BirchTree Support Drive

If you are a regular around these parts, I’d like to say THANK YOU! You are the reason I write here, and I can’t thank you enough for taking some time out of your day to read the site. If you enjoy the site and want to support its continued development, please consider donating a few dollars down below.

In addition to having the warm and fuzzy feeling that comes with supporting work you enjoy, I can also offer a small (2 inches across) sticker with the BirchTree logo as a thank you for your support. If you donate, I’m going to assume you want a sticker, so if you just so happen to not want one, just shoot me a message on Twitter and I will not send you one1. If you live outside the United States, there is additional cost for shipping the stickers, so I can only send a sticker to go along with your donation on $5 and $10 contributions.2

Note on Security

The buttons use Stripe’s secure platform for payments, and no card information is stored on BirchTree itself. Billing address is requested for address verification with your bank, and shipping address is requested so I know where to send your sticker. This information will never be used for any purpose other than mailing you a sticker. If you would like to give anonymously, feel free to enter a random name in the name field, which should not impact your card from being approved.

  1. There isn’t a good way I can see to give you an option in Stripe’s payment button to tell me whether you want one or not. If there is a way, I’d love to know! 
  2. You can also reach out to me on Twitter if there are extenuating circumstances and you’d like to work something out. 

Nextbit is Shutting Down Their Smart Storage Service March 1, 2018

I got this email from Nextbit just a few minutes ago:

Hi Rebels,

We would like to sincerely thank all of you for using Smart Storage. The Smart Storage service will, however, be ending on March 1st, 2018.

Well crap. This doesn’t hurt me at all since I never really went all in on my Nextbit Robin, but it definitely stings if you’re someone who bought this phone for its “never run out of storage” promise. Nextbit’s new owners, Razr announced they would no longer support the phone back in August so you had to know this was coming, but it still is unfortunate.

I haven’t seen this posted online by Nextbit, so here’s the full text of the email:

Hi Rebels,

We would like to sincerely thank all of you for using Smart Storage. The Smart Storage service will, however, be ending on March 1st, 2018.

What happens on March 1st, 2018:

If you haven’t signed out of Smart Storage, you will be automatically logged out of our servers. Images (thumbnails in gallery) and apps (cloud icons on launcher) that are archived and are not local to the phone will not be accessible through your phone anymore. This includes Apps in the FAB tab. All the images that are backed up until that point will be available on our tools Only the content that is local will be accessible from the phone at that point.

If you want to keep app data, be sure to restore all of your apps manually, and pin them to prevent them from being offloaded.

Until the service completely ends, we have worked very hard to provide you a way to download your pictures. This is now available at You have the option to select images individually or download all as a large zip. Please note that the download speed depends on your internet connection. Please use the same account to login as you have used on your Robin phone.

We plan to keep this tool active until April 1st, 2018. After that, all the personal information and data that has been collected from you will be purged and we won’t be able to recover your data. However, information that must be stored in accordance with applicable laws and regulations will be stored for the period specified by the relevant laws and regulations and then disposed of immediately.

Thank you so much for supporting our team and Robin.

Lifesum health tracking app adds new AI image recognition feature for food logging | 9to5Mac

Lifesum health tracking app adds new AI image recognition feature for food logging | 9to5Mac:

Lifesum, a popular calorie counter and nutrition tracking app on iOS, is rolling out a new image recognition feature that allows users to snap a picture of their food to log ingredients and nutrition information

I’ve used this feature while it was in beta and it was truly the least useful food tracking feature I’ve ever used. It does not do a good job of guessing what something is, and mostly labels everything as pizza in my experience. Essentially what this did was make me take a picture, wait for it to guess wrong, and then back out to where I simply typed a few letters and had it give me the right food.

Maybe things have gotten much better in the last few weeks, but I would not get your hopes up. I love the idea of this, as anything that removes friction from documenting my food intake is welcome, but this so far has only added work for me.

What Spectre and Meltdown Mean for JavaScript

Will Spectre & Meltdown Break JavaScript? – Developer Drive:

Even if we did magically get perfect fixes for the Meltdown and Spectre problems, this is going to spark a larger conversation about security and JavaScript in particular. I mean, what other bits of hardware could be compromised by a simple web page? This could happen again. No, to hell with that. This will happen again.

It wouldn’t even have to be a “suspicious” page. Regular sites get hijacked or get code injected into them all the time. How are security-conscious organizations and users going to respond to this news? I suspect that we’ll see a higher rate of users who have either turned JS off, or have had it turned off for them. We may not be able to rely on it as much as we have been lately.

JavaScript is a truly essential part of the web experience in 2018. All of your favorite websites use it for something or another, and basically no web apps you love today would be possible without it. Unlike a server side language like PHP, JavaScript runs on your local computer. Usually this is fine and browser makers generally do well to block that code from accessing things it shouldn’t have access to, but vulnerabilities like Spectre and Meltdown have to make us take a step back and think about websites as software, not innocent web pages (or documents) that we simply load from somewhere else.

Google Consolidates All of its Payments into Google Pay

Bringing it all together with Google Pay:

Today, we’re excited to announce we’ll be bringing together all the different ways to pay with Google, including Android Pay and Google Wallet, into a single brand: Google Pay.

This is a long time coming and a smart move by Google.

The short of it is that Android Pay has been rebranded to Google Pay and they’ve brought payment buttons to the web so you can used your saved card data in Chrome. Also yes, it’s basically all the things Apple Pay already does but from Google.