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ExtraBITS for 11 August 2014

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This week in ExtraBITS, a programmer has figured out how to use Apple’s upcoming Swift programming language for scripting, Walt Mossberg reveals Steve Jobs’s dream of open Wi-Fi networks, the inexpensive (and non-profit) iOSDevCamp 2014 is coming soon, you can read back issues of The Magazine for free for a while, Flappy Bird is making a comeback, and HarperCollins is investigating more ways to bundle print and electronic books.

Using Swift as a Scripting Language -- Programmers typically have to learn several languages to do their jobs. In the Apple world, that might include Objective-C to code Mac and iOS apps and AppleScript to automate common tasks. But developer Filip W has shown that Apple’s new Swift programming language can be used both for app development and as a scripting language. As a proof of concept, he developed a script to change his Mac’s wallpaper in Swift, without using Xcode.

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Steve Jobs Dreamed of Open Wi-Fi Networks -- After the release of the iPhone, Steve Jobs told Re/code’s Walt Mossberg that he was so frustrated by AT&T’s slow cellular network and the general lack of open Wi-Fi access points that he came up with a plan to make it easy for users to share their Wi-Fi networks with strangers safely. He even wanted to create an industry consortium of sorts to make guest networks a standard feature of wireless routers. Jobs’s frustration could have been the inspiration for the guest network feature in AirPort base stations, though it might also have just been a natural development.

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Upcoming iOSDevCamp 2014 Promises Three-Day Hackathon -- For those interested in iOS development, the non-profit iOSDevCamp 2014 is coming up on 22 August 2014 at the eBay offices in San Jose, California, and there’s still time to register. The three-day hackathon will cover all of Apple’s upcoming technologies, like HealthKit and HomeKit, as well as robotics, big data, alternate currencies and more. Also, you can look forward to catered meals on Saturday and Sunday, Saturday night gaming, and lots of opportunities for collaboration and networking. Not bad for a $100 registration fee!

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Read The Magazine for Free -- Our own Glenn Fleishman’s general-interest publication, The Magazine, has revamped its iOS app, releasing a version 2.0 using the TypeEngine publishing system. To mark the change, Glenn is opening up the app’s first 47 issues for free download via the new app. New issues, starting with number 48, cost $1.99 each, or come twice monthly for subscribers at $1.99 per month or $19.99 per year. After 29 August 2014, individual back issues will cost $1.99.

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Flappy Bird Returns as an Amazon Fire TV Exclusive -- Flappy Bird was a surprising smash hit on the iPhone and iPad until developer Dong Nguyen pulled it in fear of what its addictive gameplay was doing to users. Now, Flappy Bird is back as an exclusive to Amazon’s Fire TV (to find out how the Fire TV stacks up as a gaming device, see “Fire Watch with Me: Amazon Fire TV vs. Apple TV,” 13 May 2014). Relaunched as Flappy Bird Family, the game now features multiplayer support and additional hazards, like ghosts.

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HarperCollins Continues to Explore Ebook Bundling Avenues -- HarperCollins, one of the “Big Five” book publishers, is continuing to explore ways to sell ebook/print bundles. Its latest foray is a partnership with major print book distributor Ingram and BookShout, a company that provides ebooks directly to readers. The trio has signed eleven independent bookstores to participate in the program, through which customers buying print books at the bookstores can also purchase low-price access codes that they would then use to download the matching ebooks directly from BookShout.

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