Mac Power Users #392: Must-Have iOS Utilities

Following-up on our recent episode featuring utilities for the Mac; this week on Mac Power Users David and I decide to dive deep this week into their must-have utilities for iOS. 

This episode of Mac Power Users is sponsored by:

  • TextExpander from Smile Type more with less effort! Expand short abbreviations into longer bits of text, even fill-ins, with TextExpander from Smile.
  • The Omni Group We're passionate about productivity for Mac, iPhone and iPad. 
  • Gazelle Sell your iPhone for cash at Gazelle! 
  • 1Password Have you ever forgotten a password? Now you don't have to worry about that anymore. Save up to 20% using this link.

CrashPlan Discontinues Consumer Backups

 You might have heard the news that CrashPlan is discontinuing their consumer backup plans. CrashPlan will honor existing memberships and will give members a 60-day extension to find and implement other backup alternatives, however, CrashPlan will not sell or renew any consumer plans.

Joe Kissell at TidBITS has a comprehensive article explaining the move.

According to Code42, the company has seen tremendous growth in revenue from its small business, education, and enterprise customers, but the needs of those customers have diverged sharply from the needs of consumers. So Code42 decided to put all its resources into serving its most profitable customers.
As a result, CrashPlan for Home will be discontinued entirely on 28 October 2018.

CrashPlan is offering their subscribers a discount on the Small Business plan (which currently costs twice as much as the home plan) or suggesting they move to Carbonite.

I was a CrashPlan subscriber for years but ultimately moved to Backblaze after I became fed up with unresolved bugs and their non-native app. I've been really happy with Backblaze and currently use the service to backup my home and office computers. For Mac users, I think it's a superior choice to Carbonite.

One of the sticky points about Backblaze is while they support external drives, they only do so if that drive is directly attached. Backblaze won't backup Network Attached Storage such as a Synology or Drobo. I get around this limitation by buying a really big USB hard drive that I encrypt and keep connected to my computer. Once a week, usually in the wee hours of the morning, I use a program like Carbon Copy Cloner or ChronoSync to automatically sync the data from my Synology to that drive. That external USB drive is then backed up to Backblaze. It's a roundabout hack, but it also has the benefit of giving me a local backup of my NAS data in the event I need to restore it quickly.

If you're interested in trying Backblaze, here's a link with my affiliate code that will give you a free trial and me a free month. Win/win. :)

On The Touch Bar

I created a bit of a buzz earlier this week with this tweet:

I’ve been using the MacBook Pro for nine months now and the truth is, I haven’t found much of a use for the Touch Bar. There are many reasons for that. First, I’m fairly proficient with keyboard shortcuts and I find most things I can do with a Touch Bar can be done more quickly with keyboard shortcuts. Additionally, a large amount of the time my MacBook Pro is docked at my desk and I use an external keyboard and mouse. That takes the Touch Bar out of direct sight and easy reach.

There were several people who came to the defense of the Touch Bar. Mike noted that he uses it often for Final Cut Pro. There are probably many applications, notably music and video apps that can benefit from the Touch Bar. There were also several people like my friend Jean MacDonald who preferred the volume and brightness controls as well as quick access to the emoji keyboard on theTouch Bar  

Most notably, Evan Kline shared his article on how to make the Touch Bar useful by using BetterTouchTool.

Even though I personally don’t use the Touch Bar, Apple put a lot of time and resources into the technology. I also am not sure I would go so far to say that I regret the purchase of a  MacBook Pro with Touch Bar. I frequently use TouchID, a feature that is only available on the Touch Bar enabled modes. I regularly use three out of the four Thunderbolt ports on my MacBook. Models without a Touch Bar not only have less processing power (which may or may not be a big deal depending on your use) but also come with fewer ports.

All things being considered, I wouldn’t buy a Mac for the Touch Bar technology alone. If you are in the market for a new MacBook Pro you should take a look at the lower end models (as Marco Arment has dubbed it, the MacBook Escape) and compare features and specs carefully. You may find you can save a few bucks and opt for an non-Touch Bar model. You may find a Touch Bar model makes the most sense for features and specs. 

Relay FM Members Only: Ask Us Anything

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Yesterday marked the 3rd anniversary of Relay FM. To celebrate, Relay FM Members will receive bonus content from their favorite shows throughout the month. 

Today, David and I released our special bonus show. The show features an "Ask Me Anything" style Q&A with a focus not on technology. We fielded questions on a variety of topics ranging from our favorite books to orange juice and many things in between.

Relay FM members can find the show in your Members Only podcast feed. If you're not a Relay FM member, you can sign up to support the show for as little as $5 per month and, in addition to good karma, receive perks including: 

  • Bonus episodes of Relay shows during their anniversary in August
  • Access to our members only podcast, in which Stephen Hackett interviews two hosts about a big topic each month
  •  Monthly behind-the-scenes newsletter
  • Previews of upcoming shows
  • Members-only wallpapers (The MPU Wallpaper is awesome)
  • 15% off anything in the Relay FM merchandise store

You also receive access to the entire back catalog of Members Only podcast, so you can hear our epic Star Wars vs. Star Trek show from last year.

Thanks to our Relay FM Members for all your support!

Mac Power Users #391: Workflows with Artist Jason Kimes

This week on Mac Power Users, David and I are joined by artist and geek Jason Kimes shares his favorite technologies and workflows for creating his sculptures.

This episode of Mac Power Users is sponsored by:

  • Squarespace: Make your next move. Enter offer code MPU at checkout to get 10% off your first purchase.
  • Eero: Never think about WiFi again. Use code MPU for free overnight shipping.
  • Fracture Bring your photos to life.
  • 1Password Have you ever forgotten a password? Now you don't have to worry about that anymore.

Relay FM Redesign

Did you notice that the Relay FM website received a nice redesign over the weekend? From the Relay FM Blog: 

This new design makes it easier than ever to see how to subscribe to a show or support it with a membership, all while letting the content take center stage.
Under the covers, the website still runs atop our custom CMS, which lets us prepare show notes, links and more with ease, even on the go with an iPhone. (You can even do real work in the CMS on an iPad!)
When you visit Relay FM on a mobile device, the site is faster, leaner and much easier to get around.

Congratulations to Mike and Stephen for three years with Relay FM and thanks to @forgottentowel and Jason Charnes for all their work behind the scenes. 

Sponsor: Timing — the Automatic Mac Time Tracking App

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MyQ HomeKit Bridge is (Finally) Available (Maybe Not)

Update: Chamberlin's website now says the product is "temporarily out of stock due to high demand." 

From MacRumors:

After an introduction at CES in January, and an expected launch date of April 2017, Chamberlain's MyQ Home Bridge has today been made available for users to purchase. For users already in the company's MyQ ecosystem, the MyQ Home Bridge will upgrade any MyQ garage door opener with the addition of Apple's HomeKit.

This bridge appears to only bring HomeKit compatibility, It does not bring compatibility with other IOT devices like the Amazon Echo. You will be able to use Siri to control your garage door and incorporate your Garage door into your HomeKit scenes.

Currently, Chamberlin is selling the product directly for $49.99 (plus shipping which adds $13 or more) and says the price will rise to $69.99 at some point in the future.

While I was initially excited about this product when it was originally announced at CES, I've cooled off a bit. Based on the comments and installation instructions it appears the upgrade kit for existing MyQ owners will require this adapter be installed as a second box in the garage. (As opposed to hanging off your router somewhere on the network.) I tend to use my Echo for controlling my home tech devices and I'm not sure HomeKit support brings enough features to justify the purchase.

 Honestly, I'm likely going to wait for the initial reviews of this product (I'm looking at you Casey Liss) and will likely wait for it to show up on Amazon before buying.