Cloak VPN for OS X and iOS#

One of the coolest features of this VPN service is that it will auto-secure networks that aren’t in a whitelist you create. For example, let’s say you try to get on a WiFi network that’s not the one at your house or office (which you would have previously whitelisted); Cloak will automatically pop into action and secure your data. Additionally, these settings are sync’d across your Mac and iOS devices.

Cloak is the best kind of service–one that just works, and that you don’t have to think about at all. Set it and forget it.

For my money and peace of mind, their $99/year unlimited data plan is a steal.

Climendo iOS app#

It’s been a long time since I wrote about a weather app, and for good reason—Dark Sky came out, and it’s great. That said, and as with any weather app, you have to have a little faith in its forecasts; you kind of have to make a deal with yourself that this service’s data is going to be your canonical data. If you don’t make that deal, then you’re constantly going to be questioning the app’s data.

The problem for me is that I question the data no matter what, and I’ve said for a long time that I’d like an app that “averages” the data from all of the competing providers, which is exactly what Climendo does.

The presentation isn’t great (and in fact, it’s a little confusing), but the sentiment is there, and I think with a little polish this app could become a daily driver. The name is hideous and the icon is even worse, but the idea is a great one and I hope to see them iterate on it (though I’m not too confident on that front as it hasn’t been updated since July).

Wikipedia iOS app#

Did you guys even know this existed? It was news to me, and they’re on v4.0.3 (which includes iPhone 6 (Plus) support). Anyway, it’s a pretty good app, and in fact, I’ve deleted Wikipanion+ and Articles from my iOS devices. The only thing that’s really missing for me is in-page search, the lack of which I think is a bit embarrassing given the whole point of the app/service.

JUMP Cable from Native Union#

I’ve been meaning to write about this since the day I got it a couple of months ago. The packaging and build quality are incredible, and one could easily see this gracing the shelves of an Apple store. (To be fair, Native Union has been an operating company for a long time, and so it’s not so surprising to receive such a highly-polished product from them, despite it being Kickstarter’d.)

Because I backed the Kickstarter campaign, I had the option to get the “smoke grey” version, which of course I did, because the body is translucent, allowing you to see some of its innards. It’s a beautiful piece of kit, and light enough that if you need to dangle it while plugged into your phone, it’s really not a big deal.

My only real complaint is that it can be a little difficult to “unsnap” the USB and Lightning connectors from their closed positions. I don’t like having to put fingernail notches in the rubberized coating to release the connectors.

While on the topic of portable power, I have my eye on uNu’s Ultrapak Go, which apparently can— after just 15 minutes of charging—provide a full battery’s worth of power to an iPhone 5s. I asked the company whether additional wall chargers could be bought (because I’d like to charge the Ultrapak at work and home), and they told me that spares should be available for purchase near the end of August.

Ultimate Ears BOOM Bluetooth speaker#

I’ve owned quite a few Bluetooth speakers and this one is by far my favorite. Apropos of nothing, a few weeks ago I decided to buy the black/red model, and have come to absolutely adore it.

The design, the packaging, the incredibly solid build quality, the battery life, the flat and flexible micro-USB power cable, the sound quality, and the rubberized body are all excellent. But, what makes it really stand apart for me, and makes it almost a non-device, is the way it connects and disconnects to my iOS devices.

It stays connected to my devices until there’s been no activity from any of them for some predetermined timeout period. At this point, it powers down and stays off until I touch the power button. Upon powering up, and assuming one of my devices has Bluetooth turned on, it reconnects within seconds…and if I’m already playing audio on that device, it immediately gets piped through the UE Boom. I realize this sounds obvious—and how it should work—but in my experience, it’s just never been this easy (or consistent).

I can’t recommend this speaker enough.

Rapid Reader#

As far as I know, this is the first Spritz-powered (iOS) app with Pocket integration (+Instapaper and Readability). Unfortunately though, it has a pretty big flaw (that will be fixed in the next release): “archive” and “delete” actions executed within the app don’t cascade down to your read-it-later service, and so you have to keep track of which articles you’ve read and archive/delete them twice.

Update: The issue above has been resolved in the latest version, v1.0.2.

The 1Password Watchtower service is now built in to 1Password for Mac#

Watchtower is a new component of 1Password’s popular Security Audit feature, which shows you items with weak passwords, duplicate passwords, and other handy info to help you decide which Logins to update. […]

In its initial version, Watchtower checks whether a website is (or ever was) vulnerable to the internet’s nasty Heartbleed security bug, then tells you whether it’s safe to update your password.

Now we’ve taken the next major step and made it much easier to stay secure online, as Watchtower can now check all your Logins at once, right inside 1Password for Mac.

Just brilliant. No excuses.

The Elevation Stand is an aluminum, unibody stand for Apple displays#

I backed this Kickstarter project almost immediately, and in fact, I ordered two stands right out of the gate (one for work, and one for home). I can’t tell you how many times over the years I’ve gone on a quest for the WORLD’S BEST MONITOR STAND™ (surprise!), and I always felt like I came up short (though, of course, I bought quite a few along the way). Obviously it wasn’t for lack of trying, but rather because almost everything out there was shit.

One look at this stand and I knew my search was over…at least until you guys read this and point me to something else.

The old ways we explained new tech#

When a technology is still new, reporters can’t mention it without explaining it. Here’s how the NYT first tech-splained the most important new inventions of the last 135 years.

The private lives of public bathrooms#

I found this article utterly fascinating (probably because I can relate to some of the anxieties discussed).

[T]he public bathroom is a place that has ingrained behaviors and social rituals—leaving space at the urinals, avoiding conversation even with people you know—that we’ve all experienced, if not daily at an office, than out in the world, at restaurants and ball parks and airports. The public collides uncomfortably with the private in the bathroom as it does nowhere else, and the unique behaviors we perform stem from a complex psychological stew of shame, self-awareness, design, and gender roles.

An OS X Service for saving to Pocket

February 25, 2014

A few days ago on Twitter I asked if anyone had seen or created a save-to-Pocket OS X Service (so that I could save a link from inside any application), and I wondered aloud if I’d have to create it myself. Just as I was thinking all hope was lost, Twitter user, @prenagha, wrote me to tell me that the Service I’d been lusting after gets installed with Pocket’s Mac app—it was already on my system!

Of course my first thought was that this person was wrong, and didn’t quite understand what I meant by “OS X Service”, but then once I got back in front of my Mac I wandered over to System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts, and there it was staring me right in the face. Works like a charm.

(I typed this up for all you future searchers, as this wasn’t immediately obvious to me and a quick browse of Pocket’s site makes me think they make no mention of it there.)