All Posts Filed in ‘Technology


Friends don’t let friends look out of date on the internet

Content on the internet can be frighteningly fast-paced. You don’t need to look much further than twitter or Facebook to notice the deluge of content being posted daily. It’s overwhelming – blink and you miss it. Yet websites often fall into the trap of hard-coding content into less-obvious page elements and forgetting all about it. One excellent example of this is the Copyright text appearing in the footer of many websites. You’ll often see something that looks like this:

obviously the content on this site is not © Marco Arment.

This innocuous piece of text doesn’t only lay claim to copyright protection, it also clearly displays the year in which the website was ‘last updated’. It dates the content you’re currently reading. It plants a flag, sending subtle signals about how fresh your site happens to be. It might be dead-right, but then again it might be way off. Like, several years out of date.

Now why is this a problem? Well, most bloggers and webmasters tend to think about these things very infrequently. You might look at the footer text when setting up a new theme, or changing plugins, but that doesn’t happen very often & chances are that your web footer text is now a whole year out of date (© 2014). If you run a website, I’ll pause here to let you go check your footer text. No really. You’ll thank me for it.

Ok, so now you know. Is your footer text up to date? If not, I’ll bet you just changed it. Job done, right?

For now, yes. But what happens 12 months later, when 2016 rolls around and you’ve forgotten this piece of sage wisdom? You’ll be back where you were today, before you read said piece of wisdom. There must be a better way. is here to help. is here to help.

Well, there is. Computers are fantastic at doing things without even requiring human thought. Automatically. It’s great. Here’s my special tip that will save you literally seconds, once a year, every year from now until your website dies.

Just use software to automatically update the date. It’s that easy. Set it and forget it. If you run more than one website, you may never need to think about checking your footers (feet?) again. Let the computers keep track of the date, you can get back to the business of writing killer headlines & splitting long articles up into separate pages.

It’s called software and it works. One change and your site will look fresh and new this year, next year and every other year, for as long as you like.


App Santa gives you iOS app discounts for Christmas

App Santa is back, and bigger than ever before! Enjoy savings of up to 80% on award-winning apps from independent developers through December 26th. Some pretty stellar iOS apps in the collection, App Santa is offering up to 80% off these amazing apps until Boxing Day. Get in now, you might even spot a few good app gift ideas (if you’re coming up short for that special someone). IMG_0266 As you can see: Scanner Pro & Day One are on my home screen[1. don’t even ask why Skype is kept in the Photography folder]. ScreensTweetbot & TextExpander Touch are on the second page. Don’t miss your chance to get some amazing software from independent developers for a steal.]]>



Horrifying, fascinating & utterly compelling. Driverless cars can’t happen soon enough for my liking, but CGP Grey does raise a good point – what do we do when humans are unemployable, through no fault of our own?


Looking back on baby steps

I’ve started from scratch, learning Processing using Dan Shiffman’s handy book Learning Processing. Above is the first little creation from the book, a little creature called Zoog, which I’ll be wiring up to respond to mouse clicks and all kinds of computer interactivity. It’s not much to start with, but it’s fun to get my hands dirty with Processing and learn some coding fundamentals.

Yours truly, back in January 2009 with baby steps with processing

It’s hard to imagine that — less than 5 years later — I would find myself teaching primary school children how to build apps for iOS in Xcode. Amazing.


Uber redefines transport again, this time it’s buses

A recent twitter furore erupted over scandalous comments made by Emil Michaels, an Uber executive, at a private dinner function, concerning a suggested counter-strategy of dirt digging directed towards journalists who’ve published negative articles about Uber. In particular, digging up private personal dirt on female journalists like Sarah Lacy, Editor in Chief of tech news site PandoDaily.

According to Business Insider, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick took to Twitter and threw Michaels ‘under the bus‘, apologising for the comments made and distancing the company from them. Decisive action, taken in dire circumstances:

“Uber CEO Travis Kalanick took to Twitter today to clean up Michael’s PR mess. He hasn’t fired Michael, but he did acknowledge that the comments were inappropriate.”

Alyson Shontell [sic] at Business Insider, writes “Uber CEO Throws Uber Executive Under The Bus For The Company’s Latest Face-Plant”

Wait, where’s the bus?

This kind of soft verbal hyperbole is link bait (ok, you got me), unhelpful and completely misleading.


Uber introduces surge pricing during Sydney hostage siege

Uber spokesperson David Rohrsheim told Mashable, adding that the fares automatically increase when demand exceeds available supply, “to encourage more drivers to come online or leave other suburbs to come pick up passengers in areas of high demand.”Uber introducing surge pricing during Sydney CBD hostage siege. Via Mashable

Given Uber’s track record of warlikebusinesstactics, this should be of no surprise to anybody.

[Update 2pm]: from the Uber Twitter account:

Looks like rides will be free for users, but drivers will still get paid by Uber. Better for Uber PR, though they’re still sticking behind their rationale for surge pricing:

Which means that we just need to bottle our outrage until next time the Uber algorithm spots a pay-day.



“Migrating my list of notes from the “previously best note-taking app” to the “newest best note-taking app” is both tedious and tiresome. Sometimes, my notes would get caught inside an app and I would forget where to find them.”

Josh Ginter

Tell me about it.


1% of 1%

My colleague Jo McKiernan on QR codes, and internet access in general.

I think that we are experiencing is possibly analogous to what we saw when the web went mainstream. When first we started seeing urls appearing on stuff – adverts particularly – I remember having a conversation that went something along the lines of “yeah, but no one is ever going to use them, AND you need an internet connection!”.

Now, access to the internet is a fundamental human right, and if we can’t follow our favourite brands on Twitter or like them on Facebook we feel somehow cheated.

I can see what Jo’s point is, however it does strike me as something that shies well away from crossing a widely yawning digital divide.

Access to the internet has been proposed as a fundamental human right (and in some places it is considered to be), but I would say this is more in the sense that cutting off access is a violation of those rights. Similar to cutting off water or food supply.

Which in turn, really only applies to the very small sub-set of the population with internet access (in their pockets), or the even smaller sub-set of that population, who feel cheated when they can’t follow or engagewith their favourite brands on Facebook. Digital literacy and access is an increasingly bigger problem, getting worse rather than better. It is as much a global as it is a national issue, the Australian national broadband network being one topical infrastructure example currently being toted as part of the solution. In my view, solving the problem of those pesky QR code is not a high priority.

As it is, QR codes provide, at low cost, an easy mechanism for “distributing” additional information should visitors want it. As a visitor, accessing this information might enhance my experience, but not taking advantage of it will not detract from my visit.

Improving digital literacy, helping people stay connected in faraway places, providing infrastructure and platforms for people to support themselves – this is the main game. Connectivity, health & education are core tenets of the broadband push, and rightly so.

Even accepting that this argument doesn’t talk to the elderly or those in underprivileged parts of society, the QR code rates so low on my list of silver bullet technologies. High barrier to entry, non human-readable, seemingly equally useful as printed URLs – what problems of usability do QR codes actually solve? What additional information do they provide, and at what (cognitive) cost?

I will accept that there are some really good examples of QR codesdoing interestingthings– but that’s about it. Toys for smartphone users (like myself) to geek out over. As always, it’s the tech that gets the focus, rather than the humanbenefits, the enabling effects, the tech can unlock.