Time Out 2.6b1 released

Another release this week: this time a beta of my handy break reminder Mac app, Time Out.

Version 2.6b1 adds a much-requested option for fixed-time breaks, plus better support for blink reminders by enabling zero-length breaks, and having breaks that occur every few seconds. Plus other enhancements and fixes.

Here are the deets:

Fixed-time breaks

  • Added a From pop-up menu to the Break Schedule page. It includes options for Last Due, Last Done, and Fixed Time.
  • Last Due is what previously happened, and the default.
  • Last Done will reset the break after it is completed, so the next break will occur the frequency interval after that. For example, a 10 minute break every 30 minutes will next occur 30 minutes after the break finishes, instead of 30 minutes after it starts (as with the Last Due option).
  • Fixed Time will display a field to enter the number of minutes past the hour (0 - 59), and will start the break at that time, or some multiple if the frequency is less than an hour. For example, setting it to 50 for an hourly break will start the break at 09:50, 10:50, 11:50, etc. Or setting it to 15 for a break every 30 minutes will start it at 09:15, 09:45, 10:15, 10:45, etc (you may need to also use the Available option to set a start time in this situation).
  • The latter two are new rewards for current or future supporters; others can try them for an hour at a time.

Break Schedule now supports smaller duration and frequency

  • Can now configure a break to last zero seconds, to avoid showing the control panel at all.
  • When the duration is zero, the Appearance page is disabled, since it doesn't apply. Use Actions like Flash Screen or Display Notification instead.
  • Can also now use seconds as a frequency unit, i.e. have the break occur as often as once per second, if desired (though not recommended!).
  • Both options can be useful for a 10 second blink reminder that just flashes the screen.

Other changes

  • Added the Random Word theme, contributed by Michelle Lim.
  • The Activity dates are now in the correct order, instead of sometimes jumbled up.
  • Fixed row heights sometimes being wrong in the status popover.
  • Improved the error message when purchasing is unavailable.
  • Updated the help.


  • The app hasn't been tested on Catalina betas yet, but will be before general release; please let me know of any issues you notice.

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!

SheetPlanner 1.1 released

Another of my consulting projects, SheetPlanner, has also recently had a big update, to version 1.1.

SheetPlanner is a powerful macOS app that combines an outliner, todo, project timeline, calendar, notes, links, and more. This update includes dependency features, new progress and symbol column types, auto-enter options, and many more great enhancements.

SheetPlanner window

Get the app and start a free trial via the Mac App Store.

SheetPlanner is now also available via Setapp.

Or learn more about the changes in this update.

NewsBlur 9 released

NewsBlur for iOS version 9 is now available on the App Store.

NewsBlur is a popular RSS service, and the iOS app enables reading stories from the convenience of your iPhone or iPad.

This update includes full screen, autoscroll, customizable story titles, story change highlighter, and return to last read story, among other improvements.

Go to the App Store to get the app, or read the official NewsBlur blog post for more information on this update.

(NewsBlur for iOS is a Dejal consulting project.)

DejalNews #77: Pack 2, WWDC, forums phasing out

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DejalNews 2019-06, issue #77


This is DejalNews, an occasional newsletter from Dejal.

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Pack 2.0

I announced a month ago the release of Pack 2.0, my handy trip packing tool for iPhone. I also mentioned that it is now available completely free; there isn't any up-front or in-app purchase. So there's no reason not to try it! Read the announcement for details.


I'm back from San Jose, where I attended AltConf to watch the WWDC keynotes, and went to a bunch of meetups and evening live podcast shows. It was great to see many other developers, Time Out customers, and others.

Like many people, I'm excited by several of the announcements. SwiftUI was perhaps the most exciting thing, since it'll likely be the future of Apple's platforms, though still needs a bunch of work before a lot of people will be able to adopt it. I certainly will embrace it when I can.

The tools to bring iOS apps to the Mac, known as "Project Catalyst", formerly called "Marzipan", is also interesting. While it won't affect my Mac apps, it could be useful if I wanted to bring Pack to the Mac (for some reason), or other projects.

As a user, macOS Catalina, iOS 13, and other updates include many welcome changes. I haven't installed an iOS beta yet (and probably won't for a while, unless needed for development), but have Catalina on my laptop (not my primary Mac), and while it's very buggy, it does have some good stuff.

I'm also still recovering from WWDC-crud, coughing up a storm. Sometimes no matter how careful I am, just can't avoid it.

Dejal forums are being phased out

I locked down Dejal site account signups several months ago, due to spam abuse, and offered to manually add people. But the forums are on their way out; my suggestion is now to search the site, and if you don't find an answer, contact me directly if you need assistance. I'm sorry if this is inconvenient.

The forums were a good idea at the time, but have never had very high volumes, as almost everyone prefers to receive private and personal help. And the attacks from spammers trying to post on the site makes it untenable to continue offering them. I will leave the forum content there for now, but in due course when I next overhaul the site, I'll remove them. I also want to improve the FAQs and support pages to offset that.

Thanks for reading!

- David

Heading to San Jose for WWDC week

I will be in San Jose next week, during WWDC. I won't actually be attending WWDC itself, but will be at AltConf and other events that week:

If you see me around San Jose, please feel most welcome to say hi. I am an introvert, so other people coming up to me to introduce themselves makes it easier for me! But one of the main reasons for being there is to network with other macOS and iOS developers, and others in our industry.

I will be wearing one of several Dejal shirt designs, plus may be wearing a Dejal cap. And my long beard is fairly distinctive:

David wearing Dejal shirt & cap

I will give out business cards with my contact details and apps, plus Dejal and Time Out stickers:

Dejal business cards and stickers

And if you'll be there too, perhaps try using my free packing app, Dejal Pack, to make sure you don't miss anything when packing your suitcase. Recently rewritten as version 2! Did I mention that it's free?

I hope to see you there!

Pack 2.0 released

I'm pleased to announce version 2.0 of Pack, my simple trip packing app for iPhone.

And best of all, Pack is now totally free for everyone! It no longer has an in-app purchase to unlock features; everything is available.

Want to get it right now? Download Pack from the App Store. Read on for details.

The app has been completely rewritten from the ground up, using the latest Swift development tools, to provide a solid foundation for future enhancements. But if you used version 1, don't worry, it still loads your existing list.

The basic design philosophy is unchanged: a single list of all things you might want to take on a trip, from which you choose what to take, then flip over to cross things off as you pack. No need to make new trip lists, add extraneous information like weights or quantities, or ugly graphics. Just what you need.

You'll start with the choosing view, but are probably more interested in the packing view. Here it is:

Pack screenshot

I've enhanced crossing items off, including a subtle haptic feedback. And improved the sharing feature to work better with more apps, and include the packed state as a leading checkmark, or unpacked as a dash, among other changes.

Tap the eye icon to reveal new Packing Options, to control how to display the packing list, including by item name, by tag, or by person, and whether to show all items, only unpacked ones, or put the packed ones at the end, after the unpacked ones:

Pack screenshot

Flip over to the Choose Items view to pick what to pack:

Pack screenshot

You can add or edit items:

Pack screenshot

Other than a modernized UI, including support for the X-style iPhones, a big enhancement is to replace categories with tags, so you can now assign items to multiple tags, e.g. "Cold" and "Clothing":

Pack screenshot

As before, you can assign items to multiple people, so they show up separately for each person. This used to be a paid feature, but can now be enjoyed for free:

Pack screenshot

Like with the Packing view, the Choosing view also has some Choosing Options, with the same arrangement options, the ability to show only packed or unpacked, or all items, and buttons to select or deselect all items, and mark the items as packed or unpacked:

Pack screenshot

Why free?

So why did I spend all that time rewriting the app, only to release it for free?

My wife and I travel a few times each year, and use Pack before each trip to ensure we don't leave anything we need behind. But I use an iPhone XS Max currently, and the old version wasn't optimized for that. I could have updated it, but the code was rather old and crusty, using old technologies that I don't prefer nowadays. It was also a little unstable in some situations. I prefer writing apps in Swift now, and Pack is a fairly small app, so I decided to rewrite it to address those issues and make it much more modern.

So why free? I am primarily a Mac developer, though certainly have iOS apps, and do consulting on iOS apps (e.g. NewsBlur), but Pack has never been a big earner for me. I originally wrote it for my own use, and actually used it for quite some time before releasing it. I released version 1 for free, with an in-app purchase to unlock premium features, but most people were satisfied with the free features, if they stuck with the app. That was fine with me. I definitely wanted to continue supporting the app, if only for my own use, but didn't think it was worthwhile to continue trying to monetize it.

It's actually quite nice releasing it for free; it takes some of the pressure off me. And of course now more people can enjoy it, too, without having to worry about paying for it.

I will of course continue to use it for every trip, and have plans for several enhancements I want to make in future versions, while keeping the overall design simple and easy to use.

And now the watch has ended

It's not all improvements. One casualty of the rewrite is that I didn't re-implement the Apple Watch app. The old one was built for an early version of watchOS, before it was called watchOS, when it was just a remote view of the iPhone app. It would have had to be rewritten from scratch, and since I didn't tend to use it myself, I decided not to take that time. Sorry if you did use it; please let me know if so. I might re-implement it in a future version, if there's demand, though no promises.

Want to try it?

Again, Pack 2 is completely free! So download it from the App Store and try it before your next trip.

Please rate & review

If you do try it, please do me a favor and write a review for it. The old version had some 1-star reviews due to old issues, but I'd like to get some more positive ones there, to encourage people to give it a try. Pack has long been an indispensable app for me, and I'm sure others will find it useful too.

Thank you,

Pack 2 TestFlight

Pack, my simple packing list iPhone app, has (finally) been updated for the latest iPhone models. It has been rewritten from the ground up to modernize the UI and the code.

Here's what's changed:

  • Pack is now totally free for everyone!
  • A complete rewrite of the app in the latest Swift tools, and including a solid foundation for future enhancements.
  • Still loads the version 1 data.
  • Replaced the categories with tags, so you can now assign items to multiple tags, e.g. "Cold" and "Clothing".
  • New View Options to control how to display the Choosing and Packing lists.
  • Now doesn't show tags and people when arranging by those, since that's redundant.
  • Enhanced crossing items off the Packing list, including haptic feedback.
  • Improved the sharing feature to work better with more apps, and include the packed state as a leading checkmark, or unpacked as a dash.
  • Removed the Apple Watch app. Sorry if you used it; it was built for an early version of watchOS, and would have to be rewritten from scratch.

Want to help test it?

Join the TestFlight!

DejalNews #76: Time Out tip & WWDC

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DejalNews 2019-03, issue #76


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 tip: Dock icon and status item

A recent Dejal blog post included a discussion of the options to hide the Dock icon and show the status item. Wonder what would happen if there's no Dock icon and no status item? Read that post to find out!


Apple has opened up registrations for WWDC in 2019, as you've probably seen. For the first time in over a decade, I've put my name in to attend. Last year I was in town, but not at WWDC (by choice), but this year will be an exciting one for the Mac (and iOS), so I thought it would be worthwhile to attend the big show. Here's hoping I'm selected in their ticket lottery! Even if I'm not, I plan to be in San Jose again this year.

Auto-renewing Time Out supporter option?

Not many people voted in the poll in last month's newsletter, so I thought I'd include a link to it again. Would you like and use an option to automatically renew your supporter status?

Please vote in the poll if you haven't already.

- David

Time Out tip: Dock icon and status item

Time Out has several handy options, some of them only available to current or past supporters, as a reward for helping improve the app.

One such option is the ability to hide the app icon from the Dock. By default, the icon is shown there, for easy access, but if you want Time Out to operate more in the background, you can choose to remove the icon.

If you do so, the second option is automatically turned on: the checkbox to show a status item on the right-hand side of the menubar. This item has further options to choose what to include there.

General preferences

The status item can optionally include a variation of the app icon, the label color of the next break, or neither:

General preferences

It can also include a countdown to the next break, either in a compact form like "7m" for 7 minutes, or a wider form like "07:32", for 7 minutes and 32 seconds. In the compact form, it only shows seconds when less than a minute. That's my favorite form, to attract attention when getting close to a break.

Alternatively, the value can show the time when the next break is due, or will finish, or how long it is. Or no value, just an icon:

General preferences

There's a further checkbox to only show long breaks in the status item, i.e. don't show ones with a duration of less than a minute.

A further useful tip about the status item is that if you hover over it, a tooltip will appear that lists when the upcoming breaks are next due:

General preferences

When the Dock icon is shown, clicking the status item will bring Time Out to the front, to show the preferences window. When the Dock icon is hidden, clicking it will display a menu-like popover of the sidebar, for quick background access to the breaks and options. Clicking one will expand to the full window.

You may wonder what happens if you hide both the Dock icon and the status item. The window will display a warning message:

General preferences

As the message says, if you do this, you can still access the preferences window, though it's a bit harder. You would need to find Time Out in your Applications folder and double-click it to make it active. Since the Dock is hidden, it won't show a menu bar, so there isn't a visual indication that it is active, but you can press ⌘, (i.e. Command and Comma together), which is the keyboard shortcut for the Preferences window, to show it.

Some people like doing this, to discourage changing settings, but most people should show either the Dock icon or status item, or both.

DejalNews #75: Time Out tips & supporter poll

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DejalNews 2019-02, issue #75


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 tips

So far I've been sticking to my goal of a Dejal blog post each week. No idea if I can keep it up, but I want to try.

Following the previous DejalNews newsletter, a couple of weeks ago I posted a Time Out tip to help with dry eyes, and last week I posted about making your own lifetime supporter option. Check out those posts if you missed them.

Auto-renewing Time Out supporter option?

Speaking of the Time Out supporter options, there's something I've been considering for a while. As you may know, currently the 3-, 6-, and 12-month supporter options are one-time payments; they don't automatically renew. Which is fine for many people, who either only want to buy once, or want to choose when to renew. But lots of customers do renew their support when it expires, which I greatly appreciate.

So I was wondering if people would like and use an option to automatically renew their supporter status. To be clear, this would be completely optional, in addition to the current non-renewing choices.

I've created a poll to ask about this option.

I know this newsletter doesn't have a huge readership (since I removed the old subscribers rather than risk anyone thinking it spam), but I would really appreciate it if everyone who reads this would vote on this poll. Thank you.

- David

Time Out tip: lifetime supporter?

In ye olde days, software was sold once, for what would be considered nowadays to be a high price, and every year or so the developer would release a major paid upgrade, typically charging about half of the original price.

I still do this for Simon, my pro tool to monitor websites and servers for changes or failures, since that model is still common for pro apps. Though it is also available on Setapp, as part of a subscription along with hundreds of other apps.

But for Time Out, my popular break reminder app, I wanted to try something different. I introduced a "supporter" model, where people can get the main features completely free, but be rewarded for supporting ongoing development with extra features.

Unlike old-school purchases, the supporter purchases are much cheaper, only a few bucks, and for a specific period of time, 3, 6, or 12 months. The extra features can be tried for an hour at a time, or are unlocked permanently with any supporter level. The "catch", such as it is, is that when I update the app, I may add new features that are only available to current supporters, so if your support has expired, you won't get those features unless you renew your support. Of course, you can try them, to help decide if you want to renew.

That seems really fair to me; you can have breaks for free, or get extra features cheaply, and if you like my improvements, you can help pay for their development. Or continue using the older features forever without paying more.

Win/win — you get a useful app that is regularly improved, and I get to eat. I also don't have to hold back major features for a big paid upgrade; I can add things whenever desired.

Even so, I occasionally get people asking about a lifetime purchase option. I don't currently offer that, since I feel it would be detrimental to the long-term survival of the app. However, you can effectively make your own lifetime option, by purchasing multiple 12-month supporter statuses. Each one you purchase will extend your supporter status by a year. So if you envision using Time Out for the next 5 years, purchasing 5 times will extend your support that long. Or whatever duration you want to use.

Of course, it’s worth reiterating that you don't have to pay more than once if you don't want to. You can become a supporter at whatever level you feel comfortable with, and not pay again unless you want to show your appreciation (kinda like a tip jar). After your supporter status expires, all of the advanced features that you had when you were a supporter will remain available permanently. You’d only need to renew if I add new features in the future that you want to use.

Time Out tip: dry eye blink reminders

People use Time Out for lots of reasons; to avoid RSI, to get regular exercise, to avoid sore eyes, to remember to eat regularly, to stop work at the end of the day, and more. But one use case that I've seen several people mentioning recently is to help with dry eyes.

A nice comment from one example:

" eyes are freakishly dry, way over-the-top compared to the average dry eye patient, and your app has allowed me to use my computer longer without killing my eyes. I can't thank you enough for making it!!"

People who experience dry eyes can sometimes find that blinking more frequently can help keep the eyes lubricated. That can be hard to remember when focused on work, though. Time Out's default Micro break can help with that, but some people prefer even more frequent reminders.

Time Out breaks can currently be configured to occur as much as once per minute, which is a lot for a typical break, but by making the break only last one second, and configuring the other Schedule settings to avoid skipping or delaying it, the break can be a very brief reminder without being too disruptive:

Time Out schedule page

In the next version of Time Out, I am considering enabling using frequency units of seconds, instead of minutes (and hours, etc). It is currently limited to a minimum of 1 minute, as that seemed like a reasonable minimum, but a very quick break like this every few seconds does have merit. But read on for a way this can be achieved even now.

The Appearance options can be set to avoid fading the screen via the None theme, with zero fade-in and fade-out times (set the fade times before changing the theme):

Time Out appearance page

A great way to very quickly remind yourself to blink is to flash the screen. This can be done via the Flash Screen action. The color and duration of the flash can be tweaked as desired.

And if once per minute isn't enough, you can add as many as you want on the Actions page, spaced out by setting the offset After Start, like this to have it flash every 10 seconds:

Time Out actions page

I hope this is helpful to people suffering from dry eye, or anyone wanting more frequent reminders.

DejalNews #74: It's back!

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DejalNews 2019-01, issue #74


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.

DejalNews is back!

The previous issue of DejalNews was a bit over a year ago. I didn't intend to take a year off publishing these newsletters, but sometimes things just happen. I want to get back on that horse, so hopefully will resume publishing a newsletter each month. Usually they will cover recent releases and news, but I've got a bit of catching up to do this time.

Simon 4.3.1, Time Out 2.5

Since it's been a while since the previous newsletter, I should mention the updates to my main two apps, Dejal Simon version 4.3.1, and Time Out version 2.5. If you missed them, take a look at the release notes or blog for what changed.

Introducing SheetPlanner

An exciting new Mac app was introduced recently: SheetPlanner. This app was written by me as a consulting project. It is a pro-level outliner, planner, todo, calendar, and more.

Version 1.0 of this app was well-received, and we're working on some great enhancements for version 1.1 and beyond. Check it out!

Summary blog posts

A great resource to catch up with or review what happened in the past year are my traditional end-of-year blog posts:

Personal blogs

But wait, there's more! Blogs, that is. Perhaps one reason for the hiatus of newsletters is that I've been publishing a lot more on my personal blogs, fulfilling that creative outlet. If you want to learn a bit more about the man behind the apps, my non-Dejal projects and interests, check out my other blogs:

  • Dejus is my personal blog, where I post a photo every day, and other short tweet-like comments. If you follow one blog, this the the one; everything gets linked from here.
  • Yellow Cottage Homestead is a blog that has longer posts about goings on around the homestead of my wife and I, featuring a weekly #Caturday post with pictures of the feral cats we care for, plus our chickens, bees, building projects, and other homestead topics. If you want to see what I build when not building apps, this is the place.

- David

#10YearChallenge: Time Out

There's a recent meme going around called #10YearChallenge, where people post pictures (often of themselves) from 2009 and 2019.

While I usually don't bother with memes, I thought it'd be fun to look at Time Out from 2009 vs 2019.

Here's what a Time Out break looked like back in 2009, plus you can see the old app icon during the break (no other themes!):

Time Out 2009 break screenshot

Vs 2019:

Time Out 2019 break screenshot

The Timer preferences in 2009:

Time Out 2009 timer screenshot

Vs the Schedule prefs in 2019:

Time Out 2019 schedule screenshot

The Appearance prefs in 2009:

Time Out 2009 appearance screenshot

Vs 2019:

Time Out 2009 appearance screenshot

Things can certainly change quite a bit in a decade!

Looking ahead: 2019

Last week I published my annual Dejal year in review post for 2018. This week, let's look ahead for what's in store for 2019.

I am currently working on a complete rewrite of Pack, my simple packing list app. It was originally written in Objective-C, using some legacy techniques and technologies, but I decided to rewrite it from scratch using Swift and modern approaches. It's usually not a good idea to rewrite working code, but this app is small enough, and the code crusty enough, that I deemed it worthwhile. I use this app every time I travel, so I'm keen to keep it fresh and current, and add some great new features... hopefully including iCloud syncing, though we'll see how that goes.

Next up I will start on Time Out version 2.6, with a number of enhancements planned, and several more queued up for future versions. If you have any requests for 2.6 or later, now would be a great time to get in touch.

Fun fact: this week Time Out is the top featured app in the Mac App Store, with a great feature story. (That link will take you to the story in the App Store on a Mac or iOS device.)

I also have a couple of new apps in various states of planning or prototyping; one for macOS, another for iOS. Handy tools to scratch my own itch, which can sometime be a great way to work on an app, though not necessarily a key to commercial success. I hope to get to one or both of those later in the year.

And let's not forget Simon; I have some big enhancements planned for its next release, too.

On the consulting side, I'm continuing to work on SheetPlanner, NewsBlur, and other client projects this year, with some great new releases coming up.

I've noticed that the Dejal blog was a bit neglected last year, with relatively few posts, and I haven't done a DejalNews newsletter for a while, so I want to get back into those; I've set a goal to do one post per week, and one newsletter per month, so please hold me to that! I also want to do some improvements to the website this year. (I guess I satisfied my blogging needs with my personal and homestead blogs, but I don't want to ignore the Dejal one too.)

In terms of conferences, last year I attended AltConf in San Jose and Swift by Northwest in Portland. This year I'm considering entering the lottery for WWDC, since it'll likely have a strong Mac focus, but plan to attend AltConf again if I don't get in. I'd also like to attend other conferences, to be determined.

It's going to be another busy year!

Dejal year in review: 2018

Happy New Year!

As we start a new year, let's review what happened with the Dejal apps in 2018:

My pro app to monitor websites and servers for changes and failures, Simon, had a couple of updates in 2018, to version 4.3.1, including Mojave dark mode, meta refresh options, pause improvements, refinements to services and filters, and more. It continues to be sold both directly and as one of the foundation apps in the popular Setapp subscription service.
My popular break reminder tool, Time Out, had two significant updates in 2018, including version 2.4, adding a useful statistics chart, options to disable buttons for a few seconds, scheduling enhancements, and other improvements, and version 2.5, which included Mojave dark mode, day-of-week availability options, and other improvements. It continues to be available both directly and via the Mac App Store, where it was recently picked as an app they love, and regularly ranked #1 in the Health & Fitness category.
Pack, a simple iPhone app to make it easy to pack for trips, didn't have any updates in 2018, but I am working on a big update (more below). I use it for every trip, and have a number of improvements planned. Try it for your next trip!
Date Stamp, an iMessage app to provide customizable date stamp stickers, was updated to version 1.0.1. It may or may not be updated again, but works really well as-is. The iMessage store didn't have a very good start, but is more visible in recent iOS releases. Tell your friends if you like this.
Chicken GIFs is a sticker pack featuring many fun animated GIFs of my chickens, which can be used as reactions in messages. It may or may not get any future updates, but is fun as-is.


Dejal also produces macOS and iOS apps for other companies, under the banner of Dejal Consulting. (I do wonder if I should split it into a separate company... but it's been fine for nearly 30 years.)

The big news in 2018 was the release of SheetPlanner, a pro-level outliner, planner, todo, calendar, and more. I'm really proud of how this app turned out, and it has been fairly popular on the Mac App Store already. I'm continuing to work on this app, so stay tuned for some great enhancements throughout the year.
I have also resumed working on the iOS client for NewsBlur, a popular RSS reader, with many great enhancements in version 8, and more to come.
I'm also currently working on a macOS project for another client, that I can't mention yet. More about that in the future.

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.

Thank you

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

Featured blog posts of 2018

My blog posts often just cover new releases, but sometimes I post general-interest or developer-interest topics. Some highlights from 2018 included:

I hope you enjoyed these posts.

Introducing SheetPlanner for Mac

I'm pleased to announce the release of a new macOS app: SheetPlanner. This is a powerful new app that combines an outliner, todo, spreadsheet, timeline, calendar, and more, enabling you to easily plan projects, manage tasks, organize information, and many other uses.

It includes support for multiple types of columns, inline notes and links, sorting, an option to focus on a subset of rows, flexible smart filter options, styles, dark mode, and many more features, yet is very simple to get started.

SheetPlanner was written by me over the past 18 months or so, as a Dejal consulting project for SheetPlanner Software LLC.

SheetPlanner planning document screenshot

Start by picking one of the pre-made templates, or an empty document:

Template chooser screenshot

Configure columns, the theme, and other options in the Inspector:

SheetPlanner theme screenshot

You can show any combination of the Outline, Timeline, Month, Year, and Inspector views, in horizontal or vertical orientation:

Vertical orientation screenshot

Show a month view to see dates on a calendar:

Month view screenshot

And/or a year view for a heat map of tasks:

Year view screenshot

Include inline notes and/or attachments:

Inspector screenshot

Customize powerful filters to show only matching rows:

Editing a filter screenshot

Or edit the preferences:

Preferences screenshot

Try it now!

SheetPlanner is available as a free download, and includes a free three-week full-featured trial. The app can be purchased for just $49.99, or continue with a free read-only mode if you're not ready to buy.

Visit the SheetPlanner website to learn more, or download from the Mac App Store to try it for yourself!

Time Out tips: lunchtime & night breaks

On Twitter, Abbey Jackson asked:

Sure! Here's the Schedule page for my Time Out preferences, showing my Lunchtime break configuration:

Lunchtime schedule screenshot

There are two important steps to do this: firstly, set the frequency to Every 1 day, and secondly, use the Available options to set a fixed start time of noon. In my example, I have this break only occur on weekdays. I also have the natural break option set to Continue Countdown, since I want the break to start immediately, not get pushed back due to idle time.

Didn't realize that you can set daily breaks? Yep! Click, arrow, or tab to the units of the duration ("Break for") and frequency ("Every") fields to change between various units: seconds, minutes, hours for the duration, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years for the frequency.

As a bonus, here's my Night break, that tells me to go to bed:

Night schedule screenshot

This is similar, but a longer duration. And yes, I go to bed rather early, as I usually get up at 05:30 (but don't get to my Mac till after breakfast).

Hope this helps!

Time Out 2.5 released

I'm pleased to announce the general release of version 2.5 of Time Out, my popular break reminder tool.

The most obvious change in version 2.5 is dark mode support on Mojave (macOS 10.14):

Mojave dark mode schedule screenshot

Isn't that pretty?

In addition to Mojave compatibility, this update also includes a new option on the Break Schedule page of the preferences to choose which days of the week a break is available. Eagle-eyed people may have noticed it in the above screenshot:

Mojave dark mode schedule screenshot

Using this option, you could indicate that breaks should only occur on weekdays, as above, or only Fridays, or any other combination. The days of the week can combine with a time range, or apply all day on the indicated days. This new feature is available as a reward for current supporters, or you can try it as often as you like, for an hour at a time.

(Don't worry, the first day of the week will respect your System Preferences; if you consider that the week starts on Sunday, for example, that'll be first in the control.)

Another new supporter option is on the Advanced preferences page: the ability to disable the app switcher, force quit, and shut down panels during a break:

Mojave dark mode advanced screenshot

Most people probably don't need this, but if you need a little extra encouragement to avoid skipping breaks, this might be helpful, when combined with existing options to disable the postpone and skip buttons.

There are of course a number of other enhancements and fixes. I recommend everyone update to this version.

Here are the full release notes:

Mojave dark mode and compatibility

  • All of the app content has been updated to support dark mode on macOS 10.14.
  • Built for Mojave (macOS 10.14), but still compatible back to Yosemite (10.10).

New option to choose which days of the week a break is available

  • Renamed the Break Schedule Available options to "Every Day" and "Between", and added a new "All Day" option.
  • The latter two now include buttons for the days of the week, enabling days to be toggled off or on, to indicate on which days to use the break.
  • The difference between them is that "All Day" doesn't have the time fields, and "Between" does.
  • This new feature could be useful to have breaks that are only used on weekends, or working days, or Wednesdays and Fridays, or any other combination.
  • This new option 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, or try for an hour at a time.

New option to disable the app switcher, force quit, and shut down panels during a break

  • Added a checkbox on the Advanced page to disable the panels that appear when switching apps via Cmd-Tab, force quit via Cmd-Option-Escape, and sleep, restart, or shut down via Ctrl-Eject (or Ctrl-Power). Defaults off.
  • This new option is also available as a reward for current supporters.

Other changes

  • Can now manually postpone a break for longer than the frequency interval.
  • Fixed playing a sound for the Display Notification break action.
  • Fixed a scheduler issue where a lower priority break may be skipped if a higher priority break has never been done.
  • Removed the Fabric crash reporter, to avoid sending unnecessary data to a third party.

Want to try it?

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 2.5 now!

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