Category Archives: Analysis

🙏🏻 Hope for Tech – And the winner is…Microsoft!!

—TechWite’s Do the Right Thing (“Tee DRaT“) Award for 2022!!
As former self-appointed Vice President in charge of Doing the Right Thing at Apple, —known “inside the donut” as the “EViP of DRaT” — it’s my pleasure to announce that Microsoft wins TechWite’s “Do the Right Thing” Award!! In this MS vs FB competition, Facebook says it can identify a user’s emotional state and share that with advertisers and anyone else for $$$, but gosh, they’ll stop doing that.

Meanwhile Microsoft’s response? “Nah, let’s not go there. And BTW, we’re okay if you guys want to unionize.” Is this the same Microsoft that hijacked the code for OS/2 from IBM, tried to crush Apple, insisted on its private standards vs. open Internet standards, etc. etc. etc.?? 🤪

Apple, I feel like I’m in Bizarro world.

Microsoft shares its Responsible AI Standard. Microsoft Corp., as part of its framework for building AI systems, announced that its Azure Face service would no longer include capabilities “that infer emotional states and identity attributes such as gender, age, smile, facial hair, hair, and makeup.”

—Wall Street Journal, “CIO Tech Report” newsletter for 6/22/22

Meta agrees to end alleged discriminatory practices in housing ads. Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc. agreed Thursday to adopt new online advertising practices to settle an investigation by federal officials, who said its ads discriminated against users by race, gender and other factors.

Discrimination by algorithm. According to federal officials, Meta created an ad-targeting algorithm that would consider protected characteristics—including race, religion and sex—to find users who mirrored the advertiser’s targeted audience. The WSJ’s John D. McKinnon notes that it is illegal to deny someone housing based on federally-protected characteristics such as race, religion and sex.

—Wall Street Journal, “CIO Tech Report” newsletter for 6/22/22

— 🙄 Will Facebook Do the Right Thing? Only when they get caught!! And “How long, has this been going on?”

P.S.: You can still #DeleteFacebook and #AvoidtheInternet

—TechWite

Hey Tim. Here’s a “Portrait” icon. See? It’s taller.

There be gremlins? A ghost in the big giant Apple machine? An Easter Egg? Or somebody’s idea of a joke?

Because a couple of important icons have gotten switched!! And “icons”, little pictures that we rely on to represent certain very specific things, are important! You can’t just go switching them around! You’ll defeat their purpose. You’ll make them unreliable. I mean, what if somebody changed all the light switches in your house so that when you click “On” the lights go off? Or swapped faucets so hot water came out when you wanted cold?? What if one day Captain Aubrey decided that port would be starboard from now on?

Details are so important. Attention to important details helped establish Apple as the platform of visual artists. Unfortunately, someone has forgotten the importance of small details, in this case, in the difference between Landscape and Portrait. And here’s what I’m talking about:

On the Macintosh—Look at this Print Dialog from MacOS Monterey 12.1.1.

Notice anything?

The Print dialog has two icons, helpfully labeled “Portrait” and “Landscape”. Two tiny upward-pointing arrows are also supposed to help you figure this out. But if the rectangles were placed correctly, arrows would be unnecessary. The ORIENTATION of the rectangle is the indicator, the rectangles don’t even need anything inside them to make this point. (Ideally, the Landscape rectangle would contain mountains, not people, but we’re not going to fix everything today…).

Remember:

Portrait=long edge vertical (tall).
Landscape=long edge horizontal (short).

The arrows are there because the rectangle of the Landscape icon is turned on its side! It’s in Portrait mode, the same exact orientation as the rectangle of the Portrait icon. This misses the whole point of the VISUAL CUE that icons represent!! The “person” image inside the rectangle does not make it “Portrait”!

The rectangle icons would be more obvious if they were empty. But in this Mac dialog, in the Landscape icon, the “person” is sideways, which only makes sense if you turn your head sideways. Do you look at your screen that way??

That’s one issue. Once this flaw was established somewhere, somebody “understood” that any rectangle with a “person” in it is a Portrait icon. Confused? They were. Now you’ll never guess where the Landscape icon turns up, the one that is correctly oriented, but unfortunately contains a person image in it.

On iOS—Look at this so-called “Genius Pick” from “Tips” for iPad

How about here?

This “Tip” literally tells you to tap on a LANDSCAPE Icon “to turn on Portrait mode.”

Now we have the right icon (Landscape), being asked to do the wrong thing. Where will it end?? What I shouldn’t have to explain here, is that you ought to have to tap on a Portrait Icon to turn on Portrait mode! Does anyone at Apple know who Steve Krug is anymore? Or Don Norman?

And so, continuing my long tradition of helping Apple when I can, I, TechWite, have returned from a long and mysterious absence to remind you, “Think Different”. Remember that Landscape and Portrait are TWO DIFFERENT THINGS, historically represented by TWO DIFFERENT icons, and essentially, by THE ORIENTATION of the TWO RECTANGLES.

🤐 So many words! Try this:

“I’m Portrait!”—a tall image, with longer vertical edge

“I’m Landscape!” —a short image with a long horizontal edge

What’s to be done? I’m not going to correct every dialog and Genius Tip in Apple world, but I’ll give you a place to start. Please fix the icon in the Mac Print Dialog so it looks something like this:

Oh look! No tiny arrows!

When you’re done with that, then you can tackle the rest of this confusion in all the bazillions of iPhones and iPads and every other iThing. Okay? Glad to help. Now get to it!

I’m back.

—TechWite

Hipsters, audiophiles, and young people like vinyl, but why? 🤔

A friend has been raving about Spotify (or other streaming music services) for several years.

It’s hugely convenient, you have access to TONS of music whenever you want, and the quality is “digital”. Can’t argue the first two points, but as for the “quality”—at least when I had Sirius some years ago—I was frequently annoyed with the “flanging” distortion in streamed music. Same with Pandora, which I gave up due to the ads. Maybe it’s better now? Anyway, this same friend is now getting into vinyl mostly because his daughters are into it. 😎

Hipsters, audiophiles, and young people like vinyl, but why? Me? I’m old enough to have had three or four hundred LPs, and a selection of stackable equipment and big speakers. None of which I miss much. I sometimes miss the aesthetic. With LPs you take time to listen. It’s not immediate or convenient. And there is, the…

  • Visual —large print liner notes, and cover art
  • Tactile —the process of removing a disc from the sleeve, wiping the dust from it, placing it on the turntable, lowering the tonearm
  • Auditory—that first moment when the needle catches music in the groove

Great, and Do you remember these?

  • Scratches
  • Warping
  • Skips
  • Turntable rumble
  • Inter-groove modulation
  • Needle issues—especially proper tonearm weight and balancing

    Only some of this may be resolved with expensive, high end equipment. For others, you have to replace your precious vinyl!

Is it the sound?—Is the appeal the retro-aesthetics of mid-century music reproduction? Or is it the sound? If it’s the sound, it’s not that it is “more realistic” or “genuine”. Because it can’t be. Not if you understand the analog fundamentals of how LPs and tape work. I won’t bloviate about that here, (although I could.) To keep it simple: the specs of most audio equipment don’t even match the range of human hearing – usually 20Hz-20kHz. More pertinent to my point, the alleged analog “warmth” of LP sound has more to do with the “RIAA Rolloff”—a standard process by which the sound is filtered and equalized as it is recorded and played back. It’s not just pure “analog”, unmodified sound. If you want the details, this is a really good article that explains it.—> https://ledgernote.com/columns/mixing-mastering/riaa-curve/

Theoretically, you could use an equalizer to tweak your Music or iTunes player to make all your CDs sound more like vinyl. Or, if you still think an LP sounds “better” than a CD, try this experiment—If you have the equipment, cables, etc., (again, this is your DIY project, not mine). Record one of your favorite LPs on your computer, and then play it back, on your computer (if that’s the only way), but preferably through the same amplifier and speakers you use for your LP. You could even record it onto a CD (If you still have that ability. These days, those are fading fast!) Play that vinyl album from the CD. Is the sound different between the source LP and the digital copy? I’d contend that the digital recording can capture and reproduce all the “warmth” of the LP. Try it. I have.

I’m not against vinyl, I’m just against dumb reasons for justifying its use. Hang onto those LPs, enjoy everything about them that is different, but don’t tell me it’s about the sound unless you can definitively prove that you can always tell, “Is it Ella? Or is it Memorex?”

Cheers!

— TechWite

🙏🏻QR Code Controversy? Really? Calm down America.

Since Covid, QR Codes have become popular, especially as a “no-touch” tool to view a restaurant menu using a cell phone. Sometimes you can even order and pay using your cell phone. Although this New York Times article doesn’t outright suggest that using QR codes is risky or dangerous or a threat to your online privacy, it doesn’t do much to explain how a QR Code works, leading many readers to assume that the QR Code is some sinister new technology that will steal their identity, or worse.

Reader reactions to the article were just off-the-charts, paranoid-whacko. I tried to help out with this soothing comment:

“QR codes save you typing in a URL to get to a web page. As suggested by others here, any “damage” to privacy etc., results from the security threats already present on web sites and the internet. If this idea drives you to action, then get off Facebook and Amazon, both of which do far more damage than a restaurant web page.”

Christopher Plummer, Reader Comment, on article “QR Codes Are Here to Stay”, NYT, 7/26/2021

By this evening, there were almost 300 more comments about the article, mostly paranoid-whacko comparisons to the dystopias of Huxley and Orwell and horrified exclamations of former customers who swear they’ll never go to a restaurant again…and so on.

America, calm down! There are plenty of reasons to #AvoidtheInternet, but QR Codes used by restaurants are not one of them. If you use the simple camera connection in your phone or tablet that recognizes a QR Code, it:

  1. Translates the text that the “code” represents
  2. Recognizes that text as a URL (the kind you would type in your web browser)
  3. Passes that URL to your browser
  4. And opens your browser to that specific web page

That’s all that is happening! QR Codes can contain other information—addresses, phone numbers—but if all you’re doing is reading the code with the camera on your device (and NOT using a 3rd party QR app), then the not-sinister QR Code is saving you some keystrokes to get you to a web site. THAT’S ALL.

As I imply, once you get to the web site in question, your security and privacy is entirely up to you, and contains the same risks as any other commerce web site that may use trackers, cookies, spy pixels, profiling, blah, blah, blah, all the reasons you have to be smart and consider that you might want to #AvoidTheInternet, #DeleteFacebook, and so on. But please, don’t blame the QR Code.

This code takes you to a photograph I took.

Be Careful Out there! 🙂

—TechWite

Back From the Dead—But not using a bootable drive…

My Mac Backup Strategy, was:

1. Backup to Time Machine regularly to have access to that data.
2. Backup regularly to a fast “bootable” external drive “clone” using a nifty 3rd party tool such as SuperDuper.

Having an external bootable backup meant that if my internal drive(s) failed, I could quickly fire up a workable system and continue working, until I restored it all to a replacement drive. But as I discovered last night…

At this writing, you can’t make a bootable backup disk with Big Sur. And the M1 (non-Intel) Macs can’t boot from an external drive. Now what? You could (and should) keep using Time Machine of course, but that is just saving your data and apps, not creating a “boot disk”. You’ll have to repair/replace your drive or Mac first, then recover using Time Machine. Unless you have a backup computer and work with all your data “in the cloud”, hours or days of downtime is inevitable with a hardware failure.

Short version: Make multiple backups of everything that is important to you. Including backing up to (a non-bootable) external drive with SuperDuper or other “cloning” utility. If your recovery strategy is “Make an appointment at the Genius Bar”, make sure you allow for at least a few days of downtime. If your business can’t afford downtime, try to work with all your data “in the cloud”, have a spare Mac, and be sure if you shut one Mac down, you can still do everything you need to on the other. And Test and Verify that this actually works!!

Readable Technical details and workaround(s) at Shirt Pocket Watch (SuperDuper developer’s blog) www.shirt-pocket.com/blog/, and this thorough summary from TidBITS: The Role of Bootable Duplicates in a Modern Backup Strategy.
— Read on

P.S. TechWite is also back from the dead. At least for this one entry. I’ve always been UNPREDICTABLE. 😎


—Techwite

Old Data Never Dies… 🤙

Ladders Bad Data

Date: September 3, 2017 at 8:00:43 AM EDT
Subject:Notice of Updated Terms of Use & Privacy Policy – September 2017
Reply-To: jobs

Somewhere, somebody is looking at a report about job hunters on “the Ladders”. My personal information there is obsolete. There’s a number in that report that represents my ancient sign up on their site as a participant and job seeker, which is bogus. Because? I am not a participant in “the Ladders”, nor an active member, nor a  job seeker, nor have I been for years.

Don’t they take any responsibility for the “freshness” of their data? Of course! They send out Policy and Terms of Use update notices. Obviously anyone who doesn’t respond is still a valid member, desires to remain on their roles, and agrees to the Policy changes. That’s how everyone expresses agreement right, by silence?

This is not just a “Ladders” issue; it’s another example of the convoluted backward logic and misleading or outright fraudulent data that permeates the Internet. It’s in a company’s interest to have more users, more members, more eyeballs, more job seekers. Those numbers are important—everyone knows they are inflated, don’t they? (THAT’s a rhetorical question. NO, I don’t think “they” do.)

A responsible Internet company will periodically roll-off and clear out that data (making the assumption that true data would be more valuable). Most even have a mechanism in place to do this. How? The former job seeker/member logs in and updates his/her information or maybe even closes the account.

But, relying on the user? Asking someone to clean up an old login they used more than a few years ago? This is worse than getting off a snail-mail catalog subscription, where you can usually call an 800 number! If the user has to login, or send mail from an old or non-existent email address, or go through an annoying and time-consuming password upgrade process? Too much work! It’s not happening.

If companies were serious about truthful data, they would make this process easy. How? Notify the user that the account is about to expire, and the data will be expunged or otherwise no longer considered “active”. No response: assume that the data should be cleared, and clear it!

They’d rather have bigger numbers. True data is good, but to these jokers more data is better. More members even if they are imaginary. The companies want your data, even if it is wrong, and they are getting more obstinate about keeping it.

🤙🏻

— TechWite

(And no, I’m not nuts about this. Maybe someone has a reason not to be online and away for…a few months, or years? So put a mechanism in place to put everything in “suspend” or “archive” mode first, before it disappears permanantly. These issues are not that difficult.)

Clickbait is Killing the Internet

theattentionmerchants_coverDid that headline get your attention?
Did you click a link to get here? Why? What did you expect to see? Okay, sorry, that title was “clickbait”. I want you to read my blog. I want you to stop whatever you were doing and visit the TechWite site, so I created a sensational title. That was my motivation. What was yours? It’s worth thinking about…


ClickbaitDo we really need to define this? It is what it sounds like: A title, heading, or image designed to DISTRACT the web user from whatever s/he is doing, click a link, and “go” somewhere else.


Clickbait is often about advertising, the end result to get you to BUY something. But it’s also about EYEBALLS, to get you to look at an ad, push up the “readership” of a page, a video, or person, or site. It’s not just in Facebook and gawdawful “news” web sites like nj.com. It’s on LinkedIN.

HINT: If an article has “Steve Jobs” in the title, especially if it’s about “Tim Cook is NOT Steve Jobs” it’s clickbait. If it’s about Apple or some other company being doomed or “beleaguered” it’s clickbait.

Dishonest clickbait is infuriating.
Let’s say just because it sounds interesting, you click on one of those links, “The Five Worst Plastic Surgeries of Playboy Bunnies”. That GRABS your attention. But gosh, now you’re on a page with an article about lawnmowers! Where are the bunnies? Nope, not even the kind with long ears. You’ve been had. And somewhere, somebody gets to claim your click and say their link got you to look at a web page. This is getting so bad that on YouTube you’ll click on a link for one thing, and end up watching a video for something completely different. And before you know it, minutes, maybe hours, have gone by. Where? Can you remember what you watched? Do you know what a “black out” is? I’m inventing a new term today: “the CBO“- Clickbait Black Out. If you’ve experienced this, it’s time to take a look at your digital life.

Think before you click!
Internet people, TechWite—newly committed to spending less time in a browser—is not going to write a long essay about this. Not today. But TechWite will offer you some sage advice: Think before you click. It could save your life, a few minutes at a time. Think before you click. Take a couple of seconds before you take the bait. TRY to remember WHAT you were planning to do today. Be aware. Right here. Right now. And may you go for a walk, outside, in nature.

—TW

Want to know more? These links open in new windows, think before you click!!:

Partly covered as a topic in this book by Tim Wu, “The Attention Merchants“.

Or read or listen about it here:  How Free Web Content Traps People In An Abyss Of Ads And Clickbait : All Tech Considered : NPR

“Courage”, Innovation, and Headphone Jacks

screen-shot-2016-09-11-at-4-22-08-pmA word about “Courage”:
Phil Schiller. Seriously? At this particular date, with all of its significance, the word “courage” applied to the way people use their $600 telephone is a mind-jarring mis-use of English. Is this just another case of pandering to the drama of Ellipticals? They can deal with it. It’s just a freakin’ jack!!

The crazed, emotional rants in advance of the official product announcements were generally from people complaining that they don’t want to give up their wired headphones. You don’t have to give up your headphones. You lose the jack.

Read the details people.

  • The iPhone 7 comes with Apple lightning connector “Earpods”—you connect them to your phone with a “lightning” connector. (The same connector used for your power adapter.)
  • Apple also includes a little “dongle” to connect your current headphones using the Lightning port.
  • This only applies to iPhone 7 and newer Apple devices going forward.
  • For now, you can’t charge your iPhone and listen at the same time. Wow. Big inconvenience.

iMac 1998—What’s a Big Inconvenience?? The first friggin’ iMac was a Big Inconvenience!
The first iMac was the first Macintosh with USB connectors. Most people had never seen nor heard of USB. Printers? Scanners? Modems? Hey, none of the old stuff worked!! You had to buy all kinds of new cables, adapters, and peripherals. USB was brand new. And mice? Thank you, Jonny Ive, who designed this crazy ROUND mouse (which became known as “the Hockey Puck“). THAT spawned a whole industry of replacements and add-ons because it was so useless. AND there no floppy drive to install all the new drivers!! Gone! All those boxes and stacks of 3.5” floppies were now about as useful as…well, nothing. We didn’t call that “courage”, we called that “Steve Jobs fixing Apple”.


screen-shot-2016-09-11-at-4-22-51-pmAirPods?
As for the new wireless earbuds, airbuds, EarPods, AirPods, whatever…those beautifully designed Dyson-style, GI-Joe sized, mini-hairdryers only work for people who can put them, and keep them in their ears. I can’t. Love the technology. Hate the shape.

Here I am giving away another brilliant idea: “Pod Shapers”, a special adapter for the AirPod to hold it on your head because it won’t stay in your ear. Especially for the Boomer market, available in a range of fluorescent colors to make them little buggers easier to find!*

To The Whiners—If you really hate Apple roping you into its eco-system and “forcing” you to go wireless and buy airbuds, EarPods…whatever, then go on, buy a Samsung phone. Just, make sure you also buy a fire extinguisher. 😎

—TechWite

*Did I call this or what?! Just get PowerBeats Pros in your color choice!—TW, 3/1/2022

Want a Private Facebook? Try #Slack

NYTimes: A Charming Alternative Universe of You, Your Friends and No News

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/18/technology/a-charming-alternative-universe-of-you-your-friends-and-no-news.html?smprod=nytcore-ipad&smid=nytcore-ipad-share

imageThe Times article (above) tempts with the idea of an alternative to the competitive, super-public, extrovert dominated world of fake friends and insincere “likes”. But, the NYT never seems to escape from that social norm, suggesting instead the candy sweet illusion of Instagram “Stories”.

Really?

TechWite says: Try Slack
Do you want a place online where you can share photos, web links, movies, and all that other stuff but not have it smeared with ads, streams of articles and media curated by robots, comments from people you don’t know, don’t remember, or want to forget? Do you want an app where you can have a private conversation (the “DM”—Direct Message—in Twitter becomes a “Private Channel” in Slack) with someone you already know, who is already participating in this place, and where you don’t have to use email to do it? And your team only has members that you want in it. Period.

Not “The Next Big Thing”—Better!
Yea, yea, yea, everyone tells you to use Slack for business, for software development projects, to integrate your two diverse companies that now have to merge their email systems and don’t have a common platform to work on, blah, blah. Blech!! I’m suggesting you, and a small group of real friends who want to plan your next bike trip, group vacation, backpacking adventure, etc. etc., create a Slack Team. Spend a little time and effort figuring out how Slack works. Yes, there are apps for iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, and POWB (plain old web browsers). And sure, there are tons of plug-ins and commercial upgrades and corporate tie-ins, but only if you want them. This is not “The Next Big Thing”—this is the thing you want to use to communicate and stay in touch with your REAL Friends and Family. The basic version is free.

Life is short. Create a team! Have fun!
These links open in a new window:
Create your own Slack Team:  https://slack.com
Join the public SlackBITS Team run by our friends at TidBITS: http://slackbits.herokuapp.com

Tell them TechWite sent you!

BTW: No, I have no commercial, financial, or stock interest in #Slack. But I am open to the possibility!

—Peace Out

Followers, Friends, and Likes. Oh My!! Engagement is a Social Lie.

via And Now, I Unfollow Thee – The New York Times

Take it all “with a grain of salt…”

More help for the Nverts. TechWite dashes another social myth!

The brilliant analysts of Wall Street, looking for better ways to blow more air into the bubble of Social media believe that “engagement” is everything. But what is it?


“Engagement*” – Catch word for ‘user involvement’ –  the popularity of your web site, application, social feed, page, etc. “Engagement” supersedes “eyeballs”: the number of people who looked at a page. Engagement sounds more scientific, and is therefore more useful to analysts, stock brokers, and journalists in declaring the success or failure of an online campaign, and especially in applying a monetary value and potential for advertising revenue. But unfortunately, there is no standard “measure” of engagement. Is it: How many members have signed up? “Daily Views” of a page, or video? **  How many times they ‘click’ from one page to an advertisement? How many “likes” they post for your business on Facebook? How many “friends”, how many “followers”, how many? How many? And how many of those are even real???


Wake up world. This is all vapor. Not even the kind of vapor you can inhale.

Today’s lesson is easy: Whatever anyone tells you about the popularity and massive use of a site, page, or “social network” is probably not (I’m being kind here…) exactly what is going on. Review your own experience with social. You are a VALID user. Your experience is probably not much different than anyone else’s. Think about it:

  • Facebook—In spite of the many ads you can now find all over “your” Facebook, how many times have you ever actually used one of those ads to make a purchase? Have you? Tell me!
  • YouTube, Web Pages, and elsewhere—The pop-up ad on the web page, do you want to see it? Or skip it?
  • Twitter—Poor Twitter. I like Twitter. Do you choose to read Tweets that Twitter inserts in your feed? Do you have any idea where they come from? Can you really keep up with the tweets of the 50 Twitter feeds you follow? 150? 500? Do you think those people who claim to follow over a thousand other Twitter feeds ever even LOOK at the tweets?? How do you feel about being followed by all those robots and porn sites?
  • Instagram – More robots and porn sites. More opportunities to buy followers.
  • Followers – That’s right, you want to have a popular Twitter feed or Instagram?? Buy yourself 10,000 followers. Or more. It doesn’t cost that much.*** We are really talking about a hall of mirrors here.

You can read more about it using the links below. I won’t waste more words. I want to get off my computer now because I have a real book I am reading. One made with paper. Seriously. So, because it means nothing:

  • Don’t follow me on Twitter!
  • Don’t like my Facebook page!
  • Don’t follow me on Instagram!

Peace Out,

—TW 


(Links below open in a new window.)

*Engagement (Rate)
Trackmaven – Engagement Rate is a metric that measures the level of engagement that a piece of created content is receiving from an audience. It shows how much people interact with the content. Factors that influence engagement rate include users’ comments, shares, and likes. <http://trackmaven.com/marketing-dictionary/engagement-rate/>

“4 Instagram Analytics Tools for Your Business”, HootSuite, <https://blog.hootsuite.com/instagram-analytics-tools-business/>

**Daily Views
“Snapchat Video Traffic Has Caught Up With Facebook”, Fortune <http://fortune.com/2016/03/01/snapchat-facebook-video-views-2/>

“Facebook Daily Views get New Metrics”, International Business Times <http://www.ibtimes.com/facebook-inc-fb-daily-video-views-get-new-metrics-publishers-2342825>

***Buy Followers:
“Big Business: Buying Fake Instagram Followers”, Huffington Post,<http://www.huffingtonpost.com/shayla-r-price/big-business-buying-fake_b_6322362.html>