December 16, 2014

Roundups of 2014

I started to collect snippets for yearly lists, for a linkdump post. Best of Twitter, you on Facebook, Tumblr’s year in review, year in music on Spotify – that sort of thing. But looking through these I realized that they’re utterly boring. Even the YouTube rewind video is, while well made and full of things to recognize, nothing worth giving extra thought. So while I’ve linked all of those things above, a way less comprehensive piece of linkage than I had in mind, I really can’t urge you to click any of those links if you’re just going to click one thing today. That says a lot, and it reminds me that not all things are worth linking, nor spending time on.

As a side-note, are you fed up with the gift guides yet? I certainly am, and I’ve stayed clear of most of them anyway. This is such a weird time during the year, when weak content suddenly gets the spotlight.

Finally, there is one yearly thing I think is worth checking out, saved for last obviously. I might not be Google’s biggest fan, but their global and national lists of what people have been searching for during the year are interesting. These have been the big issues in 2014, and that’s worth a link.

December 12, 2014

Axial Mini Messenger
Everything carry

I enjoy setup posts, what’s in my bag, the everyday carrys, that sort of thing. They tell me what works for people, and that gives me ideas as to how I can improve my own productivity by tweaking my gear. Also, I guess I like to read about gadgets and stuff.

One thing I’ve been thinking about is how much people carry around. The backpacks are filled to the brim, with sensible things (usually), but a lot of them.

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December 11, 2014

Instagram is now bigger than Twitter

Instagram passes Twitter:

Instagram now has a bigger active user base than Twitter, according to a blog post written today by CEO Kevin Systrom. The photo and video sharing platform has over 300 million active users, more than Twitter’s 284 million but a far cry behind parent company Facebook’s 1.3 billion.

This is, obviously, the service Twitter should’ve bought.

December 10, 2014

Jim Dalrymple and the iPhone 6 Plus

Jim Dalrymple on the iPhone 6 Plus:

Despite my initial reaction, three months in and I’m happily using the iPhone 6 Plus. The larger screen is glorious for my aging eyes and I find I’m able to get more done on a phone than ever before.

Nice piece. I’ll have my own piece on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, which I’m still swapping between, up in the near future.

Nick Denton’s 2015 memo

Gawker Media CEO Nick Denton has published a mammoth memo for 2015, where he announces changes in leadership and other important stuff for people working on any of the company’s properties, or with an interest in media. But as always when Denton writes, there’s more, and this stood out.

We all understand how this works. Editorial traffic was lifted but often by viral stories that we would rather mock. We – the freest journalists on the planet – were slaves to the Facebook algorithm. The story of the year – the one story where we were truly at the epicenter – was one that caused dangerous internal dissension. We were nowhere on the Edward Snowden affair. We wrote nothing particularly memorable about NSA surveillance. Gadgets felt unexciting. Celebrity gossip was emptier than usual.

We pushed for conversations in Kinja, but forgot that every good conversation begins with a story. Getting the stories should have come first, because without them we have nothing to talk about.

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December 8, 2014

Starbucks baristas controls your name

Salomé Jones have written down the Starbucks name game, as told by yours truly.

When you go to Starbucks and the barista writes your name on your paper coffee cup, that is your name until you are assigned a new name.

Example: Your name is Alice. The barista writes Ally. You are now Ally until you get more coffee in a new cup with a different name on it.

Full rules here. It’s crazy what powers the baristas have these days…

Cheap Android tablets aren’t secure at all

Bluebox tested sub-$99 Android tablets, and – shocker! – found them to be security nightmares.

Bluebox Labs purchased over a dozen of these Black Friday “bargain” Android tablets from big name retailers like Best Buy, Walmart, Target, Kmart, Kohl’s and Staples, and reviewed each of them for security. What we found was shocking: most of the devices ship with vulnerabilities and security misconfigurations; a few even include security backdoors. What seemed like great bargains turned out to be big security concerns. Unfortunately, unsuspecting consumers who purchase and use these devices will be putting their mobile data & passwords at risk.

December 5, 2014

Vox Media wants to distance itself from the rest of new media

Jim Bankoff, CEO of Vox Media, publishers of The Verge and Vox.com, among other things, at Code/Media:

“There are companies that have been built on lists,” Bankoff said of the slate of new publishers that have cropped up in the last few years, without naming a specific site. “When you’re a company that’s all lists, or all slideshows, or all quizzes, then that’s a problem because you’re trying to game something.”

There’s certainly some truth to that, however it’s also a type of content that a lot of people seem to enjoy. While I want to believe that the listicle’s days are numbered, I seriously doubt it, since it’s basically just a take on an old format anyway. All these things are, so it would be more relevant to say that the titles used on sites today, the You Won’t Believe What Happened Next nonsense, is trying to game something.

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December 4, 2014

Good enough

Benedict Evans:

I, and the kind of people who spend time thinking about these issues, tend to assume that, well, maps and calendars and email and so on are very important, because we use them all day, and that the tight integration of Google services is a good reason to buy an Android phone and their absence would make it unsalable.

But most people do not have that kind of job. One thing that always bothers me about a certain kind of product demo is the moment when the product magically tells you that your flight is late or the gate has changed. But most people don’t fly enough ever to have this problem – that’s not actually a real, mass market use case.

Thoughtful piece, and an astute observation. Thing is, a lot of these feature that we make a big deal of, as, if not tech-savvy so at least tech-interested users, are barely icing on the cake for most people. Take the Apple Maps debacle back on iOS 7. Not only was it completely blown out of proportion in the tech press (if we can call it that), it was also such a small thing in the larger scope of things, and yet we whined about it. Some people are still whining about Apple Maps, despite the fact that it’s been good enough for a (relatively) long time now, so called power-user or not.

Want to blow a tech-head’s mind? Tell them that Gmail isn’t the largest webmail service. It’s not because it’s not better than most, if not all, of the competition. It’s because the other alternatives, no matter if it’s Hotmail-come-Outlook.com, or Yahoo Mail, or Fastmail, or whatever, are all good enough for most people. That’s it, plain and simple.