Joshua Wold


Eye replacement in FaceTime

Yesterday a story running around caught my attention.

In the beta version of iOS 13 FaceTime is doing something pretty unique for iPhone XS and iPhone XR users.

Normally, if you make a FaceTime call, and are looking at the screen to watch the person you’re calling, it looks like your eyes are looking down. That’s always been a challenge with any video calls.

It never feels like your actually talking directly to someone because their eyes are looking at the screen, and not into the camera.

I haven’t tried it yet, but if it works well enough this could make video calls feel more like a connection point. I’m excited to see what happens.

Technology is always an imperfect way to communicate. Nothing beats in person where you can see all of the body movements. However, this might make video calling a little bit better.

A thousand words

There’s a movie that came out a few years ago starring Eddie Murphy. In it he could only speak 1,000 words, and if he went over that amount something bad would happen. That’s all I know, I never saw the movie.

Some days I feel the same with writing, that I have a limited amount of words available to me each day. A few years back I read about the concept somewhere and it has stuck in my mind since.

I’m curious to install a tracker on my devices to check how much I write each day. I’m going to take a wild guess and pretend it’s 3,000 words.

So, imagine a day that starts with 3,000 words available for writing. Following this exercise, here’s what could happen in a given day, depending on what was done with the time available:

  • Texting: 250 words
  • Slack and internal blogging (P2s) for work: 1,500 words.
  • Email: 250 words
  • Social media posting, commenting, etc: 250 words.
  • Journaling and personal note taking: 500 words

This leaves me with 250 words left to write in other forms, such as on this site.

Again, this is only theoretical, I have no idea how much I actually write. As a designer much of my job comes down to my ability to convey ideas with images and words.

As with reading (worth another post on its own), we have a limited amount of attention available to us. Love Is the Killer App, by Tim Sanders, is an amazing book that touches on this. Reading social media or Reddit can be likened to snacking candy in between meals. Reading a newspaper or news websites might be like a healthy snack. You can take this metaphor quite a ways, but the main point being that most of your time should be spent eating health nutritious meals. In this example that’s reading books, non-fiction books dedicated to a specific topic where the author has spent years thinking through and explaining a concept.

So, to take this back to writing. I’d like to be conscious about dedicating more of my writing quota to concepts that are akin to a healthy meal. That’s where I wonder how much time should be dedicated to social media posts versus writing here. The other form I enjoy is personal communications (texting 1-1 with a friend, or answering an email with a personal or career related question).

Curious if others have thought about this. If you have anything to add feel free to reach out!

Product Design at Automattic

The above sketch is from my work on the product filter blocks for WooCommerce.

For the past three months I’ve been working at Automattic as a Product Designer with the WooCommerce team. The first few weeks were Support Rotation, followed by onboarding, and then jumping into some smaller projects and attending a few meetups.

Right now we’re working on converting existing widgets in WooCommerce to blocks for Gutenberg. This process has been a fun one where I’ve been able to look at ways to improve the blocks in a Gutenberg context, and also get a better understanding of how stores work.

Among many other things, one of the joys of my job is that I work on open source software. Because of that I intend to share a lot of what I’m working on, and the process I go through. We’ll call this my journey to a deeper understanding of what it means to be a Product Designer.

If you have any questions about my journey in this field, feel free to reach out to It may be the inspiration for a followup post.

Why write

Over the years I’ve had various motivations for writing on this site. Recently the main reason has been because I have something I want to get out of my system.

Writing can be for others to read, but it can also be for me to process how I’m thinking about something.

So, I’ve begun writing about things that interest me and that I want to formulate into something that’s a bit more structured than fleeting thoughts. It’s a good medium to practice in without much pressure. I don’t know who reads this, and don’t have tracking or comments turned on. Every few months someone tells me they enjoyed an article. And that’s about it. I love it.

if you have questions about something I’ve written on, feel free to email me: I’d be happy to discuss, and it might inspire me to push out another article.

I Am Mother – My movie review

As a post-apocalyptic story, this film explores themes that dig into what it means to be human, and how humanity affects the world around us; all this against a backdrop that isn’t the exact world we live in, but something similar.

I Am Mother begins with a brief text description of an event that has ended humanity, and you soon learn that it’s not safe for anyone to exist outside. I took this at face value, but realized later that, while technically correct, the spirit of what it intended was deceitful. This is a theme that continues throughout the movie.

Mother, a droid, raises a little girl from an embryo to adulthood, and trains her in the ideals of humanity. We later see that this girl, called Daughter, is what Mother considers to be an exceptional human, testing at the top of the charts in all of her scores. The intent for Daughter is to be an example for others to follow as the world is repopulated. Daughter is raised in a secure indoor vault, with all of the resources needed to sustain life. With her are 65,000 embryos kept in cold storage. This vault is the backdrop for most of the movie, and its tight spaces and stark mechanical walls and locks provide tension to the scenes.

The beginning scenes of raising Daughter hit close to home for me. I have two small children, and movies with sensitive themes centered around children affect me more deeply than they used to.

As daughter grows, the droid cares for her in a manner which could be interpreted as sentient and loving, or programmed and and indifferent. In the beginning of the movie I leaned towards caring, but the backdrop of the film, in the vault, didn’t make it feel like a home. If you’re unsure about watching, I highly recommend the film. The ending left me with questions, but I felt it was still satisfying.

Spoilers ahead.

In the beginning of the film Mother starts the process of taking the frozen embryo out of storage and placing it in a large glass sphere filled with liquid, representing an artificial womb. As she does this you see a countdown clock for 24 hours. This rapid process helps the embryo to reach full gestation in a day. As this happens text on the screen appears and indicates how much time has passed since the apocalypse event.

Some quick math helped me quickly realize that something was off. When we finally see Daughter fully grown, she’s a young woman, but not anywhere close to the age needed for the 13,000+ days that have passed. I did a check on the actor’s age to make sure I was right, and realized over 35 years had passed since the apocalypse. This woman we seen grown up is much younger. This intention clue set up tension in the movie as I tried to figure out the 10+ missing years might have gone.

Daughter wasn’t the first child to be raised. Mother had two children before this, but aborted both in a furnace because their early scores weren’t satisfactory. This is not shown, but Daughter finds evidence much later of what happened.

As the film progresses, another woman appears at the entrance of the vault, and has a story of being wounded from other droids. Daughter lets her in secretly, and helps her recover from a gunshot wound when the secret is discovered. As the film progresses the viewer tries to figure out what part of this stranger’s story is true, and where Mother fits into the whole picture. Slowly we realize that bother Mother and this stranger use truth and deception to their own advantage.

At the end of the movie Daughter convinces Mother to let her raise her newly born brother, and allows herself to be killed. Because the Droid has a mind that exists in other machines, she uses another body to kill the stranger. The last few minutes left me thinking about its themes and how the movie would continue past the end credits. Daughter is alive and allowed to raise her siblings.

I wonder why Mother killed the stranger, and why she was allowed to live all this time. I also wonder about Daughter’s motivations, as the ending implies she will take the place of Mother in raising humanity, and may follow the ethical path set out for her from birth. However, as a human she still retains her humanity, so what type of world will she create? Will she be kind and caring to all, or will she also follow the themes impressed on her from childhood that some humans are better than others.

The videography throughout is stunning. Many scenes could be a still photo. Dialogue is efficient when used, and imagery conveys the story as much as talking. In one scene a woman holds an axe and walks through steel doors, reminiscent of the 1984 Apple ad. In another two people walk through deserted landscapes, reminding me of scenes from Interstellar, traveling through another world. As we contrast scenes inside and outside the vault, we see how life and machines have existed, and how one side won long ago. Humanity is supported by the machines it has created, but these machines decided to only elevate the parts of humanity they deem acceptable.

I absolutely recommend this movie. The story is well done, and all three actors (including the voice for Mother) deliver exceptional performances.