Hjertnes.blog

Some thoughts on app bundles.

June 23, 2014

I have never bought any app bundle for as long as I can remember. Some of them have great value. And you might get a lot of value out of them. But I’m not a fan.

First of all, I try to only buy apps that I really need.

Secondly, I want to pay the full price for them. The reason I believe in paying for products and services, is that I want the people behind them to continue the development and support.

And the third reason is that I don’t want to get a handful of apps that I don’t need or want.

The next time you see a bundle where you get $400 worth of apps for $50, think about it. How much would it cost to get all the apps you want? And how sustainable is it for the individual developers?

Go and buy a great app!

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LTE is awesome.

June 20, 2014

I’ve had this iPhone 5S for a while now. The first thing I noticed when I got it, was the LTE speed. I think LTE alone is worth the upgrade.

The thing I noticed about it is that it’s the only mobile internet technology I enjoy using. My first phone with Internet was some Nokia phone with GPRS. It was back in 2003. It was slow and painful, and I barley used it for anything except MMS.

Four or five years later. I got my first phone with EDGE. This was an improvement, but in no way usable, unless you had to use it.

And then it got my first device with 3G one or two years later. And I’ve had everything from a SE smartphone to various iPhone and android devices with 3G.

3G was usable. It was okay. But it’s nothing like LTE.

LTE is faster than the wifi I have at home. It’s cool to finally be at a point where I could get by with my phone connection, if it was cheaper, and uncapped.

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Pen & Paper GTD.

June 20, 2014

My personal GTD system have gone through a lot of changes during the last 12 months. I have written about my history with GTD in the past, but I think I’ll start with going through the history.

I used to have my custom GTD system, with a few text files and some custom Perl scripts back when I was on Linux. It was great. It was what I needed back then.

Then I moved on to using Remember The Milk in 2009. Before I started using Things in 2010, and then I went back to RTM. And then I landed on OmniFocus.

I never move on to something different because I think I’ll be more productive. I always move on to something different because I’m not happy with how the system itself is.

But the last year have been different. First I used a combination of OF and notebooks. It was a mess, and completely broken. Then I moved on to a combination of TaskPaper and Reminders. And back to OF for a few months.

I love OmniFocus, and I think the last version of OF for OS X is great, but it isn’t for me. It’s just too much. So, I went back to playing with the old combination of TaskPaper and Reminders a month ago.

Then I played around with just using Reminders. And a combination of Clear and Reminders.

Here is the thing. There are no single app that covers everything I need at this point. I want something simple that can handle a GTD like system with a lot of lists / projects.

Then I realised something. About 1-5% of my tasks have due dates or are reoccurring. Reminders can handle that in a usable way.

So, I just picked up a large notebook. And went through all the tasks I had in Clear and removed everything irrelevant, and wrote the rest in that notebook.

There are a few great “systems” for doing GTD-like systems with pen and paper. My favourites are The Dash Plus System and The Bullet Journal. And I have implemented a combination of the two.

It’s simple. It’s flexible. And it works, for me.

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OS X Yosemite & Launchers.

June 16, 2014

OS X Yosemite brings some long overdue features to Spotlight. And some people believe this is bad for the companies that are doing launchers. Like Alfred or LaunchBar. I don’t agree.

First of all. Spotlight will be enough for some people. The people that just want to find apps, files and don’t need anything except for the built-in searches in the new Spotlight.

But there are a lot of power user features in both LB and Alfred that you don’t get in spotlight.

I don’t use LaunchBar. It’s a great app, but I find Alfred to be a much more configurable and easy to use alternative.

I have been a user of Alfred since before the 1.0. The exact date I started using it is fuzzy, but I think it was early 2010.

Here is the thing about Alfred. You get a great default experience. Everything from ejecting DMG files or drives, to finding files, apps, contacts. You can even control iTunes with it.

But the thing I love about Alfred is that it’s easy to create new workflows. You can trigger them on files, keywords and hotkeys. I have one to lock the screen. And I have another on to update my jekyll site. Just to mention two of the many workflows I have.

My understanding is that you can use more or less any scripting language to write workflows for Alfred.

And there are a load of existing Alfred workflows available for download around the internet. You should check out Alfred if you want an easy to use but yet powerful launcher for OS X.

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A call for a spring cleaning in the iOS App Store

June 15, 2014

I wish Apple would do something radical about all the ageing apps in the App Store.

There have been a few evolutions that call for either a complete redesign or some minor updating since the store launched.

First we had the retina screens; a minor update in the developer & designer side. All you had to do was to provide graphics in 2x. And I don’t think it took long for most geeks to find an temporary or permanent replacement for the apps that wasn’t retina ready.

Then we had the iPhone 5. I haven’t been a victim for the letter boxing issue for a long time. But there are still apps, that I can’t find replacements for, that haven’t been updated. And it’s close to two years since the iPhone 5 shipped.

I have updated some iPhone apps to support both the old and the new size. It’s some work, but not a lot.

Then we had iOS 7. This was a golden opportunity for everyone to get up to speed. Most apps needed either minor or major updates. And a lot of apps have came out of the grave since iOS 7 hit the market.

While others haven’t.

I don’t think Apple will do anything about this. But I think they should. The best thing would have been to remove all “dead” apps. Especially if they don’t work at all on newer OS releases.

David Smith talked about one very intriguing idea on episode 52 of The Prompt. And that was that the Apple review team shouldn’t just review new apps. But also existing apps. Ongoing review.

Some of the big problems with the current model is:

  1. There are so many apps, and most of them sucks.

  2. It would be so much easier to find the good ones if the old & terrible apps disappeared.

  3. Apple contacting a company about pulling their app from the store, might push them into updating it.

The whole idea of removing old and crappy apps is tempting. But it’s harsh.

There are two others ways Apple could attack it.

Shaming. I think Apple should punish all the companies that don’t follow up on updates. Just put a “Out of date” tag on all apps that haven’t been compiled against the iOS 7 SDK.

But the thing I think would be a lot better is to just hide them. Hide all the apps that haven’t been compiled against, well the iOS 7 SDK would be too much. But the iOS 6 SDK should work.

And just provide a filter setting for viewing “outdated” apps. Not unlike the option for viewing iPhone apps in the iPad App Store.

It’s about time for a real spring cleaning in the App Store.

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Drafts for iOS is awesome.

June 11, 2014

Okay. So I love Drafts. I have been using it since the first version came out. Well, not all time time, but I’ve had it installed.

And then I got into it again when I got a iPhone 5S. There are a number of reasons for getting into it again. First of all, a lot of my workflow have been refocused around plain text again.

Here is the thing, you should get it. I love the fact that I have one place where I start 90% of everything I type into my iPhone. It might be a blog post, it might be a tweet or DayOne entry, or a text to my girlfriend. I even use it to write stuff I need to send to my YNAB “temp-file”. I’ll get into that in a moment.

The reason I left Draft, or left it in a state where I didn’t use it, is the fact that it became hard to manage all of my actions. This was solved when the developer re-designed the whole interface into tabs with actions.

So, I have all the stuff I use every day in tab “I”, and the stuff I use most days on tab “II” and the rest spread accross “III” and “IIII”.

So, I have a YNAB temp file. This is the place where I quickly add all of the stuff I spend money on. It’s just a text file with lines like “Food $10” or “Beer $5” etc. And then I go through it once a week and add it to YNAB; my budgeting app of choice.

Anyways. Draft is an awesome app if you just want a single place to start everything before moving on to the place they belong. You can even make your own actions.

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Post WWDC Journalism.

June 09, 2014

The typical post WWDC journalism is here. And I’m already sick of it.

Every year at this time, when all the journalists and reporters are getting down from the “Everything Apple annonced”-high. Then they start talking about all of the major and minor things that Apple didn’t improve.

Here is the thing. Apple can’t do everything. And I prefer an Apple that gives us a handfull of solid improvements, or something in that ballpark. To an Apple that gives us a boatload of buggy, and far from perfect stuff.

This is Apple, not Google. Deal with it.

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Inspiration

June 07, 2014

Great writers read a lot, is a famous quote. And it’s also one of the greatest lessons for any aspiring writer. But. That’s not everything.

One of my sources of inspiration during the last year and a half have been podcasts.

I think one of my strengths as a writer and creative is to pick up simple ideas and write about them.

I’m not the kind of writer that sit and stare at a empty document. I just get an idea, and then I write. Like Ernest Hemingway once said:

There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.

All I need is a simple idea and something to write on; a phone, tablet, computer, notebook or even a napkin. And then I just write what’s inside my head. Often just my inner monologue. Edited for the public. Mainly to make it understandable for other people than me. But I never edit the content.

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iCloud 2014

June 05, 2014

iCloud is a huge collection of different services; and it’s growing.

I think most power users have a far from perfect experience with parts of the iCloud infrastructure. My personal experience is that parts of it works great. Like Calendar, Contacts, Reminders and Backup.

And then you have stuff like the document sync, that works more or less as it should.

The thing that most of us had huge problems with was the CoreData sync. My personal opinion as a developer is that this was a bad idea. And a typical Steve Jobs era “Apple Magic” concept.

My biggest problem with iCloud happened last year, in August. I don’t know what I did, but I had to spend quite a few hours on the phone with Apple support to get it fixed. The problem was that my whole iCloud account was in some kind of state that made any file or piece of data stored by any app in iCloud was unaccessible. I couldn’t download or upload files, or sync anything. Except for Reminders, Calendars and Tasks.

Let’s move on.

The new features added to iCloud is interesting — very interesting.

iCloud drive is more or less like Dropbox, only by Apple. I think it will be great, and I don’t see any reason for Apple fucking it up.

Photos, I haven’t had any problems with the photo part of iCloud, my only problem with it is that it’s confusing.

CloudKit isn’t anything I would ever use. But that’s because I like to have control over the web service. I have written many of them — and I don’t have any problem with managing servers. CloudKit isn’t something for everyone, but it seems like a great soultions for syncing states and simple data between apps. You can’t build the next Instagram on it, but I think it could be a great soultion for everyone that just need to sync small amounts of data.

The problems with iCloud in the past was that Apple tried to be “smart” about stuff that is really hard — if not impossible to do. This generation of iCloud seems like a nice collection of sensible technology. And I actually think they will manage to pull it off this time.

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Reflections after the WWDC14 Keynote.

June 04, 2014

I never watch the keynote live, or the same night. And I didn’t this year either.

The thing I always do is to listen to a few podcasts, read a few blogposts about it. And then I watch the damn thing the day after.

This will be an amazing fall — if Apple manages to pull all of this off. There are however a few of the new things that I’m really excited about.

OS X Design refresh. {#os-x-design-refresh.}

The new look and feel of OS X is amazing. Tiger was the last release where I felt the same.

I was playing around with the first Developer Preview last night, and it’s amazing. OS X have been evolving around more or less the same design since I came to the platform for the first time in Panther, and then as a daily user during Tiger.

This is the first time I really love the design.

Actionable notifications. {#actionable-notifications.}

This is a feature that I have been craving for a long time. I can’t count how many times I have to leave an app, or unlock my phone just to reply to some iMessage or Facebook message.

It’s particularly annoying when you can’t leave the app you are using because you are uploading some file, or moving some pictures in Dropbox.

Swift. {#swift.}

Swift is Apple’s new programming language for developing OS X and iOS software. And I really like it.

I think Objective-C is superior to both C# and Java; I’m way more productive in Objective-C than any of them. But I also love Python and Ruby.

Swift will without doubt make it easier for a lot of people to get into iOS or OS X development, which is great. And I will write some app in it pretty soon.

This might also lead to better software. C and Objective-C is great, but it can be hard for people that are new to them.

The WWDC keynote gave us an insane amount of stuff we have been asking for, since like forever. And I can’t wait for it to ship.

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