Author Archives: dgm

QuickUnits, Then and Now

I’ve been remaking my old app, QuickUnits, and have enjoyed the direction the design is going. While I’m not quite ready to publish the new version, I would like to show the direction the app has been going. I’ve made all new custom icons and completely re-written the app in Swift. The old app was in JavaScript, HTML, CSS, and wrapped in Cordova.

Let’s start with the icon. I used the same icon from 2013 to 2019 (when I removed the app from the store). I still like the original, but I always thought the “x:y” could be a little confusing since it’s not in the name of the app anywhere. For the new one, I took the new length icon, turned it 45° and inverted it. It’s meant to look a little bit like a “Q” (circle with diagonal line), and also be a more obvious reference to the internals of the app.

Next, the menu. While I liked the simplicity of the old menu that overlaid the keypad, it didn’t leave much room for expansion, and also doesn’t follow the conventions that most people are familiar with on the iPhone. The 2017 version was largely the same, but with some cleanup to match the modern iOS aesthetic. The new menu splits the app into a more familiar iPhone app layout and allows for endless expansion as well as light and dark modes. I’ve also completely redesigned all the unit icons. They’re made with strong inspiration from Apple’s SF Symbols to try and stay true to the iOS look.

The unit view takes the same cues as the menu. I’ve changed the highlight on the selected unit and added category separation to make it easier to find the units you’re looking for. Here’s a view of the speed converter with the only measurement that really matters already filled in.

The older version of QuickUnits had what I could only describe as an “ugly hack” when it came to negative numbers. In order to enter a negative temperature, I put a minus button in the middle of the converter view. There’s no excuse, that was laziness. In order to correct this egregious design flaw, I’ve now made the keypad modular. If a negative button is needed for a given category, the category calls for it in the code and it appears in the bottom row, where it belongs. The other buttons in the bottom row seamlessly resize to fill the space. Throw in the new color and return to rounded rectangles (the way buttons are meant to be) and we’ve got a nice design overall.

Now for an all new feature – copy and paste. Simply hold down on the the selected menu and various options to copy and paste from the clipboard. We even have different versions for copying out to allow you to match the format of where you’ll be pasting it later. This is something I always meant to do in the old versions, but never got around to.

And finally, a sneak peek into the iPad design. With a larger screen there’s no need to swipe back to show the menu, it’s all on the screen all the time. I’m currently battling a bug or two with the iPadOS 16 beta, but I’m sure we’ll have it smoothed over soon enough.

That’s all for now. I’m planning to release the new version of the app when iOS/iPadOS 16 comes out in the fall and possibly for the Mac sometime after that. Stay tuned, I’ll post again when it’s live.


I think a lot about how we as a culture have turned “forever” into the only acceptable definition of success.

Like… if you open a coffee shop and run it for a while and it makes you happy but then stuff gets too expensive and stressful and you want to do something else so you close it, it’s a “failed” business. If you write a book or two, then decide that you don’t actually want to keep doing that, you’re a “failed” writer. If you marry someone, and that marriage is good for a while, and then stops working and you get divorced, it’s a “failed” marriage.

The only acceptable “win condition” is “you keep doing that thing forever”. A friendship that lasts for a few years but then its time is done and you move on is considered less valuable or not a “real” friendship. A hobby that you do for a while and then are done with is a “phase” – or, alternatively, a “pity” that you don’t do that thing any more. A fandom is “dying” because people have had a lot of fun with it but are now moving on to other things.

I just think that something can be good, and also end, and that thing was still good. And it’s okay to be sad that it ended, too. But the idea that anything that ends is automatically less than this hypothetical eternal state of success… I don’t think that’s doing us any good at all.

Helen Bright (brightwanderer)

I’ve been thinking about this a lot since I read it a few days ago. As a divorcee and serial hobbyist it really hits home.

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Nerdride – Logo Design

Once upon a time I was going to organize an annual bike ride for nerds like me, I got as far as the logo design. And as you may have noticed, I liked it enough to use on my blog instead.


Just a fun little thing I coded in JavaScript. I wanted a way to translate basic text into ASCII art. So here’s a page that will do just that, complete with a custom made ASCII font. Anything you type in the first box will be translated into the ASCII font below. I’m not divulging what project this is for yet, but I will say it’s meant to make chapter headers for a story.

Space – Icon Design

The Lounge – Icon Design

Trevor Noah on George Floyd, Minneapolis Protests, Ahmaud Arbery & Amy Cooper

I watched the following video from Trevor Noah speaking about the protests and I was greatly moved. While I’ve long known that are deep structural problems in our society, Trevor brings a succinct perspective on the events unfolding around America today. I was moved to write out the transcript for posterity and as an effort to better my understanding of the issues at hand. This moment of time will be recorded however it plays out, and Trevor Noah’s words should be part of it.

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Zach Youngs is 'Not Lonely in the Dark'

My dear friend, Zach Youngs is one of the most honest and genuine people I know. Zach’s blog is chock full of cogent movie reviews but his recent entry, Not Lonely in the Dark is a look into his love of movies, problems with relationships and loneliness, and right down into his heart.

At a certain point many of my friends, acquaintances, coworkers, family members, strangers I follow on social media, began pairing off, then breaking up, then pairing off again. It looks really easy, effortless even, but there’s always been something inside me that stops me from saying something, from letting my feelings be known.

Love you buddy.

Mary Neely in Quarantine

since I’m single in the quarantine I’ve decided to reenact moments from my favorite musicals so it feels like I’m in love — first is LES MISÉRABLES

Mary Neely

All of these are brilliant, some of the best acting, directing, and editing I’ve seen lately. But my favorite is Helpless from Hamilton. I’ve watched it more times than I care to admit.

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Jojo Rabbit

I went into Jojo Rabbit not knowing much about the film. I haven’t been paying much attention to movies lately and hadn’t seen a full trailer or read a single review (don’t worry Zach, I’ll be reading yours just as soon as I’m done writing this). And with all that apathy I managed to avoid any spoilers or any real knowledge of it. I don’t say this as a backward “I’m too cool for school” brag. I say it, because sometimes ignorance really is bliss. This just seemed like one I should go into blind and I think I’m happier for it.

If you’re on the fence about seeing Jojo Rabbit, but also think that you should go in knowing less about it rather than more, I’ll say this once: stop reading now and just go see it. You’ll be glad you did. 

For those that want to know more or are reading this because you’re rabid fans of mine (why do I hear crickets right now?), let’s dig in and see what all the fuss is about.

The Facts

Jojo Rabbit is about a ten year old boy living in Nazi Germany. He’s obsessed with Hitler and believes all the worst things about jews. So much so that the film starts with an ecstatic Jojo getting pumped about going to Nazi Youth Camp. Did I mention this is a comedy (albeit a dark one)? Celebratory book burnings and live fire training ensue.

It stars Roman Griffin Davis as Johannes “Jojo” Betzler, Scarlett Johansson as Rosie Betzler, his charismatic, take-no-shit mother, and Thomasin McKenzie as Elsa, a jew living in their walls. Oh, and it was written, directed, and also stars Taika Waititi (of Thor: Ragnarok) as none other than Adolf Hitler, or at least a proxy of Hitler. The story is based on Christine Leunens‘s book Caging Skies.

The film takes a turn when Jojo finds Elsa hidden away in their home, and that his mother has hidden her on purpose. Jojo then begins to questions his misguided beliefs. With the thoughtful prodding of Rosie and Elsa, Jojo eventually comes to terms with the fact that he has been mislead.

The Laughs

Almost every character in Jojo Rabbit is funny. Jojo: funny, Rosie:  funny, Captain Klenzendorf (Sam Rockwell): funny, Hitler: funny, Jojo’s friend Yorki (Archie Yates): hilarious. But the laughs aren’t at the death and destruction of war, but despite it. The characters, especially Jojo and Rosie are grasping for levity in a country and city that are surrounded and under attack, from inside and out.

The Heart

There’s no way I get into the heart of the matter without egregious spoilers, and this is no place for that. So I’m just going to say that this quirky, dark comedy is chalk full of heart. I’ll go out on a limb and say that this is easily Scarlett Johansson’s best film. Or at least the best I’ve seen of hers. She exudes caring and compassion in an undercurrent beneath her rough guise of a faithful German citizen.

Couple Johansson’s performance with Sam Rockwell, who plays a gruff but funny and oddly caring Nazi captain who attempts to train Jojo and Yorki, and you’ve already got a film brooding with talent. But we’re not done yet. The young actors also all nail it. Elsa (McKenzie) is meek in her hideout, but fierce when it comes to Jojo’s blind Nazi loyalty. Meanwhile she’s clever enough to prod him into an empathetic direction without being too overt. Even Jojo’s hilarious friend Yorki, is as lovable as a character as I could hope for.

The Feels

After Jojo Rabbit finished, I walked out of the theater and went shopping at Trader Joes. It’s unrelated to the movie except that Joes shares a parking garage with the theater I went to and I was hungry. All of that is beside the point anyway. The point is, that the whole time walking around the store, doing something so trivial as buying groceries, driving home, and walking my dog, my mind was wandered. Much in the way minds tend to wander after something great and shocking and bewildering — clawing for meaning, scratching away the callused parts of my skull.

I was sad and laughing and smiling and crying, all at the same time. If the goal of art is to make you feel something, Jojo Rabbit unequivocally falls into the “art” category for me, and I bet it will make you sad-laugh-smile-cry too.