Working from home

I’ve been working from home for the past 2 weeks now, with at least 2-3 to go. I say at least because that’s the official line as of now, but we all know that it’s going to be longer than that if you’re lucky enough to work for a company that allows for it. I was trying to think of a way to capture my thoughts in a narrative form but as you all know by now, I’m not the best writer you’ll ever meet. Instead, enjoy some bite-sized observations from the past few weeks.


Day 1: So many podcasts and reading to catch up on! The lack of a commute is nice, but also makes boundaries difficult. It’s very hard to focus on work with all of the news going on.

Day 3: Finding a rhythm now. Trying to get outside on a few breaks during the day. Getting a puppy right before this all happened turned out to be a blessing in disguise!

Working more on daily check-ins with everyone on my team at work. Some folks are better at remote work than others and even if they are good at it, this isn’t normal remote work. So many distractions with kids at home, the news and

Day 5: I’ve FaceTimed with people more in the past week than I have my entire life! Work-life balance is okay and I’m realizing more and more that I’m an introvert that really doesn’t mind being in my office for 8-9 hours a day with music playing in between meetings. The hardest thing for me has been the inability to gather as much information passively (walking around, sitting with teams). Everything has to be done with more intentionality but overall I’m okay with this tradeoff.

Day 7: The blur between weekends and weekdays barely exists. The lack of a commute as a way to ramp up and down from work is missed in a way although I do enjoy the extra time it affords me.

Disheartened with the lack of seriousness most neighbors are treating this whole thing. Kids are allowed to play all day with each other as long as it’s outside. Most neighbors congregate in a few folks’ lawns all day with a few feet of one another. It feels like we have a false sense of security and when it does hit this area, it’ll hit hard.

Day 10: This looks like it’s going to go on a while. Time to start looking for ways to upgrade my office. So far, I’ve been shopping for sound-absorbing panels, a new monitor and new chair. This could get expensive.

Day 14: What are the long term implications of this? I’ve started to watch a lot of movies like World War Z and Contagion. I’m hopeful about a world where white-collar folks like myself can work remotely if they want to, and also worried that so much of the American myth is just that – a myth. Things fell apart fast in a lot of ways ($2T stimulus needed just to keep things afloat after a few weeks of non-essential shutdown!) which just goes to show how the only way we stay so rich is running ourselves ragged. And most people don’t have enough to pay a month’s rent / mortgage saved. I don’t mean that in a judgmental way, either.

How to correctly use a computer

This is the first time I’ve been seriously interested in the iPad Pro. I have an entry level iPad from a few years ago and it might be time to donate that one to the kiddos. I’ll definitely hold back until reviews and such roll in, but it definitely checks all of the boxes for me between the new case/keyboard, port placement and cursor support.

Apple’s WWDC 2020 kicks off in June with an all-new online format

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From Apple:

The WWDC 2020 program will provide Apple’s entire global developer community — which now includes more than 23 million registered developers in more than 155 countries and regions — and the next generation of app developers with the insights and tools needed to turn their ideas into a reality. Additional program information will be shared between now and June by email, in the Apple Developer app and on the Apple Developer website.

Apple also announced it will commit $1 million to local San Jose organizations to offset associated revenue loss as a result of WWDC 2020’s new online format.

I feel like one of the interesting side effects of all of these cancellations, re-scheduling and re-thinking of conferences will prove to us the largest value is the social aspect of them. That may make it more difficult to justify the flight, hotel and conference costs in the future for a lot of employers. And that might be fine.

The Case for Limiting Your Browser Extensions

From Krebs on Security:

If you’re the type of person who uses multiple extensions, it may be wise to adopt a risk-based approach going forward. Given the high stakes that typically come with installing an extension, consider carefully whether having the extension is truly worth it. This applies equally to plug-ins designed for Web site content management systems like WordPress and Joomla.

The only extensions I use these days is an ad blocker (1blocker), add to instapaper, 1password and a rss subscribe button. Most everything else gives me the creeps when you read what it actually needs access to.

When a Pandemic Meets a Personality Cult

From Paul Krugman:

So, here’s the response of the Trump team and its allies to the coronavirus, at least so far: It’s actually good for America. Also, it’s a hoax perpetrated by the news media and the Democrats. Besides, it’s no big deal, and people should buy stocks. Anyway, we’ll get it all under control under the leadership of a man who doesn’t believe in science.

We’ve been lucky to not have had any signifigant crises since Trump has taken office but this will be the first test … and boy, do I lack confidence in this administration. The 80% cut in CDC money a few years back in particular looks especially egregious right about now.

Apple Weighs Letting Users Switch Default iPhone Apps to Rivals

Bloomberg:

Apple Inc. is considering giving rival apps more prominence on iPhones and iPads and opening its HomePod speaker to third-party music services after criticism the company provides an unfair advantage to its in-house products.

The technology giant is discussing whether to let users choose third-party web browser and mail applications as their default options on Apple’s mobile devices, replacing the company’s Safari browser and Mail app, according to people familiar with the matter. Since launching the App Store in 2008, Apple hasn’t allowed users to replace pre-installed apps such as these with third-party services. That has made it difficult for some developers to compete, and has raised concerns from lawmakers probing potential antitrust violations in the technology industry.

That would be fantastic news! If Apple can find a way to make a cheaper version of the HomePod that can compete more with the lower-end speakers on the market and also allow them to independently play from a music service other than Apple Music, you’d see sales take off. We’re not going to see HomePod become a market leader by any stretch, but a lot of Apple users who are on the fence between a Sonos One and a HomePod might choose differently than they do today.

Doesn’t fix the fact that Siri on the HomePod is no match for the Assistant/Alexa setup on the Sonos One, but some folks are okay with that.

As far as iOS defaults go, I think that’s a great start. Allow users to choose defaults for a few things like mail, web, mapping, messaging and music would be a huge win for users. Still a rumor at this point.

Twelve Million Phones, One Dataset, Zero Privacy

The New York Times:

EVERY MINUTE OF EVERY DAY, everywhere on the planet, dozens of companies — largely unregulated, little scrutinized — are logging the movements of tens of millions of people with mobile phones and storing the information in gigantic data files. The Times Privacy Project obtained one such file, by far the largest and most sensitive ever to be reviewed by journalists. It holds more than 50 billion location pings from the phones of more than 12 million Americans as they moved through several major cities, including Washington, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles

One easy solution on the phone maker side would be new granular location permission levels. For example, most apps just need to know what city you’re in to offer weather, restaurant or event info. The default could report back a fuzzy location. Other than mapping apps, not many iOS apps really need my precise coordinates.

Mitt Romney’s remarks on impeachment vote

POLITICO:

This verdict is ours to render. The people will judge us for how well and faithfully we fulfilled our duty. The grave question the Constitution tasks senators to answer is whether the President committed an act so extreme and egregious that it rises to the level of a “high crime and misdemeanor.”

Yes, he did.

The President asked a foreign government to investigate his political rival.

The President withheld vital military funds from that government to press it to do so.

The President delayed funds for an American ally at war with Russian invaders.

The President’s purpose was personal and political.

Accordingly, the President is guilty of an appalling abuse of the public trust.

 

Spotify is buying Bill Simmons’s The Ringer

Peter Kafka, for Recode

Spotify is making yet another big budget purchase aimed at getting a lead in the growing podcast industry: The streaming music company has agreed to a deal to purchase The Ringer, the podcast-centric media company run and owned by Bill Simmons.

Good for Simmons and The Ringer. I do worry about where we’re heading with targeted ads, walled content gardens, and podcast fragmentation though. For now, they appear to intend to follow the Gimlet acquisition model of making content available freely to all. You wonder for how long, however.

Also, I hope some of the great writing continues, as the Ringer and The Athletic are two of the best sports sites out there right now.