Hi, I’m Dwayne. I’m a freelance web developer. I spend most of my time writing code, reading random things on the internet, and playing PC games. I created this website to share what I’m working on and reading about. Check out the about me page for info about me, and the tech page for more about the website.

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iOS 14.5 is out

iOS 14.5 just dropped.

I need that ability to unlock the phone with my watch when I’m out with a mask. This is the most excited I’ve been about an iOS feature in a very long time.

Some other notes about this release:

  • This is the one that adds App Tracking Transparency, the thing that Facebook is really upset about. 🙂
  • Siri doesn’t default to a female voice anymore (you have to pick a voice when you setup the phone). Defaulting to female voices for virtual assistants was a mistake, so I’m glad they’re trying to address it.
  • More emoji of course! There’s always more emoji.
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Re: Are Outdoor Mask Mandates Still Necessary?

Speaking of COVID and trying to get back to normal, I just read an article from Derek Thompson at The Atlantic, asking about the necessity of wearing masks outdoors:

The coronavirus is most transmissible in poorly ventilated indoor spaces, where the aerosolized virus can linger in the air before latching onto our nasal or bronchial cells. In outdoor areas, the viral spray is more likely to disperse. One systematic overview of COVID-19 case studies concluded that the risk of transmission was 19 times higher indoors than outside. That’s why wearing a mask is so important in, say, a CVS, but less crucial in, say, the park.

At the restaurant, however, I saw an inversion of this rule. Person after person who’d dutifully worn a mask on the uncrowded street took it off to sit still, in close proximity to friends, and frequently inside. I felt like I was watching people put on their seatbelts in parked cars, then unbuckle them just as they put the vehicle in drive.

I’m still gonna wear masks when I’m out of my apartment most of the time, even after being fully vaccinated, for a few reasons:

  1. I feel better these days when I see someone wearing a mask, so I’ll wear one myself
  2. In NYC, people like standing deep inside other people’s personal space, so masks make even more sense here
  3. In the Winter, they helped with the cold; now in the Spring, they’re helping with pollen
  4. Regardless of the situation, a mask just might help prevent another person from getting sick

That being said, yeah taking into account what we know about the virus, outdoor mask mandates aren’t very necessary. But it probably still helps the situation though.

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Re: Global COVID Cases Hit Weekly Record Despite Vaccinations

I spent the past few weeks feeling annoyed that everyone I know here in the NY/NJ area (and a lot of people I know in CA) were able to get appointments for vaccine shots well before I did. In the meantime though, global COVID cases just hit weekly records…

Jinshan Hong at Bloomberg:

The worrisome trend, just days after the world surpassed 3 million deaths, comes as countries are rolling out vaccinations in an effort to get the virus under control. The data from Johns Hopkins University showing a 12% increase in infections from a week earlier casts doubt on the hope that the end of the pandemic is in sight.

The weekly increase surpassed the previous high set in mid-December. While infection rates have largely slowed in the U.S. and U.K., countries in the developing world – India and Brazil in particular – are shouldering surging caseloads.

I’m glad parts of the world are figuring out the vaccine situation and starting to get back to some kind of normal, but overall we are nowhere near done with this thing.

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Languages of New York City

I just came across this very cool interactive map of languages spoken in New York City from the Endangered Language Alliance, with breakdowns by world regions, countries, language families, neighborhoods, etc.

From the project info:

With speakers of approximately 10 percent of the world’s 6000-7000 languages, the New York metropolitan area is the most linguistically diverse urban center in the world, probably in the history of the world.

This map is committed to representing in particular the smaller, minority, and Indigenous languages that are primarily oral and have neither public visibility nor official support.

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Re: "Them" Is Pure Degradation Porn

From Angelica Jade Bastién’s review of Amazon’s new horror anthology series Them:

Them – showrun and created by Little Marvin and executive produced by Lena Waithe – isn’t just rote, flagrantly biting the aesthetics of other filmmakers. It isn’t just morally bankrupt. It isn’t just grating in its empty platitudes and kiddie-pool-deep proclamations. I am comfortable calling it one of the most anti-Black pieces of pop culture I’ve seen in the last few years, one that left me spent after the grueling process of watching its virulent imagery.

Later in the article:

Them primarily feels empty during the first half of its run. But episode five, “Covenant I” – which is, notably, directed by the show’s only Black director, Zola’s Janicza Bravo — turns the show from a grating, hollow depiction of Blackness in America to one that revels in degrading its Black characters in a way that left me questioning both the Black creators involved and the studio system that is eager for this kind of work.

I’ve heard a few different things about the show over the past few weeks. I was slightly interested at first, but it doesn’t sound like something I really need in my life right now.

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Sleep Streaming

Thomas Wilde from an article about Twitch’s growth and the rise of “sleep streaming”:

One peculiar blip on Twitch’s radar in March came from the sudden rise of “sleep streaming,” where popular streamers film themselves while they’re napping. Two streamers in particular, Ludwig Ahgren and Matthew “Mizkif” Rinaudo, clocked in about 2 million hours watched in March where neither of them were actually conscious at the time.

I saw Amouranth sleeping on stream when I was browsing the popular page on Twitch the other day and thought it was weird. I didn’t realize it was actually a thing though.

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Re: “Please someone help me.” FaceTime users bombarded with group call spam

Dan Goodin from Ars Technica on FaceTime users receiving group call spam:

FaceTime users are getting bombarded with group calls from numbers they’ve never seen before, often as many as 20 times in short succession during late hours of the night.

Griefers behind the pranks call as many as 31 numbers at a time. When a person receiving one of the calls hangs up, a different number will immediately call back. FaceTime doesn’t have the ability to accept only FaceTime calls coming from people in the user’s address book. It also requires that all numbers in a group call must be manually blocked for the call to be stopped.

I get these “spam” calls every once in a while. I still have a bunch of numbers in my Blocked Contacts list in FaceTime from when they all called over and over for like half an hour one night. They all share my New Jersey area code.

I couldn’t tell at the time if it was legit spam or just a prank/wrong number situation.

A user can also turn off FaceTime in iOS settings or in the macOS app, but that prevents users from receiving wanted calls as well. Last, people can uncheck their phone number under the FaceTime setting “where you can be reached.” Once again, however, this will prevent wanted calls that are initiated using the user’s number.

I almost considered turning off FaceTime for a while, but I eventually blocked enough of the numbers for it to stop. It’s a shame Apple doesn’t provide any options to help with this yet.

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Re: Support Black-Owned Businesses: 181 Places to Start Online

A reader sent me a link to a blog post that lists 181 black-owned businesses by category. They wrote:

The events of last summer (BLM protests and COVID-19) saw many people rally to support Black-owned businesses. Sadly, since summer ended, people forgot to keep sharing and supporting these businesses.

I just found a new article with links to more than 150 Black-owned businesses. I was so happy to see that people still care about helping these companies thrive!

Thanks for the resource!

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Stadia Continues to Struggle

Bloomberg just published an article about Google’s struggles with Stadia. Things really haven’t been going well.

From Jason Schreier:

Players also didn’t like Stadia’s business model, which required customers to buy games individually rather than subscribe to an all-you-can-play service à la Netflix or the Xbox’s Game Pass. Paying as much as $60 for a single game, for it only to exist on Google’s servers rather than on your own PC, seemed a stretch to some. After all the hype, gamers were disappointed. Stadia missed its targets for sales of controllers and monthly active users by hundreds of thousands, according to two people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified discussing private information. A Google spokesperson declined to comment for this story.

There’s something deeply embedded in Google’s DNA that makes it great at solving huge (like exabytes of data huge) technical problems, but consistently struggle at creating actual products. If you need to manage lists of data (photos, documents, search results, messages), Google’s got you covered, but good luck getting an actual product that you’re happy holding onto for years from them.

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