Camino Planet

Camino Planet is the central location for blogs from the Camino community. These posts are uncensored and unabashed. Enjoy with caution.

Jon Hicks: Troika #20: Take it Slow

Posted by Jon Hicks at November 19, 2015 09:37 PM

This time its all about taking it slow. Songs or pieces of music that either sound better, or take on a new form, when slowed down.

‘Feel it all Around’ by Washed Out
Ernest Greenes’ project ‘Washed Out’ take the backing from Gary Low’s 1983 single ‘I Want You’ and slows it to nice laid back pace, creating this lovely slurry sound. I’m told this is also the theme to the TV Series Portlandia, but I haven’t seen that yet.

‘How do I make you’ by The Chipmunks
To record Chipmunks versions of songs, they have to be sung at a slower pace, so that when sped up, both the pitch and length is correct. So what happens when you slow the whole back down to the pace of the original vocal? Sludgepop! There’s loads more on Soundcloud ( Check out ‘My Sharona in particular – I just felt it was a bit long for this episode,especially when you see how long the last track is…

The Jurassic Park Theme – 1000% slower
Drawn out to almost an hour, John Williams’ theme to Jurassic Park is a beautiful ambient drone epic!

In this episode I also mention about how Hans Zimmer’s soundtrack for Inception was inspired by the slowed down version of Edith Piafs’ “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien”, a musical motif used throughout the story. More on that here:


Jon Hicks: Troika #19: Bleeps

Posted by Jon Hicks at November 05, 2015 07:33 PM

In the early eighties I was really into artists like Jean Michel Jarre, Depeche Mode and Howard Jones. I loved synths! After about ’86 I moved away to more guitar-based music, Metal and then a wee folky phase in the early nineties.

During my last year at college in 94 I started rediscovering electronic music. As well as purveyors of ambience like Aphex Twin and The Orb, I also got into the ‘dancey’ end of the spectrum, even though I wasn’t a fan of dancing or nightclubs. I kind of just nodded my head along,

So, without interruption, here’s the three tracks I’ve chosen from : Leftfield, Future Sound of London and The Chemical Brothers. Enjoy!


Jon Hicks: Troika #18: Randoms

Posted by Jon Hicks at October 22, 2015 06:55 PM

Troika number 18 is a straightforward simpler episode! The only thematic link this time is tracks that I’ve discovered either by shuffle or playback glitches. Random songs! (Maybe a little bit of swearing too)

‘Cissy Strut’ – Butch Cassidy Sound System
‘Auditorium’ – Mos Def feat. Slick Rick
‘Babe you turn me on’ – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds


Jon Hicks: Troika #17: The Scotch Egg

Posted by Jon Hicks at October 01, 2015 10:40 AM

This Troika is a musical representation of one of my favourite foods – the mighty Scotch Egg! ‘Breadcrumbs’ by Deca, ‘Valley of the Sausages’ by Mr Scruff and ‘Egg’ by The Garden.


Jon Hicks: Troika #16: Diddly-dum! Diddly-dum!…

Posted by Jon Hicks at September 18, 2015 05:16 PM

With the new series of Dr Who starting this weekend, I decided it was time for a Troika on the iconic TV theme! There’s been a lot of ‘official’ versions over and many more covers (including a terrible disco-ified one by Mankind in 1979), but here is: the Original Theme by Ron Grainer & Delia Derbyshire, a Belgian Jazz version- ‘Dr Qui’ – from Bill Bailey and a lively EDM cover from Orbital.


Jon Hicks: Troika #15: Sub Dove Rivers

Posted by Jon Hicks at September 10, 2015 07:15 PM

Troika number fifteen is all about twins from Manchester called Andy and Jez Williams. From 90s dance act Sub Sub to Indie Rock giants Doves, and their new band, Black Rivers. We start with ‘Ain’t no love (ain’t no use)’ by Sub Sub feat. Melanie Williams, move onto ‘Pounding’ by Doves, and finish ‘Voyager 1’ by Black Rivers.


Smokey Ardisson: Escaping a “stuck” iOS Numbers iCloud sync

Posted by Smokey at September 02, 2015 08:30 PM

Periodically1 Numbers will get “stuck” trying to sync to iCloud changes I’ve just made on my iPhone. Numbers will claim that the spreadsheet is updating, or needs to be updated, but no changes will ever reach iCloud and the “needs update” UI will never go away. This used to be a frequent issue,2 and over time I tried all sorts of things to resolve the problem: quitting Numbers, making another local change, making a change on iCloud, waiting a while, toggling Airplane mode on and off to “kill” networking, turning iCloud off in the Numbers settings, deleting the spreadsheet (both on the phone and also on iCloud), and other things I can no longer remember. Some combination of tinkering always seemed to fix things, but it was never anything easy—always a tangled combination of things—and The Internet™ didn’t seem to have any relevant information when I searched.

Eventually I discovered a reliable, repeatable, simple solution: turn the iPhone off and back on again,3 and the next time I open Numbers, it will happily finish syncing my changes from the iPhone to iCloud.

Hopefully the All-Seeing Internet Search Engines™ will index this post and offer it up to others who might also be searching for a solution.

Has anyone out there already filed a Radar on the “stuck” iCloud sync process? I’ll eventually :-( get around to filing it myself.


1 It’s difficult to tell what might be triggering the “stuck” sync, but my best guess based on when and where it happens to me is a marginal network connection or network transition. ↩︎

2 For a while I thought iOS 8.4 might have fixed the problem, but I’ve recently experienced it again. ↩︎

3 I’ve always quit Numbers before powering off, and the “stuck” sync no longer occurs often enough that I can remember to test rebooting without quitting Numbers first. ↩︎


Jon Hicks: Troika #14: Reading Festival

Posted by Jon Hicks at September 02, 2015 06:40 PM

Welcome back to Troika after a lovely summer break! This Troika is about the three ‘discoveries’ I made at the Reading Festival last weekend – bands that I liked after seeing them live. ‘Happy Song’ by Bring me the Horizon* (contains sweary swears!), ‘All the Sad Young Men’ by Spector and ‘Tryer, you’ by And So I Watch You From Afar.


Smokey Ardisson: Quoting John Gruber

Posted by Smokey at September 02, 2015 06:30 AM

John Gruber:

Their old logo was goofy. This new one is simply garbage.

The redeeming quality of the previous Google logos was the whimsy, while the serifs kept them from looking too childlike or immature.

The new logo, however, is simply puerile. Someone needs to take away the Play-Doh.


Jon Hicks: Record covers - August

Posted by Jon Hicks at August 28, 2015 12:12 PM

Here are a few record covers that have caught my eye in August, enjoy!

John Grant – Grey Tickles, Black Pressure

The world is a beautiful place and I am no longer afraid to die – January 10th 2014

Blackalicious – Imani Vol1


Jon Hicks: Troika #13: Oooph!

Posted by Jon Hicks at July 13, 2015 07:23 PM

Episode 13 of Troika is all about the versatile singer-songwriter and Yahama maestro John Shuttleworth! Songs featured are: ‘Mutiny over the Bounty’, ‘Two Margarines’ and ‘I can’t go back to savoury now’.


Jon Hicks: Troika #12: Le Tour!

Posted by Jon Hicks at July 03, 2015 02:58 PM

I had planned a different Troika for #12, but I was so late getting it ready, I was going to miss the fact that the Tour de France starts this weekend! So that will become #13, and here is my rather hurried tribute to the annual cycling pantomime that is the Tour! First up is ‘Tour de France’ by Alexis Roche* (apparently a bit rude, but it’s in French), then ‘Tour de France’ by Benôit Charest (from the fantastic Belleville Rendezvous soundtrack), finishing with ‘Tour de France’ by Señor Coconut. As I’ve mentioned before, I can’t abide Kraftwerks’ ‘Tour de France’, but this is a cover version I can really get behind!


Jon Hicks: Troika #11: All about the Bassists

Posted by Jon Hicks at June 15, 2015 11:55 AM

Hello peoples! This Troika is all about the bassists! We start with ‘Hello Meow’ by Squarepusher, ‘Jerry was a race car driver’ by Primus, and finish with ‘By the Way’ by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers.


Smokey Ardisson: The Old Web: Follow-up

Posted by Smokey at June 02, 2015 03:59 AM

Today’s comments on Tim Bray’s post that I linked to yesterday have been very interesting, both as to the scale of link rot and efforts underway to ameliorate it (you should read those comments if you have not done so).

One commenter on ongoing also linked to two recent posts by Bret Victor; the second one is a incisive examination of the web’s permanence/impermanence problem that I briefly wrestled with before closing yesterday’s post with congratulations to Zeldman. (You should really read Victor’s post.)

Tuesday update: In Tuesday morning’s comments on Bray’s post, Andy Jackson of the British Library links to their study of URLs in their archive, where one of the conclusions is “50% of the content is lost after just one year, with more being lost each subsequent year” (emphasis mine).


Jon Hicks: Troika #10: For Leigh

Posted by Jon Hicks at May 21, 2015 04:15 PM

Eighteen years ago, I sold my car, and met my wife! These are songs that remind of that wonderful time – Step into my World’ by Hurricane #1, ‘Don’t Whiz on the Electric Fence’ by Ren and Stimpy, and finishing up with ‘No Surprises’ by Radiohead


Jon Hicks: Troika #9: For Mum

Posted by Jon Hicks at May 08, 2015 12:49 PM

This coming Sunday is three years since my mum died, so I wanted to dedicate this ninth episode of Troika to her memory! There are four pieces of music this time: ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ – The Beatles’, Ukelele Lady’ – Peter Sellers & The Temperance Seven, ‘The Lark Ascending’ – Ralph Vaughan Williams and finally ‘Dear Friends’ – Elbow.


Jon Hicks: A Big Assed Post about bike saddles for my Big Ass

Posted by Jon Hicks at May 01, 2015 08:57 AM

Your nether-regions are not for sitting on. Your feet are for standing on, your legs are for walking on, and your bum is for attaching your legs to your body.

Finding the Right Saddle – Cycling Tips 2009

I have a problem with bike saddles. I won’t show you a list of all the ones I’ve tried, as that would just be embarrassing. Most people seem to use whatever comes with their bike, and stick with that, but it’s taken me ages to find the ‘right one’ – comfortable, light (and,because I’m a Bike Tart) good looking. I also use my road bike to commute to the office, and finding something that is comfortable without padded tights is useful. (On that note, I’ve also found that white saddles and jeans don’t mix, unless you actually wanted an indigo saddle).

Now to be clear, I’m talking road bike saddles here. My Pashley Guvnor has a lovely Brooks B17 in honey brown that is a fantastic saddle. Especially now that’s breaking in nicely (didn’t take long!). It just doesn’t look right on a carbon road bike though, and the weight makes it much less suitable.

To try out so many saddles, I’ve been mostly picking them up secondhand on ebay. As well as others selling saddles that didn’t work out for them, you can often find cheaper versions with steel or manganese rails, rather than posher Titanium or Carbon. Its also likely that you can pick one up that has already been ‘broken in’, This is less of an issue than it is for Brooks traditional leather saddles, but I’ve found a used Charge Knife was more comfy and flexy than a brand new one. This meant I could try one out, and if it didn’t suit, pop it back on ebay. There’s also a ‘Saddle Swap’ forum on Bikeradar’s Forums where you might find someone to exchange seats with.

Here’s what I’ve learnt about saddles so far, but be warned, there is inevitable talk of my genitals…


Even the smallest adjustment can turn a harsh saddle into a comfy one. There’s a lot to adjust too; height, position fore/aft, vertical angle (pointing the nose up/down very slightly, or keeping it dead level) and even horizontal angle. Unless you have an aero seatpost, it can also be tilted left/right very slightly. I’ve found some scooped saddles that need to be setup dead level, and some that need the back to rise slightly. The only way I’ve found to test a saddle properly is to ride it a bit, adjust it, ride for a bit again, rinse and repeat (A turbo trainer isn’t a great place to test saddles – they all feel harsh). After a while you can take note of how your sitting and adjust accordingly – e.g if I found myself pushing back on the saddle, it needed to be further forwards.


Saddles have different shapes – from flat ones (Fizik Arione, Selle Italia SLR) to rounded and scooped (Charge Spoon, Fizik Aliante, Prologo Scratch), as well as cutouts for dangling your delicate bits should you have them (Specialized Romin), or even with rails placed in the centre to allow the sides to flex while pedalling (Selle Italia Signo). The slightly rounded & scooped shape seems to suit me best. Channels or cut outs don’t always work for me though, e.g the Romin cutout was OK but with the Fizik Aliante VS I could feel the edges of the channel digging in.


Padding is not necessarily a good thing – too much and it can cause chafing.

If you think about it, a deck chair doesn’t have any padding and yet is still comfortable, so padding in itself is not the cure for an uncomfortable seat. A deck chair is comfortable because the fabric has tension in it and supports you with a low average pressure through-out the seat.

I’ve tried saddle recently that pretty much just a carbon shell, with only a mm or two of padding, but it wasn’t as uncomfortable as it looked, due to the supportive shape.


Specialized focus on the width of your sit bones with their ‘Body Geometry’ saddles. The distance between the bones is measured, and then you choose a saddle with just enough width to support these bones, but no more. They are one of the few manufacturers that offer 3 different widths for their range. To measure your sit bones you can sit on a special gel-pad widget at the bike shop, or try and recreate it a home. Its quite a sight though, it involves sitting half-naked on carpeted stairs with tin foil under your cheeks and leaning forwards – hoping to get two clear sit bones bumps in the foil.


The more expensive Carbon, and particularly Titanium, rails are meant to help filter out road buzz, but I can’t say I’ve felt any big difference. It feels like more of a slight weight advantage. I have found that Nylon bases are more flexible than Carbon ones though.


Fizik have a system called ‘spine concept’ which looks at the riders flexibility rather than sit bones. From rigid ‘Bulls’ (unable to touch toes, which is me) to flexible ‘Snakes’ that can easily touch their toes easily. It may sound like marketing guff, but actually is quite common sense: I have low flexibility, so need to rotate my pelvis a lot of achieve a road riding position. I sit on the saddle with different parts of my undercarriage than someone with high flexibility.

Fizik saddles are lovely, the quality is superb, and I love how they have a built in clip system, which makes it quick and easy to switch a saddlebag between bikes. Its the best system I’ve ever used.

The Arione (above) in particular has a stylish racy look that makes it ‘the saddle I wish I could fit’. Sadly it felt like sitting on a rail – too narrow to support my sit bones. The Antares was wide enough, but hard on the sit bones, while the Aliante (which has been my saddle choice so far) has been comfy on the sit bones but pushed up into my squashy bits a little too much on long rides. I’ve always felt that I needed a saddle shape inbetween the Aliante and Antares.

The one?

Two years ago, Charge Bikes (who make the Knife Saddle, and the very popular spoon) came out with a new product – the Charge Scoop. A simplified three-part construction: a foam top, vacuum bonded to a nylon base and rails, with no staples or glue.

It was such a hit that other bike manufacturers wanted to spec the saddle, so it made sense to split off Scoop production into a separate company, and so the company Fabric was born. Now these are being specced on Cannondales and the gorgeous new Mason range.

This is the Fabric Scoop Shallow, and its now my favourite saddle. The level of fit and comfort is amazing, a revelation even, and it looks lovely! The shape is spot-on, the padding is comfortable without being too squishy, but I think the most important aspect is that the base is flexible. For the first time, I can sit on something, and really forget about. All my bikes now have a Scoop (with the exception of the Guvnor of course).

I’ve also been trying out their rubbery knurled bar tape, and that’s great too. It’s very easy to wrap, cushioned with a gel backing (without adding too much bulk) and feels nice and grippy. Although similar, Lizard Skins tape was harder to wrap, and the tape moved about after a few weeks, leaving gaps. Fabric’s still looks as good months later.

So fabric have won for me!


Jon Hicks: Troika #8: Misson Control

Posted by Jon Hicks at April 29, 2015 11:31 AM

This episode of Troika is a collection of music that uses NASA samples. The first track is “Space Walk” by Lemon Jelly, which samples Ed White’s reaction to the first ever space walk on the Gemini 4 mission in 1965. Then we have “V1 | 130” by Geremia Vinattieri, released as part of the Space Songs EP from Bad Panda records. The final track, called simply ‘Go’, comes from Public Service Broadcasting’s second brilliant album ‘Race for Space’ uses samples of the hubbub of Mission Control.


Jon Hicks: Slowdive performing "Golden Hair" at Pitchfork

Posted by Jon Hicks at April 27, 2015 12:53 PM

I love this video of Slowdive performing “Golden Hair” -at the Pitchfork Music Festival last year. The live version of the song extends the ending into an atmospheric jam session, combined with a luscious low golden evening light. Its a thing of escapist beauty that I watch as a tonic.

At least until yesterday, when Leigh pointed how much the extended part sounds like Sia’s ‘Chandelier’ and along with my daughter Samantha, proceeded to sing those lyrics all over it. Families eh?!


Jon Hicks: Troika #7: Donuts

Posted by Jon Hicks at April 21, 2015 09:45 AM

I discovered the music of J Dilla (aka James Dewitt Yancey or Jay Dee) by going backwards. I’m a big fan of the band Phantogram, and when they mentioned their sound uses ‘J Dilla beats’ I looked back on his extensive back catalog and found his influence everywhere. He’s one of hip hop’s most influential producers and artists, but his career was cut short at just 32 after battling the incurable blood disease, lupus. I’ve chosen one he produced, one of his own, and one that was a homage. As Erykah Badu says in the last track “This one’s for Dilla“…


Jon Hicks: Troika #6: My Turn to be Poorly

Posted by Jon Hicks at April 06, 2015 10:01 AM

The theme for this Troika is a little more esoteric than normal – it’s comedians, singing parody songs, in the style of other artists. Weird Al Yankovic has made a whole career out of this, but these are maybe slightly less well known.


Jon Hicks: A Taste of the Track

Posted by Jon Hicks at April 03, 2015 10:51 AM

Photo by Leigh Hicks

This week I went for a Track Taster Session at the Olympic Velodrome at Lee Valley in London – a present from my lovely wife Leigh. Track cycling involves riding a fixed gear bike, and this was my first time – no coasting, no brakes and a high gear. To slow you change your pedalling accordingly, and try to kick back, upon which you can really feel the bike kicking back against you.

When we arrived, the camber of the track at the highest points was rather scary. I couldn’t see how it could be done without slipping off. The tutor was great though and once over the initial slow laps, I was more confident. Riding the sprinters line was actually really exciting – as long as you kept the pace up. Towards the end of the hour session my legs were starting to hurt, and the advice was to stay off the top line once you felt tired – otherwise you would slip.

It was really, really fun. Once you trained yourself to not worry about anyone sudden braking (because they couldn’t) it was exhilarating. While I’m not going to do the next 3 courses to become accredited (that’s if you want to race Track) I would definitely do it again.

If you’re planning on doing the taster session, I would really recommend hiring shoes, or if you use Look Keo cleats, bringing your own. I plumped for using trainers with toeclips and straps and it was a bloody nightmare. Not only very uncomfortable, but squeaky too, and my left foot kept trying to come out. At one point it did, and I had no choice but to let the toeclip scrape along the track floor until I could finish the lap. I wish they’d said it was so much harder work than cleats.

Trying fixed didn’t make me want to add a fixie to my current stable of bikes. It’s not something I would ride around town, but I would ride it again in a velodrome.


Jon Hicks: Troika #5: New Gaze

Posted by Jon Hicks at April 02, 2015 05:09 PM

Back in the mid-90’s the British Music Press had decided that Shoegaze music was finished, and that if you weren’t Britpop or Grunge you deserved to be mocked. Bands like Slowdive disbanded and explored other genres, but it had left enough quality work to inspire the next generation of bands, nastily called ‘Nu gaze’.


Jon Hicks: Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell: album stream

Posted by Jon Hicks at March 25, 2015 10:38 AM

The Guardian has a stream of Sufjan Stevens new album “Carrie & Lowell”, and its achingly beautiful. Can’t wait for this to come out!

A deeply personal album – named after Stevens’ mother and stepfather – it’s a departure from his most recent electronic, experimental ventures, and returns to Stevens’ stripped-down roots, leaving space to address issues of “life, death, love and loss, and the artist’s struggle to make sense of the beauty and ugliness of love.”


Smokey Ardisson: What year is it again?

Posted by Smokey at March 24, 2015 09:25 PM

The other day, my brother asked me to log in to his account on his employer’s1HR system” in order to make him some backup copies of information presented there (his existing copies of which he had needed to provide to his supervisor). On the login screen, I was still slightly shocked2 to see the following message:

For an optimal experience, we recommend using these browsers:

Unexpected results may occur when using other browsers.

(If you view the source, you can see that each of the <a>s has an id="ielink_001" attribute—not only incorrect, but perhaps a holdover from the days this particular website “supported” only IE?)

Seriously? It’s 2015 and your website is not only not compatible with any version of Safari, but it is only compatible with versions of Chrome and Firefox that are four3 versions out-of-date!? (Kudos for supporting versions of IE dating back six years, though!)

I forged ahead, because if the site claimed to work properly in a six-year-old version of Internet Explorer, it surely would work in a current two-year-old version of Safari (the just-released version 6.2.4 on 10.8/Mountain Lion). Nothing I had to look at seemed to look or function incorrectly—until it came time to look for his timesheets. When I clicked on the tab entitled “Timesheets”, a page loaded with no “content” below the row of tabs, except for a link to help me return to the site I was already on. Indeed, unexpected results may occur when using a browser other than the last four versions of IE or versions of Chrome and Firefox four versions out-of-date! Eventually, I realized that the problem was that loading the page was triggering a pop-up window(!?) with the website for the company’s scheduling system, and Safari was (silently) blocking said pop-up.4

Allowing pop-ups and forging ahead again, I looked at the scheduling system’s website, and it reminded me of a poor knockoff of the web as rendered by Firebird 0.6 or 0.7 more than a decade ago (eerie, that poorly-rendered, overly-fat Helvetica—perhaps it’s Verdana or Tahoma?—and <table>s, lots of <table>s!) Also, there was a menu that seemed to have no useful functions. Finally relenting, I launched Firefox 36, discovered the functional part of the menu was indeed missing (according to the Web Inspector in Safari, that part of the menu was being rendered off-screen and I think zero-height; given that Blink and WebKit supposedly haven’t diverged that much, I wonder if this critical piece of the menu would have appeared in Chrome, either, supported version or otherwise?), found the link I needed, and returned to Safari to print out pages of multi-page <table>s.

These are websites/systems that are created and installed to be used by every employee of this company, from the convenience of each employee’s personal computing device, not systems that are to be used solely by the HR department on company computers where IT can mandate a certain browser and software combination. This is software whose purpose is to be used by everyone; why is it not designed to be used by everyone—compatible with current versions of the major rendering engines, avoiding unfriendly and abused technologies like pop-ups, and so on?

If the software is intended to be used by everyone (or, generally, people beyond those whose computer configuration you can dictate by supplying said computer) and it’s web-based software (or has a web front-end), then the company (or the company’s software vendor) needs to continually test the software/web front-end with new versions of major rendering engines, making changes (or reporting bugs in the rendering engine) in the unlikely event something breaks, so that they aren’t requiring employees to use six-month-old versions of browsers in order for the corporate software to work properly.

As for the integration between the main HR system and the scheduling system, if the two can’t talk to each other directly behind the scenes, then why not embed the scheduling system into the “Timesheets” tab with an <iframe> (<iframe>s are already present in some of the other tabs). If an <iframe> won’t work for some technical or security reasons, why not include a button on the “Timesheets” tab that the user can click to trigger the pop-up window with the scheduling system, thus escaping the pop-up blocker? It’s not as elegant in some ways as automatically launching, but pop-ups are already not as elegant as showing the data inline (and pop-ups are arguably not elegant at all), and manually-triggered pop-ups are more friendly since the human involved knows he or she is triggering some action and isn’t annoyed by blocked pop-up notifications. You also then get Safari compatibility “for free” without requiring users to change settings (and without having to tell them how to do so). If there are still legitimate reasons not to use a button or link or similar element, at the very least some explanatory text in the “content” section of the “Timesheets” tab is far more useful to anyone than a link to return to the very site you’re already viewing.

When I encounter software like this, I often wonder how it was built. Was there a user experience or human interface designer as part of the team? Was there any testing? Any quality assurance team involved? Or did some product manager just throw a spec sheet from marketing at the software engineers and tell them, “Not only do you have to write the code to make it do these things, but you have to determine how it’s going to do these things, too.” Or did management decide to ship as-is, perhaps over the objections of team members, in order to meet some deadline?

Design is how things work. Not everyone is a good designer, just like not everyone is a good programmer or tester (they’re not necessarily mutually exclusive, but many times excelling in one field means not learning as much about another), but every good piece of software needs all three skillsets, working in concert, whether in one body or more. Too often, “corporate software” like this seems to be missing one or more of the three, and that’s a shame, because with a little more effort, every interaction with the software could be improved. Then the vendor sells better software, the employees who use the software have a faster, easier experience and can get back to doing what they love and are good at, and the company installing the software can have happier employees. Everyone wins.


1 An unnamed major American restaurant group.
2 I know, I know, I really shouldn’t be. :P
3 In fairness, Firefox 31 is at least still in the ESR support window until May.
4 Question 1: Why, in 2015, does Safari still not support a per-site control for pop-ups (and, at least as of version 6, still not provide any sort of notification of blocked pop-ups; granted the UI balance there is hard—and a subject for another post—but still!)?
Question 2: The better question is, why, in 2015, are sites still using non-user-triggered pop-up windows for critical functions, or any functions at all?


Jon Hicks: Troika #4: Light Music

Posted by Jon Hicks at March 19, 2015 07:38 PM

So welcome to Troika Episode 4! This one is all about a genre called Light Music, a form of orchestral music that was at its height in the 1950s and 60s. These were shorter, lighter, more whimsical pieces of music, often used in the soundtracks of films and Pathe News reels.


Jon Hicks: Troika #3: Music for Cycling

Posted by Jon Hicks at March 16, 2015 08:38 PM

I’m not a fan of Kraftwerk at the best of times. I have friends who adore them, but they leave me cold. I was listening to one last week that was all about using a ‘Pocket Calculator’ – adding and subtracting. In particular, when there is a Cycling related programme on telly, the likelihood is that they will end up using their ‘Tour De France’. Its feels about as far removed from the experience of cycling as I can think of. I love electronic music, but for me it doesn’t have the right feel. I think Rapha have got it spot on. They’re a high-end cycling clothes brand, but to promote their range they regularly publish videos of their rides. If you were cynical, you’d say these are just big adverts, which they are in part, but they’re also very inspirational. It was watching these videos that made we want to get a proper road bike and head out into the countryside. Maybe they’ve twisted my view of what ‘music to cycle to’ should be, but these are the sounds in my head when I’m riding.


Jon Hicks: Communication Arts on Icon Design

Posted by Jon Hicks at March 13, 2015 10:42 AM

For the Communication Arts Interactive Annual #21, I was asked the question “What are the challenges or joys you face when creating an icon set?”. The answer had to be short, so the angle I took was…

We’re getting into very exciting territory with regards to what technology we have to play with! SVG is finally becoming widely adopted and with it the opportunity to provide scalable and responsive icon sets. Higher pixel density screens will also mean spending less time making artwork conform to a pixel grid. The days of fuzzy bitmapped icons are almost over! Until then, the challenges are in providing fallback options, and getting decent SVG export and optimisation in apps like Adobe Illustrator.

I didn’t get time to explain what responsive icons were (maximum 75 words), but it was nice to get asked to be in such a venerable tome. (The photo didn’t get the proper credit though, which was by Jeremy Keith)


Jon Hicks: Troika #2: (not so) Guilty Pleasures

Posted by Jon Hicks at March 09, 2015 01:17 PM

I heard an interview with Jarvis Cocker (he of PULP fame) where he was asked about ‘guilty pleasures’. His response was ‘there’s no such thing as a guilty pleasure. If it’s music, and you like it, why feel guilty about it?”. Quite right – there’s too much music snobbery. Somehow there’s this rule that certain types of music are to be embarrassed about.

With that in mind, I want to present three songs on a similar ‘power ballad/rawk’ arena that all come from the 80s/ early 90s. They’re not the kind that get repeated ad-infinitum on commercial radio though.

  1. ‘Green Tinted Sixties Mind’ – Mr Big
    I still have the 12” picture vinyl of this single, and while I never really took to their other music, I absolutely loved this. Even though I was at the start of my ‘crusty folk phase’ having just seen the Levellers play in Nottingham. Great chorus, get ready to powergrab!
  2. ‘Rough Boy’ – ZZ Top
    ZZ Tops’ Afterburner was one of those summer-y records that helped me pretend I was American for a few minutes. Rough Boy had the added cool of a video with Hot Rod Space Shuttle.
  3. ‘Take my Hand’ – Toto
    When the David Lynch version of Dune hit the cinema, my friends and I took up a whole row at our local. I didn’t remember Return of the Jedi getting such a good turn out, but there we all were. I particularly loved the soundtrack by Toto, and with the closing credits was this plinky-plonky piano instrumental called “Take my Hand”…


Jon Hicks: Troika #1: ‘Music for Stars’

Posted by Jon Hicks at March 03, 2015 10:00 AM

Photo by Nick Mearly (CC)

This first edition of Troika is about ambient music. Not the bleepy,beaty, dancy kind, but the more soothing ‘neo-classical’ or drone style of Ambient. Music for watching the stars (amongst other things).

These tracks are all connected by Adam Wiltzie from Stars of the Lid. We start with Christina Vantzou (who Wiltzie worked with on ‘The Dead Texan’ project), then Stars of the Lid themselves, and finish with A Winged Victory for the Sullen (Wiltzies’ current collaboration with composer Dustin O’Halloran).

  1. ‘Homemade Mountains’ – Christina Vantzou
  2. ‘Don’t bother they’re here’ – Stars of the Lid
  3. ‘Steep Hills of Vicodin Tears’ – A Winged Victory for the Sullen

Stars of the Lid were named after the lightshow you see with your eyes closed, literally ‘stars of the eyelids’. So lie back, pop your headphones on and lets see where the music takes us!…


Jon Hicks: Troika - a new music podcast

Posted by Jon Hicks at February 28, 2015 05:33 PM

Hello, peoples of the internets! Troika* is a new, low-key, music podcast from Hicksdesign.

The idea is that I’ll present a set of just three songs, connected by some sort of link – either by genre, artist, songs that were important to a particular time in my life or just some other odd notion that happens to take my fancy. Sometimes I might have guests on board to choose their trio of music. Talking from me will be minimal – just a short introduction, and then the music! I have several episodes planned, and the first one is recorded and ready for listening.

I won’t be making a seperate website for Troika, or setting up its own Twitter/Facebook/whatever page as that would only add more work for me to upkeep, and I want to keep this low-friction as possible and a part of the Journal. So episodes will be posted here, and you can subscribe to Troika via Huffduffer which will provide the podcast feed.

*The name comes from a Russian word that describes a configuration of three horses abreast, usually pulling a sleigh. Like so…


Jon Hicks: Mew - Satellites

Posted by Jon Hicks at February 03, 2015 10:03 AM

Mew are back! YIPEEE!!!


Jon Hicks: GIF-ITI

Posted by Jon Hicks at January 22, 2015 12:46 PM

Hand painted, animated street art – wonderful piece of madness!


Jon Hicks: An Event Apart - Boston

Posted by Jon Hicks at January 20, 2015 02:18 PM

Despite my appearance at the Chicago conference last August, I’ve been asked back again by An Event Apart to speak at the Boston conference on May 11-13th! AEA Chicago was my first of their events, and I loved how it was all set up, from the seating to the speaking. It’ll be my first time in Boston, and its a place on my ‘to visit’ list, so I can’t wait to be there. I’ll be presenting a new and updated version of my Icon Design Process talk.

I also have one of those new-fangled discount code thingies which is: AEAHICKS. You can use it to get $100 off any two- or three-day AEA event in 2015, not just the Boston one! If you’re coming to Boston, let me know via something like Twitter and lets have a chinwag!


Nate Weaver (Wevah): Photo

September 27, 2014 11:30 PM


Smokey Ardisson: 663399

Posted by Smokey at June 13, 2014 03:00 AM

Some years ago now, long after nearly all web standards people had adopted Firefox or Safari, the great CSS guru Eric Meyer was (still) a Camino user. In that capacity, I interacted with him a few times in my role as a member of the Camino team.

Today I join with the global community of those who knew or were influenced by the Meyers in presenting a #663399Becca border on افكار و احلام (and background on the main landing page) as a mark of remembrance for their young daughter who tragically passed away last Saturday.

I have no more words.

(Via Jon Hicks)


Nate Weaver (Wevah): cipater: This gorgeous piece of Hyrulian art was made by Ryan...

June 05, 2014 07:19 PM


This gorgeous piece of Hyrulian art was made by Ryan McKanna with a suggestion from his lovely wife, Jennifer Putzier - two of my dear friends who have an ongoing project called 52 Lasers. This project was started as an effort to branch out with innovative uses for their laser cutter featuring a new project for each week of the year, the least of which is this breathtaking mirror due to inhabit my home and compliment my limited edition Link to the Past 3DS and the Wind Waker Wii U. I am beyond words at how gorgeous this is - I donated it to him as a test project a few years ago and we never quite decided what to do with it. Jen had the brilliant idea to work with a Legend of Zelda inlay and I was just surprised with this out of the blue. 

Please check out their work! I am humbled by my amazingly talented friends!

“Hylian”, tho. runs away


Nate Weaver (Wevah): My fake aunt, dapper as fuck.

May 07, 2014 09:38 PM

My fake aunt, dapper as fuck.


Nate Weaver (Wevah): High Contrast — Spectrum Analyser

May 07, 2014 09:06 PM

High Contrast — Spectrum Analyser


Samuel Sidler: The end of an era

Posted by ss at May 30, 2013 09:46 PM

Today we updated Camino’s website to note that the browser is no longer under development and has thus reached the end of its life. We’re encouraging all of our users to switch to Chrome, Firefox, or Safari.

Of course, anyone observing Camino will note that it’s not a surprising change given we last released an update in March 2012. Our previous attempts to breathe life into the project and switch to Webkit didn’t succeed.

It was back in February 2005 that I first started helping the Camino project, first setting up a domain, then working to get their new website published. Camino got me involved in the Mozilla community, which eventually got me my job at Mozilla.

It’s sad to think this browser that gave me so much is finally being laid to rest. But here we are, more than a decade after it was first created, saying goodbye.

Goodbye old friend, rest in digital peace.


Camino Blog: Camino Reaches Its End

Posted by Stuart Morgan at May 30, 2013 09:35 PM

After a decade-long run, Camino is no longer being developed, and we encourage all users to upgrade to a more modern browser. Camino is increasingly lagging behind the fast pace of changes on the web, and more importantly it is not receiving security updates, making it increasingly unsafe to use.

Fortunately, Mac users have many more browsers to choose from than they did when Camino started ten years ago. Former Camino developers have helped build the three most popular – Chrome, Firefox, and Safari – so while this is the end of Camino itself, the community that helped build it is still making the web better for Mac users.

Thank you to all our loyal users, and to everyone who contributed in countless ways over the years to make Camino what it was.


Samuel Sidler: Is Forecast the best mobile web app?

Posted by ss at April 15, 2013 06:16 PM

I’ve been using Forecast since they launched, but I hadn’t “installed” it on my phone until very recently. To say I’m impressed with their mobile web app is an understatement.

There are a few places where you can tell it’s a web app and not a mobile app, but not many. In fact, it’s my favorite weather app barnone. In a recent blog post, the team talks about how it was their goal to design not a mobile app and not a web app and not even a mobile web app, but just an App (with a capital A).

We’ve had conversations like this dozens of times since launching Forecast. They usually comes from people who have an iPhone but aren’t particularly tech savvy, and I’m fairly certain none of them will ever know that Forecast is actually a web app. To them, it’s just an app you install from the web.

Putting the app maker in control of the entire user experience – in-app purchases, advertising, updates to the app, etc – is of course the ideal. But up until recently there hasn’t been a mobile web app that looks and feels like a real app.

If Firefox OS is to survive and flourish – and really this applies to other alternative mobile operating systems – there needs to be more of these slick mobile web apps that feel exactly like a real app. The portability of apps that is a major selling point of Firefox OS is within reach if more companies choose the path that Forecast has and create thought-out, well-done mobile web apps apps you install from the web.

I highly recommend reading Forecast’s blog post, which includes some of the lessons they learned creating their app.


Samuel Sidler: Three Months to Scale NewsBlur

Posted by ss at March 18, 2013 09:47 PM

Great report from Samuel Clay about his challenges in the post-Google Reader world. Since the news hit about Reader shutting down in July, NewsBlur has been hit hard with requests. (Previously.)

I was able to handle the 1,500 users who were using the service everyday, but when 50,000 users hit an uncachable and resource intensive backend, unless you’ve done your homework and load tested the living crap out of your entire stack, there’s going to be trouble brewing.




It has also been a dream come true to receive accolades from the many who are trying NewsBlur for the first time and loving it. Since the announcement, NewsBlur has welcomed 5,000 new premium subscribers and 60,000 new users (from 50,000 users originally).

Because it’s open source and because I can actually pay for it (unlike Feedly), Newsblur is my top choice for replacing Google Reader at the moment. And the new design he’s working on is a nice improvement.


Samuel Sidler: Goodbye Google Reader… now what?

Posted by ss at March 14, 2013 12:56 AM

The big news in the feeds I follow is that Google Reader is shutting down July 1. Why?

There are two simple reasons for this: usage of Google Reader has declined, and as a company we’re pouring all of our energy into fewer products. We think that kind of focus will make for a better user experience.

Of course, usage has declined because they’ve poured their energy elsewhere, but facts don’t matter here.

So now what? What other web apps exist that can replace Google Reader, especially the backend sync feature? For just a web app, there’s Fever. For a desktop app, Newsfire can still be purchased, but hasn’t been updated in years. Nothing is ideal.

Update: Looks like a bunch of people are getting behind Newsblur. It’s open source too.

2nd Update: The Old Reader looks much nicer to me, but feeds aren’t updated all that often from what I can tell.

3rd Update: Tiny Tiny RSS looks like a pretty good alternative. As does 1k, which open sourced a few hours ago.

4th Update: Okay okay, I know I left out a few before. Feedly, of course. And NetVibes and Bloglines. But I’m not all that impressed with those, and the idea of an open source feed reader is particularly enticing. Meanwhile, Digg has thrown its hat into the race. And as Robert Kaiser says below, there’s ownCloud News if you don’t mind running your own.

5th Update: Feedbin is another option.


Samuel Sidler: Firefox OS and Browser Choice

Posted by ss at March 08, 2013 05:23 PM

Back when I was working at Mozilla, there was quite a bit of discussion about user choice, specifically how important it is for users to be able to choose their browser. Often, this discussion was tied to the Mozilla Manifesto, point 5:

Individuals must have the ability to shape their own experiences on the Internet.

Back in February 2010 (a couple months after I left Mozilla), Mozilla launched the “Open to Choice” campaign (since shuttered), which was a great place to send individuals to show them why the ability to choose your own browser is important. The campaign was mostly tied to Microsoft’s settlement with the European Union and its requirement to offer a selection of browsers to choose from during setup. Here’s Mozilla’s then-CEO John Lilly on why browser choice matters:

(Side note: the Open to Choice campaign has been shut down and wasn’t archived, unlike most other Mozilla sites. Going to leads to a bad https site, and then a 403. I would love to read the letter from John Lilly and Mitchell Baker again.)

As an iPhone user, I’m more-or-less stuck with Safari. Sure, I can find numerous browsers in the App Store, Chrome included. But the browsers in the app store are mostly just embedded version of WebKit – a limited version of WebKit at that. Why can’t I run Firefox on my iPhone? Why can’t I run a real version of Chrome? Apple has locked out browser makers by making specific requirements of the applications in the App Store and making the App Store the only way to distribute apps. Short of jailbreaking my iPhone and hoping Mozilla or Google port their respective browsers to jailbroken iPhones, there’s nothing I can do.

Prior to my iPhone, however, I had a Google Nexus One phone. One of the features of Android is the “open” Android Market and the ability to install applications from any source. Back then, I wasn’t locked in to any specific browser. In fact, I ran Firefox on my Nexus One and was quite happy with it, even back in the days of Firefox being incredibly slow on Android. The situation has gotten even better with Google shipping a version of Chrome for Android. It isn’t hard to imagine another browser running on the platform some time in the future.

Last year, in May 2012, Harvey Anderson, Mozilla’s General Counsel, wrote about the lack of browser choice on Microsoft’s Windows RT, an ARM-specific operating system tailored for tablets. He conclusion is quite clear:

The prospect that the next generation of Windows on ARM devices would limit users to one browser is untenable and represents a first step toward a new platform lock-in.

But the upcoming Firefox OS, built on Mozilla technology (namely Gecko), doesn’t appear to have any browser choice (as John Gruber pointed out a couple days ago). Is this an oversight or are developers working on the ability to allow browsers to run successfully on Firefox OS? And what about Chrome OS – why hasn’t Mozilla publicly asked for browser choice from Google?

Even webOS – Palm’s HP’s LG’s ill-fated operating system built on Linux and WebKit – had a method for porting browsers. In fact, a Mozilla developer started an experimental Firefox port a while ago. That experiment ended, likely because it isn’t important to port Firefox to a dying platform, but the point remains that it was possible.

I’ll ask again: where is the ability to select a third party browser on Firefox OS? Is this ability being planned in the future? And why has there been no advocacy against Chrome OS for its lack of browser choice? It all feels rather hypocritical to me.


Nate Weaver (Wevah): Photo

January 27, 2013 12:01 AM


Nate Weaver (Wevah): Random Launching Issue: Solved!

November 18, 2012 08:12 PM

For future reference: Don’t use public.item to mean “any file type”. Use instead.


Nate Weaver (Wevah): cipater: steamgoodworkshop: The Inconspicous Appendage 2: The...

September 28, 2012 07:16 PM



The Inconspicous Appendage 2: The Return by MultiTrip

HE’S BACK AND IN BLACK (You can paint it black)




Nate Weaver (Wevah): catbushandludicrous: JON: This correspondents’ strike may go...

September 28, 2012 07:12 PM


JON: This correspondents’ strike may go down as the least-effective piece of industrial action in recorded history—if you’re an option, I’m firing all these guys right away! […] As far as I’m concerned, I just traded up my ‘83 Toyota for a Maserati!



Nate Weaver (Wevah): flash

September 10, 2012 01:33 AM

Set a delay.


Nate Weaver (Wevah): What settings do I use to capture a very long web page?

September 10, 2012 01:33 AM

Just leave the crop size set to infinite, and it should work. If it’s an “infinitely scrolling” page, you might have to interact, scroll manually, and then press cmd-return to capture without reloading (0.6.5+).


Camino Blog: Introducing the Amasis Web Font

Posted by Samuel Sidler at August 16, 2012 08:35 AM

This past weekend, we deployed the Amasis web font on headings throughout our website. We’re excited to finally be able to use the popular web font technology present in Camino 2.1 and to be able to use the same font on our website as we use in our logotype.

We would like to thank for providing a license to make this possible; without their support, we would be unable to take advantage of web fonts on We’ve added to the Thanks section of our Contribute page, alongside our current hosting sponsor NetworkRedux. Thanks so much,!


Nate Weaver (Wevah): Old Soap.

August 16, 2012 12:52 AM

Old Soap.


Nate Weaver (Wevah): Paparazzi! and Folder Actions

August 16, 2012 12:29 AM

A few people have written describing a very odd issue: Paparazzi! randomly launching on them for no reason.

Two of these people mentioned using Folder Actions, so I figured Apple Events/AppleScript were involved. They were also all using 10.6 or 10.7.

Turns out, Folder Actions want to talk to System Events. On 10.8, Folder Actions Setup asks for System Events using its bundle ID ( However, on 10.7, it looks for it using its (deprecated) creator code ('sevs').

If System Events isn’t already running, Folder Actions somehow can’t find it via its creator code. (I’m fairly certain now that this is an Apple bug.)

TLDR: If you’re having Paparazzi! launch on you randomly, and you’re using Folder Actions, try launching /System/Library/CoreServices/System manually. If the problem goes away, add it to your login items.

(Or stop putting off your upgrade to Mountain Lion.)


Nate Weaver (Wevah): Paparazzi! random launch issue

August 12, 2012 07:55 AM

A few people have reported an issue with Paparazzi! where it will spontaneously launch or come to the foreground, interrupting their workflows. I can’t reproduce this, so if anyone is seeing this I woud appreciate any info that could help me track it down! (Console logs around the time it occurs, etc.)


Nate Weaver (Wevah): Paparazzi! 0.6b4

August 09, 2012 05:00 PM

Paparazzi! 0.6b4:

Yeah, this was last Monday, and I forgot to post it here. :S


Nate Weaver (Wevah): Retinas.

July 20, 2012 02:15 AM



Nate Weaver (Wevah): The hole Internet. Right here.

July 12, 2012 04:46 AM

The hole Internet. Right here.


Smokey Ardisson: :grmbl:

Posted by Smokey at May 20, 2012 07:29 AM

Today I discovered one of my friends had returned to blogging. Seized with happiness, I went to leave a “welcome back” comment.

Unfortunately, in the two-plus years since I had last left a comment on her blog, had completely redone comment authorization. Even though the text reads

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

(emphasis added) and I filled in my details rather than clicking on a service icon, decided that, because said email address was also associated with my Gravatar or accounts (both, in this case1), I would have to sign in to in order to leave a comment.

That’s not the end of the world (although way back when, I had carefully crafted my cookies exceptions list to ensure I was remembered on her blog but not anywhere else in the WordPress universe—there’s nothing more frightening than showing up on a site you’ve never visited before and finding that you’re logged-in in the comments field—and generally free from being tracked by in my travels across the web), if that were where it ended. I would have logged in, had my comment posted, logged out, and gone about the rest of my evening, and you’d never be reading this post.

However, what happened is, without any notification whatsoever, replaced the details I had entered (remember, I entered my name, URL and email address instead of clicking on a service icon) with a reference to my account. So instead of “Smokey” from leaving a comment, “sardisson” with no URL left a comment. Even after I visited my never-used profile and entered as my “Web Address” (“Shown publicly when you comment on blogs and in your Gravatar profile.”), my comment still has no URL. I guess because my blog isn’t actually at, I can’t have a Web Address associated with my comments on sites. :-( As for my name, I can also change my “Public Display Name”, but, once again, doing so didn’t alter my comment. (I can also change my username, which might produce the desired effect—though based on the prior two changes it seems unlikely—but I don’t want to jump through the hoops required to do that, and, besides, I like my username just fine.)

On the one hand, I can understand’s desire to force all commenters to use an account from one of their blessed services (even if I don’t agree with the idea), but in that case, why even allow for the appearance of commenting with any name/URL/email? I can also see an argument for forcing anyone who is trying to comment using a email address to log in, so all comments can be associated with the user profile and aggregated (though, in my opinion, that argument is not one that carries much weight).

But if you’re going to force this correlation on visitors/users,

  1. Make it clear the association is going to happen, and don’t offer alternative identification UI that leads users to believe they can still comment using the traditional name/URL/email details, and
  2. Realize that users—and here by users I mean people, human beings, flesh-and-blood, your mom, your brother, your best friend from college, real people you know and interact with in person on a daily basis, not some abstract construct called “users”—are going to want to identify themselves differently in different contexts,2 so you need let them. Not just let them, but facilitate this choice.

After all, even Yahoo! allows you to have separate “identities” associated with the same account and has allowed you to subscribe to different Yahoo! Groups using different identities for so long I’ve forgotten when they introduced that feature. And, er, I believe supports exactly that sort of thing, different gravatars for different email addresses (except, I guess, if you want to comment on Why can’t comments?

Please, just let me comment on my friend’s blog as “Smokey” from using the email address I customarily use on the internet, and let me choose to comment elsewhere on blogs as “Smokey Ardisson” or “sardisson” or whatever facet of my identity is most appropriate for the context in which I am commenting.


1 Even if I hadn’t used the same email address on both services, once Auttomatic acquired Gravatar and linked it with, practically speaking for everyone the two accounts are one and the same.

2 :cough: Google Buzz :cough: Google Plus :cough:


Smokey Ardisson: Sunday Re-Read

Posted by Smokey at April 30, 2012 03:57 AM

Periodically I glance at the statistics for افكار و احلام, and as I did so today at breakfast, I noticed some referrer activity from another author’s response to one of my old posts.

I glanced back at my old post and re-read it; although it was nearly a year-and-a-half old, the post still resonated with me as strongly today as then, and it remains just as timely and relevant today.

So for today’s Sunday Re-Read, I offer up again September 2010’s If not me… for thoughtful reading.


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November 25, 2015 11:46 PM
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