timeout

DejalNews #71: Simon discount

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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

Time Out in Uneeqco bundle

Uneeqco bundle

For a short while, Time Out is available as part of a bundle from a relatively new organization, Uneeq Company. This is a "name your own price" bundle, so you can choose how much to pay for $643 worth of Mac apps.

Check out the bundle!

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

DejalNews header

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

Time Out 2.2.1 released

I've just released a tiny update to Time Out, to fix a couple of issues.

Version 2.2.1 includes a fix for scheduling issue, where it was incorrectly adding the sleep duration to the due time after waking from sleep. It also includes a fix for breaks set to a frequency of daily (or longer) and with an Available time range set, where it was pushing the due time out by a day.

If you are using the Mac App Store edition, you can update via the App Store app once it has been approved (maybe later today or tomorrow).

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

Otherwise, download Time Out 2.2.1 now.

Time Out 2.2 released

I'm pleased to announce the general release of version 2.2 of Time Out, my popular break reminder tool.

The major new feature of version 2.2 is the new Activity page. It also includes new themes and theme features, a View menu for easier navigation, and several other improvements. Read on for details.

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. As with other supporter rewards, you can also try it for an hour at a time.

Activity page screenshot

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.
  • 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).

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").

Added a View menu

  • Added a View menu to the menu bar, to enable easier navigation of the preference pages (the keyboard shortcuts can still be used when the menu bar is hidden).

Other improvements

  • Added an alert when turning on the option to automatically start Time Out, if the app isn't in the Applications folder.
  • When using a MacBook Pro with integrated and discrete GPUs, now attempts to remain using the integrated GPU, to save battery.
  • Now remembers the visibility state of the Preferences window. If you close it, it will remain closed when you next start the app, or if you leave it open, it will re-open. The window will always display when later switching to the app, when the Dock icon is shown.
  • 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.

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 2.2 now.

Time Out 2: a year later

Today is the one-year anniversary of the general release of Time Out version 2.0.

One month after that release, I wrote a blog post that provided some stats on how the supporter model was going at the time.

I thought I'd take this opportunity to follow up on that.

A year after release, the supporter model is still working well. If you're not familiar, the basic idea is that someone can download Time Out and use it for free, but some features only work for an hour at a time, as often as they like. So they can try all of the functionality, at their own pace, and decide if the advanced features are useful to them. If so, they can become a supporter for three, six, or twelve months. This permanently unlocks all of the current features as a reward. Even when the supporter period expires, those features remain fully available. So they can choose to extend their supporter status, or just keep using the app without paying any more. Of course, I hope that people do renew, to help fund ongoing sustainable development.

At present, about 9% of people who download Time Out end up purchasing one of the supporter options... which is a reasonable "conversion rate", which can often average more like 5% for normal trial apps. I feel pretty comfortable with that. But I'm also happy that people who choose not to become a supporter can still use a great break reminder tool to help them get or stay healthy.

Looking at the edition of Time Out available on the Dejal website, over the past year almost half of people chose the 3-month supporter option, at 48%, while a good number, 35%, chose the 12-month option, with relatively few choosing the middle 6-month supporter option:

Compare that to the Mac App Store edition, almost two thirds chose the 3-month supporter option, but the 6-month one was almost the same, and only a quarter chose the 12-month option:

Looking at both editions combined, you can see that most of the purchases were through the Mac App Store, though the direct edition isn't too far behind:

That was the number of purchases (units). In terms of money, unsurprisingly the 12-month supporter option goes a lot further, at 61% for direct sales. The 3-month option still beats 6-month, due to the volume of purchases, but not by as big a margin:

For the Mac App Store, the picture is similar, but not quite so favorable for the 12-month option, at slightly less than half the income, and a bigger slice of the pie for 3-month:

Again, combining them into one chart, you can see that it's pretty much neck-and-neck for direct vs Mac App Store, due to the larger slice of the pie that Apple takes:

I hope this snapshot of one year of Time Out was interesting. Overall, I think the supporter model is going well. I'm pleased to see many people who purchased 3- or 6-month supporter options choosing to extend their support, just because they appreciate the help it provides them, or want to help support further development.

Time Out continues to improve; just today I released another beta of version 2.2, which includes a great new activity feature and more. The continuing support of people like you is what makes that possible.

Thank you.

Time Out 2.2b3 released

I've just released a third beta of version 2.2 of Time Out.

This update includes:

  • Added a View menu to the menu bar, to enable easier navigation of the preference pages (the keyboard shortcuts can still be used when the menu bar is hidden).
  • Added an alert when turning on the option to automatically start Time Out, if the app isn't in the Applications folder.
  • When using a MacBook Pro with integrated and discrete GPUs, now attempts to remain using the integrated GPU, to save battery.
  • Now remembers the visibility state of the Preferences window. If you close it, it will remain closed when you next start the app, or if you leave it open, it will re-open. The window will always display when later switching to the app, when the Dock icon is shown.

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 2.2b3 now!

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

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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

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!

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!

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!

Time Out 2.1b2 released

One last quick update before the general release. I'd appreciate it if you would try this update to make sure I didn't break anything. I want to do the general release on Monday, so it's available before the macOS Sierra release.

  • Fixed an issue with the previous beta where the status item could show an invalid countdown when the new Only include long breaks option is on and there are no long breaks.
  • Possible workaround for an Apple bug that causes the clipboard to stop working.
  • 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.

If you are using the Mac App Store edition, an update will be available after the beta cycle, or you can download the beta via the link below.

If you are using the direct edition, you can use the Check for Updates feature in the app to update; if it doesn't offer the beta, change your Updates preferences to include beta releases.

Otherwise, download Time Out 2.1b2 now!

Time Out editions: direct vs Mac App Store differences

I just added a Time Out FAQ item on the differences between the direct and Mac App Store editions of Time Out, and thought it'd make a good blog post.

The direct edition (available from this site) and the Mac App Store edition are very similar, but there are a few minor differences:

Download
Installation
  • The direct edition will download to your Downloads folder, so simply drag it into your Applications folder to install.
  • The Mac App Store edition will be downloaded directly into the Applications folder.
Updates
  • The direct edition can be updated via an in-app updater.
  • The Mac App Store edition can be updated via the App Store app.
Beta releases
  • The direct edition supports beta releases to help test new updates.
  • The Mac App Store edition is not updated until the general release.
Purchase
  • The direct edition offers optional in-app purchases via FastSpring (or from this site).
  • The Mac App Store edition offers optional in-app purchases via your Apple ID (iTunes account).
Proceeds
  • The direct edition provides 91% of the purchase price to the developer (after FastSpring's cut).
  • The Mac App Store edition provides 70% of the purchase price to the developer (after Apple's cut).
Sandbox
  • The direct edition is not sandboxed, to enable updating, though acts with the same limitations as a sandboxed app.
  • The Mac App Store edition is sandboxed, requiring extra steps to approve keyboard usage detection and install action scripts.
Data location
  • The direct edition stores its data in the path "~/Library/Group Containers/6Z7QW53WB6.com.dejal.timeout/", where "~" means your home folder.
  • The Mac App Store edition stores its data in the path "~/Library/Group Containers/6Z7QW53WB6.com.dejal.timeout.free/", where "~" means your home folder.

That's about it. None of the differences are all that significant, so you are welcome to use whichever edition you prefer. Downloading and updating are about as easy for each, and purchasing is similar, it just depends on whether you want to buy with your credit card or PayPal account, or your Apple ID. Of course, purchasing is optional; you can use it for free if you don't want to become a supporter.

Time Out 2.1b1 released

Announcing the first beta release of an update to Time Out, my popular break reminder tool!

Version 2.1b1 includes macOS Sierra compatibility, scheduling enhancements, status item improvements, new actions, and much more.

Read on for the full release notes:

Better Schedule options

  • 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

  • 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.
  • 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.

If you are using the Mac App Store edition, an update will be available after the beta cycle, or you can download the beta via the link below.

If you are using the direct edition, you can use the Check for Updates feature in the app to update; if it doesn't offer the beta, change your Updates preferences to include beta releases.

Otherwise, download Time Out 2.1b1 now!

Time Out tip: adding sounds

A frequently asked question about Time Out 2 is how to add more sounds.

There is a FAQ answer on this, but I thought I'd expand on it as a blog topic.

Firstly, refer back to a previous blog post on accessing the sound actions in Time Out. That shows where the "Play Sound" feature has moved in version 2. It is now much more powerful than in version 1, with the ability to play sounds before, during or after a break, and even gently fade out long sounds like music. That post also includes a video demoing adding Play Sound and Fadeout Sound actions.

Time Out comes with a number of built-in sounds that you can play, plus it lists all sounds you have installed on your Mac, which includes system default ones, and any you have added to the standard sound folders.

It's worth noting that you can also have Time Out play any music from your iTunes library, too.

Find more sounds

To add more sounds, you first need to find and download them from a website.

There are many sites that offer sounds of varying length, quality, themes, etc. Some for free, some as paid offerings. Usually with previews so you can listen before downloading.

Here are a few I've found; note that I don't endorse or recommend any particular site; these are just ones I encountered in a brief search. If you're aware of or find a better site, please post in the Time Out forum to share with others.

Add the sounds

Once you have the new sounds, you can easily add them in one of the standard folders to make them available to all apps that can play sounds, or add them to the "Sounds" folder within the Time Out data folder to only make them available in Time Out.

The system sound folders you can add to are in the following paths (tip: you can paste these paths into the Finder's Go ▶ Go to Folder... command to reveal them; if the folders don't exist, you can create them):

  • /Library/Sounds — for sounds available to all users of your Mac.
  • ~/Library/Sounds — where "~" means your home folder.

(There is a third folder, at /System/Library/Sounds, but you shouldn't modify that.)

On the other hand, Time Out's sounds folder is at one of the following paths, depending on which edition of the app you have:

  • ~/Library/Group Containers/6Z7QW53WB6.com.dejal.timeout/Sounds — for the direct edition.
  • ~/Library/Group Containers/6Z7QW53WB6.com.dejal.timeout.free/Sounds — for the Mac App Store edition.

While you can use the Finder's Go to Folder... command to access those, an easier way is to choose Reveal Scripts from the Add Action drop-down menu. That will show the Scripts folder, which is adjacent to the Sounds folder. (I do want to make this even easier in the next update.)

I hope this has been helpful!

Time Out tip: adding to accessibility system preferences to enable idle detection

One of the features of Time Out is the ability to detect natural breaks, i.e. when your Mac is idle, not being used.

In version 1, this was detected via what I call the "Event Source" mechanism, but this can be unreliable for some people, as some apps can make it look like you are using the computer, when it's just an automated activity. So in version 2 I switched to a new approach, which I call "Event Monitor". This is generally more reliable, but has one downside: it requires a manual step by you to allow it, as discussed below. It can detect mouse or trackpad movement, but to detect keyboard activity you need to authorize it. Note that Time Out doesn't log or even watch what you type, it is just detecting any key press as a sign that you're actively using your computer.

Because not everyone wants idle detection at all, or would prefer the old approach, I added a preference on the Advanced Options page: "Natural break detection method". This pop-up menu includes options to disable idle detection altogether, or switch between the two approaches.

When you first launch Time Out, the second page of the Setup Assistant includes instructions on how to authorize idle detection. It's pretty simple, though a number of steps to navigate to the right place:

  1. Open System Preferences.
  2. Go to the Security & Privacy pane.
  3. Go to the Accessibility page in the sidebar.
  4. Go to the Privacy tab.
  5. Click the lock to make changes, if needed, and enter an admin username and password.
  6. Click the + button below the list.
  7. Find and choose Time Out in the resulting open file sheet.
  8. Confirm that Time Out appears in the list, with its box checked.

Since that could seem overwhelming, here's a very brief video demo:

(Or watch on YouTube.)

Time Out 2: a month later

Note: this is a re-post, as my web host lost the original post in a server migration.

Time Out version 2.0 went into general release on 2016-03-03, about a month ago.

This was a momentous release, several years in the making. I started planning and prototyping a significantly improved break reminder tool way back in 2007, and worked on bits of it over the years, more intensely over the last couple of years, in between contract work and other apps.

After 33 alpha builds and 7 beta releases, 2.0 went into general release.

Now, a month later, I'm happy to report that the reception has been very positive. Although a few people are put off by the changes, the vast majority have nothing but favorable things to say about the new version and its numerous improvements.

Of course, one of the many changes is the new "supporter" model, which I've discussed previously. Briefly, instead of an optional donation as in version 1, version 2 offers optional payments that enable permanent access to advanced features (that can be tried for an hour at a time, as often as you like, before becoming a supporter).

I thought I'd take this opportunity to share some numbers about how the supporter model has gone so far.

Firstly, the distribution of downloads is interesting. Time Out is available both directly from the Dejal site, and via the Mac App Store. For the latter, version 2 uses the same product as version 1, so people who downloaded version 1 will be automatically offered version 2. The Mac App Store certainly has its problems, but getting people to update isn't one of them: the percentage of updates via that mechanism dwarfed even the substantial downloads by new customers, and direct downloads:

The distribution of purchases is a bit more even, however. Almost an even split between purchases of the direct edition (mostly via the in-app options) vs via the Mac App Store:

Next I thought I'd see how the 3-, 6-, and 12-month supporter options compared via the different editions.

For the direct edition, most people chose to purchase the 12-month supporter option (46%), with the 3-month option the second most popular, at 39%. The middle 6-month option was relatively unpopular, at 15%; that isn't too surprising, as the extremes are expected to be more popular. (This is for the in-app purchases, but the web store ones were similar proportions.)

Things were a bit different for the Mac App Store: there, most people preferred the 3-month option, at 53%, with the 12-month in second place at 29%, and again 6-month the least preferred, at 19%:

Why the difference? I can't be sure, but I'd guess that people who download directly from this site are more likely to be power users, comfortable downloading third-party software, whereas people who prefer the Mac App Store might be more used to the budget prices of the iOS App Store, so might like to spend the minimum to get the features. Perhaps something to think about when comparing the two approaches.

Units sold is definitely an interesting metric, but revenue is important too. Here's how that turned out for the direct edition:

Compared to the Mac App Store edition:

Clearly, I made more money from the 12-month option, even on the Mac App Store where it was a smaller proportion of the unit sales. I didn't include the actual revenue totals, but suffice to say that I had approximately even number of sales from both the direct and Mac App Store editions (slightly more from the latter), but the revenue was higher from the direct edition.

Of course, this is just a snapshot from the first month of version 2. No doubt things will change over time. I hope that downloads and sales will continue well, but they will probably follow the typical "long tail" of most apps. The supporter model may help with that — although there is no obligation to renew the support when it expires, I hope that many people will do so. This might provide some degree of recurring revenue to help pay for ongoing improvements to the app. Who knows, people who choose the 3-month option may end up paying more than the 12-month supporters, since they effectively get two months free.

Although having an income from the app is important to enable continued improvements, it certainly isn't all about money. I am gratified that so many people are pleased with the new version, after all the hard work I put into it. It's great that it can help lots of people to live healthier lives. That is the most important thing for me, which is why I provide the basic functionality for free, forever.

Time Out tip: sounds, scripts, and other actions

One of the frequently asked questions I've received about Time Out 2 is "where have the sounds gone?"

In version 1, there were separate tab pages for "Sounds" and "Scripts", each offering two options; the ability to play sounds or run scripts at the start and/or end of breaks.

Version 2 still has these features, but can do much more. So, instead of having numerous tab pages, it combines them into an "Actions" page:

[Actions page screenshot]

In addition to sounds and scripts, other actions include the ability to display a notification (with an optional sound), fade out the currently playing sound (useful at the end of the break), flash the screen a custom color, and speak some text with speech synthesis. Several scripts are provided, too.

To add an action, simply click the (+) button in the top-right corner of the window, to display a menu of available actions:

[Add action menu screenshot]

(When you first click this button, the scripts won't be there, and there will just be "More..." item at the end; choose this to install the scripts.)

The first bunch are the various actions, followed by scripts, which are like customizable actions. At the end of the menu are items to open the Scripts folder in the Finder, so you can edit or add scripts, and go to the Time Out Extras page to download more scripts.

Once you add an action, you'll see a header row with the name of the action and some other controls:

[Action header screenshot]

You can use the interval picker and pop-up menu to indicate when to use the action. The interval picker enables you to offset from the action stage by a number of seconds, minutes or even hours (click on the units to change them). Instead of just being able to play a sound at the start and/or end of a break, in version 2 you can choose from many more times, including before due, after skipping, and more:

[Action when menu screenshot]

After those controls is a Preview button, that will demonstrate the action. And a Remove button to remove the action.

Here is a brief video to demo the feature: adding a Play Sound action to play a long music track, and a Fadeout Sound action to make it fade out when the break successfully finishes. (You might instead want to have it fade out for any end, otherwise it'd keep playing till done if you skip.)

Time Out 2.0.2 released

Time Out version 2.0.2 is now available for direct customers. The Mac App Store edition will be available in a few days to a week, once it is through Apple's app review. Update: the Mac App Store edition is now available (a bit quicker than expected).

This update includes some scheduler improvements:

  • By popular request, increased the number of digits for the Break for duration and Every frequency on the Break Schedule page from 2 to 3, so you can enter 150 minutes to have a break every 2.5 hours, for example.

While I'm here, note that you can click on the amount or units in these interval pickers to edit them via typing, up/down arrows, the stepper buttons, or click again to reveal a menu:

  • Also added an option on the Exclusions page to automatically skip breaks that fall due while the screensaver is active, the display is asleep, another user is active, or the Mac is asleep. This defaults to on.
  • Tweaked the scheduler to avoid App Nap interfering with idle detection and starting breaks when the window is closed and no status item is shown.
  • Scheduler logging (in Advanced preferences) is now off by default for new users.

There is also a fix specific to the Mac App Store edition:

  • Fixed another issue that prevented purchases from working for some people with the Mac App Store edition.

If you are using the Mac App Store edition of Time Out, look for the update in the App Store in about a week now. If you are using the direct edition, you can use the Check for Updates feature in the app to update. Otherwise, download Time Out 2.0.2 now!

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