Egg Freckles
Notes from my Newton

Mon 1/30 | Safari Should Support VP9

Mike Wuerthele writing for Apple Insider.

The shift appears to have taken place on Dec. 6, according to a Reddit thread delving into the issue. Google has been pushing the open and royalty-free VP9 codec as an alternative to the paid H.265 spec since 2014, but has never said that it would stop offering 4K video on the YouTube site in other formats, like the Apple-preferred H.264. Videos uploaded to the service prior to Dec. 6 in 4K resolution can still play back in full 4K resolution on Safari from the YouTube homepage. Additionally, Mac users utilizing Chrome still have the ability to play back new videos in 4K, as Safari is the only holdout among the major browsers that doesn’t support the codec.

Apple should adopt Google's royalty-free VP9 codec in Safari. Not because it will benefit Apple or because it will allow for 4k streaming on YouTube, but because it is the right thing to do for the preservation of a free and open web.

I understand Google is a competitor of Apple, and there is currently no VP9 optimization in in Apple's hardware. But time channges all battle lines, and hardware can be improved. Keeping the web free and open is a choice we need to make now if we want future generations to enjoy the same freedomes.

Tue 1/24 | Fedora

Fedora

Wesley Moore:

I deeply value the consistency, versatility, reliability and integration of Mac OS X and the excellent quality hardware it runs on. However the current state of the Mac has me considering whether it’s still the right platform for me.

I started looking at alternatives to Mac OS after OS X Yosemite was released. When Apple's software began integrating features from iOS and iCloud I didn't care to use, and Apple's hardware began shedding performance and pounds for a price I didn't care to pay.

I love Mac OS, but as developers moved on and Mac OS 10.10 became a common system requirement I choose to leave rather than upgrade.

After a brief search I found Fedora, and it is becasue of these three reasons I decided to stay.

  • I love Gnome 3, and find its UI to be as polished as later versions of Mac OS. Red Hat funds the development of Gnome 3, and Red Hat funds the development of Fedora. That is why Fedora always has the most polisehd, most recent version of the user interface I love so much.

  • Fedora is updated on a six month cycle, but the free software it is built upon is being updated all the time. Fedora gives me a stable foundation I can supplement with the bleeding-edge feature I value most. No one company or schedule decides how I use my computer, and with Fedora Spins there is an option for everyone.

  • Fedora empowers hardware choice, allowing me to pick the right components without paying one company's premium. I run Fedora on everything from my killer gaming machine, to my sub $200 netbook. I appreciate the freedom of taking the same operating system with me wherever I go.

Despite these advantage Fedora isn't a perfect alternative to Mac OS. "The truth is, for most of us, there is no good alternative to Mac OS." But for me, a guy who uses free software, who writes in VIM, and enjoys building his own computers, Fedora is good enough.

Tue 1/24 | Einstein Lives!

Einstein Lives!

Steve Frank has brought the Einstein Newton Emulator back to life:

On behalf of the Einstein team, I'm happy to announce that a new release, Einstein 2017.1.0, is available for download!

(For anyone who doesn't already know, Einstein is an emulator for the NewtonOS platform.)

This release includes pre-built binaries for macOS 10.8+ and Ubuntu Linux 16 (xenial).

The iOS build is also functional but must be built from source with Xcode. You will need to create an Apple developer account and signing certificate to install Einstein on your iOS device. You can run it in the iOS Simulator without these requirements.

The experimental Raspberry Pi build can also be built from source. The status of the Android and Windows builds is not clear to me at this time.

(I have successfully compiled a version for Ubuntu 14.04.5 LTS (Trusty Tahr) for use on MIT's Project Athena.)

News of improved Mac OS and iOS versions might be exciting to Apple-centric Newton enthusiasts, but I suspect the Linux versions are essential for the platforms survival.

Newton hardware isn't getting any younger. As each year passes more Newton MessagePads and eMates breakdown — never to be powered on again. For the Newton to be remembered accurately, people need to experience its unique operating system for themselves. But unlike most historical operating systems that are emulated on a desktop PC by way of keyboard and mouse, the Newton needs to be experienced in the field on batteries with a stylus.

That is where the Linux versions come in. Free from the restrictions of the Apple App Store. Available to run on almost host any platform — including Raspberry Pi. The future of the Newton OS is on free software.

Fri 1/20 | Goodbye Fever

Shaun Inman:

As of today I’m officially suspending sales and support of Mint and Fever. But! As self-hosted software, absolutely nothing changes and you can continue using both Mint and Fever as you were yesterday.

I have been a Fever customer since 2012. It is still my RSS reader of choice today. I usually Fever through the browser, but sometimes via Unread.

I wish things had gone differently for Fever. There may not be a market for self-hosted RSS readers, but I am sure Fever would thrive as a open source project for those who like to 'roll their own.' Would Shaun be willing to set Fever free?

Thu 1/19 | Default Apps in iOS

Kirk McElhearn, writing for Macworld, is frusterated he can't choose his default apps in iOS.

But iOS offers no such option. If you tap a URL, it opens in Safari. If you tap a link to send an email, it opens in Mail. The default calendar is Apple’s Calendar app. And so on. You may not want to work that way and because Apple doesn’t give you any choice, you’re stuck with workarounds: using share sheets to open a web page in a different browser; copying an email link or address to create an email; and so on.

The simplicity of iOS is inviting to new users, but it is hurting the growth of the platform.

These kind of design decisions keep me from considering iOS to be more than a appliance.