The For-Each-Person Edition Saturday, November 24, 2018

The iPad, HomePod, And Apple TV Need Multi-user Support. Here’s Why, by Dan Moren, Macworld

To Apple we might all be customers, but we’re not interchangeable cogs. The company should realize that we’re not necessarily going to go out and buy that slew of products for each person in our household and stop willfully ignoring the reality of how we use our devices.

The Future Of Typing Doesn’t Involve A Keyboard, by Cassie Werber, Quartz

As computers become smaller and—ultimately—largely virtual, researchers are having to think of other ways for us to interact with them. The current generation of smartphone users may be willing to learn to type with just two thumbs; some of us have carried around bluetooth keyboards for train journeys and conferences. But no one wants to connect a keyboard to a smart watch, and while voice recognition software is improving, users are highly resistant to talking to computers in public. If the future of screens is augmented reality—as Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO has predicted— a virtual space where the user sees both what’s really in front of them and the “objects” on the screen, how are we going to interact with it?

Why So Many Tech Workers Worship Their CEOs, by Keith A. Spencer, Salon

Even in the early days of Silicon Valley, this tendency of programmers to identify with founders was commonplace. Though generally well-paid professional workers, programmers are still commonly exploited by tech companies who prey on their goodwill and strong sense of company loyalty. The early days of Apple offer some choice tales to this end. Doug Menuez, a photojournalist who was given free reign to wander and "record the daily lives" of workers around Silicon Valley, documented the harrowing exploitation of programmers at many major tech companies in the 1990s. In particular, Menuez recorded how common it was for employees to bring their children to work, knowing that if they didn’t, "they might not see [their families] during the daytime hours." The work environment at Apple was quite harsh: "the pervasive expectation from the [tech] companies (and from colleagues) was that everyone would work until he or she dropped," Menuez noted. One Apple manager challenged employees to stay up all night working and then go on a run with him at 6 a.m. In 1992, when Apple management demanded that 30 programmers rewrite one million lines of code within a year, the programming team began to work "around the clock" to achieve their goal, including a product manager at the time named Michael Tchao. "Some nights [Tchao] would get home to his Palo Alto cottage around midnight after 16 hours of nonstop meetings, and he would cry," wrote a New York Times reporter in a profile. As a manager, Tchao was able to "pull back" from the project a bit after reaching a breaking point; his team was not so lucky. In December 1992, one of Tchao’s programmers had a mental breakdown and attacked his roommate, getting sent to jail on assault charges. And a 30-year-old programmer on the same team, Ko Isono, had a similar breakdown. "Like everyone on the team [Isono] was working incredibly long hours, and his wife was soon miserable, stuck all day and all night in a drab house in a strange land," wrote the Times. On December 12, 1992, Isono went home after work and committed suicide by shooting himself in the chest.

Excerpted from A People's History of Silicon Valley: How the Tech Industry Exploits Workers, Erodes Privacy and Undermines Democracy, by Keith A. Spencer.


Inside TikTok, The Premier App For Firefighters Who Enjoy Lip-syncing To ‘Baby Shark’, by Abby Ohlheiser, Washington Post

TikTok, at its core, is an app for creating and sharing short videos set to music. Lip-syncing and dancing are pretty popular genres. Most creators jump on to viral “challenges,” emote over famous monologues from movies and TV or produce clever illusions through editing.

Last month, TikTok was downloaded in the United States more than 6 million times. Its predecessor,, was where 13-year-old aspiring Internet celebrities created and exhausted memes before the old people caught on. But something funny happened after TikTok’s Chinese parent company bought this year and merged them: Police officers, people serving in the military, mechanics and Walmart employees joined in. Fall into one of these occupational niches on TikTok, and you’ll feel like you’ve stumbled into “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” audience: an earnest, nonstop, normcore dance party.

How A Maze Of Mysterious Apps Tricked Me Into Saving Money, by Adam Clark Estes, Gizmodo

I feel like I’ve gone through three levels of a financial awakening thanks to all these apps. The first got me serious about saving. The second got me curious about investing. The third and ongoing stage has me feeling surprisingly optimistic about my retirement, which is decades away but closer than it used it be. I’m an aging millennial, after all, and we can’t just feel helpless forever.


The Resistance Is Real, by Dave Martin

My brain is literally trying to convince me to quit and to start working on “this other exciting new project”.


Why Facebook Will Never Fix Facebook, by Charlie Warzel, BuzzFeed

What Facebook and many of its allies struggle to see is that meaningfully fixing Facebook is not really about putting the granular ad disclosures in place (though they’d be welcomed) or finding the perfect balance between government and internal regulation (though it might help protect users). The last two years have shown that what the platform needs is something closer to an overhaul — stripping out some of the guts of a system that ruthlessly prioritizes engagement.

Ultimately, the failure to fix what ails Facebook is a failure of imagination. It’s failure to conceive of the social network as anything other than a viral advertising platform with a side of political discourse, life updates, and baby photos. As writer L. M. Sacasas argued this summer, criticisms of Facebook are "not so much a rejection of the machine ... but, at best, a desire to see the machine more humanely calibrated."

Why Do Laptop Makers Have Such Terrible Websites, by Alex Cranz, Gizmodo

Which is also one reason why Apple’s website seems just a little less awful. “Having fewer products is the most effective way to reduce navigation complexity,” Howell said. Apple simply has less stuff to sell. I like to complain about the lack of diversity in Apple’s laptop line up, but it also means that it doesn’t have to offer a laptop suggestion for business and one for college kids and one for gamers and one for families. It can just say MacBook. Or Air. Or Pro. The end.

So these big companies that have such awful websites—they’re doing the best they can. Short of some incredible innovation in user interface design we’re going to be stuck with the cluttered and difficult-to-navigate websites.

How My Sexual Health Searches Ended Up In The Hands Of The World's Biggest Tech Companies, by Simon Elvery, ABC

Using my favourite privacy-focused search engine, DuckDuckGo, I did a few searches over the course of about an hour. And I was a little bit surprised to find keywords associated with those searches had found their way to several of the largest tracking services (and a couple of smaller ones too).

It seems that while searching for information on vasectomies, I had, without realising, clicked on a sponsored search result. It's something I try to avoid doing, but it's pretty easy to miss the labelling sometimes.

Bottom of the Page

When I and my wife bought our first mobile phone -- we call them handphones here in Singapore -- twenty years ago, the intention was to share the one single phone between the both of us.

Twenty years later, each one of us in our little family, including our teenage daughter, has a mobile phone. (Plus a couple of still-working iPhones without SIM cards among us.)

But, yes, we all do share the same Apple TV, and we all do watch different shows. Multi-user support on the Apple TV will be appreciated.

Of course, I would imagine that we all still do watch some of the same shows too. This multi-user support may have to be more sophisticated than what we have on the macOS currently.


Thanks for reading.