Be told when anything happens online

If you visit a lot of websites all the time, stop and ask me about RSS instead. You’ll have plenty of chances as I rarely shut up about it. But as well as this tool for making websites send you their new articles, there are ways to get all sorts of information without schlepping off to site after site. One new way involves IFTTT and a tool called TrackIf:

TrackIf helps you track the web and alerts you if anything you want changes online, helping you be the first to know when anything happens online. Track price drops on any product at nearly any shopping site. Something you want out of stock? No problem, TrackIf can alert you if it’s available again.

Connect TrackIf to anything – IFTTT

Read the full piece. It’ll either bore you or awaken a brilliant interest in automating te web for you. A brilliant interest that becomes all consuming, but there you go.

 Brevity. Soul. Wit.

This made me laugh.

There’s no magical length for a Tweet, but a recent report by Buddy Media revealed that Tweets shorter than 100 characters get a 17% higher engagement rate.


The ideal length of a Facebook post is less than 40 characters

Both of these are from an article on (Buffer is a service that lets you write tweets in advance and it posts them to a schedule you specifiy. I’ve started using it on Fridays for when my personal blog, Self Distract, goes up. I’ll write the first tweet about it live but I’re recently used Buffer for the other times I mention it, specifically around lunchtime and early evening on Fridays – because otherwise I often forget.)

I have no reason to doubt or suspect or really in any meaningful or statistical way do anything but completely believe this information about writing short tweets and updates.

I am just humanly incapable of ever doing it. I see writing as our getting to talk, me and you, not as some trigger to get a reaction from you. Let alone to get 17% more of a reaction.

Plus I wish places would stop calling things scientific when they mean statistical.

But on the one hand, maybe you care about this detail more than I do, in which case I want you to see the full feature on And on the other hand, maybe you like my Brevity – Soul – Wit headline as much as do. In which case I want you to see the Royal Shakespeare Company mug that has it written on.


Big new 1Password for iOS update

If you already have 1Password then the odds are that your iPhone has updated it for you. Just as it did to me, exactly as I opened the old one to take a screengrab so that you could see the difference.

“Oh,” I said as the icon changed under my finger. “Well.”

So I can't show you what it used to look like, you just need to trust me that it looks very nice now. It was fine before, I liked it before, but I like it better now. And if your phone hasn't done the update or you don't yet have 1Password, I could copy-and-paste Agile Bits' description of their changes. But I'd rather just highlight one apparently trivial one. More than apparently trivial, it is definitely trivial and yet:

For those upgrading from 1Password 3 for iOS, the import process is much improved.

My lights, it was bad before. You had to open 1Password 3, then open 1Password 4 and the later version would magically figure out you were updating. It would set you up, easy. No bother. Except it wasn't easy and it was all bother and it didn't figure out anything. I felt like an alchemist going through that upgrade and maybe it was satisfying when everything suddenly worked, but I'd rather have been satisfied an hour or two sooner.

Then even knowing what I had worked out, it took more hours to get my wife Angela Gallagher's 1Password 4 upgrade to work.

Once you're on, though, you're away. It is superb. This is the bit of the page that would get quoted in an internal Agile Bits report and quite right too: it really is superb. Once you get beyond the upgrade.

But you do, you will, and apparently it's easier now. Fingers crossed for whenever 1Password 5 comes out.

Go get the new 1Password for iOS for the first or the next time right here. And right now.

Two updates for Launch Centre Pro

The new: Launch Centre Pro's iPhone version has some twiddles including a new keyboard – and there's now an iPad version.

The links: Launch Centre Pro for iPhone, Launch Centre Pro for iPad (they're not the same)

The cost: the new iPad version is £5.49 and the iPhone one is £2.99.

The rest: the point of LCP is that you can pile a bunch of buttons into one spot on your iOS device and with a tap at least open applications quickly. That's enough for many people but really it's not for launching apps per se, it's best for making those apps do something. So, for instance, I have long had a button that fires up OmniFocus and enters a task. Rather than find OmniFocus – though, look, it's right there on my front page, where else would I put it? – and then open it, then tap to add a task, I can be just right in there typing. In, out and gone faster than OmniFocus itself is.

Or rather, was. I've been noticing that OmniFocus 2 for iPhone running on iOS 7 is usually as quick to enter a task as Launch Centre Pro is. Enough so that I keep going straight to OmniFocus instead of LCP.

Right now I am havering over whether LCP earns its keep on the front page of my iPhone. Right now, probably not. But if I relegate it to any other page then I will simply never use it because it will never be quicker to go via LCP.

But if it's of use to you and if I regain my habit of using it myself, Launch Centre Pro is a good application. And now it has added a new keyboard designed to make typing faster. I've not tried it. I may be the only person in the world who can type just fine on the iPhone, but I can so I do and have never even looked into this one.

Whereas I did soon and fairly often look to see if there were an iPad version of Launch Centre Pro. I reckoned I could do something with that and TextExpander to create a quick way of logging sales. But I couldn't because there was no Launch Centre Pro for iPad.

And now there is.

Same idea, same use and for me the same question of whether I'd use it or not. So far while I'm thinking about the iPhone one, I haven't dropped six pounds on its iPad cousin. But I do go in cycles with this app, I may well be back.

Apple improves Gmail support in OS X 10.9.1

Right now my Mac is nudging me. Oi, William, it’s saying, I’ve got something for you. That’s nice but what’s nicer is that I can say nudge me again in an hour or maybe try me tonight or perhaps tomorrow and the nudging will go away.

And it will come back so I don’t have to add to my To Do list that there is a new version of OS X Mavericks, I certainly don’t have to remember that lottery-number-length “10.9.1”. I can just agree to it being downloaded the next time I leave my desk.

The significant digit of the 10.9.1 is that last .1 because this is a small, minor, trivial update so I’m happy to just let it loose while I go off somewhere. But it’s also one of those teeny updates that bring important things – to some people. If you are a heavy Gmail user then you’ve apparently been narked by how OS X Mavericks broke Apple’s support for Gmail. It didn’t break it enough that you could see it had died, no, it just bent it a bit so that you’d be working away unaware that something wasn’t right.

I don’t believe anyone lost any data, this was a matter of convenience but an important matter of convenience. Apparently.

I’m not particularly a fan of Gmail – ask me why some day, it’s trivial but it sticks with me – so I don’t need the update for this. But there are also tweaks akimbo for software that I do use, such as the Safari web browser.

Plus, it’s such a quick download and such an automatic don’t-need-to-think-about-it kind of job that if you’d started it instead of reading this, you’d be updated now. Sorry about that.

Your Mac will be telling you the update is available but if it hasn’t yet, check up the Software Update option in the App Store.