On blogs

Matt Gemmell:

Instead of a blog, let your site be a site. Or a journal. An online anthology. Your collected works. Your essays, to date. Your body of writing. A blog is a non-thing; it’s the refusal to categorise what you produce, and an implicit opt-in to the disappointing default.

Instead of posts, you have articles. Pieces. Essays. Stories. Poems. Briefs. Tutorials. White papers. Analyses. Even thoughts, if you like. Actual works, crafted and presented for the reader, instead of just being punctured by a push-pin, and affixed to a bulletin board, beside lost dog, and roommate wanted.

Instead of posting, you’re publishing. If you were a blogger, maybe you’re a journalist.

Instead of blogging, you’re writing.

Try those words on for size. See how they feel.

Matt's article on his disdain of the terminology surrounding blogging is an absolute must-read. I know I needed it. As I've alluded to recently, I've been wallowing in a lot of doubt as a writer. Matt's words were a great reminder to keep writing.

I remember very distinctly a few years ago when I decided I wanted this site to be more than a blog. When I traded blog in the navigation for articles. When I started calling myself a writer.

My readership is not fantastically large. But it isn't insignificant, either. But the number of eyeballs reading these words does not detract from the value of my words. I greatly value the time you take to read this site, dear reader, but to be frank, I'm not necessarily writing for you. I'm mostly writing for me.

I encourage you to read all of Matt's article. It is excellent. He is a very gifted writer. And finally, I want to leave you today with a final quote from his passage, one you should jot down in a notebook, or Evernote, or wherever you keep quotes to look back and reflect upon.

Language is a surgical tool in the right hands, and a blunt instrument otherwise.

Exclusive Apple Watch Sport band colors

When it comes to the Sport band for Apple Watch, there's only a few color to choose from. The standard white and black, and then very bright pink, blue, and green. That's it. None are ugly, but the three bright colors are very sporty.

My wife is a navy blue kind of girl, and she frowned when she saw there wasn't a navy blue sport band. And then Jony Ive goes and shows off some exclusive Sport band colors in Milan, and there it is…navy blue.

I showed the photo to my wife and she said, "I hope that's available for version 2."

Your move, Apple.

¶ Welcome to Full City Press

Here it is. The new chapter of my writing. Full City Press. For years, I've written about tech — primarily Apple — and it's been incredibly fun. Over the past year, however, I started to feel like I was in an echo chamber, and just murmuring the same thoughts as everyone else writing about Apple. And it burned me out to where I stopped writing publicly.

Writing is something I must do. It's almost a compulsion. If I don't put words to page every now and then, a negative effect takes root in just about every part of my life. Over the past months where I couldn't bring myself to write one more word on this site about technology, Day One became my rescue. There I could write freely about any topic. But I longed to share that here.

The former name of this site, techese, became a mental barrier for me. It just didn't feel right to write about non-tech stuff here under that name. So I did some soul searching and came up with a new name. Full City is a degree of coffee roasting (it's delicious, by the way). And Press has dual meaning as I press coffee each day, and also the link to writing. It's a perfect name for my future endeavors as a writer.

Writing about technology is still going to happen. It is too large a part of my life for it to not happen. But I'm going to take the liberty to write about any topic I choose. So let's grab a cup of coffee and get to writing again.

¶ Brewing Something New

Lately my creativity & drive for writing on this site has suffered.

I've felt like I am standing in an echo chamber. This site has been focused on tech and tech alone for its entirety. It's even in the name. And the name somewhat holds me back when I've considered broadening the scope of topics I write about here. I know this is my site and I can write whatever I want, no matter the name. But it still gives me pause (for all the wrong reasons).

I'll still write about tech, as it is a huge part of my life, but I'm done being confined to it. I'm branching out to new topics — observations and opinions about things such as productivity, leadership, growing relationships, service, family life, and even my faith. I am not a professional on any of those subjects but I want to exercise mental muscle of creativity by exploring topics I find occupying my mind.

It's time for change. I came up with a new name, registered the dot-com & snagged a twitter name, and hired a designer for a snazzy logo. Now it is time to push some pixels around on this site and flip some switches for the new hotness.

With this fresh start for the site I'm giving myself permission to write the way my heart wants to write. To venture into topics which strain my comfort level and hopefully allow me to grow as a writer.

No matter how you follow the site, everything will redirect just fine. You should not need to adjust your RSS reader, re-follow on Twitter, or anything like that. And of course, all the previous content from over the years will remain.

While I have loved the name techese it has been mentally holding me back. Say hello to Full City Press, brewing now, and being served up soon.

¶ Last Minute Watch Thoughts

I've posted very little — if anything — about the Apple Watch. I'm pretty excited for it as I can see some areas it would be useful for me. Admittedly, I hadn't really considered the Watch much until two things happened in the past few months.

  1. My parents bought me a Seiko 5 Automatic watch for Christmas (thanks Mom & Dad!).
  2. I lost my Fitbit One.

I hadn't really worn a watch since around 2004 when I started using a laptop as my main computer. At the time, the watch strap on the watch I wore dug into my wrist as my wrist rested on the laptop while typing. I was in college at the time, and was typing pretty much most of the day every day.

The strap on the Seiko 5 is fabric, and I don't have this problem. It's a simple watch, and I've loved wearing it. I could go on more, but I'll save that for a future article.

Losing my Fitbit has been the biggest impact. Yes, I could go buy another Fitbit. But for kicks and giggles I started using the M8 motion coprocessor in my iPhone 6 to track steps. All this gets recorded into Apple's Health app, which fascinates me. However I am mainly using Pedometer++ to visualize the data. I also still have the Fitbit app tying into the M8 with its MobileTrack function, and I also tied in the Nike+ Fuel app to it to complement my Nike+ Running app.

The experiment with the iPhone 6 for step tracking has been great. And adding the Apple Watch to that as an additional set of sensors for that ecosystem is very enticing.

But I also had a couple thoughts this morning of What If… that would make the Watch even more compelling.

Security

What if the Apple Watch could be used a token of sorts to unlock your Mac when you are near it and lock it when you walk away. I like to think this would work much like how the Watch will work with Apple Pay.

For Apple Pay, you must have the Watch in contact with your skin, and authenticate it with your iPhone. Break the skin contact, and a re-auth will be required.

What if you also had your Watch paired to your Mac, and have to log in with your password once on the Mac to authenticate, and then the Watch serves as a proximity token as long as skin contact is maintained.

It's just a little thought, but I can see that being yet another compelling selling point for the Apple Watch.

Paper by FiftyThree makes tools free

Paper by FiftyThree is a lovely drawing and sketching app for the iPad. I like to dabble in it now and then, and my son loves it (when he remembers anything besides Minion Rush exists on an iPad).

For a good long while, Paper has had basic tools for free, and an expanded toolset for an in-app purchase. Now this free app has made its tools completely free, as well. I immediately wondered how they are making money, but then I remembered Studio Neat's little experiement.

Studio Neat took an app that wasn't seeing much for sales, made it free, and put an ad in it for their own smartphone tripod mount, the Glif. Let software sell hardware. It's what Apple itself does, right?

It just so happens that FiftyThree makes a stylus named the Pencil. And it was handcrafted for use with Paper. Maybe this is the way to let the software sell the hardware.

As I said, Paper is a wonderful app. If you like to doodle, sketch, or even make artistic masterpeices, and you have an iPad, then I highly recommend grabbing it.

And hey, maybe check out the Pencil, as well. I know I'm thinking about it a little more.

Now you can get your same Verizon data plan cheaper

If you have Verizon, you'll want to check and see if you can take advantage of their new data prices today. Many of the pricing tiers dropped by $10.

Verizon isn't automatically giving existing customers the new pricing, but you can go into your account settings and select the same data plan for the cheaper price, and it will start on your next billing cycle.

$10 a month may not seem like much, but that's $120 per year. I can think of a few good uses for $120 to go to.

1Password 5.2 for iOS & 5.1 for Mac

Speaking of app updates, today we at AgileBits released a couple awesome updates for iOS and Mac today.

1Password 5.2 for iOS brought home the awesomesauce by adding a nifty Login Creator to help build Login items properly. It also added a Time-based One-Time Password (TOTP) feature for Pro owners helping strengthen up security for sites that offer. Two-step verification is a great thing and 1Password is aiming to make it easy to use and understand.

1Password 5.1 for Mac focuses on sync — both behind the scenes and on stage. A lot of code was optimized to make sync the best it has ever been (iOS benefitted from this in shared code, as well) and the Sync interface in Preferences has been completely re-done to make setting up sync as easy as selecting a vault and choosing a service from a drop down list.

Both updates are free to existing owners of 1Password 5 on the respective platforms. Everyone on the team poured a lot of effort into these releases, so if you see any of us on Twitter, be sure to send an emoji high-five.

Twitterrific 5.9 — The Photography Update

Twitterrific is an app that is near and dear to my heart, as I have been using since day one of being on Twitter (nearly 7 years!). Over the years I have developed a wonderful friendship with some of the folks at The Iconfactory. As such, I've been a beta tester for a good long while, and the 5.9 update has been particularly difficult to keep quiet as I've just wanted to scream about its awesomeness from the mountains.

Yeah yeah, there aren't mountains in the Great Plains, so maybe just a small hill. I digress.

I love photos. Twitterrific 5.9 is all about photos. You can now add mutliple photos (up to 4) using Twitter's photo service, and you can view photos (even multiple photos) from just about any service you can link to. Best of all, Instagram photos now load in Twitterrific's photo viewer without having to load the mobile site.

Videos also get a nice treatment with an improved viewer with playback controls, as well as animated GIFs. My colleagues at work and I basically live off GIFs, so this is extremely welcome.

Twitterrific 5.9 is a free update in the App Store, and it really is the most delightful Twitter app out there. If you love simplicity without sacrificing features, you need to get acquainted with Twitterrific.

Be sure to check out The Iconfactory's feature overview video for Twitterrific 5.9, and either leave or update a review on the App Store.

Apple's Lost Functional High Ground

Marco Arment:

Apple’s hardware today is amazing — it has never been better. But the software quality has taken such a nosedive in the last few years that I’m deeply concerned for its future.

[…]

The problem seems to be quite simple: they’re doing too much, with unrealistic deadlines.

We don’t need major OS releases every year. We don’t need each OS release to have a huge list of new features. We need our computers, phones, and tablets to work well first so we can enjoy new features released at a healthy, gradual, sustainable pace.

Apple's (lack of) software quality has been a consistent topic with my team at work, with my techie friends in town, and even with many friends who are not what I would call technology focused. That latter group should scare the crap out of Apple.

Those are the folks where the phrase “it just works” sounded like magic. And they believed the magic because save for a few things, it was magic. But now everyone sees the reality behind the tricks. The mystery is gone.

We're carrying around a drowned magician in the world's most exquisite glass case.