I Want My Bezels Back

JR Raphael wrote a great piece on the insanity of smartphone screen notches and holes: The enduring absurdity of our smartphone bezel obsession. He points out the compromises punching holes into and cutting out parts of screens in the name of no bezels imposes for little or no design gain, which often defeats the whole point of making those changes to screens in the first place.

In the article No, the Pixel 4’s bezels are not a major crime against smartphone design, Andy Boxall later discussed why bezels are not an issue and why the dislike for bezels is largely irrational.

Beyond aesthetics, there are also practical drawbacks to using a device with thin or no bezels. I can’t tell how many times I inadvertently touched or activated unwanted user interface elements of apps on my Pixel 2 XL Android phone, which still has some bezel. This typically happens when I grab the device ringing for an incoming call, which often results in a declined call because I touch the wrong areas close to …

There’s More to Linking Sources Than Crediting

The links or references to the original sources of the media, quoted text, or other content shared online are increasingly less common. Not that they ever were much common.

Academia has always had a strong tradition of crediting and referencing and this is what such users have been doing also online since the early days of the Internet and the web. Most of those who still do are in academia or in communities with similar values like bloggers and open-source developers. It’s a lost art, especially as more and more ordinary users come online.

Why take time and effort to link to sources?

The most obvious reason is fairness to the original creators of the content, who deserve recognition for their work. But there’s more to linking than crediting and fairness.

The references to the sources and other metadata are invaluable research tools. They allow to track where ideas originate, how they spread, how influential they are. And they are essential for accessing the original content in its fu…

IndieWeb: Some Assembly Required

For a couple of months in 2019 I used the microblogging platform. Although it’s based on and inspired to the IndieWeb principles and technical standards, my motivation for using was mostly the rediscovery of blogging that’s a side effect of the IndieWeb.

Blogging has always been my favorite online genre and, in a way or the other, I always blogged, even on social platforms.

How Worked for Me I liked for its immediacy, low-friction posting, and features such as Markdown support.

But it was still a bit spartan as the other IndieWeb tools I tried. It felt like a mix between a throwback to the early 1990s web, when publishing content required editing HTML, tweaking a site’s design, and familiarizing with network protocols, and contemporary web development with APIs and endpoints.

Consider for example a basic feature like attaching an image to a post. The major traditional blogging and social platforms let you upload an image file and then take c…

Plan Your Astronomical Observations with Nightshift for Android

Nightshift: Stargazing & Astronomy is one of the best Android apps for planning astronomical observations and assessing visibility conditions.

Through a combination of charts and data cards the app shows at a glance the observing conditions on a given night. It provides information on cloud coverage, moonlight, rise and set times, angular altitudes, celestial events, and the visibility of various bodies such as the planets and deep-sky objects. In addition it can compute visibility predictions for telescopes and other optical instruments.

The strength of Nightshift is it effectively presents and summarizes a wealth of relevant data in a clean, simple format that’s quick to scan.

More handy features are coming. The developer, for example, is working to support predictions of conjunctions between the planets, the Moon and bright stars, and so on.

Are You Recording a Screencast? Slow Down!

Most instructional and tutorial videos featuring screencasts have a common issue that makes them less effective.

They zip by very fast over details such as menu and option selections, settings changes, and manipulations of user interface elements. And screencasts are often published as animated GIFs that don’t provide any control over playback speed or pausing. These key decision points and actions the users can glimpse only briefly are the whole point of a screencast. And they take place fast. Too damn fast.

Instead, let each action remain visible and still for at least 3-5 seconds, leave menus open more, and don’t release the mouse button too early after a selection. Also, screens with a lot of text to read or complex graphics should stay still for longer.

Why I Stopped Cross-posting to Medium

When I joined I found out it can cross-post from a blog to a few other platforms, including Medium.

I thought about it a bit and decided to set up my blog, then on, for cross-posting there even if I don’t feel comfortable with Medium. I don’t mind paid platforms or paying creators for their work, but Medium has something that puts me off. Maybe it’s the constant nagging and prodding for purchasing a subscription or signing up.

However, I decided to cross-post there anyway for a couple of reasons.

The first is I hoped my content would have a wider reach. The other reason is selfish. Mike Elgan encourages to use social platforms to our advantage by having them bring traffic to our own sites for once, given how much they used us so far. But it turns out unless you enroll into Medium’s partner program, your content won’t be algorithmically recommended to signed in users or subscribers. Instead I want my writing to be accessible on the open web without an account or a…

Never Let Support Agents Backup the Photos on Your Phone

If you bring your Android phone for servicing, never ever let support agents take care of backing up your photos or data for you. Instead, make sure the photos are safely in the cloud or offline somewhere other than on the device. If you have the Google Photos app use a computer to visit the website and double-check all the photos are there.

In the official Google Photos Help Community I’ve seen too many reports of users whose photos were supposedly “backed up” by a repair center’s support agent, yet went missing after a factory reset.