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automatically test your database backups

one of the issues of yesterday’s gitlab.com “database incident” is that most of their database backups weren’t being tested, and when they needed a restore, they discovered that most of the backup methods hadn’t been working. untested backup methods that turn out to be missing or broken are extremely common. i can’t fault them much because it’s a very easy mistake to make: most backups, by nature, never need to be restored from, so you never realize if something changes and they stop working… until it’s too late. the solution is to frequently and automatically test backups by: regularly downloading the latest backup from s3 (or wherever) and performing a full restore onto a clean server. testing its validity in a...




the end of the conference era – marco.org

january 17, 2018∞https://marco.org/2018/01/17/end-of-conference-erachris adamson notes a significant contraction in ios and related conferences recently (via michael tsai).having attended (and sometimes spoken at) many of these conferences over the years, i can’t deny the feeling i’ve had in the last couple of years that the era of the small apple-ish developer-ish conference is mostly or entirely behind us.i don’t think that’s a bad thing. this style of conference had a great run, but it always had major and inherent limitations, challenges, and inefficiencies:cost: with flights, lodging, and the ticket adding up to thousands of dollars per conference, most people are priced out. the vast majority of attendees’ money isn’t eve...




fixing the macbook pro – marco.org

november 24, 2017∞https://marco.org/2017/11/24/fixing-the-macbook-prodespite my love for the previous retina macbook pro, i won’t be able to use it forever. the best laptop to ever exist should be in the future, not the past.there’s a lot to like about the new macbook pros, but they need some changes to be truly great and up to apple’s standards.here’s what i’m hoping to see in the next macbook pro that i believe is technically possible, reasonable, widely agreeable, and likely for apple to actually do, in descending order of importance:magic keyboardbutterfly keyswitches are a design failure that should be abandoned. they’ve been controversial, fatally unreliable, and expensive to repair since their introduction on the first 1...




fixing the macbook pro – marco.org

november 24, 2017∞https://marco.org/2017/11/24/fixing-the-macbook-prodespite my love for the previous retina macbook pro, i won’t be able to use it forever. the best laptop to ever exist should be in the future, not the past.there’s a lot to like about the new macbook pros, but they need some changes to be truly great and up to apple’s standards.here’s what i’m hoping to see in the next macbook pro that i believe is technically possible, reasonable, widely agreeable, and likely for apple to actually do, in descending order of importance:magic keyboardbutterfly keyswitches are a design failure that should be abandoned. they’ve been controversial, fatally unreliable, and expensive to repair since their introduction on the first 1...




the best laptop ever made – marco.org

november 14, 2017∞https://marco.org/2017/11/14/best-laptop-everapple has made many great laptops, but the 15-inch retina macbook pro (2012–2015) is the epitome of usefulness, elegance, practicality, and power for an overall package that still hasn’t been (and may never be) surpassed.introduced in 2012, less than a year after steve jobs died, i see it as the peak of jobs’ vision for the mac.it was the debut of high-dpi macs, starting down the long road (which we still haven’t finished) to an all-retina lineup. and with all-ssd storage, quad-core i7 processors, and a healthy amount of ram all standard, every configuration was fast, capable, and pleasant to use.at its introduction, it was criticized only for ditching the optical drive...




the impossible dream of usb-c – marco.org

october 14, 2017∞https://marco.org/2017/10/14/impossible-dream-of-usb-ci love the idea of usb-c: one port and one cable that can replace all other ports and cables. it sounds so simple, straightforward, and unified.in practice, it’s not even close.usb-c normally transfers data by the usb protocol, but it also supports thunderbolt… sometimes. the 12-inch macbook has a usb-c port, but it doesn’t support thunderbolt at all. all other modern macbook models support thunderbolt over their usb-c ports… but if you have a 13-inch model, and it has a touch bar, then the right-side ports don’t have full thunderbolt bandwidth.if you bought a usb-c cable, it might support thunderbolt, or it might not. there’s no way to tell by looking at it...




overcast for ios 11 coming soon – marco.org

september 22, 2017∞https://marco.org/2017/09/22/overcast-ios11-sooni’m sorry that i missed the ios 11 launch for my fancy drag-and-drop update. it’s coming soon, but it’s not ready yet.in hello internet episode 4, cgp grey introduced a metaphor for work-life balance as four light bulbs — work, friends, family, and health — between which one can allocate 100 watts, total. so it’s possible to shine brightly in one area at significant cost to the others, or to try to have a mediocre spread between all of them.usually, i prioritize ...




what we need from apple to make standalone apple watch podcast apps – marco.org

september 24, 2017∞https://marco.org/2017/09/24/what-watch-podcast-apps-needthe apple watch desperately needs standalone podcast playback, especially with the lte-equipped series 3, which was designed specifically for exercising without an iphone.believe me, i’ve tried. but limitations in watchos 4 make it impossible to deliver standalone podcast playback with the basic functionality and quality that people expect.deal-breaker: progress syncunlike on ios, watch apps aren’t allowed to play audio in the background and continue running.1the only way to continue playback in the background on watchos 4 is to use the wkaudiofileplayer api. this is unsuitable for podcast players in its current state for one big reason:it takes audio playback ...




overcast for ios 11 coming soon – marco.org

september 22, 2017∞https://marco.org/2017/09/22/overcast-ios11-sooni’m sorry that i missed the ios 11 launch for my fancy drag-and-drop update. it’s coming soon, but it’s not ready yet.in hello internet episode 4, cgp grey introduced a metaphor for work-life balance as four light bulbs — work, friends, family, and health — between which one can allocate 100 watts, total. so it’s possible to shine brightly in one area at the significant cost of the others, or to try to have a mediocre spread between all of them.usually, i prioritiz...




courage – marco.org

september 18, 2017∞https://marco.org/2017/09/18/couragemany apple fans were amused when phil schiller explained the removal of the headphone jack on last year’s iphone as “courage”. but that was nothing compared to what happened last week.for ten years, the iphone looked like this:a rounded rectangle, bars on top and bottom, and a circle centered in the bottom bar. if you want to get fancy, put a line in the top bar, too.it’s so simple that even when children draw it, it’s instantly recognizable as an iphone to most of the world’s population. not just any phone — an iphone, specifically.as an app developer and fan, i was hoping that the long-rumored edge-to-edge iphone screen would still be a rectangle, possibly even with roo...




removing “send to watch” – marco.org

august 10, 2017∞https://marco.org/2017/08/10/removed-send-to-watchi’ve spent many months of development on overcast’s apple watch app, especially implementing standalone “send to watch” playback. unfortunately, i now need to remove the “send to watch” feature.i’m sorry to the people who used it. while there weren’t many of you (about 0.1% of active users), i’ve heard from some who it meant quite a bit to.in retrospect, “send to watch” wasn’t good enough to ship. i’ve paid for that in a constant stream of negative app store reviews that have reduced the entire app’s average, but that alone wouldn’t sink the feature. here’s what happened.many people had been as...




“mp3 is dead” missed the real, much better story – marco.org

may 15, 2017∞https://marco.org/2017/05/15/mp3-isnt-deadif you readthenews, you may think the mp3 file format was recently officially “killed” somehow, and any remaining mp3 holdouts should all move to aac now. these are all simple rewrites of fraunhofer iis’ announcement that they’re terminating the mp3 patent-licensing program.veryfewpeople got it right. the others missed what happened last month:if the longest-running patent mentioned in the aforementioned references is taken as a measure, then the mp3 technology became patent-free in the united states on 16 april 2017 when u.s. patent 6,009,399, held by and administered by technicolor, expired.mp3 is no less alive now than it wa...




“mp3 is dead” missed the real, much better story – marco.org

may 15, 2017∞https://marco.org/2017/05/15/mp3-isnt-deadif you readthenews, you may think the mp3 file format was recently officially “killed” somehow, and any remaining mp3 holdouts should all move to aac now. these are all simple rewrites of fraunhofer iis’ announcement that they’re terminating the mp3 patent-licensing program.veryfewpeople got it right. the others missed what happened last month:if the longest-running patent mentioned in the aforementioned references is taken as a measure, then the mp3 technology became patent-free in the united states on 16 april 2017 when u.s. patent 6,009,399, held by and administered by technicolor, expired.mp3 is no less alive now than it wa...




owning your short-form writing by manton reece — kickstarter

i'm writing a book about independent microblogging, and launching a publishing platform called micro.blog. no...




the audacity to say “yes” in a design culture of “no” – marco.org

april 15, 2017∞https://marco.org/2017/04/15/mac-pro-audacity-of-yesmuch of modern apple’s design philosophy is to relentlessly strip down most products to the bare minimum in certain areas as technological progress allows, following (and largely defining) the modern design fashion of nearly-unquestioned devotion to minimalism.saying “no” is the easiest path to what’s considered good design today: if something cannot be easily accommodated, or most people won’t complain too badly in its absence, just omit it.1while minimalism is one aspect of one view of good design, it’s often overused, underconsidered, and misunderstood, resulting in products with surface-level appeal that don...




design for the present – marco.org

november 2, 2016∞https://marco.org/2016/11/02/design-for-the-presentit’s hard to get anyone to agree on what constitutes “pro” use, but i’d say it has three core requirements:reliability: pro gear absolutely must be dependable, even when used heavily or in demanding conditions.power: pro apps usually need more of every hardware resource than consumer apps — at least cpu power and memory, and often gpu power or i/o bandwidth — and pros will often pay high costs for high-spec machines...




a world without the mac pro – marco.org

november 5, 2016∞https://marco.org/2016/11/05/world-without-mac-proit’s looking increasingly likely that there will never be another mac pro. here’s why that would be a shame.pro buyers depend on apple to make the hardware that satisfies our needs. and we’re flexible. we’ve adapted over the years to new cpu architectures, port changes, capability changes, price increases, and a slower update pace.the 5k imac is a truly great computer. it’s the best general-purpose desktop apple has ev...




a letter to today’s young people – marco.org

november 11, 2016∞https://marco.org/2016/11/11/letter-to-young-peoplethe strongest despair i’ve heard about this election has come from high school and college students. i don’t know if this will really help anyone, and i hope it’s not patronizing. but just in case it helps:george w. bush was elected during my freshman year of college. for the next 8 years — all of college, my first job, and the first two years of tumblr — we suffered through that horrific administration. it was half ...




apple fixes macbook pro battery life by removing time estimate – marco.org

december 13, 2016∞https://marco.org/2016/12/13/apple-removes-battery-time-remainingmy 15-inch 2016 macbook pro with touch bar is pretty good in most ways, but it’s a noticeable regression in battery life from the previous generation. apple claims it lasts 10 hours, but i’ve never gotten that — in a fairly light web-productivity workload, i average around 5–7 hours, and if i’m using xcode, i’m lucky to get 4–5 hours. this seems common — many other customers and reviewers have not...




owning your short-form writing by manton reece — kickstarter

stretch goal update: if we reach $80,000, i'll hire a community manager for micro.blog to help build a safe community from the start. see this update on kickstarter for details on the stretch goal and a new feature called safe replies.hi, my name is manton reece, and i’m writing a book called indie microblogging. i'm also launching a brand new platform for microblogs.do you remember how the web used to work? how the web was supposed to work?in the earlier days of the web, we always published...