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Nearly a Week With Less Facebook [en]

Nearly a Week With Less Facebook [en]

[fr] Il y a près d'une semaine, sur une impulsion, j'ai supprimé de mon téléphone l'application Facebook: c'était en effet principalement sur mon téléphone que je me retrouvais à consulter mon fil d'actus de façon un peu frénétique, compulsive. Et ces temps, les nouvelles du monde qui ont envahi "mon" Facebook commençaient à me peser. Le fait d'avoir cette icône bleue sur l'écran de mon téléphone à chaque fois que je l'ouvrais pour faire quoi que ce soit ne m'aidait pas à prendre de la distance. Du coup, j'ai l'application Groupes, Pages, et Messenger -- mais pour Facebook tout court je vais sur l'ordi ou l'iPad, ou dans le navigateur sur mon téléphone (c'est moins "agréable" mais ça marche). Et bien sûr, je peux toujours réinstaller l'application! Mais pour le moment, j'apprécie le retour au calme que cette modification de mon environnement numérique m'apporte.

fullsizeoutput_5386The morning after I wrote my last post about being exposed to too much news, I decided to try removing the Facebook app from my phone. It was a spur-of-the-moment idea, prompted by a few death announcements in my social circle on top to all the difficult world news we’re dealing with nowadays.

The fact that I get “caught up” in Facebook, compulsively cycling through my newsfeed and notifications, has been bothering me for a while. Time flies by and I’m still on Facebook.

Where this happens most is on my phone, particularly because I can carry it around all over the place the easiest. I will stand up and leave the computer. I will leave the iPad lying around somewhere. But the phone is always with me.

And the Facebook app is there, on my home screen, staring at me each time I turn on my phone for anything. And I get lost inside.

As you know if you’ve been following me for some time, I’m super interested in stuff like procrastination, change, habits. And I probably have already mentioned an idea I found clearly expressed on James Clear’s blog: environment is key in shaping our habits. If I think about my “Facebook habit”, clearly the fact that this app is so prominently displayed on my screen is encouraging it.

I remember one step of Note to Self’s “Bored and Brilliant” challenge was to delete your favorite app from your phone for a day. I didn’t like the idea. I preferred to think that I could have the discipline not to check my phone compulsively. And I can. But the problem is when I go to my phone for something else, and end up on Facebook instead — or afterwards.

Anyway. I decided to remove the app for the day, to give myself some space away from all the news. I can still check Facebook on my iPad or computer — or even in the browser — but it’s not staring at me each time I pick up my phone anymore.

Quite fast, I replaced it with the Facebook Groups app. I love Facebook Groups and am active in quite a few of them. They are not saturated with world news or people dying. They are not as active as my newsfeed, and therefore don’t lead to as much compulsive reloading. I also unearthed the Pages app so I could post to my pages. And I use Messenger, of course.

I realised that doing this gave me a breather. So I didn’t reinstall the app the next day. Or the next. It’s been nearly a week now, and I might keep things like this. I’ve been through the browser interface a few times, but it’s less seamless than the app, and so you don’t get “sucked in” as much.

Let me make it clear: this is absolutely not about “quitting Facebook” or anything like that. It is about “less compulsion”. About helping myself spend my time with more decision, less automation. It’s funny, I never thought I would do this. Had you asked me 10 days ago I would have said it was a silly idea. Or that I didn’t want to “cut the cord” like that. And I might roll this change back. But just now, I’m finding that being able to take a few steps back from my “TV 2.0” is really helpful.

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Hangouts: Watch Me Run Screaming From Dark Green Conversation Bubbles [en]

Hangouts: Watch Me Run Screaming From Dark Green Conversation Bubbles [en]

[fr] Vous avez vu la nouvelle version de Hangouts pour iOS? Texte blanc sur fond vert, donc lisibilité décrue, pour le texte de votre interlocuteur. Révolte! Je reviens à la version précédente...

I’m generally pretty good at dealing with my internal resistance to change when it comes to upgrading software. I know that we get used to a lot of things.

But Google have crossed the line with their new iOS version of hangouts. So, for the first time in my life, I’m actually downgrading the recently upgraded apps on both my iPhone and my iPad. I know it’s not a permanent solution, but maybe somebody at Google will realise that reading white text in a dark green bubble set against a light background makes for a rather unpleasant reading experience.

A picture is worth a thousand words, so head over to this review with screenshots to see what I mean (the one below is lifted from there). Sure, it’s pretty, but what about readable?

old vs new Hangouts

The old version of hangouts served similarly contrasted text for the whole conversation:

  • your interlocutor’s words on a white/light background, with dark text
  • your words in the same text colour but on a light green background, so slightly less contrast (you don’t read your words that much… right?)

Compare to now:

  • your interlocutor’s words are white text on a dark green background, set against the light background of the app (reminder: this is the text you’ll be reading all the time)
  • your text is dark on a light background

WTF?!

Inverted color schemes are less legible.

Too much contrast hurts legibility as much as not enough can. (Yes, the page is old and ugly.)

Check out some research:

From these results, one can say that contrast affects legibility, but unfortunately, it does not seem to be as simple as high contrast being better than low contrast. In the main experiment, GN/Y had the fastest RT’s, and in the control experiment, medium gray, and dark gray had the fastest RT’s. In neither experiment did the BK/W condition show the fastest RT’s. These results show that these participants had faster response times when more median contrasts were used. These results supported Powell (1990), who suggested avoiding sharp contrasts, but did not fully support Rivlen et al. (1990), who suggested maintaining high contrast.

According to a manual by AT&T; (1989), the direction of the contrast (dark on light, or light on dark) might also affect legibility. When light text is placed on a dark background the text may seem to glow and become blurred; this is referred to as halation, and it may make the text harder to read. Some evidence for an effect of halation was found in the current experiment.

(via Coding Horror)

You’d think they would have paid more attention to readability for an app many people (myself included) spend pretty much all day using. How did this get out of the door? And why is it still out there?

Give me a sec while I go grab my pitchfork, I’ll meet you down in the street.

Mood: horrified.

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Extracting Web Apps From the Browser: Fluid and Prism [en]

Extracting Web Apps From the Browser: Fluid and Prism [en]

[fr] Prism et Fluid sont des applications OSX qui vous permettent de créer des mini-applications qui sont en fait une fenêtre de navigateur (Firefox ou Safari) qui n'ouvre qu'une seule URL. Pratique si vous avez l'habitude de consulter Gmail, Twitter, Digg etc. via leur interface web.

This has been a productive morning for a lazy Saturday. A tweet from Tom Morris put me on the track of Fluid, and then Prism. (This is for Mac users, by the way.)

Fluid and Prism are both site-specific browsers, the first based on Safari, the second on Firefox. If you’re the kind of person who always had a Gmail tab open in their browser, and maybe another for Twitter, and for blog comments, and Google Docs, and for Friendfeed, and god knows what, you’ll like this.

Personally, the reason I like desktop clients is that they separate the web service I’m using from the browser. I can Cmd-Tab to it. I don’t see it all the time when I’m in my browser. I don’t lose the tab when my browser crashes.

Site-specific browsers basically allow you to create a simple application which is in fact a single browser window that opens up one single web page. Links in that web page, when clicked, get opened in your default browser.

I have now created “apps” for Identi.ca, Wave, and Gmail, so far. It’s as simple as filling in a small form with URL and title fields.

My only gripe is that I haven’t yet figured out how to replace the URLs favicon by another larger one as the app’s icon. Blown-up favicons are really ugly. I’ve found some sources of icons online, but am not finding all those I need, and clearly not managing to “install” them (I’m sure I don’t need to re-create my apps).

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New Tumblr iPhone App [en]

New Tumblr iPhone App [en]

[fr] Si vous êtes un utilisateur de Tumblr muni d'un iPhone, il vous faut absolument l'application iPhone pour Tumblr.

I missed the Tumblr application for iPhone when it came out, because I had downloaded an earlier version named Tumblrette — and didn’t spot the name change. I was quite disappointed by Tumblrette, to be honest — but I absolutely love the new Tumblr app.

There is an iPhone-specific dashboard view, you can easily like and reblog posts, follow new Tumblelogs you discover, or create new original posts. Here’s a view of the dashboard (easy insertion of iPhone screenshots by using the WordPress iPhone app to create a draft containing the images — my iPhone is starting to feel almost like a computer):

When you click on the top right arrow in a given post on your dashboard, it changes to this:

To like, just tap “like”, and if you want to reblog, you get a chance to edit (like in the web interface) before posting:

The one thing I’m not wild about, because it really breaks the flow of what you’re doing with the app, is that once you’ve reblogged a post, you end up at the top of the “web-view” dashboard.

The logical place to end up would be back in the “iPhone-view” dashboard, so that you can continue skimming through the posts you were reading before you reblogged:

But in all, it’s really great. If you’re a Tumblr and iPhone user, get Tumblr for your iPhone now!

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WordPress on my iPhone [en]

WordPress on my iPhone [en]

Wow, just checking out the new WordPress iPhone app. It now allows comment moderation management, post and page editing, as well as saving non-local drafts. I’m going to start using it regularly… Though maybe not for writing my usual unending posts for CTTS!

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In Love With Evernote [en]

In Love With Evernote [en]

[fr] Evernote est un must si vous avez un iPhone. Cette application vous permet de prendre des notes dans toutes les formes (audio, texte, et image avec un bout de reconnaissance de caractères), les taguer, et les synchroniser via le serveur d'Evernote avec votre accès web ou l'application qui tourne sur votre ordinateur. Il y a également un plugin Firefox. Même si vous n'avez pas d'iPhone, je vous encourage vivement à voir en quoi Evernote peut vous être utile.

Pour ma part, voici quelques utilisations que j'en fais:

  • photos de cartes de visite, d'horaires de bus/train, d'heures d'ouverture de commerces
  • liste-photos de choses prêtées
  • notes de recherche ramassées sur le web
  • idées à creuser quand je serai en ligne
  • choses à écrire/bloguer
  • choses à acheter
  • livres lus et films vus
  • photos des choses que j'ai laissées au chalet, pour savoir si j'y ai déjà un pyjama ou non
  • ... et je cherche encore!

Et vous?

When I told you about my favourite iPhone apps, I wasn’t sure yet whether I’d like Evernote or not, as I had only just installed it.

I now know.

Evernote is your ubiquitous backup brain. It’s a place to store all the stuff you want to remember, be it snapshots (with text recognition to some extent), text, or audio notes. You can add notes and access them from the web, the desktop app (Mac <strong>and</strong> Windows, please), or your iPhone or Windows mobile phone.

If you have an iPhone and aren’t using Evernote yet, do not waste one second. Download the free Evernote iPhone app immediately, and sign up for an account. Even if you don’t have an iPhone (or a phone running Windows mobile), I really recommend you sign up, install the desktop app, and take a close look to see how it can be useful to you.

You should also install the Firefox extension or the bookmarklet if you’re using another browser.

Now that you’re done, here are some screenshots and ideas to get started using Evernote with your iPhone. First, here’s what it looks like:

Evernote

The little “Tips” tab near the bottom has a bunch of good ideas in it that made me go “oooh” and “aaaah” as I read through them. Amongst other things, I learnt to take screenshots on my iPhone:

Evernote 1

You can easily record any kind of note from your iPhone. Take a snapshot, or record some thoughts in audio format. The notes sync with the server, which will in turn sync with your desktop app — so you have everything everywhere.

Evernote 2

As you can see, notes are tagged. You can prevent the iPhone from syncing over 3G if you’re worried about bandwidth limits. I’m personally so way under mine that I turned it on.

Evernote 6

Here’s a list of what I’ve been putting in Evernote so far:

  • business cards (a bit disappointing with the MacBook iSight, haven’t tried with the iPhone camera so far — but I was a bit let down by my high hopes for textual recognition in photographs; expect it to work “a little”)
  • bus and train timetables (Lausanne and elsewhere)
  • opening hours
  • photos of things left at the chalet
  • photos of things lent to people (books, DVDs)
  • ideas for blog posts (with or without photo)
  • things I need to look up or think about
  • books I’ve read and movies I’ve seen
  • things I want to buy
  • “quotes” from books I’m reading

Other ideas:

  • recipes
  • research material
  • & (limited here only by creativity and current needs)

Bus timetable, to come back home from town without missing my last bus at night:

Evernote 4

Contents of my drawer at the chalet to help me remember that I already have a woolly pullover, a cap, a pair of pyjamas and toothpaste up there next time I go:

Evernote 5

Now, even if you tag your stuff, the pile of notes is going to build up, and you might want a little more organisation. You store notes in notebooks. Here are some of those I’ve created (with the desktop app):

Evernote 3

Notebooks can be public. For example, “Things Read and Seen” is online for everybody to see.

As notes may be a little slow to load on the iPhone (and connectivity might abandon you) you can mark some notes as favorites — they will be available offline.

With the Firefox extension, you can put snippets of web pages into notes (just highlight and click on Evernote), as well as whole pages. You can import bookmarks and notes from delicious or Google Notebook.

I’m curious. What are the other great uses of Evernote I haven’t discovered yet? The comments are yours.

Thanks to Stowe for pointing out Evernote to me way back when, even though I didn’t “get it” at the time. Thanks to Julien for recently telling me how much he liked it on his iPhone and how he was using it.

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