🔗 Google is killing most of Fitbit’s social features today

An amusing thought came to me while I read this: Google has an opportunity to play to it’s strength and act like the assassin for features or services. Don’t want to support something? Get Google to acquire you and inevitably shut you down. It’s such a unique niche that companies should be paying Google for this service.

I’m not a Fitbit user, but I know how it feels to be burned by Google’s obsessive need to shut down things I find useful, so I can understand all the upset over this.

🔗 The Command Line Is the GUI’s Future

It has always been a truism that what we have gained in ease of use by switching from the command line to the graphical user interface, we have lost in efficiency.


What Microsoft just showed completely changes this calculation. Their LLM-based user interface is both incredibly powerful and incredibly easy to use. In fact, it’s so easy to use that there almost seems no point in even having a traditional GUI.

Swings and roundabouts. 😏

Honestly, it’s kind of exciting to see the two UI styles married this way. Point and click is fine, but sometimes, when I know what I want, I just want a way to “tell” the computer what to do, rather than go through the motions “guiding” it to my desired state. This is why I prefer the command line over a GUI for certain tasks. And yeah, Office has scripting but unless you’re in there constantly, you find yourself relearning it every time. Having a prompt like this might be where the sweet-spot lies.

🔗 After 6 long months, an Android phone finally cloned the iPhone 14

The screen-shots of this “mini capsule” are hillarous. The animated waves that appear when the capsule is expanded; the fact that the only thing it can display is the battery level since there’s nothing like Live Actions. The capper is the “90%” on the right side of the capsule, right next to the 90 in the battery indicator. You know, just in case you need reminding that the battery is at 90%. Champions indeed!

Hilarity aside, it’s a little sad seeing these Android OEMs doing everything they can to rip off Apple’s design. And it’s not just those in the long tail of OEMs either. Seeing Samsung half-arse features months after they debut on the iPhone, just to abandon them months later is really cringeworthy (anyone remember “AR Emoji”, their rip-off of Animoji). It’s past time they developed some taste on their own.

🔗 From Bing To Sydney

Hmm, it’s hard not feeling a little unsettled after reading this Stratechery post. One thing’s for sure, I’m a bit more doubtful of the post I wrote two days ago.

🔗 ChatGPT clearly has a place

I tried ChatGPT for the first time this morning. I needed a shell script which will downscale a bunch of JPEG images in a directory. I’m perfectly capable of writing one myself, but that would mean poking through the ImageMagick docs trying to remember which of the several zillion arguments is used to reduce the image size. Having one written for me by ChatGPT saved about 15 minutes of this (it wasn’t exactly what I wanted, I did need to tweak it a little).

A ChatGPT session where I ask for a script that reduces the size of JPEG files in a directory.

I don’t know what the future holds with AIs like this, and I acknowledge that it has had an effect on some peoples’ living (heck, it may have an effect on mine). But I can’t really deny the utility it provided this morning.

🔗 The Magic of Small Databases

I kinda want this but for internal databases. There’ve been several times at work where I’ve had to collect semi-structured information in a spreadsheet or a wiki page comprised solely of tables. There’s always some loosely defined convention around how to represent it (use this colour to indicate this particular state) or when it should be changed (change this label to “In Review” until these people have seen it and then change it to “Confirmed”).

One example is how we manage releases: which services we’re pushing out and what commits they are, which environments it’s been deployed to or tested in, whether the other teams or the person on-call are aware of it and have signed off, etc. This is all managed in wiki pages that follow a standard layout, and it’s… okay. It was a convention that has grown out over time as we were working out our release procedure. And it made sense keeping it relatively informal as we were trying to work out our groove. But that groove has been formed now, and it would be nice to formalise the process. But doing so means that there’s a lot of manual labour keeping these release documents correct and up to date. And since it’s all in a centrally managed wiki, it’s difficult to automate away things that are managed by other systems like our code repositories.

A tool that can be hosted on-prem which will allow anyone to spin up a new document-base database (either for the team or themselves), define a very loose schema and some views, and put a very simple workflows and code macros would be great. The trick is trying to walk the line that separates something that basically is like a hosted version of Excel verses something that will require so much setup work that no-one will bother with it. I’d imagine that’s a tricky balancing act to follow.

🔗 The Shit Show

What gets me about Twitter killing access to third-party clients is the lack of comms to the developers. No shutdown timeline. No chance to let the devs communicate this to their users. Nothing but cowardly silence. How utterly disrespectful!

🔗 Jean-Michel Jarre’s “Oxygene Pt. 4” in 19kb of JS code

A pretty good recreation of Oxygene Pt. 4. Also, I’ll have to explore this tool a little more.

Via waxy.org.

🔗 Twitter suffers major outage in Australia and New Zealand

I was about to make a joke about Twitter not paying their PagerDuty bill. But then it occurred to me: you probably don’t even need PagerDuty if you can just hear about outages from the news.

🔗 Infinite Mac

A Mac with everything you’d want in 1995.

A fully loaded version of System 9 running in your browser. Posted here because I found myself opening and playing around with this over the last few days.

(via. podiboq in the Hemispheric Views Discord)

🔗 github.com/charmbracelet/vhs

This little tool is awesome. It allows you to easily make GIFs of a command line session from a text-based DSL. I tried it on the full screen TUI app I’m working on and it worked flawlessly.

Now wondering if I could use it for automated testing. 🤔

🔗 Slow Roads

Endless driving game in the browser. Pretty frickin’ well done. There’s also a Medium post on how it was put together.

(via. Ars Technica)

🔗 Pocket Casts Mobile Apps Are Now Open Source

Wow, I did not expect that. Although I probably should have since it’s owned by Automattic now.

🔗 Who is ready for a fleet of cubesats flying over cities, displaying ads?

The well of bad ideas may not be bottomless, but it certainly is deep.

🔗 Google suffers from a digital petro curse

Hearing the story about Stadia reminded me of this post by DHH. His thoughts on why Google can’t keep a new product around for more than a few years is insightful.

🔗 Google Kills Stadia

Google’s damaged reputation made the death of Stadia a self-fulfilling prophecy. No one buys Stadia games because they assume the service will be shut down, and Stadia is forced to shut down because no one buys games from it.

What’s there more to say? 🤷

🔗 Cloudflare’s CAPTCHA replacement lacks crosswalks, checkboxes, Google

I wonder: if Google, as many suspect, is using CAPTCHA for image recognition training, how certain are they of the positive results? If everyone were to start clicking anything other than crosswalks, would that screw up their training data?

🔗 emperror.dev/errors

Drop in replacement for the github.com/pkg/errors package. The original package is archived as there’s a plan to change how Go handles errors. But not all of us are ready to adopt this yet.

🔗 A delightful reference for HTML Symbols, Entities and ASCII Character Codes

A great reference site I stumbled along when I was trying to find the perfect arrow to include in a webpage. Nice, clean, and quite comprehensive. No awful ads either, which is a breath of fresh air.

🔗 NYC Subway Track Map

Dad and I have been watching YouTube cab-rides of the NYC subway system recently. Part of the fun is trying to understand the various track configurations and how the system operates. The size of the network never ceases to amaze.

🔗 Waking Up In Geelong

Facinating website for the casual Melbourne train buff. A lot of great photos of rail infrastructure, plus what appears to be routine “photos from 10 years ago” posts, which brings me back. Link via my dad.

🔗 Publishing your work increases your luck (via Github’s The Readme Project)

I found this very inspiring. Given where it was published the subject matter is about software, but I believe that it could apply to pretty much any creative endeavour.

🔗 Mentality

This might be a good one to bookmark and come back to occasionally.

🔗 Stop checking the news before you do deep work

Yes! I always fall into this trap.

🔗 Google loses two execs: one for Messaging and Workspace, another for Payments

Two thoughts I came away with after reading this.

The first is an attempt to understand how Google can think that they can put out anything — the version of US Google Pay app for example — and expect people to flock to it. I no expert, but I’m not sure why the physics of user adoption should be any different if you’re a multi-billion dollar company. People will use your software if it’s good, and they won’t if it’s not. And if you force people to change their habits because you want to completely throw out your existing version for “reasons”, you’re giving users an opportunity to choose whether they want to even continue using your stuff.

It happened to me when they shutdown Inbox. I had the opportunity to change to something else, which I did: Fastmail. Since I was forced to change my habits, I may as well have changed them for the better.

The second — and this is probably obvious — is that the a good indication of the health of one of Google’s app is how often they rebrand it. Since it’s launch, Gmail has always been Gmail. I can’t even name what Google’s messaging app is called now.