Rethinking Apple’s New AirTags

I was joshing about buying AirTags. I continue to be amazed at Apple’s and other companies’ ability to convince hordes of people they “need” things they never knew they needed.

Granted, convenience is AirTag’s main selling point*, where did I leave my keys, but I’ve been mulling over possible security benefits of the tags.

Last summer The Good Wife and I got our kayaks stolen from our nearby beach. We probably could’ve caught the thieves red-handed if, via the hatches, we had attached AirTags to the inside of them.

Similarly, if you’re afraid of your bicycle or car being stolen, what about attaching a hidden AirTag to them? Maybe future iterations will be smaller and flatter.

One other security-related use. . .finding grandma. My 89 year old mother-in-law was admitted to the hospital twice this week. There were stretches where we didn’t know which hospital or whether she had been released. Basically, we lost her. Maybe it’s time to attach an AirTag to her belt loop.

*Don’t be surprised if status surpasses convenience as the primary selling point

Apple’s New AirTags

Will help you find whatever you’re likely to lose. $29 for one or $99 for four. Not because I need four, but because I can’t pass up a deal, I’ll be buying them in bulk. Designed primarily for keys, wallets, pet collars and the sort, I’m gonna think different and distribute them thusly.

  • My golf ball
  • My mind
  • My idealism
  • My boyish good looks

Thursday Required Reading

1. Hiking Is an Ideal Structure for Friendship. Love stories like this.

“As soon as we complete one hike, we immediately establish when the next will be. We rotate the organization and planning duties, eeny-meeny-miny-moe style.

That person has complete authority and responsibility to organize the hike, select the location, provide the beer and other refreshments, and make any other side-trip plans. We’ve done breakfast, dinner. We sometimes hit various local watering holes, or we just plop down with a cooler in the woods somewhere. The organizer is responsible for setting up all the logistics, soup to nuts, and is not questioned on the decisions made.”

2. This game has surpassed League of Legends, Fortnite and Valorant as the most-watched gaming category.

3. 2021’s Best States to Retire. I know, I know, how can any state known for the blog ‘PressingPause’ be ranked 31st? Spurious methods.

4. Inside a Battle Over Race, Class and Power at Smith College. Don’t know where to start on this one.

5. Mean tweets may take down Biden nominee. If only Neera Tanden had shown the same tact and diplomacy as The Former Guy. Has nothing to do with “civility” and everything to do with political power. It’s a tad bit ironic that the R’s are channeling Malcolm X. “By whatever means necessary.” (credit: DDTM)

6. The most important Western artist of the second half of the twentieth century. (credit: Tyler Cowen)

Tuesday Required Reading and Viewing

1. Bet you can’t guess the top global health story of 2020.

2. Bet you can’t guess the ‘secret’ to longevity.

3. Bluetits and Bluebells: Essex’s open water swimmers – a photo essay. Remember, I don’t write the headlines, I just share them.

4. It’s not that hard to buy nothing. After reading the top comments, a suggestion. Dear wealthy people, advertise your minimalism at your own risk. The non-wealthy are (still) not having it.

5. The future of electric cars. This really good ‘free’ advice proves you don’t always get what you pay for.

Apple’s Sixth Watch

I was trying to teach through my computer during Apple’s new ipadAir and Series 6 Watch event yesterday morning. But it was easy to catch up afterwards given the media’s affinity for AAPL.

How to explain this? I’m a card carrying Apple fanboi, but I’ve passed on the first five watches. Part of the explanation is the Garmin ones I’ve worn instead are so solid. But Garmin aside, I haven’t switched to the Apple Watch for one primary reason—inadequate battery life. Daily charging one more device? No gracias.

Incredibly, not a single media journalist that I’m aware of, not even John Gruber, said anything about the Six’s battery life. The single thing that matters most. Complete crickets. 

A steady stream of words on the blood oxygen sensor, the brighter display, the new bands, the price, but not a word on the most important feature. That’s a serious tech journalism fail.

Dear Tim Apple, the sand in my hourglass is shrinking. Hurry up already because there’s no guarantee I’ll make it Watch X.  

Talking About Sexual Stuff On The Phone

We routinely get loose with language. Take “phone sex” for example*. I write a family friendly blog, so it’s not like I have any experience with it, but isn’t it a bit presumptuous to label talking about sexual stuff with another person as “sex”? Granted, “talking about sexual stuff on the phone” is uber-wordy, but far more accurate.

Similarly, as everyone does these days, it’s presumptuous to label “on-line teaching” as teaching. Take Dr. Paige Harden for example:

Screen Shot 2020-03-11 at 9.59.06 AM.pngHarden has an informative twitter thread on how to “teach on-line” and you can see her and a colleague in action here:**

Everyone refers to “teaching on-line”, but Harden’s specific phrase “teaching to a camera” highlights the fallacy of the phrase.

You can present to a camera, but you cannot teach to one. “Okay Boomer” alert. . . the word “teaching” should be preserved for IRL settings. The “on-liners” can go as crazy as they want with “presenting”.

Teaching encompasses more layered relationships with students than presenting. Teaching interactions involve direct eye contact, silences, nonverbal communication, occasional emotion, and one-on-one conversations outside of class where each of those are even more integral. Teaching, at least in the humanities and social sciences, entails learning your students’ stories, tweaking your plans according to those stories, and being spontaneous and authentic in ways that are difficult in a separate studio. Teaching is messy for the same reasons all interpersonal relationships are—because everyone enters into the conversation with different worldviews shaped by contrasting gender identities, class backgrounds, ethnic backgrounds, and political beliefs. And then, for good measure, add in status and power imbalances.

Teachers have a more immediate sense of how a course is going than presenters because technology-mediated feedback is harder to interpret. When I lecture in an auditorium, I can assess audience engagement based upon several subtleties including eye contact, head nods, facial expressions, and the number (and quality) of questions asked afterwards. The technologist will argue they can do the same sort of thing on-line, but I’m skeptical because teaching entails a dynamism that I don’t believe exists in on-line presenting. My “in real life” students routinely alter my lectures, discussions, and activities with unpredictable questions, or comments directed to me or their classmates, whose responses cannot be anticipated either. Again, technologist will say their presenting is similarly organic, but again, everything is relative.

So let me correct the record. As the nation’s professors and students turn to cameras, microphones, screens, and keyboards, some truth-in-advertising is in order. The country’s colleges are not moving to on-line teaching, they’re moving to on-line presenting.

*since no one talks on phones anymore, “sexting” is probably a more relevant frame of reference, another modern phenom I know nothing about

**Apple thanks you for the commercial

 

 

 

YouTube Is The Bomb

Until recently, I dabbled with YouTube watching the occasional music video, Saturday Night Live skit, vlog, or epic mountain bike ride compliments of a helmet GoPro camera.

Then I watched Youngest watch YouTube content on our new whiz bang television, which I’d never done. So I followed suit and graduated from my desktop computer. It’s transformed my television viewing.

Despite being a technology skeptic who still savors some semblance of privacy, I’m down with YouTube’s algorithm.

It gets me.

For example, remember this description of one of my favorite television shows of all time from almost four years ago? I’m not sure how I’ve lived this long without it. I was equal parts gobsmacked and chuffed to bits when it appeared in my YouTube queue recently. I can’t believe it’s been going strong for the last four dark years, damn the Canadian Broadcasting Channel suits who decided to drop it.

Now I’m binging on it while trying to stay in some sort of cycling shape. Here’s an excellent sampler for your viewing enjoyment.

I’ve also enjoyed meeting Beau Miles a supe-cool Australian YouTuber with the right color hair. In this 17 minute-long documentary he tells a very different kind of marathon story.

If that was your cup of tea, brew one more.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, the bike and telly await.