Jazz Friday - Tivoli

Dexter Gordon is most famous for the way he plays his tenor saxophone. He was also quite accomplished, however on the soprano saxophone. In 1986, Dexter starred in a movie about an aging jazz musician in Paris in the 50s. The movie was called 'Round Midnight and did very well. Dexter received an Academy award nomination for his role. (It was also what my wife and I watched on our first date.)

There was so much great music in this movie that they made two soundtracks. My favorite is the second, The Other Side Of 'Round Midnight.

I used to have a jazz playlist that I often used whenever I was playing with my girls when they were little. I have a vivid memory of playing with my oldest daughter on a windy day with this song playing in the backyard. As a result, I smile every time the song comes on my playlist.

Setting aside my own sentimentality, Tivoli is a sort-of rolling waltz with Dexter Gorden pushing through the melody on his soprano sax and getting the solo just right. Cedar Walton on piano plays a brilliant counter point to the melody and Mads Vinding on bass does this trick as the song gets rolling where he holds the tempo back just ever so slightly, like reigning in a comfortable horse on a country stroll. Tivoli is a really great song and a nice start to your weekend. You can get it on iTunes here.

Home Screen: Kevin Wild

This week’s home screen post features Kevin Wild (Twitter)(website). Kevin writes about technology at the Hungry and the Foolish. Kevin was nice enough to share his home screen. So Kevin, show us your home screen.

What are some of your favorite apps?

It’s hard to narrow it down! 

I love Day One for keeping my journal. VSCOcam is the best camera app I’ve found. I’ve downloaded virtually every podcast app available, but nothing beats the thoughtful UI of OvercastReeder stores all my RSS feeds and lets me keep up with our ever-changing world. One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to be more organized; Scanbot lets me turn all of those pesky paper receipts into a digital library. Slack is quickly becoming invaluable for keeping up with my work colleagues.

Oh yeah, I can’t forget Tweetbot!

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

I’d have to say it’s Plex. I have my entire media library stored on an external HDD which runs the Plex software. I love being able to access it remotely when I have some downtime. It’s almost like Netflix, but with better content.

Also, Catan.

What is the app you are still missing?

I’m writing my book, Turnover, in Ulysses and would love to edit it using an iPhone app. I noticed they recently announced an iPad app, so hopefully an iPhone version is on the way.

How many times a day do you use your iPhone?

I have purposely avoided keeping track, but I’d have to say I use it more than I should. iPhone separation anxiety is a real. One thing I’ve done recently to reduce my iPhone usage is deactivate all my push notifications (save for the Messages and Phone app). It’s helped me reduce distractions and stay focused on the task at hand.

What Today View widgets are you using and why?

I don’t use the app itself, but I love the Fantastical widget and how it lets me quickly check into my schedule for the day. Yahoo! Sports is key for keeping up with my favorite teams. I also love the Clear widget although (ironically) I don’t use the app itself either. I simply enjoy the random quotes it pulls up every time I check Notification Center.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone?

The camera by far. I purchased a DLSR a while back, but still end up using my iPhone as my main camera. It’s hard to beat the combination of quality, ease of use and portability. Add in a amazing app like VSCOcam and I can’t think of a better all-around camera to have in your hand.

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

I’d improve the App Store by offering a better search function, free trials of paid apps, and optional paid updates.

What’s your wallpaper and why?

I know it’s dull, but I prefer to have simple pattern-based wallpapers for my home screen. I’m obsessed over how my wallpaper contrasts the app icons. 

On my lock screen, where there are no app icons to contrast, I have a picture of my wife from our honeymoon in California.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I’d love to connect with anyone interested in discussing Apple or technology in general. You can keep up with me on The Hungry and Foolish (my blog) and contact me on Twitter (@Kevuhnn).

Thanks Kevin.

Initial Thoughts on Microsoft Word 2016

Today Microsoft released a preview of the new 2016 Office for Mac update. I think complaining about the menus in office and the massive number of features is pointless. Office exists to satisfy IT checklists and every obscure feature has its group of advocates out there … somewhere. Put simply, Microsoft Word is going to be big and ponderous just like the scorpion will always sting the frog. Nevertheless, I spend time in an industry where Word is used often and I, necessarily, must get over it. While I don't like big and ponderous, I'd be able to deal with it, if Word were otherwise stable and stopped messing with my head.

I can't help but feel Office for Mac and I have been in a dysfunctional relationship for several years. When Apple switched over to Intel, Office would toy with me. I'd type a letter and then Word would think about it just for a moment before deciding to put that letter on the screen. In the years that followed, new iterations would get released that would find new and interesting ways to toy with me. The 2011 version, for example, insists on rendering worse on retina screens than virtually any $1 utility app currently available in the Mac App Store.

So when I read about the beta today (which you can download right here), I decided to try it out. I even wrote a rather detailed contract in the new version. My initial impression is that Word is still big and ponderous. However, I also didn't find any terrible lag, poor rendering, or any of the other sins we've seen in prior versions. The new version is based on Cocoa, where all prior versions were based on the aged Carbon.

Granted I'm only a few hours in but I already like this new version better. My initial impression is that Microsoft has pulled Word forward quite a bit with this new release. I'd love for Word to be more stable so I can get back to my old hobby of just complaining about its feature bloat. 

The Safe Mac

Recently, I've seen an increasing number of emails from readers and listeners that stumbled into Adware on their Macs. Interestingly, the bad guys are not just distributing these things through bit torrent and porn sites (as they used to) but instead they are infecting users with "helpful" utilities. Usually it involves a user hitting a website with a pop up that explains it just scanned their system (it didn't) and there are big problems (there aren't) and offers to speed up their Macs with some utility or cleaning application they'll conveniently install with one click. The user clicks, enters their system password, and they are hosed. 

The problem I had was that I didn't have a good recommendation about where to go when you or a friend stumbles into this bramble bush. I do now. TheSafeMac.com is a website published by Thomas Reed, who is on the side of angels. The site posts news on recent adware outbreaks on the Mac and even has a tool, Adware Medic, to de-cruft an infected Mac. I recommend bookmarking both of these links. I expect at some point in the future you or a friend are going to need Adware Medic. Also, if you do use it, throw a few bucks Thomas's way. He is distributing this tool gratis.

New MacSparky Video Field Guide: Workflow

I've been spending a lot of time with the Workflow app (website) (App Store) as of late. Workflow is one of the most powerful apps available for the iPhone and iPad. Using Workflow, you can combine functions from different applications to make things happen on your iPhone and iPad wicked fast. Because it's so flexible, Workflow is difficult to get started with. That's where this new video field guide comes in.

The Workflow Video Field Guide starts with a few, easy workflows and builds upon them over the course of an hour to turn you into a Workflow pro. By the time you get to the end, you'll be able to roll your own workflows and change the way you work on your iPhone and iPad. 

Some of the workflows in the video include:

  • Build your own animated GIF and share it.
  • Automate notifications to family and friends when you're running late.
  • Send a message to your family so they know when to expect you home.
  • Get a Google Street View picture of the address of your next appointment.
  • Have your phone automatically give you the travel time and directions to your next appointment.
  • Share your location with friends and family with one tap.
  • Easily send screenshots to your Mac via AirDrop.
  • Automatically send photos from your phone to your Mac.
  • Have your iPhone show the location of your photos on a map.
  • Upload images to Dropbox.
  • Convert images to different file formats automatically.
  • Resize and send photos.
  • Blast photos out to multiple sharing services with one workflow.
  • Share your most played music.
  • Get walking directions to the nearest coffee or tea shop.
  • Have your iPhone or iPad look at your calendar for a given day and prepare a message displaying your availability.
  • Create custom iOS extensions
  • Save documents, websites, and other data directly to PDF
  • Create a custom workflow to take a picture of a receipt, give it a custom name, and save it to Dropbox.
  • Build your own tip calculator app. (Yup. Tip calculator.)
  • Set up a workflow to check your battery level, adjust your screen brightness, and send you a message.

Workflow has over 200 available actions that you can mix and match to make your iPhone and iPad dance for you. Don't you want to see that? This screencast is fully bookmarked, an hour long, and engineered to make you a Workflow master. You can download it for $9.99.

Did you say you'd like to see a sample? Then here you go.

Sponsor: SaneBox

I'm pleased to welcome back SaneBox as this week's MacSparky.com sponsor. I've been using SaneBox for over a year now and it still saves my bacon every day. There are so many great benefits to SaneBox. First and foremost is filtering. SaneBox looks at all of my incoming email and filters it for me to appropriate mailboxes. That way, the first thing in the morning I see are only those emails that are most important.

Another feature I use every day is the clever way I can defer email with SaneBox. I can put mail into a defer mailbox for hours, days, or even weeks and put it out of my time until I see it again. This is another game changer. 

SaneBox can do even more with its Black Hole service that makes unwanted email go away, forever. There is also an ingenious reminder system where you can blind copy an email to 1week@sanebox.com and the service will remind you if you don't get a response to the email within one week.

There is a lot more to SaneBox. If you get a lot of email, the service can really help. You can learn more at SaneBox.com. Note the links in this post will get you $5 off your subscription.


Home Screens: Sam Montooth

This week’s home screen features Sam Montooth (website)(Twitter) In addition to being an extraordinarily talented bassist and photographer, Sam has, quite possibly, the coolest picture in the history of the home screen posts. I got to spend some time with Sam this year at NAMM and you should definitely check out Sam’s music and photography. So Sam, show us your home screen.

What are some of favorite apps?

I really like DowncastCamera+iReal ProGoogle MapsTweetbotInstagram.

Downcast I use on a daily, almost hourly basis. I’ve tried all of the other podcatchers out there and it holds up and works perfectly for me. 

I use Camera+ in conjunction with Instagram. If there’s something I’ve taken a shot of quickly with the Camera app that I need to fix and share, then I edit in Camera+ and share via Instagram. 

Tweetbot is the only way to use Twitter. Like Downcast, I’ve tried all of the Twitter clients for iOS and I’ve spent a lot of money looking for some new way to manage my Twitter life, but I always come back to Tweetbot, it’s just great!

Being a musician, iReal Pro is invaluable. It’s a chord sheet manager. Fully editable and you can use it as a practice tool as well. For those familiar with the term Music Minus One, it is exactly capable of that, except you can change keys, tempos, styles, etc. I mostly use it on my iPad, but the iPhone version is just as good (but small).

Google Maps is important for my work as well. Getting to gigs on time is what your reputation is built on and Google Maps makes that happen.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

Touch of Modern. I’ve bought so much there it’s embarrassing.

What app makes you most productive?

I haven’t found an app that’s made me more productive yet, but I am trying out the revamped Coach.me an so far I like it.

What app do you know you’re underutilizing?

Triage. It’s great! I just don’t use it enough as you can see by my Inbox count. (sorry inbox zero people, I don’t want to give you a panic attack.)

What is the app you are still missing?

The original Siri app was great and I was using it to it’s full potential. Still not the same since Apple bought it.

How many times a day do you use your iPhone/iPad?

More than I can count. More than I should. But, in my defense, many of my friends are not local and are in other countries, so the only way to chat with them is via chat clients, twitter, etc.

What Today View widgets are you using and why?

I don’t use any of them. I barely check the notification screen as I’ve disabled almost all notifications because my phone has to be silent about 90% of the time. (including no vibration)

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

The Camera hands down. Being able to take a decent shot nearly instantaneously of my daughter is the killer feature for the iPhone. The fact that I can get a decent quality shot so quickly is still amazing to me on a phone.

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

I would first license (not buy and absorb) Dropbox and make it a part of iCloud so it would actually work correctly. Apple’s ecosystem is great, but it shouldn’t be an all or nothing proposition. They should allow their iCloud integration to natively live on other devices because sometimes people have to have Windows in certain situations and why be locked out of your stuff for that? I would also start production on a Mac Pro mini tower. 

Somewhere between the old Mac Pro and the current design that would allow for an internal RAID. Lastly, I would fund the Pro app development to continue to have actual Pro apps and allow them to be developed. My biggest disappointment was the news of Aperture being let go. The PR says it’s because Photos is enough, and it may well be, but they killed Aperture over a year ago and just didn’t let us know. The Pro user is still important to Apple and if I was in charge I would establish an entire department just for Pro development, consultation, and service.

What’s your wallpaper and why?

My current wallpaper is a Stop sign from Seal Beach, CA. I took the photo with my DSLR and imported it specifically for my iPhone and iPad. It’s significant to me as I was there at the beach making a big decision for my life and I saw this sign and it simplified everything I was trying to resolve within myself. So, every time I notice that image behind my icons, I’m reminded of all the things that led up to that decision. It’s an empowering image to me and it’s great to be reminded daily of my resolve.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I have the Star Trek Communicator app in my dock on my phone because I’m a huge Star Trek fan, and I love using it to call people. It would be great if Apple would allow skins to be installed over the Phone app natively so I could actually use that app the whole way through a phone call. It’s a fun app with great sound clips from the original series.

Also, I have to mention that on my iPad, I’m a huge user of the Unrealbook app. It’s a PDF aggregator for musicians and it allows me to carry 20 fake books in my bag and has allowed me to save my back. :)

Thanks Sam.

Apple Pay is Gaining Altitude

Chase Bank today announced over 1 million customers have provisioned their credit and debit cards using Apple pay (via AppleInsider). Even though Apple Pay is gaining altitude slowly, it is gaining altitude. I know from my own experiences with Apple Pay that it is my preferred method for purchasing anything and that is not just because I’m an Apple geek.

Of all the credit cards and electronic payment forms I’ve used over the years, Apple Pay is the fastest and, since it generates a new number for every transaction, the safest method I’ve ever used. In 2014, my credit card was replaced three times due to fraud.

I fully expect more banks to join in. (My local credit union even now supports Apple Pay.) Moreover, I expect even more retail establishments to install NFC machines making Apple Pay more useful as we go about our days. Now add to that the fact that all future Apple mobile devices will support Apple Pay and you can see where this is going.

This will all take some time but I suspect in a few years we are going to look back at the introduction of Apple Pay in 2014 as a much bigger deal than we realized it was at the time.

Upgradeable Apple Watch

Serenity Caldwell writes for iMore about what happens in year 2 of the 18K gold Apple Watch Edition that a lot of smart people think will sell for something north of $10,000. Specifically, if you had a tech gadget that is a year or two (or three) old but made of gold would you be happy or would you drop another great big pile of money to get the latest and greatest version in gold. 

Serenity's post contemplates a replaceable core, which could work but seems so unlike Apple in 2015 that I find it hard to believe. If I had to bet a nickel, I'd say that they'll have a trade in program. The gold in those watches is valuable and Apple could give you a significant discount when upgrading. Also, I'm sure there will be a thriving third party market for those gold edition watches even when they are a year or two old.

Either way, Apple really doesn't have to answer this question until 2016 when they will presumably release the generation 2 Apple Watch.

MPU 242: Troubleshooting with Joe Caiati

This week, former Apple Genius Joe Caiati joined us to talk about about troubleshooting your Mac and iOS devices. We discuss removing adware, explain Activity Monitor and Console, how to diagnose hardware and software problems and when you can attempt to fix something yourself and when its time to call a pro.


Sponsor: PopClip for Mac

This week I'm pleased to welcome a new sponsor to MacSparky.com, PopClip. Do you know how when you select text on your iPhone or iPad that handy little menu pops up to let you perform actions on that text? PopClip brings this to the Mac, only better.

Not only can you use the the built-in PopClip tools, there is an extension system and lots of smart people have built clever little extensions I use every day. For example, using PopClip I can select a phone number on screen and display it in large type or, better yet, dial it for my iPhone. I also use extensions to convert text to all caps and paste and match style in Pages. PopClip also gives me a word count for selected text, searches Google, Wikipedia (and more). Go check out this list of extensions and you'll realize how this app can help you out with your own workflows. One of my favorite extensions takes selected text and turns it into a TextExpander snippet.

There is a free trial so go check it out now. PopClip is one of my favorite utilities and, after trying it, I bet it will be one of your favorites too. 


The New Inquisitive

Myke Hurley has re-imagined the Inquisitive podcast. As a podcast producer myself, I really like that Myke is pushing the envelope. I listened to it this morning and it's great.

Amigos Podcast

I recently joined Adam Christianson and Victor Cajiao to talk about some Apple news including the Apple Watch, Apple and automobiles, and Tim Cook's greening of Apple. 


Home Screens: Mark Miller

Mark Miller (Twitter), is a MacSparky.com reader and Mac Power Users listener that recently suggested I add question to the usual assortment of home screen questions about under-used apps. I thought it was such a good idea that I added it to the list and then bent Mark’s arm to be the first person to answer it. So Mark, show us your homescreen.

What are some of your favorite apps?

Almost everything on my homescreen is a favorite, but here are some more interesting ones:

Sleep Cycle – Terrific alarm that wakes me up according to my sleep cycle. When I don’t use it, I can tell the difference in how I wake up.

Human – Fitness app that has helped me be healthier more than anything else. Integration with Health.app is fantastic.

PrayerMateESV Study+ReadingPlan – Great apps I use to pray, study the Bible, and track my Bible reading (respectively).

DayOne – My wife and I are expecting our first child and this app has made it so easy to chronicle the pregnancy.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

Probably Instagram because of how easy it is to waste time.

What app makes you most productive?

It’s hard to choose just one. Here are the ones that make me most productive with iPhone tasks:

I use IFTTT to load RSS feeds & email subscriptions into Pocket, to create tasks in Things from Gmail, to save articles from Pocket into Evernote, to help import Instagram posts into DayOne, and much more.

I use Drafts to capture tasks, info, or anything else. Integration with Things, Evernote & other apps makes it the best place to capture and process text.

Instead of reading articles, I put them in Pocket. That allows me to prioritize which (few) articles I have time to read each evening.

I couldn’t live without Things to track/organize my tasks for me. Not often that you love your task manager, but I do.

I use Launch Center Pro to pre-populate DayOne entries and trigger them at specific times; I also add geo-location triggers to my Workflows. Both are incredibly useful.

DeskConnect is my go-to app for transferring text/URLs/etc between my devices. Incredibly fast, helpful, and free. (Made by the same folks that made Workflow).

What app do you know you’re underutilizing?

I’m certainly underutilizing Launch Center Pro and Workflow, particularly in the way they can work together and integrate with IFTTT. There’s huge power there, but I haven’t had the time yet to create those connections.

What is the app you are still missing?

I’m still looking for the single photo editor that meets all my needs. Many are too simple or too complex, too poorly designed, or too spammy. Right now I have 6–8 apps I use for a single purpose/feature, but not all have Action Extensions, so that’s a pain point for me. 

I’m also looking for an iPad/iPhone/Mac email client that can add items directly to Pocket and Things. Dispatch is almost exactly what I want, except it’s iPhone-only at present.

I also would like a Dropbox-equivalent app for iCloud Drive.

How many times a day do you use your iPhone/iPad?

Almost constantly. I frequently have to charge midday even though I have an iPhone 6.

What Today View widgets are you using and why?

I ruthlessly organize my homescreen so nothing is more than 3 taps away. That means that it’s almost always faster to open an app than to launch the app/action from the Today. Thus, my widgets almost exclusively show info.

I currently have Things (see/check off tasks), Reminders (time/location tasks), Human (daily activity), Clips (combine copy & paste), Parcels (track delivery), Day One (random pictures), Data Usage (track data usage), Stepz(pedometer), and Tally (currently beta-testing).

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

I love the seamlessness of the entire ecosystem; from integrated TouchID/ApplePay to vibrant app store to Continuity & Handoff. Nothing else comes close. 

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

I’d step up efforts on making cloud services more reliable. 95% of the time, iCloud just works for me, but that 5% is very frustrating. For example, I have over 300 keyboard shortcuts that I use, but they have never reliably synced so that my Mac, iPhone, and iPad each have different shortcuts. I only discover which ones didn’t sync after I try to use it and they fail.

I’d also create an iCloud Drive app like Dropbox’s. Or maybe I’d just buy Dropbox as they do excellent syncing in the consumer space.

What’s your wallpaper and why?

I’m using a standard Apple background of a galaxy. I’ve always loved space, so that was the initial attraction, but I found the black background makes the parallax effect shine. If you haven’t liked parallax before, try it with a black background; it’s gorgeous. 

Anything else you’d like to share?

I use emoticons to name my folders; I’ve found I can identify an emoticon faster than I can read text, making it faster to find the folder (especially on my second home screen, mostly of folders)

If you’re interested in following me on Twitter, I try to tweet at the intersection of Apple, China, and humanities. I spent 5 years as an expat in China, so I’m particularly interested in how Chinese culture and politics affect Apple’s strategy. @MarkDMill

Thanks Mark.

Risky Business

Last week I quit my day job. Maybe I should explain.

As the Field Guide publishing business, the podcast, and other MacSparky endeavors have grown, I’ve always felt my life was on a bit of a collision course. For years now I’ve been doing three things simultaneously. 

  1. I’ve been growing all things MacSparky.
  2. I’ve taken care of my legal clients.
  3. I’ve been keeping up with the constant press of additional legal work arising from working in a law firm.

Each one of these priorities has its own pluses and minuses. Keeping up with them all, however, sometimes feels like running so fast that I’m about to fall on my face. 

The things I do as MacSparky have brought meaning to my life. I love the podcast. I love the books. I love all the friends and interactions that come with them. MacSparky saved me. I can’t imagine my life at this point without this website, the podcast, and the books.

With respect to my legal clients, I’ve always taken a country doctor approach to their problems. A lot of my clients are small and medium-size businesses that need someone to tell them when they’re onto something and when they’re running off a cliff. I like being a trusted advisor and I like shepherding my clients from small successful businesses to larger ones. Again, I couldn’t imagine myself not doing this. It is part of me. 

Finally, as a member of a law firm, I was afforded an opportunity to litigate many cases and be involved with many transactions over the years. It was a 21-year run of one crazy case after another and I enjoyed every minute of it. Also, being a part of a successful law practice means you get a really nice salary. For 21 years now the firm has been the foundation of my family’s solvency.

So for the past few years, I’ve been serving these three masters all at once as I watched MacSparky grow, attempted to work more with my own legal clients, and keep up with the ever-increasing workload at the firm. 

I knew I was heading to a point where I’d have to make some hard decisions. I was also doing everything in my power to ignore this looming decision. I told many friends that all I had to do was “just keep pedaling”. If you’ve ever had a similar experience in your life with ignoring inevitabilities, you know how well that works out. 

Last October, I got involved with a big case at the firm that took a great deal of my time and attention for months. Things went well on the case. My “firm” commitments were satisfied. Everything else in my life went to hell. When the dust settled I took stock of my big three things and realized that while I was taking care of that case, my next Field Guide, which I had planned to ship in November was still unfinished and my own legal clients were giving me cryptic phone messages about how hard it was to get my attention. 

It occurred to me that, unknowingly, that fateful day where I’d have to make some tough decisions had arrived and I had been too busy to notice. Put simply, the big case needed me and I pushed aside MacSparky and my own clients without thinking of it. The realization that I’d made a decision without actually considering it upset me. How did I let myself fall into this trap that I’d merely deferred on what is one of the most important decisions of my life?

I stepped back and took stock of my life. I realized I had two options in front of me.

The Safe Road

The benefit of working in a law firm is that there is usually a lot of work to do. When you put a group of lawyers together, they generally are able to combine resources, help each other out, and keep everyone busy. The downside of working in a law firm is that there’s a lot of work to do. You’re always busy. Because you are always busy, there is a regular paycheck. Regular paychecks are a pretty nice thing.

I’ve always known that the “safe” route of sticking with the firm, letting more books slip and cashing the regular paycheck deserves serious consideration. That is the best way to get the bills paid without risk. That also was the option with the most inertia behind it. I’d been at the same firm for 21 years. How do you turn that upside down? Also, I work with some really top notch lawyers and that environment is a pretty rare in the legal racket. 

I grew up with Depression-Era parents. They were awesome. They taught me so much and gave me a fantastic work ethic. They also drilled into me the importance of avoiding risk. Probably the biggest motivation for me to stay at the firm was that conservative risk-adverse mentality I’ve carried my entire life.

Risky Business

My other option was to leave my regular paycheck and health benefits behind and jump into the chaos that ensues from running a smaller, solo attorney law practice and (in my case) a book & video publishing business. I could serve just my clients with my own, smaller law practice and do things a bit more on my terms. This would give me the added benefit of much more control and allow for more time to publish more Field Guides and produce more MacSparky and Mac Power Users content. While all this sounds dandy, it also comes with a big pay cut and the possibility that things could get much worse if I don't have enough legal clients, or people stop buying Field Guides, or both.

So much of my own neurosis screamed out at me to keep the steady job and continue “pedaling” as best as possible. I laid awake at night. I rambled on about it incessantly with my family and closest friends. They all had excellent, well-meaning advice, much of which was contradictory with one another.

At the end of this process I found myself repeatedly coming back to my hypothetical death bed. If I was laying somewhere right now facing down the reaper, what would I regret more? It then became crystal clear to me. 

If I let MacSparky and the Field Guides linger and wither, I would never forgive myself. 

With that realization, a long tortuous decision process found clarity and purpose. I realized that if I ever had my ladder leaning against the wall of being a hot-shot partner in a big law firm, it had long since moved. I love being a small, crafty country doctor lawyer. The small business David that uses his Mac to sling rocks at big firm Goliaths.

I also love writing Field Guides and being MacSparky. My legal and publishing aspirations could co-exist if I’d just get over my insecurities and leap.

So I leapt.

The people at my firm were baffled when I gave notice but after I explained myself, became understanding and supportive. I’ve spent the last several weeks planning a transition that came to fruition late last week. 

Now I’m a self-employed lawyer looking for a few great clients. Here’s my website.

I’m also a geek writer with a bucket full of ideas that I finally have more time to execute upon.

Finally, I’m a husband and a father that is really excited about a new adventure and more than a little terrified that I’ll blow it.

As I write these words, I’m only a few days into this grand adventure but I decided to write about it here because the MacSparky audience has been such a vital part of this journey. If it weren’t for MacSparky, I wouldn’t have had the option (or the guts) to take this leap.

So What Does this Mean for MacSparky?

This is going to result in more and better content here at the website, on the podcast, and in the books. I’ll have more time to produce things I’m proud of. Some of it will be free. Some of it will cost a few bucks. There will definitely be more Field Guides (both iBooks and video formats) on things interesting to me and—hopefully—helpful to you.

So Are You Still a Lawyer Or Not?

This doesn’t mean I’m going to stop being a lawyer. I like being a lawyer. I’m one of those weirdos that thinks I actually help people as a lawyer. I’ve opened my own solo practice and have a group of fantastic, loyal clients that came with me from my prior firm. I could definitely use a few more but I suspect they will come.

The two passions of my life (outside my family) are MacSparky and my legal practice. In one I’m able to help thousands of people in little ways. In the other I help far fewer people in much bigger ways. I need the happy chemicals that come with both of those endeavors.

How Exactly Are You Pulling This Off?

I’m doing it the way any self-respecting geek would. I’m pulling pieces of technology together to make me look like superman in both the MacSparky and legal world. I’m having a lot of fun developing new workflows and, yes, I’ll be writing and screencasting about that here.

While I have an office, I’m also going to be spending a lot more time working from home, which lets me do things like take walks with my wife, goof off with my growing kids, and write legal briefs while wearing jeans and a T-Shirt. (My company has a very liberal dress code.) Like I said, I’m only a few days into this but I can already see some pretty interesting content developing out of the experience.

Are You Going To Prattle on About This Forever?

Hopefully not but I’m also sure you’ll hear about it on occasion. I still catch myself with small bits of anxiety. What if the books stop selling or the clients dry up? If that happens I’ll have to figure something else out but I’d rather have to figure out that Plan B than lay in a bed some day upset at myself for not taking a risk.

Despite that occasional anxiety, I find myself with this overwhelming exhilaration that everything in my life thus far has led to this point. Deep down, I truly believe this risky business will not only enable me to take care of my family, it will also lead to some of the best work of my life, both as MacSparky and a lawyer. I feel it in my bones. 

Stay tuned gang.