CategoryJournalism

Ulysses gains WordPress publishing support, other features

I’ve mentioned that pretty much every word I write for Macworld and The Mac Observer is done on Ulysses — a terrific Mac and iOS app. I use it because of its great support for Markdown and for its excellent synching capabilities, as well as the clean, focused writing experience it provides.

With version 2.6, Ulysses gains the ability to publish directly to WordPress. According to the press release, “Bloggers will be able to publish their texts with just a few clicks or taps; no more exporting as HTML or Markdown, no cumbersome pasting to the WordPress backend. Bloggers can add tags, categories, excerpts and featured images, even schedule a publishing time, and preview their posts – all from within Ulysses.”

The new version also adds full support for Dropbox; the iOS version gets the “Quick Open” feature of the Mac app; and it introduces “Typewriter Mode” for an even more focuses writing environment.

Ulysses is a 2016 Apple Design Award winner. The update is free for all existing customers. The Mac app is available for $44.99 on the Mac App Store. The universal iOS version is available for $24.99 on the App Store.

For me, the update also fixed a crash-on-open bug with the macOS Sierra public beta.

SolarTab Review: A bright spot in outdoor charging solutions

Let’s get this out of the way right up front: The SolarTab is the best solution I’ve seen for using solar energy to charge your gear in the wild. The problem is, with the ubiquity of cheap, high-capacity external batteries, I’d pretty much written off solar chargers as obsolete. But more on that later.

A bright spot in solar charging

The SolarTab combines a high-capacity 13,000 mAh battery with a 5.5W, mono-crystalline silicon solar charger. The “mono” part is important. Older solar chargers use poly-crystalline panels—the ones with that fish scale look. Mono-crystalline chargers are much more efficient at turning light into energy.

The company says the SolarTab’s turns 21 percent of the sunlight it receives into energy; that’s right near the top of the charts for consumer-grade — even residential — panels. Commercial grade and “concentrator” panels have higher efficiency, but you wouldn’t want to carry them around, even if you could afford them.

It’s also the best packaged solar charger I’ve seen. You’d be forgiven for mistaking it for an iPad — its dimensions are almost identical, and in its protective case, it’s a dead ringer for one. This makes it a breeze to slip into a backpack or travel case — if you can fit your iPad, you can fit a SolarTab. It’s a sleek, slim alternative to the traditional canvas, foldable solar chargers that dominate the market.

Read the rest of this article on The Mac Observer.

On Macworld: Five iOS apps to make your next road trip smoother

My latest Macworld article talks about five free iOS apps that could help you out on your next road trip. It focuses on apps that help save you time, money and frustration on the road by making it easier to find things like gas stations, food stops and hotels.

It was a fun one to write, based on a lot of real world experience. It was also inspired by a family trip to bring my son to his first year of college, so naturally, he wants a cut.

The article is on the Macworld website — I hope you check it out.

Current C minus

Great catch from The Loop’s Dave Mark from Apple’s earnings call:

Remember the MCX Consortium, the competing transaction processing system from Walmart, et al? One of their high profile members is Best Buy. As a reminder, there was a lot of discussion when MCX started out about members being restricted from taking Apple Pay.

Now recall that Cook announced today that Best Buy is (present tense) accepting Apple Pay in its stores.

Mark calls it “a pretty solid crack in the consortium.” I’d say that’s a fair description.

‘Hanging by a thread’

I was a guest on the British Tech Network’s Mac Show this week, along with Chris Breen, Josh Centers, Adam Christianson and Host Ewen Rankin. We had a great time speculating on what Chris will do as he leaves Macworld for that “fruit-flavored technology company.” We also talked a lot about the Apple Watch, what Pebble’s Kickstarter project for its own smart watch means for consumer appetites, Apple’s March 9th event and other assorted nonsense.

As usual, it was a tremendous amount of fun with a great panel of smart, funny people. The Mac Show has a bright Chat Room as well, and they add a lot to the program. It’s worth listening to (and subscribing) whether you’re interested in hearing my ramblings or not.

The show can be found on the British Tech Network’s website.

It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy: Chris Breen leaves Macworld for Apple

Veteran Mac journalist and author Christopher Breen has left Macworld to join a “fruit-flavored tech company sandwiched between Santa Clara and Sunnyvale.”

Breen made the announcement on his personal blog, and confirmed it on Macworld.com.  “There are loads of reasons for the change, but blend them together and they add up to my desire to try something different before I don the large shorts and spend the bulk of my remaining days looking for my misplaced spectacles,” Breen wrote.

Chris has been a staple in Mac journalism for almost 30 years, and in that time earned a reputation as fair, honest, funny and smart. In addition to his work on Macworld, he’s authored several books, hosted innumerable podcasts and appeared on TV shows and user group meetings—all with a self-effacing, humble attitude that was as genuine as it seemed.

I’ve been a fan of Chris for more years than I can count, and have had the wonderful privilege of not only meeting him, but coming to count him as a dear friend, bandmate and colleague.

As a result of his new role, Chris will be retiring his tech persona. “I’ll be leaving the public stage as Chris Breen Technology Guy (though I may still pop up as Chris Breen Musician Guy at a saloon near you).”

As is typical of moves to that fruit-flavored tech company, Chris is mum about what his new role will entail. I can only hope that Apple knows what they have in Chris and that they take full advantage of his talents.

I couldn’t be happier for him and I wish him nothing but success in this new chapter of his life. It quite literally couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

Chuck La Tournous and Chris Breen to speak at NJMUG’s 30th Anniversary

I was honored to be invited to speak at the New Jersey Macintosh User Group’s (NJMUG) 30th Anniversary on Tuesday, October 21st. Macworld Senior Editor Chris Breen will be the featured speaker for the event.

My presentation will explore digital device security in the “new normal” of the post-Snowden era. Chris will take a look at the “Future of Apple.”

NJMUG has been helping people get the most out of their Apple devices since the age of the Macintosh 128K through the iPhone 6. The group will celebrate its 30th anniversary at a special meeting at the Meadowlands Quality Inn in Lyndhurst, NJ from 7-10 p.m. NJMUG organizers promise a “great night of eating, celebrating and reminiscing.” The group will also be raffling off “some goodies to those in attendance.”

The meeting is free to all NJMUG members; non-members may attend for a $5 admission fee, space permitting. More information is available on the group’s website.

The way we were: A look back at RandomMaccess’ first Macworld

With the announcement that Macworld Expo is going on an indefinite hiatus (more on that later), I thought I’d wax a little nostalgic and take a look back at my first Macworld — “The Show” — back in 1999. Although RandomMaccess had gotten press credentials before, this was the first time the show’s location made it practical for our little publication to attend.

This piece is undated, but was first published around July 27, 1999. –Ed.


Somewhere between Faith Healing Revival and Grateful Dead Concert you get Macworld Expo NY ’99: a rollicking joyride of new product intros, gee-whiz technology demos and the legendary Jobs “Reality Distortion Field.”

by Chuck La Tournous

I’ve said it before: although I’d never been to a Macworld Expo before, I’m an old hand at conferences and exhibits at the Jacob Javits Center in New York. But the sight of would-be attendees lined up around a New York City block stopped me dead in my tracks.

Something’s wrong, was my first thought; they haven’t opened the doors yet. But closer inspection revealed that the doors were indeed opened. They were opened because that’s where the line around the block snaked its way into the center. And across the entrance hall. And through the registration queue.

I’ve seen crowded shows and long lines at Javits, but I’ve never seen anything like this. What was even stranger was the fact that no one seemed to mind standing in a line that must surely still be winding through the hall as I write this — some 10 hours later.

Thank goodness for press credentials, I think, as I pass them all and follow the signs to the Keynote speech.

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Google chair says they’re better than Apple at keeping your data secure

In an interview with CNNMoney, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt responded to Apple CEO Tim Cook’s message on privacy, saying Google’s systems are “far more secure and encrypted than anyone else, including Apple.”

“They’re catching up, which is great,” Schmidt said, saying Google works hard to protect customers’ information from other companies, the government, and hackers.

The organization notably missing from that list is Google itself, which is of course the point of Cook’s message. While Google uses customer information as its business model, Apple goes to great lengths to point out that it doesn’t ever know your information, locking it away from not only the government and other companies, but itself.

The interview is embedded below; the article is available on the CNNMoney website.

Apple releases statement on ‘Bend-ghazi’ brouhaha

Following reports of Apple’s iPhone 6 plus bending in users’ pockets, the company issued a statement to media outlets (via The Loop):

“Our iPhones are designed, engineered and manufactured to be both beautiful and sturdy. iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus feature a precision engineered unibody enclosure constructed from machining a custom grade of 6000 series anodized aluminum, which is tempered for extra strength. They also feature stainless steel and titanium inserts to reinforce high stress locations and use the strongest glass in the smartphone industry. We chose these high-quality materials and construction very carefully for their strength and durability. We also perform rigorous tests throughout the entire development cycle including 3-point bending, pressure point cycling, sit, torsion, and user studies. iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus meet or exceed all of our high quality standards to endure everyday, real life use.

With normal use a bend in iPhone is extremely rare and through our first six days of sale, a total of nine customers have contacted Apple with a bent iPhone 6 Plus. As with any Apple product, if you have questions please contact Apple.”

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It’s still unclear whether the phones are being bent while in users’ pockets or under more unusual conditions, but fans of competitor Samsung have apparently jumped on the issue with an ad that shows the iPhone literally bending down before the Samsung Galaxy Note 3. (The ad has frequently been attributed to Samsung itself, but a spokesperson said he had no knowledge of the ad and pointed out that the company would be more likely to promote its upcoming Note 4 than its existing 3.) And, from a marketing perspective, that would be a risky move for the company if its phone shows a similar proclivity.

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