September 24, 2023

7 Things This Week [#111]

A weekly list of interesting things I found on the internet, posted on Sundays. Sometimes themed, often not.

1️⃣ Although a bit ham-fisted, this video comparing SMS (which iPhone uses to text with Android) to using a pager is effective. They copied the Apple video reveal style very well. [▶️ Android //]

2️⃣ I just stumbled across Jerrod Hofferth’s homepage and it’s pretty awesome. I watched through to the end. [🔗]

3️⃣ Robb Knight is doing some awesome work for others here by providing a one-stop shop for St. Jude campaigns that just need a $1 donation to get the fundraiser’s coveted challenge coin treat. If you’ve got a dollar to spare, this site would be a great place to spend it. [🔗 Robb Knight // or]

4️⃣ Speaking of treats and Robb Knight, he also put together this page which aggregates all the various rewards you can earn from donating to any of the Relay FM for St. Jude campaigns. You’ll see my custom Shortcut reward listed there! [Robb Knight //]

5️⃣ You’ll notice that Robb is following this apt advice of hosting your internet projects at a subdomain of your home on the web. [🔗 Chris Coiyer //]

6️⃣ Some really impressive audio improvement happening with Adobe’s AI tool here. [▶️ A Better Computer //]

7️⃣ They say that you get rich by being cheap. Berkshire Hathaway is one of the most valuable and successful holding companies, and they get away with their homepage being this…well…just take a look. [🔗]

Take a Chance

Thanks for reading 7 Things. If you enjoyed these links or have something neat to share, please let me know.

7 Things

September 21, 2023

These Are Not the Consoles You’re Looking For

All of this talk from Apple about the iPhone 15 Pro with the A17 Pro chip inside being the best game console” has had me thinking. That’s a very particular way to express that they think the phone is going to be great for gaming. The term console” has typically been reserved for dedicated gaming rigs — obviously like a PlayStation, Xbox, or even Nintendo Switch. But their next-gen graphics cores in the iPhone 15 Pro, which Apple seems very excited about, paired with its 4K-capable external display support has me thinking less about the next M-series chip for the Mac and more about the A17 Pro going into the next Apple TV.

Sure, gaming on the Apple TV has mostly flopped so far. But they continue to make a concerted effort to bring great game support across all their platforms, Apple TV included, through Apple Arcade. And Apple TV is way more of a console in my mind than either the iPhone or the Mac.

Might we see an updated Apple TV, which has historically rocked an A-series chip, with the A17 Pro perhaps before that new 3-nanometer chip and cores make it into the M3?

September 20, 2023

Call People (and Things) What They Ask To Be Called

There’s no reason not to call people what they want to be called. We all go through transitions of some sort throughout our lives, and most of those transitions come with a new name for ourselves. From Bobby” to Rob” to Mr. Richards”. Or from a little lady” to a child” to a young adult” to a woman”. Or from Daddy” to Dad” to Papa”.

With friends and family, we might go by our first name or a nickname. With a significant other, we might have an endearing pet name. With strangers in a professional setting, we might prefer to be addressed using an earned title.

The point is that we get to choose what we want to be called. It can change over time or from one context to another. And it doesn’t stop the world from turning, nor affect other people in any real way. Someone tells you what they want to be called and you call them that. Easy.

So why wouldn’t you extend the same courtesy that you give to your daughter, colleague, or father — each of whom has probably told you want they’re comfortable being addressed — to someone transitioning their gender? Using their preferred pronouns and name takes little effort on your part, does not make any statement about your own gender, and can mean the world to them.

It’s an easy yet important act of kindness.

But you know what else has the right to change their name and have it respected by others? Companies!

Apple did it when they simplified from Apple Computers, Inc.” to Apple, Inc.”. 37signals went from that original name to Basecamp” and is now back to 37signals”. No drama necessary.

But for Elon Musk’s X, the tech community, which I have usually observed to be more progressive and kind, seems intent on refusing to accept the transition from Twitter” to X”. Even as they demand acceptance for other name transitions.

Go ahead and argue the business sense of dropping a well-known brand, one that still held caché — I certainly have. And as a company that so many of us built up with our invested time and attention, I think we can express an opinion on whether we prefer a new brand as compared to the old one. But what we prefer to call others doesn’t matter. All that matters is what they want to be called.

I also think it’s okay to make clarifications such as X (formerly Twitter)”. But the longer we as a group resist just calling it X” and moving on, the longer those kinds of clarifications will be necessary.

Maybe I’ve blown this annoyance way out of proportion, and I don’t mean to compare the atrocities committed against trans people to some badmouthing against a multi-billion dollar social network. But I am reminded of this Dr. King quote: Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” I don’t think we get to pick and choose who or what is deserving of dignity.

All of this is to say, I guess I saw one too many people express something along the lines of I’ll never call it X, it’ll always be Twitter to me.” The same people who do their best to support the trans community by dutifully putting their pronouns in their bios and immediately drop a deadname when a friend or internet acquaintance transitions. And it makes me sad that they don’t see the hypocrisy of those actions, nor the ammunition it hands folks opposed to the very idea of trans people.

September 19, 2023

How I Automatically Include a Blog Description in My RSS Feed

I’ve been asked a couple of times how I get this short site description to be included in every entry of my RSS feed.

HeyDingus is a blog by Jarrod Blundy about technology, the great outdoors, and other musings. If you like what you see — the blog postswallpapersshortcutsscripts, or anything — please consider leaving a tip, checking out my store, or just sharing my work. Your support is much appreciated!

I’m always happy to get replies on Mastodon, or by good ol’ email.

Well, in case it helps anyone else, here’s how!

I actually pondered the same question for quite a while when reading the Basic Apple Guy and MacStories RSS feeds, which include similar regular descriptors. I can’t speak to how those sites accomplish it, but I figured out that I could use the templating system in Blot, my website host, to call up that blurb in multiple places.

Blot uses the Mustache templating system, so other hosts that also use Mustache could probably piggyback off this method directly. Different template systems might require more tweaks, but I’m fairly confident the same result could be achieved in Hugo or elsewhere.

Anyway, for Blot, I first made a new text file called blogblurg.html and wrote out that paragraph you see at the bottom of every page on my website. You’ll notice that it’s written in HTML, not Markdown.

iA Writer window show the HTML text of my Blog Blurb file.
blogblurg.html in iA Writer

Then, to make it show up, I call that template in the footer template (footer.html). That’s when I realized I could do the same thing within my RSS template. I edited that feed.rss file so that right after the body of each item it adds a horizontal rule and then the very same blurb.

The text of my RSS feed file with the blog blurb import part highlighted.
It’s funny how those two little bits, body and > blogblurb, do all the work to pull in the content for each entry.

Now, each time I publish something, I know that the reader will see that little write-up — either in the footer of my website if they are reading on the web, or in each entry of my RSS feed. And if I ever want to change the wording or update a link, I just edit the blogblurb.html file and it’s updated everywhere.

The Reeder app with my RSS feed pulled up, and the blog blurb highlighted at the bottom of the entry.
The final result. Here’s what it’s like to read one of my articles via RSS in Reeder.
Tips Blogging

September 19, 2023

HeyDingus for Relay FM for St. Jude for Ending Childhood Cancer

TL;DR: Donate here to help end childhood cancer.

HeyDingus for Relay FM for St. Jude logo
You’re gonna like the way you feel donating to St. Jude, I guarantee it.

I’m a little late in kicking this off, but that doesn’t make it any less important. Just like last year, I’m pitching in (and asking you to, too) to help the Relay FM podcast network raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

If you don’t know about St. Jude, they take care of kids with cancer. They provide the best care, transportation, food, and everything their patients need, and they don’t charge their families a single dime. They also do cutting-edge research for treatments and cures, and share that research freely around the world.

It’s hard to think of a more worthy cause to donate to. With the leadership from Relay FM, the Apple community has rallied over the past five years to raise over $2.5 million — real, noteworthy, life-saving money.

I lost two family members to cancer this year. And although they weren’t children, it sucked. Treating and curing cancer for anyone and everyone is a cause that’s near and dear to my heart.

For my part, I’m donating .01% of that total (that’s $250 for the percentagely-challenged) and I’m hoping you, yes you, will contribute toward matching it to meet my goal of raising $500 with HeyDingus readers. There are some neat incentives you can earn from Relay FM by donating $60 (a digital bundle) or $100 (the digital bundle plus a sticker pack), but for just $50 I’ll personally build you a custom shortcut for your Apple device as a thank you.

Don’t let those amounts limit what you send to St. Jude, though. The best donation advice I can give is to give not until it hurts, but until it feels really good. Maybe you’ll use to calculate a starting point.

And don’t forget to use St. Jude’s tool to see if your employer will match your donation! That can double the effectiveness of every one of your dollars without any extra effort.

The overall Relay FM fundraising campaign culminates in the annual Podcastathon, held this year on September 22 for a full 12 hours. It’s an effort that’s as zany and entertaining as it is emotionally moving. I encourage you to check in throughout the day and also, more importantly, donate!

The campaign ends at the end of September (although St. Jude will gladly accept your generous donations year-round). As they say, donate early and often.

September 18, 2023

7 Things This Week [#110]

A weekly list of interesting things I found on the internet, posted on Sundays. Sometimes themed, often not.

1️⃣ Hilarious new animations by The Oatmeal. [🔗]

2️⃣ If you’re wondering just how widespread climbing gyms have gotten… [🔗 @climbing_castle //]

3️⃣ This trailer for the new Thwip app by Rafael Conde is up there with the best I’ve ever seen. The app is super fun and well-designed too. [🔗 @rafa //]

4️⃣ Cheapest flagship iPhone since the original” would be quite a statement, and yet it’s true about the iPhone 15 Pro. I’m almost surprised that Apple didn’t tout it themselves. [🔗 Wally Nowinski //]

5️⃣ Over at The Brooks Review, I’ve really enjoyed their recent posts on their recommendations for getting a collection of a particular kind of item. They’ve got articles for knives, flashlights, bags, and watches — so, nerd fodder — with separate collections for budget, mid, and luxury pricing. What a neat idea. (The luxury watch collection will only run you a paltry $100,000 😎) [🔗 Ben Brooks //]

6️⃣ It’s not just me! There’s math behind the right way to tie your shoes! [🔗 Ethan Siegel //]

7️⃣ Okay, look at these colors, artificially saturated by Basic Apple Guy, of the new iPhone 15 and tell me they don’t look way better than the faded, barely-there colors that Apple went with this year. [🔗 @BasicAppleGuy //]

Take a Chance

Thanks for reading 7 Things. If you enjoyed these links or have something neat to share, please let me know.

7 Things

September 18, 2023

So That’s What They Do With All the Old iMacs

As is the case with most Tim Cook interviews, there wasn’t much substance in this CBS one with John Dickerson that we didn’t already know. Although, I will say that I’m glad Dickerson pushed Cook on their X (formerly Twitter) advertising.

Despite the lack of notable conversation, it’s interesting to see behind the scenes in Apple corporate centers where some interviews occur. For instance, I was tickled to see this wall display by a drinking fountain at one of their call centers. Why put in a dumb screen when you can install a whole old iMac?

Tim Cook and John Dickerson walk down a brightly lit hallway in an Apple call center. On the right is a drinking fountain with an iMac installed in the wall above it.
Reduce, reuse, recycle, I suppose!

And check out those light bars that go up the wall and across the ceiling. Apple’s architectural prowess shows even in the places customers never (well…) see.

September 18, 2023

Viticci’s Very Good™ Lede

I’ve only just started reading Federico Viticci’s review of iOS and iPadOS 17 on MacStories. But the very first sentence was simply too good to not stop and share:

In the year when the vision is elsewhere, what do you get the OS that has everything?

Chef’s kiss

Federico’s review is my favorite every year. I can’t wait to read his impressions and revel in all the little details that’s he’s dug up. He always finds the best stuff.

Oh, and even if you save the review to a read-later app, you’ve gotta click through to see the fantastic animation and graphics created by Michael Steeber.


September 13, 2023

Brief Thoughts After Apple’s Wonderlust Event

I didn’t get to watch the event live today, and I haven’t checked out any other coverage. So here’s what’s rattling around my head after just having finished the keynote. (I think most of my before thoughts hold up.)

The Apple products saved my life” video to start the event was, as ever, quite moving. Very keen of them to do the theme around birthdays that might not’ve been. Tim Cook once said that Apple’s greatest contribution to the world will be their impact on the health field. I can see that they’re taking that very seriously.

I showed my wife the (somewhat corny) carbon neutral scene because I thought they were throwing around some pretty astounding figures. She’s not into tech, and not into Apple fandom. Her response? An enthusiastic That’s pretty cool! And quite the commitment to climate.” Kudos, Apple. Kudos.

I didn’t expect much new with the Apple Watch Ultra, and there’s not much to it. But we got a new model number, the Ultra 2, which was a moniker I wasn’t anticipating. That brighter (and dimmer) display, plus the Double Tap gesture will be things I look forward to in a future model, but certainly won’t be upgrading this year.

Did anyone else notice the theme of the original iPhone ringtone, Marimba, when they were talking about calls?

I love that they didn’t beat around the bush about leather being a less environmentally friendly material, especially at Apple’s scale. (I’m down with the FineWoven textile. And while I’d been thinking about phone cases and watch bands, I hadn’t even considered all the other leather products Apple makes. Good to see that they’ve gone whole hog with replacing the AirTag cases, MagSafe Wallet, and more.)

The iPhone 15 looks really nice with that color-infused glass. And it looks to be a really great value. I caught myself thinking that it was the Pro phone introduction at one point.

Speaking of the Pro phones…

  • The titanium finish looks even better than I imagined. I love that they went with the brushed finish, as opposed to the smooth finish of the Apple Watch Ultra. (I’m not sure I see the difference between white titanium” and natural titanium” though.)
  • We all thought it would be a periscope lens shooting down vertically into the device to enable a longer zoom. I bet a lot of folks at Apple smirked as they innovated with the folded tetraprism glass.
  • I hate having to make the choice to take a Portrait photo, and rarely do so in the moment. The fact that the data will be captured so that you can apply the effect afterward is pretty cool.
  • The Action button looks great. I wasn’t sure if it enables both ring/silent switching via a long press plus other actions with a regular press or if you need to choose only one action.
  • A 3x longer range Ultra Wideband chip is quite the improvement. Curious, though, that they went with calling it a second generation” chip, rather than the U2 chip. Maybe a licensing disagreement with the band? But they’ve always been on very friendly and cooperative terms with U2.
  • It’s very cool to extend the satellite messaging service to roadside assistance. I can see a progression where they keep integrating with different emergency types until eventually they can handle all kinds of general satellite messaging. That’d be an insta-upgrade for me.
  • The A17 Pro chip (will next year’s iPhone 16 get the A17 non-Pro?) is laying a solid foundation for the next-gen M-series chips headed for Macs. The gaming-focused improvements and boasting about the all-new GPU have me wondering if they’ll be back in the high-end GPU conversation even without a quad-sized M# Extreme chip.
  • I had zero expectation that this year’s iPhone would be able to capture spatial videos. But turns out you’ll be able to record those (reportedly emotionally moving) 3D-ish videos to watch on a Vision Pro without the cringyness of wearing the headset to do so. Color me hella impressed.
  • Did you detect the flex on the prices staying the same this year on all the models? Sure, the Pro Max starts at $100 higher, but comes with the higher storage tier, so it’s more of an elimination of the lower tier than a price increase. Higher prices were heavily rumored for the Pro phones at least.
  • I see we’re saying goodbye to the mini-sized iPhone. You can’t buy the iPhone 13 mini anymore, even though the regular iPhone 13 is still for sale. 🤞 for its reintroduction next year.

That photography room in Apple Park looked incredible. I can see the newest Apple Store design influence there. Or was it the other way around?

A room in Apple Park with an almost all wood design with a man presenting in the middle of it.
Does this room remind you of somewhere?

My overall impression is that Apple is at the top of its game with reducing and reversing environmental impact, materials sciences, chip design, camera hardware, and so much more. The rate at which they extend their lead leaves little hope for other companies to catch up. And they do it all with such cool confidence and careful consideration.

It was another great presentation. I’m excited to go dive into all the details!

September 12, 2023

Gruber: ‘Apple’s Two-Pronged Annual iPhone Strategy’

John Gruber got down in writing what’s been rattling around my head for a few years now. The regular and pro duopoly of iPhone introductions has some — still evolving — idiosyncrasies that most folks don’t appreciate. Here’s a couple of key things that Gruber points out:

What everyone groks about this strategy is that the pro models are more expensive. Of course they are. But there are a few aspects to Apple’s strategy that many people miss. The most important is that the iPhone Pro models are only produced for one year. If the pattern holds, come next week, the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max will cease production, and be replaced in the product line by the new 15 Pro models. The non-pro iPhones, however, stay in production for at least two additional years, dropping in price by $100 each year. I find that fascinating, but it’s seldom remarked upon. The iPhones that are the most expensive, most cutting-edge, and I presume the hardest to manufacture are only produced for one single year. That’s an altogether new strategy from the years before the iPhone X, when there was just one new flagship iPhone per year (albeit in two sizes during the iPhone 6-6S-7 years), and most iPhones stayed in the lineup at reduced prices for years to come.


We won’t know tomorrow whether this more repairable, more accessible system architecture will repeat with the iPhone 15, but I suspect it will. No matter what, the regular iPhone 15 models will not simply be the iPhones 14 Pro models repackaged in aluminum frames rather than stainless steel. The strategy Apple has achieved, as I see it:

  • Pro models: cutting-edge chips, cameras, and materials; will be produced for just one year.
  • Non-pro models: refined architecture using the year-old SoC and older camera systems; will be produced for 2-3 years to come.

You can’t just wait around the price of a Pro phone to come down if you’re buying it from Apple. It’s always going to be that price until the next one replaces it.