Queuing Up Media For The Road

As this entry posts, I’m on vacation. I’m currently on break for school between the summer and Fall semester and I’m not taking any work with me so I’m expecting to have a good bit of down time on the trip including two cross country flights and 12+ hours of driving. (I'll be a passenger.)  With the craziness of the past year I’ve developed quite the backlog of TV shows from the Fall I never had an opportunity to watch and several books I wanted to read but haven’t had the time. I’m looking forward to using this opportunity to catch up on my media.  

OverDrive for Mac

OverDrive for Mac

I’ve recently discovered our local library has an extensive collection of digital as well as CD audiobooks that can be borrowed. Digital books can be synced to the iPhone and other supported media players with the assistance of the OverDrive App. Shortly before the trip I checked out a couple of audiobooks I’ve been interested in reading. The selection probably isn’t as vast as a commercial service like Audible, and the books expire and have to be “checked back in” but I’ve never found a shortage of things to read.



I am able to download content form my TiVo Roamio using an application called cTivo, which I covered in 2014. The developer of cTiVo has continued to develop and make enhancements and refinements to the App since my original review. It can discover TiVos on your local network, download and encode shows for viewing on a number of devices and even skip the commercials before adding shows to iTunes. TiVo has similar functionality now with their own Stream device, but I’ve found cTivo a great way to take the content I’ve already recorded with me on the road.

ScreenCastsOnline Monthly Magazine: Using Due with my Task Managment Workflow

This month’s issue of ScreenCasts Online Monthly Magazine is now available in Apple’s Newsstand App. In the July issue you’ll find an article from me about How I’ve incorporated the Due application into my task management workflow 

The monthly magazine is packed with streamable versions of Don’s excellent video tutorials as well as articles, reviews and tips from authors including David SparksAllison SheridanWally Cherwinski and more. The magazine is free for ScreenCasts online Premium Members or available as a separate subscription or you can pickup individual issues. You can download it in the AppStore or find more info at http://www.screencastsonline.com/magazine/

Thank You, Mac Power Users

Over 95 Mac Power Users listeners came together to donate over $7,500 to App Camp For Girls. I've long said we have the greatest audience in podcasting, now it's clear we have the most generous too. This week we have a team in Portland sponsored by your efforts.  Special MPU correspondent Daisy Sparks is on hand to learn from this girls and provide encouragement and support and will report back soon. For now, I pass along the girls thanks, and I say too, Thank You, Mac Power Users. 



See You On The Other Side...

I’m on vacation the next two weeks. I’ll have very sporadic network access as my family and I are visiting Las Vegas, Canyonlands National Park with the highlight of the trip being 3-days of rafting/camping trip in side the Grand Canyon. 

Don’t worry, David and I have pre-recorded several episodes of Mac Power Users that should hit the feeds at their designated times. I’ve also queued up a few blog posts for this site.

If you want to follow my adventures probably the best place to do so is on Instagram as that’s where I’ll be posting fairly regular photos for friends and family to follow. (My grandmother follows me on Instagram - how cool!). I’ll also be posting occasional updates to Twitter.

For those curious, I have decided to take my iPhone along with me for all parts of the trip. I’ve outfitted it with a Lifeproof FRE case and will also be storing it inside a ziplock bag inside a wet bag for extra protection while on the river. I’ll take along small battery pack for power. Much to my pleasant surprise, I’ve found several of my third party lightning cables do fit the Lifeproof’s port (including MonopriceSkiva and Scosche) despite reviews to the contrary. Perhaps there has been a slight case modification or maybe I"ve gotten lucky. Once in the Grand Canyon I’ll be using the iPhone as a camera (and possibly an iPod) only. I’ve been told to expect no cellular coverage at all until we get back to civilization.

See you on the other side!

What You Can't Do On An Apple Watch Happens to be My Favorite Feature

One of the criticisms that I’ve heard about the watch is "there’s not much you can do with it." That point can be debated. But I think at the heart of this criticism is that, unlike iPhones and iPads, it’s difficult to use the Apple Watch to actively seek out and interact with information. Here’s the New York Times:

The lack of support from Facebook — and from other popular app makers like Snapchat and Google, which also have few if any apps for Apple Watch — underscores the skepticism that remains in the technology community about the wearable device. That puts the watch, Apple’s first new product since the iPad in 2010, in something of a Catch–22: The companies whose apps would most likely prompt more people to buy the device are waiting to see who is buying it and how they use it.

Personally, I find the lack of Facebook, Snapchat and most of Google’s apps on the Apple Watch fantastic. Our phones are with us all the time. No one want’s to miss that urgent call or message. But having these devices with us all the time means that any time we have a few extra seconds we can check email, browse the web, see what’s happening on Facebook, catch up on Twitter or any of a number of other things. Have 30 seconds in the checkout line, pull out the iPhone. That’s fine, but it’s also a little mind-numbing.

One of the things I love most about my Apple watch is that I can’t do these things. Instead, information comes through the Apple Watch (via a paired iPhone) to me. Once the notification settings are properly tweaked, only the most important messages, items truly worth of my attention, will come through. In the three months since I’ve had my Apple watch I’ve found I’m happy to leave my iPhone at my desk or in my purse rather than always carrying it in my pocket because I know if something important comes through, I’ll get a gentle tap on the wrist. I’m no longer that person who is out with friends and family and is constantly checking their phone rather than being in the moment.

The next version of the watchOS is coming out later this Fall and I’m excited to see what developers will do with new features including native apps and additional APIs. The Apple Watch will continue to evolve and grow as a product. But just keep in mind, not all applications are intended for a platform like the Apple Watch. After all, how much do you really want to interact with your watch?

On Evernote's New Pricing Structure

Earlier this year Evernote announced a new pricing structure. The free tier sticks around, but loses some features. There’s now a “Plus” tier for $2.99 a month, or $24.99 a year, that I think will be the “sweet spot” for many users and Premium costs $5.99 a month, or $49.99 a year. Details can be found on Evernote’s site.

Evernote has made some tweaks to their pricing plan the last few months but for now, a free plan limits monthly uploads to 60MB and allow users only to clip information from the web or manually drag documents into Evernote, share and discuss within Evernote and sync documents across platforms. Candidly, the free plan is now fairly basic. If you want offline access to notes, the ability to add a passcode to the mobile App or, perhaps most notably, the ability to forward emails directly in to Evernote you’ll have to pay for the Plus plan. Upgrading to premium unlocks the most prized features such as advanced OCR and search, scanning business cards and more.

I’ve long been a fan of Evernote and have had a Premium account for several years. I’ve received a lot of comments, most negative, about the changes. I suppose this is to be expected when a company takes services that it previously gave away for free and shifts them into a paid program. I understand the frustration, but keep in mind that in order to continue to provide products and services, companies have to have a viable business model. I had an opportunity to tour Evernote’s headquarters last year when I was in San Francisco and they have a large team that they pay living wages dedicated to actively developing and improving the platform. 

Evernote is not perfect. My pal David Sparks has called it the “roach motel” because of it’s proprietary format and problems exporting and sharing data. I agree. (I also have no idea what Work Chat is and the popups are driving me crazy.) Nevertheless, Evernote is has become an invaluable piece of my workflow and it’s a service I’m happy to pay for to see it continue development. I’m always nervous about relying on free or VC funded products because there’s simply no way of knowing how long they’ll be around.