Have you ever developed new habits or changed existing ones without realising it? There isn’t an abrupt shift, but rather a gradual evolution in your subconscious mind. You suddenly ‘wake up’ to this change with a sense of surprise. This realisation hit me today when I went for my daily walk with my dog and my headphones died. I’m not even sure when I began to wear them for my walks, but their sudden absence made me acutely aware of my new routine.
I thoroughly enjoyed my walk today. There’s something special about the slight chill in the air paired with the warmth of the sun that I find delightful. It’s an odd time of year when you need both a hat and gloves as well as sunglasses, but I think it’s the perfect balance. That might seem like a tangent, but perhaps being alone with my thoughts allowed me to appreciate it more. Unwittingly, I had been walking with my AirPods for the last few days, listening to podcasts or audiobooks, which meant I was never truly alone.
Of course, there’s nothing inherently wrong with listening to something while walking. However, I find that excessive consumption of content prevents me from fully developing my own ideas. The ideas I do have, influenced by various media, never seem to fully materialise or reach a conclusion if there’s a constant influx of new ones. Podcasts, in particular, tend to spark new thoughts or introduce intriguing topics, but I need those interludes of silence to explore and expand on them before moving on to the next.
There are already numerous thoughts occupying space in my mind, most of which I tend to overanalyse, without the addition of new ones pouring in. That is why I value silence and downtime so much. It enables me to read a book, jot down notes, or just embrace a slower pace, which in turn allows me to operate at full capacity when necessary. However, this doesn’t make it any easier when a company I am interested in implodes over the course of a week leading to an influx of emergency podcasts!
Over the years, I have learned to appreciate the uncomfortable sensation of boredom and not to shun it. I see many people who cannot stand to be unoccupied, and I believe that being comfortable with boredom is an important skill for self-discovery. The desire for constant entertainment is pervasive and seems problematic. As I discovered today, despite the world being filled with distractions, sometimes all I really need is silence.
A new study suggests that mentally-passive sedentary behavior such as watching TV may increase the risk of developing depression, while mentally-active sedentary behavior such as sitting at work does not have the same effect.
I create most of the images on my blog now with DALL-E 3.
I’m wondering if people think that this needs pointing out somewhere? I have seen some newsletters adding a caption that states this, what are your thoughts?
New details from noted Apple tipster @Tech_Reve point to Apple introducing a touchscreen to the MacBook. It’s been a long time coming—it’s a popular and accepted feature on high-end Windows laptops, yet Tim Cook and his team have been firmly against adding one to the macOS laptops.
That’s a no from me
I have been trying to write this post for a very long time. Trying to outline my experiment of using a flip phone again because it is the culmination of a few years of wanting to try it, knowing I can’t and then slowly walking myself back from the edge. This time my wife pushed me over the edge with words along the line of “stop talking about it and do it” with comical results and some realisations along the way.
I say this with the knowledge that I have written and rewritten this post quite a few times. I hoped that my thoughts would come easily as they are plentiful, but my fear was that they could be judged as more than a little preachy. This would have destroyed the message behind this post and removed any hope of people reading it. So I hope this version finds the right spot in your motivation to keep reading. It circles a realisation I had about a week into the experiment and applies to numerous things in tech circles.
On the first boot of my sim being in a new Nokia 2660, I hit barriers. The phone cost me a whopping £25 from a local business and ticked all the boxes I wanted it to tick, but the barriers came from other places. There is no way to transfer contacts over, so I had to spend quite a bit of time doing the new phone dance that people of a certain age will remember. Typing all the numbers and contact names in on the t9 keypad, that after ten minutes, made my hand cramp. I used to be able to send a text without even looking, and although some muscle memory remained, the dexterity to do so did not.
Once this was done, I put the phone down and stared at it. You see, the great thing about a dumb phone, although this particular model did have Facebook installed, is that there is nothing to do with it. Outside the occasional game of snake, unless the phone beeped, or I needed to contact someone, it never moved from the table in my kitchen. For something to do, I even when and connected it to my car’s bluetooth, which went about as easily as any other phone I have used. Which was frustrating because I expected to hit more annoyances than this. How dare this ridiculous phone be easy to use and peaceful.
Truth be told, for the first couple of days, I wished we had never moved past this stage in the mobile phone evolution. I wanted to stay with this device that asked absolutely nothing from me. It delivered on everything it promises, which is next to nothing, and that was one with me. That’s the thing about weekends though, they are not the indicator of normal usage, and once the week rolled around I was sure the issues would start showing up. Secretly hoping I would have a good enough excuse to shove my sim back into a phone it deserved. Unfortunately, nothing major happened.
The calls were answered. Texts were replaced with telephone calls because it couldn’t be bothered to give myself hand cramp. Most importantly, no-one was any the wiser. This marvellous device sat on my desk next to my computer and did exactly what was asked of it. It wasn’t until the dawn of the third day that I began to release what I needed from a phone. It came in the most embarrassing of situations, at the front of a queue of people trying to pay for something. My card would not work for whatever reason and I had no way of getting another one, nor using a banking app.
I walked away in a grump, with my dumb phone in my hand and simmering over imagined sniggering from people in the queue behind. Curse my desire for a simple life and not having the world at my fingertips when I most needed it. It suddenly occurred to me — well once I had been home, sorted my card out, and then gone to a different shop to buy the things I required — that I do need my device to do more. I began to think of all the occasions where I might need a device with me. Quickly putting together ideas of how I could overcome them.
I ran through them all in my mind to make sure I could solve these problems and continue in blissful device silence. Banking was simple. I return to carrying a wallet with me at all times. The next one was running, that would require a new watch because I can’t use my beloved Apple Watch now. Something simple will do, a cheep Casio and a good route planning session to log my milage means I can jump that hurdle effortlessly. Podcasts on long runs might take a bit more thought.
After exploring the web for MP3 devices, which there are quite a few of even with the rise of smartphones, the possibility of more expenditure started to pull the curtain down on my experiment. Not because of the cost, a simple MP3 player with bluetooth is around £40, but more because of the hassle. I could download the episodes I want to listen to, convert them to MP3 and then put them on the device. Worry about keeping it charged and tracking my run on a new watch. Or I could just use Apple Watch as I have done for years.
I could ask for paper menus and order forms in places that relied on QR code scanning or online ordering. Printing out things I needed to have with me, or writing them in my notebook. All the issues that cropped up had solutions, but after a certain point the juice wasn’t worth the squeeze. Despite all the attention it tended to suck away, and all the outlay it cost — the smartphone has pushed itself into my life to such a point that it is just easier to have one. That sucks.
Sam Altman was (is?) one of the most notable executives in the tech industry, called the “Oppenheimer of Our Age” by New York Magazine, and was booted out without compensation by a bunch of scientists and the CEO of the slightly better version of Yahoo! Answers.
This is the best summery I have read. 👏
An asynchronous work model, for example, empowers individuals to tackle complex problems on their own schedules based on critical thinking rather than constantly reacting to requests in real time.
A thousand times this. Unless there’s a business reason the be working 9-5 outside of “that’s just the way it’s done” it should be abolished. Lives don’t work to that schedule.
There are numerous tech things I am intentionally quiet about. Not because I don’t have thoughts about them, but because I would rather not add to the noise of initial emotion blog posts and hot takes. The Humane AI Pin was one of those things, and while I don’t see it catching on, I think it is a fascinating device because of what it signals.
For years now, technology commentators have been theorising on what comes after the smartphone. It’s explosive success in shaping our lives and how we interact with the world around us is nothing short of remarkable. Although we can debate the positivity of them, there is no denying that the societal changes we have experienced well exceed those caused by similar cultural shifts.
This oblong glass and metal device I am typing this blog post on is nothing short of a technological marvel. One that we could not even dream of a decade ago, yet we are searching for the next thing already. For years, many people have been expecting voice first interaction to become the prominent interaction method. No more typing on screens, you speak to something, and it does the heavy lifting for you. It’s easy to forget this vision of easier interaction with your device and view the Ai Pin from its marketing alone.
Right from the start, the device has been developed and now launched differently to what we expected. There’s nothing wrong with that, but the self-importance of the companies launch video overshadows the entire device. The successfulness of the device aside (I am very much of the opinion it will fall flat on its face) it says a lot about the future of devices. The one seen by technology investors, and how much they differentiate from regular users.
Although voice first interaction hasn’t caught on as quickly as expected, and many devices have had to go back to putting screens on them, there’s still something there. It’s either a dream, or a marketing push, but the voice first idea clings to the back of my mind with a certain level of excitement. It wasn’t until I really thought about the ridiculousness of wearing a pin on my clothes, or the worse possibility of something on my face, that I came to understand the issues as I see them.
The truth is, voice first doesn’t need to be voice only. Now granted, the AI Pin does have an over-engineered laser projector. This requires a series of dexterous gestures to interact, which in itself is enough to pull your phone out and do the same thing in a couple of taps. What they really want you to do is push the button and talk to it. Transmitting everything over the constant internet connection to be interpreted, and a response beamed back to you. Let’s hope you never go out of a reliable signal.
You can issue commands like “catch me up” to be read your latest emails and text messages. A command that I expect won’t return “nothing, no one likes you” but speaks to the kind of person AI wants to market the device to, or perhaps who purchasers wish to be. This is something that may not raise an eyebrow in Silicon Valley circles, but will on your local high street. What companies fail to realise that the acceptability of voice interaction is varied, and this device must sit in the Venn diagram overlap of can talk to a computer and wearing clothes sufficient to sustain “the same weight as a tennis ball”.
I suspect this sits is the same tech douch zone as Juicero, Google Glass and Dyson Zone. The aims of Humane are noble ones, to reduce the time spent using devices that take us away from the world around us. Ensuring that we can use technology in a way that doesn’t impact our attention. Forgetting that there is a far more socially acceptable option of device, one that I am a big fan of—the smartwatch.
After years of wearing an Apple Watch, my preferred interaction method with it, outside simple taps, is by far voice. The watch is already a device people are used to seeing, it fits into life perfectly. There’s nothing on my face and no weird badge sagging my clothes down. I remain convinced it is the best minimalist phone you can buy, and wish it were my main device. I have a feeling that had Humane stated with such a device and then pushed into other areas it may have gone down better, but there is always a desire for something new and different.
A new interaction method takes time to find its space in society, like the smartphone. Some never reach that place and die out like Google Glass, and it remains to be seen how long Humane can hang in there. Working to persuade people that the learning curve is worth it. Voice first and lasers seems like an interesting proposition, but new doesn’t always mean good.
According to a report from TechRadar, Apple won’t adopt proprietary extensions like the one made by Google that adds end-to-end encryption to RCS. Instead, Apple intends to work with the GSMA to add encryption to the RCS Universal Profile.
RCS is already a fragmented mess.
I spotted an interesting post by Nick Heer this morning while catching up (also, you should be reading his blog; it’s great). He presents the idea that sometimes hardware is as much of a barrier to switching platforms as software is, which is often overlooked by those considering doing so.
The barrier to switching from, say, an iPhone to Android is usually thought to be software — iMessage, for instance, comes up frequently. However, I think Nick has a valid point worth considering. I started to think about the reasons why I tend to stick with Apple products, particularly the iPhone, and really, it boils down to three areas: hardware quality, with a focus on the camera, and the app ecosystem.
I have written about my journey of becoming entrenched in the Apple ecosystem. Until the iPhone 5s, I was a dedicated Android user. I had used the iPhone 3G for a while but didn’t truly enjoy it, and bought my first Android phone, the Galaxy Nexus. The reason I switched to an iPhone, after a considerable succession of Android phones that never really met the mark, was the hardware.
They all promised to fix short battery life or offer a camera that wasn’t subpar, and I was fed up with having to hack my phone to make it work well. I enjoyed using phones like the Moto X and the Nexus series, but they all left me feeling overall disappointment. The iPhone 5s resolved all the issues I had with poor build quality and disappointing hardware in one fell swoop. It came in a high-quality, really nice feeling package, and I no longer worried about capturing a good photo.
Taking good pictures on Android phones was too laborious. I had to install other camera apps or make other technical adjustments to achieve the desired results. I don’t feel that is the case any more; Android phones are on par with the hardware quality of iPhones, offering more interesting form factors beyond the glass and metal oblong Apple adheres to.
I am no stranger to using Android phones, having recently used the Galaxy Z Fold 5, Pixel Fold, and S23 Ultra for an extended period. What now affects switching is my completely subjective opinion on the pictures from these phones. I am not a fan of the oversaturated Samsung images, nor the processing of the Pixel phones. So, I now stick to iPhones due to my personal tastes; there is no other barrier apart from my preference.
I used to love Android for its utility, constant introduction of new features, and the freedom to customise my phone as I desired. Much of that remains true; however, every time I use it now, I am confused about whose phone it is. Android, in its various forms, seems to push Google services in my face, or adverts if you use a Samsung phone.
The good news is you can usually turn most of these features off and make the phone your own. It just takes more time than it used to, and compared to iPhones, it offers a level of customisation that Apple will never allow. Comparing the OS is a bit like comparing apples to oranges, but what I particularly dislike is the disparity in app quality.
This might be down to the types of apps I use and the fact that I first used them on Apple devices. However, that doesn’t excuse the inferior quality of some cross-platform attempts. That is, if the app is even available, as the likes of Matter and Ulysses just aren’t there. This is no fault of Google or Android, but it is a consideration when thinking about switching. It keeps me using iOS instead of searching for alternatives; the cost versus reward doesn’t add up for me.
Another point worth mentioning, and what was the deciding factor in getting an iPhone in the first place, is the ecosystem. I was introduced to it with an iPad. I won’t ever switch to Windows unless forced, so it just makes sense for me to have the whole Apple package. Every so often, I think I am one of the iSheep people mock, but if that’s the case, I am content knowing what to do and how to get the most out of my ecosystem. Even if, at times, it is frustrating to be so confined.
employees stressed to me the convenience of not having to dig a device out of their pocket to perform quick tasks. The pin has a speaker of its own and connects to headphones and earbuds via Bluetooth, making it an ideal computer for bike rides or just walking around town, they told me.
Just like… a smartwatch?