The Thumbing-My-Way Edition Wednesday, December 26, 2018

We Finally Started Taking Screen Time Seriously In 2018, by Catherine Shu, TechCrunch

Many smartphone users are probably in my situation: alarmed by their screen time stats, unhappy about the time they waste, but also finding it hard to quit their devices. We don’t just use our smartphones to distract ourselves or get a quick dopamine rush with social media likes. We use it to manage our workload, keep in touch with friends, plan our days, read books, look up recipes, and find fun places to go. I’ve often thought about buying a Yondr bag or asking my husband to hide my phone from me, but I know that ultimately won’t help.

As cheesy as it sounds, the impetus for change must come from within. No amount of academic research, screen time apps, or analytics can make up for that.

One thing I tell myself is that unless developers find more ways to force us to change our behavior or another major paradigm shift occurs in mobile communications, my relationship with my smartphone will move in cycles. Sometimes I’ll be happy with my usage, then I’ll lapse, then I’ll take another Moment course or try another screen time app, and hopefully get back on track. In 2018, however, the conversation around screen time finally gained some desperately needed urgency (and in the meantime, I’ve actually completed some knitting projects instead of just thumbing my way through #knittersofinstagram).

Why You Need To Use A Password Manager, by Zack Whittaker, TechCrunch

Password managers don’t just store your passwords — they help you generate and save strong, unique passwords when you sign up to new websites. That means whenever you go to a website or app, you can pull up your password manager, copy your password, paste it into the login box, and you’re in. Often, password managers come with browser extensions that automatically fill in your password for you.

And because many of the password managers out there have encrypted sync across devices, you can take your passwords anywhere with you — even on your phone.


New Office Hours Aim For Well Rested, More Productive Workers, by Emily Laber-Warren, New York Times

To determine your chronotype, imagine that you have two weeks of vacation to spend as you like, with no evening or morning commitments and no pets or children to wake you. Chronotypes reflect habits as well as biology, so you would also need to eliminate caffeine and avoid artificial light at night, which pushes a person’s chronotype later. At what time would you tend to fall asleep and wake up? Don’t be surprised if you’re unsure. After years spent accommodating work, family and social commitments at the expense of sleep, “a lot of people don’t know what rhythm they have,” Ms. Kring said.

The most frequent chronotype — held by about 15 percent of the population — sleeps from around midnight to 8 a.m. Thirty-five percent of people have an earlier natural bedtime, and 50 percent have a later one. That means for at least 65 percent of the population, getting to the office by 8 or 9 a.m. requires waking up before their body is ready.


Two Years Later, I Still Miss The Headphone Port, by Greg Kumparak, TechCrunch

I’ve been trying to figure out why the removal of the headphone port bugs me more than other ports that have been unceremoniously killed off, and I think it’s because the headphone port almost always only made me happy. Using the headphone port meant listening to my favorite album, or using a free minute to catch the latest episode of a show, or passing an earbud to a friend to share some new tune. It enabled happy moments and never got in the way.

Now every time I want to use my headphones, I just find myself annoyed.

Why The Internet Has Ruined Christmas Shopping Forever, by Matthew Cantor, The Guardian

But every year, as more and more stuff evaporates from the physical world to take up residence on a subscription service, the holidays get a little harder. It’s not like you can just buy someone a Netflix account – that’s a monthly financial commitment, and anyway I think there’s only about three accounts in existence, shared by 78% of the global population.

I realize having unlimited access to every form of media ever created has its perks. I just get a bit nostalgic around this time of year.

The Gift Of Gaming: The Joys Of Getting A Console For Christmas, by Keith Stuart, The Guardian

We all remember that one Christmas present we got as a kid. The one we’d begged our parents for all year, the one we’d looked up 100 times in the Argos catalogue or on Amazon, depending on our age …

For many of us, that present was a games machine. Whether it was a ZX Spectrum or a PlayStation 2, the process of unpacking these technological marvels, getting our mums and dads to set them up, then finally playing with the whole family, was magical. We asked game developers, gaming journalists and Guardian readers to share their favourite memories of receiving a games console at Christmas. They didn’t disappoint.

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The interesting (to me) question for the highly-speculated upcoming transition of the Mac platform: Will it be a Mac that happens to run iOS apps, or will it be an iDevice that happens to run macOS apps?

Marzipan points to the former, but the end-goal, if we can have something like an end-goal for an industry that is always in transition, has to be latter. Apple has declared the future of computing, and Apple doesn't do anything that is not the future of anything.

Remember the first version of Mac OS X? That's a NeXTStep machine that runs Mac apps. There were a whole bunch of things lost in that transition, but the Mac gained a future.

In my mind, Marzipan will be Mac OS 9. The next Mac OS X has yet to arrive.


Thanks for reading.