All Together Now – Mac20Q – NoStylus – Spondicious – Good and Geeky

It’s All Good and Geeky

For about six or seven years now I’ve been writing on the Mac 20 Questions blog – Mac20Q. I’ve decided it’s better if I bring it into Good and Geeky. Same thing with the NoStylus website and also with my Spondicious website. The Spondicious site has been about my photography interest. Mac20Q has obviously been all about using the Mac, while NoStylus was all about using mobile technology. It really is all good and geeky stuff. To put it all together into one website just makes it easier for me to look after. It’s going to be much simpler to write for just one site than for a whole lot of them. If you are a follower of one of the sites that’s been merged, maybe you’d like to make sure you don’t miss anything by becoming part of the Good and Geeky Tribe. Sometimes I’ll be writing about things I’m doing with the Mac and other times what I’m doing with my iPad and iPhone. There’s still going to be my interest in art and photography as well as writing. All in one place now.



Switching between Mac and iOS

It seems it all kind of works together anyway. When you’re a digital artist it doesn’t matter which tool you pick up if the one you have in your hand is the one you need to do the job. The element of creativity being satisfied by using an application on my Mac or an app on my iPad is all good in the long run. I often will start something on the iPad and move over to the Mac. Maybe I need to do something in Affinity Photo or Affinity Designer or I just need to have a bigger screen to work with. There are plenty of other occasions when I go from the Mac towards the mobile platform. It could just be that I’m away from the iMac and the big screen. When you consider the quality of the iOS applications available to do digitally creative work or play, there are times when the iPad is just what I need. Fantastic digital creative apps like iColorama, Glaze and Enlight.

Favourite Writers Apps

Scrivener.pngMy favourite writing app for years has been Scrivener and for about a year I have been using Ulysses instead of it. I needed an app which had a sister app on iOS. Ulysses fills that space nicely. It is simpler to use and yet is powerful too. But then Scrivener comes out with an iOS app and it gives me the pair of apps for writing work. So I am looking again at Scrivener and there are reasons why I would want to change. There is much more capability in the app especially for when writing large project like books and especially novels. Then again Ulysses is great for blogging due to the connections with WordPress and Medium. So that settles it. I’ll write for the blogs in Ulysses and write the books in Scrivener.

So I’m going to save a lot of time for myself not having to keep those three websites updated. There’s only so many hours in the day do all that needs to be done. It’s going to be great to concentrate all my energies into the Good and Geeky website. I think it’s going to be okay to have all my eggs in one basket. Like I said, it’s all good in geeky stuff anyway!


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Posted in Good and Geeky.

Customising Your Mac Using SuperTab App

Let’s get into using SuperTab

We all want to have our computer setup just the way we like it. I doubt if there are many amongst us who like to use a vanilla computer as soon as it comes out of the wrapper. There are certain applications which we have to install to make a computer our own. These can be applications of high functionality for storing files, such as Dropbox. Another application of extreme use would be 1Password. I just have to have these applications on my computer as soon as I set it up from new otherwise I can’t get into any of my web logins or use some of the other applications I like to use. I keep all of my application serial numbers within 1Password making it a vital app. Then there is TextExpander which is a must for me even though I don’t necessarily make so much use of it due to using dictation frequently. Let’s not forget the utility applications of Keyboard Maestro and Hazel. These applications for me are in the second line of must haves. The ones in the first line have to be there to help me do the basics and these ones are for customisation and extreme utility. Maybe you could be using SuperTab to control your computer.

A new addition to my personalised Mac setup – Using SuperTab

I seem to remember using SuperTab a couple of years back and I didn’t feel like it made much sense to me. I can’t remember exactly what it was I didn’t like about it, but now I’m starting to get it. Perhaps it’s because there’s a new version offering more functionality. One of the extra functionalities is being able to control it using your voice. That doesn’t bother me quite so much because I can already do that to a certain extent using Dragondictate. I’ve also noticed that there are one or two things it does which I can already do with other applications. For example, there is a clipboard manager and I already have that available to me with the applications Copied, Keyboard Maestro and Alfred. In the past I was using one called JumpCut. I changed over to using Copied because it synchronises clipboards across to my iOS devices.

What else can using SuperTab do for you?

SuperTab also does screenshots and for this I’ve been using an application called Snappy. In the past I was using an app that connected up with Evernote, but that stopped working quite so well so I got rid of it. Another thing with SuperTab is Auto Types which again is something I can already do with Text Expander. There is even a setting within the system preferences allowing this sort of text replacement of a larger piece of text by using a short code. TextExpander is the one to go for even though they have recently changed their payment model and made it more expensive. I’m wondering if SuperTab have something not available already?

So what is SuperTab good for?

The user functionality in SuperTab is in speed. You gain quick access to a range of functions using a keyboard combination shortcut. Using the combination of Cmd and Tab or Option and Tab without SuperTab gives us access to other applications running. It is a quick way of switching between one application and another. It’s a keyboard combination that every Mac user should know and use often. So it only makes sense to give us other uses when we’re using that keyboard combination anyway. Every time you’re changing application from one to another using Cmd and Tab you’re getting a reminder of all of the other things you can do with SuperTab. So you are more likely to go back too it for other things. The whole app becomes more persistent, whatever you are doing.

What does SuperTab Look like?

Instead of seeing a line of just the active applications you a whole lot more. We also see another line of applications you have in the Dock. There are rows of icons for recent apps used and recent files. There are rows for clipboard history and a row for custom items. Still with your hands on the keyboard you can move around these rows of SuperTab options to get things done. Make the tabs stay there by changing the settings and you can use keys on your keyboard to move around quickly. Using the letters A or Z you can move up and down. Use the H key to hide a selected application. With the Q key you can quit a selected application. You also have the arrow keys on your keyboard for moving around to choose what you want to do with SuperTab. I like using SuperTab on my iMac.

Making Supertab persistent on screen

You do need to have the SuperTab application itself to persist on the screen to be able to use these keystrokes. I have it set up so that it stays there if the cursor moves after I’ve initiated SuperTab. If I haven’t touched the Magic trackpad then SuperTab disappears. One way for me to keep usingSuperTab on screen is to keep holding down on the command key. I can move around within SuperTab and as soon as I let go of the Cmd key I get switched to whatever I’ve chosen. That could be a file, an application, a recent document, a command to take a screenshot or an item from the clipboard history. I’ve set up to tab rows for clipboard history. One row is for clipboard text and the other is for images in the clipboard history.

Navigating folders using SuperTab

If you have folders that you regularly go to, to get items you can have these as permanent fixtures on one of the SuperTab rows. For example you could navigate to your pictures folder or another specific folder for images. When you get to the image you want, you get the option to show in the Finder or send by email. It’s possible to move the file to your Dropbox and you get a preview if it’s an image. I was somehow expecting I would be able to click and drag and drop a file from SuperTab to somewhere else. That hasn’t been working for me so it seems you have to go to the Finder to get that job done.

Clutter free folders with SuperTab

I do use the application Hazel to keep my desktop and downloads folder clean and tidy. I have a number of Hazel rules which will activate if I put certain types of file onto the desktop. This makes it nice and easy to always have my desktop clutter free. I like to have all of the files in their proper places.

SuperTab does something like this also. The folder has to be one you’ve added to your SuperTab rows. Right click on the folder or use the configure button and choose Manage Content. This is where you tell SuperTab to move files based on how long they’ve been within the folder. Something that’s been placed in the folder five days ago will get moved into a saved items folder, if that’s what you want. This can be very handy if you have a working folder and you only want to see the files you are working on for today. Everything from the previous days will be tucked away in a folder called SuperTab Saved Items. There aren’t many options as to where you can have these files and folders moved to. It’s not like you could choose to send files to a specific folder within Dropbox for example. This doesn’t really matter if you have Hazel also working for you. Have Hazel watch the SuperTab saved items folder to do a secondary cleanup. The main thing is that you have the options so that you can work the way you want to work and get things done. I just love having all of this customisation available to me and I can get the computer to do half my work for me. At least by using SuperTab by itself you’ll still have easy access to the files that have been moved. It’s just that it will be nice and tidy in the folders where you have it set up.

Using SuperTab for quick access to websites

I generally use Safari is my favourite or preferred web browser. What I can do though is to have YouTube open up in Chrome browser from a link contained within SuperTab tabs. Chrome is better for YouTube or for other sites that rely on Flash. Saves having Flash installed on your computer. It’s even possible to be automatically logged into iCloud by using the Auto Type function. I don’t recommend that unless your computer is secure and only you have access to it. It is a useful option in SuperTab to access websites.

Using your voice to control SuperTab

This is a fairly new addition to SuperTab and only to be expected with the arrival of Siri on Mac OS Sierra. I’m talking to my computer all day long anyway so it makes sense for me. With SuperTab I can use the keyboard combination of Control-Option-Cmd – a three finger salute – to get SuperTab to do something for me. I could for example tell SuperTab to take a screenshot. I didn’t find this worked very well for me and I could get the job done better using DragonDictate software. Well I thought it wasn’t working very well, but I was wrong. I expected the voice control to work after just pressing the three keys. What I should have been doing is to hold the three keys down and then speaking. Now it is working perfectly and am finding it a useful option for when I haven’t got a DragonDictate operational.

Customizing your mac

Taking screenshots with SuperTab

There are keyboard shortcuts built into the operating system allowing you to take screenshots. The only problem is, I can never remember what those keyboard shortcuts are. In my menubar I have two third party screenshot applications. The one called Snappy is one of been using for some time and is very useful. It has some basic tools to allow me to put text and little drawings on top. I also like the fact that the screenshot persists on the screen until I double tap on it to get rid of it. I can then choose what I want to do with it and there are some built-in options accessible from a menu. Then the other one I have just recently added to my iMac is called Screenie. This application is useful because I can drag-and-drop from the drop down menu from the menu bar into applications. Using SuperTab for taking screenshots has the extra functionality of allowing me to choose which type of screenshot I want. I get all of these choices.

  • Selection of a portion of screen
  • Selection of a portion of the screen after a delay
  • Manually selecting a window
  • Manually selecting a window after a delay
  • Automatically capturing the front most window
  • Capture the entire screen
  • Capture the entire screen after a delay

SuperTab will automatically hide the icons on your desktop if you want a clean screenshot. This is particularly useful if you haven’t used the clutter free desktop options with SuperTab. Or if you don’t use Hazel to do the same thing.

There are a number of options available, such as where you save the screenshot. If you need to take screenshots of more than one area on your screen if you hold down the Cmd key you can take one screenshot after another. Little extras making me think I will keep SuperTab around.

Accessing your screenshots

You can get access to the screenshots from the SuperTab icon in the SuperTab rows. That gives you options such as copying to clipboard or opening in Preview. You can even send to trash if you want to. Use SuperTab to open up the folder containing the screenshots. Or have a special row in SuperTab to automatically display your recent screenshots. SuperTab will also work hand-in-hand with Snagit to give you extra functionality. I’ll not be doing that as Snagit is too expensive for my liking.

The Mac 20 Q verdict on SuperTab

Customising Your Mac Using SuperTab

After spending some time with SuperTab I’m getting to like it. There are a number of things within the application I have already got sorted out with other apps. It doesn’t really matter because SuperTab just gives me another way to access my computer operations. There will be times when it will be preferable to use SuperTab and other times a different app. SuperTab will be continually popping up in front of me every time I use the keyboard combination, so I can see me getting more comfortable with it. There will be the constant reminders of what the app can do.

Changing from one application to another just by using the keyboard will be extremely handy. Being able to get to applications not presently open, but are in the list of recent applications or are on the dock will be useful. When I’m working with images with various applications the pictures get put into different folders. I’m going to set up SuperTab with a Meta Folder so I’ll have all of those folders quickly available.

The other functionality haven’t explored yet is the control over applications. You can auto ensure certain applications are running at specific times or always. You can auto hide applications when they’ve been in the background for a specific period of time. This would help to keep your desktops clean and tidy. It’s also possible to set applications to auto quit if idle. I can see there will be some automation I can set up using these features of SuperTab.

I like the voice control available within SuperTab and I plan to experiment more with what I can do with it. I’ll try using it to open websites and take screenshots as well as hiding background applications.

SuperTab is not an expensive application and I think it’s worth having. It’s certainly worth giving a try and you can use it for 30 days in the trial mode. You’ll find on the website for SuperTab a few intro videos plus lots of other information to help you get started.

Posted in Mac20Q.

Discovering great iPad art applications for creativity

Let’s take a look at Enlight. I am constantly amazed by the quality of the iPad art applications we have available for making innovative, fantastic digital art. One of my favourite iPad and iPhone art applications has been iColorama. I find it’s quite easy to get into a situation where you enjoy using a particular application so much you forget to try some of the others. Especially with an application like iColorama which has such a breadth of tools and options you could spend weeks if not months exploring. I also find that using an application it’s easy to get into a situation where you are constantly using your favourite tools and effects. That’s not a good thing and we really don’t want our artwork to look all the same. We want our aunt to be original and different from everybody else’s. We also want our art to grow creatively and to have new looks and styles applied to the finished works. Us artists like to think our art is getting better and more interesting with each subsequent piece we work on. It’s always good to stretch the limits of our iPad art creativity with great iPad art applications.

Video recorded by the Enlight app as I made changes to the image I started with.

So it’s a good idea every now and again to put our favourite creativity application to one side and have a look and see what we can do with a different one. Sometimes we’ll be delighted and amazed by the other application finding techniques to give our artwork that something special. On the other hand, there are times when we pick something and wonder why the hell we have it on our iPad or iPhone. The poorer quality iPad art creativity applications are the ones which are basically just filters to apply on top of photos. There are rubbish applications meant for non-artists lacking creativity. The sort of applications are a simple application of a filter with no possibilities of making adjustments or masking certain areas off. Applications like this where you don’t have any ways to blend and manipulate multiple techniques or multiple photos and drawings should be avoided. I suppose one possibility would be to use one specific effect from an application and then move into something elsewhere you can really let your creativity have full reign.

great iPad art apps

Enlight iPad art application is now in the list of my favourite applications for creating iPad digital art. It’s an application that’s been languishing on my iPad for some time. I haven’t used it is an awful lot but I was prompted by an email I received. In this email there was a short tutorial on how to get the best from this application blending two photos together. It is possible to blend two photos together creatively in iColorama and also recently downloaded another application specifically for blending photos which goes by the name of Diana. That one is more of a one trick pony, but is a good option as part of a larger artistic workflow.

When you go used to using one application it takes a while to get used to another application. You have to finance where all of the tools are situated and what they can do. Fortunately with Enlight you have an area they called backstage in which as well as settings you have access to a tour and tutorials. Within the tutorial section you will find 12 tutorial showing you how to do a few different types of images. That includes mixing typography with pictures, adding text over images. Adding gradient colours to on-screen items and creating dramatic portraits using black-and-white effects and borders. Is Enlight going to be one of the applications you look at when searching for great iPad Art applications?

Canvas Menu

Over on the right hand side you have your menu items in a list. The first menu item is Canvas and within that you have just three tools. Crop, skew and refit give you some simple things and some amazing things you can do to your images. The cropping tools are simple enough where you can cut out areas from the edges of your photo you don’t want any more. You can crop completely freely by dragging in from any of the edges or corners. The other possibility would be to use the fixed ratios in case you wanted to have something 16:9 to use within a movie you are making for example. Or maybe you wanted it to be square for sending off to Instagram. Within the tools area there are other options such as vertical or horizontal flips, 90° rotations or straightening one or two degrees at a time.

Enlight Menus 1

Enlight Menus

Enlight Menus 2

Enlight Menus 2

Skew or De-Skew

From the skew menu it’s possible to skew images so that items within are straightened. An example of this would be if you are de-skewing a picture of a building so that it no longer looks as if it has any perspective. You can make it look as though you were dead centre and looking straight at it when you took your picture. From the distortion tool slide your finger to the right for the image to go convex and to the left to make it go concave. You’ll be left with your picture shape in the centre of the screen showing which parts will be kept and which parts will be discarded. If after playing with these controls you like what you have created tap on the checkmark to the right top of the screen. That will apply the changes you made to your picture.

Using Enlight app

Refit the Image

The refit option is a lot more interesting. Imagine you take a photo where you’ve got an interesting item on the left-hand side of the screen. There is another interesting item on the right-hand side of the screen and a boring space in the middle. With the refit option you can select the interesting areas by freezing them. You then slide your finger across the screen to crop away the part of the image in between the two frozen areas. I was amazed by this iPad art application technique. It is fantastic how well it works and you may choose to go vertically rather than horizontally if you wish. I was impressed by this tool within the Enlight artists application.

Basic Image Controls

Any of the great iPad art applications will have the basic image manipulation such as brightness, contrast and exposure. You get all of that in Enlight and you’ll find further options within the Basic, Details, Colour, Split Tone and Curves sections. So within Basic you can adjust brightness, contrast and exposure. With the Offset option you have a way to set an area such as a background either to be either just black or just white. Choose the setting you want to work with and slide your finger diagonally to make adjustments. When you have it as you want it hit the check mark/tick in the top righthand corner of the screen.

Curves in Enlight

iPad art apps

Within the clarity section you can sharpen, saturate or desaturate your image. It’s not necessary to apply these controls, settings or filter effects to the whole of the image there are masking tools. Use the masking brushes to apply or remove a masked area. Enlight also has a section called target which will apply a mask either as a spot which is re-sizable and movable across the screen. Or you can have mask which is linear, going in whichever direction you want it across the image. The other option would be to have a mirror type of mask. This gives you a central area which is affected by your image controls and settings fading out in both directions from the centre line.

Basically within these areas you have lots of fine control for you to do whatever you want with your image. The masking works well with the Apple Pencil. You have the chance to see what’s happening with your photo when you press the button towards the bottom right-hand corner which will give you a before and after you of the image.

Using the filters

Analog Effects

When you go to the analog effects in Enlight your first come across a whole load of presets. You can cycle through these presets if you wish and maybe there’s something there that will suit you just perfectly. Or you can change to the tools menu using the button in the centre of the screen at the bottom. From there you can get access to film effects where you can apply fade, grain, and intensity. For any of the settings within the Enlight art application you slide your finger from left to right across the screen to increase the amount of affect your giving it. Don’t forget you can also go into the masking area and as well as brushing on or off the mask you can feel all clear the whole image. There are also settings to change the size, opacity, feather and edge of the brush. This is what makes Enlight one of the great iPad art applications. You get a good deal of fine control over how your image is affected by any of your choices. It is more than just a simple app for applying filters or other little tricks to an image.

Changing the image to black-and-white or monochrome

You have available a whole range of black-and-white filters to apply to your image. Choose from the presets or going to the tools section to work with the controls directly. You can even filter the image based upon colours within if you want the black-and-white filter to work specifically on certain colours. In this same area of black and white adjustments you have other effects such as adding vignette or a grain. If you want to add borders there are a range of them available including plain black or white along with splotchy effects. It would be cool if it was possible to add your own border effects to this list. The only way around that at the moment is to add them using the mixer and blend tool.

Great iPad art applications

Going duo

This is all about using two colours and how you want those colours to be overlaid across the top of your image. Same as with some of the other effects where you can use a radial, linear or mirror distribution of the effect. Further adjust the distribution using masking techniques. Choosing the colours is easy by tapping on either colour one or colour two. This gives you a range of colours across the screen and in centre you’ll see there is a place where you can swipe upwards to access the infinite range of colours. Then all you have to do is to decide on how you want those colours to be blended. Same range of blend modes available in other tools in the application. Overlay, soft and hard light, multiply, screen and so on.

Tools Menu – Mixer, Reshape, Heal And Tilt Shift.

Mixer tool

This is the tool to use if you want to add other images to put on top all blend into the image you’re working on. You can choose blend modes of which there are eleven apart from the normal mode. Within the tools you can choose an erase tool which is handy if you want to erase a background. You can get really good control over which areas you erase by pinching to zoom in as close as you need to. I was impressed on how well I was able to delete a background when using my Apple pencil and the images zoomed in really close.

Reshape tool

Within this reshape tool you can move pixels around to refine just certain areas. For example, you might like to make somebody’s ears a whole lot bigger. You could turn somebody into a pixie by giving them pixie ears and they pointy chin. The reshaped tool does something similar but with a larger portion of the image. If you’ve taken something a little too far you can try pushing it back with the tool you use to reshape it in the first place. If that doesn’t work then there is the restore tool. With that you can just draw in any of the areas you want to put back to the way it was before you’ve messed it all up.

Heal tool

With the heal tool you can remove blemishes with a re-sizable round dot. I found that in some areas this can work quite well but in other areas all it does is just to blur wherever you had placed the tool. The patch mode gives you two circular areas. One area is where it will do a copy and the other area is where it will place the copy. It is just a clone tool by another name. It is quite good in that you can also add a mask to operate on the clone. This gives you excellent control over how this tool works on your image. You also have access to settings for controlling the brush.

Great iPad art applications

The blue image was blended on top with the Mixer tool and the circles are the Patch tool for cloning


Tilt Shift

This is a cool thing when you want to make a photo look like it is toy town or like a model village. It does this by making it seem as if you were using macro photography and having to deal with very short depth of field. You can use a spot focus, linear or the mirror mask to achieve the effect you are looking for with a specific photo.

Going artistic with Enlight

Urban artistic Effects

Choose one of the presets if you wish with fancy names such as Galactic, Paintsplat, DayGlo and Twister. These are basically a set of filters you can access in the tool section, backdrop. You can adjust the threshold, smoothing and restore. With restore you basically set how much of the underlying image you want to obliterate. You’ll find all of this in the Artistic – Urban section of the controls.



Painting filters – you have a wild section of painting filters. Some of these will completely alter your image so no longer looks anything like what you started with. You can however go into the basic settings and restore your original image which is a basic blending setting. There are also settings for lighting, style and surface. The surface settings give you a few textured effects which are interesting but nowhere near as many as you would find in iColorama.

Sketch filters – here you have a reasonable range of pencil and crayon styles. Lots of settings allow you to change the scale, rotation, threshold, transition and how it all affects the details of the sketching filter. It’s quite impressive the amount of control you have to change hatching, stroke and paper effects. It’s this control which takes Enlight from being a mere set of filters to apply to being an artistic tool for creative digital art producers. Creativity is all about experimenting, choosing and using whatever tools and processes you have at your disposal. There’s plenty available for all sorts of artists in this application.

Drawing with the Apple pencil in Enlight

You start with seven different brush tips available which doesn’t seem a lot at first look. You can go into the settings for the brushes and choose size and opacity. The brushes don’t react to the pressure you apply with the Apple Pencil. When using the ink style brush to make it fatter you just have to move the Apple pencil faster. In the brush settings you can set the size and opacity. Lines you’ve drawn can be erased. While the drawing implements are not as good as you’d find in application like Procreate or Pixelmator for iPad it is useful to have some of these tools within Enlight. This you’ll find these in the artistic, doodle section of the tools.

Painting with Enlight

In the centre of artistic tools you also have effects. This will allow you to draw bubble, hearts and Snowflake effects directly onto your drawing. There’s not a huge range of these effects available but they can be handy if you want to splurge some colours, shapes or grungy styles into your image. It’s all about making creative juices and making best use of the tools in great iPad art applications.

The making of memes

You can simply use the text tool to add text to wherever you want it within your image. There are a reasonable number of funds to play with. It’s easy to change the colour of the text and to add drop shadows if you wish. As usual you have access to blend modes and masking. There are also a small selection of fairly useless decals. If you’re looking to create a meme there is a specific tool using a large standard font. It puts a lump of text at the top of the screen and or at the bottom of the screen. This is a fairly dedicated tool and will be useful to some users.


In the Painting section of Enlight where you choose the tools you want to work with. Surface will give you textures effects for your image. Also showing the types of text it is possible to add.

Textures added

Great iPad art applications -Texture added to Enlight image

You’ve been framed

The last tool available within this tool section on the right-hand side is the framing tool. You got a number of frames to select from. You get to make choices regards the width of the frame, the shape of the image and there are all sorts of patterns you can put into the background. The other option available is for making a collage. You can combine a number of photos or artistic work seem to an interesting arrangement.

The NoStylus verdict on the Enlight iPad art application

When I first opened up this application I assumed it was just for messing with photos and adding filters. After exploring and trying a few things out I discovered it’s far more useful than that. It’s a well laid out application in terms of the interface giving access to the controls you need to make your artistic choices. It isn’t a drawing and painting application but it is possible to do some of that within Enlight. I was particularly impressed with the refit tool where I could freeze certain areas and remove space in between. It’s good to have the blending tool available and useful in many of the other tools. The mixing tool for blending multiple photos works well especially when using the masking.

Sharing from Enlight

There are a number of sharing options allow you to share out to the usual suspects. Send your images to messages, email, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. There is a cool feature where you can save your Enlight working session as an animation. This is where you get to see the progress of your work from initial image through to the final piece. This gives you a video which you can save to your devices Photos library.

Enlight iPad art application

Same as iColorama you don’t get the layers you find in great iPad art applications like Procreate, ArtRage, Concepts or Graphic by Autodesk. No worries as you can always move images from and to Enlight to take advantages of other tools only possible to use in other great iPad art applications.

Great iPad art applications

Overall Enlight is a super application and I would highly recommend it for use by creative types. There are some limitations with what you can do with it, while at the same time there are a huge number of choices. I like the application and I can certainly see me using it much more often in the future. Great iPad art applications.

iPad artist

Good and Geeky iPad art book

Posted in iPad.

How to send and receive encrypted emails macOS Sierra

Problems caused by operating system upgrades

As is often the case when there is an upgrade to the Mac operating system something gets broken. There are bound to be one of two things that don’t get checked when the company is sending out the beta versions of the new operating system. Some things are not quite so important to the beta testing group. This may be the case with encryption of emails. In the latest version of the Apple operating system macOS Sierra the mail application has been broken. When we had the update to El Capitan we were lucky that nothing stopped working as far as encryption was concerned. This was just as well because on the previous upgrade two years ago the GPG plug-ins for mail stopped working. This was particularly annoying because it took the people who made the plug-in and GPG keychain a long time to fix the problem. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we don’t have to wait so long in order to have the use of GPG in the latest Apple Mail application. I want to send encrypted emails macOS Sierra.

If GPG is not working then for some of us who care about encryption we can just start using S/Mime instead of GPG until we get a fix. It’s not possible with the version of Mail in Sierra because the S/Mime has also been broken. Sometimes you wonder if it is worthwhile upgrading to latest versions of the operating system on day one. Maybe we should all let the dust settle and make the jump after three or four months. The only difficulty with that scenario is if everybody did that, then no one would find out where the problems were. In Mail before I upgraded I was able to choose which encryption system I wanted to use. I could easily see when composing an email whether it was set for signing and encryption by whichever method. Now nothing works at all! What we need is a workaround.

Download PDF Book - SMIME SETUP

Using S/Mime certificates is easy when you have it set up. Learn how to get the Certificate on to your Mac and iOS Devices.

FREE Step by Step Guide to Getting a S/Mime email certificate from​

There are a lot of steps to set up a cert. You have to use the Terminal and put the private key and the certificate in the right places to get the file you need to put the certificate on your iOS devices.


Here is your book.

Right click on the link to download to your device

Don’t forget to check your email to complete the process to join the Good and Geeky tribe. There will be great information coming your way about using technology to improve your Good and Geeky life.


Using a workaround to send encrypted emails macOS Sierra

There are two possibilities if we still want to send encrypted email messages.

  1. Stop using the Mail app and you something else like Postbox or Thunderbird
  2. Continue using GPG Keychain and use the services menu to encrypt selected text. Or we can encrypt the whole text file or picture or whatever and add it as an attachment to our mail message.


I tried installing Thunderbird and it didn’t go very well and I gave up. I used to have version 4 of Postbox and there has been an upgrade to version 5. I had stopped using Postbox even though it had many more facilities within it compared to Apple Mail App. There were times when it just didn’t work correctly and so I went back to using Mail. So I downloaded version 5 and if I want to continue using it then I will have to pay to upgrade. At the moment I’m in the testing phase because I don’t really want to spend out €26 to buy the application if it’s not going to give me what I need. There are some really good useful tools within Postbox. It’s particularly good if you want to find messages within a mail folder that are unread, starred or favourited as well as a few other helpful ways of searching. I could for example tell it to look inside a folder for all of the emails received within the past week or for the past day. Postbox does work with the plug-in called Enigmail, so I can use GPG encryption. It’s also possible to send and receive email using S/Mime certificates to send encrypted emails macOS Sierra.

Getting set up with encryption certificates from Start SSL

Email Encryption certificatesI have been using these certificates for a few years and it does take some learning in order to set them up to use. Once you have the certificates installed they are very easy-to-use and you don’t even have to think about encrypting mails. Since the last time I went to the website to create the certificates things have changed. There was a new process to go through to get the certificate and to install them onto your machine. It took some time to work out what I needed to do, but I got there in the end. I created for myself a Clarify Tutorial so I can follow it each time I need to go back and repeat the process. The process is a little bit convoluted and it’s easy to forget a stage along the way. Not any more, now I have this tutorial. So you can use these certificates with Postbox. I don’t suppose it’s going to take too long before Apple release an update to Mail so we can use them within that application.

Manually encrypting text or files with GPG

This is an easy option to send encrypted emails macOS Sierra provided you’ve set up the services menu when you set up the GPG toolkit. If you didn’t do so, then don’t worry because it’s easy to go back into the services menu in system settings for your Mac and add those services.

Step-by-step guide to having these encryption services available on your Mac

Using the services menu to encrypt text

  1. Select the text you want to encrypt

  1. Right click or tap with two fingers on your trackpad to bring up the context sensitive menu.
  2. Scroll through the list until you get to OpenPGP: Encrypt Selection

  1. The window will pop-up for you to choose the key you wish to use. You will choose the public key of the person you are sending the message to. You should also include your own key in case you want to be able to decrypt and read the message you are just about to encrypt.

You can do this encrypted emails macOS Sierra from within the compose window of the Mail application. It’s not necessary any more to do it first in a text editor window. As well as choosing the public keys for the recipients you can also choose from your own key pair to sign whatever you are encrypting.

All you have to do when you’ve done all of this is to send the email off to its destination. The person receiving the email with the encrypted text will have no trouble in decrypting that text with their private key of their key pair.

Decrypting text within an email sent to you

  1. Select the block of encrypted text within the message.
  2. Right click or tap with two fingers on your trackpad to bring up the context sensitive menu
  3. Scroll through the list until you get to the OpenPGP: Decrypt Selection – Hey Presto, you see what was hidden by the GPG encryption.

encrypted emails macOS Sierra

Are you planning to send encrypted emails macOS Sierra from your computer?


Posted in Good and Geeky.

Back in the land of the living – As far as writing is concerned

During the summertime when I only have one day off per week. I really don’t get a lot of writing done. You can just imagine how happy I get on the 1st of October when I’m suddenly free and able to get into the swing of putting words onto pages once more. It does take a couple of days to adjust to having the freedom and being able to get organised. As a full-time writer during the winter I have to set out what I want to do during the day from Monday to Friday. If I don’t have any sort of plan then it’s very easy to just waste time and get very little done. There are some things in life you just can’t get out of. Like the time you need to shave, walk the dog and do that eating thing. The time in between has to be worked to death and used efficiently. I can forget about getting much done during the weekend when my wife is at home. Besides, it is a good idea to have some time off to let the ideas percolate in the skull before letting them loose again on Monday morning.

Blogging – Is it worth it?

I enjoy blogging and I spent quite a bit of time doing it. I think I’d find it hard to give it up completely. There are times though when I think I should cut back on the number of blogs I maintain and write for. I have a blog for my Mac activities Mac20Q, another blog in which I write about mobile computing NoStylus. Then there is the Spondicious photography blog as well as this blog for Good and Geeky books. I’m starting to wonder if I should consolidate some of these domains and blogs together and give myself less work to do with blogging. It is necessary to have some sort of web presence, but my problem is that I’m interested in too many things. It’s too easy to spread yourself out too thinly.

NoStylus 2016

Technology writing or fiction

I have a desire to write fiction and I have written a 50,000 word novel for Nanowrimo. That was a couple of years ago and I have thought about doing it again. A couple of ideas I have about stories for novels have got to the point where I’ve written several thousand words. Scenes and chapters have been written, characters have been created, but nothing has been finished. It seems like maybe this year’s Nano is beckoning me.

Good and Geeky Books

One of the first books in the series of Good and Geeky books was about photography and is in dire need of updating. I’m considering writing a completely new version of this to take into account the new software and new hardware we have available for creating photographic art. We have the excellent camera now available on the iPhone 7. There is the Photos application by Apple. Photos keeps getting better internally and also for working with third-party applications like Aurora HDR 2017 and Affinity Photo. On top of that there are the excellent photo manipulation tools available to us on iOS and my favourite of these is iColorama. The application goes way beyond the notion of just slapping a filter across the top of a good photo and making it a moody looking. It’s possible to create marvellous innovative artwork on the iPad or even on the iPhone.

Photography Book Cover

What about this for an idea for a book?

amazon-echoIt’s come to my notice that there are many older citizens who don’t want to get left behind by the technology boat. They no longer are content to pass the TV remote to some younger person to set up and use on their behalf. My mum for instance has bought herself an iPhone and iPad and delights in finding out how to do new things. I’m toying with an idea of having a book specifically aimed at the older generation. The book could be a how-to guide and show in a chatty and friendly way various technological activities. We could have a chapter of how to send encrypted emails. Another chapter on how to create a meme style image with an interesting picture and with text over the top. There could be a chapter about how to get the best out of the messages applications. How to use stickers and effects as well as using emoji icons to make messages more interesting. I could show how easy it is to set up a blog and to write about something you’re interested in. Considering the explosion now of AI type of devices such as the Amazon Echo and the Google Home products we could have chapters on how to interact verbally with our computers. How to ask questions and get sensible answers from Siri or Alexa. There’s lots of ways that life can be enhanced by using the abilities of our technological personal assistants. Older folks often complain about having worse memories than youngsters. It would be good to show how make the best use of applications to give reminders. How to set a reminder that will pop up when you arrive at a place or when you leave the house. How to use map applications to find your way to a place.


Tell me what you think

If you’re one of these older folks who would like to learn how to do something with your computers or mobile devices, then let me know. Maybe you know somebody who is struggling with technology and would benefit from such a book. Let me know what things they are finding difficult. I am a TecnoGrandad and I love using tech to make things better for me. I’m hoping Apple come up with a product to rival the Amazon Echo and Google Home. An updated Apple TV would be fantastic. Add some microphones and speakers to the device we already have in the living room.

Posted in Good and Geeky.

Aurora HDR 2017 Photography Application

A colourful way of seeing the world

I’ve always liked HDR photos because of the heightened and out of this world style of the colours and ultra-real view it gives me. It reminds me of when I was younger and I got my first pair of Polaroid sunglasses. When I put the glasses on, all the colours seem to be stronger and brighter. The blue of the sky was better than I saw it with my eyes naturally. I’ve always had this artistic nature and a desire to change the representation of what I see to something better. When I created my watercolour paintings I painted trees using blue and red because brown just wasn’t interesting enough. So this is why I love the images I get from HDR photos. I want to be able to see what would be otherwise hidden in the shadows. I need to have the full experience of what’s possible in the highlight areas. With a normal photo and the range of colour available you have to go with what’s in the middle. Or you choose within a range so you see what’s in the light areas and you miss what’s in the shadows. Then again you can choose to see what’s in the shadow areas and the light areas will be lacking due to being blown out. With HDR photos it’s generally better if you take a set of three photos which are bracketed. Bracketing means that one photo will be with two stops of extra light, another with a standard setting and one more with two stops less light. This will give you a wider range of light available for your final image if you can merge them together. This is what we have HDR applications for. HDR stands for High Dynamic Range and it can be done within camera or it can be done with software outside of the camera. For years I’ve used an application called Photomatix Pro and it is an excellent application if you know what you’re doing with it. One of the things I would have against it, would be that it sometimes goes overboard in what it offers you for your HDR photos. The other thing I’d have against it, would be that it’s interface is highly technical. For these two reasons I’m delighted to have found the application Aurora HDR 2017.

Aurora HDR 2017

Getting Started with Aurora HDR 2017

Last week I happened to see a bundle of Mac applications available for €10. Included within this set of applications was Aurora. I had briefly tried out the trial version of this HDR software and I’d been impressed with it, but I thought it was a little bit expensive for me. This was partly based upon the fact I already had other HDR software which did the job for me. For this price of €10 it was a no-brainer and I jumped in with both feet to get this bundle of Mac apps. Little did I know that there’s a new version due to come out a couple of days after I’d done this. I could have easily just stayed with the version I’d bought. It worked well with JPEG images. Aurora was giving me excellent results for creating HDR photos from my Mac photos library. I particularly like the way that with Photos App I can go to extensions from the edits menu and jump into third-party applications. I can get into applications such as Affinity Photo (specific parts of the app), Snapheal, Intensify Pro, Tonality and some others. I like being able to have my images all in one place within the Apple Photos application. It means I can organise everything with titles, keywords and descriptions which helps me to find photos later when I need them. I still have a load of photos all key worded from the application I was using previously – Aperture.

Aurora HDR 2017

Created in Aurora HDR 2017 from three bracketed photos

So over a period of a couple of days I created a few HDR photos sand was delighted with the way Aurora worked. It has a well thought out interface and plenty of tools to be creative with. There are a number of presets available, going from the realistic end of the scale to the downright ridiculous HDR style that some people either love or hate. I was loving the application right from the off and I spent a little bit of time watching a couple of how-to videos. There’s a lot of power within the tools and it helps to get up and running by spending some time learning quickly from a tutorial.

My reason to upgrade to Aurora HDR 2017

It wasn’t long before I tried to create a HDR photo using raw files. Raw files are the images as they come out of your camera with the most information possible. None of the information has been compressed as it is with JPEG images. This means you can use editing software to bring out more of what the camera sensor was able to detect. You can even grab a raw photo, singular and put into HDR software and get a great looking photo without needing to do the bracketing. The version of Aurora I had didn’t allow me to use raw photos. There are other advantages on having the pro version of the application and there was an offer to preorder Aurora HDR 2017 for a reasonable price. I still needed some time to think about it and the couple of days I was waiting to decide, Aurora HDR 2017 was released. In the end I decided, what the hell and I went for the upgrade. I watched more videos created by Trey Ratcliffe, the king of HDR photos. Trey was a consultant with Macphun in the making of Aurora and it was his influence that gave us an easy-to-use photographers interface for the application. I’ve been using the application now for three or four days and I’m still delighted with my purchase. No buyers remorse as I feel I’ve got good value for my money in being able to create fantastic HDR images.

HDR Photography with Aurora

Used HDR to give the photo of the landscape more punch. I also used Snapheal app.

Some of the things I love about Aurora HDR 2017

  • An extension which works from photos app.
  • Working with layers with my photos.
  • The ease of painting on a mask.
  • Graduating masking across a photo.
  • Easy-to-use sliders for settings.
  • Useful before and after view so I can see how I much changed the photo.
  • Possibility to choose which original image to compare with.
  • Luminosity masks.
  • Availability of blend modes for the layers
  • It’s great you can do the basic photo adjustment such as tone and colour within the application.
  • Fantastic built-in presets, availability of extra presets and an option to create your own.
  • Excellent compatibility with other applications from the same software maker – Macphun
  • Ease of sharing to social networks and photography sites such as Facebook and SmugMug

Creating a HDR image with Aurora HDR 2017

Most the time I will be starting from the Photos application. How I get started with Aurora will depend upon the format of the photo I want to work with. If I have three bracketed RAW or JPEG photos I select them and use the Export command from the file menu. I find is a good idea to have a folder dedicated specifically to holding these bracketed photos ready for the making of HDR images. For one thing it makes them easier to find when you’re loading photos into the Aurora HDR 2017 application. Secondly when you have finished editing that image you can easily cleanup by deleting those exported originals. You’ll still have the original working files available in the Photos application. You will go to Aurora and load up those three photos. When you load them up you can choose to align photos and there are other options such as de-fringing. Sometimes you can get a colour edge when you have a light source behind your subject. I usually find that this is a blue or purple fringe and it’s good to get rid of that if you can. The other option is to remove ghosting. This might happen when you’re taking a set of three photos and you have objects within, that have moved between one photo and another. Aurora can take care of this. When you’ve made all your decisions about how you’re bringing the photos in you click on the button – Create HDR.




Choose your Photos to work with in Aurora HDR 2017



Choose Additional Settings


Aurora Settings

Check if you want alignment and ghosting taken care of


Working with Aurora 2017 HDR

Working with Photos on the Aurora HDR 2017 Application

The other way to work with an image from Photos is to go into the editing mode. Click on the extensions option at the bottom of the list. If you have enabled it already via the system preferences Aurora will be available for you to use on your photo. When you do it this way you find that the Aurora application opens within Photos. You get all of the functionality from the Aurora application and when you click on save changes you’ll go back to the editing mode of Photos. Click on Done and you’re back into the view where you started in Photos. Obviously, with this you can only work on one photo at a time. When you have more than one photo selected you can’t get into editing mode.

  • Best option – Select three bracketed RAW photos, export them out and then work with them directly in Aurora.
  • Good option – from within the Photos app choose a raw photo, go to the edit menu and then into Aurora via extensions.
  • Good option – You have three bracketed JPEG photos and you drag them and drop them into a folder. Edit directly in the Aurora application.

I suppose it is possible to work with a single JPEG image if that’s all you have. The results you get from that will depend upon how much the image has been compressed within that format. I like working with the single RAW image because that keeps it all within the Photos application. Whenever you’re working directly in Aurora you’ll want to export out of the application and put the results back into Photos application. Keep everything organised, neat and tidy.

Aurora HDR 2017

Partly worked on with Aurora and also in Affinity Photo

The Spondicious verdict on Aurora HDR 2017

As you can tell by the enthusiasm contained within this review of Aurora HDR 2017 I am impressed by the app. I love creating HDR photos and sometimes it makes me happy when I’ve gone over the top. Even those HDR photos that some people hate are a delight to my eyes. You don’t have to go crazy, there are plenty of options available within the presets. You don’t have to work with the presets either. You can dive into the settings in the right-hand panel and fiddle about with the sliders to your hearts content. You get just what you want from a HDR photo even if it’s something that’s highly realistic. The other possibility would be to choose one of the presets that is closest to what you’re looking for and then start working with the adjustment sliders. This application is top notch quality as you will find with the other applications from Macphun.

Posted in Uncategorized.

Third Party Keyboards in the Middle of the Night

Bit of a headache so I was finding it difficult to sleep. Got up to take a pill 💊 and have a look at my computer. Loving the Swiping Swype way of writing. It’s a great way to type quickly on the virtual keyboards. You don’t have to be that accurate with finding the keys as you Swype. The software behind it makes good guesses at what you wanted. Sometimes you have to choose one of the three alternatives given but it’s still excellent at knowing which word you wanted. I still prefer to use dictation but there are times when you have to be silent and third party keyboards are the answer.


The third party keyboards of this type I’ve tried are Swiftkey, Swype and Fleksy. Possibly another I can’t remember the name of which had you swiping with both hands. I think the letters on the keyboard were even somehow hidden. It didn’t work for me anyway. I was flabbergasted by how the AI of Swiftkey was able to predict the next words for me. I showed the software blogs I’d written and other texts so it learned my vocabulary. I’m using Swype these days but I’ll give Swiftkey another try.

📷Making HDR Photos

I’ve been working on my HDR photos because I bought the Aurora HDR software. I already have Photomatix which is good but I think this Aurora is easier and better to use. The pictures I’m making are better images and less harsh. There is the influence from Trey Ratcliffe who is the master of the HDR style photo art in Aurora. In iColorama it is possible to get HDR effects but there’s nothing like using bracketed photos in a full on HDR editor on the Mac. Even so, with Aurora you can get great HDR photos using just a single RAW photo. There is just so much information in that type of photo format.

I’ve typed this last paragraph in with SwiftKey and I’m liking Swype better. Maybe I just need to persevere with this one for a bit longer. I do like the usage starts you get with SwiftKey. It tells me how much more productive I’m being and how many typos if has fixed for me. Have you tried any third party keyboards?

Third party keyboards

Disadvantages of third party keyboards

I like to dictate and you lose this functionality with third party keyboards. All is not lost though, with using Drafts app for inputting text you can do both. This is because Drafts has dictation built in though the actions.

When you get a word wrong you have to go back and do it again, there are two ways of doing this. In Swype the backspace will first of all delete the whole word, unless you tap on the dying area first. Then you can go back a letter at a time. Using SwiftKey it goes back letter by letter straight away. Sometimes it is better one way and sometimes better the other. I think I prefer Swype for that feature.

I wonder if one day Apple will make a swiping keyboard and Sherlock all the third party keyboards of this type? Probably not, but you never know.

Posted in iPad.

Loving my iPhone

I’m finding that having a larger iPhone is really very useful. I can do lots more things with the device and quite often I would rather do it with the iPhone rather than picking up the iPad. There are still things with the iPad is better at such as anything where I can use the Apple Pencil.

Loving the Apple Pencil too

Yesterday I was trying to do something with the Apple Pencil in the Photos app and it wasn’t working I was quite surprised. The mark up thing I think it is from Apple and I would’ve expected that Apple Pencil would’ve been supported. You can do the writing with the Apple Pencil but if you want to make adjustments to something like the magnifying glass effect then it doesn’t recognise the dots on the screen. You have to move back to using your fingers for making adjustments to positioning and to the size and to the amount of magnification.

lots of love to spread around

Loving the Photos applications on the iMac and on iOS. One of the best things about it is that I can send photos to other applications. Third-party applications that do amazing and fantastic things with my photos. On my Mac I’m using Intensify Pro and I’ve just also starting using Aurora for HDR photos. I’m half tempted to buy the upcoming pro version. The anything is, it will cost me around about €70. I’m not sure I fancy spending the money.

Posted in iPad.

Writing with the DragonDictate application V6.0.1

DragonDictate Professional for MacThis is with an update to the crappy first version came out with version 6. It’s still not showing the commands window and I’m a bit surprised because it’s supposed to have been fixed. It’s the same as before when I click on the show commands in the status window (That’s the right-hand of the three icons), nothing happens at all. The dictation seems to work quite nicely and the words are popping up on the screen quickly. Maybe I should try to do this with a new profile for this version and see if that makes a difference. I do already have a different profile that I could try that’s been created with version 6 of DragonDictate and maybe that will be good enough. Who knows, will have to wait and see. I did some tests to see if it would start working if I switched some of the other things off-line the correction window and the guidance window. It didn’t make any difference at all. I will have to send some emails to the people at nuance and ask them what’s going on. I don’t really have much hope for getting any help from them but it will be interesting to find out if they at least try. I suppose I could always do that thing where you turn it off and turn it back on again and see if it works then. It does seem to be the cure-all for many technological problems. I wonder if they have to do things like that when they’re in the space station in orbit. There would have to be be worried that it might not start again properly.

Loving Scrivener againScrivener

In some ways it’s quite nice to be using Scrivener again although I have got rather used to using Ulysses. The version of markdown is very good within Ulysses and the application also allows me to publish directly to WordPress. Sometimes that ability doesn’t work too well, especially when I’m trying to do it from one of my iOS devices. Something else I quite like about using Scrivener is the fact that it gives me the word count and character count at the bottom of the screen. I don’t get that when I’m using Scrivener I have to press a key combination to see how many words I’ve written using the voice dictation. The key combination is Command and 7. I am pretty sure I don’t get the ability from within Scrivener to upload directly to a WordPress installation. I can export out to a HTML text formats which will go directly into the text to side of a WordPress post within Safari. I used to use the application Marsedit for all of my blogging. It was pretty good as a way to have all of my blogging in one place. Then on the other hand I have the actual text of the blog posts within Ulysses and could also do the same within Scrivener if I want to. So the Marsedit application has kind of fallen by the wayside for the moment. One of the problems with using Ulysses as my method of posting to WordPress is that I don’t get any choice for how I want to set the images within the post. When I’m using Marsedit I can set the position of the image to the left, to the centre or to the right of the page and have the text flow around the picture. What I’ve done to get around this to a certain extent is just by putting in larger images and just having them all centred on the page. Quite a lot of the blog posts I make are long posts and having large images within the proposed works out pretty good. I don’t need to have text flowing around images to make the blog post look longer or more interesting.

Testing of DragonDictate for Mac version 6

I should have set up a timer to see how long I’m doing the dictation for. If the application does crash all start working improperly then I’ll know how long it took for Dragon Professional Individual version 6 to fall over. I really don’t know why they had to choose such a long name for the application. Nuance that made the name of the application sound like it’s a Windows program. It seems to me to be quite ridiculous and over-the-top as a naming convention. Dragon for Mac is what they called it with version 5 and before that it used to be just called DragonDictate. I think many people will still call the application DragonDictate because that is kind of what it is known as within the dictation community. There are a whole other people on Facebook who like to get together and discuss how to get the best from the application. Many times the questions are the same and get asked over and over again. Simple questions and often questions that indicate the person doesn’t really have a clue as to what they’re doing with dictation and using DragonDictate. Many and seem to want to do the transcription type of dictation where you record whatever it is you want to say into some type of recorder. That might be a specific electronic device meant only for transcribing speech or recording audio to be played back at a later stage. It can also be an application you use on either your iPhone or your android phone. I have tried to talk into one of these devices as I’ve been walking the dog and it doesn’t really suit me to dictate that way. I can’t get used to the idea of the silences I need in between saying one thing and the next thing. Sometimes I need some thinking time. When on the front of the computer and dictating directly into the application also get the opportunity to look over the sentences I’ve just dictated. This is particularly useful when I want to check to see that the speech to text has done a good job of converting what I said into text on the screen. DragonDictate does seem to be a rather good application for converting speech into text but sometimes there will be one or two words it doesn’t get exactly right.

There are still problems with this Dragon Dictate and it isn’t working quite right.

After writing 1000 words I took a break to watch a football game and when getting back to the computer I used DragonDictate to write into the application Day One. It didn’t take long before Dragon format started messing around and misbehaving. I decided it must be that it didn’t like that particular application. In the past it has worked well with Day One. So went back to work with Scrivener and immediately the problems continued. Within the space of dictating one sentence DragonDictate crashed and had to be restarted. One of my much used commands stopped working it wouldn’t let me Cache Document. I think I shall have two write a stern email to Nuance pointing out the continued bad quality of the software they’re putting out. As users we should keep on their backs to improve this software and get it to a decent standard. Especially considering the amount of money we paid to buy it and upgrade it.

How the best software behaves – Not like DragonDictate V6

This latest session of dictation I’ve put in a couple of hundred words and everything is going okay again. Whatever software you’re using for doing whatever task really needs to get out of the way to let you get on with the job in hand. If you spend half of the time worrying about whether the basics of the software are going to continue working it does tend to knock your confidence in the credibility of said software. I suppose we could just take a pragmatic approach to the use of Dragon dictate and to love it when it’s working well and we are able to write three or four times faster than if we were using a keyboard. We can take remedial measures to reset it ready for further use after the application has started to misbehave. Since my latest restart I’ve written another 300 – 400 words and everything is lovely in DragonDictate land again. We just have to look upon DragonDictate as a flawed but brilliant diamond.

There is a possibility that the document is getting cached but it’s not actually showing it. In the previous version it would look like it was selecting the whole of the text and put the cursor at the end. Now when I issue that command it looks like nothing is happening at all. I can see in the guidance window that it was able to recognise what it was I said correctly but there is no evidence as to whether it actually did what it was told to do.

Posted in Mac20Q.

Got The iPhone 7 and iOS 10 – Loving it!

Collecting from Barcelona

I thought I’d have a trip to Barcelona to collect the iPhone 7 although I normally have the new things from Apple sent to my house. The reason I did it this way is because it’s likely the couriers would not get the iPhone to me on the proper day. They always seem to have trouble finding our house. Also with me being at work there was going to be the chance that they might not arrive the next day or even until after the weekend. I just didn’t want to wait that long! Another reason for going to the Apple Store is because I thought it would be a trip out. I don’t get out very often and I thought the experience of collecting from the store on day one would be interesting.


Queue of people waiting for the iPhone 7 in Barcelona

I elected to collect my iPhone at the appointed time of between 9 o’clock and a quarter past nine. All I had to do was to brave the driving on the motorway from my house to Barcelona. As soon I got onto the main road I saw there was a guy not paying attention to his driving. He drove the least two or three km looking at his phone rather than looking at where he was going. Where the road branches to the left to go to Barcelona this same driver decided to overtake myself and the car in front and had to cut in front of us so he could continue on the road to Gerona. That was just the first possible accident due to bad driving I saw on the trip. Later a car decided to undertake rather than overtake. This was as I was about to overtake a lorry and the car just managed to squeeze in the closing gap. This same manoeuvre happened again later and at the same time there was a car overtaking me on the outside going to pull back into the middle lane. It’s a wonder these two cars didn’t bounce off each other in front of me. Just another example of crazy driving. I was glad to get to my destination, the Barcelona Apple Store at La Maquinista. At least this location was on my side of Barcelona and they didn’t have to drive through to get to the other side or to the centre. I was lucky to get there in one piece.

I arrived at the La Maquinista shopping centre right on time and most of the shops were still closed. Walked to the Apple Store and I saw there was a queue Of about 100 to 150 people waiting in a fairly long looking queue. On account of having pre-ordered the phone I went to the front of the queue and found one of the Apple store staff. He directed me to another much shorter queue right by the front door of the store. She asked me the time of my appointment and pointed me to a queue of five people.I was waiting for around about 15 minutes before it was my turn to have the barcode scanned and be assigned to a personal shopper assistant. It was all very friendly and chatty with all of the Apple store staff I’d connected with so far. I was escorted to the back of the store where there was a pile of iPhones of various types stacked upon the counter. My order barcode was scanned again, maybe twice. The whole process wasn’t terribly smooth but it was friendly and it didn’t take long before I had my iPhone in my sticky little paws. I got the impression my personal shopping helping assistant was new and the job because he was struggling with the scanning of the barcodes. I had been instructed I should take my passport with me or other identification so I could prove who I was to collect the phone. It was checked. It wasn’t sufficient to be able to show my iPhone and open it up with my own fingerprint to access my order and collect the iPhone. I’m grateful that there was security in place to make sure that there weren’t any mishaps. I wouldn’t like it if I gave my phone to somebody else.

Resisted the temptation to open the box

Before I left the Barcelona shopping centre I needed to have some refreshments to set me up for the journey back home again on the motorway. I didn’t even get the phone out of the box to have a look at it while having my cup of tea. I was more interested in polishing off a nice chunk of carrot cake. I could have swapped the Sim from the old phone to the new one. Trouble is, I would then have had to connect it up to the Apple Store Internet to download iCloud information and applications. I still needed to use the maps application to give me directions to get back home again. It was prudent to use the iPhone 6 that was already set up and raring to go rather than messing around with a new one. The momentous occasion of the unboxing of the iPhone 7 will have to wait until I got back home again.

The queue of people waiting for an iPhone


Setting up with iMazing

Using iTunes is one way of transferring everything from one phone to another. I’d heard good things about the application called iMazing. This would be a good opportunity to give it a proper try and see how it worked.

I was disappointed with the process. There has been an upgrade since using it to move stuff from the old iPhone to the new one and maybe I should have waited for that. Or maybe it should have been available soon as the iPhone 7 was out on the streets. I was expecting iMazing to bring in everything from the old iPhone and it only brought in some of the applications. I’ve had to spend time re-downloading many of the applications that were just sitting there with a note under the icon to say that they were waiting. They were like this for quite some time after the transfer from iPhone 6 to iPhone 7. I thought at some point in time they would just connect up to the Internet and download. I tried to reconnecting to the iMazing application to see if it was waiting for permission from the application to finish the job. I also connected to iTunes to see if I can bring the applications onto the device that way. It’s worked out best for me to bring them in using my mobile data which is much faster than my home Internet.

A bit of a mess.

The other thing that iMazing managed to mess up was the arrangement of the applications on the screens. I had many of the applications into various folders to organise them. And while some of the apps were put in the proper places, some were not. I’ll continue using this iMazing application to do the backups although I’m not going to know how well it’s going to work unless I do a restore from backup at some point in time.



So who’s fault was it?

Since writing the first two paragraphs of this section I listened to a podcast where the people had a similar problem not using the application iMazing. The problem has come about due to something called “app thinning”. With this app thinning thing the downloads of the application within iTunes are not exactly the same as the ones downloaded being used on your device. This somehow saves megabytes in terms of downloads per app. I’m not sure exactly how it works, but it was this that caused the problem. Maybe I’ll give iMazing a pass on this one. These people reported the same problems of applications not being in the organised folders as previously set up by the user. Also many of the applications were showing as “waiting” when you would have expected these just to have been moved directly onto the new device.

What I was expecting was to have the software do a complete clone of what was on one phone and put it onto the new phone. This didn’t happen but I got past the problem eventually. I think Apple are going to have to do some sorting out of this little difficulty so that we don’t have this problem every time we upgrade our phones.

iPhone 7 Plus first impressions

It’s big, it’s bold and it’s beautiful! I went for the gold version with 128 GB. It was the sensible choice considering the 64 GB is not available with this model. 32 GB would have been too few and the 256 GB would have been nice but too expensive. With the size I’ve gone for, it will be okay for the space. More storage is needed due to having the ability to take live photos. A whole day went by before I was able to do much with the iPhone. This was partly due to the debacle using the iMazing software and partly because I had to go to work. When I did find the time I was impressed with the Live Photos and I’m looking forward to taking more of these and sharing them. It’ll be interesting to see how easy it is going to be to share them with other people who don’t have devices that support the live photos natively. I think it’s possible for me to send a live photo in a message and the person at the other end will be able to tap on it within their messaging app to see the movement.

Pretend home button

It’s going to take some time to get used to the pretend home button. Rather than feeling a click from movement within the press of the button, the thing that comes from the tactic engine. It manifests itself across the whole of the device it seems. The feedback doesn’t have the pinpoint accuracy directly into the thumb from the button. It’s really did seem weird at first but I am getting used to it. I don’t think it’s going to take too long before it seems absolutely normal. TheyTaptic engine gets used for other things such as in Messages when you have fancy effects such as the laser or the fireworks.

The look and the feel

I’m having to use this phone without a case for the moment. I’m being extra careful with it due to its smooth edges and it’s filling a little bit like a slippery bar of soap in my hand. I’m scared to death of dropping it and breaking it in this first week of using it. It’ll be another few days before I get the cases ordered via Amazon. I was shocked, amazed and a little bit disgusted at the price of the bumper cases in the Apple Store. €45 is an horrendous price for a tiny bit of silicon. There are times when I think Apple are completely greedy even though I’m quite happy to pay the price for the iPhone. It may well be that you could buy an Android phone for a quarter of the price, but you wouldn’t have the quality, either in the device or with the applications to use. I know what I’m talking about after spending 18 months using a Samsung Galaxy 3. It’s a good job we don’t have to wait too long before the third party vendor’s come up with iPhone 7 cases at reasonable prices.

I went for the gold coloured iPhone and at first I wasn’t quite sure if I liked it or not. At least it’s not the horrible pink rose gold! Now I’ve got used to the gold colour I have to say I’m in love with the device and how it looks. It’s a gorgeous and I’m quite protective over my iPhone 7.

Picking it up and the lock screen appears

This is a feature which comes in conjunction with iOS 10. When you pick the device up off the table the screen comes alive straightaway showing the lock screen. You can then swipe across to the right to get to the Today Screen or you can swipe across to the left and get to the camera. When you get to the camera you can’t swipe back again, you need to touch the home button. There is a little message at the bottom of the screen which tells you to press the home button to unlock the device. Considering the useful things you can now do with the lock screen today widgets this is quite a good way of going about using the device.


An example of Lock Screen usage

The good example of this is the Drafts application which has four icons. There is a + symbol, a new note icon, a microphone icon and icon that looks like a chopping block. Press any of these icons and you can use the touch ID, enter your pass code to start using whichever function you decided on. I do like to use dictation for creating text on whatever device. And I’m very pleased to see this microphone icon giving access to note creation by dictation. Drafts is an excellent application for throwing in whatever piece of text onto the device and deciding afterwards whatever it is you want to do with it. The dictation works very well in a dedicated dictation window. It is continually listening to you and there’s no time limit on how long you can speak for. When you’ve got enough text within your note you can click on the button create and hey presto.

In the lock screen today view you can edit your list of widgets. I have mine set up with Launch Centre Pro, Fantastical, Weather, Maps destinations, Reminders, Drafts, OmniFocus and Authy.

How I like my front page of apps

iOS Front Page of Apps

Arranging Apps

So I had a problem where all of my applications were scattered across the various screens of the device. The way I resolve this problem was to manually do the organising to get it back somewhere near right again. On the Maccast Adam Christianson had the same problem, but what he did was to run a restore from backup again. By doing that he was able to save himself a lot of time putting applications back in the places where there was supposed to be. It’s definitely worth while listening to some of the Mac podcasts and in particular I always recommend the Maccast. I first started listening to this podcast before I was even a Mac user. Then I bought my Mac Mini and I learned a lot from Adam while being a new user. I continue to keep on learning new stuff because he doesn’t concentrate on the spreading of the daft rumours about Apple. He also has a section where he will give hints and tips on how to do things with your Apple devices.

All sorted out

After spending time moving things around from place to place everything is where it should be. More or less! I made sure I had the most important, most used and most useful habitations ready to go first. It would have been better if the transfer of the old phone to the new phone had gone smoother. Having to fiddle about with stuff takes some of the shine of the getting a new iPhone 7.

I put iOS 10 onto my iPhone 6 and so I had a couple of days of experiencing the new operating system. The first thing you notice is the new way of logging in to your device. Apple brought this new way of logging in so that you could start making better use of the today widgets on the lock screen. A good many applications have created widgets giving you extra functionality as soon as you pick up your iPhone. You get to these widgets by sliding your finger from the left to the right which is available as soon as you pick the phone up. You don’t have to press any buttons to see the screen it becomes enabled by the motion sensors within the phone. If you swipe from the right to the left takes you directly into the camera which is pretty useful. You can still get to the camera by sliding up from the bottom of the screen to get panel to toggle things like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, do not disturb, aeroplane mode and portrait orientation.

iPhone 7

iOS 10 Weirdness

From the same panel you get the flashlight switch, timers, calculator and a couple of other controls. If you slide from the right to left to get to the second panel you’ll see the now playing panel. This isn’t what I tend to make use of as I prefer to control the sound Now Playing from my iPhone using the Apple Watch. The controls in these two panels have been rearranged and better spaced out in iOS 10.

now playing

The look of the notifications

It’s possible to see the notifications on your phone from the lock screen. You just have to slide your finger down from the top of the screen. Those notifications will cover over the Today Widgets or the camera. You can’t slide back from the camera to the opening lock screen. You have to press the home button if you want to go back. The notifications are now as rounded rectangles and you can use 3D touch on them. For example, with an Instagram notification and 3D touch you can Like, Quick Reply Or View Post. Sometimes when you do the 3D touch what you get is the option to view post and nothing else. Maybe it depends upon what sort of notification is as to what options you get. From the notification screen you can also slide from the left to the right to see the Today Widgets.

The Today Widgets

This area is a highly configurable view of your favourite applications almost useful applications. I have set mine up with Launch Centre at the top followed by Fantastical, Weather, Batteries, Workflow, Reminders, Drafts, OmniFocus, Copied, Authy and there’s an option to edit. There’s a huge number of applications with these widgets available giving you quick access to doing specific favourite actions with your iOS applications.


I particularly like the recent update to the Drafts application. The initial view gives you four icons. The + to start a new draft, the clipboard symbol which opens up drafts for you ready to type, a microphone symbol which opens up a view into the application where you can dictate your new note. Then there is the icon which looks like a chopping block with an arrow pointing into the cut. This icon will take you to the list of notes you already have in the application. My favourite of these icons is the dictation and it’s a fantastic way to get text into your device. It’s a much better way of using Siri to take notes and it just keeps on listening. None of this stopping and starting that you get when using the Siri from the keyboard. There is a pause button and then when you finished creating your notes you just tap on the word create. Every now and then it puts in three equal signs and in markdown this gives you a horizontal line. So maybe there is a limit to how much you can dictate into this dictation window in Drafts. What makes Drafts so amazing is the huge number of actions. You can take the text and post into social networks such as Google+, Facebook and Twitter. You could send it off to a reminder or to your Day One journalling application. Use text to create a new to-do in OmniFocus. It’s also possible to save it off to other notetaking applications such as to Evernote. Send it off to Dropbox or append to a text file in iCloud Drive. You can make your own actions or you can visit the action directory to download actions created by other Drafts users. That’s talking about just one of the today widgets and there’s lots more you can do.

Lock screen - Today app

Getting your stuff done

The today widgets area is all about getting quick access to your most used and most useful applications. Some of these you don’t even have to open the application from the widget to get the information you need. IOS 10 has made changes in the basic operation of how these widgets are shown on the lock screen making it more likely that you’ll use the functionality offered.

iOS Today Widgets

My most personal computer

I can tell you for sure that with the combination of the iPhone 7 and iOS 10, the way I use use my most personal computer has changed. Drafts is getting a lot of use and I’m making use of 3D Touch to quickly get into the most useful aspects of a number of applications. It’s becoming more about actions and getting things done with my iOS device than it has been about what applications are able to offer. Love it when I use the Swype keyboard in Drafts for quick text entry and still I have fast access to dictation from a keyboard action. Got that from the Action Directory.

Drafts App

Setting up the Apple Watch with the iPhone

As part of the setup process for the new phone I had to pair the watch from the old phone. It was kind of like having to set up the Apple Watch from new. When I paired it with the new iPhone all of the health data was still there. So all of the data I’d been collecting all the time I’ve been using the watch wasn’t lost. There was a sigh of relief considering some of the other movement of data from the old phone to the new phone hasn’t gone quite as well as I thought.

Apple Watch OS 3

This upgrade I did before I got the new iPhone 7. I didn’t really have a lot of time to get into it, but it is a huge change. One of the things I do an awful lot with the Apple Watch is to control what I’m listening to in my podcast listening app of choice. I was previously using Overcast and I recently changed to Pocket Casts. It doesn’t really matter which podcast app I’m using but with Apple Watch the now playing control has moved into the Apple Watch Dock. Because of this change I now have one extra tap to do to set pause or play on the now playing setting. I had the muscle memory of swapping from the bottom of the Apple Watch screen to get to the glances. This got me straight into the Now Playing control. Now I have to press the button on the side of the watch, and then have to tap on whichever application I want to use. The one I want is usually at the front but I still have to do one extra tap in order to do what I want to do. In practice it doesn’t really take much extra time, but it has taken some getting used to. Still loving my Apple Watch.

Getting the old iPhone ready to sell

When you’re getting an old iPhone ready to sell you have to do the job properly. Half of the job is partly done already with having to unpair the watch from the phone. You also have to turn off the find my friends or find my phone – One of the two things. All that is left to do to finish the process is to go into General in the iPhone preferences and tell it to do a full reset. This makes the phone completely free to use by some other person.

It only took me a couple of days to have the old phone sold to a work colleague. The had taken about a week to decide whether it was going to buy it or not and there was much haggling over the price. I chose a price which was reasonable as in it was cheaper than you would find on a site like eBay. The advantage for me was that I wasn’t going to have the hassle of having to deal with somebody I didn’t know. I didn’t have the hassle of having to spend the time setting up the eBay sales process. There was none of the bother to package the old phone into a box and take it to the post office and send it to someplace. I also didn’t have to pay the fees for the sale of the device on eBay or whatever other online store. It worked out that I was able to sell it for an amount which covered 1/3 of the price of my new device. I still had the box the iPhone 6 came in and I put in the charger which came from the new iPhone 7. I couldn’t find the original which was of the same type. It’s the small one which has the advantage of being easy to carry around but is not one that I tended to use anyway, so no worries!

Posted in iPad.
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