November 1, 2017

Be Kind. Stop with the Leather Sleeves.

Leather Sleeve for 12‑inch MacBook - Saddle Brown - Apple

Why?

Why do we need to skin animals to make sleeves for our gizmos?

You want to create a great impression? Try carrying your MacBook in a case/sleeve which is not a byproduct of the killing of another living being. Why is that difficult? Thousands of years of evolution and this is the best we can do?

The world's best technology company and this barbaric behavior doesn't offend them?

We need to do better.

macosxguru at the gmail thingie

Rant Leather
October 30, 2017

Juicing Up the iMac With an SSD

Product Category: OWC SSD Upgrade Kits for 27-Inch iMac 2011
Product: OWC DIY Kit for 2011 iMac's factory HDD: 1.0TB... at MacSales.com

I work on an old iMac (27 inch, mid 2011). Few years ago, I upgraded the memory to 16 gigs. It is a great machine and has been chugging along without any problems. I love the big screen. It is probably the best Mac I have used. I am aware of the age of the machine and have been a little anxious, expecting something to fail soon enough.

It did. DiskWarrior 5 started giving me a warning. The gist of the message was that the hard drive was running hot and I should be careful. I started looking for a replacement drive for the machine. Internal hard drives are cheap nowadays and I was starting the initial research when Chris, my co-host of the blog, entered the conversation with a terse, "Get an SSD."

Chris is a mild, soft-spoken, gentle soul who manages to see both sides of every argument. Bugs me no end. This was a lot more emphatic than I have seen Chris in a while. I pointed out to him that the two options were not price competitive, I could get a lot more drive for a lot less money. He was oblivious to all arguments. "Get an SSD." He proclaimed again. He is a new father. I reasoned that the child must be keeping him awake and sleep deprivation might be the underlying cause behind his taciturn response. I picked up the phone and called him. Before I could get too many words out, he growled, "Get an SSD. Goodbye." He hung up.

Must be sleep deprivation on a massive scale, I thought. But I listened to him and started researching my options on an internal SSD. I don't know much about the technology. But I had heard good things about Other World Computing. So, I looked at their offerings. I was surprised at the ease of navigating to what I was looking for. They had an offering specifically designed for my machine and they had videos to show me how to get the drive swap done. The reviews were good and I couldn't find any user comments which were severely critical.

I got a 1TB SSD with their installation kit and it cost me about $400.

The package arrived and Chris showed up as requested. He is more efficient with hardware than I am. The package had a couple of suction cups, a couple of screwdrivers, and a bracket for the SSD. He took the front screen of the iMac out and then unscrewed a bunch of screws. The magnets in the iMac made this a delicate task, but everything went smoothly. Chris is a lot more patient than I am. He removed the actual display and then unhooked the hard drive and put in the new SSD and the additional bracket into the space that held the hard drive. He connected the thingies which needed to be connected and the job was done. My iMac looked the same, but it had a brand spanking new SSD as its main drive now.

I rebooted off an external system drive (Thank you, SuperDuper!), and proceeded to install High Sierra on the internal drive. I migrated stuff from the external drive and the whole process took about six hours. Most of the time was spent on the migration. I had about 500 gigs of stuff to move and the bootable external hard drive was on an USB 2 connection.

The Experience

On the iMac, restarting was a pain. I have a bunch of programs which launch automatically on restart and the process used to take a long time. Nearly ten minutes. That meant any required restart usually was accompanied by a trip to the coffee machine for a refill. Frankly, I hated restarting. When application installs made me go through a restart, I was always quite unhappy at the intrusion.

It restarts now in about 30 seconds. The first time I was aware of it, I was looking at the screen waiting for it to finish, before I realized that it was ready to go. The indicator is always Alfred. I have a ton of snippets which are in Alfred and it takes the longest to launch. I knew I was ready when the butler icon of Alfred showed up in the menu-bar. It is now practically instantaneous. You have no idea how much pleasure that gives me.

List of things that launch automatically on restart:

  1. 1Password.
  2. Cardhop.
  3. Box.
  4. Dropbox.
  5. Little Snitch 4.
  6. Short Menu.
  7. f.lux.
  8. VPN Unlimited.
  9. Tomates Time Management.
  10. Noizio.
  11. Keyboard Maestro.
  12. Hazel.
  13. Alfred.
  14. DEVONthink Sorter.

Launching apps is instant. I issue a keyboard command, through Alfred, and the app is ready to go. Some apps required more time before and those are the ones which are the most improved. Sublime Text was always quick, but BBEdit 12 was not. It is now. Ulysses? Instant. OmniOutliner? Instant. Curio? Instant. You get the idea.

Most of the new machines from Apple come with SSDs or Fusion Drives. They are fast. Older iMacs have regular hard drives. If your machine is something you want to keep and are willing to spend some money to upgrade the machine, the SSD is a great upgrade. It will feel like a new machine.

I don't do things which are processor intensive. I write. I read. I browse the web. I watch the occasional YouTube video. I write a lot. These are not processor intensive tasks. I don't need a new machine. In fact, I would be happy to get three more years of use out of this one. I am hoping that the SSD is going to make that possible.

If you are looking for an SSD upgrade check out the MacSales folks. I am happy with the kit they sold me. The videos made the scary task of opening up the iMac seem easy and it lived up to the demo. This was a great upgrade experience.

Recommended heartily.

macosxguru at the gmail thingie

Hardware iMac SSD
October 18, 2017

Anand Sanwal Shares Some Insights

Anand SanwalAnand Sanwal

Video: Anand Sanwal, CB Insights: Don't Do These 68 Things in Your SaaS Company - YouTube

I came across an interesting talk given by Anand Sanwal of CB Insights. I wanted to add my comments to the content of the talk. Give it a listen, you are going to get something out of it.

Don't take advice from non-customers

I am noticing this in the case of Bear - Notes for iPhone, iPad and Mac. Bear is a note-taking application which has a subscription model. If you pay $14.99/year you get syncing, themes and exporting options. The non-subscription version is perfectly usable if you don't care for the added benefits from subscription. It is a well-designed application which can fulfill the note-taking needs of most users.

I am following the Twitter hashtag #Bearnotesapp. There is a continuous stream of people asking for features from Bear as a condition for subscribing. It takes the form of "I would subscribe if you added the feature…" The developers of Bear should ignore these folks. They have developed a basic application with a well defined niche. Note-taking. Bear is well thought out and well designed for the category Bear is playing in.

Unfortunately for Bear, Casey Newton wrote an article in The Verge, Why I finally replaced Evernote with Bear - The Verge. The exposure was welcome but the direction was not. Evernote is a different beast than Bear. If someone wants to replace Evernote with Bear, have at it, but Bear should resist the temptation to try to become Evernote. That is not the core competency of Bear. Specifically, Bear does not have to edit images, does not have to display PDF files, does not have to support Excel pivot tables, does not have to be collaboration friendly. And please, Bear does not need to have an Android version.

Bear is primarily a markup based note-taking app. Evernote is at its base an information dump. Those are not the same thing.

My advice to Bear: Talk to existing customers. In the current dynamics of the App Store, isolating the paying user from the non-paying one is a difficult task. But that is the audience which needs to be listened to. They are the people who bought into your initial offering. They are sold. Keep them happy. Churn for them. Ignore the people who are holding back their money to see how far they can make you jump. They are going to lead you astray.

Learn from HappenApps. Quiver, initially designed as a programmer's notebook was talked up as another Evernote replacement. It is for all intents and purposes, dead. Having lost its way along with a few other problems, Quiver is sadly on maintenance mode at this point.

Don't fall in love with pedigree

Work with people who are hungry. They work harder.

Ignore their background. Focus on their skills.

Don't think you know your end market from day one

Sometimes the market is so new that it is not possible to know exactly where it is going. iA Writer is a good example of this. Started out as a single window application where the focus was on minimalism. Single window. No settings. Follow the blue cursor. Very soon, it became clear that the writers were looking for more than that. They loved the minimalism but also needed to manage their files, they needed to access folders, they needed to be able to produce content for different blogging systems. The product grew. It evolved into a fight between complexity and simplicity and iA Writer has done a great job of straddling that fine line. They have managed to enhance their product while still maintaining the focus on providing a minimalist environment for the writer to do what she was most interested in doing, writing.

Don't price based on competition

If your product is unique, the pricing should also be unique. If your product is not unique and it is a "me-too" product, don't waste my time. Go back to the drawing board and come back with an unique product.

Your price should be based on the unique set of attributes that you bring to the table. It has nothing to do with the competition.

Don't dominate conversations with customers

Listen.

Don't forget to ask for the sale

In my previous work as a political consultant, I always had to remind candidates to explicitly ask for votes. "Please vote for me." Similarly in a conversation about your product, when you are looking for a sale, be explicit. Ask for the sale.

Don't worry about competition

Worry about your product. Worry about your customers. Worry about your revenue stream. Worry about your positioning strategy. Worry about your growth. Worry about things you can control. Your competition? Don't worry about them. Be aware of them. Monitor them. But don't worry about them.

Don't try to please everyone

Please the people who pay the bills and are easy to maintain as customers. If you have high-maintenance customers who cost more money to service than they generate, send them to the competition.

I liked the talk. There are several gems you can learn from. These are the ones which stood out for me.

macosxguru at the gmail thingie

Business Marketing Pricing
September 10, 2017

Keyboard Maestro Tames Text Editors

Keyboard Maestro IconKeyboard Maestro Icon

Product: Keyboard Maestro 7.3.1: Work Faster with Macros for Mac OS X
Price: $36

Too Many Keyboard Commands to Learn

In my off time, I play with text editors. Yeah, my life is interesting. Don't judge.

Caret, has the following choices:

CaretCaret

Dark Mode has a keyboard command of ⌘;.
Focus and Typewriter modes have no keyboard commands.
The File pane has a toggle of **⌘**.

iA Writer gives you the following commands:

iA WriteriA Writer

Focus Mode has a keyboard command of ⌘D.
Typewriter Mode is ⌘T.
Night Mode is ⌃⌘N.
Show Library which is the File Pane has a toggle of ⌘E.

Bear gives you the following commands:

BearBear

Bear doesn't have a Focus Mode or Typewriter Mode. It's Night Mode is a function of the theme you are using. It however has a Library, and the keyboard command to show everything is ⌃⌥1, and it is not a toggle. The command to show only the Editor is ⌃⌥3.

Byword has a completely different set of keyboard commands:

BywordByword

Its Full Screen mode is a non-standard ⌘↵. Different from the standardized ⌃⌘F.
Paragraph Focus is ⌥⌘↵.
Line Focus is ⌃⌘↵.
Typewriter Mode is a toggle tied to ⌃⌘T.

So the four text editors each have different keyboard commands for the same function. Drives me nuts. I have a solution.

Keyboard Maestro makes it possible for me to work in each editor without any friction.

Markdown and Keyboard Maestro

I use Zettt's Markdown library for Keyboard Maestro to write Markdown. I don't worry about how keyboard commands are implemented for Markdown in each of the text editors I am working in. I use the Keyboard Maestro macros. They work the same in each of the editors and I don't have to learn anything new. Less friction for me.

Keyboard Maestro and Bear

Take Bear. The commands I am interested in here are Show Tags, Notes and Editors and Show Editor Only. Bear doesn't have a typewriter mode or focus mode or night mode and so those are not relevant. The full screen mode is also the standard ⌃⌘F. So, I don't have to worry about that either.

The Library Macro:

Bear: The Library MacroBear: The Library Macro

I like typed strings better than keyboard commands in Keyboard Maestro. Less stuff for me to remember. I type the string ,libr and all three columns show up.

The Editor Only Macro:

Bear: The Editor Only MacroBear: The Editor Only Macro

This one is to get rid of all distractions in Bear and concentrate on the Editing window. I type the string ,edit and the only thing left is the editor window. The sidebars disappear leaving me to concentrate on my words.

The Preview in Marked Macro:

Bear does not have a built in preview function. It farms out the preview to Marked 2. The command does not have a keyboard command attached. I made a typed string macro (,prma) to preview the document I am working on in Marked 2.

Bear: Preview in MarkedBear: Preview in Marked

Makes the process simple and it is easy to remember.

Keyboard Maestro and iA Writer

I am fond of iA Writer and spend a lot of time writing and editing in it.

The Focus Mode Macro

I am interested in Focus Mode in iA Writer. It has the keyboard command ⌘D. There is no way I am going to remember that.

iA Writer: Focus ModeiA Writer: Focus Mode

But I can remember ,fomo, for focus mode.

The Typewriter Mode Macro:

The next command I need is of course, Typewriter Mode. It is assigned to ⌘T, that is the system command for Open a New Tab. There is no way I am going to remember that either. We need a Keyboard Maestro macro:

iA Writer: Typewriter ModeiA Writer: Typewriter Mode

The string to type is ,tymo, for typewriter mode.

The Night Mode Macro:

iA Writer has a Night Mode. The Keyboard Maestro macro for that is:

iA Writer: Night ModeiA Writer: Night Mode

,nimo toggles Night Mode on/off in iA Writer.

The Library View Macro:

The last one is the Library view in iA Writer. Assigned to ⌘E. I don't find that intuitive. So another Keyboard Maestro macro to the rescue.

iA Writer: Library ViewiA Writer: Library View

Tied to ,libr, this toggles the Library on/off.

Keyboard Maestro Tames the Text Editors

Whenever I get a new text editor to try out, I look at the keyboard commands and then make the corresponding macros. There are a few standard commands I am interested in:

  1. Typewriter Mode ,tymo
  2. Focus Mode ,fomo
  3. Library View ,libr
  4. Editor View ,edit
  5. Night Mode ,nimo
  6. Full Screen Mode ,fsmo

The Markdown portion of the keyboard commands in each of these editors are not relevant to me. Zetts' macros take care of those. These are the ones which are specific to the text editor and I use the same typed string triggers in each of them. Standardizing on the typed strings makes it possible for me to reduce the friction of using a new text editor. It is one less thing for me to learn and it makes the process of writing easier.

These are basic macros and they are easy to create. Keyboard Maestro is a productive addition to any workflow. You can find many ways to make your life easier through this amazing application.

Keyboard Maestro is heartily recommended.

macosxguru at the gmail thingie

Keyboard Maestro Bear iA Writer Writing
August 30, 2017

Now for Something Completely Analog - a Canteen From Corkcicle

Product: Canteen – CORKCICLE.
Amazon Link: Corkcicle Canteen Waterman Collection-Water Bottle & Thermos-Triple Insulated Shatterproof Stainless Steel, 25 oz, Waterman Seafoam:Amazon:Kitchen & Dining
Price: $27.99 - $54.95

"Drink more water." I was told.

A canteen from Corkcicle is helping me achieve that goal. It keeps my cold water brisk and cold for 25 hours. I love drinking from it. It is well made. It is convenient and it does what it is supposed to do while looking good.

Brushed SteelBrushed Steel

Being boring1, I got the steel version. It is also available in some fancy colors. Check them out. Pick your color. Available in 9, 16, 25, and 60 oz versions. I got a 25 oz one.

The best water bottle I have ever used.

Some things I like about it:

  1. It has flat sides to let you hold it.
  2. It has a rubber feet to make it stable.
  3. The top is simple. Easy to clean.
  4. Made of steel. Unbreakable.
  5. I am going to be using mine for a while.

Recommended heartily.

macosxguru at the gmail thingie


  1. "That is such a guy color," I was told.

Canteen