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Sleeve is a Gorgeous Now Playing Widget for your Desktop

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Sleeve is a beautifully crafted app for macOS that displays your currently playing track as a tiny widget on your Desktop. Made by Hector Simpson* and Alasdair Monk from Replay, it works with Apple Music or Spotify and comfortably lives on your desktop without getting in your way. We’ve only been playing around with it for a day, but can confidently say that Sleeve is the ultimate example of a really polished and delightful app.

Sleeve shows the album artwork, track name, artist name, and album name on the Desktop. It’s not an interactive widget, so you can’t control playback using Sleeve (not that we want to). It works natively with the Apple Music and Spotify apps and doesn’t require your account details.

Customize How Sleeve Looks on your Desktop

My favorite thing about Sleeve is really how customizable it is. You can change a lot of options to modify its appearance on the Desktop, such as the Album artwork size and the rounded corner size, light or dark themes, show/hide the track title, album name and artist, alignment options, and the text size.

Sleeve App Customizable Options

You can also choose where you want Sleeve to appear on the Desktop — either at the four corners, or dead in the center. If you have multiple displays connected to your Mac, you can also choose which display Sleeve should appear pinned to.

Another aspect of Sleeve that managed to impress us was its icons. Along with a beautiful app icon, it also ships with this lovely drive icon for its DMG.

Sleeve App Icons

Sleeve is available for $5 from the Replay website.


*Hector has previously made appearances on Beautiful Pixels for Post-Rock Tuesdays and Stand app. He also makes these beautiful wallpaper collections called Aqueux, Candy, and Wavey.



The post Sleeve is a Gorgeous Now Playing Widget for your Desktop appeared first on Beautiful Pixels.

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Belfong
1 day ago
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Wish there’s a Windows version too!
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Cryptocurrency is an abject disaster

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This post is long overdue. Let’s get it over with.

🛑 Hey! If you write a comment about this article online, disclose your stake in cryptocurrency. I will explain why later in this post. For my part, I held <$10,000 USD worth of Bitcoin prior to 2016, plus small amounts of altcoins. I made a modest profit on my holdings. Today my stake in all cryptocurrency is $0.

Starting on May 1st, users of sourcehut’s CI service will be required to be on a paid account, a change which will affect about half of all builds.sr.ht users.1 Over the past several months, everyone in the industry who provides any kind of free CPU resources has been dealing with a massive outbreak of abuse for cryptocurrency mining. The industry has been setting up informal working groups to pool knowledge of mitigations, communicate when our platforms are being leveraged against one another, and cumulatively wasting thousands of hours of engineering time implementing measures to deal with this abuse, and responding as attackers find new ways to circumvent them.

Cryptocurrency has invented an entirely new category of internet abuse. CI services like mine are not alone in this struggle: JavaScript miners, botnets, and all kinds of other illicit cycles are being spent solving pointless math problems to make money for bad actors. Some might argue that abuse is inevitable for anyone who provides a public service — but prior to cryptocurrency, what kind of abuse would a CI platform endure? Email spam? Block port 25. Someone might try to host their website on ephemeral VMs with dynamic DNS or something, I dunno. Someone found a way of monetizing stolen CPU cycles directly, so everyone who offered free CPU cycles for legitimate use-cases is now unable to provide those services. If not for cryptocurrency, these services would still be available.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that these are a bunch of script kiddies. There are large, talented teams of engineers across several organizations working together to combat this abuse, and they’re losing. A small sample of tactics I’ve seen or heard of include:

  • Using CPU limiters to manipulate monitoring tools.
  • Installing crypto miners into the build systems for free software projects so that the builds appear legitimate.
  • Using password dumps to steal login credentials for legitimate users and then leveraging their accounts for mining.

I would give more examples, but secrecy is a necessary part of defending against this — which really sucks for an organization that otherwise strives to be as open and transparent as sourcehut does.

Cryptocurrency problems are more subtle than outright abuse, too. The integrity and trust of the entire software industry has sharply declined due to cryptocurrency. It sets up perverse incentives for new projects, where developers are no longer trying to convince you to use their software because it’s good, but because they think that if they can convince you it will make them rich. I’ve had to develop a special radar for reading product pages now: a mounting feeling of dread as a promising technology is introduced while I inevitably arrive at the buried lede: it’s more crypto bullshit. Cryptocurrency is the multi-level marketing of the tech world. “Hi! How’ve you been? Long time no see! Oh, I’ve been working on this cool distributed database file store archive thing. We’re doing an ICO next week.” Then I leave. Any technology which is not an (alleged) currency and which incorporates blockchain anyway would always work better without it.

There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of cryptocurrency scams and ponzi schemes trussed up to look like some kind of legitimate offering. Even if the project you’re working on is totally cool and solves all of these problems, there are 100 other projects pretending to be like yours which are ultimately concerned with transferring money from their users to their founders. Which one are investors more likely to invest in? Hint: it’s the one that’s more profitable. Those promises of “we’re different!” are always hollow anyway. Remember the DAO? They wanted to avoid social arbitration entirely for financial contracts, but when the chips are down and their money was walking out the door, they forked the blockchain.

That’s what cryptocurrency is all about: not novel technology, not empowerment, but making money. It has failed as an actual currency outside of some isolated examples of failed national economies. No, cryptocurrency is not a currency at all: it’s an investment vehicle. A tool for making the rich richer. And that’s putting it nicely; in reality it has a lot more in common with a Ponzi scheme than a genuine investment. What “value” does solving fake math problems actually provide to anyone? It’s all bullshit.

And those few failed economies whose people are desperately using cryptocurrency to keep the wheel of their fates spinning? Those make for a good headline, but how about the rural communities whose tax dollars subsidized the power plants which the miners have flocked to? People who are suffering blackouts as their power is siphoned into computing SHA-256 as fast as possible while dumping an entire country worth of CO₂ into the atmosphere?2 No, cryptocurrency does not help failed states. It exploits them.

Even those in the (allegedly) working economies of the first world have been impacted by cryptocurrency. The price of consumer GPUs have gone sharply up in the past few months. And, again, what are these GPUs being used for? Running SHA-256 in a loop, as fast as possible. Rumor has it that hard drives are up next.

Maybe your cryptocurrency is different. But look: you’re in really poor company. When you’re the only honest person in the room, maybe you should be in a different room. It is impossible to trust you. Every comment online about cryptocurrency is tainted by the fact that the commenter has probably invested thousands of dollars into a Ponzi scheme and is depending on your agreement to make their money back.3 Not to mention that any attempts at reform, like proof-of-stake, are viciously blocked by those in power (i.e. those with the money) because of any risk it poses to reduce their bottom line. No, your blockchain is not different.

Cryptocurrency is one of the worst inventions of the 21st century. I am ashamed to share an industry with this exploitative grift. It has failed to be a useful currency, invented a new class of internet abuse, further enriched the rich, wasted staggering amounts of electricity, hastened climate change, ruined hundreds of otherwise promising projects, provided a climate for hundreds of scams to flourish, created shortages and price hikes for consumer hardware, and injected perverse incentives into technology everywhere. Fuck cryptocurrency.

A personal note

This rant has been a long time coming and is probably one of the most justified expressions of anger I've written for this blog yet. However, it will probably be the last one.

I realize that my blog has been a source of a lot of negativity in the past, and I regret how harsh I've been with some of the projects I've criticised. I will make my arguments by example going forward: if I think we can do better, I'll do it better, instead of criticising those who are just earnestly trying their best.

Thanks for reading 🙂 Let's keep making the software world a better place.


  1. If this is the first you’re hearing of this, a graceful migration is planned: details here ↩︎

  2. “But crypto is far from the worst contributor to climate change!” Yeah, but at least the worst offenders provide value to society. See also Whataboutism. ↩︎

  3. This is why I asked you to disclose your stake in your comment upfront. ↩︎

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Belfong
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20 days ago
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bogorad
15 days ago
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Crybaby.
Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain

The Keyboard You Really Don’t Need Or Want

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Most people think of a keyboard as a flat, vaguely rectangular thing with around 100ish different keys. A mechanical keyboard enthusiast would heartily disagree and point out various tenkeyless, 75%, 60%, or 40% keyboards that strip down the idea of what a keyboard is by taking keys out. [Stavros Korokithakis] takes that notion and turns it on its side by creating the five-button vertical keyboard known as Keyyyyyyyys.

This keyboard, or keystick, is designed to be onehanded and to be eye-contact-free. With just five keys, it makes heavy use of chording to output all the characters needed. It has a maximum of 32 possible states and taking out pressing nothing as a no-op leaves 31 possible key combinations. So [Stavros] had to get creative and laid out the letters according to their frequency in the English language. The brains of Keyyyyyyyys is the ubiquitous ESP32, emulating a Bluetooth keyboard while being wrapped in a simple 3d printed box. The code is hosted on GitLab.

If you don’t know how hard it is to learn a five-key chording keyboard from scratch, definitely check out [Stavros]’ video embedded below. “C’mon h.” We have heard reports that you can learn these things, though.

While this five-button keyboard may seem small, this two-button keyboard still has it beat by three keys. A one-button keyboard is just a morse code keyboard, and we are looking forward to a wireless Bluetooth version.

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Belfong
1 day ago
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Nice!
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samuel
11 days ago
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Like T9 under a desk
Cambridge, Massachusetts
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Skyrim Player Tries To Kill Every Single Living Thing In The Game, Will Die Alone And Remorseful

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No doubt looking for fresh challenges in a game that’s been out for nearly ten years, jaeinskyrim recently decided to embark on a quest to...kill every single person and creature in the entire game world of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

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Belfong
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Photos: Violence Explodes Across Israel and Gaza (26 photos)

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Tensions have escalated in recent weeks between Palestinians and Israelis, triggered in part by recent protests over a decades-long land dispute that could lead to the removal of Palestinian families from their homes in a neighborhood in East Jerusalem. Israeli security forces confronted demonstrators on the site known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif and to Jews as the Temple Mount, injuring hundreds of Palestinians. Militants in the Gaza Strip began firing rockets into Israel, and Israeli forces conducted air strikes in Gaza in response, leading to the deaths of more than 55 Palestinians and seven Israelis over the past few days.

Smoke, dust, and fire erupt around a multistory tower as it collapses amid many other buildings.
Smoke and flames rise from Al-Sharouk Tower as it collapses after being hit by an Israeli air strike in Gaza City on May 12, 2021. ( Qusay Dawud / AFP / Getty)
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Belfong
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Twitter Scrolls

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Twitter is going the way of subscriptions in 2021 — after buying Revue, the company today snapped up Scroll for an undisclosed amount. The acquisition is a smart move — it allows Twitter to play to its strengths — media and media distribution. 

Scroll is a prix fixe media buffet –for $5 a month, readers can view articles, ad-free, from about 300 odd media outlets. The $5 a month subscription is then shared with the publishers. Good idea, but as Scroll founder Tony Haile points out in his blog post announcing the deal, “we’re not moving fast enough.” 

A lot has to do with the media industry and its bureaucratic disfunction. The fact remains that destination viewing of media is becoming a habit only reserved for a fading generation of readers. Discovery, distribution, and consumption of media have taken on a different meaning. And believe it or not — Twitter is smack in the middle of this Venn diagram. 

Twitter, just by incorporating Scroll, can increase its footprint and impact on the media business.

Last year, I wrote a piece — What Twitter could learn from Spotify. In my piece, I outlined a strategy that would help Twitter reinvent itself but also help provide a vital lifeline for not only establishment media but also independent creators. But in doing so, I reasoned that 

Twitter has to be “willing to rethink its entire core application, jettison the past,” and only then can it “create a more relevant, robust, and financially rewarding future.” (I don’t want to repeat myself, so you are better off reading the earlier piece at your leisure.

With Spaces, Revue, and now Scroll, Twitter has started to think different — though if it will be enough for the company to regain its mojo, remains to be seen. It seems the newest recruit, Scroll CEO Tony Haile, does see the bigger picture.

“When you see Spaces, Revue or Scroll, you see Twitter focused on expanding, not encroaching on the value it helps others to create,” he writes on the Scroll blog. “Twitter is marching to the beat of a different drum and knows success will come from a bigger pie not a larger slice.”

In his post announcing the deal, he points out what makes Twitter unique compared to every other big platform — read Facebook. 

“For every other platform, journalism is dispensable. If journalism were to disappear tomorrow their business would carry on much as before,” Haile writes. “Twitter is the only large platform whose success is deeply intertwined with a sustainable journalism ecosystem.” 

And he is right — it is not just journalism in the classic sense. Journalism, as we have known, is changing. Twitter can’t fall into the trap of the media’s past and almost always lean into the future. Whether it is live conversations, podcasts, video streams, photos, newsletters, everything that is media can benefit from Twitter’s taking a cue from that other content company, Spotify. 


PS: Being very self-referential today, I dug up this little piece from 2012:

Over the past few years we have started to see the transformation of media by new technologies, new methods of distribution and newer ways to consume information I have always believed that we’ve got to stop thinking of media as what it was and focus on more of what it could be. In the world of plenty, the only currency is attention and attention is what defines “media.” Zynga is fighting Hollywood for attention (and winning). Instagram is taking moments away from other media. They have attention. There are old companies that are dying and new ones that are being invented. 

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Belfong
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