Owened

Perpetually in search of what’s next. Marketing + Code at Hoist Apps and Writing @ The Next Web

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5000

Overnight, I clocked over 5000 followers on Twitter. I don’t want to brag about this – the number itself doesn’t really mean much – but I wanted to write something to reflect on how Twitter’s changed my life in positive ways.

I’m incredibly thankful for the friendships it’s forged, which I never thought possible when I joined the network. Over the last five years, it’s given me some crazy opportunities and connections I may have never had otherwise.

Some random things that couldn’t have happened without Twitter: I met my current flatmates, Samme and Charli, got a gig writing at The Next Web, made some incredible friends in San Francisco and around North America, got a tour inside Apple, got a job at Xero and more stuff that I can’t recall right now.

Despite my complaints when Twitter changes something, it’ll always be a...

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Thoughts on legality of accessing Netflix outside the USA

There’s been a lot of discussion over the last few days on the legality of accessing Netflix in New Zealand by using unblocking tools. Earlier this week, the major content license holder – SKY – stopped an ISP from advertising its services which allow region unblocking on the TV network.

There’s been lots of back and forth over the legality of doing so based on our current, vague laws and if you could be caught. It’s ridiculous.

Essentially, it’s a grey area.

Here’s my thoughts on the matter and why I’ll continue to use these tools to access things like Netflix and Hulu:

  • There’s no evidence this is actually illegal.
  • It’s extremely unlikely a case against you to actually reach the courts as it’s almost undetectable.
  • Any case against you seems to be highly unlikely to stand up in court without a law change.
  • The options...

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400+ free, beautiful, high-resolution wallpapers

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I’ve always struggled to pick wallpapers. It’s difficult, time consuming and a search for “wallpaper” on the internet inevitably returns hundreds of hideous ones.

I use a service called Splashbox to synchronize images from Unsplash for free as they’re added. Unfortunately, Splashbox is invite only at the moment so people can’t get in very easily.

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The beauty of Unsplash, is the images are 100% free and can be redistributed. I do not own these photos, but they are public domain and there isn’t an easy way to get all of them.

People are always asking me where I get my beautiful wallpapers. Now you know. There are the occasional odd ones in here, but it’s worth it to have nice pictures all the time.

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So, I present to you 400 free, high-resolution images for your wallpaper on your Mac/PC/Tablet/Whatever. I’ll update this post every...

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Why writing newsletters is awesome (and hard)

Two months ago, I started a newsletter to get myself reading more and to give back to the community since I saw a gap for a weekly, easy to read roundup of technology/startups and other interesting posts from around the web.

My thought was that it would be great to have a way to cut through all the noise and clickbait online, so I started Charged, a weekly email newsletter that’s delivered in the weekend. I’ve learnt a lot since starting it and I wanted to share some quick thoughts on what I’ve discovered so far:

Convincing people to hand over their email address

As it turns out, people are a little hesitant to hand over their email address, even if you promise that you’re going to deliver a super awesome amazing thing!

You really have to show value in a few different ways before people are willing to sign up. From what I’ve noticed, the easiest ways to...

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Misleading interface design

I had an interesting experience this week when I tried to cancel my Spotify account. When you visit the cancellation page, you’re asked to give a reason about why you’re cancelling. Fair enough, but what caught me out is Spotify trying to trick you into staying subscribed.

Spotify uses a tactic where it makes the link for “stay premium” a big obvious button and the “cancel my account” button a small link to the right. Since you’re unlikely to read the button and just click on it (because a good interface would make the action button the right thing), I clicked the big green button and assumed I had cancelled.

I didn’t actually realize I had been tricked into staying subscribed until after I came back five minutes later. Here’s the interface in question.

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This is horrible on many levels, because it’s clearly the company...

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A changing Apple

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This is a beautiful piece released by the New York Times over the weekend, I highly recommend reading it. There’s some great observations in it about how Tim Cook is shaping Apple to be different from how it historically was under Steve Jobs.

Cook is redefining the way the company operates by being approachable, compassionate and quiet/considering of all choices. It’s a shock for many outsiders who seem truly stuck on the idea that Apple can’t survive without Jobs.

The biggest thing I took away from this fantastic piece is that Apple has changed significantly and positively in many ways – you may conclude this yourself if you watch the WWDC keynote in its entirety – but perhaps most exciting is how much of a positive impact Cook wants to make on the world at large.

In response to a question earlier this year asking if Apple should avoid embracing...

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Signing up for a new Twitter account shows why the company is struggling to grow

I’ve been using Twitter for a number of years now – since late 2008 – so I’m well entrenched in using the network as part of my daily life. I love Twitter. It’s a great way to meet people, discuss common interests and things as they happen. It’s the new water-cooler, and it’s a great place to hang out.

Over the years, I’ve forged some great friendships via Twitter and met people I would have no hope of just meeting on the street as a result. It’s a great tool for networking and I love being a part of it.

But lately there’s been a series of stories about why Twitter is in trouble. Its user growth is flatlining. Executives are leaving the company. People aren’t joining Twitter as quickly as they were supposed to.

This perplexed me. Why is it that I can get so much value from the network, but new users can’t see that...

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Messaging overload

Today, Facebook accidentally released and then unreleased its new Snapchat competitor, Slingshot, adding to the already crowded messaging space.

A few weeks ago, I took a look at the messaging services I had on my phone; WhatsApp, Line, Snapchat, Skype, Hangouts, Facebook Messenger and iMessage. Six apps that all serve basically the same purpose in a different way; communicating with friends.

I remember two years ago being excited for the convergence of messaging apps; when I could use Windows Live Messenger/AIM/Skype/Google talk in [one app](http://trillian.im! I remember thinking that it was exciting to have less apps, not more, to message my friends.

After all, it’s a hassle to maintain friends lists in all these different places… and you eventually have those conversations along the lines of “is it better to Snapchat you or send you a Twitter DM?”

...

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Better

In any career, there’s a constant need to be improving yourself. Working at your craft, refining your skills, getting better and having deeper understanding of what you do. The hunger to be better – to succeed – is vital to driving us to success.

You’ve probably read a lot about things successful people do daily to get where they are. Everything from rising early to setting lots of goals; while those particular tips may or may not be true, the key that many fail to grasp is that it’s not the method that these people used to become successful that matters.

What matters is that they set out to be better than everyone else.

That hunger to be a better at what you do is something that many fail to listen to and quickly become comfortable. What you need to realize is that there are thousands of other people that do the exact same thing as you in your city and...

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iOS 8 moves the smartphone to the centre of computing

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Apple’s WWDC this year was monumental, but not because the company redesigned OS X or released a shiny new version of iOS. It was a game-changing unveil because Apple has finally acknowledged that the centre of computing now revolves around the phone.

A new technology called Continuity provides a seamless experience when moving from the Mac to the phone/tablet. A few examples of how Continuity works are important to illustrate how powerful this is:

  • If you’re writing an email on your Mac and you need to quickly head out, you can swipe the mail icon that appears on the lower left of your iPhone or iPad and it opens in Mail where you left off
  • Working on a spreadsheet or word document? Same deal. Just swipe up on the icon.
  • Browsing an interesting website and want to move to the iPad? Again, just swipe the icon.
  • You get an incoming cellular call on your iPhone, which appears...

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