23rd April 2018

Many people, including myself, are trying to move away from Facebook and their related apps/services. But before you delete any accounts, it’s obviously ideal if you can retrieve any data first.

With Instagram, you can request to download your data, and they’ll send a link where you can download all your images, videos, and stories.

You also get .json files for a lot of the associated data:

  • Profile
  • Comments
  • Connections
  • Likes
  • Messages
  • Searches
  • Settings

So they really do give you everything!

To download your data:

  • Go to the Instagram website.
  • Click on the profile icon in the top right.
  • Click on the Settings cog next to “Exit Profile”.
  • Choose “Privacy and Security”.
  • Scroll down to the “Data Download” section.
  • Click “Request Download”.

Instagram will then package up all your data, and send you an email with a link to the .zip archive.

16th April 2018

It’s time for v0.2!

The second public version of Slate is on it’s way to all current beta testers. And it’s so much better than v0.1.

I’ve been doing a lot of refinement recently, to the way things are parsed, to even how images are cached, and how the views are dynamically built.

One major feature, that may not even seem impressive, is inline images. I removed this from the posts because they were causing the app to really slow down, due to the image downloading happening synchronously with the HTML parsing. However, I now extract these from the content, hide them from appearing in the main text, and then control them myself.

This allows me to set the layout depending on the number of images, and then load them asynchronously in the background.

They’re slightly styled at the moment, with rounded corners, and a background if they aren’t an exact square. But the next step is to maybe allow for a preference on preview sizes and also to be able to tap and view the image full screen.

Of course, this version also brings the new themes, which I wrote about in the last development log. And as I keep developing the app, I’m sure these will be fine-tuned.

If you want to be part of the beta, all I require is an email address to send the TestFlight invite to. Feel free to email me, or find me on Twitter or Micro.blog.

You can keep up to date with the development of Slate, in it’s own category.

15th April 2018

Just a small update today. But Slate, now has three full themes!

You can choose from Light, Dark, and Black. And it changes live when you toggle between them!

I’ve noticed a few issues coming my image caching system, which is what I’ll be focusing on next. After that is sorted, I’ll have to get inline images working properly, which is the last thing I have planned for this beta build!

Just a reminder: The beta is completely open, and all I require is an email address to send the TestFlight invite. Feel free to email me, or find me on Twitter or Micro.blog.

13th April 2018
Permalink

Michael Rockwell, writer for Initial Charge, has come up with a fantastic new project, #OpenWeb:

I spent a few days over the past week working on a little project that’s been bouncing around in my head lately. I’ve wanted something like this to exist for years and with the skills I’ve obtained from Treehouse over the past several months, I thought it was finally time to build it myself. Today, I’d like to announce #OpenWeb.

The site aggregates headlines from independent publishers that focus on Apple products and software. It also serves as a directory of single-person weblogs within our community. Over the past few years, social networks have become less and less exciting to use and there have been some subtle indications that the open web is poised for a comeback. With Micro.blog, JSON Feed, the meteoric rise in podcasting, and the frustration that many of us have had with Twitter and Facebook — I think weblogs could be the next big thing.

The idea of a place to discover new bloggers, and to help push more independent writers (like myself), has always been something I’d liked to have.

There are 16 sources currently being fed into #OpenWeb, and I’m sure this will grow and be refined over time. But along with the combined feed of posts from these blogs, you can also find an .OPML file, which will allow you to add all of them to your RSS reader of your choice.

Obviously, I’m massively grateful that I was included as one of the sources! I’ll have to pay that back by trying to write better, and more often.

Check out #OpenWeb, and read Michael’s blog post introducing it.

13th April 2018
Permalink

Manton Reece on the latest addition to Micro.blog:

We have something really big to announce today. Micro.blog now supports hosting short-form podcasts, also known as microcasts, with a companion iPhone app called Wavelength for recording, editing, and publishing episodes.

What a great idea!

The service is slowly growing in “clients”, with the official apps, Micro.blog, Sunlit, and now Wavelength, supporting three slightly different types of content. The Micro.blog app is it’s purest form, Sunlit is focussed on photo’s, and telling a story, while Wavelength is introducing audio to the mix.

I know I’m building a basic client for Micro.blog, but this may inspire other developers to try out new ideas with Micro.blog.

I’m a big fan of Manton’s Timetable, and the Micro Monday microcast, so it will be very interesting to hear what others come up with. I’m partially interested in making one myself!

Check out Micro.blog, the new Wavelength app, and also have a listen to Timetable, and Micro Monday.

Read the full announcement.

12th April 2018

Over the past few days I did a bit more work on Slate. I must say, it doesn’t really get regular attention. But it’s still improving!

The main feature I’ve been working on is the support for themes. I previously laid the ground work for this, with the three options being light, dark, and true black.

The app was originally designed to have a dark theme, so the way I’m initially testing it, is by analysing the colours as I go, while having the theme preference set as the light theme. This way I get an obvious sign on what interface elements I’ve moved over to the new system. After the bulk is done, I can then fine tune the colours, and test every theme to make sure they’re perfect.

A benefit of trying to separate the formatting of interface elements, is that I’m making views more generic (I think I say this in very development log). But I want to get to a point where, every interface element e.g. a post in a table, someone’s profile, or just as generic as a text field, has an explicit style. So the actual main application logic will just be placing these already formatted interfaces, in the right sections, with the correct data.

I do already have a lot of this going on in the app, with the conversation list, list of a user’s following, and a few other things, all using the exact same view controller. All it needs is an array of any type of object, and then it just asks the CellFactory for a cell that will suit it, and then it presents it.

As you can see form the screen shot, the profile view is looking a bit odd at the minute. It’s a mix of the colours and layout I think. I will definitely need to do some work on this.

And, one thing I keep forgetting about. I still need to work on inline images. They don’t actually appear at all at the minute, so it’s not even in a usable state for just reading Micro.blog!

It’s getting better though! Unfortunately, I’m just doing it a bit slowly.

06th April 2018
Permalink

And some of the developers have responded:

After June 19th, 2018, “streaming services” at Twitter will be removed. This means two things for third-party apps:

  1. Push notifications will no longer arrive
  2. Timelines won’t refresh automatically – apps-of-a-feather.com

Twitter has always had a strange relationship with developers of third-party clients, with certain features never even making it into their hands. A quick example would be Polls. They don’t show up on apps like Tweetbot, because they don’t know they exist.

I’m not so sure how much of a loss timeline streaming would be, but push notifications?!

Maybe this is time for more people to check out Micro.blog.

30th March 2018
Permalink

China have a water problem. Their solution:

China is testing cutting-edge defence technology to develop a powerful yet relatively low-cost weather modification system to bring substantially more rain to the Tibetan plateau, Asia’s biggest freshwater reserve.

The system, which involves an enormous network of fuel-burning chambers installed high up on the Tibetan mountains, could increase rainfall in the region by up to 10 billion cubic metres a year – about 7 per cent of China’s total water consumption – according to researchers involved in the project.

I wonder if the clouds will have “Made in China” printed on the bottom of them.

Read the full post.

28th March 2018

Yesterday, I was getting pretty excited about the “new” iPad:

That’s why this iPad seems absolutely perfect. I get to use one of the most exciting accessories for the iPad, it won’t cost me a huge amount of money to do it, and there are a ton of extra upgrades that I’ll be getting in the mean time. For example, I’ll use this upgrade to move from 64GB to 128GB, the A8X will be replaced with the A10 Fusion chip (currently used in the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus), an ever so slight improvement to the camera (it can take Live Photos), and around a 19% increase in battery capacity. Along with some more improvements that will probably cause additional delight.

Since then, I’ve discovered one tiny spec of information that completely flipped this article on its head. As much as the new iPad was an upgrade to my Air 2, the display is actually a downgrade. Specifically, it is not a laminated screen like the Air 2, and more recent models. So the screen is actually clearly behind the glass.

I can’t buy a product like the iPad, knowing I’m going backwards in regards to the display. Because that’s 90% of the iPad experience!

I think my only solution is to get an iPad Pro if I want the Pencil support. I didn’t want to do that though, so I’ll have to have a think.

27th March 2018

Apple have just announced their newest iteration of the iPad, at their education focussed event. They also announced a lot of other school related software, and integrations, but I’m not interested in that at all really.

However, I am very interested in the new iPad. Even if it is geared towards the educational market. And that’s mainly down to two factors: the low price, and the Apple Pencil support.

I should probably interject here with more details on my current iPad situation. I have an iPad Air 2 WiFi, with 64GB of storage. It is actually only my second iPad, after the iPad 2, and I think it’s quite near as perfect as it can be for what I use it for. I watch videos, read blogs, write for my blog, listen to music, play games, etc.

Basically all the usual stuff. Apart from working. But I’m an iOS developer, so it’s not as easy to switch as some other professions. Anyway, I’m completely happy with my Touch Bar MacBook Pro.

Back to the iPad. One of the few features that has made me super jealous of iPad Pro users, is the Apple Pencil. Because it’s such an obvious extension to the iPad, and I can see myself using it for a wide range of tasks. Like taking notes, sketching (of course), mapping out ideas, and maybe I’ll even find a way to write for my blog by handwriting. I would probably prefer it.

With all of that said, it’s probably surprising why I haven’t already just purchased an iPad Pro. I have been very close to making the leap, but the one blocker has always been the price, compared to the added value it would give me. Sure it’s powerful enough to warrant that price. But it’s not worth it for me.

That’s why this iPad seems absolutely perfect. I get to use one of the most exciting accessories for the iPad, it won’t cost me a huge amount of money to do it, and there are a ton of extra upgrades that I’ll be getting in the mean time. For example, I’ll use this upgrade to move from 64GB to 128GB, the A8X will be replaced with the A10 Fusion chip (currently used in the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus), an ever so slight improvement to the camera (it can take Live Photos), and around a 19% increase in battery capacity. Along with some more improvements that will probably cause additional delight.

Maybe I’m biased in my opinion here, and I’m 90% certain’t I am. But, I think that this could be the iPad model that pushes a lot of other “normals” to upgrade. Seeing as it doesn’t require any extra use of the device to warrant the price. It’s a super reasonable price, and it could potentially be a decent upgrade for someone on an Air 2 like me or earlier. It would certainly push up numbers for iOS 11 adoption, and from the user’s pont of view, it would give them another few years with a solid device.

I’m very much looking forward to using this device. And it’s been quite a while since I’ve felt like that about a new Apple product. Minus the AirPods.