Apple’s Copy Crush

Apple’s WWDC 2014 keynote revealed some cool new innovative features for Mac OS X and iOS. It also showed off several features that simply copied from products built on its platform. In an attempt to dazzle developers with the new features, Apple sent the message, “We will copy your features and crush your apps!”

The new Spotlight is a near clone of the Alfred App. I have been a big fan and supporter of Alfred App, but as more of Alfred’s features get built into the operating system itself, there may be less reason for me to use and promote Alfred. Sad.

Some of the new iOS Mail features ripped off concepts from Mailbox. Long swipe to delete and swipe for reminder actions are powerful Mailbox features. I believe Mailbox still holds an advantage because its reminder system is superior to the iOS Mail reminder. Mailbox lets you choose when to be reminded. Mail simply flags the message.

Does Apple do itself a disservice by competing with its own app market? Does this make app creators nervous? Or should app writers always assume this risk?

Building Mockups in Keynote

I recently discovered an awesome secret for quickly creating high fidelity product mockups. The secret is Keynote.


Apple’s Keynote is an amazingly powerful tool for quickly creating mockups that look really good. How did I discover this secret?

In the work that I’ve been doing with FamilySearch partners, I received a design completely built in Powerpoint. I was shocked when I clicked on one of the elements and found that the design was completely editable! All of the form elements, the graphics, the marketing copy, everything was native Powerpoint! That’s crazy! Why would you ever want to design products inside of Powerpoint when it is so inferior to all the other design tools out there? Adobe Illustrator is the tool that real professionals use, so why would anyone ever use Powerpoint? Ick!

Well, it turns out that almost everyone that works in an office knows how to use Powerpoint. This includes product managers, engineers, architects, designers, marketers, etc. Almost everyone in the office has Powerpoint installed on their computer—Mac or PC. Documents become very sharable, and if wording or another element on the page should be changed, anyone can change it. This is really powerful. The ability to step through a sequence of screens is also really powerful.

But wait! didn’t you start this post talking about Keynote? Why are you talking about Powerpoint? Well, most of what I’ve stated above is also true about Keynote. It is true that because Keynote is a Mac only product, it isn’t as globally available in the office place, but Keynote allows you to export your presentation into various other formats—including Powerpoint. Keynote is a much better product for laying out page design than Powerpoint.

If you would like to get started building mockups in Keynote (or Powerpoint), here are a few resources to help you get started.

Watch this Presentation! This is what finally convinced me to try this out. There are some really good tips and tricks for speeding up your workflow.

Another article talking about the power of Keynote.

Keynotopia provides standard UI elements for building mobile, desktop, and web applications. You can get the Bootstrap elements kit for free by paying with a tweet. I highly recommend getting the Bootstrap kit if you need to build web user experiences.

Keynote Kung-Fu is similar to Keynotopia in that it provides a bunch of templates for building your mockups.

Watch the Keynotopia Tutorials. Although the tutorial videos are from an older version of Keynote, the videos show how some good strategies for putting together your mockups.

A really large iPhoto library

My cute wife takes a ton of pictures and I’m glad she does because it is really fun to go back and replay events from our last 10 years of marriage. Our iPhoto library has grown to ~70,000 pictures, which is taking up about 350GB of storage on our hard drive. I don’t think iPhoto was built to handle a library that large, because now when we open up iPhoto, the entire machine grinds to a crawl. Here’s what I plan to do to fix this problem.

  1. Buy more RAM. Our iMac is a 2009 model that has only 4GB of RAM. I ran the Crucial System Scanner, which recommends that I can safely upgrade to 8GB of RAM. I think this will make a big difference, because right now the Activity Monitor shows high “memory pressure” when iPhoto is open.
  2. Buy another external drive. I’m not sure which kind, but if anyone else has good experience with any external drives, let me know. I’m considering buying a drive enclosure that would allow me to install a few hard drives and put into a RAID configuration. It would be preferable if it connected via the thunderbolt port, because this iMac only has USB 2.0 support, which is pretty slow.
  3. Upgrade to Aperture. After digging through a bunch of Apple forum threads, I’ve come to the conclusion that I really just need to buy Aperture. Aperture has all the features that I appreciate about iPhoto (iCloud, file system integration, etc.) but brings a bunch of new features that I could really use. It allows you to split your photo library into smaller chunks and to put those photo libraries on multiple drives. This should allow me to “archive” the old photos to the external drive(s) and keep the active library trim, which should allow me to not kill my system’s memory every time I open up photos.
  4. Remove multiple event shots. We usually take about 4 or 5 shots of memory we are wanting to capture. We do this because it is really difficult to capture just the right shot. We haven’t been diligent in removing the unwanted shots, so they have bloated our library. With 70k photos, I’m not sure this is really feasible. Perhaps we should at least do this with photos captured via our DSLR which take up a bunch of space.

I’m going to work through this in order of the items listed above. I think the RAM may cut some of the pain in the short-term. I believe the drives will be necessary for Aperture to really take advantage of splitting up the photo library. Maybe someone will develop an app to help with #4. Google claims to do this for you with its latest Android/Google+ stuff…

Alfred Custom Searches for Genealogists

Here are some of the Alfred custom searches I’ve set up for genealogy related things. To install these in Alfred, simply click on the links.

Using Mac Spaces

The first time I tried using Spaces on the Mac, it really didn’t click for me. I recently found myself frantically trying to keep up with everything at work and getting distracted mid-thought by other tasks, that I finally decided I needed to try something new.

I decided to give Spaces a try and really stick to it. Today was day 1 in this experiment. I enabled 4 spaces and have designated the spaces as follows:

Space 1: My primary workspace (browsers, text editor, Evernote, etc.)

Space 2: Misc. (haven’t figured this out yet)

Space 3: Communications Apps (Skype, Mail, iCal)

Space 4: Media (iTunes, iPhoto, Twitter)

I actually used the option to constrain those apps to the designated spaces. I use hotkeys to navigate between spaces and I believe it actually helped today. I’ll stick with this for a while and see how it works out for me. Stay tuned!

(Photo used under Creative Commons by Flickr user: mattbrett)

Switching to a MacBook

Yesterday, I got a nice and shiny new white MacBook. I eagerly tracked my order from China to Provo, and couldn’t wait to come home and fire it up.

So far my experience has been very good. I used a Mac for about a year and a half while working at BYU’s SAS Creative Marketing and came to really love Mac OS X. So, I’m not coming from a non-Mac user experience. Still, I’d never started from scratch with a brand new Mac.

The only real complication that I’ve experienced so far is that I was getting really slow response from my D-Link 524 wireless router. I finally fixed the problem by either running the updates, and changing a configuration on the WEP password. I don’t know which one fixed it, but it’s working really well now.

I’m not quite set up to the point that I can put away my Windows machine yet, but I’m getting there. The applications that I’ve installed so far include:

  • Adium – a messenger client that handles my MSN and Google Talk accounts
  • Skype – I can’t live without skype. It’s my favorite chat/voip client
  • Fugu – an visual SFTP application for file transfers
  • Firefox – I’m hooked on Firefox, although I’ll give Safari another look
  • Growl – a notifier that helps with alerting me of Adium messages
  • DarwinPorts – helps me get and compile Open Source applications and their dependencies with which I’ve installed RubyGems, MySQL5, and other web related applications
  • Eclipse – an IDE for writing applications in either Java, PHP, Ruby, etc. I’ll use this until I can get TextMate.

Still to come:

  • Parallels – A virtual machine application that will allow me to run Windows, Linux, etc. while running Mac OS X
  • TextMate – An awesome code editor for the Mac
  • Macromedia Studio – I have a Mac/Windows version of MX 2004 which I’ll be installing here
  • MS Office for Mac – I’m still deciding whether to do this, just run my Windows version from Parallels, or get an Open Office version.
  • Other cool applications from

I still like Mac OS X. I’m new to Tiger, so I don’t have any favorite Dashboard widgets yet. I’m still discovering cool new features that didn’t exit in Panther.

Anyone have a killer app that they can’t go without on the Mac?