Moom for Mac window management

The other day, I bought Moom after trying the free trial for about an hour. It’s an amazing Mac app for managing windows. As a side note, I’d tried it several times before but gave up on it because I found getting started confusing.

Before Moom, I was bouncing back a forth between Better Touch Tool and Magnet. I wasn’t really happy with either one and was looking for a replacement. This time around I was determined to understand how Moom works. So, after installing it I did a search for getting started with Moom. I came across this video Wrangle Your Windows with Moom by Kevin Yank that does a great job of explaining how to set up and use it.

If you’re looking for a way to manage windows on your Mac you ought to download the Moom trial and get started by watching Kevin Yank’s video. You’ll be glad you did.

iCloud Drive or Dropbox

I signed up for a Free 2 GB Dropbox account when it was announced10 years ago. Today I have 10 GB of storage on my free account; that’s the 2 GB I got when I signed up plus what I earned for bonuses and referrals. I only use about half of the 10 GB. Until recently that’s where I have stored almost all of my files.

A few months ago I was close to using up my free 5 GB of iCloud storage so I subscribed to the $0.99 per month 50 GB plan. Having heard that several folks, including David Sparks who’s opinions I respect, had moved over to iCloud Drive from Dropbox I decided to do the same since I’m paying for 50 GB.

Since moving my files to iCloud I’ve been second guessing this decision. Here’s why. To me, Dropbox sync is faster and more reliable. I occasionally read or hear horror stories of folks who have had serious iCloud problems. I’ve personally have had issues with iCloud sync. Nothing serious. Just times when things don’t sync. This has had made me considering moving back to Dropbox.

But hears the deal breaker with going back to Dropbox. It was just announced that Dropbox Free Basic is now limited to just three devices. That’s a problem for me because I have four.

I think Kirk McElhearn put this into perspective quite nicely in this post on his blog.

Dropbox has announced that users of free accounts will no longer be able to link more than three devices to their accounts. Those who had linked more devices prior to March 2019 will be able to continue to use them, but will not be able to link any additional devices.

for years, Dropbox has promoted its free service, and now it’s imposing a limit. It’s true that, for many users, this three-device limit will not be a problem, but for others it will. I have five devices linked to my Dropbox account: my iMac (my main computer), my MacBook Pro (my secondary computer), my iPhone, iPad, and a Mac mini server. Actually, there are more; an Android phone I use for testing, and an iPad mini I use for reading occasionally. I don’t need the last two, but in my work I do use the others.

The problem is that Dropbox doesn’t have a low-priced, low-GB plan. I’d happily pay, say, $20 a year for 100 GB, because I am aware that I’ve been getting this service for free for many years. But I’m not spending $100 a year.

Here’s some good advice from Lifehacker if you’re an3 existing user.

How to Unlink Dropbox Devices to Meet the New Limits for Free Users

Going forward, if you have a free Dropbox account, you’re going to want to make a mental plan for how you plan to use the service. In other words, think about how you use Dropbox on a daily, weekly, and even monthly basis: Where do you get the most frequent benefits? Where does it save you the most time? Where do you access your files a lot versus sparingly? Take all elements, weigh them in your head, and use that to help you decide which devices should have access to your account and which will not. It’s a pain—and a silly pain, given that so many of us live in a multi-device world—but it will save you time and frustration as you transition to the new, limited life of a Dropbox free user.

Day One encryption

I have been using Day One for going on three years now. One concern I’ve had is that journals by default are encrypted but with Day One holding the encryption key. This means that someone at Day One might be able to access my journals. Journals with Standard encryption are also exposed to a data breach or security glitch. This has caused me to limit what I write in them.

Now, after reading Shawn Blanc’s ”Best Journaling App for iPhone, iPad, and Mac” on The Sweet Setup I’ve taken his advice and enabled End-to-end encryption for all my journals.

Shawn Blanc:

End-to-end encryption is not turned on by default for providing the best type of security for your journal entries, as users must maintain their encryption key at all times to unlock journals if necessary. As Day One’s FAQ puts it:

When using end-to-end encryption, it is essential you save your encryption key in a secure location. If you lose your key, you will not be able to decrypt the journal data stored in the Day One Cloud. You’ll need to restore your data from an unencrypted locally-stored backup.

We recommend turning on end-to-end encryption whenever you create a new journal to ensure your data is always kept safe and secure. Save your encryption key in an app like 1Password or a locked note inside Notes.app and never lose the key.

Now no one has access to my journals without the encryption key. I keep it in 1Password.

Getting the link for an Apple Mail Message

This post by David Sparks aka MacSparky from a couple of days ago provides an Apple Script that he uses to get links to Apple Mail messages anywhere using TextExpander.

It’s easy to understand and there’s also a video that shows you how and why you would want to use it.

After reading the post and watching the video I decided that this would be something that I would use. Only one problem. I don’t use TextExpander. So after thinking about it for a few minutes, I figured I could accomplish the same thing using a Keyboard Maestro macro.

Here’s the macro:

This Keyboard Maestro macro works the same way as David’s TextExpander snippet. Now type “;elink” in any app that can take a URL and you create a link to the currently selected email message. I’m primarily using it in Things 3 and Bear.

Here’s the AppleScript if you want to copy and paste it:

(*
  Returns a link to the first selected Apple Mail message
*)
tell application "Mail"
  set _msgs to selected messages of message viewer 0
  if (_msgs is not equal to missing value) then
    set _msg to first item of _msgs
    set _msgID to do shell script "/usr/bin/python -c 'import sys, urllib; print urllib.quote(sys.argv[1])' " & (message id of _msg)

    return "message://%3C" & (_msgID) & "%3E"
  end if
end tell

 

How I fast charge my iPhone

Here’s a trick I learned a while back.

There are times I want to fast charge my iPhone. By the way, I’m still using my iPhone 7 Plus. The 5W charger that comes with most iPhones is not able to fast charge and it’s also not able to charge other devices like my iPad.

Now, here’s the trick. Most iPads come with a 12W charging block. So to speed up charging on my iPhone I use my iPad charging block. According to Apple charging your iPhone with the iPad charger block won’t harm your iPhone.

Next time you want to speed up the charging time on your iPhone give this a try.

What you need to know about the tech giants Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Apple

I just finished reading Kashmir Hill’s series of articles Life Without the Tech Giants. Here’s what I learned. It’s impossible to get along without them even if we’re boycotting their apps. Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Apple dominate the internet in ways I never realized.

This should be required reading for everyone who uses the internet. It is an education in the way the internet operates and how dependent it is on these five companies.

This is a story of how, over six weeks, I cut them out of my own life and tried to prevent them from knowing about me or monetizing me in any way—not just by putting my iPhone in a drawer for a week or only buying local, but by really, truly blocking these companies from accessing me and vice versa. I wanted to find out how hard it would be—or if I could even do it—given that these tech giants dominate the internet in so many invisible ways that it’s hard to even know them all.

To keep my devices from talking to the big five’s servers, and vice versa, Dhruv a technologist built a custom virtual private network, or VPN, for me, through which I sent all my internet traffic. He then used the VPN to block my devices from being able to use the IP addresses owned by Amazon, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and/or Apple, depending on the week.

Week 1 Kashmir blocks Amazon
I Tried to Block Amazon From My Life. It Was Impossible

After reading this, news broke that Amazon purchased Eero the WiFi router that I personally use. This had made a lot of people unhappy. They don’t want Amazon sniffing all their internet traffic. I think Zack Whittaker’s TechCrunch article What Amazon’s purchase of Eero means for your privacy frames how we should think about this perfectly.

Everyone seems to forget Amazon’s massive cloud business. Most of the internet these days runs on Amazon Web Services, the company’s dedicated cloud unit that made up all of the company’s operating income in 2017. It’s a cash cow and an infrastructure giant, and its retail prowess is just part of the company’s business.

Think you can escape Amazon? Just look at what happened when Gizmodo’s Kashmir Hill tried to cut out Amazon from her life. She found it “impossible.” Why? Everything seems to rely on Amazon these days — from Spotify and Netflix’s back-end, popular consumer and government websites use it, and many other major apps and services rely on Amazon’s cloud. She ended up blocking 23 million IP addresses controlled by Amazon, and still struggled..

Week 2 Kashmir blocks Facebook
I Cut Facebook Out of My Life. Surprisingly, I Missed It

Week 3 Kashmir blocks Google
I Cut Google Out Of My Life. It Screwed Up Everything

Week 4 Kashmir blocks Microsoft
I Cut Microsoft Out of My Life—or So I Thought

Week 5 Kashmir blocks Apple
I Cut Apple Out of My Life. It Was Devastating

Week 6 Kashmir blocks all 5
I Cut the ‘Big Five’ Tech Giants From My Life. It Was Hell

Additional reading by technologist Dhruv Mehrotra the person who built Kashmir’s custom VPN.
Want to Really Block the Tech Giants? Here’s How

Gmail design update for iOS is rolling out soon in the App Store

I abandon Gmail a few years ago but I’m sure many of you who read my blog are using it. That said, Google has announced that its mobile apps for iOS and Android are being updated to bring them in line with the design changes and new features that are now available on the web. My last experience with Gmail on mobile was disappointing at best so I’m sure this is welcome news for you Gmail folks.

Nikolus Ray
Product Manager – Gmail

This update is part of a larger effort to make G Suite look and act like a family of products, designed in the Google Material Theme with ease-of-use in mind. We’ve already updated the web experiences for Gmail, Drive, Calendar, and most recently Google Docs and Sites. In the coming weeks, you’ll see the new mobile design in Gmail on Android and iOS, with more G Suite mobile apps to follow later this year.