Announcing Blank

I’m happy to announce the release of a new tvOS app called Blank. It turns your screen black and keeps it that way until you press any button on a remote. Seriously, that’s all it does. Here’s the screen you see when you launch the app for the first time:

That second paragraph hints at why this is important, despite the app’s simplicity.

Sleeping Well

As you get older, a good night’s sleep becomes harder to achieve. One thing that works well for my wife and me is to lower light levels before bedtime.

There has been scientific evidence of this since early in the last decade. Bright light can change your circadian rhythm and affect melatonin production, which can “potentially impact sleep, thermoregulation, blood pressure, and glucose homeostasis.”.

A big ass screen in the living room makes this hard to achieve. If you want to listen to music or a podcast before going to bed, it’s impossible to avoid a bright now playing screen or animated screen saver.

So I wrote Blank as a way to address this problem. Of course, it’s FREE so people besides me and my wife can benefit from it.

New & Improved

The first version I submitted didn’t meet Guideline 4.2 for “Design – Minimum Functionality”. Understandable, because this app was basically the “anti-flashlight” and we all know how that played out.

I took this initial rejection in stride and started working on an update that added some minimal functionality.

When you launch the app, or press any button on the remote, you get a screen with an inspirational quote. After you’ve had time to read it, the message disappears, and the screen goes black. It’s a nice addition and folks who are using the app love it.

I’m glad I did this extra work, and it’s a case where App Review helps a developer improve their product. Here’s what the quote screen looks like:

After some back-and-forth with App Review, the app was approved with these changes. Yay!

But That’s Not All!

An additional benefit became apparent after we started using Blank: it significantly lowers the energy consumption of the screen.

All modern TVs have circuits that detect a blank signal and turn off LEDs to reduce the power required by the device. If you’ve ever felt heat coming off your big screen, Blank makes that go away.

So besides improving your sleep, you’re also helping out our ever warming planet.

There Is None More Black

So there you have it: another addition to our ever growing list of “little apps”. Just open up the App Store on your Apple TV, search for Blank, and click to download the app for FREE.

Simple, beautiful, classic. Enjoy!

The Shit Show

Well, it happened.

We knew it was coming.

A prick pulled the plug. And what bothers me most about it is how Phony Stark did it.

My mom passed away just before Christmas. Her decline was something everyone in the family saw coming and we prepared for her demise. It still hurts like hell, but she left with love and dignity. That makes all the difference when it comes to coping with loss.

Twitterrific is something that we’ve all poured our love into for the past 16 years. I’m not usually one to toot my own horn, but we literally crafted the early experience on the service. We often hear that folks joined up because of our app. Our work was definitive and groundbreaking. We loved this app like I loved my mom.

(Note today’s date and the one on our announcement – the fuckwads missed our 16th anniversary by a couple of days! King Shithead probably thought Friday the 13th was lol. I’d love some proof that the API went down at 04:20 in UTC +1.)

Like my mom, the API has been declining for awhile. Endpoints were removed, new features were unavailable to third parties, and rate limiting restricted what we could do. And like my mom, we struggled on and did the best we could, trying to stay upbeat about it all.

What bothers me about Twitterrific’s final day is that it was not dignified. There was no advance notice for its creators, customers just got a weird error, and no one is explaining what’s going on. We had no chance to thank customers who have been with us for over a decade. Instead, it’s just another scene in their ongoing shit show.

But I guess that’s what you should expect from a shitty person.

Personally, I’m done. And with a vengeance.

First, arrogant bastards love seeing their names on tweets and other media. I want to starve him of the things that money can’t buy: respect and attention. Do the same by simply ignoring him and his kingdom.

Secondly, for the past several months I’ve been thinking about where we go from here. When you see decline, you plan for a demise. It was the last thing mom taught me.

I’ve been active on Mastodon since the billionaire bozo took over. And it makes me think.

One thing I’ve noticed is that everyone is going to great lengths to make something that replaces the clients we’ve known for years. That’s an excellent goal that eases a transition in the short-term, but ignores how a new open standard (ActivityPub) can be leveraged in new and different ways.

Federation exposes a lot of different data sources that you’d want to follow. Not all of these sources will be Mastodon instances: you may want to stay up-to-date with someone’s, or maybe another person’s Tumblr, or someone else’s photo feed. There are many apps and servers for you to choose from.

It feels like the time is right for a truly universal timeline. That notion excites me like the first time I posted XML status to an endpoint.

One thing I remember from these early days: no one had any idea what they were doing. It was all new and things like @screen_name,  #hashtags, or RT hadn’t been invented yet. Heck, we didn’t even call them “tweets” or use a bird icon at first! The best ideas came from people using the service: all of the things mentioned above grew organically from a need.

That’s where I want to be in the future. Exploring unknown territory that empowers others and adapts to the needs of a community.

There’s no sense in clinging to the personal whims of a clown leading a shit show. Especially when his circus will end up being a $44 billion version of MySpace.