13:33 PST - November 14th, 2016

I’m terrified to live in Trump’s America. Yes his policies are horrible but they’re like a 3rd level concern. 1st is the hate crime that he’s encouraged and refused to take any meaningful stand against, his promise for unity but utter lack of action. (2nd is the people he’s going to put in power like Pence and Bannon. Skilled, experienced people with agendas that they will dutifully carry out regardless of what the president promises.)

I’m scared for my friends of color. Targeted as invaders and homewreckers, told to go home regardless of their citizenship.

I’m scared for my trans, lesbian and gay friends. The world was already so neglectful towards them and now bigots feel safer in being actively hostile.

MacBook Pro October 2016

08:35 PST - October 28th, 2016
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October 2016 MacBook Pro

The new MacBook Pro announced yesterday is a bad upgrade. I’m sure it’s a fine computer on its own. But if a creative professional asked you, “Should I upgrade right now?” The answer is an easy no.

Apple had a diverse offering when both the Air and the Pro were being regularly updated. The Air wasn’t cheap but it was affordable and a remarkable experiment in how thin and light something could get. The Pro was a premium take on the more traditional laptop, with tons of connectivity, paired with Apple’s build quality and taste.

Somewhere along the way, they decided to only build variations of the MacBook Air. The Pro had to slim down and every existing feature had to adapt to being thinner and lighter (or be removed outright).

Apple have invested a lot into making things thinner and lighter. Designing their own chips and custom circuit boards, pioneering standards like Thunderbolt and USB-C, and all the insane materials science and hardware engineering. But I worry that they’ve invested too much in this image of themselves as the thin and light company. At a certain point, I don’t need my bicycle to be any thinner or lighter, I want safety or versatility or accessibility.

For a creative professional considering this new MacBook Pro, they would need to go to their desk and count up the peripherals they had and estimate how many dongles they’d need (both at their desk and when they travel). They’d need to check their budget to account for the higher price points. And after that headache, they’d need to take a look at the Windows ecosystem and think hard about whether there’s a better compromise there.

If this were a new MacBook Air, this new laptop could wear that name proudly; it’s a sports car version of a MacBook Air. But the only thing a Pro customer can see is a set of uncomfortable compromises.

Leliel

18:54 PST - September 17th, 2016

So, this is some embarrassingly geeky nonsense but I was falling into a pit of despair a week ago and visualizing a scene from Neon Genesis Evangelion helped me climb out.

When I’m struck with sadness or depression, it comes on most strong in the mornings. My brain greets the day with some of the most terrifying and cruel thoughts and I replay these emotions over and over. The thought of getting out of bed seems impossible. I can lay there for hours just stewing in a deep regret.

I was feeling a particularly acute sadness this morning, not the usual fog of depression but a sharp pain in my chest. A thick black void deep inside my rib cage that robbed me of my perspective.

A trick I’ve learned is to give myself permission to rewrite my nightmares and to rewrite them poorly. I dreamt I fell down a hole? Well now there’s ice cream at the bottom and it’s delicious. A dream where everyone abandons me? Turns out they were there all along and we lived happily ever after.

With this in mind, I rewrote my despair. The black void became an unearthly floating sphere that suddenly grows solid. Cracks appear and then an arm bursts forth. A powerful being emerges and starts screaming in terror; it is my refusal to to suffer in silence. Its limbs twist and stretch and tear the sphere apart. They radiate with a cautious orange light and they grow… its arms become my arms, its legs become my legs.

It feels like something new but, at the same time, something I’ve always possessed. It feels scary, in a good way.

The visuals felt so familiar to me. It was only a few days later that I realized I was stealing from NGE.

How to tap on an iOS 10 notification

13:32 PST - September 8th, 2016

I just installed iOS 10 on my iPhone 6 and I’m so confused trying to figure out how to activate a notification. Here’s how:

  1. Wait for a notification to come in
  2. Swipe right on the notification
  3. Unlock as necessary

If you swipe but don’t correctly touch the notification, you’ll end up on the Spotlight page (with the search bar at the top). Just swipe to get back to your notifications and try again.

Criminal Minds and Government Digital Surveillance

08:40 PST - June 6th, 2016

Look, I’ve watched a lot Criminal Minds. It’s a police procedural with a host of misfit characters that make up a family of choice. It bounces from extremely dark crimes to cheesy character moments and it does earn some genuine moments at times.

The show’s premise is that they’re a crack team of FBI profilers chasing serial killers. They get a case, they draw upon their vast knowledge of behavioral analysis to come up with a profile (white, male, 40s, divorced, etc.) and then use super tech analyst Penelope Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness) to narrow it down to a list of a single suspect and usually get to them right before they commit their next murder.

What’s interesting is that the show started in 2005 and is still on the air now and a lot has changed in the world, especially with how we view digital surveillance and the authority of the police.

This show does not care about the Fourth Amendment (except the one time they waited for a search warrant on a house), especially in the digital realm. Garcia will use every database, phone, GPS, and computer to find out everything about the victims and their attackers. They always narrow it down to one person and it’s always the right person and it’s always justified. Sometimes they will kill the suspect and it’s always justified.

The show basically presents the ideal world of the Patriot Act. The cops are always the good guys who always make the right decisions. The bad guys live right next door, ready to perform unimaginable cruelty.

Garcia even explicitly invokes Edward Snowden at some point (I think it was the 10th season?) but they never question if it’s right that the government is capable of such omnipotent digital surveillance.

I’m doubtful as to whether the show is even able to say anything against the surveillance. It’s so firmly rooted in how they wrap up every episode. The best they could do is maybe catch someone else who is abusing their power but they wouldn’t be able to question their own authority.

Compare and contrast to Person of Interest, a show from 2011 that I just started watching. It’s about two vigilante heroes, basically a super genius and a CIA-type working to stop murders every week. The genius built a government surveillance system that listens to everything and identifies terrorist threats but there’s a catch, it also identifies smaller violent threats that it has to ignore because the government is only interested in the bigger fish. So these guys take it upon themselves to prevent these lesser crimes.

It’s a less violent show but you could argue that it’s more cynical. Or maybe just more realistic. They acknowledge that the system is broken, so they work outside it but the show also acknowledges that our heroes aren’t moral authorities either.

Perhaps it’s not fair to compare the two shows, Criminal Minds is more monster-of-the-week police procedural. I’ve only seen a little about Person of Interest but it more of a genuine crime drama with some cat-and-mouse between our heroes and the One Good Cop in the city, Detective Joss Carter (Taraji P. Henson). But I’m curious to see how, a nation obsessed with cop shows will evolve in response to the growing concern about digital surveillance and privacy.