The podcast app for nerds who love RSS

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Last weekend, I wanted to generate a playlist of the latest episodes of all my favorite podcasts, so I could listen to them while cleaning. But I couldn’t find an easy way to do that. I’ve been using iTunes for podcasts for probably 8 years now. It’s slow and crashes a lot. But the final straw was realizing their smart playlist feature seemed incapable of just making that very simple playlist.

I thought about Spotify, but it’s also pretty slow on many of my devices, and doesn’t have some of the more niche podcasts. …


With iOS Shortcuts and Glitch, you can create powerful custom Siri commands in just a few easy steps. Here’s how!

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I’ve played Pokémon since 1998, but there are still some types of Pokémon I’m never quite sure how to battle. If I’m battling a fire 🔥 Pokémon it’s pretty obvious– use water 💧! But what about a dark type?

I wish I could ask Siri for all my Pokémon battle on-the-go type matchup needs. Sadly, if you ask her, she directs you to a web search. And who has time for that?

But now I can create my own Siri commands with Glitch and the new iOS Shortcuts app. Well, new-ish; the Shortcuts app is really just a new version of Workflow, an automation app created in 2014. Apple bought it in 2017. …


For every insect, there’s a Facebook group to celebrate it

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Photo by Wynand Uys on Unsplash

My friends complain that their Facebook is full of endless baby pictures. I nod, pretending to agree. My Facebook is also filled with babies. But they are not quite the same. Mine are spider babies. And there are thousands of them.

Bug Facebook is a loose confederation of Facebook groups devoted to various types of bugs. The first group I found was Jumping Spiders (Salticidae). I’d always been into bugs — you know, in a casual, weirdo way. But I’d just taken a photo of a pretty great jumping spider and wanted to share it with people who cared. …


Gothamist was a business model based on taking advantage of writers, we should move past it, not resurrect it

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Last autumn, Gothamist and its sibling sites like LAist and Chicagoist were shut down by their owner, Joe Ricketts after the writers unionized. It was personal for me, because a lot of my writing is on that site. For over a year I was the Chicagoist Food & Drink Editor. At the time I was an outsider in the world of professional writing. And so I had no idea that when I took the “job” it was a mistake.

To say that the Ist publications took advantage of people was an understatement. At the time the journalism world was struggling, these sites made their bucks from underpaying or simply not paying naive or desparate writers. I was firmly in the former category. I was by profession a software developer, and this was my “side hustle.” …


There are plenty of junior developers, but not many jobs for them

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A few months ago I attended an event for women in tech. A lot of the attendees were new developers, graduates from code schools or computer science programs. Almost everyone told me they were having trouble getting their first job.

I was lucky. My first “real” job out of college was “Junior Application developer” at Columbia University in 2010. These days it’s a rare day to find even a job posting for a junior developer position. People who advertise these positions say they are inundated with resumes. …


Medium gives writers a way around establishment nepotism, but also a new obstacle in the form of anti-Medium snobbery

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Last month Twitter started buzzing with anger about a Katie Roiphe piece in Harper’s potentially outing the creator of the “Shitty Media Men” list. I had to Google her because I’d never heard of her before. The results page sprawled with bylines from The New York Times, The Paris Review, Harper’s, Esquire.

I’m a member of a private Facebook group for women writers and I see these publications in many of their “pitching dream publications” lists. That’s lists of places they pitch their writing to in the hope of one day getting an article there. Pitching is a process where you send out your articles and article ideas to editors, who receive so many pitches they will probably never even see yours. …


The Aziz Ansari controversy is tearing liberals apart

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I’ve watched with a mixture of horror and fascination over the past few days as my facebook feed has been taken over by a bitter war between people who normally agree. These are largely secular liberal people in blue states. But some of them are angry at Aziz Ansari and some are angry at his accuser.

I have a different perspective. I come from a different place. I was homeschooled and had Christian abstinence only sex ed. When I faced the modern world as an adult, I was totally unprepared. And men did take advantage of me. It is a story I see repeated over and over again in “ex fundamentalist” groups I’m part of. …


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Unless you live until a rock, you’ve probably seen it on social media: someone’s selfie paired with a painting matched to their face. It’s from the Google Arts & Culture app. I downloaded it and was excited to try it for myself.

But I couldn’t find it. The app was full of stuff but these selfie feature was nowhere to be seen. A quick search took me to this article, where I learned I was possibly Gen X and/or dense

Alas, some disgruntled users (probably Gen X-ers and Baby Boomers) are giving the Google Arts & Culture app (iPhone-Android) one-star reviews, based on their inability to find the only feature for which they downloaded it. …


James Damore was fooled

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This morning I read the James Damore lawsuit against Google. It’s the second employee lawsuit I read recently against Google. The first one being the Kelly Ellis one.* They are in some ways opposite lawsuits: Damore is suing Google for discrimination against men and Ellis is suing Google for discrimination against women. Read together, they paint a picture of a company where diversity is celebrated, but women faced pay inequality and discrimination.

Damore worries that the diversity programs and initiatives represent discrimination against men and conservatives. But the thing is, there is probably nothing more conservative than diversity programs. Much of the ideology behind them comes from economists who were hardly leftists. Who believed that markets would become more efficient if we removed barriers to entry to different groups of people. That this would lead to economic growth. That discrimination is a waste of “human capital.” …


And for men who want to make Hacker News better

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Recently on a women in tech facebook group, the subject of Hacker News came up. This is a troubling subject for a lot of us. I’ve been a reader and member of Hacker News for almost 6 years. It is an immensely valuable resource for software related information and news. On the subject of gender it remains embarrassing.

This should be no surprise to anyone familiar with the industry. Hacker News was created by startup incubator Y Combinator, headquartered in Silicon Valley and funded by venture capitalist Paul Graham. The startup, venture capital, and Silicon Valley tech communities are infamously unfriendly to women. …

About

melissa mcewen

Software bugs + regular bugs

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