Setting the OmniFocus Default Start Time

One nice benefit of no longer working for the man is that I have a lot more control over my schedule. It has been a surprise to me that I find myself often working late into the night. In my former life, I had always been an early riser but in this new iteration of me, it sometimes makes more sense to do my work later in the day.

One consequence of this is that every day at midnight my OmniFocus database fills up with tasks previously set for the next day. I don’t want to see all those tasks. If I’m looking at OmniFocus at midnight it’s because I’m still working on stuff from the prior day. Fortunately, OmniFocus has a setting for that on the Mac app in the preferences pane.

Interestingly, there is no similar setting on the iPhone and iPad but if you change a setting on the Mac, when you synchronize the database the iPhone and iPad will also start setting start times consistent with the new Mac default.

Sponsor: Hoban Cards

I'm pleased to welcome back Hoban Press as this week's sponsor. I’ve heard from many readers that love their new Hoban Cards pressed out of Hoban’s 1902 letterpress machine. I sure love mine. When I went out on my own and opened my own law practice, I contacted Hoban Cards and asked them to make me something beautiful that doesn't look like most crappy lawyer business cards. They delivered with the best looking attorney business card I've ever seen, fully letterpressed.

Hoban has two lines of products. Hoban Press specializes in custom letterpress printed items like Business Cards and Stationery. This is the best choice if you need to use your own logo or artwork. They also provide design and layout services. Hoban Cards specializes in in minimal calling cards. This is a less expensive way to get into letterpress printing. Pick from among several beautiful, typographic calling card templates. These are perfect for individuals or businesses looking for a unique and classy alternative to conventional, mass produced, soulless business cards.

Use ‘MacSparky’ during checkout to receive free shipping.

The Hockenberry Flip

Craig Hockenberry is the first person that I saw point out the ability to switch your Apple Watch to put the digital crown on the elbow side and he makes a pretty good case for it. Ergonomically, it's definitely better. Also, with the digital crown on the hand side of the watch, I was occasionally activating Siri when I'd bend my wrist in too far and press on the crown. I've only been trying the Hockenberry flip for a day but I think I may just keep it like this.

Jazz Friday: Alice in Wonderland by Dave Brubeck

Today is Disneyland's 60th birthday so I though I'd pick a Disney-related jazz track. One of my favorites is Alice in Wonderland, by the Dave Brubeck Quartet. This track is on an album full of Disney tunes called Dave Digs Disney from 1957. The Dave Brubeck quartet was one of the pioneers of the West Coast Jazz movement and is one of the most distinctive in jazz with Paul Desmond's lilting melodies on Alto Sax and Dave Brubeck's harmonics on Piano. Alice in Wonderland delivers on all counts.

Home Screens: MacSparky in 2015

This week I thought I'd feature my own home screen. So here you go.

Some Apps of Note

Apple Maps

I know Apple Maps is the whipping boy but it's got a lot better over the last few years. It's no longer "Apple Maps Bad". Also, I like using Siri with Maps. ("Hey Siri, Get directions home.")


My love of Tweetbot on iPhone just barely exceeds my disdain for the iPad version. I've been using it for years and occasionally look for something new and I always come back.


I've just recently started participating in some Slack channels and I'm hooked. The Slack app keeps evolving and that's a good thing.


This app on my home screen is aspirational. I've never been much of an Instagram user but am trying again. (I'm "MacSparky" on Instagram if you're interested.)

The Audio Row

Music, Overcast, Beats, and Sonos for my audio needs. I'm hooked on Overcast for podcasts. Before Apple bought Beats, they had a promotional price through AT&T. I tried it and it stuck. I have a lot of great playlists and like the way it works so easily with the Sonos at home.

The Productivity Row

I've written about MindNode, OmniOutliner, Editorial, and Soulver at length. I'd just add that I find it surprising how often I work on mind maps and outlines on my iPhone.


RSS feeds are my guilty pleasure. I read through feeds every day and for awhile now, I've been doing it in Unread.


I've been using Pocket as my read-it-later service for a few years and am getting ready to embark on an Instapaper experiment but for now Pocket is still on my home screen.


1Password is a great password management tool but it also has the ability to store secure notes behind a separate wall on my phone. I use those all the time.


I guess there's no secret that I really like the new Photos. Now it's on my home screen.


Fantastical really pushes all my buttons as an iOS calendar application. The list view of data connects with my brain and new event entry is also a breeze.


My precious.


I also really like having Workflow on my iPhone. Are you keeping up with the updates to Workflow? You should.


There is no faster way to get words from my brain to my phone than Drafts.

After all these years, I still love my iPhone. It is probably my most important piece of technology. 

Want to See my Apple Watch Face?

Here you go. I'm definitely a "Utility" man. I keep turning the numbers on the face on and off. (Currently off.) I've tried several other faces and none of them have stuck. For complications I'm using fitness, weather, and next event.

The Future and Past of Apple's San Francisco Font

Mark Gurman reports that iOS 9 and OS X 10.11 might very well get the San Francisco Font, currently used on the Apple Watch. If true Helvetica Neue will go down in history as the George Lazenby of Mac fonts. Given that Apple designed the San Francisco font, I would not be least bit surprised if they brought it to all of their platforms. (John Gruber points out that San Francisco is now the font used on the new MacBook keyboard.)

I like San Francisco on the watch. It is clean and clearly designed to be on a screen and not piece of paper. I have no idea how San Francisco will look on the phone and Mac, but I'm curious. I'm probably not the person to make such decisions though since I was a fan of, and actually turned in a college paper using the original Mac San Francisco font. Yes. This one.

The Incomparable on David Letterman

Today is David Letterman's last show. Like a lot of people my age, Dave was one of my original stick-it-to-the-man inspirations. This week Jason Snell produced a very special episode of The Incomparable, Monkey Cam, with interviews from some very smart people and an excellent narrative about David Letterman's career and what it means. If you have any interest in this stuff, I'd urge you to listen to this one hour episode.

Home Kit Reportedly On the Way

Last year Apple announced Home Kit. It has been nearly a year now and Home Kit support in third party devices is expected to ship soon according to the Verge. I'm interested in home automation and have a mixture of WeMo switches and Hue lights throughout my house. One of the challenges is that every little ecosystem has its own app and and own idiosyncrasies. Hopefully Home Kit solves that. We'll find out soon.

Sponsor: Curbi iOS Parental Controls

This week I’m pleased to welcome back, curbi as a sponsor. While the Internet can be scary for most people, it is terrifying for parents. Letting our kids enjoy the good parts of the Internet while protecting them from the scary parts isn’t easy. Not only can kids get into trouble over your local WiFi network, they can also get into trouble through a cellular connection or at a friend’s house. curbi solves this problem, giving you amazing parental controls for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. You can easily block specific types of content or add a specific site list. curbi tracks (and can block) websites through Safari or any other iOS app that has a web browser. Perhaps even more importantly, the curbi blocks will work no matter how they access the Internet, even using their Pal's home WiFi on the other side of town. Put simply, curbi lets you control you children's exposure to the Internet, no matter where they are.

curbi also lets you set boundaries. For example, you could block social networks from 3pm to 6pm and the entire Internet from 9pm to 8am. For just $6.99 a month, you can protect all of the iOS devices in your home. curbi is the only service I’ve ever seen that can protect your kids, no matter where they are. Learn more here. Below is the official Curbi video that explains the service in detail.

MPU 257: Workflows with Merlin Mann, Episode VI

This week Merlin Mann returns for his annual visit to Mac Power Users. This is one of my favorite episodes every year. This year we discuss hardware and software updates and if it's necessary to keep up with the latest and greatest, Merlin's growing use of iOS over Mac OS, and kids and technology use.

Did you also know we just received a new episode of You Look Nice Today? YLNT involves Merlin, Scott Simpson, and Adam Lisagor recording their often bizarre and always funny conversations, adding a little bit of ukulele-ladden post production, and releasing it to the world.

Jazz Friday: Art Pepper's Over the Rainbow

Art Pepper was one of the most influential alto saxophonists in the 50s and 60s and considered one of the founders of the West Coast Jazz movement. As a Californian, I'm a fan of West Coast Jazz in general and Art Pepper in particular. There was a lightness to his sound that is delightful. Unfortunately, Art had a lifelong heroin problem and, frankly,  a rough life including several prison stints. There is a great documentary about Art Pepper, called Art Pepper: Notes from a Jazz SurvivorOver the Rainbow (iTunes) is a great Art Pepper track because he plays the whole thing solo and really stretches out. 

Home Screen: Michael Simmons

This week’s home screen features Michael Simmons (Twitter) from Flexibits (Website), developer of Fantastical. Michael also co-founded HockeyApp. So Michael, show us your home screen.

What are some of your favorite apps?

Fantastical 2

More than anything else, I made Fantastical for myself and still use it every day.

Apple Mail

The way I do email, Apple Mail works for me. I like the more recent feature additions, like swipe to mark as read.


I’m a calorie counter and this app makes it painless. I’ve had a running streak of counting calories every day for three years now. 


This is my favorite Twitter client. I use it for both my personal account and my Flexibits account and I’m using it all the time.


I’m strangely addicted to Periscope. I’m still trying to figure out what I’ll broadcast but I really enjoy watching the broadcasts. As a communications major, I find the idea of anyone being able to stream from anywhere really interesting, a new intimate form of communication.


This is my favorite app for listening to music and I love being able to (pretty much) listen to whatever song I want, when I want it.


I most often take Instagram pictures when I travel but I check it every day.

What app makes you most productive?

Fantastical. Of course.

What app do you know you’re underutilizing?

I’m not very good at writing things down on my iPhone. I want to get better at taking notes on my phone.

How many times a day do you use your iPhone?

A lot! (laughs)

What Today View widgets are you using and why?

I use the Fantastical widget and also like Dark Sky in the Today view, which shows the forecast for the next hour very quickly. I also keep my stock information there.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone?

That it all just works. Of course things can be improved but I like the ecosystem and how it all works.

If you were in charge at Apple, what would you add or change?

I would like to add the ability to see and use two apps side-by-side which could add the potential to do things like drag and drop.

What’s your wallpaper and why?

I’ve used the same dark perforated leather wallpaper for a long time. It was created by Adam Betts. (I originally had it on my Mac.) It looks great and doesn’t draw my attention away.

Can we see your Apple Watch watchface?


Thanks Michael.

MPU 256: MPU Live

I really enjoy our monthly live shows. This past Saturday Katie and I recorded this show with a full chat room. We covered  the benefits of digital meal planning, follow-up on DEVONThink workflows, our favorite RSS feeds, managing small SSDs, resources for a new iPhone user, better fonts for iOS, and my new MacBook.


Activating "Hey Siri" On Apple Watch

I recently ran into a problem where "Hey Siri" wasn't working on my Apple Watch. I was sitting there, calling out "Hey Siri" with increasing volume and Siri had no interest in me. In fact, I said "Hey Siri" so loud that I set it off on my phone, which was in the next room charging. MacRumors published an article that shed some light.

In order for "Hey Siri" to work on your Apple Watch, the screen needs to be lit. It won't activate when the screen is dark. If the screen is lit from you twisting your wrist or tapping the screen to wake it up or pressing the digital crown to wake up the watch, "Hey Siri" works. However, if you are in a glance or in an app, saying "Hey Siri" doesn't work. The above linked Mac Rumors article explains that if you are at the watch face as a result of pressing the digital crown from another view (like the home screen or an app), "Hey Siri" also doesn't work. However, in my testing "Hey Siri" worked just fine in that scenario.