August 30, 2018
Nothing to do with the content. Just cute.
Links of Note 2018-08-30
You can use Typora for Markdown tables or use this:
Better table processing — Erica Sadun
I must admit I am thinking of this too.
Dear Twitter — Part Deux | Infinite Diaries
As a germ of an idea, I am @firstname.lastname@example.org.
I read this and found that my problems with Ulysses were well captured by Chuq. The key line was:
I need real markdown. And Ulysses is mostly Markdown…
Why I’m giving up on Ulysses | Chuq Von Rospach
Google, but for colors.
macosxguru at the gmail thingie
August 12, 2018
KeyCue Helps You Master Keyboard Commands
Product: KeyCue - find, remember, and learn menu shortcuts
"How do you learn keyboard commands?" is a question I often get asked. I have found the best answer to that question. KeyCue. It is an application from Ergonis. Has been around for a long while, but this is the first time I have taken a deep dive on it.
I used to make a table of all the keyboard commands in an application I was interested in. The act of making that table helped me to remember the commands and the resultant table also was a reference sheet which I went back to when I needed to nudge my memory. KeyCue is significantly less work.
KeyCue Application Shortcuts
Hold down the ⌘ key (this is customizable) and you will get a table with the application keyboard commands. You have the ability to search this table, and it makes the process of learning and remembering keyboard commands easy.
KeyCue shows you the following:
- Application keyboard commands
- System keyboard commands
- Keyboard commands from macro utilities like Keyboard Maestro, QuicKeys and yKey.
- A table of frequently used URLs.
- Files contained in a selected folder.
- A table with Typinator 2 items in a specified set. Typinator 2 is a text expansion utility from Ergonis the developers of KeyCue.
- A table with recent and/or favorite PopChar X characters. PopChar X is an utility from Ergonis which lets you locate characters contained in a font.
The Application keyboard commands and the System Keyboard commands are useful. You have the ability to turn off common ones, like Copy (⌘C) or Paste (⌘V).
Keyboard Maestro in iA Writer
KeyCue has been around for a while, and that explains the support for macro utilities like QuicKeys and yKey. I use Keyboard Maestro, and support for it is welcome.
Emoji support is fantastic. I used to use Rocket for the same feature and now KeyCue does the job.
A table of frequently used URL's and Files contained in a selected folder are features which don't make any sense to me. If you do find use out of this, have at it. Doesn't do anything for me.
The link with Typinator and PopChar X is well thought out and the integration makes an argument for consumers to use the full set of Ergonis applications. I use a mix of Alfred and Keyboard Maestro for text completion and I am not doing anything which requires the use of specialized characters from the fonts. So those products are not for me. However, if you use those products or have a need for them, the integration between the utilities provided is a good feature to have and makes KeyCue more capable.
KeyCue gives you the ability to set up any shortcuts you want to display any feature you want in the program. You have the ability to specify the length of time you hold on to the keys for the KeyCue panel to trigger. I have set mine for 2 seconds.
I have setup KeyCue the following way:
Fn+⌃: Menu shortcuts and system-wide shortcuts
Fn+⌥: Keyboard Maestro hotkeys
Fn+⌘: Emoji table
Fn+⇧⌃: KeyCue Settings
I use the Fn key because it is a key which doesn't get used much on my iMac and the assigned keyboard commands made sense to me.
The setup is well designed and you can customize to your heart's desire.
KeyCue works well with most applications but if the application doesn't comply with Apple's guidelines you can make KeyCue learn the keyboard commands supported by the application and it will still be useful.
In addition, KeyCue provides resources to learn the keyboard commands for some applications like the Adobe products and some others on their web site and you can download the KeyCue shortcut extras from here.
KeyCue supports themes you can download from here.
KeyCue ships with a pdf manual. I love programs which take the trouble of documenting the product features and gives the users the ability to learn how to use the product. I was thrilled to see the KeyCue manual.
This is a well-designed mature product which does a great job of teaching you keyboard commands. I am surprised that I hadn't adopted this earlier. My way worked but this is better.
KeyCue is recommended heartily.
A review copy was provided by the developer.
macosxguru at the gmail thingie
August 9, 2018
International Cat Day - Photo by Vadim B from Pexels
Links of Note 2018-08-09
Learn how to automate stuff.
CMD-D|Masters of Automation
Courier Screenplay. An improved version of Courier for those of you who are enamored by monospace fonts. I share that addiction.
Fade In - Courier Screenplay
A lot of these around. This was well done.
The Quick Guide to Markdown | Techinch
An article getting a ton of attention. As it should.
The Bullshit Web — Pixel Envy
macosxguru at the gmail thingie
August 5, 2018
Winter is Coming
Apple Axes App Store Affiliate Program
Affiliate Program App Store Updates
Thank you for participating in the affiliate program for apps. With the launch of the new App Store on both iOS and macOS and their increased methods of app discovery, we will be removing apps from the affiliate program. Starting on October 1st, 2018, commissions for iOS and Mac apps and in-app content will be removed from the program. All other content types (music, movies, books, and TV) remain in the affiliate program.
The affiliate program is not a revenue stream for me. That was the main reason for instituting the Patreon link. I am shy about asking for support and find that the Patreon effort is not going well either. I figure that if the content is compelling and useful enough, people will support it. If it is not? My writing needs to improve.
I don't know the economic realities behind the decision by Apple. Those are irrelevant to me. I understand that this decision is going to make it difficult for some sites which are dependent on the affiliate program income to continue and that is not a desirable outcome.
What is the process?
Apple provides the store. Developers of all sizes provide the software. Apple features some of the products. Third party sites feature reviews and write-ups on the products along with an affiliate link. Customers get their information from a mix of Apple features, site write-ups and word of mouth to buy the software. Apple makes money of each sale. The developers get a cut. The sites with affiliate links that customers use to buy the product get a share.
No one but Apple controls what they feature. As a developer you can't manage that. If Apple features you, you have a good week. If they don't you can't do anything about it. The only thing you can do as a developer is buy advertising for your product, sponsor sites, and get the web sites to cover your product. Buying advertising is available to only a small segment of developers: the large ones. Small developers are always struggling to get their products noticed.
Consequence of This Decision
When you take away the affiliate income for sites, what happens?
- The sites which depended on this income stream either fold or find a different income stream.
- The availability of information on software carried by the App Stores decreases. Or in other words, it becomes more and more difficult for consumers to hear about new products. And for the developer, there are now smaller number of outlets which cover their products.
Apple believes that with their improved App Stores, app discoverability is going to negate the effects of this decision.
I think that is horse manure.
They have made the process difficult as it is. Getting rid of the App Store from the iTunes app on macOS has already made it difficult for me to find new apps on the iOS App Store. I hate going to the App Store on my iOS devices. But hey, this is a single data point and I might be a weirdo. I know the macOS App Store intimately and discoverability is a joke there.
The problem is that there are various kinds of software products:
- Mass market software. Word Processors, Spreadsheets, Markdown based text editors, window managers are all good examples of mass market software. Apple does an adequate job of highlighting these. They have features on them and they group them together and they get some exposure. Not all of them. Only some of them. I will explain this in a later section.
- Niche market software. There are products which get developed for small market niches. Statistics software like Wizard, code snippet collectors like SnippetsLab and presentation software like Slidium - Markdown Presentations, are all examples of software directed towards small market niches. They get little or no love from Apple.
- Games. I am not a gamer so I am going to not comment on that marketplace.
Apple, focused on revenue, is always going to highlight mass market software. That is what makes the most money or potentially has the ability to make the most money. They will highlight the market leaders in each category. So Ulysses will always get highlighted while an able competitor like MWeb will get no love. The products which challenge the market leaders are going to find the field stacked against them in the Apple eco-system, to add to the problems they already have.
This is an anti-consumer move as much as an anti-developer move. Of course it has the added feature of being an anti-third-party-sites move.
Winter is Coming
Decisions don't happen in a vacuum. They are not perceived in a vacuum either. They are all context based. Let's look at the context. Apple is now the first trillion dollar company. In that context, lets highlight a few data points:
- The Mac Pro is an unqualified disaster that hasn't been replaced.
- The TouchBar? Have you met anyone who is in love with that addition?
- The MacBook Pro keyboard which gets confused with a wee bit of dust?
- Mojave? Dark mode is the highlight of that innovation. Really?
What has the company been doing?
- Incremental updates of iPhone and iPad.
- New iMac Pros which are great but priced atrociously.
- HomePod and AirPods. I am in love with the HomePod. Don't have the AirPods.
- Beats headphones.
- Apple Watch.
In both hardware and software, Apple's performance is underwhelming. They are coasting in the macOS space. They are improving the iOS devices.
The signs are not good. The reason why Apple exists is because when they were underperforming against Microsoft and Intel, consumers of their Macintoshes rallied around the platform for no damn reason other than loyalty and kept the company afloat. That loyalty derived from being a small group and the Apple myths. The myths and the size of the group reinforced each other to allow for the rebirth of Apple. It is difficult to maintain that when you are the largest company in the world. To get that kind of loyalty at this stage you have to show me a vision. Some character which is not shared by the marketplace. Apple's success is due to the fact that they are executing better than the marketplace. That is not difficult to do when your competitor is Samsung with their copy machines.
The signs are not good. This is a company which lacks vision. It lacks character. It lacks focus.
Can you answer the following questions?
- Where is Apple taking the macOS devices? What is the next iteration? The iMac design is 6 years old. The Mac mini design is 8 years old. Mac Pro is 4 years old.
- Where is Apple taking the iPhone?
- Where is Apple taking the iPad?
- Why is Apple making television shows?
The company is making inroads into the services business. That is new. So iCloud is going to be usable? There will be reliable sync? Oh no, you mean that Apple is going to become a cable company. We all love those. I am going to turn off my sarcasm mode now.
Apple's track record is great for Wall Street and their shareholders but it is not that impressive for customers. In fact, the ethos of the company, which was superior products at a higher than usual price, is not a statement which holds true anymore. Look at the iMacs and you will realize that they are not executing well on that score.
What is the vision? On privacy, they are better than Google or Facebook. That is the only positive I can come up with.
Where is the character? It is difficult to have a well-defined character when you are the market leader (by revenue and size). Specially when your character over the years has been defined as the "other." You can't sell me the notion that I am special because I use your product. You have to be special. How are they doing on that score?
Focus? They are making TV shows.
This affiliate program decision hurts the community of Apple, its developers, the media outlets which support the community, and its customers.
As you can tell, I am depressed about Apple.
macosxguru at the gmail thingie
Other reactions to the Affiliate Program decision:
Apple’s Termination of App Store Affiliate Payments Is Unnecessary, Mean-Spirited, and Harmful - TidBITS
Apple Overestimates Its App Store Search
Apple changes iTunes affiliate program – chrisrosser.net
Apple Removing iOS and Mac Apps from Affiliate Program – 512 Pixels
Apple Announces Apps and In-App Purchases Will Be Removed from its Affiliate Program October 1st – MacStories
Apple removes apps from their Affiliate Program – ldstephens
Apple removes apps and in-app purchases from its iTunes affiliate program
Joe's argument boils down to:
Maybe that’s cold, but business ain’t ever warm and fuzzy.
I guess it is high time that Apple customers realized that the days of the two guys in a garage making Macintoshes are long gone. Apple is just another business today. Like Walmart.
July 30, 2018
Noto Is a Free, Quick and Efficient Text Editor
Noto is a free text editor available on macOS. It is not as full-featured as some of the other alternatives like CotEditor or the free version of BBEdit. What it lacks in features, Noto makes up in speed.
If you are a person who lives in text files, you must have a dedicated text editor which you use. This product is not for you. You have time and energy invested in learning the inner workings of your text editor and there is no reason for you to use a simple solution like Noto. On the other hand, if you are not wedded to text files and are looking for a simple text editor which will let you deal with the occasional text file, Noto should fit your needs.
Noto Has Few Features
- Noto has extensive encoding support. That means Noto can support files containing text and characters from many different scripts and encodings. It is equally comfortable with Japanese characters and mathematical symbols, or Windows, macOS, and Unix text files.
- Noto does "smart multi-selection." Hold down the ⌘ key and highlight multiple selections of text. You can now indent or un-indent the selected text with spaces or tabs.
- Noto shows invisible characters. View>Show Invisible Characters, shows you the gremlins hidden in your text files. Useful if you are copying text from other programs into Noto.
- Noto supports Versioning. You can revert back to a previous version of your document through Noto's support for the macOS feature of Versions.
- Noto has themes. You can get some additional themes from here. You can also make your own with instructions from here.
Noto Is Minimal in Its Preferences
You get to choose your own font.
Noto lets you assign spaces instead of tabs. You get to specify number of spaces for each tab.
Noto supports the macOS features of turning two spaces into a period and it capitalizes the first letter of each new sentence if you have that selected in System Preferences>Keyboard>Text preference pane. In case you have internalized this "bad typing behavior" (I am guilty of this), this is a great feature.
Noto supports themes and the implementation though minimal is effective and user-customizable.
Noto is competent software. If you are looking for a simple text editor, it fits the bill. I love it. It is quick and easy and a pleasure to use.
Noto is recommended heartily.
macosxguru at the gmail thingie