Apple Vision Pro reviews and commentary

If you’re interested in understanding Apple Vision Pro,  I recommend the review by Marques Brownlee (MKBHD), who says, “Just as interesting as this individual product is the possible future that this implies”

Apple Vision Pro Review: Tomorrow’s Ideas… Today’s Tech!

As usual the production is superb, but more important is the insight Marques brings. Watch the whole thing. 

Marques also did an earlier video that goes into the details of Apple Vision Pro, how to use it and how the gesture control and other features work. It’s excellent for those of us who like to dive into the details. 

Using Apple Vision Pro: What It’s Actually Like!

I also have to point you to the video Casey Neistat made. It’s ridiculous and also profound. It’s hilarious watching him riding the subway and walking around Times Square. And you get the feel of what this thing is like, better than any other video I’ve seen so far. His commentary at the end is spot on. Check it out:

the thing no one will say about Apple Vision Pro

The conversation about what this thing means and how to think about it is expanded in The Talk Show 395, With Special Guest Adam Lisagor

 You can get this as an audio podcast, but the video, showing John and Adam as their Apple Vision Pro personas is worth watching. Adam’s company, Sandwich, makes commercials with personality and style. Adam understands how to communicate about technology, and their conversation about Apple Vision Pro touches on all those human elements of what this technology means. Yeah, it’s long. I think it’s all worth watching, but you can check out the intro for the first two minutes and then skip to the chapters that interest you. The Chapters “Using Vision Pro”, “The Apple Ecosystem”,  and “Filmmaking and Vision Pro” are my own highlights. 

So now that I’ve given you a bunch of homework, what’s my take on this new device and the future of this new technology? It’s pretty simple: You don’t need an Apple Vision Pro. But you will. 

An Old Server, Renewed

I’ve had my hands in Unix/Linux system administration for most of my life. I first touched Unix at University, but didn’t really get into it until a couple years later when I was working in Manufacturing and Technical Support in my first job. Later, at Silicon Graphics, I was deep in it – at one point being the go-to person in our backline support center for obscure topics like troublshooting a problematic (old unix heads will understand). And of course, I’ve administered my own Linux systems since the 90’s.

Some months ago, a warning about PHP compatibility in WordPress woke me up to the reality that my system that serves this site was terribly out of date. I had done security patches and various updates, but the long rock-solid foundation of Ubuntu 16.04 (LTS) and Nginx 1.10 should now be brought up to current along with PHP. Took me a few months to get around to it.

Think how daunting this task is. Each major update of an operating system is fraught, even for Windows and macOS which assume less sophisticated users than does Linux.  I had a carefully crafted multi-site Nginx web server, handling five domains and two semi-private experiments in a combination of plain HTML/CSS and dynamic database-backed Content Management Systems (mostly WordPress). To bring this server up to current, Linux would require three (3!) major updates, not to mention the updates to MySQL, PHP, Nginx, and other various bits. sigh

An alternative was to set this all up from scratch again. I could setup a new server with Ubuntu 22.04, and the latest Nginx and PHP, and maybe move the database to MariaDB. I played with this for a bit. Setting up the new server is a quick thing, but getting everything else migrated and working just right… Another sigh.

So I bit the bullet and ran the updates. 

Ubuntu 16.04 -> Ubuntu 18.04: pretty easy

Ubuntu 18.04 -> Ubuntu 20.04: Ok, that wasn’t so bad.

Ubuntu 20.04 -> Ubuntu 22.04: Hmmm. Seems like it just worked. 

I tried not to hold my breath too much as I started my testing. I had to disable and delete Apache, which had somehow got installed and enabled even though Nginx was already configured. I had to make a few changes in my Nginx configs so that the various domains would use the right version of PHP. A couple other small tweaks, like disabling a broken old WordPress plugin that wasn’t needed anymore, and… 

It worked! Wow! 

Deepest thank to all the Open Source contributors that make this possible. Truly amazing!

The future social internet

The Social Internet today is a mess. Users are tracked across the internet and manipulated for more engagement to drive advertising revenue. However, big social media sites are faltering.

There is a better future coming. Much better in fact.

ActivityPub is a protocol that allows for sharing and social connection across the internet in a connected network of different systems. People talk about Mastodon (mostly) and other “federated” social networks.  Underneath it all is ActivityPub.

Your Email uses the SMTP protocol to exchange messages. Similarly, federated social networks use ActivityPub. Your Website uses HTTP/HTTPS to deliver your website pages to people who come to your site, and federated social networks use ActivityPub to deliver what you post to your followers and also to bring to you the posts of the people you follow. These analogies break down if you look closely at the technical detail, but the important thing to know is that these standards allow all these systems to interoperate over the internet.

ActivityPub’s interoperability allows people to make different software to deliver different experiences to users and their communities. It also means that you might have your own, something that’s just you.

The big players are getting into the act. Meta’s Instagram has promised ActivityPub support in Threads, Tumblr is adding support, and WordPress has support already.

There are, and will continue to be, many different takes on social networks and the software that powers them, but they will all connect in a federated system using ActivityPub.

My prediction is that many organizations and communities, and even individuals, will run their own ActivityPub-based social network. Most people will belong to more than one – each for the different community experience they provide. Your professional association, your workplace, and your local birding club will all have their own, tailored and administered differently for each community. Having one of your own will be as simple as having your own email address.

I am exploring these new social media systems and how they are used to create community and build connections between people. Follow along here.

If you are on Mastodon, you can find me on @dariusdunlap

I’m also on, at

Developer support is key to The new visionOS platforms

A key element of the success of visionOS and the Apple Vision Pro will be how they handle Developer support over the next several months. And it’s not enough to let those developers get their hands on the hardware with some access to support from Apple. It’s critical that the Apple staff that supporting these developers be very active in their code-level and design and interaction support, with a goal to learn from the process actively, and to bring that learning back into Apple for the benefit of visionOS, the Apple Vision Pro and future products, the supporting APIs, the development tools, and the developer support process itself.

The people supporting developers as they learn how to work with visionOS and as they create new apps, games and connected products will be immersed in the developer’s work. This is not just about getting bugs fixed or clarifying the documentation or making improvements to the tools. The learning coming in from this effort should be an important part of the definition of where this thing goes next.

Design in visionOS

The WWDC23 session “Design for spatial user interfaces” gives an excellent overview of how some of the interactions work in visionOS. It’s impressive, and very Apple-like, the care that’s gone into designing these interactions and the supporting elements.

Summer of Blogging

The folks at are running a fantastic promotion, Summer of Blogging. You get their standard plan for just $1/month for four months (and after that it’s just $5/month).

It’s an easy way to get started with blogging. As the folks say:

Personal blogging is making a comeback. Post short thoughts or long essays, share photos, all on your own blog. makes it easy, and provides a friendly community where you can share and engage with others.

It’s Hip to Be Square

Dave and Gina Pell were among the very first to encourage and support our dreams for Square Peg Foundation. They were there when we were just a couple people with a few horses and a dream. Their support and the support of so many others over the years has kept this dream alive through some difficult times, and made possible all we do today.

One of my favorite daily reads is Dave’s NextDraft, but sometimes I miss a day. So I’m a bit embarrassed to say that I didn’t see the January 27th issue, where he had these kind words for Square Peg Foundation:

“Since 2004 Square Peg Foundation has been providing homes and meaningful work for ex-racehorses who, for whatever reason, would have trouble finding a home in equestrian sports. Today, with our 25 horses, we serve hundreds of autism families every year, we are the designated provider of equine services for San Mateo County Mental Health, and we provide meaningful paying jobs for eight young adults with autism. We currently have over 100 families on a waiting list for services.” Let’s do something good this weekend. Square Peg is an incredible organization that does good things for people and animals. I’ve known the founders for years and wholeheartedly vouch for them and the program. The recent California storms hit them hard. Join me in supporting their Go Fund Me.

Joell and I went looking for this after getting a very kind donation in a card from a NextDraft reader. Checking our GoFundMe, we also see a strong uptick in donations starting on the 27th.

As I write this, it’s raining again. But we have good news. After many years growing at the beautiful Kastl Rock Ranch, we have started our move to Ocean View Farms in Montara. Six horses are there already, and the other six will move in the coming weeks. There is a lot of work (and expense) in moving this size program, but once it’s all complete we will be able to even better serve our families and the animals.

IMG 4704
Ocean View Farms sign at the red brick gate, with the coastal hills and a rainbow in the background.

Take control of your online life

There are so many ways to get started, the choices available can feel like their own barrier. But these days it is easier than even just a few years ago. In the IndieWeb community, we still recommend you Get Started with your own domain and website. But I admit that’s a big lift for folks who are just beginning to think this through. Several choices to be made and so many options for each.

Tantek is providing advice, tools and words of encouragement on his 100 Days of IndieWeb series. He starts with a simple observation and words of encouragement to Own Your Own Notes. Each day, Tantek is presenting a short bit of advice about how to proceed. At this writing he’s a couple weeks in. Follow through the links at the bottom of each post to the next one in the series.

My own advice is to start with It takes minutes to get started, and you can optionally use a domain name of your own. They have a free 30-day trial, and inexpensive plans with great features. even ties in seamlessly to the fast-growing “Fediverse” of systems that communicate using ActivityPub, allowing you to follow and also be followed by someone using Mastodon, Pixelfed or any of the other compatible services.

The Timeline is often the wrong paradigm

It’s great to see folks stepping away from assumptions brought over from other social media systems. The river of posts may serve the attention merchants’ engagement goals when they can keep you endlessly scrolling, but it’s not the way we naturally think. So we have filters and other methods of tightening our focus down to the “important stuff”. Or maybe the important people.

Better yet, rethink that interface. We’re seeing a lot of that kind of creativity happening.

Ben Brown, @benbrown, author of Shuttlecraft ( is experiementing with a news reader style interface that lets one browse by person/feed.

I think it’s a great idea, so I told him so:

This started a whole conversation between us, which was very fun.

The creativity and fun of the ActivityPub world (which is not just Mastodon) reminds me of the early days of Twitter when their open developer APIs created an app ecosystem that was dynamic.

Moving from Dark Sky to Apple Weather

Apple Support has posted a helpful guide to Apple Weather especially for people coming from Dark Sky:

Dark Sky’s features have been integrated into Apple Weather. Apple Weather offers hyperlocal forecasts for your current location, including next-hour precipitation, hourly forecasts for the next 10 days, high-resolution radar, and notifications.

Apple Weather is available on devices running iOS 16, iPadOS 16, and macOS 13 Ventura. If you’re new to Apple Weather, here are some tips to get started.

The background, in case you are wondering and don’t already know, is that Apple bought Dark Sky a while back, and now they have shut down that service.