Getting the Due app working with the Apple Watch

For years, I found the Due iPhone timer useful. It’s much more flexible than the built-in iPhone timer app, and I used it often.

But then I got the Apple Watch in December and Due was incompatible with the way I use the Watch.

My iPhone is silent at all times; when I get a notification I just get a nudge on my wrist from the Watch. It’s one of my favorite things about the Watch.

But, alas, the Due app doesn’t work with the Apple Watch.

Sure, it’s supposed to work. Due has a Watch app. But it’s unreliable.

Or so I thought.

I had been using the Due Watch app to set timers. A week or two ago I thought, “What if I use the iPhone Due app to set timers?” And so I started doing that and it works great. I set the timers on the iPhone and they go off reliably and silently on my Watch. Hooray!

By the way, you may well ask what’s so great about Due?

First, you can have multiple, custom presets.

I have many presets, including one for five minutes and one for 20 minutes, because I often need to time things for those two intervals.

The iPhone timers app has no support for presets, and with the Watch timers app, you take the presets Apple gives you and you like it.

Also, the Due app lets you set multiple different types of timers.

Apple’s built in iPhone and Watch timers keep going off until you press a button to turn them off. The Due app has timers that go off for a couple of seconds, and then stop on their own.

The Due app also supports reminders that will go off every couple of minutes and keep nagging you until you switch them off. That’s handy for things you really need to do sooner rather than later, like take a pill or feed the dog or dial in two minutes early for a conference call.

Captain Mitch’s Whiz-Bang PR Tips! (a continuing series)

Note to my friends in PR: One of the best ways you can enhance my chances of writing about your news is to tell me about it before it’s announced. This is called an “embargo,” and it’s common between PR people and business journalists. (An embargo is an agreement though – don’t just send me your news and assume I’ll sit on it. Ask first.)

When I see an email from a PR person that says their client announced a thing this morning – i.e. it was already public by the time I got the email – my pinky finger is starting to move to the DELETE key.

If Apple Mail performance is slow, uncheck “Load Remote Content” in preferences

My work mail is Microsoft Office 365, which I access using Mail.app on the Mac. Recently, I noticed performance had become so slow as to become painful. Mail downloaded just fine, but when I clicked on a message it took forever to open, and when I marked a message as read it took forever for the message status to change.

The solution: Go into “Preferences” and make sure “Load remote content in messages” is unchecked. Loading remote content means the Mac has to go out to the Internet and download images, which takes time.

It’s probably a good idea to uncheck that for security reasons as well as for performance.

I don’t recall whether that box is checked or unchecked by default. Previously, I had it checked – messages set to download remote content automatically. And that’s what was slowing down my Mail performance. I unchecked it, and mail performs just fine for me now.

If I want to see remote content, such as images, for a particular message, I can click a button on the top of each individual message, and the remote content downloads quickly enough.

Most of the time I don’t bother. I don’t bother reading about 99% of the email I receive anymore.

A note to my PR friends

Your pitch needs to fit in the length of a tweet. I am not kidding about this. I have 2,400 unread emails now, mostly PR pitches. I give a pitch one sentence to get my attention. If it hasn’t grabbed me by then, I just hit delete and move on. (signed) A Cranky Editor

The problem with using the Internet for work

The problem with using the Internet for work is you start in one place, and end up in another, bewildering, and clearly not-work-related place, and have no idea how you got there.

This is particularly true when you’re a journalist, as I am. It is even more true when you’re using Facebook.

I started out doing this legitimate work thing and ended up reading about the Riverworld series of science fiction novels, which I love, and which begat not one but two TV series pilots. Which is odd, because after a TV pilot fails once it’s surprising to see someone try it again seven years later.

I have absolutely no idea how I got from where I started to Riverworld.

Although if the novels are correct, we are all going to Riverworld eventually.

The novels are fantastic – or at least the first three are – and I’d love to see somebody do them right for TV.

Troubleshooting my overheating MacBook Air

For nearly the last 20 years I’ve been working on a laptop configuration with the laptop off to one side, propped open, and attached to a big external display. The external display is my main desktop, and the open laptop is secondary. I use an external keyboard and trackball to drive the thing.

A month or so ago I moved the laptop — currently a 2015 MacBook Air, which I bought new — to the FRONT of the display. That meant the laptop screen was below the big monitor, and I was typing on the laptop’s built-in keyboard and using its built-in trackpad. I LOVED that. I got much better use out of the laptop display.

But I noticed it was running slow. I opened Activity Monitor and found a process called kernel_task was using up a ton of memory and CPU. What the hell is kernel_task, I asked myself. Google to the rescue.

kernel_task is a fake process — it intentionally soaks up processor resources to slow your Mac down and keep it cool.

I could hear the fan running loud.

Aha, I said to myself.

Elsewhere on the Internet (I’ve lost the link) I saw a suggestion that using a big external display and the onboard display together could make a MacBook Air overheat. That’s lots of pixels for the Air’s relatively wee processor to draw.

Another potential cause of overheating: Running the MacBook Air on a surface that does not provide adequate ventilation.

I was doing all of that. So I moved the MacBook back to its stand, and kept working.

This morning, I noticed the MacBook was running slow and hot again, even while I had it on a stand with adequate ventilation. So I closed the clamshell on the MacBook and am just using the big display as my only monitor. The MacBook performance improved a little right away, and now the fans are off and the MacBook is running pretty well.

I’m about to take my exercise break. I’m going to shut down the Mac and let it cool completely while I’m out. Then I’m going to try one other thing: I bought a keyboard condom back when I was using the MacBook keyboard as my primary input; it’s possible that the condom is blocking air flow and causing the MacBook to overheat. I’ll try getting rid of that and see if I can at least get the two-display benefits by keeping the MacBook open and to one side while I work.

Although on the other hand there’s something to be said for the focus of having just one display.

Update Sunday 4/8: Problem solved (I think).

Next time will be different

Me every six months:

“I hear DevonThink is a great app. I have never given it a good workout. I need to give it a fair try!”

[opens DevonThink]

[overcome by confusion]

[closes DevonThink]

At this rate my eval period will last 40 years and I’ll never have to buy it.