Category Archives: Mac

category

Using Dabble to plotline my next story

After finishing NaNoWriMo, I started working on a second story. Same characters and universe. The first story just kind of fell out as I wrote it, it told itself.

The sequel isn’t following suit.

A friend of mine recently released a writing app called Dabble. and while it’s not quite what I want in a writing app (Scrivener sets a high bar), it recently added a feature I’ve fallen in love with .

Enter the Plotline. 

Dabble's awesome plotline viewBeing able to lay out plot points and see the whole story is great!

I already had the first few chapters down, and kept going back and tweaking them, as I wasn’t happy with how things were flowing.

I’ve only gotten about a third or so in, and will likely change much as I go, but so far good.

 

What’s nice is Dabble is a work in progress and Jacob is awesome :) The other night as I was working, I realized I had to scroll up quite a bit to see the title of each column, so I submitted an idea to freeze the top of the screen.

Shortly after I hit ‘submit’ Jacob and I were chatting about the idea.

If you’re looking for a lightweight, straightforward writing app, take a look at Dabble and help craft it into the perfect app.

Google Wifi box

Thought on My First week with Google Wifi

I just switched out my Apple Airport Extremes for Google Wifi. I’m normally all in on the silo I’ve chosen (Apple usually). I’ve had Apple Airport Extremes since the second generation of them. They’ve never been the best devices, but again the silo. They worked remarkably well within the Apple ecosystem. Mac and iOS would see APs that needed setting up, etc. Easy. The app was nice enough.

Updates were few and far between, barely a scrap of pro user support, or more modern considerations, but they worked and managing them was easy enough from a non shitty app.

Google Wifi unboxingI’ve been keeping an eye on the emerging Mesh Wifi world, and saw this review. Wirecutter has a great writeup as well, but it didn’t cover Google Wifi and a few others, because they hadn’t shipped yet. One of my main things was it has to look not terrible since at least one will live in plain sight. Apple kit sets the bar high there.

I’ll admit, the unboxing was Apple like. A nice plain white box, subtle logo, three very pretty little pods resting inside. Cords and unsightly bits in nice individual compartments below. Nice.

Google Wifi Setup

Setup is pretty straight forward, and you can read all about it in the blog post linked above, so I won’t re-hash that. One thing I’ve learned in keeping up a home network, changing your network name is a big pain in the ass, so don’t unless you need to. Prior to booting the first Google Wifi up, I powered down the AirPort Extreme. Then as I went through the process I named my network the exact same name as the majority of devices would look for, and made sure the password was the same. Most things just reconnected no problem.

The one hassle I had in this area is that Airport Extremes let you treat your 2.4 and 5gHz networks as separate things, so I had “Wilker” and “Wilker 5G”. This was also my own thing, since it made sure my machines connected to the faster AP that was was serving 802.11ac and the slower b/g/n wouldn’t slow down the ac connections. A hold over for sure. The downside was that the device that would be the biggest headache, were the ones on the “Wilker” network. iDevice switches and the Sonos speakers. Things that don’t have a UI to interact with. Long story short, lots of resetting and reconnecting later, everyone is happy on the new and improved “Wilker 5G” network.

Google Wifi App

Google Wifi appWhile I like the app, it’s clean and pretty easy to use, it’s also the only way to interact with your Google Wifi. No desktop app, no (blech) web interface, sadly also no iPad app. Phone only. Deal breaker? No, but a pain sometimes when I’d rather use my iPad.

It is nice to be able to see my network like this, it’s one of the things I liked with Apple’s Airport Utility. This is even better since I don’t have to look at each device to see what’s on the network. They’re all listed regardless of which AP they’re talking to, very nice.

I’m not sure of it’s overall utility, but the idea of a priority device is in the app. google Wifi device list When looking at the list, you can tap that little green circle in the bottom right, and assign a device on your network priority traffic for one, two or four hours. I’m not sure why I would care do to that. It might be useful to do it indefinitely for say my media center, or the AppleTV to ensure streaming is always good, but I can’t imagine having to every few hours, pick who gets priority.

 

The other really nice thing in the device list, is seeing the data usage. You can see it in the list, and tapping on a device let’s you see that devices traffic either real time or back a few days/weeks/months. Kinda neat.

Google Wifi Mesh

Google Wifi meshI’ve been interested in mesh since I started reading about. The idea isn’t new, in fact I’ve used my previous generations of Airport Extremes in a mesh setup, but it’s much more manual and labor intensive to setup and manage. Google Wifi makes it much easier!

I do wish you could wire additional base stations to help spread the load down through the modem, but not a deal breaker.

The hardest part of set up was placing the units. Our house is a rowhouse, tall and skinny. My first thought was one unit in the office closet where the Airport Extreme was, then one upstairs at the entry to the rooftop deck since usually internet up there is the pits.

Except as you can see, the office closet isn’t a great location, I suspect because the washer and drier are right in line between the main google wifi unit and the office one. I’ll play with location later.

The rooftop one right now is in the master bedroom, straight down the hall from the office. The Unit gave an error, when on the roof. I’m not sure if it was just a fluke or if all units need to be close the main unit (which goes against my understanding of how mesh works). Will play with that one as well later.

I did some tinkering and realized my office AP was on the closet because that’s where the old Apple one lived. It was in there because that’s where the network drop was. Lightbulb moment, I moved the office unit into the room on a shelf and signal strength was vastly improved. The closet still has a switch for the wired devices.

Final thoughts.

So far so good. All devices are connected and doing well, internet speeds don’t seem any different, things stream well, etc. These are smaller and more discreet than Airport Extremes which is nice. We’ll see how Google does as far a feature updates, etc.

One update, I had a weird google service issue the other day. I don’t know if it was google DNS, or their servers or what, but it directly impacted the google wifi since the app talks to their servers as well, quite frustrating.

 

 

 

I won NaNoWriMo 2016

nanowrimo_2016_webbanner_winnerIt only took ten years, but I finally won NaNoWriMo.

If you’re not familiar it’s National Novel Writing Month. The goal is start Nov. 1, and by the end of Nov. 30 have 50,000 words written.

Every year for the last ten years I’ve at least done something. Some years it’s been open the site, be too busy to dedicate myself to writing, and close the site. Some years I’ve started writing, either something new, or picked up something I’d started randomly in the year. I’d get various amounts of words in, miss a day, then two, then four then I’d see that I was so far behind the average per day needed to win, I’d give up. Ten Years.

This year, my friend Tom and I both decided we’d do it again, both agreed to give it our all. I was especially motivated because a few months before Tom had shared a manuscript he wrote some 15 odd years before, and after reading it, I was more energized to create my own.

capture-2016-12-01-at-12-33-32-pmI don’t know what was different this year, other than being a bit lighter than usual on “stuff to do” work wise. But I was able to start strong, and even when I fell behind a few times, it was never so much so that it became impossible.

I actually thought I’d crush it over thanksgiving, but did the exact opposite, then when I was in the final week, the little author dashboard on the NaNoWriMo site was like at this pace you’ll finish on Dec. 2. “SO CLOSE” So I made time, and pushed through. I crossed the “finish” line around noonish on the last day.

I think one factor of the win was that I finally found an app I enjoyed using to write. I’ve tried most every app out there aimed at authors, and haven’t loved any. Some of come close, some haven’t, some have simply gone away. Scrivener, is here to stay, the iPad app is great for when I wanted to try to add a few more words but didn’t have my laptop, the Mac app is fairly intuitive to use.

Until the last week, I wasn’t sure I’d finish on time or finish at all. I have to say I’m pretty darned pleased with myself. My plan is to let it sit a week or two, then go back over the story with an eye for cleaning things up. Then anyone who’s interested may read it (warning it’s Sci Fi). Then Maybe I’ll toss it up on Amazon. Who knows.

Any how, wanted to share, because like I said, I’m pretty pleased with myself.

I’m Slowly Adding HomeKit Automation to our Whole House

With HomeKit finally being pretty robust, and widely supported I’ve slowly started adding automation to the house. It started with replacing our Nest with an Ecobee, which has been awesome! Then recently I added a iDevices Outdoor Switch to the rooftop. We’ve got some nice patio lighting up there, that I hate plugging and unplugging. I used to just leave it on all the time, which is kinda wasteful during the day, but easier then going over to the plug and fiddling with the cover to turn it all on, etc. (yes, laziness rules the day)

img_0093With the Outdoor Switch not only can I just tell Siri to turn on or off the ‘rooftop lighting’, but also now the lights are on a schedule; sundown, on, 10pm off. Definitely makes it easy and more energy efficient.

The setup wasn’t super smooth. There’s an app from iDevices you use to get everything connected, and that’s a bit finicky. You have to make sure the device is in wifi range, the phone is on the wifi you want to connect (2.4gHz only of course) etc. but once set up, it’s pretty straight forward, and then you can just use the Home app in iOS 10.

I changed my wifi password and that caused some havoc. About an hour later and many many cryptic errors, i was able to reconnect the switch. I basically (YMMV) had to completely remove it from my “home” and erase it’s existence, then fuss with the iDevices app a few times to get it back to connected, then all was good. I’m not sure there’s a better way than that either, which is a bummer.

If you’re looking to upgrade your outdoor lighting controls, etc, especially with holiday light season coming, I can’t recommend the iDevices switch any more highly! Set up hurdles aside once it’s set up, it’s great and reliable.

Tom Bihn Daylight Briefcase

I love Tom Bihn, this is my 3rd overall bag from them. This one is more utility than the others.

I have a Ristretto for walking around when i don’t need a laptop with me. It’s awesome. It’s not very portable as a secondary bag though, it’s bulky and takes up space in luggage. It certainly doesn’t fit well in my backpack.

I’ve been looking for something that would fit in my backpack, for when I’m traveling or just at the office, but want to go out and about but don’t want to lug my whole backpack around. The Ristretto could work, for my iPad, but not my laptop. Plus, like i said, it’s bulky doesn’t really fit in my laptop bag.IMG_1336

Enter the daylight. It’s the right size for a macbook air, an iPad, a few other things like chargers or a notebook. It holds my 3DS, and a few other bits, and is easy to carry around.

The best part is that it folds up nice and small. I can roll it up and shove it in my backpack and it can live there all the time until i need to IMG_1335run to a meeting, and only need my laptop or iPad and notebook.

It folds and rolls up and leaves plenty of room in my bag still.

I got the idea for the daylight from a blog I read.

I’ve taken a few trips where the Ristretto was just too big to bring and had to lug my entire laptop bag around, or do with out any gear. The worst of both options for sure.

I’m really excited for future travel and even office days.

I built an app.

IMG_0627Ok I didn’t. I guess I product managed an app :)

Tom and his team worked with me on “Edit Me“. I’ve helped get lots of apps launched (no shortage of 360|iDev and Flex apps out there, that I helped with), but this is the first “not a conference attendees app” app.

Edit Me, serves a real purpose. Ever had a text message, tweet, Facebook post, etc  that you wanted to run by someone before sending? Maybe you’re a bit too heated, maybe too sad. Maybe just to check your tone, or make sure it’s not wildly offensive, etc. Or just to have a friend proof read it for you. Well that’s what we set out to solve with Edit Me.

The idea is pretty straightforward, i’ve got some short form text i want to run by someone before sending it, (Flying Spaghetti Monster knows I often need it)

3-5_1You fire up Edit me, pick your friend who’ll be the editor, throw in a title, and add your text. Off it goes. What’s cool is you and/or the recipient don’t need to register, the exchanges and notifications are bound to device not yet another set of user credentials. When they get the email it’s got an app URL (if they don’t there’s a link to get the app first) and it’ll pull up what needs to be edited.

Something more robust like users may come later, same for more granular edits, right now you offer up your edits and they’re accepted or rejected en masse. There’s no (yet) “Change this word or sentence” it’s “here’s my version of the entire text you sent” even if the change is only one or two words. We wanted to launch what we thought was the most useful version one we could, with plans to do a lot more cool things to the app as we go.

4_5I’m really excited about Edit Me, and find it really useful.

We also want to make a Mac version, which I think is going to be even more useful. While I do often need short form editing/proof reading, I do that a lot more on my mac than my iDevices.

Price: Not free. We went with $.99 because well free isn’t a sustainable model. We think Edit Me has value and utility, and is worth something. Plus really, isn’t not saying something stupid on the internet worth $.99?

NO IAP. While I won’t use the blanket “IAP is the devil” I will say when I am looking for new apps and games, seeing the “Contains In-App Purchase” label makes me think twice before even tapping to see the details. We wanted to make an app that was useful as it is, and requires no extra purchase.

If you’ve ever sat and looked at your messages, twitter or facebook app, and wondered “Should I send this, is mom going to get mad?” Edit Me is probably worth $.99 to you. Because then you could easily ask your sister or friend.

iWatch Review: MetaWatch

IMG_7994So a while back I did a review of my first iWatch (actually this was the first, but it was temporary). It was an ok watch, i had hoped for new features, and in the end the only firmware update that ever came out while adding new watch faces, didn’t do a ton more to make it an awesome iWatch. Of course now that form factor is dead and the new model is not “watchable” at all, so there’s that.

Now I have a proper iWatch, just no i. I’ve had the Meta Watch Strata for a while now, it’s a very cool smart watch. It’s more in the sport watch area, but they do sell a more dressy model. It connects over Blue Tooth Low Energy to the phone and shows you phone battery level, SMS messages, Caller ID, and… well right now that’s all. They’re still working out the bugs, so the emphasis has been on connectivity. I’m trying the latest beta firmware, and it’s come a long way from what shipped.

IMG_7998

Right now it tells you just the basics, but when some of the coming soon features roll out, it’ll be great. I’m hoping i can create rules around some of it, a buzz for every email would suck, a buzz for emails from my wife, or a conference sponsor, handy. Ditto twitter DMs and @ replies. Some i care enough about, others less so.

It has been really handy to glance at my wrist to see incoming SMS’s without digging my phone out of my pocket.

TheIMG_7995 calendar widget has been pretty handy too since you can have two; today and tomorrow. reading a busy day isn’t easy. I suspect future updates will include more readable fonts, or more configurable widgets.

As Smart Watches get more and more popular the differences in approach emerge. MetaWatch uses a central connected app to push data to the watch. App Developers will write their apps, and they’ll reside in the MetaWatch Manager app, giving the user a single place to control it all.

Others like Pebble (I should have mine in another 9 weeks or something) from what I understand, push the apps to the watch. The example shown at CES was pushing watch faces. If you’ve read the other reviews, you know watch faces is one of the things I most loved about the iPod Nano. Pebble made it a front and

IMG_7996

center feature as well. MetaWatch seems to have gone a different direction, at least to start. If you choose to have a full face watch face, you have A choice.

It’s not ugly, but I’m not really a fish person. I’d love to see more, and suspect as time goes on and developers begin releasing things for MetaWatch, we’ll see more clever faces.

Overall I’m really happy with the Strata. The Smart Watch space is still very much in it’s infancy so there’s a lot of room to grow for everyone in it. MetaWatch is clearly serious about it, since having the Strata they’ve gone from 1.0 firmware to 1.2 (yes three releases) but that’s in maybe 3 months?

Pros: Geek cred. pretty handy for basic stuff, way more handy in the future. Doesn’t make a noticable impact on phone battery. It’s connected so definitely does use battery, but not so much I’m carrying a car batter around.

Cons: Not much you can do with it right this second. Weather and phone battery at a glance are cool, and I find them quite handy, but that’s it. Unless you love stocks, it does ship with a stock widget.

A few more pics below just so you can see the MWM app etc.

Basic settings screen for configuring the watch functions.

Basic settings screen for configuring the watch functions.

 

Configuration screen for widgets

Configuration screen for widgets

Currently available options for apps

Currently available options for apps

Where future apps will live
Where future apps will live