I listened to the episode 110 of the Talk Show today, in which Merlin Mann talks movies with John Gruber. Towards the end they focussed on the subject of kids’ reactions to various scenes and how surprising some of the things that resonate with them are. I am a bit younger than both of the aforementioned gentlemen, hence I watched the same movies they did, just at an earlier age. I vividly remember only two of them until I was eight or so—the first was Star Wars, the other Gremlins.
Apple introduced Retina screens in the MacBook Pro a few years ago and I never took the plunge. I had no need for a 13” laptop at the time and bought a 11” MacBook Air1 a year later. What convinced me was its small size and long battery life, and I needed a mobile typewriter and access to Lightroom when traveling, to be able to offload my memory cards and perform a preliminary selection of the shots I took—this would later turn out to save me hours of work.
- Mid 2013 model. ↩
Retina screens have been a part of my life since the iPhone 4 and iPad 3. Apple achieved something incredible by quadrupling the pixel count—it removed a barrier between the content and its reader. I still remember how I considered the first iPad and iPhone 3GS to have amazing screens. That all changed soon enough and I cannot imagine going back to traditional displays in my mobile devices. Despite the advances in mobile LCDs I was still relegated to using a traditional display on my 27″ iMac and MacBook Air. The former was good enough when viewed at a normal distance while the latter, used as a typewriter, most of the time of my knees, didn’t bother me at all. Despite that, I still longed for a Retina displaying having reviewed a few MacBook Pros.
I’ve had a number of different Macs over the years, none of which have been able to fulfil my needs. Some have come close, while others are about as far as possible from my needs. A new one is on the horizon—will it be my unicorn?
Federico Viticci wrote a
post review as close to a book as you can get about Twitter clients. He really does get down into the specific details of each one. Since Twitter is one of my favourite ways to waste spend my time, I jumped in with gusto. A few paragraphs in, I noticed the following words, which tie in exactly with my own thoughts.
I’m a Twitter completionist. Because I’ve always used the service to discover interesting new apps and links, I’ve developed a habit of trying not to miss a single tweet that is shared or retweeted in my timeline, with the only exception for the weekends.
Particularly after launching better linked posts on the site and starting our MacStories Weekly newsletter with a dedicated Links section, discovering stuff on the Internet has become essential to my livelihood, and Twitter is the best (and most diverse) service for this. I know that I haven’t missed cool apps, links, and news thanks to my dedication to reading my entire timeline every day, and for this reason, in spite of strong evidence suggesting that Twitter doesn’t intend timelines to be consumed this way, I won’t change how I read Twitter.
This behavior makes timeline gaps and timeline sync one of the most prominent aspects I have to consider in a Twitter client. I want to be able to wake up in the morning and start reading my timeline from where I left it the night before; and, I want to know that I can close Twitter for a couple of hours in the afternoon without losing my place in a stream of tweets. More importantly, whenever a timeline gap occurs I need the ability to load tweets without making the timeline scroll and lose my position.
Unfortunately, the official Twitter app doesn’t support sync and leaves much to be desired for timeline gaps.
I read or skim my whole timeline, sometimes curating it as as I go up and up, on my way to Tweet Timeline Zero. I know of people who, upon seeing a few hundred tweets, prefer to scroll up and then go down the other way, just to catch up on the last hour or so. This is not something I am comfortable with, nor is it something that I can do with with a clear conscience. I did try to use the Twitter’s own app1 at one point, but the fact that the app would sometimes reload the whole timeline and scroll me all the way up killed it for me. In fact, Federico makes note of this…
In practice, the Twitter app results in several minutes I spend scrolling and trying to find the last tweet I saw when I closed the app. Every morning and whenever I leave the app for a couple of hours, Twitter either completely reloads the timeline (pushing me to top to see the latest tweets) or inserts a timeline gap that occasionally fails to load new tweets above my position.
In 2013 I wrote an open letter to Twitter, which included the following:
What is important to me is reading my timeline. My whole timeline. I follow some two hundred sources. A bit too many perhaps, but I carefully curate my list to allow me to quickly read that which satisfies my interests in chronological order, as events unfold. The only reason I am still doing this is because of developers like Tapbots, Iconfactory and all the other great Twitter clients out there.
2015 is almost upon us and Twitter is still lacking, especially for “completionists”, as Ticci put it. I cannot fathom how Federico can use Twitter’s app despite his strong motivation to read his whole timeline—I’m still on Tweetbot and when it finally dies, so will most probably my love for Twitter. In the meantime, I’m still waiting for Tweetbot 3 for iPad…
- I believe this was when I was playing around with Android a bit. ↩
Having discovered Markdown completely by accident many years ago, I quickly got hooked on the concept and dropped Apple’s Pages and other apps to focus on plain text documents. The most important feature for me wasn’t Markdown itself—it was the knowledge that I’ll be able to read and access my files in the coming years without issues. It might seem ridiculous that we should worry about such things, but I have a set of 3.5” floppy disks with my school projects in various obscure formats which are completely unusable today.
My wife and I are currently on vacation in India, lounging on the beaches, eating fresh shrimp every evening and having a great time. Before we left though, two things happened—I changed my writing workflow and spent some time with Dan Counsell of RealmacSoftware, talking about Markdown writing tools.
I returned home this evening, away from the cold weather outside, glad to finally let my bones absorb some warmth. Having a few minutes to spare before dinner, I started browsing my Twitter timeline and saw something extremely sad—my heart goes out to James Thomson. He must be truly crestfallen.
I’m extremely proud (and a little frightened) to present our first photography album and travel guide for the iPad written in English. The idea first came to me after using my webpage to show my photography and talk about our family’s travels — it was a sub par experience and I didn’t have full control over the layout. Since I use Adobe Creative Cloud for various other things, I decided to try to leverage their tools and create the whole album in InDesign, to my exact specifications.
I picked up my iPad Air 2 in gold last night – much, much later than Apple delivered my wife’s new engraved silver model. That was a first but I’m glad she managed to get a surprise — at least that’s what I hope her facial expression said. In the meantime, I’ve put on a few hours of mileage on my Air 2 and quite frankly, as an ex–Retina–Mini owner I couldn’t be more pleased. That’s mostly due to the fantastic screen — Apple’s decision to laminate the LCD with the glass is what made me switch. I will dearly miss thumb–typing on the Mini, but hopefully the novelty of returning to a 9.7″ iPad will not wear off too quickly.
Surprisingly, my wife’s iPad Air 2 arrived this morning and since she’s at work, I got the chance to play around with it for a few hours before I get my own. She opted for a 64 GB model, without cellular connectivity, in white.
I had the opportunity to beta test the wonderful PCalc by James Thomson for these past few weeks and I’ve really come to love it, especially on the iPhone. You can read my short review about the iOS version here.
The two other new features that got me hooked are support for Handoff and PCalc’s widget. Handoff — one of iOS 8’s new features — means that I can start my calculations on my iPhone and should I choose to pick up my iPad, a little icon will appear on the lockscreen, allowing me to continue where I left off. I’ve actually had a few situations where this worked out perfectly. The only downside is that Handoff support in iOS 8 is still a little bit finicky — sometimes it just refuses to work.
I’ve also been using the OS X version and unfortunately, Handoff only worked correctly between iPad and iPhone – I just couldn’t coax anything useful out of it on OS X on either of my computers. James rolled out the update in the Mac App Store a few days ago and I just updated it a few minutes ago. At first it didn’t work at all with my iPhone 6 and iPad mini 2… and then I had the idea of turning on Bluetooth on both devices, to test it again (this did not work earlier during the betas). The PCalc icon appeared in the lower left hand corner of my lockscreen immediately. And it worked the other way too!
Tweetbot and I have been having an affair since its inception. From iPhone, to iPad and Mac, I simply cannot fathom using another app for my daily Twitter fix. And I’ve tried. A lot of them. Most of them? Probably not, but near everything available for iOS and OS X. And none of them come close.
I’ve been a Talk Show listener for a long time now. In case you don’t know, The Talk Show is a podcast hosted by John Gruber, where he and his guests talk about outhouses, cat pictures, sports and sometimes about Apple. One of John’s advertisers was Harry’s — a company which is disrupting the shaving market by offering better quality products at lower prices. Oh — and they also look good, especially in contrast to that crap sold by Gillette. Anyway, I don’t think I was particularly interested in Harry’s until I read Lex Friedman’s piece on shaving in The Magazine. That first pushed me to explore what Harry’s had to offer… A few months later I was finally a happy owner of a Muehle razor, badger hair brush and proper shaving soap. I decided to go all out for one simple reason — Harry’s wasn’t sold in Europe anywhere. However, I still needed a more modern razor for travelling and so forth…
PCalc has been available in various forms and on different platforms for more than two decades — James Thomson, the man behind it, has taken care to keep it updated over the years, transitioning quickly to new operating systems when they came out. It was in the App Store on day one and it did very well, according to its maker. I’ve been lucky enough to beta test it for a while now and I can quite frankly say that the new 3.3 build, which supports iOS 8 and it’s new features, is my favourite version.
After driving a thousand kilometres, spending three days in Dresden, Germany and sleeping not more than ten hours total, I’m sitting on a sofa, soaking a Red Bull and so tired that I can’t be even bothered to go to bed. I’m also a bit sick. I hope I don’t bore you with my story and limited perception, but it was one hell of a trip. Or so I’ll think about it after I finally get some proper sleep.
I didn’t believe Apple would show the watch until they actually did. I thought it would be more of a fitness focussed device, like a Nike FuelBand. I did consider the former, but believed Apple would choose a different path. I did not think they would try to go after the high-end watch market though.
I’ve spent the last few years, ever since getting my first iPhone in 2008, enjoying two things that Apple’s pocket computer provided: easy one-handed use and decent battery life. Those two things were always on the top of my list of favourites and became even more prominent since getting the first iPad. I’d use the bigger screen at home, where two-handed use isn’t an issue, and the iPhone on the run.
As you may or may not know, photography is one of my favourite hobbies. As soon as I heard that Marek Moi was working on a new app, I reached out to him to get me on the beta program. Thankfully, he obliged and provided me with some unique insight into the design process. My enthusiasm was based on his earlier project — Dearest Bialowieza Forest [App Store link] — which featured Jaroslaw Chyra’s photography from that beautiful region of Poland. Marek rewrote his entire engine for Bison bonasus and the results do not disappoint — it offers a truly immersive experience into the work of photographer Krzysztof Onikijuk.
My problem with Twitter’s journey forward started with the limits placed on the people who first help create the whole thing — the developers. This wouldn’t be so much of an issue if their own apps were sterling, offered timeline synchronisation and set the trends for everyone else. Realistically, both Twitter for iOS and Android, as well as the Mac version, are appalling. There are many, many better apps out there and my personal favourite is and most probably always will be Tweetbot (for iPhone, iPad and OS X). I am certain that a time will come when Twitter will cut off third-party developers and that will be the day when I most probably leave the service, never to return. I wrote an open letter to Twitter last year, detailing my gripes with them — obviously they don’t care much for my point of view.
A few images found their way to Weibo today (via cnBeta). They supposedly show a working iPhone 6 and while I could go on and on about the hardware and what’s not particularly to my liking, I will refrain from doing so until Apple unveil the final product. There is some good news however and it appears that John Gruber may have been correct regarding the new device’s resolution …
After yesterday’s shitstorm on Twitter, I was curious as to how things would evolve. To my surprise, John Atwood responded to Gruber in a post, apologised for the confusion and renamed the project to Common Markdown.
All seemed well with the world until hilarity ensued – please do take the time to watch this fantastically funny video of Hitler talking about Markdown.
I currently use two fitness trackers — a personal Jawbone UP24 and a Garmin Vivofit review unit. I’ve worn them daily at the same time, on the same right wrist for over two months now, comparing their step counts. Their final tallies tend to differ and it seems that the UP24 has the better algorithm of the two. I do however also carry an iPhone 5S in my pocket throughout the day and the built-in M7 coprocessor allows for another reference point. I started using David Smith’s (yes, Underscore-David-Smith) Pedometer++ [App Store link] a few days after it was released and despite it being extremely simple, I’ve grown to like it — it’s my current go-to app. I’ve also tipped him on occasion, hoping he’ll keep on working on it. I must note that I also have a Withings scale at home — a gift from my father a few years ago …
I use RSS readers on a daily basis. In fact, I cannot imagine functioning without one and I haven’t found anything that could replace them in the near future. Twitter? I would need a seperate account or perhaps a carefully tailored list. Flipboard? Doesn’t suit my preferences. Anyway — I use various devices to follow the feeds I subscribe to and I spent hours customizing my lists to suit my needs, the one labeled ‘must-read’ especially.
I’ve been using FruitJuice [Mac App Store Link] for the past few months on a daily basis on my 2013 MacBook Air. It launches at login and lives in my menu bar, discreetly notifying me how long I should remain disconnected from my charger to retain optimum battery capacity. Although it appears to suggest the same scheme each and every day, it does so depending on your Mac model — the suggestions differ greatly on my friend’s Retina MacBook Pro for example.
I bought my new Macintosh on Friday, 2 May 2014. My first one was a 17″ MacBook Pro from 2008, which I upgraded later to a late 2009 iMac 27″ and which recently got supplemented by a mid 2013 MacBook Air 11″. I’ve been looking for a pristine Macintosh 128K for the past five years or so and the barrier of entry was always either the price or it’s condition. Fed up, I finally pulled the trigger on a Macintosh Classic from 1991.