On Robin Williams and Mental Illness

Rebecca Ruiz for Mashable, “Finally, We’re Talking About Mental Illness Like Adults”:

For some, Williams’ death has served as a painful trigger and reminder of their own struggles. Those emotions only intensified on Tuesday when the coroner assigned to the case released graphic details about the nature of Williams’ suicide. Many believed this unnecessary information tested the public’s breaking point regarding Williams’ death.

Like the rest of the world, I was shocked and saddened by the news of Williams’s suicide. And, as the above passage alludes to, his death brought back memories of my own struggle. I’ve come such a long way in the last year and a half that I no longer classify myself as depressive. Instead, I just try my hardest to push ahead through every day, accentuating every positive thing in my life now.

As for mental illness overall, I’m so glad that so many are fighting the stigma of depression. It really is an illness, and more should recognize it as such. This goes doubly for insurance companies, who really should amend their coverage policies so that treatment for, say, depression is fully covered.

‘Take Control of Podcasting On the Mac’ Reviewed

Elisa Pacelli, writing for MyMac.com:

Andy Affleck uses simple language in Take Control of Podcasting On The Mac that doesn’t go over the head of the reader who’s unfamiliar with the subject, yet is still relevant to the more experienced reader. If you’re currently podcasting and happy with your set up and process, this book may not be for you. If, however, you’re new to podcasting or are thinking about starting one, or you’d just like a handy reference, Take Control of Podcasting On The Mac is a very helpful resource.

‘Twitter Reveals 23M of Its Active Accounts Are Bots’

Lance Whitney, reporting for CNET:

Almost 9 percent of active Twitter user accounts don’t necessarily have real users behind them.

In a new filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, the microblogging site revealed that in the three months ended June 30, around 8.5 percent of its active accounts used third-party apps that may have posted regular updates without any action on the part of an actual person. This means among the 271 million active Twitter accounts in total, around 23 million are bots, or automated accounts.

I’ve lost count at how many times a spambot account replies to one of my tweets or follows me. It seems to me that a majority of my followers are spammers, and it’s infuriating. Twitter really should be more vigilant in looking out for these types of accounts, and take steps to eradicate them.

Inside Apple University

Brian X. Chen, in a profile of Apple University for The New York Times:.

Unlike many corporations, Apple runs its training in-house, year round. The full-time faculty — including instructors, writers and editors — create and teach the courses. Some faculty members come from universities like Yale; Harvard; the University of California, Berkeley; Stanford; and M.I.T., and some continue to hold positions at their schools while working for Apple.

The program was devised by Joel Podolny, then the dean of Yale School of Management. Mr. Jobs selected him when the program was founded, in 2008, and he remains head of the effort.

On an internal website available only to Apple staff members, employees sign up for courses tailored to their positions and backgrounds. For example, one class taught founders of recently acquired companies how to smoothly blend resources and talents into Apple. The company may also offer a course tailored specifically to employees of Beats, perhaps including its founders, Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine. Neither Apple nor Beats would comment.

As John Gruber says, it’s very cool that Chen was able to get a few sources to talk (off the record, obviously) about Apple U. I’ve always been interested in learning how the company indoctrinates new employees on the “Apple Way”. Thus, an insightful piece here.

On the Jets, iPads, and Their Last Super Bowl Win

Brian Costello, reporting for the New York Post:

Like many teams, the Jets have switched to digital playbooks on their iPads. Players must enter a passcode to gain access.

The passcode? 1-9-6-9. As in 1969, the last time the Jets won it all.

“It’s just something to remember — 1969 is the last time this team was perfect,” defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson said. “That’s a long time ago.”

However motivational, 1-9-6-9 isn’t a very secure passcode. They should switch to a longer one.

‘Bad Call’

Fritz Huber for The Paris Review, on TV sports commentators in the US:

After a prolonged TV spectacle like college football’s Bowl Week (whose contests last year included the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl and the Taxslayer.com Bowl, the latter being only a slight improvement on the all-time most absurd Galleryfurniture.com Bowl), watching English Premiership matches or Six Nations rugby on BBC feels like a cultural upgrade. There’s less advertising. There’s less analysis of bullshit statistics (“Headed into this matchup, the Kentucky Wildcats are 11-3 in games played within four days of their coach’s annual colonoscopy”). And, on British television, the commentators’ linguistic repertoires don’t feel as inhibited; there’s more room for an occasional flourish. Why can’t we have a color analyst like Ray Hudson, who, in his exuberance, will announce that we’ve just witnessed “a Bernini sculpture of a goal,” or claim that watching Lionel Messi “softens the hard corners of our lives”?

A really good piece, as it parallels my thoughts on sports telecasts nowadays. I feel networks (ESPN in particular) and on-air talent bend over backwards to compliment and praise teams/players. Everything is a positive spin; nary a critical word is spoken. It’s as though people are afraid to offend by using “bad” or “mediocre” in their analysis, for such language could cost them relationships and future interviews. In short, I think it’s bad journalism, because I think it lacks objectivity and honesty: not every player and/or team is a good one. Why not just say so?

(via Daring Fireball)

On the Facebook Messenger Shitshow

Molly Wood for the NYT, “Facebook Messenger Switch Controversy Is Part Misunderstanding, Part Mistrust”:

But Facebook users believe they’re being forced to switch to a separate app to chat with their contacts. And they do not appear pleased. Messenger has a one-star rating from customers using it on the iPhone, with almost 6,422 reviews, from the last few days, as well as pages of negative reviews of the Android version.

[...]

The app does take some liberties compared with other messaging apps, although reading any app’s permissions is likely to give you pause. Messenger asks for access to your contacts, location, text messages, camera and microphone and more. And when you install it, its first request is to sync with the contacts on your phone.

Good piece explaining the brouhaha over the change.

I have Facebook Messenger on my phone, but declined every request for contact data, etc. I don’t get many private messages on Facebook anyway. My girlfriend, on the other hand, heard about the permissions and immediately asked me to delete the app from her iPhone 4S. She wants no part of it, and I can’t say that I blame her.

See also: Phil Nickinson’s story on this for Android Central.

‘Microsoft Has Lost About $1.7 Billion on Surface So Far’

Gregg Keizer, reporting for CITEworld:

Microsoft continued to lose money on its Surface tablets throughout its just-concluded 2014 fiscal year, adding hundreds of millions of dollars in red ink and boosting total losses to $1.7 billion since the device’s 2012 launch.

According to the 8-K statement filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on July 22, the Surface posted revenue of $409 million for the quarter that ended June 30. But unlike the two quarters prior, Microsoft did not reveal the cost of revenue associated with the Surface for the period.

Microsoft’s ad campaign for the Surface seems to be working out really well.

Myself, I like Ben Thompson’s advice for Microsoft: pull the plug on it.

(via John Gruber)

On Women in Tech

Brianna Wu for Macworld, “Integrating Women Into the Apple Community”:

You can tell the health of a community by looking at its culture. Largely, I’d say that the members of Apple’s development community are aware and respectful of women’s issues—but when it comes to implementing change, it’s still a mixed bag. Chances are, if you’re listening to an Apple hobbyist or development podcast, reading a review of a development product, or reading a website about development issues, you are not hearing from women.

Brianna is a vocal advocate of women in tech, and this piece is a great representation of her voice.

I see a lot of parallels in the work Brianna does for women and the work I do for the accessibility community. She and I really are different sides of the same coin, insofar that we’re both strong advocates for our respective minorities. Speaking from my own perspective, I’ve had to fight my entire life for every ounce of recognition I’ve ever received — and it continues to this day with my freelance work. It’s a tough, uphill battle, but folks like Brianna and myself will never stop fighting the good fight. Our causes are too important to the Apple community — and to society at-large as well.

Jack Nicklaus: Tiger Can Still Break My Majors Record

Joe Posnanski, writing for GolfChannel.com:

“I think the guy is just too good,” he said. “I don’t know what is happening between his ears right now … somebody said the other day that they think he has the yips with the driver, and I think that is a pretty good assessment. I had never heard of that, but if you get it in your head that you can’t hit a driver in the fairway, you aren’t going to hit it in the fairway very much.

“Still, I thought that his swing in the first round of the British Open was very good. I thought he came back, and it was much more level, I thought his tempo was much better. … I just think he’s too talented, too focused, to not do it.”

There’s no doubting Tiger’s talent, but I think his best days are behind him. Whatever the cause(s), Tiger just isn’t the same golfer he was 5, 10 years ago. At his peak, I thought he could break Nicklaus’s record, but not now.