Draft Review

Recently I started to work more on a variety of devices including a Chromebook and this meant my Mac only writing applications needs to be cross platform. I started to look around and found something I liked in Draft. Draft is a simple, clean distraction free Markdown editor in your browser that also supports something none of my previous writing apps have – Direct posting to WordPress.

Yes that is right I can write on Draft in Markdown and with the click of a button have my work sent to my WordPress site as HTML and published for me. I have looked at applications that promised this type of stuff before however they all fall short as they try to do too many things.

I don’t want to manage my website from the application just write be content and post it. Now of cause Draft is not perfect, far from it. While it does allow me to write in Markdown and preview the output I would like it to fade the Markdown syntax as IA Writer and Ulysses do. This just makes the document easier to read in the editor.

Some other nice features would be sentences and paragraph highlighting as well as a typewriter mode that keeps the text I am writing in the middle of the screen. These are the only features I miss when moving over from IA Writer.

As a free web application Draft is a great solution and I would highly recommend it to anyone however as soon as I can be more stationary and get back to working from my office full time I have to say I will be back on IA Writer.

Apple Magic Keyboard Review

Yesterday after the kid split water on my old Apple Wireless Keyboard I was forced to go and buy the new Apple Magic Keyboard. Something I wasn’t interested in when it first came out. I have been typing on the older keyboard for many years and I loved it. So how am I finding the new keyboard.

Well in a word, flat. The new Magic Keyboard doesn’t have the same stance and angle of the older wireless keyboard. Something I am still getting used to. It feels like my fingers have to travel further and I have to move my hands more when typing.

Ok so lets back up a little. Setting up the keyboard is a doodle, simply plugin in it with the included Lightening Cable and turn it on. That is it, everything is paired and working. To my surprise you don’t even have to be logged in to your mac for this. My Mac had gone to sleep and was asking me to unlock it with my password when I connected to the keyboard for the first time. I was expecting to have problems because of this but nope it just worked.

When I first started to type the keys where naturally where I expected them to be and I had no problems hitting the right keys and not real slow down in typing speeds. As mentioned earlier the keyboard has a flatter profile and is closer to a Macbook in style. Something I am used to on my Laptop but always preferred to type longer form content on my iMac. The keys are firm, they don’t wobble when pressed and they have a good amount of travel when you press them down. This might just be because it is new and hasn’t collected years of dirt under the keys, yet, but the keys do seem loader when typing away at full speed.

Overall, the keyboard is very well built and is a good improvement over the old wireless keyboard. The differences are something you get used to very quickly and then start to like after a short while. In my case I got used to the keyboard in around 30 minutes but I do write a blog of content for a living so it make take you a little longer to get used to a keyboard if you don’t write in excess of 1000 words an hour.

I have not purchased the Magic Trackpad yet as I don’t see a need for one, however, I can see my buying it shortly just to match the new profile of the keyboard.

Reeder 3

We all know about the demise of Google Reader arguably the best RSS reader of its day. Today I use Feedly to get my news via RSS and while it works nicely in the browser sometimes I like to have something with a little more power and integration with my Mac. Here comes Reeder 3.

Reeder 3 (Mac App Store) is a view on your Feedly (and other RSS catchers) in a beautiful Mac app with a lot of powerful features only found in Feedly Pro and some features that just don’t exist in web based RSS catchers. The simple yet powerful interface helps me plow through around 2,000 news items in a little over an hour saving stuff that looks interesting to Pocket and tweeting the stuff I quickly read right away.

There isn’t a great deal that can be said about the app. It’s quick, real quick, beautifully designed and packs a powerful set of keyboard shortcuts. The app itself isn’t cheap but worth every penny if your job requires you to be up to date on the latest industry news and events.

My RSS feeds can provide me a great source of inspiration for some of my writing although sadly most of that writing goes on my clients sites and not here.

Adobe CC: Is It Worth It?

I’ve finally given in and purchased a subscription to Adobe CC. For a long time, I refused to pay the monthly subscription and stuck it out with my trusty old copy of CS6. When El Capitan came around with its new Metal graphics engine and I saw what performance my good friend was getting on CC 2015 I realised what I was missing.

I downloaded the 30-day trial and took a full 30 days to test it out. In the end, I decided it was worth the £50 a month to have the latest versions. One of the big selling factors for me was the Creative Cloud sync – storing vector assets and colours in my online library where they will instantly show up on my MacBook when I needed them.

Before now I’ve always used Google Drive for syncing this data but having it right inside Photoshop when at a client’s office is beyond handy.

Now here is the big one. In the UK VAT mean the price is £50 when converted from dollars however if you happen to have a bank account elsewhere in the world you can purchase as the exchange rate with the mighty US dollar – saving me £20 a month on my membership.

The apps are updated regularly and add new features with almost every update. Adobe seems to be on top of things like OS compatibility with new releases of Mac OS an update will follow around a week later.

All taken into account I am very happy to give Adobe $50 a month for the products I use day in and day out and only wish I had left CS6 a long time ago.

Trakt.tv for tracking my collection

Now first off I have a large collection of TV and Movies and have spent many thousands of pounds building it. I am proud of my collection and having gaps is something I can not tolerate. I have started to use a service called Trakt.tv that keeps track of everything and makes it dead easy to find the missing pieces of the puzzle.

I’ve been using the service for a little over a month now and I am loving it. Not only can I track my collection but also what I have watched and what I want to watch. The latter is very useful for tracking new shows and movies I want to add to my collection as well as what I want to watch.

Trakt.tv also creates a personalized TV and Movie release calendar telling exactly when I need to go and book my cinema tickets then later in the year telling me the movie is not on DVD and Digital Download for me to go and get for my collection. To aid with this, you can watch something that is not in your collection.

In addition to all of this, it gives those on my family plan to see what has been added recently so they can go to iTunes and watch it.