Mailbox App: So Close!
So my reservation number finally made it to the front of the line and I got access to Mailbox, a new iPhone app that’s attempting to make mobile email better. After trying out the app a bit, my thoughts are, “so close!”. The UI is gorgeous—minimal, but not too stark—and its gestures for managing emails really suits my needs. Short swipe right to archive emails, long swipe right to delete them. Swiping left let’s you “snooze” the email, a feature I’m not quite sure I’d use. I’d prefer that swiping left let me add labels.
But alas, I won’t use Mailbox for my primary email account—it’s just too much of a security risk. To make push email work well in Mailbox, you need to grant access to your emails to Mailbox’s servers. This is done for performance reasons, as relying on a direct connection between the iPhone app and Google’s servers causes poor usability because of IMAP’s latency. But trusting Mailbox’s servers with access to my email is a huge deal. Given that pretty much every online account I have (bank, credit card, investment) allows for password resets via email, access to my email account is essentially access to all my accounts. Keeping it secure is crucial (part of the reason I’m a 2-factor auth proselytizer). I put my trust in Google to keep it secure, but it’s a lot to ask to trust another company, let alone a startup.
So despite Mailbox’s awesomeness, I’ll have to begrudgingly pass on it.
Maybe Boeing Should Listen To Tesla Now
“After an exhaustive examination of the JAL lithium-ion battery, which was comprised of eight individual cells, investigators determined that the majority of evidence from the flight data recorder and both thermal and mechanical damage pointed to an initiating event in a single cell. That cell showed multiple signs of short circuiting, leading to a thermal runaway condition, which then cascaded to other cells. Charred battery components indicated that the temperature inside the battery case exceeded 500 degrees Fahrenheit.”
Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX and owner of Tesla:
“Unfortunately, the pack architecture supplied to Boeing is inherently unsafe… Large cells without enough space between them to isolate against the cell-to-cell thermal domino effect means it is simply a matter of time before there are more incidents of this nature”
“Both Boeing and Tesla use batteries fueled by lithium cobalt oxide, which is among the most energy-dense and flammable chemistries of lithium-ion batteries on the market. While Boeing elected to use a battery with a grouping of eight large cells, Tesla’s batteries contain thousands of smaller cells that are independently separated to prevent fire in a single cell from harming the surrounding ones.”
“An aerospace-capable version of Tesla’s battery has been developed for use in SpaceX’s Falcon 9 space launch vehicle. SpaceX, also owned by Musk, competes with Boeing/Lockheed Martin joint venture United Launch Alliance for customers. Boeing has thus far declined offers of assistance from Tesla and SpaceX, says Musk.”
The Instant Gratification of UI Development
Most of the hard core C++ programmers I know hate user interface programming. This surprises me, because I find UI programming to be quintessentially easy, straightforward, and fun. It’s easy because you usually don’t need algorithms more sophisticated than how to center one rectangle in another. It’s straightforward because when you make a mistake, you immediately see it and can correct it. It’s fun, because the results of your work are immediately visible. You feel like you are sculpting the program directly.
Web development was my first foray into the coding world. Even after becoming mainly a systems programming kind of guy, the instant gratification of seeing what you’re building is still second to none.
In the 1930s and 1940s, the researchers didn’t pay much attention to the men’s relationships. Instead, following the intellectual fashions of the day, they paid a lot of attention to the men’s physiognomy. Did they have a “masculine” body type? Did they show signs of vigorous genetic endowments?
But as this study — the Grant Study — progressed, the power of relationships became clear. The men who grew up in homes with warm parents were much more likely to become first lieutenants and majors in World War II. The men who grew up in cold, barren homes were much more likely to finish the war as privates.
Body type was useless as a predictor of how the men would fare in life. So was birth order or political affiliation. Even social class had a limited effect. But having a warm childhood was powerful. As George Vaillant, the study director, sums it up in “Triumphs of Experience,” his most recent summary of the research, “It was the capacity for intimate relationships that predicted flourishing in all aspects of these men’s lives.”
Thinking about it some more, though, and considering what I know about Forstall’s reputation within the company, I think that headline, euphemistic though it is, tells the plain truth: Forstall was an obstacle to collaboration within the company. Now he’s gone, and his responsibilities are being divided between four men who foster collaboration: Ive, Mansfield, Cue, and Federighi.
Federighi, like Forstall, dates back to NeXT, and has moved up the ladder quickly after returning to Apple in 2009. Mansfield has had a curious year — five months ago he was retiring, then he un-retired, and now he’s taking over a new “Technologies” group encompassing all wireless and semiconductor engineering. Who better to take over Maps than Eddy Cue, the guy who took over the disaster that was MobileMe and turned it into the far-from-perfect-but-pretty-good-overall and steadily-improving iCloud?
But the big news today is about Jony Ive. I don’t think it can be overstated just how big a deal it is that he now oversees all product design, hardware and software. For the last year, outside observers have been left wonder just where the buck stopped for UI design at post-Jobs Apple. That question has now been answered: Jony Ive.
Human beings are not accustomed to being perfect, and few areas of human activity demand it. Adjusting to the requirement for perfection is, I think, the most difficult part of learning to program.
Mac Keyboard Shortcut to Lock Screen
First configure in Preferences —> Security & Privacy, set Require password to immediately after sleep or screen saver begins.
Now just hit Control-Shift-Eject to lock the screen.