about Windows shipping the same Control Panel icons for the last 20 years or so, but at least they don’t impair daily use.

(Via The Tao of Mac)

Apple slips each release on their software quality.

I have a Mac Mini 2011 that is stuck at High Sierra. It’s pretty solid, so long as software doesn’t try to upgrade past my system’s ability to support it.

I have a Mac Mini 2012 that is stuck at Mojave. It has some issues.

I have a MacBook Pro 2015 I am keeping away from Big Sur+. It has more issues. It will crash when the screen saver is running for >29 minutes.

I have a MacBook Air 2017 I keep up to date (depending on support for my work apps) with Big Sur. It regularly has issues, crashes, and won’t update it’s local time zone.

There is no way to escape the machine systems that surveil us, whether we are shopping, driving or walking in the park. All roads to economic and social participation now lead through surveillance capitalism’s profit-maximizing institutional terrain, a condition that has intensified during nearly two years of global plague.

(Shoshana Zuboff via NYT)

Compare this with the underhanded way Vizio spies on paying customers:

If you think that some companies want to make money the honest way, by selling you stuff, while other companies are full of evil wizards who want to spy on you in order to deprive you of free will, then the answer is simple: just pay for stuff, and you’ll be fine. But time and again, we learn that companies spy on you – and abuse you in other ways – whenever it suits them – even companies that make a lot of noise about how they don’t need to spy on you to make money.

(Via Cory Doctorow)

The outside world is surveilled. I don’t like it. What I can do about it, I do.

The inside world, the world in my house and yard and car, that I only want surveilled by one person — me.

  • When I shop for a new thing I ask a few key questions:
    • Will the device work without a network connection?
    • Without a subscription?
    • Without advertising? Tracking?
    • Do I own the thing I bought?
    • Can I repair it? Modify it? Resell it?

    Analog stuff is great. There is no debate. Getting “smart” in one’s home is harder.

    H/t Dave Pell.

    Okay, it was a little perilous to get this issue of the Weekly Thing to all of you. You see, I use Shortcuts extensively to generate the newsletter. It has evolved a lot since the I first shared the setup and now relies on about 20 shortcuts that work together. With the upgrade to iOS 15 this week some of my hooks to other apps stopped working. PANIC! ?

    One of the nice things about Shortcuts though is you can bang around in them pretty easy. After some workarounds, and then a final swap out of Toolbox Pro for Data Jar I was able to get the thing to generate. It was touch and go, and I’ve got some cleanup to do to fix things, but here it is! Winning! ?

    (Via Weekly Thing)

    It’s not winning.

    I have one Shortcut that is critical to my workflow. It stopped working on my upgrade to iOS 15 on my iPhone. What’s worse, it stopped working with no better information than that the Shortcut stopped working. I do not have time to “bang around in them” to figure out what Apple broke.

    If Shortcuts is supposed to augment and/or eventually replace Automator and other MacOS tools, Shortcuts has to be bulletproof through upgrades. If it doesn’t replace those tools, Shortcuts still needs to be bulletproof.

    Apple Watch Series 7: The MacStories Overview:

    … the Series 7 Apple Watch is the first to support a native QWERTY keyboard interface.

    This is interesting.

    With tapping or swiping (via a new feature that Apple is calling “QuickPath”) supported, this should make text input on the device vastly more straightforward. Writing out short texts or emails on the Apple Watch may finally be a reasonable thing to do.

    Hmm. I’m less interested, and now concerned that this new input method required a marketing term.

    From Tidbits:

    watchOS 8 on the Apple Watch Series 7 adds a full keyboard that lets you enter text either by tapping or by sliding your fingertip from character to character in a manner that has long been common on smartphone keyboards. Apple’s version of this system, dubbed QuickPath, taps into machine learning to predict the words you’re trying to enter.

    Thanks but I’d rather not. If they kept the keyboard to the swipe method only sans branding, I’d be ok. Until QuickPath is proven trustworthy or disable-able, I’ll consider other options.

    Back to MacStories:

    Beyond text input, the Series 7 also includes widespread design updates to Apple’s first-party watchOS apps to make use of the new screen real-estate. Buttons are bigger, interface elements are more spread out, and far more content is visible on each screen.

    None of this I found a problem on my S5 watch. Or on my smaller S2. Maybe a third-party can take advantage and show something compelling. Apple hasn’t yet IMHO.

    The display is also made from a new crystal … 

    This does not solve a problem for me. Your circumstance may vary.

    New Faces

    Don’t care.

    Battery Life and Charging

    The Series 7 will have the same 18-hour battery life as Apple has essentially always advertised for it. This year though, the always-on display is getting 70% brighter indoors when your wrist is down. In other words, Apple has made it easier to read the display when it’s in power-saving mode, but has still maintained the same battery life metrics.

    I still think the dumbest idea Apple has had in the last 5 years is an always-on watch display. As soon as I tell someone they can turn that shit off and how to do it, they do. They don’t seem to care they get a battery increase. They just want it gone. That they get a battery improvement is gravy.

    I’ve always thought always-on display was a feature designed for one specific audience, tech writers in and of San Francisco.

    I am open to understanding use cases for it outside of my experience.

    Case and Colors

    Don’t care.

    Fitness

    If Apple Fitness+ works for you, jump on it. For me, I don’t care.

    Conclusion

    The Series 7 Apple Watch isn’t a particularly groundbreaking update,

    Yes

    but all of the changes are welcome improvements.

    “All” changes? That seems a generous stretch.

    The new display looks like an exceptionally nice upgrade, and the improved resistance to cracks and dust will keep this line of Apple Watches pristine.

    If this was a problem for you, I can see this being welcome.

    Overall, while I’m not entirely sure how enticing the Series 7 is for users who already have a Series 5 or 6 Apple Watch, it still looks like an excellent device for anyone who buys it.

    Respectfully I disagree.

    Bottom line:

    This device gets so close to an upgrade for my S2 Watch. Maybe after there’s more information about that keyboard, or my S2 dies.

    I would not consider it to upgrade my S5.

    If you need a new Apple Watch, I suggest getting a S5 or S6 while you can, or an SE or S3.

    If the S7 does something fantastic for transit in Tokyo (the reason I bought my S2 in Japan many years ago) that none of the current watches can do OR can do it faster in real life, then get a S7.

    Via Dave Pell’s NextDraft:

    Mailchimp, the newsletter service that sent this to you, just sold to Intuit for a cool $12 billion. More amazing than the number, which is damn amazing, is that the company never took any outside funding, making this the “largest-ever acquisition of a privately-held bootstrapped company. It’s also a huge windfall for the founders of Mailchimp, which opted for profit-sharing instead of stock-based compensation for employees.” When I first started with MailChimp, I used to call founder Ben Chestnut for tech support. Now I might call him for a loan. Congrats to him and the team.

    The problem isn’t that Mailchimp found a buyer, it’s the buyer they found.

    A fascinating pair-up. Mailchimp is an exemplar among startups: agile, focused, competitive, bootstrapped, driven by a novel product that still seems mercifully simple compared to the nerdly alternatives.

    Intuit, on the other hand, is the ultimate sprawling corporate parasite, despised by every tricked taxpayer, an eyeless life-form lurking in the deepest depths of rent-seeking, regulatory capture and political lobbying.

    So long, Mailchimp!

    (Via Boing Boing)

    I spent over 2 hours on the phone and on-line chat today to delete an old Mint (independent when I signed up, now an Intuit property) account I no longer use.

    Mailchimp becomes yet another property, like Medium, where I have to decide if the content is worth dealing with the platform. If a content producer, like the afore mentioned DavePell and his NextDraft, decides it is still right for them to be on Mailchimp if I decide it is not right for me, I wish them all the best in their endeavors.

    Apple announced a new iPad Mini.

    As described here I set aside an iPad Pro for a Mini early last year. That was one of many steps to a smaller, more modular compute platform.

    How might this new Mini help with that?

    Intriguing

    … with a larger 8.3-inch Liquid Retina display … Featuring the brand new A15 Bionic chip … A new USB-C port … and cellular models with 5G … [edited to get rid of most of the marketing – pj]

    The Mini plays key roles for me:

    At home it is my primary on-line news reading device. When I finish reading my soon-to-depart analog paper I fire up my articulated-arm-clipped Mini. I read my digital subscriptions on it.

    When I travel it is my chief media consumption device on sometimes cramped conveyance, like airplanes and Japanese commuter & subway trains.

    I’ve long been a fan of the iPad mini, especially for travel. It’s so compact, yet very powerful for almost everything you would want an iPad to do.

    (via The Loop)

    Around town the Mini is my “laptop” with the Japanese Magic Keyboard and Magic Trackpad I carry in my Tom Bihn Le Grand Derrière.

    Across all of my use cases, one key aspect of the new iPad Mini model will help me: the display is brighter. I have a privacy shield on my current Mini, but even before I applied it the display seemed dim. I’ll be happy for the extra light when I need it.

    The other key aspect I use my Mini for is listening to podcasts. Nothing changes there.

    Less intriguing

    The Mini comes … 

    … in four gorgeous finishes. … New advanced cameras, Center Stage, and support for Apple Pencil (2nd generation) enable new ways for users to capture photos and videos, communicate with loved ones, and jot down their ideas when creativity strikes. [I left in the marketing – pj]

    In addition to the deëmphasis on Lightning connectors my OG Apple Pencil would need to be replaced as well.

    The Mini comes in colors, which will be unseen with the obligatory case, unless a viable transparent option exists.

    The cameras on mobile devices always disappoint and more so on tablets, thus one reason why I reëntered the digital camera owners realm. Center Stage is “neat”, but most of my colleagues on most of my video calls leave their cameras off. Unless I plan on speaking I leave mine off as well.

    Bottom Line

    Will I buy this upgrade? Eventually

    Will I buy it day 1? Unlikely

    Will I buy it before my next international or long haul business trip? Probably

    Will I wait for it to start to be discounted? No

    What about the rest of the Apple announcements? They’re not for me at this time

    Oustian Bargain:

    “The cyberattack disabled computer systems responsible for fuel production from Texas to the Northeast, and now gas stations in the Southeast are seeing panicked motorists lining up in droves to fill their tanks … Drivers are being turned away from now-empty gas pumps.” Panic Drives Gas Shortages After Colonial Pipeline Ransomware Attack.

    + WaPo: Gas shortages intensify in Southeast, with 28 percent of North Carolina stations now dry. (The frenzied gas buying is one more example of citizens not trusting government officials who are telling them not to panic. This mistrust is a bigger threat than hackers.) [emphasis mine]

    That last sentence is killer. Feel free to replace ‘hackers’ with your favorite threat du jour.

    Clubhouse does not solve a problem or spark joy for me. It’s is a fun experiment that maybe destined for that nice farm out in the country. I waited a long time for access (h/t Ahmed for hooking me up), yet I stopped using Clubhouse about 3 days in. YMMV, but for me it was like listening to a frustratingly poorly produced, engineered, and edited podcast.

    Start Up No.1545: Covid vs climate change, China used iPhone contest hack against Uyghurs, Clubhouse hits Android, and more | The Overspill: when there’s more that I want to say:

    That 10-to-1 collapse in downloads suggests to me at least that Clubhouse isn’t going to thrive. If a growing userbase doesn’t lead to a growing number of would-be users, your troubles are just beginning. As people emerge from lockdowns, as everything returns to some semblance of normality, we’ll find out just where not-a-podcast stuff fits in to our lives. Meanwhile, the people at Clubhouse are very positive about everything. Naturally. To me, though, it feels like the wave has passed.

    I’m happy for Clubhouse that they finally got an Android app out and wish them all the best, but it might be too little, too late. I deleted the iOS app a few weeks ago (but just reinstalled it to deactivate my account). I hold no interest in the competing products from Twitter, Facebook, and their ilk.

    I had to go into the recesses of my mind to recall this Syslog mess for one of the things I’m working on in Korea. It has me pleasantly tech-adjacent. I’m not rolling up my sleeves to lay hands on said tech. Rather, I am spending a lot of time looking at how this bit of tech was implemented, best described (and very timely for me) here ↴

    The Syslog Hell – Bozho’s tech blog:

    Syslog. You’ve probably heard about that, especially if you are into monitoring or security. Syslog is perceived to be the common, unified way that systems can send logs to other systems. Linux supports syslog, many network and security appliances support syslog as a way to share their logs. On the other side, a syslog server is receiving all syslog messages. It sounds great in theory – having a simple, common way to represent logs messages and send them across systems.

    Reality can’t be further from that. Syslog is not one thing – there are multiple “standards”, and each of those is implemented incorrectly more often than not. Many vendors have their own way of representing data, and it’s all a big mess.

    It’s all coming back to me know, like the hot kiss at the end of a wet fist.