Moan, moan, moan, I’m afraid.

Require (in)attention

Current model iPhones and iPads Pro have Apple’s face detection system, Face ID. This uses multiple sensors to “see” your face as a means of authentication. It’s pretty clever technology, but there’s an extra, optional feature which I think could be put to much greater use.

In the Face ID settings there is a section titled Attention.

These two settings require that you are actually looking at the phone — the first to allow it to be unlocked, the second to de-emphasise various behaviours.

It is also possible to use an iPhone as a step counter, wherein it uses its accelerometers to detect when you are walking.

I would like to see these two features combined to STOP people looking at their phones while walking. It should be a fairly easy software solution to “require inattention while walking.” It would be in the same class of features as “do not disturb while driving” and, in my view, of greater benefit to human kind.

”Great” music

Apple gave out some awards. A few apps were recognised. This is nothing new. But they also gave out music awards for the first time.

I was going to rehash an old piece of mine about how the music industry works but in an effort to make it pithy, I managed to boil it down to this one concept.

The music industry is like the stock market. It exists to please itself and the only winners are those who figure out how to play the game. Plus a few who get lucky. I don’t think Billie Eilish is exceptional. Good? Yes. Great? Maybe. But not exceptional. And that’s not at all about whether I like the music.


I’ve watched a few technical training videos in recent months, as well as read some documentation for software that is new to me, and I’ve come across a bit of a theme.

Imagine if you were being taught to drive a car with a manual gearbox and the instructor concentrated on exactly how to work the clutch in conjunction with the gear shift and accelerator, but did not tell you why you might want to change gear, nor when is a good or bad time to do it. That’s what some of this technical material is like.

A photographer’s tool tutorial that explains how to add keywords to your photos but makes no mention of where they are actually stored (not in the photo file). A server container tutorial that explains how to set up a specific application in a container but not how to keep that application updated (containers are ephemeral).

Why do many manuals and training videos hit the bullet points of functions while glossing over the big picture? By including “how it works” in the material, a lot of questions about uncovered topics can be deflected. I’ve written A LOT of technical documentation in my career and my goal is always to stop people asking me questions by explaining not only how to do something but also why it is the way it is, and in many cases, how it’s built.

That concludes this edition of Echoes. The comments are open, but will be moderated for civility. Alternatively you can hit me up on Twitter, where I go by @zkarj.

Categories: Echoes


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