🔗 Link Post: Moderna starts human trials for an mRNA-based flu shot

Nicole Wetsman writing for The Verge:

Moderna says it hopes to eventually create combination vaccines that could protect people against flu, COVID-19, and other respiratory infections with one shot. “Our vision is to develop an mRNA combination vaccine so that people can get one shot each fall for high efficacy protection against the most problematic respiratory viruses,” Stéphane Bancel, chief executive officer of Moderna, said in a press release.

Moderna Press Release: Moderna Announces First Participant Dosed in Phase 1/2 Study of Its Quadrivalent Seasonal Flu mRNA Vaccine | Moderna, Inc.

I like the idea of getting one shot that includes the flu vaccine and a COVID booster.

🔗 Link Post: Getting over the post-pandemic fear of crowds

How to Get Over a Post-Pandemic Fear of Crowds

Imagine this: You’re out with your friends at a park or a beer garden when one of them suggests going into a bar. Two summers ago, that’d be no big deal, but after such a long time away from crowds during the pandemic, you might be a little nervous.

To be sure, the world is well on its way to opening all the way back up, and while plenty of people are advertising their joyous returns to crowded museums, restaurants, sporting events, and more, there are still a few people who are uneasy about getting back into the mix. Here are some tips for easing back into crowds post-lockdown.

I’ve been fully vaccinated since March 27th. That said, I’m still uneasy about going into crowded places like big box stores, restaurants etc. I imagine it’s going to take some time to get over this unease.

Desktop vs Mobile vs Tablet

Are you ditching the third device?

I often wonder how many people actually own an iPad and if they do how often they actually use it. I know there are iPad enthusiasts like Federico Viticci and Christopher Lawley. But what about you and me?

According to my blog’s Google Search Console visitor statistics the distribution of device type used to visit my blog puts the tablet (which includes iPad) far behind the desktop (which includes laptop), and the smartphone.

  • Desktop 63%
  • Smartphone 34%
  • Tablet 3%

These percentages are fairly consistent month after month.

I have an iPad, but I haven’t used it for a few months. A few weeks ago I figured I should be using it so the other day I turned it into a read-only device. You know what? I still don’t use it because I would rather read on my iPhone.

With a laptop and today’s larger screen phones is a tablet necessary?

Independent bloggers are questioning where they publish their content?

I regularly read several blogs like mine written by individuals. They’re mostly tech and Apple-focused. I’m finding a constant theme amongst us lately. We’re questioning if we are blogging on the right platform if we should have a newsletter yada-yada-yada. Why? Because we’re all in search of more views for our content and to increase our subscriber/follower base.

We find ourselves in this place because we have way too many choices for posting our content. Where do I blog? Ghost, WordPress, Medium, MicroBlog, Jekyll, Hugo. Hosted or self-hosted. Should I have a newsletter or only a newsletter? Substack, Revue, Hey World, MailChimp, ConvertKit. Holy shit! The list just goes on and on. Where and the hell is the right place to be?

I find reading stories by fellow bloggers about this subject interesting. It lets me know that I’m not the only one who struggles with this.

Jeff Perry

Jeff Perry – Moving Back to Substack

The thing that I hate is the fact that I have moved platforms so much over the past year. I know it is frustrating to readers, because it is frustrating to me.

Jeff Perry

A goal I have is to make Tablet Habit bigger than just a hobbyist newsletter. I would love to make it a side hustle or my literal job. It won’t happen overnight, but I think it’s possible in due time.

If you haven’t subscribed, check it out! It’s free. TabletHabit.com

Matt Birchler

Why Newslettersr?

​There is a definite trend of email newsletters becoming the primary medium for writers who “go indie” recently. In years past, these folks would be starting blogs, but you don’t see nearly as many new blogs these days, and things like Substack and Mailchimp have made it so that anyone can get up and running with a newsletter, and if they’re big enough, get paid to do so.

Instead of ranting about why I think blogs are a better medium for writing in basically every way, I instead wanted to try to understand why so many people are opting for emails over the web. Here are my questions:

  1. What about writing in a newsletter is more enjoyable than writing for a blog?
  2. Are newsletter audiences more engaged than blog subscribers?
  3. As a reader, do you prefer reading in your email app to an RSS app (or just the web in general)?
  4. Do you not miss things like link posts and “going viral” which are much harder, if impossible to do with emails?
  5. Is it easier to get people to sign up for a paid subscription compared to the web?

LJPUK

Giving up on Substack (and newsletters in general) – LJPUK

I think it comes down to energy levels and focussing on one output method, in my case this blog. I much prefer to write shorter posts that I can do from my iPhone whenever I want to. My main issue with newsletters is I want to share these shorter posts, not something that I store up for a weekly release.

Chris Hannah

What Is Your Perspective?

But I realised that when I was reading other people’s writing, while I was usually interested in the topic itself, I found the most value when the author made it personal and provided their own perspective. And that’s what I’m trying to do with my own writing.

Now when writing about a topic, I remind myself that if anyone reads my blog, they’re probably not coming here as their primary source of news. So I may as well make it personal because what else have I got? I’ve only got access to one perspective. My own.

Here’s some good advice from Om Malik and John DeVore:

Om Malik

Homestead

Are newsletters the new blogs — or is it that blogs are newsletters? I can’t tell. For me, however, the blog is my homestead.

HEY World makes what’s old new again with blogging.

But ultimately, the truth is that it doesn’t matter how you express yourself. Discussions and worries about platforms and tools are distractions. CJ Chilvers is quite right when he says, “Publishing online is all about relationships.” Kevin Kelly, the legendary author and founding editor of Wired magazine, argues that 1,000 true fans are enough. I would say that even one is good enough.

John DeVore

Who Am I Writing For?

My best work happens when I write for a single person instead of a mass of people. Like any writer, I want to be popular. I want to be read by as many people as possible. But the only way to do that is to connect with one person. Before I write anything — whether it’s a social media post for a brand or a first-person essay or a movie review — I ask myself, “Who am I writing for?”

Stand Down, Stand By, Stand Trial

“Not only have there been no incidents of violence at state capitols on Wednesday as of 4 pm ET, but at many of them, the number of MAGA protesters could be counted on one hand.” Vox: The pro-Trump inauguration protests at state capitols were complete duds.

CNN: Proud Boys leader Joseph Biggs arrested in Florida in connection with the Capitol riot

Lock em up and through away the key including the In-sighter and Chief.

Consider this

“Once Warnock and Ossoff took their seats, the Democratic half of the Senate will represent 41,549,808 more people than the Republican half.”

Lindsay Graham is calling for the 2nd impeachment of Donald Trump to be called off in the Senate because it will further divide the country. Here’s my message to Lindsay Graham, not impeaching Donald Trump would also further divide the country because more Americans are in favor of impeachment than against it.

Reuters: “The national public opinion poll, conducted on Wednesday and Thursday, found that 51% of Americans think Trump should be found guilty for inciting the deadly storming of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. His trial in the Senate is expected to begin in the coming weeks.

Another 37% said Trump should not be convicted and the remaining 12% said they were unsure.

When asked about the former Republican president’s political future, 55% said Trump should not be allowed to hold elected office again, while 34% said he should be allowed to do so and 11% said they were unsure.”

He ended up as nothing

Roxane Gay, The Last Day of Disco(rd)

I am tired of reciting all his crimes, misdeeds, and failures. Trump was a cruel, petty tyrant of a president who surrounded himself with similarly terrible people, slobbering sycophants, and political operatives who knew they could advance their agendas so long as they told him what he wanted to hear.

Trump is the living embodiment of shamelessness. He cannot be shamed. He does not care about the 400,000 dead Americans he has barely acknowledged. He does not care about the suffering he has caused. He does not care about anything that happens beyond the country’s borders. He does not care that he has disrupted the peaceful transfer of power. He is a catastrophe and he does not care. His children are exactly like him. His wife is exactly like him. I wish nothing but the very worst for them, for the rest of their days.

[…]

And he will have to live with the knowledge that once, he was the most unpopular president in American history and still, he ended up with nothing. Still, he ended up as nothing.

The New York Times, “as Trump left the White House for the last time today, the Proud Boys, once his staunchest supporters, have also started leaving his side. In dozens of conversations on social media sites like Gab and Telegram, members of the group have begun calling Trump a “shill” and “extraordinarily weak,” according to messages reviewed by The New York Times. They have also urged supporters to stop attending rallies and protests held for Mr. Trump or the Republican Party.”

Good riddance!

What I’ve read recently – December 18, 2020

Each week I post links to a few articles that I’ve read and found deserving of sharing.

Links

My Hunt for the Original McDonald’s French-Fry Recipe | Atlas Obscura

This is a fun read especially if you’re old enough to have eaten the original McDonald’s French-Fry as I did.

From Julia Child to Paul Bocuse to James Beard, some of the biggest names in food history are also people who have professed their love for the same french fry—a french fry that, in no exaggerated manner, birthed an empire. A french fry that no one has eaten in more than 30 years.

McDonald’s original french fries were cooked in beef tallow. For that fact, they were bullied out of production by a well-funded, well-intentioned businessman and self-proclaimed health advocate named Phil Sokolof, who unknowingly dethroned what many fans claim was the greatest french fry to ever meet mass production. “The french fries were very good,” Child said in a 1995 interview, “and then the nutritionists got at them … and they’ve been limp ever since … I’m always very strong about criticizing them, hoping maybe they’ll change.”

Why use a HIPAA-compliant password manager

Bitwarden is officially HIPAA-compliant, after receiving a HIPAA Security Rule Assessment Report from AuditOne in December 2020. This acknowledgement adds to our other notable regulatory compliance including GDPR, CCPA, SOC 2, SOC 3, and Privacy Shield.

iOS 14 users report missing notifications from Messages app – 9to5Mac

A bug resulting in missing text message notifications is continuing to affect iPhone users with iOS 14. While the issue appeared to at first to be exclusive to the iPhone 12 series, it appears to be affecting nearly any iPhone model running iOS 14 — and the early signs are that iOS 14.3 doesn’t fix the problem either.

Anti-tracking rules will be enforced, Federighi warns developers – 9to5Mac

Apple’s software engineering SVP Craig Federighi has warned that developers must follow the company’s anti-tracking rules, or else their apps will be removed from the App Store…

The new App Tracking Transparency rules were initially meant to be part of iOS 14, but were delayed after protests by Facebook and advertisers. They are now expected to come into force during the summer, at which point apps will have to display a privacy pop-up asking permission to enable ad-tracking.

Federighi issued the warning in uncompromising terms during an interview with the British newspaper the Telegraph.

Apple launches recall program for iPhone 11 display with touch issues – 9to5Mac

Apple today announced another Replacement Program, this time for iPhone 11. According to the company, some iPhone 11 users are experiencing problems in which the display stops responding to touch.

Ecosia now a default search engine option on iOS, iPadOS, macOS | AppleInsider

Ecosia is a search engine that promotes privacy first and plants trees around the world, and with Mondays updates, it is now available as a default search engine setting on iOS, iPadOS, and macOS.

Cloudflare and Apple design a new privacy-friendly internet protocol – TechCrunch

Engineers at Cloudflare and Apple say they’ve developed a new internet protocol that will shore up one of the biggest holes in internet privacy that many don’t know even exists. Dubbed Oblivious DNS-over-HTTPS, or ODoH for short, the new protocol makes it far more difficult for internet providers to know which websites you visit.

Getting to know John Gruber the writer

John Gruber is one of the leading experts blogging and podcasting about Apple. Recode referred to him this way “Apple obsessive John Gruber built Daring Fireball, the world’s most powerful one-man media company” If you’re into Apple you know who he is. John blogs at Daring Fireball and has a podcast The Talk Show. He’s also the creator of Markdown the popular plain text writing markup language that many of us use today.

I’m an enthusiastic follower of John’s blog and listener of his podcast. I find him to be knowledgeable about all things Apple thanks to his contacts at the highest levels of the company. What he writes is well written, always informative, and accurate.

I find it interesting to know what makes people like John tick and how they got to where they are. I’ve heard John talk about himself on his podcast but only bits and pieces never the full story from beginning to where he is now.

The other day John posted about being on Antony Johnston’s Writing and Breathing Podcast. If you would like to hear John’s full store in his words listen to this podcast. It’s excellent!

MONDAY, 10 AUGUST 2020

YOURS TRULY ON ANTONY JOHNSTON’S ‘WRITING AND BREATHING’ PODCAST

Antony Johnston — best known as the creator of the excellent and right-up-my-alley Atomic Blonde  — hosts a podcast devoted to writing, and he was kind enough to invite me on. I could talk about writing — what I do, how I do it — forever, even though, as I hope I made clear to Johnston, I don’t really fully understand how exactly I do what I do. The only thing I really understand about writing is that I need to do it.

I really enjoyed having the opportunity to talk about this. If that sounds interesting to you, I bet you’ll dig listening.

Isaias aftermath

Isaias blew through our area mid-afternoon on Tuesday and took down trees, branches, and power lines on its way. It’s pretty f**king scary watching the powerful wind and rain then hearing trees cracking. As you might guess we lost power and internet Tuesday afternoon and didn’t get it back until Friday evening.

If you’re not familiar with central New Jersey we have a lot of trees. I mean a lot of trees! We also have above-ground utilities. We get thunderstorms with strong winds fairly regularly and the occasional hurricane/tropical storm. Of course, this is a perfect formula for power outages.

When we moved here 3 years ago we had the house wired for whole house generator manual switch over. That has proved to be a wise investment. We’ve needed it several times including 4 days last week. If you live in an area with lots of trees and above ground utilities I highly recommend doing this.

Thank goodness we had no damage to our house. The other 20 acres is a different story. There are several fallen trees and branches around the property. So as you might guess I’ve been busy with the cleanup.

I have a few things I want to write about but that’s going to have to wait for a few more days.

FoodNoms food tracking app

As you will recall I had gained a couple of pounds over the winter and wanted to lose them. Once I had done that I wanted to maintain a specific weight. For me, the easiest way to do this has always been tracking calories. Calories in and calories out.

What I’ve found after doing this for a couple of months is that counting calories makes me make better food choices so that I stay within my Recommended Daily Intake (RDI). Based on my age, weight, height, and activity level my RDI is approximately 2000 calories per day to maintain my current weight. Prior to counting, I was eating between 1000 and 1500 calories more than my recommended daily requirement.

With all that said, I’m trying a new food tracking app FoodNoms that Casey Liss mentioned in Episode 385 of Accidental Tech Podcast. It’s taking a few days to get used to it because it works differently than the app that I’m used to using. But, the more I use it the more I’m liking it and I think I’ll be sticking with it. By the way, the app walks you through the calculation to determine your RDI.

If you’re interested in getting a handle on your weight you should give the app a try. There’s a free version of the app which is what I using. There’s also FoodNoms Plus which is a subscription. I think most people could probably get along with just the free version.

John Voorhees did a nice review of the app over on MacStories. Go check it out FoodNoms: A Privacy-Focused Food Tracker with Innovative New Ways to Log Meals – MacStories.

Sling TV holding prices while YouTube TV raises prices

Yesterday I was reading M.G. Siegler’s article about YouTube TV’s June 30th, 2020 30% price increase. He also speaks to how streaming tv is becoming bundled just like cable tv.

Coincidentally, that same day I got an email from Sling TV telling its users that our price is not going up and that our current price is guaranteed for the next 12 months. After reading Siegler’s article that was good news because I figured Sling might follow in the footsteps of YouTube TV.

If you’re not happy with YouTube TV’s price increase you might want to take a look at Sling. They’re offering:

Year Price Guarantee for all new and existing customers. For customers who sign up for SLING TV or who have an existing account by August, 1, 2020 SLING TV will automatically guarantee their current price on any SLING TV service through August 1, 2021 (that’s just $30 per month for SLING Orange or SLING Blue).

Hey controversy from a user perspective

As you have probably seen this past week, there has been a lot of controversy over the Hey.com email app being rejected from the Apple App Store.

Here’s some background on what the brew haha is about.

The Verge

Apple is threatening to remove Hey.com from the App Store if the ambitious new email service doesn’t begin offering an in-app subscription and sharing a cut of its revenue, according to an executive at Basecamp, which makes Hey.

David Heinemeier Hansson, the CTO of Basecamp, said that Apple is acting like “gangsters,” rejecting a bug fix update and asking the company in a phone call to commit to adding an in-app subscription to prevent it from being removed. “I was taken aback by how brazen that threat was,” Heinemeier Hansson told The Verge. “I thought you were supposed to wrap the threats in euphemisms or something. But it was pretty clear.”

In an email to The Verge, Apple said that it requires all developers to follow strict guidelines around business models. The company declined to comment specifically on Hey, but said that App Store review guidelines require an in-app purchase option if an app wants to offer access to content purchased on another platform. Apple suggested the call to Hey’s team was not out of the ordinary, saying it always works with developers to bring them into compliance. Apple also told Protocol that the app shouldn’t have been approved in the first place.

The developer community has been very vocal in siding with the app’s developer. But there’s another side to this story. I view this situation from a user perspective rather than a developer. So the question is how does Apple’s operation of the App Store affect me?

Ben Brooks wrote a piece about the controversy which I was intrigued by. It sums up how I as a user feel about the situation.

Hey, Controversy – The Brooks Review

FOCUS ON USERS

Apple employs an extremely simple, but effective business strategy: focus on making the best experience for users, and you will make loads of money. Amazon, Google, Uber, and many others copy this. But Apple is king of this strategy.

If Hey.com, or any other developer, wants an exception to the rule, then you need to prove that the best thing for the user is to grant that exception. Allow me to explain in two cases.

NETFLIX

You cannot sign up for Netflix in the Netflix app, and Apple allows this and they say the do because it is a content consumption app. Which is likely a good cover-your-ass statement. The real reason: not having Netflix on the App Store would be objectively worse for users than Apple bending the IAP subscription rule.

Or put another way: if Android has a Netflix app, and iOS does not, then iOS is likely to lose more iOS users and thus profit than they would if they just waived rule and allowed the app. So even though the Netflix app is not an ideal user experience, it is the best Apple can do and Apple clearly feels not having Netflix on the iPhone is worse for the user than bending the IAP rules.

HEY.COM

Now what Hey.com is saying: users have to subscribe on our website. What Apple is saying: that’s a worse user experience.

Stop there, because I know a ton of you agree with Hey.com, but I need you to be realistic as an iOS user. Is your argument that, as a user, the best experience is to use Safari to sign up and pay for Hey.com, and then further to always have to go to their website to manage that auto-recurring subscription? Is that really the argument? I think not.

Because that’s the worst user experience. The best is to have the App Store manage it, it makes signing up easier, safer, and faster. It makes management way easier.

So Apple, in looking at this says: it is objectively worse for users to bend the IAP rule, and by blocking Hey.com we are not likely to lose any meaningful amount of users. There are plenty of other options, so no, we will not make the experience worse for users.

Hey did not prove their case, and Apple sided with the users. You are also a user. Do you really want all these subscription based apps to start punting you to a website to sign up? Or do you actually find IAPs the best way to pay for subscriptions?

Yeah… Apple clearly agrees with you, that IAP subscriptions are way better than web subscriptions. And that’s why Hey.com got rejected, and frankly was always rolling the dice.

Ben’s article is well written and worth reading in full. You can find it here.

Weight management

Over the last few months, I’ve put on a few extra pounds. I’m not happy about that so last Wednesday I decided to do something about it.

Back in the day when I was racing bicycles competitively I always paid very close attention to my weight so that I would be at my optimum race weight. So to get my weight under control now I’m going to use the same strategy that I used when I was racing.

Weight management is calories in and calories out. Eat more calories than you burn and you gain weight. Burn more calories than you eat and you lose weight.

I only want to lose 5 pounds. You might say that’s hardly worth worrying about. For most people that might be true. But for me that 5 pounds makes a difference in how my clothes fit and hence how I feel.

To get started I calculated my BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) and RDI (Recommended Daily Intake) so that I have my baseline calorie requirements. To manage my calorie intake I’m using the iOS app Fat Secret and for calorie burn, I’m using the Apple Watch and the Activity app.

I’ve lost 2 pounds so far so I know my strategy is working.

The realities of COVID-19 in my own backyard

The COVID-19 death numbers for New York City are beyond comprehension. When you hear them it feels more like a nightmare than reality. But unfortunately, they are real. As of this morning (April 03, 2020), there are 57,159 cases including 1,562 deaths. In my state of New Jersey there are 25,590 cases with 539 deaths. The sad part of all this is it’s going to get worse before it gets better.

Let’s all do our part: Stay the hell home!

Apple is concerned over the COVID-19 situation and the possibility of lower consumer demand to upgrade their iPhones

This Business Insider story from a couple of days ago got my interest. It suggests that Apple is reportedly worried about the financial impact of COVID-19 and that people won’t have the money to buy new iPhones this year. That would seem to be a legitimate concern given the current state of the economy and the number of people out of work.

But, beyond people’s financial ability to buy Apple products I think there are other reasons as well. I’ll give you an example. As I mentioned in a previous story I’m interested in a new iPad. As much as I would like to order one I’m pressing the pause button for now.

Here’s why. No one knows how their body will respond to COVD-19? If I were to get it I might be one of the unfortunate ones to not survive. Since that is a possibility I don’t want to have just spent a bunch of money on a new iPad and accessories. I’m sure I’m not the only one holding off on a new Apple device purchase for the very same reason.

How Rob lost control of his bank accounts to a phone scammer

I’ve been following Rob’s blog for several years. I enjoy reading what he writes about. He is also the developer of a couple of Mac apps that I use.

I felt bad for Rob after reading his blog post about how he had recently lost control of his bank accounts to a phone scammer. His story is well worth reading. It may save you from falling for the same or similar phone scams.

How I lost control of our bank accounts to a phone scammer | The Robservatory

A different reality

This morning I got up feeling down from all the troubling news around COVID-19. All I wanted to do was get back in bed go to sleep and wake up when this is behind us. I didn’t.

I got up did and my morning chores. I walked the dog, feed the animals on our small farm and had breakfast. Of course, I watched the news while having breakfast. As you might suspect that didn’t make me feel any better. It actually made me feel worse.

Even though I didn’t want to I get out for my daily walk I did it anyway. I’m lucky because we don’t live in the city so we can get outside and not encounter other people.

With all the uncertainty surrounding us let’s not forget that spring is here. On my walk I noticed the beauty of the flowers starting to bloom. That made me feel a little better.

Covid-19 and me

Let me start with this. I have absolutely no confidence in Trump’s ability to steer us through this crisis. And unfortunately, he’s been lying to us about the impact coronavirus is having as late as yesterday. He thinks he can bullshit his way through this but this time he’s wrong.

New York Times
Trump’s False Claims About His Response to the Coronavirus

The Verge
Contrary to Trump’s claim, Google is not building a nationwide coronavirus screening website

The Washington Post
‘It will go away’: A timeline of Trump playing down the coronavirus threat

Esquire
Who the Hell Wants Another Four Years of This?

I’m in the At-Risk for Serious Illness category and as the spread of Coronavirus gets worse I’m getting concerned about access to food, water, and medical care. As I should, I’m doing my best to not get infected with the Coronavirus. I’m hunkered down at home. I’m only going out when I have too. When I do go out I’m practicing social distancing and following all the other CDC guidelines.

We’ll get through this as a nation.