Facebook Home - A More Realistic Mockup

Facebook Home, the replacement homescreen for your mobile phone, has just been announced. The preview looks absolutely beautiful - not something I'd use - but beautiful nonetheless.

Considering it further, my thoughts turned to my current relationship with Facebook and how I've been inching closer and closer to deleting my account. There's just so much stuff on there that doesn't interest me and, um, so much other stuff that kinda creeps me out.

Regardless, I thought it'd be funny to quickly grab a few things from the top of my own Facebook feed and slap them into a mockup (above) of how Home might look to a regular person. I dunno about you, but there ain't too many models and professional photographers hanging around when I log in*.

I've changed the names to protect the privacy of my friends. If any of you guys read this, please keep in mind that I just grabbed the first few 'normal' images I found. I hope I don't cause offence - I honestly do care about you, your cocktails and your interests - I'm just not sure I want them on the freakin' homepage of my phone.

* saying that, there are a couple - what with having art-farty friends, but compared to people talking about football / work / the weather, they don't post much.

Adding Date Suffixes With TextExpander

Disclaimer: I don't know what I'm doing. I don't know AppleScript, code, programming or anything else of the sort. I bodged this by Googling for 'AppleScript date suffix', visiting various blogs and jamming stuff together until it worked. I'm sure there's a better way (if there is, let me know).

I use TextExpander, the text expansion app, a lot. Combined with keyboard shortcuts on iOS, I don't think I've typed my full email address in years. Mostly it helps me with repetitive / easy to forget / easy to misspell stuff (watch Merlin Mann or MacSparky in action to get the idea), but I do use one or two little tricks that I've not found elsewhere.

One of these is for dates. TextExpander's date features are great - it can drop in today's date in a bunch of different formats really easily. You can also do simple maths and slightly less simple things like generating urls for sites with custom date ranges (I'll share my 'today' Analytics snippet sometime). The only problem I've found is that TextExpander doesn't have a feature for adding suffixes (y'know 'st', 'nd', 'rd' & 'th', as in '1st', '2nd', '3rd' & '4th').

This bugged me. I like to include the full date (eg. '22nd November 2012') on invoices because I do some work for US clients and marking something '02/03/12' can mean 2nd of March to me and 3rd of February to them. I've often confused myself and likely confused others.

By default, the closest TextExpander'll come is: '22 November 2012'. That's pretty good, but I wanted '22nd'. Using a little bit of AppleScript, I came up with this:

set {day:d} to (current date)
set suffix to "th"
if d is 1 then set suffix to "st"
if d is 2 then set suffix to "nd"
if d is 3 then set suffix to "rd"
if d is 21 then set suffix to "st"
if d is 22 then set suffix to "nd"
if d is 23 then set suffix to "rd"
if d is 31 then set suffix to "st"
if d is 32 then set suffix to "nd"
(d) & (suffix) as string

That'll give you '1st' on the 1st, '2nd' on the 2nd and '3rd' on the 3rd. Just make that an AppleScript snippet, then add that snippet it to the start of your existing date generator and Bob's your uncle, today's full date.

As I said, that might be sloppy code - I don't know. It's Greek to me. I just slapped away at it until it worked. It does work, though. The above screencast maybe explains things a little more clearly (or maybe it doesn't, I'm not the clearest speaker in the world). Let's date.

Squarespace: The Final Frontier

Squarespace computer

This post began life as a short conversation about blogging platforms had back in December on Twitter between Carolyn Alexander, HelloJenuine and myself. I abandoned it due to time issues and, funnily enough, dissatisfaction with my as-it-stood blog. What follows may be of no interest to anyone beyond the three of us. Actually, it may be of no interest to Carolyn and Jen. I'm not even sure that I'm interested.

Carolyn, like myself (and Jen a little before us) had made the switch from Blogger to Tumblr and had found frustrations in the transition. It's clear that there is no perfect solution for what we, and many others, are trying to do with these different platforms. What do you do if you're too picky about certain things to be happy with a mass-market service, but not picky enough about everything to build it yourself?

No idea, but this is how I got to where I am today:


When I first started a blog, Blogger seemed like the obvious choice. Easy to set-up, easy to customise, easy to post. It was owned by Google and, back in 2006, Google were pretty great. For a couple of years I went so far as to use my Blogger blog as my main site through a hacky system of treating posts like they were pages. I even filled one up with thumbnails and used it as a portfolio.

But after 5 years and a few hundred posts, Blogger felt done. It seemed unloved and out-of-date and I was uncomfortable having my work there. I wanted out. I became reluctant to post. Google, with their increasing tendency to mess with or axe their products, finally pushed me away. (1.)


Where to go, though? Wordpress.org? Too much choice! Too heavy. Too many moving parts. I knew I didn't want to fanny about with setting up hosting and installing a CMS and learning how everything works, so it'd need to be the Wordpress.com web-based thing then? I guess, but I couldn't even tell how expensive what I needed would be. Everything's a premium bolt-on. Want to use your own domain? Sure… so $12.00/yr. Want to customise how it looks? Yeah… so $30.00/yr. Wan't to go ad-free? Um, probably… $29.97/yr. Extra space? Know what? forget it.

Ach, maybe I didn't investigate properly. I'd have figured it out. I didn't (and don't) have the energy.


Tumblr, then. Tumblr seemed ok. Lots of people I knew were using Tumblr. It was popular, which probably meant it was being taken care of. I like Marco. He makes good stuff. He made Tumblr. He probably made it pretty good. Tumblr was a place for cool kids. I'm a cool kid. Lord knows I love animated gifs. Maybe I'd post a photo from the 90s of a model smoking a cigarette.

I signed up, bashed together a layout real quick, pointed a subdomain at it and was done. I had a new blog! It was free, it looked pretty and I could update it from my phone. I could finally stop procrastinating and start post(crastinat)ing!

Then… nothing really. I wrote a few bits & pieces, posted a few pictures and, y'know, just didn't feel it.

It's an odd one, Tumblr. It quickly became obvious that it was designed to do certain things and it worked best when doing those things and not-so-well when doing anything else. Funny that. Tumblr's built for microblogging. It's for sharing things you find. It's for dipping in-and-out of. Even though you can make a real bloggy-blog there, when you do it feels like you're not doing it right.

The little things killed it for me. The way Tumblr handles pictures, for example, is infuriating. Uploading an image to your own blog requires making it a 'photo post', which wouldn't be a problem if 'photo posts' didn't allow you to add a title. I like titles! Ok, fine, make it a 'text post' then. Now you can add a title, but you'll need to host your image somewhere else. 'sake. I ended up making a blog images set on Flickr, which worked alright for posting my own work, but heaven forbid I wanted to post someone else's. Do I link it directly? What if they take it down? Put it on my Flickr? Doesn't seem right. Tinypic? Yuck.

The community side of Tumblr is weird too. As a producer-of-things, it's nice to see your work shared & liked & shared & liked. What do they call it, reblogged? Tumbl'd? It's positive feedback, but it feels kinda temporary. Everything goes through that damn blue dashboard and gets lost in the stream. Posting artwork there feels akin to putting a joke on Twitter and enjoying how it can whizz around if someone retweets it. Nice, but temporary. The lack of comments too, while not a deal breaker for me (I mostly agree with the 'no comments' side of the debate), just add to the feeling that you're trying to play snooker on a pool table. (2.)

I still use Tumblr. I really like it for other stuff.

This, I think, is where Jen & Carolyn were / are and what got us tweeting in frustration. It's a problem for a certain kind of blogger. Artists, illustrators, photographers and graphic designers all know how they'd like their own stuff to look and to work more than your average person. Ideally they'd design and maintain it themselves. Most importantly they want to enjoy using the stupid thing once it's up and running. What many, myself included, don't particularly want to do is to learn a ton of web development or focus too much energy dealing with daft hacky nonsense that gets in the way. We're neither casual-users, nor power-users. Smart-casual-users, maybe.


Merlin Mann, via his amazing Back to Work podcast, turned me on to Squarespace and that's where I am now. Admittedly he was selling a product, but damn, he sold it well: Easy to use! Simple when you need it! Powerful when you need it! Reliable! Flexible! Sustainable! Well maintained! Fun!

Those things, on the whole, have rung true. I used the free trial, put a blog together and noodled around. After a few days, I decided it was worth the money and moved my Tumblr content over. A few weeks later I moved my full davidgalletly.com site over there and, as of today, I'm not in bad shape. For the first time since my early days on Blogspot I have everything in one place and can add new stuff without a headache.

Without sounding like an advertising pitch - if you're not happy with your current set-up, maybe give Squarespace a look. They're not for everyone and they're not perfect - the UI takes getting used to and some stuff doesn't work quite how I'd expect - but regardless, they provide a good service and they fit my needs better than most.

Stay tuned for a TON of new work and a TON of new posts. I had to get this big, boring one outta my system to kick it off.

(1.) The same wariness of Google has resulted in my recent move away from Feedburner too. I've tried to make sure as many subscribers as possible have survived the shift but if you want to be sure, the definitive location of my RSS feed is: davidgalletly.com/blog/rss.xml. (back to position)

(2.) This is a bad analogy, but I like bad analogies. (back to position)

Thoughts on iBooks, iAuthor & The Illustration Racket

After watching the iBooks Textbooks launch and having a little (like, 2 seconds) noodle around with Apple's new iBooks Author app, my thoughts turned immediately, inevitably, to my own gig - the illustration racket. I think this might be a Big Deal.

To talk from the top of my (admittedly uninformed) head for a minute - if there is now a way, however restricted it may be, to self-publish to the iBookstore, that's gotta be a Big Deal, doesn't it? As a starting point it has to be. Writers, obviously, should be freaking out, but what about illustrators? What about designers or DIY zine makers, knitting enthusiasts or poets? Can we now in theory distribute our books, our portfolios, our zines, our patterns and comics to millions of people? Jesus, if that's the case then yeah, it's definitely a Big Deal.

Depending on how flexible the tools turn out to be (looks like an ISBN may be required) and how expensive (I think you're charged to be listed on the iBook / App store), this could be really interesting. Imagine a digital, animated zine available to anyone with an iPhone or iPad for a couple of quid. Imagine an english student and an illustration student collaborating on a book and making a fortune. Imagine someone like Swatpaz making an interactive adventure story for kids and charging nothing for it because he's a nice guy. Best of all, imagine every illustrator (or agent) given an elegant way to distribute portfolios to anyone who might be interested. That'd be bananas.

Aye, there's a dark side too. The image of a classroom with kids all in rows, pecking away at their iPads (their expensive, fragile, wouldn't-take-it-to-school iPads) is, y'know, creepy. Things'd surely descend into fart apps and cyber-bullying madness by second period. And exactly how much sway should a big technology company have in education anyway? I'm not smart enough to know.

Every step we take away from pens & paper is a step we won't take back. We all love print. We all love glue and photocopies and posting our little envelopes. I don't think anyone wants to see that stuff go away. But, even if books do decline, even if it's better to do most things digitally, there'll still be a place for paper, just like there's still a place for vinyl. Don't worry about that, concentrate on the new stuff!

So what to do? I dunno. I should probably do a little more research and play with the apps properly. That'd be a start. This post is a thinking-as-I-go kinda deal and I'm likely way off with a lot of this - do Apple really want every Tom, Dick or Harry hucking rubbish all over the place? Seems kinda messy. Maybe by launching these products Apple will motivate someone else to do something similar. Regardless, I can't wait to hear what the guys on 5by5 have to say about the whole thing. John Gruber's take is already interesting. Will I make a book? Hmm, I'd certainly like to. Does that mean I will? Um…

Right now all eyes are on education, but it'll just take one clever sod with one clever idea to open the door for everyone. And y'know what? Whoever does that'll probably get a Big (book) Deal out of it.

EDIT: I have just noticed that I refer to the iBooks Author app as 'iAuthor' in the title of this post. Despite this being incorrect I will let it fly because I kinda like it.