20th February 2019

tl;dr it’s not a thing

What It Is

Combined Emoji: 🏳️‍🌈⃠

Modifier: ⃠

Image Example:

It’s a unicode character (U+20E0 COMBINING ENCLOSING CIRCLE BACKSLASH) that acts as a modifier. Emojipedia included it in a post titled “Fun Emoji Hacks” back in September 2016.

Based on the platform, and font being used, it may appear differently. But the idea is that it appears over the previous emoji.

Here are some examples:

(These may appear differently depending on what you’re viewing this on)

  • 😀⃠
  • 🤯⃠
  • 💩⃠
  • 👍🏻⃠
  • 🐸⃠
  • 🌕⃠
  • 🥩⃠
  • 🏈⃠

Does this mean Apple is “anti” poo, frogs, or American football? No.

What People Have Been Reporting

They’ve basically followed the rhetoric that it’s a problem. Some report it as a glitch, others a separate emoji, and it seems they’re trying to create a problem out of nothing.


A new emoji with a clear anti-LGBT message has sparked outrage on social media.

Pink News – “People are mad at Apple about this new anti-LGBT emoji”:

…the arresting image seems to be a glitch in the software.

Out – “There’s a New Anti-LGBTQ+ Emoji and We Have Questions”:

Several people took to Twitter to question the emoji’s origin, since it is not an official emoji, but rather seems to be an aberration or glitch.

Instinct Magazine – “A New Anti-LGBTQ Emoji Has Taken Social Media By Storm”:

A new anti-LGBTQ emoji is popping up on social media.

Heavy – “Pride Flag Emoji Appears to Be Homophobic”:

An LGBTQ pride flag with a strikethrough symbol layered across it has appeared on Twitter.

Paper Magazine – “WTF Is This ‘No Homo’ Emoji?”:

Late last night, the “no homo” emoji — a struck-through pride flag — began popping up around Twitter.

Twitter Moment: @VIKTORIOUS – “Newly Discovered Flaw in Unicode Leads to Homophobic Tweets”:

This flaw was unexpectedly discovered by twitter user @mioog and jokingly posted it.

20th February 2019

Josh Ginter at The Newsprint:

The details of this 81 megapixel image of the moon is jaw-dropping — you can see everything.

Best of all, it works incredibly well as an iPhone or iPad wallpaper. The way it lights up the lock screen — especially on the iPhone — is stunning. In effect, it looks like the iPhone progressively lights up the screen, creating a fascinating effect with the lit moon that isn’t replicated the same in other types of images.

He’s right, it looks incredible.

Check out the photographers post on Reddit.

19th February 2019

I had an interesting day at work today, as I was configuring a new project work with our CI server, and have things like Unit/UI Tests in a readable format, and also convert the code coverage into something that could be stored along with the build artefacts.

Just for some background, we use Bamboo as a server, and I’m pretty limited with what I can actually configure myself, without getting someone with higher privileges. So I try to work within my limitations, and see what I can come up with.

I use Fastlane as the main solution to manage the whole process. And that means I can use the scan and slather commands to do the heavy lifting for the testing/code coverage. The way I had to integrate it in our CI server was reasonably simple. The test results were handled by setting the output type to junit, and then adding a simple JUnit Parser task on Bamboo. The code coverage was slightly more complex, as it needed me to run a python package that converts it into a “Clover” format that Bamboo could understand.

What was more tricky, was getting this data nicely formatted when it was sent to our Slack room. The previous build plans all had notifications handled form Bamboo, and it just gave a short message with the number of tests that passed/failed. I wanted more insight this time though, as I knew the test data was available, and also that I had code coverage being generated. I decided that the simplest (maybe it wasn’t in the end) solution was to just find a way to read the information from the .xml files, and send a custom message to Slack as part of the Fastlane process.

What I ended up with is a kind of monstrous-masterpiece. In Fastlane I had the Slack command being called with some basic information about the build, such as the branch, project name, and whether it passed/failed. But to get the results of the Unit/UI tests, I thought I’d use grep to find the line in the junit file that had text like “tests=100 failures=0”, I then used sed to clean up the surrounding text, and had the final output as “Passed: 100, Failed: 0”. The code coverage was slightly harder. I used grep and sed again in the same way to find the total code coverage, but it was formatted like “1.00000000”, and I wanted a percentage. So I piped that through bc with a small calculation, and they’re not formatted as a percentage with two decimal spaces.

Then with some magic of environment variables, I added two build-specific URLs to the message payload. One for the build details, and the other which linked directly to the code coverage report.

What I ended up with was something like this:

  • iOS App
  • Tests Passed: 100, Failed: 0
  • Code Coverage 100.00%
  • Coverage URL https://build.com/coverage/IOS_BUILD_99
  • Build URL https://build.com/IOS_BUILD_99/something
  • Result Success
  • Git Branch master

I’m not sure if all of that is relevant for each build, or if I’ll have to include some other things I’ve forgotten about. But what I can say, is that it was really fun to come with all of these little scripts that come together with something so simple at the end. And it’s quite likely that no-one else seeing the messages will have any idea the lengths I went to to make everything appear so simple.

11th February 2019

(Image credit: BBC Earth)

If you’re interested in nature documentaries, then the BBC have quite the announcement for you. In two news articles (linked at the bottom), they announced 8 new television series about natural history.

The five main shows are:

  • Perfect Planet
  • Frozen Planet II
  • Planet Earth III
  • One Planet: Seven Worlds
  • Green Planet

And they also announced three extra shows:

  • The Mating Game
  • Primates
  • Earth’s Paradise Islands

That’s such a massive commitment from them, and I’m already super excited.

Perfect Planet

In the five-part series, we’ll see how the entire planet which is seemingly “perfect”, operates. It will show how the weather, ocean currents, solar energy, and volcanoes all play their part in supporting Earth’s diverse biological population. We’ll also get to see how certain animals are well-suited to their environments, such as the Vampire Finches in the Galapagos, which are part of the diverse group, known as Darwin’s Finches.

Episodes: 5 x 60 mins

Transmission: 2020

Frozen Planet II

Ten years after Frozen Planet first aired, the second series is being released. As the name suggests, it focusses on the quarter of the earth that is entirely frozen. Animals such as the Siberian tiger, snow monkeys, penguins, and polar bears all thrive in cold conditions. But as temperatures rise, they might not be able to cope as easily.

Episodes: 6 x 60 mins

Transmission: 2021

Planet Earth III

Following on from the second series, that aired only back in late 2016, is coming back for a whopping eight-episode series. As usual, improvements to technology, such as robotic cameras, better submersibles, and stabilised rigs, will only help us see the planet in more detail.

Episodes: 8 x 60 mins

Transmission: 2022

One Planet: Seven Worlds

This series will be split into seven episodes, one for each of the continents (Well actually Eurasia is one continent, but people treat it as two). We’ll see how distinct each continent is from each other, and how they have shaped the life that’s found there.

Episodes: 7 x 60 mins

Transmission: 2019

Green Planet

Something that sometimes gets ignored on tv documentaries, is plant-life. Usually, the focus is on the animals living in specific habitats, but this series will focus on the surprisingly intricate life of plants.

I’ve read a lot on how trees communicate, using electrical signals through their roots (that are connected by fungi), so I hope this gets shown in more detail.

Episodes: 5 x 60 mins

Transmission: 2021

The Mating Game

Okay, so nearly every species on the planet needs to find some kind of partner to mate with. This series will show how various species have completely different ideas of what’s the best method of finding one. Some fight, others sing songs, and some dance. This sounds like it could provide a very interesting insight into unknown behaviours of animals. And there’s a technological bonus with this series, it’s being filmed in 8K!

Episodes: 5 x 60 mins

Transmission: 2021


There are a huge number of species of primates. Including apes, lemurs, and monkeys. They’re found all over the planet, in vastly different habitats from one another. And there’s one writing this very blog post. We’ll get to see new sides to these animals, how they use tools, solve problems, and also have a glance into their politics.

Episodes: 3 x 60 mins

Transmission: 2020

Earth’s Paradise Islands

Madagascar, Borneo, and Hawaii, are all exotic and remote islands. And in each of them, there’s fascinating animal species, and human cultures. So it sounds like it will be two sides to each story.

Episodes: 3 x 60 mins

Transmission: Unknown


28th January 2019

I regularly read articles about Apple products that seem to try and be negative just for clickbait reasons, or because it’s a trendy thing to do. But not many of them are as confusing as this article in New Scientist.

In just under 500 words, Clare Wilson describes the new heart rate monitoring features in the Series 4 Apple Watch, the main one being the ability to run an ECG. However counter to the title, the main body of the article seems to praise the new feature. With about 20% of it actually explaining the point they’re trying to make:

But many people have an irregular heart rhythm without symptoms. They will be told by their watch to take the ECG result to a doctor. They could then get potentially risky surgery, go on unnecessary medications risking side effects such as dizziness. At the least, they will be falsely alarmed.

Several trials have investigated whether it is helpful to give ECGs to people without symptoms and the US Preventive Services Task Force has concluded that the evidence fails to show this approach does more good than harm.

The point they’re trying to make is that people will be diagnosed with irregular heart rhythms, but as they lack any negative symptoms, they may be lead to having unnecessary risky procedures.

I have two points to make regarding this. Firstly, if you have an irregular heart rhythm, and the watch detects it, then it’s doing exactly what it’s meant to do. And secondly, if you find you do have one, and even without symptoms, your doctor puts you through risky surgery, then that’s by no means the fault of the watch.

Some people will always read any slightly negative diagnosis with the worst case scenario in mind. That’s why there are such things as hypochondriacs. But then that’s also where qualified doctors come into it. By no means do I think Apple wants you to take an ECG on your watch, and based on that one result, have heart surgery. It’s an indicator that you can use to diagnose atrial fibrillation, and then you can go to a medical professional to further diagnose any issues.

24th January 2019

Quick Look, the infinitely valuable tool on the Mac that lets you near-enough instantly preview a file. It’s really impressive the number of file formats it supports, but there are always going to be a few things it doesn’t. And that’s where plugins come into it.

One great one that I discovered via twitter today is QuickLookJSON. I’m sure you’ve already guessed what it does. But anyway, I may as well show you as well.

It not only displays JSON files though, it indents them properly, applies a colour scheme, and also lets you expand and collapse any of the data. That last one alone makes it super easy to navigate through a big JSON file.

To install QuickLookJSON, you can either install it manually or do it via Homebrew. The only command you’ll need to run is:

brew cask install quicklook-json

There’s a bunch of other plugins that add further support to Quick Look, like adding syntax highlighting to code, rendering Markdown, and even allowing navigation through a .zip archive in the preview. You can find all of these on one page on GitHub, thanks to Sindre Sorhus.

20th January 2019

David Sparks had an interesting take on AirPower, that maybe not many people actually care about it. But also that it would be good to end all the rumours:

I hope Apple does perfect and ship the AirPower, if for no other reason, so we can start talking about it. Regardless, I can’t help but think in the overall scheme of things, AirPower is small potatoes.

Maybe this is why Apple haven’t came out at any point with updates to the availability of it. They have had real issues with AirPower, like the heat caused by placing so many charging coils together. But there’s been zero news about it since the announcement, at least officially. Maybe because it’s just an accessory that only a tiny fraction of people will get, so it’s not actually a big deal.

17th January 2019

I ran into a situation at work today, where I was already using a UILabel to display text, but it was styled in a way that really needed some padding.

UILabel doesn’t directly support this, and the most common way to get around it is to embed the UILabel inside a UIView, and control the constraints that way. I didn’t really want to do that for what I was doing, and I also wanted to just make my own label that could handle padding.

It didn’t take long and was a lot more straightforward than I thought. I subclasses UIClass, added a UIEdgeInsets variable, and then made sure that intrinsicContentSize, sizeThatFits(_ size: CGSize), and drawText(in rect: CGRect) took that into consideration. So it still works perfectly with AutoLayout.

It’s certainly not a major open source project or anything, but it could be a quick way to add padding support to a UILabel!

16th January 2019

Slack has today announced their new logo on their blog. It was designed between Slack and Pentagram, and the result is a relatively flavourless icon, in my opinion.

I for one, and I think many others, associate the colourful octothorpe logo with Slack. And also their plaid pattern that is used in many places.

The opinion that I’ve seen best match mine, is John Gruber over at Daring Fireball:

Slack’s old identity had at least three good things going for it: they owned the letter “S” (much like how Netflix owns “N” — something Netflix has doubled-down on as their identity has evolved), they owned the “#” hash mark, and unique among technology companies, they owned plaid. When you saw plaid with those primary colors on a white background, you thought Slack. And plaid isn’t part of any sort of design trend right now. Slack simply owned plaid, to such a degree that Slack company socks — which simply used colors and plaid, no “Slack”, no “S” were necessary to make it instantly obvious these were Slack socks — became coveted swag.

When the Slack iOS app installed on my phone, I instantly forgot where I put it. Sure, it only took a few seconds, but the old logo seemed to draw you in. It had a colourful border, with a bright white background, and the typical “S” that you see with Slack. But now it’s a slightly dull purple, with a generic colourful icon on top. It just blends in.

It feels very much like change for the sake of change, which is exactly what Slack’s blog post said it wasn’t.