Tag Archives: Mac

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.

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.

My Apple Watch has rekindled my Love of Swatches

As a kid I love Swatch Watches. I only had one, but had many Swatch Guards to add some color.  As I got older I could afford a few more, and did. I have a thing for watches, I love them.img_0090

Eventually I moved from swatches to other watches. Lots and lots of other watches.

Then I got an Apple Watch and at first just had one or two bands. Apple sells theirs for honestly a ridiculous Apple price, however Amazon has plenty of non Apple bands to choose from, in far more colors than Apple offers. It went down hill quickly :)

On the weekends I have a nice leather cuff band I wear with my watch. It looks nice, and feels great. But during the week, especially with working out in the mornings or at lunch, I wear the sport bands.

img_0092Then it dawned on me, I have so many bands for my Apple Watch, why not mix and match them? From there I also found these nice little Protective Bumpers in awesome colors, and
boom, my love of Swatches and having a unique piece of kit was reborn!

I’ve gotten tons of compliments on the whimsy my watch bands show, which is fun.

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.

The only Un-Apple, Apple Experience

Is their retail stores. Well at least mostly. If you want an iPhone case, know what you want and where it is, it actually is a very very Apple like experience. But god forbid you take your shiny Macbook Pro in to the genius bar….

Here begins my tale of frustration and rejection.

Last week I had business down in Tech Center, so since I was gonna be down there I booked an appointment with the Park Meadows Apple store because well look at the screen shot.

I’m a little over a month from my Apple Care Warranty expiring and clearly my battery isn’t working right. Figured I’d scoot in and get a new battery installed.

I made my appointment online, easy peasy. Showed up 20 minutes before my alotted time.

Chased a blue shirt down to check in. “Go stand around over there” Ok cool.

Another blue shirt comes up, “You can grab the spot at the bar you should be coming up soon” Ok cool. I set my laptop down on the bar and sit.

And sit. And Sit. The Genius 1.5 feet from me wraps up his customer. Rather than look to the unattended customer sitting patiently at the bar, he walks around the bar away from me and whispers my name. At least I think he does. By the time I hear what I think is my name, another schmoe has claimed the space, sat down and started talking. I could be a dick and butt in but since I wasn’t 100% sure I didn’t.

I wait. And wait. And wait. 30 minutes later I flag a blue shirt down “Can we make sure I’m in the queue and didn’t get skipped?” Of course.

“Oh looks like your appointment was started and wrapped up. Someone marked it as ended. But you haven’t even been helped?” Nope.

To their credit they scrambled around to find a Mac genius to help me. Oh at first my guy asked another guy for help on the situation, his answer was I needed to make a new appointment… WTF. Thankfully my Blueshirt didn’t take that answer.

Unfortunately the timing of my appointment coincided with wide spread reports of Mountain Lion being a battery drain on laptops. Maybe it is, but my issue pre-dated that, and since the batteries health and capacity weren’t 100% you’d think it would be treated differently. You (and I) would be wrong. My genius preceeded to tell me to wait for 10.8.1 When i asked if once the “fix” was released and my issue was still there I’d be allowed a replacement battery her answer was, “you should buy the Apple Care Extended for $350”

2 hours of my life I’m not getting back. Thanks Genius Bar.

So, that said, Yeah I think the system is broken, but there’s so many easy fixes.

  • Leverage those fancy big displays above the genius bar to show the queue and who’s next. Dont’ walk around, let us come to you.
  • Be loud when calling names? Whispering “John Wilker” in an apple store is like not speaking at all. Shout my name
  • Give me an damn pager device like a restaurant to summon me to the bar. Heck make it Apple, and use an iPhone or something.
  • Use the fancy apple store app, which knows i have an appointment as said page and have it notify me when my turn has come.
  • This one is least likely but would be most well received I think. Have two Genius bars. one for muggles and one for everyone else. I saw 2 sticky iphone buttons. 1 “how to i migrate from this busted iMac to this more busted macbook” and 2 “What’s iPhoto”

I love Apple and most everything they do, but it’s apalling that they’ve revolutionized; computing, movies, TV, books (meh I use my Kindle), etc, but simple queue management in a help desk setting is so broke as to make me wanna start murderin’

So yeah. My monday sucked, and what’s best I get to look forward to doing it again since I didn’t get a new battery. I hope Apple “fixes” the issue fast.

Why I moved to Mail.app

I’ve been reading the news and opinions about Sparrow’s acquisition (good for them!) It’s funny how these cycles go, and it’s almost always the same.

First is the news of the acquisition and almost always death of the much loved product.

Then there’s the “OMFG I Hate them, they sold out

Then there’s the “You entitled pricks are pricks and aren’t owed shit

Then there’s the  “We aren’t owed things, but there is a sort of unspoken contract

I think all three are valid. Some folks just felt mad they paid money (whether the amount is significant or not is in the eye of the spender) for abandon-ware. Some  like to take the enlightened I’m-smarter-than-you approach and some like the look at things objectively. Each has it’s merits.

This is an interesting post as well on the subject, especially on the topic of money.

My initial reaction (as tweeted) was good for them, bad for me. I loved sparrow. I bought it. I bought the iOS version, though without push I never used it. I bought it because I think the only opinion that matters is my wallet. I bought it to show the developers that I supported them. Maybe that kept the lights on 10 minutes, who knows, but I’d guess the volume of us showing our support kept the lights on a lot longer. I also bought both versions because I wanted to support and encourage updates. I was ready to buy the iPad version as well.

It’s that last point that’s the reason I moved to mail.app. As someone said to me, Sparrow works just fine as is. Yes, yes it does. But why invest another minute of my time on something that will become more and more outdated? That’s why I stopped using tweetie. It was fine, but slowly got left behind in features. Why would any user of any product (ok, except cars) want to continue to use a product that is done with, dead. Yeah it’s fine now, it’ll be fine in six months. If you want nothing more than what sparrow does right now, you’re fine, use it for 10 years. If you want new features, like push in the iOS apps, the teased  iPad app, dropbox integration, etc you’re out of luck. What it is today is what it will always be. Enjoy

Do I hate the sparrow team? no I envy them, I’m happy for their success. If someone came to me and offered me a bag or two of money, I’d take it, we’re all lying if we say we wouldn’t. Am I bummed I didn’t get more mileage out of my spend? Yes, very much so. I agree and disagree with Matt that for $10 bucks or whatever Sparrow cost, you have no right to be mad. Money is money, i’d have paid $30 for sparrow. They set the price, so really what I paid is what they wanted. It’s a slippery slope argument about some mysterious point at which the amount you spent on a product entitles you to an opinion.

Whether it’s $10 or $50 every spend means something, every spend has an opportunity cost, I could have supported another indie developer with that money.

 

I liked Rian’s post because really that’s why I buy most of my software. Two things come into play. Is it good or can I use it? and does it support an indie developer. If both answers are yes, I buy it, shoot, even if the first answer is no, I buy it. I’ve spent a good chunk of money on apps I’ll never use because the purchase supported an indie developer. So in that respect it feels on a not-conscious level like a betrayal of my support. I supported you with my money, because you’r indie and rocking it and not only do you get acquired, but you let the acquirer kill the product that everyone loved and supported you by purchasing. It’s kind of a chicken an egg thing. Sparrow wouldn’t have been acquired if the app sucked and didn’t do well. If the app sucked and didn’t do well none of us would have bought it. The didn’t suck, and did do well, and made sparrow an attractive acquisition.

 

So yeah. Good for Sparrow, they made a great app and someone rewarded that by acquiring them. Bummer for those of us that voted with our wallets and supported Sparrow because it was awesome and had tons of potential, and now we’re left with no future updates, and a few unfulfilled promises.

Oh yeah and the reason i moved to mail.app…. I know the odds of it becoming abandon-ware are next to nil, and it’s always going to get some improvements, even if only incremental.