Categories
Politics Reading Technology

Sunday Reads

Hello friends. We’ve been spending a lot of time in our homes these past weeks. It feels disruptive. Unsettled. I hope you find these articles interesting.

One of my favorite places to read is The Intercept. They focus on investigative journalism. Today I will be spending 5-hours on Zoom calls. And since Zoom has been in the news a great deal lately, this article takes a deep dive into some technical aspects of the tool. Did you know they’ve gone from about 10m users to over 300m users in the last few weeks? Yikes! Read Zoom’s Encryption is “Not Suited for Secrets” and has Surprising Links to China, Researchers Discover.

A short article from Behavioral Scientist on why social distancing can feel so difficult and how we can improve upon it. Increasing Social Connection While “Social Distancing”

Yes, we’re still in the middle of an election for president. This article from Current Affairs takes a long look at both Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden. It actually has something to say for people in both camps. It’s long. Everything Has Changed Overnight.

For the nerds and librarians: Wikipedia Is the Last Best Place on the Internet. A fun and interesting read from Wired.

Back in the 80s, the only solution for getting sober was going to Alcoholics Anonymous. Today, there is a plethora of solutions such as Refuge Recovery, Celebrate Recovery, and SMART Recovery. To name a few. But which one really works? This article in the New York Times tries to answer that question in Alcoholics Anonymous vs. Other Approaches: The Evidence Is Now In.

Grab a cup of coffee and happy reading.
Kenley

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Coffee and letter
Categories
Buddhism Education Lifestream Politics Technology

Three-Month Media Blackout

I’m planning on doing a 3-month media blackout during my already-established sangha sabbatical (July-September). It will be an experiment on my need to know (probably why I became a librarian and also something that’s been present in me for as long as I can remember). The experiment may allow me to open up some internal space for emotional and spiritual care. I’m seeing that life may not need to be so dense with content and I’m curious what I may discover without the constant text-based consumption.

I’ve already put my Medium and NY Times subscriptions on hold. Need to do the same with LA Times. Been unsubscribing from a few email lists each day to whittle down the noise. No consuming Twitter or Facebook, but may decide to push content to these platforms in via Hootsuite. That’s pretty safe. I trimmed back the podcast subscriptions significantly to only music and education related (but keeping Sword & Laser!). The Overcast app makes this quite easy to keep the subscriptions but not have them download constantly. And I moved the Unread (RSS) app to a back screen – that one will be hard and I couldn’t bring myself to delete yet.

What to keep? Probably my print magazine subscriptions such as Stack Magazines, Buddhadharma, and Lions Roar. Not sure about Wired or MacWorld just yet. Probably keep them too, but I don’t have to read. Right? The one social platform I’ll keep is LinkedIn. It’s mostly focused on education and helps me stay connected to my profession. Gotta have one doorway.

In the end, I won’t be to harsh on myself when I slip or end up changing my mind. It is simply an intention and a direction, but dogmatism isn’t helpful either.

Now what am I going to do with all this free time?

Categories
music Technology

Adding Songs to Music Library with Apple Watch

I listen to a lot of music in my car. And I also don’t like pushing buttons on my phone while driving. And using Siri to add a track to my music library is super easy, but it interrupts the music playing. Yuck!

Apple Watch ScreenshotIf you’re an Apple Watch owner, then you’re in luck. While the track is playing, you can activate Siri on the watch by pushing on the crown (it’s a little safer than handling the phone while driving and I can keep my hands on the wheel and eyes on the road). Then just day, “add song to my library.”  That’s it! It will add the currently playing song. 

Categories
Technology

Using WordPress with Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn

Twitter takes the title, image and then links, so this limits title length. Facebook takes the post content and makes it the FB post and then adds the packaged link with title, image and content. LinkedIn packages it together as a shared link and shows title, summary, and image. It’s probably best to always include an image, especially for Facebook. 


Updated: Facebook is inconsistent. If an image is included in the native post, then Facebook ignores the post title completely and only uses the post content, image, and then links to native post. 

Categories
Technology

Protecting the Open Web. Returning to my Blog. Experimenting. 

Push to walled gardens, but publish in the open.

Categories
Technology

29-Hours to Order the iPhone 7

It took me 29-hours to order the iPhone 7 Plus. 

I had decided well before the Apple keynote earlier this week, thanks to solid internet rumors, that a new iPhone 7 Plus would be in the cards for me. In fact, I went so far as to put my current iPhone in the Gazelle queue. Why the 7? I want the dual camera capabilities. The Apple event did not disappoint and I was easily sold on the Jet Black iPhone 7 Plus with 128mb even though I am still a little concerned about adjusting to the larger phone.

But it almost didn’t happen!

For for first time, I did the midnight purchase (I’m in California). It took until 12:05am before the order page loaded on the iPhone app. I was simultaneously refreshing on my laptop. By the time the order page loaded, the shipment date for the jet black was 2-3 weeks out. Wow, that’s one hot item! 

Then the order itself didn’t process correctly due to a reported issue with AT&T but I was given a confirmed “reservation” indicating my spot in line and that I’d receive an email from Apple to finish the transaction later. No payment made at this point. I went to bed and come morning there was the email from Apple with the link to complete the transaction. 

It didn’t work. 

The first issue was a custom Apple 404 error page during the third step of ordering. That continued until late morning. Once that started working, I got to the checkout screen only to be stopped by a requirement that I make a deposit with AT&T and that I’d have to do an in-store pickup rather than shipment. Alas, no in store pickups available because the phone isn’t out yet. Catch-22. 

Throughout the day, with numerous tries and calls (and disconnections) to Apple then AT&T and then Apple again, I still was not able to complete the purchase. The timer was ticking as the reservation as it was only good until noon on Saturday.  The phone queues were getting longer. Finally, at 6pm an AT&T representative went the extra step to test my account and write up extensive notes on the shared AT&T/Apple system. I was totally in the clear with AT&T. What made sense being I was buying the phone outright, was not leasing, using payment plans, or renewing a contract. So bizarre this was even happening. 

Time to call Apple again. 

This time the Apple representative said this was a known bug in the order system and they’d been working on it all afternoon. It should be fixed within an hour. This was 7pm on Friday night. When I went to bed a few hours later, it still wasn’t working. Letting go. It seemed that on every turn I made that this phone was not in the cards for me. That’s okay. It’s only a phone. 

5am. Saturday. One more try. Success!

And so, I have the Jet Black iPhone 7 Plus ordered and expected delivery the first week of October. In all, I probably spent 3-hours in hold queues and about an hour on the phone with different representatives explaining the situation. Way too much time, but I was committed (or maybe should be committed?). My mental attitude was pretty good throughout the process. I didn’t get angry, raise my voice, or regret anything I said to Apple or AT&T. That is a good sign of my mindfulness practice. It all worked out in the end, and I’m happy. And even if it hadn’t worked out, that too would have been fine. 

Categories
Technology

Evernote: Worth the Increased Cost?

App costs are out of control – they usually don’t charge enough for what they offer. Lately, we are seeing a trend toward increased costs and Software as a Service (SaaS) models for supporting software development. In general, this is a good trend because we should be paying for the real cost of development.

I am a firm believer in paying a fair price for a service or product, especially if it brings value to my daily workflow. And not just paying some minimal amount, such as $1 in the App Store, but truly paying developers for the work they do to create something useful. Most recently, a piece of software I use daily switched to a SaaS model rather than an outright purchase. I had to give TextExpander a good long reconsideration because the increase in cost was significant. It wasn’t until they lowered it, based on consumer feedback, that I decided to go with the annual payment plan at a slightly higher cost. Though other options for this exist, I do use TextExpander daily on my laptop and iPhone so it was mostly a no-brainer.

Now another piece of software that I use daily has increased their annual subscription plan by 35% – from $45/year to $70/year. That’s a big jump!

Evernote Logo / Brand

I’ve happily been using Evernote since 2008 (though it took a couple years to get it into my workflow) and began paying for a Premium Plan in 2012. I loved the tool so much, I offered workshops at Santa Barbara City College. Back in 2013, I had the good fortune to meet Phil Liben, co-founder of Evernote (and current Chairman) only to discover a person who is kind and passionate about being human and developing great software. So, it’s not just another software company.

Earlier this month I was at a conference and Evernote became super handy. I could snap a photo of a business card, have it recognize the contact fields, populate to LinkedIn, and let me send my contact information right back to the person’s card I just received. Super Awesome! The fact I can dump pretty much anything into the app and it can read, index, and make it searchable is of immense value. Every tweet I favorite gets dumped into Evernote. Entire webpages and articles can be added to Evernote with the web clipper – no more bookmarking needed. And did I mention that it’s all searchable? Immediate and consistent syncing between my iPhone, iPad, desktop, and laptop.

What to do? I use Evernote everyday and I would definitely miss it. Of course, there are several other options in this market space that could meet the same needs for a much lower cost – including free. My subscription isn’t up for renewal until December, so I have some time to decide.

Are you a paying Evernote customer? What are your plans for the future with this type of software?