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  • Goldman Sachs lost $1.2 billion in 2022 mostly because of Apple Card

    "Provision" is a term with special meaning in accounting. Basically, if you expect something to happen in future financial years you can formally recognise it in the current financial year; the aim is to document prudent management and alert (prospective) company owners to the potential for events that will meaningfully impact the financial state of the company in the medium term. If the expectation turns out to be incorrect, the provision can be unwound by another formal process. You can think of it as something like a lien, or a hedge: just in case this future event comes to pass, the company has allocated resources to deal with that eventuality.

    However, as other commenters have pointed out, in large firms provisions can be utilised to reduce the tax burden in the current financial year for reasons that bear very little relation to prudent management.
  • Return of the Mac: How Apple Silicon will herald a new era at WWDC 2021

    tht said:
    My 2013 iMac 27 is still humming along. It's the family computer. It's unsupported now, and it's probably one problem away from total replacement.

    To replace it, I would like to have a ~30" display, 8 TB of storage, and capability to add more storage years down the road. When you keep every single picture and video taken, it adds up! A small headless desktop where I can add 2 3.5" HDD would be great on top of the builtin storage. Yes, I probably need to invest in a little computer as a file server one of these days.

    The Apple Silicon iMac better come quick!

    My main problem with laptops is that they can get hot. I hate the feeling of typing on hot keys, and my work issued MBP15 gets hot while attached to an external monitor. I want this problem to go away, so if Apple puts the SoC in the back of the laptop display, it would be so worth it for me. As the M1 models show. Well, really, as the iPad Pro shows, Apple can put a lot of computing power in a very small and thin package, 6 mm thick only. Do it, Apple. As a plus, it would let them play around with the keyboard, add more battery, etc.

    A laptop with a low profile hot swappable mechanical keyboard would be interesting. They'll have prestige things like a folding display laptop, but just your simple and functional laptop that has a keyboard that is always cool to the touch and noiseless has its attractions too.
    You can get very cheap external storage via USB 3.0 or USB-C now. There's another article on AI showing a WD 10TB drive on sale at Amazon for < US$155 - a smidge over US$15 per TB! It is separately powered, so you can keep it turned on all the time or power it up only when you need it. It's slower than an internal drive would be, but not by much - and if you want to watch a video then it's plenty fast enough. The only time drive speed matters to me is when I'm copying files, and even then it's only for multi-gigabyte files like videos or those rare occasions when I need to do a full backup of my internal drive. I've been very happy relying on external drives for at least five years now - they have the added benefit of being easy to store in a different location than my main machine, just in case.

    It depends on your use case and your habits, but my recommendation is to use external drives rather than trying to mount them inside the case of the computer you use. With rare exceptions, you simply don't have the time to work with everything stored on your internal drive every day - you can't watch more than about 7.5TB of video (at 4k resolution) in a day, and that's assuming you do nothing else in a 24-hour period! So move the bulk of it to external storage and save the internal drive for what you're working on right now. Think of it like clothing - you can only wear one outfit at a time, so you maintain external storage for everything you like to wear and choose from that as needed. They key is that if you want something, it needs to be readily available; I've found that external drives are just as convenient as a dedicated server and minimal extra hassle over internal drives.
  • Apple preparing for third-party app stores by 2024

    goofy1958 said:
    Amazing how entitled the EU thinks they are where they can pass a law for themselves, but feel they should be allowed to take 20% of a companies global revenues for any infraction that only exists within their market.
    It’s no different than Apple or Google making their developers pay a hefty fee. They have the bargaining power to get their developers to pay on their terms and the EU has the bargaining power to get Apple and Google to pay on its terms. Entitlement and fairness have nothing to do with it. It is just business.
    The $99 fee to be a developer is “hefty”? And then if I develop a free app, Apple gets nothing. How is that hefty at all?
    I think mtm is including the 30% commission in that statement.

    And if one's perspective is that the 30% is just a fee that doesn't bring any benefits, then that's reasonable: losing a third of one's revenue to a third party for no perceived benefit is a bad deal.

    However, that 30% pays for a lot. It removes the friction from the buying process; users know that they can easily delete an app they don't want and that Apple is going to side with them if they request a refund from the developer. It's hard to measure just how much this has affected the market for mobile software and digital services in a manner that everyone will agree with, but as a rough estimate we can just look at the reported revenues - and I don't have figures to hand, but I'm guessing it's now more than 100x what it was in 2008. This is, of course, a communal benefit rather than an individual benefit, so there is very little recognition of its value by those viewing the landscape through the lens of the software developer.

    The 30% fee also pays for hosting, data transfer, payment processing, reporting services, malware scanning and a bunch of other annoying little things that lots of people think they can do by themselves for less money. This is where I have some sympathy for the arguments being put forth but respectfully point out that not everyone shares that viewpoint. Still, if there is competition for those services that a significant portion of the developer community would like to take advantage of, that's probably worth promoting and Apple should not be restricting developers from seeking alternatives.

    Then again, part of the 30% fee also goes to the app review and code signing process. Digitally signing the application bundle would be worthless without the review, so those cannot be separated. Code signing is a security measure enforced at the OS level; it's perfectly reasonable for Apple to do that but it comes with the cost of added complexity and trust issues. Paying for it via the store's commission is an efficient approach. App review feels like a process that should be a per-app fee but that could mean several hours of a reviewer's time at something in the region of US$150 per hour... I think rolling that into the 30% commission is reasonable.

    It's worth remembering that Apple is operating at a huge scale with the App Store. By aggregating their costs and apportioning them over a very large number of developers Apple is able to massively reduce the per-developer cost of those services and spread their risk; in return they make a significant profit. AWS does the same thing; purportedly the margins are in the 60% range for Amazon and yet developers love the service because they think they're getting a bargain.

    I think developers need to be reminded that setting up a business is an expensive process and that all those costs used to be payable up front; the trade-off for being able to start the business at a lower up-front cost is that you have to pay more later on.
  • Medical records company Epic partners with Apple on a Mac tool

    jpellino said:
    My experience with Epic is that they barely talk between instances in different health care systems, you need a new account with each hospital system or practice you deal with, and small shops (OT, PT, home care) can't afford Epic in the first place, so a non-trivial portion of your records have to be hand-carried between providers.  
    The standard method for transferring health information electronically is by using a format/protocol known as HL7, which Epic Systems supports. HL7 has been around for about 35 years; think of it like ODBC - every database management system, big or small, supports it to at least some extent. Implementing data transfer via HL7 is not trivial, but it's also not exceptionally hard and there's at least one system (Nextgen Connect, née MIRTH Connect) that offers a free, open source solution.

    What you describe sounds like a set of companies where nobody knows how to configure their systems for interoperability, which is unfortunately not unusual in the medical industry.

    Note that Apple's Health app uses a newer standard, FHIR, which is gaining adoption throughout the industry (especially now that Apple has chosen to use it). FHIR is XML-based, which makes for more human-readable messages than HL7, but from what I've been told it's not as capable as HL7 yet (although I believe that's more due to some of the tools not supporting FHIR yet than any weakness in the implementation).
  • reMarkable 2 review: better than iPad for notes, but nothing else

    dewme said:
    This is a product category that I've searched (in vain) for a solution to for a very long time. When I go to a meeting I always like to jot down notes, draw diagrams, etc., in an unobtrusive way. I know that plenty of people have no problem bringing a notebook computer or a tablet to a meeting, but I've noticed that at least some of those who do so appear to be disconnected from the conversation and interaction - probably because they are "multitasking" during the meeting.

    Okay, I get it. But since I'm there I want to focus as much of my attention on the meeting and have found that simply writing notes/diagrams in a steno pad or quadrille notebook works okay and is my go-to solution. I'll also take pictures of the whiteboard and have found Microsoft's Lens app pretty good for that purpose. However, once the meeting is over I usually find myself plugged into something else, like another meeting, so if I don't capture my notes and thoughts with the triggers/bullets from the steno pad, and after going to a couple more meetings or working on a hot issue, the ability and my desire to go back and capture my meeting notes and thoughts to an easier to retrieve format goes away. These types of scenarios are probably one primary use case for the product reviewed in this article.

    I've tried a few other capture methods, including the ancient Cross Pen company's CrossPad device (it sucked), smart whiteboards, smart pens, iPad+stylus, iPad+Apple Pencil, etc., and nothing ever "sticks" with me because it never seems natural (not tactile), it involves transcription or extra steps, it's clumsy, it can't handle my 2nd grader handwriting legibility that naturally occurs when I write on glass (with finger, stylus, or Apple Pencil) - and the expected hideous OCR performance that results from it, or it's simply more effort than just keeping a pile of filled out steno pads around forever and hoping my brain can rehydrate the thoughts/questions in my head when I scribbled on the pad.

    I don't currently have a pressing need for this type of product, but I still feel that it is an unfilled need and something worth trying to solve. Whether this product is able to deliver something that finally hits the mark is yet to be determined. I think Apple's iPad handwriting recognition (Scribble) is pretty amazing, but writing on an iPad still doesn't feel natural enough for me to want to use it for more than a demo or signing a credit card receipt on an iPhone at the Apple Store.
    I found the LiveScribe products did a good job, back when I was taking paper notes. Nowadays I make audio recordings and cough or tap my fingers when the discussion reaches something particularly relevant - if I'm able to participate, I'll use a key phrase such as "So to summarise what we've just discussed..." You can get the recordings transcribed pretty cheaply with AWS and the results are usually excellent, you have timestamps that you can match against any pictures you took and since I use Mac and iPhone just about everything ends up in iCloud for access from anywhere. I still take pen and paper so that I can quickly sketch something if I need to share or develop an idea, but I can easily take photos of anything drawn (by any participant) at the end, and the timestamps give me an easy way to associate things with an event.
  • Stop us if you've heard this before: There's a new Apple Silicon killer in town

    bulk001 said:
    Funny that the results were not so nebulous that you could write a whole article on it now. Why the rush to judgement? Why not just wait till machines with the new AMD chip are released and then you know, report actual results?  Crazy idea right?
    It's worth an immediate response that verifies the reported results as at least somewhat credible. Apple's claims when the M1 chip was announced underwent the same scrutiny from the PC side of the fence; the difference was that Apple had complete systems available to test in a short timeframe after their announcement, tuned to perfection. Since AMD is only selling the SoC, we have to wait for the chips to be available in commercial quantities and for properly-engineered systems to be developed and then hope that the other performance factors in a PC don't have a meaningful real world impact on the chip comparison.

    If you're buying a laptop today or in the next few months, Apple remains the performance leader in general computing tasks. If you can wait six months, re-evaluate then.
  • Australia proposing new laws to curb big tech market power

    rob53 said:
    It's sad when a country can't come up with their own products and needs to degrade foreign-owned companies by restricting their use. Come on Australia, provide a competitor instead of trying to break up a good company. 

    If you can't beat them, destroy them--is the motto of way too many countries.
    How about, instead, we encourage the corporations to obey the laws of the countries they operate in? Especially when a lengthy and thorough analysis has been conducted showing
    1. how the laws are being circumvented
    2. how the social policies driving those laws are being affected
    3. the potential long-term consequences of allowing the status quo to continue

    Nothing about this is clear-cut, neither the government nor the corporations are acting selflessly, and nobody expects an optimal outcome. But at least in this case there has been work done to clearly identify the issues to be redressed, with long-term scope. That's worth respecting.
  • Apple quits board of Chinese ride-hailing firm Didi

    I remember reading a rumour somewhere that Apple was strong-armed into this deal by the Chinese government. If that's true, Apple may have viewed it as a cost of doing business and has reached a point where they don't see any future value from continuing an active involvement with Didi.
  • Fopo S17 triple monitor review: Portable but precarious

  • Google to pay $32.5M as jury sides with Sonos on patent lawsuit

    this reminds me.. how did they get away with ripping off Java again?
    Because the management of Sun didn't value Java enough and were happy for someone else to deal with the raving open source fans. When Oracle tried to enforce their IP rights they were hamstrung by the fact that Sun hadn't done anything to enforce those rights in the past. The libraries were then deemed by the courts to be copyrightable implementations but the function interfaces were deemed exempt since the vast majority of functions have an intrinsic order of parameters that does not involve creativity.

    The Android Open Source Project (AOSP) makes use of this same ruling to provide a programmatically-equivalent version of the Android OS... but they can't implement Google's Play Store code on it because that remains closed-source code. Since the vast majority of apps are on the Google Play store, you need to jump through several hoops as a user to obtain and install apps for a phone with AOSP and you miss out on the security and functionality updates from Google until the AOSP crew can recreate them.

    Yet more proof that idealists don't do too well in a capitalist system.