Thanks to FirstSeed Calendar for sponsoring BrettTerpstra.com this week!
FirstSeed Calendar is a beautiful calendar app that can handle both events and reminders. It is available for iPhone and iPad, and the Mac version will be available in April.
The first thing you will notice when using the app is its ease of use. Unlike most calendar apps, FirstSeed Calendar offers smooth scrolling in most everything you do. That means you can get to the events you are looking for faster than ever.
The other great feature is that the app shows the month calendar in full screen, until you tap on a date to have a closer look. This approach lets you have the best of both worlds: a micro and macro view of your events.
An innovative new feature that you will not find anywhere else is the new “condensed” week view. We eliminated the need for vertical scrolling in week view by showing events outside of the user-specified time as a list, thereby letting you focus on the time that’s most important to you.
Other great features include: reminder support, natural language input, birthday and anniversary support, a great event editor, paper organizer-like list view, and more.
Thanks to PDFpen for sponsoring BrettTerpstra.com this week!
PDFpen is the ultimate tool for editing PDFs and going paperless.
Organizing your documents, while ditching all the paper. Split and combine PDF documents to send just the right things to your accountant or your lawyer. Fill in PDF forms, even if they’re not interactive to begin with. Add page numbers, redact account numbers, and perform OCR on scanned documents. Search with ease, and find and highlight all instances of a specific term.
Step up to PDFpenPro to create PDF portfolios — collections of multiple PDFs and related files — great for presenting year-end documents.
I first wrote about Deckset back in 2014. Since then I’ve continued to love it as an alternative to Keynote, using it whenever I can for presentations. At CMD-D last summer, I hadn’t expected to be speaking, but when Andy Ithnako had to call in sick, I wrote a full slide deck in Markdown on breaks between talks. I’m very excited to let you know that version 2.0 has been released, and it covers some of the requests I and other users have had over the years.
First, you can customize the themes. It comes with a wide selection of styles, but I’ve always longed to be able to change them just slightly for my needs. Now you can adjust colors, fonts, and general layout, and even export and share the theme with others.
You can also just use Markdown headers as slide dividers (as opposed to horizontal rules), making presentation creation that much faster. You can also add customization to a single slide using metadata headers to do such things as temporarily disable slide numbering or change a footer.
With the release of version 2, Deckset has announced they’re leaving the Mac App Store. The new version is available exclusively via direct purchase, which — as a side effect — gives them a lot more flexibility with coupons, pricing, and educational discounts.
Deckset is definitely the coolest, easiest tool I’ve found for creating slide decks quickly and beautifully. The current version runs $29 US, with site licenses available. If you bought Deckset after March 1st, 2017, you can receive a free upgrade. Check it out!
Congratulations to the winners of the OmniOutliner 3 giveaway! It turned out to be one of the most popular giveaways I’ve ever run here.
There ended up being 6 instead of 5 because the Giveaway Robot made its first ever mistake1. Omni was very gracious and provided an extra code to remedy the snafu.
I’ve heard back from most of the winners already, but if you’re on the list and haven’t heard from me yet, let me know and I’ll re-send the email.
Thanks again to everyone who entered, and if you didn’t win, you can grab the free trial and there’s still a little time to snag the intro price!
Ok, fine, it was human error. I hit CTRL-c because I realized I’d made a typo in the email template, but the first random winner had already been sent. If the Killotron has any fault, it would be that it’s too good to be stopped.↩
Chrome slowed down for me this week. It’s always been a memory and CPU hog, but this got ridiculous. Like grind-my-system-to-a-halt ridiculous. Unable to determine the problem, I switched to Firefox. But I figured out the Chrome issue today.
Side note: I haven’t used Firefox for years but I’m pleased to report it’s become an amazing browser in the meantime. I’ll definitely be continuing to use it as more than just a testing browser for web development.
So the clue for me was that my DuckDuckGo search pages started coming up with ads injected at the top.
The perpetrator was kind enough to add a label, “RocketTab powered by Advertise,” at the top and bottom of the injected results, so it was easy enough to search for. Apparently the RocketTab ad/malware has been around for a long time, and the “powered by Advertise” mutation is only the most recent incarnation. Over its lifespan it’s been everything from a bundled application to browser extensions. It purportedly just injects ads across a bunch of different services with redirects and affiliate links to gather commissions. It also slows your entire computer down tremendously, which seems odd for something so supposedly innocuous.
I started by searching through all of my recently-installed apps. I’m not careless about installing untrusted apps, so that wasn’t likely, but I deleted some cruft. No change.
I ran MalwareBytes, which specifically lists RocketTab as one it detects (and which is, by the way, a very good anti-malware app), but no results there.
So I jumped into the web inspector and started tracing the XHR calls that were made when the ads were injected, then searching for the strings in my Chrome extensions folder. I turned up nothing. Convinced it had to be an extension — and I run a lot of them1 — I disabled all of them. Ads went away. Enabled them one by one, repeatedly refreshing the DuckDuckGo search page to see when they came back. Boom: Tab Manager.
I’m not going to link it here, but see the image above if you need to confirm which one I’m talking about. You’ll immediately note on the Reviews tab that it’s reported as malware. Repeatedly. Many, many times. I reported abuse, as I assume many of the dozens of commenters have, so it’s unfathomable to me that the Chrome Web Store has continued to allow its presence. This apparently only happened with the latest update to the extension published this month (February, 2018).
Long story short, if you see “RocketTab powered by [anything],” figure it out, fast. I read reports that “YouTube Video Downloader” also had the same PUP, and I’m sure there are a dozen others. Disable all your extensions and re-enable them until you find it.
Deleting the offending extension fixed the problem and all of the issues I was having. I’m adding adware (and malware) creators to the list.
I know, I know, “and then you wonder why Chrome gets so slow.”↩
A handy little (free) utility that adds markup capability to screenshots taken with macOS system tools. No organizer, no built in screenshot tools, just a handy augmentation to default screenshots. If apps like Capto, Monosnap, Pixa, and others are overkill for you, this might be a great solution.
ARKit+CoreLocation is an open source library that allows items to be placed within an AR world using real-world coordinates and, by using CoreLocation, improves accuracy to a point where things like Point-of-Interest AR get easier. I’m not currently working on any AR, but it’s exciting to watch the apps and the tools grow.
Thanks to Stockio for sponsoring BrettTerpstra.com this week!
Design assets are the lifeblood of any creative process. Images inspire, typefaces communicate, icons clarify. Whatever the scope of your project, assets are the building blocks of your design.
Any new source of stock assets is a boon to the design community, and the latest treasure trove is stockio.com with photos, videos, vectors, icons, and even fonts, designed to inspire and stock the toolboxes of the web design industry.
Stockio resources are absolutely free to download, and can be used for both personal and commercial projects. Sourced from some of the most popular asset producers, Stockio’s assets have been handpicked to be useful to designers.
Stockio has the great search options you need to take advantage of a resource this vast. When browsing images, similar photos are displayed on the download page; some of the best discoveries come by simply clicking on the next thumbnail and seeing where it takes you.
You can even search by color and quickly locate photos or vectors containing the color you need. It’s perfect when you’re working with a brand-specific palette and need assets to match.
Stockio includes enough assets to pack your toolbox until next year. There are over 4,500 icons and the collection is growing. When it comes to free fonts, it’s a goldmine. There are over 11,000 free, high-quality fonts on Stockio — more than you can use in a lifetime of design. Whether you’re looking for a typeface for a logo, or something readable for body text, there are some real gems here.
OmniOutliner 3 for iOS is out and it’s a big update. See the bottom of the post for a chance to win a Pro license.
This iOS release brings parity with OmniOutliner 5 on Mac, and adds iPhone X and iOS 11 support. It also includes support for printing, new drag & drop features, PDF export, document encryption, and interface updates, including inspectors and new focus and filtering options.
OmniOutliner is now split into two versions: Essentials, and Pro (like the Mac version is now, too). Essentials is a limited in features, but also less expensive ($9.99 US), and easily serves the needs of many people just looking for a solid outliner app. It can print, add notes, export multiple formats, and sync via OmniPresence. It also features “Open In Place,” which allows you to open a file from Dropbox or the Files app, edit in OmniOutliner, and save changes in its original location. Man, I always hated that old sandbox dance.
The Pro version is a $39.99 in-app purchase (both versions are free downloads with 14-day trials). It has everything that Essentials has, plus the ability to “focus” on sections of your outline (including support for multiple selections), and filters with saved searches (including searches set up on your Mac). It can also encrypt your documents on disk (so on the server as well) with AES-256 encryption. If you’re brainstorming in OmniOutliner, encryption means trust and peace of mind, so this is great news (I refer you to Joel Anderson on Systematic).
Omni has kindly offered five Pro version codes ($39.99 US value) for BrettTerpstra.com readers. Enter below with your name (full please) and an email address (as always, only for contacting winners, lists are discarded after the drawing). Five winners will be drawn on Tuesday, February 27 at 12pm CST.
I’ve put together a few of my Keyboard Maestro macros for TaskPaper 3 that I think might have general appeal. I have to thank Rob Trew at the very top of this post, he’s saved me a significant amount of time in figuring out how to automate these apps1.
First, an update to my Natural Language macro specifically for TaskPaper 3. Rather than bundling Sugar.js or relying on other tools, it now just uses TaskPaper’s own DateTime API. A much shorter (and self-contained) script. The macro is set up to trigger via regular expression any time you type a tag with a value, e.g. @due(tomorrow). When you close the parenthesis, it will scan the entire task for tag values that will translate to dates and convert them. You can specify which tags it will consider using the “dateTags” variable in the macro, a space separated list of tag names (e.g. due start done).
You can use language like “tomorrow,” “next tuesday,” “2 weeks” or just “3” to set the date to three days from now. If a string isn’t recognized, it won’t change.
It can also be triggered by a keyboard shortcut, customizable in the macro editor.
Note, if you’re looking for an update to my scripts for incrementing and decrementing dates, you can take a look at Jesse Grossjean’s JSA version.
The increment/decrement macros are used for cycling numeric values in tags like @priority(5). You can define the tag and the increment (value to add or subtract) in the macro variables, and create additional macros on different hotkeys to add new tags (and unique values). The library I’ve created for download includes “priority” (1-5) and “completed” (10-100%) macros.
For the @priority macros, the minVal is 1, maxVal is 5, and the increment is +1 or -1.
For @completed, the minVal is 10, maxVal is 100, and the increment is +10 or -10.
When triggered, it will look for the defined tag and add/subtract the defined increment (incValue). You can set the minValue and maxValue variables to define the scale.
If the tag doesn’t exist on the task when the macro runs, it will be added with the minValue (or maxValue if decrementing). If it’s at the top of the scale when you increment (or at the bottom when you decrement), it will be removed entirely. Triggering the macro again starts the cycle over from either direction. Otherwise it just adds/subtracts the defined increment from the current value.