Web Excursions 2021-06-19

Safari 15 on Mac OS, a user interface mess

  • On my 11-inch MacBook Air (running Mac OS 10.13 High Sierra and Safari 13.1.2), the total vertical space taken by Safari’s Title bar/Toolbar, Favourites bar and Tab bar is 86 pixels, 64 if you hide the Favourites bar.

    • The 11-inch MacBook Air’s display is only 768 pixels tall,

    • but even in these ‘cramped’ conditions there’s still enough space left to a website for clarity and meaningful navigation.

  • On my 13-inch retina MacBook Pro running Mac OS Big Sur 11.5 beta and Safari 14.1.2, the total vertical space taken by Safari’s Title bar/Toolbar, Favourites bar and Tab bar is 110 pixels, 82 if you hide the Favourites bar.

  • What a browser needs is horizontal breathing room, instead we have Apple doing things backwards, sacrificing horizontal space to give us 28 more vertical pixels.

  • Vivaldi tackles the ‘too many tabs’ problem by adding a second Tab bar.


Why an app is called a widget

How did an app come to be referred to as a widget?

The first Oxford citation is from a June 19, 1991, comment on a Usenet newsgroup (comp.windows.x): “A customer wants to have a row of clocks showing different timezones. Unfortunately the clock widget doesn’t handle that case very well.”


Bad poetry, bad translation

  • With 江雪 “River Snow”, the Tang Dynasty philosopher, essayist, and poet Liu Zongyuan wrote a poem that,

    • a millennium later and two unrelated languages away, would freeze translators trying to reproduce his poem in English and French.

    • The poem, notable for a calmness that somehow rings with isolation and futility,

      • achieves its affect in part by the sounds of its language.

      • And alas, these prosodic elements have proven to be untranslatable.

  • The technique in question is aojue 抝絕,

    • roughly equivalent to either feminine rhymes or off-rhymes in English.

    • Rhyming on three “entering” tones—as they were called—the rusheng 入聲 no longer a part of standard Chinese,

      • this poem cross-cuts against the grain of expected Tang poetry versification,

      • leaning as it does on the clipped notes of dzhiuεt, miεt, and siuεt.

    • The effect,

      • no longer attainable without special training,

      • would have been jarring to poetry readers of the day,

      • signaling an undercurrent of disquiet beneath the otherwise tranquil scene of the poem.

  • English and French again fail to achieve the directness of classical Chinese:

    • the end words of Liu Zongyuan’s first couplet are both active verbs, 絕 and 滅, and yet

    • the translators have had to resort to lame negative descriptions.

  • A charter member, with Han Yu, of the 古文運動 Ancient Prose Movement, Liu Zongyuan

    • wanted to reinvigorate poetry of his day by recalling his classical masters and their nonpareil essays.

    • In many respects, Liu Zongyuan’s desires resonate with the Modernist movement,

      • where poets followed classical models and

      • rallied around the dictum that “poetry should be as well-written as prose”.

    • The issue, then, is whether naturalization or barbarization is a superior tactic in translating the verse of a poet with a desire to innovate through Ancient Prose.


Looking Beyond RSS - MacStories Weekly Issue 277

  • What I really want is something that transcends feed readers.

    • I want an app where RSS feeds are just another source of content, along with webpages, PDFs, and ebooks.

  • Ideally, the app would have two modes:

    • collection and curation, similar to the distinction between Reeder's feed reader and read later features.

    • Collection Mode would accept all the formats I mentioned above and provide a top-notch reading experience allowing it to serve as an RSS client, PDF reader, web browser, and ebook reader all in one.

    • In Curation Mode, the app would have to include comprehensive full-text and metadata search and the ability to save those searches, filter results, sort them, tag them, delete them or store them in folders, and mark items as starred or read. I'd also want the ability to batch process everything in the app.

    • support a long list of highly-configurable export options.

    • Robust sharing and integration with other apps

    • work and be fully featured on the iPhone, iPad, and the Mac

    • a consumer-oriented app, not one for someone writing a dissertation.

  • features I wouldn't want

    • an everything bucket app or replacement for the file system.


My Life in the Apple Ecosystem (and more): 6FPS by Chuq (V3n6)

  • I went to work at Apple to help found a team known as the Direct Response Center.

    • It's purpose was to act as paid tech support for the "complex" Apple products where "call your dealer" was Apple's support policy.

    • That included initially Apple's A/UX Unix product, and later various other things as well.

    • That organization grew up, ultimately moved to Austin and became Applecare

  • The indie developer is the lifeblood of an active and innovative development ecosystem,

    • and deserves to be encouraged and nurtured.

    • It may not be an investment that pays off today, but those developers will go on to lead and push forward those bigger teams, and do so as external evangelists for your products and platforms.