Mac Power Users 500: David in the Hot Seat

Stephen marks the 500th episode of Mac Power Users by interviewing me about my career, technology, and choice of light saber color.

This episode of Mac Power Users is sponsored by:

  • eero: Get your WiFi fixed as soon as tomorrow! Free overnight shipping.

  • 1Password: Have you ever forgotten a password? You don't have to worry about that anymore.

  • The Omni Group: We're passionate about productivity for Mac, iPhone, and iPad.

Automators 32 - Shortcuts and iOS 13

The latest episode of Automators is posted. In it Rose and I cover the breakdown of how Shortcuts will fit into iOS 13.0 and 13.1, some of our favorite new shortcuts, and the looming release of the Shortcuts Field Guide next week.

Sponsors include:

  • PDFpen, from Smile : The ultimate tool for editing PDFs on the Mac.

  • Zapier: The easiest way to automate your work. Start your 14-day free trial today.

  • Backblaze: Unlimited cloud backup for Macs and PCs for just $6/month.

The Terminal with Terpstra

There are a lot of great resources out there if you want to learn about using Terminal on your Mac. One of my favorites is a collection of posts by Brett Terpstra called “Bash Fun”. You could easily spend an afternoon combing through Brett’s posts. Maybe a fun project for this weekend?

Plan Your Next Project with inShort (Sponsor)

This week MacSparky is sponsored by inShort (website) (Mac App Store) (iOS App Store). inShort is a project planning application for the Mac, iPhone, and iPad that lets you plan projects and processes graphically across all of your Apple devices. 

One of the more innovative features is the way it allows you to embed processes and drill down to the level of detail you need at the moment. The trick with inShort is to build a detailed diagram, and from there the application creates a Gantt chart to execute your plan. If this has your interest, I recommend checking out the inShort Very Quick Guide.

inShort takes a unique approach to project planning and is worth checking out. The inShort development team has also added a satellite service, workflow.link that gives you a way to work with, edit, and manage your projects from any device with a web browser. 

Want to learn more? Check out the website and read the developer's PDF

inShort Screenshot.png

Command P as Canon

One of the most popular posts ever at MacSparky.com was all about printing to PDF with the Command-P key combination. Over the years, that post went through several iterations as Apple made small changes to the operating system. (I actually got the original idea from an old MacOSXHints post.) Regardless, I hear from folks all the time who love the Command-P print-to-PDF trick. Last week, the print-to-PDF trick became canonical when Apple included it in an article on the App Store.

If you'd like some help setting it up, here is a video.

A Few Observations on Today’s Apple Event

More than Hardware

As we all come to grips with the fact that Apple is becoming more of a services company, it was interesting to see they kicked off the event with a discussion of the television and gaming subscription services. I think the pricing on the gaming service, $5 a month, seems about right. I had no idea what to think about the television content pricing going in. It feels to me like Disney has disrupted everyone with excellent pricing for a massive amount of new and old content. In contrast, Apple is going to launch with just a few shows. Had they charged $10 a month, I would’ve felt like it was dead on arrival. Five dollars a month feels better but still strange for such a limited number of shows. The fact that they are going to bundle 12 free months with the purchase of any Apple hardware makes a ton of sense. I guess now it is up to Apple to make good programming.

Camera improvements

There was no surprise about the additional third lens on the iPhone 11 Pro. The interesting part of this presentation was the explanation of what they intend to do with that extra lens through software. The new features look cool, but I need to see them in action. I think Apple gets the fact that camera improvements drive phone sales and I don’t think they’ll lose sight of that any time soon.

Battery Life FTW

One of the announcements concerning the new iPhones was improved battery life of four hours for the small one and an additional five hours for the big one. That is a significant increase. I suspect it has a lot to do with the improvements to the processor and the way it is so aggressive with battery management. If these improvements are real, a lot of iPhone owners are going to be happy. Indeed, that may be the killer feature with the new phones if it weren’t for that slow-motion selfie camera, because …

The Slow Motion Selfie Camera is a Bigger Deal than their Nerds Think It Is

As someone who spends too much time at Disneyland, I can tell you that a lot of people take more pictures with the lens on the front of their phone than the one on the back. Those folks are going to love a slow-motion selfie. This feature will sell iPhones.

Pro Max, Really?

I like the new naming conventions of the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro. I hope that the “S” days are behind us and next year sees an iPhone 12. I do wish they had come up with something other than “Pro Max” for the big one.

Presenter Diversity

There was plenty of diversity and new faces among the presenters, and they all did great. I have to think that after Craig Federighi’s first presentation, Apple instituted some training program for their presenters. They’ve all been so reliable since, and of course, Federighi is now amazing at it. I do still have a soft spot for Phil Schiller when he gets to talk about the iPhone camera. Here’s a guy that likes talking about mobile photography … and pixel density.

That $329 iPad

A common complaint against Apple is that they do good at the high end but don’t deliver much in terms of value pricing. I would argue that one exception to this is the iPad. That new iPad, which is just $329, includes smart connector (and Smart Keyboard) support and Apple Pencil support. It looks pretty great, and you could buy three of them for what I paid for my iPad Pro. There are a lot of people that could get by just fine with this new iPad and the new iPadOS, particularly with the improvements to Safari.

Apple Can Still Surprise

Because today was a hardware event, I didn’t expect many surprises. Nevertheless, Apple delivered. The new iPhone Pro line got a new color, midnight green. (I love it, and I’m going to buy one.) It was also a surprise to me that the back on these new iPhones is a matte finish. I prefer that. Hopefully, it’s a bit more grippy and makes the phone feel less like a bar of soap.

An even bigger surprise was the fact that the new Apple Watch, Series 5 features an always-on watch face. I thought that was several years away and I am delighted that we can now get it. I had no intention of upgrading my Apple Watch this year, but now I’m in.

The iOS 13 Release Date

While it is always fun watching an Apple event, I had some low-level anxiety throughout this one. I am very nearly done with the new Shortcuts Field Guide, and I wanted to make sure it was available on day one of the iOS 13 release. They never explained in the keynote when iOS 13 is going to release, but an Apple press release sets the date as September 19, next Thursday. That’s a few more days than I was expecting, and I’ll take that. Speaking of which, the new Shortcuts Field Guide will be my biggest yet, and it is coming out great. Stay tuned.

Mac Power Users 499: Backups and Updates

Backing up our Macs, iPhones, and iPads is easier than ever, but many people don't bother making sure their data is safe and sound. On this week’s episode of Mac Power Users, Stephen and I talk through some basic backup strategies before offering some advice when considering upgrading to new versions of macOS and iOS.

This episode of Mac Power Users is sponsored by:

  • SaneBox: Stop drowning in email!

  • TextExpander from Smile: Get 20% off with this link and type more with less effort! Expand short abbreviations into longer bits of text, even fill-ins, with TextExpander from Smile.

  • Hover: Make a name for yourself. Get 10% off any domain name.

  • Squarespace: Make your next move. Enter offer code MPU at checkout to get 10% off your first purchase.

Keyboard Maestro Update

Last month saw the release of the latest major update to Keyboard Maestro. Version 9 adds several new features, including multiple editor menus, a method for extracting text from images, and dark mode. That’s just the start. They also added support for the Elgato Stream Deck, which is pretty fun. I’m going to be doing a free update to the Keyboard Maestro Field Guide adding videos on the version 9 features just as soon as I get done shipping the new Shortcuts Field Guide, which is imminent.

More on Voice Control

I’ve already written (and posted a video) on my love of macOS Catalina and iOS 13’s Voice Control accessibility feature. Steven Aquino fills in a lot more detail about the new feature on MacStories. My appreciation for Voice Control has only increased throughout the beta process. I’ve canceled my Dragon Anywhere subscription, and I’m using the feature daily for dictation. I like it so much that I find myself dictating to my iPadOS 13 iPad while I’m sitting in front of my Mojave Mac. 

The custom dictionaries still aren’t syncing between the devices. (I’m not even sure if they are supposed to sync, but that sure would be nice.) Either way, if you’re interested in voice to text, things are going to get much better with the new operating systems.

How OmniFocus for the Web Works

The Omni Group is sponsoring MacSparky this week, so I guess you can take this with a grain of salt, but I continue to be impressed with OmniFocus for the Web. For a web implementation of an iOS application, it has a lot more power than I expected. I didn't realize the way they were pulling it off.

They are running Objective-C and Swift on Mac servers that then output to the web. This isn't a simple web application. This is a Mac application driving to the internet. The OmniGroup explains in further detail at Inside OmniFocus.

The Relay Family Feud and Trophy Giveaway

Bell not included.

Bell not included.

The Relay Fifth Anniversary live show was a lot of fun. You can watch the video below. Since my team came out victorious, I find myself in possession of a precious trophy, one of only five in the world. I have, however, decided to part with it. As you may know, Relay has partnered with St. Jude to help them raise money to take care of sick children. I’m going to give my extremely rare and valuable trophy to whoever makes the biggest contribution to St. Jude between the time of this post and midnight Pacific on September 13. If you want to be considered, send me proof and write “Trophy Contest” in the email subject line. I’ll pay for shipping, so long as you are not on the moon. Wouldn’t this look nice on your desk?



Kind of Blue for 60 Years

Kind of Blue by Miles Davis, my favorite album, celebrated its 60th anniversary a few weeks ago. Below is a YouTube video explaining what makes Kind of Blue so special. Here’s an older video featuring Herbie Hancock. People disagree on the best track on the album. I’d pick “Blue in Green”. There’s something about that first note with that Harmon mute that just gets me every time.

A few years ago I did an interview with Myke Hurley where I talked about the album. Please note it was 5am when we recorded that. I was not the high jazz man I sounded like. I was just not entirely awake yet.

Either way, if you don’t own a single jazz album and were to get just one, I’d recommend Kind of Blue. I have never met anyone who didn’t enjoy it at some level.

Focused 81: Breaking the Twitch, with Anthony Ongaro

Anthony Ongaro joins us on the latest episode of Focused to talk about practical minimalism, designing an intentional life, and his multipotentialite resume, which covers everything from musician to log roller.

This episode of Focused is sponsored by:

  • FreshBooks: Online invoicing made easy.

  • Squarespace: Make your next move. Enter offer code FOCUSED at checkout to get 10% off your first purchase.

  • Daylite: Learn more about Daylite and start a free 30-day trial.

The Siri Apology

Last week, Apple issued an apology for their practice of having their contractors review Siri audio for quality control. I’m glad that they are making changes, and I appreciate the plain language in the apology. I can only imagine how much pressure there was to “lawyer” it up. I like that Apple takes privacy seriously, and if I had to bet a nickel, I would say they will learn from this experience.

That said, I hope they still figure a way out to get good feedback on Siri, including its failures. Privacy is important. Siri getting better is also important.

Mac Power Users 498: Back to School with Jake Wilson

On this week’s episode of Mac Power Users, Stephen and I chat with Jake Wilson, an elementary school principal (and a student himself), about using technology in and beyond the classroom, ranging from smart boards and shortcuts to Google Docs and waffles.

This episode of Mac Power Users is sponsored by:

  • 1Password: Have you ever forgotten a password? You don't have to worry about that anymore.

  • The Omni Group: We're passionate about productivity for Mac, iPhone and iPad.

  • Linode: High performance SSD Linux servers for all of your infrastructure needs. Get a $20 credit.

  • Squarespace: Make your next move. Enter offer code MPU at checkout to get 10% off your first purchase.

Why the iOS 13.1 Beta is a Good Thing

With the latest round of iOS 13 beta updates, Apple released iOS beta 13.1 before iOS version 13.0 was released to the general public. So right now I'm running a beta of the first update to an operating system that's not out yet. Now that Apple will be announcing new phones on September 10, I’m sure they are under a deadline to have an operating system in those new devices. Put simply, they had to cut off iOS 13.0 development and move some of the promised features to the 13.1 update.

One take on this development is that Apple blew it. I disagree. These yearly updates to the various Apple operating system are necessary to keep Apple on the cutting edge. I do not want them approaching this task from a conservative mindset. I believe it's just such a fear of missing shipping dates that, at least partly, explains why the iPad stagnated for so long.

If anything, I feel like the fact that Apple missed some of the features with the .0 release but are going to get them in the .1 release means Apple got this year about right.

Years (or even months) from now nobody's going to remember when exactly the new automation triggers for Shortcuts arrived. They will, however, be very happy that those automation tools exist.

I hope Apple doesn't take their inability to get all the features in the initial release as a sign that they need to scale back next year. Keeps pushing, Apple.