Damon Beres
Editor in Chief, OneZero Team at Medium

With Black Friday upon us, tech writer Lance Ulanoff has wisdom to share about the presents to avoid. Why are stores still hawking DVD players and Blu-Ray discs? And $25 Apple Watch knockoffs? Don’t fall for any of it.

Read the full story at the link below:

(The best one is “Feels Good Man”)

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Like many people—most of them, I’d assume—I miss quite a lot of things this year. Two in particular: My mom and movie theaters.

They’re still here, but the pandemic has rendered them inaccessible. It feels like we are divided by something like the Shimmer from Annihilation. I reference them in the same breath for the simple reason that, without my mom, I likely would not have developed my passion for film.

When I was young, she nurtured my affection for them, taking me to unusual foreign or animated features at the Century in Chicago. She enrolled me in classes for children at Facets Multi-Media on Fullerton Avenue, culminating eventually in my selection as one of a few middle schoolers sent from the United States to participate as a judge in an international children’s film festival in Giffoni Valle Piana, a small town in Italy. …

Read OneZero’s interview with author Anna Wiener

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“Uncanny Valley” author Anna Wiener. Photo: Kelsey McClellan, as seen in OneZero’s February Q&A.

Anna Wiener’s Uncanny Valley, a ruminative and cutting memoir about tech startups in the 2010s, is officially one of the best books of the year—at least, according to the New York Times. On Monday, the paper placed the book on its always buzzy top-10 list.

Earlier this year, OneZero held a panel discussion with Wiener, Jessica Powell, and our senior editor Brian Merchant, touching on topics like sexism, power, and diversity in Silicon Valley. Wiener reflected on her decision to write Uncanny Valley as nonfiction.

“My reason for writing the book as memoir was I felt that — especially as a nontechnical woman with the story I had — if I had disguised it as fiction, it would not be taken seriously,” she said. “I wanted people to understand that these things all happen, the good and the bad, that my experience here was as fortuitous as it was disenchanting.” …

I don’t agree with Farhad Manjoo’s conclusion. I can see how someone would reach it.

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Photo by Mika Baumeister/Unsplash

Last week, I cried for the first time in… well, I guess about two years, since I saw that wrenching documentary about Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. These were big, gummy sobs, the kind where your sinuses plug up and you yawp for air.

I had just gotten off the phone with my mom, whom I haven’t seen in a year, explaining that my wife and I would not be flying from New York to Chicago for Thanksgiving as we had planned. When we made the arrangements, Covid numbers were down, and it seemed — with proper distancing, quarantine measures, testing, and high-quality PPE — that we could travel reasonably safely to a gathering that would exclusively involve my mom, her partner, my wife, and me. …

Same, M.G. Siegler. Same.

In a recent post on 500ish, his blog for stories that are about 500 words long, Siegler assesses Apple’s new lineup of iPhone 12 devices, detailing why he landed on the “Goldilocks” option: an iPhone 12 Pro that is neither as big-ass as the Max nor as diminutive as the iPhone 12 Mini.

The post is worth reading for one particular reason: It’s unmistakably ambivalent about the iPhone 12 Pro. Relative to previous iPhones, Siegler says, “It’s faster, but not noticeably so. The screen is better, but not noticeably so. It’s also bluer, but also incredibly not so noticeably so!” And its 5G connection is “not really noticeably faster for the vast majority of things I do.” …

(I like them!)

I’m planning to write something longer about why I think Twitter Fleets are interesting and possibly destined for a kind of “success,” however loosely defined that may have to be—particularly when measured against a great number of problems that have yet to be solved on Twitter, such as the president of the United States, harassment and abuse (one avenue for which Fleets actually seem to have made worse), etc.

For now, I tweeted a thought that I’m going to paste here for easy reference later, and to invite responses if any of my followers feel so moved:

A lot of people I follow [are] sharing Fleets that demonstrate a different aspect of their lives than they’d normally show on Twitter. Feels like Twitter used to be, like, a waiting room populated by very clever strangers and now you can see what it’s like when those strangers go home.

Today, Medium editor at large Steve LeVine launches The Mobilist, a new blog focused entirely on the future of batteries, electric cars, and driverless vehicles.

If you’re the type of OneZero reader who cares deeply about our path to a better future—I imagine that’s most of you—I can’t recommend highly enough that you drive on over and hit that “Follow” button. LeVine’s intro piece, quoted above and linked again below, is where your journey should begin. We’ll see you there!

🚗 beep beep ⚡️

On his personal Medium blog, Homebrew partner Hunter Walk shares perspective for tech workers who worry about what it means to grow older in an industry that has a certain “incorrect (and sometimes illegal when it plays a role in hiring) age bias.”

“Let me tell you what does get better as time passes: the relationships, the accrued knowledge, your own self-awareness,” Walk offers.

The post reminds me of a story we published on OneZero last year, about “the planned obsolescence of old coders.” That story, written by A. Jesse Jiryu Davis, explores a similar theme: In an industry that explicitly prizes innovation and a knowledge of the bleeding edge, how can older workers fight against the unfair assumption that they might lack an understanding of those things? …

‘This is the future I hope we will help bring about’

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Photo: Tobias Hase/picture alliance/Getty Images

We knew all of this was coming.

On Tuesday, New York Times tech reporter Davey Alba wrote that private groups are driving the vast majority of interactions on a viral piece of pro-Trump misinformation on Facebook, operating “beyond what researchers and journalists can see.”

“Only 2.5 percent of FB activity — likes, shares, comments — is visible on public FB,” Alba tweeted, citing CrowdTangle, a social media analytics tool.

This is by design. In March 2019, Mark Zuckerberg published “A Privacy-Focused Vision for Social Networking,” a lengthy blog post that many publications took to calling a “manifesto.” This was two months after a New York Times report indicated that Facebook would consolidate its private messaging platforms on WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook Messenger into a single platform, a plan that is just now starting to come to fruition. The objective for a more privacy-minded approach, as Zuckerberg described in his blog, was to give “people the freedom to be themselves and connect more naturally.” …

The future of automotive repair just got brighter—and it may shine a light on your smaller gadgets, too

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Photo: picture alliance/Getty Images

Voters in Massachusetts voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to amend a significant “right to repair” law, paving the way to a greener future where consumers and independent shops have more control over the maintenance of their cars.

The measure, which will require automakers to share more data about the vehicles they produce, is significant in the context of a larger fight for repair laws in the consumer tech industry. Though your iPhone may appear to have little in common with your SUV, both are machines whose inner workings are closely guarded by manufacturers. That level of control means that it’s not always possible for individuals to access the information they need to fix their equipment, resulting in costly repairs from shops that are anointed by the manufacturer, or reducing a device’s overall lifespan. …

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