17th October 2019
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BBC News:

A flaw that means any fingerprint can unlock a Galaxy S10 phone has been acknowledged by Samsung.

It promised a software patch that would fix the problem.

The issue was spotted by a British woman whose husband was able to unlock her phone with his thumbprint just by adding a cheap screen protector.

When the S10 was launched, in March, Samsung described the fingerprint authentication system as “revolutionary”.

All I can do is laugh.

14th October 2019
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It’s time for me to announce a little project I’m going to start doing alongside this blog. From this Friday, I’ll be starting a weekly newsletter called “Interesting Links”, and as the name suggests, it will be a short list of (around 5) links to interesting things I’ve found all across the internet.

This is because there are tons of interesting things I find, but I don’t necessarily want to turn all of them into linked posts here on the blog. So this gives me a chance to share even more of them.

I’ll keep it very minimal, because otherwise I know it won’t be pleasant to read, and it won’t be that interesting to write either!

So you can subscribe now, and the first issue will arrive in your inboxes on Friday!

11th October 2019

Whenever I want to add a table to a blog post, I always wonder if an app can do it for me. As I find writing Markdown tables to be rather tedious. The only problem is, I never actually looked. However, I’ve now been using an aptly named app “Markdown Tables” and it’s just perfect.

It features a really clean interface, that lets you focus solely on the table content. You have all the necessary tools at the top, there’s one to create a new table with a certain size or from the clipboard, inserting and deleting rows/columns, alignment, whether to include the header row, and the export button! It looks simple, however, it has all the functionality that you’ll need. It handles large tables quite well, as you can scroll around the content, and then simply tap on the field you want to edit, and it snaps it into place.

Exporting is maybe the most important feature of the app, and it couldn’t get any easier. All you need to do is tap the export button above the table, and the formatted table will be copied. Markdown Tables actually supports Markdown and HTML exporting, each with their own options for customising the format. Such as compact mode for Markdown, and also whether to pretty print the HTML.

It’s a fantastic utility, and I recommend it to anyone writing Markdown on iOS.

Find Markdown Tables on the App Store.

10th October 2019

I feel like I post more updates to Text Case here than real blog posts. Oh well, this one I’m blaming Jason Snell. We exchanged a few tweets about Text Case, and he suggested a feature where Text Case could have a list of manually capitalised nouns that would be used when converting text. I immediately saw the benefit of this idea, and started mapping it out in my head.

In just over a day, the update has been developed, and worked its way through Apple’s review process.

It contains what I’m calling the “Custom Dictionary”, and it lets you store words capitalised in a specific way. So that whenever you use Title Case or Sentence Case, these capitalisations have the highest precedence. It’s perfect for brand and product names, and that’s also why I’ve included a few common nouns in the app to start off.

The words themselves are stored in a .json file, which you can find in the Text Case folder in iCloud Drive. This can be edited manually outside Text Case (I would recommend an app called Jayson), and the changes will then be picked up when Text Case is next used.

One more thing, I also added a new dark theme. Previously the dark option had pure black as a main colour, but this is a bit too dark for some people. I’ve renamed that theme to “Black”, and added an option that is a dark grey.

You can find Text Case on the App Store.

7th October 2019

It’s time for another update to Text Case! This time it brings another 5 formats, all relating to Markdown.

There’s support for creating Blockquotes, which supports multiple paragraphs (which I personally wanted a lot), Code Blocks, and also ordered and unordered lists. You can also convert any Markdown to HTML!

All of these formats are, of course, available to use via the app, the Action Extension, and also in the Shortcuts app. And with these new additions, Text Case now has 32 different formats! Including four variants of Title Case.

You can find Text Case on the App Store.

30th September 2019
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Cody Delistraty, writing for The Paris Review, about the capabilities of plants:

A few years ago, Monica Gagliano, an associate professor in evolutionary ecology at the University of Western Australia, began dropping potted Mimosa pudicas. She used a sliding steel rail that guided them to six inches above a cushioned surface, then let them fall. The plant, which is leafy and green with pink-purple flower heads, is commonly known as a “shameplant” or a “touch-me-not” because its leaves fold inward when it’s disturbed. In theory, it would defend itself against any attack, indiscriminately perceiving any touch or drop as an offense and closing itself up.

The first time Gagliano dropped the plants—fifty-six of them—from the measured height, they responded as expected. But after several more drops, fewer of them closed. She dropped each of them sixty times, in five-second intervals. Eventually, all of them stopped closing. She continued like this for twenty-eight days, but none of them ever closed up again. It was only when she bothered them differently—such as by grabbing them—that they reverted to their usual defense mechanism.

It’s a fascinating read, and it’s not just a clickbait headline with minimal information. Rather he mentions research that has been done regarding how trees can share nutrients and information via fungal networks, how they react to damage and animals attempting to eat parts of them.

I’ve read about the ways that trees can communicate between each other, to notify others of possible intruders, and how a forest can provide the nutrients to an unhealthy tree to sustain it, in the book “The Hidden Life of Trees” by Peter Wohlleben. But, the idea that a plant could learn, or even just have a form of memory, would certainly alter the way we think about plants in general.

Possibly my favourite part of this article would be:

Even the slightest possibility of a proven plant intelligence would have massive scientific and existential implications. If plants can “learn” and “remember,” as Gagliano believes, then humans may have been misunderstanding plants, and ourselves, for all of history. The common understanding of “intelligence” would have to be reimagined; and we’d have missed an entire universe of thought happening all around us.

20th September 2019

There’s a new update to Text Case for me to tell everyone about!

It’s not exactly a huge update with tons of new features, but it’s one I think will make the use of Text Case much more efficient. I talked about the way Text Case is evolving recently here on the blog, but essentially the main new “feature” is the new Shortcuts action.

In Text Case 2.2, you’ll have just the one action in Shortcuts, and that will be able to have an input parameter for the text you wish to format, an option to select the specific format, and then it will have the formatted text as an output. Previously each format had its own action, which meant it was always a bit messy. And, of course, Shortcut actions didn’t have parameter support before, so it always relied upon the clipboard.

However, now you have access to one magical action that has all the functionality of Text Case. It can slot directly into any Shortcut, and then get out of your way.

I didn’t just stop there with the update. I also added a few extra new formats. You now have the option to remove all whitespace, or just trim the leading/whitespace with the new formats “Strip Whitespace” and “Trim Whitespace”. And there’s another fun one called “Shuffled” which will randomise the order of any text that is passed as an input.

You can download Text Case on the App Store, and you can find out more information on all the functionality in Text Case on the website.

18th September 2019
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Austin Mann:

I’m here as I continue on-going work photographing The Bach Project w/ Yo-Yo Ma, a world tour where Yo-Yo is performing Bach in unconventional places around the globe. It’s been a privilege to photograph this amazing journey, and when I considered how to test the iPhone 11 Pro’s new capabilities, I thought a shoot on this project could be a great fit as many of these shoots have been in extremely low light!

Of course, I’ve also been anxious to see what this Ultra Wide lens can do, so shortly after the performance I popped out to the countryside to find some epic landscapes and have been out exploring this big, beautiful country ever since.

The iPhone 11 Pro announcement was really about one thing: camera. (ICYMI, see this video pretty much summing it up.)

The big camera features I was most interested in testing were obviously the Ultra Wide (13 mm) lens, the new Night mode, Capture Outside the Frame, and things like iOS 13 photo management, editing tools, etc.

Austin Mann’s iPhone reviews are one of the few reviews that I read every year. As the main improvements to iPhone over the recent years being the camera, I can’t think of anyone else to better it all.

And as always, it’s packed full of great photography. It’s a must read.

13th September 2019

Back in July of last year when I first released Text Case to the App Store, my idea behind it was for it to be a small utility app that you could use to format text into a few different formats. The main format was title case, and although it was a standalone app, I always thought of it being used primarily by selecting text and using the Action Extension to copy a formatted version of that text to the clipboard.

However, since that first release, there’s been 10 updates. Some of them were minor bug fixes, but most of them were adding new formats. In the current version that’s in the App Store, there are 24 different formats to use. Which is a pretty big number in my opinion. Especially as it was just meant to be a small utility app.

As Text Case as grown, the primary way people were using Text Case became through the Shortcuts app. Simply because it’s just easier to use it in that way. It can slot into your writing workflow, and you would never really need to open the app.

But as we all know, the original way that third-party apps could provide functionality to the Shortcuts app, was by “donating” different actions to the system. And then magically they would appear as selectable actions in the Shortcuts app, and that could either perform a task in the background, or it could launch your app directly into a specific part.

As Text Case is really just something that takes an input, does some fancy things to it, and then provides that result as an output, it was held back by the original limitations of how Shortcuts worked. The only way you would be able to use functionality from Text Case without launching the app was to copy text to the clipboard, have Text Case perform its changes on the clipboard, and then overwrite that with the newly formatted text. It only took a couple of extra steps, but it was nowhere near the ideal solution.

However, in iOS/iPadOS 13, there is a whole load of new advancements to how apps integrate with the Shortcuts app. The benefits at least from the perspective of Text Case is that you can make use of parameters. So within the format text action, you will be able to provide the source text as a parameter, there will be no specific need to make use of the clipboard. These actions can also return values as well, so your formatted text will be directly available to use as either a direct result or as an input into another action. It just turns the functionality of Text Case into customisable building blocks, that can be part of a bigger workflow.

That new functionality, that will be released very soon, is making me think about what Text Case is becoming. I can’t say that I see it as a standalone app anymore. Sure, it will always be an app. But that’s not really how it’s going to be used. Text Case is becoming a kind of “directory” of text formatting tools, which will directly integrate into different parts of the system.

It means that when I add more formats to Text Case, just like I am with the next update (which will add three new options), I don’t feel like I’m simply just making my app better. It feels like I’m providing the system with additional functionality. Whether it’s through an Action Extension that can be launched by sharing text, or within the Shortcuts app, Text Case is becoming more of a framework for using elsewhere, rather than something people would use directly.

And you know what? I’m completely fine with that. It’s really interesting to see how Text Case is changing, and how you can get all the functions of the app, without even remembering that you have it installed.