Little Snitch to Keep LTE Costs Down

Today I discovered several people have been writing up ways to use Little Snitch to hold down LTE data costs as tethering becomes more common. The idea is to have Little Snitch clamp down on data hogs, like Dropbox, iTunes, and online backup services, when you are tethered so you don't burn through your LTE data. Eddie Smith and Guillaume Ross have both covered the technique admirably and it is enough to get me to re-install Little Snitch after not having used it for years.

I particularly like Eddie's footnote about Dropbox and how he gets burned when people he shares folders with drop files in his Dropbox account with no warning. Having written a media rich book with Eddie, I'm pretty sure he could have changed that to read he gets burned when David Sparks shares large files with no warning. 

1Password Keyboard Shortcuts

Few software companies get blogging the way 1Password does. They just posted a helpful guide to using keyboard shortcuts in 1Password that had a few tricks I didn't know. For instance, did you know holding the Option key will reveal a password and Command-Shift-C copies the password without any pesky mousing? Follow the above link for all the details.

Incomparable Meetup

With the San Diego Comic-Con in full swing, a lot of the Incomparable gang is in southern California. Tonight they are going to do a meetup at the Stone Brewing Company in Escondido at 6pm. I'll be the one running around like a great big fan boy.

Pasting Plain Text with TextExpander

There are a lot of ways to paste text. The most common way I do it is with the Command-C and Command-V shortcuts. However, a lot of times you are working with text that is carrying a lot of formatting baggage and when you use the standard paste, the text shows up in your document unusable. Most apps that deal in text give you an option to paste and match formatting and the keyboard shortcut for that is usually Shift-Option-Command-V or some near-variation of that. The trouble is that the shortcut isn't universal and, even worse, some apps that involve text fields don't have any support for an option to paste as plain text.

TextExpander to the rescue. This is perhaps the easiest snippet I've ever posted. I just invoke the clipboard formatted as plaint text. My snippet is xpt (X-Plain-Text). This works everywhere on the Mac. (Even Microsoft Word.) I find typing x-p-t much faster than wrapping my fingers around more complicated combinations or mousing into menus.

I've also got one for pasting rich text from the clipboard, x-r-t, that I use much less frequently. 

I know this is a bit obvious but I showed this to a friend recently and she thought it was pretty swell. You can download my clipboard snippets below. Also, I've got a lot more snippets for download over here.

Clipboard TE Snippets

The Yosemite Public Beta

Apple is releasing the Yosemite public beta today, which is pretty remarkable. It's been a long time since Apple has opened up an operating system beta to the general public. In the abstract, I think it is a fantastic idea. Developers are, generally, power users and bugs slip through that developers may never experience but would be obvious to non-power users. Jason Snell explains the details at Macworld.

All of that said, I don't recommend jumping into this beta unless you have an extra Mac sitting around. Even then, you have to be careful. Apple is making a lot of changes to iCloud and iCloud data is very much in flux right now in the betas. There be dragons.

Fantastical for iOS 2.1

Today Flexibits released Fantastical version 2.1 for the iPhone and iPad. There are some useful features in this update including:

  • Snooze support
  • The ability to search and add contacts or locations when creating a new event
  • New event invitation notifications and app icon badge option
  • Upcoming birthday notifications
  • Event preview when duplicating and moving items
  • Keyboard shortcuts when using an external keyboard

There are more but the above features really jumped out for me. The apps are also on sale. The iPhone app is half off at $5 and the iPad app is 33% off at $10.

Delight is in the Details, Version 2

Shawn Blanc has been obsessing on creativity and released a multi-media book worth checking out. It is called Delight is in the Details and includes audio interviews, videos, and more. The books is 25% off until tomorrow. As Shawn explains it:

Average, “good enough” work is no longer good enough. Our success, our products, and our reputations all rest on the details, the delight, the intention, and the vision we bring to our work.

Delight is in the Details is packed with practical advice, tips, encouragement, inspiration, and insight. Resist the prevailing tide of “good enough” work that leads to forgettable products and a dissatisfaction in your work life. This book and interview series will teach you how to reach for excellence and find joy and delight in the journey.

Sparky's Pens, July 2014

Click to enlarge.

I’ve received several emails lately asking what kinds of pens I'm using these days. Not much has changed. I still have my fancy Pilot Namiki Vanishing Point with the  fine nib that I first wrote about a while back. I’ve had it a couple years now and still not managed to lose it. There is definitely an art to using a fountain pen and when I loan it to someone that’s not used one before, they tend to hate it. I’ve got it down and it still makes me smile to use it with my chicken-scratch writing. I know picking an ink for a fountain pen can lead to an entirely new fetish. I haven’t gone that far down the rabbit hole (yet). For now I’ve been using these Pilot black cartridges.

I have also bought several Zebra Sarasa pens. Jet Pens has them in multiple colors (my favorites are blue-black and red) and multiple tip sizes (.4mm for me). I keep these in my various desks and bags. I primarily use the Pilot fountain pen but when I need color, the Sarasa pens do the job. 

Streaming Voice Dictation in iOS 8

Apple announced streaming voice dictation in Siri, which shows you your words as you speak them, at WWDC. This feature has existed on Android for awhile and it is something I'd very much like to see on iOS. However, Apple was mum on adding the feature beyond Siri to normal voice dictation. If they've got the ability to do it in Siri, why not everywhere else too? As confirmed by 9to5 Mac, you can now stream dictation anywhere on iOS. This is a big deal for dictators, such as myself. iOS 8 just keeps getting better and better. 


 

Sponsor: Hoban Cards

Hoban Press is sponsoring MacSparky.com this week. I’ve heard from many readers that love their new Hoban Cards pressed out of Hoban’s 1902 letterpress machine. I sure love mine. 

HOBAN CARDS

Hoban Cards specializes in in minimal calling cards. This is a less expensive way to get into letterpress printing. Evan has been adding new designs and he is now up to 18 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. For a limited time, he has a nice discount on some of the new templates.

HOBAN PRESS

Hoban Press specializes in custom letterpress printed items like business cards, stationery, and wedding invitations. This is the best choice if you need to use your own logo or artwork. They also provide design and layout services.

MPU 204: Presentations

Episode 204 of the Mac Power Users is now available. In it Katie and I talk about some of our favorite tips for giving good presentations and I talk a little bit about behind-the-scenes with the new book at the end.

Marked2 is Now in the Mac App Store

Brett Terpstra is kind of legendary in nerd circles. He makes wonderful tools that makes our lives easier. I bought Marked 2 when he first released it outside of the App Store and use it all the time. Now Brett has the app for sale in the Mac App Store. It's more customizable than ever before with themes and advanced writing and proofreading tools. 

For a limited time, Marked 2 will be available for $9.99. The regular price will be $13.99. This will serve as both "introductory" pricing for new users and "upgrade" pricing for existing users of Marked 1.4.

The Presentations Field Guide is Now Shipping

I'm pleased to announce the Presentations Field Guide on is now shipping. The initial response has been fantastic and the book is currently at the top of the charts in the iBooks Store.

I spent a lot of time on the design and this book looks fantastic. Readers already are reporting they love the new design and layout. The content also came out great walking you through planning and giving a presentation in addition to all the parts you'll be doing on your Mac and iPad.

The book is available in the iBooks and PDF formats. If you've been waiting, now is the time to go get it. I've got screenshots, the promo video, and a full description right here. 

TextExpander for Quick Defer+Due Dates in OmniFocus

Max Masnick is using Text Expander to quickly enter defer and due dates in OmniFocus. Max primarily uses this for events that have the same defer and due dates. For example if you want a task to disappear but show up as due on Monday at 9am. I don't have much cause for that style task because I so rarely use due dates but there is no reason you couldn't also use this to defer with later relative due dates, for example two weeks from Friday, which in OmniFocus speak would be 2w Fri. Moreover, Max figured out how to combine defer dates and TextExpander so of course he gets a link.

 

Apple Opens Up iTunes Pass in the US

I've always felt that Apple's Passbook was a good idea that never really took off. I use it for boarding passes but have found very few other uses. (I know the poster child for Passbook retail use is Starbucks but I don't drink coffee and don't like their tea.) Either way, I've felt that Passbook has been in limbo lately. I'm sure the whole "pay with your phone" idea is important to Apple but it seemed like Passbook may be one of those things that just lingers until Apple unveils the next initiative to replace it.

That may still be the case but it appears Apple isn't entirely ignoring Passbook. Today they added a new feature that lets you charge up your iTunes credit with Passbook in an Apple retail store. This makes a lot of sense with the upcoming Family Sharing feature. I would like to see Passbook (or something like it) take off. I'm tired of carrying bits of plastic around when I've got a really smart phone.

Josh Centers at TidBITS walks you through how to use Passbook in the Apple Store.