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.

Battle at Big Rock: A Jurassic World Short Film

5th June 2020

I watched Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom today, seeing as it’s now on Netflix. After it finished, I immediately searched online to see if there were any sequels being planned, or if I’ve just missed a release entirely.

Well, of course, there is a sequel being planned for release in 2021, I just forgot about it. It’s Jurassic World: Dominion. So nothing I could watch right now.

But I did noticed something new on the Jurassic Park Wikipedia page. Last year, a short film was released called “Battle at Big Rock“.

It is a very short film. All together, including credits, it’s just over 10 minutes. However, I see it more as a glimpse into what we will expect to see in Dominion. Especially as it was directed by Colin Trevorrow, and written by Trevorrow and Emily Carmichael, and they are also the director and writers of Dominion.

The film is set after Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, and as you may remember, that ends with the dinosaurs ending up on the US mainland. Which is something that we’ll have to adjust to seeing, in future films1.

But for now, all we’ve got is Battle at Big Rock, and luckily it’s on YouTube:


  1. Producer Frank Marshall has already announced that Jurassic World: Dominion will not be the final film in the franchise, but instead lead to a new era of it. – Collider 

Speed Test by CloudFlare

29th May 2020

I just came across a new speed test tool (via The Newsprint), and it’s certainly the most detailed and responsive one I’ve seen.

It’s made by CloudFlare, and has the simple name of Speed Test. You can find it at speed.cloudflare.com.

Unlike Speedtest.net, it loads instantly, and there’s no delay until your internet connection is tested. Which is something that always annoyed me when visiting Speedtest.net.

The speed or instantaneous testing aren’t the only benefits. It’s also packed full of data. Have a look at my screenshot below, to see the type of stuff you can test.

(You may worry that I’ve shared my location. Rest assured that this data isn’t even close to being accurate.)

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.

The Miracle Sudoku

27th May 2020

A few days ago, I kept seeing a tweet regarding some kind of impressive sudoku puzzle. I was mildly interested, but not enough to trigger me to watch a 25 minute video. Then I saw Jason Kottke write about it, and that was then linked to by John Gruber. And as I had some free time tonight, I decided to give it a watch.

As soon as I saw that minimal sudoku board, I was intrigued. It had a single 1, and a single 2. And from that, somehow you could complete it.

It’s not just a normal sudoku puzzle though, there are two extra rules:

  1. Any two cells separated by a knight’s move or a king’s move (in chess) cannot contain the same digit.
  2. Any two orthogonally adjacent cells cannot contain consecutive digits.

After about 4 minutes into the video, the rules were explained, and I just had to try this myself. So I paused the video, and found the link to the puzzle. And after around 45 minutes (A rough estimate as I was doing other things at the same time), I finally did it. It truly is a fantastic sudoku.

I still had to watch the rest of the video though, and it was totally worth it. You watch him start with a seemingly impossible puzzle, which he starts to make progress on, and then suddenly it clicks. A fascinating thing to watch.


Watch the video on YouTube, and if you want, try the puzzle for yourself.

I’m now going to see if I can find some more puzzles I can do!

Why I “Force” Quit Apps

27th May 2020

Ever since you could open the multitasking interface on iOS, you’ve able to “force” quit apps. And not long after that, there’s always been people telling you that you shouldn’t, and that it was bad practice.

Most of the time these people will use the reasoning that having an app running in the background, doesn’t actually use up your memory or battery, and that that’s clearly why people are doing it. Others will say that resuming an app from the background is less CPU intensive than launching it from scratch. And there’s even the argument that it’s a waste of your time.

Even in Apple’s guide how to close an app has the prefix “How to force an app to close”, and in the guide, it tells you to do that “You should force an app to close only if it’s unresponsive”. So it’s not something they really endorse doing


So that’s why I’m going to explain the main reasons why I do quit apps on my iPhone and iPad.

Clutter

It’s the same as why I like to have a tidy desktop on my Mac and organised home screens on my iPhone and iPad. I don’t want clutter on my devices. And I find it irritating when I see apps that I’m not using when I open the app switcher.

It Helps To Signify the End of a Task

Similar to my disgust about the clutter, it helps to signify when I’ve stopped using an app.

For example, if I’ve been writing on my iPad, I’ve probably got iA Writer open, maybe Safari for research, Agenda for my overall planner, and even Reeder where I’m reading articles I want to write about. When I then finish writing, I’ll close all of these apps at once, and I no longer have to think about writing, until I actually want to start writing again.

What Does the Opposite Look Like?

Fine, let’s look at the opposite. What’s going to happen if you never quit apps on your devices? Well, one thing’s for sure, you’re going to have a lot of apps open.

I have 97 apps installed on my phone. So if I was to never quit an app, then by the end of a week, I’d expect to have quite a large number of them open. And eventually, surely the expectation is that every single application will be running?

Maybe there’s not much difference in battery level of memory usage when you’ve got a few apps in standby. But surely there’s got to be a difference at some point?

Either way, there’s certainly one place where you’ll see a difference. The app switcher. Imagine having 50 apps open, and you’re trying to find an app that just happens to be at the beginning of the list. That’s bound to be irritating.

Maybe the answer to that, is that if you do have 50 apps open at once, then the app switcher isn’t the place where you’d actually launch them from. Since having every installed app running and visible in the app switcher is essentially a giant home screen. In which case the app switcher becomes pointless.

What’s the Alternative?

Finally, the last reason why I “force” quit my apps, is because there is no alternative.

No matter what the system does in the background to running apps, they are still open. They are not closed.

Therefore, seeing as there’s no “nice way” to quit apps, I force quit them.


I’m aware that this topic might be unpopular, and there’s a good chance that you might think that quitting apps is plain stupid.

I’ll just leave you with one question:

If it’s a task that shouldn’t be done frequently, then why is it so easy and accessible to do?

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.