Year: 2017

“What’s a computer?”

There’s this meme that keeps coming back on Twitter. A young person discovers a floppy disk and calls it the save icon. Apple is using the same idea with this ad. When the mum asks her daughter what she is doing on her computer, she answers “what’s a computer?”

via Apple’s new ad shows how iPads are going to replace laptops | TechCrunch

There’s no doubt that “computing” will continue to evolve from the way we interpret that action today (based on conventions that come from machines primarily from the 80’s but also the mainframes and typewriters that preceded them).

I’ve been using a Google Pixelbook for 99% of my “computing” over the last two weeks. I love the integration that this device has with the Android app store and being able to install apps like Microsoft Word or Excel or Powerpoint and use them in full screen as if I was on a Windows laptop. I also love being able to flip this device around into “tablet mode” and play racing games or browse Netflix using what were previously mobile apps. Combined with the Pixel Pen, this device has changed the way I think about my own workflow in a rapid fashion.

The iPad Pro can do that for many people (especially students but also “adults”) as well.

I’m a big fan of the show Westworld. It has incredible visual effects and a captivating story. But the technology used by characters on the show is what really draws me in (I know I know). The handheld “computing” devices they use with foldable screens, touch sensing, AI, and integration of mobile and laptop features is so attractive to me. I hope Apple / Google / Amazon / Microsoft or whatever company that is currently being bootstrapped in a young person’s garage apartment gets us there in the next decade.

We’re almost there with transitional devices like the iPad Pro or the Pixelbook.

 

Episode 130: Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!

Dr. Thomas Whitley and the Rev. Sam Harrelson are joined by Prof. Chris Frilingos to discuss his book "Jesus, Mary, and Joseph: Family Trouble in the Infancy Gospels" and why the Infancy Gospel of Thomas and Proto-Gospel of James are so important for contemporary audiences.

Special Guest: Christopher A. Frilingos.

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Is the iPhone X as a UX disaster?

You’re looking at a UX disaster, the result of eliminating what is probably the simplest, most intuitive form of navigation ever implemented in consumer electronics: the iPhone’s home button. The iPhone X replaces it with the mess above. This is bad news, because this interaction is a fundamental part of the user experience.

via The iPhone X Is A User Experience Nightmare

“a new combination of media company and public utility”

Great point… and it’s unimaginable to me that anyone in government or a high profile position would take their own security and (operational and informational) so lightly…

As we saw this week, when Twitter, Facebook, and Google testified on Capitol Hill about Russias election meddling, “social media companies have failed to come to grips with who they are, and what role they play in society. They imagine themselves as tech companies that just make products, but they’re actually a new combination of media company and public utility,” Singer added.

These companies use of contractors, often part-time workers in internet call centers, to handle abuse and moderation is something else to consider. Twitter, for example, has never provided a breakdown of how much of its workforce is contracted.

via A Former Twitter Employee Told Us How a Contractor Could Take Down Trumps Account – Motherboard

Episode 128: “I have no idea what you believe.”

Sam is joined by The Rev. Merianna Neely Harrelson to discuss beards, doubt, faith, securing your spot in The Good Place or The Bad Place, ethics and eschatology, rededicating your life, and salvation bracelets.

Special Guest: Merianna Neely Harrelson.

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Episode 127: Under the Screen

Dr. Thomas Whitley and Rev. Sam Harrelson discuss the iPhone X, Airpods and Mods, prepping for the coming apocalypses, Heaven's Gate, and the theologies of nativism.

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Episode 126: The Problems with The Dark Age

Dr. Thomas Whitley and Rev. Sam Harrelson discuss anniversaries and birthdays in the Facebook age, whether the Vikings referenced Allah in their gear, and why "The Dark Ages" is such a troublesome concept (and why we're currently in the midst of The Digital Dark Age).

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Episode 124: Mark is the Best Book in the Bible

Dr. Thomas Whitley and Rev. Sam Harrelson talk about phone problems and promises, growing up, and the finale of the First Thinking Religion Bible Bracket Challenge Extravaganza.

Podium Winners:
Gold: Mark
Silver: Matthew
Bronze: 1 Samuel

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The power of looking ahead

Never get so caught up in the past and present that you fail to see what’s ahead. Vision is a powerfully lucrative skill if you’re crazy enough to think you can change the world.

From 1992…

How rich is this lode? At one end of the spectrum is John Sculley, the chief executive of Apple Computer Inc., who says these personal communicators could be “the mother of all markets.”

At the other end is Andrew Grove, the chairman of the Intel Corporation, the huge chip maker based in Santa Clara, Calif. He says the idea of a wireless personal communicator in every pocket is “a pipe dream driven by greed.”

via The Executive Computer – ‘Mother of All Markets’ or a ‘Pipe Dream Driven by Greed’? – NYTimes.com

Episode 123: Testing the Limits

Dr. Thomas Whitley and Rev. Sam Harrelson are joined again by David Ray Allen Jr. to cover the Final Four of the Bible Bracket Challenge. It gets bloody this week.

Special Guest: David Ray Allen Jr..

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Why doesn’t turning off Bluetooth on iOS actually turn off Bluetooth?

Another reason I tend to prefer Android is the ability to control things on a granular level. Does every user of a mobile device need that? Certainly not. Is Apple “wrong” for this “feature” design? That’s debatable.

But it’s interesting to see how Android and iOS continue to develop along their own trajectories when it comes to designing software for the Lowest Common Denominator of users…

Users can still completely turn off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi by digging into the devices menu settings, but essentially the button does not do what a user can reasonably assume Apple says it does, and that’s because Apple doesn’t trust you. This decision is the next logical step for what has always been Apple’s design ethos: It thinks it knows what you want more than you do.

via Apple Doesn’t Trust You – Motherboard

Episode 122: Last Night on Earth

Dr. Thomas Whitley and Rev. Sam Harrelson compare their phones' home screens, discuss the relevance of Facebook to political campaigns, and continue the very contentious Bible Bracket Challenge Elite 8 Round to decide the Final Four. It's on.

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The Age of OutrAGE

The media is built for clicks now, and we were trying to see firsthand how it all works. I feel like I now understand on a much deeper level why Trump got elected. Negativity is what travels. So we learned more about how the internet functions, and how it’s an insane feedback loop. It’s like, we just played a show in London that was one of the best shows we’ve ever played there. It was honestly so fucking exciting. And at the show we sold a T-shirt where we put an ironic Everything Now logo on top of Kylie Jenner’s face. It was visually punk as hell. We knew doing that would get a lot of press pickup but every single news outlet in the world covered it. Somehow there’s a story in that, but there’s not really a story in Band Is Really Amazing at Music and Plays a Live Show and People Cry Because It’s So Beautiful. So it was really interesting to us to see what got picked up about Arcade Fire. That idea plays into what we were doing as well: We were providing the ammunition for people who wanted to write negative things about the band: Here you go! Here’s something to be outraged about!

via Arcade Fire’s Win Butler on ‘Everything Now’ Album Rollout

Your logo and Instagram content

Good advice to consider here, particularly for nonprofits and churches on slimmer marketing budgets looking to make the most impact possible on social media…

What about content that doesn’t show a clear logo? What about companies with unbranded or non-logoed products? We’ve seen that a huge percentage of the content shared and posted on Pinterest is logo-free. It’s important to go beyond the logo to get the whole story of an image—how brand content is shared over time, who has shared that content and who has influence in getting it shared

via Brands Must Look Beyond the Logo to See the Big Picture – Adweek

How should we regulate Facebook and Google’s advertising platforms?

So how does Facebook’s ad system work? Well, just like Google, it’s accessed through a self-service platform that lets you target your audiences using Facebook data. And because Facebook knows an awful lot about its users, you can target those users with astounding precision. You want women, 30–34, with two kids who live in the suburbs? Piece of cake. Men, 18–21 with an interest in acid house music, cosplay, and scientology? Done! And just like Google, Facebook employed legions of algorithms which helped advertisers find their audiences, deliver their messaging, and optimize their results. A massive ecosystem of advertisers flocked to Facebook’s new platform, lured by what appeared to be the Holy Grail of their customer acquisition dreams: People Based Marketing!

via Lost Context: How Did We End Up Here? – NewCo Shift

I’m really torn on this one. John Battelle here (a tech publishing veteran who knows a good deal about online advertising) argues for more regulation and transparency of Facebook and Google’s advertising platforms.

I’ve seen how both Facebook and Google’s advertising platforms can work wonder for good causes like the nonprofits, religious group, and community organizations that are our clients. It’s wonderful to see the way that we can work miracles (hyperbole) to create new reach, fundraising, and awareness campaigns for these groups on a limited budget using Facebook Ads and AdWords. In the past, that would have required them to spend exponentially more on marketing and advertising. But now, we can help these groups grow on a shoestring. That’s a good thing.

However, we are at an inflection point.

I agree with Battelle on a theoretical layer, but there’s also the notion of democratic capitalism and the need to allow markets to flourish or wither based on their own actions (does our democracy value ethics, morality etc the same as it has and what does that mean for advertising?).

On the other hand, there are other advertising platforms that are major players in Asia and will be major players on a global scale soon such as Alibaba and Tencent and Rakuten. If we hamstring Google and Facebook, do we run the risk of advertisers abandoning those platforms for greener global pastures?

On the other hand, Russia interfered with our Presidential election and it’s no secret that politicians and special interest groups are doing bad things with these platforms.

FoxSports.com lost 88% of its pageviews after switching to all video

And true to expectation, that has shown up in the first substantially reported numbers about the traffic to FoxSports.com. SI’s Richard Deitsch reports that traffic dropped an astounding 88% since the “pivot to video.” Their traffic has gone from over 143 million in a monthly period to just under 17 million.

via FoxSports.com has reportedly lost 88% of its audience after pivoting to video

Wow.

Video is great for engagement (and ad dollars). However, it’s part of an overall approach that still includes text. People are more sensitive than ever to page load speeds and the actual “size” of a web page in terms of mobile data.

Use video, but don’t put all your eggs in that basket.

Is Apple’s New Face ID a Security Risk?

The majority of negative commentary I’m seeing about Face ID in particular amounts to “facial recognition is bad” and that’s it. Some of those responses seem to be based on the assumption that it introduces a privacy risk in the same way as facial tracking in, say, the local supermarket would. But that’s not the case here; the data is stored in the iPhone’s secure enclave and never leaves the device. More than anything though, we need to remember that Face ID introduces another security model with its own upsides and downsides on both security and usability. It’s not “less secure than a PIN”, it’s differently secure and the trick now is in individuals choosing the auth model that’s right for them.

via Troy Hunt: Face ID, Touch ID, No ID, PINs and Pragmatic Security

Good read here on the pragmatic nature of what Apple is doing by pushing technologies such as Touch ID and Face ID in its devices. No, they aren’t foolproof and there are downsides. But Face ID is a way to help ensure that the “mainstrem” of security-apathetic users of these devices have at least some protection if their device is stolen etc.

However, that most people simply ignore or don’t care enough about basic security options such as 2 Factor Authentication that is available on most of the web and financial etc services we all use is appalling.

I’m constantly urging clients to use services such as 1Password or LastPass for their password generation and storage as well as services such as Authy which make it easy to use 2 Factor Authentication (and safer than relying on SMS for codes).

“But I’m a nobody. Who would want to hack my GMail or Facebook or Twitter?” isn’t a viable rationale or excuse anymore, if ever!

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