September 28, 2020

Snippet: Pivot Back to Phone Calls ☍

M.G. Siegler:

Of course, a Zoom meeting is not a replacement for an in-person meeting at all. It’s something entirely different which we’re all pretending is an appropriate substitute. But it’s not. And what’s crazy is that the older technology — again, the phone call — is actually better as a fill-in for the in-person meeting, in most cases, I find. There are plusses and minuses, obviously. And your own mileage may vary. But I much, much, much prefer the phone call now to the Zoom call.

Freedom to move. Freedom to not be putting on some kind of visual performance. Freedom to not have to stare at a screen because the other person is staring at their screen.

The simple phone call has been lost in all of this, and generally there’s less issues with reliability or even the barrier for entry. I’m tired of the back-and-forth coordination/setup and then the performance aspect especially. It’s even worse when you’re in a situation where you can’t go audio-only.

September 14, 2020

Snippet: Feds Proudly Announce Seizure of ‘Counterfeit Apple AirPods’ That Are Actually OnePlus Buds ☍

Chris Welch for The Verge:

US Customs and Border Protection tonight tweeted that its officers had “recently seized 2,000 counterfeit Apple AirPods from Hong Kong, valued at $398K had they been genuine.” There’s also this press release on the situation, which praises CBP officers for “protecting the American public from various dangers on a daily basis” and says that “the interception of these counterfeit earbuds is a direct reflection of the vigilance and commitment to mission success by our CBP officers daily.”

The only problem is, based on the agency’s own photos, the seized products appear to be legitimate OnePlus Buds — transported in a box that plainly says as much. But CBP proudly tweeted “THAT’S NOT AN APPLE,” as if its people had astutely detected a forged piece of 18th-century art. It’s not clear if all of the 2,000 blocked units were OnePlus Buds, though the CBP images are unmistakable. The units originated from Hong Kong and were seized at JFK on August 31st; they were headed to Nevada, according to the press release.


September 4, 2020

Snippet: iOS 14’s Big Privacy Change Gets Postponed ☍

Samuel Axon for Ars Technica:

Apple has postponed full enforcement of a feature of its upcoming iOS 14 software for iPhones that would require app developers to request users’ permission to track them across apps for advertising purposes. This announcement comes in the wake of a public complaint from Facebook that the privacy policy could negatively impact the ad market in Apple’s ecosystem.

The feature, announced at Apple’s annual developer conference in June, would require app developers to notify a user of an app’s intent to track the user’s IDFA (ID for Advertisers). IDFA is used to track the user’s behavior across multiple apps and deliver targeted ads based on that behavior. The change would also require the user to opt in to that tracking.

Apple now says that, while developers will be able to implement this notification and request for permission, doing so will no longer be mandatory when iOS 14 launches sometime in the next couple of months. However, Apple was careful to clarify that it still intends to establish the requirement in the future, and that this is only a delay “to give developers time to make necessary changes.”

While this probably does have to do with Facebook’s whining, I’m glad Apple is delaying it, rather than changing the plans to have it entirely. If they were to do that, then I’d be concerned if they have enough…courage.

September 1, 2020

Snippet: I Need a Break ☍

Marius Masalar:

I’m ruthless about curating my feeds to prune out toxic negativity, but there’s a subtle detail here that I’ve started to think more about: social media’s potential for negative effects on your life aren’t only present when you encounter toxic content.

Even if all you see is pleasant, social media participation costs you time.

For many of us, it costs a huge amount of time if left unchecked. I don’t know if it’s the pandemic that’s changed my outlook on this, but I’ve become aware of how precious our time is and how dangerous it can be to spend it thoughtlessly. Since we have a limited number of hours in the day, sacrificing several on the altar of social media seems almost irresponsible. Particularly without a clear sense of what we’re getting in return.

Complaining about social networks has been an evergreen topic, but I think this is an interesting take on the matter. Thinking about my usage and what parts I enjoy, there has been a growing shift. I avoid the official Twitter client as any search will show trending topics and almost prevents me from taking a break from the news. Using third-party Twitter clients keeps things to my timeline that I’ve curated. Plus, it gives me a way to pick it up when I want to waste time, and then also save my place for when I have something else to do.

On the other hand, Instagram has gotten worse as the Facebook-ization really kicks in. The timeline is basically gone, replaced with the newest things you haven’t seen, followed by the infinite amounts of suggested content. Following a handful of people that are in the same circles leads to lots and lots of reposted stories so I’ll see the same thing numerous times. It then becomes a mad dash to get through everything in hopes of a little gem while I’m trying to mark everything as “read”—it’s almost starting to feel like a never-ending email thread that you’ve been cc’d on.

Snippet: Surge Capacity ☍

Tara Haelle:

In those early months, I, along with most of the rest of the country, was using “surge capacity” to operate, as Ann Masten, PhD, a psychologist and professor of child development at the University of Minnesota, calls it. Surge capacity is a collection of adaptive systems — mental and physical — that humans draw on for short-term survival in acutely stressful situations, such as natural disasters. But natural disasters occur over a short period, even if recovery is long. Pandemics are different — the disaster itself stretches out indefinitely.

“The pandemic has demonstrated both what we can do with surge capacity and the limits of surge capacity,” says Masten. When it’s depleted, it has to be renewed. But what happens when you struggle to renew it because the emergency phase has now become chronic?

I rotate between a few different feelings and emotions throughout the day. My day job is wall-to-wall busy right now, and I get home and mostly zone out. Throwing in thoughts of the pandemic, racial inequality and violence, our government as a whole, and the boredom of not being able to do anything and it’s just a lot to think about. It’s a little comforting that I’m not the only one feeling this way, but as a problem-solver, it’s frustrating that there’s no immediate way to start taking things off of my plate.

I guess what I’m trying to say is to do what you can, give yourself and others a break, rest, stay healthy, and if you’re in the United States, get your things in order to vote.