• In Loving Memory of my Great Aunt Rose

    For those who don’t know (find my first Tweet here and my follow-up here), my Great Aunt Rose unfortunately passed away last week. She was a beautiful and kind-hearted woman who truly loved her family, despite rarely getting to see everyone in-person. The first (and last) time I had saw her since I was a baby was July 2019. We had a wonderful time, and made so many memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

    Love you, Great Aunt Rose! We’re all going to miss you!

    1955 – 2024

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  • Happy 69th Birthday, Steve Jobs

    Love him or hate him, he made an impact on the world — under his leadership at Apple, they spearheaded the smartphone revolution. Steve Jobs is a true inspiration for the next generation.

    He would have been 69 this year. Happy birthday, Steve!


  • Apple announced that there’s a new app for Sports on iPhone, aptly named “Apple Sports” and the design cues are very similar to those of watchOS and visionOS. I generally don’t like speculating too much–but considering how out of place this app and the Action Button menu looks on iOS 17, this could potentially mean iOS will receive an overdue redesign treatment this year to bring the platform more in line with other Apple platforms.

    iOS has stayed largely the same design-wise since iOS 7, with mainly minor tweaks each update cycle. With iOS 18 rumored to be a big update this year, only time will tell whether or not this happens!

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  • No Bulletin This Week (February 24, 2024)

    Just a friendly reminder that, due to unforeseen circumstances, The Bulletin will be taking a one-week break and will return on March 2, 2024. In the meantime, subscribe for future updates at bulletin.sladewatkins.net! Be well!

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  • My friend Max writes about my US House Rep. Elise Stefanik’s “Trumpification” in his new blog post:

    “I think he has been insulting to women,” she told WAMC Northeast Public Radio in August 2015. She went on to predict that Trump’s first debate would be his campaign’s “peak moment” before his numbers drop. […]

    […] It was then and there that the old Stefanik died and in her ashes rose a leading MAGA figure. Stefanik realized quickly that she could quit this precarious cat-and-mouse game of bipartisanship and gain power rather easily. […]

    He really does a great job taking you from the beginning of her career all the way to the present “Trumpified” version of her former self. It’s worth the read.

    Disclosure: Like I mentioned, Max is a close friend of mine. I share this with you here because it’s an interesting read and deserves a signal boost — not simply because he’s a friend.


  • The Bulletin for February 17th, 2024

    Hey party people,

    This week has been spent on two secret projects I can’t tell you about yet. Sorry! There’s one that I could technically tell you about now but I’m too excited and want it to be a surprise. That said, I’ve spent most of my week taking care of Beau’s bad ear. Unfortunately he ended up having to get it drained, so now he’s on an oral antibiotic, ear drops, and an ointment. My youngest cat just cannot catch a break, I swear… I hope he feels better soon.

    Chayse ​came to visit last week​ and we’re planning to do it again very soon. Not sure exactly when, as we’re still working out the details, but I’m willing to bet it will be within the next month and a half or so. We’ll see! Keep your fingers crossed for us and pray that everything works out in that regard.

    Instagram will load in the frontend.

    Okay, enough chit-chat: here’s The Bulletin.


    Things I found across the net…

    Catching them all, one step at a time.

    • A damning report says ​Twitter’s Super Bowl stats that the company shared were actually fake​! (My thoughts are here on the Slade’s Corner linklog.)
    • ​Cobalt​ is a great video downloader for websites like Twitter and YouTube that doesn’t have any ads, and isn’t doing anything shady! It’s quite cool, check it out.
    • Google Pixel is almost done with the transition to their own in-house Tensor chips, as ​Android 15 drops support for Pixel 5, 5a, and earlier​.
    • Windows 2000 launched 24 years ago today! NeoWin ​has a wonderful look back​ at the business-oriented operating system that would later be used as the foundation for Windows XP (which was released in 2001 and the first unified release of Windows for both home and business consumers.)
    • A woman was able ​to take a flight from Nashville International to Los Angeles International Airport without a ticket​. She was caught and immediately taken into custody upon landing in LA. The investigation is ongoing, but the TSA insists she was screened, but was able to bypass the ID checkpoint by jumping a barrier. How she was able to even board a flight without scanning her ticket is unknown. (Somebody’s probably getting fired.)
    • Elon Musk was caught with his pants down again sharing fake stats on Super Bowl 58’s performance on Twitter, ​according to a report​ from CHEQ. They found that 75.8+% of those numbers were fraudulent, and the impressions were much, much less than what the company shared. “‘I’ve never seen anything even remotely close to 50 percent, not to mention 76 percent,’ ​CHEQ​ founder and CEO Guy Tytunovich told Mashable regarding X’s fake traffic data. ‘I’m amazed…I’ve never, ever, ever, ever seen anything even remotely close.’” Geez.

    For more, consider checking out ​my linklog on SladeWatkins.net​! I usually share a bunch of stuff throughout the week that doesn’t always make it into The Bulletin.


    What I’m listening to…

    I’m kind of a Spotify addict, so I happen to listen to a lot of music. Here’s what I’m currently listening to—usually on repeat. Here’s what I’ve got for you, for the week of February 17, 2024

    Thanks to ​Odesli​ for making all these streaming platform-agnostic!


    Here’s hoping you feel better soon, Beanie <3

    I close this week by reminding you to be kind to yourself and others. These are some hard times we live in, and a little kindness goes a long way towards making that at least a little bit better.

    Just keep swimming,
    Slade

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  • In case you were curious how I had my computer set up in this month in 2017, I found a screenshot laying around of a client’s website, but for some reason, it was my entire desktop. I don’t work with these folks anymore — so it’s blurred out here — but I believe the computer this was running on was a Mid 2010 Mac Mini running macOS Sierra!

    At some point down the line, I switched to an Early 2011 MacBook Pro, and then eventually upgraded to a 2014 Mac Mini and the 2022 M2 MacBook Pro that I currently use. macOS returned to a more skeuomorphic-inspired look. I believe they call it “neumorphic” or something like that.

    For giggles, here’s what my desktop looks like today! A lot has changed. I actually store files on the Desktop now, and I don’t keep my RAM monitor in my Menu Bar anymore. I went for a tidy yet functional set up.

    My Dock is hidden off to the right-hand side of my screen–with a Terminal tweak to make it instantly appear and reappear. For folder management on the Desktop (where I store in-progress projects), I use Stacks and I move the labels to the right. I use SoundSource to manage my audio interface, CleanShot X for screenshot management, and an app called Tiles to bring window snapping from Windows 7 and later to the Mac. Oh, and I keep Downloads in the Dock now, and don’t remove the shortcut anymore–it’s handy.

    I suppose the only things hardware-wise besides the machine that has changed was my keyboard–I’m using a model of the Logi Pop Keys line that’s red/pink/off-white. Reason being is that it supports macOS keyboard shortcuts. On my other computers, I use a SteelSeries Apex 5.

    Was kind of interesting to see this. Chrome certainly changed a lot, and macOS looks like a completely different piece of software. That screenshot I found was taken only about three months into my switch from Windows to Mac, too. Incredibly nostalgic! Wonder if I have any more old screenshots laying around somewhere…


  • Just a friendly reminder that tonight’s Bulletin will be out to all subscribers at 8PM Eastern (US). It will, of course, be available to the general public on Tuesday the 20th at 12am Eastern (US) at SladeWatkins.net/bulletin.

    You can subscribe today at bulletin.sladewatkins.net for a weekly dose of interesting links and music recommendations in your inbox! (Oh, and I guess some updates of stuff going on in my world, too.)

    Talk to you later,
    Slade

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  • From Mashable:

    However, it appears that a significant portion of that traffic on [Twitter] could be fake, according to data provided to Mashable by CHEQ, a leading cybersecurity firm that tracks bots and fake users.

    According to CHEQ, a whopping 75.85 percent of traffic from [Twitter] to its advertising clients’ websites during the weekend of the Super Bowl was fake.

    Are we really surprised? These stats are coming out of the mouth of Elon Musk, who is not only a liar, but didn’t even want to buy the website in the first place. He then changed the name and ruined Twitter’s own brand value and recognition (there is a reason we don’t refer to it by its new name on this blog) for fun.

    He wants you to think this was intentional, and that the name and its CEO in-name-only Linda Yaccarino are a fresh start and chapter for the website, but that’s not true. Inside the company’s walls sits Elon Musk–who is still very much the owner with full control over everything. Yaccarino can’t even give straight answers to anything, and every interview she does is really awkward because of it. It’s embarrassing.

    I won’t say the previous regime was great–all of my run-ins with them were always drama-filled–but they never pulled things like this, and they weren’t helmed by a billionaire and his fake CEO who couldn’t tell you how a social media platform is supposed to function.

    And no, unlike what DHH suggested many moons ago (based on potentially fraudulent numbers to begin with*), the layoffs and subsequent “cloud exit” did not correspond to anything good. In fact, Twitter is now plagued with numerous bugs and tons of issues — like frequent outages — that have only been exacerbated by Musk’s lack of knowledge and shoddy leadership skills.

    *And importantly, the reason I say this is because we know now that the numbers most recently cited for the Super Bowl are fake, so how can we believe anything that the company said or will say in the future? We can’t. We have to question it now.

    The truth is, Musk’s dream of an “everything app” akin to that of China’s WeChat will never happen unless governments around the world forgo democracy and enforce its use. And that’s just not going to happen. Elon Musk can’t even get people to subscribe to his platform’s “Premium” offerings, as the offering only has around 640 million people subscribed to it as of September 2023. (Still waiting on more recent data, but I suspect it hasn’t gone up that much.)

    I close with this quote from the same Mashable article:

    Most […] users who are regularly on the platform can attest to a noticeable uptick in seemingly inauthentic activity in recent months. When a post goes viral on […], its now commonplace to find bots filling the replies with AI-generated responses or accounts with randomly generated usernames spamming a user’s mentions with unsolicited “link-in-bio” promotions. Now, there’s data which backs up that user experience.

    Yep. That’s what happens when you lay off your moderation staff, and sell boosts and verified badges for money… Rest assured, the world will not be doing “everything” through an app produced by Elon Musk any time soon. It just won’t happen.


  • Honestly, being on a self-imposed break from checking social media too often has left me wondering what “social media” can be for me. My circle of friends is incredibly small, but scattered all across the United States’ East Coast, as well as parts of Europe, and Australia. Social media is basically required to keep up with any of them.

    In middle school and high school, at least here in the US, you had a few options: iMessage or Snapchat. And basically everyone had Snapchat. It’s what we all used to communicate with each other. I’ve been on the app since 2012, when it first became available on Android, and I’ve grown used to Snapping back and forth with classmates or whatever.

    Even after all these years, and the drama that shit on Snapchat caused during high school specifically, I think it is one of the healthier platforms out there. Twitter certainly isn’t, Facebook feels like a place to go for “old people drama,” and Instagram is fine, I guess but really isn’t the same. Which is why I elected to keep Snapchat on my phone: most of my friends are on it, and there’s an incentive to keeping in regular contact with them.

    I have my own gripes with Snapchat, of course, but they aren’t shoving ads down your throat or some algorithmic timeline. It’s an intent-based social media network: you want to talk to your friends, you talk to your friends. You can either Snap them, or Chat them, or both! You can talk almost daily and inevitably start a streak. There are no barriers to entry, and no algorithms telling you what you can or can’t see based on what you might like. The timeline’s there, of course, but you have to go looking for it.

    Bottom line is: You just do the thing you want to do and just like that, it’s done.

    It’s the same thing with platforms like Mastodon and Bluesky, which are similarly intent-based: you tell it what you want to do, and it does the thing you want it to do. It doesn’t complain, it doesn’t tell you you’ll lose functionality (because you don’t), it just does. It makes things less addicting and more engaging. In my opinion, that’s a balance we all need to have in this heavily internet-connected world. I’m so happy to have finally found that balance.

    And frankly, there’s something to appreciate about that approach to creating software: giving users the tools to use the thing however it works for them. Especially in this day and age, where companies demand more and more control over how their things work alone, or with other services (or, rather, how they don’t do either and close off their products to other third-parties, requiring first-party subscription services for the device be fully functional. I’m looking at you, Apple.)

    I’m happy with what Snapchat has offered in this space. Intent-based social media apps matter, and regardless of some of my own complaints with it, it has honestly made a significantly positive impact on my friendships, and helped make them stronger… so I can forgive some of its shortcomings, for sure.