iOS App Icons Should Snap to a Grid

Rands published a Tweet asking others to show their iPhone home screens and being the nerd that I am I couldn’t get enough of scrolling through all the replies looking for inspiration. One thing I noticed in quite a few of the replies was many had the apps they use pushed down where you can easily access with one hand. Here is an example:

Apparently, you can’t do this without janky workarounds like blank home screen or Makeover. I tried the invisible but it’s actually black so you need a black background, and Makeover just seems like too much trouble.

I wish Apple would just make the app icon grid snappable, or drag/drop so I could put stuff where I want. On my phone I only have the top two rows to push the others so I can access them easier and would be much less dim to have this feature included.

How GDPR Will Change The Way You Develop

Over on Smashing Magazine, Heather Burns recently published a guide on the GDPR. As someone in​ the United State, ​ I’ve been hearing rumors we could be affected as well, but I found this interesting in her post related to personal data:

The European data protection frameworks pertain to personal data. This is defined as “any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person.” This can be one piece of information or multiple data points combined to create a record.

The European term “personal data” differs from the American term “personally identifiable information.” The latter pertains to a much more limited set of information than the European model. It also does not see information as contextual, whereas the European framework emphasizes the risks inherent in data aggregation.

I’m really pessimistic on this law, our elected leaders can reduce the size of our national parks to allowing drilling, yet we can’t collect a username/email/password without going through tons of red tape? Seems like our priorities are out of whack to me.

Berkshire Hathaway’s 2017 Annual Report

The Berkshire Hathaway’s annual report recently published and as always it’s full of great wisdom by Warren Buffett. Here are a few of the quotes from this letter I loved.

When talking about shareholders: ​

While I’m on the subject of our owners’ gaining knowledge, let me remind you that Charlie and I believe all shareholders should simultaneously have access to new information that Berkshire releases and, if possible, should also have adequate time to digest and analyze that information before any trading takes place. That’s why we try to issue financial data late on Fridays or early on Saturdays and why our annual meeting is always held on a Saturday (a day that also eases traffic and parking problems).

We do not follow the common practice of talking one-on-one with large institutional investors or analysts, treating them instead as we do all other shareholders. There is no one more important to us than the shareholder of limited means who trusts us with a substantial portion of his or her savings. As I run the company day-to-day – and as I write this letter – that is the shareholder whose image is in my mind.

Mr. Buffett also mentions the 10-year bet he made and won and closes that section out with this gem:

Performance comes, performance goes. Fees never falter.

Always remember that when you are investing.

Rands: How to Write a Blog Post

Rands on how to write a blog post

Randomly think of a thing. Let it bump around your head a bit. If the bumping gets too loud, start writing the words with the nearest writing device. See how far you get. The more words usually mean a higher degree of personal interest. Stop when it suits you.

Wait for time to pass and see if the bumping sound returns. Reread what you’ve written so far and find if it inspires you. Yes? Write as much as you can. No? Stop writing and wait for more bumping.

I can never wait for the second part, let time pass, reread, edit, and then publish. I’m more of a find inspiration, write it, and publish, all in one sitting. I know that’s bad but otherwise, ​I’ll never publish. It’ll sit in my drafts for years, collect dust, and then be forgotten.

This blog is a way I can do my current publishing style and not feel bad about. Hitting publish is all that matters. If something gets some traction I can always edit or refine later.

Operator Mono and Alternatives

Since first seeing Operator Mono by Hoefler & Co. I’ve been in love with the font. I bought myself a license and have been using ever since.

Of course, when I share screenshots on social media I get a lot of people asking me about it and when I send them the link they get sticker shock on the price and it is expensive at $199. I personally justified it because I know I’m going to use it for many years and it’s something I can own forever. Granted I’m lucky that I am in a position where I can spend this amount of money on a font.


If you like the font and the italic comments but the price is too expensive, Matt McFarland put together a post outlining alternatives and how to set those up.

This is nice as it gives everyone an option that wants this setup.

Hand-drawn​ maps from running routes

On the Strava blog they have just highlighted an artist and runner named Owen Delaney who creates these wonder map images after his runs:


In the interview when asked about the process, Owen says:

I’ve always enjoyed looking at maps, but now I’ve got a good excuse for it! I’ve been finding more and more inspiration online from the map makers of years gone by, and a lot of the daily maps are following their styles, with the 17th & 18th century being my favorite eras. It amazes me how accurate they were hundreds of years ago, without all the technology we have today. So with that research, I tend to have an idea for how I want the map to look before I’ve been for my run (or occasional walk, I’ve not got the legs for running every day…), and with limited free time, I try to keep them pretty quick to do.

I personally find that using competition against friends inspires me to push harder and keep working out, but I love the idea of tying it to a creative act so you aren’t reliant on others.

iPhone Home Screen

This is my current iPhone home screen and a few times a year I like to take a screenshot just to see what changes and how my patterns move. With the screenshot let me explain why I have the apps that I do and why they are set up​ like this.

The first two rows and not really used. I have the apps because there is a chance I might open them but mainly they are used to just push the others down so I can access them easier with one hand.

The third row features Safari, Tweetbot, Calculator, and​ Strava. Safari is my primary browser on the Mac and iOS, then I use Firefox for dev work. Tweetbot for getting social, the calculator I use all the time and Strava for working out.

​The next row features Pocket, Spotify, Bear (black icon), and Reeder. Outside of Spotify, these haven’t been getting a lot of use lately. I just haven’t felt like reading or making notes on the phone when I’m usually within reach of a computer or a notebook.

Next, we have Audible, Slack, Day One, and Todoist. I love Audible, Day One, and Todoist. Slack is needed for work so it gets a home, but I’d prefer to not even have it on the phone.

Finally, in the bottom bar, ​I have Airmail, Messages, Telegram, and Kindle. I keep switching between Airmail and Inbox by Google and now that I’ve used Airmail for a few weeks I’m missing Inbox. The searching in the official app is just so much better, but it doesn’t have integrations for things like Todoist. I’m pretty certain I’ll never find a perfect email app.

So there you have it. My current home screen as of February 22nd, 2018. ​If you have any questions, feel free to ask below.

Alto’s Odyssey is now out

I loved playing Alto’s adventure on iOS and now the sequel Alto’s Odyssey is now in the app store. I’m excited to get to play this and hope it’s as much as the first, and that I can finally beat it. I never did get that last goal in Alto’s Adventure.

Vanity Fair: How Twitter Lost the Internet War

How Twitter Lost the Internet War:

At the same time, her defenders say, Harvey has been forced to clean up a mess that Twitter should have fixed years ago. Twitter’s backend was initially built on Ruby on Rails, a rudimentary web-application framework that made it nearly impossible to find a technical solution to the harassment problem. If Twitter’s co-founders had known what it would become, a third former executive told me, “you never would have built it on a Fisher-Price infrastructure.” Instead of building a product that could scale alongside the platform, former employees say, Twitter papered over its problems by hiring more moderators. “Because this is just an ass-backward tech company, let’s throw non-scalable, low-tech solutions on top of this low-tech, non-scalable problem.”

If only Twitter would have built that first version with (Java|PHP|C|Go) they would have no problems. Every day​ at Twitter would be like interacting with unicorns and rainbows.

Keeping an Analog log book

This year I’ve started keeping a daily analog log book, that is inspired by Austin Kleon’s post, and this is the first time I’ve tracked what I do every day. Or rather what is important enough to write down every day.

The year is still early so I’ve only done it for a month and a half now but it really inspires me to focus on what matters to me, to spend a few minutes each reflecting on the day, and to practice my awesome drawing skills. What is great though is it’s not a full fledge diary and by using a very small notebook you are restricted to just the highlights. It makes it easy to skim through and remember certain days.

Iron Gold – Red Rising Book 4

June 2016 is when I started the Red Rising series and I was an instant fan. The series is fast paced and a ton of fun. After finishing the first three I heard a new book was underway and it finally came out this year and I just finished it.

Iron Gold is set in the future from book three and it feels a lot like a build up book where we are getting introduced to new characters that will continue the series through the next books. I felt a little let down by this book and I know it’s because much more is coming, but to me, ​it didn’t have that excitement as the first three. It left me wanting a lot more.

I have a lot of hope for this series and I’m sure I’ll preorder book 5 as soon as it’s announced but now is a good time to start if you haven’t yet. The first three do not disappoint​.

Twitter Announces EOL for Mac App

Yesterday, Twitter announced it was going to abandon the official Twitter Mac App and as a user of Tweetdeck I don’t care that much. However, I noticed a few weeks ago I tried to respond to a person with an animated GIF and it completely failed. It didn’t even include the @ account of the person I was replying too. I’m what I would consider a power user and at that point the app made me look an idiot to all of my followers and I was honestly a little frustrated.

I do worry Twitter is starting down a slippery slope. I don’t use Facebook because on the Mac they want you to use the browser and you are forced to use a feed that isn’t chronological. Twitter has remained my go-to​ ​because third-party​ apps allow me to get the experience I desire. I’m worried it’s just a matter of time until that isn’t the case and then I’ll be forced to either adapt or quit. The latter​ being way more convenient and probably better for me overall​.

I would miss my friends but I’m sure we’d figure something out to stay in touch.

Have I been pwned?

Have I been pwned? is a service by Troy Hunt that keeps a list of all publicly leaked breaches and allows you to enter your email and see if you’ve been pwned.


Then it’ll tell each breach your email has been involved in. This is great for then running an audit against your password to make sure you didn’t reuse the one with a pwned service on other​ sites. (You are using different passwords for each account, right? If not, start today.)

The site also offers a “Notify Me” feature that will automatically email you anytime a new breach is discovered with your email in it. I received​ an email this morning from this and it reminded me how useful this service really is. If you haven’t signed up for that it’s worth doing.

Ken Roczen’s Supercross 2018 Crash

Since watching this crash live last Saturday I’ve been thinking about what a dumb move it was on the part of Roczen. Of course, I don’t really fault him because I’ve been there and done that.

When someone slights you, in this case, a block pass in the previous corner, your initial reaction is 100% anger and you snap. All you can think about is getting them back and you will do everything in your power to do that.

Just as the video shows this is never a good idea. In this crash, ​Roczen’s arm went inside the other guy’s​ swingarm and from what I’ve heard he broke his arm and got some nasty wheel burns. His season is over.

I keep comparing the reaction Roczen had to what I’ve seen with Ryan Dungey. Dungey would have let them have the position, would have remained calm, and he had this uncanny ability to focus on the championship. Not the individual race.

The next time you get slighted and you feel like snapping just remember the end goal. If you blow your top chances are you’ll do way more damage than taking a step back and addressing the situation through clear eyes.

A UI/UX Fail

It’s not all cakes and pies.

Last week was the Laracon Online event and the morning of the event we had to give all the ticket holders a link and a password to start their live stream on their device.

When this went live it was set up like this:


The problem arose in the UI of the streaming service and it asked for a password. A lot of people missed that the previous page had a password on it and kept trying to use their account password. Only to get frustrated and email us.

As you might imagine I got swamped with emails. I’d say at least 40 or 50 in a span of just a few minutes. I knew we had a problem but everything was starting in a few minutes and I wanted to make sure everyone had access.

The first idea we had was just reverse the order:


This actually helped but people were​ still missing it, although the number of people missing it was vastly lower than the other way. Looking back at it now we should have the streaming link open with a target “_blank” so they would have the old tab still open and could maybe see it easier.

I still don’t know what the answer is, but at least now I have a year to think about it and come up with a better solution. I’m sharing this because this is one of the few times of my life where feedback on bad UI/UX was so swift and constant. At the same time, I had a very narrow time window to get it resolved and to get everyone their streaming access.

It made for a stressful​ morning but looking back I learned a lot of little things. That’s what creating is all about right? Paying attention to the small things and caring about your users.

P.S. UI/UX have are some of the most confusing terms to me.

Inside North Korea’s Hacker Army

Sam Kim, writing for Bloomberg, shares a crazy look inside North Korea’s hacker army:

North Korea’s hacking prowess is almost as feared globally as its nuclear arsenal. Last May the country was responsible for an internet scourge called WannaCry, which for a few days infected and encrypted computers around the world, demanding that organizations pay ransom in Bitcoin to unlock their data. A few years before that, North Korea stole and published the private correspondence of executives at Sony Pictures Entertainment, which had produced a Seth Rogen satire of the country called The Interview.

Jong wasn’t involved in those attacks, but for half a decade before defecting, he was a foot soldier in North Korea’s hacker army. Unlike their counterparts elsewhere, who might seek to expose security vulnerabilities, steal corporate and state secrets, or simply sow chaos, North Korean hackers have a singular purpose: to earn money for the country, currently squeezed by harsh international sanctions for its rogue nuclear program. For most of the time Jong spent as part of this brigade he lived and worked in a crowded three-story home in a northeastern Chinese city. The hackers he shared it with were required to earn up to $100,000 a year, through whatever means they could, and were allowed to keep less than 10 percent of that. If they stepped out of line, the consequences could be severe.

Unless you live in a dictatorship it’s easy to forget how much we get to take for granted.

Apple AirPods

I’ve been an Apple fan since I moved from Windows XP to the Mac and I’ve never looked back. Having stuff “just work” was the main reason and after all these years they’ve really not let me down.

The newest product that I got last year is the AirPods and they are by far the best headphones I’ve ever owned. From the simplicity of the charging case to the sturdiness of how they remain in your ears. They are a fantastic product.

I use them while working, while mountain biking, running, anything and everything in between and they just magically stay in your ears. It’s uncanny.

My only complaint is the case and headphones do not hook into “find my iPhone” and although I’ve never had a problem of losing mine I always have that worry in the back of my mind, especially with their premium price.

I will say they are the best piece of tech I bought in 2017 and they just work.

Get out of your comfort zone

How do you improve? How can you practice better?

I think one of the best ways it to get out of your comfort zone. Try something you think is totally off the wall. For example, I know the traditional line of thought in programming is to practice TDD, maybe experiment with BDD, or DDD, or whatever acronym is hot.

But instead why not try the other way? Maybe attempt to create an entire application in one PHP file. I guarantee you’ll learn something and get entirely different experiences than you would in any other app. The same way if all you do is create apps from a single PHP file, mix it up. Create the next one with a framework.

Life is all about mixing things up and figuring out not only what works for you, but what can be learned and shared. Stepping outside your comfort zone and experience the world as someone else.

Patio11 on charging for your work

Patio11 on HN:

You do not owe anyone an apology for choosing to sell something. You do not owe yourself an apology for choosing to sell something. You do not need to mention the economy or your personal economic circumstances. It will not successfully motivate anyone to pay you a thousand dollars. No lawyer in the country does that. No doctor in the country does that. No teacher in the country does that. You being compensated for your professional labor is not an outlandish request. It is the default. This will discomfit some freeloaders in your community. They contribute no patches or money. Let them wget the binaries; do not allow them to wget an iota of your stress budget.

Saying No

This year I feel like I’ve been busier than I have been in years. My email inbox and my to-do list keep growing, it’s apparent I’ve agreed to too many things and now it’s starting to weigh on me. As I attempt to regroup and get some control back I’m reminded of the video above by Derek Sivers.

I’ve watched this video a few times over the years and I’ve always felt it was on the selfish side. I’m driven to want to serve and help others and by saying, “yes”, to things that might not be great I’ve opened many doors and got a lot out of it. It’s been easy for me to dismiss the advice in this video, but now I’m at the point where it feels like everything is getting away from me. It’s time to say, “No”.

I’ve had to say it two or three times today alone and it’s not easy. I don’t want to let people down, but once you get overwhelmed there are only two solutions, say no or say yes and delegate​. ​Since my time is limited and I don’t have an option of delegating, my answer is no for the next few months.