simon

Simon tip: watching the Yellowstone gate cam

Here's a fun example of using Simon for a purpose that may not be entirely obvious.

My wife and I have a big trip to Yellowstone National Park coming up soon, so I've been curious about what the traffic is like to get into the park.

Conveniently, Yellowstone has a number of webcams that watch the park, including the west entrance gate, where we'll be entering.

So I thought I could leverage Simon to help me watch it over time — rather than keeping the web page open and watching it throughout the day, I can have Simon capture the webcam images to a local folder, then review at my convenience.

To find the URL of the webcam image, I used Safari's web inspector:

Web inspector

Then I added a custom service to Simon to download the webcam images to a folder:

Simon service

That uses the curl command line tool to download the image and save to a local folder; the `date -v+1H +%Y%m%d%H%M%S` part of the path outputs the date and time in the format YYMMDDHHMMSS, adding one hour from my local time zone, since Yellowstone is an hour ahead of me.

To schedule the captures, I added a test in Simon that checks once per minute, using that service. No filters or notifiers needed.

That results in a folder in the Finder with files like this:

Finder folder

I can arrow through them to quickly view them. And I can also do other things, like use the excellent Retrobatch app to convert them to a GIF:

Retrobatch workflow

Here's a resulting GIF, showing the traffic flow from 06:00 to 18:00 yesterday (the GIF is 61 MB, despite being scaled, so might take a moment to load); each frame of the GIF represents one minute, six frames per second:

GIF of captured images

That seems typical; it gets really busy around 06:30, and eases off around 12:30 every day. So a tip for Yellowstone visitors; enter in the afternoon! Of course, that really only works if you're staying in the park, since it takes ages to get anywhere in the park. It's a big place.

Simon 5.0.1 released

Here's a bug fix update of Simon, to version 5.0.1.

Please Note

  • Simon 5 is a paid upgrade from Simon 4 or earlier.
  • See the What's New in Simon page to learn more, including details of the many improvements in Simon 5.

Changes

  • If there are a lot of tests, the loading panel now shows the progress.
  • Fixed tests getting stuck in the "queued" state.
  • Fixed a crasher when a test has an invalid notifier.
  • Fixed a crasher when copying the data folder readme files in some localizations.
  • Localization updates.

Want to try it?

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.

Otherwise, download Simon 5 now!

Simon 5.0.1b1 released

Here's a beta bug fix update of Simon, to version 5.0.1b1.

Please Note

  • Simon 5 is a paid upgrade from Simon 4 or earlier.
  • See the What's New in Simon page to learn more, including details of the many improvements in Simon 5.

Changes

  • If there are a lot of tests, the loading panel now shows the progress.
  • Fixed tests getting stuck in the "queued" state.
  • Fixed a crasher when a test has an invalid notifier.
  • Fixed a crasher when copying the data folder readme files in some localizations.
  • Localization updates.

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 the beta now!

DejalNews #82: Time Out 2.8 and Simon 5.0 released

DejalNews header

DejalNews 2021-06, issue #82

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 2.8.1

Time Out version 2.8 was recently released, with a quick 2.8.1 update for one issue.

This update features several great enhancements, including a new option to end a break early, the ability to postpone breaks instead of skip them with app exclusions, support for Do Not Disturb for exclusions, a choice to show the time since the last break in the status item (instead of a countdown to the next one), support controlling the app via URL schemes, a new LCD Digital Clock theme, and much more.

Read the blog post for more information on Time Out 2.8.

Simon 5.0

A major upgrade to Simon, my website and server monitoring tool, is now also available. 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, a new Speak Error notifier, a completely new app icon, and more improvements.

Note that Simon 5 is a paid upgrade. Anyone who buys now or since September 1, 2020 will automatically get version 5.

Read the Simon 5.0 blog post to see the new icon, screenshots, and more information about the many improvements.

Ducklings!

As a bonus for reading this newsletter, check out some recent posts on my homestead blog about some new ducklings that just hatched. So cute!

- David

Simon 5.0 released

I'm pleased to announce the general release of a major upgrade of my website and server monitoring app for macOS: Simon version 5.0.

Simon 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, Find filter improvements, a Server Result filter, an iMessage notifier, Speak Error notifier, and much more.

Please Note

  • Simon 5 requires a minimum of macOS 10.12 (Sierra).
  • Simon 5 is a paid upgrade from Simon 4 or earlier.
  • Purchasers since September 1, 2020 have already received a version 5 license (that also works in previous versions).
  • The Simon License Agreement now allows sharing a license between multiple computers that you own. Each person in an organization still needs their own license.

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.

Simon icon

  • 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.
  • Improved compatibility.

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.

Test options

  • 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.

Test notifiers

  • 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.

Sync preferences

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).

Services, filters, and notifiers now organized into groups and recents

  • On upgrade, the built-in services, filters, and notifiers will be moved into new groups, to better organize them.
  • Any that you've already put in groups won't be moved, and any you have added also won't be touched.
  • To avoid overwhelming you with options, the Test Editor pop-up menus on the Service, Filters, and Notifiers pages by default now only list items that are in active use, or recently added.
  • That includes items that are used in the test being edited, any un-paused tests, or added in the past week.
  • There is a new Show All Services (or Filters or Notifiers) item at the bottom of those menus to show all, organized by groups. That toggles to Show Recent Services to go back to the compact menu.

Filters menu

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.

Simon Status test

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).

Link Checker filter

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.

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.

Find regular expression

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.

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.

Sound notifier improvements

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

Plus other service, filter, and notifier changes

  • Fixed importing some malformed AppleScripts in the Script editor.
  • Fixed the service, filter, etc kinds not being listed in alphabetic order.
  • Fixed an issue where adding the default Block filter to a test might not be used.
  • Renamed the Change filter as Any Change, to make it more clear what it's for: to detect any change that occurs in the input.
  • 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.
  • The File > Check Now menu item is now disabled for the Filters page, since it doesn't do anything there.
  • Fixed trying a notifier (File > Notify Now) not working when the Preview is displayed.
  • Tweaked the Preview placeholder messages for services, filters, and notifiers.

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.

Removed some services and notifiers that are no longer supported

  • Removed the Calendar notifier, as it used obsolete technology.
  • 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 Mount service, as it used obsolete macOS features and would need significant changes to update.
  • 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 Specific DNS service, as it used obsolete macOS features and would need significant changes to update.
  • Removed the Twitter notifier, as it hasn't been supported by macOS for a few years.
  • Let me know if you used any of these; I could consider rewriting them with modern APIs if there's sufficient demand.

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 for beta releases, and can be shown for general releases by holding down the Control, Option, and Command keys on app launch.

Debug menu

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.
  • If a service is not available, e.g. is no longer supported, the service list now displays "unavailable", and the test editor now displays a similar message.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The contents of groups in the lists are now sorted properly.
  • Fixed some summary labels being enabled when showing a group, where they don't apply.
  • Fixed the status icon and Details column in the Activity log not containing the correct values.
  • Fixed a layout issue where list contents could be too narrow.
  • Fixed some crashers.
  • Improved character encoding of report templates to work better with non-ASCII characters.
  • Many localization updates.
  • Improved dark mode support.
  • Fixed the format of the Spotlight keywords.
  • Updated for Big Sur (macOS 11) and Catalina (macOS 10.15), but still compatible back to Sierra (10.12).

Want to try it?

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.

Otherwise, download Simon 5 now!

Simon 5.0b15 released

Here is another beta release of Simon, my website and server monitoring app for macOS. It is now feature-complete; the latest few updates have basically just been for the localizers.

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 a beta release, with significant changes. It should be safe to use now; it isn't likely to change too significantly before the general release.
  • Please help me test it, to ensure a quality general release.
  • 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 automatically get a version 5 license (that also works in previous versions); no upgrade needed.

Changes

  • Renamed the Change filter as Any Change, to make it more clear what it's for: to detect any change that occurs in the input.
  • Fixed the status icon and Details column in the Activity log not containing the correct values.
  • If a service is not available, e.g. is no longer supported, the service list now displays "unavailable", and the test editor now displays a similar message.
  • Several more changes for localization updates.

Want to try it?

It's getting nearer to general release, with no further features being added now, so I welcome more testing at this time.

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 5.0b14 released

Here is another beta release of Simon, my website and server monitoring app for macOS. It is now feature-complete; the latest few updates have basically just been for the localizers.

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 a beta release, with significant changes. It should be safe to use now; it isn't likely to change too significantly before the general release.
  • Please help me test it, to ensure a quality general release.
  • 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 automatically get a version 5 license (that also works in previous versions); no upgrade needed.

Changes

  • Fixed an issue where adding the default Block filter to a test might not be used.
  • Several more changes for localization updates.

Want to try it?

It's getting nearer to general release, with no further features being added now, so I welcome more testing at this time.

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 5.0b13 released

Here is another beta release of Simon, my website and server monitoring app for macOS. It is now feature-complete; the latest few updates have basically just been for the localizers.

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 a beta release, with significant changes. It should be safe to use now; it isn't likely to change too significantly before the general release.
  • Please help me test it, to ensure a quality general release.
  • 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 automatically get a version 5 license (that also works in previous versions); no upgrade needed.

Changes

  • Several more changes for localization updates.

Want to try it?

It's getting nearer to general release, with no further features being added now, so I welcome more testing at this time.

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 5.0b12 released

Here is another beta release of Simon, my website and server monitoring app for macOS. It is now feature-complete; the latest few updates have basically just been for the localizers.

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 a beta release, with significant changes. It should be safe to use now; it isn't likely to change too significantly before the general release.
  • Please help me test it, to ensure a quality general release.
  • 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 automatically get a version 5 license (that also works in previous versions); no upgrade needed.

Changes

  • Several more changes for localization updates.

Want to try it?

It's getting nearer to general release, with no further features being added now, so I welcome more testing at this time.

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 5.0b11 released

Here is another beta release of Simon, my website and server monitoring app for macOS. It is now feature-complete; the latest few updates have basically just been for the localizers.

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 a beta release, with significant changes. It should be safe to use now; it isn't likely to change too significantly before the general release.
  • Please help me test it, to ensure a quality general release.
  • 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 automatically get a version 5 license (that also works in previous versions); no upgrade needed.

Changes

  • Several more changes for localization updates.

Want to try it?

It's getting nearer to general release, with no further features being added now, so I welcome more testing at this time.

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 5.0b10 released

Here is another beta release of Simon, my website and server monitoring app for macOS. It is now feature-complete; the latest few updates have basically just been for the localizers.

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 a beta release, with significant changes. It should be safe to use now; it isn't likely to change too significantly before the general release.
  • Please help me test it, to ensure a quality general release.
  • 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 automatically get a version 5 license (that also works in previous versions); no upgrade needed.

Changes

  • Several more changes for localization updates.

Want to try it?

It's getting nearer to general release, with no further features being added now, so I welcome more testing at this time.

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 5.0b9 released

Here is another beta release of Simon, my website and server monitoring app for macOS. It is now feature-complete; the latest few updates have basically just been for the localizers.

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 a beta release, with significant changes. It should be safe to use now; it isn't likely to change too significantly before the general release.
  • Please help me test it, to ensure a quality general release.
  • 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 automatically get a version 5 license (that also works in previous versions); no upgrade needed.

Changes

  • Several more changes for localization updates.
  • Fixed rare crasher.

Want to try it?

It's getting nearer to general release, with no further features being added now, so I welcome more testing at this time.

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 5.0b8 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 a beta release, with significant changes. It should be safe to use now; it isn't likely to change too significantly before the general release.
  • Please help me test it, to ensure a quality general release.
  • 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 automatically get a version 5 license (that also works in previous versions); no upgrade needed.

Changes

  • Several changes for localization updates.
  • Removed the Mount and Specific DNS services, as they used obsolete macOS features and would need significant changes to update. If you used them, please let me know!

Want to try it?

It's getting nearer to general release, with no further features being added now, so I welcome more testing at this time.

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 5.0b7 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 a beta release, with significant changes. It should be safe to use now; it isn't likely to change too significantly before the general release.
  • Please help me test it, to ensure a quality general release.
  • 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 automatically get a version 5 license (that also works in previous versions); no upgrade needed.

Changes

  • Several changes for localization updates.
  • Updated the Simon License Agreement to allow sharing a license between multiple computers that you own, so you only need to buy one copy of Simon for each Mac you sync under your iCloud account. Each person in an organization still needs their own license.
  • Plus other tweaks.

Want to try it?

It's getting nearer to general release, with no further features being added now, so I welcome more testing at this time.

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 5.0b6 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 a beta release, with significant changes. It should be safe to use now; it isn't likely to change too significantly before the general release.
  • Please help me test it, to ensure a quality general release.
  • 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 automatically get a version 5 license (that also works in previous versions); no upgrade needed.

Services, filters, and notifiers now organized into groups and recents

  • On upgrade, the built-in services, filters, and notifiers will be moved into new groups, to better organize them.
  • Any that you've already put in groups won't be moved, and any you have added also won't be touched.
  • To avoid overwhelming you with options, the Test Editor pop-up menus on the Service, Filters, and Notifiers pages by default now only list items that are in active use, or recently added.
  • That includes items that are used in the test being edited, any un-paused tests, or added in the past week.
  • There is a new Show All Services (or Filter/Notifiers) item at the bottom of those menus to show all, organized by groups. That toggles to Show Recent Services to go back to the compact menu.

Other changes

  • Several changes for localization updates and dark mode improvements.
  • Plus other tweaks.

Want to try it?

It's getting nearer to general release, so I welcome more testing at this time.

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 5.0b5 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!

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