My thanks to Dave Pell for sponsoring this week at DF to promote NextDraft, his “quick, entertaining look at the day’s biggest and best stories, from the top of the news to the very bottom”. Pell is a news junkie’s news junkie, and a kindred spirit of mine. NextDraft is his Daring Fireball.

In normal times, NextDraft is a once-per-weekday newsletter, delivered either by email or a very nice iOS app. These are not normal times, and as the coronavirus crisis continues, NextDraft has gone to a 7-days-a-week schedule.

The once-a-day pace keeps you up to date on the news, but keeps you from being pestered by frequent emails or notifications. NextDraft is not about breaking news — it’s just a carefully curated and cleverly written daily update. You like email? Sign up for the newsletter. Hate email? Get the app.

Here’s the kicker: NextDraft is free of charge. There is no catch. I read NextDraft every day; you should too.

★ Curse Words

Cursor is an overloaded term. There are two discrete elements of modern computing that we loosely refer to as “cursors”:

  • The icon that moves around on the screen that you control with your mouse or trackpad.
  • The vertical bar that blinks in a text editing field to indicate where typed characters will appear.

For clarity, it’s best not to refer to either of these things as cursors. Instead:

  • Mouse/trackpad pointer.
  • Insertion point.

This terminology has been slightly confusing over the last week, since Apple’s surprise announcement of pointer support in iPadOS 13.4. In their marketing materials, Apple is calling pointers “cursors”. E.g, on the webpage for the refreshed iPad Pros:

The click-anywhere trackpad opens up a whole new way to work in iPadOS. It allows control of the new cursor in iPadOS, which is perfect for tasks like editing a spreadsheet, selecting text, or simply doing everything right from the trackpad.

From the Apple Newsroom announcement:

iPadOS 13.4 brings trackpad support to iPad for the first time for a more natural typing experience and added precision for tasks such as writing and selecting text, working with spreadsheets and pro workflows. Designed specifically for the touch-first experience on iPad, the cursor appears as a circle that highlights user interface elements, text fields and apps on the Home screen and Dock, giving a clear indication of what users can click on.

In neither of these cases is cursor ambiguous — in context, it’s completely clear they’re referring to the trackpad pointer. But as a general rule, it’s better to err on the side of precision, and pointer and insertion point always avoid ambiguity.

In its technical documentation, Apple is clear. In the updated Human Interface Guidelines:

Pointers (iPadOS)

iPadOS 13.4 introduces dynamic pointer effects and behaviors that enhance the experience of using a pointing device with iPad. As people use a pointing device, iPadOS automatically adapts the pointer to the current context, providing rich visual feedback and just the right level of precision needed to enhance productivity and simplify common tasks.

The iPadOS pointing system gives people an additional way to interact with apps and content — it doesn’t replace touch. Some people may continue to use touch only, while others may prefer to use the pointer or a combination of both. Let people choose how to interact with your app, and avoid condensing your interface or making changes that require them to use the pointer.

From Apple’s excellent Apple Style Guide (available free of charge in the iTunes Book Store1):

Don’t use in describing the macOS or iOS interface; use insertion point or pointer, depending on the context. The term cursor is appropriate when you describe the VoiceOver interface and may be appropriate when you describe other interfaces and in developer materials.

“Other interfaces” would include the terminal/command-line, where the (perhaps) blinking insertion point is properly called the cursor.

When it comes to pointers, it’s worth noting the Apple Style Guide recommends getting specific:

OK in general references, but be specific whenever appropriate: arrow, crosshair, I-beam.

And, of course, the Apple Style Guide prescribes OK, never okay.

  1. Now that the app formerly known as iBooks is just plain Books, it seems like Apple just calls its e-bookstore “Book Store”, in the same way it calls its store for apps “App Store”. There are, of course, many other app stores, but because Apple blazed this trail, it somehow feels OK that their app store is *the* App Store. But “Book Store”? No one associates just plain “Book Store” with Apple’s e-bookstore. They still use the iTunes brand name for music, movie, and TV show purchases — they should use it for e-books too. ↩︎

Nikkei Asian Review: ‘Apple Weighs Delaying 5G iPhone Launch by Months, Sources Say’

Yifan Yu, Lauly Li, and Cheng Ting-Fang, reporting for Nikkei:

The Cupertino, California-based tech giant has held internal discussions on the possibility of delaying the launch by months, three people familiar with the matter said, while supply chain sources say practical hurdles could push back the release, originally scheduled for September.

“Supply chain constraint aside, Apple is concerned that the current situation would significantly lower consumer appetite to upgrade their phones, which could lead to a tame reception of the first 5G iPhone,” said a source with direct knowledge of the discussion. “They need the first 5G iPhone to be a hit.” […]

The engineering development of the 5G iPhone has also been affected by travel curbs introduced in the U.S., China and elsewhere to combat the coronavirus, two people with knowledge of Apple’s schedule said. The company was supposed to work with suppliers to develop a more concrete prototype for the new phones from early March, but it had to delay such close collaboration, which requires hands-on testing, until the end of the month, before postponing it again due to the worsening pandemic in the U.S., they said.

Of course Apple is discussing this. Nikkei’s report from Asian suppliers is, of course, focused on hardware, but on the software side keep in mind that iOS 14 might be delayed or severely scaled back as well. Apple might have to delay the launch of new iPhones this year, and they might want to delay them. “Always in motion is the future” a wise little fellow once said. Never truer than in the midst of this crisis.

‘Slop Machines’

Fascinating profile by John Semley for Eater back in 2017:

Since it opened in April 1963, R.C. Farms has had a very particular relationship with the overflowing decadence of nearby Las Vegas. At the time, the Combs family operated a modest hog farm in Chula Vista, near San Diego. They established relationships with a local army base, collecting food scraps to be reused as pig feed. Every year the base would contract out the privilege of collecting their wasted food to the highest bidder, with a few local farmers vying for the deal. But in Vegas, tens of thousands of pounds of food were going to waste. “My dad came here to Vegas for his 70th birthday, to have little gambling vacation,” Combs said as we sat at the round kitchen table of his modest bungalow farmhouse. On that auspicious trip, Combs’s father wandered through a backdoor of the now-long-gone Navajo-themed Thunderbird Hotel, and he came upon a huge container full of food being thrown away — the same sort of stuff he was bidding on back in La Mesa.

Combs told me the story with a well-practiced, raconteur’s confidence. It’s a tale he’s likely told a hundred times before, slowly metastasizing with each telling into a bona fide legend: Imagine Jed Clampett happening across oil in his fetid swamp, except that the treasure is something that was being chucked away. Where the casinos saw only untouched shrimp cocktails and half-nibbled slabs of heat-lamp-warmed prime rib, the older Combs saw profit. He leased 150 acres north of the Strip, at the dead end of a dirt road, and installed his son to run the place. The young Bob (affectionately known as “Goof” to his family) arranged deals with several of the old-school casinos — the Desert Inn, the Stardust, the Sands, the Flamingo, the Sahara, the Tropicana, Caesars, the Riviera, and other locals-only joints. The business model was simple: collect buffet food scraps, reprocess them as feed, fatten hogs, send them off to slaughter.

Dumb and Dumber

ABC 7 NYC reporter CeFaan Kim, on Twitter:

Multiple sources tell @ABC Pres. Trump turned to former Yankee Alex Rodriguez for advice this week. A source close to Rodriguez described the call as “pleasant” adding that Trump was seeking thoughts from A-Rod about the coronavirus response.

A-Rod: great player, fun announcer, but not exactly the sharpest knife in the box. So, yeah, he’s probably our next Secretary of Health and Human Services.

From the Department of Unexpected COVID-19 Consequences

Tiana Bohner, reporting for Fox 5 Las Vegas:

A Las Vegas farm relied on strip casinos as its main food source for 4,000 pigs. Now it’s getting creative to keep them full. “Pigs are a lot like us so they love sweets, candies, ice cream,” Las Vegas Livestock co-owner Hank Combs said. “They like meat and potatoes. They’re not a big fan of salads and produce, but they will eat it.

On a normal day, the farm would get 20 tons of food from casinos and restaurants across the valley. Once the strip shut down and casinos closed, their food source was cut off.

“You know we’re just one of the many stories out there in the world and I’m just trying to survive, keep the pigs fed, keep the employees employed,” Combs said.

It is fascinating the way this crisis is revealing how interconnected our world is. The repercussions are seemingly infinite. It makes sense, now that I read it, that Vegas area pig farms would purchase the surplus food from the casino buffets (20 tons a day!), but until this moment, it never occurred to me that pig farming could be massively disrupted by the closing of casinos.

Something to think about as I eat bacon for lunch.

How to Turn Trump’s Daily Virus Misinformation Show Into a Vector for the Truth

Speaking of good journalism battling against misinformation, this is an important idea from Dan Froomkin at Press Watch:

These are not political rallies, or spin sessions, or even normal press briefings. These are urgent, emergency communications.

And if — rather than sharing credible updates, thoughtful guidance, expressions of empathy and reasoned optimism — Trump lies, spreads misinformation and toots his own horn during these emergency communications, that is the news. Each and every time he does it.

So rather than hide what’s happening, news organizations should respond by doing journalism – in this case, some journalistic jujitsu. When Trump spreads misinformation, the networks need to show viewers, in real time, the correct information. When he lies and contradicts himself, they need to provide the necessary context as he speaks. When he puffs himself up, they need to remind viewers of his massive failures.

Snopes Is Hiring

Snopes: is an independent publication owned and operated by Snopes Media Group. We are slightly more than a baker’s dozen of reporters, editors, developers, and professionals who are passionate about journalism, media literacy, and, of course, fighting misinformation. We work remotely — there is no official Snopes office — but we maintain a collaborative and supportive team dynamic.

Snopes managing editor Doreen Marchionni is a good friend and a great journalist. For the reporting jobs, they’re looking for folks with capital-J journalism experience. But they’re also hiring developers and communications specialists. I know there’s a lot of overlap with all of these jobs with DF readers, and good employers (with a fully remote work culture) who are hiring right now are few and far between.

It goes without saying that Snopes’s mission — countering misinformation with verifiable journalism — has never been more essential. Never. Even if you’re not looking for a job, you can support Snopes with a membership, and they’ll thank you for it.

Apple Releases New COVID-19 App and Website Based on CDC Guidance

Apple Newsroom:

The COVID-19 app and website allow users to answer a series of questions around risk factors, recent exposure and symptoms for themselves or a loved one. In turn, they will receive CDC recommendations on next steps, including guidance on social distancing and self-isolating, how to closely monitor symptoms, whether or not a test is recommended at this time, and when to contact a medical provider. This new screening tool is designed to be a resource for individuals and does not replace instructions from healthcare providers or guidance from state and local health authorities.

Nicely designed, too.

Every Default MacOS Wallpaper in 5K

Stephen Hackett:

Every major version of Mac OS X macOS has come with a new default wallpaper. As you can see, I have collected them all here. While great in their day, the early wallpapers are now quite small in the world of 5K displays.

Major props to the world-class designer who does all the art of Relay FM, the mysterious @forgottentowel, for upscaling some of these for modern screens.

Fun trip down memory lane.