How do you know if they're a good app reviewer?

Would you more trust a reviewer who jumps apps as often as they change clothes or one who hasn’t changed app in years? The one who always changes probably is probably too interested in novelty over real usefulness, but the long term user might be too stuck in their ways. I saw a forum discussion with defenders of certain reviewers locked in verbal battle with each other. It made wonder if you really can achieve unbiased reviews. I guess that’s why I try to find a tool I like and then work out how to get as much value out of it as possible. Obsidian may well not be the best of these connected notes apps (and I may not be using the “best” plugins) but it works for me and I’m happy with that.

🔗 Why Italian football does not make sense in the English language Serie A The Guardian

Why Italian football does not make sense in the English language | Serie A | The Guardian

Italian football is often criticised for being overly dramatic, with players spending too much time feigning injury, encircling the referee or dropping to the grass with their faces in their hands after they have missed opportunities. These criticisms carry weight but, given the language of the game in Italy, it is hard to see how the game could be any other way. An Italian match is more than just that; it is a performance in which the players are fighting not just to win but to win over the audience. I was reminded of this article while watching the match yesterday. The whole piece is really enlightening about the differences between Italian and English football.

A Week off social

In theory I’m just over a week into my social media fast… But in reality I’ve been breaking it left right and centre. Some has been for good reason (like checking content for work, finding an old bookmark or messaging regarding an upcoming newsletter interview) but a good amount has been “the twitch”.

The twitch

You know, when suddenly you find your phone is unlocked, in your hand, and your thumb has magically found the hidden app icon and twitter is open before you.

How did it happen? You twitched and it was there.

Who knows what the exact trigger was - boredom - being in the “right” location (the sofa?) - reading something about a social network?

But the effect is undeniable.

I’ve been using a scheduling app to continue an experimental social media profile (it’s always good to experiment when marketing is your job) which has certainly helped, but it’s not a miracle cure.

What has been good

It’s not all doom, gloom and failure. I’ve definitely been using social media less. My screentime proves it! Even when I do twitch and find twitter open, I often move over to an ebook or switch the app off. Checking my screentime also reveals that in this second week, twitter is no longer my “pick up” app or even in the top ten. Perhaps the “twitch” is wearing off?


Around 2016 I started to feel that personal messaging was the better type of social media and what I should use these services for more. This fast has proven that more to me. I continually find myself wanting less to scroll the feed (although I do want that too) and more to reach out to certain people whom I can only contact via twitter DMs or microblog replies.

It turns out the part of social media I miss the most, is the social part.

And while that’s also a good reason to take a break and invest in more face to face social interactions (thank you easing lockdowns) it’s also something I will invest in more when I do return to social media… however that looks.

(written in drafts to avoid the feed).

A break

Tl;dr. I’m taking the month off social media but will continue blogging.

A couple of weeks ago I was reminded of the idea of a solitude break; a day, weekend or weekend away from everything spent in solitude and silence. It’s a Christian idea I found in celebration of discipline with the purpose of connecting and listening to God but I’m sure atheist and agnostic friends can see value for themselves in this kind of activity.

I approached my wife with the idea, suggesting that she too could and should take a weekend in solitude at some point. I was even happy for her to do so first and I was okay if she said no. She said it was a great idea and pointed to next weekend (10-11th of July) as the best time.

I got excited about the idea and started rereading a few books I’ve read on similar topics.

Then today I felt rushed and thin from work. I could feel the pressure of our deadlines falling ahead of me and my mind skipping from idea to idea. Fortunately, I recognized the impulse, acknowledged the legitimate deadlines and that certain deadlines weren’t real.

I calmed down.

But an itch stayed with me.

The idea that I don’t need to run or be so frantic. That this is not normal and is negative. That the constant always on communication is part of the cause.

I suddenly thought I should take a month of social media and that as today is the first of the month, today is a great day to start.

So no more logging on to social media for me for July. I can blog and I may have some automatic messages shared but I probably won’t respond to comments on social.

If you have one of my email address, you can contact me via it and I’ll respond. Perhaps I’ll respond to many comments when I come back on social media. Maybe I won’t be back on social media.

I guess we’ll see.

AI as a helper, not a replacement

Me: I refuse to use an AI tool because people are better.

Months later

Me: Urgh! This project has taken so much longer than I thought it would! My brain: You know, maybe you could use that AI tool as a helping hand rather than a replacement and it might save you half the time you’ve spent on this project…that would be incredibly valuable, right.

This was a real thought exchange in my head and the outcome. I’ve just signed up to try a new tool. Maybe it won’t work at all, but maybe it will help.

I’ll let you know.

Satisfied with my setup

“Oh! The WWDC keynote has started?!? How did that skip me by?”

I can’t remember the last time I didn’t watch a wwdc keynote. The annual tradition of waiting for the -papal- corporate decrees of this year’s bug fixes and new features across Apple’s product lines had become a mini ritual for me. But this year was different. It’s not that I dislike my Apple devices and their software; far from it! In fact, that may be the reason for my absence. Unlike in past years where I had clear wishes for iPad improvements, this year I am satisfied with my setup. It gets work done and let’s me relax. The new features I’ve seen sound like they will bring some improvement in both areas but I could have happy continued with my current setup. Of course, I’m sure I’ll jump on the beta train at some point but I’m in no hurry like I was with iOS 8, or 9, or 10!

Do a rep

I’ve been skipping my reps.

No, not weightlifting or machines at the gym, hand lettering and calligraphy. A couple of years back I discovered calligraphy was a fantastic way to deal with the stress and overthinking I was struggling with. The intense focus it required help me block out the world and just engage with a task.

At a point in my life when I was really struggling with purpose, calligraphy helped me just create. It also had the benefit of making my sketchnotes a smidge more beautiful.

Well after half a year or so life started getting in the way and I stopped doing my regular practice.

Fast-forward to today and I rarely do a calligraphy practice or try to copy a hand lettering design (they are not the same thing by the way). Instead I tend to jump in to trying to make my own original design or sketchnote. While there’s nothing wrong with either activity, I haven’t improved and have possibly even gone backwards a bit.

It’s like a football player who doesn’t spend time doing their drills but just plays practice games. Sure, they’ll get better at some aspects but they would improve more with some drills too.

So I’ve found some old hand lettering designs and I’m going to do some practice again.

🔗 Eric Carle Very Hungry Caterpillar author dies aged 91 - BBC News

🔗 Eric Carle: Very Hungry Caterpillar author dies aged 91 - BBC News

In 2019, he told the BBC why he thought the story endured for five decades. “For many years, my publisher and editor and I did not know the reason for The Very Hungry Caterpillar being so popular,” he said. “But over time, I’ve come to feel that it is a book of hope. And it is this hopeful feeling that has made it a book readers of all ages enjoy and remember.”

I remember reading Eric’s books as a child and it was a joy to introduce my daughter to them. The style of his graphics has stuck with me since then. I’m sure he has just gone into his cocoon now and will emerge again as a beautiful butterfly.

Netflix Reportedly Hiring Executive For Expansion Into Video Games

🔗 Netflix Reportedly Hiring Executive For Expansion Into Video Games

In a report released by The Information, we’ve found out that Netflix has approached several veteran game industry executives regarding their want to expand into video games, though we are not yet sure which executives. Despite the lack of specifics, we do know that Netflix is considering offering a bundle of games that would be similar to Apple’s online subscription.

That’s pretty interesting. Netflix expanding into other verticals now to provide a comprehensive package seems like a great business move for them and would be appealing as a consumer. Apple Arcade never really got me.

Why I love being in the Apple ecosystem

I took a screenshot to show some changed that haven’t been made. I was going to edit in preview but then saw an iPad icon…WAIT! I can draw! So I highlighted and wrote on my iPad what needed changing. Then sent from my Mac in our chat app. Apple certainly has issues and is pricy but examples like this are the combination of hardware and software working so well together that Apple loves to boast about. I’m definitely going to use this feature a lot more!

When simple is more complicate.

As I was thinking about how to manage publishing obsidian notes to my digital garden, I was saying I wanted a “simpler” solution. That was partially true. Really, I wanted a simpler solution for me, the user, even if it meant a more complicated backend. The danger is that complicated workflows are easier to break.

This is true of other areas of life too. We try to make things “simpler” for ourselves but under the surface there is a sea of (hopefully) hidden complexity.

The danger, is those dependencies will fail and our system comes crashing down or grinds to a halt like a shipping cannel clogged by a boat. Simple solutions may end up needing more maintenance than the “complicated” option.

So perhaps a simple drag and drop isn’t the worst thing in the world after all.

A technique for producing ideas sketchnote summary

A quick little book summary sketchnote of a quick little book: a technique for producing ideas. Main action takeaways are 1) dig deep in your initial research. 2) be curious and collect information about general interests as well as the problems you are investigating. 3) when you are stuck, do something emotionally stimulating.

sketchnote, a technique for producing ideas.

The value is in the summary (or is it)

There are some business books where you get all the value from the one paragraph summary or even just the title. I suspect Cal Newports latest might be another example. I’ve heard him on a couple of podcasts discussing it and I can buy into his basic idea. - Avoid open loop communications tools that anyone can contact you at any time for anything. - Promote context specific tools which you work on asynchronously.

It’s basically trying to avoid the “So when shall we have a meeting” chain of messages where it takes four messages to get the ball moving and instead use something like calendly which helps close discussions faster.

My team has made this shift in a couple of areas (moving away from our real-time chat and too google docs/trello/figma). We still occasionally ping each other over real deadlines, but it just makes more sense to not get inundated with pings all the time.

Of course, there are some topics where the lesson is clear from the title, but that doesn’t make it easy. Ego is the enemy for example. Sometimes the value of the book is not the information, but the repeated exposure to the message.

It’s a very Christian idea I’ll admit. That we can get the idea instantly and see a transformation (justification) but still regress and require a ongoing change to truly inhibit an idea (sanctification). Perhaps my own faith background and its emphasis on reading the scripture explains my openness to such books.

Well, I didn’t expect that ending when I sat down to write.

I don't care about iPad only anymore.

I’m really happy with not trying to force my iPad to be my main computer but just use it for what I like doing on it (reading, drawing, some web browsing, Listening to audiobooks while cooking, facetime calls with family back home) and use my Macbook Air for what I like doing on that (writing, editing videos, day job… which is writing, trello, managing and spreadsheets…oh so many spreadsheets.)

If Apple updates iPadOS to make the iPad better for day job work, I might reconsider but I’m not sure why I would now.

I like having a causal device and work devices or having a book/notes open on my iPad with a writing space on my Macbook.

When I was an “iPad only*” person I valued the iPad’s prompting of monotasking. While that hasn’t changed, I’ve since found that the MacBook can be equally low-distracting as it can be seen as a work device (when set up with fewer notifications, not installing certain apps, limits on internet access etc).

In fact, freeing the iPad to be an iPad has allowed me to also make it less distracting. Now I don’t have to use it for work, I can block the internet, uninstall anything that gives a notification related to work, and make it a better consumption and creation device.

If Apple adds more pro apps to the iPad or improves support for multitasking, external windows, split audio etc then fine. I’m sure some blogger will write about how the iPad truly can be anyone’s only computer just as they have for the last X years. (While the verge will also point out how it can’t be your only computer because it doesn’t work well with their CMS).

But whatever happens, I doubt it will affect my workflow much.

(There is a chance that future Chris is really mad at how stupid past Chris is writing this… I guess we’ll see!)

*terms and conditions apply. Definitions of iPad only may vary and usually don’t include day jobs.

🔗 All widget iPad home screen coming?

🔗Apple iOS15: What’s New? Notification, IPad Home Screen Upgrades - Bloomberg

Following a similar feature for the iPhone introduced last year, Apple plans to let users place widgets – miniature apps that can display the weather, upcoming appointments, stock tickers and other data – anywhere on the Home Screen. Users will also be able to replace the entire app grid with only widgets.

This would make me very happy. I can’t believe they didn’t roll out the all widget home screen at the same time as the iPhone so maybe there will be some more significant changes?

Finished reading 📖 Dominion by Tom Holland

Just finished dominion by Tom Holland And here are some thoughts.


Western culture including secularism and humanism have inherently Christian values that drive them.

The cross is significant

The cross, and the symbolism of the Crucified God, the powerful humbling themselves for the powerless, is the key aspect of Christianity.

Christian civil wars

There is an ongoing tension between the letter and spirit of the laws.


The abolition of slavery seems like the most unexpected event. It almost feels as though it was purely the work Benjamin lay. Certainly most cultures didn’t see it as an issue but only appealing to Christian ideas of a common ancestory and the equality of all (no male/female, Jew/Greek) saw it as wrong.

"How do you not see it?"

Whenever I have the thought that I can’t believe some co-workers don’t act or think the way I do, I’m wary.
Maybe they know something I don’t.
Perhaps there’s a different reason for their actions.
Probably I don’t do things the way I think as often as I think.
Definitely there are other things I do which are irrational or stupid.

And yet, I write this and realise that in truth. I probably don’t have those reflections most of the time and just think the other person’s an idiot.

But I aspire to be more humble, and give the grace to others I wish was given to me.

I think we're doing the anti-best approach...

Best communication channels to provide content/web design updates at my work. 1. A document with comments/track changes.
2. Project management system with comments/attachments etc 3. Email, so there is an easily found record later. 4. Real-time chat application like Slack. (I’m open to hear about better ideas)

I haven’t counted to know for sure, but I’m fairly certain that our usage is reversed. From what I’ve heard about Cal Newports new book (a world without email) he seems to advocate for moving from email and real-time chat tools to those more asynchronous and focused channels.

I’m certainly wondering how I can encourage more of that at work.

Obsidian show and tell session - register free

tl;dr: I’m doing a guided tour of my obsidian system. provisional date April 6: 20:00 UTC

Obsidian can be really confusing, but I don’t believe it has to be.

I’ve been using Obsidian for a while and while I know my system is perfect, I’ve solved some of my core problems and it’s working for me.

So after a couple of people mentioned they’d be interested in seeing my system, I thought I’d host a “show and tell” session going through my system.

The date may change if it’s not a good fit for people so sign up even if you can’t make it.

Register here

Let me know any questions you have and I’ll do my best to address them.

No goldilocks option

I really hate things where there is no single “perfect” option, but instead a list of compromises and considerations. Some examples.


While there are definitely better and worse bags, the best bag for today might be different than the best bag for tomorrow. Today I want something small and discrete, tomorrow I’m taking lunch into work and need something to support that. Admittedly, lockdowns and work from home have made me forget about these issues somewhat.


Do I want the fixed lens rangefinder (yes, yes I do) that would be terrible for wildlife (okay, maybe not but I’m as surprised as you are). Or what about a small micro four thirds camera with cheaper fast lenses but worse low light performance and fewer megapixels? OR maybe a full frame mirrorless beast that costs an arm and leg and is so large you’d probably just take your smart phone. Every option has compromises.


Do I want the over-ear headphones that are comfy while at the desk, but horrible when out walking (I had a nice pair in Spain but it was so hot that I just avoided wearing them!) or the in-ear pair that are great when walking, but also never really fit my ears and get annoying after a while. Or Airpods whose battery die after a year and a bit.

The answer is both none of the above, and all of the above…but my wallet dictates none.

Compromise, or por que no los dos?

The solution is either to compromise for most situations (my bag approach.) or buy multiple (my headphone approach, although my airpods have now died…so I’ve ended up with one pair). Sometimes I wish there was a perfect solution in these areas but I suspect that even a bag which could adjust size would also be a compromise (not as thin when compact, not as comfortable, maybe not as sturdy).

At times like this, I’m grateful for those “coca-cola” options. The things where there’s one solution which meets your needs at least 90% of the time.

It's okay to take it easy somtimes

Last week I felt utterly demotivated. I’m not even sure why. Although I was slowly plodding along with my work for SPS, I felt like it was pointless and wondered if I should even bother. It turned out that I wasn’t alone. Chad felt the same way too for reasons that were similar and different. We decided to have a “lighter sprint” or even a “Sabbatical Sprint” – following the six week cycles of Shawn Blanc and Sean McCabe as well as have a call to discuss some things. Well, we had our call earlier today and everything’s changed. It actually started yesterday when I realised I had done more than I had set myself to do and some of my previous barriers had been removed. Those two small changes boosted my motivation and when I could share that with Chad, I felt rejuvenated. Our call only served to magnify that effect as we shared our frustrations, recent successes (however small) and some ideas for how we could continue in the future.

As I was walking home yesterday, I had this thought > “I don’t know who needs to hear this but take it easy on yourself… I don’t know who needs to hear this, but it’s time to dig in.”

There’s a real magic to knowing when we need to push past a barrier and when we need to slow down and take a step back. I’m glad I took a step back for this sprint, I’m excited to push harder for the next one.

Do as I say, not as I do.

I will never get over the number of times I see my company doing the very things we preach against. Today’s example. It’s probably that instead of updating a shared document, someone has made a new version that has updated details. Of course, they haven’t shared it with everyone which has caused some errors based on outdated information. The most infuriating part is we are using the very tools which are designed to avoid these issues. It seems the error lies between the monitor and chair.