A TextExpander Strategy

TextexpanderOne of the stumbling blocks to using TextExpander is the problem of trying to remember all the abbreviations. The blog post I’ve linked to below gives a brilliant solution.

“Being fed up knowing I could get much more out of TextExpander, I went on a search to find the perfect solution to manage abbreviations and came across a blog post by Sayz Lim, ‘Creating Memorable TextExpander Abbreviations’. While the bulk of the post was insightful, the most inspirational part was a small block of update text which included a memorization method that rang true for me.”

(Via Medium)

I will be putting this into practice immediately!

Adobe Creative Cloud

I’m not a huge fan (or user) of Adobe products, but I have to say, the new Adobe Creative Cloud approach to bundling all of their professional apps as a subscription service is intriguing. The high cost of purchasing the individual Apps has always put me off, especially when there are so many low cost alternatives. The Adobe suite of creative products are all industry standard apps and packed full of Pro features.

The Creative Cloud option basically gives you every Adobe Creative tool for a low cost monthly subscription, rather than buying the individual Apps for many thousands of pounds. You also get cloud storage thrown in and upgrades to all the apps when new versions come out.

Screenshot 15 04 2013 10 31The apps are the full pro apps and can be selectively downloaded to your Mac once you take out a subscription. You don’t access them in the cloud, you download the full app. You also get access to the latest versions as they are released.

I’ve included a list of the included apps in the panel to the right.

The recent announcement of the hiring of Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch by Apple also intrigued me.

Kevin Lynch was instrumental in bringing the Adobe Creative Cloud to market, and as such, it’s interesting to see how the Creative Cloud works and if it is any indication of what Lynch may bring to Apple.

However, even at the usual price of £46 per month, my curiosity for Adobe Creative Cloud wasn’t piqued enough to put my hand in my pocket and fork out that amount of cash each month.

It would be good to have a play with the latest version of Photoshop and I’ve always heard good things about Adobe Audition and Lightroom. After Effects has a huge following in the video field, and there is always Premier Pro to take a look at.

But no, £46 per month was still a bit too high for me.

At the recent NAB in Las Vegas, Adobe suggested that the latest versions of their Pro video tools would be available soon. All these new versions will show up in the Creative Cloud Suite.


Even more interesting is that Adobe have launched a special promo on 12 months of the Adobe Creative Cloud for just $30USD or £23 per month. That’s a saving of 40% on the first year. The best thing is you don’t need to be an existing member or have an existing Adobe product if you use this link

Anyone can sign up for the deal, but it closes on April 19th so you need to act quick if you want to take advantage of the offer.

I’ve just signed up for 12 months.

I doubt I’ll be covering any of the products on ScreenCastsOnline, or that it’s likely that I’ll be switching to Adobe Premiere Pro for my video editing needs, but it will be fascinating to explore so many new Pro apps.

And at £23 per month for 12 months, it seems like an absolute steal!

The only downside is that if I get hooked or dependant on any of the apps, the price goes up to the full cost after the 12 months, but you can always cancel if you want.

Getting Twitchy?

I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to get a bit twitchy about the lack of product announcements from Apple.

It’s usually quiet after Christmas, but by this time last year we’d already had the iPad 3 launch and the announcement of Mountain Lion.

As of today, some software updates… and that’s about it.

I’m not unduly worried as such, I’m confident that Apple have a full pipeline of new products, but it’s still frustrating not to know when the next thing will appear. Things are made more difficult by the unexpected release of the iPad 4 and iPad mini late last year, something you might have expected around this time of year.

There’s not even a rumour of an Apple event?

Surely we won’t have to wait until WWDC in June?

So hopefully, this is the lull before the storm, but Apple really need to start cranking it up and making some announcements.

Well, they don’t need to, but it would be nice!

Using the Pebble

At home, I hardly ever use my Pebble.

Mainly that’s due to me sitting at my desk surrounded by Macs, iPads and iPhones. There’s really no need to use a watch, besides, I find the constant clunking of the watchband on the desk to be annoying.

However, spending a few days out of the office, I thought I’d give it a go.

So on my recent trip to New York, I decided to take the Pebble and wear it during the day in my role as tourist.

I really don’t get many messages on my iPhone, but I thought it would be useful to see how (or if) I became accustomed to the watch. To give it something to do, I downloaded the new Google Field Trip app onto my iPhone. This is a location aware app that sends you a notification when you are close to something of interest. It should also send notifications to my Pebble.

So for the best part of three days, I wore my Pebble whilst out and about.

To my surprise, I really started to rely on it, to the extent whereby I really missed it when I forgot to put it on for the last day.

The Field Trip app did send notifications to the watch, but they weren’t really useful. Most of the interesting things it told me about weren’t really interesting to me, but the fact that the notification appeared on the watch, rather than me having to hoist the iPhone out of my pocket each time was brilliant. The vibration motor in the Pebble was put to good use, and all notifications were immediately picked up. I have missed a couple of notifications on my iPhone when carrying the iPhone in an inside coat pocket, but you’ll never miss one on your wrist.

The occasional iMessage that I did receive was very easy to review via the Pebble, and the fact that I could scroll the message on the Pebble to read the whole message was a nice touch. I still would have liked to be able to respond to a message via the watch.

One unexpected benefit was that I didn’t have to worry about having my expensive iPhone on show during the day. Most of the time it stayed firmly in my pocket, iPhone theft is apparently rampant in New York.

One thing that really surprised me, was just how much I used the Pebble as a watch!

I’ve not used a watch since getting my iPhone and I’d forgotten just how simple it is to glance at my wrist for the time, rather than remove my iPhone from my pocket.

So even in its current rudimentary form, the Pebble can prove useful and I’m excited to see what possibilities arise as the firmware gets updated and more apps start to get developed for it. Pebble have recently announced a new watch face SDK being released in April, and a new release of the firmware in the next few weeks.

Whilst the Pebble will almost certainly never reach the level of sophistication or functionality that a true Apple designed device could accomplish, using the Pebble for just a few days has certainly confirmed for me, that a wearable device closely paired to an iPhone could be a very useful product.

A very useful product indeed.

The Demise Of Google Reader

I’m getting a lot of emails from people asking if I’m going to be making any recommendations for alternatives to Google Reader.

Following a couple of days R&R, I came back to the news that Google are “shuttering” the Google Reader service from 1st July 2013.

Although I don’t use the web interface to Google Reader, it is the service I use to manage and sync my collection of RSS subscriptions to many websites. It’s also the back end service that many of my favourite Mac and iOS apps use to sync my subscribed RSS feeds – apps like Mr Reader on iOS and Reeder on the Mac.

As of the 1st July, these apps will stop working – in theory.

In reality, I’m sure the app developers will come up with some alternative solutions to Google Reader. Oliver Fürniß, the developer of Mr Reader has already stated:

I’m already looking for alternatives to support and I’m sure that there will be some more interesting ones released during the next couple of days/weeks/months. I’ll keep you informed! Please be patient and don’t switch overhasty to a other Google Reader alternative.

There are already some pre-existing alternatives available, but I’m not going to try and second guess which way apps will jump.
As we have up to July for things to settle down, I’m going to leave it a few weeks and examine all the options, and then decide the best way forward.

I will, of course, be describing some of the options and my chosen solution in a future show, well before the 1st July deadline.