Today Smile Released TextExpander for Mac, Version 5. The new version has some great new features including the ability to recognize frequently typed phrases and offer to create new snippets for you, remind you when you type a phrase for which you already have a snippet, improvements to fill-in snippets, iCloud sync, and Java Script support. I did a whole series of videos on the new version and they came out great. There are 10 videos in total and they really give you the soup-to-nuts training in TextExpander. If you are already a pro, just watch the "What's New" video below.
I am also particularly proud of the role Mac Power Users listeners and MacSparky readers have played thus far in App Camp for Girls’ success. Not only have you provided financial support, several of you have also donated your time and expertise. It actually makes my heart swell.
Today App Camp for Girls has started a new public funding campaign. The funding goal is $100,000. These funds will be used to bring the program to more girls and more locations. Just as important, success there will convince corporate sponsors that App Camp is for real and help win even more corporate sponsorships.
Katie and I feel strongly about this. So much so that we’ve agreed to personally match funds contributed to App Camp for Girls by Mac Power Users listeners up to the first $1,000. Nothing would make me happier than writing a big check. So why don’t you help me out with that?
1. Donate to the App Camp Indiegogo campaign as you normally would, including choosing from one of the available perks.
2. Email a copy of your donation receipt (feel free to redact any personal information but leave the amount) to firstname.lastname@example.org with the words “AppCamp 3.0” (no quotes) in the subject line.
3. Katie and I will jointly match MPU listener donations up to $1,000.
Jean MacDonald will be our guest on Mac Power Users in early June to give us an update on her progress and talk about how she used technology to get a non-profit up and running. I’m hopeful we’ll also be able to announce we’ve raised enough money to sponsor a Mac Power Users team at App Camp for Girls this summer.
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.
I'm pleased to welcome back Hoban Press as this week's MacSparky.com 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.
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.
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.
This week I thought I'd feature my own home screen. So here you go.
Some Apps of Note
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
RSS feeds are my guilty pleasure. I read through feeds every day and for awhile now, I've been doing it in Unread.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Since I posted my initial review of the new MacBook, I’ve received a lot of email about the keyboard. From other new MacBook owners, the feedback has largely agreed with me that the keyboard is inferior to that on the MacBook Pro or iMac with a few vocifous objectors who felt that the smaller throw keyboard is superior. I guess that shouldn’t surprise me. The way a keyboard feels is definitely a personal preference thing.
Regardless, more water has run under the bridge since I put out the first review and my opinion of the keyboard has not changed. I still don’t think it is as good as the keyboard on my old MacBook Pro but it’s not so terrible that it’s a dealbreaker. Moreover, as time goes by, I think of it less and less and instead just get my work done on this amazingly light laptop with this amazingly crisp text. I sold MacBook Pro and it is now happily being used to edit video. I haven’t missed it at all.
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.
This week I’m pleased to welcome back, curbi as a MacSparky.com 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.
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.
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 Survivor. Over the Rainbow (iTunes) is a great Art Pepper track because he plays the whole thing solo and really stretches out.
What are some of your favorite apps?
More than anything else, I made Fantastical for myself and still use it every day.
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?