Technology

Making the Switch from Google Reader to Feedly

If you are a Google Reader user, then you are probably aware that the service will be closing its doors on July 1. That’s less than two weeks away, which means you should be making plans to move to a replacement service sooner than later. I’ve decided to make Feedly my new RSS reader of choice—for now, at least. If you’re interested in migrating your Reader feeds to Feedly also, the you should check out this important post from the Feedly blog and make sure you are prepared to make the switch:

We are in the process of finalizing the migration from the Google Reader back end to the new feedly cloud backend. This is an important post to help you prepare for the final step.

If Feedly doesn’t appeal to you, there are a lot of alternatives out there. It’s time to do some research and pull the trigger on something. At the very least, head over to Google Takeout and export your Google Reader data.

One Day Remaining for MacHeist nanoBundle 3 ($9.99)

MacHeist nanoBundle 3 The clock is ticking on the MacHeist nanoBundle 3—you've got one day left to pick it up. At $9.99, this bundle is a great value. Here's are the highlights:

Path Finder ($40) – This app has been on my wish list for a long time now. Path Finder is a powerful file manager and Finder replacement for your Mac. It was unlocked as a part of the bundle after 30,000 had been sold. I expect to use this app daily.

Fantastical ($20) – I already own Fantastical. It's my go–to calendar application 95% of the time. It allows you to create meetings and appointments using natural language.

Clarify ($30) – This app makes quick work of creating how–tos, instructions, and tutorials using screenshots, annotations, and text. I'm really excited about putting this app to work.

AirServer ($15) – This is another app I've had my eye on for some time now. AirServer allows your Mac to receive AirPlay feeds, similar to Apple TV. Slick.

xScope ($30) – A set of measuring tools for designers and developers. I'm not a designer or developer, but I can see this app coming in handy every now and again.

iStopMotion ($50) – Create your own stop motion animation. I doubt I'll use this app often, but I'm definitely looking forward to playing around with it.

Little Inferno ($10) – Burn stuff.

CleanMyMac 2 ($40) – I've never been a big fan of utilities like this, but I might just give it a try. I can use all the help I can get getting rid of junk and freeing up space on my modest–sized SSD.

Totals ($40) – A tool for creating invoices.

?????? – There is one application yet to be revealed. It's identity remains a mystery.

This bundle includes several great applications and it's selling at an outstanding price. Jump on it soon—there's only one day left.

Assigning Keyboard Shortcuts to Bookmarklets in Chrome

A while ago I posted about using Safari’s native keyboard shortcut for quick access to the bookmarks in your Bookmarks Bar. Unfortunately, Chrome doesn’t assign keyboard shortcuts to bookmarks natively. That doesn’t mean, however, that it can’t be done. First, go to System Preferences > Keyboard and click on the Keyboard Shortcuts tab. Click on Application Shortcuts—it should be an option on the left–hand side of the window.

Screen Shot 2013-02-23 at 3.00.35 PM
Screen Shot 2013–02–23 at 3.00.35 PM

Now click on the + to add a shortcut. Another dialogue box will pop up with three fields: Application, Menu Title, and Keyboard Shortcut. Here’s what you need to do in each of those three fields:

Application: Choose the appropriate application. In this case Google Chrome.

Menu Title: Type the name of the bookmark or bookmarklet, exactly as it appears in Chrome. For example, in the photo below, I would type “bitly Sidebar” if I wanted to assign a keyboard shortcut to that bookmark. For Pinboard I would type—yep, you guessed it—“Pinboard.”

Chrome Bookmarks Bar
Chrome Bookmarks Bar

Keyboard Shortcut: Assign your keyboard shortcut[1]. For easy reference, I assign ^1, ^2, ^3, etc. to the bookmarks in my Bookmarks Bar, moving from left to right.

Of course, you aren’t restricted to assigning keyboard shortcuts to the bookmarks in the Bookmarks Bar only. You can assign keyboard shortcuts to any bookmark you have saved. My most used bookmarks and bookmarklets tend to be located there, however, so they are the ones that are assigned shortcuts.

Now, if I want to send a blog post to Instapaper for later reading, I simply press ^1. Need to create a shortened bitly link for the page I’m currently on? ^5.

Slick.

This is easy to remember and can save you a lot of time over the long haul.

If you are a Chrome user on an Apple machine, then this is well worth your time to set up. Give it a try.

What are your favorite time–saving browser keyboard shortcuts or tips?



  1. You’ll want to make sure you don’t choose a shortcut that is already in use. Since Chrome uses ⌘1, ⌘2, ⌘3 as keyboard shortcuts to jump to open tabs, I use the Control key instead.  ↩

Waiting for OmniFocus 2

Version 2 of OmniFocus, my task management application of choice, debuted late last week at Macworld. I can’t wait to give it a try! Unfortunately, there is work yet to be done and it isn’t quite ready to ship to the public. From the Omni Group blog:

We use an iterative development process at Omni, so our next step is to ship a private test release so we can get feedback from customers on how well it’s working in practice. Based on that feedback, we’ll update our design and ship another private test release (and invite more people into the test pool), and the cycle begins again. How many times we repeat that cycle depends on how long it takes for us to feel like we’ve achieved our goals for the release.

Once we finish those rounds of private testing, we’ll post a wide-open public test release for anyone to download from our website, and finish up some of the other hard work of writing documentation, translating the app and documentation to other languages, and submitting the app to Apple for App Store review. Usually this final stage takes 4–6 weeks—at that time, it should be much easier to accurately project a ship date.

Yesterday Ken Case, Omni Group CEO, gave a bit more information regarding the release timeline, explaining that the private test likely won’t start before March.

There’s no need for me to discuss what’s new in OmniFocus 2 here, since this has already been done elsewhere. If you’re interested in learning more, you should begin by visiting the Omni Group blog.

After than, read what others have to say. In no particular order:

Preview of OmniFocus 2 for Mac | Sven Fechner
Looking Forward To OmniFocus 2 | Michael Schechter
The Omni Group’s Ken Case On OmniFocus 2, OmniOutliner 4, And More | MacStories
Omni Group’s Ken Case on OmniFocus 2 and the origins of the app | TUAW
First Look at OmniFocus 2 | Shawn Blanc
First Thoughts on OmniFocus 2 | Aaron Hockley

Also, sign up to test the pre–release version of OmniFocus 2.

Not an OmniFocus user? Omni offers a 14–day free trial period. Give it a look. If you decide to buy you’ll receive a free upgrade to OmniFocus 2 once it ships.

Revisiting My Evernote Organizational Scheme

Notebook Mess Jamie Rubin, Evernote Evangelist for Paperless Living, posted today about how he organizes his notes in Evernote. In this helpful and detailed post about his organizational scheme, he explains the importance of having a clear set of goals for Evernote before you create or tweak your own organization system:

One things I’ve learned is that there can be as many organizational schemes as there are people using Evernote. There is no wrong or right way to do it. What I describe below works for me because it meets the goals I set out from the very start. And while the organizational scheme you choose may look entirely different, it should be based on a clear set of goals. You should be asking yourself: why are you trying to organize your notes in the first place?

A clear set of goals is something I was missing when I began using Evernote in 2008. The result is an “organizational scheme” that flirts daily with chaos. I’m still able to find notes and information when I need them, but it takes much longer than it should. I have too many notebooks and an absurd number of tags. I mean an absurd number of tags.

Early in the game, my philosophy was to tag liberally. So I did. Unfortunately, this renders my tags much less useful than they should be and causes friction every time I create a note and need to decide how to tag it. Further, I have countless tags which are being used on only one or two notes. Some tags aren’t being used on any!

Needless to say, my Evernote account needs some serious TLC. It’s a great tool and I still depend on it heavily as a part of my daily workflow. It would serve me well to invest a bit of time to do some housekeeping.

Step #1: Set some concrete goals.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

(Photo Credit: .pst)

Getting the Most Out of Mail.app

Since Sparrow fell off the radar, I've adopted Postbox as my email client of choice. Though I've given Apple's native Mail.app a try for short periods of time in the past, I simply don't prefer it. That said, this post from App Storm may have convinced me to give it another try.  It's packed full of useful tips, suggested tweaks, and other information to help you get the most out of Mail.app and your email workflow.

If you're already a Mail.app user, then you should definitely give it a look.

If you use a different Mac or web email application, then perhaps this post will convince you to give it a(nother) try.

(via 52 Tiger)

Do you spend too much time online?

Dan Lyons, Editor–in–Chief of ReadWrite, introduced a new series of posts called ReadWrite Pause:

Maybe it seems weird that an Internet publication, especially one devoted to covering technology, would be urging people to spend less time online. But here we are. 

I’m guessing that a lot of our readers are like us, and have mixed feelings about how much time we’re all spending online. And maybe, if we all put our heads together, we can find a solution.

In my case it’s all about my kids. They’re twins, age 7. I have this terrible fear that they’re going to remember me as some old guy who lived in their house when they were kids and was always staring at a smartphone. Or, worse, they’ll remember me as some guy who was always in another city, calling home once a day to say good night.

As someone who necessarily spends a lot of time online, sitting in front of a computer, I’m really looking forward to following this series. In our busy, fast–moving, always on, always connected world, I want lead my family well and model healthy, God–honoring discipline in this area of my life.

It’s good to see others wrestling with this as well—especially the staff at a widely read tech blog.

My Launch Center Pro Setup

I dig Launch Center Pro by App Cubby. Recently, I’ve been singing its praises to any of my iPhone-packing friends who are willing to listen. If you haven’t already given it a look, I suggest you do so. To say that Launch Center Pro is an app launcher doesn’t quite do it justice. The App Cubby website describes it this way:

It’s like speed dial, but for more than just phone calls! Launch Center Pro creates lightning quick shortcuts to specific features buried deep within apps.

You see, it doesn’t just launch applications (though it does, in fact, launch applications). It provides direct, one-touch access to many of the functions performed by applications.  For example, if I want to create a Day One journal entry every day with the day’s weather, I can set a shortcut within Launch Center Pro to create a journal entry entitled, “Today’s Weather Forecast.”

With Launch Center Pro’s long and growing list of supported apps, the possibilities are nearly endless.

My Setup

Below I’ve included screenshots of my Launch Center Pro setup. Admittedly, it’s still relatively basic. I’m hoping to spend more time in the next week or two customizing it and making better use of its access to features within my apps.

When I open Launch Center Pro, you see my home screen, which includes twelve buttons: four action buttons and eight group buttons.[1]


Photography

The Photography group is fairly straightforward and includes icons for all photography apps I use that integrate with Launch Center Pro.


The Instagram icon, for example, launches directly to the Instagram camera.

You will notice that the native iPhone camera is not represented among the icons. Unfortunately, it doesn’t support Launch Center Pro. I take a lot of pictures with my phone, so it sits in my dock for quick access.[2]

Flashlight

Flashlight is a stock action button which turns on the LED flash on the back of your iPhone. It seems like I use my iPhone as a flashlight almost every day, so I chose to keep it on my home screen.

Brightness

The brightness action button toggles your screen brightness between two customizable levels. This is useful, especially when I’m using my phone in low light settings.

Capture


The Capture group contains action icons that allow me to capture text and information quickly. I have action buttons for Byword, Simplenote and Day One that create new notes or entries with one swipe of my finger.

Drafts and Sparrow

I use both of these applications heavily, so they own real estate on my homescreen.  Sparrow is my email client of choice for the iPhone.  Drafts allows me to create a plain text notes quickly and then send them to a long list of destinations, including Evernote, Dropbox, email, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Productivity


The productivity group contains many of the tools I use to get work done. You will see icons for some of my favorite productivity apps including Agenda Calendar, Due, Evernote, OmniFocus, and Dropbox. It also includes action buttons to create a new calendar entry, create a new email, and create a new reminder in Due.

OmniFocus


I’ve post about OmniFocus and Launch Center Pro previously.[3] Launch Center Pro’s deep integration with OmniFocus makes it worth the price of purchase alone. It’s a perfect example of the power and time-saving potential of this application.

If you use OmniFocus to manage your tasks, then pick up Launch Center Pro today.

Read


The name pretty much sums it up, doesn’t it?  I use this group most often to access Instapaper, Reeder, and my Bible app.

Social


I can compose a new tweet, check my Facebook News Feed, or launch Google+ via my Social group. I would love to add Tumblr to the mix. Unfortunately, however, Tumblr doesn’t offer Launch Center Pro integration at this time.

Call/Text

The Call/Text group includes direct dial and direct text message actions for a few select contacts (my wife, etc.). It also includes Google Voice and a dial-by-contact action button which simply pulls up a search field.  Enter a few letters from any contact’s name, select the phone number you want to dial (work, mobile, etc.), and it makes the call. Pretty snappy.

Google Voice integration is a bit of a disappointment. I use my Google Voice phone number to communicate with 90% of my contacts. Unfortunately, it doesn’t allow Launch Center Pro to access any of its buried features. This means no direct dial options and no action button to compose a text message to a specific contact. The simple ability to open the Google Voice app directly to the dialer or my text message inbox would be helpful, but no dice.

This isn’t a Launch Center Pro issue, it’s a Google issue. Perhaps the Google Voice developers will consider opening up their app and allowing deeper integration in the future? I won’t hold my breath.

Listen


Finally, the Listen group offers access to Spotify, Pandora, the native Music app, and others. The Apple Podcasts app does not support Launch Center Pro.[4]

Wrap Up

I like Launch Center Pro. I like it a lot.

One can expect the list of supported apps and actions to grow, especially as Launch Center Pro gains popularity.

As I said previously, my setup is relatively basic and still evolving. I’ll continue to tweak it over time in order to better suite my needs and maximize the amount of time savings I can squeeze from it.

It’s currently 40% off “for a limited time.” Pick it up in the App Store today.


  1. Action buttons perform actions such as launching an app or performing a function within an app, while group buttons open another 3 by 4 menu for action buttons. To access actions within a group, tap and hold the group icon. Then slide your finger to the desired action and release.  ↩

  2. Currently, I only have two icons in my iPhone dock: Launch Center Pro and Camera.  ↩

  3. My OmniFocus setup in Launch Center Pro comes directly from this post by Michael Schechter at A Better Mess  ↩

  4. Bummer. If I’m listening to something on my iPhone, it’s usually a postcast via the Podcasts app.  ↩

Support Your Favorite Apps and Services

Marco Arment, creator of Instapaper, in response to the acquisition of Sparrow by Google and Acrylic Software by Facebook:

If you want to keep the software and services around that you enjoy, do what you can to make their businesses successful enough that it’s more attractive to keep running them than to be hired by a big tech company.

A good reason to support developers by paying for the apps and services you enjoy.

April Fools Day + The Internet = Awesome

Technology and the internet make April Fools Day so much fun. Each year I look forward to seeing what new pranks and jokes will make their way online on April 1. All this April Fools Day fun doesn't come without a price, however. If you're like me, then you approach all links with caution on this day for fear that you might be RickRoll'd.

This year certainly didn't disappoint. For a breakdown of some of the web's best April Fools Day pranks, check out these posts from Lifehacker, Mashable, GigaOM, and The Next Web.

Of course, don't forget about The Resurgence team, which announced the release of a Church Planter: The Video Game:

Ed Stetzer also had some April Fools Day fun on Twitter this morning. You can read about it on his blog.

Sadly, the day is almost over. We must wait yet another year until a new wave of creative and hilarious internet pranks emerges. At least we can wait paranoia-free. Or can we?

Finally, before you go, here is one more page I recommend checking out. Enjoy!


Desktop Notifications for Gmail

Desktop notifications for emails and chat messages were announced on the Official Gmail Blog yesterday. Though not life-changing, this is a feature that I am glad to see.

Gmail is typically open as a tab in my browser at all times, even while I work on non-email related items and tasks. This means that I regularly miss others' attempts to chat with me. By the time I realize they have sent me a message and attempt to respond, they may not even be online. If this bothers me, then I'm sure it's even more frustrating for the person initiating the conversation. Problem solved. The best part is that I don't need to run an application in the background (such as iChat or Adium) in order to receive chat notifications any longer!

I'm less excited about the email notifications. I prefer to control my inbox and not the other way around. Email notifications kill my productivity, so I only check email at designated times. There is an option to be notified only when "Important Messages" arrive, however. As a Priority Inbox lover, I may consider giving this a try.

Desktop notifications are available only to Google Chrome users at this time. Details here.


The Last Text: AT&T Documentary Outlines the Dangers of Texting While Driving

via

mashable.com

What do you think about AT&T's new 11-minute texting-while-driving documentary?

It is well done, in my opinion. Definitely worth watching and encouraging loved ones (especially high school students and twenty somethings) to watch as well. The best part is that a good portion of it consists of teens talking to teens.

The question remains, however, just how effective will the documentary be with teens? Will they listen? Of course, it must be stated that teens aren't the only offenders, though they are the most inexperienced drivers and the move prevalent texters.

Hopefully "The Last Text" and other campaigns will be effective in curbing this growing problem.

Have you ever texted, tweeted, emailed, or updated your Facebook status while driving?

Kindle 3: Initial Reaction, the Good and the Bad

After much research and deliberation, I decided to take the plunge and order a Kindle 3. FedEx delivered my new gadget one week ago and, though I’ve only had a short period of time to use it, I must say that my initial reaction is a positive one.

The Kindle was a tough sell for me. I love books. I love the way they feel. I love flipping through the pages. I love the way they look on a shelf. That said, the popular ebook reader had plenty going for it as well. As I read reviews, comparisons, and specs and considered the reasons why I might consider purchasing such an item, there were a few key observations that stuck out and tipped to scales in Kindle's favor:

The Good

  • I fidget a lot when I read. I'll sit in one position while I’m reading the left-hand page and then another while I read the page on the right. I’m not sure why I do this, but it seems as though I spend a fair amount of time shifting around in my seat while I read. Is this normal? Perhaps not - at least, that’s what my wife tells me. Nevertheless, the Kindle solves the problem. Simply press a button and the page turns. I don’t even have to shift my eyes, let alone my entire body. Makes for a much more relaxing and stationary reading experience.
  • I’m in a graduate seminary program that requires me to read of a long list of books over the next ten months. The majority of these books are available on Kindle. Over the course of the year, the collective amount of money I will save by purchasing ebooks instead of printed books will nearly cover the cost of the Kindle.
  • The text-to-speech technology is surprisingly good. This allows me to “continue reading” even while I drive. Car time has never been so productive. Priceless.
  • There is still room for much improvement, but I dig the highlighting and note-taking features. All of my highlights and notes are saved to a text file which can be exported to my computer. This is incredibly useful as I write papers for my classes. No need to flip through a book looking for a specific passage of highlighted text. Just search the text file. No need to type the quote into my paper, just cut-and-paste.
  • You can’t perform a keyword search with a hardback. At least, not quickly. But you can with a Kindle. Also very helpful when writing papers.
  • Kindle provides a convenient way to read lengthy PDF documents. No more reading on my computer screen or printing them off.

The Kindle isn't all cupcakes and unicorns, however. I have discovered a few negatives along the way:

The Bad

  • "Anything with an on-off switch must be powered off" during take-off and landing in an airplane. This is unfortunate if you fly often.
  • I would like my Kindle to be able to connect to an ad-hoc wireless network. Unfortunately, it doesn't do that.
  • For some reason, the position of the letters M and N on the QWERTY keyboard throw me off. I consistently type an M where I intemded to type an N. Drives me muts. Mot sure what is goimg on here. I keep telling myself that I will adjust. Hasn't happemed yet though. Anyome else dealing with this or am I just "umique?"
  • I saved the worst for last: No page numbers. Seriously. No page numbers. Kindle uses a location number instead. Some don't see this as a problem, but it really bothers me. You should know that I'm shaking my head in disapproval right now. Yes, I understand that changing the font size messes with page numbers and location numbers remain constant when adjusting font size. But seriously, what am I supposed to do with a location number? Why not include both? There are other ways of dealing with this issue, no? Location numbers would be fine, if everyone in my class owned a Kindle. Guess what? They don't. So now, if I am discussing a book with my classmates, I have no way of quickly directing them to a page, paragraph or passage of interest. Location 145807-24 doesn't mean anything to them. And this is a two-way problem. Everyone in my discussion group could be talking about the point the author made on page 319 while I scramble to find the location number equivalent. This also complicates the quoting and citing of sources in papers. As it turns out, it is very likely most of my professors don't own a Kindle. Still shaking my head in disapproval.

All things considered, I really like the new Kindle. It brings a number of useful features and advantages to the table and I am thankful to have it. That said, the page numbers issue is a looming cloud, especially as I consider my academic pursuits and research over the next year. I've heard a number of reports about professors who do not look favorably upon Kindle location number citations. We'll see how it goes...

Do you have a Kindle? What convinced you to buy?

What do you think about the page numbers issue? Am I ill-informed?

Comment below.




¯\_(ツ)_/¯ © 2017 Adam Stahr