With Adobe's new subscription model, a lot of people are asking if they should switch to something less expensive. I've been using Pixelmator for years and it has a lot more firepower than I need. Since you can buy Pixelmator for $15, which is just a few months of an Adobe subscription, Pixelmator's looking even better. Michael Cohen at TidBITS did a nice article looking at this very question and came to the same conclusion I did: For most people Pixelmator will get the job done.
Occasionally, I have sensitive things on my Mac's screen and occasionally I leave an office, or conference room, or courtroom and forget to shut the lid on that Mac. While I've got my Mac set to lock itself down after a few minutes, I thought it would be nice to have a way to force the issue. Mac Power User listener Mariusz wrote me about Polish Mac Geek Milosz Bolechowski who pulls this off with Drafts, a Dropbox File, and Hazel. I thought it was pretty clever so I duplicated it tonight.
This is how it works:
I type "MB sleep" in Drafts and save it to the standard Drafts folder on Dropbox. (In my case it is located at Dropbox/Apps/Drafts.) I use "MB sleep" because I'm going to add a second one for putting the iMac to sleep.
Point Hazel at the Drafts folder and tell it to look for a file that contains the terms "MB sleep"
When Hazel sees the file, it deletes it and runs an AppleScript to put the Mac to sleep.
This is a really simple script.
tell application "Finder"
Once you set this up, open Drafts and type "MB sleep" and save it to Dropbox. Within a few seconds, your Mac goes safely to sleep.
Milosz had another great idea of using a URL scheme to further automate this. If you want to take it a step further, set up a URL scheme in Launch Center Pro as follows:
Then when you tap the button in Launch Center Pro, it opens Drafts and fills in the text "MB sleep" for you. You just need to send it to Dropbox for the Magic to happen. The below screenshot gallery gives you the details.
Extra Extra Credit
On Twitter, @Eiscik points out points out the following Launch Center Pro action performs the Dropbox upload for you with no further taps.
Craig Scott, the developer behind my beloved iThoughtsHD has started releasing a series of iOS apps that feel, to me, a lot more like iOS Automator Actions than apps. The first app, makeDoc, takes the contents of your clipboard text (including Markdown) and spits out a Microsoft Word file. The other, makeSlides, does the same thing to create a PowerPoint file. I don't have much use for making PowerPoint files. (Indeed, I have an irrational dislike of PowerPoint.) But making Word files is, sadly, a regular thing for me. Craig's little app makes it possible for me to do this with any Markdown text on my iPad.
I like the idea of these little utility apps to solve an iOS problem. I hope Craig keeps making them and other developers follow suit.
The new version of TextExpander touch is now available for download and it's fabulous. The big new features are rich text and fill in snippet support. Although this is a version 2.0, it is free for people who already purchased the prior version. The fill-in snippet support is huge for me. I use fill-in snippets every day. Federico did a nice extended review at MacStories and I made a short screencast showing off the new version. Enjoy.
Horace Dediu breaks down the Apple Store numbers to figure out Apple earns $57 for every warm body that walks through the door. ($12 of that is profit.) So how does the popular press turn that into a call for Tim Cook's head?
After 4 years, Katie and I go back to the subject of syncing data on this week's Mac Power Users episode. In it, we cover the relative merits of Dropbox and iCloud and also expand the discussion to syncing all sorts of data between Macs and iOS devices. This is also the episode where Katie threatens to eviscerate me with a Klingon pointy-sword.
HogBay Software makes some great Mac and iOS software. (I've got WriteRoom on my iPad home screen right now.) So I've been watching the development of FoldingText with some interest over the past several months. The application is now at version 1.2.2 and available in the Mac App Store for $25.
FoldingText is a simple text editor with a few tricks up its sleeve I've never seen before. As the name implies, it folds text. While this is a common feature and high-powered text editors such as BBEdit, this is an uncommon feature in an App Store editor.
Implementation is very simple. Write your text using the markdown syntax for headings (e.g.,
You can then add additional text underneath that in simple text format or make a bulleted list using hyphens or asterisks. FoldingText follows additional markdown syntax with the application of italics (with asterisks on each side of the words) or bold with a pair of asterisks on each side of each word. You're basically writing markdown.
The difference is you can tap on one of your headings and all the text underneath the heading will fold into it. If you've got a large text document, this can be really helpful. I used it last week for writing a legal brief as an experiment and I really liked it. The application uses iCloud syncing so you can share your document between multiple Macs.
There isn't an iPad or iPhone version yet and for me, that is a bummer. Because I so often write using these mobile devices, the inability to seamlessly share the information across to them will limit my usage. However, since Jesse Grosjean has already proven his ability to write outstanding iOS applications, I suspect this shortcoming is not a permanent one.
This week I'd like to thank doo.net for sponsoring MacSparky.com. doo is a Cloud based paperless management service. You can connect all of your document sources and doo does the hard work of indexing and organizing your documents for you with automatic intelligent tagging. This provides the basis for an extremely efficient search. Moreover, with cloud-based document storage, you can access all your documents no matter where you are and what device you are holding. The new version 1.2 now even includes support for external hard drives. Learn more at doo.net.
MPU Listener David Hall found a clever use for Reeder's defeault address to send link setting. He put in his OmniFocus Mail Drop address and now can send an article straight into OmniFocus without leaving Reeder. I'm in.
When I first started thinking about putting myself out there with podcasting and blogging, one of the first people I contacted was Tim Verpoorten. Tim ran the Surfbits MacReviewCast and was always welcoming with advice, assistance, and that friendly midwestern accent. Tim's been sick for some time but that still didn't stop him from blogging and keeping in touch with his old Mac friends. Tim represents to me everything that is great about our geek community and today we lost him. So long Surfbits. I'll miss you. Photo by Victor Cajiao
Here I am being clever with Danielle Moser.
For years I carried a little paper notebook (usually Field Notes) in my pocket along with my iPhone. I don't do that much anymore. At the day job I still carry a pen and notecards in my breast pocket—which are useful for sharing—but after hours I'm no longer with paper. This shift wasn't intentional but instead a gradual thing as I became more smitten with Drafts. It just isn't that much more difficult for me to tap a quick note into Drafts and carrying less always feels better. If you are on the fence about this, the gang at DODO just released an interesting notebook with a sort-of iPhone nest built in called DODONotes. A year ago I would have probably tried one but right now, I'm good.
Over the weekend I bought a copy of Wordify from the Mac App Store. Wordify takes an existing picture and a stack of words about that picture and then outputs a PDF that recreates the picture with your words. I made one of my daughter and her cousin and I thought it came out great.
The New York Times was doing something similar to this at Macworld/iWorld and people were lined up around the booth. My wife and kids are really into this.
I found this article about the Syrian Electronic Army hacking The Onion fascinating. They pulled it off with phishing. In particular, they embedded malicious links in friendly sounding email. Once they got a few people to bite, they used those compromised email accounts to double down and phish more employees using their friends' emails. This really makes me question the use of embedded links in email. They are so convenient but also so easy to abuse.
There are some tools in Apple mail to expose a link before opening it. Regardless, be careful out there. (Link found via John Gruber).
Ben Waldie, who is, in my opinion, probably the most savvy AppleScript author not actually working for Apple recently published a script on TUAW that automatically extracts an icon from an application. I created a similar service using scripts I learned from Sal Saghoian's AppleScript 1-2-3 book a few years ago but Ben's solution is much better. I've added it to my script menu and if you ever have need of app icons, you should too.
Agile just released 1Password 4.2 for iOS and it is a really nice update:
Better Browser Go & Fill Bookmarks are now in 1Browser on iPad. (The iPhone is coming.) Also, if 1Password sees a URL in the clipboard, it’ll prompt you to open it in the 1Password browser.
Better Sharing You can share 1Password vault items (encrypted) with others. This will make things much easier between myself and MrsMacSparky.
Better Search Search in iOS 1Password now searches all fields.
I recently got this awesome Classic Mac lego set from Chris McVeigh. There is a standing joke in my house. The kids get Lego, dad begs to help, dad gets denied. Not this time. The kit even includes a clever Lego logic board. I love having this on my desk