The Do-Something-Itis Edition Sunday, April 12, 2020

Contact Tracing In The Real World, by Ross Anderson, Light Blue Touchpaper

All that said, I suspect the tracing apps are really just do-something-itis. Most countries now seem past the point where contact tracing is a high priority; even Singapore has had to go into lockdown. If it becomes a priority during the second wave, we will need a lot more contact tracers: last week, 999 calls in Cambridge had a 40-minute wait and it took ambulances six hours to arrive. We cannot field an app that will cause more worried well people to phone 999.

The real trade-off between surveillance and public health is this. For years, a pandemic has been at the top of Britain’s risk register, yet far less was spent preparing for one than on anti-terrorist measures, many of which were ostentatious rather than effective. Worse, the rhetoric of terror puffed up the security agencies at the expense of public health, predisposing the US and UK governments to disregard the lesson of SARS in 2003 and MERS in 2015 — unlike the governments of China, Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea, who paid at least some attention. What we need is a radical redistribution of resources from the surveillance-industrial complex to public health.

Apple Maps Will Soon Display COVID-19 Testing Locations, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

Apple has launched a portal for hospitals, healthcare providers and businesses to register as a COVID-19 testing location. Apple will review the application and when approved, the location will start appearing on Apple Maps.

The testing locations will appear with a red medical glyph icon, and a special banner in the Apple Maps card.


Nasty macOS Flaw Is Bricking MacBooks: Don't Install This Update, by Paul Wagenseil, Tom's Guide

A new macOS update is causing more problems than it fixes, with Mac users reporting a host of nasty problems — including bricked MacBooks.

What's So Special About The New Mac Mini For 2020? Is It Worth It?, by Sergio Velasquez, iDropNews

The best things about the Mac mini are its size and ports. You can still be connected no matter where you are, although you’ll need a power source and a screen.

Another great thing about the Mac mini is that it’s customizable. You can add more storage and improve its processor. The downside is that you can’t upgrade it for yourself. Most of the time, you’ll need to go to Apple so they can upgrade your mini after its initial purchase.

The App That Wants You To Treat Self Care Like A Garden, by Jordan McMahon, Wired

The app uses friendly-looking pixel-art icons to set reminders and log basic bits of self-care: meals eaten, glasses of water drank, medications taken. It also offers gentle affirmations and reminds its users to occasionally interact with friends or the outdoors in order to avoid isolating circumstances.

Discko created it for people struggling with mental illness, chronic illness, ADHD, or people who just forget to floss their teeth before calling it a night.

Down Dog App Review: At-home Yoga For People Who Are Easily Bored, by Brenda Stolyar, Mashable

While I can't say I've absolutely fallen in love with yoga after using the app, it was the perfect way to slowly introduce myself to the practice. And with so many levels and practices still left to build upon, I'm actually excited to slowly improve and to incorporate it into my fitness routine.


An Apple Employee Laughed Because I Bought A New MacBook Air, by Chris Matyszczyk, ZDNet

So I contacted one to ask about the new Air and admit I'd already bought one.

Fergal – for that isn't his real name, in case Tim Cook wonders – began his response like this: "HAHAHAHAHAHA."

This seemed curious, even if I feared what he might be about to say.

He continued: "So you bought an Air that was a piece of crap and you didn't bother getting the keyboard replaced?"

The Humble Phone Call Has Made A Comeback, by Cecilia Kang, New York Times

Phone calls have made a comeback in the pandemic. While the nation’s biggest telecommunications providers prepared for a huge shift toward more internet use from home, what they didn’t expect was an even greater surge in plain old voice calls, a medium that had been going out of fashion for years.


New needs are emerging in the crisis. “We’ve become a nation that calls like never before,” said Jessica Rosenworcel, a commissioner at the Federal Communications Commission, the agency that oversees phone, television and internet providers. “We are craving human voice.”