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Bring Back the iPod Click Wheel With Rewound

I came across a fun app recently on Twitter, called Rewound. It’s a Music app that simply acts as an interface to your music library, but it comes with a rather interesting quirk, it looks like an old iPod. And you can even go back to a click wheel.

Rewound App.

The control layout can be changed within the app, however to apply a matching skin you have to download them from Twitter/Weibo (You can find them with the #rewoundskins hashtag) or add custom photos from your device.

Depending on the skin you add, it automatically assigns a layout based on the size. And if you use one with a click wheel, you will actually be able to use the circular gestures to navigate through your music collection.

It’s a bit of fun, and I’m sure some nostalgic people will love to see it. I can’t quite say I see this as a long term product though!

Download Rewound for free on the App Store


Update: 18th December 2019

It turns out that Apple have now rejected Rewound, and it’s no longer available to download. (via Michael Tsai)

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The Voice at Embankment Tube Station

John Bull (@garius) posted a great story on Twitter, about one of the announcements at Embankment tube station, and a voice that suddenly went unheard.

When I started to read this story, I was thinking that maybe the archived recording would be found and then a copy sent to Dr McCollum. I never expected the voice to be digitised, restored, and then put back in use.

The fact that it’s only used in the Embankment tube station on the Northern Line makes it even better. It’s amazing that people went the extra mile and put in the work to make it happen.

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The Berlin Wall Obscured With Embroidery

Diane Meyer has come up with an incredible series, where she has taken photos around the previously split city, and used hand embroidery to obscure different sections.

Diane Meyer:

The embroidery is made to resemble pixels and borrows the visual language of digital imaging in an analog, handmade process. The images were taken in the city center as well as in the suburbs where I followed the former path of the wall through the outskirts of the city. I was interested in the psychological weight of these sites and the ways in which past history remains very much in the present. In many images, the embroidered sections represent the exact scale and location of the former Wall offering a pixelated view of what lies behind. In this way, the embroidery appears as a translucent trace in the landscape of something that no longer exists but is a weight on history and memory.

There are 21 photographs in total, and my favourite three would have to be these:

Potsdamer Platz

Bernauer Strasse

Brandenburg Gate

(via Kottke)

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Twitter Finally Adds Support for iOS Live Photos

After four short years, Twitter have added support for Live Photos. A feature that was announced alongside the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, in 2015.

If you ignore the strangely huge delay, I do think that it’s a very welcome addition. A lot of people including myself take Live Photos all the time. So I can see this being quite popular.

It doesn’t literally keep them as Live Photos though, they are converted to GIF format. That’s not exactly a bad thing though, as I’m sure there’s quite a few benefits of storing them as a GIF rather than the raw video from the Live Photo.

One thing I didn’t like about the video alongside their very brief announcement, was the attitude towards the newly added support. They talk about how millions of Live Photos are taken every day, but how they go unshared and forgotten about. But “Today is a new day”. Sure, today is a new day and it’s a pretty cool feature, but I think it easily could have been done a number of years ago. The only blocker for adding this support earlier was Twitter themselves.

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Making Butterbeer from Harry Potter

Greg, on the How To Drink YouTube channel, made a great video about making Butterbeer that’s regularly referenced/drunk in the Harry Potter series:

There’s something so darn Chistmassy about the Harry Potter films, particularly the first few, that I always thought of them as Christmas Movies, even though maybe they’re not. Well I’m kicking off this holiday season with a hot mug of cheer with this 1588 recipe for Butterbeer. I know there’s a ton of nonalcoholic recipes out there for Butterbeer and those are fine, but honestly, I think this is more in line with what J.K. Rowling had in mind when she wrote the books. For starters, the kids need to grow up from Pumpkin Juice to Butterbeer, implying there’s something more mature about it. Secondly Europe and the U.K. are a bit more lax in regards legal drinking ages, and I’d imagine wizards even more so. Thirdly, Butterbeer is an actual real thing, found in a Tudor cookbook from 1588. Was J.K. Rowling specifically referencing this recipe? I can’t say for sure (unless she wants to answer!) but I CAN say that I was shocked to discover that Nicolas Flamel was a real person, who wrote a book on alchemy and the creation of the Philosophers Stone. They have copies of it at the NY Public Libary reference branch, rare books section. So, she wasn’t strictly making things up with these books. So, this Butterbeer as the official Wizards Butterbeer? Maybe.

I’ve tried the “Butterbeer” that is served at the Harry Potter Studio Tour multiple times, but I assume that it doesn’t compare at all. So I’m definitely going to try and make this recipe soon. I guess I’ll have to order a wooden tankard to drink it from too.

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The New 16-Inch MacBook Pro

Apple today, took me by surprise and announced a new MacBook Pro. A 16-inch one to be exact.

I’m very excited about this machine, for various different reasons which I will discuss below. But it has come at a very good point at least from my perspective, as I’ve been recently feeling the need to upgrade my current Mac because of the annoyances I have with it.

My Current Machine

To provide some context, my current machine is the MacBook Pro 13-inch Late 2016 model (not Early-2015 that I somehow thought I had earlier). It has a 6th generation 3.1 GHz Dual-Core i5 CPU, a whopping 256 GB SSD, and 8 GB of memory.

I purchased this while I was at university, so my budget was limited. And that is clearly represented in the specs of the machine. I clearly did not think about the lack of upgradability when I purchased it.

It was a good machine when I first bought it, but over the years it feels like it’s causing friction whenever I want to get something done. Which is a big reason why I think I’m going to buy this new model.

What I Do on My Mac

Along with the usual web browsing, Twitter scrolling, and other common tasks, there are only a few main tasks that I use my Mac for:

  • Developing applications
  • Writing
  • Gaming

All of these are perfectly capable tasks for my machine, but I would say that each of them certainly comes with its own level of friction.

For example, I find developing iOS apps to be cumbersome on a 13-inch screen. This used to be fine for me, but I’ve since been using external displays at work, and I find the 13-inch to be just a bit too compact. The time it takes to compile my projects, and run simulators to be annoying. Not necessarily what I would call slow, but it’s certainly not enjoyable. And with the limited time I have to develop my own personal projects, I want my machine to be as accessible as possible.

The writing I do is essentially all for this blog. I use whatever text editor that tickles my fancy at a moment in time, and I write in plain Markdown. It’s nothing that demands much resources from the machine at all. But it does require a reliable keyboard, and while the current keyboard served me well at the beginning (I personally don’t mind the “clacky” noise it produces), I’ve been slowly finding problems with it. My command keys are a bit flaky, I still haven’t adjusted to the escape key being in the Touch Bar, I occasionally get double characters when typing, and it generally just doesn’t feel as comfortable as other keyboards have been for me.

To me, a keyboard is something that you shouldn’t really notice, but when using this machine to type anything (I don’t need Grammarly), I’m constantly aware of it. Even if it’s not making any errors, I know it can and it means I can’t always focus properly on my writing.

By gaming, I’d like to refine this to playing World of Warcraft. It’s the only game I play on my Mac, and I certainly do play it quite a lot. You may be surprised by the fact that I actually game on a Mac, but while this machine isn’t necessarily built for it (It only has integrated graphics and 8 GB of memory), it gets the job done. But I’ve always wanted a better machine for this reason alone. World of Warcraft can look amazing on a Mac, I’ve just never purchased one good enough.

What Can the 16-Inch MacBook Pro Offer Me?

Perhaps the most obvious improvement that this machine has over my current machine is the size of the screen. I really want a bigger screen, and now it’s an inch bigger than I thought I’d go. I used to be hesitant about this for many reasons, but because of my iPad Pro that I use quite a lot, I’m not taking this on as many trips as I used to. So essentially the only portability I need is the ability to move it around my house.

The keyboard is the most major difference that I think is a real problem solver. I have issues with my keyboard, and I would like to hope that with the new key spacing, increased key travel, and the early opinions of reviews, that this will fix my problems. It also features a hardware escape key, which I think is the perfect comprise between having the Touch Bar or not. I like the Touch Bar, but tapping a screen with no tactile feedback for the escape key has always been weird to me.

One improvement that I think shocked everyone with this new model is the new speaker and microphone systems. I don’t really use the microphone at all, but I watch a lot of videos and listen to a lot of music on my Mac, so these are all welcome changes.

Obviously, with this being a brand new model, using new hardware, it’s going to bring with it enhancements all over the board. I’m sure compile times will be faster in Xcode, gaming will be smoother and with much superior graphics, and everyday tasks will surely feel much more seamless.

What I’m Looking At

The spec I’m looking at getting is the base 2.6GHz 6-Core i7 model, but with an upgraded 32 GB of memory, 1 TB SSD, and the AMD Radeon Pro 5300M with 4GB of memory. I think that GPU would be suitable for my needs, but seeing as the next step is just £90, I’ll have to do some research and see if it’s worth the jump.

What I’m doing differently now, is that I’m actually thinking about the future of this Mac. For example, I limited myself to 8 GB of memory last time, and while I think 16 GB is probably fine for me now. I think the extra jump to 32 is going to prove worthwhile in the long run. The same applies to the SSD. There’s no way I’m going to get anywhere near 500 GB, let alone 1 TB. But it removes a needless restriction, to a machine that simply can’t be upgraded at a later date.

Hopefully, this new 16-inch MacBook Pro can become a laptop that I actually like using again. And after writing this post, I’m even more sure that I’m going to get one.

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How I Upload Images to My Blog Using Shortcuts

I write a lot of my blog posts on my iPad using iA Writer, and because it is mainly a text editor, it doesn’t support adding photos directly into a document. This makes it slightly more cumbersome for myself when I’m trying to include an image in a post, so I’d have to go to the web interface of my blog, upload an image manually, and then copy the URL.

However, it recently came to my mind that I could probably automate this process. And of course, that would be with the Shortcuts app.

So I made a simple Shortcut that can be run from the Share Sheet, accepting only images.

Then because I simply want to upload it to my WordPress blog (I have no separate CDN for images), I attempted to use the “Post to WordPress” action. Which I only just discovered can upload media, along with posts and pages.

And just like when you upload a new post using that action, the result is the URL of the uploaded post/page/media.

Although the URL that was returned wasn’t exactly the one I was looking for. I was expecting the absolute URL for the image that was uploaded. But instead, it was the URL of a kind of “preview” page, which is essentially the same template used for a blog post, except the content is the image that was uploaded.

This stumped me, and I was considering giving up with the Shortcut at this point. But I realised that Shortcuts can handle articles on websites pretty well.

So I played around with the various actions that dealt with articles and found a very simple solution to extract the image URL. It turns out, in the weird media post (that’s not actually uploaded as a blog post 🤨) has the uploaded image set as being the featured image.

That meant that I could extract that using the “Get Details of Article” action, right after the “Get Article using Safari Reader” action, and then select to get the “Main Image URL”. And it worked perfectly.

So with the fundamental work done, I added an “Ask for Input” action at the beginning, to extract the title of the media. And also a “Text” block, to use the title and image URL and format it as Markdown so it can then be quickly copied and pasted into a document in iA Writer.


So after all of that talking, I’m sure you would like to see what the Shortcut actually looks like:

Upload Image To Blog Shortcut Screenshot

Download the Upload Image To Blog Shortcut

Hopefully either the resulting Shortcut can be useful to other people, or at least my thought process behind it, as no matter how good you think you know Shortcuts, it also seems to surprise you.

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Outlanders – My Favourite Game from Apple Arcade

If there’s one game that I’ve been enjoying as part of Apple Arcade, it’s Outlanders. I have been mildly obsessed with it ever since I gave it a try, very soon after it was available.

Outlanders Map

In essence, Outlanders is a game where you control a town of people, have them build out the town, whether it’s a farm to create a sustainable food source, or a tavern which they can go to at night that increases their happiness.

It’s very fun, and it’s based around scenarios that have a primary and secondary goal that you aim towards. For example, the level I’m on right now (6, which is currently the last) has an overall target to build 7 Windmills (which are used to convert wheat to flour, in order for a Bakery to make food), and 5 Taverns. All within 120 days. The optional secondary goal is to have a population of at least 70 by the type you finish.

Outlanders Level 6

At the start it’s relatively simple. You have some people forage for foot, while others focus on getting wood, and building houses for a growing population. But eventually you have a big population, that requires a lot of focus on what needs to be prioritised next. The maps are also finite, so the amount of resources (wood and food) will eventually dwindle down, leading you to build farms, windmills, and bakery’s to sustain the food for the population.

The first five levels I managed all within a few attempts, however this last one is proving to be quite difficult. Which is actually one reason why I’m enjoying it. It’s a fun game, which requires attention, and a general plan on how you are going to build out the town and population.

I really hope that the developer adds in more levels soon, as it’s only a matter of time before I’m finished with this one.

You can download Outlanders as part of Apple Arcade, and I would recommend it as not only one of the best games from the subscription, but of the many games that I’ve played on iOS over the years.

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Interesting Links

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!

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Markdown Tables for iOS

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.