Roger Stringer   About ▾

I'm Roger Stringer, a DevOps engineer, full-stack developer, author, foodie, speaker, dad. Founder of Flybase.

Laptop Replacement

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Joshua Topolsky:

If you think you can replace your laptop with an iPad, you cannot.

Matt Gemmell, in response:

I occasionally see the phrase “laptop replacement” regarding the iPad, despite the bizarreness of both the concept and the generalisation. Intelligent people like journalists and tech pundits use it, seemingly without humorous intent, and it puzzles me.

There’s no such thing as a laptop replacement, and if there were, the iPad isn’t meant to be one.

The term usually crops up in the context of the iPad not being whatever it is the author is looking for… and no wonder. The phrase itself is strange, like you’re consciously considering replacing your laptop (implicitly with something else, otherwise you’d just upgrade to a newer laptop, surely), are assessing the iPad as a candidate, and you find that it is indeed an entirely different thing… but that’s somehow a deal breaker. So you want to potentially not use a laptop anymore, but you also want a computer that does all the same things as a laptop, in pretty much the same way. In which case, I think the computer you’re looking for is a laptop.

The articles I read on this stuff invariably pose it as a general question, which makes no sense at all. Is The iPad A Laptop Replacement (Yet)? But that’s not even a thing! It can’t be a thing, because there’s no such thing as A Laptop, either. What you’re actually measuring against is your laptop and how you use it, so anything else is guaranteed to be insufficient.

There’s another pattern I see, which I’ll just mention as a side-note: the stronger the conclusion that the iPad can’t replace the author’s laptop, the more likely it is that the required tasks in question are irrelevant to 90% of the computer-using populace. That, or they haven’t allowed for any change in workflow and interaction model, which is an act of remarkable intellectual dishonesty. But I digress.

[..]

In terms of the tasks I need my computing device for, I do some dorky technical stuff, and I use automation utilities, and some scripting, and I also produce actual work. Plus I do all the usual web browsing and email and social media. The iPad isn’t a laptop replacement, because it’s not a laptop. I wasn’t looking for one. I can’t remember the last time I saw anyone under twenty years of age with a laptop, either. But the iPad has replaced my MacBook. That’s a fact.

No-one’s saying that it either can or can’t replace yours, or whether you’d want it to. Except the pundits and journalists who can’t seem to let go of the idea that it’s an either-or situation, where we need to have a winner and a loser. I’m not sure what they’re afraid of.

Meanwhile, the rest of us are just getting things done.

This comes up so much. If I'm at a coffeeshop coding or writing on my iPad Pro, I get asked the question all the time. I still use my macbook or chromebook too, but my iPad gets a lot of use.




Apple Opens iOS 11 Public Beta

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For anyone brave enough to give it a try, Apple has opened up the doors and released the first public beta of iOS 11, the developer beta of iOS 11 has been out since June 5 when it was released at WWDC.

iOS 11 includes many new features such as a new Files app that makes navigating files on iOS devices easier than in the past and adds several iPad-only features like drag & drop, an app Dock, and enhanced multitasking.

You can go ahead and sign up for the beta program here, but follow the instructions, which include backing up your iOS device, because it’s still early in the iOS 11 beta release cycle.

There will be bugs and running a beta always runs the risk of data loss.




Uber Can’t Be Fixed

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Benjamin Edelman, writing at the Harvard Business Review:

I suggest that the problem at Uber goes beyond a culture created by toxic leadership. The company’s cultural dysfunction, it seems to me, stems from the very nature of the company’s competitive advantage: Uber’s business model is predicated on lawbreaking. And having grown through intentional illegality, Uber can’t easily pivot toward following the rules.




Uber co-founder: We’ve been too obsessed with growth

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When Garrett Camp first proposed the idea for an on-demand black-car service in late 2008 — so the story goes — it’s unlikely that he could have predicted the meteoric rise of Uber, or that the very thing that helped it grow would also practically undo it close to 10 years later.

But Uber has come up against the limits of the grow-at-all-costs attitude that Camp’s co-founder Travis Kalanick embodied and embedded in the fabric of the company, and which recently led to his temporary leave of absence.

Camp, who doesn’t play a big role in the day to day of running Uber, finally surfaced as the company purports to be embarking on its next chapter to say: We screwed up because we didn’t listen.

“In a highly competitive market it is easy to become obsessed with growth, instead of taking the time to ensure you’re on the right path,” Camp wrote in a Medium post. “Now is that time ... to pause for a moment and think about what really matters here: providing 65 million riders transportation when they need it, giving 2 million drivers flexible work options, and creating a company culture we are proud of.”

Camp’s reemergence is significant in the wake of Kalanick’s absence and the current jockeying for leadership that’s taking place at the troubled startup. There has been a public relations push as well as an actual reworking of the company culture. It’s not always easy to see which is which.





The Apple Pencil from a non-artist's perspective

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I hadn’t previously given too much attention to the Apple Pencil, largely because Apple’s initial messaging around the product had really pushed it towards artists—and if there’s one thing that’s pretty clear, it’s that I am not much of an artist.

In recent months, though, I’d started to cave a bit. People showing off note-taking apps and PDF annotations made me wonder if maybe there weren’t use cases even for the artistically-challenged among us. But it was Apple’s demo at WWDC of the new Pencil-related features in iOS 11 that tipped me over the edge. So when I ordered a new 10.5-inch iPad Pro just hours after the keynote, I thought “what the hell?” and threw an Apple Pencil into my cart as well.

I may be a johnny-come-lately to Pencil fandom, but now that I’ve been using it for a few days, I’ve really been digging it. It hasn’t magically turned me into an artist or even really improved my atrocious handwriting, but there is something delightful about putting it to the iPad screen and seeing lines appear with all the fidelity of a physical pen and paper. There’s something very natural about holding the Pencil, perhaps because I’m of a generation that came to computing only part way through my youth, so all those habits with writing implements are still ingrained in me. It’s also just a pleasing piece of hardware in the hand, and I’ve taken to just twiddling it in idle moments.

If anything, my limited time with the Pencil has left me wanting even more from it. So I’ve compiled a quick list of three things that I think would make the Pencil even better.

I do some graphic work, but mostly I use the Pencil for much of what Dan has written about here.




Tim Cook Says Apple Focused on Autonomous Systems in Cars Push

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Emily Chang, interviewing Tim Cook for Bloomberg:

“We’re focusing on autonomous systems,” Cook said in a June 5 interview on Bloomberg Television that amounted to his most detailed comments yet on Apple’s automotive plans. “It’s a core technology that we view as very important.” He likened the effort to “the mother of all AI projects,” saying it’s “probably one of the most difficult AI projects to work on.”

[…]

In the interview on Bloomberg Television, Cook was hesitant to disclose whether Apple will ultimately manufacture its own car. “We’ll see where it takes us,” Cook said. “We’re not really saying from a product point of view what we will do.”




Yahoo-Verizon Deal Closes, Marissa Mayer Out as CEO

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Marissa Mayer, writing on the Verizon-owned Tumblr:

It’s been my great honor and privilege to be a part of this team for the last 5 years. Together, we have rebuilt, reinvented, strengthened, and modernized our products, our business, and our company.

Looking back on my time at Yahoo, we have confronted seemingly insurmountable business challenges, along with many surprise twists and turns. I’ve seen our teams navigate these hurdles and mountains in ways that have not only made Yahoo a better company, but also made all of us far stronger.

During these past 5 years, we’ve built products that delight our users, focused on our clients’ businesses, driven substantial value for our shareholders, and endeavored to make Yahoo the absolute best place to work. I want to take a moment to remind you of some of our many achievements together. They are remarkable, and we should all be very proud.




Here's how to make a DIY Amazon Echo

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Amazon’s Echo is great. It’s a speaker for music, a digital assistant with Amazon’s excellent Alexa voice control, and a useful smart home controller. But why buy an Echo from Amazon when you could build one yourself?

Interesting use of a Raspberry Pi and the Alexa Voice Service.




WWDC 2017 — Some Thoughts

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Steven Sinofsky:

Many of us have been using the dev builds of iOS 11 and MacOS High Sierra this week. I wanted to share some thoughts on what I think are some of the important advances.

I have attended WWDC for many years, sometimes as a partner (working on Office), sometimes as a competitors (working on Windows), and sometimes just as an interested developer (grad school). There are always a range of emotions coming out of the event. In this era of massively global Apple, every event is galactic in scale yet it is super important to keep in mind that this is still their developer conference.

My view is that iOS is the healthiest developer ecosystem right now. For sure a big part is because the most revenue is accruing directly to developers, but just as important is the reality that the most valued targets for advertising and commerce are also using Apple devices. Together these create a vibrant and lively community of developers actively working on updates and new apps. An even more important reason for me is the unprecedented scale of customers and ability for Apple to deliver new software APIs to developers that will make it to 100’s of millions of devices in short order.

While the ecosystem might be the most robust right now, we also know how quickly the landscape can change. That is why the importance of how Apple evolves software that takes advantage of their market position is so critical. I believe this WWDC had some incredibly interesting developments in this regard.

I won’t cover everything of course, but wanted to point out what I think are the most interesting innovations or opportunities for developers engaged in the platform. Think of this as the trip report I would bring back for the team, after using the software for a week.