February 20, 2017

Link: Reflecting On One Very, Very Strange Year At Uber ☍

Susan Fowler:

I was then told that I had to make a choice: (i) I could either go and find another team and then never have to interact with this man again, or (ii) I could stay on the team, but I would have to understand that he would most likely give me a poor performance review when review time came around, and there was nothing they could do about that. I remarked that this didn’t seem like much of a choice, and that I wanted to stay on the team because I had significant expertise in the exact project that the team was struggling to complete (it was genuinely in the company’s best interest to have me on that team), but they told me the same thing again and again. One HR rep even explicitly told me that it wouldn’t be retaliation if I received a negative review later because I had been “given an option”. I tried to escalate the situation but got nowhere with either HR or with my own management chain (who continued to insist that they had given him a stern-talking to and didn’t want to ruin his career over his “first offense”).

The whole story is remarkable, especially if you haven’t experienced this firsthand. It’s also is a perfect case-study of how companies should not be run. And the comments…sheesh.

February 17, 2017

Link: Apple’s New ‘We Hear You’ Ad Campaign ☍

These new iPad Pro ads are clever, speak well to a non-geek audience, and are very overdue.

February 14, 2017

Link: Imperfectly Perfect ☍

Ian Bogost for The Atlantic:

The only problem with this conclusion: Apple has never accomplished sufficiently great design in its electronics to justify lionizing the pedantry of design at the new Apple campus.

While Bogost does bring up some areas that Apple has dropped the ball, the whole article feels like a Apple greatest non-hits compilation. Some of the items outlined are because of specific causes that made them that way, while others I can wholeheartedly complain about myself. However, the general feel of the piece looks to check all the boxes: antennagate, iTunes, USB-C-only, 1984, fascism (wait what?)

Some of it is silly, like the fact that you actually can use Apple Pay without Touch ID (it prompts you for a passcode after failed fingerprint reads) or the size of the MacBook Air’s AC adapter (seriously?), but Apple’s fans aren’t getting a reality check here—most of us know of the imperfections and little frustrating things that could be better. In most cases, we overlook those because the overall experience is better than the alternatives. As a small case in point: where is the rest of the >$200 tablet market if the iPad is such pompous junk?

I’m all for good reporting and questioning concerns, especially regarding Apple, but this seemed like a classic attempt for page views and controversy, along with throwing a few digs in about Apple’s new campus.

February 8, 2017

Link: Smart TVs Suck ☍

Jacob Kastrenakes for The Verge:

Vizio got in trouble with the FTC this week and had to pay $2.2 million to settle charges around having monitored the viewing habits on more than 11 million TVs without consent over the course of two years.

The main problem was that Vizio TVs had tracking features turned on by default, instead of an opt-in setting like many other manufacturers use (and, as you’ll see, sometimes hide or trick you into accepting). Newer Vizio TVs that run the company’s SmartCast system have the tracking turned off by default.

I’ve never been a fan of TVs that are more than a dumb display, mostly due to terrible interfaces or having other hardware that can fail (this goes back to those dreadful TV/VCR combos). How long will it be until these interfaces are outdated technology or don’t work? We don’t replace our TVs as often as other gadgets.

What Vizio did was extra scummy and not surprising that others might be doing it, too. With a non-connected display and some sort of extra device, I define the relationship I have with the hardware (currently, I have a TiVo and an Apple TV; they don’t know about each other). Plus, in a few years, I can replace both with something else and not have a TV with no functioning or useless features. Unfortunately, “built-in Netflix/Hulu/etc.” is what consumers seem to want, and I’ll probably never connect the inevitable smart functions on my next TV to the Internet.

January 31, 2017

Link: Keep Your LG 5K Display Away from Routers ☍

Sebastian Anthony for Ars Technica:

The spiritual successor to Apple’s Thunderbolt Display, the LG UltraFine 5K monitor, which only started shipping out from the Apple online store this week, appears to suffer from a major fault: when placed within two metres (6.5ft) of a wireless router, the display starts to flicker; move it really close, and the monitor goes black and becomes unusable. An LG Electronics support person confirmed the issue, saying it “only happens for the 5K monitors we have, not other LG monitors.”

If that wasn’t bad enough, 9to5Mac’s Zac Hall reports that his LG 5K monitor, under the duress of a nearby Wi-Fi router, can freeze the MacBook Pro that it’s plugged into, forcing a reboot to bring it back. When he moved the router (an Apple AirPort Extreme) from beside the monitor to another room, everything went back to normal.

I’ve been a fan of LG’s panels in general (iMacs use them, as do the ViewSonic displays I have at work and home) and their TVs, but this seems like a rather sloppy mess. Although in many cases my router wouldn’t be near my computer anyway, I’ve seen plenty of workspace/office pictures where a router is at the corner of a desk.

If only there was a company out there who made displays, routers, and non-Windows-based computers that all played nicely together…