DejalNews #86: TestFlight for a new Dejal app!

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Welcome

This is DejalNews, an occasional newsletter from Dejal.

Want to get this newsletter in your inbox? Sign up on the Dejal site.

Get on the TestFlight for a new Dejal app

Today is my birthday; my present to you is a new app!

I’ve previously mentioned that I’ve been working on a new app for the last several months, around other work. It is now ready for a private TestFlight beta release.

I’m not going to announce the app name or features publicly just yet, but I’ll strongly hint that it is related to weather and calendars. If you live by your calendar, and are interested in weather, and perhaps if you travel a lot, you’ll want to check out this app.

The app will be available for macOS, iPadOS, iOS, and visionOS. It will require the current major versions of these OSes (i.e. Sonoma for macOS, iOS 17, etc).

Starting today, I’m seeking volunteers to help me test the app, to knock off any remaining rough edges. I would like to do a public release soon, depending on what issues come up during testing, but you can be one of the first people to try this new app.

To request to join the TestFlight, please contact me via the email you use with the App Store. Please indicate that you’re willing to provide feedback, you will keep the app confidential until I’ve publicly released it, and what platform(s) you’re interested in testing.

Time Out 2.9.7 released

In other news, I recently released Time Out versions 2.9.4 to 2.9.7.

These updates fixed a bunch of issues with the app. And helped reinforce the merits of beta testing!

– David

 

Time Out 2.9.7 released

What’s this? Yet another update of Time Out?!

This is getting ridiculous, but I think I’ve finally caught all of the issues with older macOS versions.

Why did this happen, you may wonder? It’s my own fault, of course. I’m working on version 3.0, which will require the latest macOS version. But it included a bunch of bug fixes, which I decided to bring forward to version 2.9.x, since some of them were affecting a bunch of people. But I had stripped out logic to check for API availability, since that wasn’t needed in version 3.0… and thus ended up including some function calls that were not supported by older macOS versions.

I’ve gone though all of the changes in these 2.9.x releases and checked the API availability, so I’m pretty sure that it’s good now. And a couple of customers on older OS versions have confirmed the app works properly now. Yay!

A couple of important lessons: beta testing is important (though that would have only caught these issues if at least one tester was on an older OS version; people who don’t upgrade their Macs tend to be less likely to test app updates too). And secondly, supporting older OS versions is risky, and perhaps not worthwhile, since the majority of people do use the latest release. Again, people who are happy to stay on an old macOS release are typically happy to stay on an old app release, too. (Of course, there are exceptions.) I typically require the latest OS version for a major upgrade, but I might consider adopting that policy for all updates. As an indie developer, I don’t have the ability to test updates on older OS versions, which makes supporting them somewhat difficult, for minimal benefit.

Anyway… version 2.9.7 again includes a critical fix for people on older macOS versions:

  • Fixed another crash on pre-Sonoma macOS versions. Sorry about that!

If you missed them, versions 2.9.6, 2.9.5, and 2.9.4 were released over the last week, and included several more fixes and tweaks:

  • Fixed a different crash on pre-Sonoma macOS versions.
  • Fixed the app launch helper unexpectedly opening Terminal on older macOS versions.
  • Fixed the settings window unexpectedly appearing after restarting the Mac, when the Dock icon is hidden.
  • Fixed misnaming the app in the sidebar when using a When Open app exclusion.
  • Fixed the Also skip breaks during focus exclusion option.
  • Fixed a break with a large negative duration when scheduling from the calendar with no more events.
  • Fixed the tooltip for the Ask When to Start scheduling option.
  • When there are multiple displays available, now uses the names of the displays in the menu.
  • Fixed the With Inactive Menubar option for multiple displays.
  • The other displays now fade out and back in correctly.
  • Fixed requesting full calendar access when using the calendar exclusion option (need full access to look for matching events).
  • Fixed the Skip button appearing when previewing a break if the end early option is enabled.
  • Fixed the option to alert of another copy of the app.
  • Added support for break-specific pause via a URL like timeout://break/micro/pause/30m, where micro is the break name, and 30m means pause for 30 minutes.
  • Also break-specific resume via a URL like timeout://break/micro/resume.
  • Fixed using a timeout://pause URL without an amount (to pause all breaks indefinitely) possibly crashing.
  • Fixed the settings window unexpectedly appearing when using a timeout:// URL.
  • Bonus: added the Sinclair Trails 2023 theme, with random timelapse clips of driving around the US.

Want to try it?

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

Similarly, if you are using the Setapp edition, it will handle that update for you.

If you are using the direct edition, you can use the Check for Updates feature in the app to update. (If it says you’re up-to-date with a previous version, turn off the Via SSL checkbox; CloudFlare caches the version state for a few hours.)

Otherwise, download Time Out 2.9.7 now!

Time Out 2.9.6 released

Let’s make it three: another update of Time Out, my popular break reminder tool.

When I did the recent 2.9.4 update, I figured I didn’t need to do a beta release, since it was just basic bug fixes. Oops… no, beta releases are useful even for bug fixes, since I can’t test on older OS versions, and sometimes Apple changes things that break apps, even apps for taking breaks.

Version 2.9.6 includes a critical fix for people on older macOS versions:

  • Fixed a crash on pre-Sonoma macOS versions. Sorry about that!

If you missed them, versions 2.9.5 and 2.9.4 were released a few days ago, and included several more fixes and tweaks:

  • Fixed the app launch helper unexpectedly opening Terminal on older macOS versions.
  • Fixed the settings window unexpectedly appearing after restarting the Mac, when the Dock icon is hidden.
  • Fixed misnaming the app in the sidebar when using a When Open app exclusion.
  • Fixed the Also skip breaks during focus exclusion option.
  • Fixed a break with a large negative duration when scheduling from the calendar with no more events.
  • Fixed the tooltip for the Ask When to Start scheduling option.
  • When there are multiple displays available, now uses the names of the displays in the menu.
  • Fixed the With Inactive Menubar option for multiple displays.
  • The other displays now fade out and back in correctly.
  • Fixed requesting full calendar access when using the calendar exclusion option (need full access to look for matching events).
  • Fixed the Skip button appearing when previewing a break if the end early option is enabled.
  • Fixed the option to alert of another copy of the app.
  • Added support for break-specific pause via a URL like timeout://break/micro/pause/30m, where micro is the break name, and 30m means pause for 30 minutes.
  • Also break-specific resume via a URL like timeout://break/micro/resume.
  • Fixed using a timeout://pause URL without an amount (to pause all breaks indefinitely) possibly crashing.
  • Fixed the settings window unexpectedly appearing when using a timeout:// URL.
  • Bonus: added the Sinclair Trails 2023 theme, with random timelapse clips of driving around the US.

Want to try it?

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

Similarly, if you are using the Setapp edition, it will handle that update for you.

If you are using the direct edition, you can use the Check for Updates feature in the app to update. (If it says you’re up-to-date with a previous version, turn off the Via SSL checkbox; CloudFlare caches the version state for a few hours.)

Otherwise, download Time Out 2.9.6 now!

Time Out 2.9.5 released

I’m a little embarrassed that I needed to do a second release, but here it is: another update of Time Out, my popular break reminder tool.

Version 2.9.5 includes a critical fix for people on older macOS versions, and properly fixes something I attempted to fix in the previous update:

  • Fixed the app launch helper unexpectedly opening Terminal on older macOS versions.
  • Fixed the settings window unexpectedly appearing after restarting the Mac, when the Dock icon is hidden.

If you missed it, version 2.9.4 was released a couple of days ago, which included several more fixes and tweaks:

  • Fixed misnaming the app in the sidebar when using a When Open app exclusion.
  • Fixed the Also skip breaks during focus exclusion option.
  • Fixed a break with a large negative duration when scheduling from the calendar with no more events.
  • Fixed the tooltip for the Ask When to Start scheduling option.
  • When there are multiple displays available, now uses the names of the displays in the menu.
  • Fixed the With Inactive Menubar option for multiple displays.
  • The other displays now fade out and back in correctly.
  • Fixed requesting full calendar access when using the calendar exclusion option (need full access to look for matching events).
  • Fixed the Skip button appearing when previewing a break if the end early option is enabled.
  • Fixed the option to alert of another copy of the app.
  • Added support for break-specific pause via a URL like timeout://break/micro/pause/30m, where micro is the break name, and 30m means pause for 30 minutes.
  • Also break-specific resume via a URL like timeout://break/micro/resume.
  • Fixed using a timeout://pause URL without an amount (to pause all breaks indefinitely) possibly crashing.
  • Fixed the settings window unexpectedly appearing when using a timeout:// URL.
  • Bonus: added the Sinclair Trails 2023 theme, with random timelapse clips of driving around the US.

Want to try it?

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

Similarly, if you are using the Setapp edition, it will handle that update for you.

If you are using the direct edition, you can use the Check for Updates feature in the app to update. (If it says you’re up-to-date with a previous version, turn off the Via SSL checkbox; CloudFlare caches the version state for a few hours.)

Otherwise, download Time Out 2.9.5 now!

Time Out 2.9.4 released

I’m pleased to announce an update of Time Out, my popular break reminder tool.

Version 2.9.4 includes some nice fixes and tweaks:

  • Fixed the settings window unexpectedly appearing after restarting the Mac, when the Dock icon is hidden.
  • Fixed misnaming the app in the sidebar when using a When Open app exclusion.
  • Fixed the Also skip breaks during focus exclusion option.
  • Fixed a break with a large negative duration when scheduling from the calendar with no more events.
  • Fixed the tooltip for the Ask When to Start scheduling option.
  • When there are multiple displays available, now uses the names of the displays in the menu.
  • Fixed the With Inactive Menubar option for multiple displays.
  • The other displays now fade out and back in correctly.
  • Fixed requesting full calendar access when using the calendar exclusion option (need full access to look for matching events).
  • Fixed the Skip button appearing when previewing a break if the end early option is enabled.
  • Fixed the option to alert of another copy of the app.
  • Added support for break-specific pause via a URL like timeout://break/micro/pause/30m, where micro is the break name, and 30m means pause for 30 minutes.
  • Also break-specific resume via a URL like timeout://break/micro/resume.
  • Fixed using a timeout://pause URL without an amount (to pause all breaks indefinitely) possibly crashing.
  • Fixed the settings window unexpectedly appearing when using a timeout:// URL.
  • Bonus: added the Sinclair Trails 2023 theme, with random timelapse clips of driving around the US.

Want to try it?

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

Similarly, if you are using the Setapp edition, it will handle that update for you.

If you are using the direct edition, you can use the Check for Updates feature in the app to update. (If it says you’re up-to-date with version 2.9.2, turn off the Via SSL checkbox; CloudFlare seems to be caching the version state.)

Otherwise, download Time Out 2.9.4 now!

DejalNews #85: Time Out and Simon in BundleHunt, Time Out is 20, Mac is 40, and Time Out tips

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Welcome

This is DejalNews, an occasional newsletter from Dejal.

Want to get this newsletter in your inbox? Sign up on the Dejal site.

Time Out and Simon in BundleHunt

It’s been years since I participated in an app bundle, so I thought it was time. Both Time Out and Simon are included in the BundleHunt New Year Bundle, a collection of significantly discounted Mac apps, available now for a limited time:

BundleHunt

Even if you already have Time Out and/or Simon, you can include them in the bundle to renew your support of Time Out, or upgrade to the latest version of Simon. Tell your friends!

Time Out is 20 years old

I recently marked a major milestone for Time Out, my popular break reminder tool: it turned two decades old last year.

I celebrated the occasion with a bunch of pictures of the old app icon, the old website, and app screenshots. Check out that blog post to relive or discover the ancient history of this app. It has changed quite a lot over the years, and yet the core functionality is still very recognizable.

Dejal year in review: 2023

Every year I publish a blog post reviewing the app updates over the past year, how things went, and what to look forward to in the coming year. Check out the year in review post for 2023.

I’m excited for my new app that is nearing completion. Look out for an announcement of a TestFlight soon, probably in the next newsletter — if you’re not already, subscribe to be amongst the first to try this new app! It will be available for macOS, iOS, iPadOS, and visionOS.

Time Out tips

If you missed them, I published four blog posts with tips and tidbits for Time Out:

Happy 40th Anniversary, Mac!

Finally, I also published a retrospective of the first Mac I used (the original 128K Mac), the first Mac I owned (the Mac Plus), and other early Macs, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the introduction of the Mac.

– David

Happy 40th Anniversary, Mac!

[This is an updated repost from the 25th and 30th anniversaries.]

It’s the 40th anniversary of the introduction of the first Macintosh.

I first used a Mac back in high school in New Zealand, where I volunteered as head student librarian. The school had mostly Apple IIe computers, but bought one of the newfangled Macintosh computers in 1984. It was an original 128K Mac, with a single internal floppy drive. Back then, the OS, an application, and data fit on a single 400K disk. We used MacWrite for letters and other documents, MacPaint for occasional graphics, and the OverVUE database for some records… though not a full book catalog.

I bought my first Mac four years later while at university, in 1988. It was a Macintosh Plus, one of the new platinum-colored models. And I even had a second 800K floppy drive:

Mac Plus

Later, I added an external hard drive (I think it was 10 MB, though I could be wrong), a modem, and a mageno-optical drive:

Mac Plus

Those were the days… working on a 9-inch 512 x 342 pixel monochrome display… which is actually not much more than the original iPhone screen resolution, to give some perspective.

Later I bought a Macintosh II, which I subsequently upgraded internally to be a Macintosh IIx. Then I used a number of other models provided by a Dejal client.

When my wife and I got married, Apple gave us a PowerBook 150 as a wedding present, since we had met while using Macs with the fledgling internet. Our wedding was covered on local TV news and newspapers. Yep, meeting over the internet was a novel concept back then:

PowerBook 150 and other Mac

Just before we moved to the US, we bought a clamshell iBook G3, then later an iMac G4:

iBook G3 and iMac G4

Over time, I had a PowerMac G5, a 17″ MacBook Pro, and a 27” iMac, and others. I’m currently using an M1 Pro-powered MacBook Pro.

All in all, it’s been a great 40 years. I’ve enjoyed using and owning the various Macs over this time, and developing software for them since 1988, and supporting myself as a Mac developer since 1991. I look forward to many more years. Happy birthday, Mac!

How can I send an email or text message when a break is due or done?

I recently had an interesting customer request. They wanted to send an email or text message when a break was due, in case they were away from their Mac.

So I added a couple of new scripts to the Time Out Extras page.

The first one is called Send Email, which as you might imagine, sends an email message. Download it here.

Here’s the script; after downloading it, you’ll need to edit it to replace the two instances of example@example.com with your email address; you can customize the subject and content of the message as desired:

tell application "Mail"
	set my_message to make new outgoing message
	set subject of my_message to "Time Out break"
	set content of my_message to "Time for a break...."
	set sender of my_message to "example@example.com"
	--
	tell my_message
		make new to recipient at end of to recipients with properties {name:"example@example.com"}
	end tell
	--
	send my_message
end tell

The second script is called Send Message, which you may be amazed to learn sends a text message (via iMessage, Apple’s “blue bubble” messaging protocol). Download it here.

Here’s the script; after downloading it, you’ll need to edit it to replace the example@example.com with your iCloud email address or phone number; you can customize the message as desired:

tell application "Messages"
	set targetBuddy to "example@example.com"
	set targetService to id of 1st account whose service type = iMessage
	set textMessage to "Time for a break!"
	set theBuddy to participant targetBuddy of account id targetService
	send textMessage to theBuddy
end tell

To install the scripts, open the Time Out settings window, select a break, and go to the Break Actions page, then click the + button and choose the Reveal Scripts menu command:

Break Actions menu

Then drag the script files into that revealed folder. Then they will appear in that menu so you can choose one of them.

As always, you can choose to use these scripts before the break is due, when it starts, or when it is done, amongst other options. If you have a long break that you spend away from your Mac, a message when it is done could be very useful:

Send Email after done

If you want to send a message when a break is due, note that if you’re away from your Mac, by default the breaks are skipped, so it won’t send the messages. You can avoid that by choosing to Continue Countdown on the Break Schedule page:

Contine Countdown schedule option

As previously mentioned, I plan to write an iOS edition of Time Out, probably later this year. Once that’s done, you’ll be able to get notified of breaks on your iPhone, even when away from your Mac. But these scripts may be useful in the meantime. Enjoy!

Sinclair Trails 2023 theme for Time Out

I’ve just added a new Time Out theme for your enjoyment: a fast timelapse of driving our Tiffin Allegro Bus motorhome throughout 2023. This combines all of the motorhome travel timelapses for 2023 into one video, at 20x the speed of the original timelapse videos.

You can download this theme from the Time Out Extras page, and follow the instructions on that page to add it to Time Out.

As you may know, my wife and I travel the US in a 40-foot motorhome. We typically drive about two to six hours between campsites. I record each drive of the RV on a dash cam, and post a much shorter timelapse video of the journey. I’ve recently started adding a view from the truck being towed behind our coach, as a picture-in-picture, too.

This theme will start playing from a random point in the video each time it is used. A great way to have some ever-changing scenery during your breaks.

You can see the full 40-minute video on the Sinclair Trails YouTube channel — and I’d appreciate it if everyone reading this would subscribe to this channel, as it still has very few subscribers. It’s free!

Thumbnail

Dejal year in review: 2023

As we start a new year, let’s review what happened with the Dejal apps in 2023:

Time Out icon Time Out

My popular break reminder tool, Time Out, only had a bug-fix update in 2023, to version 2.9.2. But a lot of thought was put into the big 3.0 update, including planning to add syncing of break settings, adding an iOS app, and offering an auto-renewing subscription option; see issue #84 the DejalNews newsletter for details. The app also hit a major milestone, turning 20 years old in 2023.

Simon icon Simon

My pro app to monitor websites and servers for changes and failures, Simon, also had a bug-fix update, to version 5.1.1.

Pack icon Pack

Pack, a simple iPhone app to make it easy to pack for trips, didn’t have any updates in 2023. Now that I take my home with me when I travel, I rarely need to pack suitcases anymore, so I’m unlikely to update it again. It remains a product in my lineup.

Date Stamp icon Date Stamp

Date Stamp, an iMessage app to provide customizable date stamp stickers, also didn’t have any changes. Since few people seem to use iMessage stickers anymore, I’m unlikely to update this either, but will continue to offer it for as long as it keeps working.

Date Stamp icon New Apps

I also have another couple of new apps in various stages of development. More about those below.

Consulting

Dejal also develops macOS and iOS apps for other companies, under the banner of Dejal Consulting.

SheetPlanner icon SheetPlanner

SheetPlanner is a pro-level outliner, planner, todo, calendar, and more. I spent 2023 working on an iPad edition of the app, plus work on a new kanban board view in version 4.0. The Board view update was released in 2023, and the iPad app is progressing well, and should be available in early 2024.

NewsBlur icon NewsBlur

I have also continued to work on the iOS client for NewsBlur, a popular RSS reader. It recently had a big update that added a handy grid view.

I am currently fully booked up for the next several months at least, but am always interested in talking with potential new clients. If you have a macOS or iOS project you’d like help with (or a custom Simon enhancement), check out my consulting page for more information.

So how’d 2023 go?

It was a relatively quiet year for updates of Time Out and Simon, with a bunch of behind-the-scenes work, but not many releases. It feels like the majority of my time was spent on my consulting projects, but I also spent a lot of Dejal time on developing a new app.

What’s next for 2024?

What’s in store for 2024? As mentioned, I’m working on a new app; when not working on my consulting projects, I am concentrating on this new app. It is almost ready for release; I could have released it already, but decided to wait till the new year. Make sure you subscribe to the DejalNews newsletter to get notified when it is available for a TestFlight or general release.

I also will do a Time Out 2.9.3 update early in 2024, to address a few issues that have been bothering some people.

After that, I’ll get back to work on Time Out 3.0. I’m also keen work on the other new app I have in the works, but I want to get Time Out 3.0 out first.

On the personal side, my wife and I will continue to explore the country in our motorhome, and blog about it at Sinclair Trails, and post travel timelapses on the YouTube channel (please subscribe!). I hope you’ll follow along there.

Thank you

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