Hi. I’m Duncan Davidson.
I am a Startup Advocate and CTO in Residence at Microsoft for Startups in Berlin, Germany. My job is to provide advice for startup founders and CTOs and help them prioritize, focus, and think through their work.
New research from ETH Zürich shows that there’s room for a trillion trees which would sequester two-thirds of all the CO2 emissions humans have generated. Ever.
Wow. It’s time to start planting.
Einstein’s biggest legacy may be the idea that some changes don’t change anything at all.
It was a fast intense travel week last week. 13,319 flight miles in 6 days. Two events on two continents. I powered through it by focusing just on what needed to be accomplished, making sure to see and enjoy some the beauty in my surroundings, and by getting as much sleep as possible.
My inbox is a disaster as a result. Oh well.
If you are using Linux on Windows, then you should definitly check out WSL2, now available to Windows Insiders.
Apple’s WWDC mojo shows back up
Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) used to be the highlight of my yearly conference schedule. The announcements about what was coming next from Apple were central to both my work with the Apple Developer Connection and the books I worked on. And, it was always a fun time to reconnect with friends. Even when it was no longer about my work, it’s been one of the events I really looked forward to for the betters part of two decades.
The last couple of years, however, Apple has felt distracted and maybe a bit like they’d lost the plot. Once a company that reliably shipped the products they announced, they had slipped into a cycle of announcing cool-sounding stuff way before they’d actually done the work to see if it was viable. The HomePod and AirPower are two good examples. The first made it out as a decent product. The second, well, it finally got unceremoniously canceled recently.
And, don’t get me started on the damn butterfly keyboard fiasco.
It happens. Companies go through cycles. In Apple’s case, maybe they’ve been distracted by completing Apple Park. It wouldn’t be the first time in Silicon Valley that a company’s slide into mediocrity or beyond coincided with their building of a fancy new campus.
Regardless, any interest I had in WWDC this year was mostly centered on seeing where Apple is going and if it was going to continue drifting away from what I find interesting. In conversations with friends, I boiled down what I was looking for to: 1) An answer to the Mac Pro question; 2) A path forward for the iPad to grow up; 3) Something that indicated that Apple was thinking more holistically about their platforms as a group rather than point devices.
I was pessimistic enough to give the chances of good answers to those questions about 25%.
I’m so happy my pessimism was misplaced.
Yes, the Mac Pro is out of most people’s league, but we were asking for a no-holds-barred pro machine, and we got one. I can’t justify buying one right now. Hell, my four-year-old iMac is still running great. But damn… If I ever need that much power on my desktop, I’m glad the option is there.
The big announcement for me, however, and the one that has brought back a lot of interest for me in Apple’s platforms is SwiftUI. Holy smokes. It looks really, really, really good. Between that and Project Catalyst (formerly known as Marzipan) which allows building iOS apps for the Mac, the development story across the Mac, iPhone, and iPad is now heading in a much better direction.
To be sure, there’s still some tone-deafness in the air. The pricing reveal on the $999 monitor stand, for example, was this year’s equivalent of showing off a 24K gold Apple watch. And the shock of it would have been totally avoidable if they’d priced the monitor with the stand, then offered a discount for all those pros buying the monitor without it.
Regardless, however, it’s good to see Apple get some of their mojo back. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go read up more about SwiftUI.
C J Silverio’s story of npm and call to replace it is increadibly important.
Whether or not Entropic is the right answer doesn’t matter as much as the fact that she’s asking the correct questions and is taking action.
The loudness of American airports
As soon as you arrive in the United States from overseas, people are yelling at you. First, they’re telling you which queues to use depending on which passport you have. Somehow, the printed signage doesn’t suffice, though I have a hard time believing that uniformed officers quickly barking orders at people is of much use to a foreign-language speaker.
Get through that and, if you need to transfer flights, it’s right onto baggage recheck and then into a security queue were TSA agents are loudly rolling off many rules to follow. Shoes off. Jackets off. Computers out. It’s not the first time most people have done this, but screens and signs indicating what to do are not enough. I don’t know how people who aren’t American can even understand what’s said most of the time.
And then there are the televisions with the talking heads arguing with each other. And the endless “This is a security announcement…” announcements blaring over that.
Airports in Europe aren’t without their own quirks and stresses, but the first thing I appreciate when arriving in Europe on a flight from the United States is the relative difference in sound and tension. Walk off the plane. Find your way using the signage. Walk. Go through passport control without a stream of words yelled at you.
My favorite airport to arrive into from the States right now is Munich. It feels like a sanctuary. It’s almost too quiet.
I’m generalizing, of course. Every airport and every country has its own quirks. Berlin Schönefeld, for example, is an absolute chaotic disaster for a northern European airport. But, the next time you go between countries, listen.
Notice the difference. Enjoy the difference.
It’s only been two years since the National Grid first ran without coal power for one full day. This is how progress is made.