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.

Project Connected Home over IP

Apple Newsroom:

Amazon, Apple, Google, and the Zigbee Alliance today announced a new working group that plans to develop and promote the adoption of a new, royalty-free connectivity standard to increase compatibility among smart home products, with security as a fundamental design tenet. Zigbee Alliance board member companies such as IKEA, Legrand, NXP Semiconductors, Resideo, Samsung SmartThings, Schneider Electric, Signify (formerly Philips Lighting), Silicon Labs, Somfy, and Wulian are also onboard to join the working group and contribute to the project.

While this is just a press release, it’s still good to see these companies trying to move closer together, not further apart. I’ve been slowly migrating things in our house over to a Homekit / Homebridge setup but still using our Google Homes to trigger a lot of actions with voice. Ideally, keeping things platform-agnostic would allow me to just choose the best tech and then all of the main voice assistant vendors would work with them.

The name Project Connected Home over IP really rolls off the tongue, eh?

Introducing MusicBot: The All-in-One Apple Music Assistant, Powered by Shortcuts

Federico Viticci, writing for MacStories:

The result is, by far, the most complex shortcut I’ve ever ever created (MusicBot spans 750+ actions in the Shortcuts app), but that’s not the point. MusicBot matters to me because, as I’ve shared before, music plays an essential role in my life, and MusicBot lets me enjoy my music more. This is why I spent so much time working on MusicBot, and why I wanted to share it publicly with everyone for free: I genuinely believe MusicBot offers useful enhancements for the Apple Music experience on iOS and iPadOS, providing tools that can help you rediscover lost gems in your library or find your next music obsession.

Uhhh, this is kind of amazing. I hope that someone sees this and makes a proper app that does roughly the same thing! Marvis Pro does a lot of neat things with the Apple Music API but this is on another level.

“Big Bang” releases vs. incremental value

I was surprised to see that Music fixes were rolled into the new MacOS 10.15.2 release that came out this week. While I’m pleased to see that they’re iterating on the “new” app and taking customer feedback into consideration, I’m wondering why Apple isn’t shipping releases like these incrementally. Frankly, the same could be said […]

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My favorite 2019 tech things

As we head into the holiday season, I thought I’d throw my hat in the “best of the year post” ring with a list of a few of my favorite personal tech items of the year. Some of these are bigger than others, but I wanted to list out some things I’m thankful for this […]

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Hey, Siri (and minimum wage contractors) … 

From: Siri records fights, doctor’s appointments, and sex (and contractors hear it) | Ars Technica

These cases bring up a series of questions. What can Apple and its colleagues do to better protect user privacy as they develop their voice systems? Should users be notified when their recordings are reviewed? What can be done to reduce or eliminate the accidental activations? How should the companies handle the accidental information that its contractors overhear? Who is responsible when dangerous or illegal activity is recorded and discovered, all by accident?

Now it looks like your Siri voice recordings can be heard by contractors roughly 1% of the time.

I think my issue with all of this is that it’s not opt-in other than the “by using this software you agree to …” BS all tech companies shove down our throat. I think one solution to this problem would be to allow users to opt-in to have humans review your recordings as long as they are properly anonymized. There’s still a chance an accidental wake word could trigger some of the scenarios mentioned in the article but at least give folks the ability to make decisions about how much they want to contribute to making these voice assistants better.

I’ve turned off the “raise to talk to Siri” on my watch long ago but we do have Google Home devices in our house and “Hey Siri” is still activated on my phone. I could shut off the wake word functionality on my phone but I’m not even sure you can do that with the Google Homes. I’ll be honest, I’m starting to lean toward yanking most of the voice assistant stuff out of my house in favor of dumb speakers hooked up to Chromecasts or maybe just going full Sonos (although that has it’s own privacy issues).

Update: Looks like Apple is halting the program for now and will be adding a way to disable this in the future. Good for them.

HomePod questions

Apple has been a little late getting their HomePods out to consumers, but it looks like 2/9 is the big day. In short, it looks like these 7 inch tall speakers are Apple’s take on the smart speaker, but with a heavy focus on the speaker part and less on the assistant side. It has […]

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Google Home & Pixel XL

About 6 months ago, Google announced a slew of consumer-grade products geared squarely at Apple and Amazon. At the event, they presented the Home, the Pixel, and Google WiFi and they all caught my eye for different reasons. I’m intrigued by the concept of mesh networking rather than throwing a router in one corner of […]

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