No, You Can’t Own Your Computer

Amit Gawande, on the idea of completely owning your computer:

I want a computer that I own completely. I want a computer that does what I want it to do, not one that has a hidden agenda programmed into it at the factory. And, I want to have these capabilities regardless of what anyone has done to the Internet to prevent me from having them. I don’t want to be dependent on the whims of a government or the good will of a giant corporation.

Tie goes on to describe his ideal system and mulls over what he currently has to live with.

This made me think if such a system, or a group of systems for that matter - it’s not just a computer that Tie is talking about here - can actually exist. There’s no incentive for any organization, profit or non-profit, to build such a system. It will not be of interest for an everyday consumer, it would be too dull for him. He would, unmindful of the harms, load it with the unnecessary bloat, ruining the whole promise the system was built on.

— Amit Gawande, No, You Can’t Own Your Computer

There’s a lot of good thoughts in this article. And after some thinking, I’m not sure if this theoretical computer exists.

How They Getcha

Zach Phillips, on the ephemeral nature of modern manufacturing:

“They don’t build them like they used to.”

The idea that materials used to be expensive and labor cheap (or free/enslaved) tries to explain this, but it’s much better explained by the fact that maximization of profit has no interest in building something that lasts.

The past few years of my collecting creative tools has been focused on those things that just “can’t” be built anymore, not because there aren’t the people with the skills and desire to build excellent tools, but because the economic system won’t support those who build them.

— Zach Phillips, How They Getcha

Overall build-quality and longevity are two things that I think are lacking in a lot of modern products.

Working from Home at Monzo 🏦 One Year Later

One of my favourite YouTubers, Jake Wright, is a software engineer at Monzo, and he tends to make very interesting videos about how he works. He made a video earlier this year showing how he'd been working from home due to the pandemic.

However,  like most of us software engineers. he's been working from home ever since. And he's created a follow up video going through an entire work day, which I just found it fascinating.

Wet Plate Photography Makes Tattoos Disappear →

8th March 2021

Michael Zhang, writing for PetaPixel:

Here’s something you may not have known about the 1800s wet plate collodion photography process: it can make certain tattoos disappear in photos. It’s a curious phenomenon that photographer Michael Bradley used for his portrait project Puaki.

“The idea was first sparked when I saw some wet plate collodion images from photographers around the world who had shot people with tattoos,” Bradley tells PetaPixel. “I had been shooting on the wet plate collodion method for a few months and was looking for a long-term project when I saw these images of people with tattoo’s and noticed that some faded away depending on the color of that tattoo.

“I noticed that the green/blue shades looked like they were most likely to disappear, especially on someone with slightly darker skin, and this sparked the idea.”

— Michael Zhang, Wet Plate Photography Makes Tattoos Disappear

Michael Bradley produced some incredible photos, and the comparisons are astounding. The tattoos disappear as if by magic, all because the wet colldion process is sensitive to only blue and ultraviolet light.

Cover Photo: Gary Shane Te Ruki © Michael Bradley

Goodbye, Qwiki

8th March 2021

Unfortunately, I've decided to remove Qwiki from sale.

If you weren't aware, Qwiki was a Mac app that placed Wikipedia in your menu bar. It was pretty simple, you could search for a page, view a page, and there were a few methods to export links from the app.

Qwiki was first released in June 2016 and received updates until November 2019. At that point, I was relatively happy with the app, since it was only ever meant to be a minimal way to quickly search Wikipedia.

However, as time has gone on, the codebase has become stale, and the app, in general, doesn't feel at home on the more recent versions of macOS.

I've felt for a while that I shouldn't be offering an app that isn't being maintained, but my thoughts were that while people still used it, there could still be more that could get value from it. But after receiving a few support requests asking for Catalina, mainly around the text appearing too small, small icon resolution, and a few more things, I can't continue to make that excuse anymore. So therefore if I have no plans to ever update the app, I can't ask people to pay money for it.

I toyed with the idea of just making it free, but I still think a free app needs to be of a certain standard, and to a point, maintained.

This means that I now only have one app, Text Case, although it is available on iOS, iPadOS, and macOS. I do have plans to work on a new project this year, but nothing is in the works just yet.

Text Case 2021.3

8th March 2021

Text Case 2021.3 is a relatively small update, but it brings a few features that users have been desperate for, ever since the major 2021.1 release.

That update introduced the concept of building custom flows, but the flow creator was quite restricted. For example you couldn't easily reorder formats, and also for more complex formats that required custom parameters, there wasn't a way to edit these parameters afterwards.

Fortunately this update fixes both of those limitations. So you can both reorder and edit formats in the flow creator UI.

Additionally to those improvements, I also spent time rewriting the title case logic. That's not going to be something anyone directly cares about. But it allowed me to orient the title case formats around defined rules, and therefore made the process of adding new variants much easier.

Therefore, I've added four new title case variants:

  • AMA Title Case (American Medical Association)
  • Bluebook Title Case
  • New York Times Title Case
  • Wikipedia Title Case

This means that Text Case now supports 9 different title case variants. Which if you're interested in, you may want to read the post I wrote recently "The Various Types of Title Case" where I go into detail on all nine.

To top it all off, there is one more new format, Italics. Which means you can now do Bold, Italics, and Bold-Italics in the app.


This update is available right now for iOS, iPadOS, and macOS!

What Is Your Perspective?

6th March 2021

I wrote last month about showing your perspective and owning your biases. It’s something I’ve continually thought more about since transitioning this blog to become more personal, rather than try to attempt to write generalised reviews or present this site as a source for news.

Before I may have written about an interesting app in a general sense, explained its features, and analyses the pros and cons. But now I tend to write more about my own experiences with an app, good or bad.

I used to think that this type of review wasn’t worth writing, since if I’m writing about myself then it probably won’t apply to a massive audience. But I realised that when I was reading other people’s writing, while I was usually interested in the topic itself, I found the most value when the author made it personal and provided their own perspective. And that’s what I’m trying to do with my own writing.

Now when writing about a topic, I remind myself that if anyone reads my blog, they’re probably not coming here as their primary source of news. So I may as well make it personal because what else have I got? I’ve only got access to one perspective. My own.

My (Short) Experience With TAIO

6th March 2021

Continuing my quest to find the perfect writing app, I turned to TAIO (Text all in One). It's been touted as the next best writing app, with it's modern design, and extensive built-in automation support.

I must admit, that clearly I didn't do my research very well. Because as much as I love the level of appearance customisation, and the overall structure to the app, I did not realise that it is not available for Mac.

The developers are working on a macOS version, but don't plan on releasing it anytime soon. That's good news, and means I'll probably look at it again once it's out. Since by then I assume the overall product would have matured even more.

It's unfortunate, since I think TAIO has a lot of potential. But I really want to use one app across all of my devices. So for now I'll be going back to iA Writer.

That will be it for a while I think. I'll spend the next few days putting together some thoughts on what I took from the past few experiments. But I expect that I'll be sticking with iA Writer for a while.

Having an App Featured in the Mac App Store

5th March 2021

At the start of last month, I released a major update to my app, Text Case. It got some good reviews, and that helped boost sales, which I'm very grateful for. But as you would expect, after a week or so, the initial surge ended, and it went dropped to a stable level every day.

But I was looking at the app analytics section App Store Connect one day and I saw  a huge amount of impressions on the macOS version. It was around 1 million impressions, where usually it would be around a thousand a month.

In the end, it was around 3 million:

I immediately thought it meant that my app must have been linked somewhere popular, or that it was featured in the App Store. Turns out it was the latter. Text Case was in fact featured in the "Apps and Games We Love Right Now" section.

I started thinking that this could mean a sudden increase in downloads because so many people would know about the app.

But as it turned out, there may have been a small increase, where the sales didn't drop off as fast as it would have done without the feature, but it wasn't what I was expecting.

Below is the number of units during the same period as the above impressions (February):

After a while thinking about this experience, I've come to the conclusion that this just shows how much word-of-mouth and direct recommendations work, compared to simply being visible on the app store. If a few reviews can have the same impact as millions of impressions, then they must be pretty effective.

For a while, I always imagined that simply being featured could push an app to get a large number of sales. Maybe it's because Text Case is a particularly niche app, but I think this proves that directly reaching people that would benefit from your app is the best way to grow sales.

Maybe this won't surprise anyone, but it's a perspective that a few people may find interesting, so I thought I'd share.

This Is How You Write →

5th March 2021

Greg Morris, writing about how you should write. Not how you should write, but how you should just write, and write however you want, wherever you want:

While you are worrying about everyone else’s opinions on the correct way to do things, you’re not writing. While you’re casting aspersions on other people that do not do things what you consider is the correct way, you’re not writing either. There is enough room on the internet for everyone to publish, and not feel like they don’t fit. There is no way you should be writing, no perfect blogging for you to be doing, and no advise that needs giving.

— Greg Morris, This Is How You Write

I would suggest that although there are positives and negatives to some decisions when it comes to writing, for example you might a certain app fits you well, or maybe a specific platform is better suited. These decisions are refinements, and can be done once you’ve started writing. Because the most important part about writing isn’t where you’re doing it, the tools your using, or the look of your blog, it’s the process of writing itself.

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