Pixel, iPhone 7, and grading on a curve

Rene Ritchie:

So, everyone who’d been criticizing Apple and iPhone design immediately called Google out for aping it?

Not so much.

Well, at least they called Google and Pixel out for the same things they called Apple and iPhone out for?

Again, not so much.

Surely they drew the line at Google’s 2016 flagship missing optical image stabilization — not just in the regular-size, but in the Plus XL model as well — stereo speakers, and water resistance — things that were pointed to last year as indicators Apple was falling behind?

Turns out, not deal-breakers either.

Meanwhile, anything Apple adds becomes immediately Android has had this for two years regardless of the feature.

From Dropbox to iCloud Drive

David Chartier on dropping Dropbox:

Others who have made this transition told me there’s a noticeable performance boost to be had by uninstalling Dropbox from a Mac, which I just did yesterday. They weren’t kidding.

There are so many issues with Dropbox these days.

Using Yarn with Docker

Martino Fornasa:

Facebook recently released Yarn, a new Node.js package manager built on top of the npm registry, massively reducing install times and shipping a deterministic build out of the box.

Determinism has always been a problem with npm, and solutions like npm shrinkwrap are not working well. This makes hard to use a npm-based system for multiple developers and on continuous integration. Also, npm slowness in case of complex package.json files causes long build times, representing a serious blocker when using Docker for local development.

This article discuss how to use Yarn with Docker for Node.js development and deployment.

Yarn is pretty powerful, and combining it with Docker to help make builds smoother makes it even more useful.

Bob Dylan wins Nobel Prize in Literature

Singer-songwriter Bob Dylan has won the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature, organizers announced early Thursday — marking the first time the prestigious award has gone to someone known primarily as a musician. 

The Swedish Academy cited the 75-year-old music icon for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”

About time a musician has won this, and who better than Dylan?

Why Samsung Abandoned the Galaxy Note 7

When several Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphones spontaneously exploded in August, the South Korean company went into overdrive. It urged hundreds of employees to quickly diagnose the problem.

None were able to get a phone to explode. Samsung’s engineers, on a tight deadline, initially concluded the defect was caused by faulty batteries from one of the company’s suppliers. Samsung, which announced a recall of the Note 7 devices in September, decided to continue shipping new Galaxy Note 7s containing batteries from a different supplier.

The solution failed. Reports soon surfaced that some of the replacement devices were blowing up too. Company engineers went back to the drawing board, according to a person briefed on the test process who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the internal workings were confidential. As of this week, Samsung’s testers were still unable to reproduce the explosions.

By then, it was too late. On Tuesday, Samsung said it was killing the Galaxy Note 7 entirely. The drastic move is highly unusual in the technology industry, where companies tend to keep trying to improve a product rather than pull it altogether. And it caps a nearly two-month fall for Samsung, which has taken a beating from investors, safety regulators and consumers over its trustworthiness — especially with a marquee product that was supposed to rival Apple’s iPhone.

Yarn: A new package manager for JavaScript

In the JavaScript community, engineers share hundreds of thousands of pieces of code so we can avoid rewriting basic components, libraries, or frameworks of our own. Each piece of code may in turn depend on other pieces of code, and these dependencies are managed by package managers. The most popular JavaScript package manager is the npm client, which provides access to more than 300,000 packages in the npm registry. More than 5 million engineers use the npm registry, which sees up to 5 billion downloads every month.

We’ve used the npm client successfully at Facebook for years, but as the size of our codebase and the number of engineers grew, we ran into problems with consistency, security, and performance. After trying to solve for each issue as it came up, we set out to build a new solution to help us manage our dependencies more reliably. The product of that work is called Yarn — a fast, reliable, and secure alternative npm client.

We’re pleased to announce the open source release of Yarn, a collaboration with Exponent, Google, and Tilde. With Yarn, engineers still have access to the npm registry, but can install packages more quickly and manage dependencies consistently across machines or in secure offline environments. Yarn enables engineers to move faster and with confidence when using shared code so they can focus on what matters — building new products and features.

You can try yarn right now:

npm install -g yarn

The yarn CLI replaces npm in your development workflow, either with a matching command or a new, similar command:

npm install → yarn

With no arguments, the yarn command will read your package.json, fetch packages from the npm registry, and populate your node_modules folder. It is equivalent to running npm install.

npm install --save <name>yarn add <name>

They’ve removed the “invisible dependency” behavior of npm install <name> and split the command. Running yarn add <name> is equivalent to running npm install --save <name>.

Oculus loses face as the Note 7 dies

The Note 7 debacle hasn’t been good for anyone — not for Samsung, not for Android, not for consumers, not for airlines, not for fire departments, not for stylus-lovers and certainly not for Oculus.

The Facebook-owned virtual reality powerhouse currently has its entire mobile VR future pinned on the successes of Samsung’s handsets and the discontinuation of Note 7 production is likely going to stunt Oculus’s Gear VR sales (and brand) in a pretty damning way.

Today, shortly before Samsung issued a recommendation that all Note 7 users shut off their devices, Oculus disabled Note 7 support for the Gear VR. Users on Reddit discovered the message this morning.

Exploding phones admittedly do not seem ideal for a peripheral that straps the phone to your face, so the real surprise is that it took this long.

The success of the Gear VR is intimately tied to Samsung in more ways that just the phones. Samsung injected major life into the Gear VR platform by capitalizing on the excitement of the Galaxy S7 and shipping a ton of free headsets with pre-orders.

The $99 Gear VR is currently Oculus’s main touch point with consumers, most of whom have likely not even seen higher-end VR systems like the Rift. Oculus announced at their OC3 conference last week that there were over 1 million monthly active users on Gear VR, much of this likely having a lot to do with giveaways on the part of Samsung. No official numbers are out there in terms of sales, but analysts from SuperData Research estimate that while the Oculus Rift will sell just over 355 thousand units this year, there will be over 2.3 million Gear VR’s in the wild by year’s end.

Long story short, Gear VR is huge to Oculus’s brand and now the platform’s immediate future is likely going to see a very unfortunate period of slowed growth given that the next new compatible device from Samsung probably won’t emerge until next spring.

I actually like the new Gear VR headset, but I use it with my S6. The various redesigned pieces to work with the Note 7 will end up going away. But, given how much was put into making this work with the Note 7, it’ll be a bit of a loss.

Samsung is suspending all production of the Galaxy Note 7

After a batch of replacement Note 7 phones have caught fire, and combined with Samsung’s carrier partners announcing they would stop selling the Note 7 entirely, Samsung is finally suspending production of the Galaxy Note 7.

My question is this…. Why did it take so long to finally stop production of this phone? Reports came in back in August about the Note 7 catching fire, and after doing a round of replacement phones (that ended up having the same issue and even sending at least one person to the hospital), they now decide to just halt the line entirely? Samsung should have thrown in the towel on the Note 7 the first time it started catching fire.

Life after death for Apple’s Xserve

Andrew Cunningham at Ars:

Apple put the final nail in the Xserve’s coffin in January 2011 when it officially stopped selling rack-mounted servers. Instead, the company started pushing server customers toward Mac Pros and Minis. On Sept. 20 of this year, Apple lowered that coffin into the ground when macOS Sierra dropped software support for the systems. And while Xserves running El Capitan will keep getting security updates for a couple of years and the current build of the macOS Server software still runs on El Capitan, the hardware will soon be completely buried.

For a few years after the Xserve’s death, the company offered Mac Pro and Mac Mini Server configurations (PDF) that could do some of the same things, but even those options eventually disappeared. Even though Apple never offered true server-class hardware again, that doesn’t mean the hardware isn’t still out there doing its job.

I actually know of several people who still run Xserves to this day. They were hardy rack servers that did their job loudly.