Posting Anything from Anywhere

Back when I was trying to make The Daily Newarker happen (which went about as successfully as trying to make “fetch” happen), I was trying to find clever ways to fit writing for the internet into the interstices of the day.

Please stop trying, I’m embarrassed for the both of us | Giphy

In 2008, my “smartphone” was a Blackberry Pearl 8100. Laughable by today’s standards, sure, but back then the pocketable, candy-bar shaped device felt sprightly and capable. The pearlescent little trackball in the center of the device for which it was named was a fun and useful way to zip the cursor around and edit large blocks of text. With it, I was able to browse through the morning’s news, copy links and quotes, tap out some commentary, paste the whole post into a web form and click Publish.

Discover, comment, publish—all while riding the Path train from Newark to Wall Street. I even made a game of seeing how many links I could post before the train slipped under the Hudson River and out of cellular reach before resurfacing in the World Trade Center.

This is what we thought the future looked like | RIM

When I transitioned to using an iPhone 3G the following year, this whole workflow was lost—writing text without cut/copy/paste meant I could never take the critical step of editing afterward. But after Steve Jobs strode on stage and foisted our touchscreen future upon us, there was no going back—all those clicky plastic keys seemed ancient by comparison.

“Are you getting it?!” | Daring Fireball

Cut/copy/paste did arrive two years later, but it would still take an additional six years before the iPhone 6s shipped with 3D Touch, a feature that (finally!) could turn the iPhone keyboard into a trackpad to move the cursor around the screen. Despite its usefulness, the feature remains so laughably undiscoverable that it still amazes friends and family when I show them how to use it.

All cursor, no trackball | AddictiveTips

So, finally, in 2019, blogging from a mobile device is starting to feel like a good idea again. Even better, the WordPress app for mobile has make blogging feel even more natural than the kludgey process I had strung together on the Blackberry.

Brings tears to my eyes… | WordPress

And just his past week, one last piece of the workflow snapped into place: drafting a blog from anywhere with a tap of the share sheet. In a brief exchange with the @wordpress twitter account, I discovered just how to do this.

And just like that, I can return to that old process of discover, comment, publish I knew so well ten years ago—all from the device in my pocket.

I think I’ll celebrate by blogging like it’s 2009…


Apple Form Factors

M.G. Siegler is revisiting the idea of an iPhone mini:

It’s sort of amazing for a few reasons, actually. First, ever since the dawn of the original iPhone, people have been clamoring for an “iPhone mini” or “iPhone nano”. This, despite that fact that looking at it now, that original iPhone is tiny. A 3.5-inch screen! The screen on my iPhone XS Max is 6.5-inches! As it turns out, Apple did make an “iPhone nano”, they just made it in hindsight…

I happily purchased the iPhone SE in 2016 when Apple re-launched their 4-inch smartphone with a then-current processor and upgraded storage, but nearly three years later, there’s no replacing it with a similarly sized model. I also miss the iPad mini, which I loved when it came out, but hasn’t been refreshed since 2015 — though a fifth iteration is rumored to come out again sometime this year.

I don’t know what draws me so much to these smaller devices, but I always love smaller tech — it feels less unweidly, easier to use.  Today I have no iPad and an iPhone X because I was on the couch using my iPhone SE and realized I wanted a bigger screen, an iPad for my pocket.  Since Apple doesn’t offer an iPad mini anymore, that meant a big iPhone.  And it’s always just a little too small for reading and light productivity, and a little too big for quick photography and one-handed texts.

MG links to a fellow who posted these mock-ups of an iPhone lineup that sizes “small, medium, and large” or “mini, iPhone, Max.”

The product marketing is clean and simple, but I suspect that Apple has entered a season where the measure by which they prioritize products (margins? units? high value purchasers?) is going to prevent the resurgence of small devices in the near future.

Not that these devices have to be “cheap,” but because I suspect they’re hard to price with thicker margins and sell effectively.  I’d happily spend some $800 on an edge-to-edge iPhone mini, but I think I’m in the minority.

Ben Thompson, on Stratechery (emphasis mine):

There is, of course, the question of cannibalism: if the XR is so great, why spend $250 more on an XS, or $350 more for the giant XS Max? This is where the iPhone X lesson matters. Last year’s iPhone 8 was a great phone too, with the same A11 processor as the iPhone X, a high quality LCD screen like the iPhone XR, and a premium aluminum-and-glass case (and 3D Touch!). It also had Touch ID and a more familiar interface, both arguably advantages in their own right, and the Plus size that so many people preferred.

It didn’t matter: Apple’s best customers, not just those who buy an iPhone every year, but also those whose only two alternatives are “my current once-flagship iPhone” or “the new flagship iPhone” are motivated first-and-foremost by having the best; price is a secondary concern. That is why the iPhone X was the best-selling smartphone, and the iPhone 8 — which launched two months before the iPhone X — a footnote.

Prioritizing the right product is, as I’m coming to understand in my professional life, not a trivial undertaking.  And the passionate minority of small phone-preferring customers, of which Seigler and I seem to be a part, appears to be just not a big enough opportunity for Apple to service.


The Best Tablet Computer Ever Made

I added a Sketchcase dry erase marker cover to the top of my laptop this week. This feels like a great place to brag about it. Given the 2015 MacBook Pro is, arguably, the best laptop ever made, the Sketchcase has transformed my laptop into the best tablet computer ever made.

I’ve been so pleased with the fit and finish of the Sketchcase—it’s not exactly Apple-y, but it is very nice. The white surface is a close match to the MacBook charger and a bit of a throwback to the days when Apple sold a white polycarbonate laptop (a machine I longed for when it debuted in 2006). The Sketchcase shipped with two Expo dry erase gone tip markers (like these, but only black and red). They write smoothly and are well-weighed, but some sort of pocket clip would be handy.

The Sketchcase clings to the lid of the laptop without glue or sticky adhesive, so it is removable. I placed it over top of another sticker cut out in the shape of our company logo. The company logo shines through both the sticker and the Sketchcase in a ghostly white, which is fun and looks good in the dark.

Today was my first real-world test of my new tablet computer. I sat with a fellow analyst to talk shop about a business problem and within five minutes, she reached for the pen to start sketching. It was refreshingly simple to have a whiteboard so close at hand in our sit-down cafe meeting. In a few minutes, we came to a mutual understanding of our business problem, no paper required.

Sketchcase is available for $25 from their website.