Take me to your Lizard

From So long, and thanks for all the fish by Douglas Adams. At this point in the story, an alien spaceship has landed on planet Earth. The doors open and a robot comes out...

‘I come in peace,’ it said, adding after a long moment of further grinding, ‘take me to your Lizard.’

Ford Prefect, of course, had an explanation for this, as he sat with Arthur and watched the nonstop frenetic news reports on television, none of which had anything to say other than to record that the thing had done this amount of damage which was valued at that amount of billions of pounds and had killed this totally other number of people, and then say it again, because the robot was doing nothing more than standing there, swaying very slightly, and emitting short incomprehensible error messages.

‘It comes from a very ancient democracy, you see…’

‘You mean, it comes from a world of lizards?’

‘No,’ said Ford, who by this time was a little more rational and coherent than he had been, having finally had the coffee forced down him, ‘nothing so simple. Nothing anything like to straightforward. On its world, the people are people. The leaders are lizards. The people hate the lizards and the lizards rule the people.’

‘Odd,’ said Arthur, ‘I thought you said it was a democracy.’

‘I did,’ said Ford. ‘It is.’

‘So,’ said Arthur, hoping he wasn’t sounding ridiculously obtuse, ‘why don’t the people get rid of the lizards?’

‘It honestly doesn’t occur to them,’ said Ford. ‘They’ve all got the vote, so they all pretty much assume that the government they’ve voted in more or less approximates to the government they want.’

‘You mean they actually vote for the lizards?’

‘Oh yes,’ said Ford with a shrug, `of course.’

‘But,’ said Arthur, going for the big one again, ‘why?’

‘Because if they didn’t vote for a lizard,’ said Ford, ‘the wrong lizard might get in. Got any gin?’


‘I said,’ said Ford, with an increasing air of urgency creeping into his voice, ‘have you got any gin?’

‘I’ll look. Tell me about the lizards.’

Ford shrugged again.

‘Some people say that the lizards are the best thing that ever happened to them,’ he said. ‘They’re completely wrong of course, completely and utterly wrong, but someone’s got to say it.’

Every time I read The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy I find new things that somehow seem prescient.

Ulysses on iPhone and iPad Pro!

Ulysses is awesome. I've used it for years on both my Mac and my iPad and it truly is a great app. The one thing that was missing was an iPhone version so I could do quick edits on the go or write while on a plane or somewhere I didn't have access to either Mac or iPad but inspiration struck. I used Deadulus Touch for that, but it wasn't the same.

Then I got an iPad Pro. And while Ulysses for iPad worked great for the most part I did miss split view and the full keyboard.

Well, the guys have just released the new version and it's universal and updated for the iPad Pro.

Day of the Dead

Day of the Dead 2015

The Day of the Dead, or Día de Muertos, is one of many Mexican traditions that has captured the imagination of people all over the globe. It's even inscribed in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.

It's hard to explain if you're not Mexican and haven’t grown up with it.

Many years ago, while at university in Mexico, I took a contemporary art class with a French lecturer. She was really nice and knew her stuff. The class was interesting and engaging and I remember enjoying attending, which didn’t happen often. She'd only been in Mexico for a few months when the Day of the Dead came and I'm not sure what she expected. Surely she’d read about it and seen the beautiful, if eerie, imagery that’s associated with the celebration.

But she clearly wasn’t ready for what happened. Several of my classmates brought her a small skull made of sugar with her name written in the forehead.

This is not only common, but it’s in fact a very nice gesture. Kids love them. It’s basically a huge block of sugar with some more sugary stuff to decorate it. We think it’s funny.

She didn’t think it was funny at all.

She panicked. The next class she didn’t show up. We waited for a while and then all went on our ways. On the following week the head of the department came to the class to explain what had happened. She didn’t understand the skulls and thought we all hated her and wanted her dead! She was so disturbed by it that she decided to quit.

As I said, it’s difficult to explain.

Anyway, I love the short film above and thought it’d be a good time to share it. Enjoy. I hope.

Happy Towel Day

If you're a fan of Douglas Adams, it wouldn't be weird if you had a towel around your head today. Granted, it would be extremely weird for everyone else, but not for you.

Towel Day is celebrated on 25 May as a tribute to Douglas Adams. He's my favourite author and the person who wrote the words "disturbances in the wash" from where the name of this site came from. You can read the story in the about page.

If you want to learn more about Towel Day, here are a few cool resources:

Computers are still technology — because we are still wrestling with it — it’s still being invented, we’re still trying to work out how it works. There’s a world of game interaction to come that you or I wouldn’t recognise. It’s time for the machines to disappear. The computer’s got to disappear into all of the things we use.
— Douglas Adams on an interview for ABC

Sydney, Australia flyover in Apple Maps

Last night I did a clean install of my Mac and today I opened Apple Maps for the first time in this Mac. It asked my permission to use my location and when I said yes, it identified I was in Sydney and I saw a little button to 'Start Flyover'. I don't remember seeing that before, so I clicked yes.

Wow, I sure do live in a beautiful city.

Watching this 90 second or so flyover made me smile. I liked it so much that I decided to make a video and share it. So there you go, this is Sydney, Australia.

Snapback Slim Wallet 2.0

Snapback Slim Wallet 2.0 next to iPhone

Last year I wrote a review of the Snapback Slim Wallet. It’s a minimalist wallet made from an elastic band with a strap attached to its side that wraps around it. I ended my review by mentioning it had become my daily wallet and I even went as far as saying I loved it.

Ten or so months later, the Snapback Slim is still my daily wallet and I still feel the same way about it.

But Nick, the designer, decided he could do better. He’s running another Kickstarter campaign for a new and improved version.

Enter the Snapback Slim Wallet 2.0.

Note: Nick was kind enough to send me an early prototype of the new wallet to check out, but unfortunately it’s stuck in postal hell. I should’ve received it weeks ago and the tracking info says it arrived in Australia early last week but I still don’t have it. I wanted to wait until I could see it and touch it before writing about it, but I don’t want to postpone it any longer.

The Snapback Slim Wallet 2.0 improves on the original by using better materials, improved stitching, and it now comes in all black. Additionally, the strap now has a new slash logo that looks pretty slick.

As I said in my review of the original, it’s small, comfortable, and fits plenty of cards (I currently carry 6) and some cash.

If you’re interested in getting rid of your ugly, bulky wallet you’ll like this one.

You can back the Snapback Slim Wallet 2.0 for only US$20.

Perfect Photo Suite 8.5 Summer Sale Bundle

It's a bit weird calling it a Summer Sale while I'm freezing down under, but either way, the guys at onOne Software have put together a great deal on Perfect Photo Suite 8.8.

Here's what's included in the bundle:

  • Perfect Photo Suite 8.5: Their amazing photo editor with 8 apps in one. ($129.95)
  • Creative Live Workshop Collection: Over 5 hours of online training workshops on Photoshop and Lightroom. ($116)
  • Endless Summer Preset Pack: 32 summer-stylized presets, including 8 for Perfect Effects, 8 for Lightroom, 8 for Adobe Camera Raw, and 8 for Apple Aperture. ($40)
  • Light & Process eBook by Nicole S. Young: A 205-page ebook with 10 step-by-step photography and post-processing tutorials on Suite 8. ($10)

All this for only $99.95 until June 26.

It's a great offer. I've used the Perfect Photo Suite extensively for years and I love it. You can download a trial and check it out before purchasing. It's worth it and a great companion to Aperture.

Introducing Bito - A free (unfinished) typeface


After being worked on, abandoned, worked on, abandoned, and worked on again many times over the last 15 or so years, I'm finally putting it out there.

Bito is a typeface I designed when I was studying in university that I never got around to finishing. Over the last few months I've put some time aside to finsh the lowercase glyphs and a few punctuation marks, and turn it into a font you can download and use for free.

The full story and download links are in the Bito Typeface page.

I have to thank Ryan, a former colleage, for encouraging me to work on and release Bito. It's been a fun project and I will continue to work on it as time permits. Next step is to finish the uppercase glyphs and missing punctuation marks. For example, the @ sign wasn't that important back then, but it sure is now.

Keen-eyed readers would have noticed that a few weeks ago I changed the logotype of Disturbances in the Wash to use Bito. I'm very happy to be using a typeface that I designed myself.

I encourage you to go read the story and download Bito. Let me know what you think.


When a 3 year old plays with your iPhone

If you're wondering what happens when a 3 year old grabs your iPhone without you realising it, this is it.


Many apps get delted. Most get re-arranged. New pages get added. Random folders that make no sense to an adult get created (Notes, Runkeeper and Endless Alphabet end up together). And the dock turns into some sort of "this is just a phone" joke.

Subscribing to Disturbances in the Wash

The death of Google Reader is regrettable and I haven't yet decided on how I'll replace it. But more importantly, it got me worried about 2 things:

  1. Many of you have subscribed to the site via RSS and most are using Google Reader.
  2. My RSS feed is managed through Feedburner, another Google service which might be discontinued at any moment.

I'm worried about what would happen if Google ever kills Feedburner, so I'm moving my RSS feed over to the one built into Squarespace, the platform where this site is hosted. It doesn't have any features and as of version 6, it doesn't even show the subscriber count (hopefully they'll bring it back soon). But at least it's not dependent on a third company.


Please re-subscribe to the site using this feed URL:


I realise this is a big ask, but it's for the best in the long run. I hope you'll stick around.

I'll post a few reminders in the coming weeks. The old RSS feed should continue to work while Feedburner is around, but I can't guarantee it.