Playing with the web inspector

My very basic web knowledge came in handy recently. I was working on a group project, and my team wanted to include a few realistic-looking news headlines in our presentation.

Is anyone good with Photoshop?

We don't need Photoshop, we can just edit the website.

Like... hack it?

In Chrome:

This simple tip blew their minds, and I was known thenceforth the "computer wizard" of the group.

If I were to trace back all of my web-related work to a single point in time, I think it was the day I saw raw HTML code in Chrome's web inspector back in ~2010. Before then, I only kinda-sorta knew that the web was made of files and code - I didn't realize I could manipulate that code and tweak things right on my own machine. It was an awesome discovery, and very few people my age know it's even possible without "hacking".

I now impart this powerful knowledge unto you in good faith, knowing that you'll put it to good use. Spread the word about web wizardry, and explore all the secrets the inspector holds. If you can see it, you can change it - don't let any website tell you otherwise.

How to change your Twitter username

Here's how to change your Twitter handle from @OldName to @NewName without losing your followers, tweet history, or losing access to your old handle. From your followers' perspective, the change will be totally seamless, and it can be done in less than 10 minutes.

Here's a synopsis:

One thing to note: Because of the way Twitter handles conversations, changing your username won't retroactively change @mentions directed toward you from other people. This means that people you've conversed with will seemingly be talking to a ghost at @OldName instead of you at @NewName. Considering the "in-the-now" nature of Twitter this isn't really a showstopper, just a mild inconvenience that'll lessen over time.

In the example below, I'll be changing the old @Thinkertry handle for this site to the new @thinkerbit.

Step-by-step procedure

First, create a brand new Twitter account with a junk handle you don't care about. Something like "testing873626" is fine. Make the password strong, because eventually this will be the account that holds your @OldName for safe-keeping.

Here's what your account page will look like:


Now sign out of that account (or open up another web browser) and sign into your @OldName Twitter account. Head to your account page, which will look like this:


Replace the username in that first box with the one you want, and you'll see an "Available!" confirmation message.


Click the big blue "Save changes" button at the bottom and you'll be asked to re-enter your password to confirm the change.


Confirm your password, hit "Save changes" and a yellow banner will let you know that your settings have been saved. Your username is now officially changed.


If you need to change your "real" name (First & Last), which in my case still says Thinkertry, head over to your main profile page and click the "Edit profile" button. Change your name from there and hit "Save changes". The Twitter account you care about is now perfectly set up.


To maintain control of your @OldName, log back into the new Twitter account you made with the temporary handle and go to the account page. Change the username to your @OldName and it'll show as available. Old usernames are made available to the world the very instant someone changes their name, and as far as I can tell there's no time limit or name change limit either.


Click "Save changes" just as before, and head over to your profile again to tweak the account's name and description. It may also be a good idea to make one tweet from this account directing people to the @NewName account. None of your followers will see this (because they're following @NewName now), but anyone who visits your old account URL will be more likely to notice the change and follow you in the right place.


And that's it! Not as hard as I thought it would be, and my many single digits of followers are none the wiser.


With exams right around the corner, today seemed like the perfect time to organize my wallpaper collection and create a new page to share them.

Each wallpaper is, in my opinion:

All of the ones included fit the bill, and I've been cycling through them for the past few years. I have ~100 others that I'll need to test a bit more before sharing, and I'll do that throughout 2015.

Every artist I could find is credited, and clicking a wallpaper will bring you to the artist's preferred download page (which is a pain, I know, but they get analytics data that way). If I couldn't find the original source/artist, you'll be directed to a locally-hosted copy instead.

Every wallpaper is at least 1920x1080, and two-thirds of them are at least 2560x1440. I may display the resolutions of locally-hosted ones in the future, but not for now.

As much as I'd like to create a nicely-organized .zip file with all of them included, I'm once again reluctant to willingly redistribute the work of others. I could make one with just the 'unknown' wallpapers included, but that seems a bit pointless.

And of course, I don't claim copyright on any of these images, and you should contact artists directly if you'd like to use them for commercial work.

If you know of (or are) the original source for any of these images, let me know and I'll update or remove their listings.

A quick thought on Google's Inbox videos

They both suck.

Here's their announcement video. The app is displayed for about 10 seconds total in the 60-second spot, and those 10 seconds are chunked into tiny, incomprehensible pieces. The rest is just filler of people with great fashion sense having the time of their lives while I'm sitting here in my dark room fiddling with emails.

And here's the introductory video that Google says will help you "quickly learn how to make the most of your inbox". Every new Inbox user receives an email with a prominent link to this video, and it does a terrible job of teaching anything.

I've watched it 3 times, and I still don't understand what's going on. It doesn't help at all that the narrator's finger clearly doesn't match up with the animations, and that certain transitions seem to be completely missing (like at 0:51). By the time the narrator started talking about flipping a switch to see things you've pinned and adding reminders to your inbox, my brain was long gone.

Every time she demonstrates how "simple" doing something is, her finger taps on 3-4 additional things that she assumes you're already familiar with. That's not how you teach people - that's how you waste their time.

Compare these to the announcement videos of Google Now and Google Glass that I discussed a while ago. Google Now was introduced with realistic actors doing realistic things, and Glass was too (although to a lesser extent). Both were far better than Inbox's introduction, and although they didn't demonstrate the specifics of an app's interface, something tells me the producers of those videos would've done a better job explaining the human-centered why of Inbox, and the contexts in which it can be better than regular email.

iOS 8 can get dimmer than dim

Lifehacker just brought my attention to an awesome tip discovered by Quinn Nelson of Snazzy Labs.

iOS 8 includes a new accessibility feature that adds a dark filter over the entire screen. This means that for the first time ever, you can make your screen become even dimmer than the lowest brightness setting available in Control Center, and you can activate it from anywhere with a simple triple-click of the Home button.

Here's how to set it up:

If you're a night owl who likes to read at night, this additional filter is huge. My Nexus 7 became my primary nighttime reading device as soon as I discovered an app called Screen Filter, and I've been wishing for the ability to make my iPhone's screen dimmer ever since.

That day has finally come. This is awesome.