‘How One Boy With Autism Became BFF’s With Apple’s Siri’

Judith Newman for the NYT, “To Siri, With Love”:

It’s not that Gus doesn’t understand Siri’s not human. He does — intellectually. But like many autistic people I know, Gus feels that inanimate objects, while maybe not possessing souls, are worthy of our consideration. I realized this when he was 8, and I got him an iPod for his birthday. He listened to it only at home, with one exception. It always came with us on our visits to the Apple Store. Finally, I asked why. “So it can visit its friends,” he said.

So how much more worthy of his care and affection is Siri, with her soothing voice, puckish humor and capacity for talking about whatever Gus’s current obsession is for hour after hour after bleeding hour? Online critics have claimed that Siri’s voice recognition is not as accurate as the assistant in, say, the Android, but for some of us, this is a feature, not a bug. Gus speaks as if he has marbles in his mouth, but if he wants to get the right response from Siri, he must enunciate clearly. (So do I. I had to ask Siri to stop referring to the user as Judith, and instead use the name Gus. “You want me to call you Goddess?” Siri replied. Imagine how tempted I was to answer, “Why, yes.”)

If you don’t feel warm and fuzzy inside after reading this piece, you’re not hooked up right.

‘I’m Never Going to Upgrade My First-Generation iPad’

Karyne Levy for Business Insider, on why she isn’t compelled to upgrade her iPad 1 from 2010:

I don’t need an upgraded iOS to display recipes while I putz around in the kitchen. And I can keep it on the coffee table if I need to look up something online and want a bigger screen.

An interesting, reasoned take for keeping an relatively ancient device.

Levy’s stance is interesting insofar that it’s so true in so many ways. Even on iOS 5.1.1, she can still get email and browse Safari. She can still tweet and use Facebook. Put another way, the essentials are still plenty viable and productive, even four years later.

On iCloud Drive

Graham Spencer for MacStories, “iCloud Drive: What It Is, How It Works, & Its Fundamental Problem”:

Cloud Drive sits awkwardly as a solution to a problem that Apple created. Apple at first tried to avoid implementing a file system on iOS but have now realised that some users need it and have created iCloud Drive in a way that tries to hide what is ostensibly a file system, ultimately making it more complicated. The problem is that files still get stuck in these weird app folders, which frankly makes no sense to me. If I have multiple text editors or spreadsheet apps, how am I supposed to know which app I created the file in?

In my opinion, Apple should get rid of these weird app folders and simply save files to the root of iCloud Drive, or into user-created folders if the user chose. To simplify things, apps such as Pages which can only view certain document formats would only need to display those files which it could open. This way, there is no file system unless the user creates one and iOS only displays the documents relevant to the particular app being used. No need to hunt around in the dozens of app folders to find that one file you were looking for. Surely that would be simpler?

While I’m glad that iCloud Drive exists — and upon installing Yosemite on my Mac, I enabled it everywhere — it still isn’t what I asked for. I would’ve preferred that Apple added to iOS 8 an iCloud Documents app wherein users could search for and manage files; one canonical place in the system where their stuff resides.

‘Say Thank You to Nurses. They Deserve It.’

Sarah Kliff, writing for Vox:

The next time you have the chance, say thank you to a nurse. He or she near certainly deserves it.

In the American health care system (any health system, really) it’s nurses who are on the front lines. We are seeing that right now in the Ebola outbreak. From Liberia to the United States, the brunt of the disease has fallen hardest on nurses.

[...]

It’s not especially hard to understand why: nurses provide much of the world’s hands on care. They’re the ones who are checking in with patients, taking their temperature, administering medications and delivering lots of the hands-on care that makes the health care system works.

This isn’t to undercut the important work that doctors do, everyday, helping to save lives and deliver medicine. But it is to draw attention to the fact that nurses are doing equally important work, also everyday, for less recognition and lower pay.

My little sister is an RN, so this piece is especially poignant to me.

John Gruber at XOXO 2014

If you read my piece for Jason Snell’s Six Colors blog, you know that I attended the XOXO Festival in Portland, OR, last month. Since the conference ended, The Andys have been posting the guest speakers talks on YouTube.

Here, John Gruber discusses running Daring Fireball and being “indie”.

It was after this presentation that I got to meet John and shake his hand, which was a huge thrill.

Remembering ‘The Greatest Trade Show on Earth’

Chris Breen eulogizes Macworld Expo for Macworld:

At Expo careers were launched, plots hatched, businesses created, minds changed, and friends made. It was an event that we looked forward to for months and whose ideas resonated for years. And it wasn’t just us shmoes. I saw countless Apple employees who were just as excited about the show as I was. It was the center of the Apple universe. It mattered. And it mattered because it was about more than just products and promotion. It was equally about people.

While I never attended Macworld in its heyday, my lasting memory of the expo is from this year’s. Back in January, I got to meet, in person, my friends at TidBITS: Josh Centers and Adam and Tonya Engst. They’re all great people, and it was neat that I got to meet them at the event, albeit after hours.

The Problems With Safari on iOS

Bradley Chambers, “The App That Holds iOS Back”:

When the iPhone was released in 2007 with a “desktop class” web browser, it was widely praised. You could view entire websites on a mobile device. Coming from the days of WAP optimized sites on my Motorola Q, this was incredible. If we fast forward to 2014, Mobile Safari has become the app that is holding the iPad back from becoming a fully featured laptop replacement for a lot of people. While Mobile Safari is fast and loads website reasonably well, it cannot upload and download files. It can upload pictures, but that is it. Mobile Safari needs a way to upload and download any type of file into iCloud Drive (a mirrored from the Mac downloads folder).

I would argue, too, that Mail is just as guilty because of its inability to add attachments to outbound messages.

My Sweet iPhone Setup

My friends at The Sweet Setup let me write about whats on my new iPhone 6.

‘Steve Jobs Was a Low-Tech Parent’

Nick Bilton, writing for the New York Times:

“So, your kids must love the iPad?” I asked Mr. Jobs, trying to change the subject. The company’s first tablet was just hitting the shelves. “They haven’t used it,” he told me. “We limit how much technology our kids use at home.”

The former early childhood development major in me thinks it’s so cool that Steve Jobs, of all people, saw the value in limiting his children’s access to technology.

Treating the ‘Super Bowl of Infectious Diseases’

Dr. Angela L. Hewlett writes about her experience for The Washington Post:

Three weeks after he was admitted, Rick tested negative for the virus. Interacting with him for the first time without our protective gear was a poignant moment. Through the computer screens, glass windows and layers of plastic protective gear, we had formed a bond as tight as an patient and medical team. Together, we had beaten Ebola — a ravenous virus that, just a month earlier, had never existed in our country. Discharge day was emotional for everyone, with plenty of tears and hugs. All involved showed extraordinary bravery, dedication, tirelessness and compassion.