Careful Tech

Careful Tech
Reflections on media, technology and authentic humanity.

112: The joy of not caring TOO much about your gadgets
Jun 2 • 4 min
There’s a certain joy in loving something, but not loving it too much. To being satisfied with “good enough” over “the absolute best.” That’s why I typically love the Wirecutter—it balances “great” against “practical.” But the site may have missed the…
111: How to make fan-free sports entertaining
May 21 • 7 min
If you remove the fans from the arena, you might lose the energy that makes the NHL playoffs worth watching. Here are some ideas for addressing this challenge. Video Game Coin sound effect by harrietniamh. Licensed under CC BY 3.0.
110: Disembarking from the gaming train
May 20 • 5 min
By the time I graduated from college, I had ignored gaming for a solid four years. An entire generation of consoles, including the first Xbox and the Gamecube, had come and gone—and barely registered a blip on my radar. Video Game Coin sound effect by…
109: “Picture in picture,” but for every iPad app
May 19 • 4 min
I’d love to be able to float widgets above my iPad apps. I’d love to be able to toss a timer into the corner and have it stay there. I want a persistent little sketch pad available for doodling on at any time. I want a ‘Now Playing’ doodad that will…
108: Why do so few podcasts include chapters?
May 18 • 6 min
Some of the longest-tenured and most popular podcasters don’t add chapters to their shows. Why not? Here are some reasons why podcasters eschew chapters (and why they might want to reconsider). Video Game Coin sound effect by harrietniamh. Licensed under…
107: AirPods Pro noise cancellation isn’t miraculous (and I can prove it)
May 14 • 4 min
I like the AirPods Pro; they’re an impressive extension of the original AirPods’ value case: easy, quick, convenient. But don’t fool yourself; noise cancellation on the AirPods Pro isn’t miraculous—or even really all that impressive! Video Game Coin sound…
106: Keeping your Spotify recommendations pure
May 13 • 3 min
If I logged into the Echo using my own Spotify account, my recommendations would soon be overrun with Disney songs and obscure 80s pop music. Video Game Coin sound effect by harrietniamh. Licensed under CC BY 3.0.
105: A standalone Apple Watch to break bad iPhone habits?
May 12 • 8 min
The Watch, by being less capable, ironically offers a more fulfilling computing experience, by constantly bouncing us back into the real world and towards more fulfilling experiences. Video Game Coin sound effect by harrietniamh. Licensed under CC BY 3.0.
104: iPad Multitasking Keyboard Shortcuts
May 11 • 6 min
There’s still no way to enable split screen mode from an external keyboard, even now, after the release of the Magic Keyboard. Video Game Coin sound effect by harrietniamh. Licensed under CC BY 3.0.
103: Nowhere to look (Zoom calls are pointless)
May 6 • 4 min
Where do you look awhen you’re Zooming (or Skyping or FaceTiming)? Either you’re looking at the other person, you’re looking at the thumbnail of yourself, or you’re looking at the camera. Each one of these has intrinsic, fundamental problems. Kate Murphy:…
102: Bargain FOMO (or why I won’t try Ulysses as my text editor)
May 1 • 4 min
Does it bother you when you find out that others are paying a much cheaper price for the same product? Should it? Video Game Coin sound effect by harrietniamh. Licensed under CC BY 3.0.
101: Drag and drop for the iPhone?
Apr 30 • 3 min
The iPhone is nearly the iPad mini’s size. Why shouldn’t it get the best iPad features? Video Game Coin sound effect by harrietniamh. Licensed under CC BY 3.0.
100: Screen scratch zen
Apr 29 • 4 min
My Apple Watch has a scratch. But instead of ruminating on my own clutziness every time I see it, I’m borrowing an approach from my meditation practice. Video Game Coin sound effect by harrietniamh. Licensed under CC BY 3.0.
099: Just $349 to make my iPad… worse?
Apr 28 • 5 min
Does the Magic Keyboard case make the iPad worse… at being an iPad? ATP episode 375 Mike Rockwell’s review on Initial Charge Video Game Coin sound effect by harrietniamh. Licensed under CC BY 3.0.
098: Like butter scraped over too much bread
Apr 27 • 7 min
When I saw the trailer for the new Michael Jordan documentary, it was like I heard a cartoon record scratch sound. I was… unpleasantly surprised. The Last Dance trailer on YouTube Video Game Coin sound effect by harrietniamh. Licensed under CC BY 3.0.
097: iPhone mouse support
Apr 24 • 4 min
Did you know that you can use a Bluetooth mouse with your iPhone? It’s true, and it’s… weird. Video Game Coin sound effect by harrietniamh. Licensed under CC BY 3.0.
096: Is Apple buying product placements in virtual Broadway performances?
Apr 22 • 3 min
It’s really interesting how many pairs of AirPods show up on patched-together pandemic performances. A few examples: “Gaston” “We’re All in This Together” “Alexander Hamilton” Video Game Coin sound effect by harrietniamh. Licensed under CC BY 3.0.
095: Kids’ TV limits during COVID-19
Apr 21 • 6 min
COVID-19 has changed everything, and our parental approach is no exception. Since the coronavirus-imposed lockdown, we’ve grown far more liberal about allowing TV time, at least on the weekend. Video Game Coin sound effect by harrietniamh. Licensed under…
094: Second-hand impressions of the new Magic Keyboard
Apr 20 • 8 min
Over the weekend, the Magic Keyboard arrived for some customers in Asia. Here are my ‘second-hand’ impressions of their impressions. Impression videos: Video Game Coin…
093: Why I write “podcast scripts”
Apr 17 • 5 min
Um… (Why I write outlines before each podcast.) Short one today, and kind of a “back-of-house” focus. I thought it might be worthwhile to share a little bit about how the sausage gets made. My MO for creating this podcast each day. So different podcasters…
092: What’s the best-sized iPad Pro?
Apr 16 • 6 min
So which is the “One True iPad”? The 11-incher or the 12.9er? Josh Ginter: “One Week With the New 2020 iPad: Moving Back to Small” Greg Morris: “Moving to the Bigger iPad” Matt Birchler: “Big or Small iPad Pros?” Video Game Coin sound effect by…
091: Give Screen Time some teeth
Apr 15 • 5 min
Give me a more powerful weapon against time-wasting apps—something I can’t override with a four-digit passcode.
090: Rewarding yourself for online creativity
Apr 14 • 3 min
Give yourself a reward—a carrot to see you through the low-motivation, low-energy days. And, to reinforce the creative habit, choose a reward that matches the habit—something that will make your creative work easier, more fun, or more interesting.
089: The next step in iPad productivity
Apr 13 • 7 min
Now that Apple has added proper mouse cursor support to iPadOS, what’s keeping the iPad from competing more directly with PCs?
088: Praise for the Watchsmith app—and a suggestion for its future
Apr 10 • 8 min
This week, Apple Watch fans are buzzing about a new app from David Smith called Watchsmith, which allows you to customize your Watch face complications by time of day. It’s an amazing idea, well-implemented, but it got me thinking; what if Watchsmith…
087: What would make me buy a cellular Apple Watch?
Apr 9 • 6 min
If I had the cellular Apple Watch, I would at least feel safer while out for a run; I could call for help if I needed it. But that’s not enough to justify the extra cost.
086: Reviewing the consensus mid-range espresso machine
Apr 8 • 6 min
Even if this machine only lasts for three years, it will save me thousands of dollars.
085: You’re gonna scratch that Apple Watch
Apr 7 • 4 min
I have scratched the screen of every Apple Watch I’ve ever owned: Series 1, Series 3, Series 4, and, now, Series 5
084: Ordering groceries online during a pandemic
Apr 6 • 7 min
I felt silly, wearing my safety goggles and face mask. But I was determined to take COVID-19 seriously.
083: Podcasting from a full house with thin walls
Apr 3 • 3 min
I feel self-conscious when I’m recording. I don’t want others to hear me. Yes, I’m aware of the irony!
082: Building good technology-reinforced habits during COVID
Apr 2 • 8 min
Despite its many negative impacts, the pandemic may offer a good opportunity to revisit our daily habits and trajectory.
081: Master iPad text entry with this one weird trick
Mar 29 • 4 min
The swiping keyboard works with the Apple Pencil—in fact, it works a little bit BETTER with the Pencil than with your finger!
080: Videoconferencing from a treadmill desk
Mar 26 • 5 min
The biggest problem is the movement. When I’m treading, my head bobs—up and down and side to side—in the frame. It looks like I’m grooving to some inaudible, chill music.
079: Dreaming of iPad text entry via the Apple Pencil
Mar 20 • 5 min
Better late than never, right? Text entry via the Apple Pencil will make the iPad a more viable general-purpose computer, with or without a keyboard. Video Game Coin sound effect by harrietniamh. Licensed under CC BY 3.0.
078: What tech products will sell well during the pandemic?
Mar 19 • 4 min
Some companies may stand to benefit from the widespread cultural change caused by COVID-19.
077: COVID-19’s long-term impact on the movie theater industry
Mar 18 • 6 min
Once the public tastes first-run movies at home, will they want to come back to the local multiplex? Might COVID-19 accelerate the decline of the movie theatre and shift more entertainment to the living room?
076: Tips on working from home
Mar 16 • 8 min
As COVID-19 unexpectedly forces millions to work from home, I wanted to share some advice, as a long-time-remote worker.
075: The podcasting treadmill desk
Mar 13 • 6 min
Whatever the treadmill makers say, these things make a lot of NOISE.
074: Caught between computers
Nov 16, 2018 • 3 min
In terms of computing platforms, I‘ve been set adrift.
073: Smarter AirPods gestures
Nov 14, 2018 • 3 min
I’d like to see Apple add another setting to the AirPods’ “Double-tap on AirPod” options: “Single.”
072: iPad Pro first impressions
Nov 12, 2018 • 6 min
As I played with the devices, I realized that the 11-inch iPad Pro makes compromises in all the wrong places.
071: The $100 “iPad Pro”
Nov 5, 2018 • 5 min
I’m bummed to miss out on the hotness, but here’s the thing: I can meet these “needs” without dropping $1,200 on an iPad Pro, a Smart Keyboard, and an Apple Pencil. It simply requires some creativity—and some willingness to compromise.
070: The sorry state of meditation apps on the Apple Watch
Nov 1, 2018 • 8 min
The dearth of Apple Watch meditation apps may be a symptom of a deeper issue.
069: ISPs and deceptive billing
Oct 31, 2018 • 22 min
I’m sympathetic to our ISP’s sorry state, and I’m rooting for them to pull out of their apparent death spiral. I’m even willing to pay a bit more to help them survive. I’d just rather see them hike their rates honestly, instead of slipping in a bogus…
068: Debating an iPad Pro purchase
Oct 30, 2018 • 7 min
Debating an iPad Pro purchase
067: A long-time Windows power user switches to the Mac
Oct 29, 2018 • 10 min
Adopting macOS wasn’t quite what I expected—hardly the aesthetic epiphany promised in those old John Hodgman ads.
066: How much should Apple Watch cell service cost?
Oct 28, 2018 • 4 min
Why not just pony up for the cellular model? It costs too much!
065: Imagining external touchscreen support on the iPad Pro
Oct 28, 2018 • 12 min
I’d like to see the iPad Pro support external touchscreen displays—effectively turning a touch monitor into a giant iOS device.
064: My one big gripe about the new Apple Watch
Oct 25, 2018 • 4 min
Apple Watch Series 4 battery life • Voicemail intro • We are coming from the same place! • Outro
063: Tipping at the iPad cash register
Oct 19, 2018 • 3 min
The quintessential modern etiquette dilemma.
062: Is checking luggage a life hack?
Oct 18, 2018 • 3 min
By the time I’ve disembarked from the plane, stopped by the restroom, and found my assigned baggage claim area, my bag is often already there.
061: AirPods are everywhere (except for here)
Oct 17, 2018 • 3 min
AirPods have clearly broken through in a huge way—but you wouldn’t know that, walking around my neighborhood.
060: “Is anybody there? Does anybody care?”
Sep 19, 2018 • 3 min
Yes, I’d love a larger online audience, but would that really make me happier? Would strangers’ appreciation make me feel more loved or less isolated?
059: Apple Preorder Night (2018)
Sep 14, 2018 • 7 min
My mad, late-night preorder dance, with a twist.
058: Apple keynote guilt?
Sep 12, 2018 • 4 min
Geeks invest too much time and money in these Apple keynotes. But we’re not unique in our love of frivolous distraction from the “real world.”
057: Why are America’s playgrounds deserted?
Sep 10, 2018 • 6 min
Modern playgrounds are better than they’ve ever been. So what’s keeping the kids away?
056: These boots were made for treading
Sep 5, 2018 • 5 min
When I first cobbled together my treadmill desk back in 2014, building the desk itself wasn’t the hard part. The real trouble was my feet.
055: You already have everything you need
Aug 31, 2018 • 9 min
If we’re honest with ourselves, it’s not the tools that hold us back from creating stuff on the internet. The real obstacles to creative productivity? Low motivation and overcommitment.
054: Apple ditching 3D Touch? Good riddance.
Aug 28, 2018 • 6 min
If Apple ditches pressure sensitivity in the iPhone, I won’t mind.
053: Starbucks as your office
Aug 27, 2018 • 8 min
The work-at-a-coffee-shop experiment.
052: AirPods after 18 months
Jun 27, 2018 • 11 min
I’ve owned AirPods since soon after their release in late 2016. After a year and a half of daily use, I recorded some thoughts.
051: Best buy: on Facebook and Instagram
Jun 22, 2018 • 3 min
Many observers scoffed at the billion-dollar price that Facebook paid for Instagram. Who’s laughing now?
050: Does a treadmill desk make losing weight easier?
Jun 21, 2018 • 4 min
If I eat irresponsibly, I gain weight—no matter how far I walk.
049: Is it too late to switch to the Mac?
Jun 20, 2018 • 7 min
After a quarter-century using Windows, I’m finally getting a Macintosh. Did I wait too long?
048: Podcasting on the Run (Literally)
Jun 9, 2018 • 9 min
What would happen if you recorded a podcast WHILE running? Let’s find out!
047: My Favorite Black Friday Tradition
Nov 24, 2017 • 4 min
A few years ago, I surrendered any right to sneer at eager Black Friday shoppers.
046: The AppleCare Gamble
Nov 23, 2017 • 4 min
I’m betting on my own ability to prevent iPhone catastrophes.
045: Measuring magic
Nov 22, 2017 • 2 min
My sleep-tracking app is surprisingly accurate, and I enjoy peeking at the trend lines every once in a while. But I don’t actually do much with all that data.
044: Okay with Terrible
Nov 21, 2017 • 2 min
Publishing something imperfect, let alone something that’s genuinely bad, is difficult for me.
043: Portrait mode grossness
Nov 20, 2017 • 5 min
Even if the Portrait mode algorithms improve, I’d like to see some support for touching up problematic depth maps.
042: Irredeemably Brutal
Nov 17, 2017 • 4 min
Football is irredeemably brutal. A new test may help us confront that fact.
041: Never Unintentional
Nov 16, 2017 • 4 min
The internet has fundamentally changed my relationship to content. I won’t go back.
040: Smart Homes are Dumb
Nov 15, 2017 • 5 min
For basic home operations, rock-solid reliability is the only feature that matters.
039: Why Apple’s retail stores make me nervous
Nov 14, 2017 • 4 min
I grew up shopping in dingy, cavernous, fluorescent-lit warehouses. But Apple outlets resemble high-end, big-city fashion boutiques, more than they do those Rust Belt K-Marts of my youth.
038: Apple Watch as Shower Speaker
Nov 13, 2017 • 2 min
I want the Watch to show up as a system-wide audio target any time it’s connected to the phone—just like standalone Bluetooth speakers and headphones do.
037: Waiting for Podcasts on the Apple Watch
Nov 10, 2017 • 4 min
Users shouldn’t blame third-party for the Watch’s podcast unfriendliness. The real issue here? In the two-and-a-half years since the Watch first launched, Apple has dropped the ball on podcast support.
036: Inconspicuous Consumption
Nov 9, 2017 • 3 min
A device as expensive as the iPhone X serves as a negative status symbol in some circles.
035: Analytics be Darned
Nov 8, 2017 • 4 min
When I stop delighting in the work for its own sake, I soon stop working altogether. When I let website analytics or podcast download stats serve as my primary motivation, discouragement festers, and I soon stop writing. It’s happened a half-dozen times…
034: Never Not Connected
Nov 7, 2017 • 6 min
As I tally the hours, I’m struck by how much of my life is spent using gadgets.
033: iPhone X Delights & Gripes
Nov 6, 2017 • 11 min
On Friday afternoon, UPS dropped off a new toy. My thoughts after a weekend with the iPhone X.
032: Consumed with Media
Nov 3, 2017 • 5 min
How do your media habits compare to the average American’s?
031: Read-It-Never
Nov 2, 2017 • 2 min
Clicking ‘read later’ isn’t about bookmarking great content. Rather, it’s my way of ignoring how little great content I actually read.
030: Thoughts on Apple’s Fired Engineer
Nov 1, 2017 • 4 min
The vlogger probably wasn’t aiming to gain YouTube subscribers by sacrificing her father’s job. But that’s what happened.
029: iPhone X and the Apple “access economy”
Oct 31, 2017 • 5 min
The “Apple access economy” incentivizes problematic journalism.
028: iPhone X and hidden fiddly bits
Oct 30, 2017 • 4 min
Some future iPhone will inevitably ditch all ports and buttons, leaving only the touchscreen accessible to the end user. It will be beautiful, glossy—and permanently sealed.
027: iPhone X, ordered
Oct 27, 2017 • 5 min
Anecdotally, buying the X felt no different than previous iPhone preorder nights. In fact, it might have been the easiest preorder purchase I’ve ever made.
026: Trailers for Trailers
Oct 26, 2017 • 2 min
Many action-heavy trailers now begin with a stinger—a 4–5 second preview of the trailer’s most exciting scenes, stitched together with fast cuts and scored with a cacophany of rising sound effects. It’s literally a “trailer for the trailer.”
025: Hotel Wifi is the Worst
Oct 25, 2017 • 3 min
Funnily enough, the internet service gets worse as the hotel gets nicer.
024: Breathe Glitch
Oct 24, 2017 • 2 min
The “Breathe” animation on the Apple Watch has an annoying little hiccup. Once you see it, you can’t unsee it.
023: I’m a Bad Uber Rider
Oct 23, 2017 • 6 min
Why had Uber drivers given me bad ratings? I had thought I was a model rider.
022: Technophobes Fly, Too
Oct 20, 2017 • 3 min
The move away from shared screens on flights isn’t welcome for those who struggle with tech.
021: Adblock Guilt
Oct 19, 2017 • 3 min
Despite the crisis in web publishing, and despite publishers’ increasingly desperate pleas, I don’t feel guilty enough to turn off my ad blocker.
020: Only Monsters Speed Up Podcasts
Oct 18, 2017 • 4 min
Yes, accelerating playback may save you time, but it also has nasty side effects better left avoided.
019: Jerry Seinfeld is My Spirit Animal
Oct 17, 2017 • 3 min
How Jerry Seinfeld’s productivity mantra inspires me to blog and podcast daily.
018: Tribal Malfunction
Oct 16, 2017 • 4 min
Tech brand loyalty is a malfunction of our tribal programming, and it works against our own best interests.
017: Stealing My Attention
Oct 13, 2017 • 7 min
Tech distraction suppresses our agency, deadens our compassion, dulls our consciousness, and drowns out our sense of purpose. When distracted by our gadgets, we stop pursuing noble causes and instead squirrel away hours, chasing red badges and refreshed…
016: Trump Tremors
Oct 12, 2017 • 4 min
The election has thrown American society into slow-motion shock. The tech industry continues to convulse, too.
015: Memories vs. Math
Oct 11, 2017 • 4 min
If I buy an iPhone X, I’ll justify the $1,000+ price tag by pointing to its killer camera.
014: Facebook Escape
Oct 10, 2017 • 7 min
Quitting Facebook is hard. But a few simple steps made deleting my account feel anticlimactic.
013: Twitter Bankruptcy
Oct 9, 2017 • 4 min
Although it’s painful for a Twitter “completionist”, Twitter bankruptcy is good for the soul.
012: Make Something Wonderful
Oct 6, 2017 • 3 min
When I ignore my desire for affirmation and appreciation and instead simply focus on expressing something genuine, blogging and podcasting are much more fun.
011: Punching Down
Oct 5, 2017 • 2 min
The world’s most dominant technology firm doesn’t need an army of apologists, patrolling the Internet for proof that Apple was right.
010: The everyday annoyance of quitting Facebook
Oct 4, 2017 • 5 min
Facebook isn’t just “sticky” from a relationship perspective. There are also some practical annoyances that make it difficult to resist the blue behemoth.
009: Blaming violent video games
Oct 3, 2017 • 4 min
We happily steep ourselves in foul waters, then act surprised when monsters emerge from the depths.
008: Putting the iPhone’s expense in context
Oct 2, 2017 • 6 min
The iPhone X’s $1,000 price tag isn’t quite so hard to swallow when you consider the standalone gadgets that the device renders unnecessary.
007: Polite Mode
Sep 29, 2017 • 3 min
If our devices can encourage exercise and meditation habits, why shouldn’t they encourage polite social habits, as well?
006: Why the Apple Watch could replace the iPhone
Sep 28, 2017 • 6 min
It’s not difficult to imagine the iPhone being “eaten alive,” its role absorbed by devices at either end of the size spectrum: the iPad on the large side, the Watch on the small.
005: A Long Sentence, or a Short Paragraph?
Sep 27, 2017 • 4 min
Last night, Twitter began public testing of a long-rumored, controversial increase to its character limit, doubling the quota from 140 characters to 280. It’s the most significant change to the service since its debut over a decade ago—the difference…
002: ‘Planet of the Apps’ vs. ‘House of Cards’
Sep 22, 2017 • 3 min
What can other House of Cards and the Handmaid’s Tale tell us about Apple’s prospects in streaming video?
001: Hodinkee
Sep 21, 2017 • 6 min
The best Apple Watch Series 3 review wasn’t written by a tech journalist but by a watch nerd.