STOP! Don’t even think about upgrading to iOS 8 today!


If you were on earth today and you use technology, you might be excited about iOS 8 because you read about it on a tech blog or heard something about it on the news. You might even want it now, because there are tons of blog posts telling you how you can get iOS 8 right now. You’re wondering if it’s worth $99 to sign up for that developer account and see if all of those tech bloggers know what they’re talking about, and if the future we’re being promised on our Apple devices is really as great as everyone says it is.

I’m here to tell you one very important thing: DON’T. Don’t do it, gurl, don’t do it! Do not upgrade to the developer version of iOS 8 unless you’re a developer working on an app or something else for the platform.

Developers are a highly-evolved species of skilled digital nitpickers (ed note: I mean this with love) who are well equipped to give feedback, find security vulnerabilities, and report bugs that will affect their own software creations before this release finds its way to the public. I’ve worked for and advised a few iOS developers, and have upgraded twice to beta versions of iOS software in the past.

I am here to tell you that you don’t want iOS 8 because iOS 8 isn’t ready for your jelly you just yet. Here’s why:

1) Beta software is notoriously buggy— because it’s a first draft of a piece of tech that hasn’t yet been put through the ringer, and then shined and polished for its intended audience. There are lots of buttons and interactions that just won’t work, because the lines of code that make them run still need a bit of work to make magic happen.

2) There’s no going back. Once you upgrade to the beta version of iOS 8, you’re stuck there– there’s no way to roll back the install and revert to fully-functional iOS 7 if you decide that you can’t handle it.

3) Your most loved and frequently used apps weren’t built to work with iOS 8.  If you’re the kind of person who wants to watch  your apps CRASH CRASH CRASH until the full release, you’re more than welcome to upgrade– for everyone else, just don’t do it.

4) Your phone could lose major functionalities for the unforseeable future. Last year, I was unable to use my camera for an entire weekend and couldn’t open Mail to save my life for three days. And that doesn’t even touch the intermittent issues that popped up with both Bluetooth and wi-fi in the beta period.

5) Security. New software and programming languages are, by definition, full of security problems. Apple does an audit before they release something into the wild… but do you really want to use something before white hat hackers have had a couple of months to sniff out all of the operating system’s 0day vulnerabilities and other potential weaknesses? (In case you’re wondering, “No” is the correct answer to this question.)

6) iCloud problems, you’re gonna have them. In this particular release, iCloud is changing everything– and that means it will probably be changing server environments, too. It’s very highly likely that your device, if upgraded, will stop synching/communicating with Mavericks and iOS 7 devices. No bueno!

Today’s WWDC keynote was a show-and-tell session of some pretty exciting stuff, a, but it’s important to note that Apple’s iOS 8 was released to a community whose feedback, over the next three months, will help them polish and refine the work they’ve been doing since last Fall’s public release.

Still thinking about downloading that hot new OS? You’re not going to get to the singularity or any other fully digitally connected cyborg future by downloading the latest operating system before anyone else has it, and by putting yourself through unnecessary pain to boot. So cool your heels, put down the credit card, and wait to install iOS 8 with the rest of us when it is in full release this Fall.

We (the regular people) will need all of the help we can get crashing Akamai’s servers (if Apple hasn’t replaced them with their own CDN)  two years in a row ;)

Did I miss any other good reasons to wait before updating? Let me know in the comments!

Four Reasons To Love A Hacker

Yours truly, soldering for the first time ever. Here, I'm receiving excellent instruction on how to put together a DarkNet badge.
My first-ever attempt at soldering at Def Con 21. (#defconboyfriend was an excellent teacher, as confirmed by every person who surveyed my work for the rest of the conference.)

A few months ago– August, to be exact– I hopped a plane to attend my second-ever DefCon, a renowned hacker conference that entered its 21st year. This year’s gathering of security experts, hackers, makers, and technology enthusiasts from around the world was full of incredible talks (all of which seemed like pretty incredible feats of technology to me, given my current status of Codecademy dropout), hardware hacking, hacking contests, and other shenanigans felt feistier than ever. After having spent ten collective days in the middle of the desert (so, so hot) with hackers, here are the top four reasons I think that everyone should love them: Continue reading “Four Reasons To Love A Hacker”

Is it half empty or half full? Glass edition.

So this happened today:

White girl wearing Google Glass
Watch out, y’all– white girl wearing Google Glass!

And I’m still not quite sure what to think about it, though I do have a few very important questions for its makers about functionalities that, let’s be honest, should just be standard on all internet-enabled devices:

A little known fact about me: I’m horrible with new technology. At first, I approach it, whatever it is– a coding language, some SQL database thingy, a new app– and I am full of “Ugh! WTF is this?” only to turn around a day or so later and give it another try. I would be lying if I didn’t say that I was essite when I got my hands on them and put them on– because I was, how could I not be?!– but I didn’t get that magical transformative feeling that I’ve heard so very many people describe when they got their hands on Glass for the first time.

I’m well aware that my opinion doesn’t matter on this, and that there are many, many others out there ready to tell me what I should think about Glass and why I should think it, but I had a thing on my face today and I’m not quite sure what it was really about. It sat on my head funny, it was totally confusing to use, it didn’t take directions well (and we all know I deal with that) and I just can’t see wearable devices making sense unless the experience is just right. I’ll give it a few more chances, of course, but I didn’t love the distraction that it created or that it very literally got in the way of my being able to focus on and interact with the world around me.

My Love Affair with Betaworks

sweetheart confetti

If you’ve been anywhere near me on Twitter in the past few weeks, you’ve probably noticed one thing: I can’t stop raving about how much I love Betaworks.

Have you ever played Dots? Have you shortened a link with, saved an article for later reading with Instapaper,* used the new Digg, clipped a quote with Findings, or chased down a much sought after GIF on Giphy? If you have, or you’re crossing your fingers and toes in anticipation of their Google Reader replacement (because I am not down with Feedly, oh HALE no) you’ve used or hoped for a product in the Betaworks family, one of my most favorite ever companies that builds and ships beautiful, beautiful products. (Note: Instapaper was a Betaworks acquisition, and thus was not a product of their own creation. Thanks for helping me keep the facts straight, Allen!)

When we think of engineers, we very rarely speak of them in the same terms that we use for people commonly accepted as creative– artists, musicians, architects, writers, etc. Most of the reasons that we don’t consider our engineers and coders creative, however, have to do with the incredibly poor state of web literacy, and a widespread miscomprehension of the basic underpinnings of the web and the many technologies we use as a part of it every single day.

The building and shipping of technology products is both an act of creation and a creative act. Every bit of technology that we use on the web was created by a person– or by many, many persons. There is very, very much creativity there, behind the scenes, though that creativity is not signified through the commonplace tools that serve as tokens of an artist or creative. Instead, the invisible tools that solve the problems of a technologist– Python, C++, PhP, Javascript, Coffeescript and Node.js– are all unspoken languages filled with the awkward use of semicolons, parentheses, brackets and quotation marks that mean next to nothing to the rest of us, yet power so very many things that have become necessary parts of our daily lives.

When it comes to technology companies and the products they build, it is no surprise that I am full of opinions. Being on the technologist side of the equation– I’m forever teaching myself to code, though I’m not quite there yet–  I am the first to analyze the hell out of a product, a company, a terms of service agreement or a privacy policy to determine whether it is good for users. One of the first ways I can tell whether technologists care about their userbase is through product and Ui/UX design; a well thought out user experience and feature set can tell a user everything they need to know about the people behind the product they’re using. (The second way to tell whether technologists give any fucks care about their users is through security– given my propensity for security engineers, however, that is a whole ‘nother post for another day.)

All of that being said, it’s incredibly, incredibly rare for me to develop the kind of affinity I have developed for Betaworks for any company, and yet they have absolutely won my heart. Every single Betaworks product I’ve used (even the ones in beta!) I’ve loved, and every time, I still walk away thinking “Damn, that was good.” That they care about their users in the most important ways is easy to see. And as an avid reader, how could I not love a company that has this to say about the act of reading?

“We believe that reading as an activity still matters: the display and delivery may change (from paper to big screens to small screens and tablets, from human carriers to wires to wireless), but reading remains one of the most wonderful parts of civilization. We’ve bet on reading in the past and we’re going to keep making those bets.

No startup nor codebase nor user interface nor user experience is perfect– they are the work of humans, after all– but together, these things can be studied and analyzed to determine whether an idea, a company or a team are deserving of the time a user may invest in their product. When it comes to technology, the better the design and the user experience (and the better the security), the better the chance that the technologists behind the product care about their users.  When it comes to Betaworks, more than any other group of builders I’ve seen out there, they just get it– they nail it every single time, even when they’re experimenting and rebuilding and launching, and even when they pivot a product entirely. I won’t say that they can do no wrong– everyone, everywhere can still come up with a way to do something wrong– but I have absolutely fallen for their artistry, their creative spirit, their cleverness because it is all so very prevalent in everything that they do. I’m incredibly proud that (because they funded the company that I work for) that they are somehow part of my startup family tree, though they may need to apologize to Couple for blowing my mind and rendering me useless if I uncover another artist-inspired dots badge, say… one by Damien Hirst for getting a score of eleventy million.

Finally, the good news [#52weeks]

After what has been one of my favorite weeks since moving to San Francisco 2+ years ago, I finally have the time to sit down and share the news:

Approximation of self-portrait while essite = complete. (Image by Allie Brosh)

After taking some time to find my place in the world, I’m incredibly excited absolutely thrilled to share that I’ve joined the team at Couple as their first Community Manager. The app is a messaging app, availible for iOS and Android, and is designed to strengthen the bond between two people by serving as their main channel of communication. (Note: it works well even if you aren’t in a romantic relationship with the other person)

When it comes to work– a place where, depending what’s going on, I could end up spending 40-80 hours a week (otherwise known as ALL of my time)– there are three things that are very important to me:

  1. I have to believe in the product,
  2. I have to believe in the team (and their motivations), and
  3. I have to be in a position where I can make the world a better place.

In addition to having all three of these workplace dreams fulfilled, I can say that I absolutely adore my coworkers to bits. I’m proud to join the team and be a small part of an incredible family tree of investors and technologists. Having shared the app with [dude] for quite some time (holy crap did we thumbkiss forever), I can firsthand attest to how much strong and deeper of a bond it created between us. I couldn’t be happier to work for a product that I truly believe in, and it has been an absolute pleasure and privilege to get to know the community for which I will begin supporting and advocating over the next few weeks.

For some of you, I know that this raises an important question: what about edtech? Are you gone for good? Because of my adventures with the Plaid Avenger, I will always have a soft spot in my heart for education technology, it is part of my DNA. I will continue to support Boyer + Katie in any way I can, and I will continue to participate in the edtech community, to attend EdSurge meetups, and to advocate for thoughtful technology integration in schools. Will I go back one day? Only time will tell. But for now and for the forseeable future, I am happy to be in a place where my  contributions are valued and where I am truly needed.  

Over the past few months, I’ve been on an incredible journey to find my place in the world and to answer, once and for all, the questions I have about faith, love, and of what happiness is made. One of the things I’ve learned about myself in that time is this: love is the absolute most important thing to me in my life. It can’t be an accident that, at a time when I am very much thinking about love, I am in the position to positively impact the love communicated by over a million people each day. Even if the mystery of who I will love that way is nowhere near solved, I could not be any better situated to embark on this particular leg of my journey.

The Death of the Desktop [#52weeks]

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that my dearly beloved (we are gathered here today to mourn the passing of…) Rexie, the Macbook Pro that has been my constant companion since 2008, passed away during an ill-advised attempt to upgrade her OS. To say that I feel as if I’ve been in hell until today feels like hyberbole and massive understatement at the same time.

For the better part of the past year and a half, I’ve read endless advocacy of mobile computing. Tablets and phones are the future, says Our Lady of Silicon Valley (h/t to Dan Meyer for that jab), and desktop computing is SO over. As almost everything I do behind a machine is web-based, cloud-based, or has its own app, I thought perhaps that I’d be able to transition into a tablet-only existence sans issue. I could do almost everything that I needed to do from my iPad, right?

WRONG. Here are a few of the limitations I discovered while trying to live a tablet/mobile existence over the past couple of weeks:

  • Most of the web isn’t optimized for mobile devices. This means that many, many sites render incorrectly or are inaccessible due to relying on technology that isn’t supported on tablet devices. A great example of this: restaurant websites, which very frequently run on Adobe Flash. It’s unbelievably frustrating to find what appears to be a great restaurant on Yelp while out and about during the weekend, only to find that its site inaccessible by phone or tablet because neither support Adobe Flash. Alternately, much of the web looks hideous when viewed through the Retina display of my iPad.
  • Not all mobile-optimization is created equal. While many sites can auto-detect the browser you’re using to access them and direct you to a mobile-optimized version of a site, bugs are prolific. Buttons that don’t work, text boxes render incorrectly, and some of the best features of a tool or product are omitted entirely from the mobile browsing experience. When doing my taxes just the other day, I tried accessing an important student loan document via iPad, only to find that the PDF generated by the site couldn’t display the information I needed in Safari or Chrome. (Naturally, it opened like a charm on a non-mobile browser.)
  • There aren’t enough truly great apps– and the constant push for apps adoption of web-based services sucks for everyone. Though I’ve changed the settings in both Safari and Chrome to block pop-up notifications, there’s no way to block the “Download our app!” banners and boxes that pop up every. single. time. I visit certain sites. Sometimes, though, I just want to access a site during a casual perusing of the internet, or better yet, I want to visit on my own terms so that I can drop it into iMessage, email it, bookmark it, save it to Pocket, send it to Instapaper, share it on Twitter or god knows what else. Sure, there are more APIs (application programming interfaces) than ever connecting apps and tools to one another, but some platforms are getting more defensive of their APIs and the tools I love the most usually don’t talk to one another in this way. What is the point of downloading yet-another-app that may not have the same functionality as the full-web version or limited-mobile version of a product?
  • Don’t even get me started on whether mobile devices encourage content consumption over content creation. Wondering why I haven’t been very productive as of late? It has been im-freaking-possible for me to respond to a long email on an iPad or an iPhone, much less write a blog during the mobile experiment. Sure, I could access social media– but contributing to a chat? holding a conversation? Forget it. While I did adopt a new little video app recently released by Twitter, and Instagram /all/ the things as usual— I’m not convinced that smaller screens and touchscreen keyboards are powerful or useful enough to contribute to the writing part of contributing to the read-write web.

As I’m never one to back away from a challenge, I thought that I’d take the passing of my Macbook as an opportunity to make lemons out of lemonade and experience something new. What did I discover? That tablets and mobile devices really aren’t good for anything but light tasks, and that it’s next to impossible to get anything worthwhile done on a tablet. But what do I know?

Desktop computing is dead, long live desktop computing.