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


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

Animated screenshot of Timing

Time is your most precious resource. You need to know how you are spending it.

But time tracking sucks. Big Time. (Pun intended.)

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It automatically tracks which apps, documents and websites you use — without start/stop timers.

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Timing lets you stop worrying about time and focus on doing your best work instead!
Mind you, this data is super sensitive, so Timing keeps it safe on your Mac.

As an attorney, I bill much of my time on an hourly basis. Keeping track of time is always a chore and when I miss time, I loose money. Timing makes keeping track of time much easier. I use Timing when generating my invoices and since using the App I've recovered enough "lost" time to pay for the App several times over.

Download the free 14-day trial today and get 10% off!

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.

Mac Power Users #390: Tagging with Terpstra

This week on Mac Power Users, Brett Terpstra (drink!) joins David and me to talk about the state of tagging on Mac and iOS. We discuss uses of tags, developing a tagging scheme, what you can do with tags, the turbulent history and hopefully bright future.

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.
  • 1Password Have you ever forgotten a password? Now you don't have to worry about that anymore. Save up to 20% using this link.
  • Fujitsu ScanSnap ScanSnap Helps You Live a More Productive, Efficient, Paperless Life. 
  • Casper: Because everyone deserves a great night sleep. Get $50 off with the code ‘MPU’


On our "Must-Have Utilities" episode of Mac Power Users, I mentioned Grammarly as a tool I’ve been using to enhance my writing. Grammarly is a plug-in for your web browser that will help you common grammar mistakes, spelling errors, punctuation, and more.

The basic version will check for critical grammar and spelling errors. There’s also a premium version available that will perform advanced checks for punctuation, grammar, context, and sentence structure, make vocabulary suggestions, genre-specific writing style checks and has a plagiarism detector.

Screen Shot 2017-07-20 at 9.51.33 AM.png

For Mac users, Grammarly is primarily a web-based grammar tool. They do have a Mac App that you can copy/paste text to check it. Unfortunately, their Microsoft Word plugin is PC only at this point and there is not an iOS App. Supposedly they are working on expanding their feature set. If Grammarly can expand into Word for Mac or plug-in to native Mac Apps it will become much more useful.

For anyone who writes on the web (blogs, etc.) the free version is a no-brainer. Since using it I’ve found a significant reduction in simple typos and incorrect word use. If you write for a living or don’t have someone to double-check your work before it goes out you might want to invest in a premium subscription which starts at $11 a month.