Hi, I’m Chris. 👋

This is where I write about my interests, share my opinions, and link to other things I find interesting.

When I’m not writing, I’m developing Text Case, a text transformation app for macOS and iOS.


Feeds Mage

The makers of Mailbrew have crafted yet another great product. This time it's a tool called Feeds Mage, that scans your Twitter follows and unearthes any blogs, newsletters, YouTube channels, etc. that might have previously gone unnoticed. And then from there, you can even create a regular email digest from these sources.

I ran this on my own Twitter account, and it found 149 feeds in total. Some were YouTube channels that I already subscribe to, or blogs that I already subscribe to via RSS feeds. But I did manage to find 11 more blogs that I've now added to my RSS reader!

Some Thoughts on Social Media

24th September 2021

Note: These are raw thoughts and not a PhD thesis, and therefore should be treated as such.

In my opinion, social media networks like Twitter, Instagram, and to some extent other microblogging platforms, are underutilised and I think we could gain so much more from using them.

In short, I think that social networks are more enjoyable for everyone when people share everyday life, opinions, ideas, life updates, progress, and real experiences.

I’ve noticed a few things that I think are misconceptions on how we should treat social media:

  • Every photo needs to be perfect. The background can’t be distracting, you must be in an amazing location, with no mess, and you must also be a professional photographer.
  • Your thoughts need to fit within the expectations of others.
  • If you do not provide context, then it is wise to assume the worst possible scenario.
  • You must treat yourself as a brand.
  • Sharing a curated feed of your best moments makes you interesting.

While I don’t believe I’m the messiah brought to Earth to fix every problem with social networks, there are a few things that I think we forget when it comes to using them:

  • We are all real people.
  • Our lives in most caress are drastically different to what we share online.
  • Real-life is what other people can relate to.

It’s always seemed fascinating to me how we all seem to understand that social media doesn’t represent real life, but we still get caught up in it. It’s like we’re all wilful subscribers to an alternate reality, where we get triggered by purposefully emotive headlines, opinions that differ from our own, and from people that we do not know.

But imagine if we used social networks to share our real-life experiences. We all have them. We can all see the distinction between what happens in real life and what appears on social media.

I think that is where Micro.blog has felt different to platforms like Twitter for me. In a sense, it feels slower, but at the same time, it feels like you are connecting with real people. Whereas when I use Twitter, most of the time it feels like I’m interacting with an online account rather than the person behind it.

I’ve definitely fallen into the trap before, where I’ve used Twitter as a place to share perfect photos, links to my blog posts, and anything else that can bring external validation. But I think I’m going to try and just use it like a normal person for a while, and see how it goes. Nothing I do is perfect, and it won’t ever become perfect. So the only thing I’d ask is that if you do see me on Twitter, please treat my public posts as coming from a real person, not someone simply out to cause havoc.

The E.U. Want To Enforce USB-C as a Universal Common Charger by 2024

24th September 2021

Louise Guillot, writing for Politico:

The European Commission is set to present a legislative proposal on Thursday to force manufacturers to use a common charger for electronic devices, according to a Commission official closely involved in the file.

The proposal will require all manufacturers to harmonize the charging points on devices — using a USB-C charging point — and to make their software protocol for fast charging interoperable between brands and devices.

The main target of the new legislation is U.S. tech giant Apple, which has pushed back against EU attempts to standardize chargers through binding requirements, arguing that it will hamper innovation.

This is such a fundamentally stupid proposal.

How can you enforce all phone manufactures to use the same charging port?

What happens when USB-C isn't good enough anymore?

What about the massive number of lightning cables that would be unusable by the current iPhone users? Does that waste not matter?

What if a manufacturer wants to only support wireless charging?

John Gruber echoed my feelings in the last sentence of his post[1]:

And people in the E.U. wonder why England wanted out, and why nearly all the major tech companies are from the U.S. and Asia.


  1. Of course, it was the UK that left the EU, not just England. But I think everyone gets the point. ↩︎

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore to be released globally 15th April 2022

23rd September 2021

Wizarding World:

Mark the date in your calendars... A new chapter of Newt Scamander’s adventures is coming soon, with Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore to be released in cinemas globally 15th April 2022, and potentially earlier in a few international markets.

The film was expected to be released in July of next year, but today we can exclusively reveal fans will be able to enjoy the third film a few months earlier than planned!

It feels like forever that we've been waiting for this movie, and what's better is that this is only the third instalment of a planned 5 part movie series.

If you want to know a bit more about the plot, then feel free to expand the section below to read a sneak peek at what we're going to see in the film:

Plot Sneak Peek
Professor Albus Dumbledore knows the powerful Dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald is moving to seize control of the wizarding world. Unable to stop him alone, he entrusts Magizoologist Newt Scamander to lead an intrepid team of wizards, witches and one brave Muggle baker on a dangerous mission, where they encounter old and new beasts and clash with Grindelwald’s growing legion of followers. But with the stakes so high, how long can Dumbledore remain on the sidelines?

I'm like an absolute child when it comes to Harry Potter, so I already expect that I'll be seeing this multiple times in the cinemas.

Maybe I'll have to rewatch the first two Fantastic Beast movies soon to celebrate?

Read the full post on Wizarding World.

Is the Portless iPhone Already Here?

Daryl Baxter, writing at Tech Radar:

Recently we’ve seen Apple take strides in wireless charging, first with the industry-standard Qi charging, followed by its own take with MagSafe charging, starting with the iPhone 12 series in 2020.
This only looks to be the start of the portless iPhone, but if you already own an iPhone 12 and above, you may already own a portless smartphone without realising it.

This is an interesting take, and I think I agree with the idea. It’s also why I don’t think USB C ever needs to come to the iPhone.

My Thoughts on the Apple Event

16th September 2021

It’s been a little over 24 hours since the Apple event, and I’ve of course been thinking about the new products that were announced, so I thought I’d share a few of my thoughts.

iPad

Nice to see it get an upgrade. Nothing exactly to shout about, but I don’t think this iPad is meant for that. Still a great computer for a reasonable price.

iPad Mini

Finally. The redesign we’ve been waiting for. I expect this to be a very popular device for reading and light browsing, and could probably serve as a pretty good gaming device too.

I have a 12.9” iPad Pro and also an iPhone 12 (for now), and I personally don’t feel like I need a product in between them. But I can definitely see the appeal.

Apple Watch Series 7

Not so square edges. But overall a pretty bland increment in my opinion. I wasn’t expecting much, but I thought it would at least get a new chip.

iPhone 13/13 Mini

Honestly, I found the base model 13 and 13 Mini pretty disappointing. I’m not quite sure what I was expecting, and others have suggested that this is an “S” year.

It’s got the new A15 chip, the cameras have a better sensor to let in more light (with the same aperture as iPhone 12), a tiny bit more battery life, and a few new colours. An improvement, but like many of the other products, nothing to get excited about. Especially if you’re on the last generation.

I even felt that the iPhone 13 video could have been for the iPhone 12, barring the new cinematic mode. Which, while I’m on the subject, I’m not too convinced by yet. Partially on how good it will be at artificially focussing on subjects without weird blurring on the edges of subjects, and also how much use it will be to the average user.

iPhone 13 Pro/13 Pro Max

Okay, so while I’m a bit disappointed by the base model iPhone 13, at least the Pro models excited me a bit.

The iterative changes over the previous generation are expected, but it’s the new cameras that grabbed my attention. Because, although the base model 13 gained new sensors for the wide and ultra-wide cameras, the Pro gained a new 3x telephoto (up from 2.5x in the 12/12 Pro), a new ultra-wide camera with a wider f/1.8 aperture (from f/2.4 In the 12 Pro), and also a new wide camera with a wider f/1.5 aperture (from f/1.6 in the 12.

It wasn’t just the aperture that changed, there’s also sensor improvements, a seemingly massive improvement in low-light capabilities, Night Mode everywhere, and most likely a lot of other things. But the other 2 main features I’m looking forward to trying out is the 2mm minimal focus distance on the ultra-wide camera, and also the customisable photographic styles. I can already imagine setting certain lighting/colour adjustments when in various locations. For example, getting softer colours new the beach, or maybe boosting the contrast and enhancing the colours in a more urban environment.

However, I can imagine that if I wasn’t interested in the camera improvements, this new model would feel as bland as the base model 13.

Overall

If I look at this announcement as a whole, I’m disappointed. I think that with all the fanfare surrounding the iPhone Apple Events, the large amount of production time that Apple have been putting into the recent digital events, and my own personal expectations, I thought we’d see a lot more than what were mostly incremental upgrades.

I know Apple can’t invent a new product category every year, so of course, the only thing left is to iterate on their existing products. But I would have expected a little more than what we got, maybe just a few things to get really excited about.

To take it to an even wider scale, I think this event follows what my feelings have been regarding Apple during Tim Cook’s reign. I know he was at the helm for the Apple Watch and AirPods. But overall, I feel like a Tim Cook Apple has a sense of stability, quite a few product lines, with them all receiving regular, iterative improvements, and everything slowly getting better every year. But, I wouldn’t say that Apple is an exciting company under Tim, I wouldn’t go far as to say they’re boring, but over the past few years, I’ve noticed myself becoming a lot less enthused about Apple. Maybe that’s just me, but it’s something I’ve been feeling for a while.

Textastic Code Editor 9

I wrote about wanting an offline capable Visual Studio Code app for iPad yesterday, and while I haven’t found an app that I feel to be equal, Textastic does seem to be the best code editor app I’ve found for iPad.

How to use Visual Studio Code on your iPad

Thord D. Hedengren, shared a great tip on his Switch to iPad blog on using VS Code on an iPad:

One of the most popular code editors for web developers today, is Visual Studio Code, or VS Code for short. It’s made by Microsoft and is available for macOS, Windows, and Linux. Unfortunately, there isn’t an official iPad app just yet, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use VS Code on your iPad. At least not if you use GitHub to manage your codebase.

How you access it is pretty inventive:

Now, assuming you’ve got a GitHub account, and a repository, you’ll also need a keyboard. Any bluetooth keyboard will do, just as the Magic Keyboard if you’re on an iPad Pro.

Navigate to your repository in your web browser (you might want to use Safari to be safe), then press the period (.) key. Yep, that’s it, now VS Code will load up your repository, in your web browser window, just like that.

VS Code is an app I use a lot at my day job, for all use cases where I’m not using Xcode to write Swift, or IntelliJ to write Java. I also use it when modifying my blog theme, and playing around with random text files.

I’d love it if the app could come to the iPad as an app. It’s built on web technologies so it wouldn’t be fully native, but as much as I’d love to use the web version of VS Code, I don’t want to be reliant on an internet connection to edit a local file.