Weekly Roundup — 20th August

Hello all and welcome to the first weekly roundup. A trial run of sharing some brief thoughts, notes & ideas about the past week.

The posts will mostly (or totally) be links to content elsewhere. Things that I want to share but don’t need a whole post to themselves.

So without further ado:


A progress update from Studio Neat on the Panobook — very much looking forward to this Kickstarter project completing. Take a listen to episode #28 of the Thoroughly Considered podcast for news if you didn’t (or did) back the project. Dan & Tom revealed that most backers took the option of the three-pack rather than the one which surprised them. Personally I went for the one but intend to upgrade to the three pack. I was on shared paternity leave when the campaign ran so I was a bit more careful with my spending.

Ben Brooks writing from actual experience of running a subscription service (for content not software) — I’ve been a (paid) member of Ben’s site from time to time. The subscription model can’t work for everyone though, it’s just not financially viable for consumers to subscribe to everything. One day I might choose to unsubscribe from Ben’s site to pay for another service. I don’t know him, but I get the feeling he’d be okay with that.

Haunting images of Chernobyl 30 years on by Chris Feichtner — just some of the moving photos and words I saw and read this weekend. Incidentally it was World Photo Day on Saturday.

Unclutter, a new app from the team that brought you DaisyDisk — A files, clipboard and notes app for the Mac. I just bought this so I’ll be trying it out in the coming weeks.

Cloak, my VPN service of choice, is changing it’s name to Encrypt.me as they expand their service. Cloak for families recently launched and there is now an Android app with the Windows app coming soon. I prefer Cloak to other, usually cheaper VPN services as I don’t have to remember to manually enable or disable it to user my devices securely. It’s just on and protecting my privacy. Easy.


That’s all for this week. It’s 10pm on a Sunday as I write this, my baby daughter is being fed her first feed since her bedtime and I should get ready for tomorrow.

Till next time.

Ulysses App Switches to Subscription Model

The recent emailed news from the Ulysses team came as a shock, as it apparently did to many others.

TL;DR I was disappointed with the move to subscription, I understand and sympathise with their justifications (though I don’t entirely agree with them all, I respect their choice). This has been badly handled. I hope to see Ulysses remain and be able to continue to use it, to that end I have subscribed.

Rather than join the outcry immediately, since I had conflicting feelings about the change I attempted to let the air clear a bit and then work out what I was going to do.

My immediate feelings were of disappointment and loss, I am reluctant to add another subscription, yet I feel forced into it should I wish to continue to use the app without issue.

The Old Versions Should Continue to Work

The team behind Ulysses are quick to point out the old version of the apps will remain usable and they have already updated them for the forthcoming versions of macOS and iOS. There is however no guarantee that those versions of the app (downloadable through the purchases section in the App Store) will work without issue under the new OS. As noted by the Ulysses team, further updates cannot be applied to the old versions as they have been removed from sale. No more bug fixes from the developer for these versions.

Having purchased both apps awhile ago I am happy to give the developer further money to including bug fixes on functionality developed since I last purchased, as well as stability and performance improvements.

As of right now, the app currently has (more than?) enough features for my use.

Uncertainty

I can understand why a lot of app developers are reluctant to produce roadmaps.

As outlined in their post on Medium it’s not hard to understand, and sympathise with, the need of Developers to find different and more suitable revenue streams to support and grow their applications. For a great app crafted with love, attention to detail and long hours working to build and maintain an app (like Ulysses), they absolutely deserve that.

Customers deserve software that is fit for purpose, reasonably free of bugs, and is supported (read maintained not necessarily extended functionally), for a reasonable period of time.

I wrestled with wanting to support the developers, against the feeling that the software I previously purchased had been abandoned and the additional price of re-admission may personally not be worth it. Particularly as it is recurring cost, I don’t write for a living, and nor do I use the application every day, though I do intend to use it more. You know what they say about good intentions though.

The subscription model Day One recently incorporated would, in my opinion, be better suited here (note they did not handle the change well either). Paid applications where subscribers are given access to additional functionality and future features. Non-subscribers (and those whose subscriptions elapse) retain all of their content within a functioning, but less enhanced, version of the application. Under the new Ulysses model the functionality to create or edit content is removed when a subscription expires. You can still access you content but are basically left with an application stripped of it’s most basic purpose.

I was also put off by the lifetime discount only remaining valid if the subscription is continuous. The price of subscription is high, though so is the quality of the app and my willingness to support it.

Moving Forward (and likely elsewhere)

I purchased a subscription as I want to keep using Ulysses for now, spending time writing and not trying other apps or being frustrated by potential issues following upcoming OS updates. I don’t want to have to worry about this right now so I’m paying to make the problem go away (for me) until a later date.

The downside to this subscription is that if I decide not to re-subscribe after a year, I will not be left with what I would consider to be a working application. In that scenario Ulysses won’t be made obsolete by an OS update or be stuck with a bug that may or may not affect me. It will be immediately and intentionally rendered next to useless. That feels really shitty to me.

Uncertainty

Supporting the app by subscription does not ensure nor guarantee it’s future, as some have argued. It hopefully helps it become more financially stable and viable, yes.

My main fear is that based on the largely negative reactions of customers via Twitter, the change has burnt a lot of trust in, and goodwill to, the company behind the app. I am concerned that they won’t get the numbers of supporters they need.

Mostly I’m concerned that this app is not the best choice for me anymore (or won’t be in the long run), mainly from a cost perspective and lack of ownership. This also free’s me, from what I would consider to be a loyal customer, I now feel less tied to Ulysses and free, even encouraged, to look at alternative options.

I will be playing attention to potential replacements for Ulysses during the next year. Something that wouldn’t be the case if I’d been offered a paid upgrade.

What’s Best for You Isn’t Always Best for Me

I hope this is what’s best for the future of Ulysses and for the team of people behind the app (and their families).

Ultimately it’s likely we will part ways in the near future, until then thanks for the ride and thanks for making a great app that I enjoy writing in.

A Few of the Best Elastic Wallets (Tools & Toys)

Tools and Toys recently published an article on minimalistic, elastic wallets in which they cover the TROVE wallet.

I backed the TROVE on Kickstarter in August 2014. Since receiving it two months later it’s been my daily wallet and I haven’t wanted anything else.

The Kickstarter special edition version I have will be kept as a collectable rather see use in anger but the wallet I buy to replace this one will also be a Trove. The only problem I have is deciding on what colour scheme to get.

Find your trove.

Cranked Magazine’s Mission Statement

Lately I’ve been thinking more about the things that are important to me. About what my values are. How I want others to think of me.

A lot of Cranked magazine’s mission statement resonates with me, especially:

Ride like you mean it
Because life’s too short to trundle down the trail like a sack of spuds with a wheel at each end, y’know?

I want to be more present in the moment when I’m riding. Experience bigger and better. Push myself and expand my limits. Ride like I mean it.

Aside from that I can certainly get on board with the following other values of Cranked:

• Don’t be a dick
• Be better
• Ride more

Moving to 1Password in the Cloud

I (we) moved from a standalone version of 1Password to 1Password for Families. The key selling point for me was being able to move my wife over to 1Password without having to purchase (and then eventually upgrade) separate licenses, and to be able to share vaults between us.

Okay it means no longer being able to use Dropbox to sync, but I’ve not had any problems with Day One’s sync service. Yes, I trust them to keep my data safe.

Understandably placing that level of trust in a third party, especially when it comes to our most sensitive data, is not for everyone. There are some valid concerns.

Some people are pissed about 1Password pushing users towards their cloud solutions. On their blog Agilebits have a somewhat meandering post, covering why they believe most of their users would benefit from moving to their cloud solution. They are also open about how it benefits them as a business, and how that in turn benefits their customers.

Most notably (for standalone users) Agilebits assures standalone vaults will remain in 1Password 6 and will still be there in version 7 too:

TL;DR: We love 1Password. We love you. We believe 1Password memberships are the best and will shout it from the mountaintops, but standalone vaults aren’t being removed.

For me the enhanced security I get by using unique, strong passwords conveniently, outweighs the risks (so far as I understand them) that cloud data presents to me. I don’t consider myself a prominent target either so I’m prepared to accept other potential compromises in security like 2FA over mobile text for example.

There are those who are unhappy despite these assurances, and thats perfectly right for them. What level of security you required and what compromises you are prepared to accept in exchange for convenience is an incredibly personal thing. The direction 1Password is heading in won’t suit everyone unfortunately. I still highly recommend it to everyone though, but as with everything what suits me may not be best for you.

Take a look, weight the pro’s and con’s and decide whats best for you. For me it’s 1Password.

MarsEdit 4 in Public Beta

I’ve used MarsEdit 3 over recent years to post to various blogs and it’s a great, if perhaps a little dated UI wise by todays styles and standards.

That said it works well and is reliable. It’s way better than using the WordPress admin interface in the browser.

It’s been over 7 years since MarsEdit 3 was released. Typically I would like to maintain a schedule of releasing major upgrades every two to three years. This time, a variety of unexpected challenges led to a longer and longer delay.

The good news? MarsEdit 4 is finally shaping up. I plan to release the update later this year.

Great news. You can read more over on the Red Sweater blog. Any new purchases of MarsEdit 3 licenses (not through the Mac App Store) will get upgraded to version 4 for free.

Despite not being updated in awhile it has stood the test of time and in February this year The Sweet Setup named it The best blogging app on Mac for WordPress.

I have the beta installed I’m using MarsEdit and Ulysses to post here since switching this blog back to WordPress.

Coming (Back) Home to WordPress

Friction can be bad. The more friction you feel between you and accomplishing (or even just starting) a task, the less likely it is that it’s going to get done. Even when it’s something you want to do.

I’ve been feeling some friction with using Hugo to generate a static version of this site. Mostly regarding needing to be at my MacBook or home office Mac, or to remotely access them, in order to be able to build and deploy the site.

Doesn’t matter if it’s a tiny amend like a typo, misspelling, or a grammatical error. The whole site needs to be rebuilt and deployed.

Now its pretty darn quick to build, and with rsync only deploying files that have changed it’s also quick to deploy changes to the server. I still have to be at a Mac with the latest version of the site pulled down from the repo.

If I am on one of my iOS devices I can use Screens to remote to my home office Mac. I can then make sure I’ve got the latest source from the repo, and if I haven’t already added the new post (which is likely on these devices) then I can add the file, copy the post contents and format the posts metadata so it gets handled correctly by Hugo.

Once thats done I just need to build and check it looks fine in Hugo and deploy it. Oh and commit my changes to the repo.

It’s all straight-forward enough, but there’s enough steps and slight complexity in it to cause me to hesitate about even starting a post.

With WordPress I can copy and paste the markdown for my post, usually from Ulysses into my app of choice. If I’m on my Mac I can publish direct from Ulysses or perhaps MarsEdit. On iOS I can also publish from Ulysses or use the WordPress app.

Additionally on all platforms (where I also have 1Password installed or accessible by browser) I can login via the WordPress admin UI and create/update posts.

Since I moved to a VPS my sites are running faster. Not static site fast, but fast enough to make me happy and it’s not like this site has a big readership (or even a small readership).

At the weekend I deleted the site, one-click installed a WordPress instance, chose a free and clean WordPress theme and migrated my content. The biggest part of the process was finding a free theme that would suit for now and only required minor amends to not be too objectionable.

Hopefully now it’s easier and more accessible for me to post to this site, I will post more. There’s one less excuse not to.

Panobook from Studio Neat — A Notebook for Your Desk

It seems like only a few weeks since I received my glif (the second version) after backing their project on Kickstarter.

The Studio Neat guys are back on Kickstarter, this time with their solution of a notebook that fits well on a desk alongside a keyboard — the Panobook.

A panoramic notebook for your desk, and eventually, your shelf. Made of quality materials and thoughtful details.

The computer desk friendly ratio of the notebook isn’t its only thoughtful aspect. The dot-grid paper inside features subtle corner guides with horizontal and vertical midpoint guides to help easily divide the page including three or six 16:9 rectangles, perfect for wire-framing or storyboarding. The slip case for archiving completed notebooks is a cool idea too.

Ben Brooks and Stephen Hackett have posted reviews from their time using a prototype version.

I’m a sucker for a cool notebook (still pining for a Baron Fig Confidant but reluctant to spend the extra money to import one) so I’ve backed this on Kickstarter. Just the one for now, but who am I kidding I’ll probably up it to three or more soon.

Gather — A Modular Organiser from Ugmonk

I’ve been an admirer of the work of Jeff Sheldon for awhile since I first became aware of Ugmonk clothing. Instantly wanting pretty much everything on the site I couldn’t decide what to get. So I didn’t get anything. Weird. I mean I really like the minimalist designs, cool typography, and oh boy the brown leather mouse mat, phew!

I signed up for the newsletter though. Through that I found out about the current Kickstarter project for Gather.

Following on from that I just placed an order for a couple of t-shirts for Melinda and I. As luck would have it they were sold out of the mouse mat I’ve lusted after for so long. Some day it will be mine, but not yet.

Deciding on what to get from such a long list of cool t-shirts, prints and accessories was hard. Some things were sold out in my size too, which made choosing harder.

What’s easy is the appeal of ordering from a small, independent and creative company, run by a family, who make cool products and also give back to charity.

Kickstarter Campaign Funded in 47 minutes

The initial $18,000 goal was smashed in under an hour. 24 hours in the pledges stood at over $100,000. Just a week later the project was 1051% funded.

After the first few days I admit I felt a little wary about my pledge. I was excited about the project and desperately hoping that the manufacturing process would be able to scale to cope with the massive demand.

The third project update via Kickstarter ensured backers that the manufacturers were ready to scale as big as required and still deliver on time while maintaining detail and quality. I sure hope so.

A Gift to Myself

Delivery is estimated as December, a nice Christmas present to myself. I didn’t pay attention to this when deciding to back the project but it works out kinda nicely.

I backed the Peak Design’s Everyday Backpack last year which also turned into a fantastic Christmas present to myself.

Hoping that I get what I really want for Christmas this year, my very own Gather.

There’s 19 days left to back the project. Go on — treat yourself.

Not Quite a 365

The pressure is off at least. I struggled on quite a few days, since I started Shared Paternal Leave I’m not always out and about at places where I’m inspired to take photos. I’m also pretty focused, or distracted, by looking after little one.

There have been clingy periods and mental leaps, teething and colds and I chose (and also didn’t have a choice) to focus on looking after Ellie. Sometimes it got to nine o’clock on an evening before I remembered I hadn’t taken a photo for the day. This often led to some scrambling around looking for a subject, often with poor results. This led to a lot of what I would call poor photos, that I wouldn’t have otherwise shared.

Perhaps I learned something anyway from taking these ’bad’ photos, but I don’t think thats the case.

A few months in I started posting the photos less regularly. I was still taking a photo each day, multiple photos even, on my camera and my phones camera, but I was posting them in bulk after a few days, struggling to keep up.

Recently, while again behind on posts, I realised I had only taken one photo on a previous day. Elowyn and I both had head colds so we were resting. I took a very poorly lit photo using the front-facing camera of Ellie asleep in my arms, intending to send it to my wife. Thats the only photo I took that day, my energy went to looking after myself and my daughter and I’m completely happy with that decision, it wasn’t really even a conscious choice.

Now I could have shared that photo, I considered it. It would mean I could continue the unbroken chain of posting photos. But I would have felt shitty. Like real shitty. Like I cheated at something, and I already felt somewhat like that on. days where I cobbled a photo together last minute. I’m not completely sure why this made me feel bad, it’s not like I have an audience with certain expectations of me, or something contractual to live up to (other than perhaps with myself). Expectations I placed on myself.

Realising this was kind of freeing. I realised I didn’t mind so much having missed a day. It doesn’t feel like the epic failure I though it would. This isn’t that much of a priority to me, not the one I imagined it would be, failing wasn’t that bad.

I’ve missed a couple of days photos recently and have some I’ve taken that need uploading. Rather than abandon things at this stage I’m going to carry on. Sure it won’t be a complete 365, and I may still post some rushed, last minute though out photos (hopefully less of these). I’ll probably miss a few more days along the way.

You can catch up and stay up-to-date with my photos on Bliphoto.

At least I’ll be taking and sharing more photos. I think that was the real benefit of starting this project, and it’s a benefit that’s not negated by ‘failing’.

Yep yep yep!