Various Contrivances

Fun mayhem downtown today for the Raptors parade. This was as close as I could get. 🏀🦖

Lucy is ready for @rrrroutley to drop his rib

Great fun at the #spartantoronto race

Switching to summer weather mode ☀️

If you’re at all interested in mindfulness, I recommend checking out the Waking Up app. The guided meditations and lessons are very helpful.

My iPhone Home Screen

My goal for the home screen is to stay focused on action by making it easy to quickly capture my intentions and to minimize distractions. With previous setups I often found that I’d unlock the phone, be confronted by a screen full of apps with notification badges, and promptly forget what I had intended to do. So, I’ve reduced my home screen to just two apps.

iPhone home screen

Drafts is on the right and is likely my most frequently used app. As the tag line for the app says, this is where text starts. Rather than searching for a specific app, launching it, and then typing, Drafts always opens up to a blank text field. Then I type whatever is on my mind and send it from Drafts to the appropriate app. So, text messages, emails, todos, meeting notes, and random ideas all start in Drafts. Unfortunately my corporate iPhone blocks iCloud Drive, so I can’t use Drafts to share notes across my devices. Anything that I want to keep gets moved into Apple Notes.

Things is on the left and is currently my favoured todo app. All of my tasks, projects, and areas of focus are in there, tagged by context, and given due dates, if appropriate. If the Things app has a notification badge, then I’ve got work to do today. If you’re keen, The Sweet Setup has a great course on Things.

A few more notes on my setup:

  • If Drafts isn’t the right place to start, I just pull down from the home screen to activate search and find the right app. I’ve found that the Siri Suggestions are often what I’m looking for (based on time of day and other context).
  • Some apps are more important for their output than input. These include calendar, weather, and notes. I’ve set these up as widgets in the Today View. A quick slide to the right reveals these.
  • I interact with several other apps through notifications, particularly for communication with Messages and Mail. But, I’ve set up VIPs in Mail to reduce these notifications to just the really important people.

I’ve been using this setup for a few months now and it certainly works for me. Even if this isn’t quite right for you, I’d encourage you to take a few minutes to really think through how you interact with your phone. I see far too many people with the default settings spending too much time scrolling around on their phones looking for the right app.

Consolidating my internet content

Like many of us, my online presence had become scattered across many sites: Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Tumblr, and a close-to-defunct personal blog. So much of my content has been locked into proprietary services, each of which seemed like a good idea to start with.

Looking back at it now, I’m not happy with this and wanted to gather everything back into something that I could control. seems like a great home for this, as well described in this post from Manton Reece (’s creator). So, I’ve consolidated almost everything here. All that’s left out is Facebook, which I may just leave alone.

By starting with, I can selectively send content to other sites, while everything is still available from one source. I think this is a much better approach and I’m happy to be part of the open indie web again.

An entertaining David Gray show, as always

Some great images of maps from the fifteenth to the eighteenth century in First You Make the Maps

Second place finish in the relay. Next up: City finals! 🏃‍♂️🏆

Happy 11th Birthday Owen!

Chernobyl on HBO is well worth checking out. Once you’re hooked, the associated podcast is a great companion

Happy birthday Emma!

Going Critical is a great overview of diffusion in networks

Happy birthday to Kelly! 🎉

This conversation with Stuart Russell on the After On podcast is a fascinating discussion of important topics in AI 🎙

Emma and her puppy

I found The Strange Order of Things by Antonio Damasio surprisingly difficult to read. This Mindscape episode was a much more accessible introduction to the topic via a good conversation with Sean Carroll

The Hidden Reality by Brian Greene is a fascinating and clearly written tour of the many multiverse theories. Really mind bending stuff 📚

Morbid Stuff by PUP is oddly cheerful, nihilistic punk rock…

Seems like an unnecessarily precise monthly fee

A great discussion about Incredibles 2 on The Incomparable podcast. I agree with the overall assessment that it had many great moments, but didn’t hold together overall.

The mystery of computation, as something our brains do, is well described in this Aeon Essay


I’m very keen on backups. So many important things are digital now and, as a result, ephemeral. Fortunately you can duplicate digital assets, which makes backups helpful for preservation.

I have Backblaze, iCloud Drive, and Time Machine backups. I should be safe. But, I wasn’t.

Most of my backup strategy was aimed at recovering from catastrophic loss, like a broken hard drive or stolen computer. I wasn’t sufficiently prepared for more subtle, corrosive loss of files. As a result, many videos of my kids’ early years were lost. This was really hard to take, especially given that I thought I was so prepared with backups.

Fortunately, I found an old Mac Mini in a closet that had most of the missing files! This certainly wasn’t part of my backup strategy, but I’ll take it.

So, just a friendly reminder to make sure your backups are actually working as you expect. We all know this. But, please check.