Jared White
Writer. Musician. Open Web Advocate. Programmer. Designer. Sci-Fi Nerd. Family Man.

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Jared White

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I feel like it’s weird the now-very-out-of-date entry-level iPad is still a thing.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.

Jared White

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.

Jared White

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.

Jared White

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.

Jared White

Move over, Facebook and Twitter: it's time to bring back the blog

A decade ago, blogging was a big deal. Web users would bookmark the sites of the blogs they liked, and would check them frequently. Sometimes you’d even subscribe to a blogger’s mailing list to be notified of a new post.

Then came Facebook, and increased centralization of content on the internet. This included sites like Medium, which aggregate and curate writers’ content, and then sell it to readers behind a paywall.

David Heinemeier Hansson’s had enough. The web developer, bestselling author and the CTO of popular project-management software company Basecamp has decided to take his popular blog, Signal v. Noise, off Medium. He’s started publishing it on his own site, for free. And yes, you can sign up for his mailing list, too.

I was very skeptical of the move to Medium when Signal v. Noise first jumped on that platform, so I’m super excited to see this classic blog from the Basecamp folks return to full independence. I love the new design as well.

Also, as someone who really, truly dislikes long tweetstorms (honestly, if you have more tweets to convey a singular thought than you can count on one hand, start a blog!), I can’t welcome this trend wholeheartedly enough.

#writing #openweb

Jared White

DuckDuckGo will use Apple Maps for local searches on the web

DuckDuckGo has spent the last few years making the case that it’s the search engine that can protect your privacy, and now it’s trying to bolster that claim with a new partner: Apple. It is announcing that Apple Maps will now power its local search results on both desktop and mobile web browsers. Apple Maps will be the default provider for address and local searches, and it will also be the map you see when you click for more results. DuckDuckGo says that it will now have “improved address searches, additional visual features, enhanced satellite imagery, and continually updated maps.”

Initially this appears to benefit DuckDuckGo more than #Apple, due to the fact that you already have to be using DDG in order to utilize this feature. It’s not the kind of earth-shattering news that Apple switching the search default in iOS from Google to DDG would be. However, I feel like this is simply the opening statement of a much deeper collaboration. The relationship between Google and Apple is strained to say the least, and after this announcement about Apple and DuckDuckGo working together on search functionality, I feel much more confident in postulating that Google’s days as iOS’ default search provider is numbered.
#openweb #privacy

Jared White

We are Google employees. Google must drop Dragonfly.

We are Google employees and we join Amnesty International in calling on Google to cancel project Dragonfly, Google’s effort to create a censored search engine for the Chinese market that enables state surveillance.

We are among thousands of employees who have raised our voices for months. International human rights organizations and investigative reporters have also sounded the alarm, emphasizing serious human rights concerns and repeatedly calling on Google to cancel the project. So far, our leadership’s response has been unsatisfactory.

The magnitude of this statement cannot be overstated. I’ll have a lot to say about this on my podcast later this week, but at the moment, this is the biggest story in tech. I highly recommend you read through it. It’s short and it’s powerful. Well done Googlers. #privacy #politics #openweb

Jared White

Seth Godin: the steering wheel and the guardrails

Capitalism is an extraordinary engine. It has remade every corner of the Earth, and done it in the course of two or three lifetimes. Together with its cousins, technology and industrialism, capitalism is an evolving system that changes whatever it touches.

But the purpose of our society isn’t to optimize capitalism. The purpose of capitalism is to allow our society to become better. A culture that opens doors for and nurtures the people we care about.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the basic “pitch” of capitalism and the financial system we have in America—not in a negative sense, but in more of a greenfield “how can this be improved” sort of way. In other words, if capitalism were a product (like an iPhone or a Tesla Model S), how could it be upgraded? How could it be changed? How might it adapt to the natural evolution of a society? As Seth Godin points out, capitalism is an engine for tremendous growth and ingenunity. But we also need to be honest about its “dark patterns” and negative effects, and try to resolve those shortcomings while simultaneously maximizing its potential for human flourishing.
#finance

Jared White

Democrats’ blue wave was much larger than early takes suggested

Like in any election, Democrats both won some squeakers and lost some squeakers. They overperformed expectations in some races and underperformed them in others. And in 2018, it happens to be the case that Democrats got some of their most disappointing results in East Coast states with early closing times, while the GOP’s biggest disappointments came disproportionately in late-counting states.

Consequently, what felt to many like a disappointment as of 11 pm Eastern time on election night now looks more and more like a triumph.

I think reasonable people on all sides of the political spectrum can agree on one thing: political news coverage—especially on television—is heavily skewed towards sensationalism and knee-jerk reactions instead of deep analysis and factual reporting. Whether or not you believe in a “blue wave” last week, it’s clear that the rhetoric on both sides during the early election results failed to provide any meaningful coverage of what was really going on among the electorate. It’s looking like it’ll take weeks, if not months, to gain a clear picture of what this election means for U.S. politics going forward. #politics

Jared White

The Soul’s Objective Union with God

Grace can only be trusted by an equally graceful human nature. Our work is merely to till the fertile soil, knowing that the Indwelling Spirit has already been planted within, and She is the One who “teaches you all things and reminds you of all things” (John 14:26). Many Christians have tried to pile a positive theology of salvation on top of a very negative anthropology of the human person, and it just does not work. The human self-image is too damaged and distorted within such a framework.

In my personal experiences of dealing with mental health issues and stuggling with shame and self-worth, I’ve come to the conclusion that the doctrine of “original sin” is dangerous, deeply problematic from a “Jesus’ ministry”-centric viewpoint, and at the end of the day not even necessary for an incredibly rich and vibrant Christian faith.

For more observations on this topic, I’ll point you to my interview with Danielle Shroyer, author of Original Blessing.

#spirituality

Jared White

Tim Cook's Apple

Tim Cook wasn’t and isn’t a product person, not like Jobs. He didn’t dream up the next world-changing device. What he did was make those dreams a reality. Famously, he didn’t invent the iPad. He figured out how to make it for $500.

It would have been easy for Cook and his cool, steady Southern charm, to have continued as CEO much as he had as COO — running things by the numbers. But, even early on, Cook showed signs of something more.

A good summary by Rene Ritchie on Tim Cook’s seven year tenure as CEO of Apple.

In my opinion, Cook has been a better CEO than Steve Jobs. Jobs was a jerk, but he was also a creative visionary. Cook is neither a jerk nor a visionary, but he’s able to effectively lead visionary people at Apple while also standing for vital principles such as privacy and security.

Jared White

@jared@openweb.social on Mastodon

The “business model” (if any) and development model of Mastodon vs. App.net (may it rest in peace) is radically different…however I see them as both fulfilling the same important need on the web: aligning the goals of a social network with the needs of its community, rather than the actual paying customers of nearly all proprietary social networks: advertisers.

Mastodon is nothing without the community. And I love that.

So I’ve been on Mastodon, the #openweb federated social network, for a while now. I’ve seen it grow and grow, and lately with all the wackiness with Nazis and other unsavory characters on Twitter—combined with the mind-numbing lack of awareness on the part of Twitter’s top brass—I’m seeing a ton of “influencers” in the tech/geek crowd migrating over to Mastodon. It’s very exciting. What’s also exciting is I decided to set up my own instance of Mastodon! It’s called (oh how I love that I was able to snag this domain name): OpenWeb.social. The link above lets you see my account there, and you’re welcome to sign up on the instance if you want to try out Mastodon yourself. I’ll be happy to show you around!

Jared White

Trailer for Free Solo: in Theaters This Fall

“Alex Honnold’s Free Solo climb should be celebrated as one of the great athletic feats of any kind, ever.” —The New York Times

So this guy climbed up the side of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. By himself. Without a rope. If you’re already getting queasy and feeling a touch of vertigo just thinking about that prospect, you’re not alone! I definitely look forward to seeing this documentary film—the subject matter is truly astounding—but I’m not so sure my stomach is ready for the ride…

Jared White

I Wasn't Bullied as a Child, But I Got Made Fun Of a Lot

I know everybody has some type of complex that they deal with internally. And many people would probably say that while I may be short, at least I’m Intelligent, or have good hair or cool tattoos. I am definitely thankful for the things that I have in my life, but I have always had an issue with being short. It started in middle school when boys used to call me “small fry” or “bug,” etc. Throughout high school, many of my good friends were really tall, and even one of my best friends would call out about how small my hands were.

Fast forward almost 20 years later, and (as I mentioned earlier) people still comment on how short I am. I never really put that much thought into why I hated it so much. I would just try to push it out of my mind as quickly as possible and leave the conversation. It wasn’t until a recent bachelorette party with friends from high school that I realized how much I was bothered by it. Not by the fact that I’m short, but by having been picked on because of it my entire life.

I appreciated reading this article by Shana Bull because I can relate—not that I’m short, but because I got made fun of when I was young too. I was a really chubby kid and a bit of a klutz, and so I grew up thinking of myself as being just hopelessly nerdy and out of shape. Not athletic in the least. Certainly not “cool” in any sense.

It’s taken many years for me to get the point where I feel good about my body. Loosing weight, going to the gym, walking and running a lot…all things that have helped my mindset change. I’m not saying I’m ready to join a sports league now 😜, but I definitely no longer feel like the fat klutz of my youth.

It’d hard to shake off the labels people place on us. One of my primary goals as a parent is to help my kids feel confident in who they are and how they were created; to know that they have the power to define for themselves what they want out of life and to ignore the external voices of ignorance. I realize I can’t stop people from making fun of them, but I can help them resist the temptation to take it to heart.

Jared White

Tested: Apple's patch fixes the thermal slowdowns in the 2018 i9 MacBook Pro

Apple’s patch on Tuesday seems to fix most —if not all —of the clock speed excursions that the 15-inch MacBook Pro was experiencing when under load. AppleInsider delves into the situation, runs the numbers in some real-world applications, and talks about what led us to this point.

I’ve been following the news of odd performance glitches with the top-of-the-line (Intel i9-based) MacBook Pros from #Apple, and (like everyone) speculating what might be going on. I certainly hoped there was some kind of software issue at play here and not a faulty hardware design. But I assumed if that were the case, it would be at the OS level…maybe Apple would release an update to macOS to improve performance on these particular models. Instead, Apple released a firmware update to supply a “missing digital key” — the lack of which had a negative effect on “the thermal management system”. It’s definitely not good PR for Apple to have this sort of QA oversight result in a news cycle of pointed commentary on the slow performance of its flagship laptops. But I’m glad the fix appears to be a relatively simple one.

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