Jared White Photo of Jared

Expressively publishing on the open web since 1996.
Entranced by Portland, Oregon since 2017.

Links

Nomadland Won Best Picture at the Golden Globes and I Had No Idea

It absolutely deserved the accolades, because Nomadland is very, very good. It is an outstanding character study, a moving tribute to love and loss, and a respectful look at an alternative lifestyle that’s part-tragedy, part-refuge.

I’m running a microblogging experiment over at HEY World (the new light-weight blog platform intetgrated with the HEY email service). I’ve published this and a couple of other posts since March began. Having fun so far! #website #writing #movies


Ready to Join the Movement to Restore Speed, Simplicity, and Elegance to the Web?

If you’re tired of codebases which mushroom in complexity until they’re unmaintainable over the long term due to Hype-Driven Development…if you’re weary of practices which make the open web feel like a morass of numbers-driven “experiences” and subtle vendor lock-in…if you yearn for the days when a prudent employment of open web standards and “conceptual compression” could unlock delightful experiences outpacing much larger rivals…then join us.

I understand that to some of my readers, my new business website will come across as a bunch of incomprehensible techno-babble. Don’t worry—if that’s the case, you’re not my target demographic. 😄 This site is by a developer, for developers. My goal is to connect with like-minded people and organizations who are building the future of the web. Ping me if you fit the bill!


Electric vehicles close to ‘tipping point’ of mass adoption

Electric vehicles are close to the “tipping point” of rapid mass adoption thanks to the plummeting cost of batteries, experts say.

Global sales rose 43% in 2020, but even faster growth is anticipated when continuing falls in battery prices bring the price of electric cars dipping below that of equivalent petrol and diesel models, even without subsidies. The latest analyses forecast that to happen some time between 2023 and 2025.

I have no doubt we will soon reach the point where buying a car that is not electric is seen as a true head-scratcher. I, for one, intend to run my current Mazda gas-powered vehicle (all paid for) into the ground…and then buy an electric car. I simply couldn’t imagine spending a single nickel on any product which consumes fossil fuels.


Apple hid an AR Easter egg in its September event announcement

Apple has officially announced its upcoming “Time Flies” event for September 15th, and the company hid a neat augmented reality Easter egg in the event announcement that uses Apple’s ARKit to turn the swirling Apple logo into a floating image of the “9.15” event date.

This is really fun! (Click the Easter Egg link in the article while on your iPhone/iPad.)

Putting on my speculation cap, here’s what I’m hoping to see on the 9/15 #Apple event:

  • #iPadPro inspired #iPhone 12 (duh)
  • Cheap iPad but with new Pro styling
  • “AirPhones”
  • More affordable Watch options
  • Teaser (or beyond!) of first Apple Silicon #Mac
  • A new app surprise of some kind (Terminal for iPadOS? 😎)
    • (Honestly Logic and/or MainStage for iPadOS would be pretty sweet. FPC X would be a stretch, but a man can dream…)


Apple TV+ Review Roundup

Ryan Christoffel: Apple’s streaming video service, Apple TV+, launches this Friday, November 1st. Ahead of its launch, today the first reviews dropped for the service’s tentpole originals: The Morning Show, See, For All Mankind, and Dickinson. Overall the critical takes are extremely mixed: though I haven’t seen any reviews that are outright negative, and there are a few which are very positive, the majority of reviews seem to lie somewhere in-between those two extremes.

I am having a really difficult time getting excited about Apple TV+. I think at the end of the day I just don’t like the idea of Apple, the computing devices company, becoming a Hollywood-style entertainment studio. It smacks of the 90s when Microsoft was trying to be all things to all people. I’m more understanding of Amazon doing TV shows…Amazon has always been a company that sells media to people (starting with books).

However, there is another new Apple service I’m very, very happy with: Apple Arcade. I’ll have to write up a whole article about it soon…


Many Americans are unsure about a number of digital topics

A new Pew Research Center survey finds that Americans’ understanding of technology-related issues varies greatly depending on the topic, term or concept. While a majority of U.S. adults can correctly answer questions about phishing scams or website cookies, other items are more challenging.

Well, another equally valid headline would have been Many Americans are unsure about a number of topics. 😜

Sereiously though, of interest to me is the stat that only 29% of those interviewed correctly identified #Facebook as the owner of both Instagram and WhatsApp. This is hugely problematic not only from the perspective of consumers understanding their choices around smartphone app usage, but it’s a major issue for Facebook as well. Facebook’s brand has become tarnished in recent years, yet it continues to move towards tighter integration of WhatsApp and Instagram into the Facebook platform and ecosystem. However, this could end up backfiring as people increasingly question their usage of the more “positive” apps which have escaped some of the ire directed at Facebook.

Every time I talk with a friend or colleague about how I’m not on Facebook but still use Instagram, I immediately add “yeah I know, it’s still part of Facebook.” Most of the time the folks I talk to know this already, but most of the folks I talk to are fairly digitally savvy. Farther afield, I fear a great many people just have no idea that even when they’re using Instagram or WhatsApp, the buck still ends with Zuck.


Apple’s 2020 iPhones will be all-OLED

Apple plans to release three new iPhones in the second half of 2020, including high-end 5.4-inch and 6.7-inch models with OLED displays and a lower-end 6.1-inch model with an OLED display, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

Assuming anything anyone knows about next year’s iPhones is even remotely accurate: I sure hope the OLED display technology Apple plans to use has been much improved in the color department. Every time I look at the iPhone XS line at the Apple store, the way text looks on light backgrounds really bothers me. It’s one of the reasons I’m quite happy with my LCD-sporting iPhone XR.

(Although…with the upcoming release of iOS 13 featuring Dark Mode, maybe the color shifting of OLED won’t be as noticable because I’ll often be reading light text on dark backgrounds.)


“Exclusive podcasts”

Higher Ground, President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama’s production company, will create exclusive podcasts for the streaming platform [Spotify]. Both Obamas will appear on some of the shows.

I find it utterly despicable that companies such as Spotify have taken it upon themselves to redefine the meaning of the word podcast. There is no such thing as an “exclusive podcast” because podcasts, by their very technical nature, are not exclusive and are part of the very fabric of the #openweb.

A podcast is simply an RSS feed which is downloadable from a website. The RSS feed contains items with various metadata and links to MP3 files. In theory an RSS feed could be behind some kind of HTTP auth paywall or be served via an obfuscated URL—but at the end of the day, that RSS feed can and should be playable by any podcast client.

A “podcast” that can only be played by a single client is not a podcast. That’s as absurd as somebody claiming they’ve published an “exclusive website” that’s only accessible via a single app. If the website can’t be viewed via any standard web browser on the internet, it’s not a website. If a podcast can’t be listened to via any standard podcast player on the internet, it’s not a podcast.

Spotify, and anybody else out there trying to pull a fast one like this, you do not get to redefine the terms or the technology of podcasting. They belong to the open web. They belong to us. And we won’t let you have it.


The Invisible Web Master

Geoffrey Ellis: I’ve had some valuable collaborations with other flute makers and musicians throughout my career, but one of my longest, ongoing collaborations is nearly invisible. We take so much about the internet for granted. Having a website is such a normal thing that we rarely give it a second thought. But having a really great website can be an artisan’s most impactful tool, because it is the window through which the world views our work. My work with Jared has really shown me the value of having a knowledgable and talented collaborator to make my work visible.

Geoffrey Ellis is a master artisan flute maker based in northern California. I consider Geoffrey Ellis a good friend and long-time collaborator, and his impromptu write-up of our work together over the years is humbling and much appreciated. If you are at all a folk musician of any sort, you must try one of Ellis’ flutes. They’re physically gorgeous and sonically outstanding.


13 Ways To Avoid Being An Asshole Online (according to the Apostle Paul)

If the Apostle Paul were here today, he might have a few thoughts about how to be a better netizen. And, of course, he would utilize the very latest in modern communication styles, which probably means he would grab a tablet (iPad, of course) and post…a listicle.

You’re welcome.

I haven’t blogged over at Simple Praxis in quite a while, so what better way to kick off my latest stint there than to draft a humorous take on what is quite honestly one of my favorite passages of Scripture. #comedy #spirituality


Apple News+: I’m liking it

My initial thought was that I stopped reading magazines years ago and that I wouldn’t read digital magazines. Strangely, that part is still right for me. If Apple News+ was a collection of magazines that I could download and read, I probably wouldn’t bother with it beyond the free trial….And this is where Apple News+ surprised me a bit.

The main page of Apple News+ is set up just like the free version of Apple News is on the iPhone. There is a collection of stories in a variety of topic areas that you can choose to read.

As I began reading, I noticed that very few of the stories were from the same magazine. Instead, I was reading stories that interested me, not magazines that interested me. That’s a huge distinction.

Jim Dalrymple gets it. Leading up to the #Apple event and even afterwards, I noticed a lot of eye-rolling online about how this was just Newsstand all over again and how this would be a failure just as Apple’s past forays into the digital magazine space were.

But News+ is a totally different model compared to the previous “each-publication-is-an-app” approach. News+ is one app. No matter which magazine or newspaper you’re currently reading, you are using only one app with a consistent and unified reading experience.

And perhaps most importantly, you don’t have to manage a ton of different subscriptions to various publications…which adds the congitive overhead of trying to pick and choose which ones to subscribe to or not to maintain a sensible cash flow. With Apple News+, you have one subscription. That’s it. One charge per month and you have access to everything.

I’ve been surprised how much I’m using Apple News+…on my iPhone. Of course it’s a delightful reading experience on the iPad with its big beautiful display, but it works astonishingly well on iPhone. Apple even kicked off its News+ presentation showing the app running on an iPhone. That’s impressive.

I’m definitely paying for News+ past the trial period, and I’m excited to see how the service grows and evolves down the road.


iPad, iPad Air, iPad mini, iPad Pro: How to choose the best iPad for your needs and budget

Apple has introduced new versions of the iPad Air and the iPad mini, plus it’s removed one of the iPad Pros. This leaves the lineup ranging from $329 to $999 for the just the base models, but it’s also made the buying decision a little more involved. AppleInsider explains how to balance getting the most features for your budget.

This is an excellent overview of the current state of Apple’s iPad lineup, now that there’s a refreshed iPad mini along with a resurrected iPad Air (!) with a larger 10.5” screen which makes it feel more akin to the previous-generation 10.5” iPad Pro.

Both of the new models feature laminated True Tone displays, which is awesome, and they also support the Apple Pencil (1st-gen). Having Pencil support now in the iPad mini is actually a great update for people who are fans of the tiny form factor for note-taking on the go. I also applaud Apple for not skimping on the base storage. 64GB is a great starting size for the iPad.

I feel like it’s weird the now-very-out-of-date entry-level iPad is still a thing. I would have expected it to get a price drop or something. At this point, I couldn’t in all good conscience recommend anyone buy it, unless it’s for bulk purposes such as in the education sector. Otherwise, either the new iPad Air or iPad mini would be a fantastic tablet to get if you don’t need the extra power, size, and utility of the iPad Pro.


The Elusive Byzantine Empire

Though the beginnings of the Byzantine Empire are unclear, its demise is not. The history of the Eastern Roman Empire, from its foundation in 324 to its conquest in 1453, is one of war, plague, architectural triumphs and fear of God’s wrath.

Like most Americans I suspect, my general knowledge of Western European history—particularly the British Isles—is far more robust than what little I learned about the East. I knew about Constantinople and the fractured relationship the Byzantine Empire had with the West…first after the initial schism of the Roman Empire, and then at times following the fall of Rome and subsequent rise of the various “barbarian” nation-states in the West. But other than those broad strokes, nothing. This essay by Dionysios Stathakopoulos is a fantastic overview, and it whets my appetite to dive into further study of Byzantine history and culture.


Gitea - Git with a cup of tea

Gitea is a painless self-hosted Git service. It is similar to GitHub, Bitbucket, and Gitlab. The goal of this project is to provide the easiest, fastest, and most painless way of setting up a self-hosted Git service. With Go, this can be done with an independent binary distribution across all platforms and architectures that Go supports. This support includes Linux, macOS, and Windows, on architectures like amd64, i386, ARM, PowerPC, and others.

My latest fun geek project in my ongoing quest to use self-hosted, libre #openweb apps as much as possible is installing Gitea on a DigitalOcean server. I’ve used either Bitbucket or GitHub for hosting all my code repositories (including this #website), but I’m planning to transfer them over to my own Gitea-powered server going forward. The great thing is, Netlify (which I use to publish static sites) supports custom Git servers. Simply install the SSH key they provide, add a webhook to your repository settings on Gitea, and it just works! I’m a happy camper.


512 Pixels: Dashboard

Steve Jobs pitched widgets as mini-apps that let you look up a quick bit of information without ruining your workflow or train of thought. They allowed for quick interactions. They were present when you needed them, and disappeared when you didn’t.

This is an oldie but goodie from 2016, in which Stephen Hackett breaks down the origins of Dashboard: a feature which first came to macOS in the days of 10.4 “Tiger”—and with it a suprisingly robust set of enhancements to the web itself (because Dashboard widgets were actually miniature web pages!).

I’m sharing this because I would really like to see a 2019 take on Dashboard for the Mac, but even more than that, I would love to see an iOS-variant of this concept come to the iPad this year. I relish the thought of dedicating my iPad home screen to a variety of widgets. Maybe the widgets that are already available in the Today View could be expanded upon visually and worked into a more freeform Dashboard-like concept. At any rate, even though Dashboard itself is legacy technology barely holding on for dear life, I think the concept continues to have merit and deserves a modern overhaul for both Mac and iOS.


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