not the sith you’re looking for…

Not the Sith you’re looking for…

ahsoka digital drawing

Been spending some time drawing lately. Procreate with an Apple Pencil is just so much fun to work with. Mostly working on Disney characters, but just jumped into Star Wars. Here is an abbreviated process (if you can even call what I did a process) of my latest. It took 26 hours and 20 minutes and 11,202 pencil strokes.

covid-19 idioms

Apple’s latest event announcement carried a “Time Flies” moniker. My brain auto-completed the phrase “when you’re having fun” to a moderate amount of cognitive dissonance. It seems that quite a few of our idioms fly in the face of the current global situation.

I’ve tried to update just a few:

  • We’ll cross that bridge when their transmission rate is under control.
  • A toilet paper square saved is a toilet paper square earned.
  • Time flies when you’re having a soul-crushing pandemic.
  • The early bird gets the hand sanitizer.
  • There’s no place like anywhere else.
  • A mask in time saves nine.


This week I launched Sorta! It’s kind of still prototype-y, but a lot more flexible and expandable than my first test. I’ve got four quizzes so far, the original MCU one, Star Wars, Harry Potter books, and Pixar films.

I’m still working on a plan to make quizzes discoverable from the homepage, and make some sort of process for either recommending or making your own quiz. I’m also hoping to at least find a way to have it pay for itself, which at the current rate of traffic is about $10/month.

But it is fun to finally be taking this idea to some sort of execution, even if it’s a little different than the original vision. The term “quiz” doesn’t feel quite right for these, but I haven’t figured out a noun that fits better.

I’d love to hear if anybody has more ideas to pass along, and thanks for the feedback from the MCU quiz. It really encouraged me to keep building.

crowdsourced best marvel movie list

After launching a little side project earlier this week to help people determine their list of favorite MCU movies, I realized that the Google Analytics data gave me plenty to analyze, and I started looking it over.

To my surprise (though in hindsight, it shouldn’t have been) almost every response was different, like, practically no overlap among the results. This comes down to the fact that there are over 121 quadrillion ways to rank 19 movies. That’s certainly more than I would have guessed off the top of my head, and it definitely went against my expectation that I’d see a strong set of popular rankings.

How I formatted the list after each quiz made it easy to isolate when a visitor had actually taken the quiz versus being linked to a shared result. I was able to get a set of every solution after both four thousand and five thousand completed responses. After four thousand results there were still a few movies that were somewhat close after averaging the rankings. By five thousand, the order had stayed the same, but the gaps were only widening between all the movies. It looks like a pretty solid statistical point to call this a crowdsourced result.

  1. Infinity War
  2. Thor: Ragnarok
  3. Captain America: Civil War
  4. The Avengers
  5. Guardians of the Galaxy
  6. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  7. Spider-Man: Homecoming
  8. Black Panther
  9. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
  10. Doctor Strange
  11. Iron Man
  12. Avengers: Age of Ultron
  13. Captain America: The First Avenger
  14. Ant-Man
  15. Iron Man 3
  16. Thor
  17. Iron Man 2
  18. Thor: The Dark World
  19. The Incredible Hulk

I’ve seen a few other ranked lists, but none of them quite jibe with the impressions I’ve been seeing from people online as well as this list. I’m going to go ahead and count this as a successful test, and the idea of turning this into a more generic product for ranking lists of all types is that much more interesting of a prospect.

With quizzes taken now 15,000 strong, we have seen a bit of a shift in the results. Notably, Black Panther moved up a few places, which seems to make sense based on the response to that movie. Here’s the latest ranking of the people:

  1. Infinity War
  2. Thor: Ragnarok
  3. Captain America: Civil War
  4. The Avengers
  5. Black Panther
  6. Guardians of the Galaxy
  7. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  8. Spider-Man: Homecoming
  9. Doctor Strange
  10. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
  11. Avengers: Age of Ultron
  12. Iron Man
  13. Captain America: The First Avenger
  14. Ant-Man
  15. Iron Man 3
  16. Thor
  17. Iron Man 2
  18. Thor: The Dark World
  19. The Incredible Hulk

marvel movie ranking

A number of years ago, while scanning photos for our wedding slideshow, I found myself frustrated with the tedious process of manually sorting the photos chronologically. It seemed like it would be simpler to view one photo pair at a time, and apply one of those fancy sorting algorithms I learned in college. I never got around to building that photo sorting utility, but the concept kept rattling around in my head.

In the lead up to Infinity War, my coworkers and I were having a lot of discussions about our favorite Marvel movies. However, seeing the whole list and trying to organize my favorites was overwhelming. This seemed like an easy project to build using my binary sorting concept. The result is a quiz (if you can call it that) taking you through all the films, two at a time, organizing your favorites using the merge sort algorithm. It’s a proof of concept for a larger product that could let you sort lists of any type of objects this way.

You can try the quiz yourself, and even share your result. Here’s mine. Hope you find it fun, let me know if you have any feedback.


We believe in a wireless future. A future where all your devices intuitively connect. – Jony Ive, opening line of the AirPods introduction

I was listening to the Accidental Tech Podcast recently, and there was a discussion and some lamenting over the loss of MagSafe. The hosts were bereaving a technology that had been so well received in its time. The reality is, that the move to leave MagSafe behind is part and parcel with how Apple has been doing things for decades.

People seem bewildered every time. No USB on iPads, no more firewire, no more headphone jack, no more MagSafe. These things aren’t being left behind because they don’t accomplish their job. It’s because they all have wires, and Apple sees that the future doesn’t have a place for wires on the devices we bring with us, which increasingly includes more of our computers and related accessories.

Apple didn’t get rid of MagSafe because it’s a bad power connector. They got rid of it because they no longer envision you using your laptop while it’s plugged in. Charging is what you can do with your computer when you’re not actively using it. That wasn’t feasible with a two or three hour battery life, but it’s definitely a reasonable expectation for normal use cases with today’s laptops.

This same reasoning is to blame for the hilarity that is charging a Mighty Mouse 2 with a cable sticking straight out of the bottom. They certainly could have put the connector at the top, such that the charging cable would make the mouse look and act like a normal wired mouse, but they don’t want you to use your wireless mouse that way. I imagine they’re future vision has a lower friction solution for charging as well, but in the meantime, this was how they went about accomplishing their wireless ambitions.

We’re just at the beginning of a truly wireless future we’ve been working towards for many years. – Jony Ive, closing line of the AirPods introduction

a thought on our nation

Our national crisis isn’t just about people who are overtly involved in hatred and violence. We can be passively involved in other peoples’ suffering. The number of people who feel hated is dwarfed by the number of people who feel forgotten or marginalized.

But we can be a part of the solution by reaching out to people who might feel cast aside. Say hello to that friend you haven’t seen in a while. Take a coworker you don’t speak with very often out for lunch.

This is what love looks like. It isn’t about chocolate hearts and roses. It’s engaging with other people, and making them know they’re important. I’ll part with a quote from one of my personal heroes, you know him as Mr. Rogers:

Knowing that we can be loved exactly as we are gives us all the best opportunity for growing into the healthiest of people.

it’s not about the headphone jack

So far, I feel as though everyone having the discussion about the iPhone ditching the headphone jack for “lightning headphones” is missing the point. It’s not about jacks and ports, it’s about the wires.

Wires are a bad user experience. Having wires hanging out of your computer/tablet/phone/etc. is a mess. You trip over them, they’re in the way, they’re ugly. Down with wires. Whether the iPhone ships with lightning headphones or not, the long term future of headphones doesn’t have wires in the equation, and Apple knows this.

This idea led me to an interesting thought regarding renewed reports that Apple is developing a new display with GPU. Maybe it’s not just an attempt to power a 5k display sending minimal data across a cable, maybe it’s an attempt to skip the cable altogether.

Killing off an entrenched port like the headphone jack seems a little like something Apple would do, but I’d bank on them trying to serve the more noble goal of removing cables altogether.

Update: Some further thought on the topic yielded the following tweet.

And John Gruber, taking it a step further:

Plug them in to the device you want to pair them with, click “Pair”, and you’re done. Easy to charge, too.

bb-8 build video

Made this LEGO BB-8 model a few months ago, and I’m just finally getting around to putting out a guide for it. I got all the parts from “Pick-a-Brick” on the LEGO online store. (Be warned, they’re very slow about shipping, because all orders are hand picked). It’s a pretty quick and fun build if you can’t afford the new Sphero BB-8 droid.

Here’s a little stop motion I made with an earlier version of the model:

project ara delayed because its phones keep falling apart

Project Ara, the modular mobile phone from Google’s Advanced Technologies and Projects (ATAP) group, has hit some delays, and now we’re getting a hint as to what went wrong.

Supposedly the phones were coming apart when dropped, big surprise, but something that could be solved easily with a case.

This headline reads like rhetoric coming from the project to save face though. It’s likely that a more accurate statement would be, “Google cancels modular phone project, because it’s not a good idea.” now lets you recover deleted files

Seems to work similar to the “Recently Deleted” folder in Photos on iPhone, which has been great. Anything that helps us avoid data loss is a win in my book.

crew members sample leafy greens grown on space station

Fresh food grown in the microgravity environment of space officially is on the menu for the first time for NASA astronauts on the International Space Station. Expedition 44 crew members, including NASA’s one-year astronaut Scott Kelly, are ready to sample the fruits of their labor after harvesting a crop of “Outredgeous” red romaine lettuce Monday, Aug. 10, from the Veggie plant growth system on the nation’s orbiting laboratory.

apple dot com updated got an update yesterday. The separate store site is no more, may the “we’ll be back soon” sticky note rest in peace. Removing the store must have been a very big undertaking, but to the unaware, the changes are subtle.

It’s been said before, but I think is one of the best examples on the Internet of design iteration. The overall layout of the site has gotten to where it is today very slowly in moderate steps. You can check it out on and see that the DNA of the current design has been around for more than a decade.

goodbye, android

As you might have heard, a security researcher revealed on Monday that a series of bugs deep inside Android’s source code allow hackers to hack and spy on users with a simple multimedia message.

If you’re worried your Android device might be vulnerable to these bugs, collectively known as Stagefright, well, I’ve got bad news for you. It probably is. In fact, as many as 950 million phones likely are.

This sounds awesome. Nothing is truly bulletproof, but the vast ecosystem of Android phones can’t seem to get their hands on any kevlar.

youtube and full-screen playback of vertical videos

YouTube has added support for full-screen playback of vertical videos in their latest iOS app update.

Listen to Viticci. If 90% of people are going to view this video on a mobile device, and the intent of the video is not to display some grand artful vision, I’m better off if you don’t make me:

  1. Switch off orientation lock
  2. Rotate my phone
  3. Rotate my phone again, because it didn’t work the first time
  4. Start the video back from the beginning, because I missed it already
  5. Switch orientation lock back on, because most apps have terrible landscape experiences


apple ceases selling nest products

The writing was on the wall as soon as a HomeKit compatible thermostat surfaced.

recurrent neural network handwriting generation demo

Type a message into the text box, and the network will try to write it out longhand…either let the network choose a writing style at random or prime it with a real sequence to make it mimic that writer’s style.


apple, networks progressing in talks over cable-killer tv app

“The platform is ready and it rocks,” said one source.

The rumors around this continue to coalesce. It didn’t happen at WWDC, so that makes it a pretty sure bet for the fall, right?

As someone who has already “cut the (cable) cord,” I’m pretty excited about the potential here.

Update: And now this: NFL ‘Game Pass’ With On-Demand Game Broadcasts Coming to Apple TV

is the new ipod touch a harbinger of a 4-inch iphone 6c

I’ve long been envious of the form factor of the iPod touch when compared to its iPhone contemporaries, and I still feel like the larger iPhone 6 screen doesn’t serve me as well as the 4-inch from all varieties of iPhone 5.

But I’m also unlikely to buy a 6C at this size if it is missing new or crucial features that exist in the newer phone. I’m finally “used to” the size of the 6, and I don’t want to feel a generation or more behind just to get the form factor I find more comfortable.

use the corners

On a recent episode of The Talk Show, John Gruber remarked that using the digital crown to zoom into apps seemed gimmicky, or something like that (I’m not going to find a direct quote). And in more than one episode he has, along with his guests, expressed issues with tapping on the tiny icons on the watch face. It just so happens that the hexagonal nature of the app layout provides a great way to make better use of the zoom-to-launch feature.

Just like throwing your mouse cursor into a corner of your screen has been a shortcut to accessing features like your screensaver for decades on the Mac, intentionally placing apps at a corner of your app layout makes it very easy to position them to the center location. A quick spin of the digital crown and you’re launched.

Adopting this mentality for my app layout has made launching my frequently used apps much faster.

the end

This is the final post on Minimal Mac. This project contains what I believe in when it comes to a mindful and intentional approach to technology.

Minimal Mac helped inspire my interest in how technology can be both beautiful and human. It will be missed. Here’s to what’s next for Patrick!

apple watch anticipation

John Gruber published his review of the Apple Watch earlier this week. He had many observations in common with other reviewers. But here are a couple quotes that piqued my interest.

The Sport Band is a downright revelation — I’d go so far as to call it the most comfortable watch band I’ve ever worn. I’ve rolled my eyes at Apple’s use of fluoroelastomer in lieu of rubber to describe the material of these bands, but it truly does have a premium, richly supple feel to it.

My preferred watch band choice was initially the link bracelet, the most expensive option. However, after trying my Nixon Quatro on again, I remembered having often removed it while typing on my laptop to prevent metal on metal scratches. This quote makes me look forward to the sports band where I previously expected to be at least somewhat dissatisfied with it.

Scroll to the end of a list and Apple Watch has a rubber band “bounce” animation, much like iOS. But on Apple Watch, the rubber band animation coincides with haptic feedback that somehow conveys the uncanny sensation that the digital crown suddenly has more tension. It feels like you’re stretching a rubber band.

This is one of the details I’m excited to feel for myself. I haven’t yet tried the new Force Touch trackpad, but given the responses I’ve heard from others, it seems there’s reason to believe Apple has been able to pull off some extremely subtle experiences with haptic feedback that are now the state of the art.

The general take away of the reviews I’ve read is that the Apple Watch is definitely a first-generation product. That’s an amazingly mundane conclusion, given that it’s factual.

The iPhone was once a first-generation product too, with which we had our gripes. It didn’t have copy and paste for crying out loud. The screen was too small. No removable battery. No keyboard. No expandable storage. But we ended up doing way more with that 3.5″ screen than we ever could have imagined in January 2007.

We can tally up a list of faults against the Apple Watch as well. But what I find the most interesting is the promise in the new form factor. How much has technology changed our lives since we shifted from a computer on our desk to a computer in our backpack, to walking around with a computer in our pocket. It’s naive to think we’ve even begun to realize what impact could come from walking around with a computer on our wrist.

extra ports on ipad pro

Mac Rumors just posted photos of a new mockup of an iPad Pro:

…a recent rumor from The Wall Street Journal pointed towards the the possible inclusion of USB 3.0 ports on the iPad Pro, potentially allowing the device to connect to a keyboard or mouse.

This is an absurd statement. If Apple includes USB on a future iPad Pro, it won’t be for “allowing the device to connect to a keyboard or mouse.” iOS devices can already all connect to keyboards and mice via Bluetooth, and the idea that any iPad would have a connector for that purpose is coming from someone who clearly doesn’t know much about Apple.

hell froze over, pigs flying, etc.

Nintendo is teaming with a leading mobile development company in Japan to release titles from their franchises for smartphones.

The maker of Wii U and Nintendo 3DS, which has long resisted any suggestions that it put its games on smartphones and tablets, said today that it would team with DeNA, one of Japan’s leading mobile game companies, to create games using its popular franchises for mobile devices.

This is an action many of us thought they would never take. Their looming problem (which I’ve written about before) as a game console manufacturer has been this:

What’s happening here is that Nintendo is falling victim to digital convergence. Go ask the big players in point and shoot cameras, GPS navigation, netbooks, and feature phones what happened to their markets. If they don’t all give you the same answer they’re lying, or potentially oblivious.

Of all the potential paths that Nintendo could take in this scenario, releasing software on other platforms seemed to be the most unlikely. Developing new hardware platforms has always been part of their DNA. They are on the short list of companies that exemplify the old Alan Kay quote: “people who are really serious about software should make their own hardware.”

This is encouraging news for fans of Nintendo. There is immense value in their gaming franchises, and I’m looking forward to the first game announcements.

My big wish in light of this news is that we one day see official Nintendo controllers for iOS. They were first behind most of the standards in game controllers we have today, and they could make amazing controllers to the spec laid out in iOS 7.

@skoda on @technochocolate on