View From an Apple Store.

I’m sitting in the gallery at the Apple Store on Michigan Ave here in Chicago. I’ve always loved this store. Apple has always wanted their locations to feel like community centers, and this flagship location has always met my expectations around that goal.

Data Privacy.

My brother-in-law owns a company that maintains gas pumps and associated equipment at service stations in the Pennsylvania-New Jersey area. During a recent visit he noticed a station down the street that had “canopy pumps”, where the mechanics of the fuel pump is incorporated into the supports that hold the canopy over the area, presumably to shelter customers from the elements while they’re filling their vehicles with explosive liquid. While here he didn’t get a chance to snap a photo of the pumps, but I told him I would stop by and do so. He’d use the information to research where the pumps were from and if his company could get access to them for his customers.

The easiest way for me to share the photos I snapped this morning was to send him a message on Facebook Messenger. As I mentioned earlier this week, I no longer have “infinity pools of information” apps on my iPhone, and I’ve pretty much disengaged from Twitter permanently, but I still have a Facebook account that I can access on my iPad. I sent him the photos and he sent me a note of thanks. I like my brother-in-law, he’s a really good guy and I’m always happy to help out. Generally speaking I’d say I’m a pretty lucky man in the “in-law” department.

I decided to do a quick scan of Facebook to see what’s been happening with family and friends and immediately I was peppered with all sorts of service station related ads: Exxon Mobil, Shell, Gulf, the virtues of the environmental work of BP, etc. Prior to the three photos I had sent via Facebook Messenger, I had never seen an ad on Facebook for a gas station.

Anyone that believes their communication over Facebook Messenger, or any of their other associated applications, in out of their minds. I know family and friends that completely rely on What’s App. The company is owned by Facebook and the data is mined by Facebook. Instagram? Same deal. And Mark Zuckerberg has said on multiple occasions that Facebook’s intent is to tie the messaging mechanisms of all their apps into one database, one point of control, and one platform.

Earl remarked yesterday that he mentioned something while visiting with his brother the other night and now he had ads popping up on Facebook. He insists the only way Facebook could know about these things was to hear the conversation. The topic was so out of the norm, so off the wall, that there was no way he had searched for anything remotely related to what they were discussing so theoretically there should be no digital trail. That would mean Facebook had to be listening to him through the app on his iPhone.

There’s a reason I don’t have the Facebook app on my phone. How I wish there was something around the disrupt Instagram, but the likes of Flickr really screwed that up.

Please be cognizant that nothing you do online is safe, and nothing you do on your phone is completely private. I have lived by this rule for 30+ years and it still holds true today: If you don’t want it appearing on the front page of the New York Times, do not type it into a computer.

I guess that applies to innocent conversations as well.

Hacked.

NBC News is reporting Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s Twitter account was hacked today. Several tweets were sent out from the hacked account.

How safe is the platform if account of the CEO and co-creator of the platform can be hacked?

Wow.

I’m very happy I pretty much dropped the service earlier this week.

Beta Confusion.

My iOS devices running the iOS 13 beta tried to upgrade to Public Beta 1 of iOS 13.1 this morning. I wasn’t about to allow a “public beta 1” on any of my devices, as they often have lots of bugs and battery issues, so I decided to stick with iOS 13 Public Beta 8 until the official release of iOS 13.

It looks like that’s going to happen around September 10.

I’m a little confused as to Apple’s thinking around having overlapping betas like this. Personally I’m not a fan of the public beta program at all, but that’s just the old school developer in me. I think back to the days of “Windows Longhorn”, when you had to be pretty special to try out the pre-beta version of Windows Vista before it was released to the masses.

I’m a little concerned about Apple’s testing practices and their new habit of promising features in a new release and then pulling some of the new features out to release them in a .1 release a little later in the timeline. This is what Apple is doing with iOS 13.0 vs iOS 13.1.

It’ll be intriguing to see what is actually released with the announcement of the new iPhones in a couple of weeks.

Beta Ho.

John Gruber over at Daring Fireball revealed that iOS 13.1 Beta 1 is already out to developers. iOS 13 doesn’t come out until (presumably) mid-September, so the fact that Apple is already releasing the beta for iOS 13.1 is somewhat odd.

Come to find out, several of the enhancements slated for iOS 13, including folder sharing in iCloud Drive, have been pulled from the “.0” release and pushed to 13.1, which will come out toward the end of the year.

Perhaps Apple should stop telling everyone what’s going into a new iOS release and instead announce what’s already been built for the next iOS release. Another idea would be to release updates to the popular operating system when they’re actually ready instead of pandering to the marketing types and forcing out a release every year, whether it’s ready or not.

Marketing should not be determining release schedules, developers and project managers should be fulfilling that task.

I know Apple needs to play games to maintain relevancy and grab the attention of the ever increasing shiny object mentality of the lowest common denominator American, but pushing out half baked software, or worse yet, making promises they can’t keep (ahem, AirPower) is so non-Apple like. Maintain dignity, Apple, dignity.

And while I’m commenting on the state of Apple: one of the reasons I pay a premium price for their hardware, software, and services, is to escape data scraping for the purposes of ads, as well as avoiding ads from being pushed in my face. Yet, for the last couple of ApplePay purchases I’ve made, I’ve been reminded that I could have earned extra Apple cash if I had signed for an Apple Card.

When I’m ready to sign up for an Apple Card I will sign up for an Apple Card. I know many Apple fanboys are breathless over the thing, but we’re content with the thousands of air miles we are earning with our current credit cards. I don’t have a need for another card at this time.

Stop pushing the ads at me. Leave that sort of behavior to the Google set.

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Deactivated.

I deactivated my Twitter account this morning. Though Twitter really wanted me to stay around, I pushed through all the prompts and said “yes, I want to deactivate my account”. I then deleted the random password for the account out of my stored passwords. Twitter will allow me to reactivate my account within 30 days, but because I don’t know the password and I’ve removed my phone number from the account, it would take a couple of extra steps to turn things on and I did that on purpose.

I am amazed by the amount of relief I feel by this simple act of deleting the account. For the past year or so I have desperately tried to steer my Twitter timeline away from the dumpster fire of Twitter: I’d focus on tech and aviation, stay connected with online friends I’ve met across the world, and have a way to keep tabs on late breaking news, though in all honesty, over the past couple of years Twitter has become a very unreliable source of information. Since the company has little demonstrated interest in controlling bots and other sources of purposeful disinformation, it’s not like Twitter has become nothing more than a shouting match, ball of chaos, and time sink.

I’m fully aware Twitter is a symptom, not the problem, of what plagues our society today.

In full disclosure, I do still have a small, protected Twitter account. I have less than a dozen followers on that account and I follow less than three dozen people. As I go through the effort of improving focus in my life, I’m not allowing “endless scrolling” or “infinity pools” apps on my phone. If I can’t scroll to the end, it’s not allowed on the phone. I want to be present in the moment. However, another disclosure, Instagram is allowed on my phone (with it’s infinite scrolling) because I do like sharing photos. This morning I moved my account to protected status as well.

I know a LOT of people that thrive on social media and the feedback they receive through the various channels. I totally get it; the dopamine hit gives you a high like some illegal drugs and sometimes we just want some applause in our life. I remember how that felt back in my radio days, when I’d hear whispers of folks identifying me in public after seeing me in a television commercial or on stage promoting the radio station. It’s a good feeling. But like when I walked away from radio nearly 20 years ago, or when I turned down the callback for “Big Brother”, I just don’t need that hit anymore. I’m not worried about losing social collateral.

I’m excited about real life.

So Bright.

The city has finished installing new “smart lights” on the streets in our neighborhood. According to literature they passed out earlier this year, the new LED lighting saves a bunch of energy, are smart enough to report when the bulb is at end of life, and will increase safety throughout the neighborhood.

Unfortunately, it seems no one near these new lights will get any sleep. Or, on the bright side, perhaps local merchants will have a run on selling “blackout” drapes and blinds.

The new street lights are very, very bright and the color of the light is very, very white. You can easily discern the notable “blue” light given off by these new bulbs.

I never thought I’d miss the old sodium lights and their orange hue, but now that all the streets have been converted to these very bright, white lights, I know my eyes are going to struggle when I go for walks in the dark, early mornings near the end of the year.

I think there’s a hurried mindset that “brighter is better”, without consideration as to the quality of the light or the type of light that is being emitted from these new LED bulbs. Science is proving these new lights, with a good quantity of the light coming from the blue-end of the color spectrum, are leading to sleep and associated health issues.

There’s a reason computer manufacturers are now changing the color temperature of your monitor as you get closer and closer to nightfall.

I’m going to do some reading up on the public reception of these new smart lights to see if I’m a one off in my reaction or if there’s a lot of folks that find these new lights to be very harsh.

Smart or not, they’re very, very bright. Wow.

Sunset.

I spent most of the day driving today after a successful 24 hours with my family in Syracuse, N.Y.

I was born and raised in Central New York State, but I really love the Midwest.

Rebooting.

So I’m in Syracuse, N.Y. visiting family. I’m here for today and tonight and I’ll be heading back to the midwest tomorrow.

That’s a lot of driving. But surprising mom with a visit from her oldest born? Totally worth it.

The drive along the Indiana Toll Road, Ohio Turnpike, a thankfully short run through PA and then the New York State Thruway gives one a lot of time to listen to podcasts. I’m in a self-analysis and “fix some things” mindset, and I’ve been listening to episodes of Focused on the Relay.FM podcast network.

Really good stuff. I’m finding several areas needing improvement when it comes to focus and my professional life and I’m taking notes while I’m driving listening to these podcasts. Thank goodness for Siri and the ability to say “Remind me…” and whatever nugget of information I just gleaned from the dialog.

One of the things that interested me most this morning was a discussion about the “Infinity Pool” concept utilized by apps, mainly social media ads like Facebook and Twitter. Apple News and YouTube also fit into this category. These apps have endless scrolling. They just keep feeding you more and more information based on an algorithm as you scroll through the content they’re providing you. There is no end. You just keep going.

This is how social media becomes such a massive time suck. Do I really need social media like this on my iPhone? Twitter has become hard to take and using it was really impacting my mood in a negative way, so I’ve been taking a break for the past couple of days. After listening to these podcasts, I’m really hesitant to ever let Twitter on my iPhone again and I’m not missing it as much as I thought I would.

Taking stock in what I do, taking an honest look at my behaviors and habits with my iPhone has made me realize that there’s a lot of truth in the episodes I’ve been listening to. I plan on listening to more of these episodes on the drive home.

I’ve got some house cleaning to do.