Why do I like Daring Fireball so much?

 

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I used to follow a lot of blogs in the early 2000s—blogs about music, design, politics, and/or tech. Now there’s only one I check regularly: Daring Fireball.

It’s a super-popular site about Apple and related tech topics, penned by Philadelphia-area writer and developer John Gruber. It recently occurred to me that I have no rational reason for following it so closely; I check it multiple times at work during the day, and it’s one of the few feeds I look at when I open Unread.

If you’ve never heard of Daring Fireball (DF), take a look. Gruber typically posts in-depth reviews of new Apple products, good software, political rants, and rants about Apple.

I came up with a few reasons I’m addicted to DF.

1. DF is just a guy.
Gruber has no gatekeeper. No one tells him what’s off limits or that he shouldn’t alienate republican readers. It’s just a guy and a Movable Type-powered blog. DF is refreshingly simple.

2. He’s honest.
Gruber tells it like it is. While his sensibilites typically align with the those who design Apple products, he calls them out on their bullshit, too. He admits when he’s wrong and helps you learn from it. He’s not towing anybody’s line. (See also: #1.)

3. He’s funny.
Sarcastic, to be precise.

4. He’s successful.
From what I can tell, he makes a damn good living off his blog. That’s just cool, and can serve as inspiration/a template for other writers.

5. He’s a good writer.
Gruber is direct and communicates in a brief and concise way. He truly respects readers’ time. If an article he quotes speaks for itself, he doesn’t add anything. He doesn’t have to.

6. He’s right.
I usually agree with Gruber—particularly on issues like Facebook, AmazonGoogle, and Apple’s stance on privacy. He dispels myths, and his Apple predictions are usually spot-on. He helps me understand the most successful businesses on the planet.

7. The content.
He points me to interesting things.

8. The design.
The design of DF never changes and the ads are unobtrusive, something he writes about.

9. I like Apple stuff.
They prioritize the same things I do: simplicity, privacy, design, and usability. Their stuff is well-made, and lasts far longer than most tech products I’ve ever used. I like hanging on to a phone or a laptop for a few years, and I think that’s how it should be.

If you like Apple stuff, like I do, DF is the only blog worth following. His reviews are great. He doesn’t post rumors that will waste your time. His analysis is spot-on.

I think you can learn a lot from thinking about why you like the things you do, and to make an effort to be aware of your opinions and things you naturally gravitate toward. So if there’s a point to this post, that’s it.

On That Jony Ive Piece You’ve Already Read

This piece deserves all the attention it’s been getting this week. It’s full of amazing bits of prose like:

Ive’s career sometimes suggests the movements of a man who, engrossed in a furrowed, deferential conversation, somehow backs onto a throne.

and:

I asked Jeff Williams, the senior vice-president, if the Apple Watch seemed more purely Ive’s than previous company products. After a silence of twenty-five seconds, during which Apple made fifty thousand dollars in profit, he said, “Yes.”

And this part resonates with me a lot. We do need more people who care about what they do.

We were in the fast lane of I-280, in squinting low sunshine. When I asked for examples of design carelessness, Ive cranked the conversation back to Apple. He has the discipline to avoid most indiscretions, but not always the facility to disguise the effort. “At the risk of sounding terribly sentimental, I do think one of the things that just compel us is that we have this sense that, in some way, by caring, we’re actually serving humanity,” he said. “People might think it’s a stupid belief, but it’s a goal—it’s a contribution that we can hope we can make, in some small way, to culture.”

Read it here {new yorker}.

NPR One

New today from NPR: a great new way to experience public radio. It’s called NPR One. Upon opening the app for the first time, one confirms their local NPR affiliate and presses play. If you like what you hear, tap the “Interesting” button. If not, skip it. (You can also teach the app what you like by searching for topics and shows you enjoy.)

The more you use the app, the more it will learn about your interests. And the whole thing looks gorgeous and works great.

I’ve been using NPR One for about an hour so far, and it’s already provided me with an interesting mix of stories ranging from local news to a story from the NPR archives about why mammals need sleep.

It functions in a manner similar to Swell, the podcast app Apple has just reportedly purchased {tech crunch}.

It seems like a very forward-thinking move for NPR. It fulfills an emerging trend analogous to the gradual switch in listener habits moving from listening to music on iPods to streaming it on Spotify. Why bother managing episodes on a podcast app when you can use a service like NPR One instead?

It’s also a great way to get exposed to local news and break free from the filter bubble.

An Act of Privacy

I’ve been creeped out and generally dismayed about Google for quite awhile now. They shut down popular services. They limit your potential to see interesting things via filter bubbles.

They distract us from their real intent (and real profit engine) with self-driving cars and floating internet balloons {npr}.

It seems their desire to learn everything about us so they can sell that information back to advertisers is limitless.

Enter Google Mine {an unofficial google blog}, a new service that wants to know everything you own and want to own:

Google Mine lets you share your belongings with your friends and keep up to date with what your friends are sharing. It enables you to control which of your Google+ Circles you share an item with. It also lets you rate and review the items, upload photos of them and share updates on the Google+ Stream where your friends get to see and comment on them.

Via {daring fireball}.

Like I said, I’ve been skeptical about Google and their true intentions before. But the recent NSA leaks have accelerated my desire to limit my digital footprint, especially the one I leave behind with Google.

I’ve been using DuckDuckGo for search instead of Google for a few months now. It takes some getting used to, but I rarely switch over to Google to find what I’m looking for now. And apparently I’m not the only one: DuckDuckGo has been experiencing a surge in traffic {npr} since the controversial NSA program was revealed.

I moved all my mail from Gmail to my own server. I suppose the NSA can still track my emails, but it’ll be more difficult now. Besides, Gmail is free because Google benefits from the data it hosts. My data.

I don’t have much information on Facebook nor do I use the service very often, and I plan on keeping it that way.

Then there’s Apple. Yes, they were implicated in the recent NSA revelations. But check out their statement on the matter:

Apple has always placed a priority on protecting our customers’ personal data, and we don’t collect or maintain a mountain of personal details about our customers in the first place. There are certain categories of information which we do not provide to law enforcement or any other group because we choose not to retain it.

For example, conversations which take place over iMessage and FaceTime are protected by end-to-end encryption so no one but the sender and receiver can see or read them. Apple cannot decrypt that data. Similarly, we do not store data related to customers’ location, Map searches or Siri requests in any identifiable form.

Apple is a company that makes money from selling us cool new stuff. Google and Facebook make money from our information.

I’m much more comfortable with the former.