• How the loudest iPhone critics come crawling back

    Vlad Savov writing for The Verge:

    Then the iPhone X came out and for a couple of blissful months I shrugged it off. I thought the notch looked goofy while having the potential to be iconic, and I knew from the reviews that the camera was no threat to Google’s Pixel greatness. I also blanched at the $999 price tag, which inevitably spiraled up into four figures. So that was that, I would learn to live with the Pixel 2 XL with the iffy screen and accept life’s imperfections. But then I got an iPhone X in my hands at the start of this year, and that’s when all the trouble started.

    Interesting to see how most of his former issues with the iPhone - the lack of a home button, the notch, the price-tag and the lack of the headphone jack, are eventually becoming non-issues.

    These self-declared skeptics ring the click-bait bell against any new Apple product for a couple of weeks, until they come back.

  • Skiing Robot

    You gotta love this skiing robot. He takes a hard beating racing down the slopes, though. It reminds me of my own early days on two planks. Lots of crashes then, too.

    I feel you, little guy.

    Me racing in style

  • Vainglory 5v5

    I’m excited for the upcoming Vainglory 5v5 update. It looks pretty rad.

    Vainglory is the game that has stuck with me far longer than any other. It’s de facto the only game I play. Continuous updates for many years, amazing artwork, no crappy in-app money snatching, great performance and graphics - it’s the poster child of games on iOS and Android.

    Also, it’s the only game that has ever survived an Apple keynote. (Remember those DOA keynote games like Clumsy Ninja, Mario Run and Anki Drive?)

  • Now watching the Falcon Heavy launch live stream. I so hope all goes fine…

  • Among all the HomePod reviews released today, iJustine’s is by far my favorite.

  • When will camera apps on iOS get rid off these annoying camera shutter sounds?

  • Today’s WOD

    This one was a doozy:

    2 rounds of 3 AMRAPs @4min (a total of 6 AMRAPS)

    16 cal row 8 thrusters @43kg 4 lateral burpees over the bar 16 cal AirBike 8 power snatches @43kg 4 lateral burpees over the bar

    4 min rest between each AMRAP

    8 min rest after 3 AMRAPS

    It started off easy but quickly turned into a delirious struggle. I found it practically impossible to work through more than one round of each AMRAP.

    I finished at 321 reps.

  • Those who call for a Snow Leopard strategy for iOS and macOS today, are the ones who’ll cry “Apple has lost its mojo” tomorrow.

  • Please more driverless transportation

    I love this concept by a startup called Nuro.ai, founded by former Google engineers.

    Nuro is focused on deliveries, specifically the kind that are low-speed, local, and last-mile: groceries, laundry, or your take-out order […].

    There’s no driver seat because humans were not meant to operate this vehicle.

    Delivery driver is a job with no future. I can’t wait for the broad-scale arrival of automated, electric vehicles carrying goods through our cities. Less congestion, pollution, noise and faster, simpler deliveries. Solutions like Nuro’s or this six-wheeled sidewalk robot are desperately needed.

  • No Van Gogh, but Here’s a Gold Toilet

    My favorite story from last week: The White House’s request for a Van Gogh painting to decorate President Trump’s living quarters was turned down by the Guggenheim’s chief curator, Nancy Spector.

    As an alternative, The Post said Ms. Spector offered up what one might call a “participatory sculpture”: a fully functional, solid 18-karat-gold copy of a Kohler toilet titled “America” that more than 100,000 people had already used in a museum restroom.

    “It is, of course, extremely valuable and somewhat fragile, but we would provide all the instructions for its installation and care.”

  • ★ Re-understanding what needs to be done with Things 3

    I have been a victim of my to-do list for years. A looming mountain of tasks, reminding me of how little I am getting done.

    My list of unchecked to-dos stands out as the confession of a procrastinator. It’s paining me with guilt. Why do I have these tasks that I never check off but only push further ahead in time?

    Todoist offers an objective measure to my productivity. Or lack thereof. They call it Karma and guys like me can’t escape its sharp edge.

    My Karma level has remained stagnant at around 11900-ish for a while now. It’s a proof of mediocrity. I’m never to reach Enlightenment. A “meh”-productive failure.

    I have repeatedly tried to escape this downward spiral of demotivation that is my to-do list by the habit of switching task management apps.

    The wave of nerdy excitement that accompanies the set-up of a shiny new app wears off quickly. This habit has hardly ever helped me get better at managing my tasks. Neither of my transitions, whether it was formerly from OmniFocus to 2Do or from 2Do to Todoist, has fundamentally changed my “get something done, already” problem.

    Well, time was surely ripe for another app transition then, wasn’t it? And so I recently left Karma behind and switched from Todoist to the redesigned Things 3.

    Things feel different with Things 3 now. The pacing has changed. And so have my inner tensions.

    For a long time, I haven’t made this kind of progress with the mess that is my productivity as I have with Things 3.

    What I am accepting more each day, is that most things-to-be-done deserve less eagerness and attention than my busy mind claims they do. Labeling work and productivity as a constant “struggle” or a “hustle” is bullshit. And Things 3 is a strong tool to support me in this position.

    But will it forever put to rest the eternal question of which is the best task manager? I’m not sure whether this is the actual question to answer.

    For my switch to Things 3 from Todoist, I used my usual scorch-it-all-to-the-ground approach of deleting my old task management app and all its content from all my devices first, then starting with the new one from a clean slate.

    Who needs the old task-cruft, anyway? Once you delete your to-dos, you’ll find out how little most of them matter. It feels great. Like opening a window in the morning after a hung-over night in a dorm overcrowded with teenagers.

    I started with Things 3 only on iOS.

    Why not start small and keep it small for once? I am using multiple devices in concordance - iOS and macOS - but my iPhone is the central, most important hub for everything.

    Don’t listen to gurus that implore you to push this button and that, get all the apps for all the platforms and choose an app for its “feature-completeness”. These people are full of shit.

    Start small. Don’t create dependencies. Things 3 embodies this mindset but it allows you to take off from there. If you want to.

    The iOS app gives you everything you’ll ever need. It’s beautifully serene, yet more than powerful enough on its own to guide folks like me and you through our days.

    At around 10 bucks, it’s rather expensive for an iPhone app. It’s still significantly less than its 50 bucks macOS counterpart. If one day you find more comfort in having the additional Things 3 on your Mac, perhaps try the free 14-day-trial, first.

    I’m glad Things 3 is not part of the subscription shit show that some popular apps have moved to.

    Things 3 acts as a benevolent being with a helping hand on your shoulder. It’s not a stern authority lashing a whip.

    Marius Masalar put it best in his article on eight months with Things 3:

    I find myself wondering if what I want in a task management app is a grandmother (“it’s okay dear, you can try again tomorrow”) or a coach (“it didn’t get done — what are you going to do about it?”).

    An easy answer for me: Fuck the coaches. We all need more of grandma, instead.

    Here is a work-in-progress conclusion of my struggles with Getting Things Done, the system: Some things are great about it, but others are fundamentally flawed.

    The “mind-like-water” thing is GTD’s big bingo. Much of the rest of it, like The Weekly Review, countless drawers to sort your stuff into, nagging tickler files, its embarrassing “created with business executives in mind” coat of paint, not so much.

    Even though Things 3 is essentially GTD, you can cherry-pick the “mind-like-water” raisins and toss the David Allen old-guy-in-a-suit rest to your liking.

    Things 3 has the great feature of areas made for people like me that prefer some sort of looser organization of tasks over the notion of priorities and dependability that comes with projects. Not every task in Things 3 has to live inside a project. Yet, areas still allow for a grouping of related tasks.

    Things 3 also allows you to create checklists within a task. I prefer such a checklist within a single task over a project with each item as a separate task nine times out of ten.

    Projects are indeed rare exceptions within my task management system. If something isn’t a true project with a start and an end (think Ikea manual), I won’t create it as one.

    The classic GTD mantra of “every task lives within a project” is a hoax. If I bring out the trash and thereby check off the last task within a project called Home, do I really have completed my area of life called Home then?

    Home is forever repeating. So are Work and Travel and so on. Why would I want to build these areas as projects?

    If a task in my Inbox demands too much further fiddling - rearranging, resorting, tagging, prioritizing, rescheduling - something is fundamentally off. Things 3 allows you to go as deep as you want - deadlines, due dates, reminders, tags and all. Or you can just not care and dumb a task in the Someday or Anytime categories.

    One of the most annoying issues I had with Todoist was its labeling of tasks as overdue if I didn’t check them off on a due date. Yes, these task may be overdue, but who cares? Stop blaming me, computer. Things 3 just quietly carries these tasks over for today or tomorrow or the day after.

    I do live by accountability to my goals and I hold high standards for myself. But I don’t need my to-do list to be a brat about it.

    I prefer to set all parameters of a task (like the area it belongs to or the reminders I to want to receive) on entry so that I don’t have to rework my Inbox repeatedly. Too much reviewing - especially, if it doesn’t result in deleting a task - doesn’t help my GTD.

    I can’t always forgo the concept of the Inbox, though, and Things 3 doesn’t allow to turn it off.

    I set up Things 3 to pull in tasks from Reminders.app because I want to get all the support I can from my pal Siri. If I tell my pal Siri on my iPhone or on my Apple Watch or on my Mac to remind me of something, it will get imported as a new task within the Inbox of Things 3. That’s pretty nice, even though it’s somewhat of a hack and not new.

    If I wanted to commit to the native Things 3 Siri integration on my German iPhone, I’d have to contort to a weird Dr. Strangelovian German-English (“Tings”) to get it to work. Most often my attempts sadly end up with Siri failing like “I found this on the web for you…”.

    Besides the ability to email a task into Things 3, Siri is the only automation worth having with my task manager. The supposedly more powerful integrations and X-callback URL options that come with Todoist or OmniFocus have never been a proper cure for the disarray in my task management system.

    I don’t feel the same devotion to automated or computer-generated tasks that I do to the ones I create manually. What I type into my task manager is more likely to get done. I can’t fully explain why. Maybe it’s the blink of an instinctive distrust of the machine, a resistance to follow the orders of a computer, a potential evolutionary safeguard a human harbors against the dystopian AI future that’s looming ahead of us. Maybe it’s just me. But I prefer to manually enter my tasks into Things 3, even if it is slower than other ways and lacks the natural language input Todoist has.

    Manual data entry is where the app’s beauty shines. And design does matter.

    I have fallen in love with the Magic Plus Button in Things 3 that is so much better than the standard Plus Button in other apps like Todoist. I drag it to create a new task directly into areas, bypassing the Inbox, all the time.

    Then there is the Today view which lists all your tasks for the day alongside the items within your calendar. It’s a killer feature that’s so much more correct than the opposite approach of the Reminders integration within Fantastical.

    I use the stock iOS and macOS Calendar.app for calendar management and data entry. It trumps all other third party calendar apps in terms of speed and data visualization.

    I now only refer to my Today in Things 3 anymore.

    I also love This Evening within Today. At present, my life is rather binary. There is work and there is after-work. Many tasks don’t matter till I come home from hospital, so why not put them where they belong?

    It’s annoying that I have to assign tasks to This Evening manually every day. I’ll hope this gets better in a future update to Things 3.

    Some further things to take note of: I am not a collaborator. My task list is my holy-place and I don’t share it with others. I didn’t care about sharing in Todoist and I don’t miss it in Things 3.

    I don’t look back on completed tasks too much and I haven’t opened the Logbook view in Things 3, yet. It might be nice to have if you need it, though.

    Tagging is seated in a second or third row in Things 3 when compared to Todoist but I feel like with all the theoretical benefits of tagging - whether it’s tagging to-dos or files or whatever - it hardly ever pays off in practice. Search within Things 3 is great and it gets you to what you’re looking for, even if you slacked out with your homework and didn’t implement a proper tagging system.

    As a side note to tagging: Who cares about “contexts” anymore? That old relict from GTD days past even in a fresh paint hasn’t aged too well.

    Things 3 is a great app for all those of us that can’t opt for the Luke Skywalker way of life on a desolate island with frog-nun caretakers and green space-walrus milk, fresh from the teat, cut-off from the daily demands of our galaxy.

    Meanwhile, I’m practicing “mind-like-water” with Things 3. Perhaps, it’s a solution to many troubles I have with getting shit done. A potential step closer to being one with the “productivity-force” if there is such a thing, after all.

  • Looking for a quick way to screw up your weekend? Try a 1 minute AirBike sprint.

  • Big plans for the weekend: AeroPress instead of the Hario V60.

  • Social media and me

    Some thoughts by Ben Brooks on his dealings with social media in 2018 that resonate with my own thinking:

    Social networks are not good, and have not been designed to be good for you. Sure, you could cherry pick arguments all day long, but there’s simply not been a compelling case made for these networks being good.

    It shouldn’t be that way. Why should I participate in this? […]

    I have no concrete plan for how to approach the shit-show of social media in 2018 and beyond, but I know it starts with not giving a fuck about it.

    I haven’t opened Facebook in 2018, yet. I don’t miss it. I have deleted the app from my iPhone months ago and I haven’t registered my real email address with it. Am I missing out? What if someone sent me a message on Facebook? I wouldn’t know. Would it matter?

    I don’t get why “checking Facebook” is still such a big thing.

    Whenever I posted something to Facebook in the past, it felt like stepping on stage in a strip club, eye-balled by a crowd of voyeurs.

    I don’t want to feed people I once added to my “friends” list with intimacies about what’s going on in my life right now. I don’t feel compelled by the opinions of these people on banalities that don’t matter to me, either. I don’t care about the “news feed” any more.

    I signed off from Twitter, too. Honestly, who even uses it in Germany, anyway? Twitter always felt to me like a bazar of vendors trying to sell me on their agenda. A cacophony of voices yelling through creaking megaphones. A place for commercial exchange, not meaningful personal interaction.

    It’s a giant waste of time and attention. Once you follow more than 50 people that tweet frequently, you won’t be able to catch up with your timeline unless you give up on other, potentially more important things in your life. Even more so if you subscribe to news outlets.

    It’s also a carnival of liars. I never believed a word of Twitter big shots with plenty of followers that claim to read up on their timelines or reply to their mentions. These people don’t interact, they just dump their shit for others to consume. Their notion of community is a scam.

    To me, Instagram is no exception. I tried to curate my feed for years to keep out the noise that bugged me elsewhere. Still, my effort is backfiring. These days, my Instagram feed shows nothing but insanely perfect photography from professional travel, nature and portrait photographers. Personas that one day post images of arctic auroras and drone shots from a tropical island paradise the next. These people must all be living a fairy tale life up in the heavens. Instead of inspiration, it gives me self-doubt about my boring provinciality as a work-around-the-clock hospital doctor.

    Then there are Instagram stories of people that swept over from Facebook to annoy yet another audience with their gym selfies and food-shot boomerang videos.

    I can’t find anything worthy of sharing anymore.

    Where do I fit in then? What’s my social network in 2018?

    Honestly, I don’t know. Is signing off the answer?

  • ★ No more gas cars

    Are gas cars having a media comeback?

    I can’t help but notice that there has been a resurgent reporting on “new” (i.e. old because gas-powered) ideas from traditional car makers in the press. In the aftermath of CES, there has been a slew of articles on gas cars in news outlets that focus on a younger, tech-minded audience like Wired or The Verge.

    Gas car makers surely need some of that cool that EVs received in recent years. They are responsible at large for climate change, premature death and dirty cities after all, and those are really bad press.

    If you ask me, however, I prefer my media streams biased against gas cars. A pro-combustion-engine lobby won’t get my clicks. We need to make the transition from fossil fuels and EVs still need all the support they can get.

    Being a self-labeled “gas car enthusiast” has a similar ring to me as being a “proud smoker” or an opponent to the #MeToo movement.

    Hardly inspiring.

  • Snow in the Sahara

    Iliana Magra reporting for the New York Times on snow fall in the Sahara. Apparently, it’s about a once-in-a-decade event:

    The orange dunes frosted with snow look at first as though they could be images from a frozen moon circling some distant planet.

    Meanwhile, access to Zermatt in the Swiss Alps is closed due to “once-in-a-generation” snow storms.

    Winter is here. (Finally. I do love snow.)

  • No Game of Thrones till after the next New Year

    Kaitlyn Tiffany writing for The Verge:

    HBO has confirmed that the final season of Game of Thrones won’t premiere until sometime in 2019. […] The network reiterated that the eighth season will have six episodes — which will likely be very long […].

    Where is the button to skip forward a year?

  • Fujifilm just updated the firmware on my X-Pro 2 mirrorless camera and it now shoots 4K video (which it didn’t before) and has twice the autofocus speed (which was already really fast). The update is free. Yeah..

  • Why do people use WhatsApp?

    John Gruber on the clinch that WhatsApp and Facebook are having with European regulators:

    Remember when WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum adamantly reassured their users that the Facebook acquisition would not change anything?

    These folks are a bunch of liers that sell you out at the blink of an eye.

    I wonder why so many people - basically everyone where I live — rely exclusively on WhatsApp for messaging. After all, privacy concerns rank rather highly in Germany’s public mind. WhatsApp is not even a very good messaging app!

    From my perspective, iMessage is seemingly insignificant in Germany, most likely because the majority of people opt for (cheap) Android phones over iPhones and these people all default to WhatsApp. Only a minority of my contacts are “blue-bubble friends” and many of these are often bewildered if they receive an iMessage instead of “a WhatsApp”. The advent of iMessage stickers hasn’t changed this at all. Instagram Direct, Facebook Messenger, Threema or Snapchat as cross-platform alternatives don’t have an empirically significant share in everyday messaging, either.

    It’s hard to escape the pull of this herd instinct but I am still hoping for a change of heart among younger folks and millenials. If there is a group that seems adamant to change, however, it’s the Baby Boomer generation that has fully embraced Facebook and WhatsApp in recent years. I bet Mom and Dad are the ones that drive most of Facebook’s growth and revenue these days. If they want WhatsApp and Co., let them have it. But count me out.

  • As I’m fading out my Twitter presence, micro.blog has officially launched. I’m excited for its future and hope it does shake up the landscape of the web.

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