App update notes

App update notes

Ben Brooks on The Brooks Review:

Stop wasting my time, stop wasting everyone’s time. If you want to write something cutesy, put it on your blog. Release notes should be clear, concise, well structured, and helpful.

Once upon a time, I thought it was great when creative/hilarious release notes appeared in my App Store updates tab. Now, I’m with Ben. Make them useful.

On failure. And starting.

When you’re as prone to failure as I am, it’s easier to stop trying than to press on.

It might not look like you’ve given up – with practice one can appear remarkably confident, busy and purposeful while avoiding a meaningful existence – but in truth, the pressure to be creative, decisive and generally winning can be utterly immobilising when your lack of prior success is staring back at you from every direction. Soon, your lack of purpose creates even more failure, which adds its voice to the failure that went before, insisting that your good intentions and well-made plans will amount to nothing.

I don’t share this for sympathy or encouragement. I wouldn’t be writing it at all if remembering my successes were enough to shake the sense that my career trajectory plateaued shortly after high school; that I’m a disappointing husband and father; that I’ve failed to complete more projects than I can count [including some I’ve attempted on this blog].

Are my standards for “success” too high? Yes.

Does it all stem from my weird childhood? A lot of it does, yep.

Are there successes I can be happy about? Sure.

Do I follow enough blogs about productivity and being a winner? Hell yes.

Am I taking enough happy pills? My GP thinks so.

But still, in too many moments, week after week, month after month, I struggle just to start – even on the smallest of jobs and ideas – if my Ghosts of Failures Past lurk nearby.

I’ve put together a few words for the aforementioned ghosts. I’m planning to repeat them all year [language warning for my mum]:

Hello, Failure Ghost. I know why you’re here, but it’s 2016, so now would be a great time for you to kindly FUCK RIGHT OFF.

Here’s to a year of starting.

Thank goodness it’s only February.

Developing for painfully slow Internet

Developing for painfully slow Internet

I’ve meaning to link to this piece for a while, but in my new role as a web developer, it takes on additional significance. Even for developers who aren’t targeting “third-world” users, the reality is that sometimes Internet links are slow, and building websites and web-based products that function admirably when bandwidth is severely limited should be one of our priorities. Click through for some good ideas on how to do this.

Fujifilm X70: still not a Ricoh GR

Last October, I wrote:

The Ricoh GR is my favourite pocket camera so far, but that’s mostly because it actually fits in my pocket. Ricoh’s cleverness with its controls and custom options is a nice bonus, but a similarly compact and inexpensive offering from Fujifilm would be difficult to resist. I certainly won’t be breaking up with my Fujifilm X-T1’s and Fujinon lenses anytime soon, but for now they’ll be paired with a very capable little Ricoh.

Imagine my surprise when a few days ago, Fujifilm announced the upcoming FUJIFILM X70, a new breed of fixed-lens camera that matches the Ricoh GR II spec-for-spec (if you exclude the X70’s flip screen, aesthetic appeal, and Fujifilm processing engine).

It’s great to see Fujifilm work towards a more pocketable big-sensor-fast-lens camera, but I still prefer the Ricoh GR. Here’s why:

  • The X70 is still too big. Side-by-side comparison photos are few and far between, but from what I’ve seen, the X70 is significantly wider and higher than the GR, and MUCH deeper (even before you account for the non-retractable lens). This is understandable given Fujifilm’s commitment to X-series dials and flip screens, but for me, it represents the difference between a “pocket camera” and a “can’t-be-bothered-taking-it-with-me camera”.
  • The Ricoh has snap focus. See my earlier review for details.
  • The GR II is significantly cheaper (USD$560 vs. USD$700). Not that this alone would tip the scales–I’d expect to pay more for a Fujifilm on its brand alone–but it’s a factor.

The GR has other advantages too–e.g. native DNG shooting–but neither this nor the X70’s superior autofocus have any bearing on pocketability (or image quality). Hopefully Fujifilm will eventually release (yet another) X-series camera with a retractable lens, fewer dials and a smaller footprint.

Meanwhile, thank goodness for Ricoh!

Running Ubuntu on a laptop? Annoyed by your flashing WiFi light?

This is such a serious #firstworldproblem you probably don’t even know what I’m talking about.

That’s OK. Wait for the next post. Google will bring my Linux-loving geek friends to this one.

It’s a pretty easy fix on Ubuntu 14.04. Create a file called /etc/modprobe.d/wlan.conf with this inside:

options iwlwifi led_mode=1

And reboot. Your WiFi LED should stay on when you’re connected. Without blinking.

Thank you, other blogger.

Jessica Jones

Krysten Ritter has come a long way since playing Rory’s weird college friend in Gilmore Girls (not that I’m admitting to watching every episode of Gilmore Girls, or even knowing who Rory is).

Michelle and I are 3 episodes away from the finale of Jessica Jones (thank you Netflix), and to say its considerable powers have drawn us into the Marvel universe against our will would be an understatement. Or an overstatement, depending on how you look at it (and your proximity to Killgrave).

Superheroes and science fiction have always been a hard sell in this household (e.g. I’m 32 and have only recently started watching Star Wars), but Jessica Jones has won us over. Jessica herself is a mess (she can’t even think of a decent superhero name for herself, much less stop drinking), but she also totally kicks ass, genuinely cares about the people she helps (or can’t help), and is ruthlessly independent. She’s everything a semi-plausible superhero should be, and the feminist in me loves that her gender is never a limitation.

Of course the backstory to her messy life is, ah, complicated, mostly because of the nefarious Killgrave, apparently. Through him, the writers experiment relentlessly with just how deadly a world inhabited by mind-controlling psychopaths could be. David Tennant’s alternately charming, hilarious, diabolical, and maniacal character is infuriatingly irresistible, even without the mind control (which thankfully doesn’t work through soundproofing or television screens).

Two Australian actors star, too, so that’s a bonus. If you’ve seen Red Dog or All Saints, you might even recognise them. STRAYA.

I’ll spare you any further spoilers, but if you’re in the market for a TV show that’s smart, fast, unpredictable, intense, beautifully filmed, mildly disturbing (don’t worry, there are just enough likeable characters), and generally brilliant, get on it. Fair warning, though: there are a few very gory bits and some heavy sexual themes (but not many visuals).

Next stop: the rest of the Marvel empire universe.

This is the 7th post in my November/December writing challenge series.

My speech at last month’s Rally Against Racism

This is post no. 6 in my “November” writing challenge.

Not all writing is for reading quietly. The words below were spoken at a pro-diversity rally held to stand against a hateful, anti-Muslim “Reclaim Australia” rally in Cessnock. We were one street away from tbe “reclaimers”, with a thin blue line of police keeping us separated. Thankfully there were no incidents.

Here’s what I said. My first ever rally speech.

I’m honoured to be here today … honoured to stand with you, my fellow Australians, confidently asserting the freedom we all share to worship however we please, wherever we please … but also honoured to speak as one citizen on behalf of many other citizens … and my message today is very simple:

Our unity is powerful. OUR UNITY IS POWERFUL.

When so many around us are doing everything in their power to divide us, our unity is powerful. It sends a message to cowards in Syria … and to bigots in Newcastle … and to social media trolls wherever they might live on Internet … it sends a message that love is greater than fear … it sends a message that the differences between us can strengthen us rather than tearing us apart … it sends a message that a brighter future awaits all of us when we start by turning towards our neighbours with open hearts and open arms.

Our unity — right here, right now, in this place — is powerful, but the unity we’re displaying here today, the unity we’re urging all Australians to embrace — this unity doesn’t come easy. Unity between people who think the same, look the same and talk the same is easy, but that’s because it’s not really unity! Real unity is when people who are fundamentally different come together, engage with each other even when it’s uncomfortable, and ultimately find ways to work towards shared goals. Real unity makes room for differences between people. Real unity doesn’t expect people to become the same as each other. Real unity is what we see here today, and as I’ve said already, it is powerful.

Of course part of the reason we’re here today is because some of our neighbours believe in a uniform Australia. They say we should be all white, or all Christian, and they’re standing particularly firm against the growth of Muslim communities in Australia.

I would prefer to ignore these people and the groups they lead, but sometimes we must respond directly to ignorance and fear and bigotry. So, by way of response to Reclaim Australia and its small but ferocious band of supporters, I have a few important things to say to my Muslim friends. I’m standing here as a white Christian who welcomes Muslims to live and worship and thrive in Australia — and not just in Australia, but right here in the Hunter Region — in Newcastle — in Cessnock — wherever freedom and opportunity might lead you.

I know your worldview is not the same as those who do evil in the name of Islam — in much the same way as Christian tyrants do not represent me. I do not see you as my enemies but as my allies. I’m glad your communities in this region are growing and do not feel in any way threatened by you or by the buildings you need in order to accommodate that growth. I know I speak for many, many others when I say that I love you, that I stand with you, and that I honour you for the courage you show every day as you endure words and deeds of vilification that have no rightful place in this country.

Our unity is powerful and I believe it will ultimately undo the work of those who seek to divide and destroy. In fact, it’s pretty much the only thing that can heal our broken nation. Let’s continue to stand together, not just as we rally against racism and bigotry together, but in our words and deeds and every day.

The November that was

November didn’t quite go to my original plan.

First there was a brief but debilitating bout with tonsillitis. Then there was the realisation that I could no longer carry on working at this place, no matter what, which meant resigning without another job to go to. (That was an 80% over-the-moon, 20% shitting-my-pants moment. More on that another day, probably.) Finally, I got busy applying for jobs, and ultimately succeeded in landing a web developer position at this place (more on that later, too).

When it came to writing, my best intentions took a big hit, obviously. But my desire to write more hasn’t changed, and you’ll see it here first when time permits. Hopefully I’ll even make it to 30 posts in my “November” writing challenge before the end of December.

I’m counting this as no. 5.

Update (8-Dec-15): I’ve received complaints about this post from anonymous co-workers at the workplace I’m leaving. I’ve removed the link to that workplace but won’t be removing the post. Offended? Don’t be a coward. Better yet, find something else to read on the Internet.

How to stop Photos.app opening whenever you connect a memory card

Yo Apple, Photos.app is really great and everything, but those of us who use third-party photo production software for ingestion and processing don’t want to see it EVERY TIME WE PLUG A MEMORY CARD INTO OUR MAC. (We don’t want to see it when we connect our iPhone, either. We only do that when Facebook Too Much Very Important Work has killed our phone battery.)

A user-friendly toggle to disable this for all devices would be super. Perhaps under System Preferences > CDs and DVDs?

Meanwhile, fellow photographers, here’s a terminal command that will safely disable the automatic opening of Photos.app when you least expect it. Copy and paste everything after the $ into Terminal.app and press Return:

$ defaults -currentHost write com.apple.ImageCapture disableHotPlug -bool YES

Unlike some of the other workarounds on the Internet, this one works even when you regularly re-format your memory cards (as most of us do). And it doesn’t require you to delete Photos.app, which might potentially break something somehow. No reboot required, either.

Update (27-Nov-15): If, for some reason, you want to reverse this change and return to OS X’s default behaviour, here’s the command to run:

$ defaults -currentHost delete com.apple.ImageCapture disableHotPlug