Sun, 08 Mar 2015 23:12:36 -0700
I spent an entire short flight last week reading the middle third of the Jony Ive profile in the New Yorker, and here’s the passage that’s breaking my considerable writing-in-public hiatus:
“[Cook] went on, “We always thought [Google Glass] would flop, and, you know, so far it has.” He looked at the Apple Watch on his wrist. “This isn’t obnoxious. This isn’t building a barrier between you and me.” He continued, “If I get a notification here, it will tap my wrist”–with silent vibrations. “I can casually look and see what’s going on.” We were in a conference room at One Infinite Loop, a few doors from Jobs’s old office, and I noticed that, at this moment in the history of personal technology, Cook still uses notifications in the form of a young woman appearing silently from nowhere to hold a sheet of paper in his line of sight.”
I last wore a watch in about sixth grade, and only to prove the fallibility of teachers who insisted I wouldn’t always have a calculator with me. (Had just one of them alluded to the reality-warping utility of statistics, and proven it with a chi-square distribution or five minutes on Benford’s Law, they’d have seen a change in my work ethic that otherwise waited until college.)
If I’m going to start wearing a watch again soon, it’ll happen because of notifications, even though I don’t remotely believe what Tim Cook’s asserting. I was at a lunch a couple of months ago with a guy wearing an Android Wear watch, and by an order of magnitude, he spent more time glancing, poking, and swiping at his watch than I’ve ever seen someone do with their phone in a social setting over a similar period of time.
The experience was a reminder that looking at one’s watch in the middle of a conversation is the definition of interpersonal rudeness. It may be slightly more subtle than checking a phone, but it sends exactly the same message, that you are not the focus of the person with whom you thought you were talking.
My hopes for the watch depend on Apple wanting to solve the problem of filtering and winnowing notifications to a degree that they haven’t even hinted at. What I want most from the phone is not the notifications that I need to see, but freedom to defer the notifications that are not worth the interruption of a conversation, or the loss of focus from work I’m trying to finish.
If I can have confidence that a notification I can feel in my pocket, but not on my wrist, can be safely deferred, then the Apple Watch can pay for itself at any remotely plausible price. If it can’t, I’ve already got a calculator.
Sun, 26 Feb 2012 22:58:00 -0800
While in Williams-Sonoma a couple of months ago, I spent a moment gazing at a neon-fuschia Kitchenaid mixer. The key to understanding why such a visually assaultive object existed was that Susan G. Komen for the Cure would see 20% of the proceeds. It looked like this:
He helpfully pointed out that the Raspberry Ice is $50 more expensive than the otherwise-identical gray Kitchenaid next to it on the shelf, that the $50 difference is still earmarked for Komen, and that the box it comes in still displays Komen branding. But if one doesn’t ask, there’s no obvious explanation of why the neon-fuschia model costs more.
To congratulate Williams-Sonoma on their canny judgment of customer sentiment, I may have bought a waffle iron.
Sun, 05 Feb 2012 23:22:30 -0800Facebook’s IPO: How Mark Zuckerberg plans to retain dictatorial control his company. (Slate):
Matthew Yglesias. The estate planning details were new to me — the class B shares with magnified voting rights lose their mojo if sold to anyone else, with an exception for a designated transfer in the event of Mark Zuckerberg’s death.
Fri, 03 Feb 2012 20:45:00 -0800The Fireplace Delusion (Sam Harris):
I recently stumbled upon an example of secular intransigence that may give readers a sense of how religious people feel when their beliefs are criticized. It’s not a perfect analogy, as you will see, but the rigorous research I’ve conducted at dinner parties suggests that it is worth thinking about. We can call the phenomenon “the fireplace delusion.”
Via Steven Moffat, via Julian Simpson
Mon, 26 Dec 2011 22:26:52 -0800Tyson Discrimination Verdict Restored by Appeals Court (nytimes.com):
On Dec. 16, more than a year after the initial decision, the appeals court reversed course. The new ruling was opaque and grudging, but Mr. Clemon said he welcomed it, particularly since it is very unusual for a federal appeals court panel simply to change its mind. “I don’t recall it ever happening,” said Mr. Clemon, who graduated from law school in 1968.
Sun, 13 Nov 2011 14:06:21 -0800When I Got the Call (The Nation):
Katha Politt talks to God.
Fri, 07 Oct 2011 20:22:37 -0700Cost of false positives (Laughing Meme):
I’ve had this browser window open for weeks, trying to figure out what I wanted to say about it. It connects the difficulty of eradicating spam (where falsely labeling something as spam is much worse than accidentally letting one through) to the challenge of screening for very rare things in general, whether you’re screening for diseases or trying to identify terrorists.
I went to college with Kellan. I have a clear recollection from ~1995 of walking into a computer lab and gently making fun of him for learning Perl out of a big book. Turned out, he was about eight months ahead of me, and over the years that gap has somewhat widened.
Fri, 07 Oct 2011 19:57:00 -0700The Benjamin Franklin Effect (You Are Not So Smart):
Marvelous essay, filling in some psychological gaps in my understanding of the Stanford Prison Experiment. I’m going to have to buy that book.
Fri, 02 Sep 2011 09:12:42 -0700Relative sales of girl-scout cookies (Wired):
Mon, 29 Aug 2011 15:11:08 -0700Pseudonymity, Privacy and Responsibility on Google+:
Kee Nethery stacks up straw men, and burn them down.
Sun, 14 Aug 2011 13:42:56 -0700A meditation on GlaDOS:
Herein find, from before Portal 2 came out, an art-historical analysis of GlaDOS’ motivations and emotional state. It opens up into a spectacular rabbit hole. Via @lostinfont.
Fri, 05 Aug 2011 19:33:10 -0700
How do I flip it over and shake the spiders out of it?
Fri, 20 May 2011 14:33:45 -0700Linda Greenhouse: Justice in Dreamland:
Linda Greenhouse, the world’s best Supreme Court reporter, on the worst Supreme Court decision in years.
Mon, 03 Jan 2011 10:36:11 -0800Philip IV, Restored:
Great use of a Flash interface, depicting the before and after restoration of a Velazquez portrait of Philip IV.
Mon, 03 Jan 2011 09:00:26 -0800The 2010 Seattle Seahawks: Worst. Playoff. Team. Ever? (Nate Silver):
The Seahawks are not any garden-variety 7-9 team: they are an incredibly bad 7-9 team.
Fri, 31 Dec 2010 14:03:00 -0800
This morning I received an email from Perfect Third, the company making the Wakemate sleep-monitoring gizmo, recommending I desist in using the USB power brick which shipped last week with their hardware. TechCrunch applied their usual levelheaded gloss.
I finally thought to put the Wakemate brick next to an Apple iPhone brick, which it resembles in every physical detail. The resemblance continued:
(Click to embiggen.)
Note the black void where the “JET Apple Japan” box appears, and how Apple’s puzzling warning text is re-rendered as “Caution: for use with infor technology equipment”. The space occupied by Apple’s green dot is empty as well (the dot, I believe, indicates that this charger is from a later batch than the ones Apple sourced with their own problems.)
Apple’s charger says it was designed by Apple, and I haven’t seen any others quite like it until now. Electrical failures notwithstanding, making perfect reproductions of Apple kit seems chancy for a company selling hardware which depends on a counterpart iOS app.
Wed, 15 Dec 2010 14:47:00 -0800On Moscow's Escalators:
There are 643 [escalators] in the Moscow Metro. This is a system, like Washington’s, with deep, deep stations, but, unlike in Washington, passengers here are rarely left to hoof it on their own up or down immobilized stairways. It wouldn’t work, because people don’t walk fast enough. At rush hours fully loaded trains run on 90-second intervals; it’s up to the escalators to get the passengers delivered, but just as important, to whisk them away again before they start bunching up and spilling off the platforms and onto the tracks.
90 second intervals! Great story. Via Natalia Luckyanova.
Wed, 15 Dec 2010 14:39:08 -0800Harbinger or Hoax: The First Painting of Kim Jung Un? (Foreign Policy):
It’s Culture Wednesday! Please enjoy this circuitous analysis through art history and the North Korean edition of Kremlinology to figure out whether a painting depicts the DPRK’s heir apparent or his more popular grandfather, and the meaning of both scenarios. Via Brad Steinbacher.
Fri, 26 Nov 2010 14:47:01 -0800Why Transformers 2 Made No Sense:
And somehow I still liked it more than the first one.
Wed, 24 Nov 2010 12:53:43 -0800Estrella Family Creamery Defies FDA Over Recall (NYT):
This version of events is a little more nuanced than the one on Madison Market’s registers.