Subscriptions and Tech Medley

There’s no unifying theme here, just a bunch of thoughts that aren’t long enough to merit their own post.

Smartphone cases obscure beauty

I fell in love with my phone again by ditching the case. My phone’s about three years old anyway, so I figured it’s not the end of the world if it gets scratched or whatever. Holy smokes. The feel of just how thin and light a phone is without a case is awesome. Not seeing the screen through a cheap plastic protector brought the display to life. Even when I eventually get a new phone, I don’t think I’m getting another case.

Deutsche Welle makes great documentaries

While Vice News had a good run, their questionable journalism ethics and slumping quality has put me off of them. Deutsche Welle is my new go-to channel to watch when I’m looking for an interesting documentary. If you have some time to kill:

  1. Money in the World Economy explains how central banks creating ‘cheap’ cash has driven up asset prices and exacerbated global inequality.
  2. Too Much Milk in Europe covers the absurdity of EU agricultural subsidies that make German milk cheaper in Africa than local milk.
  3. From Rio to Lima — Transoceânica is an awesome travelogue covering a bus journey from Brazil to Peru.

Music subscriptions don’t pay

I suppose I’m not a power listener, but the allure of ‘unlimited’ streaming is deceptive. Around 90% of my music comes from 10 albums, which I could outright buy instead of subscribing to streaming service for a year. YouTube is good enough for sampling and that other 10% I listen to. My guess is that I’d be more satisfied buying 5 albums a year, and the artists I like would get more money anyway.

Paper books are awesome

I do a ton of reading and have been primarily using the Kindle app on my iPad to read for the past two years. This past weekend I started reading a paper book, and my oh, oh my was it lovely. No eye strain, no headache. My biggest problem is that my reading preferences are very specific, so it’s not easy to sell or give away books once I read them. I haven’t decided for sure, but I think I’m going to ditch the iPad and get an e-ink reader for books that I can’t get paper copies of or wouldn’t be able to resell.

A tablet is an odd device

For awhile I really liked my iPad, but we’re going through a rough patch. I’m a power user of my laptop and find that writing, working and putzing around with blogging, code and all that is a pain from an iPad. As a content consumption device, tablets are great, but after staring at a screen all day, I find that more temptation to look at a screen is the last thing I need. Tablets are best suited for people who don’t need a laptop as their home computing device, which is probably the majority of the population. For better or worse, that’s not me.

I detest electron apps

For the love of all things holy, why can’t companies that are valued at over a billion dollars make native apps? Slack kills my phone battery and takes forever to load even on a new-ish laptop. Sublime is a pleasure to use compared to VS Code and Atom. I’m not blasting solo-developers that open source a pet project here; my wrath is directed at Slack, Microsoft, GitHub, Google and HubSpot (which forces me to use Chrome for email) — they all have the resources to develop native apps. FWIW, Sublime has two developers.

Intrusive marketing

The Economist went from being one of the best magazines to a spammy rag. I don’t need a million scripts loading to read a 1000-word article, especially if I’m a paying subscriber. So while I’m sure some marketing PMs were insisting on more data for God knows what, they lost my money. I can get the Atlantic and NY Times without all the extra crap. I’m ok with paying for high-quality content as long as I can get it without the ads and bloatware. I wonder how many other companies are losing customers because their product is filled with bloatware.

Everybody’s a design expert

I realized that being a designer must suck, because everybody and their brother thinks they’re a design expert. It’s just bikeshedding. People give their opinion on design because it’s easy to sound like you know what you’re talking about and many design principles are best practices based on experience rather than strictly scientific testing. It’s absurd though to see a designer with 6 years of schooling and a decade in the field being overruled because of someone else’s whim. How do I know this? I’m an English teacher and a copywriter: we’re in the same boat.

BTW, I just worked my way through The Non-Designer’s Design Book and can’t recommend it enough. I also realized that most designers, like copywriters and teachers, intentionally produce garbage since that is what their mangers are most likely to sign off on.