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Good and Geeky News

Using Alfred on the Mac

Whenever I press Command plus the space bar on the keyboard instead of getting spotlight I get access to Alfred. With the pro version of Alfred you get more than just a spotlight replacement. So I can do fancy things like, getting a list of the previous X number of clipboard contents. I can scroll through and paste whatever I want from the list. It gives me search facilities and will bring up items that are in the Contacts app. Or it will give me an opportunity to search inside Google, Wikipedia or Amazon using whatever I typed in as the starting point. This morning I added a workflow to Alfred which is activated by me typing in CLF followed by the first letters of a folder on looking for. It specifically brings up any folders containing the letters or words typed in. I have another workflow which will find emoji icons for me. I only have to start typing in the word emoji followed by whatever is on looking for. I can also get that started by using a hotkey. I’ve got it set up so that it will start using Control, Option, Shift Command plus the letter E. That might seem like a difficult combination but I have that set of keys set up to the caps lock. I only need to press caps lock plus the letter E. It is possible to make your own workflows in Alfred. It’s often easier to have a look in the directory of workflows you can find on the forum and download them already made.

A useful workflow I downloaded gives me time zones. The coding within the workflow allows me to manage the cities in the list. I can easily add cities and remove cities. Change between 24-hour clock or 12 hour clock. I have a hotkey which immediately brings up the list of cities and their time zone information. Or if I type in the word time zone I get the options to manage the workflow. Alfred also does file search, web search, snippets, dictionary definitions, connects to music mini player. Alfred is also a great way to get to system commands like when you want your computer to go to sleep.

I Bought a New iPhone

I was planning to keep the iPhone 10 for three years. I came into a little bit of money and brought it forward by six months. It’s also a good idea to do it on the two years because I pass my phone onto my wife. In terms of battery usage and longevity it has to last for four years if I work on a two-year cycle for my own phone. Stretching out my phone change time period to 3 years will make the phone less useful for my wife. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!

I use my phone as my ultimate portable computer. So having the latest and greatest for two years is sensible for me. My wife doesn’t have the same technological requirements for her phone as I do. The only benefits you’ll get from having the iPhone 10 will be the longer battery life than she gets with the iPhone 7.

To move my data from the old phone to the new phone I used iMazing. It wasn’t totally straightforward because of me using the beta version of the operating system on the old iPhone. I had to register the new phone in the beta program with Apple. Download the updated operating system and install it. Then I was able to get the job done. There was some time delay between starting the upgrade process and getting it finished. During this period I missed a few of the messages sent to me in the Messages app.

There’s not really a huge difference between phones that are two years old compared to a new one. I don’t even really notice any sort of speed bump even though the processor is quicker in the new phone. The camera is improved, but I haven’t a chance to make any proper comparisons yet. In any case I’m still glad to have the newer version of the phone.

After my phone is updated I then have to update my wife’s phone. I did a better job of doing that because of lessons learned with the first one. I should make my own set of notes to remind me next time the order of things in the process. Like doing the unpairing of the watch before doing the reset of the phone.

Choosing the Application for Dealing with Email

During the last month I’ve been using MailMate. Before that I was using Thunderbird and I’ve also been dabbling with Spark. The reason for using Spark is that I use it on iOS. I like it and it looks pretty. Spark does the job apart from dealing with PGP encryption. It’s for that reason I was using Thunderbird. Then Thunderbird changed the way it did PGP. Instead of using the Enigmail extension it did its own encryption. I haven’t been too impressed with the new way of doing it. I came across MailMate and so far I’m happy with it. It does a better job of PGP encryption. When I’m searching for things it does a better job of finding stuff. I’m quite tempted to pay the money at the end of the trial period. This is despite my desire to move away from using email as much as possible. I’ve written a book ‘Stop Using Email’ in which I enthuse about end-to-end encryption in the secure messaging applications. It’s much better to use Signal, Wire, Telegram, Threema or Session. I even set up the more technically difficult application Element. I can’t see me being able to persuade many people to use that one to communicate with me. I would like to get rid of WhatsApp due to the latest privacy concerns with Facebook. It’s difficult because too many of my family contacts use it and are not showing any signs of changing to something more secure. There’s quite a lot of inertia and unwillingness to change. Most people don’t really seem to care if their stuff is private or not. The shouting only starts to happen when they get hacked. I sometimes want to pull my hair out when talking to my mother about passwords.

Using MailMate

Motorcycle Technology

When I’m riding my motorbike an NC750 X I’d like to listen to music or podcasts when on a long trip. So I bought a communications device for the crash helmet. This connects to my phone by Bluetooth and I can just about listen to music while riding. Due to the wind noise it can be a little bit faint when I’m riding at higher speeds. It’s also useful to have this communications device to have instructions from Waze relayed to me by the speakers inside the helmet. I do have a handlebar mount for my phone so I can see the map in front of me. As you can imagine when riding a motorbike it’s really useful to have warnings of speed cameras up ahead.

The best use for the communications system is that it comes as a pair. My wife has the same system installed in her crash helmet. When we are riding close enough together we can send messages to each other verbally. This usually is me reminding her to turn off her indicator lights. She is learning how to pass the motorcycle test at the moment and I can give some instructions over the air as we are riding.

Riser or Rever

I started with an application called Riser and I’ve just downloaded another one similar called Rever. These are apps to keep track of your motorcycle journeys. It would be good to take the recorded info and put into a spreadsheet. Would be great to see how long in kilometres all the journeys are. One day I will buy and electric motorbike and I need to see what I need in terms of range. Could buy a bike based on actual range needed rather than what I think I need.

I signed up for a month of Pro membership with Rever. I like the maps and you also have a planning mode on the web site. Set the app to give you the twisty roads to ensure maximum motorcycling fun. Both of these apps look great and it’s hard to chose which one will be the long term winner. Rever has a 3D mapping view which is cool and there is a rewind tool in Riser.

Using Rever
Using Riser

Mac and iOS How-To Videos

For quite a lot of years I’ve been making how-to videos showing people how to get things done with applications on iOS and the Mac. During the last week I’ve been making videos explaining how to work with Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer. There’s a Facebook group for these applications and people ask questions. I’ve been able to add to my catalogue of how-to videos on YouTube in my Wizardgold channel. I’m always looking for subject matter for these videos. If there’s anything you’d like me to cover, why not send me an email asking for a tutorial.