SummerFest 2022: The Festival Of Artisanal Software (Sponsor)

My thanks to SummerFest for sponsoring MacSparky this week. SummerFest 2022 is a terrific collection of some of my favorite and very useful Mac software. During SummerFest, they’re offering a super summer discount off some spectacular research and writing apps. Some of my favorites you can try for yourself at 25% include:

  • DEVONthink 3 – one of the most powerful research / artificial intelligence / do-anything-with-your-files apps
  • HoudahSpot – faster than Finder and better than Spotlight
  • Scrivener – so good for research-intensive writing

SummerFest doesn’t actually last all summer, so be sure to check out these and other apps at the SummerFest 2022 website before this sale ends.

Four Months with the Nimalist AirTag Wallet

In March, I was hunting for a better AirTag Wallet, and a friend showed me his Nimalist AirTag Wallet. I liked the way it looked and even ordered one while on-air recording the Mac Power Users.

My wallet eventually arrived (it took several weeks), and I’ve been using it exclusively since then. (By “exclusively”, I mean whenever I carry it when I leave the house, which does not happen every day.)

The wallet has three card slots, a transparent holder on the back for your ID, a cash pocket on top, and a receipt pocket on top. (In the official picture, they’ve got a Goldman card in that slot. Fancy.) The credit card slots are big enough to put two cards in one slot. (I’ve got my insurance and health savings account card in one.) Nevertheless, they are sufficiently grippy inside that I’m not worried about losing anything. I had a session of vigorous upside-down shaking before taking the below photos, and nothing came loose. For your Apple AirTag, there is a stitched circular slot with a button on the top to hold it in place. The button has stayed … well … buttoned since I first set it up.

The “Official” Image of the Nimalist AirTag Wallet

The leather quality doesn’t match the leather in the Apple wallet, but the Nimalist is less expensive. There is RFID shielding, and despite holding four cards, cash, my ID, and other bits of detritus along with a chunky Apple AirTag, it feels pretty slim in my pocket.

The Nimalist Wallet purchase was interesting for me for a few reasons. First, I didn’t do any research. It looked nice and I ordered one. Usually, I sweat the details on something as personal as a wallet a lot more. Second, I’ve had many emails from listeners and Labs members about this purchase. Several folks followed me down the path. Most feedback has been positive. Some of it has been negative. Some complained that their wallet isn’t holding up for them.

Mine is starting to show small bits of wear. My prior Apple Wallet was built much better and I expect that I won’t be using this wallet in a few years, but it doesn’t look bad either. It’s only been four months, and I haven’t been gentle with it. The wallet serves the dual purposes of 1) holding my stuff and 2) being admirably AirTag trackable. At $50, I’m happy enough with it. Ideally, I’d like this to last a year or two while better designs come to market (or better yet, Apple builds AirTag technology into their own wallet sans the bump. Below is a gallery showing the current status of my Nimalist Wallet.

This Month in The MacSparky Labs

I am enjoying The MacSparky Labs so much. I’ve traded all the time I used to spend being a lawyer to generate additional content, and let me tell you, this is a lot more fun than that. Below is a list of the content in the Labs from June. I’d love for you to join me.

  • 2022-06-30 – Deep Dive on Mid-Year Planning (Level 3)
  • 2022-06-29 – Text Capture via Shortcut (Levels 1-3)
  • 2022-06-28 – Rethinking Email, Part 1 (Levels 2-3)
  • 2022-06-27 – Mid-Year Reflection Planning and Review Podcast (Levels 1-3)
  • 2022-06-26 – Video previews for Early Access Subscribers (Level 3)
  • 2022-06-26 – Mid-Year Planning and Reflection Session Details (Level 3)
  • 2022-06-24 – The Lab Report (Levels 1-3)
  • 2022-06-23 – Triggering a Focus Mode via Calendar Event (Level 3)
  • 2022-06-22 – iPad Status Board, Part 2 (Levels 1-3)
  • 2022-06-21 – Duplicate Calendar Event to “Busy Calendar Shortcuts (Levels 2-3)
  • 2022-06-20 – WWDC State of the Platform Summary (Levels 1-3)
  • 2022-06-17 – The Lab Report Podcast (Levels 1-3)
  • 2022-06-16 – iPadOS Deep Dive (Level 3)
  • 2022-06-15 – Using AppleScript to Jump to a Specific Mailbox in Apple Mail (Levels 2-3)
  • 2022-06-10 – Details on iPadOS Deep Dive (Level 3)
  • 2022-06-10 – WWDC Virtual Meetup (Levels 1-3)
  • 2022-06-09 – Project Creation with Craft, OmniFocus, and Shortcuts (Levels 2-3)
  • 2022-06-09 – WWDC Virtual Meetups (Levels 1-3)
  • 2022-06-07 – WWDC Day Two Report and WWDC Virtual Meetup Links (Levels 1-3)
  • 2022-06-06 – WWDC Day One Podcast and Photos (Levels 1-3)
  • 2022-06-05 – Reporting in from Cupertino (Levels 1-3)
  • 2022-06-03 – Lab Report Podcast (Levels 1-3)
  • 2022-06-02 – Creating Animated Hand-Drawn Slides for Keynote (Levels 2-3)

The Worst Default Setting on the Mac

Found under the Mission Control System Preference, “Automatically rearrange Spaces based on recent usage” takes any Spaces you’ve set up and scrambles them every time you open a new app. So it just adds a bit of chaos to your day. I’ll never understand why this is turned on by default.

P.S. I just checked. It’s also turned on by default with a macOS Ventura install.

Shortcuts for Mac Webinar Series

I’m starting a five-part webinar series this Friday for the Shortcuts for Mac Field Guide, Plus Edition customers. If you signed up for that course you should have received an email with a sign-up link. I’ve also added the sign-up link to the course under the “Shortcuts Webinars” Section. Let me know if you have any problems.

The Webinars will be new materials on Shortcuts for Mac. All of the webinars will be edited and added to the course. So if you can’t make the webinars, you’ll still get all the content as part of the Shortcuts For Mac Field Guide, Plus Edition content.

MacSparky RSS Feeds

I’ve been working on the RSS Feeds. Now there are three of them.

The Main RSS Feed

This feed gets you everything. It includes the MacSparky Labs posts as well, but you’ll only see content in those posts matching up with your membership level.

The Main Feed Without MacSparky Labs Posts

I publish a lot of content for the MacSparky Labs Members. If you don’t want to see any of that, use this feed.

MacSparky Labs Feeds

I have custom feeds for each level of the MacSparky Labs. These are generated individually for each Member. If you are a MacSparky Labs member…

You don’t have access to this RSS feed..

M2 Macs

Mark Gurman recently reported there are four M2 Macs in the works.

  • an M2 Mac mini.
  • an M2 Pro Mac mini.
  • M2 Pro and M2 Max 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros.
  • the M2 Ultra and M2 Extreme Mac Pro.

These are all rumors, but to play along, if this is true, that would mean the M2 generation is not going to be used to update the entire line. Missing from the list was the iMac and the Mac Studio. I could see a world where Apple decides to skip generations on some of its hardware and lets the iMac and Mac Studio wait for the M3.

I don’t know all the intricacies of production and global supply chains, and maybe they wouldn’t have a choice. Nevertheless, I hope Gurman is wrong. Now that Apple is in control of the chips and the hardware, I would prefer Apple to upgrade all their hardware with each generation.

Mid-Year Reflection and Planning

As we are about to leave June and enter July, we’re hitting the halfway point for 2022. It’s hard to believe we are halfway through 2022. This is particularly true for me with so much change in my life. I’ve now been a full-time MacSparky for six months and I consider this mid-year turn an excellent time to reflect and plan. I’d encourage you to do the same.

There is nothing magical about going from June to July. It’s another day, like any other. However, there is something special about calendar transitions like mid-year and new-year that gets in our heads and makes us all more reflective and more amenable to stepping back, taking stock, and making changes. I prefer planning in quarters, not years or half-years, but the mid-year transition works on me too. I have a system for this sort of thing, and I’d like to share it with you.

Reflect, Then Plan

I want to draw your attention to how I’ve named this: Mid-Year Reflection and Planning. It is all about reflection (which is first) and planning (which is second). So often, you’ll read about these planning sessions that omit reflection. That’s dumb. Attention to your past is how you improve your future. My best plans have always sprung from careful observation of my past. Whether you do this with pen and paper or on a keyboard, I think it is easier to keep reflection and planning as one thing together instead of two separate things.

The Roles Audit

I’ve written extensively about this before. The foundational building blocks of my life are the roles I serve: Husband, Father, Brother, Friend, MacSparky, and Student are a few I’ve identified. If you are curious, I suggest reading this.

Regardless, my mid-year review starts with an examination of my roles. For each, I have a few open-ended questions:

  • How am I doing? (reflection-based question)
  • Where can I get better? (planning-based question)
  • Where am I doing good? (planning-based question)

The questions are simple, but the answers are not. Take as much time as you need to empty your head concerning each one. Examining each role is a critical first step for me. This takes me a few hours.

Consider Challenges

Next, I like to spend time on challenges that I’ve faced and challenges that I expect.

I start by reflecting on the challenges thus far, and I ask a few questions for each:

  • Could I have predicted it?
  • Did I ever lose my cool?
  • How did I handle it?
  • How would I have done it better?

Then I turn my attention to the rest of the year and consider if I expect any challenges heading my way. For each one, I have a list of questions:

  • How likely is it?
  • Can I avoid it?
  • What steps can I take right now to avoid it or make it easier?
  • How can I turn the challenge into an opportunity?
  • What is the worse potential outcome from this challenge?

All these questions probably make sense to you except the last one about the worse potential outcome. I’ve discovered that fear of the unknown is much more painful than knowing a potential challenge or bad outcome. Imagining the worse outcome settles me and (usually) helps me avoid it.

Next Look at Project and Habits

Projects and habits are up next for me. In my mind, projects and habits are on an equal footing. Both are how I move forward.

As to Projects, I begin looking at what I’ve shipped so far in the year. For each, I consider:

  • How did it go?
  • What would I do differently if I had the chance?
  • How were my time estimates?
  • Did anything unexpected happen that I should have seen?
  • Should I do projects like that again or steer clear?

Then I look forward and consider projects for the rest of the year. For each, I consider:

  • What is the deliverable?
  • What are my expectations for the time required?
  • When on the calendar will I do that work? Have I made time for it?
  • Do I need help?
  • What are my expectations for the results of shipping this?
  • Is there anything else in the world I could be doing to better serve the cause?

Habits work the same way.

  • What Habits am I actively working on?
  • How’s it going?
  • Is this still a thing I should be working on?
  • How can I get better at it?
  • What Habits am I unknowingly creating?
  • What should I do about it?

After this, I take an overview of the roles, challenges, projects, and habits with the gut check bandwidth questions:

  • Am I doing too much?
  • What here should I throw overboard?

Hooray! Let’s Start Planning

If you did all of the above, the planning part is easy. Now you know where the role changes are needed, the challenges to be faced down, the projects and habits to nurture. Now go do it.

What actions do you need to take in the next six months to make it happen? Which resources do you need to assemble? What people do you need to reach out to? How do you set yourself up to pull it off? Assemble the troops and make your plans.

Is there a Theme?

My friends Myke Hurley and CGP Grey have themes (and theme journals) to help you simplify the process and make progress on what’s important to you. It’s a great idea that doesn’t land with me. Somewhat related, I do try and observe trends.

For example, looking back at my last six months, it’s clear that the big word for me was “transition”. I made significant changes in my life, and a lot of it was new. I saw transition every day. “Change” and me became close friends.

Looking forward, I expect more transition, but I can also see consolidation becoming a thing as I nail down the workflows to deliver more and better content and (hopefully) complete and move into a new studio space. You could call these themes, but they feel more like trends to me. I’m not choosing them so much as I observe them as they grow out of my decisions concerning my roles, challenges, projects, and habits.

Is All of This Worth the Time

100% Yes! People write to me asking how much time I spend on this stuff and if I wouldn’t be better off spending the time doing “actual” work. In my experience, reflection and planning time is always worth it. You have to experience this for yourself to believe it, but why don’t you take a shot right now? Go through the above questions. Do the work. Make plans. Then see where you are on New Year’s Eve.

The Newton and What Could Have Been

Image from 9to5 Mac

All of us nerds are enjoying the appearance of the alternate timeline Apple Newton in season 3 of For All Mankind. Filipe Espósito chased down the details at 9to5 Mac. It turns out they just made a Newton-ish case to go over the top of an iPhone 12 Pro Max.

If you’re curious about the Newton, Stephen Hackett, unsurprisingly, has the details. I actually feel like the Newton was a lot closer to its original vision right before Steve Jobs gave it the ax on his return. Granted, Apple was on the ropes and had to get extremely focused at the time and you can’t really argue with the results.

Either way, the Newton, and the idea of the Newton influenced a lot of our thinking on the future portable devices and it will always have a warm place in my heart. It’s nice to see it flourishing in an alternative fictional timeline.

Also, seeing that adorable rainbow logo made me want Apple to bring it back even more.

iWork Updates

We got some nice updates to the iWork suite this week:

  • Mailing Lists are back in Pages after a nine-year hiatus.
  • New templates were added for event invitations and student certificates.
  • Keynote now has dynamic backgrounds that move subtly underneath your slides.
  • Keynote now lets you skip (or unskip) collapsed groups of slides.
  • Numbers is better at inserting rows and columns in large tables.

You can download the updates in the various App Stores. All of this is good (particularly the mail merge) but also demonstrates further why Apple should split more of its productivity apps out of the core operating systems and make them independent apps with independent teams.