Instagram's New Messaging App

Josh Constine, writing at TechCrunch:

What if Instagram could automatically tell your Close Friends you’re 🏠 (home), 🤓(working), 🚗 (on the move), or 🛋 (chilling and might want to hang out)? That’s the idea behind Instagram’s new companion app Threads, a Close Friends-only messaging experience that opens to the camera with shortcuts for instantly sending specific people photos and videos.

So Threads is a reach at a private messaging network for close friends, that’s the better parts of Snapchat’s product but with Facebook’s privacy policies. Personally, no thank you. I’ll stick with iMessage and Find My for my Weasley Clock activities.

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Target testing Apple Pay in-store

There’s a Target opening in my neighborhood that’s close enough to be my default stop for anything but specialty grocery. If this rolls out along in time to be there day one, I will almost never have to carry my wallet again.

Other than the occasional quick stop for bread, my Target runs lately have made use of in-store pick-up and Apple Pay through their app. Easily one of the best retail ones out there.

Inside Shanghai Disneyland

Not a secret that my bucket list includes hitting every Disney park. Here’s hoping in a couple years I can swing a return trip to China and Japan to hit Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Tokyo. 

Shanghai was one of my favorites when I visited 12 years ago. Can’t wait to see what’s new.

“SpongeBob” Creator Stephen Hillenburg Dies at 57

Damn, what a loss.  I remember watching the very first episode of SpongeBob. At the time, I wasn’t a fan.

Over the next few years, it became one of the shows that my brother and I would watch his kids. Even got my dad interested – something that had happened since “Rocko’s Modern Life,” “Ren & Stimpy,” or “Aaaah, Real Monsters” had been on.

To say that the show paved the way for so many animators, storytellers, and—frankly—meme connoisseurs is an understatement in the least.

RIP, Captain.


Google Home Hub's Holiday Ad

I’m a happy HomePod user, but this holiday ad for Google’s Home Hub is interesting on a couple levels. It’s entertaining, but it also gives me that built-this-eighteen-months-early pang.

Spent some time working on a recipe skill for Alexa that would walk you through a series of client-created recipes step-by-step. Now it’s a flagship feature in a Google ad (jump to about the 0:17 mark).

This is probably a case for me doing more open-source work.

Behind the Son of Beast

Growing up, my family visited Kings Island a lot in the summer. I was terrified of roller coasters for a good decade of those summertime visits after a ride on The Racer at probably-too-young-an-age.

While I rode (and liked) The Beast when I rode it on an eighth grade field trip, the rest of my classmates were obsessed with Son of Beast.

Even then it had problems, but this YouTube video's worth a watch for the full story.

I'm a sucker for theme park designs, what can I say?

Tim Cook on the Need for Privacy Regulation

Tim Cook, speaking while attending a development summit in China:

I think that this certain situation is so dire and has become so large that probably some well-crafted regulation is necessary. The ability of anyone to know what you’ve been browsing about for years, who your contacts are, who their contacts are, things you like and dislike and every intimate detail of your life -- from my own point of view it shouldn’t exist.

Damn straight.


Zero Lives Remaining

Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian on Medium:

Our time is all going to be up at some point and when you’re (hopefully) looking back on it, the people and experiences you have in your life will be what you cherish or regret. I know because I saw it firsthand and getting that privilege at 22 meant I could live those years of boundless energy and optimism with some of the wisdom of someone much older.

You’ve got one life remaining, don’t squander it.

Great piece. I'd be lying if I said I didn't need to remind myself of this more.


Five Fixes for Better Photos on your iPhone

Hands-down, the camera is probably the thing that matters most to you about your smartphone. You may not always think about it, but chances are it’s the device feature that you use the most, even if only tangentially.

Whether you’re using it for video chats, snapping a pic, or playing around with the latest AR experience, getting the most out of your camera starts with some simple tricks.

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January, month of fresh starts. The coldest month of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, the hottest in the Southern. Ianuarius in Latin, from ianua—literally the door of the year.

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