Appearance: Home Screens

Appearance: Home Screens

I was pleased to join my friend Lee Peterson on his new show, Home Screens, this week to talk about, what else, my Phone's home screen.

The episode is embedded below, and I think the most interesting bits were discussing:

  1. How I use Airtable
  2. Why I prefer the algorithmic timeline in Twitter
  3. My photography workflow

The Value of an Open Podcast

Daring Fireball: ‘Joe Rogan Got Ripped Off’

Even if you put money aside, Rogan’s deal with Spotify will almost certainly shrink his audience to some degree, and it gives Spotify complete control over Rogan’s relationship with his audience. I don’t think Rogan is a fool — quite the opposite. But I still think he’s underestimating the value of his show.

I won't pretend to know the economics better than the parties involved, but this certainly follows logically.

  1. Before, you could listen to Joe Rogan's show in any podcast app, except Spotify. Finding it was no problem, just go to the top podcasts and it'll be there right in the top 5 basically all the time.
  2. Now, you can only listen in Spotify. This is good for Spotify because they are going to to from zero Rogan subscribers to likely millions overnight. For Rogan though, this means getting all of his current subscribers to resubscribe. It's basically like sending out an email that says "we've unsubscribed you from this newsletter, please download our app and resubscribe to keep getting this email." True fans will so it, but any marketer will tell you that's a failsafe way to lose subscribers.

For Rogan, the math must be that Spotify will pay him directly more than he would have earned from the audience members he's losing. Or maybe he'd rather have a set level of revenue he can rely on and wants that stability. One thing's for sure, I would love to be a fly on the wall in these conversations.

How Open Podcasts Can Compete

The open podcast ecosystem is dying — here’s how to save it. - Divinations

If the open podcast ecosystem wants to compete, they have to figure out a way to implement ideas like these. They cannot stay stuck in the status quo. This currently feels impossible, but fortunately, they have a good example to look up to: the web.

Back in the late 90’s, webpages were very different than they are now. CSS was barely a thing. JavaScript was totally different. There were no advanced technologies like WebGL and websockets. If you wanted the best user experience, you had to use a proprietary system like Flash.

But, eventually, the W3C and companies like Apple and Google got their act together, and the open web caught up. The web standards movement won.

Related to what I’ve been pondering this week, Nathan Baschez has a thoughtful, excellent piece on what open podcasting can do to compete with exclusive shows as more and more move to these closed platforms.

I am way, way more interested in the items listed in this article happening rather than arguing til next decade on what technically is or isn’t a “podcast”.

Also, I can’t help but think about podcast clip sharing that Overcast added last year. This was a huge improvement to sharing podcast moments on social media! I think I use them more than most people, but it’s so refreshing to be able to share my favorite moments and have people hear them without needing to make sure they have the right podcast app installed, wait for the episode to download, and hope that it took them to the right time stamp. More of this, please!

It’s Just Politics

Opinion | When the Mask You’re Wearing ‘Tastes Like Socialism’ - The New York Times

From the perspective of moral foundations theory, conservatives’ greater concern for purity and fear of contamination would suggest that they would respond more vigorously to a virus than would liberals. This was indeed the case with the Ebola crisis during the Obama Administration when conservative voices often expressed extreme concern about and even fear of Ebola spreading in the United States, while roundly criticizing President Obama’s more measured reaction.

It’s worth noting Ebola claimed 2 lives in the US, and only 4 people contracted it in the US. The Wikipedia article on the topic has multiple paragraphs devoted to all 4 people! About 1,600 people died yesterday from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, which is an improvement from a few weeks ago, if you wanted to compare the scale of these viruses.

Pushing AirPods Too Hard

Kuo: Apple may not include EarPods headphones in iPhone 12 box to boost AirPods sales - 9to5Mac

According to the latest report from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple may not include the wired EarPods headphones in the box of the iPhone 12. This would naturally drive sales of Apple’s second-generation AirPods, as customers would no longer be getting free headphones with their new phones.
Kuo suggests that Apple may heavily promote or discount the AirPods this holiday season, with no new models of AirPods or AirPods Pro expected until 2021.

Oh boy, I can hear people on Twitter already:

“Everyone already has headphones!”

“AirPods are that good, Apple is trying to get you to use something better.”

A conspiracy theory when the iPhone 7 released without a headphone jack was that Apple did it just to force you to buy AirPods. This was an out-there suggestion at the time, but if Apple is removing the Lightning headphones to drive sales of AirPods, well, that’s literally them doing what the theorists said in 2017.

I anticipate a healthy does of “actually…” in response to this post, but if Apple actually does this in the fall, I think it’s a bad look for the company and I don’t think it’s the right thing to do for the customer.

I also can’t help but cringe a little when a company who turned an $11 billion profit in a COVID-19 economy, has a $1.36 trillion market cap, and absolute market dominance with their iconic AirPods, feels the need to take things away from the consumer so they can sell more of that already iconic, flying off the shelves, still growing product.

What Getting Back to Normal Looks Like

Amid Coronavirus Pandemic, Finding Normalcy in the Abnormal - The New York Times

Hong Kong has recorded just three locally transmitted cases in the last 30 days. Only four people are reported to have died of Covid-19. The government has loosened social-distancing restrictions, allowing civil servants to go back to work and restaurants to return to full capacity, instead of half.
But that’s not the only reason the virus no longer seems to rule every facet of life here. While fear and anxiety linger, Hong Kongers seem particularly adept at living with those emotions — maybe not embracing this strange new reality, but not recoiling from it either.
That unflappability has struck me sharply during my time here.

This is a good read on what it’s been like getting back to “normal” in Hong Kong has looked like in recent weeks.

Also, I had to check the stats to make sure that was right…4 total deaths among Hong Kong’s 7.5 million people? Per capita, that’s 1/560th as many deaths as here in the US, which is a shockingly different situation.

A Key Under Your Door Mat

Department of Justice Reopens Spat With Apple Over iPhone Encryption - John Gruber

This framing is entirely wrong. This suggests that Apple has the ability to “just unlock” an iPhone encrypted with a passcode or passphrase. They don’t. The difference between 2014 and today isn’t that Apple previously was cooperative with law enforcement requests and now is not — the difference is that modern iPhones can’t be “unlocked” the way older ones could, because the security on modern iPhones is so much better now.

The best comparison I can make is to think of your house having a key under the front mat. Your house gets robbed somewhat regularly because all the bad guys in the neighborhood know your key is there so they let themselves in regularly. The police also know it's there, so when you report a robbery, they like the convenience of having a key under the mat so they can get in and investigate the crime.

If you stop putting a key under your front door mat, the obvious reason would be so that it's much harder for the bad guys to get into your house, not that you "stopped routinely allowing law enforcement officials into" your home to investigate.

Don’t Celebrate Too Early

How Virus Data Can Mislead - The New York Times

With more parts of the U.S. starting to reopen, many people will be tempted to look at the data this week and start proclaiming victory over the virus. But this week’s data won’t tell us much. It will instead reflect the reality from early May and late April, when much of the country was still on lockdown.

“The data are always two or three weeks old,” Ezekiel Emanuel of the University of Pennsylvania told me. “And we have a hard time understanding that things are different from what we’re looking at.” Crystal Watson of Johns Hopkins University told The Associated Press that we wouldn’t really know how reopening had affected the virus’s spread for five to six weeks.

It’s possible that the reopenings won’t cause the outbreaks that many epidemiologists fear — because many people will still stay home, or because they will venture out cautiously, or because the virus may spread more slowly in warmer air. But it’s also possible that the country will find itself suffering through a new wave of outbreaks in June.

Either way, I’d encourage you not to leap to premature conclusions.

Long story short: acting like “we’re good, there haven’t been any spikes in the week since opening up!” is ignorant to how any of this works. It’s seeing the answer we all want to be true, but let’s take it slow and make sure things are okay before celebrating.

Of note, there seems to be a lot of overlap with those who want to cheer “it’s all better!” and people who said this coronavirus wasn’t going to impact the US in March, who said this would clear up in a few weeks, said it would be done by April 1, said we’d be back to normal on Easter, said it would be back to normal at the end of April… Things will get more back to normal, and we very well may be on the verge of that happening in many places in the US, but I think about this video a lot with people saying “it’s over” clearly before it actually is.

More on Stock Apps

The Value of Using Stock Apps – Chris Hannah

I’ve actually slowly using more stock apps/services recently, such as Reminders, Notes, and Mail. In the past, I’ve used third-party options for all three of these, but I seem to always come back to Apple’s built-in apps.

Chris’s response to yesterday’s article lines up with something I heard a lot from folks on Twitter. There are plenty of people who like the stock apps that come on their phone and while they may enjoy hearing about the new hotness from third parties, they don’t actually use them.

What I love about this conversation is that Chris mentions trying third party apps and always finding himself going back to the stock options. I’m 100% the opposite in that I try the updated stock apps every year when there’s a new version of iOS, and I always find them lacking in some way and wonder how I could live without the amazing third party options out there.

Also, speaking of different experiences,

Syncing – I’m not sure why, but Things didn’t feel like it had reliable syncing for me. But on the other hand, Reminders seems instant.

One of the reasons I use is specifically because of how perfect it’s sync between devices has been for me. I’ve had plenty of times, even on iOS 13 where reminders get out of sync on multiple devices. It’s not an every time thing, it happens enough where I can’t get Reminders on several devices to sync up.

The RSS Numbers

It's Time to Get Back Into RSS | Daniel Miessler

It’s unclear what exactly destroyed RSS, but Google closing Google Reader definitely didn’t help. Another factor was the rise of aggregation sites like Slashdot, Digg, and Reddit, which seductively took on the burden of surfacing the best content.

A couple things on this article.

One, arguments about the “death of RSS” often cite the sites in that quote as killing it, not to mention Twitter and Facebook. My question is “how big was RSS when Google killed Reader?” Was it as big as the audiences of reddit, Twitter, and Facebook combined? I would humbly guess…no, not even close. I think that while some RSS readers switched to curated feeds of information, but I feel pretty confident saying that most users of these major modern platforms never used RSS in the first place.

I’d love to know how many DAUs Reader had at its peak, but that information does not seem to be publicly available, at least in my queries.

And two, articles like this suggest that RSS has been dead and that it’s time for it to come back. Maybe I’m biased because I never left, but in the wake of Reader shutting down, a bunch of RSS syncing services have cropped up. If you download Reeder for iOS today, you can sync with:

  • Feedbin
  • Feedly
  • Feed Wrangler
  • FeedHQ
  • NewsBlur
  • The Old Reader
  • Inoreader
  • BazQux Reader
  • FressRSS
  • Reader
  • Fever

These are almost all businesses supported by RSS users and have been operating for many years. Almost all of them cropped up to fill the void left by Google Reader. Again, the numbers aren’t publicly available, but I’d love to know how the number of users of these platforms combined relate to Google Reader when it shut down. Maybe it’s a much smaller number, but maybe it’s also comparable, just decentralized.

As a final note, someone is going to mention it, so I should add that RSS is of course the basis for podcasts and tons of other web technologies. This is totally true, but this is not what “let’s bring back RSS” articles are talking about.