It turns out that the current WordPress theme I’m using — Velox — does have an option to not show author links. So I no longer need an extra plugin to hash the author username (and reduce the ability to guess the admin login).

How to stop Mac App Store notifications

I’d honestly never clocked that the App Store isn’t listed in the Notifications control panel, although since I’ve now turned off notifications for most apps it’s glaringly obvious when updates do show up.

On a whim, I’ve been trying out posting to this blog from iA Writer. It sorta-kinda works, but gives me a singularly unhelpful error message even though the posting worked. It also dumps the draft post as a HTML blob, which can break in odd ways if converted to blocks in the Gutenberg editor depending on how I’d formatted things. (I was using some old stuff I wrote on Tumblr back in 2016 as test material.)

I think I’ll stick to writing my posts directly into the Gutenberg editor on the website, or else copy-pasting from iA Writer.

(Yes, I’m aware that Ulysses has improved their WordPress game, before you comment — however, I’d want to double-check that, and to be honest I’m quite happy with iA Writer at this point and would need a lot of persuasion to pony up for another subscription.)

My experiment with using DEVONthink to store my personal journal came to an end today. I exported all my Markdown files out and back into an iCloud Documents folder, and will be using iA Writer (plus a little help from Hazel on the Mac for archiving) in future.

Unfortunately, using DEVONthink (and DEVONthink To Go on the iPad) was introducing too much friction into the journalling process. With iA Writer, I can start a new journal page on whatever device I have to hand, and continue throughout the day.

It hasn’t been a totally wasted effort, however — I’ve learnt a lot more about how to use DEVONthink as a result of this experiment.

I may end up using DEVONthink indirectly, by having it index my journal archive, in order to see what it can tell me about my writing.

Basic Apple Guy:

A few weeks ago, I accidentally turned on Do Not Disturb, not for an hour, not until the evening, not until I left my current location, but in perpetuity. I haven’t turned it off, nor have I wanted to, and honestly, it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made in a long time.

It is a very tempting option, albeit the nuclear one.

The sad fact is that the current system for notifications on our mobile devices makes All or Nothing the default options, and doesn’t give the user much control over how many, what kind, when, etc.

Yes, it’s possible to go into Settings and fine-tune them, but the user has to a) find the relevant setting, b) work out which changes will give them what they want.

It doesn’t help that some apps and services are more than happy to abuse this system, regarding the mere downloading and opening of the app as all the permission they require, and the permission dialog as a formality.

Speaking personally, I’ve turned off most notifications and pushed the remainder to the Notification Centre so I only see them when I want to. But that was with a comparatively small number of installed apps — I would imagine that the average mobile device user would have a lot more work to do.

One of the utilities I keep on my Mac is CleanMyMac X. I’ve used previous versions of this app ever since I moved to an iMac in 2012, and it is very useful for finding and removing detritus left behind by apps, and free up storage space if needed.

However, with such powers comes the possibility of causing new problems by going overboard with the cleaning. I recently ran into issues with a few apps either complaining that they were damaged, or getting stuck when opening. I suspect this is because of CleanMyMac’s ability to not only clean around apps but inside them too, removing things like extra language support.

I’ve now curbed CleanMyMac’s enthusiasm, so it now only flags up things like broken start-up items. I’ll only allow it to do a deeper scan if I feel it’s warranted.

These days I’m not as constrained as I used to be when it comes to storage space on my Mac, partly because I’ve moved away from being a digital pack-rat. Unfortunately, the urge to check for problems is a little harder to shift, but I’m getting there.

I bumped up the default zoom setting in Vivaldi to 200%. My eyes are thanking me.

Vivaldi also lets you zoom the user interface scaling. Why is this not a standard feature everywhere? Not just in apps, but across the operating system. I remember this used to be a thing on Windows, and I’ve seen it as an option on the Linux distros I’ve tried recently, but macOS only gives you the option of scaling down the screen resolution, which I have a hard time wrapping my head around — are they that precious about their UI? (Evidence from Big Sur suggests not.)

Excited about Photoshop for Apple Silicon Macs? Well, maybe temper that excitement, because Om Malik has some bad news:

The M1-Photoshop is pretty useless for those — like me — who use third-party extensions as part of their editing workflow. For instance, I use some extensions that allow me to pursue highly granular masking via luminosity masks. Other extensions for color grading (including Adobe’s own Color Themes) and additional tune-ups are also part of my flow. And none of them work with the new Photoshop. 

Extensions are not working because Adobe has shifted to a new way of writing extensions — specifically, using UXP. According to Adobe, “UXP provides modern JavaScript, a curated selection of UI components, and a more streamlined workflow for plugin developers.” In the past, Adobe used CEP (Common Extensibility Platform), which used web-based technologies like CSS to make the extensions work. The shift to UXP is visible with the M1-Mac version of Photoshop. 

In its breathless blog post and news releases around the new M1-Photoshop, Adobe (intentionally, I suspect) failed to mention that extensions weren’t working. Like many, I was forced to re-install those extensions, only to find them absent. After a few tries at rebooting the software and the computer, I was perplexed. I ended up on their support website to get the answers. Adobe wants us to get in touch with the extension developers to see if they are offering upgrades. 

They aren’t.

Sadly, this isn’t the first time that Adobe have pulled the rug out from under people by dropping one plugin architecture for another. They did this in 2013-14, only a few years into Creative Cloud, moving on from using Flash behind the scenes.

Plugins and extensions for Photoshop (and other Adobe apps) have always been a double-edged sword — potentially great for productivity, but always subject to the whims of the landlord who sets the house rules. That may not necessarily be just Adobe, of course, as those who’ve migrated to 32-bit and 64-bit Windows or from 68000 to PowerPC to Intel on Mac over the years will know. But in this case, it looks suspiciously like Adobe got caught out by the announcement of Apple Silicon Macs and rushed this change rather than give users (and plugin developers) time to adjust.

[ There’s another side to plugins for apps like Photoshop that I want to touch on. While the ability to extend its abilities is welcome for many, I have to wonder if it’s also an excuse for Adobe to slack off making improvements (and poach the ideas that plugin developers come up with) and a means to keep people within the ecosystem. Being the ‘industry standard’ doesn’t make it the right, or best, tool for you or your requirements. ]