Blogs

Forum posts now require moderation

As mentioned recently, I had an issue with the Dejal server that prevented people from registering for accounts on the site, and thus new people were unable to create forum posts.

After addressing this issue, I was (unsurprisingly) buried under an avalanche of spammer account registrations and spam posts, some of which appeared on the site, and were manually deleted by me as soon as Simon told me they were there, and some were automatically unpublished.

For a day or two, I tried requiring approval when registering accounts, but that didn't really work, as I couldn't tell who was a legitimate customer, and who was a spammer, until they actually post something.

So I am now trying another option: forum post moderation. Now, every new forum post will go into a moderation queue, requiring my manual approval to be seen publicly. This isn't ideal, since that means others couldn't help the author before I see it, but I usually see posts very quickly (again, thanks to Simon), and reply promptly. So it shouldn't have any real effect.

We'll see how this goes. Hopefully this step should prevent any more spam. If it works out, I could extend things further to "white-list" people who have posted legitimate topics, so their subsequent posts bypass the queue.

Time Out 2.2b2 released

Wouldn't ya know it, I managed to slip in a bug in the first beta of Time Out 2.2, which caused it to crash on macOS versions before 10.12.

Sorry about that! I've just released a fixed version.

Again, the major new feature in version 2.2 is the Activity page, where you can see what breaks you've taken (and for how long), and what apps you've used, if you wish.

Want to try it?

If you are using the direct edition, you can change your Updates preferences to include beta releases, then use the Check for Updates feature in the app to update.

Otherwise, download 2.2b2 now!

Time Out 2.2b1 released

I'm pleased to announce the first beta of an update to Time Out, my indispensable break reminder tool.

The major new feature in version 2.2 is the Activity page, where you can see what breaks you've taken (and for how long), and what apps you've used, if you wish.

Here are the full release notes:

Optionally track breaks and/or app usage via a new Activity feature

  • Added an "Activity" item in the sidebar, that optionally shows a chart of activity, including breaks you've taken, apps you've used, and time away from the Mac.
  • Activity tracking is off by default, for privacy reasons. You can enable it via a button at the top of the Activity page, which displays a menu with options to Track Breaks, Track Apps, and clear the recorded activity.
  • On the right-hand side of the Activity page is a slider to zoom the scale; you can also pinch to zoom on a trackpad. The scale goes from 1 day to 1 minute, or even to individual activity items.
  • Each line of the activity chart shows the activity grouped together for the scale time period, arranged with breaks before apps, and the longest first. For example, if at a 15 minute scale, it might show 5 minutes of a break, 5 minutes of Safari usage, 3 minutes of Mail, 2 minutes of natural breaks (idle).
  • Hover over an activity in the chart to see a tooltip with the break or app name, how many times it occurred in this time period, and how long for.
  • Recorded activity lives on your Mac, and isn't shared with anyone else.
  • This feature is available as a reward for current supporters. If you were a supporter in the past, but it has expired, you can extend your supporter status to use this feature.

More themes

  • Added a "Muscles" theme, contributed by "saltymouse", to show a random exercise (from a customizable list) with reps to do during breaks.
  • Added a "GiphyStretch" theme, contributed by Sean Carey of Giphy, to show a series of stretching GIFs.
  • Added a "GiphyPuppies" theme, also contributed by Sean Carey, to show a series of puppy GIFs.

Break theme improvements

  • Extended the break theme JavaScript to support a window.webkit.messageHandlers.getTimeOutConfig.postMessage('') message to get a JSON of the break configuration. It will call back to a timeOutConfig(json) function, passing the JSON. Properties include format (the JSON format, initially 1), identifier (the break's unique identifier), name (the break's name), durationSeconds (the break duration expressed in seconds), durationString (e.g. "10 minutes"), frequencySeconds (the frequency in seconds), frequencyString (e.g. "1 hour"), beginningSeconds (the fade-in time), endingSeconds (the fade-out time).
  • Also extended the JavaScript to support a window.webkit.messageHandlers.getTimeOutState.postMessage('') message, to get a JSON of the break state information. It will call back to a timeOutState(json) function, passing the JSON. Properties include format (e.g. 1), nextDue (e.g. an ISO date like "2016-09-29T23:27:51Z"), lastStarted, lastDone, lastDeferred (also dates), lastPhase (e.g. done, skipped, or postponed), and currentPhase (e.g. pending, starting, started, or finishing).
  • Let me know if you'd like any other properties for these to help drive your custom themes.

Break action improvements

  • On the Actions page, renamed After Finish to After Done, to be consistent with other uses ("finish" is when the break is expected to end, "done" is after it has actually successfully completed, as opposed to other ends of the break like "skip" or "postpone").

Other improvements

  • Improved the scheduler's idle handling to cope with macOS calling the timer less frequently than requested (as a power-saving measure).
  • Added a separate Exclusions preference to skip breaks when the Mac display is asleep (in addition to the preference to skip during the screensaver).
  • Moved the Learn More button on the Support Time Out page, to make it more discoverable.
  • Fixed an issue where choosing None for the break theme would revert back to the default Icon theme, even for supporters (this is expected for non-supporters).

Want to try it?

If you are using the direct edition, you can change your Updates preferences to include beta releases, then use the Check for Updates feature in the app to update.

Otherwise, download 2.2b1 now!

Dejal site accounts fixed

I've just fixed the issue that was causing an error when attempting to create an account on the Dejal site, which prevented people signing up to post in the forums.

Sorry about that!

I've had a few reports of issues for a while, but hadn't figured out what the problem was until just now — it turned out to be a problem with the third-party spam detection software, caused by the server clock being out of sync.

The forums have been rather quiet of late, in large part due to that issue. We'll see if it gets any busier.

It has been nice to have a break from the endless spammers on the site, though.

In fact, I have been wondering if I really need the forums, since few people have raised the issue, and even before that it didn't get much traffic. Most people seem to prefer to contact me privately, or via @dejal on Twitter (or an app-specific account like @DejalSimon or @DejalTimeOut).

But I like to provide many avenues for support, to make it as convenient as possible for you, plus the community aspect where you can read other people's questions and answers can be beneficial, so I'll keep it going for now.

Side note: I have thought about adding Slack to those options, for a more real-time chat. I enjoy participating in some Slack teams (like the Core Intuition Slack), but I'm not sure it's a great fit for software support. I'd welcome feedback on that if you have an opinion one way or another.

See you in the forums!

DejalNews #67: Chicken GIFs, Date Stamp, Simon in Setapp

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DejalNews 2017-01, issue #67

Welcome

This is DejalNews, an occasional newsletter from Dejal.

If you want to receive these newsletters in your email inbox, head over to the DejalNews subscribe page to sign up.

Happy new year!

Welcome to 2017! I hope you had a pleasant and safe holiday season. You may or may not like what is going on in the world nowadays, but things are promising to be quite exciting for Dejal this year.

Speaking of which, I have an annual tradition of doing a couple of blog posts around the new year, and this time was no exception. Firstly was “Featured blog posts of 2016”, providing a bunch of links to interesting Dejal posts throughout the year, and secondly the “Dejal year in review: 2016” post, which gave a brief summary of what happened with the Dejal apps last year, and a look ahead at what's coming this year. Check them out if you haven't already, and you might notice some interesting hints!

Introducing Chicken GIFs

Who doesn't like chickens?! Okay, probably some people... but even if you don't want to get close to chickens, you can enjoy their antics.

I live on about five acres, and keep chickens for eggs (we don't have them for meat). I have a YouTube channel where I post videos of the chickens, and other things around the property.

So when Apple introduced the ability to create sticker packs for the iOS Messages app, one of my first ideas was to take funny bits from those videos and make them into animated GIFs. And that's what I did.

The Chicken GIFs sticker pack features a bunch of amusing GIFs that you can include in message conversations, either as standalone images, or stuck onto message bubbles.

Take a look at the Chicken GIFs website to see a video of it in action, or get it now from the iMessage Store!

Date Stamp 1.0.1 released

Speaking of stickers, I also released a small update to my first iMessage app, Date Stamp.

Version 1.0.1 has just one minor change: to fix an issue where tapping the Today button in the mini date picker would show "March" for the month instead of "January" (when it is January). This was due to a slight miscalculation when determining the row of the picker to select. The date picker is entirely custom, and actually contains thousands of rows to enable infinite scrolling (or spinning of the values), so it calculates the row near the middle of that range, to ensure lots of values above and below for scrolling. Anyway, oops; math is hard, yo.

Learn more about Date Stamp.

Simon in Setapp

I mentioned in the previous newsletter that my macOS app to monitor websites & servers, Simon, is included in the new Setapp service.

Well, yesterday was an exciting day: Setapp is now out of beta, and available to everyone!

This service offers a curated collection of dozens of Mac apps for one low monthly price, with no more paid upgrades or in-app purchases. A great way to discover useful new apps.

What's more, you can try Setapp for free for a month, so you've got nothing to lose.

If you're interested in Simon, but hesitate at the pro-level price-tag, this is an affordable new way to get it and many more apps, with more being added all the time for the same low price. But don't worry, the direct price won't be going away for those who prefer that.

Learn more about Setapp.

- David

Introducing Setapp

Today is an exciting day for me: the launch of a major new way to get Mac apps: Setapp.

Setapp is a service released by MacPaw, developers of several popular Mac apps, that promises to make it much easier for people to discover and try great apps for macOS.

Unlike traditional direct app purchases, or the Mac App Store, Setapp is a subscription service, offering a large and growing selection of apps for one low monthly price. And you can try it for free for the first month, so there's no risk.

One thing I really like about it is that it is so well integrated: the apps all appear in a folder within your Applications folder, and you can open any to learn more about the app in a small "teaser" window. If it sounds like a useful app, just click an Open button and it launches, ready to use.

Why am I excited for a third-party service? Because one of my apps is included. Dejal Simon is one of the foundation apps in Setapp. It's a bit of an experiment for me, but I hope that it'll help lots more people discover Simon, and get the benefits of using this app.

Want to learn more? Check out Setapp now!

Date Stamp 1.0.1 released

A quick update to Date Stamp, my new iMessage app to provide customizable date stamp stickers, is now available.

Version 1.0.1 has just one minor change: to fix an issue where tapping the Today button in the mini date picker would show "March" for the month instead of "January" (when it is January). This was due to a slight miscalculation when determining the row of the picker to select. The date picker is entirely custom, and actually contains thousands of rows to enable infinite scrolling (or spinning of the values), so it calculates the row near the middle of that range, to ensure lots of values above and below for scrolling. Anyway, oops; math is hard, yo.

Learn more about Date Stamp on the Dejal product page.

Or download from the App Store!

Introducing Chicken GIFs

Hot on the heels of my first iMessage app, Date Stamp, I'm pleased to introduce something else for iMessage: Chicken GIFs.

Chicken GIFs is an iMessage sticker pack, featuring a collection of animated GIFs of chickens.

Everyone loves chickens! React to messages with goofy antics, flapping wings, cute baby chicks, head popping up, running in circles, and more.

Download Chicken GIFs from the iMessage Store, or read on to learn more....


These are my own chickens (Rhode Island Reds and Single Comb Brown Leghorns). They can be lots of fun to watch. For these stickers, I chose excerpts from videos of them that could be fun reaction GIFs.

If you enjoy these GIFs, you can see more of the chickens on the Dejus YouTube Channel.

Chicken GIFs is a standalone sticker pack; it won't clutter up your home screen, but will only appear in Apple's Messages app on iOS. Tap the stickers/apps button to the left of the text field to display the stickers and iMessage apps.

Tap a sticker to insert it in a message, or tap and hold to peel it, and drag it to stick on any message bubble, optionally using two fingers to rotate or resize it as desired.

Sound fun?

Download Chicken GIFs from the iMessage Store!

Anniversary of the iPhone launch

To celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the iPhone, I thought I'd repost this from a year ago. Happy birthday, iPhone!



I just listened to episode 18 of the Upgrade podcast, where Jason Snell reminisced about first seeing and touching the iPhone. (Yes, I'm about a week behind on my podcast listening.)

That sent me down a memory lane of my experience at that event. I haven't attended many conferences over the years, but Macworld Expo in 2007 was one of them. In fact, that was the only Macworld I ever attended. But yes, I was also in the audience for the historic occasion of Steve Jobs introducing the first iPhone.

My seat was rather far back, but I was there (that's a repeater screen on top, and the live stage at the bottom):

Unlike Jason, I didn't get to touch one, but I did get to see it up close, behind well-guarded glass:

After the show, I wrote a followup blog post with my initial impressions of the iPhone and other news at the event (introduction of the Apple TV, and Apple changing its name). Reading over that post now is somewhat amusing, with concerns over the keyboard and developer access.

I had a bunch of other photos from the show, showing various events and presentations, the show floor, iPhone demos, etc. Ah, memories.

Dejal year in review: 2016

Happy New Year!

As we start a new year, let's review what happened with the Dejal apps in 2016:

My flagship pro app to monitor websites and servers for changes and failures, Simon, continued to improve in 2016, with a big update to version 4.2, which included several new filters, email and preview improvements, and more. It is also one of the foundation apps in the new Setapp subscription service, offering a new option for people who prefer getting lots of apps for one low monthly price.
My handy break reminder tool, Time Out, had a huge year, finally reaching the general release of version 2, after several years work. Version 2 is a huge upgrade, with a completely redesigned preferences window, an option to hide the Dock icon, an optional status item, global shortcuts, more breaks, customizable break themes, many new actions, and so much more. Version 2.0 was released in March, followed by some bug-fix updates, and version 2.1 in the latter half of the year.
Caboodle, my lean clean snippet machine, had a couple of beta releases of version 2, a major upgrade that supports multiple Caboodle documents, significantly improved custom fields, refined text area, and more.
BlogAssist, my tool to help with HTML markup, didn't have any updates in 2016. It's a minor product, but one I still use regularly.
It's not often that I introduce a brand-new app, but 2016 had such an occasion: I released the first version of Date Stamp, an iMessage app to provide customizable date stamp stickers. This app can be used in Apple's Messages chat app on iOS to provide fun and useful stickers for your conversations, that can be tweaked to any date, in multiple formats, and various colors.
Pack, a simple iPhone app to make it easy to pack for trips, didn't have any updates in 2016, but I use it for every trip, and have a number of improvements planned. Try it for your next trip!
Tweeps, an app for iOS to easily manage Twitter accounts, also didn't get any updates. It doesn't sell very well, so I can't really justify spending time on it, but it does what it needs to.

Consulting

On the consulting side, I've worked on a number of projects in the last year, including Keynote Extractor, a new macOS app to do a better HTML export from Apple Keynote; the iOS NewsBlur app, a popular RSS news reader; zCloud, a handy macOS menu bar utility to quickly and easily upload screenshots and other files to Dropbox; MBTableGrid and private components for Tap Forms for Mac; and others that aren't publicly available.

I have availability for contract work currently. If you have a macOS or iOS project you'd like help with (or a custom Simon enhancement), check out my consulting page for more information.

Looking ahead

So what's coming up in 2017? First thing (maybe even this week), I have a new iMessage sticker pack that I'm trying to get Apple to approve... but they're being a bit chicken, so to speak. (Could that be a hint?)

I am also currently working on a big update to Time Out, which adds a much-requested feature, and some other improvements. You can expect a beta of that later this month.

Then I will probably do some last fixes to Caboodle 2, and get that out. There remains some questions to answer about this update, but I want to resolve them one way or another early this year.

After that, I have an update to Simon planned. I'm actually very excited about one of the features planned for the next release; I think it will be very popular, particularly for big installations. But that's enough of a hint for now. :)

I will also continue contract work, of course, since I enjoy eating and paying bills. I'd appreciate any referrals or contacts for potential new projects.

Thank you and welcome to my new customers, and many thanks to my long-term customers who are still enjoying my apps. I really appreciate your support.

Featured blog posts of 2016

My blog posts often just cover new releases, but sometimes I post general-interest or developer-interest topics. Some highlights from 2016 included:

I hope you enjoyed these posts.

DejalNews: Date Stamp, Setapp, BundleHunt, happy holidays!

DejalNews header

DejalNews 2016-12, issue #66

Welcome

This is DejalNews, an occasional newsletter from Dejal.

If you want to receive these newsletters in your email inbox, head over to the DejalNews subscribe page to sign up.

Introducing Date Stamp

A few days ago I released a new app: Date Stamp, an iOS app to provide customizable stickers for iMessage.

iMessage apps are a new feature of iOS 10, and a little obscure. You find them via the apps button to the left of the entry field in Apple's Messages app on iOS. They have their own store, which is full of sticker packs — collections of static or animated images that you can peel and stick onto your conversation bubbles, to make chatting more fun.

My Date Stamp app is similar, in that it provides stickers you can peel and stick onto messages, but it isn't just a collection of static images — they can be changed to include any date you choose, plus the format of the date can be changed, and the color of the date or surrounding text/frame can also be altered.

It's fun and useful, so you can tell someone you received something, or paid a bill, or to save the date, and much more.

Learn more about Date Stamp.

Date Stamp

Simon in Setapp

In other news, my friends at MacPaw recently started an invite-only beta of their new service, Setapp.

This service offers a curated collection of dozens of Mac apps for one low monthly price.

Imagine no more paid upgrades or in-app purchases; you can use any or all of the apps without paying more. A great way to discover useful new apps.

I'm really excited about this new service, and pleased to include Simon as one of the apps. One of the things I like the most is how well it is integrated into the Mac — the apps appear right in a special folder in the Finder, and opening one shows a handy description and screenshots so you can learn more or start using it without having to leave the Finder. It's very nice.

If you're interested in Simon, but hesitate at the pro-level price-tag, this is an affordable new way to get it and many more apps, with more being added all the time for the same low price. But don't worry, the direct price won't be going away for those who prefer that.

They are now letting a limited number of people into their invite-only beta, to try it for free for a couple of months. If you're interested in getting a sneak peek of Setapp, contact me to get an invite.

Last chance for BundleHunt

As I mentioned in my previous newsletter, Caboodle is currently included in the BundleHunt holiday bundle, featuring an assortment of Mac apps to choose from. If you haven't yet taken advantage of this great deal, don't delay; it ends soon!

Happy holidays!

As we approach the end of the year, I wanted to take this opportunity to wish you Merry Christmas, or whatever holiday tradition you follow. I hope you have a safe and enjoyable holiday season.

- David

Introducing Date Stamp

I am pleased to introduce a brand new product from Dejal: Date Stamp.

Date Stamp is an iMessage app to create customizable stickers, featuring a date and message like APPROVED, DUE, PAID, RECEIVED, SAVE THE DATE, SENT, and more.

This is a standalone iMessage app; it won't clutter up your home screen, but will only appear in Apple's Messages app on iOS. Tap the stickers/apps button to the left of the text field to display the stickers and iMessage apps.

Unlike a static sticker pack, you can choose a different date, select short, medium, or long date format, and change the colors of the date and design text to personalize the date stamp stickers.

Download Date Stamp from the iMessage Store, or read on to learn more....

Firstly, here are screenshots of Messages with Date Stamp displayed, in compact and expanded views, showing some of the stickers in different colors:

[Compact view]
[Expanded view]

 

Use the toolbar above the stickers to change the appearance:

[Toolbar]

The date can be changed via a mini date picker; tap Today, or spin each of the date components to choose another date:

[Date picker]

Choose short, medium, or long date format (via buttons that show how the chosen date will be displayed):

[Date format picker]

Pick a color to use for the date in the stamp:

[Date color picker]

Pick another color for the rest of the stamp (the text and any frame):

[Design color picker]

Then tap a sticker to insert it in a message, or tap and hold to peel it, and drag it to stick on any message bubble, optionally using two fingers to rotate or resize it as desired.

Sound useful?

Download Date Stamp from the iMessage Store.

DejalNews: Caboodle in BundleHunt and more

DejalNews header

DejalNews 2016-11, issue #65

Welcome

This is the second issue of DejalNews since resuming it after a many-year hiatus. It is also the first issue being sent via the third-party MailChimp service. So hopefully it works out alright!

If you want to receive these newsletters in your email inbox, head over to the DejalNews subscribe page to sign up.

Caboodle featured in BundleHunt

I occasionally include one of my apps in a bundle or promotion, as a way to get extra exposure. At present Caboodle is included in the BundleHunt holiday bundle, featuring an assortment of Mac apps to choose from.

This is a "choose your own bundle" style promotion, where you pick 10 apps out of the 54 on offer, and get them for one low price.

As it happens, the bundle price is just $19.99, which is about the same as the price of Caboodle alone. So by including Caboodle you're effectively getting 9 other apps for free. What a deal.

Check it out!

Caboodle 2 preview

Speaking of Caboodle, version 2.0b2 was recently released. Version 2 includes many much-requested enhancements, including:

  • Multiple documents, so you can have one for work, one for personal, or organize by project, etc.
  • Save on Dropbox or iCloud Drive to share (yes, supports editing on multiple Macs!).
  • The data is now stored in a much improved format, as a package containing standard rich text documents.
  • Much better performance with large documents!
  • Custom fields can now be dragged to reorder them.
  • Improved text area, with a new text format bar, inline find bar, and support for inline markup of images.
  • Spotlight searching.
  • Modernized appearance.
  • And much more!

Want to try it? Check out the What's New page to sign up for the beta or learn more.

Caboodle 2 will be a paid upgrade, but anyone who buys it now will receive a version 2 license at no extra cost, which also works in version 1.

RIP Padmé

On a personal note, I'm saddened by the loss of one of our cats, Padmé. She was just nine years old, suffering from congestive heart failure. She was a sweet girl, and will be missed.

She even had (or I suppose still has) a Twitter account, @princess_padme, where "she" would tweet in haiku. Though that hasn't been updated in a few years.

Padmé

Thanks for reading!

I hope this new newsletter format works well. I hope to do more newsletters in the future, perhaps every month or two, when I have something to mention. (And I do have some exciting news coming up next month!)

Please let me know what you think of this format, or any other feedback. I'm always interested to hear from my customers.

- David

Caboodle in BundleHunt

BundleHunt

Hot on the heels of a Caboodle 2 sneak peek, Caboodle is now available in the BundleHunt holiday bundle!

For about the same price as Caboodle alone, you can now get 9 additional apps for free! Click on the following image and pick 10 apps of your choosing (hopefully including Caboodle) to get a great deal on Mac software.

As a bonus, everyone who purchases Caboodle now will receive a free upgrade to version 2. The license will work in both version 1 and version 2, at no extra cost.

BundleHunt

Caboodle 2.0b2 released

A minor update to the beta release of Caboodle 2. Version 2.0b2 just includes a few tweaks, but is mainly because the previous beta had expired.

In case you missed it, version 2 of Caboodle includes many much-requested enhancements, including the ability to open multiple documents, sync documents between Macs via Dropbox or iCloud Drive, huge performance improvements with large documents, movable custom fields, better text editing, and much more.

Changes in this second beta include:

  • Added an in-app purchase option, so you can purchase a license without leaving the app.
  • Removed the Show/Hide Toolbar menu command, and fixed the Customize Toolbar... command.
  • Built for Sierra (but still compatible back to Yosemite).

Want to try Caboodle 2? Head over to the What's New page to sign up for the beta!

Donations

I sometimes get asked if there's a way to pay more for Time Out or other apps. You might be surprised how many people think that $2.99 or even $9.99 is way too cheap for the benefits Time Out gives. That's always nice to hear!

If you want to donate more, to help contribute to development or just express your appreciation, you're certainly welcome to do so. You can purchase multiple 12-month supporter statuses for Time Out, which will extend your supporter status by a year for each one — there is no limit how long. Buy 20 years or more if you want!

Another way you can give back is to buy other Dejal apps. You might find one or more of them useful.

Contract work is available: if you want a custom feature enhancement to Simon, Time Out, or another app, or a whole new macOS or iOS app that you can sell, I can help you make it.

You could also just give a gift; take a look at my Amazon.com wish list and buy something nice.

Or buy Dejal merchandise for yourself, like T-shirts, mugs, bags, stickers, and more.

Finally, if you want to do something else, just get in touch!

There's no need to make an extra donation if you don't want to, but for those who do, it is very much appreciated. Thank you!

DejalNews: welcome (back)!

DejalNews 2016-09, issue #64.

Welcome (back)

Many years ago I published a monthly email newsletter on Dejal-related news, imaginatively titled "DejalNews". Over time, the issues became less frequent, culminating in the final issue, number 63, published in January 2007. It was phased out in large part due to the up-and-coming fad of weblogs, aka blogging.

Almost a decade later, I've decided to dust off the newsletter concept, since I know that while email is often full of spam, notifications, and such, many people still prefer it as a fairly reliable means of communication.

I would appreciate feedback on this issue — what do you like or dislike about it; is it too long or too short, should it only consist of links to blog posts or fully inline content, more corporate or more personal tone, etc. Any thoughts are most welcome. I'll use that feedback to help decide on the frequency and content of future newsletters.

Action required!

Since it's been years since the last newsletter, I have reset the newsletter subscribers. So if you'd like to receive future DejalNews issues in your email inbox, you need to take action:

Go to the Newsletter Subscription page and subscribe.

(You can also indicate which apps you're interested in there, which will help guide future topics.)

If you'd like to read the newsletters but don't want to get the emails, you can instead follow @dejal on Twitter to see tweets of blog posts (and app releases), including DejalNews issues, which will be published on the Dejal Blog. There is also a RSS feed of the blog for those who prefer that.

Wait, you discarded the subscribers list?!

Yes, I felt it was better to err on the side of my customers, as usual. I'd rather lose a bunch of subscribers than risk annoying people with unwanted email subscriptions or bounced mail. I've been accumulating newsletter subscribers for years, but haven't sent anything out for nearly a decade, so it's likely many of them are no longer interested in my apps, or have changed email addresses. Better to start fresh.

Anyway, enough preamble. On with the topics!

Dejal 25th anniversary

Last week I celebrated the 25th anniversary of founding Dejal. Yes, I started the company way back on September 20, 1991, writing apps for classic Mac OS on my Mac Plus.

To celebrate a quarter century of Mac development, and the release of Time Out 2.1 and macOS Sierra, I'm offering a special discount coupon code on all Mac apps sold directly from the Dejal site, or the supporter options within the direct edition of Time Out. Simply enter the coupon DEJAL25 at checkout to get half off! (Good until the end of this month.)

Time Out 2.1 released

I also recently released version 2.1 of Time Out, my popular break reminder app.

Version 2.1 includes:

  • Better Schedule options
  • The Status item can now omit Micro breaks
  • New menu commands to improve discoverability
  • Improved Play Sound action
  • Added a Post Tweet action
  • Plus Sleep Mac, Start Screensaver and Stop Screensaver actions
  • Setup Assistant assistance
  • Supporter improvements
  • macOS Sierra compatibility and other improvements

Read the blog post for details, including screenshots and download options.

Oh, and Mac App Store customers, I'd really appreciate it if you could review the app, or update your existing review. Every time a new version is released, the App Store clears the reviews that are displayed.

Simon 4.3 coming soon

Work on Simon 4.3 will begin soon. I have a bunch of enhancements planned, but now is a great time to get your feature requests in. Let me know what you'd like to see in the next release!

Available for contract work

In addition to updating the Dejal apps, I do remote contract macOS and iOS development work, to help pay the bills. If you or anyone you know needs an expert iOS or macOS developer, check out the consulting page and get in touch.

Also, as it happens my wife is looking for a new job at this time. She's a Senior Technical Writer, available for full-time employment or contract work around Portland, Oregon or remote. Please get in touch if you can help.

Thanks for reading!

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DejalNews #64; ISSN: 1547-948X.

Dejal site tweaks

The eagle-eyed may notice a few subtle changes when visiting the Dejal website.

Over the last few days I changed the website header to merge the old Mac, iPad, and iPhone header items into a single Apps one, which gave room to move the search field from the bottom of the page up to the top.

I've been wanting to merge the platform headers into one for a while, as they didn't really make much sense anymore. Sure, I still write apps for Mac, iPad and iPhone devices, but I also have an Apple Watch app for Pack (my handy packing list app), and I only have one app for iPad currently (Tweeps, a Twitter account manager), so it hardly needs its own list.

Moving the search field is something I've thought about for a while, too. It was at the bottom of the page (above the site map links) for many years, but many people didn't notice it there, so couldn't find what they were looking for. The Dejal site is quite extensive, with several apps, blog posts, forum discussions, FAQ answers, developer pages, and more, so finding something specific can sometimes be tricky, especially if its a forum post from years ago. So moving the search field to the top should make it much more discoverable and useful.

I actually had two different search fields before: some of the the Dejal site is powered by custom PHP (primarily the product pages), which used to use a Google-powered search, and some is powered by the Drupal CMS (the blog, forums, etc), which has its own search mechanism. But now they are unified: searching via the search field at the top of every page will use Google to search the entire site, and on the search results page there is a link to instead limit the search to the blog, forums and FAQ, which uses the Drupal-powered search (and offers an advanced search function).

Currently there are Google ads on the search results (that I don't get any money for; it's a cost of using their free site search). If the feature is used enough I'll pay the $100/year to remove them, but I'll wait to see if people actually use the search more, now that it's more prominent.

Out with the old:

Old website headers

In with the new:

Old website headers

While I was at it, I did some other changes, e.g. replacing "Dejal Mac Apps" with "Dejal macOS Apps", and a few minor style changes and tweaks.

In other news, Apple is working through its back-catalog of apps that haven't been updated for years, and asking developers to update or remove them (or they will remove them after 30 days). This is a very worthwhile project; too much of the App Store is ancient junk that no longer works, or looks ugly on modern iOS versions.

I was affected by this: a few years ago I had discontinued two of my apps (well, technically three, one having Pro and Lite editions): SmileDial and Valentines. They were still included on the App Store for anyone who had old devices or didn't mind that they weren't being updated anymore. But with Apple's clean-out, it was time to remove them. So they are no longer available. I'll keep their product pages around indefinitely, though, for historical reference.

Time Out 2.1 released & Dejal 25th anniversary discount

Announcing the general release of Time Out version 2.1, an update to my popular break reminder tool.

Version 2.1 includes macOS Sierra compatibility, scheduling enhancements, status item improvements, new actions, and much more. Read below for details and screenshots.

Special discounts to celebrate Dejal 25th anniversary!

Tomorrow is the 25th anniversary of founding Dejal. Yes, I started the company way back on September 20, 1991, writing apps for classic Mac OS on my Mac Plus. (I've written a number of blog posts about the history if you want more details.)

To celebrate a quarter century of Mac development, and the release of Time Out 2.1 and macOS Sierra, I'm offering a special discount coupon code on all Mac apps sold directly from this site, or the supporter options within the direct edition of Time Out. Simply enter the coupon DEJAL25 at checkout to get half off! (Good until the end of this month.)

Already a supporter of Time Out? No problem; you can still use this coupon to extend your support by an additional 3, 6 or 12 months.

Here's my original Mac; if you look closely you can see some Dejal floppy disks to the left of the keyboard:

Better Schedule options

Time Out 2.1 includes many new features and enhancements, including:

  • Changed the way the scheduler handles the first break of the day, so the work time is now equal between each break. For example, a 10 minute break every hour will now start the break after 50 minutes of work time, and so on throughout the day.
  • Now displays the work time next to the frequency control.
  • Replaced the Reset After Duration natural break option with a checkbox to reset after a specified interval of idle, screensaver or sleep time, where you can choose the threshold interval. Off by default, and is a supporter reward, like the old option.
  • Added an option to reset the break after finishing a higher priority break. This is useful to keep lower priority breaks (e.g. Micro) aligned with higher priority ones (e.g. Normal). Off by default, and is also a supporter reward.

The Status item can now omit Micro breaks

  • Added an option on the General preferences page to only include long breaks in the status menu bar item. Off by default, so all breaks are included, but if you only want a countdown to the next lengthy break (of a minute or more), you can turn this on.

New menu commands to improve discoverability

  • Added an Edit Break command in the break Options menu, to make editing breaks more intuitive. This is equivalent to simply selecting the break in the sidebar, and will show an alert mentioning this.
  • Added a Start Next Break command in the File and action (cog) menus to manually begin the break that is next due. Especially useful as it can have a global keyboard shortcut assigned to it via the Shortcuts preferences.
  • Added a Reveal Data Folder command in those menus, to quickly and easily show the Time Out data folder in the Finder, as an easier way to add or edit sounds and themes, or send the data to Dejal for diagnostics.

Improved Play Sound action

  • Added a Reveal Sounds command to the sound pop-up menu in the Play Sound action, to show the Sounds folder in the Finder.
  • Added headings in the Play Sound menu, to indicate where each of the groups of sounds are located on disk.
  • Added some new built-in sounds: two different bells and a ticking clock. If you find any short public domain sound that others might like, let us know!

Added a Post Tweet action

  • Added a new Post Tweet action to post an update to Twitter. It is only available from macOS Sierra (10.12), due to a bug in previous OS versions that prevents authorizing accounts.
  • It includes an account popup to choose from which account to post. This could be fun for social peer pressure -- tweet when completing a break.

More actions

  • Added the Sleep Mac action (available via the Time Out Extras page) to the default set. This AppleScript simply puts the Mac to sleep. Useful if you want it to be asleep during a break or at the end of day.
  • Added the Start Screensaver action (also available there) to the default set. This AppleScript simply activates the screensaver. Useful if you want the screensaver on during a break.
  • Also added a new Stop Screensaver action. This AppleScript deactivates the screensaver if it's active. Useful as an action at the end of a break.

Setup Assistant assistance

  • Added a comment on the first page of the Setup Assistant to explain how to change the duration and frequency controls: "tab/arrow between components; arrow up/down or type to change values; click or spacebar to show a menu of options."
  • Updated the tooltips of those controls to give the same tips.
  • When returning to the Setup Assistant later in the app session, it now opens to the first page again, instead of whichever one was displayed when last closed.

Supporter improvements

  • After trying supporter rewards, the Support Time Out page is selected, to hopefully help clarify that the features reverting is not a bug.
  • For the Mac App Store edition, if a purchase hasn't been registered with the Dejal server, it will now ask you to do so when you next show the Support Time Out page, to avoid an issue that affects some people.

Other improvements

  • When launching the direct edition for the first time, if the Mac App Store edition has previously been used, the direct edtion will use the same data, to make migration easier.
  • Global shortcuts are now correctly removed after trying supporter rewards.
  • If not using the Event Monitor idle detector (as set on the Advanced preferences), no longer unnecessarily sets up the event monitors on launch.
  • Possible workaround for an Apple bug that causes the clipboard to stop working.
  • Fixed a crasher on macOS Sierra (10.12) when displaying the support info popovers.
  • Fixed a crasher when changing preference pages.
  • Updated the help book.

Get it now!

If you are using the Mac App Store edition, you can update via the App Store app.

If you are using the direct edition, you can use the Check for Updates feature in the app to update.

Otherwise, download Time Out 2.1 now.

And remember the coupon code DEJAL25 to help celebrate the 25th anniversary of Dejal!

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