The Grinch who Changed to the Twenty Sixteen WordPress Theme

I’m the Grinch who grumbles about every WordPress theme. Except one. After years of resisting change, I finally switched FilterJoe to a modern, responsive theme: Twenty Sixteen—the new default theme included with WordPress 4.4.

Grinch image

An easy-to-read blog matters to me. Nothing WordPress offered in the last 7 years has tempted me away from the child theme I personally put a lot of effort into nearly 7 years ago.

My only temptation has been to leave WordPress for a simpler and more writing-focused platform like Ghost or Medium. While WordPress was for blogging at first, it expanded over the years into content management and an online application platform. The original focus on blogging has been diluted, and WordPress themes often reflect that.

However, WordPress now offers Twenty Sixteen for modern blogging, and it is good.

In this post, I detail how Twenty Sixteen makes me comfortable with it as a wonderfully content-focused blog theme.

Continue reading “The Grinch who Changed to the Twenty Sixteen WordPress Theme”

Great iOS Apps for Taming Information Overload

I’ve spent a bit of effort with this site describing techniques and reviewing software and hardware that helps people reduce distraction, filter information, or otherwise deal with information overload . . . perhaps a bit too much effort at times. In this post I’m going for short and sweet:

Here are some iOS apps I use day in and day out that help me get information I want, and nothing more:

Continue reading “Great iOS Apps for Taming Information Overload”

A Great Web Site Design

I am always on the lookout for readable, content-focused WordPress themes. I’m happy to see that a higher percentage of sites of late have been moving in the direction of better readability.

However, I haven’t seen any WordPress designs that better meet my design goals as well as the theme I designed for FilterJoe four years ago.

That is, until today.

Continue reading “A Great Web Site Design”

Nook Simple Touch Firmware Update 1.1.0

The Nook Simple Touch received a major software update yesterday. Barnes and Noble’s communications around this update were confusing, and they have not published a detailed list of changes and bug fixes. News outlets have added to the confusion by parroting the Barnes and Noble press release without doing any fact checking.

In this post I’ll lay out the facts about the update, and then I’ll discuss my opinion about these changes in the context of my prior review of the Nook Simple Touch.

Continue reading “Nook Simple Touch Firmware Update 1.1.0”

Which is the Best E-reader? The Nook Simple Touch?

Using a dedicated portable reading device is one of the best ways I know to read digital content without distraction. But selecting an appropriate device can be confusing. My guess is you won’t get the most suitable device for your needs if you ask, “Which is the best e-reader?” Try instead asking the following set of questions:

Continue reading “Which is the Best E-reader? The Nook Simple Touch?”

Smartphones: The Most Pervasive Interruption Technology Ever

Over the past few years, excitement has been growing for the idea of an “everything device” that you carry in your pocket. Why carry many separate physical and electronic devices for your phone, address book, calendar, planner, GPS, books, magazines, etc.? An iPhone, Blackberry, or Android-based smartphone will do it all.

There’s just one problem.


Continue reading “Smartphones: The Most Pervasive Interruption Technology Ever”

Web Page Reformatting Services Readable and Readability

With a single click, you can reformat a busy web page so that only the main content is visible. I first wrote about this in Filters for Reading on the Web, where I also discussed why extended reading on a computer monitor is so difficult.

Since that time, there has been an explosion of interest in helping people read without distraction. Apple has included a Readability button with the Safari browser. All browsers but Safari now include a full screen mode. Many web page reformatting services have come and gone.

But Readable and Readability are the two web page reformatting services which came out first, and both have withstood the test of time. Both also came out with new versions in early 2011. Here’s what you need to know about the latest versions.

Continue reading “Web Page Reformatting Services Readable and Readability”

The Best Monitor Setup to Reduce Eye Fatigue and Distraction

For years I’ve struggled to find a monitor setup that allows me to be the most productive, without causing eye fatigue or eye strain. Here’s my best answer so far:

I now use a vertical monitor with high pixel density. It helps reduce eye fatigue, clicks, and distraction.




Continue reading “The Best Monitor Setup to Reduce Eye Fatigue and Distraction”

Distraction-Free Reading on Tablets? Should You Buy One?

Tablets are the latest tech fad and for good reason. Compared with laptops, they’re more portable, they have longer battery life, and they’re easier to use and maintain. This makes for a superior experience for displaying a wide variety of content. I suspect that within a few years, tablets will be a general purpose computing appliance that is easier to use, maintain, and secure than traditional computers.

But are they good for distraction-free reading of the sort I talk about so much at FilterJoe? Should you spend $500 or more on a tablet for use as a dedicated reader? Or should you stick with a less expensive iPod Touch or Kindle for reading? Continue reading “Distraction-Free Reading on Tablets? Should You Buy One?”

iPod touch vs Kindle: Which is Best for Reading?

Do you spend hours reading computer displays each day? Does this tire your eyes? Me too. So I’m on a mission to find a device on which I can read anything. Ideally, it should be:

  • as easy on my eyes as a paperback book
  • as portable and convenient as a paperback book
  • simple to read for any kind of format
  • simple and free to get reading material onto the device

I tried reading anything on a second generation Kindle. The e-ink screen is easy on my eyes and Kindles are great for reading novels. But the software has many shortcomings for reading other material such as PDFs or long articles on the web. I devoted considerable effort to making my Kindle overcome these shortcomings, but in the end decided to try a more flexible device lacking an E-ink display.

An iPod Touch and a Kindle
An iPod touch and a Kindle

Enter the iPod touch, 4th generation (or iPhone 4), with double the screen resolution of prior models. Reading with the “Retina Display” is easy on my eyes and the software makes reading a breeze for a surprisingly wide range of reading material.

The iPod touch 4G works well for reading. It works so well for me that I stopped using my Kindle and sold it. Read on for details, including many tips along the way for using an iPod for reading.

Continue reading “iPod touch vs Kindle: Which is Best for Reading?”