Two tech geeks.

  • PowerPoint sending your data to Microsoft


    Roger González Gutiérrez (via Michael Tsai):

    Microsoft is phoning home the content of your PowerPoint slides.


    Make a new slide with a title of your choice. Choose “Designer.” Look at your network traffic as you do.

    It makes sense: the tool is reading your text and suggesting designs/delivering stock photography. But this means that any data that you might want to keep private is being sent to Microsoft.

    Yes, it makes sense that Microsoft needs your data to understand the content you are creating to suggest design and edits, and provide data insights.

    However, this should be made clear to users so they get to make inform decisions on whether they are comfortable with this. I might be willing to allow PowerPoint to have the data, but how do I know what is being sent to the cloud? And why does it need to be sent to the cloud?

  • Pantone requires subscription in Adobe 


    Stephen Hackett:

    “To access the complete set of Pantone Color Books, Pantone now requires customers to purchase a premium license through Pantone Connect and install a plug-in using Adobe Exchange.”

    As a creative that uses Pantone regularly, it is a slap on the face. Companies that use Pantone colours in the design, print, and production processes pay for the Pantone colour charts.

    It is understandable that Pantone wants to shift its business model, and it makes sense to roll it out after the announcement has been made, even if I don’t agree with the move.

    It is not acceptable for Pantone to pull support in old files and force users to pay for that.

    Jess Weatherbed on The Verge:

    PSD files that contained Pantone spot colors now display unwanted black in their place, forcing creatives who need access to the industry-standard color books to pay for a plugin subscription.

    This is actually an excellent opportunity for a competing standard to replace Pantone, ideally one that is open sourced and community-driven, not controlled by a corporate.

    Time for Color Index International to stand up?

  • Twitter considering charging for verification


    John Gruber:

    It’s Twitter that benefits from millions of users being able to feel certain that the “Stephen King” with 7 million followers on Twitter is really theStephen King. It’s Twitter that benefits from Nate Silver engaging with users and tweeting analysis. Popular tweeters aren’t getting paid to tweet. And now Elon Musk thinks they should pay to tweet?

    They are not really paying to tweet, they can still tweet without paying the subscription.

    Gruber hit the nail on the head on Twitter’s relationship with popular tweeters.

    Creators get paid on YouTube for creating content. Popular tweeters are not paid for creating content on Twitter. They benefit from being visible and able to connect and engage with people. Anyone who uses Twitter enjoys this benefit. It is why people use Twitter.

    Verifying accounts helps Twitter to create a trusted community and prevent people from impersonating well-known figures. It also protects these figures from imposters tarnishing their reputation. It is a win-win that should have no value attached to it.

    If paying means getting the priority for the verification process instead of waiting for a long queue, it makes sense only if it is a one-time charge. Paying to get the badge without a verification process would break the existing understanding of what being verified means.

  • Dropbox on Ventura


    Peter Steinberger:

    The new Dropbox version for macOS Ventura is absolute garbage. fileproviderd is eating my CPU alive, files are no longer really on disk so QuickLook and some apps fail, etc. How did this ship, even as beta?

    I ditched Dropbox sometime back after having too many problems with it. I used OneDrive alongside iCloud Drive for a while due to work needs. However, OneDrive also has also had issues with Apple Silicon machines. That has made me remove OneDrive and only use the web version when I really need to.

    Michael Tsai:

    I’ve mostly switched to iCloud Drive, and when I do need to access Dropbox I do so via Transmit

    I totally forgot about the option of using Transmit to access Dropbox, OneDrive, and Google Drive. Something worth a try.

    Despite my earlier reservations about iCloud Drive, it has served me well so far. When I upgraded Monterey, I moved to setup where most of my files and folders were on iCloud Drive so they stay synced across machines.

  • Stage Manager in macOS 13.0 Ventura


    John Voorhees:

    When Stage Manager is set up and running the way I want, it’s fantastic. The trouble is the ‘set up’ part. The feature is simply too laborious to set up, and some of its interactions are an over-caffeinated mess.

    Stage Manager feels awesome and tidies up the clutter on the desktop. As someone who use a ton of app in windowed mode, my desktop has always been cluttered and the solution is to move to an empty desktop space when the need arise, such as when presenting, both online and offline.

    However, the limit of just 5 recent apps on the side. I find myself going back to CMD + TAB or just going into Mission Control to find the window I want.

    It also also doesn’t work when I try to compare two app windows side by side.

    I turned it off after a while because it’s just too jarring to the way I’m used to working.

  • End of Facebook Instant Articles


    Nick Heer:

    Sara Fischer, of Axios, is reporting today that Meta’s proprietary Instant Articles format will go away in April. This should not be a surprise — Instant Articles does nothing for Meta’s virtual reality efforts, Meta is cutting costs, and Google has been phasing out its commitment to its similar AMP format.

    Another one bites the dust.

    This is yet another reminder to content creators of the pitfalls of putting your content on a platform like Facebook, Medium, etc where you build up an audience there, only to lose it when the platform decides the format no longers suits its purpose. Ultimately, you are just a cog in the wheel for them to generate income.

    Build your own platform and community. That is the only way I see to ensuring longevity and immunisation to the whims of corporations.

  • Global smartphone market fell 9% in Q3 2022



    In Q3 2022, the global smartphone market recorded its third consecutive decline this year, dropping 9% year-on-year, marking the worst Q3 since 2014. The gloomy economic outlook has led consumers to delay purchasing electronic hardware and prioritize other essential spending. This will likely continue to dampen the smartphone market for the next six to nine months. Samsung retained its leading position with a 22% market share driven by heavy promotions to reduce channel inventory. Apple was the only vendor in the top five to record positive growth, improving its market position further with an 18% share during the market downturn thanks to relatively resilient demand for iPhones. While Xiaomi, OPPO and vivo continued to take a cautious approach to overseas expansion given domestic market uncertainty, retaining 14%, 10% and 9% global market shares, respectively.

    Despite the economic situation, Apple is the only smartphone maker to have positive growth. I reckon it is due to the release of the iPhone 14 series as people switch, and we could potentially see further increase as we enter the sales season in Q4.

    What’s interesting is how Apple is slowly but surely catching up with Samsung in market share.

  • WeChat's dominance


    John Gruber:

    It’s no coincidence at all that WeChat is the only “everything app” anyone can cite, and it comes from China, an authoritarian regime. In practice, the concept really only makes sense there. It doesn’t benefit users that WeChat dominates all aspects of digital life — it benefits the authoritarian Chinese Communist Party. (And investors in Tencent, WeChat’s Chinese-government-controlled parent company.)

    To attribute to the success of WeChat to an “authoritarian” government is lazy and shows a lack of understanding of the socioeconomic factors while looking at the situation with lenses coloured by bias.

    When I moved to Shenzhen, the WeChat and Alipay apps were only getting off the ground and I have witnessed the incredible growth over the past years.

    There are certain segments in the population that would have a hard time downloading and installing apps on their smartphones, especially when a large proportion of these segments are on Android phones. By having apps like WeChat and Alipay where they are able to do everything within one app, it removes friction that improves service adoption.

    This also makes sense to an app developer. Instead of having to educate potential users how to download an install an app, they can launch a mini-program in WeChat or Alipay and get access to many services. This would result in higher app and service adoption rates.

    The recent success of the Sheep a Sheep game shows how even games go viral by being a WeChat mini-program. The game was frustrating and people were encouraged to share their scores on social media or directly to a friend. It is as simple as tapping on a link to launch the app and get hooked to the game. I’m pretty sure the game wouldn’t have gone viral if people had to download a separate app to play it.

    I use the China Mobile iOS app to check my mobile usage and phone bills. But I can do the same with the China Mobile WeChat mini-program as well without having to download and install the app. Using the mini-program also allows me to log in with my WeChat credentials and skip the login process that I would need to go through in the iOS app.

    The lack of friction makes me launch the China Mobile mini-program in Wechat instead of using the iOS app. And after a while, it just makes sense to delete the iOS app and use the mini-program to free up space on the phone.

    On the flip side, Tencent and Alibaba can leverage on having leverage of user base to attract financial, healthcare and many other services to become part of the app itself.

    To clamp down on scams, WeChat and Alipay requires identity verification to access the payments features. This increases accountability and makes users responsible for their actions with their accounts. And identity verification opens up more opportunities for Tencent and Alibaba to integrate with services.

    The growth of the apps and their ecosystems makes becoming an “everything app” the obvious path. It is not as though people were forced to use the apps, just as people are not forced to be on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. You are most likely on that platform because of your social circle and what the apps enables you to do.

  • An open letter to Tim Cook about Final Cut Pro


    An open letter to Tim Cook about Final Cut Pro, signed by editors and post-production pros around the world by Scott Simmons – ProVideo Coalition:

    There is no doubt that Final Cut Pro has come a long way since it’s introduction many years ago. We’ve seen an architecture change with Libraries, multicam added, a new XML format, an interface redesign, machine learning features, in-app tracking, workflow extensions and even dropping the “X” for the name. Just looking over the release notes shows a long list of features, updates and bug fixes that goes back years. But the flip side of this is the argument that the Apple team working on Final Cut Pro is moving too slowly and not keeping up with competitors. It took over a decade to get the very basic feature of dupe detection. Rumor has it there is a Roles-based audio mixer somewhere in the FCP code but it hasn’t been turned on yet (who knows if that is even true or if it will be … rumor!).

    Video production is a big part of my business and we use DaVinci because of cross-platform support and easier colour grading workflow (debatable, I know). In the ideal world, my team and I would prefer to use Final Cut Pro for the ease of use. Of course, everyone uses a Mac in that world.

    However, preference is outweighed by the convenience we get by using DaVinci, and to a certain extent Premiere Pro in certain cases. Final Cut Pro ranks as the third choice out of these three. This is not just our preference but what we see in the industry in this part of the world.

    Via: Michael Tsai

  • Brave and DuckDuckGo removing AMP by default


    Michael Tsai:

    Brave (via Tim Hardwick):

    Brave is rolling out a new feature called De-AMP, which allows Brave users to bypass Google-hosted AMP pages, and instead visit the content’s publisher directly. AMP harms users’ privacy, security and internet experience, and just as bad, AMP helps Google further monopolize and control the direction of the Web.

    DuckDuckGo (via Kim Lyons):

    NEW: our apps & extensions now protect against Google AMP tracking. When you load or share a Google AMP page anywhere from DuckDuckGo apps (iOS/Android/Mac) or extensions (Firefox/Chrome), the original publisher’s webpage will be used in place of the Google AMP version.

    I see marketers making the switch to AMP to rank better on Google, whereas those who care about user privacy end up being penalised. Even if there is no actual penalty, ranking AMP better in search is already penalising pages not served in AMP.

    Kim Lyons on the Verge

    Google spokesperson Lara Levin said in an email to The Verge that the allegations about AMP were “misleading and repeat a number of false claims.” AMP, she added, is an “open source framework that was collaboratively developed with publishers, tech companies, and Google as a way to help web content load faster” that lets publishers and websites “easily create great web experiences.”

    While Google Search does not rank a page better just because it is AMP, it lets Google know that the page is more reliable. AMP pages score better in Core Web Vitals metrics and this help them rank better in search results.