Quitting Twitter

It's been just over a month since I left Twitter. I did this for the sake of my well-being and happiness, and because I no longer wanted to use a service that allows so much abuse and does so little to stop it.

Twitter had become an inescapable deluge of abuse, anger, bad news, and disinformation, and I was barely treading water. I would wake up each morning filled with anxiety and trepidation about what to expect on Twitter during the day; a constant distraction that was mentally and physically exhausting, and making my life miserable.

The platform also brings out the worst in people because the worst people know they can get away with it. The amount of abuse and harassment on Twitter is overwhelming, and you don't have to look far to see just how toxic it is. The company is well aware of this but doesn't have the courage to take real action. Twitter would much rather work on features to increase revenue and user count than provide existing users with even the most basic tooling and support to deal with abuse.

Quitting Twitter has been a genuine quality of life improvement for me. It's as though a dark, heavy cloud of negativity has lifted, and I no longer get worked up about whatever might be the trending shitstorm du jour. I feel more focused and positive, and generally in much better mental health.

This decision has also boosted my productivity as I have a lot more free time now. I estimate I would check Twitter a few times an hour, a couple minutes each time. On a daily basis, I was probably spending an hour or two just on Twitter. Getting a couple of hours in the day back was an unexpected surprise, so I'm making the best use of it. I'm now much more productive throughout the day, find it easier to relax in the evenings and weekends, and am reading more than ever.

I have no desire to return to Twitter. I'm not ruling it out, but the platform would have to drastically change before I'd even consider it. There's very little Twitter can do for me that I can't go elsewhere for, and what it does provide isn't worth my happiness or support. For my own sake, abandoning Twitter was the right decision, and I only wish I'd done it sooner.

Getting Nespresso Capsule Information With Workflow

I recently added a Nespresso machine to my growing collection of coffee paraphernalia. It arrived with a selection of some of the 26 varieties available in the OriginalLine range—each one has a different strength (intensity) and cup size (ristretto, espresso, or lungo).

However, there's no way to know this information just by looking at the capsule as it only has the name printed on it. To know more, one needs to either keep the packaging, refer to the website, or have this information memorized. There is a Nespresso iOS app available, but it's not easy to quickly find a capsule and get its strength and cup size.

This seemed like a good opportunity to explore Workflow's Dictionary functionality, a feature I hadn't really used before. I created this Nespresso Capsule Information workflow to look up the intensity and cup size for any Nespresso capsule. To make it a little more interesting, capsule information can be retrieved by selecting either its name or an image of it.

Nespresso Information Workflow

All of the capsule data is stored within a Dictionary action inside the workflow. I created a Base64-encoded archive of all capsule images and included it as a Text action in the workflow (that's what the nonsensical first action is). This is decoded and extracted when running the workflow, so no images need to be separately copied or installed anywhere—allowing the the workflow to be entirely self-contained.

Get the Latest Cryptocurrency Prices With Workflow

For those wanting to keep track of popular cryptocurrency prices, this workflow retrieves a list of the top 10 cryptocurrencies on CoinMarketCap using their API. Selecting a currency returns the current price in USD, along with the percentage change from 24 hours ago.

The workflow can be run as normal, from the Today Widget, or directly on Apple Watch.

Opening Reddit URLs in Apollo

Apollo is a superb Reddit client and one of my favorite iOS apps from last year. Unlike the official Reddit app, Apollo can't automatically open reddit.com URLs1, so these URLs open in Safari if the official app isn't installed. However, there are a few easy ways of opening them directly in Apollo.

Copy URL to clipboard

If you copy a Reddit URL to the clipboard, then launch Apollo, the app automatically detects the reddit.com URL and asks if you want to open it. It's a few taps and swipes, but it works fine.

Workflow

Reddit URLs can be opened in Apollo through the use of an action extension workflow that replaces https:// with apollo://. Sharing any Reddit URLs to this workflow automatically converts the URL and opens it, launching Apollo.

Opener

Both of the above options are quick to do but involve a couple of steps to complete. Opener ($1.99) is a useful app and action extension that allows you to open links in any app that supports it.

The benefit of Opener is that it can be set to auto-open URLs with compatible apps. For Reddit URLs, I've configured Opener to auto-open them in Apollo. If I have a Reddit URL, I can just tap the Share button and select Opener, then Apollo launches automatically.

  1. This isn't a fault of the app, it's because of the restrictions iOS has in place. iOS doesn't allow you to specify a default app, and universal links can only be used by official first-party apps (e.g., the official Reddit app for reddit.com URLs). 

My Favorite Tech Purchases in 2017

Following on from my previous post, here's a list of my favorite tech purchases in 2017.

iPhone X

I haven't been this impressed with an iPhone since the first one. It's a beautiful design, though I don't get to admire it because I keep it in a case at all times. Face ID works so well that the process to unlock my iPhone is completely transparent—I just look at the screen and swipe up. The OLED screen is magnificent to look at and its notch is simply a non-issue. In fact, apps like Halide have come up with clever ways to make it part of the app experience.

My favorite feature of iPhone X is the camera. I've always wanted the dual-lens camera system but didn't like the form factor of the Plus-sized iPhone. iPhone X gives me the best of both worlds, and I'm finding myself reaching for my DxO One less and less.

Nintendo Switch

I've lost count of the hours I've spent playing games on my Nintendo Switch. It's such a fun experience, and games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey represent Nintendo at its best.

My time spent with the Switch is about 50/50 docked and undocked. Being able to spend a few hours playing a game with the Pro controller on the TV and then go portable is a novelty that hasn't worn off. If someone had told me a few years ago that I could play Skyrim on a portable gaming device, I wouldn't have believed it.

Asus Predator Helios 300

While I'm on the subject of video games, I also replaced my aging gaming PC. I decided to go with a gaming laptop this time around (rather than build a new rig) as I wanted the option of portability. When it's on my desk, I use it with an external display, Logitech G Pro keyboard, and Logitech G602 wireless gaming mouse.

Despite being priced more in the $1,000 "budget" range, the Asus Predator Helios 300 still packs a punch. It's powered by an Intel i7 processor and Nvidia GTX 1060 graphics card, so games run buttery-smooth. When playing Overwatch on High settings, I can get close to 200 FPS.

KeySmart Pro

I've written about the KeySmart Pro already, but it's definitely one of my favorite purchases of 2017. Not only is it a handy key organizer, the rechargeable Tile integration means I can keep track of my keys without the need for a separate Tile attachment.

Eufy RoboVac 11

One of the top picks over at The Sweet Home, the Eufy RoboVac 11 robot vacuum cleaner has done a good job of dealing with dust and dog hair. It can run for well over an hour before it has to return to base and recharge, works on both hard floors and thin carpets, and is clever enough to deal with various obstacles and chairs around the home (though it does sometimes get tangled in the occasional loose cable).

It's not a replacement for a proper vacuum cleaner, but running it a few times a week does wonders to keep our home clean.

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