16 things I want to see from Apple on the 16th

It happens every October. Apple sends out an invitation, sometimes with a wink and sometimes more cryptic, implicitly promising Some Great New Product the Likes of Which the World has Never Seen. The Apple rumor industrial complex spins into a click-bait frenzy, making predictions of the obvious (oh, you mean they’re actually going to release a new iPad version?), the crazy and the stupid. And they’re oh so boring.

So instead of making any kind of prediction, here I merely offer 16 things I’d like to see from Apple this Thursday. We might not get any of them, but I’d like to be surprised.

  • Fix all the little regressions in iOS 8. My shiny new iPhone 6 has been soft restarting itself when it freaks out, just like iOS 7 did for a long time before being fixed.
  • The ability to merge Apple accounts. It’s been way too long.
  • Discount for upgrading from SD to HD movies. I wanted to buy “The Life Aquatic” in 1080p but that wasn’t an option. Now it is an option, but I already have this standard definition copy and no path to upgrade.
  • Discount for buying a previously rented movie. Oh, that film was really great. I’d like to be able to watch it all the time now.
  • Extend “iTunes in the Cloud” to include audiobooks. I realize Apple gets these audiobooks from archnemesis-Amazon-owned Audible and licensing is probably sticky, but not being able to download audiobooks more than once feels punitive.
  • Ability to hide/forget previous purchases you have no intention of ever downloading again. No one needs to know I bought Season 5 of “Scrubs,” and I don’t even know what half the apps I have tested do.
  • Fix iTunes Match.
  • App Store for Apple TV.
  • Roku-style search across streaming services on Apple TV. (I know this is very unlikely to ever happen.)
  • Siri control of Apple TV from iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch.
  • Remember when Steve Jobs stood on stage an introduced an Apple speaker with integrated iPod dock? I’d like something like that for the modern age. Not dissimilar from a Sonos speaker or the Aether Cone, but something that can stream iTunes Radio.
  • But why stop there? These network connected speakers should have their own app store to extend functionality.
  • Would it kill Apple to give us all a free album that’s actually good?
  • A revolutionary network a la carte alternative to cable and satellite companies
  • Double the memory of all existing 8 and 16 GB iPhones. I hear Hogwarts is available to help with this.
  • Maybe consider changing the name of iTunes? It’s not really managing just our tunes anymore.

Seattle left

Seattle left (noun): a left turn in which the driver starts from a right lane and cuts across at least one other lane of traffic, known among a large subset of Seattle drivers as a “left.”

Example: That stupid fucking asshole nearly hit that Vespa, Tesla and row of pedestrians with his Seattle left turn.

Wearables

For as much potential as it has, I was still a bit disappointed that Apple’s “one more thing” was a watch. Fast Company is here to sate my ambitions:

Mark Rolston used to be CCO at Frog Design. Now he runs his new consultancy, Argodesign. And as part of our Wearables Week, his firm generated a series of concepts based upon our simple mandate: No watches.

The results are worth checking out, even if they don’t have as much mass-market appeal as a watch (or maybe because they don’t). I especially like the Snapchat IRL.

NYT Cooking

The New York Times Cooking website and iPad app launched today, and if you like food, they’re worth checking out. I’ve been using the beta website for a while now and branching out in my cooking as a result.

There’s also (naturally because this is 2014) a newsletter. The writing tends to be a bit repetitive, but once in a while there’s a gem like this:

It’s amazing what we’re finding in the far reaches of our recipe archive here at NYT Cooking. Most recently, this recipe for a chicken cooked in a watermelon. Yes, you read that right. “A recipe made for Instagram,” said one of our editors. Pete Wells, the restaurant critic, chimed in as well. “It’s a good start, but I think we need to put a cantaloupe inside the chicken and then put the watermelon inside a Mini Cooper,” he said. “Roast 12 hours then drive it into the dining room.”

But this bit really sums up why you’ll enjoy getting the thrice-weekly curation of recipes in your inbox:

Time was, a dad like me would head out to the garage on a Saturday morning, get to work on the old Trans Am or build a house to lure purple martins to the back stretch of lawn. Now it’s all I can do to not start cooking something on Friday in advance of a bunch of people coming over for Sunday supper. Maybe tonight’s the night for Ian Fisher’s version of Marc Vetri’s three-day guanciale, for a spaghetti carbonara fix at the end of the weekend?

Cooking is a hobby now, for many of us, not unlike golf or stamp collecting. It is what we live to do after work, what takes us out of ourselves and allows us to create. Some people assemble scrapbooks. Others knit or collect license plates. If you’re reading this newsletter, you probably cook.

Never read the comments

Remember when we all thought requiring some sort of verified identity like a Facebook profile would clean up the cesspool that is Internet comments?

Well I guess we all overestimated asshats like Col. Dan C Reinhardt:

Col Dan C Reinhardt

Do yourself a favor: never read the comments.

Supreme misunderstanding

Lawrence Hurley writing for Reuters back in May:

One U.S. Supreme Court justice referred to Netflix as “Netflick.” Another seemed not to know that HBO is a cable channel. A third appeared to think most software coding could be tossed off in a mere weekend.

Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia today asked consumers to write congress to change the law to make the company’s operations legal. Relying on one group of out-of-touch tech-illiterates to save them from another.

E-mail not blogging

Dan Hon, whose newsletter (yes, newsletter) is often full of great thoughts, pretty much sums up the history of writing on the Internet:

One of the reasons — and I hear this concern from others, who have similarly stopped writing online — is that: man, is there so much writing online these days. Oodles of it. It’s almost as if we were at risk of using the internet to commune with each other and then some supreme being like Ev Williams decided: No! You shall not speak person unto person! Instead I will give publishing tools to each and every one of you so that you may all speak and never listen to each other! And then we will invent *comments*, which were like a proto-form of YouTube comments only they weren’t quite as nonsensical and not quite as mean (apart from some of them), and then, just to confuse you, we will invent *trackbacks* and then someone will have to come up with rel=nofollow and then we will all use Blogger for a bit and then it will be bought by Google and then we’ll use Movable Type for a bit and then some of us will use Blosxom and then some of us will use WordPress and then some of us will just give up and use Tumblr and then just when we think we have it all sorted out Ev will go and invent Twitter and then we’ll all truly be fucked because who has the time to write medium/long-form content on the internet anymore when you have to spend the whole day being witty in 140 characters and pretending you’re in an episode of the West Wing.

I’d like to say this is the reason I don’t blog as much as I’d like, but really it’s just the (undiagnosed) ADHD.

45 days for one tweet

Aaron Taube writing for a shitty website (but hey, even shitty websites publish something interesting once in a while):

Shortly after the initial meeting, Lindsay met with a copywriter and graphic designer to brainstorm tweet ideas for the next month. It was then that the copywriter suggested a tweet centered on the idea that Camembert, a French cheese popular during the spring, was best served at room temperature.

The article reads like satire, but this bullshit actually happens — it was one of the reasons I did not last long working in social media at an agency, as well as the fact that I was embarrassed to explain to people what I did for a living. Not everyone is embarrassed though:

“I think that if people give you a hard time for it, it’s really because they’re more jealous that they don’t have a fun job.”

The Sherpas

The avalanche that killed 16 Sherpas on Mount Everest last week, which took the title of deadliest incident there from the events of 1996 that were chronicled in Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air, has put an end to this year’s climbing season on the Nepal side of the mountain.

It seems no surprise to anyone that such a tragedy happened, given the well-documented, deteriorating conditions on Everest. As those conditions have worsened, the Sherpas have borne the brunt of the increased risk.

Despite the raft of millionaires hanging around base camp, as Grayson Schaffer wrote in Outside last year, the Sherpas are poorly compensate and badly insured:

Since passage of the 2002 Tourism Act Amendment, Nepal’s Ministry of Tourism and Aviation has required all local trekking agents to purchase rescue and life insurance for their porters. Sherpas working above Base Camp need at least $4,600 in death coverage and $575 in medical, while low-altitude porters must be insured at $3,500. Each expedition must also cover its Sherpas with, collectively, at least $4,000 in rescue insurance.

Still, it doesn’t take long to discover how inadequate most of these measures really are. While training is significant, no amount of practice inoculates Sherpas from the increased exposure to risk they’re asked to take on in the mountains. Walking through the Khumbu Icefall, a shifting glacier with the constant threat of calving, is considered so dangerous that some outfitters acclimatize their clients on neighboring peaks to avoid traveling through it. In a typical season, a climbing Sherpa might make a dozen round-trips through this area, some earning a bonus for each extra lap. Guides and clients usually make between two and four.

When it comes to rescue insurance, the $4,000 coverage is almost meaningless. High-altitude helicopter rescues, which became routine starting in 2011, have drastically increased the chances of surviving an accident above Camp II. They also cost $15,000 each—more than three times what the required insurance will cover. That gap has already led to embarrassing problems.

In 2012, Summit Climb Sherpa Lakpa Nuru was beaned by a falling rock on the Lhotse Face and lay bleeding and semiconscious at Camp II. Meanwhile his expedition leader, Arnold Coster, haggled with Summit Climb’s in-country trekking agent, Everest Parivar Expeditions, over a medevac’s $15,000 price tag. About a half-hour into the negotiation, Rainier Mountaineering guide Dave Hahn came over the radio from Camp II urging other expeditions in Base Camp to take up a collection before the rescue became a body recovery.

Also worth reading is T.R. Reid’s 2003 profile of the Sherpas in National Geographic.

This isn’t the Doug Hamlin you’re looking for

Once upon a time, the front page of this site, doughamlin.com, featured a short, not terribly witty blurb naming several occupations I do not hold. Those occupations were culled from the resumes of and news bits about other people named Doug Hamlin.

A few days back, while going through my occasional routine of checking up on activity around my various social network accounts, I noticed something unusual: every person listed on my LinkedIn “who’s viewed your profile” page was apparently employed by the National Rifle Association.

Strange, I thought, but more likely a glitch than something to actually be worried about.

Well, mystery solved.

Early this morning, Google Alerts (which apparently still exists) sent me an e-mail about this article on Guns.com (which apparently is a real website).

It seems someone, who is not me, has decided to sully my good name by becoming a prominent employee of the National Rifle Association, which, I believe, is one of the most cancerous organizations on American society today.

So, for the record, let me state that I believe in reasonable gun rights, but I also believe that the Second Amendment does not deserve some sort of extraordinary treatment that the rest of the Constitution is not privy to. I do not believe the American public should be terrorized (and that is what it is) without recourse because of the whims of a vocal and influential minority.

If you are looking for a scoundrel Doug Hamlin, I am not he. But, please, when you find him, give him hell.