ldstephens

I started this blog post months ago and it has just been sitting in my ideas folder, so I thought I would dust it off and get busy completing it. First off, I consume content on my iPad Mini, iPhone, and Kindle Paperwhite.

To keep myself updated on blogs and news, I rely on RSS feeds managed in Reeder. For articles and long-form content I plan to read later, I use Goodlinks. Suppose it turns out that I want to highlight or listen to something. Well, I'll send it off to Instapaper for that. As a side note I don’t keep highlighted articles in Instapaper I export the highlights to Obsidian. That way I’ll always have a permanent record of all my highlights including a link back to the original article.

Podcasts offer endless opportunities for learning and entertainment. I use Overcast on my iPhone to manage my podcast subscriptions and listen to episodes while doing my daily workout or driving.

When it comes to reading a good book, there's no substitute for my Kindle Paperwhite. Its e-ink display and lightweight provide a comfortable reading experience, and with its vast book library, I always have something to read.

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I was surprised to hear on the Today show this morning that Wendy's is planning to test a dynamic pricing model, also referred to as “surge pricing,” in 2025. This means the prices of menu items will fluctuate based on several factors.

  • Time of day: Prices might be higher during peak hours like lunch and dinner, and lower during off-peak times.
  • Location: Prices might be adjusted based on the specific location and its customer base or demand.
  • Overall demand: Similar to Uber's surge pricing, prices could increase if there's a sudden surge in demand for Wendy's food.

The idea of fast food implementing surge pricing is bullshit. While companies have the right to set their own prices, this approach is nothing more than fucking consumers. It effectively means “we charge extra when you need us most”! Surge pricing at every level is nothing more than ripping off the consumer.

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Lately, I've noticed a growing trend among fellow bloggers as they attempt to monetize their blog. While I won't call out specific individuals, it's become apparent that something fundamental has changed. The content I once enjoyed reading regularly has changed, and unfortunately, not for the better.

These bloggers seem to be adjusting their writing styles and content strategy, likely in pursuit of pleasing subscribers or attracting advertisers. And the frequency of their posts has increased, but the substance has dwindled.

The question that lingers in my mind is whether the income generated from these efforts is truly making a significant impact on their lives. It's disheartening to witness a departure from the engaging and valuable content they used to create or share through links.

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I just spent a few minutes reviewing Jason Snell’s 2023 Apple Report Card. I was particularly interested in how the participants rated the Mac and iPad.

It's time for our annual look back on Apple's performance during the past year, as seen through the eyes of writers, editors, developers, podcasters, and other people who spend an awful lot of time thinking about Apple.

Mac in Summary

In the 2023 Apple report card on the Mac lineup, participants generally praise the success of the Apple Silicon transition, citing significant leaps in power and battery life. The M3 chips receive acknowledgment for their impressive performance, and the MacBook Pro updates are well-received. The overall sentiment is positive, with users expressing satisfaction with the Mac's current state, particularly highlighting the advancements in Apple Silicon and the solid performance across various models.

However, there are notable concerns and critiques. Some participants expressed disappointment in the Mac Pro, questioning its necessity and suggesting improvements for future releases. Issues with RAM configurations, pricing for storage and RAM upgrades, and the absence of certain features like a larger iMac are also raised. Despite these critiques, the consensus is that the Mac lineup remains in a strong position, with a solid foundation in Apple Silicon, even as users anticipate future innovations and improvements.

iPad in Summary

In 2023, the iPad encountered a notable absence of new hardware releases, prompting varied responses from industry observers. While some experts acknowledged Apple's ongoing efforts to enhance the device's value through software updates, there was a collective sentiment of dissatisfaction among many regarding the lack of significant hardware advancements. Critics pointed to a confusing and outdated lineup, with concerns raised about the iPad's evolving identity and purpose, exemplified by challenges in user experience and product positioning.

Despite differing opinions on the current state of the iPad, there was a widespread consensus among industry voices calling for a comprehensive overhaul in 2024. The collective expectation centered around a need for both hardware and software innovations to address longstanding concerns, simplify the product lineup and inject a renewed sense of excitement and productivity. Overall, the iPad's trajectory in 2023 underscored the importance of a holistic approach in redefining its role in the tech landscape and meeting the diverse needs of users.

My Response

The M-series processors have ushered in a new era for the Mac. I'm happily using an M1 MacBook Air and it is my all-time favorite Mac. The combination of blazing speed, phenomenal battery life, and consistent, albeit incremental, chip improvements paints a bright picture for the future of the Mac.

I love the iPad but I still struggle with it. It can do a lot, but any given task is always better on my Mac.

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Get ready sports fans Apple Sports is a brand new free app for iPhone! The app delivers real-time scores, stats, and more designed for your favorite teams and leagues.

What's inside?

  • Personalized experience: Put your favorite teams and leagues at the top, tailored just for you.
  • Lightning-fast updates: Stay ahead of the game with instant scores and stats.
  • Multiple leagues: Follow NBA, MLS, NCAA basketball, NHL, European soccer leagues, and more (with MLB, NFL, and others coming soon!).
  • Deep dives: Explore play-by-play, team stats, lineups, and even live betting odds (where available).
  • Seamless connection: Watch games live on Apple TV with a single tap.
  • Favorites sync: Keep your favorite teams consistent across Apple TV, News, and Sports.

Available today!

Download Apple Sports for free on iPhones in the U.S., U.K., and Canada.

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Karl Bode – techdirt “Last week Amazon began charging Amazon Prime Video customers (who already pay $140 per year) an extra $3 extra per month to avoid ads that didn’t previously exist. […] The move this week resulted in a class action lawsuit by annoyed subscribers, whose lawyers insist that Amazon violated subscriber agreements by suddenly charging for something that subscribers understood they were already paying for: […] Prime Video’s efforts to nickel-and-dime customers is the latest example of the steady enshittification of a streaming video industry that appears to have learned nothing from the scale-chasing issues that plagued cable TV. Now that the market has saturated, streaming companies are looking for creative ways to provide Wall Street the unrealistic endlessly improved quarterly returns bean counters demand.”

Well, congrats to Amazon for joining the ad party and the enshittification of Prime Video! Now my TV watching experience comes with a side of unwanted shit called ads. I'd like to think the Class Action suit will go somewhere but I doubt it will.

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In a recent blog post Jason McFadden advocates for a “good enough” approach to computing, prioritizing efficient use of resources and avoiding unnecessary spending on excessive power. The principle of “good enough”  is a rule in software and hardware. It indicates that consumers will use products that are good enough for their requirements, despite the availability of more advanced technology.

Jason McFadden

Nevermind the $3,500 Vision Pro, just comparing laptops has me questioning how much of a computer I really need. I mostly use my M1 MacBook Air, which I bought on Apple’s refurb store for $850. But I know I can do basically most of my computing on an iPad (with accessories) for less than that. Further still, I know I can do all my computing on a $300 Chromebook too – gasp! Web apps and Android mobile apps are enough.

My needs are simple: text wrangling, web surfing, email, etc. Photo editing is about as complex as my computing gets, and my smartphone handles that well enough, whether I use iCloud Photos, Google Photos, Snapseed, or maybe Pixlr. Actually, on occasion, I create graphics for my blog and find Canva, the web-app, to be great for my simple needs. So yeah, I have totally done that on a Chromebook.

[…]

As a consumer on a budget, besides asking myself if I can afford a gadget, I ask if I should.

I've been thinking about this idea a lot lately. In fact, I've had the beginning of a blog post titled “Just Because You Can Doesn't Mean You Should” sitting in my ideas folder for several weeks now. Just because you can afford the fanciest, most powerful device doesn't mean you should buy it. I fall into this trap myself from time to time, and this is a good reminder for all of us not to get caught up in it. “Good enough” truly is good enough despite the availability of more powerful technology.

Published first to ldstephens.net – February 12, 2024

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I've tried Obsidian before, but the whole process of migrating my Apple Notes into it just seemed like too much fucking work. I ended up deleting it and moved on. Then, the other day, I stumbled upon news of an Obsidian importer plugin for Apple Notes. Importing everything, including attachments, suddenly felt doable. So, I reinstalled Obsidian, imported my notes, and voila! It worked like a charm.

Next, I dove into the world of Obsidian setups and workflows. I watched videos, read articles, and eventually came across an insightful piece on the Drafts Forum by Stephen Millard, a highly respected member of the Drafts community.

Stephen describes his usage of Drafts and Obsidian, highlighting the distinctive roles each plays in his workflow. Drafts serves as his capture hub, a place where he preprocesses information for use elsewhere, acting like a transport service for his ideas. Obsidian, on the other hand, is one of his destinations, functioning as a personal filing cabinet for notes and writing.

He emphasizes that Drafts and Obsidian serve different purposes. Drafts excels in speedy capture and flexible text manipulation, focusing on simplicity and efficiency. Meanwhile, Obsidian is more about finding and exploring relationships between notes, featuring a more complex plugin architecture and a specialization in Markdown format.

Stephen's longer investment in Drafts makes it a staple in his workflow, as it does for me, and he sees himself using multiple tools rather than replacing one with another. The availability of Obsidian on more platforms, including Windows and Linux, is a significant factor for him. Additionally, he discusses the lock-in aspect, mentioning that while Drafts allows easy extraction of data, Obsidian's use of Markdown files makes it more accessible on different platforms and apps.

Stephen’s approach gave me a clear picture of how I could actually continue using Drafts seamlessly while still benefiting from Obsidian's powerful features.

Published first to ldstephens.net – February 16, 2024

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I have been using Alfred since 2016 version 2. My Alfred workflows and muscle memory are so ingrained that moving to Raycast just isn’t an option. That said, I've got Raycast installed, and I'm currently using the free version, leveraging just two extensions that I find particularly useful.

The first is the Raycast Reminders extension. Here's what it does:

  • Create Reminders: You can create new reminders, add notes, set priority, and specify a due date. The due date can be expressed in natural language. For instance, you can say “Remind me tomorrow at 3 PM” to set a reminder for that time.

  • My Reminders: This command lists all your uncompleted reminders. You can mark them as complete, set their priority, copy details, or open them in Apple's Reminder app.

The second is the Calendar My Schedule extension. Here's what it does:

  • My Schedule: View upcoming events for different time frames, from today's agenda to the weeks ahead. Search for specific events. No more calendar app hopping!

Alfred simply has nothing like these two extensions.

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Shira Ovide, The Washington Post

A face computer like the Vision Pro, Bailenson said, is “amazing. We should use it but hardly at all.” (Stanford University professor Jeremy Bailenson)

The research suggests that wearing computer headsets for long stretches could be risky to our brains, physical safety and social connections – and that the ways people have loved using the Vision Pro misjudge what the technology is best for.

Few people are wearing the new generation of headsets, such as the $3,500 Vision Pro or Meta’s $500 Quest 3, for hours at a time. Bailenson said that researchers and technology companies need to pay attention to the benefits and downsides before the devices become widespread.

We didn’t do that with smartphones, and now we’re digging out from their effect on our attention spans, happiness and health.

[…]

And he chafes at using headsets like the Vision Pro for hours to do office work or watch movies. But that is how Apple and Meta have imagined you’ll use their goggles.

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