Quick Tip: Enable Touch ID for sudo →

19th November 2020 PERMALINK • 1 min read

Dan Moren, writing at Six Colors:

My new MacBook Air is proving to be all that I’d hoped, and it’s not just because of the fancy new M1 processors. Since I’m coming from a 2014 MacBook, I’m reaping the benefits of all the other advancements Apple has made to its laptop line in the intervening years, and prime among those is the incorporation of Touch ID: I’ve already enabled it for 1Password (what a lifesaver) and, thanks to a tip from Twitter follower Josef, I can bring it to one of my other favorite places: the command line.

Such a great tip. I wonder why it's not more easily available?


Why Can't People Make Things Clear?

19th November 2020 PERMALINK • 2 min read

Sorry for the rant, but I just had to get something off my chest.

One of my strongly held opinions is that if you are trying to share information, then it is your duty to make it as easy to understand as possible. Especially in a professional sense.

It still baffles me that all through school and in every job I've worked, there's always been a problem with communication and sharing clear information. I'm talking about emails, documents, and even simple chat messages.

Here are the main problems I've encountered, and I bet quite a lot of other people have:

  • More than one font in a simple document.
  • Random line breaks throughout the document.
  • Assortment of bold, underlined, and italicised text. Sometimes used in combinations.
  • Text colour seemingly decided per sentence based on the current mood of the author.
  • No structure.
  • Worse than no structure. Bad structure. Sections in the wrong order, the visual hierarchy doesn't match the content, etc.
  • Different headings used to style text based on a whim not based on the content structure.
  • Many more that I'm forgetting.

I used to put it down to people just not being able to use computers properly. Because maybe it was my interest in computers that lead me to learn how to use them better? But while that may have passed 15-20 years ago, I don't think it does anymore. Especially in the technology-dominated roles that I've worked.

At one of my old jobs, emails would regularly come with more than three text colours, multiple fonts, sometimes font sizes, no clear headers, and probably only two or three paragraphs of text. What's worse, is that it was usually important information that people needed to understand in order to do their job.

When I read badly written/formatted documents or emails I always think to myself, why has this person not just put a bit more effort into making sure people can understand it? Or sometimes it feels like less effort would make it easier to understand.

If you want people to value the information you are sharing, make it easy for them to understand.

Sure, even if something is a real mess, most people will probably be able to understand it. But it may lead to misunderstandings, or questions later on when people want to clarify something. So by keeping things simple and to the point, you save yourself a lot of time.

There's also the fact that you could look unprofessional if you are incapable of making things clear. Because to be honest, if I read something that has no structure, no clear message, and the formatting is all over the place, my opinion would be that the author didn't understand the topic they're writing about.

Maybe when I try to explain things at work, I spend too much time making everything easy to understand, but I definitely think some people don't find it important at all. And maybe this is unimportant to most, but it really irritates me.


Mac Mini Teardown Provides Real-World Look at M1 Chip on Smaller Logic Board →

18th November 2020 PERMALINK • 1 min read

Joe Rossignol, writing for MacRumors:

A teardown of the new Mac mini has surfaced on the forum eGPU.io (via Reddit), providing us with a real-world look at Apple's new M1 chip, which is soldered onto a much smaller logic board than the one found in the 2018 model of the computer.

There sure looks like there's a lot of empty space in there, which bodes well for the future. You can take it as more room for future even more powerful models, or that this power could be put into an even smaller chassis. Either way it's positive.

HomePod Mini First Impressions

HomePod Mini First Impressions

18th November 2020 PERMALINK • 2 min read

My HomePod arrived this morning, so I thought I'd give my first impressions of it. I've had an original HomePod for quite some time, and I love it, but I did always think I'd like a smaller one in my office. That's why I ordered a Mini as soon as it was available.

Turns out, it was a pretty good decision too. Because for £99, I think the HomePod Mini is much more value for money than the £279 HomePod. I'm not saying the HomePod isn't worth that amount of money, but instead, I think the Mini is so cheap for what it is.

Obviously, the main part of the HomePod is what it sounds like. The original HomePod has an incredible set of speakers and can be pretty loud. With that in mind, I was expecting a speaker the size of the Mini would sound drastically different. I mean, still Apple quality, but noticeably worse than the bigger variant. However, they're a lot closer than I imagined.

The HomePod has an expected much higher level of bass, but the Mini still has a decent amount. I've complained in the past that the HomePod has too much bass, so I wasn't going to complain if there was a little less. It can also be pretty loud. I have it around 50% right now and it's certainly enough. I had them working together at one point, and it was amazing, so I'll probably end up getting another Mini at some point.

I tried sending music between the Mini and my iPhone 12 a few times, and it's definitely faster than before. But I have to be honest and say that it wasn't as fast as I've seen in reviews, so maybe I need to find the sweet spot?

One side-note I have about the Mini is that the cable it comes with is what all future Apple cables should be made out of. It's a braided cable, similar to the bigger HomePod, but the thickness of a typical cable.

While the HomePod will always have the size advantage over the Mini, the difference in sound quality doesn't seem to match the difference in size. The Mini is a great speaker. I think that this is the product that will Apple to compete with other devices from Amazon and Google. I don't think that they will ever match the price points or ubiquity of either two, but I can imagine a lot more people are going to be thinking about a HomePod now.


Apple Reduces App Store Commissions to 15% for Small Businesses Starting Next Year →

18th November 2020 PERMALINK • 1 min read

John Voorhees, writing at MacStories:

Today, Apple announced a reduction in App Store commissions that will substantially benefit a large part of the developer community. Starting January 1, 2021, developers who earn up to $1 million per year from their apps will have the commission paid to Apple cut in half, reducing it from 30% to 15%. Apple CEO Tim Cook said of the new App Store Small Business Program in an Apple press release:

Small businesses are the backbone of our global economy and the beating heart of innovation and opportunity in communities around the world. We’re launching this program to help small business owners write the next chapter of creativity and prosperity on the App Store, and to build the kind of quality apps our customers love.

Cook continued:

The App Store has been an engine of economic growth like none other, creating millions of new jobs and a pathway to entrepreneurship accessible to anyone with a great idea. Our new program carries that progress forward — helping developers fund their small businesses, take risks on new ideas, expand their teams, and continue to make apps that enrich people’s lives.

Such a great decision, and one that a lot of people have been wanting for quite some time. The $1m a year limit is certainly going to disappoint some people, since it will cut out a lot of developers/companies. But I don't think Apple are wrong to at least focus on the small businesses first. I'm sure a lot smarter people will argue the case for or against the cap, but right now I'm just looking forward to applying for this myself.

The Everyday Dad on the M1 Mac Mini

17th November 2020 PERMALINK • 1 min read

The M1 Mac reviews are dropping, and I've just watched a review of the M1 Mac Mini by one of my favourite YouTubers, The Everyday Dad. His question was "can you use this machine as your only video-editing computer?", and it turns out not only can you, there's every reason to use this machine for video-editing.

Benchmarks are one thing, but seeing the cheapest Mac operate like this is incredible.

World of Warcraft Shadowlands Pre-Launch Event

World of Warcraft Shadowlands Pre-Launch Event

17th November 2020 PERMALINK • 1 min read

As with all World of Warcraft expansions, Blizzard ramp up an excitement with a "pre-patch" weeks before the launch, to get everyone ready for the changes, and have a sneak peek at the direction the game is going through. This time, the event is a "scourge invasion", which if you don't know basically means zombies, everywhere.

There are zombies that appear randomly in the world, and they can infect you, which turns you into a zombie. And in turn you can infect other players and some NPCs. It's turning out to be pretty enjoyable. I mean, it's like being asked to troll people, which can be very fun. And as you would expect, there's a lot of coronavirus related comments being made in the chat.

It's the not the first time they've done an event like this, with a similar (but more brutal) scourge event that happened in 2008 before the lauch of the Wrath of the Lich King expansion.

While there are quite a few players in game spending hours moaning about the event, most of us are having a lot of fun. It's really cool that a game the size of World of Warcraft can have these types of events. It breaks up the sometimes monotonous grinding through the game, and allows people to interact and actually just relax and have some fun (Not everyone in-game seems to be a fan of that though).

If you've ever thought about trying World of Warcraft, or even just want to enjoy this event, I'd recommend it. There's a free trial always available, and it gets you pretty much the full experience.


3D Rendered Maps

16th November 2020 PERMALINK • 1 min read

As usual, I've come across another great Instagram account via Reddit. This time it's @the.itinerarium, and it's full of maps that have been rendered in 3D. I can't quite find the person/people behind the account, but nevertheless they are some cool maps.

Here are a few that I'm a fan of:

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by The Itinerarium (@the.itinerarium)

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by The Itinerarium (@the.itinerarium)

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by The Itinerarium (@the.itinerarium)

GitHub: "Standing up for developers" →

16th November 2020 PERMALINK • 1 min read

Speaking of youtube-dl being available again, here is Abby Vollmer over on the GitHub blog on the matter:

Today we reinstated youtube-dl, a popular project on GitHub, after we received additional information about the project that enabled us to reverse a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown.

At GitHub, our priority is supporting open source and the developer community. And so we share developers’ frustration with this takedown—especially since this project has many legitimate purposes. Our actions were driven by processes required to comply with laws like the DMCA that put platforms like GitHub and developers in a difficult spot. And our reinstatement, based on new information that showed the project was not circumventing a technical protection measure (TPM), was inline with our values of putting developers first. We know developers want to understand what happened here, and want to know how GitHub will stand up for developers and refine our processes on these issues.

In this post, we provide answers to common questions about the DMCA and why GitHub handled this case the way we did, describe why circumvention claims deserve special treatment, and share how we’re updating our policies and fighting to improve the law.

With all the attention being on the youtube-dl situation, it certainly is good to see GitHub be transparent about their processes regarding DMCA claims, and also anouncing some changes to their claim review process.

youtube-dl Is Back

16th November 2020 PERMALINK • 1 min read

Good news! The youtube-dl repository is now back up on GitHub. If you weren't aware, it was removed due to the RIAA issued a DMCA takedown notice.

As much as I agreed that the use of youtube-dl spanned much further than simply downloading videos from YouTube, I don't think the name exactly helps.

If you're wondering what they had to change to bring youtube-dl back, then you'll be surprised. They simply removed any uses of RIAA member videos from the tests. The fact that this fixed the issue, makes the whole ordeal seem a little childish to me.

But who cares, it's back.

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