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January 2, 2020

Snippet: The Smartphone Isn’t Evil, Chill ☍

Ben Brooks:

I saw an article recently, which shared a ‘new tip’ for dealing with distraction in the digital age. The tip: keep your phone near the entrance/exit to your domicile — and if you need to use your phone walk to it and stay in that area while you use it. This, they say, is a great way to keep yourself from being distracted.

It’s also incredibly stupid. There seems to be this idea that tech itself is addicting and that many are handcuffed to tech by way of their phone. And so often the advice, like that advice above, is along the lines of eschewing tech during some part of your life. It’s bad advice, it’s avoiding the hard questions and finding a scapegoat.

Snippet: Windows: Facing the New Decade (2010-2020) ☍

Steven Sinofsky shares some fascinating experiences from Microsoft and the initial responses to the iPhone and iPad (originally a thread on Twitter):

1/ 2010 was the start of a most interesting time of the PC (and me). Reflecting back at how the decade ending in a few hours began. From the outside it was an exciting time in the PC industry. Windows 7 had just launched. Things would seem to be off to a solid start.

Snippet: Sonos Explains Why It Bricks Old Devices With ‘Recycle Mode’ ☍

Chris Welch for The Verge:

It works like this: you check if one of your Sonos gadgets is eligible for the trade-up promo. Then you confirm in the Sonos app that you’d like to “trade” your current device toward a new one. Sonos instantly grants you a 30 percent discount, and then automatically starts a 21-day countdown before your old device goes into Recycle Mode (emphasis mine):

Recycle Mode is a state your device enters 21 days after recycling confirmation in the Sonos app. In Recycle Mode, all data is erased and the device is permanently deactivated so you can safely and securely dispose of it. Once a device is in Recycle Mode, it cannot be reactivated.


Why does trading up require customers to permanently brick a functional product? Therein lies the controversy. The 30 percent discount is directly tied to the demise of a piece of hardware. For Sonos, this process seems less about “trading up” and more about ditching your old device and clearing room for a new one.

While I understand Sonos may not want old devices out in the wild, this seems very wasteful.

December 24, 2019

Snippet: The Fast Mile ☍

Ken Bensinger, Caroline O’Donovan, James Bandler, Patricia Callahan, and Doris Burke for BuzzFeed News with ProPublica:

Investigations by ProPublica and BuzzFeed News this year revealed that drivers delivering Amazon packages had been involved in more than 60 crashes that led to serious injuries, including 10 deaths. Since then, the news organizations have learned of three more deaths.

Amazon, which keeps a tight grip on how drivers working for contractors do their jobs, has told courts around the country it was not responsible when delivery vans crashed or workers were exploited. It is a position that is facing more legal and legislative challenges, as some states seek to force tech companies such as Uber to take more financial responsibility for the contract workers who underlie their businesses.

In my experience, Amazon’s own delivery service isn’t very good. They’ve set up their drivers to work under the tightest constraints and generally make up time by racing or carelessly depositing packages wherever. Unfortunately, so many people are concerned with the instant-gratification (seriously, two-day shipping wasn’t good enough?) that this could only get worse. Unfortunately, even if it does, Amazon has managed to remove themselves from any sort of responsibility.

Snippet: No, Spotify, You Shouldn’t Have Sent Mysterious USB Drives to Journalists ☍

Zack Whittaker for TechCrunch:

Last week, Spotify sent a number of USB drives to reporters with a note: “Play me.” […]

But anyone with basic security training under their hat — which here at TechCrunch we have — will know to never plug in a USB drive without taking some precautions first.

Concerned but undeterred, we safely examined the contents of the Spotify drive using a disposable version of Ubuntu Linux (using a live CD) on a spare computer. It was benign and contained a single audio file. “This is Alex Goldman, and you’ve just been hacked,” the file played.