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and of course the mob outrage in App Store ratings is what you'd expect: MacDrifter.

And this is why I only do bare minimum maintenance of my App Store software now. I released Brigand as free with a $10 unlock, and got savaged for it, so I pulled it. If Nintendo can't make that work with Mario, Apple giving them the front page, and millions in advertising, I sure can't. I love Brigand, but unless I put in more work changing the business model, I can't sell it; sunk cost fallacy tells me not to do that.

Productivity software should cost more than a game, but very few on iOS are willing to pay up front every single new version.

Apple doesn't let you give old customers an upgrade price, and presumably never will; maybe an upgrade killed Phil Schiller's pet/child/Camaro in front of him, or something, given the 9 years he's heard developers request this feature and told us to pound sand. And Apple does nobody any favors by Sherlocking and undercutting developers with "free" or cheap productivity apps.

The older solution of releasing a new numbered version and abandoning the old one every year or so was completely user-hostile. I just refused to do it, and would always switch apps whenever someone tried, and often found a better app by doing this.

Maybe the subscription model is terrible, but it's less terrible than anything else going on.

Michael Tsai wonders if the hostile reviews are from prices going up, but they're just catching up to desktop/web service prices, usually because a subscription gets you cross-platform access now.

Long-term, I think the App Store will be seen as the worst-managed disaster in the history of software. It went from a nice slot machine for indie devs and gallery for a few professional companies, to a predatory flea market full of thieves and frauds. Trying to tell anyone you make real software and here's a reasonable price, in that environment, is a waste of time.

Data and Reality (William Kent)

A book that's eternally useful to me in modelling data is William Kent's Data and Reality. Written in what we might call the dark ages of computing, it's not about specific technologies, but about unchanging but ever-changing reality, and strategies to represent it. Any time I get confused about how to model something or how to untangle someone else's representation, I reread a relevant section.

The third ambiguity has to do with thing and symbol, and my new terms
didn’t help in this respect either. When I explore some definitions of
the target part of an attribute, I get the impression (which I can’t
verify from the definitions given!) that the authors are referring to
the representations, e.g., the actual four letter sequence “b-l-u-e”,
or to the specific character sequence “6 feet”. (Terms like “value”,
or “data item”, occur in these definitions, without adequate further
definition.) If I were to take that literally, then expressing my
height as “72 inches” would be to express a different attribute from
“six feet”, since the “value” (?) or “data item” (?) is different. And
a German describing my car as “blau”, or a Frenchman calling it
“bleu”, would be expressing a different attribute from “my car is
blue”. Maybe the authors don’t really mean that; maybe they really are
willing to think of my height as the space between two points, to
which many symbols might correspond as representations. But I can’t be
sure what they intend.
—Bill Kent

I originally read the 1978 edition in a library, eventually got the 1998 ebook, and as of 2012 there's a posthumous 3rd edition which I haven't seen; I would worry that "updated examples" would change the prose for the worse, and without Bill having the chance to stop an editor.

See also Bill Kent's website for some of his photography and other papers.

This book projects a philosophy that life and reality are at bottom
amorphous, disordered, contradictory, inconsistent, non- rational, and
non-objective. Science and much of western philosophy have in the past
presented us with the illusion that things are otherwise. Rational views
of the universe are idealized models that only approximate reality. The
approximations are useful. The models are successful often enough in
predicting the behavior of things that they provide a useful foundation
for science and technology. But they are ultimately only approximations
of reality, and non-unique at that.

This bothers many of us. We don’t want to confront the unreality of
reality. It frightens, like the shifting ground in an earthquake. We are
abruptly left without reference points, without foundations, with
nothing to stand on but our imaginations, our ethereal self-awareness.

So we shrug it off, shake it away as nonsense, philosophy, fantasy. What
good is it? Maybe if we shut our eyes the notion will go away.
—Bill Kent

★★★★★

Swift

Swift amazes me. A beta language that breaks your code every 6 months, a type system so totalitarian and inescapable it makes BDSM Haskell look like a vacation (and apparently nobody's read Gödel's paper), the founder abandoned it to go work on cars, Apple won't ship production code in it, compiling burns your fucking CPU to the ground for 10s of minutes for code C can do in seconds, and after 3 years Xcode still can't refactor it.

And stupid motherfuckers write their production apps in it. 😦

I know Objective-C is hard. It's C plus Smalltalk, both of which are subtle and take a year or two to learn. [brackets scare:theNoobs] && dot.syntax.isOverloaded;
But the tools fucking work. Dynamic code makes programmers efficient. A more elegant weapon for a more civilized age.

BBEdit

My editing weapon of choice is BBEdit: It Doesn't Suck™. Why? I want you to read the typical release notes:
http://www.barebones.com/support/bbedit/notes-11.6.html
Attention to fucking detail. Best $100 I ever spent (it's cheaper now).

On iPad I use Textastic (has regexp) or Editorial (has scripting filters), but they're amateur hour in comparison.

If I have to shell in and can't edit remotely & upload with BBEdit, I'll use vi, which I used for ~20 years (actual vi, STeVIe, Elvis, & Vim).

Oh, and for iOS/Mac apps with a ton of UI/framework shit, I use AppCode. BBEdit for clean C/Obj-C and I can just xcodebuild from Terminal. As the avatar says, STOP Xcode!

It's a hell of a thing. Apple had a reasonable but limited Project Builder/Interface Builder pair of apps from NeXT. PB could set an external editor (BBEdit) so I was happy. Then Xcode combined them and lost the external editors, and every version since has been worse, slower, crashier, renders ASCII text as Russian, less capable of even simple refactors. Now it just shoves fucking Swift (C++ for masochists) down your throat and shits 10k messages into Console so you can't debug.

Mastodon

For the last few weeks, I've been getting into Mastodon, and last week I closed my Twitter account.

Begin personal history with Twitter:

Twitter used to be a good outlet for my humor, and I met a lot of people I like there, but it's always had a dark, abusive side. If you run into a clique of jerks, you may have a hard time ever avoiding them.

When App.net came out in 2012, I left Twitter and went there, and met many more, much nicer people; the voluntary community, longer posts, and the secondary tools like Patter chat rooms (App.net was "app" because it made it easy to build other services using the same identity) all made it more pleasant. Sadly ADN was never funded well enough to keep growing, the originally very dynamic app community fell apart (raise a toast to Bill Kunz's Felix) by last year it was a ghost town, and this year it shut down.

I had a second run at Twitter, being much more careful to prune my followees (political whiners, rude punk-asses, and marketing douchebags got booted) and mainly lived in an isolated bubble of a few dozen friends, only dipping into the main timeline when I was very bored. Not perfect, but I wasn't too unhappy. Until the election season and the months since.

Now Twitter is just hate; even non-political posts all seem to be people having massive personal problems and snapping at each other, nothing but raw exposed nerves lashing out. There's no fun or laughter, I don't want to live in a place where everyone is screaming or crying all the time. The uncertainty of Twitter's future and their seemingly random engineering changes, certainly doesn't help.

So when Mastodon got its first major publicity, I tried it out, on the Mastodon.social instance. The load of users on there flooding Local and Federated timelines quickly drove me to try smaller instances, so I'm now @mdhughes@cybre.space (a cyberpunk-themed instance) as well as @mdhughes@mastodon.weaponvsac.space (an OSR RPG instance). Within a week it was obvious that Twitter was done for me.

End personal history.

So what's the draw?

  1. Longer messages. It's hard for me to write anything meaningful without multiple tweets, but a 500-char Mastodon post ("toot" on standard instances, but "ping" on cybre.space) is pretty good. I live-pinged watching Arrival and Rogue One which would've taken a dozen tweets or a screenshot of a Notes page, and still left out detail or snark. I still need a blog for longer thoughts like this, but the intermediate space is covered.

  2. Home timeline can be kept small, just people you want to follow.

  3. Local timeline of people with common interests, everyone on your instance. This is why you go to a smaller instance rather than Mastodon.social or other giant user spaces.

  4. Federated timeline of everyone that anyone on your instance follows, which after a while is like the old Twitter firehose or App.net global timeline, just madness scrolling by. Federated is useful for finding people you'd never meet otherwise, and following them.

  5. Culturally, people put politics, spiders, clowns, memes, and other horrible subjects (as well as nice things the anti-fun people hate, like pornography) under Content Warning, so you have to click a button to see it… Or choose not to.

What's not so great yet?

  1. Not as many users. Yet. Mastodon's been growing at hockey-stick rates, currently nearly a half million users on Mastodon instances. Some of my friends have made it over, but not everyone believes yet, and probably some won't get out of the burning house of Twitter.
  2. Politics could still wreck it. There are some far-left-wing and far-right-wing factions out there, and little contact between them, but they're both intolerant and ready for war. I urge everyone to follow my philosophy:
    Be the STFU you wish to see in the world.

  3. Client apps aren't that great. I'm using a browser on desktop, and Amaroq on iPhone (where it's adequate) and iPad (where it's an iPhone app). But this is a far cry from Twitterrific, it's like 2008 all over again. The lack of mute filters other than a regular expression on home timeline is crippling when memes spread.

See also: Sarah Jeong's Vice article