Reeder 5 iCloud feeds sync revisited

I’m a long-time Reeder user for RSS. Not long after Reeder 5 was introduced I tried out the new iCloud feed sync feature. At the time I wrote that I wasn’t impressed.

I wanted to try iCloud feed sync thinking I could cancel my free Feedly account. I’ll share a couple of issues that I experienced and ultimately sent me back to using the free version of Feedly. First off I found iCloud feed sync to be much slower than Feedly. In addition to being much slower, often times feeds timed out and didn’t sync.

A few weeks ago I was having some sync issues with Feedly and while I was waiting for Feedly to fix them I decided to give iCloud feeds another go. And you know what? It’s now rock solid! It is so good that I’m leaving Feedly behind. I have had no issues with time-outs and in my opinion sync is just as fast as Feedly.

As a side note, David Sparks recently wrote about switching to Reeder 5 and using iCloud feeds for managing his RSS.

Looking at my toolset for managing RSS, it’s getting expensive. I currently use a Feed Wrangler account ($19 per year) to manage my feeds, Unread ($20 per year) to view my threads, and Instapaper ($30 per year) for read-it-later. In addition to being expensive, there is a certain amount of mental overhead that comes with managing data between three services that I would prefer to avoid.

[…]

This newest version of Reeder does a good job of managing your feeds, displaying your articles, and giving you the ability to set them aside to read later. It does all of this in one application, and in addition to the iPhone and iPad apps, there is also a Mac app. A nice bonus is that Reeder is a one-time purchase. There is no subscription involved. Instead, the developer releases a new version every few years that you buy over, but it is still far less expensive than what I paid for subscriptions. Reeder for iPhone and iPad is $5. On the Mac, it is $10.

I didn’t get my one wish for iPadOS 15

I had only one wish for iPadOS 15, and it was that I wanted the Files app to become a true Finder equivalent and that didn’t happen. What we did get were some big improvements to multitasking that I’m looking forward to. Jason Snell and Myke Hurley in Episode 356 of the Upgrade podcast give a good review of how the new multitasking features will work.

Here’s something else that I’m excited about. Apple announced some major new privacy features that will make using iPhone, iPad, and Mac more private.

Sara Morrison writing for Vox

Apple announced on Monday at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) that its upcoming iOS 15 update will give iPhone users even more insight and control over their own data. Among other updates, you’ll soon be able to see who your apps are sharing your data with; you’ll be able to stop trackers from detecting if and when you open emails; and you’ll be able to keep your internet activity more private.

Trying new apps

Greg Morris writing about trying out new shiny apps when he is already happy with what he is using.

It’s not that I have anything to gain, and it’s not marketing hype, I think I just like playing with new things and trying out other ways.

I guess it’s a bit of a waste of time but it give me quite a bit of enjoyment so what’s it matter. I enjoy the journey of transferring my information, setting things up to work for me. Those little “a ha” moments when you find a little feature that works are as enjoyable as finding a robust system and sticking with it.

I get it. I do this as well. I recently experimented with Notion and Obsidian and considered trying Craft. I didn’t switch to any of them. But I did enjoy the process and I now have a basic understanding of how each app works.

As a side note, I went in to a retail store without a face mask for the first time in 12 months this week. Even though I’m fully vaccinated, and the CDC says I don’t need to be concerned, I felt really uncomfortable without my mask. It’s going to take sometime before I stop feeling anxious when I’m not wearing a mask.

PSA: What Is Amazon Sidewalk and Why Should I Disable It Before June 8?

Brendan Hesse writing for Lifehacker:

On June 8, Amazon will launch a new feature called Sidewalk that creates small, public internet networks powered by Echo smart speakers and Ring home security products in your neighborhood. Yes, including yours—unless you disable the setting, which is turned on by default. That means if you don’t want your devices included in this particular tech experiment, you only have a week left to opt out.

🔗 Link Post: iOS 14.6 Battery Life Draining Issues? 8 Tips to Help

Paul Horowitz writing for OSXDaily.com:

Some iPhone and iPad users have reported that battery life is suffering after updating to iOS 14.6 on their device.

My normal practice is to wait a few days before installing OS updates. I want to see if the update is presenting any new issues. I was alerted to a possible battery issue with iOS 14.6 in a May 26th blog post by Lee Peterson. Therefore, I did a some research and found that several folks were having problems with rapid battery drain. I’m going to hold off installing 14.6 and wait for a fix.

As a side note Apple has stopped signing iOS 14.5.1, blocking downgrades from iOS 14.6 according to 9to5Mac, so this is no longer a possible workaround.

An update on Goodlinks my read-it-later app

Last July I wrote the following about Goodlinks.

In my opinion, GoodLinks is one of the best read-it-later apps out there. The reading experience is excellent. Articles and reading position sync between devices via iCloud. And best of all it’s a one-time purchase for iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

Since it’s a relatively new app it’s missing a few features. One big one for me is that there is no way to import saved bookmarks from other apps. I would like to use GoodLinks as my bookmark manager as well as read-it-later but until import is available that will have to wait.

Since then, the developer has been busy improving Goodlinks, and it has become my go to read-it-later and bookmark manager app of choice.

In version 1.1.1 the ability to import links from Instapaper, Pinboard, and Pocket was added. Version 1.2 added support for iOS and iPadOS 14 and widgets. And version 1.2.1 added the ability to export links.

At this time, the only thing that’s missing from Goodlinks is highlighting, but I can work around that by clipping excerpts to Drafts instead.

Give Goodlinks a try. I highly recommend it. Oh! And by the way, it’s a universal purchase, so it’s a one-time purchase that includes the Mac, iOS, and iPadOS apps. And it syncs via iCloud, so there’s no subscription.

My one wish for iPadOS 15

WWDC is just around the corner. With the 2021 iPad Pro having a M1 chip there has been a lot of speculation about what might be coming to the iPad with iPadOS 15.

I’m not a pro user so a lot of what’s being speculated is lost on me. But I do have one wish. I would like to see the Files app become a true Finder equivalent. Files needs an Open In option so that I know which app is going to open when I tap a file. And I want the ability to view a file’s extension and to be able to change it.

Desktop vs Mobile vs Tablet

Are you ditching the third device?

I often wonder how many people actually own an iPad and if they do how often they actually use it. I know there are iPad enthusiasts like Federico Viticci and Christopher Lawley. But what about you and me?

According to my blog’s Google Search Console visitor statistics the distribution of device type used to visit my blog puts the tablet (which includes iPad) far behind the desktop (which includes laptop), and the smartphone.

  • Desktop 63%
  • Smartphone 34%
  • Tablet 3%

These percentages are fairly consistent month after month.

I have an iPad, but I haven’t used it for a few months. A few weeks ago I figured I should be using it so the other day I turned it into a read-only device. You know what? I still don’t use it because I would rather read on my iPhone.

With a laptop and today’s larger screen phones is a tablet necessary?

MacBook Butterfly keyboard suit gets class action status

“Apple customers unhappy with the butterfly keyboards used in MacBook models from 2015 on will be able to proceed with a lawsuit against the Cupertino company, as the judge overseeing the case has given it class action status. The suit covers anyone who purchased a MacBook with a butterfly keyboard in California, New York, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, Washington, and Michigan.” Juli Clover for MacRumors

This lawsuit will include those who bought a MacBook between 2015 and 2017, a MacBook Pro between 2016 and 2019, or a MacBook Air between 2018 and 2019. We have a 2019 MacBook Air but so far have not had a problem with the keyboard. We also live in New Jersey so it sounds like if we do have an issue at a later date we will be included in the suit.

New from Bitwarden: Send

Secure one-to-one information sharing

Bitwarden has been my password manager since 1Password went subscription a few years ago. Don’t get me wrong I love 1Password but by comparison, it’s pricey. Bitwarden is free to use with Premium features for $10 a year. The free version will do everything most people need from a password manager.

This week Bitwarden introduced a cool new feature. Send for secure one-to-one information sharing. “Bitwarden Send is a lightweight utility used to share information with another person for a limited period of time. Bitwarden users can easily transmit a file or text, and rest easy knowing the sent information is protected with end-to-end encryption, and will not live forever. Users choose an expiration date for the Send link, after which it no longer works to access the information.”

“This new feature is available on all Bitwarden clients: Web Vault, mobile, browser extensions, and CLI, meaning users will always have a secure way to share sensitive information temporarily.”

About Send | Bitwarden Help & Support

Create a Send | Bitwarden Help & Support

This isn’t something that I will use all that often but it sure is good to know that Send is there for that rare occasion that I need it.

Did the Bitwarden Safari web extension disappear on your Mac?

Bitwarden Safari extension no longer works with the Bitwarden direct download application

Today I needed to login into a website so I opened Safari and went to open the Bitwarden extension and to my surprise, it wasn’t there. WTF!

Here is whats up: “Due to changes by Apple, Safari limits Web Extension use to only those obtained through Mac App Store downloads. As of the 2021-03-11 Release, users will not be able to use a Bitwarden Safari Extension obtained through a .dmg installation from bitwarden.com/download or any other non-App Store source. ”Safari Web Extension | Bitwarden Help & Support

According to Bitwarden Support Release Notes the Safari App Extension has officially been ported to a Web Extension for use with Safari 14 . Due to changes to Safari, Web Extension use is now limited to only those obtained through Mac App Store download. Release Notes | Bitwarden Help & Support

I unistalled the download version of Bitwarden and installed the Mac App Store version and all is good. A little advance notice on this issue would have been nice.

Independent bloggers are questioning where they publish their content?

I regularly read several blogs like mine written by individuals. They’re mostly tech and Apple-focused. I’m finding a constant theme amongst us lately. We’re questioning if we are blogging on the right platform if we should have a newsletter yada-yada-yada. Why? Because we’re all in search of more views for our content and to increase our subscriber/follower base.

We find ourselves in this place because we have way too many choices for posting our content. Where do I blog? Ghost, WordPress, Medium, MicroBlog, Jekyll, Hugo. Hosted or self-hosted. Should I have a newsletter or only a newsletter? Substack, Revue, Hey World, MailChimp, ConvertKit. Holy shit! The list just goes on and on. Where and the hell is the right place to be?

I find reading stories by fellow bloggers about this subject interesting. It lets me know that I’m not the only one who struggles with this.

Jeff Perry

Jeff Perry – Moving Back to Substack

The thing that I hate is the fact that I have moved platforms so much over the past year. I know it is frustrating to readers, because it is frustrating to me.

Jeff Perry

A goal I have is to make Tablet Habit bigger than just a hobbyist newsletter. I would love to make it a side hustle or my literal job. It won’t happen overnight, but I think it’s possible in due time.

If you haven’t subscribed, check it out! It’s free. TabletHabit.com

Matt Birchler

Why Newslettersr?

​There is a definite trend of email newsletters becoming the primary medium for writers who “go indie” recently. In years past, these folks would be starting blogs, but you don’t see nearly as many new blogs these days, and things like Substack and Mailchimp have made it so that anyone can get up and running with a newsletter, and if they’re big enough, get paid to do so.

Instead of ranting about why I think blogs are a better medium for writing in basically every way, I instead wanted to try to understand why so many people are opting for emails over the web. Here are my questions:

  1. What about writing in a newsletter is more enjoyable than writing for a blog?
  2. Are newsletter audiences more engaged than blog subscribers?
  3. As a reader, do you prefer reading in your email app to an RSS app (or just the web in general)?
  4. Do you not miss things like link posts and “going viral” which are much harder, if impossible to do with emails?
  5. Is it easier to get people to sign up for a paid subscription compared to the web?

LJPUK

Giving up on Substack (and newsletters in general) – LJPUK

I think it comes down to energy levels and focussing on one output method, in my case this blog. I much prefer to write shorter posts that I can do from my iPhone whenever I want to. My main issue with newsletters is I want to share these shorter posts, not something that I store up for a weekly release.

Chris Hannah

What Is Your Perspective?

But I realised that when I was reading other people’s writing, while I was usually interested in the topic itself, I found the most value when the author made it personal and provided their own perspective. And that’s what I’m trying to do with my own writing.

Now when writing about a topic, I remind myself that if anyone reads my blog, they’re probably not coming here as their primary source of news. So I may as well make it personal because what else have I got? I’ve only got access to one perspective. My own.

Here’s some good advice from Om Malik and John DeVore:

Om Malik

Homestead

Are newsletters the new blogs — or is it that blogs are newsletters? I can’t tell. For me, however, the blog is my homestead.

HEY World makes what’s old new again with blogging.

But ultimately, the truth is that it doesn’t matter how you express yourself. Discussions and worries about platforms and tools are distractions. CJ Chilvers is quite right when he says, “Publishing online is all about relationships.” Kevin Kelly, the legendary author and founding editor of Wired magazine, argues that 1,000 true fans are enough. I would say that even one is good enough.

John DeVore

Who Am I Writing For?

My best work happens when I write for a single person instead of a mass of people. Like any writer, I want to be popular. I want to be read by as many people as possible. But the only way to do that is to connect with one person. Before I write anything — whether it’s a social media post for a brand or a first-person essay or a movie review — I ask myself, “Who am I writing for?”

New in NetNewsWire 6: Syncing Via BazQux, Inoreader, NewsBlur, The Old Reader, and FreshRSS

More news today from NetNewsWire. “NetNewsWire 6 — currently in beta (Mac for now) — adds support for a bunch of RSS sync systems: BazQux, Inoreader, NewsBlur, The Old Reader, and FreshRSS. (NetNewsWire already supported Feedly and Feedbin: this makes the list a lot longer.)”

If you’ve held off on checking out NetNewsWire because you use one of the above, well, you don’t have to wait any more. If you are new to RSS this is an excellent reader and it’s also free.

Thoughts on Notion app

Mac Power User episode 587 Getting to Know Notion, with August Bradley was about how August uses Notion. It has been getting a fair amount of buzz lately so I decided to check it out.

First what is Notion? It is an all-in-one workspace that provides components such as notes, databases, wikis, calendars, and reminders.

I spent an entire day getting to know the app. To get started I watched several videos so that I would have some idea of what I was doing when opened the app to nothing more than a blank page. Next, I worked with a few of the built-in templates, made my own notes notebook, and started making a notes database. By the end of the day, I had a basic understanding of how things work in Notion.

Here is my takeaway. For personal use Notion is a powerful personal wiki app that requires building out components for what it is that you want from the app. It also takes a lot of customization and tweaking. I could see that this could become a major time suck. Why not just use an app instead?

Things to consider:

After a day of using the app, I don’t see a use case for me. Of course, this is my opinion. Your situation may be different.

Since Notion is free for personal use I might continue experimenting with it just for the learning experience. But, I doubt that it could ever become part of my workflow.

4 New things I learned today about my Mac’s Dock

I was catching up on some reading today and one of the articles that I read was Get to Know Your Mac’s Dock by Kirk McElhern. I’m not a Mac newbie but even as an experienced Mac user (sometimes considered a power user) I still learn new things all the time.

“One of the key elements you use to interact with your Mac is the Dock. You can use the Dock in many ways: you can open apps, you can open files by dragging them on icons in the Dock, you can open folders that you’ve stored in the Dock, and more.”

In Kirk’s article you will discover the many configuration options available for the Dock, and the best way to turn the Dock into a high-powered productivity booster.

The 4 things that I learned

  1. Magnification

In the early days, the Dock’s magnification was on by default; these days, now it’s off by default. When you select this setting, the Dock icons increase in size when you hover your cursor over them. This has the advantage of providing a bigger target when you drag a file to the Dock, but you may, like me, find it a distraction.

  1. Animation

The Dock preferences have a few settings for the way things animate in the Dock, or when you minimize windows by clicking the yellow button at the top left of a window or by double-clicking a window’s title bar.

  1. Add files and folders

You can also add files and folders to the right (or bottom) section of the Dock; just drag them there, to the left of the Trash icon.

  1. Click and hold menu

You’ll notice other settings in the menu that displays when you click and hold an app icon: you can have it launch at login, you can show it in the Finder, and, if you use Spaces, you can assign it to a specific desktop.

The changes I made

Previously I had the Dock on the bottom with Hide on and a smaller size than the default. Now I have the Dock on the left with Magnification on, and Genie effect Animation, and the same smaller size. I also removed a few apps that I rarely use. I’m liking my new Dock setup.

You can transfer your iCloud Photos to Google Photos

Apple has launched a service for transferring iCloud Photos and Videos to Google Photos. Easy data export to a competitor? Hm! “As outlined in an Apple support document, you can go to Apple’s privacy website and sign in to see the “Transfer a copy of your data” option. If you select this and go through all the steps, Apple will transfer your ‌iCloud‌ photos and videos to Google ‌Photos‌.”

“Transferring photos and videos from iCloud Photos does not remove the content you have stored with Apple, but it provides a backup method and stores a copy of the content on Google ‌Photos‌.” Not sure if this is something that I would use. 🤨

On another subject All of Apple’s 270 U.S. retail stores are open again in some capacity for the first time since closures due to the Covid-19 pandemic began nearly a year ago. 👏👏👏

Those of who you have been following me for a while know that I’m a fan of Fastmail. Here’s one of the reasons I use Fastmail. “Recently, “spy pixels” have been in the news, with the BBC running a story about this marketing industry practice. Fastmail has blocked spy pixels by default for years. Your information is safe with us.”

“Fastmail protects you from spy pixels and other remote images. As the world’s oldest independent email provider, we’ve been defending your privacy for over 20 years.” Take a look at the Fastmail 30 day Free trial.

Oh yeah, I got my first of two Moderna COVID-19 vaccinations last Saturday. What a relief.

LastPass Free is changing and users aren’t going to be happy

Here’s what you need to know

LastPass is making some changes to LastPass Free that will most likely piss-off users who rely on LastPass as their primary password manager. The big difference is that LastPass Free users will have to choose between mobile or desktop for their unlimited device access, rather than getting the system on both.

Here’s What’s Changing

We’re making changes to how Free users access LastPass across device types. LastPass offers access across two device types – computers (including all browsers running on desktops and laptops) or mobile devices (including mobile phones, smart watches, and tablets). Starting March 16th, 2021, LastPass Free will only include access on unlimited devices of one type.

Also

In addition to this change, as of May 17th, 2021, email support will only be available for Premium and Families customers. LastPass Free users will always have access to our Support Center which has a robust library of self-help resources available 24/7 plus access to our LastPass Community, which is actively monitored by LastPass specialists. 

After March 16th, if you want to use LastPass on desktop and mobile you’ll need a Premium account. With this change, you may want to look into a different password manager. Bitwarden offers a Free account that you might want to consider.

Here are the instructions on how to export your vault from LastPass and import it to Bitwarden.

iMessage BlastDoor security

Over the past three years, security researchers and real-world attackers have found iMessage remote code execution (RCE) bugs and abused them to develop exploits that allowed them to take control over an iPhone just by sending a simple text, photo, or video to someone’s device.

As reported January 28, 2021 by ZDNet “With the release of iOS 14 last fall, Apple has added a new security system to iPhones and iPads to protect users against attacks carried out via the iMessage instant messaging client.”

“Named BlastDoor, this new iOS security feature was discovered by Samuel Groß, a security researcher with Project Zero, a Google security team tasked with finding vulnerabilities in commonly-used software.”

“Groß said the new BlastDoor service is a basic sandbox, a type of security service that executes code separately from the rest of the operating system.”

“While iOS ships with multiple sandbox mechanisms, BlastDoor is a new addition that operates only at the level of the iMessage app.”

“Its role is to take incoming messages and unpack and process their content inside a secure and isolated environment, where any malicious code hidden inside a message can’t interact or harm the underlying operating system or retrieve with user data.”

Many of Apple’s privacy labels are false

I have to say this is disappointing to read. According to a Washington Post article, Apple’s big privacy product is built on a shaky foundation: the honor system. In tiny print on the detail page of each app label, Apple says, “This information has not been verified by Apple.”

Shame on the developers for lying, and double shame on Apple for not verifying.

I checked Apple’s new privacy ‘nutrition labels.’ Many were false.

You can trust Apple … right?

You go to your iPhone’s App Store to download a game. Under a new “App Privacy” label added last month, there’s a blue check mark, signaling that the app won’t share a lick of your data. It says: “Data not collected.”

Not necessarily. I downloaded a de-stressing app called the Satisfying Slime Simulator that gets the App Store’s highest-level label for privacy. It turned out to be the wrong kind of slimy, covertly sending information — including a way to track my iPhone — to Facebook, Google and other companies. Behind the scenes, apps can be data vampires, probing our phones to help target ads or sell information about us to data firms and even governments.