Tools and Resources for Illustrators


This is a lovely collection of tools and resources for digital illustrators.

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A Guide to Facebook’s New Privacy Terms

TechCrunch: A Flaw-By-Flaw Guide to Facebook’s New GDPR Privacy Settings

Facebook is about to start pushing European users to speed through giving consent for its new GDPR privacy law compliance changes. It will ask people to review how Facebook applies data from the web to target them with ads, and surface the sensitive profile info they share. Facebook will also allow European and Canadian users to turn on facial recognition after six years of the feature being blocked there. But with a design that encourages rapidly hitting the “Agree” button, a lack of granular controls, a laughably cheatable parental consent request for teens and an aesthetic overhaul of Download Your Information that doesn’t make it any easier to switch social networks, Facebook shows it’s still hungry for your data.

There are a ton of small changes, so we’ll lay out each with our criticisms.

Facebook’s consent flow starts well enough with the screen above offering a solid overview of why it’s making changes for GDPR and what you’ll be reviewing. But with just an “X” up top to back out, it’s already training users to speed through by hitting that big blue button at the bottom.

These changes will eventually be rolling out worldwide, so it’s worth keeping this article if you aren’t seeing these changes outside the EU right now. If you care about your online privacy, this is a great guide to understanding what settings will be available and how to get the most out of the options Facebook will provide.

Woman curled up in an isolated corner

Fostering a Better Relationship with Our Meltdowns

What do your meltdowns look like? How often do you let yourself have one? All through my adolescence and young adulthood, I hated the idea of having a meltdown. I fought against them. I suppressed. I tried to extinguish them, but they came all the same. And they were ugly. They were angry, verbally aggressive, and self-abusive. Each one was an explosion I felt left me out of control; I didn’t know myself when they hit.

I imagine what I’m describing sounds familiar if you are autistic or you have an autistic child. Meltdowns can seem tragically transformative. I’ve heard things like, “I don’t know myself,” or, “It’s like they become a different child.” It can be frightening whether we’re the ones having the meltdown or we’re watching it happen to someone we love. But I’ve come to believe that meltdowns can be important to autistic individuals, and that we can approach them in a healthy way.

The Reset Buttons

I’ve sometimes compared meltdowns to a hard reset — those times you hold the power button down on a computer or a device to force it to shut down. Usually, the device is locked up or behaving erratically in some way, and the best solution seems to be a clean slate. Yes, there will be consequences — lost browser tabs, unsaved documents, etc. But the benefit outweighs the consequences.

Meltdowns are similar. Things get to be too much, and we crash. We systematically block everything else in some kind of isolationist or emotional behavior, and we restart. Once the meltdown is done, we’ve “reset our points,” as my wife puts it. (I’ll write about that in greater detail in a future post.) Now we can continue our day, and for many of us, it’s as if the meltdown never happened — unless we harm someone else or ourselves in the process. That’s where approaching our meltdowns differently comes in.

Embracing the Reboot

Every autistic person that I know can feel a meltdown coming. That’s when we try to push it down and away. That’s when we try to suppress, but what if we didn’t? What if we embraced the fact that we needed to reset, immediately found a safe place to do so, and just let it happen? I don’t have a large amount of data to support this, but I can personally attest to the fact that this approach has changed meltdowns for both me and my probably-autistic daughter.

For her, meltdowns used to look like throwing. When she went into her room to melt, anything was fair game for throwing. Our first intervention was to remove a lot of throwable stuff and provided her with some soft balls. If she needs to throw, it might as well be something safe. The next was to help her determine when a meltdown is coming, and be proactive about it. “Do you need to melt?” one of us may ask. If she acknowledges it before she reaches the breaking point, then the meltdown looks far different — some crying, some curling up in blankets, perhaps a nap. The throwing has largely gone away.

In my own life, things look similar. Instead of fighting the meltdown until it becomes an inevitable explosion, I find someplace safe and secluded; then I close my eyes and let my system reset. There might be tears; I will almost certainly doze off. But I won’t verbally assault anyone, and I certainly won’t inflict self-harm. By proactively embracing the meltdown, I’ve seen the severity and duration decrease. Then I can go on about my day.

Rejecting Toxic Normality

We sometimes point to statements like, “Real men don’t cry,” as symptoms of toxic masculinity in our culture. Suppressing emotions can lead to violent and abusive behaviors in the long run. Likewise, we have accepted a form of toxic normality where we have largely come to accept that healthy people don’t have meltdowns where in fact our meltdowns help many of us on the spectrum reach a psychological and sensory equilibrium that indeed helps us through overwhelming circumstances.

Meltdowns are normal for autistic people. It’s not the easiest aspect of autism to talk about. It’s certainly among the most stigmatized characteristic in the public perception of autism. But it’s a fact of life.

  • Autistic folk: Learn what factors push you toward a meltdown and by how much. Not only can this help you regulate your sensory and emotional needs, but it will help you better identify when a meltdown may happen and allow you to prepare for it. Know what safe spaces will be available to you. Know if you should avoid a certain activity or setting to allow for that safety net. Let the meltdown come sooner rather than later, and see if that helps the severity and duration improve over time.
  • Autism parents: Learn your child. They may not be able to self-regulate, so you have to be able to help them. When you see a meltdown coming, verbally affirm that it’s OK, that they are safe, and that you are there to support them. Provide a safe place for the meltdown to happen, and don’t dwell on the meltdown after it’s over. Again, with time, you may see severity and duration reduce.

Meltdowns are part of being autistic. They’re not as glamorous or inspirational as some other aspects of our lives, but they are a fact of existence. Therefore, instead of fighting them so hard that we make our own lives worse, let’s develop better relationships with our meltdowns so they can be the sensory and emotional resets we need them to be.

Ethan Gray On Trump’s Campaign

Twitter Thread: Ethan Gray

Donald Trump won the GOP primary and the presidency because campaigning on whiteness-first messaging still has potency in the 21st century. Plenty of people don’t want to directly engage with this fact, but this thread will be getting into it in full.

Of course, it’s not enough to grapple with what the appeal of Trump’s campaign was. We must also be cognizant of the fact that that appeal was propelled to the White House while Trump has demonstrated he’s thoroughly unfit.

What white supremacy greatly fears is a genuine meritocracy, a society where anyone, regardless of race or gender, can rise according to their talents and diligence.

For white supremacy to guard against a trajectory toward meritocracy, this requires everything of merit must be sacrificed, which brings us to a terrifying conclusion: the various ways Trump was unfit for the Presidency were features to his voters, not flaws.

I’ve tried to distance myself from blogging about politics lately, but Ethan’s observations are on-point. It’s an uncomfortable read but an important one. To those who are used to privilege, equality for others feels like oppression for themselves.

MacBook Keyboard Failure Rates

AppleInsider: 2016 MacBook Pro Butterfly Keyboards Failing Twice as Frequently as Older Models

All data has been collected from assorted Apple Genius Bars in the U.S. that we have been working with for several years, as well as Apple-authorized third-party repair shops.

The 2014 MacBook Pro model year saw 2120 service events in the first year, with 118 related to keyboard issues necessitating an upper case replacement —5.6 percent of all MacBook Pros serviced in the first year. The 2015 has 1904 service tickets, with 114 relating to the keyboard, making 6.0 percent.

The two numbers are very similar, which is to be expected. The keyboards were essentially unchanged since the 2012 Retina MacBook Pro, and should have failure rates similar to each other.

Apple released the new keyboard with the MacBook, and moved the design to the 2016 MacBook Pro. In the first year of the 2016 MacBook Pro, our data gathered 1402 warranty events, with 165 related to only the keyboard and not including the Touch Bar —11.8 percent.

We don’t have a full year of data for the 2017 MacBook Pro yet. But, since release in June 2017, our data set has 1161 captured service events with 94 related to keyboard issues also not including any Touch Bar issues —8.1 percent.

Failure rates across all four models are relatively static, with no appreciable increase or decrease in events reported at any time after release. Percentages of failures were comparable between the third-party authorized shops, and the Genius Bar data.

The title is a little misleading, but that data is still troubling. To add to the frustrations of this issue, repairing a MacBook Pro keyboard will set you back around $700. When you pay north of $1,000 for a computer, it should be reliable. Apple should be doing better than this.

Android’s Trust Problem

The Verge: Android’s Trust Problem Isn’t Getting Better

Coming at the end of a week dominated by Mark Zuckerberg’s congressional hearings and an ongoing Facebook privacy probe, this news might seem of lesser importance, but it goes to the same issue that has drawn lawmakers’ scrutiny to Facebook: the matter of trust. Facebook is the least-trusted big US tech company, and Android might just be the operating system equivalent of it: used by 2 billion people around the world, tolerated more than loved, and susceptible to major lapses in user privacy and security.

The gap between Android and its nemesis, Apple’s iOS, has always boiled down to trust. Unlike Google, Apple doesn’t make its money by tracking the behavior of its users, and unlike the vast and varied Android ecosystem, there are only ever a couple of iPhone models, each of which is updated with regularity and over a long period of time. Owning an iPhone, you can be confident that you’re among Apple’s priority users (even if Apple faces its own cohort of critics accusing it of planned obsolescence), whereas with an Android device, as evidenced today, you can’t even be sure that the security bulletins and updates you’re getting are truthful.



Goodbye, Good QuickTime

Six Colors: A Tale of Two QuickTimes

Among the casualties of the impending transition to 64-bit apps is one long-lasting oddity: QuickTime 7 Pro.

What makes this app so unusual are a few factors. For one thing, it’s one of Apple’s own apps. For another, it was first released in 2005, making it almost 13 years old, though it hasn’t seen an update in about 8 years.

But despite its age and the fact that the writing was on the wall for QuickTime 7, news that it wouldn’t see an update when macOS makes the jump to all-64-bit-all-the-time sparked some cries of frustration from users, including both myself and Jason, who have carved out a place in their workflows—and their hearts—for this little anachronism.

I did my very first video editing in QuickTime Pro. QuickTime X has never really filled those shoes, but that makes some sense. Many of QuickTime Pro’s features are now in iMovie, and that’s been my go-to for quick editing the past several years. But QuickTime Pro was such a simple and fast tool when you needed a video editing utility more than a comprehensive application.

iPhone X and Industry Profits

iPhone X Alone Generated 35% of the Total Handset Industry Profits in Q4 2017

Apple remained the most profitable brand, capturing 86% of the total handset market profits.

Further splitting profits by model, the top 10 models captured 90% of the total handset profits.

Apple and Samsung flagship models, lead in terms of profits as compared to other OEMs.

iPhone X alone generated 35% of the total handset industry profits. This is a significant landmark, as the model was available in the market for only two months during Q4 2017.

iPhone X generated 5X more profit than the combined profit of 600+ Android OEMs during Q4 2017.

Apple’s older generation iPhones, iPhone 7 and iPhone 6 still generate more profit than some of the more recent Android flagships from key Chinese OEMs.

It kind of blows my mind that stats like these could be true and yet analysts also believe iPhone X is a failure. But I guess Apple has been doomed since the 1990s, so why change the tune?

That said, I do agree with reports that iPhone X will disappear this year — less because of performance and more to streamline branding.

Photo of a woman holding a finger in front of her lips by Kristina Flour on Unsplash

Quietly Silencing Autistic Voices

I want to share a conversation I once had with a business representative who was interested in me contributing to their autism awareness efforts:

Me: I’d be happy to help with your efforts. I and my daughter are both on the spectrum, and I’m happy to help out with Autism Acceptance Month. I’ll help how I can, except for promoting anything to do with Autism Speaks. I don’t personally support that organization.

Them: Thanks. April 2 is Light It Up Blue Day. Would you like to help us coordinate that?

Me: Thanks for reaching out. I’m sorry, but Light It Up Blue is an Autism Speaks-associated event. They have done a lot of damage to the public perception of autism and fail to accurately represent autistic voices to the public. I would be happy to do other things to engage autism and neurodiversity acceptance, like a Q&A about growing up with autism, talking with your HR or Facilities departments about creating sensory-friendly work environments, discussing how to better accommodate neurodiverse employees and candidates, etc.

Please note that I edited this conversation for brevity and anonymity.

I heard nothing after that. I actually didn’t expect to. Sometimes, people don’t understand when we in the autism community say that we feel silenced at times. It’s not that anyone is pointing at us and saying, “Be quiet!” (Well, except occasionally on Twitter.) Instead, the issue is that we end up marginalized when the way we want to contribute to the conversation doesn’t fit a predefined pattern — conventions of engagement that have been defined by non-autistic people.

We silence people when we simply don’t include them in the conversation — or when we drop out of the conversation when it becomes uncomfortable. Imagine a panel on women’s health that included no women, a community event on race issues that featured no minority voices, a symposium on accessibility that had no disabled participants. These seem ridiculous (even when a couple have indeed happened), but that’s the way we still handle autism. The conversation is about us rather than with us.

When it comes to autism “awareness,” we have culturally become comfortable with a shallow definition of the word. We have events showing that we acknowledge autism is indeed a thing. We can quote statistics and figures. But awareness isn’t enough anymore. Unfortunately, awareness has brought with it stigma and misinformation. We have to move past awareness to acceptance and cooperation, and the only way that will happen is by bringing autistic voices into the conversation.


New iPad with Pencil Support

Apple: Apple Introduces New 9.7-inch iPad with Apple Pencil Support

Chicago — Apple today updated its most popular iPad with support for Apple Pencil plus even greater performance, starting at $329. The new 9.7-inch iPad and Apple Pencil give users the ability to be even more creative and productive, from sketching ideas and jotting down handwritten notes to marking up screenshots. The new iPad is more versatile and capable than ever, features a large Retina display, the A10 Fusion chip and advanced sensors that help deliver immersive augmented reality, and provides unmatched portability, ease of use and all-day battery life.

“iPad is our vision for the future of computing and hundreds of millions of people around the world use it every day at work, in school and for play. This new 9.7-inch iPad takes everything people love about our most popular iPad and makes it even better for inspiring creativity and learning,” said Greg Joswiak, Apple’s vice president of Product Marketing. “Our most popular and affordable iPad now includes support for Apple Pencil, bringing the advanced capabilities of one of our most creative tools to even more users. This iPad also has the power of the A10 Fusion chip, combined with the big, beautiful Retina display, advanced cameras and sensors that enable incredible AR experiences simply not possible on other devices.”

These are good updates to the iPad, but they still fall short of creating a truly compelling computing device. I can’t help but think that a Smart Connector for a first-party keyboard and support for legacy input devices (like a trackpad) would go farther into getting more iPads into classrooms and homes.

The iWork updates are nice too, and I think it makes a lot of sense to roll iBooks Author into Pages. But I’m still waiting on a couple of my wish-list items — user-defined templates and fonts. The Mac versions of the iWork apps have pretty much always supported these because of the nature of macOS. iOS sandboxing creates barriers to this, but I’m sure it’s not impossible to overcome while retaining system security.