20th January 2019
Permalink

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.

16th January 2019
Permalink

John Voorhees, writing for MacStories:

Today, DuckDuckGo, the privacy-focused web search engine, began using Apple Maps for location-based searches. The company, which previously used OpenStreetMap, switched to Apple’s MapKit JS framework, which Apple introduced at WWDC in June 2018.

This is a very good improvement to DuckDuckGo. Hopefully this kind of integration will also lead to more visibility into any flaws that it may have, which can be rectified once for the entire service. That can only benefit the other platforms Apple Maps is on.

Thinking about DuckDuckGo a bit more, them using Apple maps is probably a very good fit, as I personally see them as the “Apple” of search engines, as they both put a big emphasis on anonymising data requests, and respecting user privacy.

What I want to see next, is DuckDuckGo become the default option on iOS. But as Google already pay a ton of money for this, I don’t see it as being that likely.

10th January 2019

As you may have already seen on my Twitter, or in my journal entries, I’ve started to work on the second major version of Text Case, 2.0. The major changes will be to the user interface, so I want it to be slightly more colourful, fit more in what I see as the latest design language Apple has set out in the Shortcuts app, and also have the formats structured better.

The project started with me making a list of all the things that I will need to implement for it to be level with the functionality of the current version. Here’s that list:

  • Input
    • Drag and Drop
    • Input Field
    • Use Copied Text
    • From File?
    • Keyboard Shortcuts
      • Global Paste
  • Formats List
    • Tap to Copy
    • Hold to Share
  • Siri Shortcuts Support
    • Add to Siri
    • Shortcuts App
    • Backwards Compatibility
  • Action Extension
  • Settings
    • Theme
      • Light
      • Black
    • Title Case Format
    • Reorder Groups
    • Enable/Disable Formats
    • Custom App Icons

I started working on the most important section of the app, the formats list. Over the past few days I’ve been building up the style similar to the Shortcuts app, so instead of being simple white boxes that contain the formatted text, they’re more colourful and even have a slight gradient to add a bit of depth (I’m planning on experimenting with a small shadow as well).

So once the list was working, I added the core logic from the current version and made the formats work. I did adapt it slightly though, as it now groups similar formats together, which I think makes the app look a lot tidier. This change means that when I add the reordering feature, it will most likely me limited to reordering the groups rather than individual formats. You’ll still be able to hide any you don’t want to see though.

Then I added the input field. It’s also a bit cleaner, and fits with the new style. But it has essentially the same capabilities as before. I plan on investigating importing text from a file, and implementing drag and drop, but I think that’s supported automatically.

After I had the list displaying, input working, and the text being formatted, I worked on the interaction with the resulting formatted text. I’ve had a few bits of feedback in the past saying they would appreciate one-touch copying, and now I’ve added it! So you can simply tap any formatted text in the app, and you’ll get a nice alert at the bottom showing the exact text you’ve copied. Or alternatively, you can still tap and hold on formatted text to bring up the contextual actions, which are the same as before, copy and share.

The next step from here will be to start working on the settings section of the app, as that also allows me to test the rest of the app in different scenarios much easier. I’m already planning two changes to the settings in this new version. The first is changing the idea of an accent colour to a theme, as I want the format groups to control the colour. But I also appreciate that a light and dark theme is a minimum. The second change is custom app icons, they may be a basic selection, but the app no longer has a “main colour” so I’d like to give a few options.


If you want to stay up to date with the development of Text Case 2.0, You can find more regular content on my Twitter, brief updates on my journal, and I’ll still post any major progress here.

7th January 2019
Permalink

Well, that’s the shortened version of the question that asked on Quora:

“Why isn’t bamboo wood a bigger worldwide industry, since it grows so quickly and is so strong? couldn’t it replace lumber and save many trees?”

It’s a question that I’ve often thought myself. You hear regularly about how bamboo is such a superior resource for many things, but I’ve never seen an objective reason why it’s not as widely used.

But in his answer, Raphaël du Sablon came to our aid with some very interesting reasons:

Okay, here is the long answer. Bamboo is the collective name for several dozen genera of grasses, all in the Bambusoideae branch of the “BOP” clade.[1] While most bamboo species are either shrubby or relatively short plants, a couple genera include particularly large species, typically called “timber bamboo” or “giant bamboo.” These are the bamboo of relevance.

Being in the grass family, bamboo is not a tree. Thus, material cut from bamboo stalks is not technically “wood.” Because of its roughly similar properties, however, and for marketing reasons, it often is referred to as a wood.

With that pedantry out of the way, let’s consider the uses of wood, and how bamboo compares. The big ones are fuel, lumber, and paper.

7th January 2019
Permalink

Michael Rockwell of Initial Charge:

As some of you may know, I recently started a new job. I’m now a Happiness Engineer at Automattic, helping WordPress.com users build their online business, share their ideas with the world, or do just about anything you could think of with a website. This new change in my life is at least partly to blame for the lack of publishing here on Initial Charge, but now that the holidays are behind us, I should have a bit more time for writing.

I’ve added quite a bit of new tech to my setup over the past few months and have plenty of thoughts and ideas to share about what’s happened in the world of Apple recently. But today, I thought I’d spend a bit of time discussing the new MacBook Air.

I found this to be a really insightful review. By no means am I thinking about getting a MacBook Air in the future. But I’ll forever be interested in how people use their devices for their work.

4th January 2019

It’s time for an update to Text Case! It contains four changes, and three of them were taken from user feedback! Which I really like, as it means I can tailor the app to how the app is actually being used, not an idea in my head.

So, here are the improvements:

  • A new format! Strip HTML will clear any HTML tags and any whitespace either side of the result.
  • You can now alter the order of the way formats appear in the app.
  • Pasting text via the keyboard shortcut (CMD + V) will now work even if the textfield is not selected, meaning you can get the formats much faster.
  • Any settings in the app are now synced between your devices.

Check out Text Case on the App Store.

3rd January 2019

Up until today I used Reeder 3, and it’s served me well for a very long time. However, in August the developer announced that Reeder 4 is being worked on, and in the meantime version 3 would be free to download. I planned on waiting for the update, but there’s a few minor issues that are causing me a bit of friction. The main one being that while it supports Dark “modes” on macOS, when using actual Dark Mode on my Mac it doesn’t actually alter the whole app.

I started my searching via SetApp, as I already pay for that. An app called Cappuccino took my fancy, and it also had a companion for iOS, which is ideal. That lasted about 5 minutes, as I discovered it doesn’t support external RSS feed services like Feedly that I currently use, so everything is stored in that app. That wasn’t the immediate turn off though, as I could use the iOS app as well. But then I checked out a few articles, and there just wasn’t any level of user presences apart from a few themes, and things like block quotes just weren’t being displayed correctly. So that was off the table. The other option on SetApp is News Explorer, and that looked okay, it also had an iOS app that I didn’t particularly like the look of.

So I checked out the Mac App Store (that I actually really like using), and I discovered that had already purchased a copy of Leaf in the past. So I’ve started using that again, and it feels good to have an app that lets me fine-tune my experience. It doesn’t seem to support macOS Dark Mode, but that is actually okay. As it supports its own themes like most other RSS readers. And unlike other apps without Dark Mode support, parts of the UI aren’t “automatically” adapted via the OS, so it doesn’t look half-baked.

For now I’ll keep on using Reeder on iOS, as there’s nothing there that irritates me. But that could be something I look at in the future. As there are a lot of alternatives available.


After having a search through my blog and past tweets, I discovered the reason why I switched to Reeder was the fact that it was free. It’s strange that the same reason that brought me to the app was essentially the reason I’m now leaving it behind.