Tags Explained

An array of seven colored dots, the visual metaphor used by macOS to represent tags

Over the past five years, you may have noticed a colorful array of dots appeared to decorate the otherwise reserved Finder sidebar. Those dots are part of a relatively new feature in macOS called Tags. As the name suggests, this lets you tag files and folders in Finder with colored labels for organizational purposes.

I had nothing but apathy for the feature. With macOS’s benign default tags like “Red” and “Blue”, I was left wondering what problem tags were even intended to solve. After all, what could colorful tags do that folders couldn’t?

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Lossless Photo Sharing

A cartoon of me with analysis paralysis while looking at a pile of different photo service icons, including Dropbox, iCloud Photo Sharing, Flickr, and many more

My mom sent me an email recently asking for advice sending a couple photos to a friend. She knew that emailing worked in theory, but was concerned the pictures would be compressed at some point along the way. I had to stop and think for a moment on this one; what is the best option for losslessly sharing a photo or two with someone? While on that thought, what’s the best option for losslessly sharing entire albums of photos? In a sea of services all promising to make the confusing mess that is photo sharing a thing of the past, how is anyone supposed to figure it out?

To combat this absurdly complicated productscape, I’ve compiled what I personally believe to be the best services for losslessly share photos with friends and family, separated into two tiers based on the volume of photos being shared. Regrettably, two categories are necessary since there’s currently no “cure-all” product or service that’s the absolute best option for sharing arbitrary amounts of pictures; some are wonderful for a picture or two, while others shine best for hundreds. Like many things in life, it’s all about knowing which tools to use for the job.

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Meaningful Names

A "Hello, My Name Is" sticker with the name "FOOBAR" on it

Do you know what magic() means? How about foo(), what does that do? What about arg1, what’s that supposed to be? To be frank, I have no idea what any of these represent since the names themselves carry little to no intrinsic meaning. They’re just meaningless fluff.

Oftentimes, this is what it feels like as a developer when reading code from the community. Not all developers write code in this style, of course, but some do and it makes understanding the story they’re trying to tell nigh impossible. Even the general public can sympathize with these feelings; you’ve no doubt seen “hackers” in shows or movies clacking away alphabet vomit and wondered to yourselves, “Who the blazes can actually read that?”.

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Listing the Little Things

As is tradition, with fresh versions of Apple’s operating systems comes thousands of reviews and pop tabloids eager to cash in on the hype. While there’s no shortage of trashy, Buzzfeed-style list “articles”1, it’s situations like this where lists (when implemented correctly and with respect to the reader) prove to be quite useful. There’s four brand-new operating systems teeming with goodies, some of which may potentially never be discovered or utilized to their full potential. To help expose these otherwise obscure tidbits, I’ve compiled a short list of my favorite features and options from iOS 10 and watchOS 32.

In respect of your time, below is a linked list of my personal favorite tidbits, feel free to peruse this list first and jump to any particular ones that interest you.

📱 iOS 10

watchOS 3

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Two Is One, One Is None

Your computer is priceless. It doesn’t matter whether or not you have a new top-of-the-line desktop or an ancient, eight-year-old clunker, these computers are priceless not because of their specs but because of the data entrusted to their care. Nowadays, we trust our computers not only with memories such as baby pictures and wedding videos but also files critical to our livelihoods like personal projects and art portfolios. This data is more than just computer files, it’s an extension of ourselves: our memories, our livelihoods, our lives. This data, your data, is precious.

Yet I generally do not see this importance manifesting in protective action. From observing individuals breaking down at the Apple Store when they discover their family photos are lost forever to witnessing an artist and personal friend lose their entire life’s works, I’ve sadly also seen the consequences of neglecting such action. Depending on your response to the following question, it’s not a matter of if you’ll share a similar fate, but when: Do you back up your devices?

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