Compel the Reader to Read the Next Sentence

The Writing Cooperative: 10 Unusual But Critical Edit Checks Before You Hit Publish

There’s some incredibly good advice here.

Each time you read your piece focus on one checklist item. In your first pass, read your copy out loud. See where you stumble. On your second pass, move to the second checklist item. With each pass, look at your piece through a different lens.

I know that I can really benefit from the edits suggested in this article, and I hope you’ll find them useful as well.


“Snape Is Suspishous.”

Mashable: This 9-Year-Old Girl Is Reading “Harry Potter” For The First Time, And She’s Writing Down All Her Questions

“In class, her teacher is trying to get them to wonder and question as they read. Sometimes the teacher has said to write things down,” Eschmann told BuzzFeed. “She decided to take this questioning very seriously and had a bundle of little pieces of white paper.”

We’ve read the first four Harry Potter books with our daughter now, and it’s fun to see what a similar journey this little girl has taken. As an adult, it’s pretty easy to see plot holes and inconsistencies, but to the child in all of us, this series is simply magical.

Why Do We Always Give Fantasy Races the Same Voices?

Atlas Obscura: Why Do Dwarves Sound Scottish and Elves Sound Like Royalty?

Throughout The Hobbit, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and the reams of related histories Tolkien wrote about Middle Earth, he established whole societies, histories, and languages for a handful of races that still inform how they are depicted today. Elves are ancient, beautiful, and have pointy ears; dwarves are short, tough, and love to use axes; orcs are filthy brutes who live for destruction.

Of course the original readers couldn’t hear what Tolkien’s creatures sounded like, but the intense focus he placed on developing their languages gave people a pretty good idea. “Tolkien was a philologist,” says Olsen.“This is what he did. He studied language and the history of language and the changing of language over time.”

Tolkien would create languages first, then write cultures and histories to speak them, often taking inspiration from the sound of an existing language. In the case of the ever-present Elvish languages in his works, Tolkien took inspiration from Finnish and Welsh. As the race of men and hobbits got their language from the elves in Tolkien’s universe, their language was portrayed as similarly Euro-centric in flavor.


Reflecting on #MeToo

We have to do better. Not simply for the sake of our daughters, our wives, our sisters, or any other woman we may want to define by relationship. No, we have to do better because women are *people*. We have to be willing to listen and break the pattern of victim-shaming that has permeated our culture when it comes to sexual aggression. We have historically put all of the attention — largely negative — on the victim. In doing so, we suggest culpability.

When I was ten years old, an elderly man approached me in a toy store and attempted to molest me (true story). If he had succeeded, no one would have blamed me in any way. But if it had been a girl or woman of any age in my place, we might question what she was wearing, why she was alone, how she had led the guy on, etc. We infer culpability. And we have to stop it.

Victim-shaming only leads to victims being hesitant to speak out because they see it as easier to deal with the consequences of being assaulted or coerced than dealing with the fallout and shame of coming forward. Victim-shaming only makes the problem more pervasive. It makes life easier for sexual predators.

I know that I’ve unintentionally created awkward or uncomfortable situations for women in the past. I never intended offense, but intentions mean nothing. Instead of leaning on intentions, I had to listen without judgment, without ego, and without self-justification. That’s how we learn to do better. It’s not easy to hear you wronged someone, especially when you thought you were helping; but it’s better to hear and change than to continue a harmful pattern.

Guys, let’s be self-aware and self-critical. Be honest. Listen. And always strive to be better. If anything good has come from such public figures being outed for their flagrant mistreatment of others, it’s that it should make us all deeply self-reflective of how we can be better.

Because we can do better. We can be better.


Fact-checking Network World

I don’t know if you’ve seen this piece from Network World titled What the IoT Industry Can Learn from Apple’s Revival of the Mac. I’m sure the author has some great points to make, but those points are baseless when rooted in blatant misinformation. I’m not going to deconstruct the whole article — just the two paragraphs that John Gruber called, “maybe the dumbest two paragraphs about the Mac I’ve ever read.

Here are the paragraphs in question:

In 2007, the Mac was on life support. Consumers and companies bought Windows XP and Vista machines instead of Macs. The Mac had been very proprietary up until then. The hardware platform was based on the Motorola 6800 family, which came in third behind Intel and AMD and the PowerPC. It ran a proprietary OS with components of FreeBSD Unix, but it was not Unix compliant.

The Mac transitioned that same year. It had been a proprietary device running a proprietary operating system, with a beautiful proprietary user interface (UI) in an elegant ergonomically designed enclosure. Apple pivoted by shifting to the Intel platform and FreeBSD Unix, complying to the Single UNIX Specification (SUS). The Mac today is a PC running an open-source operating system with beautiful proprietary UI in even more elegantly designed enclosures. FreeBSD influenced the evolution of the MacOS. Since the transition, many FreeBSD Unix components were rewritten and many APIs were added.

So let’s take this a bit at a time.

“In 2007, the Mac was on life support.” Apple was moving over 1.5 billion Macs per quarter in 2007. It’s nothing compared to today, but it was far from life support. If you want to talk about life support, you have to jump back to the 1990s.

“The Mac had been very proprietary up until then.” If by proprietary, you mean using the same wireless standard as the rest of the industry, using widely adopted ports like USB and HDMI, having an operating system built on UNIX, a browser built on the open source WebKit, and using the standard x86 architecture in all of their computers, then sure. Apple today is arguably more proprietary than the Apple of 2007.

“The hardware platform was based on the Motorola 6800 family…” Oh my. It hurts. First, Apple used PowerPC processors from 1996 to 2006. Prior to that, they used Motorola 68000 processors, not 6800. By 2007, the year at the beginning of the article, Apple had entirely transitioned to Intel processors.

“The Mac transitioned that same year.” Nope on all counts but one. 2007 is the year Mac OS X complied with the Single UNIX Specification. But the operating system had been based on FreeBSD since 2001 (really since the 90s if you count its NextStep roots); Apple had transitioned to Intel in 2006.

“The Mac today is a PC running an open-source operating system with beautiful proprietary UI in even more elegantly designed enclosures.” Today’s macOS is really no more open than it was when it came out in 2001. If the author had been comparing today’s Macs to those of 1996, this might make sense, but he’s not.

Maybe It’s a Piece of Dust

The Outline: The New MacBook Keyboard Is Ruining My Life

I was in the Grand Central Station Apple Store for a third time in a year, watching a progress bar slowly creep across my computer’s black screen as my Genius multi-tasked helping another customer with her iPad. My computer was getting its third diagnostic test in 45 minutes. The problem was not that its logic board was failing, that its battery was dying, or that its camera didn’t respond. There were no mysteriously faulty innerworkings. It was the spacebar. It was broken. And not even physically broken — it still moved and acted normally. But every time I pressed it once, it spaced twice.

“Maybe it’s a piece of dust,” the Genius had offered. The previous times I’d been to the Apple Store for the same computer with the same problem — a misbehaving keyboard — Geniuses had said to me these exact same nonchalant words, and I had been stunned into silence, the first time because it seemed so improbable to blame such a core problem on such a small thing, and the second time because I couldn’t believe the first time I was hearing this line that it was not a fluke. But this time, the third time, I was ready. “Hold on,” I said. “If a single piece of dust lays the whole computer out, don’t you think that’s kind of a problem?”

In every other computer I’ve owned before I bought the latest MacBook Pro last fall, fixing this would have begun by removing the key and peering around in its well to see if it was simply dirty. Not this keyboard. In fact, all of Apple’s keyboards are now composed of a single, irreparable piece of technology. There is no fixing it; there is only replacing half the computer.

While I’m very excited about the direction of iOS — even to the point of considering an iPad as my next laptop — the Mac is concerning. Laptops are not supposed to be disposable devices. Computers, particularly ones that will cost well north of a thousand dollars, should be reliably long term investments.

Except for one MacBook Pro, all of my Macs have lasted over five years, and two have gone as long as seven. That second-generation MacBook Pro, my shortest-lived computer, still broke four years. I’d be nervous that one of the new MacBooks would do as well.


Luna Display’s New Button

Astro HQ: While Apple Is Taking Away Buttons, We Found a Way to Add One.

We set out to find an alternative to the Astropad ring. The obvious first option was to make a new gesture, but we realized pretty quickly that there was limited room for this. Every edge of the iPad is already occupied with an existing gesture: swipe up for your dock, left to search, and down for notifications. We really needed something novel to work with.

Our Astro HQ cofounder Giovanni Donelli said that the idea to turn the camera into a button came like lightning, “I had been staring at a white bezel iPad for so long, and I kept wishing there was another home button we could use. My eyes kept falling on the camera, and I really wanted to touch it!” Giovanni built an initial prototype of the Camera Button within an hour.

This whole article kind of blows my mind.

iPhone 8 Plus Camera Review: India

Austin Mann: iPhone 8 Plus Camera Review: India

I’m writing to you from a small hotel room in India having just experienced a magical adventure in western India orchestrated by friends at Ker & Downey. I’ve shot thousands of images and countless portraits with the iPhone 8 Plus and I’m excited to share what I’ve learned.

While the iPhone 8 Plus looks essentially the same as the phone we’ve had since the 6 Plus, there are some new features in the 8 Plus which really impact creative pros across the board — most notably Portrait Lighting, along with a few other hidden gems.

From what I hear, the Pixel 2 has an excellent camera too. The arms race in technology used to be about raw speed. Now that we’ve moved to more convergent mobile devices, I’d say the camera is the new and most exciting battlefront.

The Latest Mass Killing

The Economist: The Latest American Mass Killing

The massacre, then (like those in Sandy Hook, Isla Vista, Aurora, and many others), will almost surely be blamed on the actions of a lone madman, who is now in the custody of police. This might, as with the Sandy Hook massacre, lead to support for legislation to make the public mental-health system more proactive (and more coercive). But that legislation is controversial among mental-health practitioners, and has been bogged down in Congress. In any case, while better mental health is a good thing in itself, it is unlikely to have a reliable impact in finding and stopping the small number of people who commit mass killings. The gunman’s access to firearms was obviously a prerequisite for the killings. But it has become clear since Sandy Hook that meaningful gun control is politically impossible in America. While certain forms of restrictions on gun ownership are popular, the power of lobbying organisations such as the National Rifle Association and the lock-step opposition of Republicans in Congress have blocked all moves towards legislation.

This was written two years ago, after the Charleston, SC church shooting. So little has changed, it feels it could have been written instead two weeks ago.