A handy Keyboard Maestro macro from Federic Viticci, for those of us who have uninstalled Flash from our Macs but need to watch the occasional Flash video. I had an app to do this, but a Keyboard Maestro macro is simpler.
My home office, pictured above, was a project taken on to make working from home easier. While the bulk of my time is spent at an office working with a team, I knew I needed time to work outside of the office environment to accomplish what Cal Newton calls “Deep Work.” My early attempts to work from home were quickly rendered ineffective by not having a clear separation between work and family. Trying to focus in the same space where my wife and daughters were going about their daily activities wasn’t working well for anyone. Work and family rarely can both be served effectively in the same time and place.
So, I put together an outdoor office by walling off a room in our garden shed. I added a heating and cooling unit to it so that it could be used throughout the year with Midwest weather. Wood from old palettes were nailed to the walls, a standing desk built right in, and I added some storage and bookshelves. Lastly, I spent effort personalizing the space to make it a place where I’d want to be.
More photos and information about how Plattner uses the Mac and iPhone: Kyle Plattner’s Mac and iPhone setup.
Apple is considering paid search for the App Store. [Adam Satariano and Alex Webb – Bloomberg]
John Gruber is right here: The App Store doesn’t need paid search. Paid search would be a step backwards. The App Store needs better search. If people could better find the apps they want, Apple would make more money.
Customers of past versions of TextExpander get a 50% lifetime discount to the new service, paying $20 per year, which isn’t bad.
But what about new customers? The new pricing is a lot to pay for a text expansion app, for which there are many alternatives on the Mac. And I’m skeptical of the existence of the corporate market for the product that Smile Software anticipates.
As for me, I’m in the process of migrating my TextExpander clippings to the built-in Apple keyboard shortcuts and the Copied clipboard manager app. I’m not doing it to save money or as a protest against Smile Software – I’m doing it because I think it’ll be a better solution. But the price change doesn’t make me want to stay with TextExpander.
The major mistake in the announcement of the new model was a failure to explain the benefits of it, or to provide any major new features along with it that would be relevant to individual users. The touted benefit of the subscription model was group sharing, which is really an enterprise feature, and it felt like individual users were being forced to pay for something they didn’t require.
TextExpander users have been quite satisfied with the current Dropbox/cloud sync for their snippets. What Smile left out of the marketing was that the current system had hit some limitations, and the move to a hosted service opened a new world of possibilities for feature development. Easy sharing and updating of snippets between users (without having to have a hosted URL) is only the first benefit; it also makes possible improved compatibility between platforms (Windows version in beta), things like Zapier and IFTTT integration and automation, and a host of new features they’re excited about (but can’t share yet).
The new model also ends the repetitive upgrade system. Once users are on the subscription plan, updates will come seamlessly, frequently, and without extra charge or major version bumps. Most of us have been upgrading regularly at a cost that comes out to about the same as a year-long subscription.
Apple removed third-party Reddit clients from the App Store because people can use them to access porn. [Graham Spencer – MacStories]
Ridiculous. You can do the same with any web browser. Is Apple going to remove Chrome from the App Store next? How about its own Safari browser? How about Apple Maps, which you can use to guide you to an adult bookstore?
Also, Apple continues to permit the Reddit official app in the App Store, which looks bad for Reddit, although it seems likely that Reddit had nothing to do with these shenanigans.
I use both apps. PopClip makes your Mac cursor act like the cursor on iOS, which sounds gimmicky but is surprisingly useful.
Copied saves and manages text and images you copy to your clipboard. It syncs between Mac, iPhone, and iPad.
Apple Watch owners love it, but industry insiders think it’s a flop. [Dawn Chmielewski – re/code]
Tablet and iPad Market Is 100 Million Units Smaller Than Expected [Arik Hesseldahl – Recode]
What happened? Smartphones for one, in particular really big smartphones. Also, people buy new tablets at a slower pace than they do phones.
One category of tablets that’s likely to be successful: tablets with detachable keyboards, like the iPad Pro and Microsoft Surface.
As for me, I find myself using the iPad mini less and less, and growing more and more frustrated with its limitations as I do. And I’m still getting used to how portable my MacBook Air is. Light as a feather, with hours and hours of battery life. I use it plugged in to a 27″ display, keyboard, and trackball when I’m at my desk. When I want to take it somewhere, there are only three connections, easy to detach and reattach.
I see myself moving to a bigger phone in the next generation of iPhones later this year, and using the iPad mini even less. Unless, that is, Apple comes out with an iPad the size of the Kindle Paperwhite. I think that might be the ideal size for me.
Google and Apple are working on technology that will reduce or eliminate the need for apps. [Donny Reynolds – Medium]
An app is great if you use it regularly, but it’s inconvenient if you just want to read one article, or look at a few of your friend’s photos. And apps are hard for search engines to index.
The three-year cost of running TextExpander on the Mac has gone from $20 to $142.56. That puts TextExpander in the price range of Microsoft Office, Adobe Lightroom, and TurboTax.
As for me: Smile says it will continue to support the current version of TextExpander through the current and next versions of OS X. I’ll stay with it until I get a compelling reason to upgrade or switch.
Ironically timed, just this morning I saw a write-up of an intriguing alternative for large numbers of complex text snippets.
TextExpander 6 and TextExpander.com [Michael Tsai]
The free keyboard lets you access your clipboard history, contacts, OneDrive and SharePoint documents, and translates what you type into other languages.
The keyboard gets only 2.5 stars on the iTunes store, with 35 reviews in. People are saying it’s slow and buggy.
iOS has weak support for third-party keyboards. iOS is not good at letting you designate a third-party keyboard as your main keyboard; Apple apparently wants you to toggle to the third-party keyboard for some specific reason, then go back to using the main iOS keyboard most of the time.
Microsoft Launches Hub Keyboard for iOS [John Voorhees – MacStories]
TextExpander is a keyboard-shortcut app for the Mac. You configure TextExpander to output a long block of text when you type a short text string. For example, people enter their email signatures in TextExpander and type out the whole long thing by just typing “ssig” or some other short string. I use TextEpander to store a lot of full names of the companies I cover, their Twitter handles for when I tweet out headlines about them, “dts” to type out the current date and time, “mmob” for my mobile phone number, and so on.
Now, TextExpander is going from a paid app to a subscription model.
$60/year seems like a lot of money. The new features outlined in this article don’t interest me all that much – I don’t have a team to share snippets with.
On the other hand, TextExpander is one of my most-used apps, and I do believe in throwing financial support to indy apps I use heavily.
I’ll stay with the current versions on Mac and iOS until some compelling alternative comes along, which could mean upgrading to the new service and could mean switching to a competitor.
Julie and a couple of my Apple-using friends like to give me grief for switching apps so frequently. And that’s true for some apps – text editors, to-do apps, and I haven’t even talked here about my quest for the perfect clipboard manager. But I’ve stuck with TextExpander since a few months after I switched from Windows to Mac in 2007,
“Not as clumsy or random as a blaster. An elegant weapon, for a more civilized age.” —Obi-Wan Kenobi
– The iPhone SE [John Gruber – Daring Fireball]
I’m torn on this. I love a phone that I can use comfortably in one hand, which I can’t really do with the iPhone 6.
On the other hand, I want the latest greatest internal hardware, and the iPhone SE will be a generation behind in six months.
And I’m thinking about going up a size, rather than down, so I can comfortably use the phone instead of the iPad mini.
I have six months to decide. That’s when we can expect the year’s big iPhone announcement.
I’ll also be tempted by an Apple Watch when the next generation of those hits.
Or maybe I’ll just save our money and not buy any pricey Apple hardware this year. That works too.
Call me a dope, but I never noticed the keyboard is trying to predict the next word as I type.
Also: How to get special characters, symbols, and diacritical marks when typing on the iOS keyboard. I’ve seen this instruction a few times before, and will probably forget it next time I need it.
How to use the QuickType keyboard on iPhone and iPad [Luke Filipowicz, Rene Ritchie, and Allyson Kazmucha – iMore]
The Republican Party has become like porn or dwarf-tossing – something that mainstream businesses are nervous about having their brands associated with. Apple, Google, and Walmart are all thinking of pulling out.
Corporations Grow Nervous About Participating in Republican Convention [Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman – New York Times]
I enjoyed this podcast even though it’s been nine years since I’d find the information useful.
#311: Switching from PC to Mac [Mac Power Users]
The Justice Department asked a federal judge in California court to vacate its petition to force Apple to help it hack the phone. “The government has now successfully accessed the data stored on Farook’s iPhone and therefore no longer requires the assistance from Apple Inc. mandated by Court’s Order,” the filing reads.
The filing doesn’t elaborate on the method used, nor does it hint at any of the information revealed. What it means is that the FBI has achieved a method to access the data stored on the phone, circumventing its security features.
While this case is now moot, there “may well be similar conflicts down the road,” a Justice Department spokeswoman says.
FBI Drops iPhone Case Against Apple After Outside Hack Succeeds [Arik Hesseldahl – re/code]
Excellent review by Nicole Nguyen at BuzzFeed.
I’m tempted by the small size. I have small hands. For a man, at least.
On the other hand, I’m also tempted by a larger phone, something I can use instead of my iPad mini.
On the negative side, I don’t want to buy a phone with the guts of the year-old iPhone 6s.
On the positive side: Two-day battery life! Holy mother of Steve Jobs!
Conclusion: I’m going to hold out until autumn, when we’ll probably see the next full refresh of the iPhone line. Or even next year, when rumor has it we’ll see a complete revamp.
Julie will be relieved to hear that Apple didn’t announce anything I want to buy today.
I do see an Apple Watch and new iPhone in my future in 2016. But I’ll hold out for the new models.
I might be tempted by a 4″ iPhone if the specs were top-performing. I haven’t done a side-by-side comparison, but I suspect the new phone is a low-end model.
And I think I’m going to go in the other direction this year – get a phone that’s bigger than the one I have now, rather than smaller – the 5.5″ 7 Plus (or whatever they decide to call it). I’ll see if that plus the MacBook Air and Kindle can replace the iPad for me.
Or I might just choose one or the other – Watch or phone. Buying both in one year seems like a lot of money to spend.
Or maybe I won’t buy anything.
Year’s still young yet, with at least two more Apple announcements ahead.
Lifehacker reviewer Thorin Klosowski tests Google Maps and Waze and determines they’re both great for different uses. Waze is good for getting from point A to Point B – it’s particularly good for shaving a few minutes off a commute, or a good chunk of time off a multi-hour drive. Maps is good for finding destinations along your route, and offers a variety of transportation options.
That basically confirms my own impressions, obtained by talking to people, using Google Maps, but not trying Waze.
I don’t commute to work; I work from a home office. Which means I’m not taking the same route every day in varying traffic conditions. Nor do I regularly take multi-hour drives. Those are the two best use cases for Waze.
What I do use Maps for are occasional trips where I need a refresher how to get where I’m going. I also use Maps while driving around on business trips in rental cars – different routes every time. I use Maps for walking directions in urban downtowns. And of course I use Maps to get to places where I’ve never been before. Google Maps is good for all those use cases.
I sometimes use Apple Maps. Directions have gotten good, not like the first days when Apple Maps was justifiably a joke. I like the user interface and integration with iOS and Mac OS X better than Google Maps. But Google Maps still gives better directions, which is the most important thing of course.
I was pleased to once again have a two-minute audio tip featured on Mac Power Users. In it, I describe Mail Perspectives, software that lets me stay on top of email by displaying a mini-window showing key information about recently arrived messages.
My tip starts here.
Listen to the whole episode here: #309: I Haven't Discounted The Possibility That You're Crazy
I usually say “Oh Ess X.” .
Pauli Olavi Ojala says Apple should just call it “MacOS.” I often call it that.