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The Instagram Alternative Is Kickstarted 

Jason McFadden:

The initial screenshots look very nice. It begins with a not-so-subtle-red theme, which is a stark yet welcome departure from the blues of Twitter and Facebook.

The name itself, Bokeh, leads me to think that the social site will focus more heavily on photography than on celebrity influencer status – cough, Instagram, cough.

Interestingly, that’s why I went with red. Blue is an overused color in social media apps, and I wanted a color as bright and bold as I am. Bokeh is me, and I want it to be a success or failure by representing my values and my vision of optimism for how the web can be better for all of us.

I’m grateful and excited to see others passionate about this vision too.

The Iconfactory Releases Twitterrific 6 for iOS

I was excited to be testing Iconfactory’s Twitterrific 6 for the last few days. Twitterrific’s whimsical design has long been appealing to me, and the crew at Iconfactory take it to a great new level with this version.

Here are the things that stuck out to me while I used it:

  • Great colorful themes
    I’m not a light theme user when it comes to browsing tweets, and Twitterrific 6 comes with five new themes my favorite being Puffin. Every theme is named after a bird, which is incredibly on brand and gives me a chuckle.
  • Unobtrusive Ads
    I’ve talked a lot about my distaste for ads, but it’s never been that I dislike all ads. I hate obtrusive and targeted ads. Twitterrific 6 has a beautiful and well-designed ad spot at the top of the timeline that doesn’t violate your privacy nor sours your experience. In fact, its placement, size, and supporting background colors is a masterclass of what an ad should be.
  • Customization
    The level of customization is fantastic. Don’t like the default icon? Don’t worry, there are seventeen to choose from. Sick of the system font? No problem, pick from a list of ten other typefaces. And these are just two examples, Twitterrific’s extensive customization is simply delightful.

All in all, Twitterrific 6 is an excellent Twitter experience. Twitter’s antagonistic behavior towards third-party developers hasn’t stopped Iconfactory from shipping a quality app, which speaks volumes to the creativity and thoughtfulness of their team.

You can download Twitterrific 6 on the App Store for free, and I wholeheartedly recommend you do so. If you enjoy the experience, be sure to support this great team by subscribing monthly, annually, or paying a one-time $30 to remove ads for the life of Twitterrific 6.

I hope this new version and pricing model helps support Iconfactory and the making of Twitterrific for many years to come.

Apple Is Listening 

Marco Arment:

Even more importantly than any hardware releases, macOS itself has also seen massive engineering effort recently. For the first time in a decade, the Mac was a major focus of WWDC, with great new APIs poised to usher in a huge wave of fresh software.

This is what was so exciting about this keynote. Not only did Apple need to announce pro-level hardware, but macOS need an injection of enthusiasm. They delivered. As I said previously on The Bright Pixels Podcast, there is a palpable excitement for the Mac again, and it’s insanely exciting to say that.

US Coffee Roasters 

By absolute coincidence, I noticed Alex Carpenter create this excellent site of coffee roasters on GitHub. The site breaks down roasters by state, gives you the physical address, and the roaster’s website. Turns out, there are some local roasters I wasn’t aware of and am now eager to try. If you find your favorite roaster is missing, open an issue and suggest it.

Unfortunately, US is baked into the name, so I’m not sure he’ll support international roasters at some point. But if you’re in the US, and you love buying coffee straight from the source, you’ll love this site.

Image Optimization In WordPress 

Adelina Țucă writing for Smashing Magazine:

Do not underestimate the impact of image optimization. Images are always one of the main reasons for a slow website. Google doesn’t like slow websites and nor do your visitors and clients.

This is the type of stuff that’s pretty awesome with WordPress. Most issues you could be having, there’s most likely someone already out there with a solution. I went ahead and installed Adelina’s suggestion of Optimole and saw immediate performance gains. If you use WordPress and love to blog with photos like I do, give this article a read.

How to Use the Web Share API 

Ayooluwa Isaiah writing for CSS-Tricks:

This approach provides a number of advantages over conventional methods:

  • The user is presented with a wide range of options for sharing content compared to the limited number you might have in your implementation.
  • You can improve your page load times by doing away with third-party scripts from individual social platforms.
  • You don’t need to add a series of buttons for different social media sites and email. A single button is sufficient to trigger the device’s native sharing options.
  • Users can customize their preferred share targets on their own device instead of being limited to just the predefined options.

The Web Share API looks insanely cool and doesn’t look too difficult to implement. I may give this a try sometime this week.

Some of My Favorite WWDC 2019 Perspectives

First up, Jim Dalrymple on The Loop:

If you’re like me, you noticed the similarity with the “cheese grater” Mac Pro of years ago, and for good reason. Both machines are similar in the exterior look, and why not, that was a pro machine that worked.

This is one of the things that both surprised and impressed me the most about Monday’s keynote. Apple chose to go with function over form, something they’ve unfortunately seemed to care little for in the past few years. I wonder if this move is the beginning of a shift in their product line where our MacBooks get thicker for better thermal performance and more ports. One can always hope.

Next up, Colin Devroe:

The Mac Pro isn’t for me, but I’m very glad it exists.

This is the point I made on the latest episode of The Bright Pixels Podcast. I’ve never been the target market for the Mac Pro, but I always felt that I needed those people. Furthermore, I needed Apple to care about them because that care always trickled down to me. So yes, this Mac Pro and the new Pro Display XDR is nowhere near a price I can afford, but there’s palpable excitement for the Mac again. That’s good for all Mac users.

Lastly, Mike Haynes on Robot Hive:

It’s nice to see Apple finally bring iTunes behind the shed and put it out of its misery. I couldn’t help but laugh when Craig Federighi said that “customers love iTunes”.

The best part is that even Apple knew this was overdue. It is proven by Craig Federighi’s self-deprecating humor when talking about it. I hope that by separating these different things into three different apps (Apple Music, Apple Podcasts, and Apple TV), it’ll allow their teams to better the experience of the three services.

We see that with how they explained machine learning indexing for podcasts, which will essentially allow for full-text search of podcasts. That’s so exciting! There’s also evidence that they care about Apple TV. But Apple Music has been a little stagnant, and the most significant feature we got this year was synced lyrics. I’m not saying it’s a bad feature, but it deserves more love than that.

It was a jam-packed keynote, and I feel a renewed excitement about being an Apple customer.

Bright Pixels Moves to WordPress

Wait… what?

I know. I know. I can’t believe it’s happened. I’ve spent over thirty hours painstakingly migrating the site over to WordPress. Just a few months before this, I’d moved the site over to Statamic. This has been quite a painful journey, so let’s jump in.

Moving Away From Jekyll

I started created sites in Jekyll back in 2012. At the time, I was doing nothing but WordPress sites for my freelance business. WordPress was a pain in the ass. There wasn’t an easy way to sync your database between local and production environments, my databases always seem to get corrupted (and I didn’t have much of a backup strategy), and last but certainly not least, writing PHP has never been my favorite thing to do.

2012 was the year I dived deep into Ruby. I co-built a CMS in Ruby on Rails and got a few jobs working on Rails apps. Anyway, the point is, I was done with WordPress and thought I’d never look back.

Building this site with Jekyll felt to be a no-brainer at the time. It was what I was most comfortable with, it’s incredibly easy to host, everything can be version controlled, and writing in Markdown is the default.

But then I had six years of an archive which amounted to over six hundred posts. Every time I would do development on the site, it would take over fifteen seconds to build. After doing some insane optimizations, I was able to get it down to eight seconds, but that was still way too slow. And don’t think I didn’t try every single suggestion I could find, but none of it was enough.

There were other problems too. No easy way for other people to write for the site, no easy way to create a membership and restrict certain content just for those members, and writing posts from mobile was an absolute nightmare.1 Unfortunately, some of these issues aren’t the fault of Jekyll, but a current limitation of static site generators.

Did It Really Take Thirty Hours?

Yes. Unfortunately. The RSS import feature didn’t work for me, and even if it did, I’m glad I didn’t go that route anyway. Jekyll only exports HTML and I wanted to move over the original Markdown. So I did what any other sane person in my position would’ve done: I migrated all 660 posts one-by-one.

With the help of Advanced Custom Fields, I was able to keep all the essential metadata that makes this site run. I’m also using the DF-Style Linked List plugin for my linkblog. There’s still a lot of stuff I need to fix to replicate the site from before, but I felt it was good enough for now. I purposely hadn’t written anything in a while because of the migration.

So there I was, using almost any spare moment to copy/paste until my fingers bled.2 Thirty hours later, I’d moved every blog post written on this site. I hope never to have to do it again. In fact, I don’t care how lousy WordPress may turn out to be in the future. I am not migrating this site again. Hold me to that!

What Does the Future Hold?

The biggest reason for the migration back to WordPress was to improve my writing experience. There’s some type of WordPress support in almost every single writing app. Ulysses, for example, makes it insanely easy to capture text from the iOS share menu. I started this very post from my iPhone, worked on it a little from my iPad, and am now writing on the Mac on my living room couch. That’s pretty awesome if you ask me.

The other big one was membership. I’ve been making this site for six years, and I think I’ve missed out on the opportunity to truly create a community around this site. I’ve published a lot of great content over the years, which has taken me a lot of time to make, and I’d like for this site to help me pay my bills even if just a little. I’d be so happy to create content for a living, but to do that, I need to start making the things I create work for me.

As you may have noticed, there is now a Bright Pixels podcast. It’s meant to replace The Radio Column, a show where I discussed my life and work. The only thing was, my life isn’t always all that interesting. Sure, there are times when I’m struggling with something, but there were other times when I had nothing to share, and hence no episode to release. It made the show extremely inconsistent.

I hope that by bringing it over, I have more to talk about. The show’s topics are now any topic I cover on this site. Also, (if you’ve listened already) it leaves me space to talk about what I’m going through too.

But this is only one of the things I’m doing to bring everything under the Bright Pixels umbrella. All content I create will be under the same name and posted through here, which I’m hoping will make this site the success I feel it should and can be.

Soon I’ll officially announce what membership for this site is all about and the cool perks to go with it. I hope you’ll support me.

Do I Recommend It?

I’m enjoying WordPress. I’m using a plugin to get the classic editor back, and I’m happily writing in Markdown.3 Flywheel is hosting the site which automatically backs everything up for me and makes it easy to restore from one of those backups.

Right now, I recommend WordPress. It’s a vibrant and mature ecosystem, and it has everything I need. But as I usually say about a lot of things, the right solution is the one that’s right for you. This just happened to be right for me.

  1. Sorry to those of you who love writing from your iPad with your static site. The process of writing and committing to Git from my iPad felt incredibly cumbersome for me. I’m glad you’ve found something that works for you though. 
  2. Ok, fine. I’m being melodramatic. 
  3. I plan on releasing a screencast on what my current writing setup looks like and how I got WordPress to play nice. 

Permission to Write Stuff 

Brendan Dawes:

I would say treat the web like that big red button of the original Flip camera. Just push it, write something and then publish it. It may not be perfect, but nothing ever is anyway. I write all sorts of crap on my blog — some of it really niche like snippets for Vim. Yet it’s out there just in case someone finds it useful at some point — not least me when I forget how I’ve done something.

Fantastic advice.

(via Andy Bell)

Those Who Share, Receive (Or, How to Get Noticed or Get Work) 

Colin Devroe:

These two examples are just the latest proof that if you put stuff out into the world you will receive attention or work if you are seeking it. It may take time. Sometimes even a long time. But it will never, ever happen if you do not share.

I’m touched to be mentioned in this article, but it’s good advice. Interestingly, I hadn’t made the connection that Colin makes about my own story. I vowed to put these insecurities aside, and without even realizing it, I am! Putting myself out there by building Bokeh is brave and I needed the reminder.