Citizens of Tech Podcast Episode 19

Topics in this week’s Citizens of Tech Podcast:

The CoT holiday gift guide, the failing Mac app store, Thunderbird ain’t no phoenix, rockets land in real life just like in cartoons, a little bit of Today I Learned and more!


Podcast Show notes:


Citizens of Tech Nerdy Gift Guide (COTNGG)

Mac App Store Upsetting Some Software Companies

  • Mac is a heck of a platform.

  • The App Store is handy for all the same reasons it’s handy on a phone.

  • Considering the uptick in Mac sales, it sucks to see this part of the ecosystem unloved by Apple.

  • “App Review continues to take at least a week, there are technical limitations imposed by the Mac App Store guidelines (sandboxing and so on) that limit some of the features we want to bring to Sketch, and upgrade pricing remains unavailable.”

Thunderbird “a tax” on Firefox development, and Mozilla wants to drop it

  • “Mozilla Executive Chairwoman Mitchell Baker has announced that Mozilla would like to stop supporting Thunderbird, calling its continuing maintenance “a tax” on the more important work of developing Firefox.”

  • “Many inside of Mozilla, including an overwhelming majority of our leadership, feel the need to be laser-focused on activities like Firefox that can have an industry-wide impact,” Baker writes. “With all due respect to Thunderbird and the Thunderbird community, we have been clear for years that we do not view Thunderbird as having this sort of potential.”

  • What am I missing? Email is still key.

  • My inbox is a wasteland of despair.

  • Can’t someone really — truly — fix e-mail?

  • Slack has replaced much e-mail for me. Still.

  • E-mail is how you communicate rudely to people you don’t care about in a timeframe that doesn’t matter.

  • It’s one more thing to check in a world where I don’t want to check things.

  • Mail demands responses. It makes its own work. People still reply to all.

  • But none of this means we don’t still have a problem with inbox management. If Mozilla attacked that problem instead of offering Yet Another IMAP Client, then maybe we’d get somewhere.

  • And oh, bad news Mozilla – Firefox is Yet Another Browser. Get over yourself.

  • And finally – what is your e-mail client of choice, and why?

Blue Origin sticks rocket landing, a major step toward reusable spaceflight

  • Jeff Bezos, founder of Blue Origin, in a statement. “Blue Origin’s reusable New Shepard space vehicle flew a flawless mission—soaring to 329,839 feet and then returning through 119mph high-altitude crosswinds to make a gentle, controlled landing just four-and-a-half feet from the center of the pad. Full reuse is a game changer, and we can’t wait to fuel up and fly again.”

  • “Like Blue Origin, Musk’s SpaceX is attempting to build a reusable Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 booster, but so far the company’s efforts to land its rocket on a mobile, seaborne platform have not been successful. What SpaceX is attempting is more difficult because the Falcon 9 rocket flies payloads into orbit, which requires considerably more thrust. Blue Origin’s rocket only made a comparatively easier suborbital flight. Nevertheless, it is a significant achievement.”

  • Didn’t NASA solve this with the Space Shuttle? Yes, somewhat. The solid rocket boosters were re-usable. The shuttle itself was re-usable. The external fuel tank was NOT re-usable. Falls back through the atmosphere and disintegrates after use. I know the shuttle itself was clunky — basically a big glider that needed a very long runway to land. Still…

  • These pinpoint landings with the rocket are, presumably, a marvel of math and software.

  • The video shows the rocket with its payload already safely deployed elsewhere falling rapidly, rocket re-igniting at about 12,000 feet, and then landing vertically on the ground.

  • The point? We get a re-usable rocket! Lowers the cost of getting to space, which is one of the major barriers.

  • Also, it was SO COOL.

Content I Like

Yesterbits on Twitter

Today I Learned

Supercooled liquid water can get down to 55 degrees below zero Fahrenheit (-48 C) before it absolutely must freeze. Supercooled liquid water must become ice at minus 55 F not just because of the extreme cold, but because the molecular structure of water changes physically to form tetrahedron shapes, with each water molecule loosely bonded to four others.

The Shuttle Landing Facility covers 500 acres (200 ha) and has a single runway, 15/33. It is one of the longest runways in the world, at 4,572 m (15,000 ft), and is 91.4 meters (300 ft) wide.


  • In closing today, allow us to remind you that when we create strong AI, it’s gonna stab you in the back. So dumb that code down, people. You developers are gonna wipe out humanity, and that just ain’t cool.

Until next week, I’m Ethan Banks @ecbanks on Twitter

And I’m Eric Sutphen @zutfen on Twitter

And this has been Citizens of Tech – farewell!

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