch between tabs. I don’t think that is significantly more convenient than tapping the Tabs buttons to switch tabs. How often you want to swipe through tabs one at a time rather than see your tabs and select one in particular? And if you swipe just a little bit too low, you wind up switching between apps, not tabs.

All that said, I agree with Tsai that the new Safari for Mac is even worse:

For Mac, the new design makes no sense to me, and I’ll likely switch to Chrome if it can’t be disabled:

  • Not only does the location bar move when you change tabs, but, because it changes width, all the other tabs move, too. It feels disorienting.
  • With everything on one line, there’s less space for tab text than before.
  • It’s harder to get at buttons and extensions hidden under the … menu.
  • There’s less empty space where it’s safe for me to click in order to drag the window.
  • Having the page background color bleed into the tab area makes it harder to read, and it feels weird for the current page’s color to affect the way other tabs look. It also works inconsistently, even on the same pages on Apple’s site. At least there’s a preference to turn it off.

You don’t have to install MacOS 12 Monterey to use the new Safari design; the latest versions of Safari Technology Preview have it too, and Safari Technology Preview is installed as a separate app, not a replacement for the current version of Safari.

Tabs in Safari on Mac (and, in my opinion, iPad) were a solved problem. The new Safari tab UI strikes me as being different for the sake of being different, not different for the sake of being better. The new design certainly makes Safari look distinctive. But is it more usable or discoverable in any way? I honestly can’t think of a single problem the new design solves other than saving about 30 points (60 @2× pixels) of vertical screen space by omitting a dedicated tab bar. But I think the tab bar was space put to good, obvious use with traditional tabs. Matt Birchler points out that horizontally, the new tab design uses space less efficiently. Good luck convincing Chrome users to switch to Safari with this design. Not to mention that every other tabbed app in MacOS 12 still uses a traditional tab bar. It’s consistent neither with other popular web browsers nor with the rest of MacOS 12.

Nick Heer, writing at Pixel Envy:

Over the past several releases of MacOS and iOS, Apple has experimented with hiding controls until users hover their cursor overtop, click, tap, or swipe. I see it as an extension of what Maciej Cegłowski memorably called “chickenshit minimalism”. He defined it as “the illusion of simplicity backed by megabytes of cruft”; I see parallels in a “junk drawer” approach that prioritizes the appearance of simplicity over functional clarity. It adds complexity because it reduces clutter, and it allows UI designers to avoid making choices about interface hierarchy by burying everything but the most critical elements behind vague controls.

If UI density is a continuum, the other side of chickenshit minimalism might be something like Microsoft’s “ribbon” toolbar. Dozens of controls of various sizes and types, loosely grouped by function, and separated by a tabbed UI creates a confusing mess. But being unnecessarily reductionist with onscreen controls also creates confusion. I do not want every web browser control available at all times, but I cannot see what users gain by making it harder to find the reload button in Safari.

There’s an axiom widely (but alas, probably spuriously) attributed to Albert Einstein: “Everything should be as simple as possible, but not simpler.” But I don’t even think that applies to this new Safari design. It’s worse. It just looks simpler. All the old functionality remains — it’s just harder to access, harder to discover intuitively, and more distracting. One can only presume that Apple’s HI team thinks they’re reducing needless “clutter”, but what they’re doing is systematically removing the coherence between what apps look like and the functionality they offer.

Here’s another axiom, whose attribution is certain: “Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like. People think it’s this veneer — that the designers are handed this box and told, ‘Make it look good!’ That’s not what we think design is. It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”

  1. “AppleScript scripts” has always felt a little repetitively awkward, but talking about shortcuts in Shortcuts is worse. I wish Apple had called them “workflows” or something instead. I might use that here at DF when I’d otherwise write “Shortcuts shortcuts” though. ↩︎

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19 days ago
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