Apple Intentions to Replace iPhones with AR

Kuo: Apple AR Headset Coming in Late 2022 With Mac-Level Computing Power – MacRumors:

Apple is intending it to support a “comprehensive range of applications” with an eye toward replacing the iPhone within ten years.

So much is going to change in our society in the next 10-15 years… electric vehicles as predominant mode of transportation, concepts like plant-based “meat” being brewed at local establishments like beer micro-brewing, the real introduction of augmented reality, and the paradigm of the slabs of glass we love being replaced by other mediums.

It’s going to be a fascinating decade ahead.

Twitter Could Just Bring Back Track

I’m not saying Track was the best thing that Twitter ever released, but it was probably the best thing Twitter ever encouraged early on with its open API (before the Dark Times when Twitter decided to pivot to an advertising company).

Say goodbye to Fleets, the row of fullscreen tweets at the top of the Twitter timeline that expire after 24 hours. The ephemeral tweet format is shutting down due to low usage after launching widely just eight months ago.

Source: Twitter is shutting down Fleets, its expiring tweets feature – The Verge

Facebook Advertisers Panicking over Apple Tracking Options

Retargeting was fun while it lasted, right? … interesting time for online marketing.

Facebook advertisers, in particular, have noticed an impact in the last month. Media buyers who run Facebook ad campaigns on behalf of clients said Facebook is no longer able to reliably see how many sales its clients are making, so it’s harder to figure out which Facebook ads are working. Losing this data also impacts Facebook’s ability to show a business’s products to potential new customers. It also makes it more difficult to “re-target” people with ads that show users items they have looked at online, but may not have purchased.

Source: Facebook (FB) Advertisers Impacted By Apple (AAPL) Privacy iOS 14 Changes – Bloomberg

Google’s Take on Our Hybrid Workplace Future

I need a cellophane balloon wall robot in my life.

If a meeting requires privacy, a robot that looks like the innards of a computer on wheels and is equipped with sensors to detect its surroundings comes over to inflate a translucent, cellophane balloon wall to keep prying eyes away.

Source: The Googleplex of the Future Has Privacy Robots, Meeting Tents and Your Very Own Balloon Wall – The New York Times

Trying Out Neeva

“…advertising income often provides an incentive to provide poor quality search results.”

– Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin in a 1998 research paper while they were doctoral students at Stanford

I’ve been trying out the search engine service Neeva lately. You can read more about the founding of the company by ex-Googler Sridhar Ramaswamy here (it’s a fascinating story).

I come from the time when the web was still in its primordial stage. Thought technologies such as web browsers and search engines were still young and completely exhilarating. I paid for Netscape (and I was amazed when I got to college in 1996 and walked into the computer lab with 8 machines running Netscape, WordPerfect, Office, and the Corel suite). Browsers and search engines and minute-based access to the web were something you paid for (unless you stockpiled AOL disks like I did).

Neeva is definitely a different service. I’m still wrapping my head around it, but it feels like a good mix of “old school web” and what we’ll eventually get to once we exit this period of advertising-based “free” services that have been the predominate business model on the web for the last 15 years.

The search interface is clean and fast. There are no ad trackers. The company is looking to make money by offering subscriptions. That’s intriguing for me. I’ve never been a big fan of the saying “if you’re not paying for a service, you’re the product” and all, but it does ease my mind to exchange money for what I consider valuable services on the web (Pinboard for bookmarking comes to mind).

Google is such an intimate part of all of our lives, whether we care to admit it or not. Our memories, correspondence, social graphs, birthday reminders, calendars etc are all wrapped up in the service (at least… much more than that for “power users” like myself). But we need alternatives.

I’ll continue experimenting with Neeva to see if it’s one of the dandelions that pops up to spread seeds across the ecosystem of the web or if it’s just a one-season deal. But it “feels” like it has staying power. And for that, I’m excited. Will report back here about my usage as it accumulates in the coming weeks.

Everyone is a font design expert now

One of the consequences of the wonderful democratization that the web has brought us is that now everyone is an expert at… well, everything.

Need a new website? Just use Wix or Squarespace! Sigh.

Trying to fix your dishwasher? Don’t call a plumber… there’s a dozen YouTube vids for your exact model!

Need to draft a will? There’s an app for that.

I’m not dismissing these examples. I’ve definitely done my share of DIY home repair, legal drafting, and dubious electrical work after a couple of alcoholic beverages and a few YouTube tutorials.

But some things should be sacred, right? We all joke about how easy it is to get ordained by the World Life Church so that you can perform the rites at your friends’ wedding. But fonts… come on. Fonts!

Fonts should be sacred. We don’t need polls or comments or public input. Choose a damned font and stick by your design decision. Not everything benefits from the will of the populace and those who have no previous experience or expertise in an area (see Ancient Aliens).

Sometimes, we just need to leave things up to passionate professionals.

Microsoft is now releasing these five new fonts in Microsoft 365 so everyone can try them out before a new default is chosen. Polls and feedback will be considered as part of how Microsoft picks a winner, and the company is going to spend the next few months evaluating these new fonts and seeing which ones are proving popular. Once a decision has been made, the new default font will appear in Microsoft Office apps in 2022.

via The Verge: Microsoft is changing the default Office font and wants your help to pick a new one

Consider Your Reliance on AI in Your Prepping

I’m not technically a public “prepper” but my friends and family know that I am very interested in things like food preps, gear preps, vehicle preps, water preps, cooking preps… well, I guess I’m a prepper.

This all stems from a massive flooding event here in Columbia, SC in 2015 when my partner Merianna was 9 months pregnant with our son. We got off easy compared to many in our community, but we had to go a couple of weeks without water from the faucet and a few days without power.

It was harrowing.

I’ve always been interested in outdoor gear and prepping as a concept, but I swore one day while driving around looking for overpriced bottles of water that I’d never put my family in that situation again.

Over the last seven years, I’ve gone through quite the transition to being more prepared for short and long term situations. So reading this raised very real alarm bells given how many of us operate…

According to Pew research, 97% of people in the US own smartphones. We might not all use them the same way, and not everyone has high-speed internet access all the time, but we all face the same danger: over-reliance.

The more dependent we become on AI, the harder it’ll be to reconnect with our unaugmented roots should the need ever arise.

Via The Next Web: My Weekend Without Internet

Apple Irony on Choices

Pretty funny because I read this via Apple News and there’s no way to share it out to a web browser on my iPad…

Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, told The Wall Street Journal’s Joanna Stern that the company’s goal is to “give users a choice.” Those four words are at the core of the problem with the position Facebook has taken since Apple announced the changes last year at its developer conference.

apple.news/Abn8vqkkBTbSgzqaCzwjnAQ

You can now unlock your iPhone while wearing a mask if you have an Apple Watch

Go grab the iOS 14.5 update in Settings > General > Software Update if you have an Apple Watch… and welcome to our mask-wearing longterm future!

iOS 14.5 will let Apple Watch owners unlock their iPhone while wearing a mask: Another oft-requested feature, especially with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Apple doesn’t support Touch ID in it is newest iPhones, which can make unlocking with Face ID while wearing a mask a pain. But Apple is helping with that. Apple Watch owners will be able to confirm unlocking their iPhones while wearing a mask with iOS 14.5.

Source: Apple releases iOS 14.5, iPadOS 14.5, and watchOS 7.4 with Apple Watch iPhone unlock and more

Basecamp’s New Politics Policy

Basecamp (and Jason) has been a bellwether for how companies operate for almost 20 years now. Here’s an interesting memo for the company that I can only imagine more organizations will be implementing in the coming months / years…

With that, we wanted to put these directional changes on the public record. Historically we’ve tried to share as much as we can — for us, and for you — so this transmission continues the tradition.

1. No more societal and political discussions on our company Basecamp account. Today’s social and political waters are especially choppy. Sensitivities are at 11, and every discussion remotely related to politics, advocacy, or society at large quickly spins away from pleasant. You shouldn’t have to wonder if staying out of it means you’re complicit, or wading into it means you’re a target. These are difficult enough waters to navigate in life, but significantly more so at work. It’s become too much. It’s a major distraction. It saps our energy, and redirects our dialog towards dark places. It’s not healthy, it hasn’t served us well. And we’re done with it on our company Basecamp account where the work happens. People can take the conversations with willing co-workers to Signal, Whatsapp, or even a personal Basecamp account, but it can’t happen where the work happens anymore.

Source: Changes at Basecamp

Listen to Your Spotify within Facebook

I’m always annoyed when I open Waze on iOS or Android and there’s a persistent widget asking if I’d like to listen to Spotify within the app while navigating. I’ve never said yes.

Now that experience is coming to … Facebook.

In a way, this makes perfect sense for Facebook (and Spotify). Facebook is looking for more engrossing engagement from younger demographics but current efforts have proven unsuccessful. Having Spotify “built in” to Facebook presumably would encourage more of that while young people doom scroll to Post Malone or Ariana Grande.

This also makes sense for Spotify as it continues to position itself as the ever-present soundtrack of our lives with its own engrossing soundtracks and clever attraction-marketing that engenders constant interaction with the service (whether in a standalone app, website, desktop app, widget, or through other services).

While many of us may turn our nose up to this sort of thing, it will be very successful for both Facebook and Spotify (especially podcasts)… however, I just don’t think it’ll get the young people to spend more time on Facebook these days.

Facebook announced last week an expanded partnership with streaming music service Spotify that would bring a new way to listen to music or podcasts directly within Facebook’s app, which it called Project Boombox. Today, the companies are rolling out this integration via a new “miniplayer” experience that will allow Facebook users to stream from Spotify through the Facebook app on iOS or Android. The feature will be available to both free Spotify users and Premium subscribers.”

Via TechCrunch

Apple’s Podcasters Program Agreement

Have to say it again… host it on your own. Don’t rely on Spotify or Apple or Google to grow your podcasting audience or business. That path only leads to destruction.

I read through the “Apple Podcasters Program Agreement” and related documentation so you don’t have to. Here’s a thread of 11 things that caught my eye that I hadn’t seen mentioned anywhere else.

Source: The Future of Apple Podcasts

Tag Your WordPress Posts, People!

I stress to clients that they have to tag and categorize their posts on WordPress. It’s one of the easiest ways to increase your organic traffic and discoverability in Google, but it also helps the web find you.

So tag your posts, people!

Also, good checklist here for setting up a WordPress website on a hosting platform…

If you’re not already on board, keep reading; a client of mine gets 100,000 unique visitors per month. More than 3% of those are referred to by tags listed in the SERPs.

Tag recommendations:

  • Limit your tagging to relevant topics you covered in the post.
  • Not every post needs to be tagged.
  • Keep tags short and sweet; no more than two words.
  • Delete overused and underused tags monthly.

SEO benefits:

  • Improved user experience.
  • Increased engagement.

Via Search Engine Journal: Don’t Launch a WordPress Site Before You Go Through This 17-Step Checklist

Embedding Events Calendar into Other WordPress Pages

The Events Calendar Pro WordPress plugin is one that we frequently use on client sites.

That’s especially true for churches, nonprofits, and groups that rely on clear and consistent event listings that look good on mobile and integrate with services like Google Calendar, iPhones, payment or donation options, and remove the need for unnecessary copy and pasting.

The Events Calendar just rolled out a big update that I’ve been testing out, and I’m pretty excited about being able to offer the ability to display events (based on location, time, category, tag etc) on more site pages outside of just the main Calendar page and not having to use janky work-arounds.

Big improvement!

One of our most-requested customer features is the ability to use Filter Bar on other WordPress pages beyond the main calendar, and now it’s finally here!

Via The Events Calendar Blog

WordPress vs Wix

Finally catching up on this (latest) dust-up between WordPress and Wix…

First, go get them, Matt. Good points here as always. As someone who buids websites for clients (especially our nonprofit, community group, and religious organization partners), it’s always frustrating when a group comes to us after trying to build their site on Wix and spending way too much money and time on that platform.

Second, it’s good to see these old-fashioned blogger battles again. Let’s make the blogosphere great again with drama and self-hosted call-outs.

Wix is a for-profit company with a valuation that peaked at around 20 billion dollars, and whose business model is getting customers to pay more and more every year and making it difficult to leave or get a refund. (Don’t take my word for it, look at their investor presentations.) They are so insecure that they are also the only website creator I’m aware of that doesn’t allow you to export your content, so they’re like a roach motel where you can check in but never check out. Once you buy into their proprietary stack you’re locked in, which even their support documentation admits:

Source: Matt Mullenweg – Unlucky in Cards

Editing the WordPress Footer Text

Handy walkthru here… if you do anything on WordPress, this is one of those questions that you’ll need an answer for sooner or later:

For those wondering, the footer is the bottom part of your website that appears after the content area. This can be a copyright statement, the year, contact details, branding, social media icons, privacy policy links, disclaimers, and so many other things you want it to be.

Source: How to Edit the Footer in WordPress

The World is Too Much With Us

Iambic pentameter courtesy of Petrarch still rings true…

The world is too much with us; late and soon,

Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;

Little we see in Nature that is ours;

We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!

This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;

The winds that will be howling at all hours,

And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers,

For this, for everything, we are out of tune;

It moves us not.—Great God! I’d rather be

A pagan suckled in a creed outworn;

So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,

Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;

Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;

Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.

William Wordsworth

In Honor of Beloved Netbooks

I absolutely adored my eee PC 701 and used it all the time. I’ll add a gallery here later.

There were two products that arrived in 2007 that fundamentally changed computing: one, of course, was the iPhone. The second, obviously more important product was the $399 Eee PC 701. It originally ran a custom Linux operating system that reviewers loved (Laptop Mag’s Mark Spoonauer said it was “ten times simpler to use than any Windows notebook”) and was generally heralded as a new kind of computer with tremendous mass appeal. Spoonauer: “Pound for pound, the best value-priced notebook on the planet.”

Source: Let’s remember netbooks – The Verge

Too Much Choice and Not Enough Solutions

Whether you’re telling the world about your church, selling products or sharing experiences, your website is probably not doing the job you think you hired it to do.

I’m a big fan of the “jobs to be done” philosophy of “customer experience” marketing (again, doesn’t matter if you think you have “customers” or not… you do… time is the biggest asset we all have).

Your church / business / group’s website, social media, and all of its messaging should be focused on helping your “customers” identified problems instead of just giving headshots of your directors.

Good post here laying out the issues of too many choices and not any real solutions:

People respond best to a small handful of tailored choices presented to them on a silver platter.That’s why each page should have one Call to Action, and it should be tailored to the content the user chose to read/watch/listen to.That’s why you should intentionally design content marketing funnels.That’s why you should have landing pages for specific products and specific audiences.

Source: Why Don’t People Buy: Too Much Choice – Stacking the Bricks

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