On today’s episode of The Weekly Briefly, I was joined by my internet pal, Stephen Hackett, to discuss a topic that is near and dear to any parent out there: kids, touchscreen devices, and screen time. In short, how do we raise our kids to have a healthy relationship with something that can be so easily addicting.

Sponsored by:

Thursday, April 17

Earlier this morning we published a whole new section to The Sweet Setup that is everything related to backing up your Mac. It’s a 5-part series of articles that cover what a backup system should look like (i.e. local and off-site), our top pick for local backups (Time Machine), our top pick for off-site backup service (Backblaze), the best hard drives, and more.

There are still a lot of people who don’t back up their stuff. My internet pal, Rick Stawarz, runs a Mac consulting company, and he says that “it’s rare for us to walk into a new client’s home and find a computer that’s actually backed up properly.” So, while I realize all of you guys reading this already know the why and the how for backups, and you’ve got your system in place, tell your friends they should buy an external drive and turn on Time Machine.

Wednesday, April 16

Mat Honan:

But the ever-present touchscreens make me incredibly uneasy—probably because they make parenting so easy. There is always one at hand to make restaurants and long drives and air travel much more pleasant. The tablet is the new pacifier.

I agree with Honan’s concluding paragraph that there isn’t a clear-cut answer for appropriate boundaries when it comes to our kids and their usage of iOS devices.

The goal has to be teaching (and then enforcing) moderation and boundaries. Heck, even the most healthy things our kids could be doing — like happily playing sports outside with friends — still needs boundaries and moderation. “When it’s family dinner time, that means it’s time to come inside and stop playing outside.”

This is something Anna and I talk about often, and we keep coming back to the basic guiding principle of active and engaged parenting. Letting our sons play a learning game on the iPad or watch an episode of The Magic School Bus isn’t wrong in and of itself, and we don’t want them to grow up feeling shame related to the usage of digital devices. But neither are we going to let them zone out for hours watching cartoons on an iPhone so we can live our lives without the “inconvenience” of little boys who constantly want our attention. That “inconvenience” is what the beauty and responsibility of parenting is all about.

Bradley Chambers on ways iOS software and hardware could be improved for its use in education.

Tuesday, April 15

This week I was honored to be a guest on The Menu Bar podcast. Andrew, Zac, and I talked about the recent Dropbox news and just how central Dropbox is to our multi-device lives. Then we talked a bit about how I got into the full-time blogging racket and the differences between self-learning how to do a creative craft versus self-learning how to run a business.

Monday, April 14

Screens 3 for Mac is a beautiful, yet powerful Screen Sharing and VNC client that lets you connect back to your Mac, Windows or Linux PC from the comfort of your living room, the corner coffee shop or anywhere in the world.

Screens 3 adds many new features and refinements that makes it the best VNC client for the Mac.

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My thanks to Screens 3 for sponsoring the RSS feed this week. Personal note, this app truly is stellar. If you ever want to access your Mac from your iPad, or from another Mac, Screens is the way to do it.

Meng To’s review of Sketch:

Photoshop has a big legacy and I can sense the unwillingness to make a switch and say goodbye to years of building libraries. But if you can overcome that, not only will you improve your overall design process, but you will be ready for the future as all your new designs will be completely vector-based, flexible and resolution-independent. You will design faster.

The good news is that Sketch is very similar to Photoshop and has more or less the same features that you are familiar with including keyboard shortcuts, layer blending, styles, blur, noise, patterns, etc, except it won’t have all the filters and photo editing capabilities that you probably don’t need as a user interface designer. It’s not a watered down Photoshop, it’s a robust design tool that has completely adapted to today’s design standards.

Update: Originally I linked to Meng To’s article stating it was a review of Sketch 3, but his review is over a year old. It’s still relevant, just not recent. My apologies.

This week’s setup interview is a fun one. Interviewees usually focus on only one device — iPhone, iPad, or Mac — but this week Chris shared a bit about all three.

Parody or not, it’s hilarious:

In the back-pocket of every airplane seat, sandwiched in between a sickbag and air safety instructions, is one of the most influential in-flight publications of the 21st century.

This catalogue is SkyMall. And I write for it.

Friday, April 11

On this week’s episode of The Weekly Briefly: choosing to focus our time, energy, and attention on creating something worthwhile instead of constantly checking our inboxes and trying to keep up with the “new” and “cool” and “urgent”. Because so long as our attention is focused on the urgent or the incoming, we won’t be able to do our best creative work.

Sponsored by:

Elegant. Fast. Pretty much all around fantastic. And it’s still just a beta.

In light of the Heartbleed vulnerability, AgileBits is selling 1Password for half-off. The Mac version, normally $50 is just $25; and the universal iOS version, normally $18 is just $9.

I cannot recommend this app enough. It’s at the top of my list for Mac apps you should be using. And we’re in the middle of writing an article for The Sweet Setup about the best password manager, and I’ll tell you now that 1Password is the winner by a mile.

Also, a few months back I posted an episode of Shawn Today that covered how 1Password and iCloud Keychain syncing can work together, and why you still need 1Password.

Speaking of Chris Bowler, he’s in the middle of a membership drive on his site. I’ve been friends with Chris for so many years, and reading his site(s) for even longer. He’s an excellent and thoughtful writer.

Membership to his site is just $2/month and it gets you on the list for his Saturday email newsletter. Sign up before next Wednesday and you’re in the drawing to win something awesome, the least of which is a copy of Delight is in the Details.

Chris Bowler has written an excellent overview of some of the more popular task-management apps, such as Things, OmniFocus, Asana, and TeuxDeux. He wraps it up with why he’s back to using OmniFocus after leaving a while ago to try all the other options:

Here I am today, back to OmniFocus as my tool of choice. It’s ease of use on the desktop are top notch. And if it’s overkill for my needs, it’s designed well enough that the features I don’t need do not get in the way. And the improvements in the desktop version make it an even better choice.

OmniFocus certainly has the reputation as being the 900-pound gorilla among the Checkmark Icon Posse. It’s a well deserved reputation — OmniFocus is, by design, a cornucopia of features, functions, options, and more. But Chris is right about OmniFocus, in that it’s designed in such a way that it’s not overbearing or demanding if you don’t want to dive deep into all the features it has available.

But if you’re on the fence, this is a good year to be in the market for to-do list software. Not only is OmniFocus making some major updates, but the other two big players in this space — Things and Wunderlist — have also announced that they are working on the next big update to their software as well. I’ve been loving the beta of OmniFocus 2 for Mac, but I’ll also admit that I’m holding my breath for what Cultured Code has in store.

A note about shawnblanc.net and the Heartbleed Bug

Here on shawnblanc.net, I use SSL encryption on a few pages related to the membership sign-up and checkout process. Unfortunately, the OpenSSL libraries in use by this site were affected by the Heartbleed bug. If anyone targeted my server to exploit the vulnerability, it would only have affected members.

This is to let you know that my site’s vulnerability to the Heartbleed Bug has been patched.

My hosting provider (Media Temple) proactively updated my server’s OpenSSL libraries on Tuesday night, April 8th. Once I confirmed my site was no longer vulnerable, I had my SSL certificate re-generated.

Additionally, as a precaution for all members, I’ve logged everyone out from the site and changed the salt hashes that WordPress uses. All members will have to log back in to access the Membership section.

When you do log back in, please change your password. This can be done from the “Your Profile” page.

If you have any questions, please feel free to ping me on Twitter or email me.

Thanks,

— Shawn

Thursday, April 10

Mike Isaac at Recode:

Apple said Thursday that its mobile, desktop and Web services weren’t affected by a major flaw in a widely used set of Web security software that could have affected hundreds of thousands of websites.

Good news.

Mashable has put together a list of several of the more popular sites that were affected by the Heartbleed bug, and highlighting which ones have been updated and thus you ought to change your password to. If you’ve got accounts with any of these services — Dropbox, Facebook, Gmail, to name a few — you should change your password straight away.

Alice Lee shares a behind-the-scenes look at the wonderful branding and hand-drawn artwork of Dropbox’s new Carousel app. And speaking of, Carousel’s in-app onboarding experience is one of the best I’ve ever seen.

Charlie Burt has a great interview with Gregory Kolsto, the owner of Oddly Correct, one of KC’s best local roasters and fussy coffee shops:

My mission in life, I think, is to make people feel something. I’m more interested in staff being kind and engaging with people coming through the door than being psyched about coffee. I mean, it has to be both, but because coffee has a tendency to be pretentious on the surface — like you almost expect it to be “hipsters” doing some weird thing with coffee — well, if you can engage people with kindness and information and art beyond that, I think its a beautiful thing. It’s totally disarming to both the weird art world and the weird coffee world. I feel like we have a fun opportunity to engage people where they’re at.

(Thanks, Jorge.)

Kevin Kelly:

Here is what I learned from 40 years of traveling: [...] it is far better to have more time than money.

Tuesday, April 8

Andrew Kim wrote an excellent review of Braun’s beautiful, 51-year-old “Phonosuper”:

This is it, the SK55 is my all time favorite product and there’s nothing in the world more important for me to share on this website than this. The Braun SK55, or the SK4 to be more specific, is in my opinion, the most important product in Braun’s history and therefore the most important product to the design of electronics today.

Now, take my comparison here with a grain of salt because I’m not actually on Facebook, but the new Twitter profile page design sure looks a bit Facebook-y to me. But who says that’s a bad thing?

For example, the new design has been rolled out on the U.S. Department of the Interiror’s Twitter page, and it looks absolutely fantastic.

The profile page design sure has changed from what it was 5 years ago.

See also: “Most People

Justin Williams, a skilled and long-time iOS developer, and now the man behind Glassboard, went to Build last week:

Build allowed me three days to immerse myself in technologies that I know almost nothing about. I came away impressed with it too. For all its past faults, the New Microsoft is doing things that are on the cutting edge of technology.

Justin’s overview of Build is pretty encouraging. For me, being someone who is almost exclusively immersed in iOS and OS X stuff, I love to hear about what’s awesome on other platforms and technologies.

Moreover, it’s encouraging because cloud sync has become so vital for our multi-device lifestyles. And from what little I’ve heard from guys like Justin and Brent Simmons, Windows Azure is a pretty good cloud syncing platform to build on for those who need something more robust than iCloud but who can’t or don’t want to roll their own server.

Monday, April 7

Seth Godin:

Search is what we call the action of knowing what you want and questing until you ultimately find it. [...] Discovery, on the other hand, is what happens when the universe (or an organization, or a friend) helps you encounter something you didn’t even know you were looking for.

Scanbot is your premium mobile scanner app for creating high quality PDF or JPG scans of documents (incl. multi-page), receipts, business cards, meeting minutes, whiteboard notes, etc. Scans can be emailed, printed, or automatically uploaded to your favorite cloud drives such as Box, Dropbox, Evernote, Google Drive, OneDrive and Yandex.Disk. Scanbot features unique document detection technology, which makes high-quality scanning extremely easy and fast. With the integrated PDF editor your can edit your scans on the go.

Scanbot for iPhone and Scanbot for Android are available for an introductory price of $0.99.

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My thanks to Scanbot for sponsoring the RSS feed this week.

Simon Parkin, writing for The New Yorker, about :

One night in March, 2013, Rami Ismail and his business partner Jan Willem released a game for mobile phones called Ridiculous Fishing. Ismail, who was twenty-four at the time and who lives in the Netherlands, woke the following morning to find that the game had made him tens of thousands of dollars overnight. His first reaction was not elation but guilt. His mother, who has a job in local government, had already left for work. “Ever since I was a kid I’ve watched my mom wake up at six in the morning, work all day, come home, make my brother and me dinner—maybe shout at me for too much ‘computering,’ ” he said. “My first thought that day was that while I was asleep I’d made more money than she had all year. And I’d done it with a mobile-phone game about shooting fish with a machine gun.”

So great.

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