What if not Apple?

I’ve got myself a new MacBook Pro and I’m even more disappointed than I had feared. Random freezes and total shutdowns. Time machine backups that work only occassionally and almost certainly not if using encryption.

So why not leave the world of Apple behind? Looking in my Applications folder I’ve found my list of reasons. It’s even longer than I’ve had anticipated.

  • Apple Photos + iCloud Photo Library
  • Affinity Designer & Publisher
  • Day One
  • Sketch
  • IconJar
  • RightFont
  • Prizmo
  • Sip
  • Contrast
  • Things
  • Tyme
  • iA Writer
  • Paprika

Roll back to an older version of the Evernote Web Clipper for Chrome

There’s no nice way to say it: with the release of version 7 of the Web Clipper Evernote demonstrated that they seem either to not use their own product. Or do the least amount of testing before releasing. And they really give a rat’s ass about their frustrated customers who start to ask themselves what it is they are paying for.

The devastating reviews on the Chrome Web Store for Version 7.x speak for themselves.

Personally I’m most upset about the following regressions, but apparently there are even  more features lost and bugs introduced: Continue reading

Spotify is terrible for Audio Books and Podcasts

When I impulsively re-subscribed to Spotify Premium last week it was for listening to and finding new music. All the more I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered a bigger-than-expected selection of audio books being available on Spotify these days. I found myself thinking about weather this could even justify canceling my Audible subscription and stick with Spotify for the long run (I’m not sure yet if I want to pay for both services on a constant basis). Continue reading

Keeping your Local Sites after Updating to OS X 10.10 Yosemite

As my iMac is my primary work station I’m always a bit hesitant when it comes to major OS upgrades.

Here are the experiences and issues I had when upgrading form Mavericks (10.9) to Yosemite (10.10).

  1. All important applications run without any problems so far
  2. Homebrew and installed bottles kept on working
  3. Ruby (installed via Rbenv) and installed Gems keep on working
  4. Node.js and installed modules kept on working
  5. My hosts file stayed untouched
  6. MySQL kept on working, including all database data, of course (simply had to start the service again)
  7. Apache Virtual hosts didn’t work anymore, but it was easily fixed be re-including my httpd-vhosts.conf file from httpd.conf
  8. PHP wasn’t enabled anymore, but it was simply fixed by re-including the Apache module from httpd.conf
  9. When trying to access my local virtual hosts I got loads of permission denied errors with the apache log file talking about AH01630: client denied by server configuration. This is caused by Apple updating Apache to 2.4. It’s simply fixed by adding Require all granted to your vhosts. (replaces Order allow,deny and Allow from all from Apache 2.2, see http://httpd.apache.org/docs/2.4/upgrading.html)
  10. SSH-Config and keys kept on working
  11. Drush (installed via Composer) kept on working

So, everything was up and running again within 10 minutes tops after the upgrade \o/

Entypo and FontAwesome Icon Libraries for iDraw App

Font Awesome and Entypi Icon Libraries for the iDraw App

Though Sketch really does a lot of things better (especially the path tool) I still really like the iDraw Mac App a lot.

iDraw makes it refreshingly simple (compared with to Photoshop’s Shape Management for instance) to manage custom forms. Simply create a new form library, select an shape in your current document and hit the little plus icon.

I did this process with two of my favorite icon libraries, Font Awesome by Dave Gandy and Entypo by Daniel Bruce. All credits for the original icons belong to those fine people. I just share my iDraw libraries to easily use those great icons within that great app.

As both icon pack’s licenses (Font Awesome: GPL, Entypo: CC BY-SA 3.0.) allow redistribution I guess there’s nothing wrong with sharing my Libraries for iDraw.

Are you aware of any further (open source) icon pack that’s worth packaging for iDraw? Leave a comment and let me know!

iDraw Icon Library

Top Reasons to Root your Android Device

Yesterday I finally rooted my new Nexus 5. Here are my first experiences about the advantages I liked best.

Rooting the Nexus 5 on Mac OS X

I didn’t want to bother downloading the entire Android SDK so I looked around for a dead simple solution and found the Nexus 5 One Click Toolkit. It could hardly be easier. Just download One Click Root Toolkit for Nexus 5, unzip it and follow the instructions.

It comes packed with TWRP Recovery, which has the advantage of a touch interface in comparison to Clockworkmod Recovery.

Installing a Custom ROM

One reason to root my device was to be able to install custom ROMs. I did a little research of decent ROMs that are built on Android 4.4.2 and support the Nexus 5. I tried AOKP, OmniROM and CyanogenMod. Long story short: AOKP felt a bit cluttered for my taste, I really liked OmniROM but it didn’t run as stable as I had hoped and I felt quickly at home on CM. So, although I’m sure I’ll keep on trying other ROMs from time to time I sticked with CyanogenMod for now. To install any ROM just copy it to your device using Android File Manager, boot into Recovery (Holding volume down and power, releasing power once the Nexus vibrates), wipe Dalvik/Caches, choose Install and browse to your downloaded zip file. Don’t forget to make a backup before. Also, keep in mind that these ROMs come without Gapps (Google Apps), so you’ll have find the gapps package that fits your ROM, device and Android version and flash that, too (after flashing the ROM).

Tweaks I love about CyanogenMod

Of course, most of these tweaks are also available with other ROMs or even originate from them

  1. Use volume buttons to wake from sleep.
    Being left-handed it’s really hard for me to unlock the Nexus when holding it in one hand, so this is really makes things a lot easier. Double Tap to Wake (DT2W) would also be a nice feature but as it’s said to drain the battery I stayed away from it (also, you’ll need to flash another kernel to support DT2W).
  2. Better Quick Settings
    CM, as most other custom ROMs, allows you to customize the quick actions that are available when you pull down the status bar. I often switch orientation lock and it was always bugging me that stock Android didn’t have a quick toggle for that (besides using homescreen widgets). Even better: CM has a feature to directly pull out these quick toggles when you slide down either on the left or right side of the status bar. Otherwise you always see the notifications first and need to press that hard-to-reach button in the upper right corner to switch to the quick toggles.
  3. Standby by double tapping the status bar
    Again, no need to reach for the power button. A simple double tap on the status bar and the Nexus goes to bed.
  4. Extended Desktop
    Once activated Extended Desktop can be switched on and of using a quick toggle or a power menu shortcut. It removes the dock and the status bar, giving you even more screen real estate. It really makes a difference for reading, browsing the web or playing games (no more accidentally hitting the home button!). If you need the dock and status bar temporarily just swipe from the upper or lower edge of your screen and they’ll slide in for a moment. You need them all the time, hit the quick toggle.
  5. No more annoying popups about media volume
    Stock Android was creeping me out with its warnings about the hazards of too loud music.

Apps that require root (or work better with root)

  1. AdAway
    Gets rid of ads across all apps. It does this by modifying your hosts file using a frequently updated list of blocked servers. A really nice side effect is the reduction of data usage.
  2. Greenify
    Greenify helps you to keep or improve performance and battery life by enabling you to put apps into hibernation, thus keeping them from using too much CPU. For example I really don’t need Facebook being active all the time and I actually like it better if I don’t get notifications from every other app. Win-Win.
  3. AFWall+
    AFWall+ is a firewall based on iptables. It allows you to decide which apps are allowed to access the network. You can have different settings for Wifi and Cellular and you can choose if you want to block traffic based on a blacklist or whitelist. This is a good thing if you’re on a limited data plan and want to block some apps from draining your mobile data volume or if you don’t understand why the heck a torch application should have any need to connect to the internet.

Custom Kernels

Last but not least rooting your Android device enables you to install customized kernels. Custom kernels offer various features, from over- and underclocking your CPU to adding new tweaks such as the aforementioned DT2W or Swipe to Wake. I read a bit about various kernels and decided to give Franco Kernel a shot. It’s supposed to save a lot of battery juice. I really hope this turns out to be true. The author of Franco Kernel has got two apps on the playstore that come in handy:

  • franco.Kernel updater free just lets you check for Kernel updates and lets you download them.
  • franco.Kernel updater offers kernel updates as well as whole bunch of advanced features to tweak your settings, such a over- and underclocking your CPU.


It’s not even been 24 hours since I rooted my shiny new Nexus 5 but nonetheless I wouldn’t wanna go back to stock android. What were your reasons to root your device or, if you haven’t done so, what’s holding you back?

Setting Exposure and Focus independently with Android

In my previous post about the first Android apps I’m using on my new LG Nexus 5 I mentioned Camera FV-5 which allows to set focus and exposure separately but still didn’t just feel very comfortable to me. Setting focus and exposure just didn’t work really quick and sometimes I had to tap several times to get it working as desired. Also, the UI of Camera FV-5 is little too cluttered for my taste.

Please welcome Camera Awesome by SmugMug, the people behind the same-named photo sharing site. Besides some rather mediocre editing features (filters, frames..) what really makes it stand out for me is its working tapping functionality. If you tap with two fingers you split the otherwise combined focus and exposure metering sensors, allowing you for example to focus on an object in the foreground but set the exposure to fit the darker or lighter background. You can also lock focus and/or exposure, move your device around and shoot another motif with the before locked settings. Besides this highly appreciated feature I find myself using the composition guides quite frequently, which offer horizon, rule-of-thirds and golden ratio.

Attention: Tap to exposure seems to only work with certain hardware, as SmugMug states on the product description: Tap exposure points are not supported by Samsung devices or the Motorola Moto X.

I’m interested in knowing what your favorite camera replacement app on Android, feel free to leave a comment.

Official feature list of Camera Awesome:

  • Shooting modes: Big Button (tap screen to shoot), Burst, Timer, Interval, Image Stabilization, and Panorama modes
  • Composition guides: set up better shots with screen guides for horizon, rule-of-thirds, golden ratio, and more
  • Face recognition and tracking: identify and track multiple faces in the shot to keep faces in perfect focus
  • Resolution settings: shoot both photos and video in the resolution of your choice
  • Creative Editing Tools: 100+ artistic effects, crop, rotate, and insta-edit with the “Awesomize’ button
  • Selective Editing: touch to add or erase which parts of the image have filter applied
  • Sharing: in addition to sharing on Facebook, Twitter, Sinaweibo, Google+, Instagram, Photobucket, Picasa, Tumblr, YouTube and Flickr, users can now share to any other services via supporting apps installed on device
  • NVIDIA® Tegra® 4: Additional features on supported NVIDIA® Tegra® 4-powered devices including slow-motion video, enhanced HDR, and integrated stylus

Camera Awesome is available on GooglePlay (currently € 2.23 €)

Back to Android: First Impressions

As my iPhone 4S became painfully slow after updating to iOS 7 I didn’t want to pay another fortune to Apple just to get a modern OS running smoothly. Also, there are some things really annoying me more and more on iOS, some of the worst being not to have an option to set a default browser and email client and not having global sharing/send-to-app options for third party apps. Also, I really like using GMail a lot and the performance of the iOS app is just a major PITA.

So, I got myself a new Nexus 5 and here are my first impressions as well as a little overview of the apps I quite liked so far.


I didn’t expect to buy a device that’s able to compete with the iPhone camera wise, so my expectations weren’t too high. Still, in low light conditions I’m a bit underwhelmed by the quality it produces (a lot of noise). Also, I still haven’t found the perfect camera replacement app suited for my needs. I think I’ll get used to it and fiddle my way around. As with most cameras when light conditions are good image quality seems satisfying.

Battery Life

I’m not sure yet as I’ve been using my Nexus extensively, installed apps, played games and fooled around, so, granted, the battery got drained really quick. Still, my feeling is that it’s not enough capacity. Haven’t tried any battery saving apps yet though.


Just some of the apps I find myself using a lot.

Press / 2,25 €

A really beutifully designed RSS reader that syncs with Feedly, Feed Wrangler, Feedbin and Feed a Fever. In my opinion on par with Reeder for iOS.
Besides the good design Pocket/Instapaper and image caching for offline reading were important to me.

VSCO Cam / free + IAP

Being a big fan of VSCO the release of their great app for Android was actually a reason for me to dare jumping off the iOS ship! The UI is basically the same as on iOS but with the new processing power of the Nexus it’s way faster. Probably true for the iPhone 5S, too. I was really impressed that my In-App purchases I bought on iOS could be re-downloaded to Android without paying again. Awesome!

SwiftKey / 1,99 € (currently on sale)

Everybody tells you to use SwiftKey so I gave it a shot – and I won’t go back. Besides still having to learn to handle the bigger device predictions and corrections are WAY better than on iOS. You can keep your thumb on the screen and swipe around the letters you’d like to write and, with surprising precision, SwiftKey recognizes what you’d like to say. Of course you can just type conventionally. Even though you can switch the main input language predictions and auto corrections for other languages will always be presented, which is a major relief if you ever tried throwing in some English words into your otherwise German text. There’s a free lite version available to give it a shot.

Carbon / free

I haven’t tried lots of Twitter clients yet, Carbon seems ok so far. If you know an alternative that feels a bit more like TweetBot please tell me. I miss the swipe gestures on a single tweet to show conversations/replies.

Whatsapp / free for the first year

Yea, nothing special here. But: this is the first app where I find home screen widgets a useful feature. You can put shortcuts to contacts on your homescreen and directly jump into conversations. Awesome!

AirDroid / free

This one I still remember from the not-so-good old days of Android 2.x. AirDroid allows you to access your device from a web browser to manage files and write text messages. Coming from iOS I just love the simplicity of quickly uploading some music without the hassle of iTunes.

Smart Audiobook Player / free + IAP

Granted, the icon is horrible and the UI kind of a mess. But if you enjoy audio books I think it’s still a must have (and it’s not as ugly as Mort Player at least). Smart Audiobook Player lets you choose your main audiobook folder,and shows its contents even if there’s a .nomedia file inside (if you put such a file inside a folder it won’t be shown by default media players and image viewers). You can add bookmarks, set a sleep timer and even decide to stop playback when your device wasn’t moved for a certain amount of time.

Camera FV-5 / 2,99 €

I’m still looking for an appropriate alternative to my beloved iOS app ProCamera. This is so far the only app I could find that allows you to set focus and exposure separately using your fingers. It works, but it feels a bit sluggish and it’s unfortunately really not comparable with its competitors on iOS. There’s a ton of other features I don’t really care about too much.

And of course there are some apps that probably don’t need any further description:

  • Snapseed
  • Pocket (missing swipe gestures to quickly mark articles as read from the overview)
  • GMail (way better than on iOS)
  • Chrome
  • Spotify (seems to use too much background data, keep watching it)
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • DB Navigator
  • Dropbox
  • dict.cc
  • Quizduell Premium (ugly as hell, but still fun playing)
  • VLC
  • Zattoo

Can’t re-download previously purchased Program on the Mac AppStore

Mac AppStore failure

Today the Mac AppStore was bugging me quite a bit. I wanted to download and install an app that I had purchased some months ago. It failed with some message telling me I should try it from the Purchases tab of the AppStore. This looked like in the screenshot, the button didn’t do anything (see screenshot). In the Applications folder there was an icon with an unfinished progress bar of the app I was about to install. I deleted it, but alone that didn’t help.

Clean the AppStore caches

What did the trick was deleting the AppStore caches. To find their location open a Terminal window and enter open $TMPDIR../C/. A new Finder window will pop up and bring you to some crazy directory structure where you’ll find a directory called com.apple.appstore. I deleted it, restarted my Mac and voilà, I could redownload my desired App. It didn’t show up with an Install button as usually with already bought programs but with the price tag and the Buy button. I felt adventurous though, accepted it and entered my password. Luckily the AppStore now told me that this “Update” was free to install as I had bought it previously. Phu!

Font Awesome Icons for Keynote

Font Awesome Iconset for Keynote

Since I just got addicted to using Keynote for website wireframing/prototyping I’ve been looking around to find some theme that contains a useful set of scalable vector icons to be used inside Keynote. Instead of finding ready-to-use themes I found something better – SVG2KEYNOTE is a nifty command line utility that helps you to convert SVG files to keynote files! The author of SVG2KEYNOTE has also released a plugin for Illustrator CS5+ to export vector graphics directly from that application.

So I used this handy tool to convert the awesome icons of Font Awesome into a keynote document. I removed the icon’s names and realigned them (rather quickly) to get a better overview on a single slide. Thanks to the great people behind Font Awesome releasing their work under a CC licence I guess it’s fine to make my Keynote file available here. Feel free to grab it and have fun prototyping with Keynote!

Updated for the currently latest version of Keynote (6.5.2)

When Beamer App crashes…

…and your syslog says something like:

30.06.12 10:20:41,526 Beamer: Unable to load nib file: MainMenu, exiting
30.06.12 10:20:41,528 com.apple.launchd.peruser.501: ([0x0-0x2d02d].com.tupil.beamer[529]) Exited with code: 1

….then you might be using a little tool called Disk Doctor to free up your disk space. If you’ve configured Disk Doctor to remove (purportedly) unnecessary language files it will kill your Beamer installation.

The solution is simple: re-download Beamer App and copy it over the old one inside your applications directory, overriding existing files. Uncheck that option in Disk Doctor and Beamer should be running smoothly as ever.

Forerunner 305, Windows 7 64 bit und ein Bluescreen of Death

Wer oben genannte Kombination im Einsatz hat, hat sich vielleicht auch schon über den gelegentlichen BSOD geärgert, wenn das Garmin-Geräte Daten übertragen sollte. Nachdem die Windows-Abstürze bei mir in den letzten Wochen immer häufiger auftraten habe ich mich mal umgesehen, kann ja nicht sein, dass ich der einzige bin.

Was (bislang) geholfen hat:

  • Sämtliche Garmin-Software deinstallieren, auch und besonders wichtig “Garmin USB Drivers”
  • Alle Garmin-Treiber deinstallieren (grmnusb.sys, grmngen.sys), über Gerätemanager sowie eventuelle Backups per Suchfunktion aufspüren und entfernen
  • Uhr anschließen und Treiber von Windows automatisch installieren lassen
  • Alle Browser schließen (ein laufender Chrome wird vom Setup ignoriert und das Plugin funktioniert dann dort nicht!)
  • Garmin Communicator installieren
  • die im Hintergrund erneut installierten “Garmin USB Drivers” wieder deinstallieren (Gerätemanager zeigt gleiche Treiber-Version wie vor der Communicator-Installation an, bei mir derzeit Version vom 19/04/2012)

Seither kein weiterer Bluescreen!