Numeric Citizen Introspection Newsletter #2

This is my introspection summary on my numeric life for September of 2020.

It is fall time - I wish it was a picture from me - Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash

Here is the Numeric Citizen Introspection Newsletter #2 for September of 2020. Feedbacks on the August newsletter were great! Let’s start with this month’s post highlights from my Micro.blog, Medium and on my main blog.

Recently dropped on my Micro.blog

Recently published on my Medium page

Notable posts on my Numeric Citizen Blog

Apple tidbits worth my attention

September is always a big month for Apple news. Here are a few tidbits that got my attention.

  • Apple can be seen as stubborn with its stance on the App Store review policies and rules. Under the right amount of pressure from its developers, though, Apple can change and show that they care. Apple updated its review guidelines. Developers like David Barnard feels Apple shows they care more than others to listen.

  • Benjamin Mayo writes his impressions about the removal of Force Touch in the upcoming watchOS 7. In general, he doesn’t like the transition because it makes the user interaction slower and less coherent across Apple’s own stock apps. I’m with him on this one. The other side effect is to visually bloat the user interface with new buttons that were otherwise hidden and invoked with Force Touch. It was perfect for the small screen, yet hardly noticeable for average users. Too bad.

  • Notifications and widgets implementation on macOS Big Sur is a design disaster. Apple could have restored the dashboard for the widgets and keep the notifications on its own.

  • Apple opened its Marina Bay Sands store in Singapour. It is a unique spherical design where the interior looks much more impressive than what the outside is portraying. See photos taken during the opening here. Apple’s guide for the store visitors is available here for download (PDF).

  • Eric Kim wrote “Apple Prison”. In this short blog post, the author expresses his view of the Apple ecosystem as being a prison. He gives an example of iMessage being a walled garden. The problem is, sure iMessage is an exclusive service from Apple, running only on Apple devices but as you can install other messaging apps on your iPhone, I cannot see the point here. Next, on the China connection in which the author is concerned: who's not dependent on China these days? Most of the things we buy come from China because we set our pricing expectation so low, only low waged Chinese people can make the stuff for us. Simple as that. The day we start to think globally but act and buy more locally, maybe our dependency on China will change. This has nothing to do with Apple being a prison.

  • Is Apple a monopoly? It depends on who you ask. From a market share based on units sold, nope. From a profit standpoint, that's another story, but it doesn't mean that's illegal. That's capitalism at works. See this short animation showing the market share evolution from the early days of smartphones up to now. Very impressive.

Some of my photos that came to light

The Perfect Imperfections Series on my visual space got updated once on September 7th. This photo was taken from a train during a business trip to Quebec City. It was before the pandemic obviously. There was snow on the field and it was cold.

The following picture was taken while I was sitting at the back of a moving car. I had only a few seconds to pop out my iPhone 11 Pro and snap this fast-moving scene. It was entirely processed with the Photos.app. I didn’t know in advance how I would process the image. The concrete building provides a nice set of shadows. The street light is a bit fuzzy, suggesting a moving scene.

Did you know that I do some urban exploration photography? Once in a while I go out with friends on abandoned sites and spend a few hours there to explore and capture the past. I like broken things and sometimes I do cross unexpected things like this abandoned car on the side of a country road in Hawaii.

Must see photography stuff

If you love old photos but wish you could see how they would look in colour, look no further. This guy does an incredible job at colouring and retouching old photos to make them look like if they were taken yesterday. It’s a must-see. Here is an example.

Speaking of highly processed photos, something that I like a lot is seeing before-and-after posts from other photographers. One of the most fascinating artists I came across recently is “hscblack” on Instagram. Most of his posts are made of two pictures, the final result and the original photo. I wish this guy would produce videos showing how he does it. Warning: so graphic scenes. There is a lot of crappy stuff on Instagram. Facebook is messing this platform since the first day they acquired it. Yet, you can find real gems like this one.

Privacy stuff we should care about

The troubling and provocative documentary "The Social Dilemma" got released on Netflix and I encourage you to see it. It was done by the guys behind Humane Technology. Watch the trailer on YouTube. I'm troubled by what comes ahead of us. I'm not optimistic at all. Humans put together social networks, now, it is time to reconsider and regulate this whole thing. I know, it won’t be easy.

John Gruber, in “Online Privacy Should Be Modeled on Real-World Privacy”, writes about online tracking companies activities:

They have zero right, none, to the tracking they’ve been getting away with. We, as a society, have implicitly accepted it because we never really noticed it. You, the user, have no way of seeing it happen. Our brains are naturally attuned to detect and viscerally reject, with outrage and alarm, real-world intrusions into our privacy. Real-world marketers could never get away with tracking us like online marketers do.

I’m wholehearted with Gruber on this one. These companies see themselves as an essential service which is, obviously, a twisted point of view.

Speaking of online tracking, apparently, Apple is under pressure to revisit its intention of blocking users tracking on iOS 14. Big money is at stake, according to Facebook and its advertising partners. Personally, I do worry that Apple will bend to the bad guys at the price of weakening privacy protection measures in iOS 14 and beyond.

In other news, find out how a new user of the excellent Unifi Dream Machine, thanks to its IPS feature, discovered his home network was compromised by a device he was using from a well known NAS company. If you don’t know about Unify Dream Machine, you can read my review. If you don’t know about the Unify product line, this post explains all the pieces of a Unify-based network. Very interesting stuff.

Finally, did you see this Apple ad on privacy? While Apple is proudly promoting its iPhone as a secure device, don’t you find it ironic that the same device can run apps like Facebook?

Climate change to worry about

From the picture above, can you see right in the middle the brownish cloud in the pacific ocean? That’s the cloud of smoke created by the fires on the United States west coast earlier this month. Appalling. This year’s fires are worst than last year.

Have you ever wondered what 1.5 or 2.0 Celcius of difference makes on the environment? Here is a peak. It’s not pretty.

Quotes to remember

Apple’s problem (and paradox) may be that it achieved market dominance by selling a model that is acceptable in a niche player but not acceptable in one with market dominance. — Benedict Evans

Apple competitors have turned to guerrilla warfare tactics to wage a battle against the App Store. Valid criticism aimed at the App Store has descended into calls to burn everything down and replace it with anti-consumer and anti-developer alternatives. — Neil Cybart

What’s next? I’m glad you asked!

  • Upcoming review on the Synology DS720+ that I just bought.

  • I started working on an article about why Apple didn’t enable the full widgets experience on iPadOS 14.

  • I’m still waiting for my Apple Watch Series 6 to arrive. Expect a review soon.

Looking ahead but not too far from here

  • Apple will announce the iPhone 12. iOS 14.1 should be the version running on these devices. iOS 14.2 is not far behind but I expect Apple to release it in November.

  • I’m still waiting for the redesigned Medium mobile app to be released. I’m looking forward to it. Let’s hope this new version will enhance (not cripple) the reading experience.

  • If you want to get a sense of Apple’s upcoming products (based on chatters and rumours), subscribe to this newsletter.

Leftovers

  • A major earthquake occurred in the market of semiconductors: Nvidia is buying ARM holdings for 40 billion. An astute observation from Gruber on why Apple wasn’t interested in ARM:

    Arm’s business is about licensing technology to other companies; Apple’s business is about keeping its technology for itself.

  • Did you know Apple provides its employees with face masks that were designed internally? This is so Apple’ly. Have a look.

This concludes the Numeric Citizen Introspection Newsletter #2 for September of 2020. I would love to get your feedback and read your comments. Thanks for being a subscriber. Thanks for reading and sharing with the world!

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