May 27, 2023

Meta’s New Multilingual speech-to-text, text-to-speech

on Meta AI:

Collecting audio data for thousands of languages was our first challenge because the largest existing speech datasets cover at most 100 languages. To overcome it, we turned to religious texts, such as the Bible, that have been translated in many different languages and whose translations have been widely studied for text-based language translation research.

Something very ironic about using the Bible to train multilingual models. The Tower of Babel is right at the start.

We trained multilingual speech recognition models on over 1,100 languages using a 1B parameter wav2vec 2.0 model. As the number of languages increases, performance does decrease, but only very slightly: Moving from 61 to 1,107 languages increases the character error rate by only about 0.4 percent but increases the language coverage by over 18 times.

The number of languages is mind-blowing to me. A functional universal translator is at hand.

In a like-for-like comparison with OpenAI’s Whisper, we found that models trained on the Massively Multilingual Speech data achieve half the word error rate, but Massively Multilingual Speech covers 11 times more languages. This demonstrates that our model can perform very well compared with the best current speech models.

Was very excited about this, but some commenters pointed out that while most languages error rates is superior, it error rate is similar to Whisper in English.

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May 27, 2023

Microsoft Fabric AI Data Platform

Arun Ulagaratchagan, on Azure Blog:

Today we are unveiling Microsoft Fabric—an end-to-end, unified analytics platform that brings together all the data and analytics tools that organizations need. Fabric integrates technologies like Azure Data Factory, Azure Synapse Analytics, and Power BI into a single unified product, empowering data and business professionals alike to unlock the potential of their data and lay the foundation for the era of AI.

The intro video looks really cool. Will be keeping my eye on it — this is the next step of data platforms in enterprise.

Our tool data tool DOMO, also previewed their AI Service Layer. While not as flashy, I felt it was more sincere and actionable. Regardless, this is the future.

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May 26, 2023

Ryan Sipes, on The Thunderbird Blog:

[…] After nearly 20 years, we are thrilled to share a completely redesigned Thunderbird logo that honors our history and vital connection to Mozilla, while carrying us forward into the next 20 years.

Great looking logo and application icons. That’s not something you see all the time. Of course, no surprise:

But you should never forget your roots, which is why we asked Jon Hicks, the creator of the original Firefox and Thunderbird logos, to re-imagine his iconic design in light of Thunderbird’s exciting future.

I’m a fan of his work, so completely biased. He had some nice comments on mastodon about the logo.

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May 26, 2023

OpanAI ChatGPT app for iOS

on openai.com:

The ChatGPT app is free to use and syncs your history across devices. It also integrates Whisper, our open-source speech-recognition system, enabling voice input. ChatGPT Plus subscribers get exclusive access to GPT-4’s capabilities, early access to features and faster response times, all on iOS.

Better than 99% of all ChatGPT apps out there. Hoping apps like Short Circuit, Peteyand Poe continue to exist.

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May 18, 2023

The Work of the Audiobook

Alexander Manshel, Laura B. McGrath, J. D. Porter, on Los Angeles Review of Books:

Audiobooks have become such a driving economic force in the publishing industry that they have spawned their own dedicated networks of promotion, circulation, and consecration. Audiobook rights are now a staple of book contracts, changing the terms of negotiation.

Had no idea how much weight audiobooks now had on the industry.

The promise of the audiobook is that reading time, leisure time, entertaining time, and edifying story time can all happen anywhere at any time. Whether you are riding the bus to work, doing the dishes, or nodding off to sleep, the hands-free audiobook allows you the freedom to read when you otherwise could not.

My audiobook consumption has dropped off a cliff without post-covid commute craziness. Still, I always try to have a couple non-fiction audiobooks around1. I’m able to think about what I hear, but fail miserably if I have to use my imagination. Which makes fiction books a no-go.


  1. Currently listening to: Under Alien Skies: A Sightseer’s Guide to the Universe, by Philip Plait PhD.↩︎

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May 17, 2023

Obsidian Image Zoom and Preview

If you use obsidian-minimal theme, good reminder if you image zoom is driving use crazy:

  • Style Settings > Minimal Theme > Features > Disable image zoom

I’m trying out Obsidian Image Toolkit, and while not pretty, it’s an improvement over the default image zooming behavior.

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May 15, 2023

Tidbits for 2023 Week 19

  • Soulver 3: for iPad is out. I mostly use v2 on iPhone, but very close to upgrading.

  • Foldie: Transfer files between Android and MacOS. Useful for my experiments with the Boox Leaf 2.

  • Introspect: iOS journaling app that uses ChatGPT’s to ask questions about your writing. Very interesting.

  • Breveto: Yet another writing App for Mac. Looks very pretty, and in active development. Will keep an eye on it.

  • Table of contents: Safari extension for quickly documents for macOS and iOS. See a list of all headings in the page and click any to jump to it. Brilliant.

  • Praxis: Block scripts, trackers, and cookies on iOS. Waiting for iPad version to see if I can replace Brave for this use-case.

  • FSMonitor: macOS app that monitors all changes to the file system.

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May 11, 2023

New Mastodon Onboarding Experience

Eugen Rochko, on Mastodon Blog:

We believe it’s important for Mastodon to be good as a product on its own merits, and not just because of its ideology. If we only attract people who already care about decentralization, our ability to make decentralization mainstream becomes that much harder.

In the context of Bluesky recent rise, I thinks this specially great news. For some (like me), the decentralization of Mastodon is a feature, but for many many more, it’s a horrible bug. Making onboarding simpler is required for those of us what want Mastodon to continue to grow.

We’re always listening to the community and we’re excited to bring you some of the most requested features, such as quote posts, improved content and profile search, and groups.

Actually the most interesting part of the post for me — quote posts are a big deal in social, and I think an implementation will make it more fun for everyone.

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May 5, 2023

Nebo New Free Plan On iPad

The Nebo team, on Nebo:

So what’s the new plan and how does it affect you? That depends on whether you’re a new or existing user, and which Nebo in-apps (if any) you’ve purchased in the past.

The biggest change is that everyone will now be able to access all Nebo’s features for free.

Nebo has the best HWR of all the iPad apps I’ve tried. In fact, it’s how I usually write down my DayOne entry from bed at night.

This is great news for educational and other users with limited budget.

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May 5, 2023

Default Folder X 6.0 Big New Features

St. Clair Software Blog:

Quick Search: Keyboard-based access to Recent and Favorite Items, including recently-launched applications and recently-used Finder windows.

[…]

Drag and Drop: You can now drag and drop files and folders onto Default Folder X’s icon in your menu bar. When you do, it will pop up its menu so you can select a destination for them.

Every few years I let my 30 days expire DFX trial. It’s an amazing app, but it never quite makes the cut because I need some changes in workflow to take full advantage of it. The two features highlighted above, sound like they’ll get me to finally purchase.

Will wait a couple of weeks until it’s in beta, and will give it a try.

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May 4, 2023

Dave Winer: I want Bluesky to go away

Dave Winer, on Scripting News:

I definitely want Bluesky to just go away. I don’t like it because if it gains traction it has potential of replacing Twitter as the festering turd in the middle of what should have been a vibrant growing market that keeps anything else from rising in competition with it.

I agree with Dave Winer on this one. I’ll check BlueSky out when I get an invite, but I enjoy Mastodon.

I do get the Mastodon can get annoying with the anti-twitter vibe. This is out of left field, but it reminds me about moving to Miami from Venezuelan in 2014, and the constant self-justification all Venezuelans that migrated had for leaving. Many could not entertain the possibility that that it wasn’t a binary answer: it was ok to both stay or leave.

Still, as before, Tweetbot/Ivory is my software baggage. Their app is my window to social scrolling services, and whatever they support, I’m game.

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April 30, 2023

Nordic Spawns of Chromium Updates

Jon von Tetzchner, on Vivaldi Browser:

Today, we are thrilled to share new features — Custom Icons and Workspaces — that will change the way you experience Vivaldi on your desktop. With the release of 6.0, our powerful and personal browser goes even further.

If Arc suddenly went away, I’d probably use Vivaldi that day. It’s a great browser with lots of power features. It used to feel slow, but playing with 6.0 on my Mac, there’s snappiness™ there.

Julia Szyndzielorz, on Opera Newsroom:

Opera One is the early access version of a completly redesigned browser that is planned to replace the flagship Opera browser for Windows, MacOS, and Linux later this year. Based on Modular Design, Opera One transforms the way you interact with your browser, delivering a liquid navigation experience which is more intuitive to the user. With today’s release, Opera One also becomes the first major Chromium-based browser with a multithreaded compositor that brings the UI to life like never before. Opera One also introduces Tab Islands, a new, more intuitive way of interacting with and managing multiple tabs.

As always, Opera packs a bunch of interesting features. The new automatic grouping of Tabs being one of them, I just never bother anymore.

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April 27, 2023

Keyboard tricks from a macOS app dev

Alin Panaitiu, on notes.alinpanaitiu.com:

This is a collection of keyboard and trackpad workflows that I accumulated over the last 7 years of using a MacBook.

Nothing totally new, but great summary of all available tools for macOS keyboard shortcuts. It was a bit surprising that Alin is the developer of rcmd app, and he uses so many other similar apps.

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April 26, 2023

Upcoming Obsidian Bookmarks Feature

TfTHacker, on Medium:

The Bookmarks feature is similar to the bookmarking feature in a browser, allowing you to save shortcuts to frequently visited files and folders. Obsidian Bookmarks even go further than the browser concept. You can bookmark:

  • Searches: using the search panel, you can define a search and bookmark it to repeat that search.
  • Headings: Create bookmarks for a specific heading in a file. So we are not just creating bookmarks into files, but can also bookmark a specific line in a file.

Still not out in stable release, so I haven’t played with it. But it looks very powerful. Article gives great overview and some ideas on how it can be used.

Seems inevitable that I’ll adopt this new feature in my workflow.

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April 26, 2023

Flipboard Editorial Desks on Mastodon

Carl Sullivan, on Flipboard:

Flipboard editors bring their curation skills to Mastodon with four editorial accounts. Not bots, each of these Desks is staffed by professional curators with expertise in discovering and elevating the best content. We’re focusing on explainers and analysis — more the why” and how” than the who,” what” and where.”

Great move by Flipboard. If I didn’t need fewer rabbit holes, I’d download again1.

We’re not trying to replicate all the breaking news services out there, including many bot accounts already on Mastodon. We also don’t want to flood your feed with a kajillion posts. Instead our goal is to give people on Mastodon context for what’s happening in the world.

I subscribed last week to News Desk and Tech Desk, and I haven’t been overwhelmed and no click-baiting. If you’re on Mastodon, recommended follows.


  1. Maybe I’ll do a cleanup a replace other apps (Narwhal, Axios, Hacker Feed) that lead me to scrolling hell.↩︎

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April 22, 2023

Google Flight Price Guarantee Pilot

Richard Holden, on Google:

Now, we’re going a step further with a new pilot program for price guarantees in the U.S. If you see a flight with the price guarantee badge, it means we’re confident that the price you see today won’t get any lower before takeoff.

I use Google Flights religiously for all trips. At least for my summer trip planning, this hasn’t shown up yet. But I do see myself nudged to use this feature.

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April 21, 2023

Fantastical Adds Better Shortcuts Support

Jason Snell & Dan Moren, on Six Colors:

To get our automation to work, we had to set up Apple’s default Calendar app and log it in to our Google calendars. For such a full-featured app, Fantastical’s lack of Shortcuts actions was really surprising.

While I use Fantastical as my calendar, I had to use Apple Calendar for some Obsidian Shortcuts, because I couldn’t get the data from Fantastical.

Things have gotten better! Flexibits just released Fantastical 3.7.9, which adds a bunch of new Shortcuts actions, including the ability to filter events from a given Calendar Set in a given date range, and the ability to generate a simple schedule for a given day.

Updating the Shortcuts now, and things do look better.

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April 14, 2023

AeroPress Showcases 4 New Products

AeroPress PR:

The only coffee maker that combines three brewing technologies in one simple to use press will debut prototypes of the new AeroPress Clear, AeroPress Premium, and AeroPress Flow Control Filter Cap, along with concept art for the extra large AeroPress XL.

Wow. While new products were totally expected after they received an investment in 2021, four at once is a surprise. For the past 15 years, they basically had introduced 3 products: the original AeroPress in 2005, the AeroPress Go in 2019, and the Reusable Metal Filter last year. So this is a like suddenly getting a couple of new Calvin and Hobbes books.

Taking a look at the products announced:

  • AeroPress Clear - The AeroPress Clear uses the same breakthrough brewing technology as the AeroPress Original in a new crystal-clear form made of premium Tritan™ copolyester. Make up to 4 grit-free coffee types in under a minute - americano, latte, espresso, and cold brew.

Sold. My original AeroPress numbers are long-gone, and the idea of having a mythical transparent AeroPress is fun.

  • AeroPress XL - The AeroPress XL allows coffee lovers to brew twice as much smooth, rich, full-bodied coffee as the AeroPress Original, with all the same benefits of versatility, quick brew time, and portability.

Interesting, but I’m already going to have two Aeropress, which should result on the same output. Having a non-standard size, means a different set of accompanying toys.

  • AeroPress Premium - Thanks to feedback from our highly loyal global community of Baristas and at-home coffee lovers, we’re launching our first premium coffee press! Crafted beautifully from glass, aluminum and stainless steel and the same technology as the AeroPress Original, the AeroPress Premium is designed with your counter space in mind. Feel free to show off this stunning innovation, combining form and function into one fun, easy to use coffee device.

Will hold judgement and see. Glass does not hold heat well. Let’s see how they solve for that.

  • AeroPress Flow Control Filter Cap - Eliminates drip through, allowing for an extended brew time, complete control of the brewing experience, and the ability to get creative with Barista-syle homemade coffee recipes.

Likely getting this because I love my Fellow Prismo. However, the reviews on reddit aren’t great. Will purchase alongside the clear Aeropress over the summer.

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April 13, 2023

Tidbits for 2023 Week 14

  • Wins App: Yet another macOS window management app, but with a few nice touches. My new default app.

  • AI-Powered Regex Solver: looks good. Haven’t been able to show a work problem at it, but keeping the tab open.

  • Wavelength Group Chat: Another attempt at group chat. Shows promise, I like the threads model. Not sure how much it’ll catch on my tribes. iOS/macOS only for now.

  • tsr: Simple csv-based timetracker for Raycast and Alfred. Very intriguing. Don’t want to mess with my setup, but worth a look.

  • OneCast: Xbox remote play for Mac, iOS and Apple TV. Didn’t know this existed, but keeping around for when we get a Flight Simulator Xbox

  • BoltGPT:Use ChatGPT and Stable Diffusion inside any macOS app.

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April 1, 2023

The US Is Sending Money to Countries Affected by Cyberattacks

Lily Hay Newman, on WIRED:

Almost a year after the crisis began, a senior White House official told reporters today that the United States plans to provide $25 million in cybersecurity assistance to help Costa Rica strengthen its digital infrastructure.

Changed the original Wired title wording from Devastated to Affected. We were here in Costa Rica during all this, and while it was a very big deal, the country did not close down.

Not minimizing it, but if it had affected the power grid, I could see how everything would come to a standstill, but the country managed to continue to operate.

The attacks on Costa Rica were led by the prolific, now disbanded, cybercriminal gang Conti and its affiliates. The group demanded a $20 million ransom and uploaded hundreds of gigabytes of data stolen in the attacks to its dark-web site.

It was bad, and it could have been a lot worse. The best part of this is that it earmarks the amount for cybersecurity. Even if the amount is not enough to cover all the needed changes, it gives strong incentives to start the project — which usually is the hardest part for many backend changes needed that don’t provide any features.

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March 31, 2023

Google Fi makes 5G on iPhone official

Abner Li, on 9to5Google:

Following the launch of iOS 16.4 on Monday, Google Fi today officially announced that 5G service is now available on the iPhone.

Excited to try this next week when I visit the US. Although not sure how much my iPhone 12 mini battery will tolerate 5G.

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March 30, 2023

Arc for iPhone Released

Arc Release Notes on arc.net:

We’re thrilled to introduce Arc for iPhone, now available in an App Store near you. Access your Spaces and tabs on the go, save tabs for later from other apps, and much more.

Arc for iPhone actual nam on the App Store is Arc | Mobile Companion, which is appropriate. Still, as an Arc Desktop user, that limited functionality is exactly what I’m looking for: access to my tabs on mobile and, sending tabs or links from mobile to the desktop.

The promotion video is a bit campy, but cute.

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March 29, 2023

WWDC23 Announced

developer.apple.com

Mark your calendars for an exhilarating week of technology and community. Be among the first to learn the latest about Apple platforms, technologies, and tools. You’ll also have the opportunity to engage with Apple experts and other developers. All online and at no cost.

June 5th keynote in my calendar, with some buffer meetings before and after. I think this is going to be a good one. If no VR headset is going to be mentioned, I suspect some sort of Apple non-comment will me leak to damper expectations.

Although VR headset might be the big excitement, bigger news for me would be Apple’s vision for this new ChatGPT world.

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March 29, 2023

The Overstory
by Richard Powers

The OverstoryThe Overstory

This book is like exercising a muscle you don’t usually use — awkward at the beginning. Then you get used to it, but it hurts a bit. It’s uncomfortable. Still I kept being drawn to it every night.

It has characters I wouldn’t interact much in the real world, with opinions and beliefs that made roll my eyes. Still, the ones that I would agree with, I liked even less.

However, the main characters in the book, no spoiler, are trees. But not the boring things outside your window, but fantastical Tolkien-like walking magical forests. But here’s the surprise: the tree in your garden, street, park, etc, is magical and fantastical. You don’t need to use your imagination, it’s science.

Highly recommended. The multiple storylines collapsing into one is strange, but it works really well. And the writing is excellent.

March 28, 2023

Remembering Alex Hay

Over the weekend, Adam Tow shared that Alex Hay had passed away from cancer.

I didn’t know him, but his Toolbox Pro Shortcuts companion app is an important part of my workflow. More specifically, during the lockdown, when we were stuck” outside Costa Rica and staying with my parents in Florida1, I used his app to quickly scan my morning notes.

It was a simple but important ritual for me. His app made it easy. His work made my life better.

Which made this tweet from him on Sept of last year, felt like a slap in the face:

What’s coming down the line?

I’m looking forward to the Wool series on TV+ (books by Hugh Howey) and The Three Body Problem on Netflix (books by Liu Cixin), which is being made by Benioff & Weiss

I’m looking forward to both things. But it hadn’t even crossed my mind that I might not be able to watch them. I may have chosen to not watch for some opinionated reason, but always as my choice.

So I’ll watch both and enjoy them. I’ll make time for it and be sure to remember a fellow geek that couldn’t, but should have.


  1. Wives shouldn’t have to live with their mothers-in-law, is all I’ll say.↩︎

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March 27, 2023

Keychron S1 Apple fn Key Workaround

There seems to be some limitation with replicating the Function fn key on non-Apple keyboard. I’m not sure if this has always been an issue, or was prompted by a recent update.

The issue manifested clearly: as much as I tried to configure my Keychron S1 Very First Impressions fn key as a function key, it wouldn’t detect the keypresses. I did a factory reset, and firmware upgrade on the S1 and nothing. After reading the word patch on some reddit posts, I decided to do a medieval workaround:

  1. Mapped the fn physical key, to the F21 to the Via QMK app:

VIA QMKVIA QMK

  1. Then mapped the F21 key to the fn on Hyperkey.app is Now Free.

Karabiner setupKarabiner setup

This screams of A = B = A , but Tidbits for 2022 Week 43 prompt works correctly now.

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