October 30, 2014

Link: Tim Cook Speaks Up ☍

Businessweek published an essay written by Tim Cook and it’s a great read:

I don’t consider myself an activist, but I realize how much I’ve benefited from the sacrifice of others. So if hearing that the CEO of Apple is gay can help someone struggling to come to terms with who he or she is, or bring comfort to anyone who feels alone, or inspire people to insist on their equality, then it’s worth the trade-off with my own privacy.

October 27, 2014

“I don’t know that it will, and I don’t care. As long as Visa suffers.”

Link: iOS and Android Users Unite to Fight NFC Ban ☍

Ben Lovejoy for 9to5Mac:

Consumers are responding by threatening to boycott stores which disable Apple Pay, with more than 2,000 comments across several Reddit threads on the topic. Android users are joining in, as disabling NFC also blocks alternative mobile payment services offered by higher-end Android handsets…

Somehow I really like the break on platform jabs for the sake of progress. If it’s one thing gadget geeks (yours truly included) can all agree on, is that it’s stupid when functional technology is turned off for arbitrary reasons.

Article: A Week With Apple Pay

I’ve been using Apple Pay for about a week, and apart from the general attitude that it “isn’t any easier than swiping a physical card” that most of the dismissive folks have said, I think it shows great promise. Although he footprint of retailers that I visit who accept it quite small (at least as far as I’m concerned), the ones that do, and its use of the relative non-proprietary technology has me excited…

October 24, 2014

Link: Thoughts on Yosemite’s Look and Feel ☍

Khoi Vinh (via John Gruber):

In many ways, it feels very much like starting over again in the way that Mac OS X’s Aqua interface was a new start, over thirteen years ago. In those nascent stages, Aqua was never particularly beautiful, but it did make a point—it was a radically new kind of interface aesthetic that heralded a new approach to software. And the same ideas that informed later, much more successful iterations of the operating system were clearly present even then. [...]

My biggest complaint, personally, is that this fresh coat of paint does a poor job on visual contrast. Interface elements are often so light in color and/or so close to one another in color that they “bleed” into each other all the time. The effect is a blown-out look, as if a novice photographer stepped up the exposure on her camera well beyond advisability.

Just as I wasn’t thrilled with OS X 10.0 when coming from years of OS 8/9, I agree with some of Vinh’s points, although it still works the same and shows great promise. Unlike the early releases of OS X, all my old software works and matches the new aesthetic, and my Macs don’t feel any slower. I do enjoy the more cohesive nature of the interface as a whole and how things do translate from iOS, but might have made a few adjustments if I was doing the design. I played with some of the Accessibility settings during the time I was testing the Yosemite betas—I agree with Gruber that ‘Increase Contrast’ is a neat look that does look like a modern update to the classic Mac OS, although I wish you could cherry-pick some combinations of settings (opaque menu bar with a translucent Dock).

October 22, 2014

Review: CoolStream Duo

CoolStream DuoAbout a year ago, we took a look at Auris’s freeDa, a small Bluetooth receiver that connected to most 30-pin Dock Connector-equipped accessories, allowing you to stream audio over Bluetooth. In the time since, there have been even more competitors (not that the freeDa was the first), one of which is the CoolStream Duo, a $40 music receiver that tries to do a few key things well.

October 21, 2014

Review: Dash

DashIt’s rare when an app is available for Android first, and then slowly makes its way to iOS. I was intrigued when I first heard about Dash, a longtime free favorite in the do-it-yourself car data recording world for Android users becoming available for Android a few months ago. Even though the app is free, it does require a compatible interface to connect to your car, and challenged me to give setting up my own system a try.

Link: May Contain Editorial Content ☍

Paul McAleer noticed Overcast’s Starter Kits for lack of diversity:

The Starter Kit is broken up into categories. As I was scrolling through these lists, I noticed something: there was a severe lack of gender diversity in almost every category.

I was curious if it was just me or not. So I went into each section and identified any hosts or co-hosts whose names are traditionally female, and verified those that were socially associated with either gender. If a description did not include any names, I chose to count it as not having female hosts or co-hosts. Here’s where things netted out as of August 27, 2014…

I like how Overcast sounds and brought my own subscriptions over when I started using it. I’ll admit, my subscription list skews mostly white-guys-talking-tech, so that leads me to the question: “Is it just that topics I enjoy listening to have fewer female and minority hosts, or is this a sample of podcasting as a whole?”