Defiant Sloth

The Mobis e-Cornering system on the wheels of this future Ioniq 5 is the dream.

Hyundai Mobis e-Cornering system being shown on a silver Hyundai Ioniq 5, with wheels turned inward (credit: The Verge)

Another great generative AI perspective (this one from John Siracusa) about the coming foibles of creative ownership and the relationship between those creating and those consuming. Very astute approach to thinking towards the right way to frame the big question of “who made this”.

Text from linked article: “In its current state, generative Al breaks the value chain between creators and consumers. We don't have to reconnect it in exactly the same way it was connected before, but we also can't just leave it dangling. The historical practice of conferring ownership based on the act of creation still seems sound, but that means we must be able to unambiguously identify that act. And if the same act (absent any prior legal arrangements) conters ownership in one context but not in another, then perhaps it's not the best candidate.&10;I'm not sure what the right answer is, but I think I'm getting closer to the right question. It's a question I think we're all going to encounter a lot more frequently in the future: Who made this?”

Digging Chuck Wendig’s rant about generative AI and the creative arts, notably that the timing isn’t right yet for relying heavily on it (at all).

I think there is a use case for streamlining creative (in marketing, et al), but only to assist, never to replace.

Text highlighted: And my view is, at this point in time, it's clear that artificial intelligence in the arts is real problematic, and the juice is not worth the squeeze — and, further, if denying its power now gives us better agency going forward, then that's a really good thing.&10;Because certainly there is a world where Al can be used ethically, in some fashion, in our creative pursuits.&10;But today is just not that day.

Heavenly headline — Gartner predicts that half of consumers will abandon or limit use of social media interactions by 2025. Plenty of reasons that could catalyze this.

But… anyone’s guess if it’s an accurate prediction. I bet we’ll see a decline, mainly due to mental health, but nowhere near 50%.


Matthew Panzarino joined the startup TipTop (posted about it on The Obsessor). A more modern, integrated approach to selling electronics seems neat, yet I couldn’t get through setup — it requires a Google sign-in and Gmail scraping. Alas, it’s a red flag and a very poor UX for non-Gmail folks.


Just a shout 👋 out to the wonderful Mac development company, Panic. They have made wonderful software for years, produce games (and a portable game console!), and lather everything in delightful whimsicality, including their website.


The Verge went hard with this piece about the homogenization of websites, pointing the finger at both Google and web developers everywhere. Fairly right in its assertions, but if we stop thinking about the imprisonment from search engines… just imagine the possibilities.


Been a while since I read a David Mitchell novel, but I just finished The Bone Clocks 📚 and wow: an entirely unpredictable and expansive work (much like his portfolio, natch…). It also had an uniquely contemplative focus on a singular character over the course of her life. A fanciful read, indeed. 📚


Notable Entertainment from 2023

I log all the entertainment I go through every year, dating back to 2009. There’s something about a list across time that helps me orient where I was, how I was thinking, the things I liked at the time (do they still hold up?), and, naturally, to reflect on all the miscellaneous time spent.

I add a double-plus (++) to some of these items to notate my high enjoyment of a thing, so I’ve got several easily recommendable on hand when someone asks.

Here are ++ from last year — note that not all of these were released in 2023.

Literature

  • The Bone Clocks (David Mitchell)
  • A Million Heavens (John Brandon)
  • Hotel Splendide (Ludwig Bemelmans)
  • Timequake (Kurt Vonnegut)

Shows/Films

  • White House Plumbers (series, HBO)
  • Scavengers Reign (series, Max)
  • Succession (series, HBO)
  • The Last of Us (series, HBO)
  • Slow Horses (series, AppleTV)
  • Mrs. Davis (miniseries, Peacock)
  • All Quiet on the Western Front (film)
  • The Banshees of Inisherin (film)
  • Triangle of Sadness (film)
  • The Diplomat (series, Netflix)

Games

  • Celeste (various consoles)
  • Super Mario RPG Remake (switch)
  • Metroid Prime Remastered (switch)
  • Baldur’s Gate 3 (various consoles)

Astute observation from Airbag Industries on the impressive feats of independent teams building massively scalable products in competitive industries — his example is Craft, a great (I use it!) super app designed for notes, collaboration, and in this case, a powerful CMS.

…yet his company is within .1% of Squarespace’s influence on the top five thousand websites on the planet.


Re:Form Wallet Review

While I don’t do usually do this, I’m writing a brief review of the Re:Form wallets (RE:01 and RE:02 versions) that the company recently sent me after a connect online because, well, the products were that good. So, fair disclosure: I was provided these to assess for feedback.

RE:02 side by side with AirPods
RE:02 side by side with AirPods

Overview:

First up, there are currently two wallets that German-based Re:Form makes: one with a coin sleeve (RE:01), and the other without (RE:02).

  • Both are engineered and built in nearly the same way, and are just about identical across measurements: welded seams, proprietary Re:Fine™ material, and magnet integration (honestly, the best part). As you’d expect, the RE:01 is slightly thicker due to the coin sleeve, but it’s negligible.
  • Each is designed to hold 3-8 cards well, including metal/plastic combos — I’ve tested, and it’s accurate.
  • These are very lightweight at 34 grams and 23 grams respectively; my recent go-to, Tom Bihn Nik’s Wallet, is a shade lighter at 16 grams, but 🤷‍♂️
  • Super durable materials and a lifetime guarantee is welcome.
  • On the RE:01, the coin sleeve is an addition I never thought I’d have a need for in the US (I abhor carrying coins), but... I’d find it exceptionally useful for storing other countries’ coins when traveling abroad. I’ve also slipped an AirTag into it, and it’s hardly noticeable in-pocke

The Great

Overall, the wallets are a pleasure to use and haul around.

  • The material reminds me of ripstop used in other offerings (like with Pioneer), but lighter-weight, denser construction, not overly stiff (but rigid enough to hold itself), and completely waterproof (which is excellent).
  • It’s slim, and has one of the smallest footprints when resting in a pocket.
  • The springy vibes of opening and closing the wallet with the magnets adds an element of joy - it’s a bifold unlike anything I’ve used before, and keeps the profile as slim as the cards its holding without bulging outwards like others in the market. This yield is due to its construction — the magnets are a certain thickness at the ends of the bi-fold sides, so as you fill the wallet with cards, it simply fills in the already evened-out spaces near the fold.
  • And once you fill the wallet with 3-4 cards, everything remains tautly in-place, including a card in the outside quick-slot.
Re:form wallets side by side
Re:form wallets side by side

The Minor Inconveniences

  • There’s no way around it — the material tends to gather dust and particles, though it does shrug off a bit as you pocket/un-pocket the wallet, and you can always wash it off with water. I've been told from the company that the material does break in over time and lessens the attraction of lint to stick.
  • In pocketing/unpocketing the wallet, you’ll sometimes face a bit of friction with certain fabrics, so it doesn’t always glide right in/out of your pocket depending on your attire.
  • Most slim wallets share a common ground with loose paper currency, and the Re:Form wallets aren’t exactly any different. Inserted cards fit perfectly in their slots, but adding cash creates an additional friction point that requires surgical removal depending how card-tight you’ve loaded it.

Overall

Amongst the slim profile, magnet enclosure, welded seams, and RE:01’s clever pocket, Re:Form has climbed to my top three wallet recommendations. I don’t often carry cash, but if you do, the Trove wallet (and its elasticity) is the smartest slim wallet for accommodating it. The pocket on the RE:01 probably works best well for coins and an AirTag.

Re:Form Wallet laid out with packaging and in-sleeve materials on a white surface

Overall, the Re:Form wallets are truly excellent products. I genuinely like where Re:Form has gone with this design, and look forward to seeing if they employ their materials and magnets in other clever ways in the future.

the best three slim wallets side by side
the best slim wallets side by side - RE:02, Nik's Wallet, and Trove Swift

Agree with Panzer on this over at his new blog — Opinel knives are an exceptional deal. Inexpensive and sharp, they’re a perfect knife to have around the house for prepping and serving charcuterie boards, vegetables, and fruits.


Already missing this excellent Variedad Colombia F6 Natural coffee from SK, which alas, was in short supply and I didn’t buy enough. It was magnificent, jammy, wild.

Coffee bean held by tongs above a blurred out coffee bag labeled Variedad Colombia F6 Natural

Kudos to this concept — solo dates, artist dates, dates with oneself, whatever you want to call it, some respite from staying at home by yourself and instead pushing out into the world for a dinner, a hike, or another excursion sounds mundane but is a rewarding practice to adopt.


We’re entering the era of streaming platforms licensing their content back to Netflix. Hard to reckon with their 247M subscribers worldwide when your platform is less than half of that. For studios like HBO, it’s an overt but effective marketing investment to bring awareness to their offerings.


This Reading Rhythms party in New York needs to gain traction elsewhere. This is my kind of vibe:

The parties, which began in May, take place on rooftops, in parks and at bars. Show up with a book, commit to vanquishing a chapter or two and chat with strangers about what you’ve just read


While hearing about additions to the Apple News+ offering is good, I agree with Dan Moren — the UI and presentability of News+ needs work. The primary feed, for instance, doesn’t have a way to sort news themes (alt., Artifact does this well). It’s paramount to have a good news reader for the masses.


So glad someone wrote in detail about Uniqlo’s incredibly well-designed self-checkout system. So simple with RFIDs, and it’s all about their streamlined execution with the bin size. If you haven’t tried it, get to a store and buy some Heattech!


App Appreciation

Lots of folks have been posting about the default apps they use, but I’d rather just shout out a few truly amazing ones that I frequently use and/or really enjoy.

Things - I’ve had this since v1.0, and it has never left my Mac, iPhone, or iPad. It’s truly the one and only inbox of stuff + todo app to rule them all.

NetNewsWire - I’ve gone back and forth between this and Reeder, but I just love how NewNewsWire looks and works. It blends seamlessly into the platform it runs on, and the UI gets completely out of the way for scanning feeds and reading posts. Simplicity. (And open sourced)

Overcast - It’s difficult to compete with the big podcast app from Apple, but Marco Arment has persevered for years. Great features to intelligently skip silences, augment audio, and build super smart playlists are done in ways that make the experience better for its users than anything else on the market.

FT Edit - The standard subscription to this British rag is eye-watering for anyone outside of the financial industry, but the $5/month streamlined subscription through this app is remarkably well done, and I find myself reading the majority of articles (eight curated each day). Simplicity and quality are better than an infinite scroll.

iA Writer - I can’t believe this has been around for over 10 years. It was one of the original minimal writing environments, and its progress over the years is a testament to how selective iA has been in developing feature expansion while resisting the urge to change the fundamental interface and capability. Brilliant. (Its signature blue cursor is also gorgeous)

Remind Faster - Not even sure who originally recommended this, but this super focused app is exceptional at natural language inputs for Apple’s Reminders app. My brain works better using this vs Siri for quick reminders (even if it’s to just grab the laundry in 40 minutes). Its UI is a masterclass in optimization.

FoodNoms - A delightful app for tracking nutrition. Admittedly, I only use this in sprints throughout the year to calibrate my brain around what I’m putting into my body, but… whenever I use it, it’s a joy. The developer has also employed AI in a wonderful way — type out a brief description of what you ate, and it estimates all the nutritional values to input into your daily tracking without navigating its database.

Flighty - The most reliable, iOS-friendly flighty tracker before, during, and upon arrival you can use. It rules.

Safari - The core Apple iOS browser never fails to excel at its singular purpose – surf the internet well. It rarely chokes on any page, and its performance smoothly cruises along regardless of how many tabs pile up inside.


The Truncating of Physical Retail

Saw this piece from the WSJ, and they’re certainly onto a significant change sweeping across physical retail these past few years.

Sure, we’re seeing the rationale by way of the “rise in ecommerce” (15% of all commerce now) and a “growing distaste for giant emporiums”, but Ms. King also points out behaviors are changing to smaller spaces for dine-in delivery and grocery delivery apps, negating the urge to visit large retail areas.

But as these perspectives usually go, there’s a broad swath of American shoppers who don’t live inside city densities, and don’t have access to a myriad of stay-at-home delivery services. Plus… swaths of Americans are also moving out of city centers, which beckons a difference kind of retail angle:

Retailers are trying to get closer to customers who are moving to the suburbs, working from home a few days a week and want the convenience of drive-through and curbside pickup.

Additionally, most malls have shifted gears to focus on food halls and hospitality, as well as ramping up loyalty programs and data monetization with advertising partners. When the game changes, the businesses adopt.

A major omission from this piece, however, is the future (my prediction) trend of maximizing ever-smaller spaces with virtual environments. While this still may seem a ways off, the use of mixed-reality and spacial computing devices, especially advanced ones like Apple’s upcoming Vision platform, will allow retailers to turn any space – including one’s own home – into a simulacrum of a brand store, bursting with virtual aisles of perusable products projected in their actual shape and size.

The next decade in retail is going to get weird.


This Solo Magazine, dedicated to all things coffee, looks wonderful except for the eye-watering shipping costs to the US.

While I cherish a good print mag, I wish some of these folks would sell an alternative digital PDF.


Huge advocate for iA Writer (been using it since it launched years ago), and they just unveiled their physical iA Notebook concept. It’s a whimsically fantastic idea, executed perfectly. I really hope this manifests as a buyable product as it absolutely would get me back into writing on paper.


Making a few predictions in commerce for 2024 via MediaPost. Let’s call it a fairly informed finger-in-the-air.


Scavengers Reign is one of the most surprising, strange, and best shows of the year. So glad I happened upon this – binged the entire thing in two days.


Ann Kim’s take on Spam at her new restaurant sounds fabulous, even if Hormel is policing its usage for good reason (is it real Spam or not – she’s calling it “Ann’s Ham” now), it’s still intriguing to see chefs riff on the concept.