Total movies watched: 29.
Favorite movies of the month: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves. The first is a classic and the second was just damn fun.
Worst movie of the month: Hypnotic.
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“Hey Siri, set a three minute ramen timer.”
”Three minute grandma timer starting now.”
“Hey Siri, set a three minute ramen timer.”
”Three minute Roman timer starting now.”
[Throws Siri straight into the freaking sun.]
I can appreciate wanting to put a fresh spin on recipes, but I don’t think I ever want to see them described as “sexy” or “raunchy” again.
If they do it for you, go right on ahead, but I’ve never felt attracted to lentils in that way.
Max just debuted and, yep, it’s just as I believed it would be.
With everything that’s been happening at Warner Bros. Discovery, including that horrid CNN town hall event, I’m looking at investing far more time and hard drive space into Plex than ever.
UPDATE: After several hours of considering this app, I’ve committed to leaving it behind. Gone are the halcyon HBO days; Max is the final nail in that sad coffin.
Max, in its current form, appears to be just a reskinned HBO Max app—new colors, the same big header images, and a sidebar navigation (but with the addition of an inexplicable top menu too). It seems like they could have kept the old app and just changed the name. Why this needed a completely separate app is beyond me. Let’s just call it corporate stupidity.
That’s where the similarities stop. The most egregious issue is the return of the custom video player that no one was asking for. Doing this means Max has dropped all support for the standard tvOS interface and features. “Regression” is the only word for this. This means Max doesn’t currently offer:
This is breaking long-held and valued conventions, all for the benefit of tracking every single second of watching time and every single choice made within the app. Make no mistake, these changes have been done so that WBD can architect profiles of its users and, likely, sell that information to advertisers. In a less nefarious way, it’ll also likely be used to inform future content spending and acquisitions.
This is a 1.0 release (even though it didn’t need to be), so I’m interested to see how it’ll evolve; HBO Max wasn’t particularly great when it was first released either. However, if they’re not going to learn from past mistakes, then I don’t have to give them any more attention and money.
We’re all pawns in the war between streaming giants. The best way to stay clean is to stay out of the skirmish.
From the Makes Me Feel Old Even Though I’m Not Actually that Old Department.
By Elena Cavender at Mashable:
“Lots of people read on their phones or Kindles on the train, and those people are reading just for the sake of reading. But the people that are reading a physical book with a cover on it, they’re making a choice to read that one in public,” Erin Hunziker, a 28-year-old digital marketing content creator, tells Mashable.
The implication that reading has transformed into a theatrical performance in which everyone must be engaged doesn’t sit well. I would have guessed that the person reading a physical book was doing so because they liked reading. It’s a mistake to assume one’s worldview must be shared by the rest of the world (is there a name for that fallacy?).
Maybe I’m out of touch with what younger people value these days. If that’s what being active in BookTok entails, then I’ll take the ridicule and frustrated eye rolls. It’s been clear for a while that I won’t get much out of TikTok. In the past, I may have endeavored to jump on the bandwagon so I could be aware of what’s popular, but that desire has faded. It’s not for me.
Performative reading isn’t something I want to engage in, nor have I felt compelled to. It’s an unequivocal good that BookTok has gotten more people reading books, but shouldn’t reading be done for personal joy instead of clout? Making value judgments about what a stranger is reading is exclusionary. It’s more likely to drive people away from reading for fear of displaying the wrong book. Or it’ll destroy the urge to discover new works in favor of relying on what the rest of BookTok is currently fixated on.
Men who read are largely except [sic] from this treatment of reading, just as they are largely exempt from the conversation around chasing aesthetics. (Though, there’s a certain archetype constructed around men who read Infinite Jest.)
That’s fair. I’ve never felt the pressure to chase an aesthetic in my life. Whether that’s because I’m not on TikTok (and hardly any social media) or because of what’s in my pants is up for debate. Regardless, men should not take for granted their relative lack of pressure from the world.
This whole thing makes me think of how I feel about the term “guilty pleasure”: I don’t think anyone should feel guilty about what they enjoy. Like what you like. To hell with anyone who tries to make you feel bad about your passions!
Conversely, if carrying around a book and designing a look/personality around what accompanies you on your travels is fulfilling, then who is anyone to judge? “Like what you like” cuts both ways—I should enjoy what I want and you should enjoy what you want, and both of us should carry on unmolested.
This article describes a symptom of the broader issue with social media: If you let it, TikTok, Instagram, or whatever else will eventually rise to the top will take what you love away from you. It’s one of the greatest, most efficient joy-sucking tools humans have ever created. That’s the danger inherent in performative posting, as mentioned earlier. Books are a great thing. Wouldn’t it be a shame if that love turned rotten because of the nasty demons lurking in all those services?
Spending the day with my wife, having a deliciously bad for us lunch, and visiting the Academy Museum made for one of the best birthdays in recent memory. 🥳
Forget superhero movie fatigue. I’m getting tv show fatigue. It feels like every new interesting thing that comes out is a ten hour long season of tv. And who knows how many seasons it’ll be. Who’s got the time to watch all of that?
By Caitlin Huston at The Hollywood Reporter:
Disney will be combining Hulu content with Disney+ content into one app, CEO Bob Iger announced Wednesday.
The company will begin to roll out the new app by the end of the calendar year.
This news has been written on the wall since Disney+ debuted in 2019. Disney owns two-thirds of Hulu, so why wouldn’t they consolidate into a single app? Less overhead, no split focus, and potential subscriber boosting for their namesake app sound like good reasons to do something.
Whether this means I’ll be able to drop my Hulu subscription in the future remains to be seen. There’s also still the question of Hulu’s live tv offering up in the air. I wouldn’t expect to see that on Disney+. What I would expect is for Hulu to disappear entirely sometime in the future.
In related news from Jill Goldsmith at Deadline: Disney Pulling Some Content Off Streaming In Strategic Rethink.
Disney will be yanking content from streaming as it rethinks its costs and strategy […]
Seems they’re following in the footsteps of Warner Bros. Discovery’s decision to remove loads of content from HBO Max in the name of cost-cutting. At one point, I believed that the originals produced by the various streaming companies were destined to live on their respective services forever. Why would they remove their own content? Surely, it couldn’t cost them much to keep it up; licensing fees would be nonexistent. I thought it would be nothing but upside.
That evergreen world doesn’t exist anymore. These billion-dollar media giants are just so strapped for cash that the mere suggestion of continuing to pay for their less-than-successful content is laughable. No better than a slap in the face! A company like Disney has to regularly cull this content from their service or they could face extinction in… [checks notes] Oh, that’s right, Disney will never die. They’ll never face any meaningful hardship whatsoever no matter what their subscriber numbers are or how many infantile governors cross their paths. They could lose every one of their streaming subscribers tomorrow and still have billions in the bank.
I wouldn’t explicitly condone finding copies of those excised movies and tv shows that have conveniently “fallen off the back of a truck,” but I wouldn’t discourage it either. These days, obtaining those copies and storing them on drives you own may be the only way to ensure you always have access to the stuff you want to watch.
Nothing wrong with wresting some control back from the mercurial whims of wickedly wealthy companies who always complain about not having enough money.
I just got a fancy Eve Room indoor air quality monitor and my dog is already putting it through its paces with her stinky toots. I don’t know if it was ever meant to handle this sort of challenge.
That little sensor has got its work cut out for it, that’s for sure!
As wished for, my allergy test was indeed an enlightening experience.
Before the appointment, I watched a video that described the process in good detail. I found it helpful to see—it helped answer any questions I had left over after my initial phone consultation with the office. In the video, the doctor showed a plastic device with, for lack of a better description, eight plastic legs with “medicine” tipped needles. When my test started, I longed for those things. Instead of eight at a time, I was given ninety-six separate skin pricks. One at a time all the way down the entirety of my back. And then the itching started.
It wasn’t the most pleasant experience, to say the least. However, it was 100% worth the discomfort because I now have a better understanding of what I’m allergic to and should stay away from.
I’m allergic to every grass that they test for:
Most of the trees:
This would all explain why I feel so miserable during the hay fever months. I will happily continue taking my antihistamine pills from now on.
The food tests were where it got weird. As expected, I’m allergic to cashews. In fact, I think that one produced the most dramatic reaction of the entire test. My wife commented that I had a particularly large and angry-looking red bump on my back. I’m confident cashews were the culprit.
Pistachios, since they share similar proteins with cashews, also triggered a reaction.
That’s where it stopped making sense. I’ve been unable to eat peanuts for as long as I can remember. They cause an impressive and unpleasant reaction—my throat constricts and I’m racked with debilitating stomach cramps for a few hours. Not fun. However, according to the test results, I’m not allergic to peanuts, but I am allergic to buckwheat.
This is confusing because buckwheat is something that I’ve enjoyed in the past without issue. Peanuts have always been a problem. I’m thinking that those two got mixed up somehow; there’s no way I’m not allergic to peanuts. Even if I was able to eat them, at this point in my life I wouldn’t—the smell is just too off-putting to me.
This test, despite my confusion regarding some of the results,1 was worth doing. There’s no question about it. While there may not have been many surprises, I’m happy to have all of this information down in writing now for my understanding and future reference.
Now, I’m going to eagerly start taking my seasonal allergy pills again.
I’ve got a follow-up phone call with them soon. You can bet that I’ll be talking with them about the peanuts. ↩︎
The major annoyance that may encourage me to finally switch over to using DuckDuckGo for good are the incessant “google.com would like to use your location” pop-ups that I get every time I search for something.
The results may not be as good, but at least the experience won’t be as frustrating.
On the calendar for today: an allergy skin test.
I’ve had several food allergies for my whole life, including some that have developed in the last few years. Nuts are the big offenders.
I’m hoping that this test will finally provide some helpful enlightenment.
By Lisa Richwine and Dawn Chmielewski at Reuters:
Thousands of film and television writers will go on strike starting Tuesday, throwing Hollywood into turmoil as the entertainment business grapples with seismic changes triggered by the global streaming TV boom.
The Writers Guild of America (WGA) called its first work stoppage in 15 years after failing to reach an agreement for higher pay from studios such as Walt Disney Co (DIS.N) and Netflix Inc (NFLX.O). The last strike lasted 100 days and cost the California economy more than $2 billion.
“The companies' behavior has created a gig economy inside a union workforce, and their immovable stance in this negotiation has betrayed a commitment to further devaluing the profession of writing,” the WGA said in a statement on its website.
It always saddens me to see just how unwilling those with money and power are to ever give an inch if it involves the betterment of those who they view to be below them. What would the entertainment industry be without the talented writers who craft its stories?
I wish all of the writers the very best of luck and a speedy and favorable resolution to this strike.
Total movies watched: 32.
Favorite movie of the month: Rear Window.
Worst movie of the month: Birdemic: Shock and Terror.
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With WWDC23 starting on June 5—just a few short weeks away—thoughts of what will be revealed to millions are popping into my head. Every summer feels like Christmas has come early. We’ve got gifts under the tree waiting to be unwrapped with gleeful abandon!
And then September rolls around, and there are invariably new iPhones. They’re beside the point here, but the excitement they bring me helps dull the discomfort I feel living in a desert during the hot summer months.
While all rumor reporting points to this being a relatively light year for Apple’s most important operating system, that doesn’t mean it has to be an underwhelming update. We’ll all surely need to silence the hordes of people who’ll scream, “BORING! HARD PASS!” across the internet for months after the keynote. That’s another annual tradition I try my hardest to stick with. Do that, though, and I think there’ll be much to discover and love about iOS 17.
Of course, it’ll be tough to stay excited about what is comparatively old news when, in all likelihood, Apple will be debuting their long-rumored AR/VR headset. That’s an announcement that’ll be the talk of the entire world for the foreseeable future. Sorry, iPhone, but you’re not the hot thing this year.
Who would have ever thought we’d see that day come to pass?
I don’t expect Apple to ship whole number releases to iOS without including any new features. That’s more of a point release thing. We’ve all been conditioned to expect something worth showing off, not just in the keynote, but also in the inevitable commercials they’ll release. They need something appealing to encourage users to upgrade their devices, and whole number releases don’t include the desirable new emojis. They need a shiny new thing.
I’m all for some new hotness, but at this point, an update focusing more on sprucing things up is fine by me. I don’t need something that’ll shake the world. What I would like are features that will make my device feel like it’s keeping up with the rest of the world. If that means aping features from Android or other app developers, then so be it. I don’t care if others have had certain features for years; I would like to have them on my chosen platform.
Here’s what I’m thinking, in order of preference…
I’ve used 1Password for as long as I can remember. It’s been so useful that I got my family to use it as well.
But it’s still a third-party app, and that comes with some drawbacks, namely:
That second point is what I’m running up against these days, and I’m not alone here:
Since securing $620 million in VC funding in early 2022, the company has grown increasingly focused on the enterprise side of its business. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it changes a company. That becomes a problem when it’s at the expense of their individual customers.
There’s a great opportunity for Apple to break their password manager out of the Settings app on their devices and make strong passwords a visible part of their system. This feels like a no-brainer for a company that has made privacy and security part of its brand.
Add in family password sharing, and I’ll switch over immediately.
When making a new task, Reminders will occasionally suggest a List in the QuickType bar above the keyboard, but if that actually shows up, it’s not very good at guessing which List to offer. I appreciate the way Fantastical and Todoist do this feature, and we would benefit greatly if Apple adopted this ability.
For instance, I would like to be able to type out something like: Clean the bathroom on Monday at 9:30 #chores /Home
Reminders should take that line of text and do the following:
As it is, there’s way too much tapping necessary to include all of that information in a task. The same could be said of Apple’s Calendar app. It’s the biggest reason why I’m using the increasingly too expensive Fantastical. I could probably create a Shortcut to do all this, but that route shouldn’t be necessary.
While we’re talking about Reminders, open up the API a little bit and give third-party developers access to the tagging system. The phenomenal app, GoodTask, meets all my needs except for this one issue.1
This feels like a table-stakes feature in any note-taking app now, and it’s a glaring shame that Apple continues to not offer this useful ability.
A year or two ago, this felt like a lock. The notable Apple journalists, especially Federico Viticci, were talking about it with growing frequency before Apple dashed all our hopes by ignoring this common feature. It was a real disappointment.
Notes has become a capable app over the years. Cross-linking between notes in the app will further make it something eminently useful and powerful. It’s beyond time that they caught up with other apps like Obsidian, Craft, and Notion.
(I’ve also always longed for Markdown support in Notes, but I’m not going to hold my breath on that one.)
The widgets we all got with iOS 14 were a phenomenal addition to our devices. They not only extended the utility of the staid Home Screen, but offered users the ability to customize one of the most seen parts of their devices. Thanks to apps like David Smith’s wonderful Widgetsmith, iPhone users could make their devices an extension of their personalities and interests. It was an important update in the history of iOS.
That said, there’s little that can be done with those widgets once they’re placed on the Home Screen. They’re just passive squares of information.
Interactivity would bring a whole new level of usefulness to our widgets. Imagine being able to play or pause your music, jot down a quick note, or complete a task without having to open those respective apps. How novel!
It would also give the Home Screen widgets another run under the spotlight. Apple would surely be happy about that.
Similar to Home Screen widgets, Lock Screen widgets have given us the ability to further extend our phone’s ability to provide information. Released with iOS 16, these widgets are even less capable than those on the Home Screen, but they’re still a welcome addition. I want more of them.
Perhaps this would only be useful for those who have irresponsibly huge phones, but I’m one of those people. I want more widgets on my Lock Screen, darn it! A second row would be enough; I promise I won’t ask for a third row next year.
Smart albums are on the Mac, and they’re wonderful. Why can’t I see, create, and edit them on my iOS device? Our iPhones and iPads are powerful computers, more than capable of handling automated organization. Why are they deprived of such a useful feature? The same could be said of smart playlists in the Music app.
It seems Apple doesn’t want to divorce any “smart” abilities from its Siri behemoth, except Siri isn’t all that smart, and it’s rarely available where I want it to be.
There are other issues that I could include, but I’m not writing a novel here.
Apple has never been an infallible company; its products have always had their drawbacks. However, what they offer is generally done so well that their flaws tend to stand out more. When those flaws can become the basis of a 1,600+ word blog post, it starts to feel like a paper-cut problem—one is annoying, many are a serious issue.
I would be the happiest person in the world on June 5 if they were to fix these issues I’ve written about. I’ll even take just a few corrections. I don’t expect them to be perfect; that goal isn’t attainable by anybody, even a company as rich and powerful as Apple. I do wish that more attention and care was given to what’s currently out there and a little less to what looks good on a marquee. Otherwise, how are they different from any of the other feature-chasing companies of the world?
I do know that GoodTask has its own hacky tagging workaround. It puts a tag in the notes field of a task and uses that for organization. I don’t want to clutter up my task notes with tags. I’d like to use the same tags that Reminders uses. ↩︎
For the first time in over a decade (and maybe even since getting my first iPhone), I’m seriously considering moving something out of my Dock. Marvis Pro may be one of the finest apps I’ve ever had the pleasure of using. It’s definitely nicer to use than the stock Music app.
I’m sure there’s an accessibility reason for justified text in ebooks (and if there is, then I’d love to know more about it). For me, it’s never done anything but degrade the reading experience.
Make justified text an option, but the default for all ebook text should be left aligned.
I’ve decided that the best thing for me to do with my life is to win the lottery. Preferably some kind of major, or even historic, jackpot. Any ideas on how best to accomplish this?
I read Prodigal Son by Gregg Hurwitz.
Same old Evan Smoak action but with a refreshing dive into his past and family. I don’t think it’s the strongest in the series, but I appreciated how it made an effort to enlarge the story of the Nowhere Man. 📚
After watching the Doris Day-Rock Hudson film, Lover Come Back, I’m now certain that what was holding Hollywood aloft in the middle of last century were the twin tent poles of Technicolor musicals and mistaken identity rom-coms.
I was wondering when I’d have the opportunity to test out the new insulation in my attic. Turns out that it’ll be next weekend.
High 80s in April? I may also need to consider cracking open the box on my new BedJet earlier than expected.
From J. Clara Chan:
Warner Bros. Discovery on Wednesday unveiled Max, its refreshed streaming service combining programming from both the original HBO Max streaming service and Discovery+.
Good job, Zaslav, et al. You took the prestige of and brand affection for HBO and turned it into a muck of “Max.” A small part of me hoped that the Warner Bros. Discovery CEO would course-correct away from this graceless endeavor. At the very least, they could have come up with a better name. Even better, they could have kept the HBO Max and Discovery+ apps separate instead of the weird tack of creating this new combination service and keeping Discovery+ around and unchanged.
But grace doesn’t appear to be in their wheelhouse. Like Zapp Brannigan piloting an orbiting restaurant, Zaslav is full steam ahead on seeing what the heck is going to stick to the wall this time.
By removing HBO from Max’s branding, WBD is also hoping to appeal to a wider audience that may have previously turned away from the streaming service due to HBO’s high-brow reputation and higher price point. [WBD’s president, JB] Perrette said removing HBO from the branding was a part of “preserving and protecting the most iconic trailblazing brand in entertainment.”
And yet, they’re still using the style of the old HBO logo in the new Max logo!1 That filled-in “a” in “Max” bears a striking resemblance to the familiar filled-in “o” in “HBO.” Despite what WBD may say, HBO is still a brand with a large and important audience. This amalgamation doesn’t seem like protection. It feels like a lack of confidence in their new product.
And anyway, I thought the point of Discovery+ sticking around was to appeal to that “wider audience.” What, then, is the point of continuing to offer two separate apps—Discovery+ and (now) Max? I understand why they’re keeping the former around. The HBO catalog probably won’t appeal to those who want an endless supply of reality shows. But surely the inverse is true, as well.
We’ll have one focused streaming service that meets the desires of those who use it and one unfocused mess crammed full of stuff that’s likely to confuse and/or frustrate many. As I wrote last August, it’s going to be unpleasant scrolling past, for instance, a giant banner image of 90 Day Fiancé to get to Succession. That kind of silly experience is nowhere to be found on successful rival services like Disney+.
Way to dilute a strong brand in the name of sticking it to AT&T, guys. I’m sure this new service and pricing 4K resolution content into a more expensive tier won’t lose you loads of previously invested fans.
Something I just learned while trying to find an image of the new Max logo. Searching for “max logo” or “new max logo” returns predictably unhelpful results. Max is such a common word. Good luck to anyone trying to find more information about Max in the future through an internet search. You’re going to get a lot of nonsense. ↩︎
I just read Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro.
As always, Ishiguro turned out an impeccable and moving novel. Klara’s story held my heart tenderly throughout before almost crushing it in the last several pages. What an experience! 📚
Like a hundred-year-old bottle of fine wine that was accidentally exposed to the elements and turned to vinegar, the past-its-expiration liquid cold medicine I just took burned my throat and insulted my taste buds.
I think it’s time for a new bottle.
We’ve got standing desks. Ergonomic desks. Treadmill desks.
How come nobody is popularizing the George Costanza desk?