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Adobe Flash’s Days Are Officially Numbered

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Adobe announced today that it has set the end-of-life date for Flash, its popular technology for displaying animations and other multimedia on the web.

Adobe is planning to end-of-life Flash. Specifically, we will stop updating and distributing the Flash Player at the end of 2020 and encourage content creators to migrate any existing Flash content to these new open formats.

Apple has a long and storied history with Adobe and, more pointedly, Flash. When the first iPhone launched ten years ago, one of the chief controversies at the time surrounded the fact that Safari on iPhone OS did not support Flash, and Steve Jobs made it clear that it would not support Flash.

This stance grew into more of a sticking point for prospective consumers in 2010 when Apple’s new tablet, the iPad, did not support Flash either. Sparked by the newly revised controversy, Jobs laid out his thoughts on the issue in a piece simply titled “Thoughts on Flash.” His closing words predicted the technology could not survive in an increasingly mobile-first landscape.

Flash was created during the PC era – for PCs and mice...New open standards created in the mobile era, such as HTML5, will win on mobile devices (and PCs too). Perhaps Adobe should focus more on creating great HTML5 tools for the future, and less on criticizing Apple for leaving the past behind.

→ Source: blogs.adobe.com

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kbreit
28 days ago
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★ Public Service Announcement: You Should Not Force Quit Apps on iOS

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The single biggest misconception about iOS is that it’s good digital hygiene to force quit apps that you aren’t using. The idea is that apps in the background are locking up unnecessary RAM and consuming unnecessary CPU cycles, thus hurting performance and wasting battery life.

That’s not how iOS works. The iOS system is designed so that none of the above justifications for force quitting are true. Apps in the background are effectively “frozen”, severely limiting what they can do in the background and freeing up the RAM they were using. iOS is really, really good at this. It is so good at this that unfreezing a frozen app takes up way less CPU (and energy) than relaunching an app that had been force quit. Not only does force quitting your apps not help, it actually hurts. Your battery life will be worse and it will take much longer to switch apps if you force quit apps in the background.

Here’s a short and sweet answer from Craig Federighi, in response to an email from a customer asking if he force quits apps and whether doing so preserves battery life: “No and no.”

Just in case you don’t believe Apple’s senior vice president for software, here are some other articles pointing out how this habit is actually detrimental to iPhone battery life:

This thing about force quitting apps in the background is such a pernicious myth that I’ve heard numerous stories from DF readers about Apple Store Genius Bar staff recommending it to customers. Those “geniuses” are anything but geniuses.

It occurs to me that one of the best examples proving that this notion is wrong (at least in terms of performance) are YouTube “speed test” benchmarks. There’s an entire genre of YouTube videos devoted to benchmarking new phones by running them through a series of apps and CPU-intensive tasks repeatedly, going through the loop twice. Once from a cold boot and the second time immediately after the first first loop. Here’s a perfect example, pitting a Samsung Galaxy S8 against an iPhone 7 Plus. Note that no apps are manually force quit on either device. The iPhone easily wins on the first loop, but where the iPhone really shines is on the second loop. The S8 has to relaunch all (or at least almost all) of the apps, because Android has forced them to quit while in the background to reclaim the RAM they were using. On the iPhone, all (or nearly all) of the apps re-animate almost instantly.

In fact, apps frozen in the background on iOS unfreeze so quickly that I think it actually helps perpetuate the myth that you should force quit them: if you’re worried that background apps are draining your battery and you see how quickly they load from the background, it’s a reasonable assumption to believe that they never stopped running. But they do. They really do get frozen, the RAM they were using really does get reclaimed by the system, and they really do unfreeze and come back to life that quickly.1

An awful lot of very hard work went into making iOS work like this. It’s a huge technical advantage that iOS holds over Android. And every iPhone user in the world who habitually force quits background apps manually is wasting all of the effort that went into this while simultaneously wasting their own device’s battery life and making everything slower for themselves.

This pernicious myth is longstanding and seemingly will not die. I wrote about at length back in 2012:

Like with any voodoo, there are die-hard believers. I’m quite certain that I am going to receive email from people who will swear up-and-down that emptying this list of used applications every hour or so keeps their iPhone running better than it would otherwise. Nonsense.

As Fraser mentions, yes, there are exceptional situations where an app with background privileges can get stuck, and you need to kill that app. The argument here is not that you should never have to kill any app using the multitasking switcher — the argument is that you don’t need to do it on a regular basis, and you’re not making anything “better” by clearing the list. Shame on the “geniuses” who are peddling this advice.

And don’t even get me started on people who completely power down their iPhones while putting them back into their pockets or purses.


  1. The other contributing factor to believing that force quitting is good for your iPhone are the handful of apps that have been found to be repeated abusers of loopholes in iOS, such that they really do continue running in the background, wasting battery life. Most infamously, Facebook was caught playing silent audio tracks in the background to take advantage of APIs that allow audio-playing apps to play audio from the background. They called it a “bug”. In those cases force-quitting the apps really did help, and I see no reason to trust Facebook. So if you want to keep force quitting Facebook, go right ahead. But don’t let one bad app spoil the whole barrel. The Battery section in the iOS Settings app can show you which apps are actually consuming energy in the background — tap the clock icon under “Battery Usage” and don’t force quit any app that isn’t a genuine culprit. ↩︎

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popular
32 days ago
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kbreit
33 days ago
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5 public comments
walokra
8 days ago
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Good point.
tiglathpalasar
30 days ago
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IOS really sucks.
johnnysimmons33
30 days ago
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Noted! well we are all just clueless idiots I guess bc nobody ever told me that I should just leave my 800+ apps running and my phone will be better for it!
Nob Hill, San Francisco
arnabocean
29 days ago
Well, most of us come from a background of operating systems where *we* the users are expected to think about how the *software* should operate and handle memory. That's backwards, and yet we take a long time to be comfortable with the idea that an operating system should be mature and sophisticated enough to handle the "background" logistics. :-)
jhamill
33 days ago
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While it might be correct that you don't need to force quit apps or power down your phone or whatever. The bigger problem here, to me, is the people who feel the need to tell other people that they're using the device wrong. It's my device, I'll use it how I want, no matter what you say.

Quit wasting time writing the you're using your device wrong stories.
California
arnabocean
33 days ago
There's two sides to this, isn't it. There's one group of people who do things thinking "this helps me with whatever". With this, you can demonstrate that their actions don't achieve their goals, and then they change their actions. The other group of people are different. For example, they might choose to open Safari, type "google" into the search bar, click the first link to "google.com", type into the search bar in google, and *then* see their actual search results. You might show them there's a better way, and they might say, "well this is my phone, and I'll use it how I want, no matter what you say". Well, they're right, and in that case, you just walk away knowing they're idiots. But it doesn't mean you stop showing other people that there is indeed a better way. :-)
tewha
32 days ago
I have no problem being told I'm doing something wrong and could be doing it in a way that's better and easier, but I guess you do? That's unfortunate, but don't worry: Nobody will ever force you to be rational. You can use the device however you like. Just don't be surprised when there's people pointing out it's not only unhelpful but actually counter productive. And try not to get angry; they have every right to talk about such things.
jhamill
32 days ago
Congratulations everyone, we've "Well, actually" on the internet. That's just as good as the 'you're doing it wrong' article.
tewha
32 days ago
And congratulations, jhamill, for being an ignorant and aggressive asshole.
jhamill
32 days ago
Sure, okay @tewha I'm not the one calling people assholes on the internet but, you do you.
tdknox
33 days ago
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The one app I do force quit regularly is Waze, because if you don't it continuously monitors your location even when you're not driving or using it.

iOS 11 makes that much more clear with a giant blue bar at the top of the screen 'Waze is using your location', which miraculously goes away after I punt Waze.

But otherwise, Gruber is completely correct.
Cupertino, CA
Repton
31 days ago
Go go settings ➡️ privacy ➡️ location services, and set it to only have access when you are using the app?
neilcar
28 days ago
The problem with that is, when I'm actually navigating, I may be using other apps (to play music, for example). If I have Waze only use location services when the app is in the foreground, it isn't going to work well. Like tdnox, I force-quit Waze when I'm done with it.

1Password wants you to sync via the cloud, but won't force you

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Over the weekend it seems that there was an uproar about the future of 1Password, despite a seeming lack of new news on the subject. Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai summarizes at Motherboard:

In the last few years, 1Password has become a favorite for hackers and security researchers who often recommend it above all other alternatives… Last weekend, though, several security researchers tweeted that 1Password was moving away from allowing people to pay for a one-time license and have local password vaults, in favor of its cloud-based alternative that requires a monthly subscription.

It seems to me that there’s some conflation going on here. As with so many software products that mix mobile and desktop and cloud, 1Password’s publisher decided that the way forward for the product was to create a subscription package1. When you subscribe to 1Password, you also get access to 1Password’s new cloud syncing service.

1Password believes—correctly, in my opinion—that for most users, a built-in cloud sync service designed specifically for 1Password is going to be a better option than using another cloud service like iCloud or Dropbox, which 1Password has supported for quite a while. 1Password is quite open about how its security is designed, including the fact that the decryption key for your passwords is never synced with the cloud, so even if a hacker were to penetrate 1Password’s security and get your online vaults, all they’d get access to is doubly-encrypted garbage.

Judging some of the Twitter threads I read today, what’s really happening is that some people simply hate the idea of software subscriptions and are sowing fear over 1Password’s security and local file syncing as a way of lashing out.

While Kate Sebald of AgileBits told me today that 1Password’s sync service is actually more secure that syncing a local vault via Dropbox or iCloud, it would have been a whole lot harder for AgileBits to convert users to a subscription model without a cloud-syncing service. Countless software companies have realized that offering ongoing subscription fees, integrated cloud services, and mobile-device syncing in a package is the best way to generate a sustainable revenue stream. I pay an annual fee for Office 365 and Adobe Photoshop and, quite frankly, they’re worth it. (And yes, both of those subscriptions include desktop, mobile, and cloud features.) Is 1Password worth $36/year (or $59/year for a family)? I think so, but your mileage may vary.

Still, AgileBits knows that a (loud, angry) portion of its customer base hates software subscriptions. A senior AgileBits person told me via email today that while it would have been much easier for the company to make 1Password a subscription-only product years ago, it has instead done extra work to allow both models to coexist.

As for using local storage for 1Password vaults: Sebald emphasized that the company will “go to great lengths to preserve [the] choice to use local vaults, even if we are encouraging new users to make a different choice.”

In other words: AgileBits is building a cloud service that it feels is safe, secure, and convenient for the vast majority of its users. But 1Password still supports local storage, too—and it seems like it will do so for the foreseeable future2. The app isn’t going to force you to sync your passwords via its cloud service if you don’t want to. However, in terms of what the company communicates to its user base and recommends to new users, that’s going to be focused on using the 1Password.com sync service rather than local vaults, and the company is building new features like Travel Mode around the sync service.


  1. An AgileBits engineer insists that the need to add features via a cloud service motivated the decision. Could be. But selling upgrades can be difficult, especially once cloud services and mobile apps get thrown into the mix. ↩

  2. Windows version 6 does not support local vaults, but version 4 still works. Still, this does show that AgileBits is not prioritizing local vault features. ↩

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kbreit
41 days ago
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The hypnotic illustrations of Visoth Kakvei

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Visoth Kakvei

Visoth Kakvei

Visoth Kakvei

Artist Visoth Kakvei makes these intricately patterned illustrations and posts them to his Instagram account. Lately, he’s been playing with faux 3D illusions and augmented reality, which pairs really well with his illustration style.

Prints of his illustrations are available, but sadly not of his newer stuff.

Tags: art   Visoth Kakvei
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kbreit
45 days ago
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Jon Lester Might Be Beating the Yips

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On June 3rd of this year, with the Cardinals leading 2-1 in the fifth inning and Tommy Pham on first with two outs, Jon Lester quickly took his left foot off the Wrigley Field pitching rubber and lobbed a throw over to first baseman Anthony Rizzo.

Pham, who had taken a 19-foot lead, was picked off first base to end the inning on a sunny Saturday afternoon in Chicago.

While the play seemed rather ordinary, it wasn’t. The pickoff was highly unusual because it was Lester’s first successful pickoff since 2015 and just his third since 2012. It was meaningful because, entering this year, Lester had all but stopped throwing to first — or in any direction other than home plate — because of the psychological block referred to as the “yips” in athletic parlance.

Lester declined to address the play afterward telling reporters: “Whatever… I just try and get outs.’’

Lester was tired of talking about the condition. He was tired of being in the center of the field, all eyes fixed upon him, and baserunners taunting him as the condition lost its status as a secret. The spotlight on his issues was never brighter than in last year’s World Series:

“I tell people, ‘You think it’s fun for me to look at a guy who is 20 feet off the bag in a World Series game?’” Lester told FanGraphs. “You think that’s fun? That’s where the frustration falls in.”

Give Lester credit: a stranger — this author — approached him to talk about his ongoing battle last Sunday, about whether his June 3 toss was an indication of progress, and Lester agreed to speak about the issue. Issues psychological in nature can be taboo to address in a professional clubhouse, and perhaps that is part of the problem. I had wondered back in February if baseball could solve the yips, if the softer sciences might represent unexplored frontiers for the sport. It’s why I approached Lester, one of the few people in the baseball world going though the issue at the moment.

“It’s not like you can hide from it,” Lester said. “I’m standing on the mound in front of 40,000 people and the guy has a 20-foot lead. It’s not something you can exactly crawl into a hole and get away from.”

The yips have swallowed the careers of players like Rick Ankiel and Steve Blass. Other have found a way back, like Steve Sax, to whom I spoke for the piece I wrote earlier this year. I was curious to speak with Lester because he has been in a metaphorical hole and I was curious if he was finding his way out.

***

Lester made 98 pickoff attempts in 2010 and 70 in 2011. But then something happened.

“It wasn’t one pickoff throw and I decided ‘No more,’” Lester said. “It was over time.”

Lester made just five pickoff throws in 2012, seven in 2013, and none in 2014, according to SportingCharts data. He did not make a single pickoff attempt over the course of 66 consecutive starts until this one on April 13, 2015:

Lester’s issue was no longer a secret.

“It’s almost like your human psyche gets in the way of doing stuff since you where however tall,” said Lester, marking the height of where he had perhaps stood as a T-baller.

And it is through that statement which Lester perhaps hits on the essence, the root, of the yips.

Back in February I linked to a Malcolm Gladwell piece, “The Art of Failure”, published in 2000 for the New Yorker. In speaking to a number of experts, Gladwell boiled the yips — aka choking — down to an automated task becoming un-automated.

Wrote Gladwell:

According to Daniel Willingham, a psychologist at the University of Virginia …. when you are first taught something — say, how to hit a backhand or an overhead forehand — you think it through in a very deliberate, mechanical manner. But as you get better the implicit system takes over: you start to hit a backhand fluidly, without thinking… Under conditions of stress, however, the explicit system sometimes takes over. That’s what it means to choke. When Jana Novotna faltered at Wimbledon, it was because she began thinking about her shots again. She lost her fluidity, her touch… The same thing has happened to Chuck Knoblauch, the New York Yankees’ second baseman, who inexplicably has had trouble throwing the ball to first base. Under the stress of playing in front of forty thousand fans at Yankee Stadium, Knoblauch finds himself reverting to explicit mode, throwing like a Little Leaguer again.

I asked Lester if he was consciously thinking about his throwing mechanics on pickoff plays, if the task had somehow morphed from automated to un-automated, from the subconscious — which accounts for the majority of brain capability, to a conscious process.

“I don’t know. I don’t think of it that way…” Lester said. “I think, if I knew, that there would probably be an easy way to fix it. We’ve broken it down and done different things and it is still what it is.”

What’s interesting about Lester and Sax — who dealt and overcame the issue in the 1980s — is that they were fine when the stadium was empty. In practice, in an empty Wrigley Field or at a private spring-training back field, Lester said he had no problems throwing to first base.

“No,” said Lester, shaking his head side to side, “No.”

Sax was blindfolded and could throw to first base without issue in Dodger Stadium — hours before batting practice.

Back in 2014, writing for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, I spoke to University of Chicago psychology professor and author of Choke, Sian Beilock, who agreed the yips are about a task becoming un-automated, but there was another crucial factor: the yips are also tied to environment.

“(Our mind) is a limited-capacity system. We can only pay attention to so much at one time. As we get better and better, some of what we do becomes automated so we can use our (consciousness) for other things. The issue is when we are in a stressful situation and working under pressure to perform well or had a poor performance in the past, those tasks that were automated before become un-automated. We start consciously attending to them… When people are watching you, you start watching yourself.

Fortunately for Lester and the Cubs, Lester has not lost the ability to throw toward home plate. But Lester’s throwing issue is still a portal through which to view a block that can end careers.

In 2014, I watched Pedro Alvarez throw flawlessly, mostly flawlessly, during infield work in an empty PNC Park. When the game started, he lost the ability to throw accurately. As recently as 2013, he was a three-win third baseman, but his loss of the ability to throw across the diamond forced him to first base, where he continued to have defensive issues. His run production was insufficient for his new position, which limited his market to a minor-league deal last offseason. The former No. 2 overall pick in the 2009 draft is playing in Triple-A in Norfolk, Va. The yips have cost him millions and maybe a major-league career.

What if teams could figure out to cure the yips? What if teams could better understand the soft science of performance?

“If there was a way to fix it, Chuck Knoblauch wouldn’t have had to move to the outfield,” Lester said. “Mackey Sasser wouldn’t have had to stop doing what he was doing. Rick Ankiel wouldn’t have had to stop pitching. We just try to combat it. I think that’s the right word for me.”

***

The Cubs and Lester are still working, but they have changed their approach.

Earlier in his time in Chicago, in Boston, Lester and his coaches tried to work through the issue. They tried every move, every motion off the mound, to control the run game. And what might work on spring-training back fields and in empty stadiums hours before first pitch, did not not work in games.

Joe Maddon said late last spring that he and the staff elected to take a new approach, and it’s working. The Cubs have caught eight base-stealers and only allowed seven steals when Lester has pitched this season. The league caught-stealing rate is 29%. Last season, 33% of base-stealers were caught when Lester was pitching. The league average was 27%.

“I think we finally arrived with a method we felt is more sustainable and are attacking this situation as opposed to the previous conventional methods we tried,” Maddon said. “And right now, he is one of the toughest guys to run against in the major leagues. Part of that was having a catcher like Rossie [David Ross] or a catcher like [Willson Contreras] that can really throw well and accurately. That matters. That’s a big part of the control. What [Anthony Rizzo] does at first that people are not aware of [including hand signals for pickoff calls], and also what Jonny does really well, subtle stuff. So we figured this out last spring. I finally had an epiphany where we never had any hard-and-fast rules… and finally arrived at some things.”

The Cubs, remarkably, have worked around the issue and are better than league average at controlling the run game when Lester is on the mound — even though opponents know he has little chance, or interest, in preventing a 20-foot lead. To have him worry less about the run game, Lester credited Ross and Contreras’s reminders to not worry about runners. Let them attempt to run, they told Lester, and they will throw them out. So even if Lester never beats the yips, he might have outflanked the issue.

But what’s also interesting is that the Cubs reduced Lester’s work on throwing to first and other bases this spring. There was less focus internally on remedying the issue and perhaps that has helped him. It was Beilock who told me too much practice, too much work, can be detrimental, as it places more focus and pressure upon the issue. Lester said he does not work on pickoff moves as much between starts, but I asked if the snap throw he demonstrated on June 3 could be a solution.

“Hopefully, yeah,” Lester said.

I suggested to Lester that, rather than a story of human weakness, his story could, perhaps should, be seen as one of creativity and resiliency in working around the issue.

“I like where your mind is there,” Lester said. “Usually everyone is more on the side of ‘Why can’t you do it? Why can’t you do it?’ That’s where my frustration comes.”

He was frustrated during the playoffs last season when there was more focus on the yips than his run prevention. (He allowed just two runs over his first three starts, covering 21 innings in the NLDS and NLCS.) What’s also remarkable about Lester’s condition is that he didn’t lose the ability to throw home, to carve up batters. He remains a quality starting pitcher.

“I feel like I have good enough stuff to get hitters out, so I just worry about getting the hitters out,” Lester said. “I make adjustments as we go and maybe we will get a few more [tosses] over there [to first base].”

There is also this: Lester has overcome much greater issues. He has beaten cancer. In contrast, the yips are meaningless. “I always have things in perspective,” Lester said.

And so while Lester does not quite understand what he is fighting, perhaps it is that perspective that will allow him to beat it.

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kbreit
60 days ago
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Sturm und drang, Mike Hollingshead

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Sturm und drang, Mike Hollingshead

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kbreit
109 days ago
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popular
118 days ago
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3 public comments
cygnoir
109 days ago
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(also a glimpse into my nightmares)
Portland, OR, USA
jepler
118 days ago
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@emdeesee
Earth, Sol system, Western spiral arm
emdeesee
115 days ago
I have one of these in the queue, coincidentally. I keep passing it over because oooooh, scary.
jepler
115 days ago
I can understand how you feel. I don't like seeing "somebody just got hurt" face plant gifs, but for whatever reason I can just look at these and see beauty, not danger.
emdeesee
114 days ago
I see what you see; they're really cool, all the more so because he makes them from a single image (!). Also I have this recurring nightmare. However I did get over myself.
jhamill
119 days ago
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Fascinating!
California
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