What I’d Like to Hear Tim Cook Start with

At the start of the keynote tomorrow, I'd like to hear Tim Cook say this:

You've seen all the coverage about hacked accounts and stolen private images and data. We at Apple are appalled about this and as soon as we were alerted, began days of auditing, and immediately fixed problems that abetted the password cracking related to iCloud that led to some of these breaches.
You trust us with your most personal details, and we take this seriously. The possession and disclosure of private data is a crime. Make no mistake: This isn't funny and the victims should not be blamed for trusting us and others. No one should be sniggering, shaming, or pointing figures. Criminals stole people's information and then released it. We will do everything in our power to assist law enforcement to track them down for prosecution.
We have already taken some steps, and in the next two weeks will take more. We can do better.

(Spoiler: he didn't.)

Does Every Modern Doctor Who Feature a Hidden or Crashed Spaceship?

No, but a surprising number from the modern series. I count 31 firm "yesses," and a lot of maybes.

Eccleston

"Rose": Alien species on Earth with a hidden transmitter.
"The End of the World": No, just creepy skin person.
"The Unquiet Dead": No, but alien race hiding on Earth.
"Aliens of London": Yes. (Also hidden aliens.)
"World War Three": Yes. (Also hidden aliens.)
"Dalek": No, unless the Dalek is a spaceship. (Dalek is hidden.)
"The Long Game": No, but hidden alien.
"Father's Day": No. Even the TARDIS goes missing.
"The Empty Child": Yes. (Hidden nano-aliens.)
"The Doctor Dances": Yes. (Hidden nano-aliens.)
"Boom Town": Yes. (Hidden alien.)
"Bad Wolf": Yes. (Dalek ships around Earth. Hidden aliens!)
"The Parting of the Ways": Not exactly at this point, but continuation of previous episode.

Tennant

"The Christmas Invasion": No. Straight out invasion.
"New Earth": No. (Hidden human!)
"Tooth and Claw": Not precisely. An alien species seems to have come to Earth. In a hidden fashion.
"School Reunion": No, just hidden aliens attempting to conquer time and space.
"The Girl in the Fireplace": Yes. (Hidden robots.)
"Rise of the Cybermen": No.
"The Age of Steel": No.
"The Idiot's Lantern": No, just a hidden alien.
"The Impossible Planet": No. Hidden devil.
"The Satan Pit": No. Hidden devil.
"Love & Monsters": No, just a hidden alien.
"Fear Her": Yes. (Hidden alien.)
"Army of Ghosts": Kind of. The hidden spaceship (and aliens) is in the Void.
"Doomsday": Not precisely.

"The Runaway Bride": Yes! Both in orbit and (kind of) at the heart of the plant, though it's more appropriately an incubation pod. (Hidden alien!)
"Smith and Jones": No, although hospital is transported to the moon.
"The Shakespeare Code": No. (Hidden aliens.)
"Gridlock": No, just enormous hidden crabs.
"Daleks in Manhattan": Not exactly: hidden Daleks.
"Evolution of the Daleks": Same.
"The Lazarus Experiment": No.
"42": No. (Alien hidden in brains?)
"Human Nature": Yes. (Aliens hidden in jars.)
"The Family of Blood": Yes. (Yes.)
"Blink": No, just hidden aliens.
"Utopia": No. (Unless you count each crazy end-of-universe person as a spaceship. They are hidden humans, not really aliens.)
"The Sound of Drums": No.
"Last of the Time Lords": No.
"Voyage of the Damned": Not exactly, though the ship does show up around Earth, hidden.

"Partners in Crime": Kind of. (The ship comes back, but the whole building is full of alien tech. And there are hidden aliens.)
"The Fires of Pompeii": Yes. (Hidden stone aliens.)
"Planet of the Ood": No. (Hidden brain.)
"The Sontaran Stratagem": Yes, and hidden Sontarans.
"The Poison Sky": Ditto.
"The Doctor's Daughter": No.
"The Unicorn and the Wasp": No, but a hidden alien.
"Silence in the Library": No — and they're not aliens, either; they're native.
"Forest of the Dead": No.
"Midnight": No. (Hidden non-alien.)
"Turn Left": No. (Phase-shifted hidden alien.)
"The Stolen Earth": Sort of? The Dalek ship is hidden initially.
"Journey's End": No.

"The Next Doctor": Yes — sort of? (Hidden Cybermen.)
"Planet of the Dead": No.
"The Waters of Mars": No. (Hidden virus.)
"The End of Time": Yes.

Smith

"The Eleventh Hour": No, just a hidden alien.
"The Beast Below": No, just a hidden space whale.
"Victory of the Daleks": Yes.
"The Time of Angels": Yes.
"Flesh and Stone": Yes.
"The Vampires of Venice": No? I guess just hidden aliens.
"Amy's Choice": No.
"The Hungry Earth": No — they were already there and not aliens!
"Cold Blood": No.
"Vincent and the Doctor": No, just a hidden alien.
"The Lodger": Yes. But no aliens, just holograms.
"The Pandorica Opens": No.
"The Big Bang": No.
"A Christmas Carol": No.

"The Impossible Astronaut": No? There's a whole control system underground for the hidden aliens, but I guess not a spaceship as such.
"Day of the Moon": No?
"The Curse of the Black Spot": Yes.
"The Doctor's Wife": No, although I guess the whole intelligent planetoid is a…ship? That they were unaware of?
"The Rebel Flesh": No.
"The Almost People": No.
"A Good Man Goes to War": No.
"Let's Kill Hitler": No.
"Night Terrors": No, just a hidden alien.
"The Girl Who Waited": No.
"The God Complex": Yes. (Alien isn't precisely hidden.)
"Closing Time": Yes!
"The Wedding of River Song": Yes! The Teselecta!!
"The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe": Yes.

"Asylum of the Daleks": Yes! And then Clara is also a hidden "alien" among Daleks.
"Dinosaurs on a Spaceship": No — wait, yes! There's a hidden craft inside the bigger craft.
"A Town Called Mercy": Yes.
"The Power of Three": Yes.
"The Angels Take Manhattan": Not exactly — more like a kind of prison?
"The Snowmen": No, and is the Great Intelligence an alien?

"The Bells of Saint John": No.
"The Rings of Akhaten": No, just a hidden alien.
"Cold War": No, just a hidden alien.
"Hide": No, just a hidden alien.
"Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS": No.
"The Crimson Horror": Yes. (Rocket as opposed to a spaceship. Hidden worm thing that's native to Earth, I guess.)
"Nightmare in Silver": Mmmm, hidden Cybermen, but not precisely a ship.
"The Name of the Doctor": No, unless you count the TARDIS.
"The Night of the Doctor": No.
"The Day of the Doctor": No. (Hidden Zygons!)
"The Time of the Doctor": No.

Capaldi

"Deep Breath": Yes, with disguised robots. (And Missy may also be on a hidden ship.)
"Into the Dalek": Yes! The ship is hidden from the Daleks!
"Robot of Sherwood": Yes, with disguised robots.
 

On the Conspiracy of Material Objects

The other day, the world conspired against us, as discussed in the previous blog entry.

Our car was stolen. A few days later, I lost my keys (car, bike lock, and home). A feather down pillow sprung a leak in the washer and exploded in the dryer. Running the clothes repeatedly through clothes-washer and dryer to get rid of the fluff and feathers ultimately clogged the hard-to-reach filter. Tried to clean the filter and found I needed a specialized tool, even though I'd fixed it before. The dishwasher started to leak. The toaster seemed to disobey me.

The world was out of joint. Then it slowly righted itself.

The clothes were finally mostly down-free, and I ordered (for $20) a set of tools that would let me reattach the filter hose. Our car was recovered three weeks after it was stolen, apparently left in a supermarket parking lot for most of that time, not trashed nor in need of many repairs. My keys were found. The toaster listened to reason. The dishwasher — well, we stopped using it, talked about repairing it, and decided to replace it.

A few years ago, our upstairs toilet started to leak, and, being installed about 25 years before, we called a repairman who said it could be reconditioned for about $250 in labor, but would still use a large amount of water. For $600, he would haul off the old one, and install a new, low-flow toilet. We agreed, and, good gravy, we were wasting a lot of water. I believe we're saving $60 a year in water, two years in.

The same seems like the right course for the dishwasher. While it's only 14 years old, it cost $400 new, and the repair outfit we called mostly talked us out of repair: it's at the end of its life already, apparently! We believe them, as why would they try to not make money fixing it? (They would if we asked.)

We're going to pay $800 to replace it based on our toilet experience, using a recommendation from The Sweet Home. (We won't wash dishes in the toilet.) The new dishwasher will use less water, and its better internal design means we will run it 25% to 50% less. Between electricity and water, I figure we can pick up $30 to $40 a year in savings.

It's not the best time in our life to buy a new dishwasher, but it doesn't makes sense to put $150 to $300 into the old one. And, fortunately, we haven't had to replace a piece of our kitchen or home for years.

Conspiracy continues, updated August 29th: Installers came with the new dishwasher and discovered that our dying one was crammed into the space, and a standard height (roughly 34-inch) model will not fit into the space no-how. Calling around and checking, it looks impossible to find an affordable model that is also low-enough to fit. Punting to repair.

And the repair didn't work: The dishwasher is truly effed, but it only cost us $55 to get a looksee, a temporary fix, and a diagnosis. We're hiring a contractor we trust who will replumb, move the shutoff valve, fix the electrical, and install a different dishwasher (about the same price) that will actually fit. Ah, the joys.

All We Are Is Dust in the Window Shades

The toaster refused my toast. The dishwasher began to leak. A down pillow exploded in the dryer. The washing machine became clogged. Our car was stolen. I lost my keys.

I gave the toaster a talking to. I ordered a new seal for the dishwasher. Three washes and eight dries later, the clothes with the pillow were clean. I unclogged the washer—mostly. Our car was recovered and being repaired.

My keys? Unimportant, extras, not lost near home, clearly. The clog? I am short on being able to reattach one hose, but have ordered "Hose Clamp Pliers Set" arriving tomorrow.

Material possessions own us, it's true. And they conspire.

Love, Sex, and Relationships in Age without Definitions

We can have any sort of relationship we want in America: we're not prohibited by law and increasingly less so by custom. Sarah Mirk wrote the book Sex from Scratch: Making Your Own Relationship Rules to help people figure out how to unfold the map of contemporary life if they don't subscribe to a dogma (religious or otherwise) about precisely how they should form romantic and sexual relationships for a night or for the rest of one's life.

I wrote up a review of her book at Boing Boing, and we also had a wide-ranging podcast talk about polyamory, asexuality, feminism, sex, and much more! Give a listen below (or you can go to SoundCloud and download for later).

Sarah's writing and research phase was a great help to me as I was charting my own map, and I could read what she was finding for herself and in the many interviews she conducted for the book. She and I talk about the choices we each made about intentional non-monogamy in the podcast.

Read All The Magazine Archives Free (for a little while)

We're relaunching.

We're relaunching.

I've just pushed out a new version of The Magazine app, switching to the platform developed by the folks at TypeEngine to publish the current and future issues. As part of the update, I've opened our archives for the next four weeks to anyone using the new app for free reading!

The app itself is free, and we fund the publication entirely through subscription fees. The new app version allows us to sell single issues, whether from our archives or new issues, which we hope appeals to more casual readers who don't want a recurring monthly subscription.

We have published about 200 articles since October 2012 on a huge range of interesting subjects: reintroducing wood bison back to Alaska, the background to serious cosplay from people who make elaborate and fantastic outfits, the last performance of Trek in the Park in Portland, a woman named Amelia Earhart who retraced her namesake's worldwide trip (successfully), DIY medical equipment, and, wow, a lot more.

The app works in iOS 7 and I hope you'll take a look and spread the word about our archives. (You can also subscribe and read on our Web site, which has a selection of free articles.) We'd love for people to read what we publish even if they never subscribe; we've tried to find stories worth telling.

XOXO to XOXO 2014

The XOXO conference and festival is back for its third outing this September 11–14 in Portland, Oregon, the center of all that is creative and right with the world at this moment. Portland is a special place and XOXO is a special event that could only occur there, I think. The organizers, Andy Baio and Andy McMillan are amazing people in their own right, and they bring together so much good will and positivity about life in one place.

Here's what I wrote about it years past and a podcast with Andy and Andy:

The first XOXO in 2012 changed my life. I was in a slump and slightly at sea, and nearly everything I did after XOXO was different than before: I changed my job (from programming and writing to mostly editing and podcasting with some  writing) and oriented what I do much more about facilitating the creativity of other people, through which I get my own joy and participation.

The 2013 event felt like a consolidation: less change but more fervor. I met so many people who I only knew online, made new friendships and connections, and went out with new energy right into a Kickstarter that launched a few weeks later—and (figuratively) nearly killed me.

I made some friends that I hope I will keep for the rest of my life. Oddly, I've met people in the months since who attended XOXO 2013 who I didn't meet there, and we've since become friends! There's an affinity for attending that extends outside of the event. ("There's a little bit of XOXO in all of us," I might say, and then hate myself.)

This year, I'm sitting out the conference part. That's for a few reasons. I've gotten so much benefit from the event, I feel like I should make room for other people. They've switched to a different kind of selection process that I fully support, in which they will pick nearly randomly (and filter only those who are clearly trying to market to participants). However, they're going to also moderate the randomness by attempting to gain more participation from people who are traditionally underrepresented at most conferences:

More than 80% of the people who’ve wanted to attend XOXO in the past are white, straight, cisgender, able-bodied dudes, and we want everyone who’s not in that category to know XOXO is for you too.

I fit that 80% definition. I don't feel required to exclude myself, but I also think having gotten the benefit twice, I should step back.

I've gone through so much this year already, I don't think I'm prepared for another "tear your head off" iteration. The Kickstarter kicked my ass. It was great and powerful and I couldn't be happier with the book we made. But I spent November to March working nearly full-time on it in addition to my regular full-time-plus amount of work and then April finishing up, while also writing a three-page Economist story about nanosatellites that's among one of the favorite things I've even written. During May, I believe I was in a fetal position. (June has proven much better.)

I'm applying for a festival pass (access to events, not the conference track), so that if I get picked, I can come and hang and podcast and do fun stuff, but won't challenge myself as much as I did. I don't have it in me this year to re-invent myself again! Maybe in 2015.

XOXO has been described as so many things. It's like an encounter group for entrepreneurialism. It's a place in which speakers, both relatively to quite famous and those known in niche super-interesting circles, talk about their failures and how to overcome them.  It is a place that may encourage earnestness at the expense of criticism. It's a place to make new friends and colleagues.

They've added an option for people who travel together in response to some complaints last year. If two people who identify as spouses or significant others list each other's name in the conference application, if one doesn't get picked for a conference pass, that person will be given priority to sign up for a festival pass.

I encourage anyone who wants a jolt and an incredibly enjoyable few days in Portland to apply!

 

My Revised Ebook on Setting up Apple's Wi-Fi Routers

For a decade (!!), I've been writing and revising a book on using Apple's Wi-Fi routers. Long ago it was Take Control of Your 802.11b AirPort Network, and the current, fifth edition has the moniker Take Control of Your Apple Wi-Fi Network. This latest update (a bit late and all my fault for that) brings the title up to date for 802.11ac, the newest and fastest flavor of Wi-Fi, as well as OS X Mavericks, iOS 7, and Windows 8.1.

The book's designed for any home or small-business user who finds that the basic information Apple provides isn't enough. While I fully agree configuration has never been better for Apple's AirPort Extreme, AirPort Express, and Time Capsule base stations, if you want to configure network layouts or network details outside of quite standard arrangements, you might feel at sea. This book is designed to help.

I go through how to set up basic networks and more advanced ones, including creates pods of Ethernet-connected or Wi-Fi–linked base stations (and mixed groups), as well as walking through all the networking settings and how to use them for specific tasks. I fully explain the ins and outs of AirPort Utility both for OS X and the similar, but more limited iOS version. And I tell you how you can make the Eye of Sauron appear on your Mac.

For instance, you can choose a static, unchanging local address for any computer or device on your network through DHCP Reservations. It's several steps with a few choices, and I take you through that. The book also explains frequency channels and the various Wi-Fi/802.11 standards, and how to site your equipment ideally and troubleshoot it when it doesn't work.

For more details on the book—which is available in DRM-free PDF, EPUB, and MOBI that you can use anywhere without restriction—and a downloadable excerpt, visit the Take Control page. At $20, it could save you an amount of frustration you can't stick a price tag on.

 

Apple's Next Products

I have no special knowledge beyond following Apple as a company for 15 years and using its products since the early 1980s. I have a feeling now for what direction Apple might take, even though I've never been able to predict a specific outcome.

What Apple won't do

There is no iWatch. A watch has never made any sense, but it's the only thing that analysts and Apple's competitors have, apparently, been able to think of as a next logical device to make. The history of technology is littered with failed computer watches; Microsoft has gone through two bad iterations itself. If Apple's partners or spies have seen an iWatch, it's more likely a feint to throw competitors off. Apple does put out false scents!

Apple is not going to buy a cellular operator. This comes up again and again. T-Mobile would have been the only firm that would have made any sense in terms of scale and availability to purchase, and besides Sprint attempting to acquire it, owning a carrier puts Apple in direct conflict with other carriers. It doesn't need the hassle and competitive trouble.

No one should expect an integrated Apple television set. For years, the only companies not losing money on TVs are the companies that are vertically integrated to make the screens and the TVs, like Samsung. Many companies lose money making TVs, but they can't exit the industry because they need to sell integrated entertainment systems, and the loss of revenue would reduce their scale of operations, too. People don't spend enough on TVs nor turn them over fast enough to represent a market worth entering at the scale Apple would need to. Sorry, Gene Munster.

What Apple could do

A wearable hub that doesn't present itself as a thing you wear on your wrist. Apple's Health initiative shows the direction. An iOS device is the heart of Health, and expect a wearable thing that integrates with smart clothing (particularly sportswear that could track heartrate and other factors). Instead of delivering another visual display with limited capabilities, like a watch, Apple more likely would deliver information through haptic, vibratory, and aural feedback. An Apple wearable will more likely be an iPod nano style device that plugs into clothing, and uses Bluetooth for comms, than a watch.

A Retina MacBook Air. This has certainly been on their road map all along, but the time is coming where some tradeoff or transition point will occur: they will either be able to produce an Air with an efficient enough display and battery to keep the weight the same, or they will eat a few ounces and make it heavier to get the better display on board. Instead of a "12-hour" battery, buyers might be fine with an "8-hour" Air with Retina, too. It seems like this could be a fall 2014 item, but I wonder if they'd wait till February 2015 for cost issues and alignment with when they introduce Mac hardware.

A revised Apple TV that incorporates a base station. The Apple TV is essentially already a base station, and with a little more processing power or a co-processor, it could easily handle an AirPort Express's function alongside its TV features. As a base station, an Apple TV could better manage throughput and other factors.