Category Archives: Technology

“Destroying how Society Works”?

“The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops we’ve created are destroying how society works,” he said, referring to online interactions driven by “hearts, likes, thumbs-up.” “No civil discourse, no cooperation; misinformation, mistruth. And it’s not an American problem — this is not about Russians ads. This is a global problem.”

Who said this? A former executive at Facebook.

Text Blades by Waytools

I’m part of the pre-release test group for a new kind of keyboard, called Text Blades. Each of your fingers has its own key, and as well as going up and down like a real key on a real keyboard, each key is also a mini-touchpad — the key knows which part of it you’re pressing, allowing each single key to mimic all the keys that its finger would normally control.

Imagine how much better your life would be if your home was a little bit larger and all your commutes were a lot shorter. That’s what typing with the Text Blades is like. Your fingers have all the room that they need while sitting on the home row, but they have much less distance to travel when they need to move.

More room, less reach.

Unfortunately, this means that for the first few days, when you’re driving, as well as saying, “Wow! We’re here already!” you’ve also got too many occasions when the kids in the back seat are complaining, “Dad! You went past it again!”

Videos at the waytools website.

Facebook & Trump: Social-Engineering Manipulation used as Propaganda

“We don’t know everything about Facebook’s role in [Donald Trump’s] campaign. What we do know — or certainly ought to know by now — is to not take Facebook at its word.”

— from Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society

“Facebook sold ads during the campaign to a Russian ‘troll farm,’ targeting American voters with ‘divisive social and political messages’ that fit right in with Donald Trump’s campaign strategy… Truth was not a requirement.”

— from Sullivan, “Facebook’s Role in Trump’s Win,” Washington Post

For a more complete and fascinating article, see Lancaster, “You Are the Product,” in the London Review of Books. (note: ironically, you have to sign up to receive email from LRB, but you can easily unsubscribe to these by clicking at the bottom of the first one.)

Mac Malware Alert! Or not.

There was a rash of articles earlier this month in various newsites about a new report warning that 2017 would be a ‘banner year’ for cyber-security breaches on Macintosh computers. The report said that “Apple’s current strategies may not be enough to stop the rising tide.” (Wagenseil, “Mac Malware Reaches New Heights, Report Finds”) Did you get that? “may not be enough”!

Oddly enough, the information-security firm that released the report highlighting the many threats that were ‘likely’ to come is precisely the same information-security firm that has just introduced a new antivirus product for sale called Malwarebytes for Mac.  I wonder if they had any idea when they started working on the product that the month of its release would be the most dangerous time in all of Macintosh history! Pretty amazing.

Flying over Mars

Jan Fröjdman’s wonderful video, based on high-resolution NASA photos … crank the vimeo HD setting up to 2K and watch it full-screen on the best screen you can find. Just try not to stop yourself signing up for that one-way trip.


Scrivener for iPad (and iPhone)

Scrivener has been released for iOS. Formerly only available for Mac or PeeCee, Scrivener is software designed for authors. When I’m writing a short document and know what I want to say, I use Pages. When I’m starting a writing project, and I’m not sure exactly what I’ll say in what order. I want to use Scrivener. It allows me to plan and organise by more clearly breaking the single larger whole into smaller chunks, some of which might or might not be included in the final submitted document, though still part of the project. Scrivener makes it very easy to see a useful overview, and also makes it very easy to zero in on specific chunks.

Having Scrivener on my iPad is, quite simply, wonderful. There are some compromises, in style and feature-list, but nothing too drastic — this is unmistakeably Scrivener. Through Dropbox, I found syncing with Scrivener on my computer a very simple task (though not automatic), and so far it has worked flawlessly with both new projects and ones that I’ve had kicking around on my computer for years.

And I also now have Scrivener on my iPhone. As a comprehensive tool, Scrivener + iPhone is quite frankly less useful. The ability to see an overview on such a small screen is severely compromised. But, with a Bluetooth keyboard, the phone’s screen is plenty big enough to usefully type in first drafts of sections, and it is great to be able to enter those drafts directly into Scrivener projects and have them there waiting for me when I return to the project on a larger screen.

If you write things, you really owe it to yourself to look into Scrivener. There is a learning curve, especially if the only word processor you’ve ever used is MicrosoftWord, but there are also free trial versions for Mac or PeeCee that should give you enough time to try it out and see how it frees up your writing. (Scrivener is not yet available for Android.)

Elegant Free Font : Cormorant

CormorantAvailable in several weights — Light, Regular, Medium, Semibold, and Bold — and several different styles — Roman, Italic, True Small Caps, Unicase, and a nice Upright Italic — Cormorant is a typeface you can do a lot with. For free.

Thank you, Christian Thalmann of Catharsis Fonts for Cormorant.

Decline of Microsoft, Not Personal Computing

There’s an article in the Wall Street Journal reporting the on-going decline of the PC. Except that the article lumps different things together into that category.

Sale of all personal computers, Windows & Macs, are reported as down by 11%; but we also know that sales of Macs are up 16%; therefore the downward slide for Windows is even worse than is being reported.

Perhaps as importantly, the article reports a total of around 68 million personal computers shipped (Macs + Windows PCs). Apple, however, sold about 65 million iOS devices — iPhones and iPads — in the same period. None of those, of course, run Windows.

In other words, personal computing is not in decline. Microsoft is in decline. Computers running Microsoft’s Windows sell fewer and fewer each year, while the market for alternatives continues to grow, particularly Apple computers, be they Mac-OS or iOS devices.

So also Daring Fireball.

“Do Not Track” Means “Go Ahead”

Glenn Fleishman, for MacWorld, has written a useful article about the “Do Not Track” controversy and the murky waters of advertising, tracking, and privacy.

He Created Art I Use Every Day

zapfI was saddened to hear of the passing of this great typographer. Several of his fonts are outstanding representatives of their class: Zapf Dingbats, Optima, Zapf Chancery & Zapfino. But undoubtedly he will be best remembered for Palatino and the way that, partnered with the desktop publishing revolution on the Apple Macintosh, it helped change the world. Hermann Zapf was 96 years old.

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