simon

Simon 5.0b5 released

Here is another beta release of Simon, my website and server monitoring app for macOS.

Simon version 5 is a massive update, introducing a much-requested feature: syncing the Simon data between multiple Macs, plus a Simon Status service, a Link Checker filter, an iMessage notifier, and much more.

Please Note

  • This is an early beta release, with significant changes. Probably best to wait for the general release, unless you're keen. Use with caution!
  • If you find any issues with this beta release, please let me know!
  • Simon 5 requires a minimum of macOS 10.12 (Sierra).
  • Simon 5 will be a paid upgrade from Simon 4 after the beta period.
  • Purchasers since September 1, 2020 are eligible for a free upgrade; contact Dejal for details.

Powerful custom output for Find Regular Expressions filters

  • When using Find First, Specific, or All Occurrences, the Output menu now includes a Custom option, that shows a field where text with replacement operators like $1 etc can be included.
  • This can be used to search for multiple capture groups, e.g. "title":"(.+?)",".+?"department":"(.+?)", and output a custom formatted value that includes them, e.g. $1 ($2).
  • This is different than the Find & Replace, as those replace the found text in the output, leaving the rest intact, whereas the Find ones output only the matches or their custom format.
  • If a regular expression is malformed, and takes too long to evaluate, it now times out after 5 seconds.

Report improvements

  • Fixed reports not uploading as scheduled.
  • If the preference to use simple status icons is enabled, the reports now use that style too.
  • The report templates are now listed in alphabetical order.
  • Tidied the report list content.

Sound notifier improvements

  • System sounds are now available to play.
  • The sounds are now listed in alphabetical order.

Want to try it?

Please read the warnings and release notes above before jumping in. This is a beta release, not ready for primetime quite yet.

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 the beta now!

Simon 5.0b4 released

Here is another beta release of Simon, my website and server monitoring app for macOS.

Simon version 5 is a massive update, introducing a much-requested feature: syncing the Simon data between multiple Macs, plus a Simon Status service, a Link Checker filter, an iMessage notifier, and much more.

Please Note

  • This is an early beta release, with significant changes. Probably best to wait for the general release, unless you're keen. Use with caution!
  • If you find any issues with this beta release, please let me know!
  • Simon 5 requires a minimum of macOS 10.12 (Sierra).
  • Simon 5 will be a paid upgrade from Simon 4 after the beta period.
  • Purchasers since September 1, 2020 are eligible for a free upgrade; contact Dejal for details.

Added a Debug menu for rarely-used diagnostic options

  • Added a Debug menu for options that were previously available only via defaults write Terminal commands.
  • The Debug menu automatically appears during the beta, but can be shown during a general release by holding down the Control, Option, and Command keys on app launch.

Other changes

  • Fixed an issue that prevented Script-based services from working in tests.
  • Fixed an issue with the Email notifier that prevented the helper from starting.
  • Fixed a layout issue where list contents could be too narrow.
  • When using the Setup Assistant to import Safari bookmarks, now prompts for the bookmark file, if it can't be directly accessed due to macOS security restrictions.
  • Improved syncing.
  • Fixed some crashers.

More coming later

  • I wanted to get a beta release out so brave people can begin kicking the tires. There is more planned for version 5.
  • Don't expect rapid updates; it will slowly improve over the next few months, and go into general release when deemed ready.
  • Please let me know of any issues you find via the contact form or the Dejal Subreddit.

Want to try it?

Please read the warnings and release notes above before jumping in. This is a beta release, not ready for primetime quite yet.

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 the beta now!

DejalNews #81: Time Out 2.7, Simon 5 betas, SheetPlanner, Caboodle, New Year posts

DejalNews header

DejalNews 2021-01, issue #81

Welcome

Happy New Year! 2020 was a trying year for many, but hopefully 2021 will be better for all.

This is DejalNews, an occasional newsletter from Dejal.

I don't believe in New Year resolutions, but am trying a Yearly Theme this year. My theme is the Year of Consistency, so as part of that, I'm going to try to be more consistent in publishing these newsletters.

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

Time Out 2.7

Since the previous newsletter, Time Out version 2.7.1 has been released.

This update includes a new app icon, plus a number of changes for compatibility with Big Sur, including being built for Apple's new M1-based Macs, in addition to Intel ones. It also includes a much-requested new feature to ask to start a break, improvements to the break preview feature, adds several new break themes, and much more.

Read the blog post for more information on Time Out 2.7.

Simon 5 beta

There have also been a couple more beta releases of a major upgrade to Simon, my website and server monitoring tool. Version 5 includes a much-requested feature: syncing the Simon data between multiple Macs! Tests and other data can be viewed and edited on any of your Macs, and checked on a specific Mac, plus notifiers can be performed on any of the Macs, even a different one than did the check. For example, have a Mac in a data center do a check, and play a sound or speak some text on the Mac on your desk if it fails or changes.

Version 5 has lots of other improvements, including the ability to check if other synced copies of Simon are still working, a new Link Checker filter, to validate all links on a web page, a Server Result filter, to easily check result codes, an iMessage notifier, to send a message, and much more.

The subsequent betas added a new Speak Error notifier, a completely new app icon, and more improvements. There are some issues still to address, so there will be more betas before this is in general release, but it's making progress.

Note that Simon 5 will be a paid upgrade after the beta period. Pricing and release date to be determined. But anyone who buys now or since September 1, 2020 will be eligible for a free upgrade.

Read the Simon 5.0b3 blog post to see the new icon, and the 5.0b1 post for screenshots and more information.

SheetPlanner 2.0

One of my consulting projects is SheetPlanner, a powerful macOS app featuring an outliner with custom columns, notes, links, timeline, calendar, and more. Version 2.0 was just released, the culmination of a year of work, which makes the outliner features available for free, so everyone can have an excellent outlining tool. It also adds several great new features, including multiple sheets in a document, my nemesis the print preview, and much more.

Check out SheetPlanner!

Caboodle

Speaking of which, for those of you have used Caboodle in the past, or are still using either version 1 from Dejal or version 2 from Before Dawn Solutions (who acquired it a number of years ago), you may like to know that while Caboodle is no longer available, it has a path forward: the aforementioned SheetPlanner. I wrote an importer for both version 1 and 2 Caboodle data in SheetPlanner, so you can import your data without having to export first, and without losing anything. It even supports decrypting encrypted entries.

If you use Caboodle, migrate over to SheetPlanner.

Featured blog posts of 2020

Every year around the New Year, I write a series of blog posts. The first highlights blog posts on interesting topics written the previous year, other than app release posts and DejalNews posts.

In 2020, those posts included the introduction of the r/Dejal community on Reddit, celebrating 25 years of consulting work, a bunch of tips on Time Out and Simon, and more.

Check out the summary of posts from 2020.

Dejal Year in Review: 2020

Another traditional New Year post is to recap the state of the Dejal and consulting apps; what updates they got during the year. Plus reviewing how my plans for the year panned out.

Take a look at the app updates in 2020.

Looking Ahead: 2021

The last in the New Year series is forward-looking: giving some vague indications of what's in store for Time Out, Simon, and potential new apps. Plus consulting and more.

Read my thoughts on 2021 projects.

Time Out gifts

If you haven't already taken advantage of a free gift of Time Out, my break reminder tool, it's not too late.

Become a supporter at no cost. This permanently unlocks all of the current features.

Please share this link with your Mac-using family, friends, and colleagues, so they can enjoy the benefits of regular breaks too.

Stay safe

Stay safe everyone! Please enjoy the Time Out gifts, stay home, use masks, keep a safe distance from others, and hang in there. We'll get through this.

- David

Simon 5.0b3 released

Here is a third beta release of Simon, my website and server monitoring app for macOS.

Simon version 5 is a massive update, introducing a much-requested feature: syncing the Simon data between multiple Macs, plus a Simon Status service, a Link Checker filter, an iMessage notifier, and much more.

Version 5.0b3 includes a redesigned app icon in the Big Sur style. Yes, I just got the icon updated for the squircle style, but I didn't like the old icon in a squircle, so decided to try again, with a completely new icon. It is inspired by the previous one, modeled after an antique TV, but now slightly more modern:

New app icon

Please Note

  • This is an early beta release, with significant changes. Probably best to wait for the general release, unless you're keen. Use with caution!
  • If you find any issues with this beta release, please let me know!
  • Simon 5 requires a minimum of macOS 10.12 (Sierra).
  • Simon 5 will be a paid upgrade from Simon 4 after the beta period.
  • Purchasers since September 1, 2020 are eligible for a free upgrade; contact Dejal for details.

Big Sur

  • Updated the app icon (again) for the Big Sur squircle style.
  • A fun little easter egg is that in addition to the icon "screen" showing static while loading, the knobs turn.
  • Just for fun, changed the Dock icon unviewed indicator to a "BREAKING NEWS" TV-style chyron.

App switcher

Other changes

  • Tweaked the Preview placeholder messages for services, filters, and notifiers.
  • Fixed trying a notifier (File > Notify Now) not working when the Preview is displayed.
  • Fixed the format of the Spotlight keywords.

More coming later

  • I wanted to get a beta release out so brave people can begin kicking the tires. There is more planned for version 5.
  • Don't expect rapid updates; it will slowly improve over the next few months, and go into general release when deemed ready.
  • Please let me know of any issues you find via the contact form or the Dejal Subreddit.

Want to try it?

Please read the warnings and release notes above before jumping in. This is a beta release, not ready for primetime quite yet.

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 the beta now!

Simon 5.0b2 released

Here is a second beta release of Simon, my website and server monitoring app for macOS.

Simon version 5 is a massive update, introducing a much-requested feature: syncing the Simon data between multiple Macs, plus a Simon Status service, a Link Checker filter, an iMessage notifier, and much more.

Version 5.0b2 includes an updated app icon in the Big Sur style:

New app icon

Plus other changes for improved Big Sur compatibility, a new Speak Error notifier, and sync improvements.

Please Note

  • This is an early beta release, with significant changes. Probably best to wait for the general release, unless you're keen. Use with caution!
  • If you find any issues with this beta release, please let me know!
  • Simon 5 requires a minimum of macOS 10.12 (Sierra).
  • Simon 5 will be a paid upgrade from Simon 4 after the beta period.
  • Purchasers since September 1, 2020 are eligible for a free upgrade; contact Dejal for details.

Read on for the full release notes:

Big Sur

  • Simon is now a universal app for Apple M1 silicon and Intel on Big Sur; it also supports back to Sierra (10.12).
  • Updated the app icon for the Big Sur squircle style.
  • Improved compatibility.

Added a new Speak Error notifier

  • This new notifier will read out loud the text of the last error that occurred.
  • Especially useful when a failure or recovery occurs, though can be used with any test result.

Sync

  • Improved the efficiency and reliability of syncing.

More coming later

  • I wanted to get a beta release out so brave people can begin kicking the tires. There is more planned for version 5.
  • Don't expect rapid updates; it will slowly improve over the next few months, and go into general release when deemed ready.
  • Please let me know of any issues you find via the contact form or the Dejal Subreddit.

Want to try it?

Please read the warnings and release notes above before jumping in. This is a beta release, not ready for primetime quite yet.

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 the beta now!

DejalNews #80: Simon 5 beta, Time Out gifts, themes, and tips

DejalNews header

DejalNews 2020-10, issue #80

Welcome

This is DejalNews, an occasional newsletter from Dejal.

Very occasional, sometimes — the last one was back in April. That seems like an eternity ago now, doesn't it?

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

Simon 5 beta

The big news from Dejal is that I have introduced the first beta release of a major upgrade to Simon, my website and server monitoring tool. Version 5.0b1 includes a much-requested feature: syncing the Simon data between multiple Macs! Tests and other data can be viewed and edited on any of your Macs, and checked on a specific Mac, plus notifiers can be performed on any of the Macs, even a different one than did the check. For example, have a Mac in a data center do a check, and play a sound or speak some text on the Mac on your desk if it fails or changes.

Version 5 has lots of other improvements, including the ability to check if other synced copies of Simon are still working, a new Link Checker filter, to validate all links on a web page, a Server Result filter, to easily check result codes, an iMessage notifier, to send a message, and much more.

Note that Simon 5 will be a paid upgrade after the beta period. Pricing and release date to be determined. But anyone who buys now or since September 1, 2020 will be eligible for a free upgrade.

Read the blog post for screenshots and more information.

Time Out gifts

If you haven't already taken advantage of a free gift of Time Out, my break reminder tool, it's not too late.

Become a supporter at no cost. This permanently unlocks all of the current features.

Please share this link with your Mac-using family, friends, and colleagues, so they can enjoy the benefits of regular breaks too.

Time Out themes

A while ago I published a blog post with three new break themes, kindly contributed by a Time Out customer.

One shows a scenic picture for each break, another shows an inspirational quote, and the third has placeholder for your own photos or custom images.

Time Out tips

I also published a couple of tips for Time Out since the previous newsletter.

The first was particularly relevant in these Zoom-y times: how to automatically skip breaks when on a Zoom call.

The second was how to avoid a break starting while doing a screen recording.

Dejal subreddit

If you use Reddit, you may like to join the r/Dejal subreddit, as a community for Dejal customers, and another support channel. Learn more.

Vote!

If you're in the US, and haven't already voted, please make a plan to do so. It's important.

Stay safe

Stay safe everyone! Please enjoy the Time Out gifts, stay home, use masks, keep a safe distance from others, and hang in there. We'll get through this.

- David

Simon 5.0b1 released

I'm pleased to introduce the first beta release of a major upgrade of Simon, my website and server monitoring app for macOS.

Simon version 5 is a massive update, introducing a much-requested feature: syncing the Simon data between multiple Macs!

Sync preferences

Tests and other data can be viewed and edited on any of your Macs, and checked on a specific Mac:

Test options

What's more, notifiers can be performed on any of the Macs, even a different one than did the check. For example, have a Mac in a data center do a check, and play a sound or speak some text on the Mac on your desk if it fails or changes:

Test notifiers

Something else many people have wanted, it also includes the ability to check if other copies of Simon are still working:

Simon Status test

Other enhancements include a new Link Checker filter, to validate all links on a web page, a Server Result filter, to easily check result codes, an iMessage notifier, to send a message, a new more efficient data format, and numerous other changes.

Please Note

  • This is an early beta release, with significant changes. Probably best to wait for the general release, unless you're keen. Use with caution!
  • If you find any issues with this beta release, please let me know!
  • Simon 5 requires a minimum of macOS 10.12 (Sierra).
  • Simon 5 will be a paid upgrade from Simon 4 after the beta period.
  • Purchasers since September 1, 2020 are eligible for a free upgrade; contact Dejal for details.

Read on for the full release notes:

Simon now supports syncing via iCloud!

  • The Simon data is not synced by default, but if the new Sync preference is enabled (see below), the data is moved to iCloud.
  • Each test can be checked on a specific computer, but edited from any synced Mac.
  • Notifiers can also be performed on a specific computer, but it doesn't have to be the same one, e.g. check a test on Mac 1, and notify on Mac 2 (or both).
  • Manually starting a check, pausing, editing, etc can be done from any synced computer.
  • When syncing, the computer that will perform the check is displayed in the tests list and logs, and is available as a sorting option.
  • Note that the Preview is not available when viewing a test for another computer, since that might lead to confusing results.
  • If Simon is quit on another computer, its tests show a power icon (semicircle with vertical line), or if not quit but not seen in a while, an unavailable icon (a circle with a slash through it).
  • The data format has changed to support this, including splitting up the data files to be more efficient, and converting to JSON format.

Editor changes for syncing

  • When editing a test with syncing enabled, the Test Options page now includes a new "check on" pop-up menu to choose on which computer to check the test.
  • Similarly, the Test Notifiers page includes a pop-up menu to choose the computer to perform the notification, which doesn't have to be the same one.
  • The summary page (non-editing mode) now also indicates the chosen computers.

New Sync preferences

  • A new Sync preference pane includes buttons to turn syncing off and on. By default it is off, with data stored on your local Mac as before.
  • When iCloud syncing is enabled, a list of computers that have accessed the data is displayed. It includes the computer name, the version of Simon, and when the data was first and most recently accessed.
  • The computer names can be changed (this only affects how Simon displays them), or unwanted ones can be removed. They will re-appear if used again.
  • An icon indicates the status of each computer, with the Mac type for the current computer, a green triangle for online computers, or a quit or unavailable icon as above.
  • If syncing is enabled when there is already some Simon data in iCloud, you are asked if you want to use that data (discarding the local data), or replace that data (with the local data).
  • If syncing is disabled when multiple computers are using iCloud, you are asked if you want to make a local copy, leaving the iCloud data intact.
  • If syncing is disabled when this is the only computer using iCloud, the data is moved to the computer and removed from iCloud.
  • A sync-related change: the preference to keep backups of data files has been removed, to avoid unnecessary syncing.
  • Also, the auto-save frequency preference now uses a shorter time range, for more responsive syncing.

New Sync Setup Assistant

  • When updating to version 5, or a fresh install, a Setup Assistant page will be displayed with the same options as the Sync preferences, to ask whether to store the data locally, or on iCloud.
  • If you choose to keep the data on this Mac, it continues to work as in previous versions, and any existing iCloud data (if you chose differently on another Mac) is left intact.
  • If you choose to sync when there is already some Simon data in iCloud, you are asked if you want to use that data (discarding the local data), or replace that data (with the local data).

Web service changes

  • Renamed the default "Web (HTTP)" service as "Web Page", to be more clear.
  • When capturing the rendered source (via the option on the Other page), the <html> tags are now included.
  • The default protocol is now "https://" instead of "http://".
  • Now doesn't add "www." before a domain name if missing the ".com".

Added a new Simon Status service

  • When you are syncing Simon data between multiple computers with the new sync feature, this new service enables checking the state of the Simon instances.
  • You can choose to check all computers, or a specific one.
  • The output of the service can be customized, including variables.
  • Optionally Simon being quit and/or unavailable can result in a failure, with customizable error messages for each.
  • A "Simon Status" service has been added to the data by default, to check all computers; you can customize what to check and output in the test editor, or add new services.

Added a new Link Checker filter

  • This new filter will check multiple links to see if they are valid or invalid.
  • For input, it can extract links out of HTML source from a web page, or a list of URLs separated by linefeeds or commas.
  • It can scan only local links (within the same site), only remote links (to other websites), or both.
  • A link is considered invalid if either the server can't be contacted, or the server reports an error (e.g. 404, page not found) when requesting the header (it doesn't load the actual content).
  • It outputs a list of the found URLs, optionally with some text or emoji indicating it is valid or invalid, and/or the status code or error message.
  • For the result, it can be always a success (for further evaluation of the output), or a failure if any local and/or remote links are invalid.
  • A Link Checker filter is included in the default data for use with tests. More options can be configured by editing this filter (or adding new ones).

Added a new Server Result filter

  • This new filter can be used with the Result Code input to detect an invalid HTTP result.
  • If the input number is 400 or more, this makes the test check be a failure.

Added an iMessage notifier

  • This notifier can send an iMessage to a recipient if you already have a conversation with them in the Messages app.
  • Contributed by Chris Copleston; available on the Simon Extras page for people using earlier versions.

Removed some services and notifiers that are no longer supported

  • Removed the Calendar notifier, as it uses obsolete technology. Let me know if you used this; I could rewrite it with modern APIs.
  • Removed the Email Cycle service from the default data, as it can't receive email successfully (and hasn't for a while; clearly nobody uses it).
  • Removed the Growl notifier, as it is obsolete. Use the Notification Center notifier instead.
  • Removed the MySQL service, as it used a 32-bit helper that no longer works with Catalina and later.
  • Removed the SMS notifier, as the third-party Clickatell connection doesn't work anymore, and the email-based option had significant issues; switch to using an Email notifier directly if needed.
  • Removed the Twitter notifier, as it hasn't been supported by macOS for a few years.

Plus several other improvements

  • Simon now displays a small progress window while starting, since loading lots of tests, especially when syncing, can take a few moments.
  • Simon now prompts for approval to send Apple events, as required on recent macOS versions. Please approve this, otherwise the Email notifier and Script-based services won't work.
  • The Setup Assistant now supports importing Safari and Chrome bookmarks.
  • All services are now checked in the background, so they don't interfere with updating the lists etc. This also fixes a weird temporal anomaly where a check start could be logged after a finish.
  • The contents of groups in the lists are now sorted properly.
  • Fixed importing some malformed AppleScripts in the Script editor.
  • Fixed the service, filter, etc kinds not being listed in alphabetic order.
  • Fixed some summary labels being enabled when showing a group, where they don't apply.
  • The File ▸ Check Now menu item is now disabled for the Filters page, since it doesn't do anything there.
  • Improved character encoding of report templates to work better with non-ASCII characters.
  • Improved localization support.
  • Improved dark mode support.
  • Updated for Big Sur (macOS 11) and Catalina (macOS 10.15), but still compatible back to Sierra (10.12).

More coming later

  • I wanted to get a beta release out so brave people can begin kicking the tires. There is more planned for version 5.
  • Don't expect rapid updates; it will slowly improve over the next few months, and go into general release when deemed ready.
  • There are still a number of known issues with this first beta. But please let me know of any issues you find via the contact form or the Dejal Subreddit.

Want to try it?

Please read the warnings and release notes above before jumping in. This is a beta release, not ready for primetime quite yet.

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 the beta now!

DejalNews #79: Time Out gifts and tips, 25 years of consulting, Dejal Subreddit

DejalNews header

DejalNews 2020-04, issue #79

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.

Time Out gifts

The past couple of months have been quite the decade, haven't they? It certainly seems that way. With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting the world at present, many people are working from home for the first time. To help out in some small way, I decided to give away my popular Time Out app.

While Time Out is always free to download and use, the best features are only available as rewards for supporters. But in these trying times, everyone deserves a reward. So I have created a page where you can become a supporter at no cost. This permanently unlocks all of the current features.

This is available even if you previously purchased Time Out — the gift will extend your support.

And for those who do buy, I am now including a link enabling you to give Time Out supporter status to others. Please share Time Out far and wide, and give this gift with my compliments.

Time Out and Simon tips

I've published a couple of tips since the previous newsletter.

One was a tip for Time Out, on how to add breaks to the Calendar — a couple of break action scripts to add an event for each break, with the start and end times matching the time of the break.

Another was for Simon, my website monitoring tool, on how to use Simon to check for an expired website SSL certificate.

Chicken GIFs discontinued

I had a fun iMessage sticker pack featuring GIFs of my chickens. As part of Apple's routine cleanup of old content, they removed it from the store. Which is disappointing, since it still worked fine, but I understand their policy.

So now you'll have to visit my homestead blog if you want a dose of funny chickens (and ducks, feral cats, bees, and more).

25 years of consulting

A couple of months ago I celebrated a milestone: a quarter century of helping others create Mac (and later also iOS) apps. Read that post for an ancient screenshot of my first project, and more info.

Dejal subreddit

Since I'm slowly phasing out the Dejal forums due to lack of use and spam attacks, I thought I'd try another kind of forum: the popular Reddit site. So I created r/Dejal, a subreddit on that site. It hasn't seen much adoption yet, but you're welcome to join and post feature requests and such there. Learn more.

Traditional year-end posts

Every year I do a series of posts, including featured blog posts of 2019, and a review of how the previous year went, though this time I did a decade in review, 2010 to 2019. I also published a rather optimistic 2020 vision post, looking ahead to this year, though the pandemic has scratched any hope of attending conferences, and delayed my trip to New Zealand.

Stay safe

Stay safe everyone! It's a difficult time at present, affecting the whole world in dramatic fashion. Please enjoy the Time Out gifts, stay home, use masks, keep a safe distance from others, and hang in there. We'll get through this.

- David

Simon tip: website certificate service

Today I received a customer query asking how to use Simon to check for an expired website SSL certificate.

Of course, Simon is very flexible, so even if there isn't a built-in service for this specific case, if you can do it in the Terminal, you can probably create a custom script-based service in Simon to do it, too.

There are a number of ways to get certificate information, but this is one simple approach (if you know of a better way, let me know!).

I created a new script-based service, using the basic C shell, a one-line command, and a custom variable for the host name:

Website Certificate service screenshot

I then created a new test using this service. When accessing a server with an expired certificate, the output includes a "verify return code" message of "certificate has expired", so I used a Block filter to look at just that text (I pasted "Verify return code: " in the Start text, and an Option-Return in the End text), then a Find Required filter to make the test result in a failure if it doesn't find "ok", and finally an Override Custom filter if a failure, to output the error message:

Website Certificate test screenshot

For the success case, the last filter doesn't apply, so it just outputs the "ok":

Website Certificate test screenshot

Want to use this service? You can easily add it yourself, or import it by downloading from the Simon Extras page.

I hope you found the techniques in this post helpful.

Simon 4.3.1 released

Simon version 4.3.1 is now available. This bug-fix update just has a couple of tweaks:

  • Fixed a crash when generating a remote report.
  • Further tweaks for dark mode on Mojave.

Remember, Simon's price has been temporarily reduced (for the full license and upgrade license), to celebrate version 4.3 (and 4.3.1). Get it while it lasts!

Changes in 4.3 included:

  • Mojave dark mode and compatibility
  • Added the ability to follow or not follow a meta refresh for each test
  • Several improvements to the pause and auto-pause functions
  • A number of refinements of services and filters
  • Updated the default data
  • Plus many other improvements
  • Get it now!

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

    If you are using the Setapp edition, the app will automatically update shortly.

    Otherwise, download Simon 4.3.1 now.

Simon 4.3 released

I'm pleased to announce that Simon version 4.3 is now available. An important update to my pro utility app to monitor websites and servers for changes or failures.

If you will be installing Mojave (macOS 10.14) on Monday, or any time soon, this update is essential, to address some compatibility issues. But it is still compatible back to Yosemite (10.10), and has some nice improvements even if you won't be updating yet.

I've also temporarily reduced the price (for the full license and upgrade license), to celebrate this update. Get it while it lasts!

Changes in this release include:

Mojave dark mode and compatibility

  • All of the app content has been updated to support dark mode on macOS 10.14.
  • Updated the Script Preferences to use separate foreground and background colors when in light or dark mode on Mojave.
  • Fixed the mode buttons briefly appearing when not editing, and other appearance issues on Mojave.
  • Built for Mojave (macOS 10.14), but still compatible back to Yosemite (10.10).

Mojave dark mode screenshot

Added the ability to follow or not follow a meta refresh for each test

  • Added a Follow any meta refresh header to another page option in the Other section of the Web (HTTP) Service editor.
  • Meta refreshes are sometimes used to redirect to another page, e.g. <meta http-equiv="refresh" content="0; url=https://www.dejal.com/">. Meta refreshes to reload the same page are ignored.
  • This option is on by default. It replaces a hidden preference, and makes it test-specific.

Follow meta option screenshot

Several improvements to the pause and auto-pause functions

  • Improved the Auto-Pause logic so it'll work for a full day (e.g. to pause all weekend, choose Weekends from 00:00 to 00:00).
  • When a test should be auto-paused when the app is launched, it is now.
  • When editing the Auto-Pause settings, the next due label is updated live (and says "now" if the days and time encompasses the current time).
  • If a test is paused when the Preview is shown, then the app quit, it now remains paused on launch (instead of the Preview forcing it to resume).
  • After pausing or resuming a test with the Preview shown, it is now updated to reflect the new state.

A number of refinements of services and filters

  • Changed the Script feature to support a script only outputting as an error, but still succeeding, e.g. curl.
  • Fixed a crasher when editing a test on the Filters page, for data upgraded from version 2 or earlier.
  • Fixed the Password field remembering its value in Port-based tests.
  • Prevented adding multiple Service sections to the Port-based Preview.
  • Fixed the Exclude Block filter, that timed out when trying to extract the output after the end text.
  • Improved the layout of the Context filter.

Test filters screenshot

Updated the default data

  • Replaced the default "Apple hot news" test with "Apple newsroom", using their current news URL, and updated filters.
  • Updated the default data to use https for Dejal links.
  • Removed the default "FTP Directory Listing" service, since macOS no longer includes the ftp command-line tool.

Plus many other improvements

  • Fixed the Preview item in the View menu not having a checkmark when selected.
  • There was hardcoded logic to ignore a failure if more than 3 minutes from starting, to cope with the Mac sleeping during a check. Now uses a minute past the timeout interval, so it works better with long test timeouts.
  • Removed the Fabric crash reporter, to avoid sending unnecessary data to a third party.
  • Updated support for Setapp. (Prefer a subscription to Simon and lots of other apps? Check out Setapp.)
  • Removed the help book within the app, since it didn't work reliably. The help is still available online.
  • To celebrate version 4.3, the prices have been temporarily reduced!

Get it now!

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

If you are using the Setapp edition, the app will automatically update shortly.

Otherwise, download Simon 4.3 now.

Simon 4.3b1 released

It's been a while, but I'm pleased to announce the first beta of an update to Simon, my pro utility app to monitor websites and servers for changes or failures.

Version 4.3 is still a work-in-progress, but I wanted to get out a beta especially for anyone using it on Mojave (macOS 10.14), and also to address some issues that have been reported.

I've also temporarily reduced the price (for the full license and upgrade license), to celebrate this update. Get it while it lasts!

Changes in this first beta include:

  • Mojave dark mode support: all of the app content has been updated to support dark mode on macOS 10.14. (If you find anything that doesn't look right, please let me know!)
  • Updated the Script Preferences to use separate foreground and background colors when in light or dark mode on Mojave.
  • Changed the Script feature to support a script only outputting as an error, but still succeeding, e.g. curl.
  • Fixed a crasher when editing a test on the Filters page, for data upgraded from version 2 or earlier.
  • Fixed the mode buttons briefly appearing when not editing.
  • Fixed the Preview item in the View menu not having a checkmark when selected.
  • Added a Follow any meta refresh header to another page option in the Other section of the Web (HTTP) Service editor. Meta refreshes are sometimes used to redirect to another page, e.g. <meta http-equiv="refresh" content="0; url=https://www.dejal.com/">. Meta refreshes to reload the same page are ignored. This option is on by default. It replaces a hidden preference, and makes it test-specific.
  • Fixed the Password field remembering its value in Port-based tests.
  • Prevented adding multiple Service sections to the Port-based Preview.
  • Fixed the Exclude Block filter, that timed out when trying to extract the output after the end text.
  • Improved the layout of the Context filter.
  • Improved the Auto-Pause logic so it'll work for a full day (e.g. to pause all weekend, choose Weekends from 00:00 to 00:00).
  • When a test should be auto-paused when the app is launched, it is now.
  • When editing the Auto-Pause settings, the next due label is updated live (and says "now" if the days and time encompasses the current time).
  • If a test is paused when the Preview is shown, then the app quit, it now remains paused on launch (instead of the Preview forcing it to resume).
  • After pausing or resuming a test with the Preview shown, it is now updated to reflect the new state.
  • There was hardcoded logic to ignore a failure if more than 3 minutes from starting, to cope with the Mac sleeping during a check. Now uses a minute past the timeout interval, so it works better with long test timeouts.
  • Replaced the default "Apple hot news" test with "Apple newsroom", using their current news URL, and updated filters.
  • Updated the default data to use https for Dejal links.
  • Removed the default "FTP Directory Listing" service, since macOS no longer includes the ftp command-line tool.
  • Built for Mojave (macOS 10.14), but still compatible back to Yosemite (10.10).
  • To celebrate version 4.3, the prices have been temporarily reduced!

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 4.3b1 now!

DejalNews #73: Discounts for the holidays, AppStories

DejalNews header

DejalNews 2017-12, issue #73

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.

Holiday discount

'Tis the season for celebrations and reflection... and discounts! As I often do, I am marking the occasion with a discount on my Mac apps, Dejal Simon and Time Out.

From now until the end of the year, you can get Simon, my handy website & server monitoring tool, for just $49.50 — half the regular price. (The upgrade from version 3 is also half price.)

You can also become a supporter of Time Out, my popular break reminder tool, for half the normal amount; just $1.49, $2.49, or $4.99, depending on the supporter duration. (Remember, any level will permanently unlock all of the current supporter rewards.)

The Mac App Store edition of Time Out is also discounted, though with slightly different prices.

This discount is automatically applied if you buy via the online store, or in the Mac App Store edition. Or you can enter the code "JOYTOALL" in the coupon field when purchasing in the direct edition. Don't delay!

Already have Simon and Time Out? Tell your friends and colleagues about it! I really appreciate any help spreading the word.

AppStories sponsorship

Last week I sponsored an episode of AppStories, a podcast discussing apps on macOS and iOS, brought to you by the fine folks at MacStories.

It was great to hear John talking about Dejal Time Out on the show.

Happy holidays!

I'd like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a safe and enjoyable holiday season, and a very happy New Year.

- David

DejalNews #72: Time Out 2.3, 512 Pixels, Setapp 100

DejalNews header

DejalNews 2017-10, issue #72

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.

Time Out 2.3 released

I mentioned in the previous newsletter that I was about to start work on Time Out version 2.3. As you may know by now, that did in fact eventuate, and it was recently released.

Version 2.3 focuses on enhancements to the postpone and skip options, including the ability to show the number of times each break has been postponed, skipped, and/or done (finished) today... and a much-requested feature, the ability to set daily limits on postponing and skipping. There's also a fun mini-pie-chart option.

Importantly, this update also includes a number of fixes for High Sierra compatibility, including a significant issue where the label and break background colors can unexpectedly become white.

I recommend updating to this version if you'll be installing High Sierra.

Read the blog post for details of the improvements.

512 Pixels sponsorship

I don't do much advertising, but I occasionally like to do something to support people and sites that I like. One such is 512 Pixels, written by Stephen Hackett, who you may also know as one of the founders of the Relay FM podcast network.

This week I am sponsoring the 512 Pixels site, as a way to help support Stephen, and promote the new release of Dejal Time Out.

Read the sponsorship post on 512 Pixels.

Setapp reaches 100 apps

It seems I'm often writing about Setapp in these newsletters... but it's such a great service, making it easy for people to find lots of high-quality and useful apps, including Dejal Simon.

Setapp has just announced that they have reached 100 apps on the service; an exciting milestone. There's something for everyone!

- David

DejalNews #71: Simon discount

DejalNews header

DejalNews 2017-07, issue #71

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.

Simon price eclipsed

Much of the US will experience a total solar eclipse on August 21, 2017. To celebrate this historic event, I thought I'd eclipse the price of Simon till the end of August. (Okay, a flimsy excuse for a discount, but why not — it's been quite a long time since the last one, even if not as long as since the last eclipse over the US, in 1918.)

This discount is automatically applied if you buy via the online store. Don't delay! Like the eclipse, this special only lasts a short time.

Already have Simon? Tell your friends and colleagues about it! I really appreciate any help spreading the word.

Setapp at 5 months

Recently TidBITS featured an article about Setapp, marking the five month period of Setapp's existence. I was quoted a number of times in this article, discussing my impressions of Simon in Setapp. Spoiler: I'm quite pleased with it so far. If you want lots of great apps (including Simon) for one low price, check out Setapp.

Time Out 2.3 coming soonish

I've been busy with consulting work of late, so work on Dejal apps has been rather slow. But I'll soon be getting back to it, as time allows, with several app updates and even new apps planned for the rest of the year.

The future plans are always subject to change, of course, but my current thought is to first work on an update to Time Out, to version 2.3. I have several planned enhancements, and some issues to fix... but if you have any requests, now would be a great time to let me know. Maybe your feature idea could make it into the next update!

- David

Simon special: an eclipsed price for a limited time

Much of the US will experience a total solar eclipse on August 21, 2017. To celebrate this historic event, I thought I'd eclipse the price of Simon till the end of August. (Okay, a flimsy excuse for a discount, but why not — it's been quite a long time since the last one, even if not as long as since the last eclipse over the US, in 1918.)

This discount is automatically applied if you buy via the online store. Don't delay! Like the eclipse, this special only lasts a short time.

Simon in BundleHunt

BundleHunt poster

I know I've mentioned this before, but I wanted to remind everyone of BundleHunt, a "choose your own bundle" collection of great apps, which includes Simon, my pro tool to monitor websites and servers for changes or failures.

This bundle is coming to an end soon, so it's your last chance to get Simon and 6 other apps for just $19.99. Choose from 49 premium apps, including Typinator, MacJournal, WinZip, and more. You can get 7 apps for less than quarter the regular price of just Simon!

If you already have Simon, this is a great opportunity to get your friends or colleagues hooked on its benefits for a very low cost. I'd appreciate any help in spreading the word, and if you use this link they'll know you came from here.

DejalNews #69: Time Out 2.2, Simon 4.2.2, Yellow Cottage Homestead

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DejalNews 2017-03, issue #69

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.

Time Out 2.2.1 released

This month I released an update to Time Out, my popular break reminder tool for macOS.

Version 2.2 adds a major new feature: a new Activity page, where you can see what breaks you've taken (and for how long), and what apps you've used, if you wish.

It also adds some great user-contributed themes, and some other improvements.

A quick update to version 2.2.1 fixed a couple of scheduling issues.

Learn more about the changes in Time Out 2.2, and how to get it.

Time Out 2: a year later

This month marked the one year anniversary of Time Out 2! To celebrate, I wrote a blog post, complete with pie charts, providing information on how the downloads and supporter model have gone over the past year.

Read the blog post.

Simon 4.2.2 released

Another recent update was Simon 4.2.2. This update included updated Setapp support, in-app purchase options, and a number of other improvements.

Learn more about the changes in Simon 4.2.2.

Note that it is still available as part of BundleHunt too, for a limited time. Tell your friends!

Yellow Cottage Homestead

In addition to Dejal apps and Dejal consulting, my wife and I also have a hobby business called Yellow Cottage Homestead, LLC, where we raise chickens for eggs (as seen in my Chicken GIFs sticker pack!), make apple cider, grow lavender for various products, and soon will keep bees for honey, on our five acres.

About a month ago I started a blog for the homestead, where I'm posting every day or two about projects around the place. I recently had some posts about designing and building wooden potato planters, and there have been posts about snow and about chickens, but most of the posts have been about building a second chicken coop, which I've just started.

If that interests you, check out the Yellow Cottage Homestead blog.

Over the coming weeks you can expect many more posts about building progress, plus in May we'll be getting a dozen baby chicks (hopefully I'll have the coop ready by then!), plus will be setting up a couple of bee hives, and many other projects. Stay tuned!

Of course, there is a RSS feed, plus you can follow @YellowHomestead on Twitter, or the Facebook page.

- David

Simon 4.2.2 released

A minor update to Simon, my utility to monitor websites and servers, is now available.

Changes in this update include:

  • Updated support for Setapp. (Prefer a subscription to Simon and lots of other apps? Check out Setapp.)
  • Added an in-app purchase option, so you can purchase a license without leaving the app (direct edition only).
  • Fixed the Result label when editing a Number filter to correctly display the status icon and result message.
  • Changed the Script editor to prevent it from using smart quotes and dashes, which can interfere with correct script functioning.
  • Fixed an exception with the MySQL service.
  • A number of other minor fixes.
  • Built for Sierra (but still compatible back to Yosemite).

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

If you are using the Setapp edition, it should update automatically shortly.

Otherwise, download Simon 4.2.2 now!

DejalNews #68: Time Out 2.2 beta, Simon in BundleHunt, forums

DejalNews header

DejalNews 2017-02, issue #68

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.

Time Out 2.2 beta

Earlier this month I released the first couple of betas of an update to Time Out, my popular break reminder tool for macOS.

Version 2.2 adds a major new feature: a new Activity page, where you can see what breaks you've taken (and for how long), and what apps you've used, if you wish.

It also adds some great user-contributed themes, and some other improvements.

Learn more about the changes in version 2.2, and how to get it.

Simon in BundleHunt

After the success with Caboodle a few months ago, BundleHunt asked if I'd like to include Simon in their latest bundle, featured near the top, to which I agreed. This is a rare opportunity to get Simon, my pro tool to monitor websites and servers, for a significant discount. Normally $99 for just the app, for a limited time you can get Simon and six other premium apps for only $19.99.

Learn more at BundleHunt!

Speaking of Simon, it has been having good success as part of Setapp too; the "Netflix of apps", lots of quality apps for a low monthly subscription. Check it out if you haven't already.

Dejal Forums now require moderation

I've had a bunch of problems with the Dejal Forums of late, first with account creation not working, then a lot of spam postings every day. To combat that, I added moderation of posts. So now, when you post something to a forum, it isn't publicly visible initially, but I will see it within hours and approve for publishing, then immediately reply if needed. One nice benefit of this is that you'll get an email when the post is published, which will let you know that a reply will likely be forthcoming shortly thereafter.

I've still had the flood of spam, but at least it hasn't been publicly visible anymore. And since I've been blocking the spammer accounts, the volume has dropped off, perhaps as they realized they were wasting their time. Hopefully that problem will go away.

Long-term, I'm debating whether or not the forums are worthwhile, since most people prefer to contact me privately, and some site changes I want to do one day would be easier if I didn't have the complication of user accounts. If you want them to continue, make use of them!

- David

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