SaneBox: Do Not Disturb (Sponsor)

Do Not Disturb was nifty little sign you could hang on the doorknob of a hotel room to let other people know they weren’t supposed to knock on your door or enter your room. You can also stick out a Do Not Disturb sign on your inbox with the help of this week’s MacSparky sponsor, SaneBox. SaneBox helps you keep your email sanity, and with Do Not Disturb, you can keep the distraction of email at bay when you don’t want to be disturbed and want to concentrate on what you need to do.  

Do Not Disturb is a feature you turn on. You choose a start and stop time, and during this time, emails won’t appear in your inbox. It’s like they saw the sign hanging on your doorknob that said, “Do Not Disturb,” and they didn’t disturb you. Where did they go? The emails that you were supposed to receive during your scheduled quiet time are moved into a Do Not Disturb folder. And this is all customizable, so you can set your desired start and end dates and times.  You can also set up delivery exceptions so that if you have someone or something important you need to get through, you can enable exceptions.

Manage your inbox and reduce the interruptions throughout the day with SaneBox. See if it works for you with a free 14-day trial, and if you decide you like it, you’ll get a $10 credit you can use towards a SaneBox subscription. Spend less time on email and more time on what really matters. 

Mac Power Users 710: Apple’s Wonderlust Event

Mere hours after Apple’s iPhone 15 event, Stephen and I break down the news surrounding the iPhone 15 line, the Apple Watch Series 9, and the updated Apple Watch Ultra on this episode of Mac Power Users.

This episode of Mac Power Users is sponsored by:

  • 1Password: Never forget a password again.
  • MacPaw: Introducing Moonlock, the new cybersecurity division at MacPaw, and the upgraded CleanMyMac Malware removal module.
  • Squarespace: Save 10% off your first purchase of a website or domain using code MPU.
  • NetSuite: The leading integrated cloud business software suite. Download NetSuite’s popular KPI Checklist, designed to give you consistently excellent performance.

Focused 186: The Burden of Opportunity, with Shawn Blanc

We’ve got Focus Course creator and small business owner Shawn Blanc back on Focused to talk about margin, sabbaticals, and focusing like a boss.

This episode of Focused is sponsored by:

  • Squarespace: Save 10% off your first purchase of a website or domain using code FOCUSED.
  • Indeed: Join more than three million businesses worldwide using Indeed to hire great talent fast.
  • Zocdoc: Find the right doctor, right now with Zocdoc. Sign up for free.

Mac Power Users 709: Save Your Shift Key

On this feedback episode of Mac Power Users, Stephen and I answer listener questions and talk a bit more about window managers and backup utilities, my modern typewriter, Stephen’s new Plex server, and a lot more.

This episode of Mac Power Users is sponsored by:

  • TextExpander: 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.
  • SaneBox: Stop drowning in email!
  • Zocdoc: Find the right doctor, right now with Zocdoc. Sign up for free.
  • Electric: Unbury yourself from IT tasks. Get a free pair of Beats Solo3 Wireless Headphones when you schedule a meeting.

Is AI Apple’s Siri Moonshot?

The Information has an article by Wayne Ma reporting Apple is spending “millions of dollars a day” on Artificial Intelligence initiatives. The article is pay-walled, but The Verge summarizes it nicely.

Apple has multiple teams working on different AI initiatives throughout the company, including Large Language Models (LLMs), image generation, and multi-modal AI, which can recognize and produce “images or video as well as text”.

The Information article reports Apple’s Ajax GPT was trained on more than 200 billion parameters and is more potent than GPT 3.5.

I have a few points on this.

First, this should be no surprise.

I’m sure folks will start writing about how Apple is now desperately playing catch-up. However, I’ve seen no evidence that Apple got caught with its pants down on AI. They’ve been working on Artificial Intelligence for years. Apple’s head of AI, John Giannandrea, came from Google, and he’s been with Apple for years. You’d think that people would know by now that just because Apple doesn’t talk about things doesn’t mean they are not working on things.

Second, this should dovetail into Siri and Apple Automation.

If I were driving at Apple, I’d make the Siri, Shortcuts and AI teams all share the same workspace in Apple Park. Thus far, AI has been smoke and mirrors for most people. If Apple could implement it in a way that directly impacts our lives, people will notice.

Shortcuts with its Actions give them an easy way to pull this off. Example: You leave 20 minutes late for work. When you connect to CarPlay, Siri asks, “I see you are running late for work. Do you want me to text Tom?” That seems doable with an AI and Shortcuts. The trick would be for it to self-generate. It shouldn’t require me to already have a “I’m running late” shortcut. It should make it dynamically as needed. As reported by 9to5Mac, Apple wants to incorporate language models to generate automated tasks.

Similarly, this technology could result in a massive improvement to Siri if done right. Back in reality, however, Siri still fumbles simple requests routinely. There hasn’t been the kind of improvement that users (myself included) want. Could it be that all this behind-the-scenes AI research is Apple’s ultimate answer on improving Siri? I sure hope so.