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Something about this video makes me realize the real reason I am blogging on Rocket Panda instead of something like SquareSpace or Tumblr. It isn't because I think WordPress is a better platform, that is debatable on many different levels. The reason is because it’s my platform. I own every pixel of this website and I can control what goes on here and what doesn't.

This isn't about WordPress though, it is about the open web. If you are unsure what the open web is, I will let Mark Surman, Executive Director of the Mozilla Foundation, explain.

Mark Surman writing on Year of Open:

What is Open Web?

“Open web” is a sweeping term — it encompasses technical concepts like open-source code and open standards. It also encompasses democratic concepts like free expression and digital inclusion.

But there’s a single underlying principle connecting all these ideas: An open web is a web by and for all its users, not select gatekeepers or governments.

At Mozilla, we compare the open web to a global public resource, like clean water or the environment. The open web is something we all depend on: to communicate and create, to work and play, to buy and sell. And like any other natural resource, it’s fragile. It needs care, because it can be polluted: by harassment and abuse, by misinformation, by bad public policy.

Why is it important?

The web doesn’t exist in a vacuum, or apart from society. The two are deeply entwined. The web is where we engage with journalism, form opinions and share knowledge. It’s an arena for politics, education, culture and science.

An open web means positive progress for all these things. A more informed public; more civic participation; more opportunities to learn and connect with each other.

An unhealthy web has an opposite effect. When misinformation, harassment or surveillance proliferate online, we lose trust in our institutions and in each other. Fewer people engage. And when closed, proprietary technology proliferates, innovation and competition are stifled. The web is no longer a level playing field — it’s a platform controlled by a select few.

While the main issue is governments seeking control of the internet, another entity is at work to wall up our content and lives: social media. I read somewhere a long time ago that you can't be playing in someone else's yard and then get upset when they kick you off it.

If Facebook one day decides that they want to close up shop all of the photos, posts, videos, status updates, and events you have put there are susceptible of going away forever. While losing a large part of your digital life can be catastrophic the thing that I think is much more dangerous is the freedoms you are giving up as a cost of entry into Facebook and Twitter and Instagram.

These social media giants aren't making these social networks just so you can stay in touch with friends and family, it is to get data and demographic information for marketing and advertisers. You are the product, and the more information these companies can get on you the better.

That said, Apple is planning to launch Sign In with Apple soon and that is a game changer in my opinion. You no longer have to use your personal information to log in to a service. You can now use great services online and in the App Store without having to worry about privacy concerns. This is the digital version of having your cake and eating it too.

I plan to remove every piece of my Facebook the moment I get married this summer. I no longer want to be a part of a company I deem to be evil, and I don’t want to keep feeding them my personal data for a myriad of reasons.

I guess what I am trying to say is when I want to share something on the internet I am going to do it on Rocket Panda, and I hope that you consider doing the same for your stuff.

The newly announced iPadOS is Apple making the iPad operating system different to that of the iPhone. Now, gone are the days of mobile browsing on an iPad, and gone are the days where changes for iPhone are less-then-optimized for the iPad1. One of the things iPadOS offers in iOS 13 is the Today View widgets being pinned to the home screen of the iPad.

Apple iPadOS Today View 060319

Now, if you so choose, you can slide the widgets over from the left onto the home screen and always have them on the home screen of your iPad. This bodes well for anyone who wants to utilize the widget screen more, as well as those who want more whimsy on their iPad; because who doesn't want a little variety on their home screen?

For me, I think this is going to make apps with crappy widgets, or no widgets at all, push to make them more usable and feature rich. I haven't been one to use widgets because it's always been an "out of sight out of mind" thing for me. Now that it's on the home screen I think that this is going to make me rethink my entire iPad workflow. Apps like Timery, Eventail, and Shortcuts offer great widgets that I can tap to run actions or use to check on something without the need of opening an entire app. For example I can run a saved timer in Timery from the home screen instead of having to open the app and tap on it or running a specified shortcut. It all lives in the widget now and makes for things to be much more fluid and smooth.

I think that the home screen for the iPad just got a whole lot more useful as well, because when the addition of the Dock on the iPad I rarely kept apps on the home screen. The Dock added a lot of utility to the iPad but with that came the question of whether to keep everything on you iPad in a folder or two within the Dock or still use the home screen even though it isn't as optimized for multitasking as the Dock was.

As of right now I am no on the beta but I plan to as soon as there is a build that is reliable. Once that happens, I think my new setup will be to have more things on the home screen because I will be going to it more and more thanks to this new addition.

I'm looking forward to seeing what both developers and other users make of this once iOS 13 becomes available as a public beta, but until then I will be keeping an eye out for any apps that make significant improvements to their widgets and share them here on Rocket Panda.

  1. I'm looking at you Shake-to-Undo 

I have been thinking a lot about habits lately and I think that one of my biggest flaws, as many others also have, is that we suffer from 3 Stooges Syndrome.

One thing, I constantly deal with is new interests and goals I set for myself when I want to make a positive change in my life. The issue is when I have so many things that it all seems to be too much.

I can’t lose weight, eat healthier, plan my mornings, read more, learn something new everyday, save more money, and do one nice thing a day all the time.

One thing I have learned over the years about myself is that I plan and set all of these things I want to accomplish and hit the ground running with every single one of them simultaneously.

Doing this seems plausible and honestly really exciting when I get started. But by day 5 I’m questioning whether I really need to go to the gym again, or I tell myself I am “too busy” writing a blog post to make a healthy lunch so I get McDonald’s again. “It’s fine,” I say to myself shoveling fries in my face, “I can afford one bad meal this week.” I am sure I am not the only one. You have probably done something similar, right?

I’d like to take a page out of The Simpsons when I talk about these kinds of things, and call it the 3 Stooges Syndrome.

As you can see in the video, Mr. Burns is in for a doctors exam. Turns out he has so many illnesses his immune system won’t let any of them through the door because they are all prevent the other from getting in (cue noises from Curly).

If we dissect this a bit and spin it to make these illnesses into goals and resolutions you make foryourself, it’s obvious that having all of these grand plans you set means nothing was going to get through that door.

I’m not saying goals and resolutions are illnesses, but I am saying that if you have too many you won’t be able to accomplish any of them. So what do you do?

For me, I had close to 10 different things I wanted to accomplish this year and I have slogged through them making zero progress on them. I wrote out all of these things on a piece of paper and really took a hard look at them. I asked myself why I want to accomplish this, what the outcome I wanted was, and what it will take to make this happen. I took an honest look at all of these things and then took an honest look at myself. What could I truly make happen this year? How many of these could I really get done? The answers for these questions made me look at these goals, resolutions, and plans and consider which are worth doing now and which are worth doing later. I decided I am going to do just one of these at a time, and move on to the next one after completing the first.

If I can get just one of these goals accomplished that’s still more than the 10 that were stuck in the proverbial door. One success is better that ten failures.

So if you are like me, and you can’t seem to make much progress on any of the myriad of goals you set yourself, take a long hard look at what you actually want to accomplish and keep the rest in your pocket until you get that first thing done.

Joe Berkowitz writing for Fast Company:

As far as I know, scientists have not conducted tests about the long-term effects of sustained exposure to podcasts. I don’t need statistics, though, to fuel my suspicions that walking around listening to other people’s voices all the time, and allowing that to become my default cognitive setting, has probably warped my way of thinking and sapped some creativity. How could the constant stream of content not train me to be a more passive thinker, a spectator of life? Listening to other people’s ideas all the time creates a buffer that might be keeping my own ideas submerged in my subconscious. Almost everything I think while mainlining Doughboys or The Dollop or The Daily is a surface-level reaction to whatever I’ve just heard. There had to be a cumulative effect of my brain functioning like a YouTube comments section.

Luckily, there was an easy way to find out whether being at Peak Podcast has taken a negative toll. All I had to do was hang up my headphones for a while. It was time for me to listen to something else: nothing.

The plan was to go on a two-week podcast fast. Two weeks may sound like laughably little time for such an experiment, but I was absolutely dreading it at the outset. It would be the longest I’d gone without a fix in nearly 10 years.

The other day I was watching a video on my iPad in my office, I paused it to go to the bathroom. I caught myself needing to grab my AirPods as soon as I pressed pause on the video so I can listen to a podcast for the 10 minutes I would be without some sort of media to consume.

I also can't fall asleep without listening to a podcast. My mind swirls with ideas, questions, fears, and just randomness that is a carnival in my mind. The only thing that helps me with it is listening to something that will drown those thoughts out.

Needless to say this article came to me at the right time. I've decided to take part in the challenge for two weeks myself starting Monday. I am sure I will write about it on here, but until then the only podcasts I will be listening to are the ones I will be recording and/or editing.

With the era of AirPower now behind us, the search for the right charging dock can be an arduous process. As someone who decided not to buy anything for their desk in hopes that void could be filled with AirPower, when the cancellation of it was announced I went on the hunt to find something to replace it.

After some time looking at chi chargers, I wasn't impressed with any of them. Those that were appealing to the eye were not so appealing to my wallet. Eventually I decided to start looking at other options out there that are wired charging docks. Docks that have been on the market long before AirPower was even announced.

Whilst looking at the options, Oittm reached out to me and offered to send me their Aluminum Charging Dock to try out. I normally don't take free merchendise to review but given my situation it seemed almost unfair to me if I said no. Two days later a package was at my home ready for me to get started putting it all together.

The build quality of this is a mix between aluminum base and stand with a plastic inside and top cover. On the outside sit 3 USB ports to plug in things to charge it with, and two USB ports on the inside for the Apple Watch charger and the iPhone charger to plug into. The base has a top cover hiding the small compartment where the 2 inner USB ports are, making the dock a lot less of a cable management device and more like a singular charger you can have on a desk.

This product has a clever way of using the wired charging cables in a way your desk still looks clean.

As you can see, the dock has a hidden compartment to place the charging cables so that you can have a dock with a single power cable running around instead of several Apple cables with separate plugs for each device.

Once you plug in the cables and have them set up in the dock you are set to go with charging both your Apple Watch and iPhone. I will say the it wasn’t a walk in the park to plug these cables in after having already fed them through their respective charging holes. Because of the small footprint, the compartment to plug in and hide the charging cables is a bit cramped. Oittm offers cable ties for the wires you are hiding but even when wrapped and tied getting the top lid to close wasn't an easy experience. I had to carefully maneuver these wrapped cables into the USB plug and then adjust the placement of these cables to allow for them to fit in that compartment. After about 15 minutes of setting this up I finally got the lid to close and everything was working fine. Thankfully, I never have to worry about setting this thing up again, because once it’s set you’re good to go.

Along with the ability to charge your iPhone and Apple Watch, the Oittm Charging dock offer 3 USB ports on the back of the dock to plug in other cables to charge your other devices.

For me this was a perfect addition so that I can use a micro-USB cable to charge my Kindle and an additional lightning cable to charge my AirPods. These extra cables don't stay plugged in all the time, but when I need them it is easy to plug them in and start charging the extra devices.

The added ports are great when you need them, and offer zero added space when you don't, making the footprint of this dock as minimal as possible, which is preferred for my small office desk I write on. All 5 ports are powered with a single AC plug, meaning that I no longer have to have several Apple bricks plugged in to my surge protector. I instead can have a single plug to power all of my charging needs.

The Oittm Charging Dock isn't a wireless charger, but if you can get over that small fact, this $35 dock offers a very sleek design that can handle a lot of charging power with a small footprint. It is a perfect addition to my office desk, and I highly recommend it to anyone in the same boat as me looking for an answer to Apple's charging problem. You can get yourself one on Amazon today.