My Home Screen Setup: December 2019 Edition

I haven’t posted about my iPhone Home screen since last December because not much had changed since then. My arrangement is pretty similar, and the apps on it are nearly all the same.

After listening to the Thanksgiving episode of Connected where Federico Viticci, Myke Hurley, and Stephen Hackett mentioned some apps they were thankful for, I thought about doing the same with some utility apps I use frequently but aren’t prominently displayed on my Home screen. Then I decided to do that plus a Home screen post. And then I started experimenting with having launchers from Shortcuts app on my Home screen. So this post will cover all those things!

My Home Screen

Here’s my Home screen as of December 2019. A while back I was inspired by the iOS Setups subreddit to arrange my apps by color, and I’ve stuck with it. I tried earlier this year going back to an arrangement where similar types of apps were grouped together, but I quickly reverted because color order is much more visually pleasing to me. So here it is (select to view a larger version):

home screen december 2019

These are the apps I use the most or I want easy access to. My wallpaper is “gradient special edition 1” by AR72014. I like how the icons pop against the black background, but I like the color emanating from the dock. Below are a few notes on why I use these apps and what I like about them.

timery

Timery
I use Toggl to track my time on various things. Originally, I used various Workflow workflows to interface with the Toggl API, but I eventually outgrew them, so I made Timery and released it earlier this year. It started as an app for me, but I’m so pleased to hear how it’s helped so many others besides me, and I continue to be blown away by the response to it. From starting favorite timers with one tap to managing time entries, projects, and tags to using Siri and Shortcuts to automate tasks, my goal was to make time tracking with Toggl easy.

fantastical

Fantastical
I don’t usually have many calendar entries, but when I need to add one, I enjoy Fantastical’s, well, fantastic natural-language parsing. And I like seeing both my calendar events and my reminders in the same view.

momento

Momento
This is a journaling app that collects manual thoughts and media and also automatically imports tweets, Instagram and Facebook posts, and other social-media feeds. I’ve been using Momento for almost ten years now, and looking back at memories and what I was doing, thinking, and even tweeting years ago is something special.

notes

Notes
I don’t do a whole lot of writing, so Notes is good enough for me. I appreciate my notes being available on all my devices and the easy sharing of notes if I ever need to.

transit

Transit
Despite living in the sadly car-centric Los Angeles, I regularly use the public transportation system, and I use Transit to help me navigate. Many public transit lines run infrequently or have earlier-than-ideal-end-of-service times, and Transit has some key features to help with that: its active-trip mode lets me know when to get off, whether or not I’ll make a connection, and what my ETA is so I can plan accordingly if necessary.

maps

Maps
Since I rarely drive, I mostly use Maps to look up points of interest and for checking traffic on major streets to help plan which public transit routes to take. But on those rare occasions I do drive, I appreciate the lane guidance and speed-limit icons as well as the turn-by-turn haptic feedback that I get on my Apple Watch. Also, I really dig the iOS 13 dark mode map.

castro

Castro
I’ve been using this as my podcast app for a while now. One thing in particular I appreciate is in the chapter list for episodes, I can tap the chapters to jump around as well as deselect them to skip certain chapters (especially useful to queue up what I’m listening to before I go for a run).

twitterrific

Twitterrific
I started using Twitterrific as an experiment a while ago, and it stuck. Some of the things I like about it: muffling people or things (unlike muting, which can be done too, I can still see a muffled person tweeted or a muffled thing was tweeted about, but if I don’t want to actually see the tweet, I don’t have to), synced feeds between my iPhone and iPad, permanent chronological feed, customizable tabs, and being able to create my own themes for the app. I’ve made a light theme, a dark theme, and a black theme to suit my tastes. Plus the icon is so darn cute.

mail

Mail
There are no perfect mail apps because perfect for one person is terrible for someone else. But Mail is good enough for me. While some of the interactions have degraded a bit in iOS 13 (I’m looking at you, swipe actions) and there is still room for improvement, I still would rather have my mail not routed through some third-party company’s servers.

partly sunny

Partly Sunny
This is my weather app that shows quick glances and detailed looks at weather. I like having both a visual and textual representation of weather (having both graphs and written summaries), so both exist throughout the app. I’ve tried to design everything so the details are there if you want them but don’t get in the way if you don’t.

things

Things
I feel like every few years I reach a point with my to-do app of choice where I’ve put too many things in it that for one reason or another I keep putting off, and then I have to manage my to-do app more than I should. Eventually I give up and move to a new app. I’ve been using Things for a while, and have been enjoying it (though I wish I could complete a recurring to-do before it’s due!), but I think I’m at that point with it. iOS 13 came along with the big Reminders update, and I’m now experimenting with using Reminders as my to-do app. I still really like Things and its design, so I’m not sure how this will play out. Perhaps I use Things more for project tasks and Reminders more for day-to-day stuff. We’ll see!

apollo

Apollo
With its many customization options, gestures, and the jump bar, Apollo is such a delight to use (it’s easy to tell much thought and love has been poured into the app). And it feels at home on iOS (always a bonus for me when apps do).

launch center pro

Launch Center Pro
Though Shortcuts, widgets, and Home screen quick actions have largely taken over what I previously used Launch Center Pro for over the years, it’s still great for launching into deeper parts of apps. And usually a few times a day I’m launching other apps from the app-icon widget.

shortcuts

Shortcuts
Shortcuts is so integral to my day-to-day iOS usage I can’t imagine iOS without it now. From previewing my day and the weather tomorrow to adding reminders to adding device frames for screenshots to presenting menus to start time tracking and check my tracked times, the automations I’ve set up save me so much time and effort.

timers

Timers
As mentioned at the start of this, I’m experimenting with having launcher shortcuts on my Home screen. This particular shortcut shows me a menu of projects I choose from, and depending on my choice, it runs other shortcuts to show another menu of things I work on for the chosen project. Once I’ve made my selections, this shortcut system uses my selections to fill in parameters (huzzah to iOS 13 Shortcuts parameters!) in a Timery action to start a time entry. This shortcut as well as the other two use icons from the MacStories Shortcuts Icons.

shortcuts

Shortcuts
Another shortcut launcher. This one presents a menu of other shortcuts I use frequently. When I select one, it runs that shortcut.

reminders

Reminders
As discussed with Things, I’m experimenting with Reminders in iOS 13. While of course there are still improvements that can be made (I’d like to see better organizing & grouping in the Today list and have more robust Reminders actions in Shortcuts (why can’t I set a due date without a time?) for example), this is a big and welcomed change from the previous version of the app.

settings

Settings
Another shortcut launcher. This one is adapted from Federico Viticci’s Settings launcher he built after finding the URL schemes to launch into specific menus and submenus throughout Settings. My tweak (more on this below) is to show icons in the menu Shortcuts presents.

lire

lire
My RSS client of choice. I’m partial to lire because of its text previews in each subscription’s list. Plus it feels right at home on iOS.

darkroom

Darkroom
A polished, powerful photo editor. I appreciate being able to copy the edits from one photo to another so if I’m editing multiple photos taken in the same environment, I don’t have to make my adjustments on the first and then repeat them all on the others.

halide

Halide
A polished, powerful manual camera app. One of my favorite features is when in manual-focus mode, I can turn on highlighting of what’s in focus in the frame—immensely helpful when I’m trying to compose a shot with a particular thing in focus. Something I like about Halide in particular over other manual camera apps is that it doesn’t overwhelm me. Some manual camera apps have so much going on they become intimidating or convoluted. But Halide keeps things simple while still being powerful.

And in my Dock:

marvis

Marvis
I maintain a local library synced from my Mac, and since the focus of Apple’s Music app is on Apple Music, it isn’t for me. I want faster access to playlists, albums, etc.—what used to be in tabs in Music. So I’ve been using a third-party music app for several years. I had been using Cs Music Player (formerly Cesium), and I still like it. For the past couple months or so, I’ve been trying out Marvis. I particularly like the home screen with its customizable content and layout. From changing how views are displayed to how lists are sorted and what metadata is displayed, customization is at the forefront in the app.

safari

Safari
If you hadn’t gathered from Notes, Maps, and Mail, I’m all-in on the Apple ecosystem, and that, of course, includes my browser. The privacy focus, content blockers, Keychain sync and auto-fill, 1Password auto-fill, synced bookmarks, showing open tabs across my devices, and more keep me on Safari.

drafts 5

Drafts
This is my go-to app for jotting down a quick note or writing longer texts that I later plan on doing something with or sending somewhere else. I often write tweets and tweet threads in it, and I wrote most of this post in it too. And I love having my drafts available on Mac now too.

camera

Camera
I’ve kept this in my dock for easy access since iPhone X moved Control Center to the top of the screen. If my phone is unlocked and I want to quickly take a photo, it’s far easier to hit the icon in the dock than reaching up for the icon in Control Center.

A Few More

These apps aren’t on my Home screen, but I use them frequently and am thankful they exist.

1password

1Password
You’re using a password manager with unique passwords for all your logins, right? If you aren’t already, please do! The system integration since iOS 12 allowing easy filling of passwords has been such a great improvement.

adaptivity

Adaptivity
A great resource for iOS developers & designers as well as for people who are iOS curious. Check sizes & margins, see how things change in Slide Over & Split View, check system colors, search & inspect all the SF Symbols, and more.

dark noise

Dark Noise
A really good-looking ambient-noise app with great Shortcuts support. The shortcut I run before bed starts the “Airplane Interior” noise for my flight to dreamland every night. And the shortcut I run when my flight lands in the morning stops the noise.

gifwrapped

GIFwrapped
I don’t have that large of a GIF (not pronounced like the peanut butter) library, but GIFwrapped shows me my collection for easy sharing and allows me to search for new ones to share or add to my library.

guardian

Guardian
Third-party analytics and tracking libraries are a real problem on iOS, and for Apple’s (laudable) stance on user privacy, I’m genuinely surprised they haven’t done more to limit these libraries (I think they should). Enter Guardian which is both a VPN and a firewall. Traffic to these nefarious third-party libraries is blocked so they aren’t invisibly collecting information about me. The app maintains a list of things it blocks, and looking at the ever-growing number of things in it is eye-opening. I’m very eager to see how the app develops in the future.

metapho

Metapho
This app allows me to easily remove location information from photos if I want to before sharing them. And if the location or the date & time are wrong on a photo (like if I saved a photo from somewhere and it uses the date I saved it instead of the date it was taken), I can easily edit them to the correct information.

picsew

Picsew
This is a great app to stitch together multiple screenshots into one long one. The very tall screenshots later in this post of a long shortcut were stitched together from several using Picsew. Once the app generates what it calls the “scrollshot” from the multiple images, it can delete them from the photos library too so they aren’t cluttering my Photos library.

toolbox pro

Toolbox Pro
A wonderful utility that takes advantage of iOS 13 shortcuts with parameters and output details to add power-user actions to Shortcuts that aren’t natively available. With Toolbox Pro, it feels like they are! The app has helped making the menus each of my shortcut launchers present.

Shortcuts Launchers

Let’s talk more about those shortcut launchers and take a peek inside.

I’m thankful iOS 13 improved running shortcuts saved to the Home screen where it no longer launches a new tab in Safari first and then Shortcuts like it did in iOS 12. Now, shortcuts on the Home screen launch straight into Shortcuts. It’s a small thing but a definite improvement.

Let’s look at the Settings launcher as an example. Here’s the menu the shortcut presents:

settings launcher

As mentioned above, this launcher is adapted from Federico Viticci’s Settings launcher that uses Settings URL schemes to deep dive into specific menus and submenus. It still works the same where when I run it, I get a menu of Settings options, I choose the thing I want to open settings for, and Shortcuts jumps over to Settings app into that thing saving me the steps of digging around to find the thing. My addition to Federico’s shortcut is having an SF Symbol and a color accompanying each option.

So how does it work? The shortcut starts with a dictionary of things to choose from. The keys are the text that appears in the list to choose from, and each value is an array of one or two strings.

settings launcher dictionary

The first item in the array is the URL scheme for the setting. The second is a base64-encoded icon I generate with another shortcut (more on this below).

settings launcher dictionary value

This dictionary is sent to another shortcut which processes the dictionary, generates the actual menu, and returns it to the Settings launcher shortcut. The menu is presented, I choose the thing, and off I go to Settings.

settings launcher actions

Generating the Menu

Shortcuts doesn’t have a native way of generating a rich menu, but if you give the Choose from List action a list of contacts, it uses the contact’s photo in the list item. So what the menu really is is a list of contacts.

To generate the menu (the list of contacts), I use another shortcut dedicated to processing the dictionary and generating the menu. Thanks to the Run Shortcut action, I can break out this set of actions as a reusable shortcut for all of my launchers since these steps are the same for all of them.

menu generator

The shortcut takes each key/value pair from the dictionary above and creates a vCard with them. (A vCard is the file format for a contact card. It can contain a name, address, phone number, photo, etc.) The text is the “name” of the contact, and the icon is the photo. If the dictionary value has more than one item in it (in the case of the Settings launcher, it has two as described above), it uses the last item in the list; otherwise it uses the only item. The shortcut puts together the list of “contacts” and returns it to the Settings launcher shortcut to choose from.

One of the actions in Toolbox Pro is a Create Menu Item that puts a visual editor on top of vCard generation: you can specify the title and the SF Symbol & colors, and the action generates a menu item.

toolbox pro create menu item

I originally was using this solution in my launcher setup instead of manually generating vCards, but there’s a slight delay while the menu is being generated each time I run the shortcut (I assume because Toolbox Pro has to create the image (symbol on a color) and then base64 encode it for the vCard for every item in the list). With many list items in my launchers, I wanted my launchers to be a little snappier, so I use a pre-generated and encoded image. (This isn’t me knocking the excellent work developer Alex Hay has done. Just explaining for anyone wondering why I don’t just use Toolbox Pro actions to make the menus!) So how do I generate the images? With a different action from Toolbox Pro!

Generating the Icons

To generate and encode each setting’s icon, I manually run a separate shortcut that takes advantage of the Create Icon action of Toolbox Pro.

settings icon generator

The shortcut asks for the name of an SF Symbol, presents a list of system color options, and then uses the advanced mode of the Create Icon action to generate the image. I mask it to an icon shape (I like how the icon shapes look when the launcher shortcut is run in the widget), encode it, and copy it to the clipboard. Then I go back to my launcher shortcut and paste the output into the corresponding dictionary item.

Because the launcher icons don’t dynamically change, I can generate them once when I’m initially building or editing the launcher; they don’t need to be regenerated every time I run the shortcut.

To get the name of an SF Symbol, I use Geoff Hackworth’s excellent Adaptivity. I find the symbol I want, copy the name, and run the icon-generating shortcut.

adaptivity

The list of color options to choose from that this shortcut presents was generated with a similar method. All the icons and menus!

settings launcher colors

For the icon size, I settled on 130×130. This size allows the icons to not be too small and thus too fuzzy on a retina screen while not being too large and possibly slower to decode with long lists.

Other Launchers

Similar to my Settings launcher, I have a shortcuts launcher that launches other frequently used shortcuts of mine.

shortcuts launcher

It’s built similarly where it presents a list with icons generated like the Settings launcher above though it uses Shortcuts colors instead of system colors. Instead of a dictionary of arrays, the shortcut has a dictionary of text since there aren’t any URL schemes involved.

shortcuts launcher actions

I also have a music launcher that presents a list of playlists to choose from. The icons in this case are generated from album art instead of SF Symbols, but the presenting and launching mechanics are the same.

music launcher

The Shortcuts

If you want to try these out at home, here are links to each of the shortcuts mentioned above. If you have ideas on how to improve them, please let me know!

My Home Screen

So that’s my Home screen and how I’m experimenting using shortcuts launchers on it. I’m curious to see where I go with this and what other shortcuts I may add to my Home screen.

Thanks for coming along on this experiment with me thus far. I hope this has inspired you to try one of these apps if you haven’t already or to tinker with these shortcuts to develop launchers and menus of your own.

Please come find me on Twitter and let me know what your Home screen looks like!

Project 365 Retrospective

Project 365
2/365: A grandma’s love
27/365: Making some observations
187/365: “But it’s a dry heat”

If you follow me on Twitter, you know last year I embarked on a year-long photographic journey: take and a share a photo every day throughout the year. I successfully completed the project and wanted to wrap it up with some thoughts.

You can view all 365 photos in this Flickr album.

I also put together a 65-photo album of some of my favorites.

Part of my inspiration for this project was Stephen Hackett who did a 365-photo project in 2017 that I was following. Plus, since taking photos is a creative outlet for me, I wanted to get into taking photos more regularly, so this seemed like a great way to do that.

My goal each day was to post either something I encountered during the day I thought was interesting or something I thought somehow represented the day.

Some examples of things I encountered I thought were interesting:

113/365: Out of service
113/365: Out of service

131/365: Doory McDoorface
131/365: Doory McDoorface

157/365: Bee butts
157/365: Bee butts

338/365: Sign on the highlighted lines
338/365: Sign on the highlighted lines

352/365: Just a spladder of clouds today
352/365: Just a spladder of clouds today

Some examples of things I thought represented the day:

51/365: Urban jungle
51/365: Urban jungle

160/365: Take me out to the ballgame
160/365: Take me out to the ballgame

176/365: Rollin’ on the river
176/365: Rollin’ on the river

194/365: I couldn’t NOT have fries on National French Fry Day! #fatguyfriday
194/365: I couldn’t NOT have fries on National French Fry Day! #fatguyfriday

304/365: Trick or treat!
304/365: Trick or treat!

Some days were easier than others—days where I was traveling or exploring a part of L.A. that was for me new or less-frequented. And some days were harder than others—days where I didn’t go anywhere (or anywhere beyond my normal places) or didn’t have a photo I thought was interesting enough. There was a week or two where I was so uninspired and uninterested I wanted to give up. But I kept going, and I’m glad I did.

There were two things in particular that were helpful to keep me going. One was varying the routes I took getting places. I do a lot of walking, so I learned to go different ways and explore new streets and alleys. That helped to discover new things.

And a second thing was when I would find and take a photo of something interesting but wouldn’t use it for that day’s photo, I added it to a Trello board so I wouldn’t forget about it. Then on another day, I would go back to that thing and retake the photo for that day.

A Challenge Inside a Challenge

As if the overall project weren’t enough of a challenge, about halfway through the year, I decided the titles for my photos needed more what I called Michael Giacchino track titles—more puns, rhymes, and wordplay. (Michael Giacchino is one of my favorite film/tv/video-game composers, and his scores often have creative track titles. For example, here are the tracks for DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, JURASSIC WORLD, and SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING.)

This added a challenge on top of a challenge, but especially for photos I didn’t find as interesting, I wanted to spice them up a bit with bad puns. It was a way for me to have a little more fun with the project.

Some examples:

243/365: My heart was in the wrought place
243/365: My heart was in the wrought place

247/365: Dog doos and don’ts
247/365: Dog doos and don’ts

250/365: Ranger Rick’s restful recommendation
250/365: Ranger Rick’s restful recommendation

313/365: J’adoor
313/365: J’adoor

337/365: Crossing treeo
337/365: Crossing treeo

346/365: Make sure to have red and understood
346/365: Make sure to have red and understood

362/365: A cloudy appierance
362/365: A cloudy appierance

Software

All photos in the series were taken with an iPhone: most with iPhone X, many with iPhone XS, and a couple (the photos that had an iPhone X in them) with iPhone 7. The majority were taken with the default Camera app because when my phone is locked and I need a quick photo, there’s no beating lock screen access to Camera.

But I did also often use the manual camera app Halide. I find many manual camera apps overwhelming; they have so much going on they become intimidating or convoluted. But Halide keeps things simple while still being powerful: it doesn’t let the UI and features get in the way of the fundamental purpose of the app—taking photos. One of my favorite features of Halide is the ability to highlight what’s in focus, so when I’m composing a shot and want a particular thing in focus, this feature is helpful for exactly that.

Once I had the photo, I then applied some edits to it. When I started the project, I was using the photo editor built in to Photos to adjust lighting and color and to crop and straighten. This is fine for quick edits. About halfway through the year, though, I started using Darkroom to edit my photos. Darkroom is a powerful, easy-to-use photo editor that gave me more precise tuning for straightening and adjusting light and color. I often find iPhone X and XS photos to be touch too green, and Darkroom has a tint adjustment to add a hint of purple to the photo.

And then once I had the photo and made a few tweaks to it, I posted it to Flickr, Twitter, and Instagram through a multi-step Shortcuts shortcut that gave me more control than posting it in one place and have it auto-post to the others. Some of the steps in my shortcut included generating the day number text (e.g. “216/365”), opening Metapho so I could remove location data from the photo before sharing, expanding the Flickr short url because at one point during the year Twitter decided tweets with the short url were spam, and composing a tweet in Twitterrific and threading it with the previous tweets in the series. Since I was repeating the same steps each day to post my photos, I figured I could automate many of the steps with Shortcuts.

Project 365
105/365: Hangin’ out
262/365: Colors²
342/365: Taking shapes

Some Advice

I have a few pieces of advice for anyone who might be considering embarking on a similar project.

Don’t get overly stressed (like I often would) if toward the end of the day you don’t have something you think is on the same level of your best photos. Not every day has to be a prize-winning photo. Grab a cherished nicknack, memento, or toy and frame it in an interesting way.

Similarly: Don’t do it for the likes. You aren’t doing this project for someone else (or at least I don’t think you are). You’re doing it for you. Post things that make you happy—not what you think will get the most likes.

It doesn’t have to be a Trello board, but I recommend having some sort of repository to keep photo drafts. There are going to be days you have more than one photo you want to post. Use the one that most speaks to you that day, and save the others somewhere so you can be reminded to retake them another day.

Have fun with the project. If (and let’s be honest: perhaps when) you find yourself dragging to find and post a photo each day and want to quit, try to remember what made you inspired to start in the first place, and try to recapture some of that spark. And also remember at the end of the year, you’re going to have fun looking back at a year’s worth of photos and the journey you took getting them. I know I have.

Project 365
63/365: And the Oscar for best food and socks combo goes to…
155/365: Camo tree
221/365: This photo was stairing down at me

The End?

Would I embark on another 365 photo project? I’m really not sure. I do miss it in some regards, but I am happy to not have the pressure of finding a photo each day and trying to come up with a creative title (or, depending on your tolerance for puns, a really cringeworthy title!).

But I think instead of doing it again—at least this year—I want to keep up with taking photos in general and do it more often than I was before the project. As I said, taking photos is a creative outlet for me. I don’t have to post a photo every day or even every week, but I want to keep looking for interesting things and interesting ways to photograph those interesting things.

Whether or not I do another 365 project, I have these photos to look back on. If a picture really is worth a thousand words, I have 365,000 words to smile about. Plus all those bad puns.

Thanks for following along on this journey. Here’s to more photographic fun for everyone this year!

Project 365
324/365: Joe’s Hrepresentations
341/365: Spheres, spears, and tears (if you touch it)
353/365: “El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles” or “L.A.” for short

My Home Screen Setup: December 2018 Edition

It’s been a while since my last home-screen-update post, and quite a bit has changed. Here’s what my home screen looked like in May and in January.

I was inspired by various posts in the iOS Setups subreddit with home screens organized by color. Here’s my current home screen (select to view a larger version):

home screen

These are the apps I use the most or I want easy access to. I’m currently using a wallpaper from AR72014. This is a slightly desaturated version of Colorful Sky V3. The subtle color and textures are pleasing and allow the icons to pop. Below are a few notes on some of the apps I have on my home screen.

timery

Timery
I use Toggl to track my time on various tasks and projects. I wrote previously how I used Workflow to start and stop time entries because the official Toggl app isn’t for me. Wanting more functionality like editing or deleting time entries, I decided to make my own Toggl app since their API is rather robust. I’ve been hard at work on Timery for the last several months, and it should be ready soon!

fantastical

Fantastical
I don’t usually have many calendar entries, but when I need to add one, I enjoy Fantastical’s, well, fantastic natural-language parsing. (If you’re on iPad, here’s the iPad version.)

momento

Momento
This is a journaling app that collects manual thoughts and media and also automatically imports tweets, Instagram and Facebook posts, and other social-media feeds. I’ve been using Momento for several years now, and looking back at memories and what I was doing, thinking, and even tweeting years ago is something special.

transit

Transit
I enjoy trying different apps to see how they solve the same problems, and transportation apps are no exception. In Los Angeles where many public-transportation lines run infrequently or have earlier-than-ideal-end-of-service times, Transit has some key features for me: its active-trip mode lets me know when to get off, whether or not I’ll make a connection, and what my ETA is.

castro

Castro
I switched to Castro after their big 3.0 update, and I’m really enjoying the app. Many design aspects and interactions are clever and just fun. The drag & drop support inside the app is particularly clever and fun.

twitterrific

Twitterrific
I’ve been an avid Tweetbot user since the first version came out. But I’m using Twitterrific now because certain things about Tweetbot 5 drove me away. There are certain things Tweetbot does better than Twitterrific, and there are certain things Twitterrific does better than Tweetbot. Perhaps more on this another time. But for now, I’m using Twitterrific and enjoying it. As I said, I enjoying trying different apps.

start

Start
This is a shortcut from Shortcuts saved to my home screen. It presents a menu of apps and tasks, and for the selected item, it starts an associated Toggl timer with Siri Shortcuts from my Timery app and then opens the app.

partly sunny

Partly Sunny
I’m the developer and designer behind this app that shows your weather in quick glances and detailed looks. If you just want a quick glance at what’s happening, Partly Sunny can show that. If you want a more detailed look at what’s happening in the next hour, day, or week, Partly Sunny can show that too. Whichever you prefer, everything is meant to feel at home on iOS. Some of the key features include: customizable hourly graphs; customizable conditions in current, hourly, and daily forecasts; interactive radar; a widget; and a dark mode.

trello

Trello
Trello helps me organize Partly Sunny and Timery to-do lists, feature requests, and bug reports as well as plan out future updates. I’ve been using it beyond project tracking too. For the 365-day photo project I’m doing this year, I have a Trello board to save sort-of photo drafts; if I see something interesting I want to revisit for a future photo, I add a photo of it to a Trello board so I don’t forget about it.

apollo

Apollo
With its many customization options, gestures, and the jump bar, Apollo is such a delight to use (it’s easy to tell much thought and love has been poured into the app). And it feels at home on iOS (always a bonus for me when apps do).

things

Things
Earlier this year, I started using Things to keep track of my to-dos. Its design is striking for two reasons: it’s beautiful and it’s calming—meaning it doesn’t stress me out to use it. Plus, it doesn’t shame me for not completing a task the previous day. The cost of the apps may be a dealbreaker for many (there’s a separate app for iPad), but Things is more than enjoyable and useful enough to justify the price.

launch center pro

Launch Center Pro
I used this app frequently before 3D Touch Shortcuts, widgets, and another launching app largely replaced it. But earlier this year I came back to it after I realized there’s still a place for it, and I’m excited what version 3.0 will bring. Launch Center Pro is still great for launching into deeper parts of apps and sending text input to process. Plus, many times throughout the day I’m launching other apps from Launch Center’s 3D Touch app-icon widget.

shortcuts

Shortcuts
This is an indispensable app for connecting and combining apps and actions to automate tasks—thus saving me time and effort. I have shortcuts for sharing photos, adding calendar entries and reminders, adding Trello cards and attachments, adding Apple device frames to screenshots, parsing email receipts, and more. Sure, I could do all those things without Shortcuts, but Shortcuts makes those things easier. Plus, I love making shortcuts. I wish I could find a job as a “Senior Shortcut Builder”.

1password

1Password
If you aren’t already using a password manager to create and store passwords, you really should. 1Password has been my password manager of choice for a long time now, and I’m excited to have it more integrated and easier to use in iOS 12. Having 1Password directly integrated into iOS password suggestions is so convenient.

halide

Halide
A polished, powerful manual camera app. One of my favorite features is when in manual-focus mode, I can turn on highlighting of what’s in focus in the frame—immensely helpful when I’m trying to compose a shot with a particular thing in focus. Something I like about Halide in particular over other manual camera apps is that it doesn’t overwhelm me. Some manual camera apps have so much going on they become intimidating or convoluted. But Halide keeps things simple while still being powerful.

darkroom

Darkroom
A polished, powerful photo editing app to complement Halide (the two apps have buttons in each that launch the other). I’ve been using this to make my daily photos pop just a bit more. Plus, the depth-editing features are helpful to make Portrait Mode photos really shine.

And in my Dock:

cesium

Cesium
Since iOS 9, the default iOS Music app hasn’t been for me. Thankfully, Cesium exists with its customizable tabbed navigation, powerful list sorting and grouping, track details, dark theme, and more. (I’m using an alternate icon to match the iOS 7 Music app color.)

drafts 5

Drafts
This app is great for when I need to jot down a quick note. From there, I can decide what to do with it later or immediately perform an action or set of actions on the text and send it somewhere else like a message, a tweet, or elsewhere with a URL scheme. Drafts 5 brought a powerful new scripting environment giving me further options for processing text—and giving me opportunities to brush up on my Javascript.

As a complement to my wallpaper, my lock screen uses Colorful Sky by AR72014.

home screen

So that’s my home screen setup. December 2018 edition. As I said last time, I like to tinker, so no doubt this will get tweaked soon. What does your home screen look like? Come find me on Twitter and let me know!

My Home Screen Setup, May 2018 Edition

I thought perhaps I would make sharing my home screen setup a regular thing. Back in January, I posted my then-current setup. Four months later, my home screen is a bit different, so here’s an update.

My current home screen (select to view a larger version):

home screen

These are the apps I use the most or I want easy access to. As for my wallpaper, this is a wallpaper I’ve been using for years (I have no idea where I originally found it) (and actually it’s too small for iPhone X, but I’m using it anyway). The subtle grays and textures are pleasing and allow the icons to pop. Below are a few notes on some of the apps I have on my home screen.

tweetbot

Tweetbot
For me, this is the gold standard of what a Twitter app should be. With thoughtful design and interactions, timeline sync, and more, Tweetbot is an all-around terrific Twitter app. I hope Twitter’s recent API news doesn’t make Tweetbot—and all third-party Twitter clients—unusable.

timr

Timr
I use Toggl to track my time on various tasks and projects. I wrote previously how I used Workflow to start and stop time entries because the official Toggl app isn’t for me. Wanting more functionality like editing or deleting time entries, I decided to make my own Toggl app since their API is rather robust. I don’t know ultimately what the roadmap for Timr is, but for now it offers me a better way to interface with Toggl—and, unlike the official app, works natively on iPad and with iPad multitasking too!

partly sunny

Partly Sunny
I’m the developer and designer behind this app that shows your weather in quick glances and detailed looks. If you just want a quick glance at what’s happening, Partly Sunny can show that. If you want a more detailed look at what’s happening in the next hour, day, or week, Partly Sunny can show that too. Whichever you prefer, everything is meant to feel at home on iOS. Some of the key features include: customizable hourly graphs; customizable conditions in current, hourly, and daily forecasts; interactive radar; a widget; and a dark mode.

workflow

Workflow
This is an indispensable app for connecting and combining apps and actions to automate tasks—thus saving me time and effort. I have workflows for sharing photos, adding calendar entries and reminders, adding Trello cards and attachments, adding Apple device frames to screenshots, parsing email receipts, and more. Sure, I could do all those things without Workflow, but Workflow makes those things easier. Plus, I love making workflows. I wish I could find a job as a “Senior Workflow Builder”.

things

Things
I recently started using Things to keep track of my to-dos. Its design is striking for two reasons: it’s beautiful and it’s calming—meaning it doesn’t stress me out to use it. Plus, there’s no concept of overdue in Things, so it’s never shaming me for not completing a task. The cost of the apps may be a dealbreaker for many (there’s a separate app for iPad), but Things is more than enjoyable and useful enough to justify the price.

momento

Momento
This is a journaling app that collects manual thoughts and media and also automatically imports tweets, Instagram and Facebook posts, and other social-media feeds. I’ve been using Momento for several years now, and looking back at memories and what I was doing, thinking, and even tweeting years ago is something special.

transit

Transit
I enjoy trying different apps to see how they solve the same problems (see: Things), and transportation apps are no exception. In Los Angeles where many public-transportation lines run infrequently or have earlier-than-ideal-end-of-service times, Transit has some key features for me: its active-trip mode lets me know when to get off, whether or not I’ll make a connection, and what my ETA is.

lire

lire
In the previous post, I had just started using this RSS reader, and here I am four months later still using it. Still one of the most notable things for me is it feels at home in iOS 11 with its design choices. Another notable thing is it can fetch the full text of articles that get truncated in feeds.

apollo

Apollo
Here’s a bar graph comparing my Reddit usage before Apollo was released vs after: ▁ ▇. With its many customization options, gestures, and the jump bar, it’s such a delight to use (it’s easy to tell much thought and love has been poured into the app). And like lire, it feels at home on iOS.

trello

Trello
Trello helps me organize Partly Sunny to-do lists, feature requests, and bug reports as well as plan out future updates. I started using it beyond project tracking too. This year, I embarked on a 365-day photo project where I take and share a photo each day. I have a Trello board to save sort-of photo drafts; if I want to revisit something for a future photo, I take a photo and add it to this board so I don’t forget about it.

halide

Halide
A polished, powerful manual camera app. One of my favorite features is when in manual-focus mode, I can turn on highlighting of what’s in focus in the frame—immensely helpful when I’m trying to compose a shot with a particular thing in focus.

And in my Dock:

cesium

Cesium
Since iOS 9, the default iOS Music app hasn’t been for me. Thankfully, Cesium exists with its customizable tabbed navigation, powerful list sorting and grouping, track details, queue editing, dark theme, and more. (I’m using an alternate icon to match the iOS 7 Music app color.)

drafts 5

Drafts
This app is great for when I need to jot down a quick note. From there, I can decide what to do with it later or immediately perform an action or set of actions on the text and send it somewhere else like a message, a tweet, or elsewhere with a URL scheme. The recent Drafts 5 (I’m using an alternate icon) brought a powerful new scripting environment giving me further options for processing text—and giving me opportunities to brush up on my Javascript.

So that’s my home screen setup. May 2018 edition. As I said last time, I like to tinker, so no doubt this will get tweaked soon. What does your home screen look like? Come find me on Twitter and let me know!

My Home Screen Setup

I enjoy seeing what apps people use and how they’re arranged. In the past, I’ve shared my home screen on sites like homescreen.me, but recently I learned about the iOSsetups subreddit which is more active than the websites I previously used.

Here’s my current home screen (select to view a larger version):

home screen

These are the apps I use the most or I want easy access to. As for my wallpaper, I’ve been enjoying the built-in multi-colored dynamic wallpaper. Below are a few notes on some of the apps I have on my home screen.

tweetbot

Tweetbot
For me, this is the gold standard of what a Twitter app should be. With thoughtful design and interactions, timeline sync, and more, Tweetbot is an all-around terrific Twitter app.

workflow

Workflow
This is an indispensable app for connecting and combining apps and actions to automate tasks to save time and effort. This helps make things a little more efficient.

partly sunny

Partly Sunny
I’m the developer and designer behind this app that shows your weather in quick glances and detailed looks. If you just want a quick glance at what’s happening, Partly Sunny can show that. If you want a more detailed look at what’s happening in the next hour, day, or week, Partly Sunny can show that too. Whichever you prefer, everything is meant to feel at home on iOS. Some of the key features include: customizable hourly graphs; customizable conditions in current, hourly, and daily forecasts; interactive radar; a widget; and a dark mode.

momento

Momento
A journaling app that collects manual thoughts and media and also automatically imports tweets, Instagram and Facebook posts, and other social-media feeds. I’ve been using Momento for several years now, and looking back at memories and what I was doing, thinking, and even tweeting years ago is something special.

transit

Transit
I’ve tried several apps for navigating cities’ public-transportation systems, and Transit has stuck. Thanks to its ability to show nearby stops with realtime train and bus times and its active-trip mode that lets me know when to get off, whether or not I’ll make a connection, and what my ETA is, Transit helps me get to where I need to go on public transportation. Also, they often have fun release notes—a welcomed thing in the age of “bug fixes and performance improvements”.

apollo

Apollo
I enjoyed using Alien Blue back in the day, but after it became the official Reddit app, it lost its charm and what made it a great app. Not being able to find a great replacement, I only occasionally browsed Reddit. But then Apollo came along. With its many customization options, the gestures, and the jump bar, it’s such a joy to use that I found myself browsing Reddit much more.

lire

lire
I recently started using this RSS reader, and one of the most notable things for me is it feels at home in iOS 11 with its design choices. Add to that it can fetch the full text of articles that get truncated in feeds, and this feels like an app with staying power.

clash royale

Clash Royale
I’m rather addicted to this game right now (send help?). Does anyone play? I’m looking for a more active clan.

halide

Halide
A polished, powerful manual camera app. One of my favorite features is when in manual-focus mode, you can turn on highlighting of what’s in focus in the frame—immensely helpful when trying to compose a shot where I need a particular thing in focus.

launch center pro

Launch Center Pro
A sort-of speed dial for apps and actions that uses apps’ URL schemes to launch or deep-dive into the apps more quickly and efficiently.

And in my Dock:

cesium

Cesium
Since iOS 9, the stock Music app has not been for me. Thankfully, Cesium exists with its customizable tabbed navigation, powerful list sorting and grouping, track details, queue editing, dark theme, and more. (I’m using an alternate icon to match the iOS 7 Music app color.)

drafts

Drafts
This app is great for when I need to jot down a quick note. From there, I can decide what to do with it later or immediately perform an action or set of actions on the text and send it somewhere else like a message, a tweet, or elsewhere with a URL scheme.

One other note about my Dock: since iOS 7 introduced Control Center with its shortcut to Camera, I had the app buried in a folder on another screen. When my phone was unlocked, I used this shortcut to launch Camera. But with Control Center’s less-than-convenient placement on iPhone X, I brought back Camera to my home screen—changing my Dock arrangement for the first time in years—to have easy, quick access to Camera. Here’s hoping iOS 11.x finds a better way to access Control Center on iPhone X.

So that’s my home screen setup. January 2018 edition. As I like to tinker, no doubt this will get tweaked soon.

Project 365

Project 365

Photography is a creative outlet for me, and I’ve been wanting to take more photos for a while (especially now that I have an iPhone X). So, I decided to try a Project 365 photo challenge for the year: a photo every day in 2018. Let’s see how this goes!

Above are three of my photos so far. You can follow along on Flickr.

Partly Sunny 1.3

I’ve been working on a big update to my weather app Partly Sunny for many months now, and it’s finally done and available on the App Store. This is the biggest Partly Sunny update yet bringing you more tools and more options to help you check your weather.

1.3

This update introduces the Partly Sunny Club. With a monthly or yearly subscription, you can unlock additional features: interactive radar, yesterday’s weather, time machine, more saved locations, and custom app icons & colors.

club

If you’re worried this will fundamentally change the app, worry not. All the functionality that was in the app will remain—and even expand! The subscription will include new functionality on top of what was already there.

Why the subscription? I have to purchase the weather data that is shown in the app, so every time the app is opened and the forecasts are refreshed or radar is shown, that costs me money. With the subscription, I hope to offer more features that use more data while ensuring the app doesn’t become too expensive for me to maintain and continue to improve.

Whether (weather?) or not you’re in the Partly Sunny Club, there are many more new things in this update. In addition to iPhone X support, on iPad, you can now use Partly Sunny with Slide Over and Split View.

multitasking

The condition that displays with high and low temperatures in daily forecasts and the condition that displays below hourly graphs can now be customized.

customization

If you’d prefer Dark Mode automation, it can now be toggled automatically based on your device’s screen brightness or your selected location’s sunrise and sunset times.

darkMode

But wait; there’s more! Moonrise and moonset times can now be displayed in Day View. More reliable and more accurate automatic location naming. iMessage stickers. Keyboard shortcuts.

more

After having been working on this update for a while—and learning new things in the process—having it done and available on the App Store is a huge relief. Just in time for any shiny new iOS devices you may be receiving for the holidays.

You can grab the update or download the app on the App Store.

NFL Network Draft Coverage

I worked with the NFL Network on a new touchscreen graphic for their draft analysts to project what players could be drafted by what teams.

NFL Draft

Here it is in action discussing moves the Miami Dolphins could make:

And the New York Jets:

Partly Sunny: Design Notes

When I set out to make Partly Sunny, my weather app for iPhone and iPad, there were a few design and technical solutions I knew I wanted to include: things like making custom icons and using specific APIs. These solutions would go toward building the weather app I wanted to use and would help differentiate Partly Sunny from other weather apps on the App Store.

What follows is a sort-of behind-the-scenes look at Partly Sunny. I’ll start with discussing some of the design solutions and show some draft designs, and in a subsequent post, I’ll discuss some of the technical solutions. Select any image below for a larger version.

From the start, one thing I wanted to include in Partly Sunny was a view that gave summary information for both my current location and for any saved location. I wanted a way to quickly glance at the weather for these places. But I didn’t just want some basic information like the current temperature and an icon representing the current condition (e.g. “clear” or “light rain”). I wanted this view to be more useful, so in Partly Sunny, the list view includes the current temperature and condition for each location but also offers more: a sentence stating what’s happening over the next many hours at that location as well as the high and low temperatures and the chance of precipitation for the day.

locationsList

Whereas some weather apps might declare this to be too much information, I wanted this view to be useful for understanding what’s happening. A simple icon stating it’s clear right now doesn’t help in understanding a couple hours later it’s going to be pouring.

From this simpler-but-still-useful view, I wanted to be able to select any location to view more detailed information—what’s happening over the next hour, the next day, and the next week at that location.

locationView

And the key to help visualize this information was graphing it. While this isn’t a new solution to weather apps, some do it and some don’t, and I wanted Partly Sunny to do it. So looking ahead in the hour-by-hour forecast, there’s a visual representation of how temperature, chance of precipitation, humidity, wind speed, and more are changing.

features_hourlygraph

And looking ahead in the day-by-day forecast, there’s a visual representation of the high and low temperatures over the week. Reading, for example, that the high temperature will be 55° on Monday, 68° Tuesday, 75° Wednesday, 52° Thursday, and 48° Friday is one thing. Seeing it rising and falling on a graph is another.

dayByDay

This experience was something I wanted to have on both iPhone and iPad. Some of the weather apps I had been using previously were iPhone only, and some of the iPad-friendly apps weren’t the best. So for when my iPad is in-hand and I want to check the weather, having Partly Sunny run natively on both iPhone and iPad giving me the same experience on both devices was a must-have.

iphone_ipad

Also a must-have was making custom icons. I know of several apps that use Climacons by Adam Whitcroft. They’re great icons, and I could have used them as well. But I wanted Partly Sunny to use its own icons. So I learned how to use Sketch and made my own. Here they are:

Icons

For the navigation bar, I made a system of icons using a dots-and-dashes theme.

Dots and Dashes

Sure, my icons aren’t going to win any design awards, but they’re unique to Partly Sunny, and that’s what I wanted.

Icon design wasn’t all I used Sketch for. I also, uh, sketched drafts of the various views in Partly Sunny. For example, here’s my first pass at the location view, a subsequent pass, and what it looks like in the app:

locationViewDrafts

The list view went through a few explorations and largely ended up with version 4:

listViewDrafts

Sketch was also helpful in working out another design solution I wanted to include: a dark theme. I’m a proponent of having dark themes for apps so that in lower-light environments, the UI isn’t blinding me (I still wish iOS had some kind of system-wide dark theme).

darktheme

Not all the design solutions in Partly Sunny were planned out from the start, of course, but these were many that were. My goal was to build the weather app that I wanted to use, and that goal included a few specific design and technical solutions. I hope those solutions are useful to you as well and help make Partly Sunny the weather app you want to use too!

Partly Sunny is available on the App Store for $2.99.

Next time, I’ll discuss some of the technical solutions built into Partly Sunny. Stay tuned!

Partly Sunny

For the past several months, I’ve been learning Apple’s Swift language and how to build iOS apps. Learning this has been something I’ve wanted to do for a while, so it’s been both a fun and rewarding challenge.

To bring together everything I’ve learned, I built a weather app—not because the App Store doesn’t already have enough of them but because the apps I like don’t do exactly what I want them to do. So I made my own because now I can.

Meet Partly Sunny:

intro

Partly Sunny shows your weather in quick glances and detailed looks.

Some of the features of Partly Sunny:

Locations List

Quick glances of what’s happening in the sky at your current location and your favorite locations.

locationsList_black

Location View

Detailed looks at what’s happening throughout the hour, the day, and the week at your locations.

locationView_black

Day-By-Day

Swipe up in location view to show a day-by-day graph with the week’s high and low temperatures plotted.

dayByDay_black

Day View

On the day-by-day graph, tap any day to see a detailed forecast for that day.

dayView_black

iPhone and iPad

Partly Sunny runs natively on both devices.

ipad_right

Dark Theme

Toggle between Partly Sunny’s light theme and dark theme in the app’s settings or with a handy gesture.

darktheme

Hour-by-Hour Graphs

Tap on any hour-by-hour graph and choose to plot temperature, chance of precipitation, cloud cover, humidity, wind speed, or more.

features_hourlygraph

Rain Graph

For U.S. & U.K. locations, a rain-intensity graph for the next hour will appear when it’s raining.

features_raingraph

Pollen & NOAA Links

For U.S. locations, links will appear for pollen forecasts and the local NOAA weather office for winter-weather predictions, tropical forecasts, marine forecasts, and more.

features_pollen

Widget

Partly Sunny includes a widget to show both a quick glance and a detailed look at your current location’s forecast.

features_widget

3D Touch

3D Touch the app icon for the widget and shortcuts. Peek and Pop in the locations list; the location view’s severe-weather alerts, pollen-forecast, and NOAA buttons; and the day-by-day graph.

features_3dtouch

Dark Sky

Partly Sunny forecasts are powered by Dark Sky to give you super-accurate data.

While you may not always enjoy the weather, hopefully you enjoy checking the weather with Partly Sunny.

Of course there are things I want to tweak and more features I want to add, but I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished so far. I set out to do a thing, and I did it.

You can visit Partly Sunny on the web at partlysunnyapp.com and follow @partlysunnyapp on Twitter.

Partly Sunny will be available on the App Store tomorrow is available on the App Store for $2.99.

Hroad Trip Photos

I finally got around to uploading some photos from my Hroad Trip from OH to LA a few months back.

You can view them on Flickr.

Enjoy!

Hroad Trip: Zion

The list of favorite places I’ve been to has a new member: Zion National Park. Red sandstone canyons, turquoise snow-melt waters, imposing mountains, and grand vistas. While we didn’t have time to see and do everything, this park with much to offer is worthy of a return visit.

We spent most of our day hiking the Zion Narrows following the Virgin River through the canyon. There is no trail on this hike; the river is the trail.

For about 70% of the hike, we were in water anywhere from ankle deep to waist deep.

I don’t like to describe things too often as amazing or awesome because those are two overused words, but hiking the Zion Narrows was both.

360° view of the river (click for larger version):

And what visit to water would be complete without this:

Afterward, we toured some of the stops along the scenic drive. The view under the Weeping Rock:

Evening shadows:

If you ever have a chance to visit Zion, do it. You won’t be disappointed. We weren’t.

Today, we’re headed to Los Angeles. One more state, one more time zone, and one more destination.

Hroad Trip: Bryce Canyon

With only a couple hours to spend in Bryce Canyon National Park, we took the auto tour. No hiking yesterday. Here are a few shots:

Panorama (click for larger):

Hey hey, I’m in a photo:

And today, we’ll be exploring Zion National Park:

Hroad Trip: Arches & Hikes

arch (noun)
a curved symmetrical structure spanning an opening and typically supporting the weight of a bridge, roof, or wall above it.

hike (noun)
a long walk, esp. in the country or wilderness.

pooped (adjective)
exhausted

Those three words described Day 7 of the “Hey Joe, Where You Goin’ With That Camera In Your Hand” Hroad Trip as we hiked 15+ miles around Arches National Park in Moab, Utah and its magnificent sandstone structures.

We started the day with Double Arch:

Inside:

Outside was a lone, little prickly pear cactus. So of course I took a picture:

Or two:

Out hiking:

…to Broken Arch:

Underneath:

We hiked the 4-mile-round-trip “trail” to Double O Arch:

I say “trail” because most of the trail is climbing up, down, and over rocks and steep paths with drop-offs on both sides:

A break from the arches:

Back to arches. Partition Arch:

We ended the day with perhaps the most famous arch in the world and the arch I wasn’t leaving the park without a photo of: Delicate Arch:

People lined up (me included) to take turns going under the arch. When one couple took their turn, the guy dropped to one knee and proposed to his girlfriend under the arch for all of us to be a part of.

Today was exhilarating—and exhausting. But all the miles and all the sweat were worth the magnificent sights we saw.

Tomorrow, we’ll have a little rest as we drive to Zion National Park by way of Bryce Canyon National Park. And more picture taking.

Hroad Trip: Grand Teton? Nope.

Day 5 of the “Hey Joe, Where You Goin’ With That Camera In Your Hand” Hroad Trip turned out to be a bust.

We were concerned last night that the roads out of Yellowstone would be closed because of the snow. Fortunately, they were open. But this was the scene when we entered Grand Teton National Park:

Throughout the park, we had low clouds and a mix of rain and snow. That led to views like this:

…and this of the mighty Tetons:

Unfortunately, all the majestic beauty of the Tetons will remain hidden to us. But we did see a moose:

Instead, we did a little walking around Jackson, Wyoming (which reminded me of Old Town Scottsdale (for the few of you reading this who know what I’m talking about)):

But it was raining, and we’re not much of shoppers anyway. So we went to see
The Avengers.

Tomorrow, we leave the cold and head for warmer lands of southern Utah and Arches National Park on Sunday.

Until then, gunslinger squirrel says, “I’m your huckleberry.”

Hroad Trip: Yellowstone, Day 2

Hello again from sunny and snowy Yellowstone National Park. Most of today was spent exploring some of the park’s thermal features as well as the park’s Grand Canyon.

The Grand Prismatic Spring:

Upper Falls:

Lower Falls and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone:

Panorama (click for larger version):

Mud Volcano (that smelled like rotten eggs):

And we ran into more snow:

What do you do with snow? Build snowmen!

…down by the lake:

And what else do you do down by the lake? That’s right, stick your feet in. Add this to my collection:

Yes, the water was cold. Very cold.

Back to thermal features. Black Pool:

Detail:

Needle drop (not a thermal feature):

Morning Glory Pool:

And if we didn’t have our Phil of thermal features, here’s another with a little less Fury. S.H.I.E.L.D. Shield Spring:

(Sorry, mom, you won’t get that joke.)

And finally, while this wasn’t a park attraction, I couldn’t pass it up:

Tomorrow is Grand Teton National Park—provided the pending snow doesn’t close roads!

Hroad Trip: Yellowstone, Day 1

Day 3 of the “Hey Joe, Where You Goin’ With That Camera In Your Hand” Hroad Trip was in Yellowstone where we experienced a variety of weather: sun, clouds, rain, sleet, and snow. What follows is a sampling of our day (still only iPhone photos until my laptop gets internet).

Sunshine down by the Firehole River:

And sunshine by Gibbon Falls:

This is a common occurrence (yes, that’s the mirror on my car):

And then we hit some snow:

But we were back to sunshine at Mammoth Hot Springs:

And when we arrived at Tower Fall, we found more snow:

Back to sunshine for some more bison encounters:

(We did also see elk and a black bear, but those photos are on my DSLR camera.)

And finally, we ended with some clouds at Old Faithful:

See you tomorrow!

Hroad Trip: Quick Update

Yello from Yellowstone! 27 hours and 1700 miles of driving in seven states brought us here.

Monday was all driving (save for the stops I had to make because I was sick—the first time in I can’t remember how long), and yesterday was mostly driving with a stop at Mount Rushmore.

I don’t have Internet access on my laptop, so I can’t upload camera-camera photos, so here are a few from iPhone camera.

Driving through South Dakota:

Mount Rushmore:

Driving through Bighorn National Forest:

Entrance to Yellowstone:

They have snow here:

More later.

The “Hey Joe, Where You Goin’ With That Camera In Your Hand” Hroad Trip

(My thanks and/or apologies to Jimi Hendrix for the title of my
road trip, err, hroad trip.)

After driving from Connecticut to Ohio to spend a week with family and friends, I start the next part of my journey to Los Angeles tomorrow. But instead of driving straight through in the three days it would normally take from Cleveland to LA, my dad (who’s driving with me) and I are taking 10 days—and making several stops along the way. Here’s the route (click for larger):

A. Cleveland
B. Mount Rushmore
C. Yellowstone National Park
D. Grand Teton National Park
E. Arches National Park
F. Bryce Canyon National Park
G. Zion National Park
H. Los Angeles

I’ll be keeping this space along with my Twitter and Instagram feeds (@joehribar on both) updated along the journey if you’d like to follow along.

Two things are certain on the “Hey Joe, Where You Goin’ With That Camera In Your Hand” Hroad Trip. I’ll be taking a boat load of pictures, and my butt will be sore from driving. Huzzah!

Moving On

Four years ago tomorrow, I started at ESPN. Today, though, is my last day. Next month, I’m heading west to Los Angeles for a new job with Reality Check Systems.

My departure from ESPN is bittersweet as I am saddened to leave many of the people I met here. Over my four years with the company, I have met and collaborated with a great number of talented, enthusiastic people—developers, designers, producers, directors, studio crew, and on-air personalities. Together, we achieved successes on-screen and behind the scenes—from integrating touchscreen graphics in live SportsCenter broadcasts to creating efficiencies in the graphics-development process that saved developers time and improved our on-air product.

As I look back on what I accomplished and how I grew at ESPN, I remain proud of what I achieved and pleased to have worked with so many great people. As I depart for new experiences and new challenges, I sincerely thank those I worked with for all their hard work and for challenging me to stay hungry and stay foolish.

The View from Here

Hurricane (and then Tropical Storm) Irene came and went, and with it my power as did the power for almost 722,000 other customers in Connecticut. Here in West Hartford, the storm didn’t seem that bad: steady rain and moderate winds with a few gusts. But apparently a tree and several utility poles along my street couldn’t handle Irene.

irene damage

irene damage

irene damage

irene damage

irene damage

irene damage

irene damage

So yeah, I imagine I’ll be without power for a little while. Good thing I prepared.

NBA Free Agents

On SportsCenter yesterday, my NBA free agents touchscreen graphic debuted with NBA analyst Chris Broussard:

I still have a few tweaks and updates to work on, so the graphic isn’t finished, but after spending two months working on it, finally seeing it on TV is a great feeling.

What’s special about this graphic is the on-the-fly calculations of NBA team salaries based on several factors: signed player salaries, free agent cap holds if they have Bird rights, and team roster charges if the team has less than 12 players.   Each time a player is moved to or from a roster or a team renounces all or individual free agents, the graphic runs through a series of calculations to determine the team’s new salary total and their available cap room.

Because of this graphic, I now know more about the NBA free agency process than 1.) I care to know and 2.) I ever thought I would all thanks to this year’s big story: LeBron James.

Here was my view in the studio yesterday:

free agents graphic

free agents graphic

And the Emmy Goes to…

Last Monday (26 April), I had the honor of attending the 31st Annual Sports Emmy Awards in New York City for the first time since I started working at ESPN two years ago.   I was nominated for two Emmys along with the graphics team for the SportsNation show.   As the phrase goes, it was an honor just to be nominated.

emmy awards

The awards were held in the Frederick P. Rose Theater. Our pre- and post-show receptions were held in the Time Warner Center overlooking Columbus Circle and Central Park:

emmy awards

The reception room:

emmy awards

For the category “Outstanding Graphic Design,” MLB Tonight won. But so did SportsNation (and the post-announcement video clip featured “Walk the Plank,” one of my touchscreen games!):

emmy awards

So now I’m an Emmy winner!

emmy awards

A terrific honor, for sure, and I’m proud to share the award with the rest of the SportsNation graphics team. I work with some very talented people.

Post-show reception over, waiting for the buses to return us to ESPN:

emmy awards

Congratulations to the entire SportsNation graphics team on the Emmy win!   And congratulations to all the other winners!

emmy awards

emmy awards

Winners Bracket

On Saturday, ESPN Sports Saturday on ABC launched.   Included was a new show called Winners Bracket, created by the team behind the ESPN show SportsNation.   Winners Bracket is hosted by Michelle Beadle and Marcellus Wiley.

For both shows, I create the touchscreen games the anchors and guests play during the show.   On Saturday, I was on-hand for the launch and snapped some photos (I tweeted most of these on Saturday, but here are a few more).

Check out Winners Bracket on Saturdays at 5p ET on ABC!

winners bracket

The studio crew discussing their plan for the show:

winners bracket

Director Chris going over the shot list:

winners bracket

An hour before Winners Bracket launched, I was still making updates to the touchscreen game:

winners bracket

Director Chris doing his thing:

winners bracket

Michelle and Marcellus:

winners bracket

Playing the touchscreen game:

winners bracket

Marcellus fixing his earpiece:

winners bracket

Playing the touchscreen game with Jalen Rose:

winners bracket

Reaction shot with Alexi Lalas:

winners bracket

Jalen Rose watching the show:

winners bracket

The winner of the first-ever Winners Bracket was a Dwyane Wade dunk.   Marcellus and Mike Greenberg guessed correctly.   Michelle did not:

winners bracket

After the show, the entire crew gathered for some cake and celebration:

winners bracket

My souvenir from the launch:

winners bracket

Michelle wrote, “The Genius rules all. Michelle Beadle” Marcellus wrote, “The Genius BROTHER! M Wiley, Dat Dude 75.” My nickname amongst the SportsNation crew and others at ESPN is “Joey the Genius” or just “Genius” for short.

Being part of a team launching a new show is one of the best aspects of working in the television industry. Congrats to the entire Winners Bracket team for a successful launch and a great show!

Brackets

After about four months of development time and a few very long nights last week, my NCAA touchscreen brackets graphic debuted on SportsCenter yesterday. ESPN college basketball analyst Doug Gottlieb revealed his bracket using the Perceptive Pixel touchscreen.

Here are a few short videos of Doug in action yesterday:

Part of my fun with this project was working with all the anchors and analysts who will be interacting with the touchscreen. Yesterday I was in support mode making sure Doug was comfortable with the graphic.

Doug making a pick:

doug gottlieb ncaa tournament brackets

Doug tossing away two teams’ stat panels:

doug gottlieb ncaa tournament brackets

Doug and others will be using the touchscreen throughout the tournament, so check it out on ESPN!