10th October 2018

It’s been in my head for a while, but I’m finally making my decision about Slate official. If you weren’t already aware of what Slate actually is (was), it’s an iOS app for the Micro.blog platform. I’ve spent quite a lot of time working on it, and I used to use it quite a lot myself, as it was good enough for reading posts, and also publishing text-only posts.

I always knew the next steps for the app. The main things I planned to work on next were:

  • Image uploading
  • Markdown preview when composing posts
  • Faster timeline parsing/scrolling
  • A caching mechanism for timelines
  • Support for non-Micro.blog micro blogs

These are totally achievable features, and it’s what I classed as being necessary before being able to release it as a public app (It’s currently been in TestFlight beta for months).

But about two or three months ago, I basically stopped using Micro.blog. I transitioned my posts over here, but I still planned on using the service but have it tied to one blog. I’m not sure what really made me stop using it, but it sort of faded over a long period of time, and I didn’t feel like missing anything, so I didn’t go back.

This all tied in with me slowing down on the development of Slate. Although I was still doing occasional small updates, and it was in my head that I would soon spend some time on the bigger features that I wanted to implement. But the time never came. And I became less interested in building an app for a service that I wasn’t using anymore.

It also combined with me starting to focus on good UX in my apps, and trying to really create great experiences. And as a user of Tweetbot (Twitter client for iOS and macOS), I didn’t think I would realistically be bale to put the time and effort into making a great app for Micro.blog.

So after a huge chunk of time (probably just over two months), I’ve decided that I will no longer work on Slate. And at least for the foreseeable future, I don’t see myself touching the code at all.

It doesn’t mean I’m completely over with Micro.blog, the platform, though. I’ve listened to the Micro Monday podcast, where Jean MacDonald, the community manager, talks to members of the Micro.blog community), pretty regularly. Even since stopping using the service. And it still sounds like Micro.blog is a nice place to be, with loads of interesting people. So there’s a possibility of me returning as a normal user, but very unlikely that I’ll work on Slate again!

If you want to find me on Micro.blog, I am still under the username chrishannah. However, the only content that gets posted there currently is the RSS feed of this blog. But that’s where I’ll be if I return.

09th October 2018
Permalink

Something no one imagined would be happening in 2018, people are talking about Google+.

As part of “Project Strobe”, Google have been going over third-party develop access to Google accounts and Android device data:

Over the years we’ve received feedback that people want to better understand how to control the data they choose to share with apps on Google+. So as part of Project Strobe, one of our first priorities was to closely review all the APIs associated with Google+.

This review crystallized what we’ve known for a while: that while our engineering teams have put a lot of effort and dedication into building Google+ over the years, it has not achieved broad consumer or developer adoption, and has seen limited user interaction with apps. The consumer version of Google+ currently has low usage and engagement: 90 percent of Google+ user sessions are less than five seconds.

From this investigation, they found a bug in one of the Google+ People APIs:

Users can grant access to their Profile data, and the public Profile information of their friends, to Google+ apps, via the API.

Basically, the API allowed third-party developers to a lot of your, and your friends information. Including things marked as private.

This sounds pretty bad. And if this was regarding Facebook or Twitter, there would be quite a level of outrage. However, this is Google+, the platform that no one uses.

Which is why I find this statement quite funny:

We found no evidence that any developer was aware of this bug, or abusing the API, and we found no evidence that any Profile data was misused.

So no one took notice of the security flaws, because no one actually used the platform. Including developers.

But because of these security flaws, and the really low usage numbers. Google have decided to start the process of shutting down the platform.

The review did highlight the significant challenges in creating and maintaining a successful Google+ that meets consumers’ expectations. Given these challenges and the very low usage of the consumer version of Google+, we decided to sunset the consumer version of Google+.

To give people a full opportunity to transition, we will implement this wind-down over a 10-month period, slated for completion by the end of next August. Over the coming months, we will provide consumers with additional information, including ways they can download and migrate their data.

My first thought is, when do we see Google’s next idea of a social network? It’s always funny to see what they think can actually complete with the already established platforms.

08th October 2018
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K.Q. Dreger, writing for Audacious Fox:

A lot of software isn’t free. Plenty of people pay to use products. Yet, we call these people users in most of our copy and internal communications. Should we?

What if we tried calling them what they actually are: customers.

I strongly believe everything he says in this article.

I’ve seen many people list reasons why you should refer to customers of your product/service a user, whether it’s a blog post, on Twitter, or even on laptop stickers. I however, prefer the term customer.

The way the word “user” gets thrown about always feels pretty weak, and it just seems like a bit of a nice word. It means you treat them simply as people that use something that you’re offering. But what if they’ve paid you for that thing? Surely they you should grant them a bit of respect and refer to them as why they actually are, a paying customer.

06th October 2018

David Attenborough is back, and he’s going to be taking us through five separate journeys. Each one featuring intense stories, where the future of a dynasty is hanging in the balance, at crucial points of their lives.

The animals we will be following will be the Chimpanzee, African wild dog, Lion, Penguin, and Tiger families.

Watch on YouTube.

28th September 2018

As most people may already know, Facebook have been doing some more creepy things with your data. This times it’s sending any phone numbers used for two-factor authentication, to advertisers, so they can use that as another targeting mechanism. TechCrunch have a great article about this if you want to read more.

Bloomberg have made the situation a bit more interesting with their article though, as apparently a Taiwanese hacker, plans on deleting Mark Zuckerbergs Facebook profile. And he plans on broadcasting it live. On Facebook!

I’m definitely going to tune in to see what happens with this one!

It’s scheduled to happen at 18:00 (Taiwan local time) this Sunday (30th September). You can find your exact localised time here.

And now for some links:

25th September 2018

Just as I started using Hobi to track the TV shows I watch, they released a pretty impressive update!

There’s now a new Discover and Statistics section, which really round out the entire app.

In Discover, you can find popular shows by genre or service. Along with collections for what’s currently trending, and also any new or returning shows that are coming this week or month.

The Statistics page shows you some insight on what TV shows you watch. You can see the total time you’ve spent watching TV, how many series, episodes, and also things like what your favourite genre is.

I’m going to start going through all the series that I’ve watched recently and add them to Hobi. I can imagine I’ll have some big numbers in the statistics section.

Download Hobi on the App Store.

24th September 2018

I’ve started watching more television series recently, and more importantly, a goal to rewatch/watch all the episodes of Pokémon (Best not to go in to that one too much, I’ve been obsessed since I was a child).

Naturally, I decided to find an app that can help me remember where I am with everything, as my memory has never been excellent. After a little search I came up with a few suitable apps, including iShows and SeenIt, but I settled on Hobi pretty quickly.

It integrates with Trakt, which most of them do, so I was grateful to see some of my previously watched tv shows appear in the app immediately. It can also notify you when new episodes air, release dates are announced, or to notify you of season premieres.

It’s topped off with a pretty great design. I like how the most prominent parts of the UI are the cover art, and the name of each tv show. It looks a bit like Things for iOS, and I’m a big fan of the clean aesthetic right now. Especially when it’s joined with slightly larger and heavier fonts.

You can download Hobi for free on the App Store. But they also offer a premium subscription which enables advanced sorting options, no show limits, and also no limits on the number of devices.

24th September 2018
Permalink

Tom White:

This is a year’s worth of images I took of the moon using just my iPhone 7 through a telescope. The first time I tried it I was amazed by the detail and quality of shot that was possible on a phone, so I set about taking pictures at a various stages throughout the lunar cycle.

I was having a look through this collection of photos, and I was impressed with the level of variety. Even if we are tidally locked, and only ever see the same side, there’s quite a bit of detail to look at.

[Top Photo Credit: Tom White]

23rd September 2018
Some photos of Norfolk taken on the iPhone XS.
#ShotoniPhone
Also on:

22nd September 2018
Alpacas, on an iPhone XS.
#ShotoniPhone
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