Diversity is more than intelligence, Apple

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Diversity is one of those things that I have yet to find the perfect answer for. On the one hand, I seem like a good example of diversity: a biracial man with an upper-middle-class upbringing and a career path that requires me to have at least a modicum of compassion for others.

But on the other hand, I recognize that my worldview is fairly narrow, not from a lack of awareness, but the inherent fact that I have lived only one life and carry only one experience. I can’t pretend to be an expert on every issue, every line of controversy, because I only know my experience. A dozen people who had the same upbringing as me would probably think the same way.

I think that’s the problem with the opinion shared by Apple and discussed in the New York Times a few days ago.

Intelligence isn’t about how much you know. I like to think I’m a pretty smart person, I have a good head on my shoulders. But that doesn’t make diversity. It’s how you apply that knowledge to your experiences, and if all your experiences are the same, how is that knowledge going to be applied to solve a wide range of issues?

That’s the problem with Apple’s thinking. White men can be smart, as men of color, women of color, and anyone else. But those people of color may use their intelligence to solve problems and make breakthroughs that those white men may have never even thought of. If those people aren’t given an opportunity to work in these fields, how will these problems get solved?

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Mobile Me & You: A review

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This weekend’s Mobile Me & You conference at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, was a first for me in a number of ways. First, I had never really been to a conference before. I had considered it a few times, I even had offers to go in the past, but something, whether it was my own anxieties or my own busy schedule, kept me from going. So I didn’t really know what to expect going into this event, but here’s what I learned:

First, the drive from Columbia into Illinois is some of the worst traveling I’ve done in a long time, and I spent 4 hours weaving through the desolate towns of rural West Virginia this summer. Two lane roads served as a bottle-neck between me and my destination, and maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad if I wasn’t so excited to get there, but I doubt that.

Then Saturday morning came, and having missed the first day of the event, I didn’t really know what to expect out of the experience. I thought I would have to pick between speaker– something I’m notoriously bad at, decision making–and I thought I’d have to have a breadth of knowledge about mobile storytelling that I simply didn’t have.

None of this was the case though. I was able to sit down in the main auditorium, I heard speeches on public opinion polling on mobile use, I learned how Spanish news outlets are using mobile tech to tell a story to a wider audience, and I was taught how mobile apps could be used to circumvent government censorship that leaves citizens uninformed. In the end, I walked away from the event feeling not only more informed, but also more comfortable with my job.

I realized I enjoy mobile tech, that I enjoy the use of mobile media to tell journalistic stories in a compelling way, but I also realized that it wasn’t just excitement that made the trip from Missouri to Illinois so unbearable.

That drive just sucks.

Twitter finally promises to manage its website

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I’m not a heavy social media user, not consistently. I prefer to look through social media rather than post myself, but Twitter is definitely the platform I most consistently view and examine the most often. And one thing is for sure: A lot of the tweets are awful. One example? The tweets that led Chrissy Teigen to join the #WomenBoycottTwitter movement:

Splinter also covered the way Leslie Jones was treated by other users back during 2016, which ultimately led her to leave the website temporarily.

This problem isn’t hard to miss, even for someone like me, who doesn’t spend much time interacting with others on social media. My time at KOMU, moderating comments, has also shed light on just how toxic these social media trolls can be too.

Twitter’s seems to have noticed the problem finally, and is trying to do something about it. They’ve announced they’ll change their rules to address this growing problem.

It’s unknown how Twitter will actually create real change in their social media service though. They have the opportunity, but resources that the company can allocate toward these new rules will ultimately determine its success.

 

Google’s translating earbuds are amazing

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As much as I’m an Apple fan, and I’m deep within their ecosystem, I’ve always had an interest in Google’s products. I first dabbled in tablets with an Android, back when software designed for tablets was scarce, when I grabbed an Asus Transformer on Black Friday 2011. It was a bulky, unwieldy slab of glass and plastic, but it was one of my favorite devices I’ve ever owned.

There was very little the Transformer couldn’t do. It had a keyboard and trackpad to turn it into a laptop, it had a word processor, remote desktop application, and of course, Angry Birds (all groundbreaking apps for the time). And it was the “smartest” device I had until my iPhone 5S in 2013, which felt like another leap in innovation from my aging tablet.

Since my first iPhone purchase, I haven’t involved myself in Android’s ecosystem. I’ve watched the news stories and announcements from a distance, but never dipped my toes back in the devices that were coming out. Over time, Android quietly matured, gained more features, employed more innovation, and Apple seemed to stagnate in its own bubble of technology.

These new headphones from Google are just the latest addition to the Android ecosystem that exudes innovation to me. Real-time translation, through in-ear headphones, is one of those sci-fi movie fantasies that seems too good to be true. But Google’s done it, and seemingly with minimal fanfare.

I can only hope these headphones work with iPhones, because that iPhone X is still getting ordered at the end of the month.

I liked Google News’ old policy

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Today, after about a year of pushback from news organizations, Google relaxed some of its rules on paywall news sites.

Before, Google had instituted a policy that required paywall news sites like The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and others to allow readers a certain number of unpaid views before they stopped them at the paywall. This, of course limited the news organizations reach with new subscribers, but in my opinion it made more people read the news in the first place.

I know I personally don’t subscribe to news organizations, but I do enjoy reading their news. With the old policy of allowing a certain number of stories before a paywall, they got me to read their stories and generate ad revenue, but I can say I’d choose to go to a free site before a subscription based sight, and I have a feeling a lot of other people would do the same.

It’s not that I don’t think news organizations shouldn’t have paywalls, I think they’re a great way to mitigate some of the losses newspapers are seeing. But removing the option for a free allotment of stories means they’re going to lose ad revenue from people who would never pay for a subscription in the first place, but would read stories with ads on the side.

Self-driving cars taking off?

636395308362584756-Domino-s-EC-216It seems like autonomous cars are forever around the corner. Like the infamous flying car, it seems we’re perpetually on the cusp of the driverless future. The technology just has to advance more, it’s said, it just needs a few more years.

And though great strides have been taken to make cars more capable of the task, it seems those goals are still taking more and more time than anyone realized.

One of the biggest problems I’ve seen in the news over the past few years has been regulation, and it’s something I, and most people, have considered. Who’s going to control these cars when they fail? Who takes responsibility, and who’s to blame when the worst happens?

These questions have contributed to the delays of course, and is seems the U.S. House is working to answer those questions. They passed legislation to open up autonomous cars to new rules that would allow them to be tested without the rules normal cars go under. They’ll be able to remove a steering wheel, they’ll be able to be tested on real roads and more.

I don’t think this will instantly correct the major problems self driving cars have, but it could give automakers the chance to plan for, and mitigate, the potential dangers of autonomous cars.

I’m all for modernizing U.S. law to reflect changing technology, but these regulations still need more specifics, of which the house didn’t provide, and they still need to be passed by the Senate, and the president as well.

iPhone X: Some Concerns

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Last week, I was admittedly excited about the new iPhones Apple was about to announce. The event came and went, with all the fanfare and excitement that anyone would expect from an announcement from the company, and they announced a lot of cool features! Three new phones, wireless charging, face detection, on and on. These features aren’t the first to be in cell phones, to be certain, but Apple has never been on the cutting edge, rather choosing to implement technology when they think they can do it their way.

But I’m not sure if they got it right.

By all means, I think Face ID is an awesome piece of technical innovation, and the ease of use seems to be patently Apple, but maybe it’s a bit too easy to use?

Lifting up your phone and having it immediately unlock seems to present a few problems. What if you look at your phone? What if someone holds it up to your face? These what-ifs are of course theoretical, but there’s not much stopping someone from actually making it happen

Apple even seemed to notice this problem, and had Craig Federighi address the problem in an email. Apparently a push of the lock button and volume button will disable Face ID, but that takes time to do, and someone who is in the right frame of mind to know to push those buttons even in a dangerous situation.

Of course, we’ll see how effective these measures are, and how problematic the technology might be, but to be certain, Apple won’t shy away from using it. They never have.

In anticipation of the new iPhone, and appreciation of the old one

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Everyone who knows me well knows I love my technology. Apple’s definitely gathered a pretty wad of cash from me over the years, from my MacBook Pro, iPad, my now-obsolete iPod, and of course, my iPhone.

In fact, I pay a small fee every month to Apple directly for my iPhone 7 Plus, which I purchased shortly after launch. It was the first phone upgrade I’d had since the release of the iPhone 5S three years prior.

Over the course of the year, I learned to love the bigger size I’d found cumbersome when first holding it, I mastered the camera I first found too finicky to use and I even learned how to manage without the headphone jack so many people dreaded the demise of. It was a solid device with a familiar ecosystem, and that’s really all I needed. The extras, like the water resistance? Those were just added benefits that I came to love.

I don’t have many things I would change about my phone now, but when Apple announces its latest edition(s) to the iPhone lineup, I do know I’ll be buying upgrading.

There have been no shortage of leaks exposing the new device on Twitter. An OLED screen that covers the entire front of the display, facial recognition, AR support, new colors. None of these have been confirmed of course, but they haven’t stopped feeding into the hype for these new devices. Tuesday will tell whether the wait was worth it, but if Apple is known for anything, it’s for putting on a show.

So, I’m eager for the new iPhone, and it’s nothing more than tradition. The pomp and circumstance around Apple’s midday announcements have always intrigued and wowed me. The one on Tuesday? I have no doubt it will do the same.