Zip It

From How-To Geek:

The year is 1995. You’re stuck with slow floppy disks that only hold 1.44 MB of data. But there’s an exciting new technology: Zip drives, which can hold 100 MB and free you from floppy disks!

Now, 25 years later, we look back at Iomega’s Zip technology and its history. Did you know some industries still use Zip drives?

Zip disks were fairly ubiquitous by the time I left high school and entered college. Anyone who needed to move (relatively) large amounts of data around had a drive (or had one built into their computer.) Reliability issues and the rise of fast networking killed off the Zip almost as quickly as it emerged though.

I never owned a Zip drive personally. I instead had placed my bet on the SyQuest EZ 135 drive. It was slightly more expensive than the Zip, but considerably faster and more reliable — it used hard platters (like a hard disk) rather than the “floppy disk” medium that Zip disks utilized. I bet on the wrong technology though, as SyQuest filed for bankruptcy pretty shortly after I bought into their tech. Sigh.

Bookmark it for life

My oldest daughter, a student at a prestigious northwestern institution of higher learning, is contemplating a trip across the Cascades this weekend. Seeking my advice as a sage veteran of mountain pass travel in Washington State, I sent her a link from my browser bookmarks: the Washington State Mountain Pass Road Report. She then asked for a phonetic spelling of “Snoqualmie” (she’s not a local, so don’t laugh) but I digress.

A few things then dawned on me. I’ve always kept meticulous backups of my data, so I’ve been using the same bookmarks across computers and browsers since at least 1998. I had sent her a bookmark that I had created in 1998 or 1999, back when I frequently traversed Snoqualmie Pass between my school in Tacoma and my home in central Washington.

Maybe it’s nothing, but it really seemed amazing that I was able to send a URL that I had bookmarked while in college to my daughter while she’s in college 20+ years later. It’s also pretty wild that WSDOT has faithfully maintained the same URL structure on their site such that this URL string is still perfectly valid, with no redirects (other than to HTTPS), today. Kudos to their IT team.

Email: Embrace The Chaos

Really enjoyed this piece by Rachel Kramer Bussel:

 Not for the first time, I considered declaring email bankruptcy: mass-deleting all the newsletters, marketing promos, Google news alerts, and notes from friends, family, and work contacts that accumulated over the years. I’d give myself a blank slate, one that allowed me to actually notice the professional opportunities that came my way. Yet I couldn’t bring myself to nuke my inbox entirely. What if I wanted to reread a note my late grandmother had written to me? Or look up which Black Friday promos a company offered in 2016 to better inform my shopping this year?

I long ago learned to stop worrying about my email. We all get a ton of email, and if you’re a grownup, you probably have 3-4 different email accounts that you are responsible for patrolling. My work account has 48,322 unreads; my primary personal account has 2,805; secondary personal (the one where the volume of junk is so high that it exists only for shopping receipts; everybody has that one account) is at 95,776. Collectively, it’s a lot but it’s not impossible.

Here are my tips for managing the chaos:

Turn off unread flags.

If you are determined to leave behind that “inbox zero” silliness, then this should be your first step. Go into your email app or notification settings, and turn off the unread counts/flags. I’m referring to the “14,778” number that appears on the icon of your email app, which signifies the number of unread emails therein. Turn that shit off. That number is meaningless, and it just causes anxiety.

Search is your friend.

Don’t bother filing emails into a labyrinth of folders and sub-folders. It takes too much effort and it won’t really help you find anything any faster. Use the Archive function if you must, but the Search feature is your best friend in taming the chaos. The search function in most modern email apps is fast and accurate. Need to find that one email from HR that they sent six months ago? Type in a few keywords and scroll the results to the correct time frame…there’s the email you wanted.

Flag the vital stuff

If it’s an email that you will absolutely need to reference or respond to later, go ahead and flag or star that bad boy. This is particularly important if the sender or content isn’t memorable or unique enough to easily surface in a search.

Never Delete

Most email takes up very little actual storage space, so there is rarely any benefit to deleting something — especially if there’s any chance of you needing it later. Again, search is your friend.

Just wait.

If you receive an email that gets lost in your chaos and it needed a response, just wait. If it’s truly important they’ll email you again.

“…no such thing as a backdoor just for the good guys”

Apple responds to AG Barr on phone unlocking: read the full statement here:

Earlier today Attorney General William Barr called on Apple to unlock the alleged phone of the Pensacola shooter — a man who murdered three people and injured eight others on a Naval base in Florida in December. Apple has responded by essentially saying: “no.”

“We reject the characterization that Apple has not provided substantive assistance in the Pensacola investigation,” the company said. “It was not until January 8th that we received a subpoena for information related to the second iPhone, which we responded to within hours,” Apple added countering Barr’s characterization of Apple being slow on its approach to the FBI’s needs. However, it ends the statement in no uncertain terms: “We have always maintained there is no such thing as a backdoor just for the good guys.”

Apple’s position is the correct one. If you create a software backdoor or a weakness in encryption, it will inevitably be exploited by bad actors. How do we know this? Because even the NSA can’t keep its top secret tools and methods out of enemy hands.

Microsoft’s Satya Nadella also got in on the debate:

“I do think backdoors are a terrible idea, that is not the way to go about this,” Nadella said. “We’ve always said we care about these two things: privacy and public safety. We need some legal and technical solution in our democracy to have both of those be priorities.”