Unless I'm in a cafe, hotel or staying at someone's home I connect to the internet over a tethered connection to my smartphone. I've got an unlimited data plan--but only the first five gigabytes of information that I send or receive is at LTE speeds. After that, things turn slow as molasses flowing uphill in January. To try and keep my data useage under control and, thus, my speeds higher for as long as possible, I use an application called TripMode 2. It's available for MacOS and Windows ten and, priced at eight bucks, it's ridiculously inexpensive to purchase a copy.
Once installed, TripMode is stupid easy to use. Activate the app, locate it in your Menu Bar (MacOS) and click it to get at its drop-down menu. There you'll see every piece of software on your computer that's begging for access to the interwebz. If you're not using the apps you see on the list, de-select the check mark next to it. Boom, they're cut off from using your tethered device's data. You'll note that at the bottom of the list, you can see how much data you've used since you started your session, during the course of a day, month or year. If you're on a plan with limited data, having that information is pure gold.
Best of all, when you're not using it, TripMode 2 can easy be shut off. It's easily up there with Scrivener, ProtonMail Bridge and Adobe Lightroom as one of the most important bits of software that I use on a regular basis. Read the rest
For years, I maintained a Skype number that’d forward to whatever phone number I happened to be using at the time. It was the only way to make myself reachable on the phone, despite my switching to a new mobile number every time I moved to a different region. It worked well enough—until last year when Microsoft redesigned the iOS version of their app to make it damn near unusable as a phone forwarding service. I hated Skype’s mobile makeover so much that I decided not to renew my annual plan with the service. If you want to find me, these days, it has to happen via Twitter or email. It seems that users of Microsoft’s desktop version of the app have all sorts of loathing for its recent redesign as well. According to The Verge, the backlash against version 8.0 of the app has been so widespread that it’s put Microsoft back on its heels.
From The Verge:
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Last month, Microsoft announced it would be shutting down the desktop version of Skype 7.0, otherwise known as classic Skype, in September and transitioning users and businesses to the redesigned Skype 8.0. Following what the company describes as “customer feedback,” classic Skype will be sticking around for “some time” to “bring all the features you’ve asked for into Skype 8,” per Windows blog Thurrott. Skype 8 was first unveiled as a mobile redesign last year, inspired by trends set by Facebook and Snapchat, and it was widely disliked at the time as well.
In an age before Microsoft Word, even before Corel WordPerfect, WordStar ruled the DOS word processing world. Beloved to this day for its simplicity, power and wealth of keystroke commands, some writers never gave it up: G.R.R. Martin maintains a DOS machine just to run WordStar 4. Enter WordTsar, a clone cut to run on modern machinery, brings the classic into the 21st century.
The keyboard controls we love.
WordTsar understands most of the Wordstar keyboard controls, and more are on the way,
The user interface we all know.
WordTsar gives you a look and feel similar to the original interface.
A new GUI.
WordTsar gives you a Graphical User Interface that will feel right at home.
There's something odd about just how many apps are made with writing (rather than coding) in mind, but how few of them offer much tooling for prose—let alone the ability to write and edit without mousing. Read the rest
Last week, Defense Distributed founder Cody Wilson won a major ruling in his quest to distribute gun-printing software. The video above from February outlines the background of the case. Read the rest
Browsh is a modern text-only browser which "renders anything that a modern browser can; HTML5, CSS3, JS, video and even WebGL." Read the rest
Adobe's Photoshop, the all-conquering image manipulation software that now anchors the subscription-based Creative Suite, was originally written in Pascal and distributed under the name "Barneyscan XP" for its first licensor. Not long after...
The fate of Photoshop was sealed when Adobe, encouraged by its art director Russell Brown, decided to buy a license to distribute an enhanced version of Photoshop. The deal was finalized in April 1989, and version 1.0 started shipping early in 1990.
Over the next ten years, more than 3 million copies of Photoshop were sold. That first version of Photoshop was written primarily in Pascal for the Apple Macintosh, with some machine language for the underlying Motorola 68000 microprocessor where execution efficiency was important.
Here's an ad for Barneyscan's hardware, with the software lurking in the background, as described in this Quora thread.
Here's more on the legend of Photoshop-as-Barneyscan from Stories of Apple:
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Barneyscan XP, which was actually more lauded than the scanning hardware, was the first commercial incarnation (and distribution) of a program which would be rereleased eleven months later to much greater impact.
Encouraged by its art director Russell Brown, Adobe decided to buy a license to distribute an enhanced version of the software. In February 1990 it released the first version of Photoshop, the name originally chosen by Thomas Knoll.
Code Bullet claims in this demo video, "I was able to create what I believe to be a perfect minesweeper player." Read the rest
More and more people watch movies and TV shows at home, exclusively through the use of streaming services like Hulu or Netflix, but I'm not one of them. I'm not against streaming: the problem is that my partner and I live, full-time, in a 40 foot long motorhome, puttering around North and Central America. A lot of times, our rambles take us to places where the Internet connectivity is lousy. The upload/download speeds we get from RV parks or in the parking lots we surf are good enough for me to do my work online, but make for a buffering-filled nightmare if I even think about streaming anything. And if we decide to camp for a few weeks in a national park, I have to travel back towards civilization and a cellphone signal, just to check my email. We read a lot of books, but we both love movies. To keep us entertained, I've collected a hard drive full of just over 500 movies, and close to 300 hours of TV shows. Some are ripped from DVDs that I bought over the years, but most of them were purchased and downloaded from Apple.
For the last several years, I've had a real hate on for iTunes. So far as software goes, it's twitchy, slow and far from user friendly. I can't count how many times that iTunes has lost the artwork for the movies that I own. It makes me a little nuts. I also absolutely loathe iOS 11's TV app. Read the rest
Honolulu Civil Beat tweeted this image of the menu page where an Emergency Management Agency employee accidentally clicked the wrong item and triggered a public emergency missile alert.
According to Honolulu Civil Beat, "The operator clicked the PACOM (CDW) State Only link. The drill link is the one that was supposed to be clicked... The BMD False Alarm link is the (newly) added feature to prevent further mistakes."
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In 1987, a company called Forethought, founded by two ex-Apple marketing managers, rolled out PowerPoint and business meetings have never been the same since. Over at IEEE Spectrum, David C. Brock tells the story:
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(Robert Gaskins) envisioned the user creating slides of text and graphics in a graphical, WYSIWYG environment, then outputting them to 35-mm slides, overhead transparencies, or video displays and projectors, and also sharing them electronically through networks and electronic mail. The presentation would spring directly from the mind of the business user, without having to first transit through the corporate art department.
While Gaskins’s ultimate aim for this new product, called Presenter, was to get it onto IBM PCs and their clones, he and (Dennis) Austin soon realized that the Apple Macintosh was the more promising initial target. Designs for the first version of Presenter specified a program that would allow the user to print out slides on Apple’s newly released laser printer, the LaserWriter, and photocopy the printouts onto transparencies for use with an overhead projector...
In April 1987, Forethought introduced its new presentation program to the market very much as it had been conceived, but with a different name. Presenter was now PowerPoint 1.0—there are conflicting accounts of the name change—and it was a proverbial overnight success with Macintosh users. In the first month, Forethought booked $1 million in sales of PowerPoint, at a net profit of $400,000, which was about what the company had spent developing it. And just over three months after PowerPoint’s introduction, Microsoft purchased Forethought outright for $14 million in cash.
Farewell, Flash. Adobe's once-dominant multimedia format that powered so many restaurant websites and early interactive web games will be mothballed at the end of 2020, the software company said Tuesday.
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I keep saying I'm going to de-Google my digital life, quitting services such as Gmail and software such as Chrome. So Joel Lee's recent article, 9 Reasons to Switch From Chrome to Firefox, lights a bit of a fire under my feet. In précis: everything bad about Firefox from a few years back is fixed, and now it is Chrome that is bad.
1. Firefox Is Better for Battery Life
2. Firefox Is Better for Tab-Heavy Users
3. Firefox Knows It’s Just a Browser
4. Firefox Embraces the Open Source Mindset
5. Firefox Actually Cares About Privacy
6. Firefox Allows More Customization
7. Firefox Supports Chrome Extensions
8. Firefox Boasts Unique Extensions
9. Firefox Can Do What Chrome Can (Mostly)
To which I add 10: Fuck AMP.
The guide also points out where Chrome remains superior: the web inspector's better, it's more polished, complex web apps tend to work better in it because they're targeted at it, and of course it integrates well with Google's other services. Read the rest
This fancy interactive deep colorization software harnesses AI to fill in colors on a black and white photo with just a few inputs. Watch this cool demo. Read the rest
GitHub is service that helps groups of software developers make changes to code without screwing everything up. This is a good video that explains what GitHub is and how it works. Read the rest
Ted Wiggin created stella nova, a beautiful demo of his Rose Engine, a tool for procedural compositing. Read the rest
Autodesk’s Project Escher allows multiple 3D printers to manufacture the same object simultaneously via a software "conductor." Read the rest
Meet Saqib, a Microsoft dev in London who lost the use of his eyes at age 7. Here's a neat little profile of his artificial intelligence development work from Microsoft Cognitive Services: Read the rest