The Things-We-Buy Edition Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Your Phone Was Made By Slaves: A Primer On The Secret Economy, by Kevin Bales

Cellphones have become electronic umbilical cords connecting us with our children, our partners, and our parents with an immediacy and reliability hardly known before. Our lives are full of ways that we connect with other people—the food we serve and share, the rings and gifts we exchange—and we understand these objects primarily from the point at which they arrive in our lives. We think of Steve Jobs in his black turtleneck as the origin of our iPhones, or imagine a local funeral director carving a loved one’s name into a tombstone. Whether we are grilling shrimp for our friends or buying T-shirts for our children we generally think of these things as beginning where we first encountered them, at the shop, at the mall, in the grocery store. But just as each of us is deeper than our surface, just as each of us has a story to tell, so do the tools and toys and food and rings and phones that tie us together. Slaves are producing many of the things we buy, and in the process they are forced to destroy our shared environment, increase global warming, and wipe out protected species.

The Making Of…

This Is Tim Cook's Apple: Clash Over iPhone Redefines Steve Jobs' Company, by Jon Swartz, USA Today

Before Cook, Apple was a company that reflected the passion of Steve Jobs: The news that emanated from Cupertino, Calif., was product launch, product launch, product launch. The rare Jobs interview was comprised of him commenting on a new gizmo, and nothing else.

Today the narrative has changed dramatically, and Cook is a willing participant. Apple arguably is defined as much now by its legal fight with the government as its next iPhone.

The Roots Of Tim Cook’s Activism Lie In Rural Alabama, by Todd C. Franke, Washington Post

Cook’s experiences growing up in Robertsdale – detailed by him in public speeches and recalled by others — are key to understanding how a once-quiet tech executive became one of the world’s most outspoken corporate leaders. Apple has long emphasized the privacy of its products, but today Cook talks about privacy not as an attribute of a device, but as a right — a view colored by his own history.

For Cook, it was in this tiny town midway between Mobile, Ala., and Pensacola, Fla., that a book-smart boy developed what he calls his “moral sense.”

Till Death

Death Apps Promise To Help People Curate Their Afterlives, by Tina Amirtha, The Guardian

Everest is just one of a wave of apps and digital services that are emerging to help millennials plan their own #authentic mortal passings, right down to Instagram-worthy funerals. Last fall, rival apps Cake and SafeBeyond were released within one month of each other, and both hope to streamline end-of-life planning into one simple app.


Popular Mac Writing App 'Ulysses' Makes iPhone Debut, by Tim Hardwick, MacRumors

Ulysses Mobile for iPhone and iPad features cross-platform iCloud synchronization, Spotlight integration, iPad Pro optimizations, and support for 3D Touch, Split View and Slide Over on compatible devices.

Lookout’s New Apple Watch App Will Help You Find Your Lost iPhone, by Sarah Perez, TechCrunch

Mobile security firm Lookout has introduced today what may be one of the more practical applications for Apple Watch. Its new smartwatch app will help you to not lose your phone, by alerting you if you’re about to leave your phone behind, as well as help you locate a lost or stolen phone by pointing you to its last known location.

Yoink: A Great Utility For Moving Files Around OS X, by Jeff Benjamin, 9to5Mac

When you begin dragging a file on a Mac with Yoink installed, the utility’s interface appears on the side of the screen. Yoink serves as a temporary holding area for files on your Mac as you move them between apps, folders, and wherever else in the Finder.

Shorts For iPhone Wants You To Share Your Camera Roll With Your Friends, by Joseph Keller, iMore

If you're looking for a new way to easily share your photos with friends, then Shorts might be the app for you. While services like Instagram help produce a more curated photo sharing experience, Shorts encourages you to share all of the photos and videos you take.


Swift Queue Fun, by Erica Sadun

There are many ways to write Queues in Swift, but wrapping an Array is about as easy a solution as you can get. You get all the push/pop behavior for free. (Yes, there are better solutions for complexity, but I really want to show off ArrayLiteralConvertible in this write-up.)

'Microsoft Office Has Been The Bane Of My Life, While Simultaneously Keeping Me Employed', by Chris Williams, The Register

Now we turn to ... the monthly report. The sort of thing you automate ASAP with a handy script. Unfortunately, even these little programming ditties can leave you sobbing with your hands in your head.


France Clears Bill That Could Force Apple To Unlock Terror Data, by Helene Fouquet and Marie Mawad, Bloomberg

French lawmakers backed a plan to impose penalties including jail time on technology executives who deny access to encrypted data during a terrorist investigation, giving security services and prosecutors the power to force companies such as Apple Inc. to cooperate.

Tesla Model S Owner Protests Singapore's Carbon Emissions Surcharge, by Aza Wee Sile, CNBC

Buying a Tesla will get you green kudos in plenty of places but not Singapore, where the carbon emissions surcharge slapped on a Tesla has caught the attention of the auto-maker's founder Elon Musk.

Joe Nguyen imported a used Tesla Model S P85 from Hong Kong in July 2015, hoping to have the first Tesla vehicle to hit Singapore's roads. Little did he know he was at the start of a seven-month regulatory ordeal, at the end of which he'd pay a 15,000 Singapore dollar ($10,850) carbon emissions surcharge on a vehicle that does not even have a tailpipe.

Bottom of the Page

I am never a fan of CoverFlow -- whether in iTunes or in Finder. In fact, not having grown up in the age of vinyl records, I really don't see the importance of album cover art. So, I wasn't sad that Apple has (finally) removed CoverFlow.

Having done that, Apple should now complete the job: I don't need to see the cover art in iPhone's lock screen whenever something is playing. I'd rather see Complications -- or Widgets, or however you want to name them -- on the lock screen. Weather, launch center, NASA picture of the day, or news headlines. Okay, Apple can even include Stocks, but I'm sure if anyone will enable that widget.


Whoever claimed Mac OS X is a mature operating system of which there are not much new stuff to add, should be ashamed of themselves.

At a minimum, I want a good sandboxed iOS-like environment that works. Whatever is on Mac OS X right now is far from completed.


Thanks for reading.