A Giant Archive Inside a Working Salt Mine

20th July 2022

Sounds pretty weird, I'm sure. But thanks to Tom Scott, you can get a glimpse of a working salt mine in the north of England that also doubles as a physical archive. And it's huge.

I must admit, I'm relatively new to his videos. But I've been binging them a lot recently, and they're absolutely fascinating.

Does Bionic Reading Work?

19th July 2022

Bionic Reading is a method to make text more readable, by making early letters in words bold, to catch the reader's attention (read more). It's supported in various apps and websites, and the place where I have used it mainly is in the RSS reader app, Reeder.

I've found Bionic Reading to make text clearer, and easier to read:

However, Daniel Doyon at Readwise, performed an experiment on over 2000 people, and they found that it wasn't as good as it seems:

Actually no, the results will probably not surprise you. After analyzing data from 2,074 testers, we found no evidence that Bionic Reading has any positive effect on reading speed. In fact, participants read 2.6 words per minute slower on average with Bionic Reading than without. That said, the difference here is so small (less than 1%), that the real takeaway is Bionic Reading has no impact on reading speed.

I don't want to start gaslighting myself, but maybe it's not as effective as I thought it was? Alternatively, it might be more effective in certain conditions. Such as being tired, or when you're finding it hard to focus on something.

Either way, if I'm reading something in Reeder and it feels as if my eyes are getting a bit tired, I'm still going to stick Bionic Reader on.

Spotify Buys Heardle

13th July 2022

Just as the original Wordle was bought by the New York Times, the spin-off music guessing game, Heardle, has now been purchased by Spotify.

Oli Welsh, Polygon:

Heardle has already been rebranded and now runs using Spotify rather than Soundcloud, but otherwise the playing experience remains the same — and it’s still free for all players. However, as a result of the move, Heardle has been made unavailable in all but a small number of English-speaking countries: the U.S., U.K., Ireland, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

The move to make it only available in a limited number of countries is a shame. I would guess it's down to licensing, but that's going to annoy quite a few people that have surely been playing Heardle.

That aside, it makes sense in my opinion, that Spotify would purchase Heardle. For one, they can now put the Spotify logo on the website, but by making it easy for a guessed song to play via Spotify, I assume they're going to get quite a few new users.

What I'm sure will happen further down the line, is that the song choice will become a marketing tool, and potentially could be sold for promotional purposes.

Update: 25/09/2022

Most Primitive Building Videos Aren't Real

13th July 2022

If you've ever fallen into the YouTube rabbit hole deep enough to find the types of building videos, where there are a few people in a remote place, seemingly building relatively elaborate structures with mud and water, you may (or may not) be surprised to find out that they are mostly fake.

The YouTube channel SunnyV2 made a great video showing how they are staged, and how much work really goes into a lot of the builds.

First Photos from The James Webb Space Telescope

13th July 2022

The James Webb Space Telescope, lauched December 2021, has now produced it's first images. And they are incredible.

Perhaps the most impressive image, is the image known as "Webb's First Deep Field", which is the deepest and sharpest infrared image of the universe. But there's also images of the Southern Ring Nebula, the group of galaxies known as Stephan's Quintet, the edge of a star-forming region in the Carina Nebula, and analysis on the atmosphere of a hot gas giant exoplanet.

The images are amazing, and my brain can't comprehend that thay aren't just CGI, and are in fact part of our universe.

Here are my two favourite images that have been released:

“Cosmic Cliffs” in the Carina Nebula | Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI 
Southern Ring Nebula | Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI

Text Case 2022.2

3rd July 2022

Text Case 2022.2 has just been released. It’s a relatively minor update, as the main reason for it was to fix 2 bugs. But I still threw in two new formats that have been requested.

As for the new formats, they are:

  • Replace “X” with Line Breaks
  • Replace Line Breaks with “X”

Relatively simple, but I’ve been getting quite a few requests, so I thought I’d add them in. These new formats are available when building a flow, and also via new actions in the Shortcuts app.

And then for the bugs, one was a rather simple one that one of the formats wasn’t appearing in the formats list. But the other was rather annoying, and was specific to the macOS app, where when you selected the Settings tab, the app review prompt would appear. And it would happen every single time. So, thankfully that should be fixed too.

Text Case is available on the iOS App Store, and Mac App Store.

20 Years of "Let Go" by Avril Lavigne

2nd July 2022

One way that I've been realising my age recently, is the amount of anniversaries for music that I used to listen to when I was a child.

The most recent one is Avril Lavigne's album Let Go, that has now reached it's 20th anniversary. Which obviously means, a new anniversary version has been released, and I'm listening to it right now.

Listen on Apple Music or Spotify.

The Early Internet is Breaking

2nd July 2022

I just watched this great video on the early web - The early internet is breaking - here’s how the World Wide Web from the 90s on will be saved. It's relatively short, but it shows what the web looked like in the 1990s, and how prevalent personal website were. And also the measures that some people are taking to try to preserve early and current websites.

I wish personal websites were still as popular nowadays, the web sure was a fun place to be when they were.

Blogging Like It’s 2010

Matt Bircher has been taking time away from Twitter, and spending more time writing on his blog. I find his reasoning very convincing, and I think I will also try to share more things on my blog, rather than condensing thoughts into hot takes on Twitter.

I Hope The Nothing Phone Does Well

1st July 2022

If you haven’t heard, there’s a company called “Nothing”, and they’re very close to releasing their second product, the phone (1). It’s a company that seemingly loves hype. And I think it’s worked well for them, as they’ve been getting a decent amount of press.

As far as I can tell, it’s an Android device (with a custom launcher), that looks a bit (from the front) like an iPhone 12, but with a whole new back design that I haven’t seen anywhere else.

They call it the Glyph Interface, as you can see, it’s full of lights. The one near the power connector will show the current charge when plugged in, and you can also assign various light patterns to ringtones, which Marques Brownlee made a great video showing off. Maybe that sounds a bit useless to you. But to me, it just seems fun, a bit quirky, but overall definitely something different.

The problem I’ve already started to see with this phone (that isn’t even released yet), is that some are already asking “Is this the iPhone killer?”. Let’s not beat around the bush. The Nothing phone (1) is not the iPhone killer. Nor will it kill any popular current major smartphone. And it doesn’t need to.

I want this phone to exist in a wide marketplace of different offerings from various companies. I want devices that exist to have a bit of character, not just be a minimal slab of glass with a generic camera square at the back. I think there should be loads of smaller niche devices that cater more towards certain markets or tastes. Because if everything is the same, then it’s just boring.

I really want this phone to succeed because I think it will encourage other companies to do something similar. To me, it seems like the big phone manufacturers are just trying their hardest to reach the phone design singularity, where you can have the smallest bezels, the thinnest body, and the best camera. But they don’t seem to make anything fun, or unique, or even just plain interesting.

There’s a big chance I won’t end up purchasing a phone (1) when it’s released. I just hope enough people do, so that the smartphone market starts to become a bit more diverse.