Rich Stroffolino

Thank you health insurance. The cost of a visit is either a bargain or on average.

On the one hand, the external eye thing is still deeply unsettling as presented in all Apple marketing. On the other hand, maybe it’s like mixed reality litmus test. If you’re on board for that, you’re down for anything.

Recently I switched from TinyLetter (RIP) to WordPress Newsletters. Only regret so far is that I lost my published back catalog of newsletters. But just for media handling alone I’m glad I made the switch. TinyLetter couldn’t do things like rotate an image in the app. Turns out WordPress is good :)

I really though Apple would announce plans to offer in-store demos ahead of the launch to further build hype. I’m sure in-store experiences will be a big part of the launch plans, but was hoping to get a look a little earlier.

Every once in a while, I’m tempted to log into my Nextdoor account.

Microsoft deprecates Mixed Reality

It’s kind of crazy that given the VR boom Meta saw in the pandemic that Microsoft couldn’t make any play with Windows Mixed Reality. But given that we’re just seeing usable color passthrough in the Quest lineup, not all that surprising. I’ve loved the idea of the HoloLens, but given they never really allowed consumer sales, they clearly knew the execution wasn’t there. Very interesting timing to see Apple’s big mixed reality bet coming in the next few months.

Stacking the AI Turtles

A lot of times when dealing with complicated systems, it’s easy to get to a “turtles all the way down” point. What’s interesting with a lot of AI conversations right now is we’re watching ourselves stack the turtles.

I found myself stacking turtles reading this article about the impact of Amazon’s AI summaries on product sales. Basically sellers say these summaries over index on negativity. So I can see the utility in Amazon making these product review summaries, but also how this could really hurt a seller. But because there will be no way to scale any kind of human curation of these summaries, the next inevitable step will be to have an LLM review these summaries for overly negative content. Which then will require this ever spiraling series of LLM review because we are setting up systems that cannot scale to human curation. Turtles are now stacked. It’s supremely bizarre to see this happen in real time.

Hacking with Mr. Cooper

Just 14 million people with social security numbers and banking information exposed. It’s crazy how numb we are to this reality now. Like no one in my social circles will have this on their radar. And I don’t blame them because next week another MOVEit victim will have millions of people’s medical data exposed.

So I was recently on DTNS talking about migrating away from TinyLetter.

One thing I forgot to mention, I found a way to export the content of newsletters! TinyLetter lets you easily export your subscriber lists, but otherwise you can only export the record of each newsletter being sent (time, date, title), but not content. Turns out you’re a wget command away. Tried it and it worked beautifully to back up over five years of newsletters.

TL;DR on the migration, ended up going with WordPress.

Patreon showing some middle child energy here

My small (ha) issue with Micro Blog: I want my posts on my site to have titles, but if I add one, it only posts the title and the link to social feeds. I find it a lot more engaging to share the first part of the post. I guess I could just edit to add a title after, but that’s kludgy.

The Yak Bak Is the Exception to 90s Nostalgia

We’ve reached the point of 90s nostalgia that I’m shocked when there’s something from the era has escaped the capitalistic urge to sell the memory back to me. One random toy/gadget recently popped back into mind and it seemingly will remain in the dustbin of the 90s, the humble Yak Bak. This was a solid state voice recorder that let you play back a short recording. The later models added effects and had build-in sounds. Much like the low end samplers of the era, you were required to put fart sounds on them.

I think the ads at the time tried to play off the novelty of the tape recorder from Home Alone 2. I got one for Christmas as a kid and was both fascinated by it and never quite knew what to do with it. One of those gadgets they can sort of make look cool in the commercials but ends up in a junk drawer.

However I recently had the urge to acquire one for my son. He loves when audio gets cut off when you’re turning off the TV or music. He thinks its hilarious and will repeat it for days on end. So he might actually get some enjoyment out of the short recordings from a vintage Yak Bak.

Sadly I was surprised to see that the Yak Bak revival has never come to pass. There were surprisingly few models on eBay and not even a ghost brand to sell me a Alibaba knock-off could be found online. I can completely see why. Even when I had one in the 90s, I knew the voice recorded in Windows 95 did the same thing much better. When you have a voice memo app on every phone, it’s hard to make a nostalgia case for the Yak Bak.

So Yak Bak, I only sort of mildly liked you back in the 90s, and now you’re a utility phone app. So I guess I should give my son an old tape dictaphone instead.

Amazon re-released a Fire TV Cube as an AWS thin client. It costs $199, while you can pick up a Fire TV Cube for $109. While I’m sure there’s some cost of developing a new software stack for enterprises, this says much more to me about how the consuming-facing platform is subsidized by ads.

Replying to a text with a voice memo is a profound breach of the social contract

Teenage engineering has justifiably gotten flack for creating designer audio gear that is ridiculously expensive for what it does. Their recent Field series saw them a long way from the entry level price point of Pocket Operators. Glad to see them making something much more approachable with their new EP-133.

One, it looks awesome, like a Famicom meets a Speak and Spell. But more importantly, for a $300 sampler, it seems to check a lot of boxes. Stereo sampling, lots of effects (including for external sources), velocity sensitive pads, deep sequencer, not completely crippled I/O, there’s a lot to love!

Now it’s Teenage Engineering, so there will assuredly be a weird UI, frustrating limitations (64MB of sample memory to start), and likely quality control issues. But it’s way cheaper than the SP-404, which is I’m guessing its main competition. Nice to see them making functional things that I can actually afford (that isn’t a weird wooden chorus).

The Verge published a nice piece talking with TE co-founder David Eriksson with some more thoughts on how they designed it. Hopefully we’ll see some other Pocket Operators “upgraded” to the EP lineup. Would love to see a dedicated drum machine with this form factor.

I though this would seen Altman start a new venture and then Microsoft eventually acquire it. But they must have given him a Scrooge McDuck vault of money to hire him directly

My son got this from the school library and I hope he gets the series

I am evidently a podcast hoarder

I’ve been using Artifact as kind of a recreational news reader. I don’t like it for breaking stuff but it’s pretty good for lighter fare. But I’ve been completely spoiled by its clickbait headline rewriting feature. It’s changed the way I engage with that type of content.

I love Descript but it has no chill

Microsoft’s Copilot Studio announcement makes how it will differentiate itself from OpenAI more plain. I feel like the underlying LLM models will reach an even greater degree of parity, so then it becomes about the tools to operationalize the tech in an organization. Microsoft’s specialty.

It’s a bummer that my kid’s school PTA uses Facebook Groups for everything. Not even an anti-Meta thing, I just don’t think to go on the platform anymore. Would much prefer a WhatsApp chat or a Discord server. But I’m not volunteering to migrate it or convince everyone its worth it. The thing is, Facebook Groups is a good product.

The class system in Beauty and the Beast is messed up because my reaction to getting turned back into a human after a decade as a candle stick would be to quit that job.

Using Continuity Camera on macOS is a better option than a dedicated mirrorless camera. Where you lose out is not having any settings (it doesn’t always handle backlighting well), and it doesn’t play as well with some prompter hardware (camera is too wide). A settings panel would make it perfect.

I’m ripping a CD to my computer for the first time in at least 7 years. Middle Cyclone by Neko Case. Picked it up at a library sale, so let’s see if it’s not scratched beyond repair.