Custom Domains on iCloud Mail

One of the neat things that was quietly announced as part of the iOS 15 rollout is the ability to use custom domains with iCloud Mail.

I have a long, self-inflicted and complicated history with email. I self-hosted for many years (stupid, don’t do it), then moved to Fastmail (too expensive), on to Zoho (too business focussed) and then for the past year, Migadu. Migadu is great, and I’ve no complaints. It’s cheap & reliable, no-nonsense, and I’d recommend them. But moving my domains over to iCloud makes sense because I already pay for a bunch of Apple services, and it won’t cost me any extra.

The process was super-easy, and I was up and running in around fifteen minutes. I’m trialling it with my personal domains for a couple of weeks, and if all goes well, I’ll move the family communal domain over too.

I’m trying to reduce the amount of stuff that I administer (and pay for), so this has been an unexpected and not unpleasant win. 

Electronic Ink

At midnight on July 15th 2005, thousands of people were queueing to get their hands on a hardback copy of Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince. I sat at home and waited. Taking advantage of time-zones, a worldwide army of volunteers coordinated a massive transcription effort and released it as an ebook, which I read in my Palm PDA the next morning. That was my first experience of reading fiction electronically, and while imperfect, it worked.

What I didn’t know at the time was that a year earlier Sony had released the first commercial electronic book reader in Japan, called the Librie. I ordered one in January 2006 after reading an article on BoingBoing. It was my first international purchase, a fact that I remember because I was terrified that it wouldn’t arrive and that I’d be out of pocket by five hundred quid.

There have been a couple of electronic devices in my lifetime that have been so unlike anything released before that they elicit genuine amazement. The iPod touch was one. The Librie was another. It was the first example of an e-ink screen, which was low resolution by today’s standards, but quite remarkable back then. The software was in Japanese, though there was a hack to turn bits of it to English, and it was slow — but I didn’t pick up a paper book the whole time I owned it.

My Sony Librie

My Sony Librie

I’ve owned tons of e-ink devices since then. Sony and Amazon ruled the market for a while, but there’s now a plethora of companies doing interesting things with e-ink. Boox, Kobo and Pocketbook make e-readers that leave the Kindle in the dust, and companies like Supernote and Remarkable are making some compelling note-taking devices with the larger screens.

The great thing about e-ink as a display technology is its limitations. It doesn’t do colour, and the refresh rate is abysmal - so the only thing it’s any good for is displaying single pages of information. It’s the one piece of technology that I own that acts as an antidote to all the other technology I own. There are no ads, and no tracking. No infinite scroll or notifications. It does one thing only: let me escape this world for other worlds, uninterrupted - at least for a while.

Being a beacon of positivity

I recently read through some of my old posts. I’m more of a ‘hit and run’ type of blogger, so it’s not something I do very often, if ever. Many of my posts over the past couple of years are on subjects that generate negative emotions (politics, social media) or are negative in sentiment (general moans & gripes). I’m not thrilled about this, so I’ve unpublished everything prior to this year pending review.

The internet has reached heightened levels of toxicity over the past couple of years, and if you are ‘very online’ - as many of us are - there is a risk that on-line toxicity & negativity bleeds out into the real world, affecting our well-being, our work, and our relationships. I might play only a tiny part, but it is not my desire to contribute to the global levels of negativity.

That’s not to say that I can’t write about negative subjects, or that I should become a beacon of positivity, but that I shouldn’t write about negative things just to get them off my chest. While it makes me feel better, it might have the opposite effect on a reader that is already having a bad day. I’m a big believer in people owning their words. I’m owning mine, and taking some back.

Weights & Measures

There are two systems of measurement in use in the UK: Imperial and Metric. There is no good reason to use two. That’s just the type of people we are.

The Imperial system uses yards for distance, pounds for weight and gallons for volume. Dividing a ‘yard’ into three gives you a ‘foot’, and one ‘foot’ is divisible by twelve to create an ‘inch’. A mile is 1760 yards (or eight furlongs). A ‘pound’ is divisible by 16 to make an ounce. Going the other way, multiply it by 14 to make a ‘stone’, or by 2000 to make a ‘ton’. A gallon is made up of 8 pints, and pints are divided into fractions.

Make sense? No. No, it doesn’t.

Metric, which we all know and love, is a decimal system based on meters for measuring distance, kilograms for weight and litres for volume. It’s easy to remember and calculate. One meter is a hundred centimetres. A thousand meters is a kilometre. One thousand millilitres is a litre. All very sensible, and the UK standardised on this system in the 1960s.

There is no good reason to use anything other than metric, but we intermittently use imperial measurements for weight, height and area. Ask anyone in the UK how much they weigh and you’ll get an answer in stones and pounds. Sales brochures for houses display the floor area in square feet. The entirety of our transport system is in imperial.

I’m replacing our bathroom, and I can tell you that the people that manufacture plumbing supplies also missed the news that we switched to metric forty years ago. If I want some pipe, it comes in meters. But if I want to buy a tap connector, it will be in fractions of inches. Occasionally, they mix the two on one product.

This is no way to run a country.

Just get the f**cking vaccine

Wendy Molyneux makes an impassioned and eloquent plea to vaccine sceptics:

Hi, if you are reading this essay then congratulations, you are still alive. And if you are alive, then you have either gotten the COVID-19 vaccine, or you still have the opportunity to get the vaccine against COVID-19. And holy fuck, if you aren’t fucking vaccinated against COVID-19, then you need to get fucking vaccinated right now. I mean, what the fuck? Fuck you. Get vaccinated. Fuck.

Many fucks are given in the full essay.

Link: McSweeny’s Magazine

On Digital Footprints

How much energy does your digital self consume, and what can you do to minimise it? Scott Nesbit has been thinking about it this week, and it’s worth a read.

The amount of energy used for internet applications is staggering. In 2018, Google estimated that a typical search used as much energy as a 60-watt lightbulb does in 17 seconds1. Imagine that, billions of times over.

Of course, the overall environmental impact depends on where the energy comes from. Many data centres in Europe are transitioning to renewable energy, as are our homes with the rise of wind and solar. Regardless, it’s something worth thinking about as we wander around our digital universe.

Link: Weekly Musings 125 - On Digital Footprints


  1. Yale.edu ↩︎

Beware the hot take

Ignore the people offering simple solutions to complex problems. There are no simple or right answers, just choices and consequences.

Finding a stolen scooter with AirTags

I lose stuff all the time. AirTags are the hi-tech solution from Apple, but I don’t feel like buying another product to micro-manage my deficiencies.

Still, this tweet from Dan Guido offers an interesting insight into their possibilities.

Stray

Stray, from Blue Twelve Studio, looks like a lot of fun.

the highly anticipated video game immerses players in a futuristic metropolis as a lonely, injured feline in search of its family. With the help of a drone named B-12, the sprightly creature has to evade the threats of the dystopian city as it roams the neon-lit alleys, leaps through rundown, graffiti-covered buildings, and nuzzles up to human-like robots.

Via Colossal