Chris Hannah


Does Bionic Reading Work? #

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.

I’m Trying out Mailbrew Again #

I’ve been trying to find a way to discover interesting links and generally more things to read. Because, although I currently use a mix of, Twitter, and RSS, to get news/articles delivered to me. It always felt to me that it wasn’t exactly a diverse source of information and that it relied on a number of people discovering something first.

But then I listened to the latest version of AppStories, where John Voorhees and Federico Viticci discussed how they read newsletters, and they came on to the subject of Mailbrew1. Which reminded me that I tried the service out a while ago, but for some reason that I can’t remember, I stopped using it.

However, they’ve since added a Twitter integration that allows you to view the “top links” from either your timeline or a specific list. And since I’ve stopped using Twitter as much recently, I thought it sounded pretty handy. So I’ve decided to give it a go again.

My daily digest still needs a bit of refinement, since I probably have slightly too many sections. But I’m sure I’ll make changes as I go and if I start seeing trends where a section just isn’t that interesting.

But for now, I’ve gone with these sources:

  • Top posts from Hacker News
  • Popular items from Product Hunt
  • Assorted feeds:
    • Designer News
    • Lifehacker
    • The Verge
    • BBC News
    • The Independent
    • (Swift)
  • Top posts from specific Reddit subreddits:
    • productivity
    • design
    • travel
    • technology
    • programming
    • apple
  • Top links from Twitter (I have a few private Twitter lists for bloggers, developers, and tech in general).

Mailbrew seems like a really good fit for my desire to have an easy way to get articles from all around the web. I think the only work that I will need to do is to find the sources that are right for me.

  1. Mailbrew is a service where you can combine various sources to form a daily digest email. ↩︎

Nancy Pearl’s Rule of 50 for dropping a bad book #

Nancy Pearl, writing for The Globe and Mail:

It wasn’t until I became an adult, and a librarian, that I began to question my commitment to finishing each and every book that I began. Now that I really was living a major portion of my life in the library, I literally found myself surrounded by books, tempting me, calling to me from the shelves. How could I – in one lifetime – ever get through everything I wanted to read if I had to finish those books that I discovered to be (at least to me) boring, badly written or just plain bad?

It dawned on me that maybe, just maybe, I didn’t have to finish every book I started. Gradually my attitude changed, but not without a struggle. I felt bad for the authors whose books I gave up on. Didn’t they deserve a full chance to entice me into the world they’d created? I could hear their voices in my head, like the voice of my conscience, saying, “Wait, wait, it gets better! You haven’t gotten to the good part yet.” Oh the guilt, the guilt!

This is a very good tip if you want to read more books. I noticed myself that I would become stuck on a boring book, and I wouldn’t allow myself to read anything else. And that really messes things up.

So now, I just put a book down whenever I’m bored of it, and then pick it back up when I am. It certainly makes my “Reading” section in GoodReads look rather packed, but it’s a good problem to have.

Read the full post.

Read It Later #

After reading Allen Pike’s piece “372 Easy Steps to Expanding Your Mind” on his experiences with Instapaper, the popular read it later service, I decided to finally give Instapaper a go again. It’s been a good number of years since I used it, and I was immediately presented with this lovely message:

Instapaper is temporarily unavailable for users in Europe


Luckily, I remembered I have an old Pocket account, and I used to like that, so I’ve now downloaded the app again. To be pretty honest, I don’t notice any difference to the app to when I used to use it. Maybe that’s a win for consistency, but it looks a bit outdated.

After logging in, I noticed there was still four articles that I’d saved for later. It’s a good overview of the articles I usually read. Although I must admit these are from a very long time ago:

I’m pretty sure this type of service, is the missing piece of my reading puzzle. I already use Twitter for “news”, and I’m a big fan of RSS feeds, so I have a lot of content already. Along with that, I can find more content on, which is a great place to write your own content, read others, and find interesting conversations and communities.

However, whenever I have just a single article I want to read, but just not that second, it somehow finds a way to escape me.

It’s not that I’ve been completely without a service like this, instead I’ve been ”using” Pinboard. I’m a big fan of Pinboard, with its simple appearance, great functionality, and good API (I was messing around with automation before). But I haven’t found a great app for it yet, so it doesn’t really get used that much. I tend to just send links there to die.

So I’m going to try out Pocket for a while, I hope I can get around the old design of the iOS app. Luckily for me it has a dark mode, and also a Mac app. I think I’ll be fine.

Find me on Pocket

My Reading List #

I’ve got a lot of books, and the majority of them I never read. There’s old iOS development books, biographies, Minecraft guides (not even because I needed them), you get the picture. They of course don’t include the enormous collection on iBooks, but I tend to actually read them.

Well I’ve just went through the collection, and picked out 8 that I plan on reading next. I must admit it’s a strange bunch, but there’s a lot of variation, and maybe it will keep me interested.

So here’s a list of them all, including links where you can get them yourself!

Title Author Status
Never Hit a Jellyfish with a Spade Guy Browning Not Read
Beyond Good and Evil Friedrich Nietzsche Peeked Inside
The Martian Andy Weir Half Read
Ready Player One Ernest Clyne Not Read
Neutrino Frank Close Peeked Inside
Decoding Reality Vlatko Vedral Not Read
Fantastic Beasts (The Original Screenplay) J.K. Rowling Not Read
Elon Musk Ashlee Vance Half Read

That may give you an insight into what I’m interested in, but I can assure you, I’ve read even much weirder.

First up, I think I’m going to finish The Martian[1].

  1. Oh shit, it’s 1am. Maybe no reading tonight. ↩︎