The FBI obtained a court order requiring Apple to unlock an iPhone 5C belonging to the San Bernardino killer. A public letter from Tim Cook lays out the grounds for Apple's refusal. The debate about this conflict is developing quickly on both the technical side of things and the public policy side.
As a sidelight to this debate, I want to ask why is it that Apple, of all companies, is the one taking such a strong stand on this issue?
This week's ATP episode covers the tide of complaints about Apple's software quality problem. There's some good sputtering from John. The gist is that niggling software problems have become much more pervasive, even as dramatic events like full-on application crashes are rarer. An important secondary point is that, partly as a consequence of the ubiquity of cloud services and partly as a result of Apple's choices in software design, when these errors happen they often present themselves to the user in an especially opaque way.
Continuing my nonremunerative career as an IT Analyst, I updated my Apple Sales plots to the most recent (end of 2015) round of quarterly data. These plots were originally inspired by Dr Drang, and the trend for the iPad (shown below) continues to confirm his views. I also took the opportunity to clean up the code a little, and to fix a small problem in the earlier versions. The x-axis of the “Remainder” panel didn't line up properly with the line plots above and below it.
In an effort to not lose all of my lucrative Consulting Thinkfluanalyst income to the snowman, I redrew my LOESS and LTS decompositions of Apple's quarterly sales data by product. They now extend to Q2 2015. First, here's a plot of the trends showing the individual sales figures with a LOESS smoother fitted to them.
Figure 1. Quarterly sales data for Apple Macs, iPhones, and iPads.
Here's the Mac by itself, which continues to grow healthily (unlike the rest of the PC industry), just on a smaller scale than other Apple products.
A side-note to the enjoyable exchange with Dr Drang about sales trends in Apple products, which was picked up by John Gruber. The LOESS decompositions I posted looked like this:
Quarterly sales decomposition for iPhones.
One or two people remarked that these figures were shorter and wider than they were used to seeing. I did this on purpose—following the approach taken by William Cleveland and others, the charts are banked, meaning the aspect ratio is set to make it easier to pick out trends.
Update (April 30th): I redrew the decomposition plots this morning, and added a couple more.
Another Twitter conversation, this time in the evening. Dr Drang put up a characteristically sharp post looking at sales trends in Apple Macs, iPhones, and iPads. He used moving averages to show long-term sales trends effectively, and he made a convincing argument that iPad sales are in decline. I ended up grabbing the sales data myself from barefigur.
Executive Summmary: If you are having an issue with IconServicesAgent consuming all your CPU time, open a terminal window and do this:
This will resolve the issue. Read on for more details.
Recently I started having an intermittent problem with a process called com.apple.IconServicesAgent on my Mac. Google tells me that I am not alone, but diagnosing the issue and solving it has proven quite annoying. The symptoms are straightforward.
In the great Mac Pro
there were Channels of Control
and a Naked Robotic Core
and a picture of ...
Just a Dinosaur
And there was the Tortise and Hare, and Invisible Software And Grandpa Uncle Joe who Ran Out of Bombs Long Ago
And Patent Hands, and an iLife island And Blue Ocean, a Wedge, and Objective-C
And all the Housewives of Siracusa County Goodnight Pro Mac, Goodnight Brute Force Attack
The other day Brett Terpstra posted a gigantic and quite beautifully-executed feature comparison of all of the text editors available for iOS devices. The table is really terrific and also a bit overwhelming, as there's so much data. On the bus home yesterday, it struck me that it might make for a nice data visualization exercise. There are all kinds of ways one might choose to represent the information, of course—how you visualize data depends on what you want to do with it.
Yesterday Apple launched some new applications and services aimed at the education market. They extended the iBooks app to include a textbook store; they announced some deals with major textbook publishers; and they released a free application you can use to write textbooks, and which allows you to publish them on the store. They made their iTunes U service a separate application. The app replicates what's already available on iTunes, but also seeks to replace some or all of what's offered by course management systems.