The last double shot from Mike

Sad to see that Mike Gunderloy is bowing out from software development and the Internet. He was one of the first Ruby developers that I followed on Twitter and through there I subscribed to his blog, A Fresh Cup, where he posted his Double Shot posts.

Looking back, I’m also not super-happy with how the industry has evolved. There was a time when I could believe and hope that software was making the world a better place. Looking around, I’m not so sure any more. Money and power have seized pretty much everything related to software, and the rising tide of surveillance, manipulation, and generally rapacious behavior appears to be getting worse all the time. It’s become harder and harder to find any industry niche that I feel comfortable in working any longer. My sincere blessings to those of you who are still fighting the good fight, but as I said, I’m tired.

End of the road

I can understand his reasons for bowing out from the world of software development. I’ve been feeling the itch to leave as well, but I still think I have a few years left before I completely think about trying something else for a career.

The Hatton hoodie

Congratulations to Tyrrell Hatton on winning the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth. And great as his golf was, what really stole the show was Tyrrell’s choice of attire. A hoodie.

Now, most people probably know that many golf clubs have a particular dress code —the usual tailored trousers or shorts with a collared polo shirt. And of course, proper golf shoes to protect the golf course while you are playing. There’s nothing wrong in my eyes with dressing in the right attire for a game. It looks smart. I love watching my boys playing, but I also love the fact that they look smart while they are playing.

Now the debate on the right dress code for golf has reared its head again thanks to Tyrrell Hatton’s Adidas hoodie that he wore while playing at Wentworth. I completely support it, and if given the option, I would wear a hoodie while playing golf as well.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve seen posts on social media by clubs and professionals who are challenging the traditional dress code of golf. They are allowing juniors to play and practice in almost anything that they want. Trackie bottoms and a hoodie? That’s fine. As long as the kids are enjoying the game, why does it matter what they wear?

I agree that golf needs to move with the times, but it also needs to be seen as fun and entertaining. By allowing hoodies on the course, and even in the clubhouse, golf would be a more attractive sport to more people.

My only concern is that while Tyrrell Hatton was wearing a hoodie, it was a hoodie designed for golfers by a major sporting brand. Except for the hood, it looked like any other golf top I’ve seen worn on the course. I suspect that if a traditional high street hoodie was worn, there would have been more of a hostile reception. And that’s where the line starts to get blurry. I suspect Tyrrell’s choice of hoodie would not have been cheap. Will clubs insist that younger players only be allowed to wear particular hoodies on the course? That’s a harsh rule to enforce.

I love to see players challenging the status quo in golf. It makes people think about why we’re playing the game one way when we could be playing the game another way. Tyrrell’s choice of wearing a hoodie while playing golf challenges the dress code of the game. A dress code which has mostly remained unchanged for decades.

More importantly, though, it also opens the door to attracting younger people to the game. And that’s definitely something that the sport needs to do.

Back to home cooking for central Scotland

With new restrictions in place for central Scotland, our first visit to our favourite restaraunt will need to be put on hold for a while. I’m not mad at the restrictions, although there is an element of frustration. I understand why it’s needed, but I was so looking forward to a change of scenery on Saturday.

With this weekend blown out, I think I’ll need to up the ante this weekend and do something extra special for the family. Now, where did I put Kurt Harden’s creamed spinach recipe? It always goes down well with steak and chips.

Recommended task managers from Curtis McHale

I can’t argue with the picks that Curtis has made. He knows his recommended task managers very well and has devled deep into all of them. Just check out his blog if you need to find out more.

The next step up the ladder is Things by Cultured Code. Not only does it have great keyboard support for iPad users. Not only is it cross-device and syncs fast across devices? Not only is the pricing reasonable. Not only does it integrate well with macOS and iOS. Not only is sync fast between all your devices.

It’s just beautiful too.

The Task Managers I Recommend by Curtis McHale

I’m still using bullet journaling, and I am a fan of Things, but I see it more of a single-user task manager. I have out-grown it though, as I needed something that was cross-platform.

Reminders is a great entry-level app, and although basic, does everything that a task manager should.

I’m also using Basecamp at the moment to share stuff with my family. Its free personal plan is ideal for families and small teams.

What’s your recommended task manager?

The Coalition for App Fairness launches

In an effort to address issues with Apple and their App Store, several companies have founded a non-profit organisation that hopes to address these issues.

As a developer I hope they put enough pressure on Apple to change their App Store policies for the better, but as The Verge puts it, I don’t see Apple backing down on this.

The Coalition for App Fairness is hoping to gain influence over Apple through a united developer front. But even if other developers flock to join, Apple still holds all the cards; while Spotify, Match, Basecamp, and the rest are protesting Apple’s rules, at the end of the day, they’re still putting their apps in the App Store and paying Apple’s fees. As long as that’s the case, short of legal intervention, it’s hard to see Apple acquiescing to any of these demands — no matter how many developers complain.

Spotify, Epic, Tile, Match, and more are rallying developers against Apple’s App Store policies

Project options

Over the last few days I’ve been assessing a number of projects that I have in the works.

The problem with each of these projects is that their largely untested product ideas that have stagnated for too long and will require more time to get back on track than I can afford. Most of these projects are getting killed. I can’t afford the time to explore them further. The remaining couple of projects will be re-written and released as open source so that others can run them on their own.

Remembering X-COM

They story behind a PC classic, X-COM.

The first part that you see is the strategic level. As the general in charge of the “Extra-Terrestrial Combat Force,” or X-COM — the name was suggested by Stephen Hand and Mike Brunton, two in-house design consultants at MicroProse UK — you must hire soldiers and buy equipment for them; research new technologies, a process which comes more and more to entail reverse-engineering captured alien artifacts in order to use your enemy’s own technology against them; build new bases at strategic locations around the world, as well as improve your existing ones (you start with just one modest base); and send your aircraft out to intercept the alien craft that are swarming the Earth. In keeping with the timeless logic of computer games, the countries of the Earth have chosen to make X-COM, the planet’s one real hope for defeating the alien menace, into a resource-constrained semi-capitalist enterprise; you’ll often need to sell gadgets you’ve manufactured or stolen from the aliens in order to make ends meet, and if you fail to perform well your sponsoring countries will cut their funding.


I lost a whole summer to this game. I spent hours every day playing this game and still remember it as one of the best games I’ve played.

Basecamp’s excellent case for options

Shape Up, Basecamp’s way of building products, doesn’t use roadmaps. The team’s latest blog posts cite several reasons why they don’t use roadmaps and what they use instead. Options.

An option is something you can do but don’t have to do. All our product ideas are exactly that: options we may exercise in some future cycle—or never.

Without a roadmap, without a stated plan, we can completely change course without paying a penalty. We don’t set any expectations internally or externally that these things are actually going to happen.

Options, Not Roadmaps

They make an excellent case for options when it comes to product development.

The temptation to build a roadmap for Caddieclix has always been there. However, it’s being able to commit to that roadmap over time that has put me off putting a roadmap together.

Development on Caddieclix has taken a back seat over the summer months. I’m spending more time with my family, playing more golf and over-seeing the junior section at the golf club. With the season almost over though, I am looking towards picking up the development of Caddieclix again. And with no roadmap to commit to, I can implement the features that suit me.

It’s better for me to be flexible and have options instead.

Widgets and App Library oh my!

With Apple’s iOS 14 update, there are two features that I am using now to tidy up my home screen. Widgets and the App Library.

Widgets are tiles of different size that can show you a snapshot of an app. This give’s you the benefit of being able to preview information from that app and also tap on the widget to open the app which is much better than having to open the app and then find that information that you need. The only downside to this is that apps with widgets are minimal at the moment, but I’m sure over the next few weeks, there will be plenty of App Store updates for these apps to include more widgets.

The App Library is a feature that I actually read about a few weeks ago and then forgot about when I finished uploading my iPhone. The App Library contains all the apps that you install and puts them in folders based on usage, installation date and also by their category. You can access it by scrolling to the right of the home screen. The benefit of this is that you can now remove an app from your home screen without deleting the app itself. Nice!

In time I think I will see more widgets on my home screen to replace their app icons. These apps I’ll also delete and let them live on in the App Library. I’ll only use widgets for the apps that I use daily with a few other widgets for things like weather and photos.

Between the two of these features, I think I will also have more pages on my home screen to separate how I use my phone. At the moment I’m thinking about screens for daily, photos, work and then downtime.

It will mean less clutter on my home screen and will hopefully mean that I don’t check my phone as often, which is a bad habit of mine at the moment.

Catching the Spitfire

I managed to catch the NHS Spitfire as it flew over two hopsitals in my hometown of Paisley this afternoon.

That’s three times now that I’ve been fortunate enough to see this magnificent airplane flying. It was my favourite as a kid, and now that I’ve seen it again in the sky, it’s still my favourite.

The problem of call to actions in Twitter threads

Threads on Twitter have been around for a while now. It allows you to chain tweets together, which is handy if one tweet isn’t enough. Lately, I’ve noticed that people are using threads to push an additional call to action at the end. It could be to subscribe to their podcast, newsletter or blog—that sort of thing.

I’m not sure what to make of this. In some cases, it makes sense. Let’s say, for example, the thread is ten tweets long and covers an issue. At the end of it, you might see a tweet where you can follow up on the subject. This tweet might contain the author of the thread’s website or another article that backs up the contents of the thread.

In other cases, though I see threads that comprise of two tweets. The initial tweet with a second tweet with the call to action. It looks and feels sneaky.

And yet, this is the way that Twitter has evolved over the years. Users find ways of adapting it. It’s how we got retweets, mentions and hashtags on Twitter. They were all conventions that people used, and then Twitter formalised them as features of the platform.

The call to action at the end of a single tweet thread doesn’t feel helpful at all because you can’t see the call to action unless you expand the thread and there’s no indication of how many tweets are in a thread either. If a thread is only two or even three tweets long, why not just display the thread fully expanded? If they can’t do that, why not indicate the length of the thread?

There’s enough information coming through my Twitter timeline without the added volume of call to actions tweets in threads. I hope there’s something in the future that Twitter can do to fix this.

Greyhound, a great watch

Just finished watching Greyhound on Apple TV+.

A great watch and goes straight into the action. Tom Hanks is brilliant as always and Stephen Graham is also great as the Greyhound’s executive officer.

I also think I’ve found myself a book to add to the reading list. The Good Shepherd by C. S. Forester, the book on which the movie is based.

Time for morning pages again?

Last night I read a few posts on about people returning back to blogging and writing. I would like to start blogging again, but just more consistently.

I have fallen so far away from blogging, I have considered just closing up this blog on numerous occasions. The moment passes though and I write a few words with the intention of publishing something.

So many times my text editor has been opened and closed with nothing saved. Perhaps it’s enough just now to just save what I am writing with no intention of publishing. It may become relevant at a later date, it which point I could publish it.

Perhaps it’s time to return my morning pages routine again.

Morning technology woes

I spent the first hour of the morning trying to update some apps on an iPad for an iCloud account. I keep getting asked to login with the password, which always fails. However the same username and password can be used to successfully login to iCloud and the Apple website.

I’ve tried a number of additional remedies including verifying the account, logging out and logging in again after a period of time and closing the app on the iPad and opening it again. All without success.

Isn’t technology wonderful.

Of course the tech companies passed on the new digital services tax to consumers

Oh look. The big tech companies are now all just passing on the new digital services tax straight to their customers. Who could have predicted that? All in a sarcastic tone of course.

Many small businesses and entrepreneurs will have received an email the other day from Google which informed them that from the 1st November 2020 Google will be passing the UK’s new 2% digital services tax straight onto their customers.

They are even adding a line item on their invoices for DST (Digital Services Tax) alongside VAT.

That means they are joining the likes of Amazon and others who are simply passing this tax straight onto small and medium businesses and consumers in the UK. Exactly what every online business owner knew they would do.

UK scores an own goal with its Digital Services Tax

Two things I’m taking from this.

  1. The UK goverment are fools if they thought that the big tech companies weren’t going to do this. It’s decisions like this that make me wonder if I should change my vote. I didn’t vote for an independent Scotland the first time, but I’m considering it now.
  2. I’m of the mind that the big tech companies exist now only to serve themselves. And yes, I’m including Apple in this one. The big tech companies face no competition and can call the shots in most countries. Of course they’ll just pass a tax onto their customers. With the amounts of money they are commanding, they can afford to do so.

Instagram’s sole aim is to keep you in the app

Looks like I removed the Instagram app from my phone at the right time.

As if Instagram weren’t addictive enough already, the company is adding a new feature that’s intended to keep you scrolling through your feed even longer. Starting today, Instagram will load ‘Suggested Posts‘ at the end of your feed, once you’re all caught up with updates from friends and other accounts you follow.

Instagram’s new ‘Suggested Posts’ feature will keep you scrolling forever

Like Facebook, Instagram is doing everything to keep your eyes on the app. Suggested users, copying features from other trending apps like TikTok and now suggested posts. These features aren’t designed to help the users, they’re designed to keep you attached to your timeline.

Without an open API though, the options to viewing your timeline on Instagram are restricted. It’s not the kind of platform that I want to be a part of.

Toying with leaving Instagram

This morning sees my youngest son, Drew, start his first day in Primary 4. As always with his first day starting a new year at school, the routine was all there. Get him up bright and early to get washed and changed into his uniform. Head downstairs for some breakfast, let him watch some television and as always, get a few pictures of his first day back school. There was something at the end of all this though that didn’t happen—the usual post to Instagram.

I’ve been without Instagram on my phone for over two weeks now. I decided to remove Instagram from my phone after finding myself getting into the bad habit of just thumbing through my timeline and the search tab. I hadn’t posted anything in a while, so it’s not like I was going to miss it. Without being on my phone, I feel like I’ve been more focused over the last two weeks.

This morning though, I felt a little bit guilty about not posting my son’s picture to Instagram, but whose benefit is this for? My own self-gratification? For others that are following me? I’ll be honest, I don’t really know at this point. I feel that Instagram is just another excuse for Facebook to punt ads and keeps those eyeballs on the timeline. Sure there are people on Instagram who are sharing their experiences and moments with family and friends. I like that part of it, it’s what brought me to it in the first place. However, weighing that up the other aspects of Instagram like stories, reels and ads, it doesn’t feel like it’s worth investing my time in it anymore.

After wrestling with the idea of putting Instagram back on my phone, I decided against it and just left it. In fact, I’m at the point now I may just delete my Instagram account. If I’m not missing it on my phone, then why have it at all?

Mozilla still fighting for the open web

I must admit, the news that Mozilla was laying off employees didn’t improve my view on Mozilla’s long term viability as an organisation. The open web looks to be a losing battle as Google continues to establish itself as the primary search engine on the internet and the web browser of choice of choice for millions of people. These layoffs could be viewed as the end of Mozilla. After reading their press release following the layoffs, I’m not so sure.

So going forward we will be smaller. We’ll also be organizing ourselves very differently, acting more quickly and nimbly. We’ll experiment more. We’ll adjust more quickly. We’ll join with allies outside of our organization more often and more effectively. We’ll meet people where they are. We’ll become great at expressing and building our core values into products and programs that speak to today’s issues. We’ll join and build with all those who seek openness, decency, empowerment and common good in online life.

Changing World, Changing Mozilla

This sounds promising. I really hope that Mozilla can bounce back from this.

Owning freelancing

Seth’s latest post is all about ownership.

If you want to build a career as a freelancer, or a business as an entrepreneur, it helps to own something. Really valuable public companies are worth so much because of the assets they own and the market position they can defend as they grow. A hard-working but disrespected worker (whether an online freelancer or an actual factory worker) struggles because they’re not seen as owning enough. People have choices, and they often choose to hire and do business with entities that own something that they want to use or leverage.

What do you own?

A big problem with my initial stint as a freelancer was that I walked away from it with very little in terms of ownership. Sure I had skills and knowledge, but so do tonnes of other developers. Looking back, there are a few things I should have owned that could have prolonged my time as a freelancer.

I should have used the time to build a product. By owning a product that helps others, I am creating value that others can see.

I should have marketed myself more. By owning my own freelancing landing page, I am able to share my value to others.

I should have written and published my experiences. In writing about my experiences as a web developer and the problems and solutions I encountered, I’m showing how I own problems and the value others can get from my solutions.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. It doesn’t change what happened in the past, but it can help change what lies ahead.

Deciding on a new camera

When it comes to taking photos, I always resort to my iPhone. It’s a great camera and provides an adequate level of quality in most of the photos that I take. Lately though, I find myself looking towards an actual camera itself.

There’s lots of reasons for this, but the main reason is that I want to understand more about taking photographs as opposed to just pointing and clicking with my iPhone. I also know that I will, with time, take better pictures than my iPhone does. I’m hoping to use the camera for a wide-range of photos, but mostly I’m looking to using it for wide landscape shots, action shots and portraits.

I’m looking at a DSLR camera, specifically the Canon EOS 4000D DSLR. It comes in at an affordable price and many of the reviews I’ve read, rate it as a good entry camera. The next model up from this is slightly more expensive, the 2000D. At about £40 more, I’m not fully convinced though if it’s worth the jump up.

Whatever I decide, I think both are good enough starter cameras to begin with.

Trust people’s common sense

Senior minister Michael Gove has said he does not think face coverings should be compulsory in shops in England, saying he trusts people’s common sense.

Speaking to the BBC’s Andrew Marr, Mr Gove said wearing a mask in a shop was “basic good manners”.

Coronavirus: I trust people’s sense on face masks - Gove

The problem with this approach is that by and large, people will ignore what’s common sense and just do what they think is right by them.

I don’t always agree with Nicola Sturgeon’s politics, but I agree wholeheartedly with the move to make masks compulsory in shops in Scotland. It keeps the staff safe, it keeps the customers safe and it removes any grey area in between where people wonder whether they should wear a mask or not.

The 3 x 5 card

Nicholas Bate gives us a productivity system so simple it can fit on a single index card.

A fresh 3 by 5 card taken from the stack. One side is work. One side is home. Each side is divided in half with a vertical line. On the LHS side are things you need/have to do. E.g. at work return a client’s call; at home buy some pasta. On the RHS are things you don’t have to do but you will do because they will make your future life easier by reducing the things you have to do on the LHS.

The Tools of Excellence for a Brave New World, 8: The 3 x 5 card

My review of The Last of Us Part 2

This week I finally finished The Last of Us Part 2.

I’ve been waiting patiently for this game to come out for a few months. Being a fan of the first one, I eagerly awaited its release. I preordered the game through the PlayStation store and started playing it a couple of days after the release date. This post is just a few thoughts I had on the game. I’ve tried to avoid any spoilers, which is why this review is short.

The game starts five years after the first game with Joel and Ellie settled in the town of Jackson. From here, the story begins to unravel with a good pace, and you’ll soon find yourself in the thick of the action once again. You’ll find yourself taking out the infected, as well as searching for crafting items and munitions to top up your supplies.

There are some differences to the first game that I liked. For a start, there are more characters in this game which is a nice change from the smaller cast of the first game. With more characters, you get more story, and I do like games that have a good story to them. There are also more places to explore in the game. You can wander off the path of the game a bit more, and with the added option of jumping and climbing, you can use elevation to your advantage in combat. Stealth is still the best option in combat, but you can also use speed to your advantage, as your character can switch between actions more smoothly.

The setting and story are two areas of the game that I particularly enjoyed. Seattle, where most of the game takes place, has been recreated with incredible detail. While the setting was fantastic, it’s the story between the characters that I enjoyed the most. There are cinematic scenes in between the action that fills in parts of the story. I thought there were more of these scenes than in the first game, but to be honest, they did add to the game and its story.

The game also has its dark and violent moments. That’s not to say these moments shouldn’t be in the game. They should. It’s these moments that add heightened tension to the game. By the end of it, you’ll wonder how you’ll ever manage to play the whole thing again.

Despite these dark moments, I thoroughly enjoyed playing the game. It’s a different game from the first one but also a different game from many other games. I think it stands up there as a great game, and those involved at in producing the game at Naughty Dog, have done a fantastic job in creating a successful sequel to The Last of Us.

Hello Hey!

I’m sold on Hey email.

In the last six days that I have been using it, I’ve been getting my head around its features and workflows that make Hey different from most other email services.

The screener is a nice feature. When you receive an email from someone from the first time, Hey asks you if you want to continue to receive email from that person. Instead of you trying to determine if you have received an email from someone, Hey lets you know. Nice touch!

What I like best about Hey though is that it doesn’t look or act like a typical email client. There are some similarities sure, but instead of going down the same route as every other email client and using the same view for each collection of email, Hey goes a step further to make different groups of email more comfortable to read. The Paper Trail allows to scan recently received receipts, but The Feed page shows recently received newsletters and also makes them easy to browse through much like you might scroll through RSS feeds.

One advantage I’ve found from signing up to Hey is that I can stop using an email address tied to my domain name. Sure, it’s nice to own your domain name as well as use it for your email address, but I often wondered if tying these two together was a bit of a hindrance. Over the years my email address has been used for all manner of accounts and is probably on quite a few mailing lists that I would rather it wasn’t on.

In signing up for a Hey email address, it felt like I had a clean slate to start over with again. When Hey adds the ability to use custom domains, I might not transfer over my domain right away. I think I’ll keep going with Hey’s email address for as long as I can.

I’m going to pull the trigger on the subscription tomorrow at some point. Sure, it’s early days for Hey, and there are lots of things that are missing, but for a product in its first few weeks of launch, it’s got more than enough new features to make me switch over.

Giving Hey a try

With Basecamp’s Hey email product now open to everyone, I have decided to try it out for myself over the next two weeks. The plan is to send some newsletters over to Hey and forward a few emails to my Hey account. During this free trial phase, I’ll decide whether to stick with Hey or not. There are, however, several factors which will influence my decision.

I’ve been a FastMail customer for years. I have several email addresses redirecting to a single FastMail account. I’ve never queried the service and what it offers in all those years, but even though I am happy with the service, Hey’s rethink of email has me wondering what else they can provide in the long term.

My primary email address uses my domain for my email address. I also have a few email addresses on other domains as well in FastMail. Hey have indicated that they will support custom domains in the future, but what will that support entail? A single domain, multiple domains?

Like most online services my family uses, we are usually all in them together. iCloud, Netflix, FastMail as well as a few others. Email is one service we use that we are all in one. It would be nice if Hey included a family plan as well. Especially one that supported custom domains for each user as well.

The next couple of weeks will be interesting to see how good Hey is, but I’m not sure that two weeks will be enough to see what Hey is capable of doing. And with it being a new product, there are many features that we won’t see until after a few weeks or even months of usage, by which time I will definitely need to have bought into using it.