On TextExpander’s Recent Announcement

Yesterday morning, Smile announced some pretty big changes to one of my favorite apps, TextExpander. Like many, the minute I saw TextExpander in the headline of a post on MacStories, I was jumping for joy at the chance to buy the new version and support Smile. Sadly, my excitement was quickly quashed as I read through the changes. With version 6, TextExpander would become a subscription service.

Now, to be fair, my disappointment was not solely because of the new subscription model. While I do feel the price is a bit steep, I’d have still considered it given the sheer amount of time TextExpander has saved me over the years – over 30 hours as of writing this.

2016-04-06 screenshot

I have no qualms about paying for an app who’s features add value to my life even at a higher price. Unfortunately version 6 of TextExpander did not add value. Two features highly touted in version 6 are snippet sharing and a Windows client. Most of my friends and coworkers look at me like I have two heads when I mention any sort of automation, so sharing snippets is definitely out of the question, and given that I haven’t used or owned a PC in years, I don’t need a Windows client either. New features, as others have remarked, seem to heavily favor teams rather than individual users like myself.

What really concerns me the most, however, is the fact that my snippets would be stored on TextExpander’s servers. I’ve yet to see any details about encryption or security of their new sync service, and since TextExpander is essentially a keylogger, watching for whenever you type a snippet abbreviation, the idea of the service being online is quite frankly terrifying.

So where do we go from here? I’d hope that Smile takes their customers’ reactions seriously and reconsiders their decision. As a long time customer, I hate to see a good company like Smile suffer, but if they don’t there are plenty of alternatives ready to step up and fill the void. (Check out aTextTypinator, TypeIt4MeKeyboard Maestro, or Alfred. Heck, even OS X has the ability to expand snippets these days.)

Personally, I’ve ported all my “snippets” over to Keyboard Maestro, which I already owned and used. There wasn’t a handy import/export feature, so the process was a bit tedious, but many of my snippets are now vastly improved thanks to the added power of Keyboard Maestro. I’m still quite dissappointed to have to leave TextExpander but I think Keyboard Maestro will suit my needs just fine, and if nothing else, I have one less app to buy updates for.

{January Topic: Journaling} My Journaling Routine

I’m not one to long form journal about my life. I tend to capture all the silly, sporadic events that happen each day through some combination of posts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Most of these posts are pulled into Day One, my journalling app of choice, automatically with the use of Giftttdy. The things that aren’t automatically fed in are focused on personal reflection.

Each morning (or at least weekday mornings) I try to reflect on the morning went. With the help of TextExpander, I can quickly pull up Day One on my Mac, type my snippet (.morning) to fill in a template, and jot down some thoughts. The template includes questions things like what I hope to accomplish for the day, how I’m going to do it, more importantly why I’m doing it as well as things like how I slept, how I felt when I woke up, and whether or not something happened to throw my morning routine off. Occasionally, I’ll also jot down some random thoughts about what’s on my mind too. Reflecting on my morning is something new for me, so I’m still tweaking my actual format, but in general, it’s a nice way to start the day. It also forces me to not only see what I need to do for the day, but really determine why I’m doing it and how I’ll get it done.

Before bed, I usually open Day One on my phone, and thanks to another TextExpander snippet (.grateful), I get a nice little template for jotting down 3 things I’m grateful for, what I accomplished, one thing I could improve, and what I learned. Recording three things I’m grateful for each day has forced me to really appreciate everything in my life. Even on my worst days, I can still find something that made me smile.

So that’s all folks – why I journal, what I use (and have used in the past), and how I journal (today’s post).

I’d love to hear how you journal or any tips you might have to share.

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{January Topic: Journaling} Journalling Tools

Today’s post is going to be about the tools I use to journal.

Last week, I briefly mentioned my OCD about paper journals. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a sucker for new notebooks. Put me in an office supply or stationary store and watch out. I just hate the feeling of ruining a perfect, new journal with my handwriting that seems to change by the minute. (Think I’m kidding? My handwriting changes so much, I actually got in trouble once because a teacher thought someone else was doing my homework.)

Momento (iOS, $2.99)

Given my inability to stick with paper journals, it should be no surprise I went digital, and I started that journey with Momento. The thing that drew me to Momento was that it automatically pulls my social media posts into the journal. I’ve found a few apps that do this, but none worked as well or looked as good as Momento. You can also, of course, add your own entries, and they even had a section to give a 1-5 star rating to the entry. I liked to use this to rate my days. Momento is lacking in a few areas though. First and foremost, it’s only on the iPhone. I don’t use my iPad for journaling so that wasn’t a big deal, but it’d be nice to see or add to my journal it on my Mac. Another feature it lacks was TextExpander support. (Tip: When I used Momento, I worked around this by using Launch Center Pro to add snippets into my entries.)

STEP Journal (iOS/Android, Free)

After Momento, I flirted briefly with an app called STEP Journal. Unlike what its name imply, this doesn’t track steps (it does, but it tracks more). Like Momento, it pulls in data from various social media sites, but also pulls in events from your calendar, photos on your phone, and even fitness information from Jawbone or Fitbit. Personally, I felt this app just wasn’t ready for prime time. I was spending more time making things pretty and consistent than entering anything worthwhile, and just like Momento, there was also no Text Expander support or Mac version either. It does look like they’re in the process of developing a web app though.

Day One (iOS $4.99, Mac, $9.99)

And this brings us to where I’m at now, my journal app of choice – Day One. When it comes to journaling on iOS or OSX, Day One is the top choice for most people I’ve come across. I actually ended up with both apps at some point, but because journalling was never really part of my day, I never used them. Aside from being gorgeous, Day One offers both native Text Expander support and a Mac client but it doesn’t automatically import social media posts. A few solutions have popped up including Brett Terpstra’s wonderful Slogger, but even the nerdiest side of me got overwhelmed with just reading how to set it up. Currently, I’m using Giftttdy which uses IFTTT and Dropbox to pull content in.

Next week’s post will feature what I’m actually journalling about and how I do it.
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What’s on My iPhone 6 (December 2014 Edition)

It’s been over a year since I posted my first “What’s on my iPhone?” post, and that means I’m due for an update.

I still use the same general organization – frequently used apps on the first page with the last row empty, folders on the second. Moving to an iPhone 6 also gave me an additional row for apps on each screen.

I’m actually shocked to say that many of my “frequently used” apps from last year have lost their spots on my home screen. Calendar, Yahoo Weather, Things, and Fitbit have all been retired for other alternatives. Clock, Calculator, Camera+, and Light have all been replaced by swiping up to reveal the Control Center introduced with iOS 7. My dock however has remained the same.

Onto my new (and improved) home screen.

As you can see, Calendar has been replaced with Fantastical. Although I prefer how Apple’s Calendar icon shows the date, I prefer Fantastical’s quick entry and Today widget. Yahoo Weather has been replaced by the default Weather app (having stock apps replace third party apps doesn’t happen too often). Things has been replaced by Omnifocus (No surprise there.), and Fitbit has been replaced by Jawbone (after switching from the recalled Fitbit Force to the Jawbone Up24). The apps in this row are are the main apps I check throughout the day to know how my day’s going.

The next row of apps is entirely new. Day One, a journal app, is a recent addition (I recently switched from Momento.) Habit List tracks my daily routines. Waterlogged tracks my water intake, and Mint tracks my spending. In a general sense, these are my “tracking” apps that keep me on track.

The next row of apps is media-related. Keeping their places on the home screen are Reeder and Pocket. Downcast, my podcast app of choice, and iTV Shows, for tracking my favorite shows earn the 3rd and 4th spots.

The third row of apps is sort of a grab bag of miscellaneous apps that includes the only game on my phone, Threes, an app I can’t live without, 1Password, my favorite GPS app, Waze, and a folder of remote apps (Nest, Smart Glass for the Xbox One, Wemo, and Screens, a VNC client.

The final row includes the phone app, the App Store, and Settings.


On the second page you’ll find a similar collection of folders before.

The Apple folder still exists but includes more apps now that Apple keeps forcing me to keep more of their apps on my phone. This is really just a folder to hide all their apps I don’t use.

The Files app contains a few different apps now, and truthfully Files isn’t much of a representative name anymore, but I haven’t found a better name. This folder holds Google Drive and Paprika (my absolutely favorite recipe manager), Blackboard Mobile Learn (for my classes). The other three apps, Scanbot (which I got for free), Momento, and Diptic, are likely on their way off my phone because I just don’t use them.

The health folder primarily contains guided meditation apps I’m trying out to help me fall asleep. If you have any suggestions, feel free to pass them along.

Media is a combination of my former Watch and Read folders and now contains Fliks for managing my Netflix DVD queue (Netflix if your listening, I’m still angry you removed that from your own app.), HBO Go, IMDb, Kindle, Netflix, SwagbucksTV for earning quick Swagbucks, SportsCenter for updates on my favorite teams, and WatchABC for streaming to my new Chromecast.

The next three folders could realistically be combined in some form, but I haven’t worked it out yet. My $ folder contains all my financial apps, and Save contains apps like Checkout51 and Ibotta. Shop contains Starbucks, Amazon, and cPro for Craigslist.

Social contains all my social media apps: Alien Blue for Reddit, ESPN’s Fantasy Football app, Goodreads, Instagram, Pinterest, Paper by Facebook (this app lets me keep Messages and Facebook in one app rather than two), Tweetbot, and Yammer (for work notifications).

And last but not least, my Utilities folder which holds more miscellaneous apps: Deliveries (for tracking packages), Drafts, DUO Mobile (2-factor authentication), #Homescreen for posting to homescreen.is, IFTTT, Launch Center Pro, QRReader (on it’s way off my phone), Swype (a third party keyboard that makes up for how badly I type on my phone) and TextExpander.

I’m always curious about how people organize their home screens, and to my surprise I find a lot of people end up with similar set ups to mine – mainly the first page of actual apps with a second page of folders. Leaving an empty row at the bottom of the page is also common.

So how do you organize your home screen?

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March 2014 Favorites

Monthly Faves March

Happy Friday lovelies!

It’s been a while since I did a monthly favorites post, but I’m back today with a bit of a nerdy, tech-centered list of faves.

First up, we have the UP24 band by Jawbone ($149.99). For those of you who didn’t know, the Fitbit Force was recalled due to a nasty rash that it was causing people. Despite using it for months with no issue, I was one of the unlucky people who eventually got the rash and I was forced to stop using it. I was offered a refund or my choice of other Fitbit trackers, but I didn’t necessarily want to downgrade back to the Flex. In the end I opted to go with the Up 24 band which has a lot of fun features like idle notifications and insightful tips that I’ve been enjoying.

Next up, is a terribly addicting game available for iOS and Android, Threes ($1.99). I downloaded it on a whim because it was popular. 12 hours later… I was still playing it… I’m not sure what it is about stacking cards to make combinations of 3s, 6s, 12s, etc. that is so addicting, but I’m sold. It’s a great way to pass the time, but given my 12 hour stretch, I’m always mindful of the time, because clearly I lose track quickly with this game.

My third favorite is BusyCal ($49.99). I have to admit this one is a bit unexpected. For years, I’ve had a Fluid app running Google Calendar on my Mac. I know I could have used iCal, and that would have been my preference, but I make changes to events frequently (e.g. when a student is late for a shift), and I hated that iCal didn’t allow me to make changes without sending an email to anyone attending. It does way more than just that though, so if you’re looking for a good calendar app for OS X, check it out. BusyCal has solved so many of my calendar issues, and I’m kicking myself for not giving it a fair chance sooner.

Here’s where it starts to get nerdy. My fourth favorite for the month has been Keyboard Maestro ($36). I’m a firm believer in the idea that computers should make your life easier. If I find myself doing something on my computer more than once, you can bet I’m going to start looking for a way to have my computer do it. Keyboard Maestro is one tool I’ve added to my toolkit to save me time. I’m still playing with it on a regular basis to tweak and add things, but for now some of my favorite “macros” are the ones that get my computer set up for my day at work and close programs before I leave for the day. My latest addition has been a macro that draws a red circle around my mouse when I hit a certain hotkey because having a 27″ display and my 15″ display on my MacBook Pro equals plenty of room to lose my mouse. {First-world problems…}

And last but not least, we have TextExpander ($34.95) and its iOS counterpart, TextExpander Touch ($4.99). Seriously, why did I not buy these sooner. Working in tech support, I’m constantly typing the same thing over and over. Our support knowledgebase has reduced that significantly because I can now just send customers links to our articles, but there are still things I type constantly, for instance, the links to those articles. I also use it to generate emails I regularly send to people. Another use I’ve found is remembering required information. When we hire an employee, I have a snippet that inserts the list of required information I need to submit to our payroll preparer which saves me having to find the email that has the information in it. One of my most used snippets is my gratitude snippet which gets filled in and logged each night before bed. I briefly described how I use it here.

Signature Update