My New Podcast: The Run Loop

The first episode of my new podcast, The Run Loop, is now available in iTunes, Overcast, and wherever else great podcasts are found. You can also listen and subscribe on the shows website. The Run Loop will be a weekly discussion about making iOS and Mac apps with great designers and developers. In this episode I talk to my friend Samuel Goodwin about how he got started, peer mentorship, our trip to Japan, and more.

If you like what you hear, please subscribe, rate, and recommend the show.

You can also help support the show through Patreon. If you donate $1 or more a month, you will receive my sincere gratitude and help me make more and better content, but up to five people can also donate $50 a month and receive an hour a month of my time for a design or code review.

I also want to thank to Joe Cieplinski for creating great artwork for the show. I hope you enjoy this first episode, and I’m looking forward to making many more.

Help Manton Hit His Indie Microblogging Stretch Goal

Manton Reece has four days to go on his “Indie Microblogging” Kickstarter, and he still needs our help. He’s trying to create an ad-free open platform for microblogging where people own their own data and can take it where they please. Right now he’s at $68,620 of his original $10,000 goal — which is fantastic. Manton has built safety into the platform with a feature he calls “Safe Replies” to fight abuse, but if he reaches his stretch goal of $80,000 he can hire community manager to make the service even better:

If the Kickstarter reaches $80,000, I will use some of the money to make my very first part-time hire for Micro.blog: a community manager. The community manager will help set the tone for the service, work on documentation and best practices, and be responsible for curation when Safe Replies fails to automatically catch emerging problems.

I’m going to up the amount that I’m in for. If you haven’t already pledged to help — and you can — you should.

The “Unsubscribe” Mailbox for Apple Mail

I don’t know how I’ve ended up on so many mailing lists for products I don’t care about, but I am. I created this “Smart Mailbox” for finding any emails I’m receiving that can be unsubscribed to that aren’t archived. It works pretty well.

  • Contains messages that match all of the following:
    • Entire Message — Contains — “Unsubscribe”
    • Message is not in Mailbox — “Archive”

The CocoaPods App

Managing third party code on iOS has always been a pain. In the past 9 years or so I’ve done everything from dragging source directly into projects, to Git submodules, to CocoaPods, to Carthage, to Git submodules again. Right now I’m using CocoaPods.

I’ve had three problems with CocoaPods from the beginning:

  1. It messes with my Xcode project files.
  2. It stops working for me all the time.
  3. I don’t want to mess around with Ruby gems.

While the first issue seems pretty much intractable, the CocoaPods app seems to (potentially) fix the second two by bundling its own Ruby environment in the app. Because it’s from the people who make CocoaPods, I assume it’ll keep updated to match the command line tool.

The app itself is pretty barebones. I’d love to see a future version let me see what updates are available for my pods from within the app and abstract away me having to edit the podfile by hand. Either way, I’m going to give it a shot. You can check it out on the CocoaPods website.

New JSON Formatting App by Samuel Goodwin

My vivacious and charming friend Samuel Goodwin has just released a new app for formatting JSON called Formatter on the Mac App Store for the low price for $4.99. You can drag and drop JSON files right on it, or use the included Xcode plugin to turn your gross mess of brackets and parenthesis into artisanally crafted pretty printed JSON files. Another thing I like about Formatter is that it includes a QuickLook plugin to make looking at JSON in the Finder a bit nicer.

The pasta maker icon is pretty clever, too. Go buy it.

Getting Started with Meditation and Preparing for What Comes Next

If you’re like me, you’ve felt anxiety, stress, anger, and a bunch of other emotions in the last nine days. That’s normal. We’re in a stressful place. 2016 has been a bad year for a lot of people for a lot of reasons. What I’m afraid of, and what I don’t want to happen, is for what’s going on in the world change me. I don’t want to become a more closed off, angry, less gentle person.

That doesn’t mean I don’t plan to do what I can to fight against what I fear is coming, but that I can’t let someone else’s small mindedness and hate turn me into a more small minded and hateful person.

A small thing that I’m doing in order to work against those instincts in myself — that maybe would be useful to others — is to have a daily meditation practice. I’ve been doing this practice semi-regularly for a few months now. When I’m consistent I feel like it helps me have greater awareness, focus, and ability to handle my emotions in stressful situations. I believe that especially now, as things are so uncertain, this kind of clear-mindedness is something that is going to help us respond to the challenges which are coming in the most meaningful ways.

I’m not an expert in meditation by any definition, but I can give a few tips and recommendations based on what’s helped me so far.


My first recommendation is to go easy on yourself. You’re not trying to “clear your mind”, you’re going to miss days, and some days will be a lot harder than others. It will get easier. Just keep doing it.

I’ve found starting with guided meditation to be useful. I use Headspace, but I’m sure there are other places to find guided meditation, and probably some free ones. The reason I like it is that it gives me some direction while meditating so I’m not sitting there wondering the whole time if I’m doing right.

Reading books on Buddhism and meditation is a good compliment to the practice. You don’t have to be a buddhist to meditate, but knowing some of the philosophy is useful for taking your practice with you when you’re not meditating. By far the best book I’ve read is The Heart of the Buddhas Teaching by Thich Nhat Hanh. If you’re looking for a quick intro to meditation — and a little buddhism — Sit Like a Buddha by Lodro Rinzler is short, easy to read, and will get you started.

If you can meditate with others, try it. The times I’ve gone to my local Zen Center, done their meditation class, and listened to their talks on Buddhism have been nice. If you have something like that, maybe check it out. Meeting other people who’ve been through or are going through the same things with their practice can help you stay motivated.


This is a challenging time to stay calm, open minded, and clear headed. Many of us are living in a state of anticipatory grief right now and feeling like we will be for several months at least. It’s normal to feel this way, but it’s also important to realize that letting these emotions control us and make us catatonic, or lash out without thinking, is the least useful thing we can be doing to prepare right now. What we need is to find a way to give ourselves a little space from our emotions so that when the hit comes we’re ready to respond.

Stupid Rice Cooker Tricks

A few weeks ago, I heard Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin discussing rice cookers and how great they are on episode 294 of their Back to Work program. Because I am a ridiculous person who buys things on impulse, and because I am a vegan who eats a lot of rice and vegetables, I loaded up Amazon Prime Now and the next morning was the proud owner of a Zojirushi NS-TSC10. It wasn’t the least costly option, but I chose the Zojirushi because I wanted one that would be useful for doing things besides just cooking rice. Also it having a cute elephant on it, being from Japan, and playing “Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star” when it finishes cooking, might have had something to do with it. Hard to say.

I’ve used it a lot. I’m sure the thing I’ve cooked the most in it is rice, but that’s not the only thing by any stretch. I thought I’d share a few of the things I’ve made.

Chocolate Cake

The weirdest thing I’ve cooked in my rice cooker was a chocolate cake. It’s not actually that weird. The rice cooker I bought has a “cake” setting on it and if you search Google for rice cooker cake recipes you will find many. I used this recipe for the chocolate cake and it turned out great. It was a bit less mess and cleanup than when I’ve made similar cakes in the oven came out at least as well, or possibly better. It was moist chocolaty, and delicious.

Steel Cut Oatmeal

Ever since I saw the episode of Good Eats about oatmeal, I’ve preferred steel cut to the regular mushy kind. The problem is that when you make it on the stove it takes about 45 minutes to cook with semi-regular stirring involved. It’s sort of a pain in the butt. If you follow this recipe from Zojirushi’s own website, you’ll let the oats soak overnight and use the timer function to have the oatmeal be ready when you wake up. Steel cut oats way easier than cooking them on a stovetop and just about as good.

If you don’t wake up when you thought you would, the rice cooker can keep your oatmeal warm for a really long time, so it’s no problem.

Rice Porridge

My mom used to make something like this sweet rice porridge when I was a kid with left over rice from Chinese food, and I’ve made it a ton. It’s super easy to make.

Combine a cup of cooked rice (brown or white is fine) with one cup of soy/rice/cow milk, a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg, two tablespoons of brown sugar, a teaspoon of vanilla extract, and heat the whole thing up in a pot until it’s hot. Then you eat it. It takes a few minutes to make and is delicious. I’m not going to say it’s good for you, but, it’s got to be better than a pint of ice cream.

You can adjust the ratio of rice to milk to taste. I like it kind of thick, but you can also make it so it’s almost more like a hot beverage.

Replacing Dropbox With iCloud Drive

I’ve been using Dropbox for several years, and I can’t remember ever having a serious problem with it. It’s just where my files go. Lately, however, I’ve started wondering if it’s something I need to keep paying for or have installed on my Mac. The main reason is that I’m already paying for another cloud file syncing thing — iCloud Drive. It may not have all the features of Dropbox, but I feel as though my use of those features has gone down a lot in the last couple of years.

What’s Changed

There’s three things that would have kept me on Dropbox before recently:

  • Apps that rely on it.
  • Collaboration and sharing.
  • An uneasy feeling trusting iCloud Drive with all my documents.

At least two of these things have changed a lot. I’ll go through all of them.

Apps

I used to use text editors like Elements or nvALT on iOS and Mac for notes, but I’ve been using Apple’s Notes app for a while now, and it’s just fine. Other apps like Byword and 1Password include iCloud syncing as an option. I’ve been using iCloud for those apps for a long time now and I can’t remember the last time I had an issue. It seems like either everything I use has added iCloud as an option or I’ve moved to something else.

Collaboration and Sharing

Dropbox definitely has better sharing options. Where iCloud has these features, I have no complaints. I’ve used the collaboration feature in Notes and it worked great, but that’s about the extent of my use. Mostly I’m just not collaborating in this way as much as I used to. At work I’m using Trello or Google Docs, and in the rest of my life this just hasn’t really come up.

I’ll miss the ability to right click and generate a link for any of my documents, but Droplr seems like an okay replacement.

If I was still using shared folders as much as I was a couple years ago, I’d definitely be more tied to Dropbox, but I’m just not, so this has become a bit of a non-issue for me.

That Uneasy Feeling

I’ve had no problem syncing the things I have through iCloud in the last couple of years, but I just don’t trust it the way I do Dropbox to keep my stuff. I have no evidence or strong reason to think that — just a general feeling of unease.

Apple’s strategy has been to present everything as though nothing will ever go wrong with any of their software or services, and so the user doesn’t need a lot of tools to help recover when something does. Because it won’t. Ever.

All of Apple’s services just feel opaque. iCloud drive isn’t great as far as letting me know the status of my documents. If it did break in some horrible way, I have no trust that I would have a good way to get my stuff back.

Unfortunately I don’t see this changing.

My solution is to make sure I’m backed up and hope for the best. I don’t really know what else I can do to move forward other than to keep paying for multiple cloud syncing services forever. Hopefully it all works out.

Moving Forward

Currently iCloud is in the middle of uploading a couple hundred gigabytes of data that was previously stored in Dropbox. When that’s finished, I’ll move my Dropbox account to the free tier and uninstall the app from my Mac.

There’s going to be things that annoy me about iCloud Drive forever. I hate the way it gives each app that uses it a top level directory, and I really don’t like that it’s not just a folder in my home directory but instead has my files stuffed away somewhere non-obvious.

The strange feeling I have is that I’m not moving because iCloud Drive has gotten better than Dropbox, or even that it’s gotten as good. I’m moving because maybe it’s become sufficient for my needs. I’m purposefully not using what’s clearly the best thing on the market, because I think I’m willing to live without some of it’s features. Hopefully it’ll be good enough.