Why do we still allow strikes to ruin our lives? – Good from @CapX & @andrew_lilico

An interesting piece on the historical reasons for allowing strikes which stirred the former economics student in me. When a firm was a monopsonist (i.e. the sole buyer of labour), unions enabled a workforce to gain monopoly power and counteract the power of monopoly firms. In an age where labour is more flexible, employers more numerous (i.e. there’s not just one mill in your area) and monopolies are dealt with by market forces and regulation, it’s really only in some pure public sector sectors where they’re relevant anymore (e.g. trains, publicly-employed nurses etc).

Tiny by the standards of the past it might be, but strikes are still jolly annoying when they happen. Folk ask: “Why is this allowed?” The stock answer offered – that there is some kind of intrinsic “right to withhold labour” is plain wrong. There is not, and never has been any “right to withhold labour” in the UK. If you decide not to turn up to work tomorrow, then unless you’ve arranged leave you are in breach of contract. If you incite a couple of mates to bunk off with you that’s called a “wildcat strike” and you can be prosecuted. The “right to strike” is simply a myth. All that’s ever existed in the UK is a protection for unions from being sued if they incite their members to breach their contracts by not turning up for work.

Source: Why do we still allow strikes to ruin our lives? – CapX

First impressions of Apple AirPods

I received my own set of AirPods today. My first impressions are good:

  • A very ‘Apple’ product, from packaging to the very neat case to the overall AirPod shape/design…overall the design is superb and feels premium, solid and extremely well thought out. Much like the Pencil, this is pure Apple and one of the best things they’ve produced.
  • Sound quality is better than expected, i.e. pretty good for me.
  • The case is wondefully designed: the magnets are just the right strength to snap shut the lid; the magnets hold the AirPods in their slots when upside down; it just feels premium.
  • The fit (for me) is good and whilst they feel like they’re loose, it’s tough to shake them out. They do look a little silly in the mirror (although my Jaybird X1s stick out more), but I’m sure we’ll all get used to them.
  • The interactions (pausing when one removed, the magnetic click into the case, the pairing process etc) are superb.
  • I’m not sure if they’ll replace my Jaybird X1s for the gym, but for commuting and general music listening they’re great.
  • The quick-switching between sources (this evening I’ve tested from my iPad Pro, MacBook Pro and iPhone) is fast and easy.
  • I’d echo David Smith’s request that Apple consider allowing a double tap to skip tracks; at the moment using your iPhone or activating Siri is a one step too many.

My impression of how it feels to have two wireless earbuds in your ears is not as alien as some of the other people I’ve seen who have AirPods. To me, it’s exactly what I expected EarPods without dangling wires to feel like. I don’t want to speak for comfort, I think that will vary a lot from person to person, as I never had an issue with EarPods. There is a sensation that they are going to fall out at the slightest shake but they never do.

Source: Hands-on: First impressions with Apple AirPods sound quality, pairing, auto-pause, Siri and more | 9to5Mac


[Edited to include other first impressions].

Other first impressions:

Overall, after my first day with the AirPods I’m impressed. There are a few bugs, especially with Siri control. But overall they deliver as promised. These are the earphones I want to use everywhere.

Early Impressions of the Apple EarPods (Katie Floyd)

The star of the show, though, is the neat, tactile carrying case. The AirPods slip into their little docks precisely and easily. There are two LEDs to indicate charge status. As soon as the pods are placed in the case they start to charge. The case itself, which contains the backup battery, is charged via a standard Lightning connector. In design terms the AirPods represent a prime example of Apple’s uncanny knack of getting things right.

Apple AirPods arriving everywhere (Mike Evans @ MacFilos)

AirPods are clever and fun, just like a good Apple product should be.

AirPods Impressions (Stephen Hackett)

I fully expect these AirPod’s to take over the vast majority of my Bluetooth headphones duty. The convenience, the easy access to Siri, the ability to carry them in my pocket and always be charging make the AirPods a clear winner for me. While I am certain I will miss the better audio controls you get on a corded headphone, the other features AirPod provide more than make up for this for me.

The Apple AirPods after a day of use (David Sparks)

Into the Abyss – ACLU

Following my post on online privacy, this is a really useful explainer of the global data dragnet…you can tell I’ve watched Snowden recently.

Every time you email or text someone overseas, the NSA copies and searches your message. It makes no difference if you or the other person has done anything wrong. An ACLU lawsuit is challenging this dragnet spying. We’re suing on behalf of a coalition of internet, human rights, legal, and media organizations whose work depends on the privacy of their communications.

Source: Into the Abyss: The NSA’s Global Internet Surveillance | American Civil Liberties Union