Issue 60 Dec 17, 2023

The ease of things

When I had a commute to the office years ago, I often found myself reading on my iPhone. Nothing weird about that, the same was true for everyone else on the train. Noses down, peering at a small screen. That’s the normal state of things these days. I did the same, but I shouldn’t have. You see, there was always an iPad in my bag, easy to access, and yet almost never used, for no reason other than the phone being easier to pick up. It was, after all, in my pocket.

One device, the iPhone, has a poor experience. The other device, the iPad, has a great experience. It’s night and day, and yet, the accessibility factor wins. That’s obviously also a testament to how good phones are for entertainment, but the iPad was always a superior device to me.

And yet, there I was, knowing that my iPad was sitting there, and yet I had a sub-par experience.

The ease of things matter. Picking up an iPhone and wasting away is easy by design. You see it in the workplace too, where people sit in front of perfectly capable computers, and yet they often focus on their phones instead. Sure, some apps only work (well) on a phone, and they’re the most addictive of the bunch. The hurdle is so small, it’s scary.

Everything today is designed to be easy to use. Games onboard you with a tutorial, and railroad your experience in a manner to keep you hooked. Free to play and freemium business models have taken this to the next level. It’s not just about eyeballs on ads anymore, it’s getting deep in whatever service it is, getting users hooked, that brings in the money.

It’s no surprise that Instagram still lacks an iPad app, or a reasonably usable web interface. After all, if it had any of those, then you might combat your Instagram addiction by deleting the app since it’s so hard to stay away from the phone, but you can easily avoid the computer.

It’s not just phone versus everything though, it’s other things as well. I’m an avid note-taker, always has been. Using an iPad with an app like GoodNotes gives my notes superpowers and longevity. They’re editable and searchable, it’s hard to argue about the functionality, the features are great, and add value.

And yet, as I’m working through a story, with necessary world building and various conflicting thoughts, I don’t pull out my iPad. It’s a notebook, it’s pen and paper. This is sub-par to GoodNotes, especially in a researching and exploring phase such as this one. My iPad and Apple Pencil is never far away, it might even be more handy than a notebook. Convenience isn’t the thing here, it’s the ease of getting started. Even though I’m more than familiar with writing on glass, with GoodNotes and the Apple Pencil, and I consider myself what tech people would like to call a ”power user”, I still go for my pen and paper notebook.

Easy to get started wins. It’s as simple as that. Whether it’s your entertainment fix on your commute, or working through an idea, whatever is the easiest, wins.


📒 I write almost everything in iA Writer. It’s an app that’s been around for quite some time. But, as mentioned in the essay above, I enjoy pen and paper too, and they’re doing a notebook. Yes, I want this.

🧑‍⚖️ Google is unfairly using its Play Store, says court in trial against Epic. This is mostly down to behind the scenes deals that Google does rather than the app store model. Epic lost a case against Apple which was about said model, but this is more of a fairness thing. Expect appeal’s aplenty, though.

📺 Smart TVs scan what you’re viewing and sell the data to advertisers, which shouldn’t come as a big surprise but probably is for many. The Markup tells you how to (potentially) disable it on a few popular brands. Me, I just don’t let any appliance connect to the internet unless there’s a particular service I need or trust. No thank you.

🕵️‍♀️ Bruce Schneier painting a scary picture of how all that surveillance that’s already going on will be put to more effective use with AI. For all the good AI could do for us, the threat to privacy overshadows.

🤦 If you buy a Cybertruck from Tesla, you’re not allowed to resell it without first offering it back to the company at a reduced price. Disgusting, as most things with this company is, these days.

🛞 In related Tesla news, they need to recall every car with Autopilot in the US because it’s too easily misused. Meanwhile, the union dispute in Sweden still isn’t resolved, so now Tesla’s trash isn’t getting picked up, and the conflict is spreading outside Scandinavia.

🇺🇸 One in five young Americans thinks the Holocaust is a myth, and if that’s not an epic failure, I don’t know what is.

🤡 Elon Musk unbans Alex Jones, then goes on live with him and other messed up people. X is such a dumpster fire, it’s ridiculous. Related: The Verge’s wonderful The Year that Twitter Died feature.

🧵 Meta finally launched Threads in Europe. I’m there, although I’ve yet to decide how, if at all, I’ll use it.

🪡 Speaking of Threads and the idea to integrate it into the fediverse (through the ActivityPub protocol), Kev Quirk of Fosstodon has some thoughts on this if you’re interested in the controversy that’s spreading on Mastodon. Related: Robb Knight’s post on the matter.

🐴 Short update on my search for the perfect read it later service: I’m back using Matter again.

Got something I should read? Send it to me, either by replying to this letter, hitting up on Bluesky, or any of the other means that appeal to you. Thanks!


📚 I found Rumaan Alam’s Leave the World Behind to be enjoyable, but I must confess, I don’t really get the hype.

🎵 A new Guns n’ Roses track? Don’t mind if I do. ”The General” is good, but it’ll take a couple of listens, just like ”Perhaps” did. I find it interesting that the sound is closer to Chinese Democracy than the Use Your Illusion albums. Can’t wait to see where this goes.

📺 If I don’t get the hype for the Leave the World Behind book, I definitely don’t get it when it comes to the Netflix movie. I found it weak and struggling, with weird changes from the original that clearly wasn’t as thought-through or well done as you’d expect. Not even Julia Roberts could save this one.

🎮 Still deep in Elder Scrolls Online, still enjoying a bit of Super Mario Wonder with the kid. I have been playing some Dark Quest 3 as well, it’s pretty good if you like traditional board-game dungeon crawlers.

That’s it for this week, and the year as well. Next Sunday is Christmas Eve, which is the big one here in Sweden, and the one after that is New Year’s Eve, where I’ll be hosting a small party. So, I’ll catch you next year, unless something unexpected happens. There might be updates on the site though, so do consider subscribing to the RSS feed if that’s your jam. You’ll find the link at the bottom of the page.

If you want more of me, feel free to follow me on your social platform of choice. All relevant links are available on

I hope you’ll have a great holiday and end of year. I’ll catch you in the next one.

— Thord D. Hedengren ⚡

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