The app banner on this, what looks like an official NSW Government website, sure is weird.

Github wiki pro-tip: adding   inside preformatted renders the text (as you’d expect) but typing opt-SPACE actually inserts a real non-breaking space inside your preformatted text.

Late night chemists in the Blue Mountains

It’s awful when you urgently need to find an after-hours pharmacy but don’t know which ones are open.

I found this handy list of the opening hours of all the “after-hours” pharmacies in the Blue Mountains.

Summary: Blaxland and Springwood have a pharmacy open until 9pm weeknights and 7pm weekends. After that, you’ll need the 24-hour Chemmart at 438 High Street, Penrith.

Also, don’t forget about Health Direct – the Australian Government’s service that connects you to a registered nurse, 24-hours a day just by calling 1800 022 222.

Replying to App Store reviews

With the release of iOS 10.3, developers now have the ability to respond to reviews left on the App Store. This is a fantastic, long-overdue, tool to resolve customer problems, or at least communicate that you’re aware of their problem and are working on it. For engaged developers, this has the potential to significantly reduce the number of one-star reviews tainting your app.

Apple’s documentation on the process is a little patchy, so I’ve endeavoured to document the whole process.

How do developers reply to reviews?

In iTunes Connect, you’ll need to navigate to the app then the Activity tab, then select Ratings and Reviews.

You’ll now see a “Reply” button off to the right of each review. It looks like this in iTunes Connect:

Press Reply to get a dialog where you can type your response. You get a weird 5870 characters to craft your response.

You can only reply once. The user cannot respond to your reply (you’re not starting a thread) but you can edit your reply, and the user can edit their review.

 

 

 

Your reply will remain Pending for some time – in my experience, just on 12 hours – before it appears on your App’s Reviews page.

Unfortunately, that’s it though. I did not receive a notification when the developer response was posted. It seems that the only way a user can know that you’ve responded is if they go back to the review page. While this article claims users do get a notification, they clearly don’t. [rdar://31339997]

App review – response email

[Update] I eventually (36 hours later) received an email telling me the developer had replied. The email contained two helpful links:

  1. a link that took me directly to a page where I could update my review (though this is an iPad app, opening the link on my iPhone failed. You also can’t edit the review on a desktop computer)
  2. a link to our support page (which already exists on the App’s page, but is more   prominent here). Maybe we could advise users to follow the link to “Contact The Developer” in the email?

Potential Improvements

I think there are some things that need to be improved, in order for this new feature to gain wide adoption:

  • Developers need a page where they can see reviews for all their apps. This would allow us (or our customer support colleagues) to respond to reviews in a more efficient fashion [rdar://31339284]
  • Developers should be able to read and respond to reviews in the iTunes Connect app on iOS. [rdar://31339379]
  • Reviews (and replies) should appear as close to real time as possible. [rdar://31339531]
  • Customers should receive a push notification when a reply to their review is published. [rdar://31339997]

Useful Links

Print anything to PDF on iOS

You can turn any printable thing into a PDF on iOS.

A webpage as a PDF on an iPhone
  1. Open the thing you want to print (web page, email, photo)
  2. Tap the Share button.
  3. Press the Print button.
  4. Now, find the preview screen and pinch out (two fingers, moving away from each other) until the preview becomes full screen (on phone 6S or greater, you can 3D-touch to pop it out)
  5. Now, you’re looking at a PDF, which has its own share control – you can now do whatever you want with it – save it to iCloud drive, email it, whatever you want to do.

Apple’s Mac strategy

We’ve been waiting a long time for update Macs. And I just worked out why (maybe).

Apple has been building an ARM Mac (this much is certain, at least internally). Maybe, just maybe, they’ve been delaying the release of new Macs because they wanted to switch to ARM, but something was taking longer than expected, and in the end, they decided to release one last generation of Intel Macs just to tide them over.

Compare the year-on-year performance gains of the iPhone (while it’s getting ever thinner) with the performance gain of the Mac, against the ancient predecessors. This must be killing the Mac team at Apple. Of course they’re moving to ARM, it’s just a matter of making the thing work properly.

…just a thought

Vale the MagSafe connector

This week, Apple released a MacBook Pro that charges via USB-C connector[1]. The MagSafe connector, introduced almost exactly ten years ago [2] is no longer a feature of the Mac. This was a controversial omission, but I don’t think it’s as big a deal as people are making out.

The just-announced MacBooks Pro claim 10 hours of battery life. Based on Apple’s recent battery claims -vs- reality, you really are going to get a full work-day on battery, unless you’re frequently compiling in Xcode, or using gmail in Chrome.

When the MagSafe connector was introduced, Macs could run for, realistically, 2-3 hours, at best, on a single charge. And usable battery capacity degraded much more quickly, so a year-old Mac was never very far from a power supply.

With your original MacBook Pro, you found yourself running cables across walkways to make sure you were powered whenever you could be. With today’s Mac, you’re almost certain to unplug and work half the day on battery, if you’re away from your desk.

Here’s another thing: at my work, every desk has a charge cable integrated in the desk. That’s pretty common, and failing that, you likely have power built into your desk – this was much less common a decade ago.

In 2006, your laptop had to have a distinct charger. In that case, it may as well be a MagSafe [3]. Now a MagSafe port would have made the laptop bigger, removed a port, or both.

The MagSafe connector was a wonderful thing. I’m sure it saved countless laptops from catastrophic damage. In 2016’s Mac laptops, the trade offs are different and MagSafe was not valuable enough to warrant valuable space on the device.

You may not like this particular trade off, and that’s fine, but this is not a sign that Apple is becoming more arrogant, or that Apple has lost its way. This is exactly the kind of choice Apple has been making for 15 years now.

  1. [1]The MacBook already has this change, so it’s not completely unexpected that this would happen
  2. [2]The MagSafe connector first appeared on the first MacBook Pro, introduced January 10, 2006
  3. [3]there was no port that could charge, or perform some other function, depending on what was plugged into it

Citation update

It’s just over eight years since I moved out of science. Usually around this time each year, a friend who’s applying for another grant sends me an update on my citations, which gives me an opportunity to reflect on that period.

In just over ten years of publishing, I was an author on 18 articles. They’ve now been cited 2317 times, for an average of 129 citations per paper. That results in an h-index of 15. Eight years later, my citation rate is still increasing, which is nice.

Citations by Year
Citations of my papers, by year

My most highly-cited paper is the Acta Crystallographica 
B article which was a summary of my PhD research, and has now been cited 561 times.

It’s also nice to see that, almost every month, a paper is published that uses a Hirshfeld surface or a fingerprint plot as its highlight image. Some randomly-selected examples from 2016:

2D fingerprint plot of dipyridyl in a cocrystal with trans-cinnamic acid
2D fingerprint plot of dipyridyl in a cocrystal with trans-cinnamic acid

(that’s two articles in on issue of Acta B). I have to admit I’m a little surprised that this postscript code (right) I wrote back in 2002 is still being used, unchanged.

There are lots more examples.