Chuckellania for October 20th, 2021

Published on Saturday, October 23, 2021

As Christina Warren reminds us, Maciej wrote some rather biting satire a few days after the release of the 2016 MacBook Pro line-up. Some of it turned out to be rather prescient.

Gone is the gimmicky TouchBar,


gone are the four USB-C ports that forced power users to carry a suitcase full of dongles.

Not quite, but one of them is gone.

In their place we get a cornucopia of developer-friendly ports: two USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt 2 ports,

This prediction may have made more sense either in 2016 and/or in a satirical setting; none of that happened. I suppose a case can still be made, today, that there should be a single USB-A port; there is not.

a redesigned power connector, and a long-awaited HDMI port.

Yup and yup.

Photographers will rejoice at the surprising and welcome addition of an SDXC card reader, a sign that Apple might be thinking seriously about photography.


The new machines will be slightly thicker (to accomodate the USB ports) and 200 grams heavier

Yup. (And, indeed, the addition of the thicker HDMI port is probably one of the reasons the previous thinness wasn't feasible.)

The most obvious change is the redesigned keyboard. Removing the Touchbar creates room for a row of physical function buttons and, in a nice touch, an escape key.


The trackpad has been made smaller, so you're less likely to brush against it with your palm.


I can't yet speak from personal experience how often the palm detection fails, but from anecdotal evidence, it doesn't seem to be much of an issue.

The keys themselves are much more comfortable to type on, with improved key travel, a softer feel, and more satisfying tactile feedback.


Despite the many improvements, Apple is actually dropping the price on its flagship 15" MacBook Pro by $400

On the contrary — the 14-inch went up by another $200, and the 16-inch by $100.

All in all, fairly amusing how much Apple was able to improve the machines simply by reverting a number of decisions of the 2016 era.

The 45mm (larger) Apple Watch Series 7 has more pixels than the original Myst images were rendered as.

Why do sports photos from the 1970s and before often have a blue haze?

Cigarette smoke.


The M1 13-inch MacBook Pro doesn't really have a reputation for a great camera, but whether through software (image processing) or hardware (sensor), its image quality looks, to my eyes, well above what a comparable Dell laptop offers. Listen to the difference in sound quality, too. The Mac's result looks and sounds a fair bit crisper to me (although the face still lacks some texture).

Now, as the narrator says, that's in a well-lit room. Apple promises that the 2021 MBPs have better resolution and specifically point out better low-light performance, too, so I'm excited to see reviews on that.

One of the oddities in iOS (and Android) is that it tells you, right in the status bar, the technology used to connect to the cellular network: LTE or 5G, say. I find that to be some oddly specific, and un-Apple-like info. It's not as though it tells you that the Wi-Fi is 802.11n, or Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax).

I also find the stripes (little arcs for Wi-Fi, and bars for cellular) to be an entirely useless connection indicator. I've had working connections with just one bar, and I've been able to do nothing while supposedly connected at full strength. What would be far more useful is the setup I have on my Mac: iStat Menus occasionally pings an IP address, and if that fails, it turns a little circle in my menu bar orange. (And, if there's flat-out no connection, red.) It's not instant, but it's enough to stop me in my tracks during a "wait, what's happening?" investigation: oh, I'm not connected!

I'd much rather have simpler iconography (a cell tower is plenty) in the iOS status bar, but to have a noticeable indicator when iOS notices a potential network issue.

Microsoft's "Project Reunion" is launching as the Windows App SDK.


It does bring back the "UWP is dead, and also, was it ever truly alive?" debate. The FAQ makes it clear that .NET 5, 6. Yet at the same time, it says:

Windows, we use UWP project types for several of our own Windows apps.

That is true, but it leaves one question open: why? Are those apps UWP for historical reasons, or is Microsoft making the case here that UWP can still be a good choice for new apps?

As ever, the "which UI framework should I be using, Microsoft?" question is hard to answer. That some of Microsoft's own teams don't use any Microsoft UI framework at all (for example, Teams) doesn't make it easier.

There's already at least two apps out there that fake a notch on the Mac:

I tried the former, but it had some limitations, so I moved to the latter, and intend to try it for a while.

Why? Sort of as a joke, but also, to get a sense of how much if at all a notch would bother me during normal use of a Mac. (So far: doesn't seem terribly bothersome.)

Note that, as Uli notes, these tools don't actually tell the OS to move menus around. If your app has a lot of them, they will bleed into the notch.

Speaking of Microsoft Teams (and/or Microsoft not dogfooding their own UI frameworks enough), one of the oddities about it is the poor handling of windows. Why can't an image preview, say, be its own little popup window that you can independently move around and resize?

We have the technology.

Or, what if the notch behaved more like Portal?

A Dutch court has ruled that a customer has the right for their name to be correctly spelt in a database, in this case with diacritical marks, even if the company says they cannot do it due to technical limitations.

I find the connection to GDPR to be a little tenuous. I also wouldn't want to be the software engineer who's now forced to haphazardly hack diacritics into a system that doesn't work with them. (Discussion of whether such limitations should still be a thing notwithstanding.)


Another of the many, many strange side effects of the pandemic is the rising question of: is "flu season" a thing that even needs to exist?

It virtually disappeared in the 2020-21 winter, and whether we're OK with it returning the winters after is an interesting societal question.


Some nice updates on the .NET 6 / VS 2022 Hot Reload story, but also, apparently, a note near the end that they're postponing (or killing off altogether?) support for Hot Reload in dotnet watch. That's a bummer.

appinfo, a CLI tool to show basic information about an installed macOS app.