Ulysses continues to have iCloud sync issues

I was looking at Ulysses reviews in the App Store today and noticed several recent reviews with complaints about iCloud sync issues. This is not a new issue. It has been an ongoing issue for several years. It’s the main reason that I no longer use Ulysses.

I would think that Ulysses would do something to fix this problem. Of course, they always say the problem is with iCloud Drive and not Ulysses. I don’t buy that because lots of other apps use iCloud with no problems. I recently wrote about that here.

Maybe they should spend some of their subscription money on developing a sync backend.

Raindrop.io for bookmarks

For the last several years I’ve been using Devonthink Pro for bookmarking. With the introduction of Devonthink 3, which is a paid upgrade, I decided to look for a different bookmark app/service. Why? I didn’t want to pay the upgrade price and I wanted a truly cross-platform app. Devonthink is a great app and is a lot more than just for bookmarking but it is first and foremost a Mac app with an iOS app that is limited by comparison.

Enter Raindrop.io. I came across Raindrop.io while reviewing Federico Viticci’s My Must-Have Apps, 2019. He sums up the app quite well:

To sum up: I wanted to find an app/service that would help me save links from the web, organize them with folders or tags using a good-looking UI, and find them again with ease. Raindrop.io, which has been around for several years at this point and is in active development, ticks all these boxes: it’s a web service that comes with a desktop web app, browser extensions, and native mobile apps; links are automatically saved with rich thumbnails and descriptions extracted from the original webpage; you can organize links in collections, tag them, and choose from multiple view and sort options; you can also customize the look of a collection by choosing from thousands of icons. Here’s where it gets better and why Raindrop.io is ideal for my needs: on iOS, links open with Safari View Controller, not a custom web view; and, if you pay for the Pro version, you’ll be able to upload your own images, create nested collections, and rely on the service to find duplicate or broken links for you.

I decided to give the app a try. I’m using the free edition of the app which meets all my needs. So for now, I see no reason to pay for the Pro features. If your looking for a bookmarking app/service give Raindrop.io a try.

Spotlight on iPad

I find myself using my iPad more and more lately. That’s because I’m discovering that there are things that I do on my Mac that I can also do on my iPad. The trick is discovering that these things exist.

For example, I use Alfred on my Mac. I recently discovered that the iPad has Spotlight which I can use to do many of the things that I use Alfred for on my Mac. I use a keyboard with my iPad so I can quickly invoke Spotlight with the keyboard shortcut ⌘ + space bar.

Now here are a few things that I do with Spotlight on my iPad:

  • Launch apps
  • Search files and folders
  • Search the App Store
  • Search the web
  • Search maps

Duke Cannon Bloody Knuckles Hand Repair

I don’t usually write about things like this but this is something I thought you might be able to benefit from as I did.

I live in Central New Jersey where the winter air is dry and cold. We have 20 acres of land with a small farm so I’m outside a lot with my hands exposed to the elements. Last winter I suffered from dry chapped cracked hands that were very sore. I tried several different brands of hand cream to alleviate the problem with little success. Yes, I even used the stuff in the green can.

Last July Ben Brooks wrote a review about Duke Cannon Care Products. Bloody Knuckles was the product that I was particularly interested in.

Bloody Knuckles Hand Repair Balm: here’s how I tested this one, I moved across the country and handled tons of boxes. Those will eat your hands alive, unless that is you are using this hand balm. So yeah, two smooth feeling thumbs up. It takes a bit longer than I would like to soak in, but otherwise great stuff.

This fall and winter I’ve been using Bloody Knuckles and my hands are significantly better, and I haven’t had any dry cracking skin.

This stuff really works. Do yourself a favor and get some.

Duke Cannon could have easily just been a gimmick brand with no real substance to it, I’ve seen that more than a few times. But at every turn the products were well above average and that’s saying a lot in the age of everyone outsourcing and branding cheap crap. This is not cheap crap. I wouldn’t be writing about it if it was.

You can read Ben’s full review of Duke Cannon Care Products here.

Goodbye Ulysses

My love hate relationship with Ulysses is finally over. It’s been over a month since I canceled my Ulysses subscription and deleted it from my Mac, iPhone, and iPad. I haven’t missed it one bit. The combination of Bear and iA Writer for my writing projects has worked out well. If you want to read all I’ve written about Ulysses, good and bad, you can find it here.

The new Fantastical 3 offers a free version

I started using Fantastical in 2014. I have it on my iPhone, iPad, and Mac and in my opinion, it is the best calendar app out there.

With Version 3 Fantastical has gone to a subscription business model. I know, another subscription. But I think Flexibits has handled the transition well. They have taken care of existing users as well as offering a free version. If you have always wanted to try Fantastical now is the time.

Another benefit of a subscription is a free version of Fantastical. That’s right, we now have a free version of Fantastical. It’s basic, but if your needs are simply to look over your schedule, add the occasional event using the famous and magical Fantastical parser, then you will be quite happy.

Now for those of us who have been using Fantastical. Do we have to move to the subscription model? The answer is no.

And what about our existing customers who bought our apps in the past years to get us to this point? Some have called us crazy, but we call it doing the right thing. All of the features from your prior purchase of Fantastical 2 will continue to work with the new Fantastical. That’s right: your new apps will automagically detect your existing purchase and provide a special unlock of the features you already paid for. This means you will continue to get bug fixes and support for some time to come, too.

This means existing users like myself will be able to use the free version but with all the features that we’ve already paid for.

I’m not going to write a review here but if you would like to learn more take a look at the articles listed below.

Fantastical 3 steps out of Apple’s shadow – Six Colors

Fantastical 3 Review: The Best Calendar App Just Got Better

Fantastical Field Guide | MacSparky Field Guides

Bear notes app iCloud sync

I’ve often wondered why when apps have issues with iCloud sync I never have an issue with Bear. I’m looking at you Apple Notes and Ulysses.

So I decided to reach out to Bear’s developer for a response. Here’s what they had to say.

Bear support:

At the very begging of Bear development, we tried different solutions for synching and we also tried with just iCloud but it was very clear to us handling attachments and conflicts was really problematic and synching the whole database exposes users to a concrete risk a data loss.

We don’t use exactly iCloud to sync notes, we use CloudKit, which shares the same servers with iCloud, but allow us to sync with a query-like API instead of a file-based paradigm like iCloud, DropBox or Google Drive. Here more info about CloudKit https://developer.apple.com/icloud/cloudkit/.

My last question was are there different methods of deploying CloudKit?

The API set is only one but is very versatile. Basically you can consider it a remote CoreData framework with more options. Check the private/public part of the documentation for an example.

I asked the same question of Ulysses support.

Ulysses support:

Thank you for reaching out. We are sorry it took us longer to reply.

Up until version 12 of Ulysses, the subscription as well as the sheets and settings had been synced via iCloud Drive. Since version 13, only the sheets (including all attachments) and settings are synced via iCloud Drive whereas the subscription is now synced via CloudKit.

I hope this clarifies it. If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to reply.

It appears that Bears sync is more reliable because they use CloudKit to sync notes instead of iCloud Drive as Ulysses does for sheets (including all attachments).