Stuart Breckenridge

The Freest Country in the World

In an otherwise excellent post from Jonathan Zdziarski, this stuck out as a glaring error:

How can the freest country in the world, a beacon for those in oppressive countries, lay down their speech, their privacy, their identities over a dead terrorist’s iPhone?

There is no evidence to suggest that the U.S.A. is the freest country in the world. Based on this report1 the U.S.A. is seventh.

On strong encryption in particular, the Netherlands has got it spot on.

  1. Published by Canada’s Fraser Institute, Germany’s Liberales Institut, and the U.S. Cato Institute in late 2012. ↩︎

— Supported by —

FlexBright: App Review Strikes Again

Julie Clover (via MacRumors):

FlexBright developer Sam Al-Jamal told MacRumors he had worked with Apple through several app rejections to get FlexBright into the App Store and that no private APIs were in use, something that was seemingly confirmed by the app’s approval, but further review from Apple led to FlexBright’s removal. Al-Jamal has shared Apple’s explanation with MacRumors following an “exhausting discussion” with the Cupertino company. “The bottomline is Apple won’t allow apps to change screen colors,” he said.

It’s impossible to comprehend the inconsistent behaviour from the App Review team. Making a developer—any developer—waste time on developing solutions for something that they will ultimately reject is unforgivable.

Blur with Backdrop Filter

I’ve added an iOS 7+ translucency effect—blur, in other words—to the masthead of the site. It’s been implemented using the Safari 9+ only backdrop-filter CSS style.

I’m using the @supports CSS at-rule to ensure it’s only applied when using a supported version of Safari:

@supports (-webkit-backdrop-filter:none) {
	background-color: rgba(255,255,255,0.5);
	-webkit-backdrop-filter: blur(10px);    

On non-Safari browsers, the translucency effect is not applied and a solid white background is used.

Custom Fonts in Email

I’m using custom email fonts through Cloud.Typography’s service. I found it easy to setup but noticed several drawbacks in early usage, which I’ve outlined below.

Note: For the purpose of this article, I'm using Mail on OS X El Capitan and I've assumed you have a Production project setup with email enabled at Cloud.Typography.


The first thing you need to do is create a new Stationery file. To do this, open Mail and create a new empty email message ⌘ + N, and then select File -> Save as Stationery.... In the save dialogue box, pick a name for your new Stationery file—I named mine Standard—and click Save.

After the Stationery template is saved, you need to locate it and edit the content.html file. Open a Finder window and use the Shift + ⌘ + G shortcut to open up a Go to folder... dialogue. In the window that opens, copy and paste this path and click Go:

~/Library/Containers/ Support/Mail/Stationery/Apple/Contents/Resources/Custom/

In the resulting window that appears, open the Contents folder, then the Resources folder, option-click on the Standard.mailstationery file and select Show Package Contents. Again, open the Contents folder, followed by the Resources folder. In this folder you will see the content.html file, option-click it, select Open With, and then select a relevant program that can edit html files (I use Coda).

The html code should be edited so it looks something like this:

		<!-- Add you cloud.typography css key here -->
		<link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="" />
	<body dir="auto" style="word-wrap: break-word; -webkit-nbsp-mode: space; -webkit-line-break: after-white-space;" class="">
		<!-- Add custom font styling in the span tag -->
		<span contenteditable="true" apple-content-name="body" style="display: block; font-family: 'Whitney SSm A', 'Whitney SSm B'; font-style: normal; font-weight: 400;" class="">		


Once this is complete, save the content.html file. You can now navigate back to Mail and create a new mail message ⌘ + N and start typing. When you want to apply your custom font, select the stationery pane (top right of the compose window) and select the custom template (under Sentiments in the picker pane) and the typography will be updated.


The drawbacks I’ve noticed are almost entirely on the part of the Mail app:

  • Custom Stationery—and therefore custom fonts—are not available in replies.
  • If you select Custom Stationery before typing your email, you can’t actually type any content into the email.
  • Custom fonts cannot be used to compose mail on mobile devices.

All in all, I’m not convinced on custom fonts in email. The entire solution seems sub-optimal.

Answers to Your Questions About Apple and Security

The question:

Could Apple build this operating system just once, for this iPhone, and never use it again?

The (common sense) answer:

The digital world is very different from the physical world. In the physical world you can destroy something and it’s gone. But in the digital world, the technique, once created, could be used over and over again, on any number of devices.

Law enforcement agents around the country have already said they have hundreds of iPhones they want Apple to unlock if the FBI wins this case. In the physical world, it would be the equivalent of a master key, capable of opening hundreds of millions of locks. Of course, Apple would do our best to protect that key, but in a world where all of our data is under constant threat, it would be relentlessly attacked by hackers and cybercriminals. As recent attacks on the IRS systems and countless other data breaches have shown, no one is immune to cyberattacks.

Again, we strongly believe the only way to guarantee that such a powerful tool isn’t abused and doesn’t fall into the wrong hands is to never create it.