September 23, 2019
Why Have I Been Quiet?
I have been quiet for the past few months. Struggling to write. I have two products which I want to review but the writing isn’t happening. One of them is NotePlan. It is a good product, I am excited by it. But I am finding it difficult to write about it. The other is Rocket Typist Pro. This is a competitor to TextExpander, Typinator, and aText. It is a nice implementation of this genre of utility and it is not getting much love from me. What is going on?
- The news in America is depressing and distracting. I find myself depressed and am struggling to get out of the mire.
- There are a bunch of interesting products getting released and getting to advanced beta and they are taking up my time. MacJournal & Notebooks are two examples of products which have recently been released. nvUltra is an example of a product in advanced beta. I am getting to know these products and that takes time.
- I am distracted by a bunch of books which I want to write about.
- My workflow is changing. Ulysses, the mainstay, is dropping support for High Sierra for the next version and I need to move from it. My main machine, the iMac (mid-2011), isn’t capable of running Mojave or Catalina. I am looking to move. The alternatives are to go all-in on iA Writer or nvUltra. I have been trying to figure out which is the best solution for that.
I am going to try to get into the rhythm of things and produce content. This gives me pleasure and that is difficult to find.
Thanks for listening.
macosxguru at the gmail thingie.
Note: Thanks to Photo by Soloman Soh from Pexels
September 22, 2019
Keychron K2 Clicks With Me
Product: Keychron K2 Mechanical Keyboard – Keychron | Wireless Mechanical Keyboards for Mac, Windows and Android
I wrote about the Keychron K1 for My Typing Needs. The
P key stopped working on the keyboard. I asked for a replacement from the manufacturer and they agreed. I found there was a new keyboard coming from them called the K2. It has the red, blue and brown Gateron switches. I was interested in this and requested a switch to it. Again, the manufacturer agreed to my request. They shipped me a Keychron K2 Mechanical Keyboard with the clicky Blue Gateron switches.
I am typing this article with the new K2.
It is different from the K1. The Blue Gateron switches are a lot like the Cherry switches in that they require a fair amount of violence to activate and have a loud and distinct sound to the keys. Unlike the low profile Fraly’s of the K1, this feels like a true mechanical keyboard. There is a pleasure to banging on your keyboard which is something that I seem to do. The feel of the keys activating and the sound of the keys make it an experience I am familiar with.
I love the keyboard. It is pretty and the feel is perfect. The macOS compliant function keys, the orange
esc key, the full size arrow keys are all things which make the keyboard shine.
Like the K1, the K2 pairs with three devices through bluetooth. It has a wired and bluetooth option. The K2 works with macOS and Windows, it even ships with extra Windows keycaps.
Like I wrote in my review of the K1, I am not fond of the backlighting of keyboards. So, I have that turned off.
I am enjoying typing on this and can recommend it heartily if you are looking for a reasonably priced mechanical keyboard.
The support provided by the manufacturer was excellent. They agreed to the exchange and acceded to my request for a switch from the K1 to the K2. They were prompt and detailed in their responses and it was a pleasure doing business with a responsive customer service representative. I am impressed.
I heartily recommend the K2.
macosxguru at the gmail thingie.
June 27, 2019
Ive Moves On
Jony Ive is moving on from Apple.
Thanks for all your work, Jony. Best of luck on your next venture. Bye.
Ive didn’t design the iMac, the iPhone, the iPad, and the borked keyboard on the latest MacBook Pro on his own. There is a whole team of talented individuals behind him who contributed to the success of Apple and Ive. He contributed a vision, a design ethos. That has led to some great products and some crap products. I remember the Cube. I remember the Bondi blue iMac. I remember the trash can Mac Pro. I know that Apple products have become difficult to repair. They have become difficult to upgrade. Ive contributed to that. He is leaving. That is the way life works.
Forstall left Apple. Apple did fine after that. Jobs is gone. Apple is doing fine. Ivy is leaving. Apple will be fine.
Huge corporations like Apple go through periodic peaks and valleys as a result of decisions made by top executives and their hubris.
These are the things which worry me about Apple:
- Catalyst fills me with dread. I want desktop grade software for my desktop. Catalyst is a path to an opposite direction.
- Apple is becoming a movie/tv studio. That is so far from any of the skill sets of the Apple executive team, that it scares me. I don’t think that the folks who are good at squeezing every cent of profit out of an outsourced production line have the skills necessary to make movies. This is Blockbuster becoming a movie studio.
- Services. I am not enamored by that business. I don’t care about Wall Street or its demands for growth. I want hardware and software which work together and fill me with joy. My livelihood is not dependent on Apple’s stock price. I can be this way. I worry about my joy.
Gruber worries about something else:
I don’t worry that Apple is in trouble because Jony Ive is leaving; I worry that Apple is in trouble because he’s not being replaced.
You cannot, or need to, replace Ive immediately. Give Hankey a whirl at the job. See if she fills those shoes. Let Dye take over software HI design. Give this a few years. Then evaluate.
In other words, the sky is not falling.
macosxguru at the gmail thingie
Other takes on Ive leaving:
Daring Fireball: Jony Ive Is Leaving Apple
Meet the first woman to head up Apple’s famous Industrial Design team | Cult of Mac
Jony Ive leaving Apple: What the analysts are saying | Philip Elmer‑DeWitt
Jonathan Ive and the Future of Apple — Pixel Envy
Why Jony Ive is leaving Apple | iMore
Jony Ive’s departure from Apple is an even bigger test than losing Steve Jobs | Macworld
The crazy one: 10 wild, bold, and daring Apple designs only Jony Ive could dream up | Macworld
Hypercritical: Jony Ive
Photo courtesy of: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_Park
June 10, 2019
Navigation in Paper
Paper Icon (Sakura)
Product: Paper — the nicest writing app for your Mac
Price: Free. Includes in-app purchases
I have written about Paper before. Here.
Paper is continuously being developed and improved. Most of the time it is the assorted bug fix but the latest iteration introduced a cool new feature.
Where Am I?
The scrollbar in Paper has been enhanced. The headings (defined by Markdown headings code) in a document show up in the scrollbar and you can navigate by clicking on them. It is helpful when you have a long document, and makes tackling the different sections easier.
Paper is distinguished by tiny little touches which make the process of writing pleasurable.
Paper is recommended heartily.
macosxguru at the gmail thingie
May 1, 2019
Free - the Supercharged Markdown Based Typewriter
Free provides an environment which is free of distractions and friction. Not free as in lunch. The developer has cats to feed. It is a simple markdown based text editor with some nice features. What does “simple” mean?
Free is a sheet of paper which you fill with words. There is nothing to distract you. The sound of the letters hitting your screen and a colorful cursor moving along the screen. That is it.
Positioned as a “supercharged typewriter,” Free lives up to the billing by giving you the ability to type your content on a sheet of paper unencumbered by any distractions. The hypnotic sounds of a typewriter accompany the words which appear on the screen. That is it.
I like the realism of the typewriter sounds. The sound of the letters being typed is different from the sound of the return key. It does simulate a typewriter well. The good news is that it lets you use the delete key. The simulation is, shall we say, optimized for modern technology.
Features of Free
Free preferences 01
You have the choice of a light theme or a dark theme. You get to choose the color of the highlight and the color of the cursor. Free lets you tweak the width of the cursor.
You choose the width of the lines on screen and the line spacing that you are comfortable with.
Free lets you focus by drawing your concentration away from the content of your document to concentrate on the line you are working on.
Free preferences 02
You get to specify your spelling and grammar options.
Free preferences 03
You have the choice of auto-saving your documents and play typewriter sounds. Keep the typewriter sounds on. They have a calming influence when you type.
Free Sans Title Bar
You can turn off the title bar and the scroll bar in Free. Remember the keyboard command ⌃⌥T to toggle the title bar on/off. It is an interesting look. This is where Free shines. The product lives up to its promise of “free of distractions.” I like writing in this mode. There is nothing on the screen except the text moving along with the cursor.
Free gives you the option of editing a plain text document or turning it into a rich text document. Considering how this is a Markdown based text editor, the choice doesn’t make any sense to me but there are people who want a rich text environment and Free can help with that.
Unlike a lot of these minimal text editors, Free gives you the ability to choose your own font to write in. I wish this was more the norm than it is, in the world of minimal text editors. Minimalism is great but I have fonts, I know how to use them and it is not a choice I want to give up to the developers.
I like this developer’s work and he has a slew of products built around the idea of tackling rich text and plain text. He makes it a point to support macOS native technologies and Free is no exception. Support for versions. The Share Menu. Keyboard commands which adhere to system conventions and a lot of keyboard commands. It is a pleasure to work in.
Suggestions for Improvement
Free is a Markdown based text editor but it supports basic markdown. I would like support for Common Mark or MultiMarkdown. That would mean support for tables and footnotes to name a couple of things that are missing from the basic implementation of Markdown.
Free doesn’t let you save files with the extension .md or .markdown. It believes that the extension has to be .txt. That is irritating to me. In my system, text files without markup are .txt. Markdown files are .md. That is how I use them. Don’t make me work harder than I need to. Support the creation and saving with any extension that my heart desires.
If you are looking for a nice Markdown based writing environment, Free fits the bill. It is well designed, and a pleasure to write in with its simulated typewriting experience.
Note: The developer provided me with a license to review the product.
macosxguru at the gmail thingie