March 29, 2019

Apple cancels AirPower product

In an email, Apple’s SVP of Hardware Engineering writes:

After much effort, we’ve concluded AirPower will not achieve our high standards and we have cancelled the project.

Ouch. No conspiracy theory here, they just couldn’t deliver. I find it surprising they didn’t reduce the scope to something similar to the dozens of Qi wireless chargers that exists already.

March 28, 2019

Signal & WhatsApp, softer than Tofu?

Keybase on Whatsapp:

We actually DO take great issue with their claim of forward secrecy while encouraging your chat partners to back up” their chats with you to the cloud, entirely defeating the purpose.

Excellent point. I keep forgetting about these backups as the weakest link.

March 26, 2019

Drafts for Mac: The MacStories Review

This is not one of those apps. It is an app written from the ground up for macOS, which works as expected with the system features.

I recently started using Drafts on iOS again and while the UI still feels like a flight cockpit, the level of power is amazing. For the Mac, it translates to a much simpler app, but that will change when it gets actions.

For a taste of the feature check this overview by MacSparky.

March 24, 2019

The New iPad Lineup

The iPad 2019 lineup clarity is something I wish for the Mac’s 2020 lineup. Five models: iPad, iPad mini, iPad Air, iPad Pro (11in), iPad Pro (12.9in). Starting at $329 for the iPad 9.7in 1, it increases to $399, $499, $699 and $999 for each base model respectively.

As geeks we lament that inconsistency between technologies: Apple Pencil 2 and FaceID on the Pro versions versus Apple Pencil 1 and TouchID in the rest of the models. Or the biggest gripe for me, the obsolete design language of the bottom devices once you compare with the Pro versions — they’re not different designs, one is old and the other new.

If you don’t get too geeky though, when asked the critical question by a friend or relative: which one should I get?, you’ll actually see consistency. They all support a pencil, yes one is better, but the other one isn’t bad. They all have a good screen, again one better and another one that doesn’t refresh at 120 Hz. You can go on and on with the processor, connector, speakers, etc.

In an age of complex technology, you arrive at a simplified matrix of consistent features with good vs better implementations. With each of the models being a clear response to a corresponding: if you’re willing to spend $X, Y is the best model. Try doing that with a Mac nowadays.

The iPad Pro Air 2019

I’m writing this on my 2017 iPad Pro 10.5 512Gb. It was my family wide birthday gift that year. It’s an amazing machine - two years in, I still haven’t managed to slow it down with anything I throw at it. This iPad Pro es effectively the new iPad Air, with an older processor, faster refresh screen (Pro Motion), better camera, and 4 speakers vs 2 of the new Air. But a week ago the 10.5 Pro was $649, while the remixed Air starts at $499. It’s a simplified version for its target audience. In fact, if you have a gullible geek friend with a 10.5 Pro, bait him/her to upgrade, and get the device at a hefty discount. Or try to find one in a clearance sale, because at the same price, the old 10.5 Pro is a better device than the new Air in my opinion.

Back to the mini

Before the iPad, the iPhone, the Pocket PCs, the iBooks, the Palms, there was a Newton 2100 MessagePad in my heart bag. The Newton 2100 was a powerful 8.3in x 4.7in device with a stylus that could replace your desktop computer for certain tasks, but it wasn’t meant to. The iPad mini 2019 is a 8.0in x 5.3in device that supports the 1st Gen Apple Pencil and can replace your MacBook for certain… you see what I’m getting at?

It took Apple 7690 days to launch a proper replacement, at least on paper. Because even though the iPad mini design is 7 years old, the pencil was needed for it to be considered as viable descendant.

As you might imagine, all this is just me justifying my upcoming purchase. I’m not planing to add an iPad to my gear bag, I’m actually going to replace the iPad Pro 10.5 with the mini. I will miss the bigger screen for watching video, reading comics and books. The magazine size of the iPad 10.5 is the perfect around the house device. It’s true that more than any other previous iPad, I do stuff on it for which I’d pulled out the laptop before, and the laptop sized screen has a lot to do with it.

But when I really need stuff done, or I’m heading out the door for a trip, the MacBook is the one that goes in the bag. Right now, that’s how I work. Here’s where the Moleskine sized device beacons for me. It’s why I still have and use my 2013 iPad mini 2, even though it’s painfully slow. Because for me, there’s less confusion between what a MacBook, a small iPad, and an iPhone are for.

Wildcards: iOS 13 vs ARM MacBooks

There are two nonexclusive scenarios that might make me regret or be glad of replacing the Pro, these are:

  1. iPad specific features in iOS 13: which is rumored and likely. I’ll miss not being able to play with Apple’s vision of pro tablet features on a proper sized” device.
  2. ARM MacBooks: rumored, but less likely in the current year. If Apple announces the current iPad Pro 12.9 hardware, but running macOS — all bets are off.

So this is the state of my iPad mind at the moment. I haven’t ordered the new iPad mini yet, but mostly for logistics reasons. I’m also going to put my iPad Pro for sell in the coming days, and hope not to be left without one or the other for long.

  1. $250 if you search for sales.

March 17, 2019

Flickr In Memoriam” accounts

Flickr Blog:

In memoriam accounts will preserve all public content in a deceased member’s account, even if their Pro subscription lapses. The account’s username will be updated to reflect the in memoriam” status and login for the account be locked, preventing anyone from signing in.

This is a great feature for a paying service. There have been discussions before on what happened with digital catalogs once again you die — an issue that will become more relevant.

Also happy to see Flickr back in the news.

March 14, 2019

Dropbox adds three-device limit for free users

Dropbox has quietly updated its website to allow users on the company’s free storage plan to only connect up to three laptops, tablets, or phones to their account at one time

My iCloud only experiment is going well. I am using a second free Dropbox account for my microblog. But on the Mac, Transmit works great to connect to Dropbox easily, only using two devices towards the new limit.

I understand why Dropbox will do this, but as an user, only an introduction of a cheaper plan than the $9.99 one would bring me back.

March 13, 2019

Journaling Prompts: Random Entry Starters

When faced with the blank page, it’s nearly impossible not to want to switch to anything else. One of the reasons that I’m into prompts recently is that it gives a nudge to just answer it. And once you get started, it’s very easy to just let the habit kick-in and continue writing.

I’ve been playing with a Shortcut script which randomly selects one of the below sentences as title of an input prompt:

  • Describe the day in three words
  • Today I learned that
  • If it were morning again I’d tell myself
  • Today I daydreamed that
  • The quote of the day was
  • Today I spent time with
  • The best meal of the day was
  • The day got interesting when
  • The better left unsaid secret of today was
  • The photo I did not take today was

The intention is not to answer any of them directly, that’s why the prompt itself should not be included in the sentence you write. Rather I just take the prompt as the topic to address in the first few sentences. Sometimes it’s a simple continuation of the sentence, other times I just follow wherever the writing takes me.

None of this should be a solution in search of a problem. If the first few sentences give you no trouble, don’t mess with what works. But if you find that on averages days you have to fight the urge to just write nothing new today, then these could be useful.

March 12, 2019

Journaling Prompts: Faux Japanese

Although I crossed 3 years of daily journaling, my workflow has changed over time. Some of it has been fine-tuning — but for the most past, it has been to find ways keep it interesting and doable. Over the next 3 posts I’ll share my latest setup and thinking.

Domo Arigato Mister Roboto

Ending my entry with: a) something I’m grateful for and, b) something I regret (or wish I have done better), has always helped frame the day. Many days they’re so useful that I start the journal with those two items.

So I wanted to expand on these prompts with a few more daily ones. However, I hate writing I’m grateful for… or today I regret… over and over everyday. Not out laziness, it just seems to get in the way writing somehow because it makes me sound like child saying a fake apology.

I experimented with emojis, and acronyms, but it lacked context. As usual when I search for inspiration, I headed to the land of the rising sun1. I had already used Kaizen as a question to track improvements in the past, and after a few days of playing around I arrived at the following:

These are not so much faux as probably grammatical incorrect. But they work for me. Now I’ll always end my entries with this closing section:

  • Kansha: Something I’m thankful for, like ice on my night water.
  • Kaizen: Something I know is compound work, writing in this blog.
  • Kōkai: Anything that looking back on the day makes me cringe, such as losing patience while driving.
  • Saikō: Highlight of the day.

The mere act of remembering the words helps me mentally review the day. And having the Japanese words as cues looks fine in the document overall, which is important since I don’t tire of it and helps me come back to journal another.

  1. Actually I went to Google Translate, but the inspiration still stands.

March 11, 2019

Journaling as a Personality Backup

I often struggle with my tone and sincerity of my daily journaling. Why should I spend time giving depth to thoughts I’m probably going to remember with just some short words?

Today I was reminded of the movie Regarding Henry, where Harrison Ford’s character forgets his personality after being shot. For sure his journey would have been different — and likely ruined an excellent movie. But the exercise of writing to a version of myself that has forgotten what myself means, struck a chord.

Visualizing the target reader is an often repeated writing advise, and thinking of blank future me sounds like a compelling exercise. It puts me in a clearer mindset of what I should put an effort in detailing and what not.

March 5, 2019

Benjamin Mayo on Siri Shortcut:

A truly good voice assistant does not require the user to remember something.

Bingo. I tried, but all my shortcuts used are triggered by clicking on an icon. Siri Shortcuts failure rate was comical for me.

March 1, 2019

My buddy Nav with a great set of notes of how deliver design to a client — and not become a cynic in the process:

With my team, we’ve approached design work with a different set of principles. Of course, we’ve come across clients who are used to an approval based’ design process, but we’ve never worked that way.

These are applicable even if you think of another department as a client. Great read.

February 14, 2019

Journal Categories

Yesterday I mentioned storing highlights in DayOne, but I wanted to expand a bit on all my journals in the app:

  • Journal:

    Where I write every night. Only encrypted one. It’s a mental download of the day, not pausing long enough to edit or filter. At the end two bullet points: something I’m grateful of, and something I could have done better. There’s 1788 entries, since I’ve written almost everyday since Feb 2016.

  • Aeropost:

    A work notebook. Most useful as quick two liner entry after any meeting. But it also has longer notes of stuff that becomes emails or documents. Not so often anymore, but whiteboard photos — cleaned up with Carbo.

  • Scrapook:

    Anything external I want to save. Originally where all quotes from Quotebook were imported after its demise. But now a repository of anything external that I want timestamped.

  • log:

    In contrast to Scrapbook, on log I save anything internal that I want to remember. Many coffee recipies, names of specific menu items I liked, shaving results with different safety razoes, etc.

  • Spark:

    Random thoughts. Undigested ideas. Mostly short snippets that make little sense, a with no real hope become an insight. Which surprisingly happens, but many days of weeks later. Right now I’m using in a habit stacking experiment, where I have to write two sentences before visiting Morning Reader.

  • Check-in:

    Failed experiment awaiting rethinking, an IFTTT applet that saves all my Foursquare check-ins. But it doesn’t integrate with DayOne locations, so I end going back to Fsquare when I’m looking for something.

  • Blog:

    Mostly useless. Another IFTTT applet that saves all posts to this blog sometimes fun when I use DayOne’s On this day feature.

  • Comidas:

    Abandoned experiment I wish to revisit. For about 100 days in 2016 I took a picture of everything I ate. Premise being that it would be easier than calorie counting.

February 13, 2019

Hello Highlights

Reading in the digital age allows for the magical benefit of storing all your highlighted text. In my case, this includes: Kindle, Apple Books and Instapaper.

For the past few years my flow has been to export Instapaper highlights as markdown to my Scrapbook journal in DayOne. I also will usually use the share extension to collect any interesting tidbits I read while browsing. However, eBooks highlights have remained on their respective app silos.

Over the last month I’ve been testing Readwise, and I’m ready to subscribe to their light plan when the trial runs out. Readwise imports your highlights from Kindle, Apple Books, Instapaper and a couple of others — either directly or via a plugin/app on the desktop.

But once it pulls all these highlights is where Readwise shines: you get a daily email with some of the notes. I’ve rediscovered a lot of ideas with this feature, enough that I think it’s worth paying for.

I still want to figure out a way to channel this content into DayOne, but in the meantime, it’s a useful service for a reasonable price.

February 12, 2019

Processes, Tools and People

Things go wrong. People make mistakes. Unknown/unknowns make a grand entrance in production. You bang your head against the paper-thin meeting room wall and look up at the… soul-sucking florescent lights trying not to scream something that will break your company’s HR rules.

Careful. Either the process or the tools will be the prime suspects. In some teams, changing the process is easier. On most, tools are simpler to replace. Diagnose the actual problem incorrectly and — just like trying to clean a dirty carpet — you just push the stain further down to hide it.

Remove existing negatives before adding philosophical positives. Processes, tools, and people will always have both friction and flexibility — highlighting less important problems and hiding more critical ones. Remember to be careful with what you think has to be fixed first.

February 11, 2019

Leaders of the Venezuelan Opposition Used Zoom for Conference Calls

From WSJ on of how the Venezuela opposition coordinated its surprising come back(behind paywall1):

We spent hours every day on Zoom, talking about what to do,” said Mr. Borges, referring to the videoconferencing app.

Zoom’s security white paper is a bit scant on details, but it does seem to hit all basic security points. I would have thought that the Venezuelan security forces would be all over traffic coming out of Leopoldo Lopez home, but judging by the initial surprise, it seems SSL held up pretty well.

  1. I read it on Blendle, my goto source for paid content.