Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Reading List

The following is an assemblage of pieces by myself which I consider representative of this website, along with some favourite pieces by others.


These articles are works which I believe are some of the best I’ve written. If you want a quick-ish summary of what this site is about, these should whet your appetite.

Criteo and AdRoll: The Web’s Cookie Monsters:

If you shop on the web as much as I do and you use Safari, you’ve probably come across this notice sliding into the bottom of your browser window. […]

I’ve seen this banner on the websites of retailers ranging in size from boutiques to major brands, and it seemed a little bit fishy to me with its super careful wording. So I did a bit of digging.

Travelling Indonesia with an iPhone 6S:

I’ve taken a couple of Live Photos of the scene and play them back, and I realize that it’s captured the sights and sounds well enough that I’ll be able to show my friends and parents back in Canada, but something’s missing: the smell of this place. It’s a distinct blend of engine fumes, clove cigarette smoke, burning wood, and this incredible food. This, to me, says worlds about the immediacy of place of Live Photos, as well as the limitations that they have. They are a welcome step closer to better capturing a moment in time, but the technology isn’t quite good enough yet for this moment.

Diversity of Various Tech Companies By the Numbers:

Generally, only ethnicity and gender data was provided by the companies surveyed. As several of the reports stated, diversity is so much more than just these two genetic features. It would be inappropriate for employers to ask about sexual orientation, childhood household income, and so forth, but these qualities are part of what shapes internal diversity. Poor families — or even most middle-class families — can’t afford to send their kids to Stanford.

El Capitan:

I’ve said a couple of times previously that Apple has been taking steps to reorientate themselves for their future. Tim Cook shuffled up the executive team, bought companies small and large, and ushered the company through a series of significant transitions. It has felt a little slow at times, and it has been a little bit messy, but the fruits of that are beginning to appear. Today’s WWDC offered an astonishing glimpse at the future of the Mac, the iPhone, and the iPad.

Brendan Eich’s Freedoms and Mozilla’s Freedoms:

As I made plain above, our freedom of expression does not absolve us of our accountability for those words or actions. Eich’s actions demonstrated a gross intolerance of the rights of LGBTQ couples, and we should not support the institutionalizing of the right to be intolerant. If Eich thinks that same-sex marriage is against his beliefs, that’s fine, even if you (as I) disagree with him. But, by making a commitment to impress that belief upon others, he created a situation where his freedom of expression trampled the freedoms and rights of others.

My iOS Reviews

Every year, I write a comprehensive review of iOS:


These articles are favourites from other writers, and I would like to share them with you. Many of these articles are not tech-related, but I imagine you’re not a one-sided reader (I also bet that you’re beautiful and smart), and most are not recent (though they’re still relevant and interesting). Please let me know if you spot any broken links.

The Art of Electronic Deduction by David “StankDawg” Blake

Your powers of intuition and deduction should be something that you always have turned on. Think of it as the hacker’s version of “Spidey-sense”. As the type of people who question everything and believe nothing until we have confirmed it with our own eyes, analytical skills play a huge part in most hacker’s personalities. When you see anything on the internet, or anywhere else for that matter, it should always be studied and questioned.

Kanye West: Project Runaway by Noah Callahan-Bever

Months went by, and—save for two brief one-line check-ins on my recovery (I’m fine now, thanks!)—Kanye was ghost. At least until mid-January, when an email appeared in my inbox: “Yooooooo, happy new year fam. I can’t wait to play you this new shit!!!!” He explained that he’d holed up in Hawaii and was importing his favorite producers and artists to work on and inspire his recording. Rap Camp! Two weeks later, while Kanye was briefly in NYC, I got a preview of five rough, but incredibly promising songs: “Power,” “Live Fast, Die Young,” “Monster,” “Lost in a World,” and “Gorgeous.” And even better, I got an invite to Hawaii.

PC Forum by Maciej Cegłowski

Last month I attended PC Forum, a conference of IT movers and shakers that attempts to answer the question “when 400 CEOs, venture capitalists, and high-powered corporate executives use an open wireless network, does it occur to anyone to encrypt their email?”

Answer correctly and you win an all-expenses paid, five hundred forty day trip to the sun-kissed Arizona pokey.

Subject: Cube Burning by Simson L. Garfinkel

When NeXT announced that the first NeXT Cube was made of cast magnesium, I am sure that I was not the only person who imagined what fun could be had by setting it ablaze. Of course, at more than seven thousand dollars each, I doubted that anybody would ever actually carry out the experiment.

The Submarine by Paul Graham

One of the most surprising things I discovered during my brief business career was the existence of the PR industry, lurking like a huge, quiet submarine beneath the news. Of the stories you read in traditional media that aren’t about politics, crimes, or disasters, more than half probably come from PR firms.

And Oranges by John Gruber

The point of all this is that in some cases, some people seem unwilling to concede that any criteria other than the ones they themselves deem important actually matter, or even exist.

That’s dogmatism, and the nature of dogma is such that it pretty much kills any reasonable discussion or debate.

How Apple and Amazon Security Flaws Led to My Epic Hacking by Mat Honan

But what happened to me exposes vital security flaws in several customer service systems, most notably Apple’s and Amazon’s. Apple tech support gave the hackers access to my iCloud account. Amazon tech support gave them the ability to see a piece of information — a partial credit card number — that Apple used to release information. In short, the very four digits that Amazon considers unimportant enough to display in the clear on the web are precisely the same ones that Apple considers secure enough to perform identity verification. The disconnect exposes flaws in data management policies endemic to the entire technology industry, and points to a looming nightmare as we enter the era of cloud computing and connected devices.

What is Noka Worth? by Scott Reitz

I’ll admit that the first time I visited Noka’s web site two years ago, I experienced sticker shock, even though I was no stranger to pricey gourmet chocolates. I figured I’d let some time pass, see if they survived, and maybe take a closer look at the company and its product later.

The time has come for that closer look.

In the coming days, we’ll search for the answer to one simple question: Are Noka’s chocolates worth the money?

Hammer Time Over by Jo Roberts

“I think it’s easy to make impenetrable music and hide behind that. Making noise is easy, making stuff people understand is an easy thing to do. Making a pop song is a fucking hard thing to do and making one that’s not idiotic is even harder.”

The Social Network Soundtrack’s Artwork by Rob Sheridan

An early idea I had was to digitally corrupt the images we had from the film, combining a “glitch art” visual aesthetic I’ve always been interested in with a metaphor for digital images shared on Facebook, the corruption they’re susceptible to, and the corruption portrayed in the film. This idea resonated with Trent, so I began experimenting with different ways to destroy the publicity stills Sony had sent me.

Flying the SR-71 by Brian Shul

One moonless night, while flying a routine training mission over the Pacific, I wondered what the sky would look like from 84,000 feet if the cockpit lighting were dark. While heading home on a straight course, I slowly turned down all of the lighting, reducing the glare and revealing the night sky. Within seconds, I turned the lights back up, fearful that the jet would know and somehow punish me. But my desire to see the sky overruled my caution, I dimmed the lighting again. To my amazement, I saw a bright light outside my window. As my eyes adjusted to the view, I realized that the brilliance was the broad expanse of the Milky Way, now a gleaming stripe across the sky. Where dark spaces in the sky had usually existed, there were now dense clusters of sparkling stars. Shooting stars flashed across the canvas every few seconds. It was like a fireworks display with no sound.


I sometimes track what I’m reading on my Goodreads profile. You can follow along with my star ratings to see what I’m reading and what I like.