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How To Remove YouTube Tracking

30th June 2020 | Permalink

Dries Buytaert:

After some research, I discovered that YouTube offers a privacy-enhanced way of embedding videos. Instead of linking to youtube.com, link to youtube-nocookie.com, and no data-collecting HTTP cookie will be sent. This is Google’s way of providing GDPR-compliant YouTube videos.

(via Daring Fireball)

I was completely unaware that this GDPR-compliant version of YouTube embeds were available. But, seeing as it makes no sense to use the standard embed when this one exists, I’ve made changes to my site so all YouTube embeds will automatically use the -nocookie version.


Just in case this helps anyone else add this to their blog, RavanH posted a code snippet on the WordPress.org forums to make WordPress shortcodes automatically convert YouTube embeds.

Text for Proofing Fonts

9th June 2020 | Permalink

Jonathan Hoefler, on the problem with panoramas when proofing fonts:

In years past, our proofs were full of pangrammatic foxes and lynxes and the rest, which made for some very merry reading. But invariably, I’d find myself staring down a lowercase J — and if I questioned the amount of space assigned to its left side, I’d set off in search of some confirmation in the proof. Each time, I’d be reminded that while pangrams delivered all kinds of jocks and japes and jutes and judges, even our prodigious list featured not a single word with a J in the middle. I also started to notice that Xs had an unusually strong affinity for Ys in pangrams, because pangrams make a sport of concision. Words like foxy and oxygen deliver real bang for your buck if you’re out to craft a compact sentence, but to the typeface designer noticing that the pair XY looks consistently wrong, none of these words will reveal which letter is at fault. I’d find myself rewriting the pangrams, popping in an occasional ‘doxology’ to see if the X was balanced between round letters, or ‘dynamo’ to review the Y between flat ones.

It’s an interesting problem, and one I can’t say I’ve ever thought about. But it makes sense that when proofing a font, you’d want to be able to capture a high majority of scenarios, not just a few good looking panoramas that probably aren’t similar to what a real sentence would look like.

However, Jonathan has come up with a proof that tackles things such as the spacing between different types of letters, how each letter looks at the start of a word, what double letters look like, and most likely more things that I won’t understand. Font proofing is certainly nothing I’ve considered before, but I always find it intriguing to see how people identify problems, and especially how they come up with a better solution.

This Fantastical Sea Creature Helps Remove Planet-Warming Gases From the Atmosphere

9th June 2020 | Permalink

Rosanna Xia, writing for the LA Times:

It was decades ago when Bruce Robison first looked through the plexiglass sphere of a submersible and spotted a most curious critter in the waters off Central California.

Nearly transparent and no larger than a fist, the squishy tadpole-like animal was surrounded by an enormous balloon of mucus about 3 feet wide. Robison could discern chambers intricately inflated within this sticky structure, speckled with particles of food and plant debris.

Robison spent years in the open ocean studying these gelatinous animals, which are too large and too fragile to bring back into a lab. Known as giant larvaceans, they inhabit seas across the world. Tens of thousands of them live just outside Robison’s office in Monterey Bay.

He and fellow researchers eventually learned that these creatures and their snot palaces play an outsize role in helping the ocean remove planet-warming carbon dioxide from the atmosphere — one more part of a vast and underappreciated system that makes the ocean an unsung hero of climate change.

There are some truly fascinating creatures in the ocean, and the giant larvacean is certainly one of those. Who would have thought that something so small could grow that big?

Watch the video by Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute to get a proper look at what the giant larvacean, Bathochordaeus, looks like.

A Better Computer

5th June 2020 | Permalink

Matt Birchler, introducing his new YouTube channel:

Today I’m excited to introduce my new YouTube channel, A Better Computer. This channel will be devoted to helping you make the computer in front of you, whether it be an iPhone, and iPad, or PC, better than it was before; we want to make it a better computer.

It’s not just another tech YouTube channel though, the idea is that the videos will be short, but highly produced, and have a very limited scope. For example, alongside the trailer for the channel, there are already three great videos to watch:

My favourite so far has to be the most recent one, about making tasks smaller in order to get more done. Since this is something I’ve been doing myself for a while, and I’ve always found it to be a very effective way to get big chunks of work done. Because for me personally, while I want to complete big tasks, the idea of them usually puts me off. But if I split the one big task into various small tasks that can be individually actioned, then it’s so much easier to make progress, and eventually complete it.

As you can tell, A Better Computer is going to be one great YouTube channel, so I definitely recommend subscribing.

The New Share Extension in Tot

28th May 2020 | Permalink

Craig Hockenberry, writing at the Iconfactory blog:

We’re happy to announce a new version of Tot with some features frequently requested by the app’s legion of fans.

The main focus of today’s release are system extensions that allow Tot to co-exist with other apps. To this end, we’ve added a Sharing extension for both iOS and macOS. Additionally, there’s also a widget for iOS that lets you quickly access any of Tot’s dots. Like everything else in Tot, attention was paid to minimizing friction, allowing information to be collected as quickly as possible.

I personally use the macOS version of Tot, quite heavily actually. And I think this share extension will be perfect when I quickly want to send text to a note.

It also makes me want to download the iOS app, because that probably has to be the best looking share extension I’ve ever seen. It does seem pricy for a simple note app, and that is the main reason why I haven’t bought it. But now I’m using the macOS version more, both of them as a package are starting to look like a good deal to me.

Trading Standards Squad Targets Anti-5G USB Stick

28th May 2020 | Permalink

Rory Cellan-Jones, writing for BBC News:

Trading Standards officers are seeking to halt sales of a device that has been claimed to offer protection against the supposed dangers of 5G via use of quantum technology.

Cyber-security experts say the £339 5GBioShield appears to no more than a basic USB drive.

This story is incredible in so many ways.

Especially when you get to this:

Each of these USB keys costs £339.60 including VAT, though there is a special offer of three for £958.80.

But, at first sight, it seems to be just that – a USB key, with just 128MB of storage.

“So what’s different between it and a virtually identical ‘crystal’ USB key available from various suppliers in Shenzhen, China, for around £5 per key?” asks Ken Munro, whose company, Pen Test Partners, specialises in taking apart consumer electronic products to spot security vulnerabilities.

And the answer appears to be a circular sticker.

Six Shortcuts Livestreams I’ve Done in May

26th May 2020 | Permalink

Matthew Cassinelli:

Since the start of May, I’ve streamed with the developers of Charty, Timery, and LaunchCuts (plus talked to the Data Jar developer), plus in the process reached out for more streams in the form of Chris Lawley showing my editing videos on iPad with LumaFusion, I showed Matt Cox the basics of shortcuts over an hour, and I had the pleasure of Jason Snell walking me through one of his Charty shortcuts.

Matthew has created quite a collection of videos with these live streams. I’ve just watched the Charty and LumaFusion video so far, and although I don’t use these apps myself, I still found them interesting. I’m definitely going to watch the rest!

The Awesome Mac OS Catalina Fonts You Didn’t Know You Had Access To

26th May 2020 | Permalink

Ralf Herrmann, writing at Typography.Guru:

Apple has recently licensed fonts from type foundries such as Commercial Type, Klim Type Foundry and Mark Simonson Studio to be used as system fonts on Mac OS Catalina. But since these fonts are an optional download, many users of Mac OS X are not even aware they have access to them for free.

To see and install these optional fonts, open the FontBook application and switch to “All Fonts”. Browse the font list and you will see lots of font families that are greyed out—either because they were deactivated or they weren’t downloaded yet. If you right-click on a font or font family that wasn’t downloaded yet, you see an option to download the individual font or entire family.

Who would have thought there was essentially “hidden” fonts in Catalina? I certainly wouldn’t.

Well, there’s tons. And it includes some pretty nice ones as well, such as Domaine Display, Canela, Proxima Nova, Graphik, and Produkt.

Apple Releases iOS 13.5 With COVID-19 Exposure Notifications, Face ID Bypass for Masks, FaceTime Setting, and Apple Music Stories Sharing

22nd May 2020 | Permalink

Ryan Christoffel, writing at MacStories:

Today Apple released what is essentially a COVID-19 update for iPhones. iOS 13.5 includes several features specifically designed for our current global pandemic, including exposure notifications, mask detection for bypassing Face ID, and a new prominence setting for FaceTime, along with a nice new Apple Music sharing feature optimized for Instagram Stories. With WWDC and iOS 14’s reveal only a month away, this is likely the last major update to the current OS release cycle.

This update is no doubt going to be known as the COVID-19 update, simply because of the exposure notifications. But seeing as we don’t have an app that supports that currently here in the UK, it’s really just the “Apple Music x Instagram” update for us. Which is totally fine with me. Because I really like how it’s been done, and it looks great!

The Best Way To Retain What You Read

21st May 2020 | Permalink

Brett and Kate McKay:

We’re exposed to a torrent of media these days, much of it dross that we’re happy to forget in the time it takes to scroll to the next thing. But sometimes we’re reading a passage in a book or article that is so interesting or inspiring we feel we’d like to remember it for a long time. 

Typically, even if we mentally repeat and rehearse the arresting content, we find ourselves in the position described above — just a day, or even an hour later, we can’t recall what we read. Interesting, weighty, even potentially life-changing insights have permanently evaporated from our minds.

The solution:

If you’d like to retain and secure more of the information you consume instead of letting noteworthy knowledge pass right through you, here’s the best way to do so: share it with someone else.

I’ve never known the science behind this, but I’ve certainly noticed that I learn things better when I’m teaching it to others. Just like right now at work, I was on a training course where I didn’t quite remember everything. But when I was tasked with teaching other people, I found that I could recall the knowledge much easier.