hjertnes.blog

You should not tell me how to use my computer.

30.11.2013 01:00

I write on anything. Seriously I do. My main writing tool is my Macbook Air, and Scrivener. But that don’t mean that it is the right, or available tool in any situation. I write in all kinds of different notebooks, like Moleskines and FiieldNotes; but I also write on napkins and paper towels, when I don’t have anything else available.

I write on the best available tool in any situation.

Sometimes I hear arguments for Apples decision, or need to don’t provide any real ways to provide communications between apps, and they piss me off to no end. One thing is to keep stuff like flash – and other obvious terrible technologies from iOS. This does not mean that they should not provide a really good and solid way to make it possible for themselves and third party developers to go the two inces that is remaining between iOS 7 and what we want to make iPad’s a real options for people that don’t need a laptop.

iOS devices is the future. And the iPad could be a laptop replacement for a large portion of what I do very soon.

I’m a writer, student, developer and photographer. I need a Mac for the last two items. I don’t need a laptop to the first two, and I don’t really want to carry my Macbook Air everywhere for that either. But, there is a few reasons for doing just that.

Scrivener. The first – and main reason is that there is still not a version of Scrivener for iOS. It is in the works, and this is not a major issue for me. I would love to have it, but is isn’t a major issue. I do a manual sync between various Mac + iOS writing apps to have a safe and usable way to sync various writing projects between my mac.

Sharing. The bult in sharing menu in iOS is great, but we need to be able to provide third party apps to add stuff to it. I don’t mean the android way where you have 100 items in there. Third party apps should have the possibility to show up there. And we also need a settings area to manage this. To provide us – the users a way to say: Instapaper, Pinbook, Safari and Tweetbot is that apps I need to show up there when I hit the sharing meny somewhere and the content is a URL. This current method was cute in iOS 6, but it is neither cute or funny anymore.

Communicating between apps. Another major issue is to have a realy way to do inter-app communcation. If I open reeder and select “E-mail article”. Then I have the posibility to e-mail the article – without leaving the app. I want this. I want all app developers to provide this. We need these modal dialogs to be available to everyone.

I never use it to e-mail stuff. But, I would love to have it to send stuff to OmniFocus, or to send something to one of the 50 text editors I use. This is a general useful feature that started to show up in iOS 6. And now we need it to be made available.

Seriously. There might not be a very bright future for iOS, if we don’t see a real revolution in terms of sharing data between apps, doing interaction between apps and a real sharing menu in iOS 8.

And remember, one thing is to be able to share data between apps, something I think is very important. Another issue is to let you have some kind of dialog that belongs to another app, inside your app. I would love to be able to have the real “New OmniFocus action” dialog in any context. Imagine how great stuff like this would have been, if we didn’t have to leave App A to do something in App B and C.

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Notes on Smile and TextExpanders touch latest AppStore issues.

26.11.2013 01:00

Every time some popular iOS app get some trouble, you see all of these stupid stories regarding “Apple is trying to screw X”. Something, I think and have always thought is bullshit.

There have been a long time since it was Apple’s policy to block any App that either do a more power user version of some feature they have, or provide an alternative to some app they have.

One thing many people don’t understand when it comes to when Apple is changing their policy, or react to some usage of technology or API is not to get rid of that App, or because they want to “get that company”. The story behind TextExpander was they used something called a named Clipboard, it is just like the default one, only that it had a name, and was not the same one that you accessed while copying and pasting.

Smile Software did in fact use this feature as intended, that is at least my impression of the whole thing. Apple changed how they worked in iOS 7, all of them were placed inside a Namespace. This means that only one company can access the clipboards they use.

The reason for this change is probably, and almost certainly because some compares used this feature for stuff it wasn’t intended; like tracking. In other words, Apple broke TextExpander Touch in order to improve security and privacy. This is a good thing, I’m not happy about the result in TextExpander Tocuh’s case. But, I agree on the general policy.

After this they implemented a hack where they used Reminders, and a task that would never be displayed to the user. A hack, and not a solution that would have survived in the long run.

And now they have to do something different, both short term and long term. I think a web-service to sync the stuff and a SDK that do everything with the synced data is the only way to go.

But, back to my point. Apple never do these changes because of companies like Apple, they do them because of the 99% of apps that don’t do the right thing. And they have to do things in a general way, that makes the life hard for companies that don’t play nice and follow the rules. The sad consequence of this is that sometimes it results in makes the life harder for companies like Smile.

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Instapaper trick for Kindle owners.

25.11.2013 01:00

I spend most of my times these days: writing, reading and listening to podcasts. But still, I wish I had more time to spend on them all. On them all.

Anyway, I love the iPhone and iPad app for Instapaper, but that is not the way I read the majority of all the stuff I add to Instapaper.

The device I prefer to read on is my Kindle. The reason for this is that it is always in my coat pocket, and that it’s battery life is so good that I only need to charge it about once a month.

This is the trick. Once a month, I go into Instapaper, and start to download the ten latest articles into the Kindle mobi format, then I archive the 10 articles that was downloaded, and repeat this process until my Instapaper list is empty. Then I plug in my Kindle into my Macbook Air and transfer the files.

I sometimes read on my phone or iPad, but it is not often more than 1-2 articles. You know, I might start browsing through twitter or draft a blog post, like I am doing now. But, when I read and only read when I open my Kindle. If I spend two hours reading on my Kindle, I get through about ten times what I could get through during a week on any of my other devices.

This is one of the not that know features of Instapaper that every Kindle user, with a Instpaper reading list that they new get through should check out!

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Alfred, Marked2 and Scrivener.

22.11.2013 01:00

I use Scrivener a lot; I write long articles, all of my papers at the university and a few book projects in Scrivener. There is a 90% chance that Scrivener is open when you see me write on my Macbook Air. And when I was looking at the Marked2 settings screen last night, I saw something cool. The setting makes it possible for marked to also open Scrivener with the active project when you open it in marked.

Marked is an app by Brett Terpstra that can preview more or less anything that have a pre-processor. And you can do a lot of different stuff with it. It is the worlds coolest previewing app. Check it out here.

There is two different ways I use Scrivener, I either just write, in that scenario I just want scrivener to be open. But, sometimes I do write, review, write, review all of them in 5-10 mintue intervalls. Then I want both Marked and Scrivener open. I didn’t want to change Marked to be the default app for Scrivener files, something I think would have worked. So, I created a workflow in Alfred to solve this.

I have made three Screencasts to set this up; one for Alfred, one for Scrivener and one to just show how it works.

Setting up Marked

This screencast shows how to set everything up in Marked

Setting up alfred.

In this screencast I will first show you how to enable a action sorting setting on file action in Alfred, this makes it so that the action you used last always will be on top.

Then we well go on to create an action for scrivener files, that file open them in Marked.

Usage

This screencast shows you how to use the damn thing. Just type ‘name of scrivener project, hit the right key on your keyboard and select the Scrivener action.

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Going back to Chrome, for a few days.

21.11.2013 01:00

A little bit of my browser history. I started using a browser called Netscape in the late 90’s, after getting pissed off by Internet Explorer. Then I moved on to Opera, Mozilla and then Firefox when it finally was launched. Then I used Firefox until Chrome came to the mac in 2010. There are also a few periods with Safari in there.

I have been a Safari user for the majority of my browsing since the cloud tab feature came to iOS, OS X and iCloud. Safari isn’t perfect, but I still think it is the best browser for users of both OS X and iOS. There is two areas where I use Chrome, that is web-development and anything related to flash.

I decided to go back and try to use Chrome as my main browser for a while, sometime for about two weeks ago. And so, I did. And a switched back five minutes ago.

Here is my reflections on why. And a few words on why I switched.e

The main reason I did the switch was to test out a few extensions that isn’t available to Safari. And I thought the best way to do this was to use Chrome as my main browser. Here is the funny thing, I did not end up using any of them, at all.

Chrome and Safari is more or less the same. Both of them are fast, stable and works like you expect them to do. And then there are a few subtle differences, like which side all the extension icons is, and a few settings that only one of the two is. The single thing that made me make the switch back was cloud tab, aka be able to access any of the tabs I have open on any of my device from any of the other devices and the ability to have a blank page as the default when you start the browser or open a new tab.

Back on Safari, and happy about it.

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Notifications.

20.11.2013 01:00

First of all: notifications are great, for what they are designed to do. And the notifications themselves is not the problem.

When I think about notifications I always think about all the pop-ups, badge numbers and all kinds of other noise that we get thrown in our faces while using iOS and OS X. This is the result, not the problem.

My general problem with them is that most apps have them on as the default setting and that there are no good tools for managing what you want to see from all of your apps.

So, how do I manage this?

I go through Notification Center on all of my devices about once a month, or when I get really pissed off about some app notification that drive me nuts. I turn off everything that don’t cause a huge problem for me if it is not enabled. I don’t have anything enabled on my Mac. On my iPhone I have notifications enabled for phone calls, texts and a few IM clients. That’s it.

I use badge icons on both platform for all of the rest.

The reason for this strategy is that it makes the whole act of reviewing stuff I should do something about, more of an active thing, than something being thrown in my face.

I have Mail.app open on my Mac right now, something I don’t have that often. My dock is hidden and I have to move my pointer to the right of my screen to see if there are anything new. There are no other way for me to see that. And iOS is more or less the same way. I have to hit my homebutton and browse through all of the screens to see if there are anything new in various apps.

What if someone really need a reply on that e-mail? Then they call me. There have never been a single situation during the last four years where I have gotten an urgent e-mail or similar that have not been followed up by a phone call right after. E-mail is not the tool for urgent stuff. We have texts and phone calls for that.

You need to devide if you Mac, iPhone and iPad is a notifiation hub or the places where you do and create stuff. Take your devices back. Create something awesome.

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‘Storage & memory in Apple devices’

20.11.2013 01:00

My brother, and two friends of mine have talked to my about buying three different Apple devices the last few days. And these conversations have reminded my about something that always drive me nuts about Apple.

iPad and iPhone. I have to do this dance every time someone talk to me about buying an iPad or iPhone. I have to explain to them why it is a really really really bad idea to buy the 16GB model. My opinion is that the 16GB model should have been removed either with the 4S or 5. And we still have that option with the 5S. Two years after I thought it should be removed.

No one I know with an iPhone or iPad could get away with the smalles model. Everyone get into apps, or starts to load a lot of content onto their devices. Don’t buy the 16GB model.

Seriously. My mother whom never owned a computer before her first iPad, and that only owned one flipphone before her first iPhone have a lot of apps.

Macs. I have a very similar conversation every time someone have decided to buy a mac. Memory. Most people that are going to buy a mac, think it is expensive. And after that I have to talk them into spending a little more to double it, the memory. No one should get any computer with 4GB of ram in 2013.

Extra memory is an investent. You should get at least 8GB in your computer, or even more if it supports it and you can afford it. Extra memory is the single most important thing you can do to your computer to extend the number of years the computer is useful and enjoyable.

I know why Apple is doing these things with both memory and storage, they do it to make their product cheaper. Please Apple, be more proactive when it comes to upgrading default memory and lowest storage tiers on your products. It makes the buying process for regular people a lot safer. And it is not a good experience for the user to have to either delete a lot of stuff they want to have, or to sell and buy a new phone after a while because the 16GB limit is too small.

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New Squarespace apps.

19.11.2013 01:00

Squarespace finally update all of their iOS apps yesterday. They also removed the old management app and added two new apps to replace the old. This is one of these updates that makes you realize how terrible it was prior to an update.

The old management app looked very dated, and have been the same since I first got to squarespace back in 2011. The old functionality of the management app was managing a blog, statistics and comment management. This have been replaced by a dedicated blog app and a dedicated metrics app. They both look modern, clean and is amazing to use. I don’t know for the new blog app includes support for managing comments.

They also have two other apps that received minor updates. The note app is a app for drafting notes or blog posts, and it supports sending it to squarespace, Evernote etc. My main problem with this app in the passed was that you could not use it in landscape mode. This have been fixed, and it is a great app for when you want to type out a blog post on the go.

One great new feature in the new blog app is that it support most of the features from the desktop web interface. This makes it possible to write link list style blog posts, something I have asked squarespace support about numerous times during the last 12 months. But, there is one thing I don’t like about it: you can’t write in landscape orientation. This is a typical 1.0 issue that I think will be fixed shortly.

The new metrics app is just a simple and flexible app to browse your site stats. It’s pretty cool and includes a lot more information than the old management app — which is great.

The last app is the portfolio one. It lets you sync one or more gallery locally to your phone or iPad. It is great for showing a gallery to clients if you use it as a portfolio or your vacation pictures to your grandmother that don’t have wifi.

I have two additional complaints. Only two of the apps have iPad versions: blog and portfolio; it would be so great if all of them were available on both devices. And it would also be cool if the notes app could sync all of the posts with draft status in a selected squarespace blog.

We are finally back to a point with squarespace were the app situation don’t make me consider switching to Squarespace.

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On Apple rumours.

19.11.2013 01:00

First of all: I only read rumour sites when I know that it is about time for Apple to release something. I don’t care that much about all of the crazy rumours. They are of zero interest to me. Do I care if Apple is going to announce an iPhone or new Macbook tomorrow? No, I don’t. I don’t need a new phone or laptop right now.

I don’t mind the rumour sites. What they are doing is great. That’s not my problem with them.

My issue with the whole rumour game is sloppy journalism. You need to find at least two different trusted sources before publishing it. If your site is called “Macrumors” – publish everything related to it. But, if your site is called BusinessInsider and you publish something like “Apple is about to launch pyramid shaped iPad” – don’t do it. And please add “Rumour:” in the beginning of the title; or something similar.

People may publish what ever they like; and I don’t have a problem with it. But, you need to be open and transparent in both the article and the title regarding what it really is.

Don’t make the reader think that some crazy hack of a rumour is a PR message from Apple, or a tip from a trusted source.

It is not nice to do the “link bait” kind of posts. And I will not – not ever click on any title that comes from a “link bait” style site, or click on any article with that kind of title. I don’t care who or what you are. I just don’t care.

Care about your craft. Do the right thing. You are nothing without your readers. Do you want to be the next business insider?

I hope not.

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The new iPads revisited.

15.11.2013 01:00

I have been listening to podcasts talking about the new iPad for a long time now. And I finally went to my local Apple Authorised Retailer on the way to the university this morning.

There is three things I want from a new iPad, if I’m going to get one: – It must be easier to thumb type – A faster and up to date iOS experience – Retina screen.

It would also be nice to have an iPad that I could stick in my coat pocket. This kind of excludes the iPad Air.

What I did when I was there was to play with the new iPhone’s, and the new iPad’s. I won’t get a new iPhone now, but I just wanted to see how it was.

The weight and typing experience is two of the key points when it comes to iPads for me. And that was the main thing I did. And I will get to that in a moment.

I never manage to stand there more than a few moments, when I test devices in stores. Because it’s not how I work. It is the wrong height for a standing desk. I wish they would have some kind of sofa or chair where you could sit and test the products.

The keyboards in both orientations on both devices was amazing. Seriously. Amazing. I was kind of set on getting the iPad mini 32GB with WiFi in January, but I am torn.

What I did when I was there was to write 300 words in both orientations on both devices.

I have kind of big hands, and it is possible for me to thumb type on the iPad 2; is it usable or comfortable? No!

The amazing thing is that this is pretty comfortable on the iPad Air, but not perfect. While this is perfect on the iPad mini, both versions of it.

This was not a big surprise, really – it wasn’t.

The thing that really surprised me, was how easy it was to “touch” type on the iPad mini when placed in a stand in landscape mode.

So, where does this leave me? I don’t know really.

There is no clear choice this time. Both of the iPads are very light. Both of the are good to type on. The Air is the best when it comes to type on in in landscape, while the Mini is without doubt the best to thumb type on. But, both of them are very good at both.

I think it will be the mini, but I don’t know. And I have to do some real testing when I can until I can afford to get one.

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