Month: September 2021

The Elephant in the Room

I wanted to kick this week off with something light and fun, but if we are being honest here—I like to think this is a safe space—this week has been a lot to handle as an “Apple enthusiast.”

I have been reading so many different news stories, opinion articles, and comments about the recent announcement from Apple regarding the future scanning of iCloud Photos. I don’t want to explain the details about what is happening, you can find more about the announcement explained by The Verge or this more detailed FAQ from TidBits.

I will say here that this isn’t Apple getting unfettered access to your entire iCloud Photo library, they are specifically looking for child sexual abuse material (CSAM) that matches a hash in a database of known CSAM. That said, there are several people and organizations sharing concerns regarding loss of privacy to users, possible political exploitation, and overall creepiness that Apple can now have backdoor access your photos in iCloud. There are arguments saying this is a slippery-slope for Apple, others say that it is only a matter of time before it affects other types of content.

I am not here to add to the pile of people looking to share their opinion on this matter. I am not an expert in privacy, CSAM, or the legality of photos in the cloud. There have been great arguments that I will encourage people to read. The first being John Gruber’s take on Daring Fireball, second is an open letter to Apple signed by over 5,000 people including Edward Snowden, and finally Casey Newton’s article from Platformer. All of these have great explanations for their arguments and they fall on different spots of the spectrum as far as their privacy concerns.

The main point I want to make here is that Apple is a big tech company, and the changes they make aren’t always going to be fun or simple to talk about.

The reason I love talking about hardware, software, UI design, and the overall experience in using computers is because I love what people can make with it. I didn’t get into writing about Apple to dive deep into the political ramifications these companies make. That isn’t what revs my engine, in fact it is the kill switch to my enthusiasm. To put it bluntly, the less I have to think about those kinds of things the better. Yet, today, and this past week really, isn’t one of those times.

This isn’t to say that what is happening isn’t important. In fact, I think it is a pivotal moment in the ongoing concerns about privacy. Still, for right now, writing about Apple isn’t fun for me, and I am having a hard time to get past the concerns so many people knowledgeable about the situation have raised. Apple has always been the privacy-focused company but now it seems that things are changing on that front.

Instead, I took the time I usually spend writing this newsletter to escape from this ongoing debate. I listened to podcasts like Do By Friday and The Dollop. I played Mass Effect Legendary Edition on my Xbox, and started watching To Obsidian and Beyond, a new course by The Sweet Setup. All of these things have been great distractions for me, and a much-needed mental health break.

Can we talk about the Kanye and Drake album covers?

Kanye West and Drake both have released new albums and I can’t help but enjoy them both. I have been listening to Donda since its release only to take a break from it to listen to Certified Lover Boy after its release.

Both albums sound great, but I want to take a moment and talk a little bit about both album covers.

Personally, I hate the all black cover from Donda. I wanted the album cover to be the one shown back in June, which was a cropped version of art piece FEMME (2007) by artist Louise Bourgeois.

Given that Bourgeois used art as a way to cope with emotion, including the loss of her mother, I thought it was fitting for Kanye to use it as the cover for an album named after his late mother. However, it is reported that West used this art at listening sessions without permission, and once the copyright holders did call they were not pleased.

Still, the backup option was to just have an entirely black album cover? It’s too on the nose as a This is Spinal Tap parody if you ask me. To me, that seems like such a bad call. There were much better possibilities with this album cover, and I wish West did better by the artist instead of “treating it like a sample.”

That being said, I am writing about it and thinking about this album cover more than any other album cover Kanye has released, which could be the point as well.

As for Certified Lover Boy, this is an album cover made by Damien Hirst, but it isn’t a piece that is controversial like throwing a dead shark into formaldehyde. In fact, it seems more of an intentional meme than anything, and I’m not the only one feeling this.

Nadja Sayej writing for Forbes:

The 12 women holding their babies could tie into the fact that Drake’s album was delayed by nine months. Some have criticized the cover for not having a red-haired woman represented in the piece.

But for Drake, who has an art collection that includes artists like Andy Warhol, KAWS and Takashi Murakami, this is just a piece of pop art for the meme-baited public, no less. Plain and simple.

For me, at least Certified Lover Boy has something to look at instead of being a single black void.

All this being said, the music these two artists produced are fantastic and I couldn’t be more excited to listen to them more as the Summer turns to Autumn.

Sticker Doodle makes messaging fun again

Chad Etzel, who recently went independent, released one of the most fun apps for the iPhone this year.

If you like to have stickers in messages but always wanted to make your own you are now able to with a few taps and swipes. You can use your camera, saved photos, or draw your own! This is honestly the first app that had made stickers fun for me since it was released on iOS.

Best part? You can share the stickers you make within the app.

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