Notice to my faithful followers:

For various reasons, I will no longer be publishing my writing on this blog. I’ve been publishing stories here since late 2016 and in that time I have only accumulated 50 followers. That said, I will be keeping the site active because the site still gets 50 to 60 visitors a day reading older stories.

From now on I’ll be publishing my writing on Medium at lstephens.medium.com. I’ve been publishing stories there off and on since late 2015 and have over 2700 followers. Medium is making changes that will make it easier for me to connect with those followers and I, therefore, feel like this is where I should be focused on publishing my stories. I also want to let you know that none of my stories will be placed behind the Medium paywall.

Here’s how you can continue to follow my stories:

  1. You can subscribe to my weekly newsletter which will include links to all the stories I’ve written during the week. This is new and the first email will go out at the end of this week.
  2. You can follow me on Twitter. Every story that I publish will be posted there.
  3. If you use RSS you can follow my RSS feed https://medium.com/feed/@ldstephens.
  4. You can follow me on Medium at ldstephens.medium.com. Unless you’re a regular reader on Medium I would suggest using one of the other methods to follow me. This method doesn’t provide any kind of notification that I have published something.

UPDATE: iOS 14 has Zuckerberg/Facebook running scared

I’ve been working on an article about the iOS 14 privacy feature that has Facebook and other advertisers running scared. Facebook acknowledged that Apple’s upcoming iOS 14 could lead to a more than 50% drop in its Audience Network advertising business. (Doesn’t that just break your heart)

Today to my disappointment, Apple is holding off on introducing the default feature until early next year to allow developers more time to make the necessary changes to their apps. I guess this makes everything I’ve written all for naught. Oh, well.

By the way, did you know that you can manually limit targeted advertising and reset your identifier? If you do this an app will still be able to access your IDFA but it makes it much harder to build a profile on you. I reset my identifier once a month.

The advertising identifier on an Apple device does not identify you personally, but it can be used by advertisers to create a profile about you. If it’s never reset, that profile increases in detail, allowing advertisers to target ads to you based on your Internet activity.

Epic and Apple

I’m guessing you’re aware of what’s going on between Epic and Apple. It’s been the big story in tech news for a few weeks. Yesterday Apple terminated Epic’s App Store account, as threatened, following a legal dispute between the companies. This is headed for the courts and is going to be playing out over the next several months.

I’m enjoying watching this battle. Its two big tech companies fighting it out over a lot of money. I do tend to side with Apple on this because of the brazen and calculating way Epic has brought this on them self.

The Apple pundits have differing opinions on who’s right or wrong but I like Jason Snell and David Sparks take on this kerfuffle.

Jason Snell:
Epic versus Apple? I’m rooting for the users

The thing is, I don’t really back all the actions of either party in this kerfuffle. Instead, I’m squarely on the side of the people who use technology. Let’s leave aside the tech giants. What are the outcomes that would most benefit regular users?

So who am I rooting for in this case? I’m hoping that the judges, along with the legislators and regulators, don’t get distracted by the sight of two large, profitable companies squabbling in court and lose sight of the most important party in this case—the people who use these products every day.

David Sparks:
Apple’s Troubles and MacSparky Coverage — MacSparky

Lately, Apple has been dealing with several percolating problems. Governments, at home and abroad, are interested in their business practices. Troubles between the United States and China are now threatening Apple’s business in one of its biggest markets. Big and small developers are now finding ways to exert pressure against the existing App Store model.

I have had several readers/listeners write in asking me to cover these topics more, but to be honest, I’m just not that interested.

I am much more concerned about all of the families that have lost loved ones and all of the people out of work due to this pandemic than the troubles of a $2 trillion company.

Is an iA Writer subscription coming to an App Store near you?

The two most popular markdown writing apps on Mac and iOS are iA Writer and Ulysses. Ulysses is a subscription and iA Writer is a purchase. When Ulysses went subscription many users got pissed, me included, and moved to iA Writer. I got over being pissed at Ulysses and today I use both apps.

Not surprising, iA Writer is now going to be transitioning to a subscription / paid choice (I’m guessing) with their next major update.

Here are the details:

Subscription or no subscription? That’s not the Question. – iA

Talking about subscriptions in public is a delicate matter. Apple is jealously watching what developers say. Competitors are watching and trying to get ahead of the game. Customers are watching and might get worried: What are they planning!? McKinsey suggests that you could offer both subscriptions and paid options in the transition from paid to subscription.

This is not where we are going. We believe in the choice and we want to bring the choice to buy or subscribe to all platforms. Customers like the choice, and we like it. Clearly, after seven years of offering free updates, there will be a new version of our apps at some point. And even though Apple doesn’t offer upgrade discounts, this, next to offering a choice, is exactly what we want to do. We just have to find a way around the hurdles. But we have lots of other things planned, that we can’t talk about yet. It won’t be a simple move from paid to a choice between paid and subscriptions. It will be even better.

Maybe subscriptions are not the best fit for productivity software. But, as laid out above, some do prefer subscriptions, especially if they are reasonably lower than buying the apps. In that sense, subscriptions will allow you to charge a fair price for your app and not compete in the race to the bottom. But if you offer the choice, you offer customers the opportunity to decide for themselves how they support you.

My thoughts on Ulysses 20 Revision Mode

Ulysses 20 – Ulysses Blog

We added an “advanced text check” to revision mode, which offers informed suggestions on capitalization, punctuation, semantics, redundancy, style and typography. We partnered with LanguageTooler for this, a fellow German company which develops the magnificent LanguageTool Plus. As a matter of fact, we fully integrated LT Plus into Ulysses, so you now have access to its comprehensive set of grammar and style rules right from within Ulysses!

I use the free version of Grammarly to check spelling, grammar, and punctuation before publishing my articles. Now that Ulysses has LanguageTool Plus built-in I wanted compare it’s results to Grammarly’s. To compare I first ran my articles through LanguageTool Plus and made the suggested changes. I then ran the same articles through Grammarly and in every case, Grammarly found additional items for correction. Based on that comparison I’ll be sticking with Grammarly.

Getting to know John Gruber the writer

John Gruber is one of the leading experts blogging and podcasting about Apple. Recode referred to him this way “Apple obsessive John Gruber built Daring Fireball, the world’s most powerful one-man media company” If you’re into Apple you know who he is. John blogs at Daring Fireball and has a podcast The Talk Show. He’s also the creator of Markdown the popular plain text writing markup language that many of us use today.

I’m an enthusiastic follower of John’s blog and listener of his podcast. I find him to be knowledgeable about all things Apple thanks to his contacts at the highest levels of the company. What he writes is well written, always informative, and accurate.

I find it interesting to know what makes people like John tick and how they got to where they are. I’ve heard John talk about himself on his podcast but only bits and pieces never the full story from beginning to where he is now.

The other day John posted about being on Antony Johnston’s Writing and Breathing Podcast. If you would like to hear John’s full store in his words listen to this podcast. It’s excellent!

MONDAY, 10 AUGUST 2020

YOURS TRULY ON ANTONY JOHNSTON’S ‘WRITING AND BREATHING’ PODCAST

Antony Johnston — best known as the creator of the excellent and right-up-my-alley Atomic Blonde  — hosts a podcast devoted to writing, and he was kind enough to invite me on. I could talk about writing — what I do, how I do it — forever, even though, as I hope I made clear to Johnston, I don’t really fully understand how exactly I do what I do. The only thing I really understand about writing is that I need to do it.

I really enjoyed having the opportunity to talk about this. If that sounds interesting to you, I bet you’ll dig listening.

Copied clipboard manager app is back

After more than 2 years without updates, what was my favorite clipboard manager app Copied is back. I used it on my Mac, iPhone, and iPad. The great thing about it was that it synced across all my devices using iCloud. Not many clipboard managers do that.

With this update, it will become my main clipboard manager again. The new version 4.0 now has link previews, dark mode, Siri shortcuts, and improved compatibility across devices.

As a side note:

After I updated the app on my iPad and iPhone the Mac app version 2.0.7 stopped syncing. Frustrated, I uninstalled the Mac app and reinstalled it. To my surprise, the reinstalled app is version 4.0.0 which is compatible with the iOS and iPadOS apps. Remember to enable iCloud sync.

Isaias aftermath

Isaias blew through our area mid-afternoon on Tuesday and took down trees, branches, and power lines on its way. It’s pretty f**king scary watching the powerful wind and rain then hearing trees cracking. As you might guess we lost power and internet Tuesday afternoon and didn’t get it back until Friday evening.

If you’re not familiar with central New Jersey we have a lot of trees. I mean a lot of trees! We also have above-ground utilities. We get thunderstorms with strong winds fairly regularly and the occasional hurricane/tropical storm. Of course, this is a perfect formula for power outages.

When we moved here 3 years ago we had the house wired for whole house generator manual switch over. That has proved to be a wise investment. We’ve needed it several times including 4 days last week. If you live in an area with lots of trees and above ground utilities I highly recommend doing this.

Thank goodness we had no damage to our house. The other 20 acres is a different story. There are several fallen trees and branches around the property. So as you might guess I’ve been busy with the cleanup.

I have a few things I want to write about but that’s going to have to wait for a few more days.

How to get the trackpad to ignore touches while typing

Do you get frustrated with how the slightest touch of the palm of your hand or thumb on the trackpad causes the text cursor to jump to a different position when you’re typing? I have and it’s been bothering me for some time.

Here’s how I solved this problem. I turned off “Tap to click” in the Trackpad Settings. Now when I’m typing and my palm or thumb accidentally touches the trackpad the text cursor doesn’t jump to a different position. I’m guessing this setting is on by default because I don’t recall having ever turned it on.

When I’m not typing, I like having “Tap to click” turned on. Since it’s not convenient to go into Trackpad Setting to turn it on and off all the time I looked for an AppleScript that I could use to toggle it on and off.

I found this one and it works fine.

Credit: Wojtek Witkowski on Github

tell application "System Preferences"
	activate
end tell
tell application "System Events"
	tell process "System Preferences"
		delay 1
		click the menu item "Trackpad" of the menu "View" of menu bar 1
		delay 1
		click the radio button "Point & Click" of the first tab group of window "Trackpad"
		click checkbox 3 of tab group 1 of window "Trackpad"
	end tell
end tell
tell application "System Preferences"
	quit
end tell

I’m using this script in Keyboard Maestro with the hotkey ⌘+⌥+9 to toggle the setting on and off. This will also work with an Alfred Workflow.