iA Writer now available for iPhone#

Earlier this week Information Architects released the iPhone version of their venerable text editor, and so it's now available for iPhone, iPad (where it started) and OS X.

I use iA Writer on the Mac all the time, and on the iPad whenever I do any sort of long-form writing there, and have been waiting for this iPhone version since the day iA Writer for iPad was released. (Remember, this app is what turned me on to the Nitti Light font, and compelled me to come up with a way to make any app look like it.)

Unfortunately, this small-screen version (like the iPad version) is missing what I feel probably is the best feature of its OS X sibling, namely inline Markdown formatting (it's kind of like syntax highlighting for Markdown). It's also missing the character count and reading time features, which I kind of hate not having.

Despite these drawbacks (all of which I think will be addressed in future updates), I've replaced Notesy on my 1x20 with iA Writer, in an effort to force me to use it for a bit.

Readability bookmarklet, modified to close the current tab

March 03, 2012

In the last few days I've made the switch from Instapaper to Readability, mainly because their just-released iOS app is stunning, and comes with some great typefaces. Given that the apps I live in--Reeder (Mac/iPhone), Mr. Reader (iPad) and Tweetbot (iPhone/iPad)--already support the service, switching was painless (though I will miss sorely Instapaper's folders).

Readability offers both a bookmarklet and a browser extension for saving articles to your queue, but neither of them closes the respective tab/window after you've saved the article. I had the same issue with Instapaper's bookmarklet and described why it bothered me:

[T]he crux of the Instapaper workflow is the bookmarklet that drops your current tab into your Instapaper account. When you click the bookmarklet a small pop-up tells you whether the link has been saved to your account, and then closes (and this all occurs very quickly, which is why Instapaper just works for me). However, the tab you just saved to Instapaper remains open. Huh? The whole point of the service is to save for later things you can't read now; what purpose is served by having a site "open" in two places?

I solved the problem in Instapaper, and, after much tinkering, have come up with a similar solution for Readability. When you click on my modified bookmarklet (or invoke it via a keyboard shortcut), the link is saved to your Readability queue and the tab is closed.

To use the bookmarklet, simply drag this link to your bookmarks bar. Note that the bookmarklet requires a "token" that's specific to your account. I've replaced my token with "YOUR_TOKEN" (without quotes). Find that phrase in my bookmarklet and replace it with the token found in the bookmarklet Readability generates for you (look for readabilityToken%3D%27YOUR_TOKEN%27%3B).

The Lively Morgue#

The New York Times has just launched a photoblog, called "The Lively Morgue," to showcase its insanely large photo archive.

How many [photos are in our collection]? We don't know. Our best guess is five million to six million prints and contact sheets (each sheet, of course, representing many discrete images) and 300,000 sacks of negatives, ranging in format size from 35 millimeter to 5 by 7 inches -- at least 10 million frames in all. The picture archive also includes 13,500 DVDs, each storing about 4.7 gigabytes worth of imagery. [...]

If we posted 10 new archival pictures every weekday on Tumblr, just from our print collection, we wouldn't have the whole thing online until the year 3935.


Believers' estimates of God's beliefs are more egocentric than estimates of other people's beliefs#

The inherent ambiguity of God's beliefs on major issues and the extent to which religious texts may be open to interpretation and subjective evaluation, suggests not only strong egocentric biases when reasoning about God, but also that people may be consistently more egocentric when reasoning about God's beliefs than when reasoning about other people's beliefs [...]

Although people obviously acquire religious beliefs from a variety of external sources, from parents to broader cultural influences, these data suggest that the self may serve as an important source of religious beliefs as well. Not only are believers likely to acquire the beliefs and theology of others around them, but may also seek out believers and theologies that share their own personal beliefs.

This should surprise no one.

Some notable dates in the far future#

Compiled below is a selection of estimated dates for some events given certain assumptions in the evolution of Earth, the Solar System, and the Universe. Most events are of an astronomical and cosmological nature though some are geological.

Interactive Super Mario Bros. coin block pendant lamp#

To turn the lamp on and off, merely punch, ahem, I mean touch, the bottom of the cube and you'll be rewarded with both light and the classic coin noise. Every eight times you toggle the light, you'll get a 1-UP! It's very bright in a dark room and still visible in daylight.

About Gatekeeper#

Bored to all hell with the discussions going on around Gatekeeper in OS X Mountain Lion, but still feel a nagging compulsion to find and read a single article that kind of summarizes everything? Well, here you go.

The Kindle Touch: 90 days later#

Shawn loves it. Shawn also knows that I'd "unfriend" him if he came down the wrong way on this.  ;)

Relatedly, after I wrote about the (non-touch) Kindle 4, I went out and bought the Kindle Touch (i.e., the Kindle 4 w/ touch), and haven't looked back. It's great. Sometimes it registers a double page-turn when I tap just once, but other than that the experience has been pretty good.

The faithful must learn to respect those who question their beliefs#

It is fascinating that lack of belief, or even mere skepticism, is met among the faithful with less respect and more distrust even than a fervent belief in a rival God. This, more than anything, leads to an inevitable and deep tension between science and religion. When such distrust enters the realm of public policy, everyone suffers. [...]

[S]cience need not be the direct enemy of faith. However, a deep tension will persist until the faithful recognise that a willingness to question even one's most fervently held beliefs - the hallmark of science - is a trait that should be respected, not reviled.

The myth of the eight-hour sleep#

[There's] a wealth of historical evidence that humans used to sleep in two distinct chunks [--] a first sleep which began about two hours after dusk, followed by a waking period of one or two hours and then a second sleep.

Fascinating. (How is it possible that during all of my research into human evolution--I've read a kajillion books on the subject--I've never seen this discussed?)

Video of the Magnus magnetic iPad stand in action#

Some of you may remember my referencing this stunning stand a few weeks ago, where I remarked, "I'm skeptical of its ability to keep the iPad still when you're interacting with it."

Ben Brooks helped to allay my concern by posting a short video of him using the stand. We discussed it privately, and despite it actually being very stable (as shown in the video), it definitely wouldn't hurt for it to be a bit heavier (it weighs just 4.6 ounces).

I very likely will buy one, but will wait for the iPad 3.

Open Tabs Counter extension for Chrome#

A little over a month ago I detailed the Chrome extensions I use, and said the following with respect to an extension called Tabs Counter:

This is the kind of stat I love knowing at all times. I kind of wish it would display the tab count for the current window and the combined tab count for all of the open windows; currently, it shows the tab count of just the current window.

Last week Twitter follower @pa930 pointed me to an extension called Open Tabs Counter, that he claimed did what I asked for above. He was right. It's great. It could stand to be a bit prettier, but hey, it gets the job done.

A fresh take on contexts#

[I]t seems no longer the best setup to have contexts such as email, computer, web and so forth. It is time to find a new way to organise tasks, a way that reflects our most precious resources: time & attention.

A few months ago I forced myself to make a similar transition in OmniFocus, though my contexts aren't as granular as Sven's, something I'm going to fix as soon as possible.

(Via @inkedmn.)

One day, the stock market could eat the power grid#

High-frequency trading shops are basically in the business of taking electricity as an input and producing money as an output; then they use some of their profits to buy more hardware in order to take in more electricity, so that they can make more money, and on it goes. [...]

HFT's appetite for CPU cycles and electrical power is unlimited because it's an arms race. In other words, to win at HFT, you have to own the fastest, lowest-latency machines in the datacenter; so every time a competitor upgrades and becomes faster than you, you're forced to upgrade so that you can get back on top. [...]

In a post-Fukushima, post-Deepwater Horizon world of 7 billion people, where nations are struggling to meet the challenge of renewable energy, is this societally pointless one-upsmanship really what we want to spend our electricity on?