A digital archive of Michael Johnston.
Twitter / Facebook / Last.fm / Google+

Facebook rolling out hashtag support starting today →

My friends love using hashtags on Facebook as a joke… so I wonder if they’ll embrace them when they are reality?

Vesper (via The Axx) →

It will take a little getting used to at first, but I believe my workflow will eventually settle with me typing any text that I plan to eventually distribute to various places (blog posts, events, social network posts, emails, etc.) in Drafts, but typing any text that I’m going to want to keep solely to myself, and want to be able to find at any given time at short notice, in Vesper.

-Alex Guyot

I still don’t get the appeal of Vesper. Is the pleasure of the UX worth the inconvenience of another inbox?

The simple fact that now Alex has 2 workflows to remember is very counter-productive. This is just my opinion, but I always favour less apps that do more each, over more apps that do less each. It’s just easier for me to have a thought and immediately know which app to open. Yes, Evernote is such a pain to use sometimes, but at least I know where to go looking for the note, whether on my iPhone, iPad or laptop. And guess what, it has had tags ever since I can remember! And notebooks. And search. You can implement as many or as little of these features as you like and customize your system in many different ways. This to me, is worth the sluggish Evernote experience on my 3GS.

It’s a shame Vesper doesn’t have the rest of the features I’m looking for in a notes app, because the $5 price tag is no issue and it does look like a very nice experience. There’s just no point in forcing myself to use it, when there are more convenient options already at my disposal. If Q Branch are really that good at design, they’ll find a way to incorporate additional functionality without Vesper feeling bloated or complex.

Anonymous Nyan Cat spotted in Google Drive.

Anonymous Nyan Cat spotted in Google Drive.

Vesper. Collect your thoughts. →

I don’t get it.

7 Jun 2013
Reblogged from parislemon

As a culture we have moved into a realm where the consumption of news is a near-constant process. Users with smartphones and tablets are consuming news in bits and bites throughout the course of the day — replacing the old standard behaviors of news consumption over breakfast along with a leisurely read at the end of the day.


Richard Gringras, Senior Director of News & Social Products at Google, talking to Wired about why they decided to kill off Google Reader.

In my own case, this is absolutely accurate. I used to sit in front of Google Reader all day, every day. Then Twitter came along and I just stopped doing that. Most of the news I consume now gets pushed to me from Techmeme or a few other sources via Twitter on my various iOS devices.

I also get a ton of value out of things like Flipboard (which I do read “leisurely” in the morning) and services like Pocket and Instapaper.

In a way, this reminds me of the cable television situation. I have moved from a bundled approach where I get everything from every source dumped in my lap to a à la carte approach, where I choose what I want.

The next evolution of this will be the Google Now approach Gringras hits upon. But I think that will be pretty complicated to get right.

via parislemon

It’s fine to completely replace Google Reader with Twitter for news. I gave up on getting news from Google Reader quite a while ago. I never replaced it with anything consciously. Maybe podcasts? I do however continue to use Google Reader - in fact, now more than ever!

I am subscribed to many, less frequently updated feeds, with longer-form content, as Marco has suggested many times. The content is mostly editorial in form, so it does matter where it comes from. I don’t care about just anyone’s opinions. I need to feel some personal connection with them, to admire them, or to be inspired by them.

Matt Gemmel wrote on the subject:

Without character, the author becomes interchangeable, and thus forgettable.

So how am I going to replace this when Google Reader shuts down? There’s too much noise on social media for these more thoughtful pieces to float to the top. The only solution I know about is RSS.

Sure, I don’t need to keep up with the authors. They don’t often release breaking, life changing news. I read them for the pleasure of reading. Their blogs are the novels I consume. It would be such a shame to miss out on their articles if society moves on from RSS entirely…

GeoGuessr - Let's explore the world! →

Free - All this →

The thing is, this sinister, creepy approach works, and it benefits us, too. A social network that isn’t free won’t have a huge number of users and won’t have everyone you know on it. A search engine that isn’t free wouldn’t be used much and wouldn’t be able to leverage the data collected on an astronomical number of searches. And it’s the same for maps.

I’m totally OK with free.

Twin Movies - Imgur →

3 Jun 2013
Reblogged from amyruthworrall

What Amy Did: App store trials →



I’m going to add my voice to those calling for trials of App Store apps. Here’s how I could see it working:

Developers can choose whether to allow a trial of 1, 7 or 30 days, or to disallow trials all together, on a per-app basis. For those apps that allow trials, the App Store would show a…

Mutator: Mute Your iPhone...With a Twist →

Can’t believe this guy is serious…

iOS 7 Wishes →

More or less identical to my wishlist. Some main points are:

  • Better inter-app communication
  • Bring Versons to iOS
  • Automator for iOS
  • Improve text selection
  • Revamp auto-correct and suggestions
  • Background APIs
  • Improve Notification Center
  • Improve the App Store
  • Let users change default apps
  • Hide Apple apps

A fairly long list, but realistically, until the majority of these issues are addressed, my iPad will never be close to replacing my laptop for getting serious work done.

By far, my biggest issue with iOS is the poor inter-app communication. Alessandro addresses this:

“Open In”, while user-friendly, comes with a major shortcoming: it creates duplicate files.

It is a nightmare trying to keep track of all your latest documents. Documents by Readdle and GoodReader make steps in the right direction, but iOS should be handling this itself, at this stage of the operating system’s maturity. Here is a further discussion.

I guess we’ll just have to wait for WWDC to see whether Apple will fix these flaws…


Ken Freedman:

The internet has really changed everything. Now everybody knows about everything immediately. On the other hand there’s so much more available now that it kind of makes the role of being a curator or being a filter even more important.

I definitely agree. I notice that more and more often I turn to curated content for consumption, rather than finding it myself. Eg:

  • link-list RSS feeds and Digg for articles to read,
  • Triple J and Pitchfork for what to listen to,
  • Good Game TV for what to play,
  • the Totally Rad Show used to be where I turned what to watch, and I’m yet to find a replacement.

I try and limit the number of curators I turn to for each category otherwise it’s easy to get overwhelmed, thus defeating the purpose.

I find turning directly to curators you like is much more enjoyable than subscribing to everything you’ve ever been interested in, on every social platform there is, and trying to find the good stuff yourself.

The next generation of Instapaper – Marco.org →

I’m happy to announce that I’ve sold a majority stake in Instapaper to Betaworks. We’ve structured the deal with Instapaper’s health and longevity as the top priority, with incentives to keep it going well into the future. I will continue advising the project indefinitely, while Betaworks will take over its operations, expand its staff, and develop it further.

This is exciting! Betaworks have shown they care about their acquisitions. I love what they did with Digg and I use it more now than ever before. Combine this proof of talent and their RSS reader in the works, and we might have something very special indeed.

Evernote Symbol Hierarchy

I find it fascinating to see how other people use their computers and apps. One app that I use and take a particular interest in seeing other people use is Evernote. This is because Evernote offers quite a flexible framework so almost anyone can adapt it to their notetaking/ GTD/ file syncing/ bookmarking/ recipe collecting/ handwriting translating needs. With this flexible framework come creative uses, implementations and hacks.

Often times, I find that people use symbol prefixes in order to give notebooks and tags some form of hierarchy, as both those items are displayed alphabetically. I too tag notebooks with symbols to give them priority in my left-hand pane. It’s such a useful hack, but I haven’t seen expanded upon anywhere, so I thought I’d do a little investigation and see which symbols grant the highest priority.

This is the apparent Evernote Symbol Hierarchy in descending ‘alphabetic’ order:

As you can see, ‘!’ holds the highest priority, with ‘-’ the lowest. It appears that ‘-’ doesn’t rank below all letters however, only the letter it is prefixing. (Example: ‘-a’ ranks higher than ‘b’ but lower than ‘a’).

I haven’t done any real testing to see if the hierarchy maintains its integrity in more complex scenarios or even on any platform other than Windows 7.

Even if I don’t end up using this symbolic notebook hierarchy, it has at least taught me that Evernote needs a mass notebook editor!

Why the Mantis Shrimp is my new favourite animal.

- The Oatmeal

Why the Mantis Shrimp is my new favourite animal.

- The Oatmeal