Blogging System Rewrite

Brent Simmons, describing the recent changes he has made to his blog:

I realized that I want my blog to be me on the web. This used to be true, but then along came Twitter, and then my presence got split up between two places.

To make this work, I needed two things that my old system from 2009 didn’t provide:

  1. Title-less posts, and
  2. The ability to run the site generator on my server, not just on my Mac.

In other words, I needed to be able to write tweet-like posts with no title — while on the go, on my iPhone or iPad.

It’s interesting to see the influence that Micro.blog has had on the blogging community. I’m seeing more and more of this style of posting.

Blogs set up with microblogging are interesting to read. It’s like having a Twitter feed with occasional long form blog posts sandwiched in-between.

The ability to cross post to social media ensures that you can keep your output under your control, as it always lives on your own site.

This is not something I see myself setting up as I don’t really post enough on social media to justify it, but it’s a smart move for anyone concerned with owning their own identify.


How the new 9.7-inch iPad stacks up against the iPad Pro

Nice comparison on 9to5mac between the new 9.7-inch iPad and the iPad Pro line. That new iPad at €369.99 is a great buy. The only real downside between it an the Pro line is the screen, which lacks ProMotion and True Tone. Neither of those technologies are complete deal breakers, but the gap in display quality would definitely be noticable in a side by side comparison.

The Pro line of iPads are great, but at an entry level price of €749.99 for the 10.5-inch model, I just struggle to see what that extra €380 really gets you. The Pro line will likely see an update this summer so I would expect some new features that should blow the 9.7-inch iPad out of the water, but for sure it’s still a great tablet for the price.


Loving Diamonds Are Forever

On the surface, Diamonds Are Forever is a terrible film. It marked Connery’s comeback, after a four year absence, and unfortunately he no longer seemed to fit the role. By then, he was a little pudgier, less dynamic, and he often looked bored on screen. Perhaps Connery was attempting to play off the film’s overall tone. Diamonds was the first Bond film to delve into camp and comedy. The results would appear mixed, at best. Though the film has received its share of positive reviews over the years, it is mostly ranked in the “bottom tier” on critics’ and fans’ Bond lists.

Some Bond films are so different that is hard to believe they are part of the same franchise at all. If you were to compare Diamonds Are Forever to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (which came out just two years beforehand) you would be hard pushed to find any similarities at all.

As much as I enjoy Daniel Craig’s more gritty and realistic portrayal of the character, I always find myself leaning towards Roger Moore’s Bonds when I just want to sit down and be entertained. The same goes for Diamonds Are Forever as outlined in the linked article.

It shouldn’t work, and to the majority of people it doesn’t work, but I really enjoy Bond movies that don’t take themselves too seriously. What Bond films have I seen most? Probably Moonraker and The Man With The Golden Gun - both of which are consistently ranked at or near the bottom of the Bond films.

That’s what’s great about the Bonds. Some people can’t stand Roger Moore. Some people think Timothy Dalton is the unsung hero. Others think anything before Daniel Craig’s films can be disregarded. There’s something for everyone.


My blogging workflow

An interesting post by David Sparks over on MacSparky about the general workflow he uses for publishing on his blog. He treats long form posts as projects which require mind maps, an editor and a most importantly, time.

Most of what I write on this site are small, linked posts, but for longer posts there are some great pieces of information that I can take from David’s workflow.

Tools for the job are another story that mostly comes down to personal preference. I use a combination of text editors to write my posts, most of which depend on the device I’m using. I would love for a built-in Markdown editor to be added to the GitHub file editor, but for now I will continue to use what I always do.

For reference, I use:


Why Micro.blog is not another App.net

Brent Simmons on Micro.blog:

Your posts are just a normal, everyday part of the open web. At this writing, mine appear on micro.inessential.com — but it’s on my to-do list to have those appear on my main blog (this blog) instead. (Probably won’t happen until after I ship the app I’m currently working on.)

And this is how it used to be, and how it never should have stopped being: my blog is me on the web. I own my blog: I own me.

And so everyone who follows me on Micro.blog sees my blog posts, and I see theirs. Simple.

And anyone who wants to could just read my blog in an RSS reader instead. All good, all open.


On the Possibilities of an iPhone SE 2

Stephen Hackett, with an interesting outline of a possible new iPhone SE. There has been no confirmation from Apple that they have plans to update the now two year old SE, but I hope they do. The SE is a great choice for people who aren’t too bothered about having the latest specs, people who don’t want to spend a fortune on a phone, and people who don’t want to carry around a big phone.

I’d imagine that covers a lot of people.


BeatsX

I’ve been perfectly happy with various wired in-ear earphones for the past few years, but after buying the iPhone 8 late last year and spending the next few months wrestling with the lightning-to-headphone adapter, coupled with another pair of cheap earphones breaking, I decided it was time to move to wireless earphones.

I use earphones mainly when walking to/from work or when travelling. I don’t use them for exercise, and I rarely use them for any longer than an hour at a time. I listen to podcasts mainly, so I’m not too worried about sound quality as long as it isn’t notably bad. What is important to me is noise cancellation and comfort.

Initially, I looked into AirPods. They are extremely small, have no wires and are powered by the W1 chip, but reports of poor noise cancellation, along with the worry that they would not stay in my ears, 1 pushed me to look elsewhere.

beats
BeatsX

The draw of the W1 chip is what pointed me towards BeatsX. W1 makes pairing earphones to your Apple devices stupidly easy. With the BeatsX, all I had to do was turn them on and I was presented with a “Connect” button. Pressing this instantly connected them to my phone, conveniently naming them “Colm’s BeatsX”. This process is the same on my iPad and Mac, so there are no issues swapping between devices.

One of the unavoidable trade offs of going wireless is that there is another battery to keep an eye on, but I’m happy to report that battery life is extremely good on the BeatsX. I have been using them for over a week now and have only had to charge them once, which is easy to do as I always have a few lightning cables lying around. Beats advertise an 8 hour battery life, and “5 Minutes of Charge = 2 Hours of Playback”, which I would say is accurate based on my early use of the BeatsX. Whether or not that holds up in the weeks and months ahead is another story.

BeatsX integration with iOS

BeatsX fit comfortably in my ears, and I like the fact that I can leave them dangling around my neck while I’m not using them. The design is minimalist and the controls work as well as I’ve come to expect with most earphones.

The chord that goes around the back of your neck is a small bit long for my liking but it’s not an issue really, only when wearing a scarf or a jacket with a high neck.

I don’t use earphones while exercising, but my brother took the BeatsX for a run and was not impressed with how they stayed in his ears. That’s probably very dependant on individuals, but it’s worth noting.

I’d definitely recommend BeatsX. They are a great option for someone looking for cross between standard wired earphones, but something not quite as extreme as Airpods.

  1. EarPods refuse to stay in my ears, even when walking at a normal pace. As for noise cancellation - I would more often than not have them on full blast to hear podcasts cleary when outside. 


An interview with Manton Reece of Micro.blog

Good interview with Manton Reece on the motivations behind Micro.blog, which he created. I joined Micro.blog soon after it launched but have only recently started really using it on a regular basis.

In comparison to an average Twitter timeline, Micro.blog is so much less cluttered, and more thought seems to go into posts. It’s also a really great way to stumble across blogs from people that would otherwise be missed.

I’m looking forward to future updates to the site. Hopefully it stays true to its original intentions.


What the iPhone, iPad, and iOS need in 2018

Jason Snell on his wishes for an iCloud storage bump this year:

The policy Apple uses to grant a small amount of free iCloud storage space needs to change. The free 5GB just isn’t large enough to do almost anything useful. Apple could raise the allotment, allow an additional amount per every device attached to an Apple ID (or set of family IDs), or even offer a year of a larger data plan with purchase of a device. I firmly believe that Apple doesn’t need to nickel and dime people with its iCloud storage plans—once people use them and get used to them, they will pay for more storage. But the upsell happens way too soon, before users can see how useful iCloud storage can be.

5GB is not a reasonble amount of free storage to give people these days. Google provide 15GB of storage by default on Drive, which is a big reason for people (myself included) to use it. The primary use of iCloud for most people is to store photos and videos that they take on their iPhone. 5GB won’t allow most people to even back up the photos they currently have, never mind take any new photos.

I agree with Snell. If Apple were to increase the free storage tier to something acceptable - minimum 10GB - then that would encourage more people to actually pay for storage beyond that once they realize how useful it is.


Google Analytics Intelligence

I have been using Google Analytics on this site for over a year now to monitor all sorts of things like number of visitors, demographics, pages hit and even screen sizes being used. As 2017 drew to a close, I was curious about some of the numbers specific to the year.

Intelligence is a great feature of Google Analytics that allows you to search over data in plain English. For example, I can ask “Most popular months in 2017” which will return the top list of months per page view in 2017. You can also ask something as specific as “What is the slowest loading page” and it will return a list of pages which have the worst bounce rate.

Google are often accused of being creepy with data. If given permission, they can track your every move in Maps, track your interests using Search, and more - but that’s only if you give them permission. Services like analytics are so good, I am more than happy to allow them to track my site usage. It’s a small price to pay.