» Audio Hijack 3

Rogue Amoeba has released Audio Hijack 3 and it looks terrific and of course I would say that because Paul Kafasis bought me lunch at least once and also owns my immortal soul because of a drinking bet but Chris Breen also likes it so there.

» The opposite of Apple

Over at Macworld, I describe my experience buying a PC laptop for my son. The ups and downs, the trials and tribulations, the anger and resentment.

Well, sort of.

» iPhone 6 owners report defect where the back cover comes unglued

I’m sorry, did I say “iPhone 6″? I meant Nexus 6. I regret the error.

» ‘Listen up’

The Verge’s David Pierce reviews the Amazon Echo:

She doesn’t work every time, she doesn’t respond the way she’s supposed to half the time, and it doesn’t take long before you stop totally relying on her. And then she sits silent.

He also says it’s a bad speaker system, although he thinks most of the problems other than that are software-based so it could get better. Oh, and everything you say to it is stored on the device.

Somehow Echo still gets a 7.0 despite these issues. Guess it’s a sliding scale.

I still don’t understand why I want to spend $100 ($200 for non-Prime members) on a device that can only be in one room when an iOS or Android phone or tablet can do most of the same things.

» What is Updog?

I wrote my first thought piece on Medium. Think I nailed it.

» Turning This Car Around #46: Vomit Jelly Beans

We talk more about games and also Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans.

» Paying the toll

National Geographic fellow Dan Buettner in an interview with NPR (via Dan Miller):

“When you look at Americans’ day-to-day activity … the top two things we hate the most on a day-to-day basis is, No. 1: housework and No. 2: the daily commute in our cars. In fact, if you can cut an hourlong commute each way out of your life, it’s the [happiness] equivalent of making up an extra $40,000 a year if you’re at the $50- to $60,000 level. Huge … [So] it’s an easy way for us to get happier. Move closer to your place of work.”

I know it’s not always easy to find work close to where you live and sometimes it’s impossible. People want affordable housing and a well-paying job that’s fulfilling. But commuting is a tremendous cost and should always be factored in to the equation appropriately. As someone who’s commuted in several areas, I would say that amount seems reasonable.

Here’s an gross anecdote about the intangible cost of commuting if you’re not convinced. If you’re highly averse to stories of people being gross, don’t read this.

I used to ride the train up to Seattle from my home in Tacoma. The train was nice. It had tables and power outlets and horrible WiFi and traveled at a speed slightly faster than a glacier. One day I was coming home and sitting across from a guy who was dressed professionally. We were both working on our laptops. At some point I noticed this professional gentleman was idly picking  his nose and wiping it on the seat next to him.

By that point I had already given my notice but I went in the next day and gave it again because good god.

ADDED 1/16/2015: Rian van der Merwe finds something wrong with the cost/benefit analysis on commuting that’s currently being promulgated. Although, I will note, he does not factor in the boogers.

» The Rebound #17: Rub to Pay

Apple Watch talk, reminiscing about the wonderful exhibitor we met at Macworld 2013 and an ad read for T-Mobile by Lex that no one got paid for.

» Be yourself. As long as it’s your best self.

This memo from WIRED editor-in-chief Scott Dadich about the new office space they’re moving into reads like Mystery Science Theater 3000’s “A Date With Your Family”.

We made a big investment in the construction and design of the new floor — more than $3 million over 10 years — to create a home worthy of our ambitions and a place that’s fun to come to in the morning.

By “fun” I mean “neat, orderly and full of a thousand of you monkeys typing silently on a thousand keyboards late into the night.”

There are zones to work together, and quiet spots for focused work.

See if you can guess which ones are which! Chances are, your coworkers can’t!

There are drawers for personal items…

Like your hopes and dreams.

…and tons of storage for our materials and technologies.

Please make sure to lock away the technology you’re writing about. God knows we don’t want our desks littered with technology. Ew.

Unfortunately, too often the place where we do that important work looks, at best, like a dorm room.

We want you to spend more hours here than you do at home, but don’t treat it like your home. What’s wrong with you?

It’s an embarrassment: coffee stains on walls (and countertops and desks), overflowing compost bins, abandoned drafts of stories and layouts (full of highly confidential content), day-old, half-eaten food, and, yes, I’m going to say it, action figures. Please.

Remember when I talked about a place that’s fun to come to in the morning? God, it seems like it was so long ago.

WIRED is no longer a pirate ship. It’s the home of world-changing journalism.

Fun!

It’s the West Coast home of Condé Nast. And it’s increasingly a place where we, and our New York colleagues and owners, host artists, founders, CEOs, and advertisers.

I want to schmooze these people so they’ll invite me to their parties and you idiots acting like teenagers isn’t helping.

We all treasure our photos of loved ones.

[clumsily holds up frame with stock photo of someone else’s family and smiles/grimaces]

Mementos of personal accomplishment.

Man, if I worked at WIRED the first thing I’d do in that new space would be to cover my desk with my junior high bowling trophies.

“YOU SAID.”

I encourage you to proudly display a few small items at your desk because our workspace reflects who we are.

I’m assuming you’re all soulless automatons like me. Is that not correct? Oh, dear.

But how we treat our workplace is a manifestation of how seriously we take our work.

That’s a crock of shit. The hardest workers I’ve ever known have always had the messiest desks. Those two things don’t have to be linked, but saying the opposite is true is either a lie intended to squeeze an extra few minutes of clean-up time out of your already overworked employees or a fundamental misunderstanding of who works for you.

When we stop caring for our shared spaces, we demonstrate a lack of respect for the space and for each other.

When we try to get employees to work in pristine, spotless environments, we demonstrate a pathological desire to control every aspect of their very being like the anal retentive martinets we are.

If there are DVDs or books you need to do your job, please do make use of them. But make sure the items you don’t need make their way off of horizontal surfaces and into the appropriate recycling or refuse containers at the end of the day, or simply take them home.

Shred them and build a nest with them for all I care. Just as long as I don’t have to see it. I’m trying to get invited to Elon Musk’s house, not yours.

I love your custom-made/vintage/neon sign/one-of-a-kind lighting appliance.

I really don’t.

But it’s not right for the design of this new space.

Neither is any vestige of your personality. My personality is as spartan as a Danish furniture catalog, why can’t yours be the same?

We went to great expense to purchase elevated laptop stands and monitor arms for all desks.

Because you people are weak from having come from poor genetic stock.

…Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner is infamous for walking through the office handing out demerits and tongue lashings to people with messy desks strewn with half-eaten food, towers of music, and stacks of assorted crap. Martha Stewart once issued edicts about the three types of approved writing instruments allowed at the Omnimedia studios. I’m not going to do any of that…

Some fucking HR thing. Such bullshit.

…although my OCD can sometimes get the best of me — because I’m confident you’ll understand exactly what I’m saying here and clean it up, not just for me but for all of us.

Of course, I’m the one who’s forcing you to do it, so… yeah, it’s really for me.

Ugh. I feel like a newsroom can be an environment that benefits from an open floor plan, but this level of exacting control over it is exactly what’s wrong with corporate America. If you’re so concerned about coffee stains, hire someone to clean things up. It’s a hell of a lot cheaper and it sends a better message than spending $3 million to make a 2001: A Space Odyssey set for your employees to spend their days maintaining.

» Minecraft for Educators

An interesting-looking class on Canvas for people who want to use Minecraft as a teaching tool, from learning about history to programming.

I wonder if it talks about zombie history.

(Via Conor Porter)