❂ A Milestone

MakePastie In the App Store

Today is the first day that I have an application available in the Apple app store. That means I actually “shipped” something. Pause for dramatic effect.

Learning to program in Swift has been fun, but challenging. All of the programming I have done in the past has been procedural in languages C or Pascal. But, it’s past time to update my skills and start thinking in objects.

After attempting and deciding the iTunes U Stanford Class, is too advanced for me, I joined Treehouse at end of September and have worked through their Swift and iOS tutorials. So far, so good. The slower pace and hand-holding is nice.

Am I on the road to be an Independent iOS Developer? No plans for that, but I am going to finish the Treehouse tutorials and see where to go from there.

The app is a native client for the pastie.org website. It is a free app with an iAd banner. You can find it on here.

Update:  A good exercise, but the app was removed when pastie was shuttered.

❂ A Better iPhone Keyboard?

I love the idea of a better way to input text on my iPhone. I celebrated when Apple announced alternate keyboard support last year with iOS 8. I was finally going to join my Android colleagues in swiping bliss1. There are so much better ways to input text into the iPhone than that traditional keyboard. I love inputting text with swipe keyboards2 and am constantly amazed at how well it does. But I don’t use them. Here’s why.

Flakiness. Many of the third-party keyboards are unreliable. I switch apps or use the launcher to find another app and things don’t work right. There is a several second delay or I don’t get a keyboard at all. I must admit that the flakiness has improved significantly since launch, but I still have problems. It also seems to vary by the developer.

Globe Button Position. How hard is it for alternate keyboards to put the “globe” icon in the same place and do the same function? It should be on the bottom row, the second one from the left and take you to the next keyboard. Simple. Easy to go through them quickly. But no, Emoji++, WordBoard, Switftkey, and Swype all have different ideas about the placement and the function of the globe key. Developers, please don’t be creative here!

Emoji Integration. I love Emojii++ by David Smith. His Emoji keyboard is easy-to-use, stable and much better than Apple’s solution. He doesn’t put the globe button where I would prefer, but I deal with it. What does bother me that I don’t want to switch keyboards to use Emoji. I only use a handful of Emoji and would like them integrated into my text input keyboard. I like how Swype suggests an emoji for the word– easy to use. I also like how SwiftKey makes a button to access emoji similar to accessing symbols. Good ideas.

Space Bar. Not a must have, but nice and preferably in the standard position. Phraseboard didn’t have one and I missed it.

Dictation. And finally, the biggest problem and the one that cannot currently be solved. Apple does not give third-party keyboards access to this iPhone function. Hopefully, a future iOS release will add the dictation option to other developers.

So now what? I have to have an alternate keyboard to use emoji and the standard keyboard for dictation.

My current solution is to use WordBoard as my second keyboard. It is a keyboard of “one-click shortcuts.” As shown in the picture below, I have set up three types of shortcuts on my keyboard– form fields, emoji, and hashtags. For example, when I press “fn”, it types “Ben.” It doesn’t give me full access to all the emoji, but I have created shortcuts to my favorites. I have been using WordBoard for over a month and passes my sophisticated not-as-flaky-as-others test.

Improving WordBoard. There are two improvements that I would like to see. First and most important, I would like categories like Phraseboard. Second, I would like to see the regular keyboard improved. It recommends that you don’t use it, but since it’s there, it would be nice if it were at least as good as the default one.

I like the idea of alternate text input methods and look forward to seeing what developers come up with this year.

  1. Not really. I only know a couple people that have Android phones and they’ve never mentioned their keyboards. ↩︎
  2. I think Swype and SwiftKey both do a great job with text input. ↩︎

❂ Apple Watches and More

My thoughts on today’s Apple Event.

Apple TV

  • It’s encouraging that HBO doesn’t think they need cable providers anymore. This is the future. Fortunately for HBO, they don’t have to deal with those pesky blackout issues.
  • Why didn’t they upgrade the hardware instead of lowering the price? Will a $30 savings result in that many more new customers?


  • I love Apple Pay and often choose a store based on whether they accept it. It works every time without a problem. Square needs to make it available to the small guys that I love to support.
  • I hope CarPlay gets a lot more love from developers. I thought seriously about buying a CarPlay radio when I replaced the radio in my new car. It just seemed like a lot of money to spend on a product that wasn’t quite ready for prime time (according to most reviews).
  • Medical Research. Wow. Open Source. Wow.

New 12″ MacBook

  • So thin! This seems like the perfect mobile platform. I’m just not sure that I would like it to be my only computer.
  • Looking forward to trying the new keyboard.
  • Pleased that Apple continue’s to make the trackpad more useful. Very nice. I hope this technology comes to their Magic Trackpad soon.
  • I can’t hear the fan on my MacBook Pro. I hope the decision to get rid of it doesn’t effect reliability.
  • I’m surprised they didn’t include a cell phone radio in it. Seems like that’s the future.
  • Is Thunderbolt dead?
  • If I bought a new computer today? Definitely a new MacBook Pro 13″ with the upgraded specs.


  • A lot of money for something that gets me little new functionality… and of course, I would need two so I can send my heartbeat to my wife…
  • I would be so afraid I would break it while I’m at work. I need to wear $30 watches.
  • Best selling point for me? Being able to answer my phone anywhere in the house without keeping my phone near me.

Effective Social Media Strategy

William Arruda in Forbes:

The Three Elements of an Effective Social Media Strategy:

    1. Be Real
    2. Be Focused
    3. Be Consistant

Mr. Arruda believes social media is important to a personal brand for an executive. “Social media can be your best opportunity for enhancing relationships and expanding your brand.” What about the rest of us? Does social media actually make relationships better? Or just waste time and make me think it is useful?

❂ New Phone? New Pants!

Unlike most, I decided to go with the iPhone 6+. Yes, the big one. Yes, I really do put it up to my face and talk on it. Yes, my friends make fun of me. But I love it. Mostly.

I choose the large model because I wanted to stop carrying around my iPhone and my iPad Mini. I want only one device with me and I was hoping that this would be a good compromise. I use my iPad mostly for watching movies and reading books– consumption. Ironically though, I am writing this post on the iPad 1. And so far, the phone has worked well as my main consumption device.2

But there is a problem. A big problem. The phone is too big to fit in my jean’s pocket. My iPhone 5S spent many hours comfortably nestled in that front right pocket. I will not get a belt holster. I did try the man purse route, but it was just too much trouble. I want as little to carry as possible. (I even got rid of my wallet in favor of a iPhone card case)

I have read that many successful people only wear one outfit. I currently only wear one outfit3 to work, but my out-of-work attire varies from khaki’s to sweats. The iPhone conundrum provided a convenient excuse to work toward that goal.

My answer so far is the TacLite Pro Pants by 5.11. Large Pocket for my phone. Room for my pocket holster. Plenty of space for everything4, very comfortable, and I do think they look nicer then blue jeans.

The downside is that my wife says that it look too “militaristic.” Nothing is perfect. I think I might try the Covert Cargo Pants when these wear out though.

A new phone deserves new pants.

  1. Hanx Writer + Logitech Keyboard↩︎
  2. Until I got a Kindle textbook that will not display on the iPhone (Incompatible Device). My most expensive Kindle book (By FAR!) and I can’t read it on the device I want. ↩︎
  3. A required uniform makes things simple. ↩︎
  4. My current EDC includes my iPhone 6+, a Glock 26 plus an extra magazine, a pocket notebook, two black pens, a knife and my keys. All these fit comfortably in these pants. ↩︎

7 Rules for Maximizing Your Creative Output

Steve Pavlina’s rules for optimizing the highly creative flow state:

  1. Define a clear purpose.
  2. Identify a compelling motive.
  3. Architect a worthy challenge.
  4. Provide a conducive environment.
  5. Allocate a committed block of time.
  6. Prevent interruptions and distractions.
  7. Master your tools.

From 2007, but as with many productivity articles, this one stands the test of time. I really need to work on item five. He says that his truly creative output starts in hour two…. most of my creative sessions don’t even last two hours…

TIP: iPhone Silent/Mute Switch Broken

The mute switch on my iPhone broke this week. I spent some time at the beach– maybe I got sand in it? Not sure. Until I get it fixed, there is an easy way to turn the ringer on and off using a built-in accessibility feature.

If you find yourself in the same situation, here’s what you can do:

Step #1: Get into the general settings menu by pressing “Settings” and then “General”


Step #2: Next press “Accessibility” and then “AssistiveTouch”


Step #3: Turn on AssistiveTouch by pressing the switch. A grey-rounded square should appear on your screen. Pressing this square activates the AssistiveTouch feature.


After AssistiveTouch is turned on, you can toggle the mute switch by pressing the grey-rounded square, pressing “Device,” and then “Mute” or “Unmute.”


This was tested on an iPhone 6 running iOS 8. The screenshots were prepared using the apps Skitch and LongScreen.

❂ Just Write

My friend Josh told me that I need a blog. I love to write (or rather, to have written), but where to start? What do I write about? Does anybody care? If a blog is written and no one reads it, is it still a blog?

Today I read an excellent article by John Saddington about starting a blog. In reference to how to start, he advises:

With that being said, just start. Just go. Write from the heart. It’ll be bad. That’s okay. It’ll be bad for quite some time. How long should it be? Doesn’t matter. Categories? Doesn’t matter. You should:

    1. Start writing.
    2. Hit the “Publish” button.


One of my biggest issues is that I really don’t know what I want to write about. I have so many interests and can’t seem to narrow down the topic list. So I won’t. Saddington again:

You know what writing really is? It’s about putting your completely incomplete and perfectly imperfect thoughts on paper. It’s about facing the stark reality that you’re not as smart as you thought yourself to be and that your beliefs about life (and everything within it) are not as clear as you had hoped them to be.

I will write about anything and everything. I hope in this “experiment mode” I will naturally find what I like to write about by writing.

I expect to write articles relating geocaching, travel, minimalism, networking, Macs, iPhones and life. I hope to share photographs, review a few apps and highlight some of the nuggets I find on the web. Who knows?


I will grow my audience to 10,000 active readers within the year. Nope. No goals. Instead, I am going to try to work on the system rather than set a goal. In this article, Burkeman states:

Focusing on a system means focusing on what you can control (your actions) rather than what you can’t (the endlessly unpredictable external world).

I am going to set up my Habit List to remind me to work on this blog every day. Some days, I plan to think. Some I will write. Others, I might fiddle with settings. But mostly, just write.


I choose Svble because I wanted to concentrate on the writing and not fiddling with the settings. My tendency is to experiment with tools and not use them. I also chose the platform because it wasn’t a free option. When I pay, I am the customer. When it’s free, I am the product. I like the simple model of paying for what I use. Also, I figured if I was actually paying for it, I would be more motivated to use it.

Let the experiment begin. Hitting the publish button now…


February 2015:  That didn’t last long. Moved from Svtle to Tumblr.   

December 2018:  Moved to WordPress hosted my own Amazon Lightsail node.