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Colin Devroe

Reverse Engineer. Blogger.

SOLO

Ron Howard:

Hey #Twitterville we just wrapped production so here’s a special message #StarWars

Follow the link for his video.

Cute. Howard seems to be having a ton of fun with this, which I think is great given the circumstances he walked into. I also think the name is great. It is what Jabba calls Han. SOLO.

Be a social developer

Dwayne Hinterlang on CodePen:

What if I told you there are even ways to connect with like minded people in person? Whether it’s quickly learning something for the first time, discussions of discoveries, pulling all nighters to breath life into an idea or even devoting yourself to achieving mastery! We can do them together.

Online resources, like Hinterlang spells out, are amazing and one can learn a lot from them. However, there is still no substitute for face-to-face meet ups, workshops, etc. You’ve read about this time and time again here on my blog. I think developers should go to meet ups.

Speaking of which. If you’re in my area, and you care about the intersection of technology, business, the arts, you may want to join NEPA Tech. I hear big things are in store for that group in the coming months.

Mike Monteiro on Twitter

Mike Monteiro on Medium on Twitter:

Twitter today is a cesspool of hate. A plague of frogs. Ten years ago, a group of white dudes baked the DNA of the platform without thought to harassment or abuse. They built the platform with the best of intentions. I still believe this. But they were ignorant to their own blind spots. As we all are. This is the value of diverse teams by the way. When you’re building a tool with a global reach (and who isn’t these days) your team needs to look like the world it’s trying to reach. And ten years later, the abuse has proven too much to fix.

We all miss the old Twitter. But it is gone and isn’t coming back. Many of us bloggers have covered this for the last few years. We all need to move on. But I’m glad Mike took the time to write about it. It is cathartic.

Rebuilding Slack.com

Mina Markham:

In August, we released a major redesign of slack.com, and we want to give you a peek behind-the-scenes.

She goes on to show tons of details on their latest redesign. There are several bits I found interesting such as their attention to accessibility, how they handle fall backs for IE11, and how they made responsive illustrations.

/via Brad Frost.

Micro.blog for Mac beta

Micro.blog:

Mac users can use the native Micro.blog for Mac app. It’s a free download and supports most of the same features as the iOS version.

You can see a short video of it on Manton’s blog. You’ll even notice a rather handsome avatar make an appearance.

Unfortunately I cannot give this a spin yet since I haven’t upgraded my Mac to High Sierra. And it doesn’t appear I’ll be doing so for at least a month or two since I haven’t seen any updates from Apple on that front. High Sierra just seems far too unstable to switch to on my main work computer at the moment.

Colin Walker, though, seems to like this new app:

Manton has repeatedly said that this is just a version 1.0 app but, I have to say, it’s been rock solid. Browsing, replying and posting to the blog have all been a breeze and I’ve not had a single issue or error.

Self-driving car accidents (because, humans)

Ryan Beene for The Seattle Times:

What they’ve found is that while the public may most fear a marauding vehicle without a driver behind the wheel, the reality is that the vehicles are overly cautious. They creep out from stop signs after coming to a complete stop and mostly obey the letter of the law — unlike humans.

So bots drive too well. Go figure.

Humans are terrible drivers. This middle phase of some driverless and some human drivers on the road can’t end soon enough.

ESO observes kilonovae

European Southern Observatory:

ESO’s fleet of telescopes in Chile have detected the first visible counterpart to a gravitational wave source. These historic observations suggest that this unique object is the result of the merger of two neutron stars. The cataclysmic aftermaths of this kind of merger — long-predicted events called kilonovae — disperse heavy elements such as gold and platinum throughout the Universe. This discovery, published in several papers in the journal Nature and elsewhere, also provides the strongest evidence yet that short-duration gamma-ray bursts are caused by mergers of neutron stars.

Just two neutron stars makin’ it rain.

What an incredible observation. Well done ESO.

Update: Here is the timelapse.

Smartify

Smartify:

Smartify is a free app that allows you to scan and identify artworks, access rich interpretation and build a personal art collection in some of the world’s best museums and galleries.

Gunseli Yalcinkaya, writing for Dezeen, calls it “a Shazam for the art world”.

This is cool. Can’t wait to try it out.

/via Dave Mark at The Loop.

Dan Moren on Movies Anywhere

Dan Moren, for Six Colors:

Dare I say, this seems like an indication that Hollywood is finally “getting it” where digital film purchases are concerned. Then again, with the continued encroachment of streaming, digital rentals, and peak TV, maybe they just got desperate.

Six Colors being a publication that knows how to use the internet and links to their subjects. See also.

Spotify’s Discover Weekly Playlist

Sophia Ciocca:

This Monday — just like every Monday— over 100 million Spotify users found a fresh new playlist waiting for them. It’s a custom mixtape of 30 songs they’ve never listened to before but will probably love. It’s called Discover Weekly, and it’s pretty much magic.

I’ve mentioned Spotify’s playlists before. They are incredible. They are magic.

Side note: While I was enjoying the synergy of Apple Music we’ve decided to switch back to Spotify today. It is just way, way too good at surfacing music. Also, it is much much faster and syncs better across devices.

No link? Boycott.

I’ve put up with this for far too long. And I’m not going to any more.

Publications that have the habit of linking only to their own web sites rather than to the subject of their articles will no longer get any traffic from me on any device. In fact, I’m going to go so far as to down-rate them on apps like Apple News and block my own devices from being able to navigate to their pages.

The straw on this particular camel’s back was a Variety article* about Disney’s new Movies Anywhere service. They reference the service multiple times throughout the article, having the name of the service linked but only to their own Variety.com URLs. When they do mention the URL of the Movies Anywhere service they spell it out like MoviesAnywhere.com and do not have it linked.

This is being about as bad of a net citizen as you possibly can be. It is also terrible for their readers. They, and many other publications, are reader hostile and this is but one of their tactics.

So, I’m done with them. I’ll be making a list of publications over time and sometime in the future I’ll share it**.

* No, I won’t link to it. They don’t deserve it.

** Added to them should be any publications that use Taboola.

What’s new in WSL in Windows 10

Tara Raj for Microsoft:

We’ve been documenting many of these new features and improvements on this blog over the last few months, but we’ve often been asked for a single document listing all the new improvements, and with FCU (version 1709, build 16299.15) shipping on October 17th 2017, we thought it was time to publish a list these improvements!

We’re coming up on our first year of using Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) at Condron Media. I mentioned in January of this year that we’ve been using it pretty extensively. Since then Tucker Hottes has been getting the insider updates (or, beta updates) of Windows 10 and has enjoyed the incredibly fast pace that Microsoft’s teams are on. If you look at the linked blog post you’ll see the improvements are myriad.

A request: If you’re a developer using Windows 10 and know about WSL do Microsoft a favor and let other Windows-using developers know. Tucker and I are always amazed at the number of developers that have no idea about WSL still. In fact, just yesterday we met one and made sure to tell them about it.

To put this in perspective; Tucker is on Windows 10 and I’m on macOS. Yet, we use nearly the same development environment, configuration, tools, etc. This allows us to collaborate in a way that was previously much more difficult. Microsoft is doing great work on WSL and more developers need to know.

Oculus announcements galore

Be sure to check out the Oculus blog as they’ve announced a slew of new things. I’m still going through them all and will be sifting through it over the coming days. But, at first glance, I’m really excited to see this category of product move forward.

Here are the highlights for me (though there is a lot more)

 

Jason Snell on Twitterrific for Mac

Jason Snell:

I started using Twitter because of Twitterrific for Mac. When the Iconfactory first released the app, I signed up for a Twitter account and started chatting with my friends. That was ten years ago.

Ditto. I actually started using Twitter via SMS in 2006 then saw it bloom at SXSW in 2007 but then when I saw Twitterrific in 2007-2008 it became a daily (heck, hour-by-hour) habit.

Twitterrific for Mac

Iconfactory:

The Twitter app for people who actually use Twitter. Now all-new for macOS.

Imagine if Twitter cared as much about their desktop and mobile apps (and the people who used them) as Iconfactory does.

SnapThread

SnapThread by Becky Hansmeyer:

Portrait video compilations made easy—that’s what SnapThread is all about.

Like SnapChat without the network. I’ve long held that SnapChat and Instagram have the best UIs but it is a shame they aren’t just an app. Apple tried to solve this with Clips but that is only square-crop. This app could be very useful.

The Apple Watch is less obtrusive than a phone

Jeremy Keith:

I’m always shocked when I’m out and about with someone who has their phone set up to notify them of any activity—a mention on Twitter, a comment on Instagram, or worst of all, an email. The thought of receiving a notification upon receipt of an email gives me the shivers.

Me too.

I thought this might be a good time to bring this topic of notifications back up. Not only because Jeremy wrote about it but also because I now own an Apple Watch – which may seem counter intuitive to this whole distraction free discussion.

However, I’ve found the Apple Watch to be a lovely little device that can easily be set up to unobtrusively notify you of important things. In fact, I believe it is less obtrusive than an mobile phone.

I have a few notifications turned on for my phone:

  • Text messages – I get very few of these
  • Calendar reminders – I live by these
  • Dark Sky rain alerts – I like to keep dry
  • Night Sky condition and object alerts – I heart the universe

I am not notified of any social network activity or emails. Those things I dive into when I feel like it.

With this set up I feel I’m very rarely distracted by a notification. And now with the Watch, I can say I’m less distracted during a conversation with the persons in front of me physically.

Here is a scenario: you’re have a chat with someone and you get a text message alert. Your phone either makes an audible noise or it vibrates and the screen illuminates. The other person saw and/or heard the alert. So now they know your brain is wondering what that alert could be. Even if you don’t break eye contact with that other person, they know and you know you have a message waiting. With the Apple Watch I get a gentle tap on the wrist when I’ve gotten a text message. The screen does not illuminate. The other person doesn’t know I’ve gotten an alert. I’m able to stay present and check the alert when there is a break in the conversation. In this way, I think the Apple Watch is less obtrusive than a phone.

Required reading

The first time I linked to Colin Walker, which was only about 4 months ago, it was because he was fiddling with his blog, trying to come up with the right way to display his content for him and his audience.

It is a topic that has fascinated me for 20 years and to see someone else thinking about it out loud is great.

Over the years I’ve tried many, many different ways to layout a blog. Fortunately, I’ve been able to explore dozens and dozens of options due to my work. I’ve designed and developed online magazines, large-scale video blogs, large online libraries of information for teachers, students, television stations. I’ve even had the privilege of working on a network of blogs, called 9rules, where we aggregated hundreds of blog’s content into many categories and sections. The projects I’ve worked on over the years have had billions of views.

So, I can honestly say I’ve thought about this topic as much as anyone alive.

Long, longtime readers of my blog will remember how I wrote about how the blog format needed to be disrupted back in 2011. This post has ended up being a tent pole on this blog. Here’s the crux in a snippet:

I believe the blog format is ready for disruption. Perhaps there doesn’t need to be “the next” WordPress, Tumblr, or Blogger for this to happen. Maybe all we really need is a few pioneers to spearhead an effort to change the way blogs are laid-out on the screen. There are still so many problems to solve; how new readers and also long-time subscribers consume the stream of posts, how people identify with the content of the blog on the home page, how to see what the blog is all about, how to make money, how to share, and how interact and provide feedback on the content.

While the lion’s share of people’s microblogging, photos, video, and audio are still going to the big network sites – there are a few people who are rolling up their sleeves and trying to figure out how blogs should be laid out in 2017 and beyond.

Colin Walker is one of those people.

If you go back through a few posts from this month from him (I wish he used tags) you’ll see how Dave Winer’s post here sparked the idea of a required reading page. And how he’s been thinking about it for a few days now. I understand how he feels. When that seed is planted it is tough to uproot.

One of my reasons for saying that the blog format is in need of disruption has to do with the brand-new visitor’s perspective of a blog. On any given day if a new person were to show up on my site they’d only see the latest few posts that I’ve written. I could be making a joke, linking to a friend, writing about how to save battery life on the new Apple Watch, sharing some thoughts on Bullet Journaling using audio, or sharing a photo of a recent evening at a local lake. Would they come away understanding “what is Colin’s blog about?”. I don’t know. I think some days are more representative of what I’d like my blog to be than others. Some entire weeks probably poorly represent what I’d like my blog to be.

Currently my site’s layout is fairly simple. I’ve chosen this mostly due to the fact that traffic to my site is primarily to single posts and overwhelmingly viewed on mobile devices. So if I were to begin fiddling like Colin Walker is… I’d likely start with what my single post design is, rather than my homepage. More people are introduced to my blog through a single post than the homepage.

Based on Colin Walker’s thoughts I may update my about page this week a bit to include a section explaining what my blog is primarily about. For me, I think that will be enough. But I don’t feel like it solves the issue Winer and Walker bring up. I’m anxious to see what Walker ultimately comes up with.

Microsoft releases Edge on iOS and Android

Joe Belfiore:

Introducing Microsoft Edge for iOS/Android and Microsoft Launcher for Android, two apps designed to make it easy to move what you’re working on between your phone and PC.

Great move. Likely tons of Surface users that also have iPhones and definitely have Android devices.

The Launcher is an interesting move. I’m anxious to see if they continue to improve it. Facebook made one years ago and gave up on it in very short order.

Ryan Lau on iOS 11’s inconsistencies

Ryan Lau:

The unfinished feeling in iOS 11 mostly comes from UI and animation. UI elements in iOS are quite inconsistent, mixing a variety of UI elements, which might look quite similar but introduce a disconnected feeling for UX. The inconsistency of those elements majorly stems from those UI element updated in iOS 11, such as Large Title and new Search Bar. In my opinion, those newly introduced elements, which might be unfamiliar and new even to Apple engineers, have caused many inconsistent UI experience in iOS 11.

I’m using the public beta of iOS 11.1 on my iPhone and iPad and, as of this writing on Tuesday, October 3, many of these examples are still plaguing iOS 11. Many people won’t notice these types of things but as software designers once we see them it is impossible to ignore them.

I’ll bet that most of these inconsistencies will take several iterations of iOS 11 to clean up. Meaning, it won’t be in this calendar year.