Category: Observations

Using Twitter after all the good apps were killed off

I only post to Twitter now using Tweetdeck on a computer. Killing Tweetbot means I no longer look at it on any mobile device (phone/iPad). I took the Twitter Lists I already follow and added them to Readwise’s Reader and read them like I would any other RSS feed.

The value of Twitter (for me) has been the ability to create lists of people for interests I have (Destiny 2 video game, Capitals Hockey, local news accounts). I have a timeline of some accounts but in some ways those aren’t the most important people I follow.

I’ve never used apps that show timelines out of order. I’ve long said that would be the end of Twitter for me if I had to suffer through ads and recommended junk. Twitter is skating very close to that sun. But I’ve been here since 2006 and that’s a weird point of pride.

Tweetdeck, despite being owned by Twitter, has largely been forgotten. It never got the algorithmic timelines, ads, polling, or really any new features in years. Each time I was prompted to reload it because a new version was available I held my breath to see if this was the end of my enjoyment of it. But it’s allowed me to largely ignore everything that drove me from other platforms.

If I have to fight with the timeline to see what Twitter wants me to see, I’m gone.

If my timeline becomes riddled with ads, and ads for absolute garbage, as I’ve seen others share, I’m gone.

Killing off third party Twitter apps, not for the first time, stopped my Twitter usage from mobile devices in a single day. I won’t use the official apps because it forces a non-chronological timeline and tries to recommend people or tweets to follow to drive engagement.

I am as engaged as I want to be and pulling a Facebook and trying to drive outrage will drive me completely off the platform. Twitter is not anything I need in life. But it’s something I’ve grown fond of, despite all of its issues. But when Twitter starts actively being a pain to use, it gets relegated to RSS since the communities I follow are still largely on Twitter because that’s where everyone is.

Maintain your systems or become front page news

The outage on Wednesday morning affected the agency’s antiquated Notice to Air Missions system, known as NOTAM. The 30-year-old system provides advance warnings to pilots and flight crews about hazards such as inclement weather and runway closures.

A Contractor With A Corrupt Software File Brought U.S. Air Travel To A Halt, Per Reports

“The outage on Wednesday morning affected the agency’s antiquated…”

Maintaining IT systems isn’t sexy. It’s not exciting work that’s going to get you promoted or a huge raise. It’s thankless work to keep your business moving.

To make sure that everyday the systems you rely on continue to function. It’s rarely a job you will get noticed for…

Until something goes wrong. Then it’s all your fault.

Systems need to be updated. They need to be modernized and brought into the present. This is going to continue happening. Southwest. FFA. Who will be the next to fall because of decades of neglected maintenance to core systems?

Pixels to iPhones

🔗 WE SWITCHED FROM ANDROID PIXEL TO IPHONE – B3N.ORG

We’ve exclusively used the Google Nexus (now Pixel) lines for the last 7-years, so this is quite the change. I like the Nexus/Pixel lineup for their predictable security lifecycle (compared to other Android manufacturers), lack of bloatware, and consistent UI.

Since the smart watch ecosystem never managed to produce anything small enough or good enough, my wife has been thinking about an iPhone SE / Apple Watch combo.

I’ve been looking at options and researching how iPhones have come along in the years since we had them and how much it will cost us to make the switch.

I had to reboot the Pixel several times to fix issues every few days. Bluetooth works on the iPhone.

I can’t agree more about Bluetooth. We have owned Nexus/ Pixel phones for the past 8 years. The bluetooth has always been a problem for the Pixel phones. They’ll pair to headphones, but will still play through the phone’s speaker. Or will simply refuse to pair, pretending Bluetooth doesn’t exist, nor does any other device.

Though one major loss I had failed to consider in our impending move to iPhone was the lack of call screening.

So, Google’s Pixel call screener is a massive advantage over anything iPhone has–the virtual assistant with live transcription on Pixel is a feature iPhone lacks. With iPhone, I pretty much have to let unknown callers go to voicemail, and then we’re playing phone tag.

The number of calls I get daily that I never see, or that I can have Google’s Assistant screen for me is superb. I open the phone app sometimes to see 20 voicemails of 5-7 seconds for robo callers who weren’t quick enough to hang up.

Even when a call does get through, I can press a button to have Google answer the call and display the text of what is being said by the caller. At which point I can either have the robot continue to ask questions or answer the call myself.

We will continue to use Google Fi as a carrier. Their pay-for-what-you-use pricing continues to frustrate all of the major carrier sales people we encounter in electronics stores. They stride up to us with huge smiles asking how much we pay for our cell phones.

On average $90/month for about 3GB of data between us. The most we’ve used (since Feb. 2020) is 5.36GB and paid $115.

After using the Pixel’s “a” models which set us back $350-400, the iPhone SE’s $500 price tag is bearable. While the prices on the iPhone 13 line starting at $700 is hard to swallow.

I don’t care about 5g. We don’t have a plan with it and I don’t see the need. It frustrates me in 2022 I need to give up my beloved USB-C port for a proprietary lightening connector again. I lose my headphone jack (yes, I still enjoy wired headphones) and I gain wireless charging.

But none of that excites me. It feels like more money for less phone. Though the iPhone does appear to have caught up too and surpassed the Pixel’s photo processing.

We are still debating the right time to buy new phones. It’s not like they ever go on any meaningful sale. Maybe we swap carriers again and take advantage of them. We’ve made the round from AT&T, Verizon, Sprint (RIP), and T-Mobile. We live in a major metro area so the reception on every carrier is nearly identical. There’s noticeable drop when you get into the rural areas of the country off Verizon’s network, but that’s not worth paying for those rare times.

The cost of swapping the ubiquitous USB-C cords all over the house (and cars) for Lightening doesn’t excite me. Wireless charging seems neat but we’ve never had that either. So more new hardware to support it. It’s an expensive purchase that begets more purchases. And I refuse to use the glass computer without a case. I don’t understand those of you running around with naked phones. And AppleCare… Is it worth it? I haven’t even looked at how expensive that’s gotten. There’s a certain joy (and privilege) to being able to walk into a Best Buy and replace your phone for $400 if something happens to it.

Thoughts on bird appreciating brought on by How To Do Nothing by Jenny Odell

Reading How to Do Nothing by Jenny Odell over the past few days took me back to both Oakland, CA and to my own backyard. The author lives in Oakland and talks about her time lingering and noticing in the Morcom Rose Garden and Lake Merritt. It is always fun to read a story where the author spends time if you happen to have spent time in the same place.

I was introduced to Lake Merritt one afternoon. Around after dropping off a bridal party to get their hair done for her friend’s wedding. Only, I had no idea how big the lake was. So when I estimated how long it would take to walk around, I fell short and ended up late to retrieve the ladies.

You see a neat lake in life and have time to kill, you park your car and go for a walk to explore the city on foot and enjoy the water birds and water humans you encounter along the way.

Granted, I’ve not lingered among those particular roses, though I’ve spent many a sun-kissed afternoon strolling through Brookside Gardens. While the author thinks of the birds as friends and greets them by species name, I do the same.

While my come to bird moment didn’t take place in full until the global pandemic, I had started identifying birds by sight and call from my own backyard feeders. I liked to know who I was hearing and who came with their entire family to my yard to pick it clean then move on.

While she greets the pelicans and egrets, I have my Mourning Doves. Birds simply too silly to take seriously with their mournful calls and absolute imposter syndrome whenever they manage to flap up to the bird feeder.

I’m up here. I made it this far. What do I do now?

I notice the American Robins picking through the yard for bugs once I’ve cut the grass in warmer weather. The Cardinals trying to impress the Lady Cardinals by soaring through trees as bright red flashes. The gold finches are my current favorites. They come and go so rarely. We had a neighbor with sunflowers and I would see a small flock of the birds in their yard on my daily walks past it. I made a note to plant yellow flowers this year since that’s what they seem to like.

It makes sense. Small yellow bird. Big yellow flower.

I realize by reading this book and take in her thoughts about the attention economy, my thoughts go to my feathered friends. That’s the part of the book that stuck most with me. She called the birds as who and not what. I do the same thing. I greet the birds as friends and the squirrel as on-again-off-again love affairs.

Watching and listening to the birds is peaceful. It’s calm and focusing. When you’ve absorbed in the birds, the rest of the world washes away and there’s only the many calls and flapping wings when once whooshes by your head at top speed.