That Mac Nerd

Posts - Page 5 of 12

My WWDC 2017 Wish List

  • 3 min read

I love this time of year.

It’s WWDC season and I usually turn off notifications and non-essential phone calls and texts 1.

I fire up my 3rd Gen Apple TV 2, sit back on the couch and watch the keynote.

Most of the time I am excited about new features in iOS and the Mac, but last year I felt none of that excitement, nothing like iOS 8 and 9 and macOS Yosemite.

So this year, I am laying out not my predictions for WWDC but my WWDC 2017 wish list.

Pro iOS Features

I use my Mac for pretty much everything 3 but I am starting to look at my iPad Pro for work.

Currently, iOS on the iPad is hampered by lack of work-related features like a file system. My wish for iOS 11:

  • Access to a better filesystem: iCloud Drive on iOS 10 was a great sign for filesystem improvements for iOS. I’d like to see that continue. Improve the document picker or do away with it completely. A central repository for files across all apps [^4] would make working on iPad much easier.
  • Drag and Drop: I know that drag and drop is a mouse and trackpad/traditional desktop/laptop paradigm, but that shouldn’t be a reason to not implement it on iOS. The way Readdle hacked the filesystem to actually run a server between two apps to simiulate drag and drop is a pleasure to use. Drag and drop makes sense for finger navigation. I would love to see that come to iOS.
  • Native screen recording: I do a lot of screen recording for this blog. I’d like to not have to be tethered to a Mac to actually record the screen. Apple introduced ReplayKit in 2015 for livestreaming games. It makes sense that screen recording would be the next extension of this.
  • More intelligent photos app: Right now I am using Google Photos for searching my photos. iCloud Photos and Photo Library are still my preferred Photo organization tools, but Google is so far ahead in the AI game that their offering is 10x better than Apple’s current one. I can search for “MacBook” in Apple Photos and I barely get any results even though I have at least 20-30 MacBook photos. Same search in Google Photos returns most of those 20-30 photos. I know Apple doesn’t want to use the cloud to parse information from user data but I think it is hampering their AI efforts. Users really don’t care about privacy as evidenced by Google Photos 4.5 star rating with over 1k reviews.

macOS Improvements

macOS is really a mature OS. The only thing I’d like to see in macOS is relaxed sand boxing rules for the Mac App Store.

I barely get things from the Mac App Store. The Pro apps I need have already left the MAS. I’m sure there are more to follow.

I’d also like to see them rethink the Bluetooth module. Inconsistent, constantly disconnecting from my Magic Mouse and Magic Keyboard [^5], Handoff and Airdrop unreliability. Either Apple’s devices aren’t ready for Bluetooth 4 or there’s something fundamentally wrong with Apple’s Bluetooth daemon or module.

snippets for Just Another Software Engineering Blog and videos for this blog. [^4]: Even cloud apps like Dropbox. [^5]: Getting this keyboard in a couple months and I can’t wait. Apple’s flat keyboard has given me some RSI issues after only a couple months of using it. Also, as a programmer, I need a better, sturdier keyboard.

Your WWDC 2017 Wish List?

What are you looking forward to this WWDC?

  1. Everyone except my aging family. 

  2. Upgrading my Apple TV in a couple months. I am also probably watching on my iMac. My TV is small and ancient. I’ll be upgrading it, too. 

  3. Moving my writing workflow to iPad has been fruitful until I need code 

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Readdle Updates Apps with Drag and Drop

  • 2 min read


Readdle, maker of apps like Spark Mail App, Documents, and PDF Expert, has released v6 of their popular iOS apps.

Documents 6 and PDF Expert 6 have gotten a much need facelift.

Inside of these apps, icons are larger and the colors muted to give a more personal feel.

Glyphs are also colored here which distinguishes the different actions from each other, which is a nice touch.

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The marquee feature of this update is the drag and drop addition.

You can drag and drop inside of their apps but also between their apps.

Drag and Drop: A Welcomed Addition

System wide on iOS, you cannot drag and drop between apps in split view on the iPad.

Federico Viticci and the MacStories team came up with a very slick, very popular concept video for iOS 11. Here, Sam and Federico propose drag and drop in split view among all apps, as well as some other interesting concepts.

While you can’t do this between two different apps currently, Readdle implemented drag and drop between their apps.

Dragging and Dropping Inside Documents 6 on iPhone

You cannot drag and drop between Readdle apps on iPhone but you can drag and drop inside of one of their document apps.

For instance, you can drag a PDF into a folder in Documents 6 or PDF Expert 6 on iPhone.

[fvplayer src=”” splash=”” width=”375” height=”667”]

There is also the ability to hold a dragged document over a folder until it opens the target folder via spring loading.

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Dragging Around on iPad Pro

You can also drag and drop similarly on iPad and iPad Pro.

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You can also drag folders into folders:[fvplayer src=”” splash=”” width=”1366” height=”1024”]

Drag and Drop Between Apps

This is the most interesting part of these updates.

Dragging a file from Documents 6 into, say Spark, is a delight. You can easily share a PDF by sending it to your editor, accountant 1, or whatever. The drag and drop capabilities make this easy.

[fvplayer src=”” splash=”” width=”1366” height=”1024”]

You can also drag images into Spark or Documents:

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Dragging from right to left works, too. [fvplayer src=”” splash=”” width=”1366” height=”1024”]

Snappier Dropbox Loading

One of the main pain points for me using Documents and PDF Expert 5 was the seriously slow loading of my Dropbox content. I’d wait sometimes five or 10 minutes for them to load my folders. Sometimes they didn’t and I’d have to back out, force quit the apps, and try again. I’d have to do this several times.

In Documents and PDF Expert 6, the Dropbox loading is much faster.

[fvplayer src=”” splash=”” width=”1366” height=”1024”]

Check These Out

If you have previously given up on the Readdle suite of apps 2 then try them again. The drag and drop between their apps and in each individual app is well worth the repeat download.

  1. As Federico does 

  2. I deleted Spark and went back to Airmail but decided I’d use Airmail to process and Spark/Gmail to read. 

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Pick of the Month: Timing 2

  • 1 min read

When I first came across Timing, it was recommended to me by my good friend Nick Lash. We were talking about time tracking apps and his possible employment as an iOS developer for time tracking juggernaut Toggl 1.

He was thinking of rewriting their Mac app 2 in the vein of

I got to check it out in my trial of Setapp 3 and I couldn’t figure it out. I also didn’t want to: the design was Mavericks-esque and didn’t appeal to me at all.

Productivity in Tech and Apps

Productivity in Tech Facebook group is a goldmine of productivity information and app recommendations. Jay Miller, Community Organizer of Productivity in Tech, mentioned v2 and how much better it was than v1. I put off checking it out: Toggl was enough. Besides, I had the perfect Alfred workflow for Toggl.

The problem with Toggl, at least for me, was keeping up with logging my time. I kept it up for two weeks then slowly my tracking fell off.

I checked out Timing’s website, poked around, looked at videos and thought, Wow. This is what I need.

Limits of Toggl Aren’t Limits in Timing

Manually tracking your time is tedious and cumbersome. My Alfred workflow made it easier but it still didn’t work for me. Timing tracks everything you do on your Mac, asks you what you did while you were away, has a beautiful new interface, and can generate reports. The Professional version gives you timesheet tracking and other perks.

I am trialling the Professional version and I am going to be buying it very soon. It’s $50 4 but $50 well spent.

Where Timing Fails

No web API. No iOS app. These aren’t deal breakers for me but could be for some.


I have been using it for a couple of days and I really do love it: the new UI, the reports, filters, overview of my day. It is everything one could want in a time tracking app.

Check it out and see for yourself.

[caption id=”attachment_1311” align=”aligncenter” width=”819”]timing_watch How much is your time worth?[/caption]

  1. I talk about Toggl in this post and this one

  2. It’s ugly and pretty useless. 

  3. Subscription based model for a suite of different apps. 

  4. $29 for Productivity and $79 for Expert. 

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App Spotlight: Calibre 3 Beta Now With Retina

  • 3 min read

You could never chastise me for not reading enough.

I have been reading since I was three years old.

Mom and I weren’t exactly middle class so we would trek to the local library where we’d check out a mountain of books, all of which I’d read in about a week.

When I started school, we had the Weekly Reader and Scholastic book drives. I’d eagerly come home and read to my mom all the books I wanted, which were quite a bit. I’d read until past my bedtime, against my mom’s rules. I’d read in class when things got a little boring or I knew the material. I got in trouble for reading a lot.

Now, as an adult, I still have a passion for books. I read them in all forms: print, audio, and ebook.

I have a massive library 1, about close to 4,000 titles, of ebooks stored in several folders across my iMac 2.

How Does One Manage That Many ebooks?

I use a bit of open source free software called calibre. It isn’t the prettiest app - in fact, it’s quite ugly on macOS 3 but the app is powerful.

Kovid, the developer, recently released the beta of v3 and it brings a server where you can read your ebooks on practically any device browser, and retina graphics, which had been sorely missing from the app for years.

Adding Books

There are many ways to add books to calibre. The easiest is to drag them into the app.

Another way is to click the green Add Books button in the top left corner.

One of the things the app does is convert ebook formats. There are a ton of files you can convert from one to another. You can even strip DRM from books 4 with a plugin.

This is useful if you don’t want to read books you get from Amazon in the Kindle app and the app you want to read them in is an epub only app like Marvin. You can convert the mobi, azw, azw3 files to epub with calibre.

[fvplayer src=”” splash=”” width=”1280” height=”720”]

Adding Metadata

Editing metadata for your books is as easy as right or ⌥ clicking the book, or, selecting multiple books and ⌥ clicking and selecting download metadata. This will give you a couple of options like just downloading the metadata or covers or both. You can review the metadata before you add it to make sure it is correct.

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Dragging Tags

In order to add tags that may be missing from your books you can drag the books onto the tags 5 you want to add.

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Editing Books

You can edit books directly in the main interface but you get plenty more options by hitting e when a book or multiple books are selected. Here you can add custom metadata, if you’ve made your own columns 6, add star ratings, etc. I use this option all the time as it makes bulk editing and editing in general easier.

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More Tips and Advanced Features in Another Post

These are the basics. Try it out, see if it is right for you and let me know what you like 7 about it.

  1. But not as many as this guy 

  2. By several folders, I mean the same copies in different folders that I need to catalogue and upload in different apps. For instance, my main book folder is Books for iPad and I’ve set up Hazel rules to move them to Books for Sideloading and Import which get uploaded to Dropbox and downloaded in and imported into Book Collector respectively. 

  3. Kovid Goyal, the developer, does not own a Mac to test but his Windows app is ugly, too. 

  4. Assuming you’ve bought them. The latest version of Kindle for Windows circumvents the DeDRM plugin. The creators are working on a fix. I can only imagine that feature coming to Mac sooner or later from Amazon. For now, we’re safe. 

  5. Provided the tag is there. If not you can always add it. 

  6. Will go over advanced features soon. 

  7. Or don’t. 

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