Facebook is Broken

The problem is this: Facebook has become a feedback loop which can and does, despite its best intentions, become a vicious spiral. At Facebook’s scale, behavioral targeting doesn’t just reflect our behavior, it actually influences it. Over time, a service which was supposed to connect humanity is actually partitioning us into fractal disconnected bubbles.

This sums up my thoughts on Facebook. Hence why I quit it. Unless they drop “engagement” as their metric I can’t see how it can be fixed.

React-Sketchapp – Painting with Code

Two great tools I like to use are React.js and Sketch.app now just got better together with AirBnB’s new open source library React-Sketchapp. It can render your React components to a Sketch design file.

The basic setup example React-Sketchapp
The basic setup example React-Sketchapp

Traditionally your application is designed in a UI design tool like Sketch. From the mockups the developers/designers create the React components based on these designs. Over time these move away from the original Sketch file with revisions over the life of the project/product. The design files need to be updated manually and this can be very time consuming.

But now you can use React-Sketchapp to generate the design files from the actual React components that are used in your application.

When you need to create a new design or modification of a component your Sketch files will be up to date with the latest version of your existing components.

Another cool side effect is you can use data in your designs.

Check out Jon Gold’s article on “Painting with Code” and then jump in to the quick start guide on github.

Best of Build 2016 Conference

I’ve been slowly working my way through some of the videos from Microsofts Build Conference for 2016. There are too many to watch almost, but here are some of my favourites.

Visual Studio Code – Tips & Tricks

Admittedly I’m a big fan of Visual Studio Code. It’s almost everything I want in an editor. Light weight, easy to use, smart auto completion out of the box with Git integration. This video will take your from novice to pro user of VS Code.

As a bonus check out the Github repo with animated Gifs for the talk.

What’s new in TypeScript

Anders Hejlsberg delivers a solid presentation on why and how you should be using TypeScript plus what to look forward to soon.

Building a Conversational Bot: From 0 to 60

Microsoft have made a very easy to use Bot framework with great integration with a whole host of platforms (Skype, email, SMS, Slack and lots of chat apps).

Instantly Releasing Updates to Your React Native Apps

Using the CodePush service from MS you can update your app without having to go through the App Store approval process right from your command line.

Node.js and Microsoft: A Love Story about Developer Tools

A demo of the Node.js development with Visual Studio Code and it’s great debugging environment.

Mobile DevOps with HockeyApp and Visual Studio Team Services

Learn how to iterate fast and maintain quality of your mobile apps using VSTS & HockeyApp.

Extended lease of life for old Macs

I have a 2010 Mac Book Pro (MBP) that I’d upgraded for every new release of OSX. Never had I done a fresh install until late last year. While it did help it’s performance it didn’t make a huge improvement. The PC was still sluggish.

A little bit of history. After only a short length of ownership I’d previously upgraded the ram to 8GB from 4GB (thanks to OWC). It had a fast for it’s time i7 2.66 GHz processor and a 7200 rpm 500GB hard drive. At the time I bought it, I’d never had a faster PC.

When I started looking at prices for a new Mac Book Pro I couldn’t justify spending almost $4000 for less storage then I currently had (256GB). Even more so when the current i7 chips in the MBP’s are over 2 years old. We still seem to be hanging out for Skylake i7’s.

BX200
BX200

So I started researching SSD drives and found the Crucial BX200 offered good value and performance from PBTech clocking in at 480GB for NZ$250. SSD storage has never been as cheap at under $2 per GB mark. Importantly the Crucial drive includes a spacer to pad out the drive in the Mac Books body.

I’d previously got a screwdriver to fit the Mac from the OWC ram upgrade a Phillips #00. You will also need a T6 Torx screwdriver also, I got mine from Bunnings for $6. Follow the guide on the Crucial support site as it walks you through step by step with images. It’s a easy install taking less than 30 minutes.

Once installed I suggest you do a clean install of El Capitan. I followed the Mashable guide and created a USB installer.

After a month the drive has given my MBP a new lease on life. It’s faster than it’s ever been, and the battery lasts longer now. Getting another hour, for a total of 5 hours compared to 4 previously.

If you have an old Mac without an SSD I’d recommend you install one, well worth the upgrade price.

The iPad whats it good for?

Recently I had to ask the question, what is an iPad good for? Can I get serious work done on it? While it’s easy to use can it do all the things I need to do as a designer, developer and blogger?

I’ve found the iPad good for watching Netflix or reading comics. To me it is a consumption device. It’s slightly easier banging out an email or blog post than on a phone. But not better than a MacBook.

For my line of work the iPad just doesn’t cut it. OSX is far superior for development and design than iOS and its current apps. I can’t imagine how convoluted it would be to run a web dev environment locally let alone possible.

My own iPad sits now on our coffee table wiped of my personal stuff ready for one of my kids to paw over.

The iPad as it currently is, just isn’t for me. Let’s see what Apple can do to sway me that the iPad is worth my attention.

Update 22/Mar/2016: After watching the event Apple had nothing new that would bring me back to the iPad. Software more like OSX or and approach like Windows 10 that doubles as a desktop and tablet OS would be the only thing that I believe could sway me.

Letterboxd app for iOS

If you love movies, then do yourself a favour and sign up for Letterboxd. They just released their iOS app. A great addition to the service.

letterboxd 3 wide
Screenshots of Letterboxd app

There are two things that stood out to me in the app as different choices on iOS. Firstly the Letterbox app doesn’t have labels on the tab bar at the bottom.

Letterbox tab bar - sans labels
Letterbox tab bar – sans labels

Unlike the iTunes app, which clearly shows labels and is translucent.

iTunes tab bar - with labels
iTunes tab bar – with labels

On some apps I believe this is fine. Say like Twitterrific, but only because the icons are recognisable. I don’t think that’s the case with Letterboxd. There is a small but annoying learning curve just figuring out what each button does. In the case of Letterboxd I think it would have been better to have labels.

Twitterrific tab bar
Twitterrific tab bar – sans labels

Purely by coincidence Letterboxd was released the same week Google updated the “Material Design” guidelines adding a bottom navigation bar similar to the iOS tab bar in Safari on iOS. On Letterboxd as the content is scrolled the tab bar (and navigation bar) is hidden therefore removing a distraction to reading/viewing.

 
The wait has been long but has been worthwhile for Letterboxd to provide a great version 1.0 iOS app. I look forward to what they add next to the service.

You can follow me on Letterboxd as FilmIndy.

Replacement “Duck Heads”

I got my replacement “duck heads” from the local Apple reseller today. Seven in total.They are still flying out the door as quick as they come in. Suggest you call first before turning up.

Was surprised to see that they are smaller than the original which will make plugging in to a wall socket easier than the previous round head ones.

Apple NZ replacement plug head
Apple NZ replacement plug head

Apple has determined that, in very rare cases, the two prong Apple AC wall plug adapters designed for use in Continental Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Korea, Argentina and Brazil may break and create a risk of electrical shock if touched.

It’s impressive to see Apple making safety a priority and redesigning a safer plug for its customers way back to 2003.

If you have any of the plug “duck heads” I suggest you call your local Apple Reseller or Apple themselves to get yours replaced.

More info here about the recall.