November 19, 2017

Link: Oscar and Maddy in the Apple Store ☍

David Chartier:

Apple recently approached the Bear folks about adding their app to Apple Store demo devices. Of course we said yes, and I was tasked with creating the demo content that would be loaded into the app.

For one of the demo notes, the fine folks at Bear gave me the green light to include a photo of Oscar and Maddy, the cattle dogs Jessi and I have raised since they were each eight weeks old. If you are so inclined, you can see more of them on my personal blog. Maddy (the one on the left) passed away suddenly and unexpectedly a year ago this month. At just a hair under 10, she went too soon.

Whenever I’d go to the Apple Store, I’d always be curious where the demo content came from (I’m still wondering the backstory of the Cubs/Tigers ticket from June 10, 2015), and this was one that I had to go back and take a look on one of the devices. It’s pretty neat that it is somewhat intentional.

Link: The Increasingly Rare iPad Deal Killers ☍

David Sparks:

Jason Snell wrote an excellent piece today about how he uses his iPad for a lot of his work. The post references a recent quote from Microsoft’s Satya Nadella that implies the iPad is not a real computer and a recent iPad ad that makes its point nicely.

I’ve spent a lot of time writing and podcasting about the iPad as a potential laptop replacement. In the early days, I went iPad only while writing the book, iPad at Work. Back then it was rough. The hardware, operating system, and software were all in need of improvement. Things did, however, get better. iPad hardware these days benchmarks alongside currently shipping Macs very respectively.

This is a pretty fascinating analysis, especially when you consider that the little things where an iPad does fall flat are often nitpick niche cases. In my experience, PC users are quick to point out Microsoft Office, but for the day-to-day stuff I do, Word and Excel on the iPad are sufficient (Pages and Numbers probably would, if I wasn’t going to mess with importing and exporting files I’d share). Other than that, there’s a few Flash-based sites and some other fussy legacy things that I would love to see go away anyway.

Link: What’s a Computer? ☍

Apple’s new ad for the iPad Pro is pretty good, but I think those hoping for a new Mac Pro or non-crappy MacBook Pro keyboards are probably cringing a bit.

Update: As the URL slug was already used, I did some digging and forgot that Apple used this tagline a little over a year ago.

November 11, 2017

Link: The Case for RSS ☍

David Sparks:

For several years now, the trend among geeks has been to abandon the RSS format. RSS, or Really Simple Syndication, is a way to queue up and serve content from the internet. The MacSparky RSS, for example, gives RSS applications a list of all the articles I post here since you last checked int. It is a great way to read blogs and the backbone of podcast distribution. As social networks took off, a lot of my friends that were previously big RSS fans gave up on the technology and instead relied upon sources like Twitter and Facebook to get their news.

I’ve been an RSS user from way back (and have prominently featured links to subscribe to this site through that method), but after Google Reader’s demise have sort of bounced around on how I consume feeds. I was using Shaun Inman’s now-defunct Fever°, and later was using the new NetNewsWire’s built-in sync. After that, I was going to go all-in on Apple News by adding feeds, but only some worked, and I settled on following sites I liked on a separate Twitter account.

After re-evaluating my relationship with Twitter, I decided to dust off my Fever° install, fire up Reeder, and get my feeds updated. So far, I still get that can’t-miss aspect of things I enjoy, but I know that my traffic and viewing habits are only really passing through a few places—the Reeder app (or whatever RSS app I may try), my Fever° installation, and the sites producing the content. It’s a great feeling.

Link: Coming to Terms With Twitter ☍

Gabe Weatherhead for Macdrifter:

Without any humor or reluctance, I can say that Twitter is not healthy for me. This is a hard thing to admit. I’ve met some of my best friends through Twitter. I learned of major world events and new episodes of Adventure Time. I’ve seen enormous kindness and terrible betrayal through the lens of Twitter. Maybe this is the problem. It’s impossible to comprehend the variety of human experiences I need to interpret while scanning Twitter. Yet, Twitter is far from a magnifying lens. It’s more like a kaleidoscope or a fun mirror. It’s showing what humans pretend to be when we perform for each other. The greatest attractor in social technology is the grotesque exaggeration. We love to see the extreme. We eagerly drool when our view of the world is stroked and we are told that we are the righteous minority.

I have found that I’m having a hard time reconciling some of the irresponsible, stupid crap Twitter does as a company, the meta complaints about the service on the service itself, the amazing bits of knowledge shared, and the wonderful people I have gotten to know just a bit more. It’s a shame because it seems that a lot of social networks are terrible and have felt even worse over the last year, yet there isn’t somewhere else to go. I mostly swore off Facebook a few years back, and while Twitter isn’t doing some of the creepy things that Facebook has done, the company as a whole feels very tone-deaf.

At an event at my alma mater, Twitter’s Biz Stone once compared the service with ice cream, essentially that there may not feel like there’s a point, but it’s enjoyable. That analogy has been in back of my mind recently, with the context of the more toxic aspects of Twitter. It seems more like it’s ice cream that is made by killing puppies—there are certainly moments of pleasure with the end result, but you also feel pretty dirty and wrong when you think about what goes into it.

At this point, I’m not deleting my account or stopping use completely, but I may make a more conscious effort to scale back and even leave it off of some devices.