This Machine Makes Breakfast

This former pilot spent 1000-hours building the ultimate morning integration, an automatic breakfast machine. Personally, I prefer my eggs scrambled, but a soft boiled egg with toast, coffee and tea made automatically sounds pretty fantastic. It also hands over something called a "paper." I think I heard my parents talk about those at some point.

Check out the video below to see it in action.

Will the iPhone soon have no ports?

Apple is developing "long distance" wireless charging, according to a report from TechCrunch today. This report comes just a few weeks after everyone freaked out over a rumor that Apple was going to remove the headphone jack. The use of wireless charging would seemingly allow Apple to remove all ports from the phone. However, TechCrunch says this form of wireless charging will likely not show up until at least 2017.

Wireless charging's been around for a while, and there have been a few examples of long-range wireless charging working. Like this German student who thought he was John Galt until it became apparent his device basically "steals" power. (Though it's somewhat up for debate how much power the device takes that would have made it into the electrical grid.)

But as an ultra-progressive tech consumer, I'm all for removing both ports. CDs did not go away (entirely) until Apple removed the optical drives from its MacBook Pro line, and the cold turkey switch from the 30-pin connector to the Lightning Connector was a beautiful thing and relatively painless.

Apple is well-positioned to pull off a feat of this magnitude and release an iPhone 7s or 8 without any ports at all since it owns half the U.S. market. Wi-Fi transfers are plenty fast, and if you don't have a pair of Bluetooth headphones, you can buy them for less than a pair of Apple's "ear pods" here.

The only thing stopping the tech giant might be investors worried it will stunt growth. It might, but I think there's a good chance the long term effects of the increased battery and storage capacity would make up the difference.

3 Apps No OS X User Should Live Without

TextExpander

TextExpander saves users hours of time over the course of a year by allowing them to turn redundant typing tasks into a few short keystrokes.

Apple has built some functions similar to TextExpander into OS X - you can set shortcuts that trigger your keyboard to print out additional words, but it's still not nearly as powerful as TextExpander. TextExpander's particularly useful for dates and other pieces of information that may change over time but are easily obtainable on the web or on your computer. It takes some thought, but I'm sure there are a dozen ways TextExpander could make your work life much easier.

Here are some of my favorite TextExpander shortcuts ("snippets"):

  • email lists
  • email subject lines that require day of the week or a date 
  • multiple email signatures
  • command line arguments (These were particularly useful while grading this previous semester) 
  • skeleton code for types of programs
  • pseudocode of common algorithms
  • common file names, particularly ones that include dates
  • websites I frequent

TextExpander can be synchronized (via Dropbox) across all of your devices. There is a growing list of iOS applications that have built in TextExpander support, and TextExpander has its own keyboard that will allow you to use your snippets anywhere you want. 

BetterTouchTool

Windows doesn't do many things better than OS X, but it still holds a huge lead when it comes to intuitive window snapping. But never fear! BetterTouchTool is here to bring you intuitive window snapping that doesn't require you to do that silly full screen thing Apple baked into OS X.

You can easily put your text editor on the right side of the screen, while safely placing your browser on the left. Then watch your productivity EXPLODE.

That barely scratches the top of what BetterTouchTool can do. It just happens to be my favorite feature and the main reason I make sure its installed on every computer I use. You can also add gestures for your various input devices - trackpad, mouse, keyboard, etc. It's free, so you should definitely download it just to take a look.

1Password - OS X ($32), Windows ($32), iOS (Free)

There is a lot of debate over exactly what makes a "great" password. Some websites prefer you have a number and a character in a password. Others won't let you use your name. Some even require you use two-factor authentication no matter what. Regardless of the rules you use to create your passwords, there's one rule you should always follow: make a different password for EVERY LOGIN. 

But how are you supposed to generate and memorize all of these passwords? That's where 1Password comes in. 1Password synchronizes across all of your devices - it puts your passwords behind a master password on OS X, and on iOS it hides it behind your fingerprint. You can enter passwords, credit card numbers and pretty much any other piece of sensitive information you can think of into 1Password and access it from all of your devices. Even better, you don't even have to see your passwords with your own eyes because you can copy and paste them from the app directly into the appropriate field. That's right. The passwords are so secret you don't even have to see them.

The app also has browser extensions available for all major browsers, which allow you to utilize your passwords quickly and easily while also working to save new passwords into your vault as they're created.

 

In addition to these three applications there are - of course - many others. If you would like to hear about more ways to streamline your OS X workflow, listen to Integrate where Mikah and I are always discussing new applications and workarounds we have discovered to make our work lives more seamless.


3 Batteries That Will Keep You at 100% in 2016

No matter what devices you use to get work done - iPhone, Android or Windows, power is a concern. Mophie’s battery cases are nice, but I find them bulky. I do my best to keep my devices as thin and sleek as possible, which has its downsides but I find it results in the best overall experience. This is a list of my three favorite external batteries.

1.  Anker Astro E7

Image via Anker.com

Image via Anker.com

The Astro E7 is without a doubt the best purchase I made in 2015. The Astro E7 has more capacity than I ever imagined, and Anker’s PowerIQ technology remains totally unparalleled. The battery sports enough power to charge multiple iPhone 6 Pluses or iPad airs, not to mention it takes just a fraction of the time of a standard wall charger. You can even give your “new” Macbook a full charge if you have a standard USB to USB-c cable. (I’ve gone 16-hour days without having to find a wall outlet because there was so much juice in this thing.) The drawbacks? It’s a little heavy but not terrible for the amount of power it holds. It also takes FOREVER to charge. I suppose that is to be expected, though. I recommend plugging it in overnight. Your best shot at speeding up the charging process is to purchase one of Anker’s wall charging adapters that use the same PowerIQ technology that is in the battery.

2. Anker Magic Magnetic Zolo 6000mAh Portable Power Bank

Yes, this is also an Anker product. No, they did not sponsor this content. They’re simply the best at this point.

The Magic Magnetic Zolo packs only a fraction of the power in the Astro E7, but that’s okay because I don’t take it very far. I actually own two of these little guys, and they rotate between the charger and my fridge. I got a fridge mount for my first generation iPad Mini, which was collecting dust. (Mikah says first generation iPads make great paperweights.) The batteries allow me to keep the iPad on the fridge and just change out the batteries. I use HelloFresh for several meals each week, and I need to be able to look up the recipes online in a timely fashion. I also keep GrubHub and my “Pizza Locator” app from Workflow on the front page in case I’m feeling particularly lazy. 

The batteries work like a charm and keep my iPad full of power. But more than that, they stay out of the way on the fridge. Living in a small apartment just outside of New York City, space is at a premium. These batteries help me conserve space and keep power handy both for the iPad and if I need to load a quick charge into my phone or another device.

3. Upow 5000mAh Portable Charger Solar Power Bank

“Solar is the future of power.” - A Smart Person, at some point probably

Image via Amazon.com

Image via Amazon.com

I’m still testing this device, but I have tried several solar batteries over the last year as they’ve become relatively inexpensive. The Upow is the sleekest of the bunch, easily attaching to my backpack via carabiner and only turning on when it can actually receive sunlight. (I tried one battery that appeared to drain itself trying to charge in a dark space.) This is the least-essential purchase of the three. But it might move up the list for those of you who spend a lot of time working outside or always run out of power sitting in the stands at baseball games. I recommend checking it out, and for $24, it might be worth getting one just to see if you can integrate it into your life.

The list is always changing.

The market for portable batteries is constantly being updated with higher capacity and quicker charging products. If you want to stay current on the best ways to keep all your devices charged and performing at their highest levels, be sure to subscribe to our podcast. Mikah and I are always working to find new and better ways to keep the electricity flowing!

3 Tips to Get the Most Out of Your New iPhone

1. Dock what you need; use folders for everything else.

The dock is the center of every Apple product, and it's there to make your life easier. Use the dock to hold the applications you open most. I like to keep Mail, Messages, Music and Omnifocus (my favorite to-do list application) within reach of my thumbs at all times. Depending on how much you use a web browser, you may want to drop Safari or Chrome into your dock.

Something I've noticed: Folders are incredibly under-utilized by most iOS users. You can end up wasting a lot of time sliding back and forth looking for an app buried somewhere in the middle of page 5. I like to live by one simple rule: If an app is not in my dock, and I use it daily, it should be on my home screen outside of a folder. The apps I use weekly are in a folder on my front page.

So, what about everything else? I access the rest of my apps through search. The search in iOS is now so easy to access (just swipe down on the home page), there’s no reason to spend precious seconds swiping around for elusive apps. Simply slide down and start typing the app’s name. 9 times out of ten, it'll appear after you've typed the first few letters. And if you're running iOS 9, Siri may drop the app in front of you before you even begin typing.

Here’s a look at how Mikah and I organize our phones (tap for a closer look):

A.J.'s Home screen

Mikah's Home screen

2. Make it your data hub.

The iPhone has become the central data hub for everything I do. Whether it’s class notes, work emails, sleep data, website analytics, passwords, or photos, I keep a copy of everything on my iPhone. If, after I've finished editing, I forget to send Mikah a link to our latest podcast files, I can easily send them from my phone. I can just as easily send off my WiFi password to a friend who's visiting me for the first time. Since iCloud and Dropbox can do most of the work for you, there's no reason to keep information off your mobile devices.

Your phone also has a wealth of data you may not expect; the iPhone keeps track of movement in both a “macro” and “micro” sense. Oh, and if you're creeped out by any of these next features, just know you can always disable them.

Micro Data

Every day, your iPhone tracks your steps and the flights of stairs you've climbed. If you have an Apple Watch, it'll also keeps tabs on your heart rate.

At this point, the information is fairly inconsequential. Eventually, however, there'll be enough information available that illness can be found long before more obvious signs show up.

Macro Data

Open your Home screen and tap the following: 
Settings » Privacy » Location Services » System Services » Frequent Locations

You are now looking at a list of everywhere you've visited since you began using your phone. The beautiful part of this is your phone tries to guess where you want to go next based on previous locations. It'll even provide helpful traffic information.

So, while yes, it's a tiny bit creepy, I'm willing to trade a bit of creepiness for a good amount of helpfulness.

3. Take advantage of iOS-only apps.

There are some useful (and totally beautiful) applications on the iPhone that no Android user will ever be able to use. Omnifocus, Reeder, and Overcast are three of my favorites.

  • Omnifocus is a very powerful task management app that gives users the tools needed to increase productivity. It relies on the “Getting Things Done” method, which was developed by David Allen. It's also integrated across the Apple ecosystem, giving each device its own unique advantages.
  • If you subscribe to RSS feeds, Reeder is a must have. RSS has, for the most part, gone the way of Netscape and AOL Instant Messenger, but it's still a very powerful way to keep up with your favorite writers and columnists. Reeder is far and away the best RSS-reading experience since the end of Google Reader (R.I.P.). Reeder allows users to quickly read the first few paragraphs of any article and load a given post’s full webpage seamlessly. It even synchronizes with all major RSS services.
  • Overcast is quite possibly the most powerful podcast app ever built. It gives users total control over their listening experience with “voice boost” and “smart speed.” Voice boost adjusts the audio so all voices have about the same loudness (no one's too loud or too quiet). Smart speed automatically removes gaps in audio, speeding up the listening process without speeding up voices. It also has one of the best recommendation engines: It can mine a user's Twitter feed to find podcast suggestions.

And many more …

These three tips barely brush the surface of what's possible; they just happen to be some of my favorite. If you're curious to learn what else your phone is capable of, be sure to subscribe to our podcast. Mikah and I are always going on about new and better ways to make use of that powerful little computer in your pocket!