Add This

‘Add This’ gives you an easy way to add social media buttons to your site in a “consistent” manner. No need to add a bazillion js includes for every site you want to support.

The catch? They track your users. You can’t opt-out your entire site.

It sure makes those buttons easy to add, but yeah that’s the price: someone will be tracking your users on your site. Incidentally, twitter is also doing this now with its tweet button, but you can opt-out on a site-level (which is good!).

The Problem with “Sponsored” Tweets

is that you can be having a conversation, and some bozo with lots of money can just pay to have his voice heard above all the others, regardless of organic social ranking (based on likes/retweets/etc). Read more…

Fonts are to SVG what spritemaps are to PNG

I’m a huge fan of vector graphics and the SVG – especially when your source is vector. Why rasterise, and give yourself headaches supporting different sizes and screen resolutions?

Only catch is, you can’t use a sprite-map with SVG like you can PNG (well you might be able to, but lets face it SVG support is already a bit tenuous, don’t want to push the issue too much, and it’s no doubt complicated).  So the common approach, at least for icons files (without fancy colors), is using a font.

Two cool pre-made options are Iconic (btw that’s a cool wordpress theme!) and FontAwesome (glyph map)

The Problem with Windows 8

As someone who has switched from Windows (3.11 – XP), to Mac (10.4), to Windows (Vista) and back to Mac (10.5) (going straight for 4 years now…), I’m quite excited by what Microsoft is doing in general, in the UI space. Read more…

Finding the Windows8 Startup Folder

Finding the startup folder in Windows (useful to create a link to your reverse scrolling script) is easy: just hit Windows+R and type shell:startup or shell:common startup :)


Reverse (a.k.a. Natural) Scrolling in Windows

To reverse the scrolling in windows, download AutoHotKey (a hotkey scripting system), download this script, and place it in your startup folder.

Read more…

Buying a New Router

I was quite a fan of Buffalo, that is until one of them started exhibiting strange behaviour (randomly start dropping packgets like a mofo), and the other suffers an annoying “wifi stops working unless you factory reset” issue if you cycle the power.

I landed on the EA3500. Thought I’d give Cisco Linksys a try, and they have decent DD-WRT support if I go that way (I will try the stock firmware first, not least because they advertise iPhone app support).  Looking forward to 5Ghz support for my Macs =)

Judging from the comparison, and this article, it has all the features of the high end routers, without the extra price tag of the absolute top of the line model. Not a bad compromise.

Things that Apple needs to copy from Microsoft

After leading the pack for a while (and still doing so), I think Apple could really benefit from incorporate some innovation (yes) from Microsoft:

For brevity I’ll ignore live tiles, since that is kinda an OS re-write. Some more simple things they should copy:

  1. Bring iOS to Mac. I have some great apps on my iPad, some of which my colleagues and I made. I’d love to run them on my Mac. Full screen mode would suffice.  And why not, they run in the iOS developer simulator just fine!  With a few tweaks to support keyboard and mouse (and a few altered lines of code in our apps), it could be awesome.  And no, I don’t really want to re-write everything for OS X.
  2. The touch-cover. It’s like a smart cover, only totally awesome.  I hate typing on my iPad, and avoid it at all costs (my error rate is sky high). I like the tactile response of a keyboard, where my fingers can learn where the keys are without looking. Microsoft took Apple’s innovative smart cover, and made it even better. Time for Apple to re-introduce their changes back into the smart cover.
  3. Multi-user support. My iDevice is a personal thing. I want to lend it to people without giving them access to all my emails, etc.  The iPad belongs on a coffee table, yet contains all my personal data (which my coffee table, generally does not).  Also, I hate purging all my data to use it in a demo.
  4. Bring Mac to iOS touch devices. Ala the Surface Pro. The iPad seems weighty enough (and I do mean weight here, not just CPU grunt) to run desktop applications, so why not?  If point 1) was implemented with suitable hardware (like a re-imagined MacBook Air), this would be achieved.
  5. Real SD Card Support. Why not be able to watch movies, and view photos from external media? The iPad can do neither which feels a bit gimped (yes, it can read photos, but it has to import which kinda defeats the point, and it doesn’t even support exFAT). Without this, it makes a hard case for the iPad to replace even the simplest of netbooks (or, a MacBook Air) which can all do both these tasks well.
  6. Drop the Skumorphisms.  It would seem that the anti-skeuomorphism camp is winning that tug-of-war, I hope that’s the case.  It’s a digital device, no need to sugar coat it in the past – just deliver the best digital experiance you can. Like how Kindle is an awesome e-reader, page-curl animation not required.

To summarise, the awesome thing with what Microsoft are doing is they are combining Fun (Metro) with Work (Classic Desktop).  Apple could do this with iOS and Mac too. Then when I go away for the weekend, I would only need one device for all the fun things (and, in an emergency, any Work things).  Why do I want Apple to do this rather than just switch? I’m just too invested presently in iOS (not just as a user, but as a business) to jump ship today. That won’t be the case forever though.

There is room in my life for 2 devices. The ideal combination for me would be a 15″ Macbook Retina that could run iOS Apps (main work machine, portable enough to travel with on business trips, but with the “fun” of iOS), and an Apple version of the Surface Pro (fun-focused tablet machine, but good enough for emergency work & emails while on vacation).  From October, Microsoft folks are lucky as they can do this.  For us Apple users, the wait continues.

Auto-rotation broken in iOS 6 with XCode 4.5?

This is another one of those delightful issues where your code starts behaving differently when compiled in XCode 4.5 (while iOS itself is backwards compatible, the SDK is most certainly not. SDK methods can completely change functionality when compiled & run on newer versions).

When I ran up my XCode 4.4.1, iOS 4 & 5 project in XCode 4.5 + iOS 6, I noticed that autorotate had completely stopped. The secret was I needed to set the window’s rootViewController. This is a “new” method of UIWindow (my project dates from iOS 2.0!). Previously you would [window addSubview:viewController.view], but it seems now you just set the rootViewController directly. If you need to support pre-iOS 4 then you could still do the latter.

	self.window.rootViewController = viewController;  // add this line
	[window addSubview:viewController.view];   // optional: remove this line

Thanks to this answer on SO.

If you’re still having issues, I check your UISupportedInterfaceOrientations in the plist, you should have 1 for iPhone (that one), and on for iPad UISupportedInterfaceOrientations~ipad (these are the ‘raw’ keys).

NB. I’m referring to the case of when auto-rotate broke on updating to iOS 6. If your autorotate simply isn’t working, then you may have a more rudimentary AutoRotate issue, for which StackOverflow is your friend.

EarPods: Like a Symphony in my Ear

I’m staying with my 4S (and iOS 5.1) until “Mapgate” is addressed (with Google releasing a Google Maps app, and Google Maps MKMapView drop-in replacement). But I thought I’d still try out one of Apple’s new innovations, the EarPod.

Retail Box

When you think about it, the earphones that came with your iPhone 4S are not all that different from the ones you got with your cassette-Walkman. It’s great to see Apple innovating in this area.

Boy am I impressed.

I went to put them in, they looked so alien, I didn’t quite know how they should be inserted, so I just stuck them in without thinking (of course, being Apple, this worked perfectly).

The sound is just… richer. And they are far more comfortable – and my ear canals are definitely non-standard (narrower than average). The bass is deeper, and the treble clearer.

They are also warmer. Unlike the 4S earphones, there is no metal that touches any part of your body. Switching to my 4S earphones I felt a cold sensation, as the metal warmed against my skin.

I tended to use in-ear eaphones when I wanted richer sound, however they don’t work for physical activities (they fall out, and transmit touch-noises through the cable), and after a while they get really uncomfortable. EarPods are way more comfortable. The feeling is like a butterfly sitting on my ear, while performing a symphony directly into my vestibulocochlear nerve. I expect they will work while running, and look forward to trying them in an airplane..


The clicker is also vastly improved. The clicker on all my old iPhone headphones always failed after a year. It becomes hard to get the number of taps perfect to skip the song, go back, etc. The EarPod clicker is much bigger, which I think should help – I guess time will tell.

What’s amazing is that these are highly technical, good quality earphones but priced in the range of crappy plastic throwaways. No more do you need to spend $80+ to upgrade your kit earphones, that’s for sure.

The box is also super-cute.

AU$35, US$30 with free shipping.

Box Within a Box