Categories
productivity writing

Little Stones for 2019

Little Stones for 2019:

I live in New England. We have tiny stone walls criss crossing the fields and forests. There are thousands of miles of two foot tall Hobbit walls just outside my door that attest to our history as really poor farm land. When I first moved here it really struck me that every single wall was made in a time before the Bobcat excavator. Stone by stone each farmer marked the boundary of their aspirations. That seemed like a nice analogy for making and achieving goals so I revisit this idea often.

I start by marking out a rough limit for my goals, realizing that this isn’t the real work. The real work is going to be moving stones. One small stone at time.

If you noticed my site’s title, you know I appreciate how Macdrifter built this post on small stones. If you haven’t heard of him, he’s worth your time.

Categories
apple nerd productivity technology

Omni Roadmap 2018 – The Omni Group

Omni Roadmap 2018 – The Omni Group:

Welcome! Each January, we like to pause and reflect on the past year’s accomplishments and to share a roadmap of our plans for the coming year. There’s a lot to share this year—particularly about our plans for OmniFocus in 2018—so let’s dive right in!

It’s been an exciting 25 years for Omni! I’m a huge fan of their software, particularly OmniFocus for Mac and OmniFocus for iOS, and look forward to updates coming this year.

Categories
nerd productivity

xkcd – always a fave

This is why I look like a wizard when I work.

Categories
nerd productivity technology

macOS ⌘⇥ App Switcher on wrong display

Sometimes when I press ⌘⇥, the switcher pops up on the wrong display. This seems random, but I learned it isn’t.
The switcher display shows up on the last display where the Dock was active. That’s all there is to it!
The solution wasn’t hard to find, but the answer I read was on StackExchange.

Categories
nerd productivity

Is me

Emails

Categories
nerd productivity technology

No Smile Here as TextExpander Subscribes to New Business Plan

Years ago I got hooked on automation for fun and productivity, and expanding snippets of text on my Mac made me feel like a wizard.
In those early years, I waffled between Typinator and TypeIt4Me before the introduction of the iPhone. I moved to TextExpander sometime around 2010 when it began syncing with my then-new iPhone. I used it exclusively until Tuesday, April 5, when Smile Software announced the transition to a subscription plan.

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. —Proverbs 16:18 (NKJV)

The idea of a subscription model doesn’t bother me. The software is awesome and remains the only snippet expander that is widely supported by iOS app developers. Why write off more than five years of building habits and muscle memory?
The exorbitant cost.

Expanding Costs

I think I got into the game with my first purchase of Textpander 3 circa 2010 for $19.95 (after taking advantage of a $15 discount). Continuing to invest in the system, I later upgraded to version 4 for $19.95 followed by an upgrade to the last version for another $20. These purchases for my Mac were coupled with versions 3 and 4 on iOS for $4.99 each.
If you’re keeping up, that’s a total investment just a hair short of $70 to license the software for roughly five years, or about $14 a year.
Under the new subscription model, the cost is easy to project for the next five years. The charge over five years for new users paying monthly will be $297. “Loyal” users get a break for 12 months. Here is a full breakdown of subscription costs over a five-year period.

New Annual New Monthly Upgrade Annual Upgrade Monthly
$237.60 $297 $213.84 $267.36

Doesn’t Compare

Smile Software isn’t breaking any new ground with its move to a subscription model. Adobe and Microsoft also made the move, but the return on investment simply doesn’t compare.
If my memory hasn’t faded too much, major version releases of Adobe’s Master Collection arrived about every three years with an upgrade cost of $1,800. The company now charges $50/month to access the entire stable of pro editing software with regular updates, or $1,800 every three years.
Microsoft’s Office Suite used to be in the neighborhood of $400 with deep discounts for students to $150. Now, those apps are available to regular users of Office 365 for $6.99/month, or $419.40 every five years. This includes services such as free tech support, 1 TB of OneDrive cloud storage, and web versions of Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and Outlook in addition to the full desktop apps.
The cost to subscribe software from Adobe and Microsoft is comparable to the prior cost to buy boxed versions off the shelf. Based on my personal experience, the cost to subscribe to TextExpander will increase from an average of $14/year to $42.77/year, a 205.5 percent annual increase.

Technical Difficulties

There are other concerns beyond price.
Smile seems proud to drop sync services with Dropbox and iCloud to host its new Meteor app on the Galaxy cloud service. No more free to cheap, widely available, mature services available. Just the new textexpander.com. They seem to be taking Steve Jobs 2007 “very sweet solution” for developers to heart.

This was a case where history proves that Jobs wasn’t always right. Smile’s mandatory replacement locks users into a service that is arguably less secure. After fallout from the company’s initial announcement and press release, Smile Software issued a clarification the next day explaining upgrade options and the company’s intention “to support it on El Capitan and the next major upgrade of OS X.”

Alternatives

What now?
After turning off snippet expansion in TextExpander, I am adding snippets to Keyboard Maestro as needed. Keyboard Maestro is life-changing software I already owned that easily handles snippet expansion and so much more.

What Else Can Keyboard Maestro Do? Pretty much anything you can imagine including launch applications, click the mouse, palettes, execute scripts, insert text, manipulate windows, record macros, built in flow control, use text tokens, menus and buttons, open, file actions, clipboard history, control itunesnotifications, notifications, and perform image actions.

I lose syncing with iOS this way, but will just enter my oft-used snippets into the the Text Replacement features built into iOS. You can find these options on your iPhone under Settings > General > Keyboard > Text Replacement. Snippets entered here will sync with your other Apple devices, but lack form entry and support for multiple lines or paragraphs of text.
A few other options include Typinator (by ergonis) and TypeIt4Me (by Ettore Software, App Store affilitiate link) along with aText (by Tran Ky Nam Software), the cheapest alternative for a sawbuck. Ettore also offers TypeIt4Me Touch (App Store affiliate link) that syncs with iOS using iCloud.

Long Story Short…

It’s too late to keep this long story short. If you scrolled to the end, here’s the nut of it. TextExpander has priced itself out of my business and I’m using Keyboard Maestro instead.

Categories
brain life productivity

Finding Peace in Laundry

Doing laundry from start to finish can quiet a troubled mind if you set your mind to it.
I'm talking about being mindful here—completely in the task—and it works with any simple task. The methodical nature of doing laundry, washing dishes, or sweeping the floor can help quiet mental gremlins and find focus again. Change the way you think about these tasks; convert them from mindless to mindful.
Laundry provides several different ways to relax and focus completely on the task.

  • Sorting laundry: darks, whites, lights, and other stuff
  • The drone of the washer and dryer
  • The smell of clean laundry
  • Folding warm clothes

Focused folding is a ritual. When I studied aikido as a young man, my sensei taught me to fold my hakama in our dojo after practice. He referred to the careful folding process as the "Japanese press" because it would look perfect when unfolded to wear next time.
One of life's simplest pleasures is outfitting your bed with clean sheets. That luxurious feeling surprises me every time, a great way to end a day after meditating with eight loads of laundry.

Categories
life productivity writing

One Day at a Time

Because quitting addiction cold turkey can be overwhelming, counselors encourage those who struggle to take it one day at a time.
Quitting isn’t my problem today. Starting is my challenge. Though I am going against the grain to start an addition, the same advice applies.

“Every day? Maybe several times a day?! I can’t do it!”

Yes I can. I just need to take it one day at a time. If I can write one short thing today, I’ve met my goal. When I don’t post something, wallowing in anxiety doesn’t make it better; it probably makes it worse. I should just shake it off and do a better job the next day.
Cobwebs are the only thing connecting this blog to the web. Returning to a daily writing habit seems overwhelming, but I met my goal today. So far, I have doubled it! I hope to do as well tomorrow, but the world won’t end if I don’t. I’ll just try to write again the next day.

Categories
design nerd productivity writing

Necessary Distractions

Dr. Drang is fun to read for a lot of reasons and should especially appeal to my fellow nerds in the world. In a recent post titled A Free Distraction about writing and the onslaught of “distraction free writing” apps, this bit about his habits hit close to home.

I’ve tried to change my writing habits. I’ve tried to turn my brain’s internal editor off and just let the words come out, trusting myself to fix them later on. It would make writing much easier, regardless of the text editor I use. But I can’t do it.

Yep. That. I am a fiddly writer and have tried the distraction-free environments. The more designers and developers try to strip away, the harder they are for me to work in. Apps like Byword provide a happy medium, but I most often find myself doing all of my writing in a full-blown text editor (Sublime Text these days, dabbling in MultiMarkdown Composer, never a word processor a la Microsoft’s Word or Apple’s Pages).
Drop Dr. Drang’s news feed in your reader of choice for a few weeks and give it a shot. I think he’ll make the cut.

Categories
productivity technology

Geeks and Repetitive Tasks : Clark's Tech Blog

Geeks and Repetitive Tasks : Clark’s Tech Blog

Geeks and repetitive tasks

This cracks me up every time I see it. It’s so me.