Every year since 1998, my husband and I have traveled from the Bay Area to Montana to visit his parents for the Winter Holidays. We did this before we were married and after; when we had a baby and also when we had three babies. Some years we experienced blizzards and copious amounts of snow; other years their snowy lawn was covered in patches of grass.

The only constant was me giving my in-laws tech support.

Sometimes I was annoyed by this, but mostly I liked doing it. Last year a scammer had managed to dupe my mother-in-law into giving them access to her computer by convincing her that she’d already been scammed by someone else. …


Writing

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Photo by Krsto Jevtic on Unsplash

In “How to Avoid Going Insane as a Writer,” Susan Orlean says, “I’ve realized that it’s important for me to have something to do regularly that is concrete and satisfying, to contrast with the abstractness, the impossibility, of writing perfectly.”

For Orlean, this concrete thing is ironing. Sheets and pillowcases and sleeves can be ironed to a kind of perfection that Orlean says she and no one else is ever able to achieve with the written word. …


We can’t gather safely with all of our loved ones this year, but thanks to Apple, we can now watch A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving without an Apple TV+ subscription. So, I guess we have something to be sort of grateful for?

Last month Debugger reported that, for the first time ever, the classic Peanuts holiday specials would stream exclusively on Apple TV+ and would be available only to those willing to pay the $4.99 a month subscription or sign up for one of the Apple One bundles. Not exactly in the spirit of these anti-capitalistic children’s stories.

Now, according to Variety, Apple will share the Peanuts gang’s misadventures, including Charlie’s beautiful tiny tree with the rest of us. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving aired on PBS last night, but anyone can watch it for free with the Apple TV+ app (or via the web portal for those without an Apple device) from November 25–27. You can watch A Charlie Brown Christmas the same way from December 11–13. …


Apple TV icon on a phone with a notification badge.
Apple TV icon on a phone with a notification badge.
Photo: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto/Getty Images

Late last month, Apple launched its new subscription bundle, Apple One, which offers three tiers of bundled Apple services designed to save you money. They’re also designed to convince you to sign up for services that you don’t need, or want, in the first place.

I gave Apple One a look when the company first announced it on September 15, but instead of signing up, I decided to move more of my photos over to Google Photos in an effort to reduce the amount of iCloud storage my family pays for every month. …


Attention my nerd friends, there’s another blog on Medium that you need to follow right now. It’s written by one of us — a true geek from the time before being a geek was cool. Lance Ulanoff, the former editor-in-chief of PCMag.com, PC Magazine, and Mashable, has been writing product reviews on Medium for a while, but now he’ll regularly be blogging about the tech stuff that matters from the perspective of someone who has been around long enough to know.


Lance Ulanoff published his review of Apple’s new HomePod mini today, praising its sound, ease of use, and on-device privacy. Some of these features already existed in the first HomePod, and Apple has greatly improved on them in this new smaller version.

But the HomePod mini is still no Amazon Echo or Google Home. It can’t, for example, let you play Spotify without connecting to your phone. And although Apple’s promised new Intercom features supposedly lets you use your HomePod mini to talk to the members of your family through their iPads and iPhones, Ulanoff calls this feature “clunkier than I expected.” …


Whatever the outcome of this year’s presidential election, we’re all going to be wearing masks for a while. So you might as well wear one that you can control with your smartphone. In The Bold Italic this week, Sophia Smith spoke to designer Timothy Cochran whose company created both a fiber optic mask and an LED “smart mask” that you control with an app.

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Read the full interview.


Leave it to Deadspin founder and Medium blogger Will Leitch to give us this story about how the real loser in this election is those of us who are living it out on Twitter and desperately scrolling for some immediate truth for the past 48 hours or more.

Who among us hasn’t spent hours with the FiveThirtyEight Scenario Generator and randomly thanking strangers on the internet when they give us some crumb of news that gives us hope? I too did this even though I promised you that I wouldn’t.

Read Will’s story and follow his blog because it’s a lot more thoughtful than doomscrolling Twitter.


A girl in bed scrolling on smartphone.
A girl in bed scrolling on smartphone.
Photo: Ijubaphoto/E+/Getty Images

Today is a day — like many others — when some of us will overconsume the internet, spending way too many hours scrolling through Twitter, Facebook, and the various news sites that we still trust. It’s a habit we’ve decided to call “doomscrolling.” While our friends at Merriam-Webster are still figuring out the best ways to define it, doomscrolling has already become the national pastime for 2020.

I’m a master at beating myself up about how much time I spend mindlessly scrolling. What helps me is knowing why I’m scrolling. In Elemental, Kate Morgan writes that our brains are designed to collect as much information as possible. We’re hardwired that way. According to Pamela Rutledge, director of the Media Psychology Research Center, “When you’re anxious about something, you want information, because it’s how we make our environment safe.” …


Algorithmic bias is everywhere, but few have written about the specific harm it inflicts on teenagers, many of whom spend more time on devices than the rest of us.

In “How the Racism Baked Into Technology Hurts Teens,” researcher Avriel Epps-Darling calls the algorithmic bias that we encounter “technological microaggressions” and says they appear everywhere from Google searches to who we see dancing on TikTok.

Sustained, frequent exposure to biases in automated technologies undoubtedly shape the way we see ourselves and our understanding of how the world values us. And they don’t affect people of all ages equally.

Despite all the existing research, Epps-Darling writes, most of it “fails to account for age as a dimension of inequity.”

Read more here:

About

Megan Morrone

Senior Platform Editor, Debugger and OneZero at Medium. 👩🏻‍💻 Send me your Medium stories about tech and gadgets.

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