An Epic Blog Post

Oliver Reichenstein, founder of iA Writer, writes about Apple and modern software monopolies. The entire post is well worth reading. And whether you side with him and the $17.86 billion corporation or the $1.97 trillion corporation, you gotta admit it takes guts to lay out that argument on your company blog when the future of your business depends on the kind of day your next anonymous App Store reviewer is having.

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Apple Indie Business

Download Jigsaw for macOS

Jigsaw is one of those ridiculously fun (dumb?) ideas that come along and smack you upside the head one day and you can’t help but take an afternoon to build.

Apple already lets you sync the contents of your Desktop using iCloud. But, if you’re a visual person like me who often arranges their Desktop icons in meaningful ways, not having the positions of your files on screen also stay in sync is frustrating as I move between my laptop and desktop throughout the day.

Jigsaw solves that by syncing the positions of your Desktop icons over iCloud. Move a folder on your iMac, and a few seconds later it mirrors itself on your laptop.

Jigsaw is free to download.

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Visually Syncing Your Mac's Desktop

For me, my Mac’s Desktop is my staging ground, my active workspace, the digital representation of my mental RAM. I’ll typically have all of the files related to the task I’m currently working on stored on my Desktop. Once it’s complete, I’ll either file them away or delete them and move on to the next thing.

Having the Desktop on my iMac at home stay in-sync with my work laptop eases the transition and context switching as I move between locations. Dropbox has been doing this for years, but actually getting into the correct folder in Dropbox always has just enough friction to keep me from using it with active files the way I do my Desktop. When Apple added the option to sync your Documents and Desktop folders into iCloud Drive a number of years ago, it was a perfect fit for me...


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DIY Video Hosting

I've been a paying customer of Vimeo since 2014 - specifically, their Pro plan. But when my renewal email arrived in April, myself and other small developers were seeing sales slow down as the pandemic worsened. Another $240/year was a tough sell for the small amount of video content I was hosting with them, and I wondered if there might be a cheaper alternative - either another service or by hosting videos myself.

So this is how I moved off Vimeo and started hosting my own video content.

On average, my bandwidth bill has dropped to $11/month - and that includes videos, static assets, and ALSO binary downloads for all of my Mac apps. Previously, I was paying $20/month just for video hosting on top of the rest of my bandwidth.

It's definitely a geekier solution that requires more work up front to setup, and I'm not sure I would recommend it for a "real" business, but for my needs it was a fun project and I'm happy to save $200 a year.

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To keep myself sane while dealing with my work deadlines, I've found myself tinkering around with an idea I've wanted to try building for years now. Oddly enough, it's not yet-another-app, but a website (web service, maybe?). And it's actually something that's designed to be self-hosted. I haven't yet decided if it will (eventually) be open source, or if I might solicit feedback from friends (real and online) just in case it's more useful than I think.

Sometimes the idea for something new comes in a flash of inspiration. And other times (as in the current case) it meanders around in the back of my head for years - just waiting for the right moment or combination of external factors.

For this project, it's the result of the rebirth of the indie web movement, my long time interest in self-hosting and owning the tools and data I run my business with, and Apple's WWDC announcements about Safari and their OS's upcoming privacy improvements.

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I really don't know if anyone has a need for this other than me. But I've built this app a few times for myself in the past, so last night I finally took the initiative to make it generic and reusable - both for my future self and anyone else who might find it useful.

It’s called BespokeApp. It’s a simple iOS app that gives you a tabbed web browser with the pre-defined websites of your choosing.

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A Pirate Looks (Nearly) at Forty

One night last June we managed to get the kids to bed early and decided to rent a movie from iTunes. About forty-five minutes in, our youngest throws up, the oldest starts screaming because of the smell, and all hell breaks loose. Movie night over.

For us, that’s when the spell broke. For seven years we played by the rules. So I walked from the couch to my office iMac, visited an old favorite website of ill repute, and ten minutes later streamed the move in 4K to our TV.

That one evening re-opened the piracy floodgates for us, and we haven’t bought or rented another TV show or movie since.

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Very Simple

I'll keep this post short because there's really nothing more of substance I can add to this argument that many developers and pundits way smarter than myself haven't already said.

But I suppose it's flaring up again in the community because of the controversy, the recent developer survey Apple sent out (my less polite response from last year), and WWDC looming next week.

From my point of view this is all very simple:

The App Store opened eleven years, eleven months, and seven days ago. It is not a game. It is literally the livelihood of millions of people.

The 30% shakedown has never been justified other than "we can".

The capricious and inconsistent review process has never been explained other than "no comment".

With all the awfulness and urgency in the world right now; and with all the good Apple truly is doing, it feels like a waste of precious attention and resources to complain about the App Store. But, hey, that's business.



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Apple Indie Business


And so now I think about not just all the photos and videos - but the 65,234 comments across 16,752 items we've shared. (How do I know those exact numbers? I'll tell you in a minute.) Each one may be insignificant by itself. But combined? They represent 2,596 days of shared family history.

And when I think about losing the post she made about our newborn son in the hospital? Or the one she commented on last week? Only because there's no way to get access to that trove of data? It breaks my heart.

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Do You Hear That?

Shortly into quarantine at the beginning of March, I realized I had a problem. My iMac has too many audio devices, and managing them was becoming a pain in the ass. And it was all because working full-time at home again, in this new age of frequent work video meetings, Slack and Discord calls, and dealing with two young, screaming kids with no school to attend, created a perfect storm of audio requirements.

So I did what I always end up doing, and wrote the app I wanted for myself.

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