Editor of @readtedium, the dull side of the internet. You may know me from @ShortFormBlog. Subscribe to my thought machine: http://tedium.co/

Apple finally created a phone for people who don’t really care about phones

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There’s been a lot of chatter lately about the iPhone 12 Mini failing to reach Apple’s lofty sales goals, selling well below estimates and well below competing phones. At first glance, this seems like evidence that Apple got the small-phone trend wrong and possibly split its user base.

“Apple not only launched a wider range of new models than ever before, and also divided that launch into two pairs of models, so comparison to earlier launches is tricky,” said Josh Lowitz, of Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, in comments to MacRumors earlier this month. …


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Popular email clients, particularly Gmail, have a tendency to cut emails off after a 102-kilobyte limit. Why the heck is that—and whose fault is it, anyway?

There are a handful of things I love — writing long articles, telling bad jokes, and obsessing over random bits of code.

This is probably why I run an email newsletter, which is about a week away from hitting its sixth anniversary.

But as a newsletter writer who reads other newsletters, I notice things, and one of the things I noticed recently involved Platformer, a tech newsletter by former Verge journalist Casey Newton. …


My bad Dropbox organization habits brought Apple’s power-sipping MacBook Air to its knees in just a single day

The Apple M1 chip computer logo seen on a mobile phone screen next to a larger Apple logo
The Apple M1 chip computer logo seen on a mobile phone screen next to a larger Apple logo

I’m not a video editor, but I’m pretty sure I brutally slayed the M1 MacBook Air I just bought (8 GB RAM and a 512 gigabyte SSD, in case you were wondering) in less than a day of use.

It comes down to two reasons, really: The lack of an Apple Silicon-optimized Dropbox app (it’s coming), and a solid decade-plus track record of bad habits in terms of how I store my old projects.

So, here’s the deal: For a number of years, the content management system I used for my newsletter was based on Node.js, which generally stores its…


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Why low overpasses are often so damaging to trucks, RVs, and other large vehicles — and why the ensuing crashes are so fun to watch.

To start off, I just want to offer a shoutout to the folks who have managed to ride out the pandemic in an RV. It apparently has been a booming industry, per CBS Sunday Morning.

“It’s nice knowing that we can control the environment that we’re living in and not have to worry if something was sanitized or not,” one permanent RV resident told the outlet.

I’ve always been fascinated by RV culture — I have a fully written intro to a planned Tedium issue about RVs in which I honor Casey Neistat’s 2011 RV adventure. (It will never see…


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For decades, it was easier to get a bottle of vodka in Iceland than a pint of beer. The reason says more about Iceland’s politics than its temperance movement.

Of all the things that can get you through this weird time in our lives, one of the most obvious is beer.

Beer is a beverage that should be had in moderation, of course, but these are not moderate times, so it’s understandable if you find yourself enjoying your virtual happy hours more than usual.

But what if your country prohibited beer — specifically, beer, not wine or liquor? How would that change things? This is not a theoretical situation. …


How I found home networking nirvana with a powerline connection, a form of home networking that might be called poor man’s ethernet. No drilling involved.

Medium got a new newsletter feature this week and I’m testing it by sending out my most recent issue in this format. If you prefer the full-fat version of this article, you can find it here. Just testing!

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Today in Tedium: Recently, I felt compelled to find a good way to upgrade my internet in my home, but I had a bit of a problem: my home is old, and that meant that trying to expand its ethernet cabling would have been a bit of a disaster. See, my desktop computer is on the second floor and my internet cabling…


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“Canned laughter,” a controversial element of most television comedy, feels unnerving in its quarantine-era absence. Its initial creation is downright fascinating.

As our life has been thoroughly disrupted twelve days from Tuesday in ways too numerous to count, I’ve thought about the small ways that this disruption has shown itself.

Perhaps one of the most subtle has been the loss of the live studio audience on late-night TV, the laugh tracks that have come to define that kind of comedy.

Early pandemic episodes of the The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon were shot in front of the show’s staff, and soon, after Last Week Tonight With John Oliver set the stage for everyone else…


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The surprisingly true story of Ayds, a diet suppressant candy that was incredibly successful until its name became forever associated with something else. Fans of Corona beer may see the parallels.

The recent COVID-19 health crisis has put a lot of attention around branding concerns, particularly around Corona beer, whose maker recently announced it was stopping production temporarily.

Stories like these create easy parallels that one can look towards in the past.

A few years ago, for example, the wireless industry thought it could win a potentially lucrative game — that of the mobile wallet, which was just starting to get off the ground thanks to the smartphone.

They had all the elements in place to pull it off, including support of most of the major wireless providers. …


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How the milk crate, a commonly stolen type of container, became the target of tough legal regulations — and how those regulations have started to backfire.

Sometimes, it’s possible to create something that’s too useful, that is designed for a niche purpose but is so well-attuned to that purpose that it attracts other people, who find a similar value but different use case than was intended.

And because of the sheer prevalence of said useful tool, it suddenly is everywhere — finding purpose as a cheap alternative to a trip to the local department store. If you’re the maker of that too-useful something, whaddya do?

Well, in the case of the dairy industry, you use your political influence to try to ban all those college students…


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Pondering the way that the creative process is often directed by rules which, in many cases, stifle creativity. Sometimes, you just have to throw the rules out.

Back in college, possibly the most important book I read during the entire time I was there was extremely short and very opinionated. It wasn’t even long enough to be a novella. But it was compelling nonetheless. It was a short book about design and typography called The Mac is Not a Typewriter.

A svelte style manual in the vein of William Strunk’s The Elements of Style, it basically laid out the essential elements of layout and typography in a way that was simple to understand and forced you to think about what was said. …

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