December 26, 2018


2018 in Review

Mojave got launched and my mid-2011 iMac found itself on the not-supported by Mojave list. Pity. It is a perfectly operational machine. I maxed out the memory a few years ago and installed a new SSD on it. I wrote about it, Juicing Up the iMac With an SSD - Bicycle For Your Mind. I got myself an early 2015 MacBook Air to be able to run the goodness of Mojave. I will write about that machine one of these days. On the iOS front, I got myself an iPhone XS Max. Upgrading from an iPhone 5s, this is a huge jump. I am getting used to the phone and doing a fair amount of writing on it. The huge, beautiful screen is a joy to work in. I am indulging in my old hobby of photography and the camera on the iPhone is a pleasure. I have an iPad2 and it does the things I want it to do: Provide a platform for me to write and play a few games. Obsolete, but effective for the tasks I expect of it. I have been intrigued by the new iPad releases but find it difficult to justify the expense.

On the software side, the following things happened:

  1. iA Writer 5 became the best Markdown based text editor. I wrote about it, iA Writer 5 Manages Files and Folders.
  2. Bear lost its way. Instead of steady improvements to the product they got busy with a web app and introduced stickers on iOS. Depressing. Indicators of stagnation included the lack of tables support and typewriter scrolling on the editor. A purported rewrite of the editor has been on the works for more than a year and I have given up hope. This is a subscription which is not going to renew.
  3. Ulysses kept up its hallowed tradition of responding to every feature request with the same canned response: “This is on our roadmap. We can’t promise a delivery date, but consider your vote counted.” Tables? Same response. Check lists? Same response. The product however is at a state where it is perfectly usable and different and superior to the competition in some interesting ways. Support for Markdown has improved, the user-selectable point for typewriter scrolling is unmatched and it is the best mix of features for an immersive writing environment. It is my main workhorse. It is an emotional decision and not a logical one as I write about in Moving Back to Ulysses - Bicycle For Your Mind.
  4. OmniOutliner became my list manager. I adopted the Essentials version as the main outlining product in my workflow. I wrote about it Outlining Essentials in OmniOutliner - Bicycle For Your Mind.
  5. Scrivener 3 got released this year. It has improved its support for MultiMarkdown and the output function. This is a great program to dive into for every writer. You are going to be using this for the rest of your life, if you remember that, the learning curve will be easier to navigate. The learning curve is steep. My advice to every new Scrivener user: Start using the program. Learn as you go along. This is not software you are going to pick up and learn all at once. The learning is going to be incremental. In the meantime, write.
  6. Mojave is an underwhelming release. Dark mode generated a lot of attention, and left me cold. I spend all my time in full screen mode in either Ulysses or iA Writer. There is nothing on the screen but my words and yes, a dark background. However, I don’t need a dark background in the Finder. The programs I care about have implemented dark mode on their own and it is not dependent on the system. What does a system wide dark mode do for me? There are some nice touches on the OS, but I would like the Finder to be improved. A rethink of that is needed. I find myself relying on fman to get my file management chores done and ignore the Finder. I think we have come up to point where a release needs to be focused on bug-fixes. iCloud is unreliable. The App Store is a mess. Add an iTunes card to the account. Check the amount available display in the front page of the App Store, it hasn’t changed. Go into your account. Check the amount available. It includes your new total. Why is it inconsistent? Why does it take so long to propagate? Apple Music continuously asks me to re-input my credentials. Little things which irritate the user throughout the day. Makes the act of using the computer painful. A release which takes these bugs and squashes them would be welcome.
  7. Agenda - An elegant new take on Notes won a 2018 Apple Design Award. Got some favorable press. I am trying it out and will write about it.
  8. Three products which have been integral to my workflow for the last few years are all doing well. They are Alfred, Keyboard Maestro, and Hazel. I rely on them. Thanks to the developers for improving my life.

I expressed anxiety about the state of Apple. That feeling does not improve with the assertion from Apple that the 2018 iPad Pro Meets or Exceeds Quality Standards even though it is bent. Really? The arrogance and the hubris is mind-blowing to me. This has been gnawing at me for a while, so let me vent for a while. This is the alleged quote from the email sent by Dan Riccio, Apple’s VP of hardware engineering:

Relative to the issue you referenced regarding the new iPad Pro, its unibody design meets or exceeds all of Apple’s high quality standards of design and precision manufacturing. We’ve carefully engineered it and every part of the manufacturing process is precisely measured and controlled. Our current specification for iPad Pro flatness is up to 400 microns which is even tighter than previous generations. This 400 micron variance is less than half a millimeter (or the width of fewer than four sheets of paper at most) and this level of flatness won’t change during normal use over the lifetime of the product. Note, these slight variations do not affect the function of the device in any way. Again, thanks for reaching out and I hope the above explanation addresses your concerns.

Dude, the product is bent. It is a tablet with a kink in the middle. It doesn’t sit flat on a table. It is the most expensive product in the category. 400 microns? The product is bent. It is bent within your acceptable parameters doesn’t fill anyone with a sense of joy and comfort. Fix it. If you find that the product doesn’t sit flat on a surface, you have a design flaw. It is a tablet. It is not meant to be a curved device. Who thought that this was acceptable? Who thought it was a good idea to talk about your quality standards when faced with bent iPads? You guys have lost your mind.

Can you imagine the reaction if Microsoft made the same claims about their Surface product? How much derision would that have elicited? You guys are special? If the new iPads meet your quality standards, you have a design flaw and you are in a bind. You can’t hide bad design behind quality standards. What you are effectively saying is “We are making high quality, badly designed products.”

This was the last big story of 2018. There are customers who are happy with the new iPad Pro line. There are some folks who are obviously not happy about bent iPads. I have no idea about the numbers. Apple is not saying. Strikes me as a story which we haven’t heard the last of. It also means that I am not rushing out to buy an iPad anytime soon.

News About Me

  1. I am going to write more in the coming year.
  2. I am working on improving the quality of my writing.
  3. I am going to finish my book on using macOS in 2019.

That was my take on the year 2018.

Hat tip to: Tomer Dahari for the picture Bokeh Photography Of Black Framed Eyeglasses

macosxguru at the gmail thingie

macOS iOS review

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