Foolish Chatter

geekery, and so forth w/ @alsmo

Author: Alan Smodic

  • Apple is trying to thread the needle with AirTags, allowing them to be used for good but not for evil. It’s complicated, and Apple knew that going in—but it turns out it still has a lot to learn.

    Apple issues an AirTag status update – Six Colors

    One update I’d love to see is a trusted partner network for your AirTags. It could even be as simple as having shared tags amongst Family Sharing members. My wife, for instance, shouldn’t have to get the ping on her device if she happens to take my car somewhere.

  • 1/22: Switching to Brave

    At the beginning of January, I noted my aim to move to Brave as my default browser.

    This has become something of a monthly theme where I’m looking to change some of my computing workflows throughout 2022. And, honestly, this one may end up being the easiest to accomplish.

    I’ve been using Brave full-time for a while now and I’m completely happy. It helps that it’s Chromium-based and thus supports all of the extensions I used on Chrome. And, while I don’t have any need for the crypto features, it at least lets me turn that functionality off.

    I still use other ad & script blocking measures, but I like that my browser has a default mechanism to capture a majority of these upfront. And I suspect removing the Chrome bloat has been a sigh of relief from my MacBook Pro. With Chrome, my fans constantly spun. Not so much, if at all really, with Brave.

    I see nothing but positives at the moment, and don’t see myself reinstalling Chrome ever.

    Secondarily, I did check out Vivaldi a little bit, but not as much as I’d hoped. I still have it installed and look forward to testing is customizations and pro-user functionality.

    For the first time in a while, I’m excited about browsers and look forward to seeing how some of these companies can innovate in this space.

    I’ll post about February’s activity soon, which may be more about reading workflows than one specific app.

  • All I need to do to open an Amazon search page with my affiliate link included is to prepend “az” to my search query. I can do this directly from Safari’s Address Bar or Spotlight on iPhone, iPad, and Mac. I typically use Alfred as a Spotlight replacement on the Mac, and it works there, too.

    Search Better with Keyword Search and Shortcuts — HeyDingus

    This post reminded me of my Alfred style search in iOS note.

    Keyword Search, and the process HeyDingus mentions in the article above, is also a powerful Safari extension in this regard. There’s a lot of action that can happen in iOS Spotlight these days if you put in a tad bit of extra effort.

  • Bring back Dashboard?

    The type of things I would have glanced at dashboard for, is just a quick swipe away on my iPhone.

    Apple Should Bring Back Dashboard – Initial Charge

    Or a glance at my watch. I do think notifications on Mac needs a complete rethink, though.

    *see also:

  • MacSparky’s Comms Board

    This is the array of apps I keep on a separate space to the left of my working screen. It’s a collection of my communication apps. The idea of this is to keep communications separate from my working screen and require me to intentionally switch screens to go into that mode.

    My Comms Board – MacSparky

    This is a good idea and I wish I had thought of doing it before.

    I’m a big fan of splitting out apps into fullscreen mode on my Mac that I swipe in and out of, but I’m ashamed to admit I don’t really utilize a second standard (non fullscreen) desktop with (more than two) apps set to specific areas. I’m about to fix that.

    Side note: I’m loving how much more David is blogging now that he’s gone full-time with MacSparky.

  • With some small changes, Apple could empower more people to close their rings. It encourages better behaviors without penalizing for a day off when rest is needed, or an injury or illness sidelines you for a little while.

    Close Your Rings Differently –

    Tim has a couple of good options in his post above, and I totally agree with the sentiment.

    Pushing yourself when sick or hurt isn’t ideal, nor should you feel discouraged when breaking a streak because of it. Rest days are just as important, and I hope Apple acknowledges that for users who rely on the Activity app.

    One additional item I’d add is the option to add a mindful minutes ring. Apple could do a lot to push mental health for all by simply making it stand out a bit more. The pieces are already there with watch notifications and guided sessions through Fitness+, and this would be the extra nudge that some need to ensure they’re in a better headspace.

  • Replacicon

    A simple little app that let’s you easily change the icons of third-party apps on your Mac. But it also watches for app updates in the background so your customized icons are not lost.

    Replacicon – Initial Charge

    An instant buy. Thanks, Mike!

    Learn more:

  • For the fifth year in a row, we’ve doubled the number of our monthly active users, going from 24 million MAU on December 31st, 2020, to over 50 million by the end of 2021.

    Brave Passes 50 Million Monthly Active Users, Growing 2x for the Fifth Year in a Row | Brave Browser

    Count me as one of those users.

    I’ve been meaning to write about this, but I’m still formulating the full 2022 plan. Essentially, I’m in search of alternatives for some of the major things I do on the web. I want to better safeguard my privacy, support good companies and contribute more to the open web.

    Up first was browsing. I have already been using Brave as my main browser, but I’ve now uninstalled Chrome and am trying out the customizations found within Vivaldi.

    Currently installed on my MacBoook:

    • Brave
    • Vivaldi
    • Firefox
    • Safari

    At the end of the month, I’ll check back in and tee up February’s activity.


    Quick Reviews is a very basic website that replicates the look of my reviews but does it entirely in HTML, CSS, and a hit of JavaScript. This is aggressively simple, and it’s far from a premium site at this point, but I wanted to get something out there and see if people are interested.

    Introducing Quick Reviews, a Website for Making Beautiful Micro-Reviews for Books, Movies, or Whatever

    I love how much fun Matt has making — and shipping — these little projects of his. I will for sure bookmark this and put it to use.

  • TL;DR The “Bucket” is Reeder 5 on macOS, iOS, and iPadOS and the net that scoops everything up is Feedbin. This is also the sync system.

    Internet Bucket of Consumption – //Jason Burk

    I jump around too often as well and one of my new year’s hopes is to streamline my app usage. Of the apps Jason listed, I’m spreading too much between Instapaper, Pinboard, Matter, Raindrop, and GoodLinks. Jason outlines a way to utilize Reeder and Feedbin (which is my syncing engine) as a way to consume your content.

    I love Unread on iOS, but use Reeder on the Mac. Maybe I should go back to using all Reeder and ditch Matter as the read-it-later service.