Carl T. Holscher fights for the customers.

Month: July 2015 Page 1 of 2

It Just Works (for someone)!

Apple Music confounds me.

I just figured out how to rate songs in it tonight. You click the artist/title and it swaps to ratings. There’s nothing to give a hint that it’s there. There’s no way for me to find it unless I click random things in the interface. Which I did tonight out of frustration.

Rate a song

My wife asked me, “How can I play all the songs by a certain artist?” You used to be able to select an artist, and play everything you had by them. Now, the best we came up with is to add all the songs to up next. But it still doesn’t pay anything. You have to select a song, then Music will ask if you want to add X number of songs to your Up Next list. Which I already asked it to do.

Play entire artist?

Her solution was to go out and buy Cesium, a third-party music app just to regain a function she lost in the upgrade. It’s how she listens to music and Apple Music broke how she listened to it before. My solution was to continue using Groove.

Apple Music was clearly built for people who stream music. We are not those people.

But this got me to thinking about Apple. I stopped reading Apple blogs last year. Much of this coincided with moving to a job where I support a single application and no longer service computers for a living. So I didn’t need to be up on every latest move by the company.

Now, I don’t read anything regularly by Apple bloggers. I will dip a toe into the Apple stream periodically but I’ve found that if any of the heavy hitters writes something particularly good, I’ll find out about it another way.

I’ve crowd-sourced my Apple news.

This accomplished my goal of not seeing every news story about Apple blogged 15 times. Someone pointed out in a Slack room I hang out in today it was Apple Earnings Day. I had no idea. And I consider that a win.

Since I went on my Apple diet, I no longer read all the explanations of Apple’s new software. It’s been over a year and I no longer read through the long pieces on every change and tweak in the new versions of Apple’s software. So many of the little tips, tricks and hidden parts are lost on me.

The things I used to be able to answer without a second thought now lead me to Google. Did Apple’s software “Just Work” or did it only work if you were part of the club?

I honestly don’t know. But looking at it from outsider’s eyes, Apple Music is a convoluted mess of an application.

Who sponsors you?

Everyone working for themselves is sponsored by someone else.

That person could be a spouse or a parent. That person could be thousands of people who give their money (mostly gotten from working 9-5 jobs). It could be investors with more money than they could ever spend in a lifetime. It could be credit cards, a loan from their future selves to the present.

Back in January, I read this post. “Sponsored” by my husband: Why it’s a problem that writers never talk about where their money comes from

Here’s my life. My husband and I get up each morning at 7 o’clock and he showers while I make coffee. By the time he’s dressed I’m already sitting at my desk writing. He kisses me goodbye then leaves for the job where he makes good money, draws excellent benefits and gets many perks, such as travel, catered lunches and full reimbursement for the gym where I attend yoga midday. His career has allowed me to work only sporadically, as a consultant, in a field I enjoy.

Today, I am essentially “sponsored” by this very loving man who shows up at the end of the day, asks me how the writing went, pours me a glass of wine, then takes me out to eat. He accompanies me when I travel 500 miles to do a 75-minute reading, manages my finances, and never complains that my dark, heady little books have resulted in low advances and rather modest sales.

I nodded along with the article because it’s how my wife can afford to leave her job and work for herself. She is working as an Art Therapist for herself now. No longer under the yoke of another company doing something she doesn’t want to do.

I get up early, walk to the metro station and ride a train 45 minutes into the city. There, I work for 8 hours and take a train home again. This is on a good day. I’m usually out of the house for 11.5-13 hours everyday for work.

I am the stability that makes her endeavor work. I trade my time for money and insurance while she builds her business.

Jumping man by Joshua Earle from

I was reminded of this article recently when I saw a related story published this week in Quartz. Entrepreneurs don’t have a special gene for risk—they come from families with money.

For creative professions, starting a new venture is the ultimate privilege. Many startup founders do not take a salary for some time. The average cost to launch a startup is around $30,000, according to the Kauffman Foundation. Data from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor show that more than 80% of funding for new businesses comes from personal savings and friends and family.

Not everyone can leave their job and run out to follow their dreams tomorrow. It’s a risky proposition in the best of times. And most people don’t live in the best of times.

I applaud people who go out and make it work. But it’s not something everyone can, or should do. If you can start a company and be successful, that’s great for you. But don’t pretend like you did it all on your own. You had help along the way.

Photo by Joshua Earle

Home screens

Sitting around the Water-Cooler this morning, talk turned to home screens. I uploaded a photo of mine to compare with others.

Home screen, iPhone 5

There was surprise at Settings being in my dock.

settings huh?
thats interesting – how often are you in there?
pretty often it seems.

I said:

I don’t know… my phone is all muscle memory. I have apps on my 3rd screen because that’s where they are mentally.

I had forgotten Settings was even in my dock. My phone is set up to match where things are in my brain. Ever since I got my first iPod touch, I’d guess not many of the things on the home screen have changed. I may have moved them around slowly, but there is a method to how my phone is set up.

My messages app live in the upper left. That’s where I look for it. And I access it daily. A browser lives next to that. It was Safari. Now it’s Chrome. Next to that is a Calendar. Currently Fantastical since it handles my unholy alliance of Gmail/iCloud/Office 365-pushed-to-the-web-as-an-ICS-file-so-I-can-access-it-on-my-phone. The top of my phone is rounded out with a camera. First was Camera. Then Camera+ and not VSCOCam.

The app changes, but the function stays the same.

Second screen, iPhone 5

My phone has always been about the same. ByWord used to be something else, but it was a writing app in that spot. Twitter has always been just right of mail. I keep track of where the important things are on my phone by muscle memory. For everything else, I search.


Heartbreaking, wonderful remembrance post from Erik Hess.

Despite its beauty, flying is also inherently risky. Hours of boredom could be followed by an unexpected moment that requires all of your skill, luck, and attention to survive. Sometimes even superhuman effort is not enough.

For the sixteen-year duration of my flying career, I was lucky enough to return after every flight. Until a couple of weeks ago, seven of the finest aviators I’ve ever met weren’t able to say the same.

Now that number is eight.

Image of Pluto from New Horizon probe

New Horizons almost at Pluto

Ever since I learned of the New Horizons mission to Pluto a few days ago, I have been riveted. The sheer madness and engineering that went into planning and executing a probe that would travel for nearly a decade to reach its destination and return with more information than we’ve ever had about Pluto.

This was the best photo we had of Pluto before the New Horizons probe.
Pluto, as seen by The Hubble

The New Horizon fly by is tomorrow morning. NASA TV will be showing coverage starting at 7:30am Eastern. I am excited to get up and watch tomorrow morning. It’s so cool to me to be able to see something for the very first time. It’s amazing to witness the new discovery of a ball of ice floating through space. To think that now, we only have big, blurry images of Pluto provided by the Hubble Space Telescope. But tomorrow, we will have hi-resolution photos.

The NY Times has a longer, 13 minute video with more in-depth coverage and an excellent article to go with it.

It’s hard to write these words and know what they might feel like 50 years from now. I never dreamed, when Apollo astronauts left the moon in 1972, that there might come a day when there was nobody still alive who had been to the moon. But now it seems that could come to pass. How heartbreaking is that?

The New Horizons Probe
New Horizons probe

The Washington Post has a nail-biting article on the moment when the team lost the probe and wasn’t sure if it would come back.

The people in the Mission Operations Center — “the MOC” — had been tracking NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft for 9½ years as it journeyed the breadth of the solar system. It was just 10 days away from the dwarf planet Pluto when, at 1:55 p.m. on July 4, it vanished.


“OUT OF LOCK,” a computer screen declared.

No more data, no connection at all. As if the spacecraft had plunged into a black hole. Or hit an asteroid and disintegrated.

The probe was OK. And tomorrow, it completes its historic flyby of Pluto. It will take as many photos as it can and take readings of the planets atmosphere. Then, turn its dish around and send all the data back to earth, at 1 kilobyte per second and it will take 4.5 hours for the data to start arriving on earth. That’s 56 times slower than dial-up across 4 billion miles of space.

Photo from the New Horizons project page.

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