Web Excursions 2021-11-16

Why Won’t That Help Book Open?

  • Many apps now choose to use their own Help systems

  • Traditional Help books consist of

    • HTML files assembled into a special bundle,

    • with the extension .help, inside the app’s Resources folder.

  • When a new or updated Help book is installed, the Help book service helpd is supposed to

    • recognise it,

    • add it to the list of Help books which it maintains, and

    • compile its data into a private database and supporting files

      • stored in ~/Library/Caches/com.apple.helpd.

  • When the user tries to open an app’s Help book, helpd

    • accesses the data it holds for that Help book, and

    • provides it to the HelpViewer reader app,

      • which in turn displays the contents in a window

  • Help book bundles were displayed in the Finder with a custom icon matching that UTI type.

    • This has changed in Big Sur and Monterey.

    • If you inspect a Help book, it’s now displayed as a plain folder,

      • implying that it’s no longer recognised as it has been in the past.

    • macOS itself no longer matches the folder name extension of .help as representing a Help book bundle,

      • but gives it a temporary UTI.

  • What usually happens is that the Help book opens blank and useless.

    • The only solution that I’ve found is to close the Help book and quit the app;

    • repeat the cycle a few times until the Help book opens correctly.


Notes on Newsletters — Benedict Evans

  • there’s been a steady flow of people scaling personal email newsletters and blogs into media companies

  • it is somewhat new for individual writers to be able to get to tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars of revenue from selling the writing itself,

    • without scaling up into a company,

    • without building ecommerce, events or speaking, and,

    • crucially, charging $5 or $10 a month for hundreds or thousands of subscribers

      • instead of thousands of dollars a month for hundreds of subscribers.

  • In the past there were always two constraints around the one-writer business.

  • meaningful ad revenue on the web needs more traffic

    • and therefore generally more writing than any single (normal) person can produce.

    • no-one ever really managed to make mass-market paid blogs a generalisable model either

  • Somehow, though, it’s easier to pay for an email than a web page.

    • Perhaps an email is a piece of tangible value -

      • something that you’re given every week, that you can keep,

    • whereas a blog post disappears in the firehose,

      • and you never remember to visit,

      • and can’t be bothered to log in

    • More practically, while some 'newsletters' are really long-form writing delivered by email,

      • many are actual newsletters,

        • driven by what just happened,

      • which makes keeping up the volume much easier -

        • you don’t need to generate a big original idea every day.

  • the first problem Substack solved - it makes publishing easy and charging easy

    • Many of the high-profile new Substack writers have drawn a salary somewhere else while

    • building up a social media presence over the last decade that they can now monetise -

    • someone called Substack 'Twitter’s pay wall'.

  • Mailchimp, Wordpress, Memberful and Squarespace don’t give you readers - they’re tools

  • Substack fits Chris Dixon’s theory of ‘come for the tool and stay for the network’, or might do

    • This is also what Medium tried to do - an easier publishing tool with a discovery layer on top

  • In every new, empty channel, the first people to offer something good can get rich.

    • Once the channel fills up, the dynamics change.

  • This is the cycle of life on the internet -

    • any tool that makes it easy for everyone to create and reach an audience

    • also means you're competing with all the other everyones.

  • So, what does any content platform do when it has 100m users and 1m creators?

    • That isn't just a high-quality problem -

    • 'what happens when there is more stuff on your platform than anyone can look at?' is an essential, existential question.

    • It can define the whole of what your product really means.

  • So how far is this is a brand, a network and a channel, with control,

    • that can drive traffic and shape what you see,

    • and how far is it a tool?


Unable to Win Beijing’s Approval, Fortnite Gives Up on China

  • Things started off on an optimistic note, with 10 million Chinese gamers pre-registering that summer to get access to the game.

  • But it never fully launched in China, and on Nov. 15, Epic will shut down Fortnite’s servers in the country, concluding a three-year trial from which it never made a dime.

  • This year has been particularly difficult—the government hasn’t authorized a new gaming release in more than 100 days.

  • Executives told investors they thought the disruptions would be temporary and said they have a large stockpile of new titles prepared for release once the regulatory uncertainties ease.

  • There’s been a cyclical nature to China’s gaming crackdowns.

  • Fortnite was able to win approval for a trial launch that year,

    • but Beijing wouldn’t let it offer a commercial version in which players could purchase digital items to decorate their in-game avatars.

    • Tencent’s failure to release the full game, along with the broader issues in the Chinese gaming market, wiped $200 billion from its market value

      • over a period of about seven months in 2018—

      • reducing its overall market value by almost half.

  • The Chinese gaming market will be worth $46 billion in 2021, vs. $43 billion in North America, according to research company Newzoo.

  • In 2020 regulators issued licenses to 1,400 new games,

    • of which fewer than a hundred were imported from other countries, according to data tracker Statista.

    • That compares with more than 9,000 licenses in 2017.

  • Beijing’s attempts to discourage young gamers are also showing results.

    • In September users under the age of 18 accounted for less than 1% of the time spent on Tencent’s China properties,

    • down from 6% a year earlier.


Understanding snapshot data in Disk Utility – The Eclectic Light Company

  • Tidemark is the highest block referenced by a snapshot.

  • As this can’t be moved, this effectively limits any resizing

    • which might be applied to the container without destroying that snapshot.

  • Values which haven’t changed since the previous snapshot are shown in grey. T

  • The Partition symbol is used to mark the high tidemark for that volume,

    • which sets the limit for non-destructive repartitioning of its container.

  • Private Size is the size of the data only referenced by that snapshot,

    • and is broadly similar to the amount of space

    • which would be recovered if that snapshot were to be deleted.

  • Size is the cumulative size occupied by that snapshot and all previous snapshots.

    • This reaches a maximum for the latest snapshot.

    • Values which haven’t changed since the previous snapshot are shown in grey.

  • Kind is currently one of two:

    • Time Machine Snapshot,

      • made by TM on the volume it’s backing up, or copied to the backup store;

    • Snapshot,

      • which was made by any third-party app such as Carbon Copy Cloner.


Metabrand — Benedict Evans

  • Indeed, it seems to me that the real rebrand this week wasn't Facebook to Meta but VR to Metaverse.

    • VR is and old and pretty stale term - a dad brand -

    • and Facebook wants to make VR into much more than just a headset and some games.

    • It's trying to make that happen through sheer weight of investment, effort and organisational mass.

    • Moore's law plus money and momentum will pull this into existence out of thin air (it hopes).

    • Rebranding, reconceptualising, and relaunching might be part of that.

  • The trouble is, tech history is full of companies that dominated one generation trying to seize the next - they tend not to make it.

    • The incumbents very rarely create the future, and the future very rarely comes from a centralised, $10bn project.

    • Indeed, one might suggest that the problem with ‘the information superhighway’ was the word ‘the’ -

      • it came with a presumption that there would be one, single, centralised project, probably built by companies like AT&T and Disney.

    • When people say ‘our company is going to build the metaverse’ I get the same feeling -

      • many of the ideas inside that will probably happen,

      • but not as one project, and not with one name.


The Grammarphobia Blog: What’s ‘done’ doing here?

  • The word “done” functions as an adverb, an auxiliary, or the infinitive “do”

    • in expressions [in some Southern dialects like “We done ate” and “We done been ate.”]

  • The adverbial use is “not always clearly distinguishable” from the auxiliary usage.

  • “done” is being used adverbially “to emphasize the attainment of a state or completion of action”

“Then she begun to sing again, working at the washtub, with that singing look in her face like she had done give up folks and all their foolishness and had done went on ahead of them, marching up the sky, singing.” From William Faulkner’s novel As I Lay Dying (1930).

  • “done” [can also act] as the auxiliary “have”

“You just done made up your mind that you ain’t going to be no good to me.” From Richard Wright’s novel Lawd Today! (completed in 1935 and published posthumously in 1963).