December 7, 2013

My Tech Season of Discontent

I am in a Tech Season of Discontent right now. I am not happy (note: more positive thoughts at end).

iPhoto is a sub-optimal behemoth home for our 30,000 family photos. It is unwieldy. Past backups of our laptops and other computers sit on hard drives waiting to be audited. My Instapaper list and other reading lists seem long. All of our scanned files remain only partially tagged. Starred items on Twitter and in RSS are are not getting processed.

My backup system with Chronosync is not working. I’ve emailed the Dev several times (he is very helpful) and despite this it is actually performing terribly in our installation. Our laptops will not do wifi back-ups reliably when awakened like is possible. I bought the app and several agents months back. My back up drives from G-Tech are requiring Disk Warrior rebuilds from time to time. I had been a LaCie user for years and this is my first foray into G-Tech. Perhaps the problem is the Mac Mini they are connected to which is a 2010 with a too-full hard drive. Moving the 70 GB iTunes library to an external HD has failed for me multiple times.

TextExpander is broken in Simplenote and Taskpaper on iOS. Apple dealt TextExpander a setback again and we all must wait for other apps to adopt the new post-Reminders snippet exchange method. I get soft restarts of my iPhone 5s. Calvetica (my favorite calendar) is having rendering problems on iOS 7. Fantastical iOS only shows the top 4-5 items graphically in the Ticker which, on most days, only shows 1/2 to 1/3 of all of my calendar items (not useful).

Dragon Dictate conflicts with TextExpander on the Mac. TextExpander on Mavericks has unpredictable crashes. Mavericks broke Junos Network Connect which has been the approved way to connect to my work VPN. Omnifocus Mac, in the current version, is an off-putting app that is far from simple / intuitive and paradoxically popular among Apple Bloggers (it is the in” productivity app). Even Ken Case avoids it according to his interview on Mikes on Mikes.

Feedly holds out features (which were standard in the past in apps) as reasons to pay (see searching of feeds). NetNewsWire (my favorite for years) took a huge step backward and is taking their time getting good again. FeedWrangler still does not have unread counts for smart streams on the web page. Also, Feed Wrangler separates into feeds and smart streams in Reeder 2 iPhone while Feedly does not.

An attempt to swing to a better attitude

  • TaskPaper remains a beautifully simple task manager which can expand (in geeky) ways for more functionality. I like the Due Dates, Send to Archive, Send Email to Inbox Applescripts. I have the next five days of tasks on the desktop via GeekTool below the next five days of appointments.
  • I really love the design of iOS 7. So clean, so nice.
  • Apple finally implemented a parental control on iOS to 1) allow a white list of sites for Safari or 2) block all sites. This finally applies to all in-app browsers. I emailed Apple about this 3-4 years ago.
  • The Apple podcast app is improved and available upon pushing the home button.
  • Reeder 2 is awesome and well-written.
  • DayOnes feature to use the date, time, location and associated weather from a photo taken previously for a new journal entry is genius.
  • CrashPlan is reliable and affordable.
  • The venerable Palm database, HandBase, got new life with iOS 7 and a new look. It was overdue.
  • The CoBook merge” function is very useful.
  • The PowerSkin PoP’n charger I have allows pocketable charging as needed without a cord or gigantic charging case. Great if you like to use your iPhone without a case as I do.
  • Having a MacMini-based media center running Elgatos EyeTV with content piped to the Playstation in the basement via Playback is cool. Easy to watch Netflix also on the Mac or PS3.
  • My 13″ 2012 MacBook Air is the best laptop I’ve ever used. It is lighter than a MacBook Pro and large enough to accommodate my larger hands.
  • The speed of the iPhone 5s makes some apps more usable such as Simplenote with long lists of tags and hundreds of notes.
  • Simplenote continues to be simple.
  • nvALT is fast and useful.
  • Omnifocus 2 Mac might be really cool based upon the Jan 2013 debut. I’m in the cue for the beta. Omni does good work (see OmniOutliner and Omnifocus on iOS).
  • Feedly in an all-white background is cool. It is the only reader that I have found that handles images well on the Mac and has great keyboard shortcuts for fast processing.
  • YoruFukurou is a utilitarian but powerful Twitter client with great keyboard commands.
  • Quicksilver continues to iterate.
  • Optional selection snippits in TextExpander are essential.
  • Zagg screen protector installations are very well done.
  • Control-D, Shift-Option-arrows, Option-arrows, Command-arrows, Control-K in text documents are invaluable.
  • Mou, Byword and nvALT are great Markdown tools.

OK, I feel better.

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