Category: Tech

Upgrading From an iPhone SE to an XR

Michael Tsai (whose SpamSieve I used for a very long time) writes about his experience going from an iPhone SE to one of the newer iPhones. I currently use an SE, and this paragraph on the tradeoffs between physical size and screen space is particularly relevant:

I wasn’t sure whether I would like the size of the screen. With the iPhone SE, I could easily reach everything with one hand, and this wasn’t the case even with an iPhone 6s. The iPhone XR is quite a bit larger. In fact, I found that it’s so large that I hold and use it in a different—unapologetically two-handed—way, and the adjustment has been easy. Being able to see so much at once is an incredible advantage. I’ve long known this on the Mac, where I’ve always tried to get as much screen space as possible. But, in a way, it’s more true on the phone because it’s so cramped to begin with. Modern iOS and apps are less information dense than before, and they no longer seem to be optimized for 4-inch displays like when that was the flagship size. I miss those days, but at this point I don’t think even a new small phone would bring them back.

FWIW: I shifted from Android back to iOS to return to a smaller form factor, and that very same year Apple released the iPhone 6, inaugurating a new “standard” size for the iPhone. I am doubtful that we’ll see an update to the SE-class size.

But perhaps that isn’t something to mourn too deeply. As Om Malik notes while surveying the advent of foldable phones:

We have gone from voice to app-centric form factors. The next form factor will be multi-modal and very visual. A device that marries a wearable, a pocketable and a hearable could become the catalyst of the next shift. Let’s use Apple as an example. Imagine an Apple Watch, AirPods, and augmented reality (AR) glasses married to a phone serving as an edge server. That could be the next form factor, and who knows if we would even need the intermediate device.

Three years later, Tidal is still waiting for its big wave

Micah Singleton, for The Verge:

From everyone that I’ve spoken to, it’s pretty unanimous that Tidal has notably improved its service over the years. But with no new marketing strategy, the lack of awareness around Tidal in the US, and the seemingly continued disdain from those who do know the service and remember that tone deaf launch, the odds of Tidal turning up the growth and becoming a legitimate music streaming competitor to Spotify and Apple are shrinking by the day.

I’ve used a bunch of streaming services: Rdio (RIP), Mog (RIP), Spotify, and Apple Music. I’ve used Tidal for the last couple of years because they’re the only service that has high-bitrate/lossless audio options, but this article is right: they don’t really have a marketing presence to help them stand out against their competitors. Whether it can survive as an audiophile niche option is doubtful.

Robin Rendle on RSS

Robin Rendle has a nice piece on RSS, reading, and writing on the web1. Robin covers some of the ways RSS helped writers find community, and writes about the current state of the RSS ecosystem. He also writes about the benefits to publishing on your own site instead of a platform:

Folks now seem to recognize the value of having your own little plot of land on the web and, although it’s still pretty complex to make your own website and control all that content, it’s worth it in the long run. No one can run ads against your thing. No one can mess with the styles. No one can censor or sunset your writing.

That brought to mind a short blog post from a few years ago by Frank Chimero, “Homesteading”. The original is no longer linked on his site, but Internet Archive has a snapshot. Frank writes:

I’m returning to a personal site, which flips everything on its head. Rather than teasing things apart into silos, I can fuse together different kinds of content. Instead of having fewer sections to attend to distracted and busy individuals, I’ll add more (and hopefully introduce some friction, complexity, and depth) to reward those who want to invest their time. I won’t use analytics—actually, I won’t measure at all. What would I do with that data anyway? In this case, it’s just more noise. The singular thread that runs through everything is only “because I like it.”

I’ve found it useful to have a little of both as part of my daily reading: it’s nice to interact with folks on-the-fly via Twitter, but that’s a different mode than the leisurely exploration of a personal site that feels akin to browsing someone’s bookshelf and sensing the history behind each item. My own RSS habits took a dip a few years ago as my Twitter use peaked, but lately I find myself drawn more and more to RSS, a quieter space that seems to give a better return for my time.


  1. It seems wholly appropriate that I ended up reading Robin’s post because of RSS — I had missed it in the Twitter stream, but I subscribe to Susan J. Robertson’s RSS feed, and she linked to it a few days ago. (I realized that I only followed Robin on Twitter, not via RSS. That’s all fixed now.) 

Susan J. Robertson on “Aging Out” of Tech

I’ve been thinking about tech and aging lately. It feels so much like a young person’s place to be, with the emphasis on spending all of your time learning and working, be it paid work or side projects. I’ve been the oldest person, or one of the oldest, at most places I’ve worked the past few years. And recently a friend talked about aging out, specifically in regards to being a woman in tech, making plans for what to do next since she knows so few older women in tech. It got me thinking, a lot. I realized that I hardly know any women over 45 who are still working in tech. It’s less than the fingers on one hand.

Susan writes about her particular experience of being a woman in tech, but over the break I found myself thinking about many of the same things. I quite enjoy learning new skills, but I also find myself rejecting the implicit assumption that by participating in tech culture I must devote all my free time to learning and staying on the cutting edge.

I feel that tension more often these days as I move deeper into a role that is weighted heavily towards management (as opposed to writing code). I worry that the further I get from day-to-day coding, the less portable I become in the tech economy. I also wonder how much tolerance I have left for an industry that overwhelmingly values novelty and aesthetics over accessibility and usefulness.