Matt Gemmell

CHANGER is available now!

An action-thriller novel — book 1 in the KESTREL series.

★★★★★ — Amazon

Decaf

personal & briefly 1 min read

Whenever I mention decaf coffee, I’m asked why I drink it. Here’s the answer, once and for all, so I can point people to it: I have a minor heart condition.

My heart has a small defect causing an abnormal electrical focus, which triggers periodic atrial ectopic beats, and occasional episodes of atrial flutter. The flutter happens a couple of times per year. The ectopic beats are my many-times-daily companions. Essentially, I have a superfluous beat-initiator, which can put my upper heart into a very fast loop that I have to reset (I don’t have a reset button; I use vagal manoeuvres, most often the mammalian diving reflex — i.e. dunking my head in water).

I’ve never used medication or had surgery for this (they’re options, though, if it worsens). What I did was quit caffeine, and get a lot more cardiovascular exercise, both of which make the flutter less likely to happen — hence the decaf, and the incessant social media photos about my workouts.

It’s scary when I have an episode, and it’s contributed to an intermittent anxiety disorder, but with management and some luck, the condition will hopefully never cause a life-threatening arrhythmia. So please don’t be a dick about the decaf.

Laptop Replacement

tech & ipad-only 5 min read

This article is part of a series on going iPad-only.

If you’re a maker of iPad apps that my readers would be interested in, you can sponsor this site for a week.


I occasionally see the phrase “laptop replacement” regarding the iPad, despite the bizarreness of both the concept and the generalisation. Intelligent people like journalists and tech pundits use it, seemingly without humorous intent, and it puzzles me.

There’s no such thing as a laptop replacement, and if there were, the iPad isn’t meant to be one.

The 10.5-inch iPad Pro

personal & briefly 1 min read

I previously published some first-look photos of the new 10.5-inch iPad Pro. I’ve used the machine for a week and a half, and I understand it better now. Things — and people — are ill-served by complex and lengthy reviews. Ultimately, an iPad is a technically sophisticated object that aspires to conceptual simplicity. My thoughts are correspondingly brief.

This new iPad Pro looks and feels the same in the hand as the previous one. The screen area is noticeably larger, with a greater sense of space, but that’s a digital rather than physical difference. Responsiveness is also perceptibly better — when scrolling, switching apps, and using the Pencil. It’s visibly brighter, too. Touch ID is faster. All that stuff is readily apparent.

The 10.5-inch model isn’t really a different size from the 9.7”, though. Apple long ago chose the most comfortable balance of portability and an expansive canvas. This one has an active area that’s closer to its ideal physical size, and a responsiveness that’s closer to a natural, direct-manipulation, chameleonic device.

This is the same iPad that Apple keeps making and refining. It’s just the truest one so far.

iPad Pro 10.5-inch first look

tech & ipad-only 2 min read

This article is part of a series on going iPad-only.

If you’re a maker of iPad apps that my readers would be interested in, you can sponsor this site for a week.


My wife surprised me with a new 10.5” iPad Pro for my birthday, and I thought I’d share some photos and brief thoughts about it after a few hours of playing around. Note also that I’m thus selling my beloved and nearly-new 9.7” iPad Pro, and you should buy it!

The first thing that struck me about the 10.5” model is how thin the bezels along the longest sides are.

iPad Pro 9.7" for sale

development, tech & ipad-only 2 min read

Update: the iPad Pro and accessories have been sold.

My wife surprised me with a new 10.5” iPad Pro for my birthday, so I’m selling my 9.7” model. It’s only eight months old, in fantastic condition, and includes some accessories too. It’s an amazing machine if you want to work on an iPad full-time, or if you’re a developer who wants to get ahead of the game in supporting the new iPad-specific features in iOS 11. All the details are below.

Summary: iPad Pro 9.7” gold, 128GB, wi-fi, still under warranty, latest iOS. Boxed, complete, mint condition. Plus Logitech Create keyboard case, and a couple of extra cases. About £520, plus shipping. If interested, please fill in this form.

The Other Shoe

tech & ipad-only 6 min read

This article is part of a series on going iPad-only.

If you’re a maker of iPad apps that my readers would be interested in, you can sponsor this site for a week.


The other night, we sat and watched some of the Apple WWDC 2017 keynote; mostly the parts pertaining to the upcoming iOS 11, and the new pair of iPad Pro devices. Digesting the keynote’s news after the fact has become a ritual for my wife and I. We very rarely watch TV, so it’s a fun and novel experience for us to have something playing in front of us while we discuss it together.

As someone who works exclusively on an iPad, it’s difficult to express just how relieved and enthused I was at the preview of the next version of the operating system.

Mobile

design & blog 1 min read

Despite having many developers amongst my readers — who presumably use a desktop or laptop most of the time by necessity — the majority of visitors to this site are using mobile devices. That’s true for the web in general, too.

When I redesigned the site in 2014, I messed it up in what’s probably a common way. I designed for the desktop first (mistake 1), then I added media queries specifically for iOS devices (mistake 2), and then I tweaked the CSS to present a design tailored to those devices (mistake 3). You live and learn.