Dictation Coming to AppleTV [Link]
Dictation Coming to AppleTV [Link]

From AppAdvice:

Instead of navigating the on-screen keyboard, the tvOS beta offers you one more way to enter your login information. You can dictate your username and password, one character at a time, which makes logging in much easier. The service works well for me, but you do have to speak slowly and clearly to avoid mixing up like-sounding letters such as “f” and “s.”

This was a bewildering omission in the new AppleTV. I'm thrilled to see that it's also getting dictation support for search boxes too. Such a great upgrade.
blog  TV  Link 
yesterday
An old-school reply to an advertiser’s retro threat - FT.com
Last week I received an email from Henry Gomez, head of marketing and communications at Hewlett Packard Enterprise, objecting to a column I’d written the previous week. In it I’d repeated the advice his boss, Meg Whitman, gave to an audience at
2 days ago
Subscribe to Newsletters with RSS [Link]
Subscribe to Newsletters with RSS [Link]

I'm still a big fan of Feedbin. Just when I think they are starting to coast they add something new and awesome. Now I can subscribe to email newsletters in my RSS reader.

I really don't understand the rise of email newsletters from the consumer side. I work very hard to keep things out of my email. Now that I can use RSS instead I'm much more likely to signup for some those listed in the Feedbin post. Good stuff.
blog  Link 
3 days ago
Let's just stop boomersplaining politics to millennials
The following is a response to “This Progressive Doesn’t Need Your Lectures” by syndicated columnist Connie Schultz (...
4 days ago
Remember the Milk Gets a Huge Update [Link]
Remember the Milk Gets a Huge Update [Link]

Do you remember "Remember the Milk?" There was a time that I lived in their web and iOS apps. It was the best. Then it sat, relatively unchanged, for years while other apps leaped ahead or sprang into existence around them. Today is a bright new day for the service and all of its apps.

The new service fills in most of the most glaring gaps. Here's just a taste:

Sub tasks with their own due dates and tags

Drag and drop assignment of tags, priorities and due dates

Improved smart add with due date parsing

START DATES

Task sharing

RTM has always nailed the advanced search operators so don't let the cuteness fool you. It's a real task manager.

This is probably the biggest update RTM has ever received. I have a lot of nostalgia for RTM and I'm thrilled to see that they are back in the game. It's a terrific low-barrier task manager and it's ubiquitous access beats many other systems I've used. I'm just so giddy to see this app again.1

RTM is $40/yr and the iOS app is free.

The icon, not so much ↩
blog  Productivity  Link 
6 days ago
Talking to My Watch
Talking to My Watch

I have three primary reasons to use an Apple Watch.1 The first one is to tell time. The second one is to get notifications from my wife. The third reason is to talk to a little app called Drafts.2

The Apple Watch is not good at email. It's never in sync with my phone and reading back my latest message through the watch is a long road to disappointment. It's only moderately good at calendars, given the limited space to show a busy schedule. The Apple Watch does excel at notifications because it buzzes me in ways that I haven't yet chosen to ignore. But where it really shines is dictation into the Drafts app.

If there's a good argument to be made for owning a $600 watch it's to talk to a ten dollar app. And yes, this flies in the face of my skepticism over having an inbox in my text editor.

The Drafts Apple Watch app is a wonderfully futuristic way to write. Within two taps, I'm dictating real text that's not a total mess.3

I don't just use it to dictate small bits of text. I can actually dictate long passages while looking like an idiot. But, the real trick is to dictate a bunch of small messages and then combine them in the Drafts app for export as one long document.4

First, open the Drafts inbox on the iPhone. Then hit the Select button at the lower right.

After selecting all of the notes I want to combine, I just pop open the Drafts action panel (the Operations button) and choose Merge. Drafts even provides an optional separator to use between the merged notes.

What was many becomes one. However, I'm not done squeezing value out of Drafts because it has one more, seldom mentioned, super power for text capture: The arrange function. I just close the keyboard and tap the icon with three horizontal lines. Now I grab each paragraph and reorder the document. What a delight. It's a small miracle that I can dictate, proofread, and edit hundreds of words while on my way to buy Cookie Butter.

Drafts for iOS | Universal | $10

Technically I only need one which is that it was a gift from my wife. But that would a short post. ↩

Yes, this is another post about Drafts. No, I don't feel obligated to provide variety. If you want variety, read a top 5 list. ↩

Well, at least it's a total mess in the way I intended. ↩

This entire post was dictated to my watch while I walked to Trader Joe's. Minor editing was done on my phone and my laptop. What a thing. ↩
blog  iOS 
6 days ago
Keyless
Keyless

Did you know you can long press on the zero key to access the degree symbol on iOS? Why would you? Who has the time to long press on 97 keys just to figure out how to access a the ‰ key on iOS? 1

Somehow we've become stuck in the old model of keys anchored to a fixed point on a keyboard. Long pressing on a virtual key and switching keyboard layouts has lost its novelty for me. I want to search for symbols and emoji with fuzzy logic. Typing a search phrase would certainly take less time than long pressing on a dozen keys.

I love how someone decided per mille is important enough to warrant a key but per ten thousand (%) is not. ↩
blog  iOS 
7 days ago
Synology DSM 6 Beta 2 [Link]
Synology DSM 6 Beta 2 [Link]

This latest beta sounds pretty great.

Content Search You can now use Mac Finder to quickly search the content of indexed files within mounted folders on your Synology NAS.

Even the little bits are huge improvements. Like this little note about synchronizing with Google Drive:

You can now convert Google Docs to Microsoft Office or jpeg formats in download-only tasks to keep an offline backup copy.

I love this little computer more every year.
blog  Security  Link  Backup 
7 days ago
100 Jokes that Shaped Modern Comedy [100]
100 Jokes that Shaped Modern Comedy [100]

Vulture has been creating some interesting reading material lately. The 100 Jokes That Shaped Modern Comedy is delightful not for some laughs but becuase it's interesting to see how culture and sense of humor changes over time. What a great compilation.
blog  Link  Humor 
7 days ago
Competence and Imposters
Competence and Imposters

These were conincidentally back to back in my pinboard reading list.

Imposter Syndrome or Not by John Scalzi

Also also, with respect to novels and fiction, I had been a professional writer for fifteen years before my first novel was published, so I had a decade and a half (not to mention several non-fiction books published prior to Old Man’s War) to get used to the idea that writing was a thing I could do.

The Illusion of Competence by Rands

That’s the illusion of competence. By making it look easy, you fool them into thinking it’s not hard. And that’s a pleasantly aspirational idea. The idea that there is somehow magic that is going on to make the complex simple.

I think the people that sufer the most from Imposter Syndrome are the ones that imagine everyone else has more talent than experience. Anyone can create more experience.
blog  Humanity 
7 days ago
TaskPaper 3 Beta Adds Date Filters
TaskPaper 3 Beta Adds Date Filters

The latest TaskPaper beta is coming along nicely. The new date formatting for filters is a welcome addition. It's a nice combination of natural language and modifiers. To filter on tasks starting in the next 7 days @done <=[d] next week +7d does the trick.

You can read more about it in the draft support documentation

There's also a new scripting guide available.

Unfortunately, saved searches are broken in this beta. That'a inevitable as major new features rollout for testing.
blog  Mac  Productivity 
8 days ago
The Force Awakens Lego Game [Link]
The Force Awakens Lego Game [Link]

Every Lego lego is my favorite movie spoof. They have clever writers that feel like true super fans. The upcoming Force Awakens Lego game looks like it will be another chuckle-filled blast. Just watch the preview below which is basically a shot for shot of the movie trailer.
blog  Link 
8 days ago
HazeOver for Mac
HazeOver for Mac

HazeOver is a Mac app that dynamically dims all background windows. It feels a bit odd at first, but for most work it's a pleasant alternative to fullscreen apps. With just a bit of dimming I can still see my browser in the background or other Finder windows, but it's easy on the eyes.

HazeHover is simple but not without control. Hot keys and opacity sliders are nice options. I can turn off the effect with a hotkey or visit to my meny bar.

HazeOver is $4 on the App Store. I was provided a free promo code which I'm sure influenced my willingness to try the app. I also happen to think it's a nice addition to my Mac.

HazeOver Website
blog  Mac 
10 days ago
10 Things They Won’t Tell You About the Flint Water Tragedy. But I Will. | MICHAEL MOORE
News of the poisoned water crisis in Flint has reached a wide audience around the world. The basics are now known: the Republican governor, Rick Snyder, nullified the free elections in Flint, deposed the mayor and city council, then appointed his own man to run the city. To save money, they decided to unhook the... View Article
11 days ago
2Do and Grapefruit [Link]
2Do and Grapefruit [Link]

My cohost is cruising for a new task manager so we discuss 2Do for Mac and iOS on the latest Nerds on Draft episode. We share a bunch of tips for using the app but also discuss general principles of managing information. We also drink a terrific Agave and Grapefruit IPA.
blog  NOD  Link 
13 days ago
Stenciltown 2.0 [Link]
Stenciltown 2.0 [Link]

OmniGraffle is one of the most generally useful apps on my Mac and iOS devices. The Omni Group is dramatically improving the app through third party stencils available through their "Stenciltown." Version 2.0 adds options to upload and bookmark stencils. Check out the embedded video below:
blog  Link  Mac  iOS 
13 days ago
VMWare Fusion Might be End of Life [Link]
VMWare Fusion Might be End of Life [Link]

Doesn't look good for anyone that depends on Fusion. They laid off their development team. I have to wonder if this means anything about the PC market. I'm no analyst but I do remember when everyone had to have VMWare or Parallels as a Mac owner.

By way of Twitter
blog  Link 
15 days ago
Oddments 2015.txt [Link]
Oddments 2015.txt [Link]

This is a pretty great list. From one of my favorite beers to a sausage club there's something for every oddball in your life.

For more Dr. Bunsen classics, see such titles as Whisky Analysis or Coffee Experiments.
blog  Link 
15 days ago
On Kindness [Link]
On Kindness [Link]

By Cord Jefferson:

"Sometimes people are mean, and sometimes things will be hard. One of your jobs is to try and make sure that that never makes you mean and hard, too."

Then later:

If you’re ever interested in feeling as if you’re on the verge of losing your mind, you need complete only a two-step process:

Find a way to give someone you love deeply a life-threatening disease, and

While your loved one is at home battling death, stand in a restaurant line behind a person complaining loudly that their burrito came with sour cream, even though they asked for no sour cream, and they guess they’ll just eat it with the sour cream, even though the calories, but maybe they should get a discount now, or, like, a soda?
blog  Link  Humanity 
15 days ago
Here's Why You Shouldn't Put Your Baby Photos Online [Link]
Here's Why You Shouldn't Put Your Baby Photos Online [Link]

An interesting study in privacy awareness:

A context-aware approach to privacy is something that seems to have eluded companies like Facebook, Google, Flickr, Instagram, Snapchat and others. They promise secrecy and control, but what they really should be doing is making sure that people know what they can expect—to let them actually understand the ways in which your data might get shared.

I think for many people that's a big gap. It's not that someone will break into Flickr and steal your private photos. The problem is not understanding the permissions you grant.
blog  Link 
17 days ago
Full Color 3D Paper Printer [Link]
Full Color 3D Paper Printer [Link]

This is just incredible. Let's hope that $10,000 price tag works it's way down to something in reach of more people. This looks so fun and the examples are unreal.
blog  Link 
19 days ago
Find a Process on Your Mac
Find a Process on Your Mac

Little Snitch for the Mac is both great and terrible. It's great because I know exactly what apps are doing with my network. It's terrible because there are a lot of legitimate processes making calls home that freak me out. For example, the "apsd" process started showing traffic in Little Snitch. I decided to temporarily allow it while I investigated further.

I could just block everything, but setting blanket rules in Little Snitch can cause frustratingly complex problems. I'd rather make intelligent decisions. I use two very good resources for finding a Mac service by name and getting more info about what it does.

MacInside.info

Triviaware

Both of these sites seem a little old and perhaps not well maintained. I also can't vouch for anything they are trying to sell. But, they do have a huge browsable list of Mac related system processes. If I find a reference, I then add a note to my Little Snitch rule.

Another great reference source is the built in man pages available through the Mac terminal. Just punch in man apsd to get a pretty reasonable description of the process.
blog  Mac  Security 
19 days ago
Nerds on News [Link]
Nerds on News [Link]

On episode 57 of Nerds on Draft Jeff and I discussed how we get news in the absence of our beloved Zite. We also drowned our sorrows with a delicious Bitches Brew from Dogfish Head.
blog  NOD  Link 
21 days ago
2Do for iOS Adds Task Emailing and Sleep
2Do for iOS Adds Task Emailing and Sleep

This week's update to 2Do for iOS is really clever. The new task email integration is exactly what I'd want if I were in the market for a new task manager (which I'm not). Routing emails to someone else's servers to create tasks with them, 2Do for iOS connects directly to your own IMAP email and scans for messages to create tasks from. The "capturing" rules have a lot of options for parsing addresses, flags and subject lines. It can also tag tasks as they are created and process the message out of the inbox when it's done. This keeps everything on your device and in your own email service. That sounds pretty good.

They also added task sleeping based on tags. It effectively hidess all tasks with a given tag from views. It's a nice way to clear out a bunch of stuff when feces is flying. Unfortunately, it doesn't pause due alarms so it's not going to keep you from hearing about you lost dreams of efficiency.
blog  Productivity  iOS 
23 days ago
OmniFocus GTD Intro [Link]
OmniFocus GTD Intro [Link]

This Omnigroup GTD intro is like a Cliffs Notes for Getting Things Done. While it describes GTD in the context of OmniFocus, it's actually a pretty good intro to GTD concepts. I never even noticed the link at the top of their guest post series Inside OmniFocus.
blog  Productivity  Link 
23 days ago
SmartSheets Adds Support for In-line Images [Link]
SmartSheets Adds Support for In-line Images [Link]

Smartsheet is exactly what the name implies; It's a smart spreadsheet that goes way beyond lists. As someone that makes a living as a project manager I think SmartSheet is just great. I also put my money where my mouth is and pay $16 per month to use it.

This week's update adds support for in-line images on rows.

More than any other tool I use, SmartSheet is actually enjoyable and helps me solve real problems. The iOS apps aren't great, but in a web browser, it's a truly impressive accomplishment.

I have an affiliate link to try it and help pay for the stuff I write here.
blog  Link  Productivity 
24 days ago
The Hit List Updated for iPad [Link]
The Hit List Updated for iPad [Link]

The Hit List has been around for ages but it looks like Karelia has been pushing it forward since acquiring it. The latest release adds support for all of the modern iOS 9 features like 3D Touch and iPad Multitasking. The Hit List isn't the application I use but it looks to be a top competitor in the task manager arena.
blog  iOS  Link  Productivity 
24 days ago
Schwartz For Graphics Code
Schwartz For Graphics Code

Everything from Todd Ditchendorf is so unique and thoughtful. His groundbreaking app Fluid is known by every longtime Mac user. Todd continues to impress with his new apps too. Schwartz is a vector graphics app that automatically generates templated code in a variety of languages. As with everything under the Celestial Teapot umbrella, Schwartz is also inexpensive at only $10.

Here's a great intro to using Schwartz to create SVG graphics for Safari pinned tabs.

Schwartz|Mac App Store|$10
blog  Mac  Design  Programming 
26 days ago
The Missing 11th of the Month [Link]
The Missing 11th of the Month [Link]

What a fantastic analysis of the mistakes robots make

On November 28th, 2012, Randall Munroe published an xkcd comic that was a calendar in which the size of each date was proportional to how often each date is referenced by its ordinal name (e.g. “October 14th”) in the Google Ngrams database since 2000. Most of the large days are pretty much what you would expect: July 4th, December 25th, the 1st of every month, the last day of most months, and of course a September 11th that shoves its neighbors into the margins. There are not many days that seem to be smaller than the typical size. February 29th is a tiny speck, for instance. But if you stare at the comic long enough, you may get the impression that the 11th of most months is unusually small. The title text of the comic concurs, reading “In months other than September, the 11th is mentioned substantially less often than any other date. It’s been that way since long before 9/11 and I have no idea why.” After digging into the raw data, I believe I have figured out why.
blog  Link 
27 days ago
The Resolution of the Bitcoin Experiment [Link]
The Resolution of the Bitcoin Experiment [Link]

From Mike Hearn:

Think about it. If you had never heard about Bitcoin before, would you care about a payments network that: Couldn’t move your existing money Had wildly unpredictable fees that were high and rising fast Allowed buyers to take back payments they’d made after walking out of shops, by simply pressing a button (if you aren’t aware of this “feature” that’s because Bitcoin was only just changed to allow it) Is suffering large backlogs and flaky payments … which is controlled by China … and in which the companies and people building it were in open civil war? I’m going to hazard a guess that the answer is no.
blog  Link 
27 days ago
A Great Review of Interact [Link]
A Great Review of Interact [Link]

This is a really good review that covers a lot of the Interact features.
blog  iOS  Link 
28 days ago
Interact for iOS
Interact for iOS

Agile Tortoise, makers of Drafts app for iOS, just released a new contact manager. I've been on the beta for a while and I'll be honest, it took me some time to appreciate what it does.

The revelation for me was to think of Interact more as an extension than an app. If you've ever used a natural language calendar to create appointments, Interact is like that for contacts. Just send some text with contact data into Interact and it does all the parsing for you.

If you want to explicitly add some information it's also super easy in Interact. Just select the text and then assign it to a contact field.

Interact is $5 right now and I think it's nice.

Get the Drafts actions for added awesomeness.
blog  iOS 
28 days ago
Is Sublime Text 3 Worth The Upgrade
Is Sublime Text 3 Worth The Upgrade

$70 is a lot of money for a text editor but I think this article makes a pretty good case for taking the leap. It's my primary working tool on both Windows and the Mac. I think it's great and I think it's worth the price.
blog  Sublime  Link 
29 days ago
Default Folder X 5 for Mac Available
Default Folder X 5 for Mac Available

This week marks the official release of Default Folder X 5 for the Mac. I've used this app every day for at least 5 years. Maybe 10. Who knows. It's just a standard part of every Mac I own. Version 5 (a paid upgrade) has a ton of minor fixes and some new major features.

The new Finder shelf is terrific. Click the button (or keyboard shortcut) to reveal the drawer below any Finder window. Drag files in to have them available as long as you need. It's a featured borrowed from PathFinder but it's extremely convenient when moving files around.

The real reason to use Default Folder X is for what it's always done; It makes save dialogs actually useful. Not only can I configure my favorite folders and volumes to always appear in save dialogs but I configure per-app default locations and even edit meta data right from the save dialog.

The built in menu bar navigation panel is also available from any finder window. I configure my favorite locations and I always have several different "sets" of folders based on the project I'm focused on at the time. It makes the Finder 100x better for a nominal price.

This preference panel just shows a small portion of the craziness behind Default Folder. Just look at that list of actions available right from a save dialog. It's absolutely worth the price to me.
blog  Mac 
4 weeks ago
Loopback for Audio [Link]
Loopback for Audio [Link]

From Rogue Amoeba:

Take audio from your physical microphone and combine it with audio sources like iTunes or QuickTime Player. Presto! Your guests on Skype will hear your voice, as well your sound effects and musical add-ons.

Rogue Amoeba makes such cool audio software. Unparalleled in the Mac market.
blog  Mac 
4 weeks ago
Pythonista 2 Available on Monday
Pythonista 2 Available on Monday

Pythonista 2.0 is available as a free upgrade on Monday.

I haven't participated in the beta this time around but it looks like a nice upgrade. Most exciting to me is that Pythonista is the basis for Editorial and I'm hopeful we'll see the iOS 9 version soon.

Here's a nice preview PR video shared by Ole on Twitter
blog  iOS 
4 weeks ago
Pythinista 2 Available on Monday
Pythinista 2 Available on Monday

Pythonista 2.0 is available as a free upgrade on Monday.

I haven't participated in the beta this time around but it looks like a nice upgrade. Most exciting to me is that Pythonista is the basis for Editorial and I'm hopeful we'll see the iOS 9 version soon.

Here's a nice preview PR video shared by Ole on Twitter
blog  iOS 
4 weeks ago
Long Time Mac Developer Circus Ponies Shuts Down [Link]
Long Time Mac Developer Circus Ponies Shuts Down [Link]

One of the first modern Mac apps that I really loved was Circus Ponies Notebook. I bought so many copies of that app for everyone I knew with a Mac. Sad to see them go.
blog  Mac  Link 
5 weeks ago
BetterTouch Tool Goes For-Pay [Link]
BetterTouch Tool Goes For-Pay [Link]

Finally.
blog  Mac 
5 weeks ago
Visor Magnifier For iOS
Visor Magnifier For iOS

Visor is billed as an assistive app for those times when you need to read but the font, lighting, and your age make it impossible. Let's just pretend that we know other people with that problem. Or better yet, let's pretend we actually read the "fine" print on credit card statements. Here's a simple example of how effective Visor is at magnifying and inverting colors. Visor isn't intended to be used as a camera (although it does have a camera button) so these images are screen grabs of the interface. All blurriness is due to my lack of fine motor skills.

Visor is a digital magnifying glass with enhancements for reading in dim light. The magnification level (and quality) is really impressive. Even more surprising was the increased readability of text by color inversions.

But Visor is super fun if you're young and curious too.

My kid and I have a lot of fun just using Visor as a simple magnifying glass. It's easy to activate the illumination and change magnification with just your thumb. The focus snap is also easier to trigger in Visor than in the standard camera.

There are more powerful digital zoom apps on the App Store (I've tried a bunch). Visor is great at what it does, which is reading tiny print with poor lighting and playing around with my kid.

Visor for iOS | Universal | $2
blog  iOS 
5 weeks ago
The Website Obesity Crisis [Link]
The Website Obesity Crisis [Link]

Here's a funny little presentation from the creator of Pinboard, Maciej Ceglowski. There's some mild shaming but it feels mostly like desperate pleas for sanity. As computers get faster, the web gets slower and design gets worse. The Vimeo page is 2.41 MB after blocking 8 trackers.
blog  Link 
5 weeks ago
Holiday Experiments: The Wolfram Programming Language
Holiday Experiments: The Wolfram Programming Language

Weeks before my holiday vacation, I refresh a long-standing list — my "things to try" during vacation list. This very Web site began life on that list. This year is no different and I thought I'd share them as I complete them. Today's post is about the Wolfram Programming Language.

I wanted to learn at least the basics of the language because I think it's one of the most impressive achievements in general-use computing this decade and I knew very little about it. I've had a free account since it first became available.

The development environment is very similar to IPython but that's where the similarity ends for me. The language is more about programming knowledge than programming logic.

Here's an introduction to the Wolfram Language from Stephen Wolfram himself:

Here's a very basic introduction to the language:

These three courses were a solid introduction to the language and the programming style:
blog  Science  Programming 
6 weeks ago
App Santa 2015
App Santa 2015

App Santa is back and there are a lot of great apps on sale.
blog  iOS 
7 weeks ago
The North Carolina town that's scared of solar panels, revisited
Turns out they aren't kooky, they're just getting screwed over again.
7 weeks ago
Nerds, Beers, and Gifts [Link]
Nerds, Beers, and Gifts [Link]

This Nerds on Draft episode may cost you some money. Jeff and I talked about gift ideas based on stuff we like. The list has everything from a cedar oil to a nice new mouse. Most of it is from Amazon so you still have time to get it before the holidays end.
blog  NOD 
8 weeks ago
Advanced CSV for Sublime Text
Advanced CSV for Sublime Text

The Advanced CSV package for Sublime Text just saved me a ton of time today. It's spectacular. If you have a huge unwieldy block of CSV text but want to just select a single column, this is the way to go.

Before anyone suggest opening in Excel, go ahead and try to do it with data that looks even remotely like a date. Excel forces it to become a new date string. CSV is simple and this package makes me feel good.

And if you want some test data to play with, here's a handy little table generator.
blog  Sublime 
8 weeks ago
Antonin Scalia, Affirmative Action Pick.
During the nomination process for Sonia Sotomayor, Republicans consistently argued that she was only chosen because she was a Latina, even though she had more judicial experience than any justice
cur
politics 
9 weeks ago
Uncanny Valley Video [Link]
Uncanny Valley Video [Link]

This is a terrific Vimeo short film. It's high quality and tells an entire story in undfer 9 minutes.
blog  Link  Humanity 
9 weeks ago
Harry Potter on Audible [Link]
Harry Potter on Audible [Link]

About damn time. I've been so looking forward to this. This is a situation where membership is totally worth it.
blog  Books  Link 
9 weeks ago
Dropbox Ends Mailbox And Carousel
Dropbox Ends Mailbox And Carousel

I'm either a fortune teller or it was completely obvious that Dropbox has been meandering for the past two years. Today they announced an end to both Carousel and Mailbox. I never understood how Mailbox sold more Dropbox subscriptions. Carousel made more sense but I never got behind Dropbox as my photo service because it was just too expensive for what the value it provided to me. What a bummer for users of those products.

These experiments are why I continue to be nervous about Dropbox as the only viable syncing solution on iOS. If that goes, we all down with it.
blog  iOS  Mac 
9 weeks ago
The Hidden Convenience in iOS 9
The Hidden Convenience in iOS 9

I'm sold. iOS 9 is the best OS Apple has ever made since OS 6. As usual, the documentation is the weakest part of the product. Every week I find some new reason to love my big phone. This week I discovered two revolutionary, if hidden, features.

Annotate And Mail

I measure the success of iOS by how many times I don't have to put down my phone. Last week I received a request to complete a contract and sign it. As I fumbled through how I could do this on my phone I discovered a curious little extension called "Markup and Reply."

Tap and hold a PDF attachment in Mail for iOS to activate the extension panel. Tap the Markup and Reply button to immediately open the PDF without leaving Mail. When I tap the "Done" button then the newly annotated version of the PDF is sitting in a reply email ready to send (tip: You can change the recipient so it's a forward instead of a reply).

The annotation tools aren't very sophisticated but what I do get is access to my signatures created on my Mac. Adding text is mildly annoying with limited maximum zoom but still quite usable. I have no idea how this magic works. I just accept that it does and it's pretty great.

Flights in Mail

I mostly use Fantastical as my iOS calendar app so this one took me awhile to discover. When viewing calendar invites in Apple's Calendar for iOS I noticed flight dates were automatically parsed from me email accounts and added as potential appointments in the inbox. These Weren't calendar invites in the traditional sense. They were HTML emails with flight details. The calendar has them ready to schedule.

The entire process is remarkably intelligent too. It captures all of the necessary detail from the flight ticketing information and exact flight time include timezone offset (which was not in the email) while providing a direct link back to the email. I don't know how many different airline emails Mail and Calendar recognize and parse, but even one is impressive. Two will be a downright miracle.

These are both minor accomplishments in the grand scheme of my working life, but these are the sorts of problems that really create distractions. Form Reminders and Notes to Siri integrations, iOS 9 has been removing a lot of sand from my shorts and I'm thrilled with the reduced friction.
blog  iOS  Productivity 
9 weeks ago
Access Denied - The Awl
RT @mathowie: Herman hits another one out of the park. A phenomenal look at the massive shifts in every aspect of Media happening
politics 
9 weeks ago
Why Education Does Not Fix Poverty [Link]
Why Education Does Not Fix Poverty [Link]

An interesting study, the data of which, I have not verified.

If the poverty rates for each educational bin remained the same, then the upward redistribution of adults from the lower bins to the higher bins would have led to lower overall poverty. But that's not what happened.

Later:

The big things that cause poverty for adults over the age of 25 in a low-welfare capitalist society—old-age, disability, unemployment, having children—do not go away just because you have a better degree.

I'll also throw in that an education can also generate significant debt by the time you are 25.
blog  Humanity  Politics  Link 
10 weeks ago
Word and Other Counts [Link]
Word and Other Counts [Link]

From this analysis on the Candler Blog is an interesting way to think about writing.

Should I tweet less? Probably, but I’m already doing that to little effect. So what’s the solution?

I'd go one question deeper. So what's the problem we're trying to solve?
blog  Link 
10 weeks ago
That Syncing Feeling
That Syncing Feeling

In the beginning we had islands of data. What was on our computer stayed on our computer. What was on our Treo stayed on its chubby little atoll. Then we had SD cards and USB drives to float between islands. Eventually we got Dropbox syncing and it felt like the future. Every document I wanted was available to me on any computer with an Internet connection. Fast forward and it's started to feel like we settled a little too soon.

Dropbox is still one of the best services for syncing files but the pricing feels out of whack. It also feels like syncing and file storage is no longer a top priority for a company collecting email, note-taking and text narration applications. But here we are and 95% of iOS apps rely on Dropbox, or worse iCloud, for data syncing.

It's rare that WebDAV or SFTP is even an after thought. App makers that can afford it build their own solutions. The Omni Group and Panic both have fantastic syncing options but they live on servers out of my control. OmniPresence provides a mechanism for syncing through my own WebDAV server but only Omni apps support it on iOS. It's great but it is its own island.

In my use, iCloud is not a good alternative to Dropbox. iCloud syncing is opaque. There's no indication of success or failure. There's no troubleshooting. Performance is unpredictable and wildly variable. There's no consistency of where I can find my files. In many ways it's the anti-Dropbox and I've learned to be careful of what I wish for. I also can't help but wonder where we'd be if Dropbox decided it was more valuable to buy cool tools than to compete in the file syncing space.1

We're almost a decade into the era of the everywhere-computer and I'm emailing myself sensitive documents.2 I'm bouncing between my pocket computer and my desktop computer to file a loan application or search through my medical records because I don't trust iCloud technology or Dropbox security.

I guess I just want more options and more competition for data syncing. Amazon Cloud Sync is nice but I'm not aware of any apps that integrate with it. The number of apps that support Box.net syncing could barely form a baseball team. SFTP and WebDAV are still a thing too, but not as an integrated syncing solution. Even my beloved NAS, Synology, is leaning harder on external syncing solutions than providing API access for app makers. Data syncing may be the most critical aspect of modern computing and we've settled too easily for the most convenient solution.

Now excuse me while I shoo these damn kids off of my lawn.

To be fair to Dropbox, they did just update their API. ↩

Regardless of what you think of the Dropbox board, and I do think it was a terrible PR move, their privacy policy is very readable. ↩
blog  Security  Mac  iOS 
10 weeks ago
Sublime Text Bundle on Sale [Link]
Sublime Text Bundle on Sale [Link]

I already own most of these and they are really good if you use Sublime Text a lot. 60% off is a good deal and I'm not sure how long it will last.
blog  Link 
10 weeks ago
Recreating Studio Ghibli in Minecraft [Link]
Recreating Studio Ghibli in Minecraft [Link]

Remember when people were talking about whether video games were art? I think that conversation is long over. This is some stunning work. Here's just one example where the world of Princess Mononoke is recreated in Minecraft:
blog  Link 
10 weeks ago
Inside the Plot to Kill J.F.K. [Link]
Inside the Plot to Kill J.F.K. [Link]

From David Talbot at Salon:

To Morales, Kennedy was “that no good son of a bitch motherfucker” who was responsible for the deaths of the men he had trained for the Bay of Pigs mission. “We took care of that son of a bitch, didn’t we?” Morales told his attorney, Robert Walton, in 1973, after an evening of drinking loosened the CIA hit man’s tongue. It was one more confession that the media ignored, even after it was reported by one of their own, Gaeton Fonzi, a Philadelphia investigative journalist who, after going to work for the House Select Committee on Assassinations, unearthed some of the most important information related to the Kennedy case.

There's so much here that's scary but the scariest part is that it was a stepping stone toward the America we have now and very few people know what kind of America we actually have now. I think Eisenhower what was coming for us.

I sure do hate feeling like a kook.
blog  Link  Politics 
11 weeks ago
Procreate and Apple Pencil from David Lanham [Link]
Procreate and Apple Pencil from David Lanham [Link]

I just love seeing this stuff. Here's one of my favorite artists showing that the tools don't make the artist. It's impressive what someone with talent can do. I expect to see a lot more cool stuff created with the Apple Pencil and iPad Pro.
blog  Apple  Link  Hardware 
11 weeks ago
An Open Letter to Tinder’s Sean Rad from Vanity Fair’s Nancy Jo Sales
The writer responds to Sean Rad’s comments to the London Evening Standard.
11 weeks ago
This is How AK-47s Get to Paris
France bans most guns. So where did the Paris attackers get their assault weapons?
12 weeks ago
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