Note: David is on vacation until mid-September, so replies to support queries may be delayed.
Check out the r/Dejal community on Reddit for mutual support.

timeout

DejalNews #82: Time Out 2.8 and Simon 5.0 released

DejalNews header

DejalNews 2021-06, issue #82

Welcome

This is DejalNews, an occasional newsletter from Dejal.

If you want to receive these newsletters in your email inbox, head over to the DejalNews subscribe page to sign up.

Time Out 2.8.1

Time Out version 2.8 was recently released, with a quick 2.8.1 update for one issue.

This update features several great enhancements, including a new option to end a break early, the ability to postpone breaks instead of skip them with app exclusions, support for Do Not Disturb for exclusions, a choice to show the time since the last break in the status item (instead of a countdown to the next one), support controlling the app via URL schemes, a new LCD Digital Clock theme, and much more.

Read the blog post for more information on Time Out 2.8.

Simon 5.0

A major upgrade to Simon, my website and server monitoring tool, is now also available. Version 5 includes a much-requested feature: syncing the Simon data between multiple Macs! Tests and other data can be viewed and edited on any of your Macs, and checked on a specific Mac, plus notifiers can be performed on any of the Macs, even a different one than did the check. For example, have a Mac in a data center do a check, and play a sound or speak some text on the Mac on your desk if it fails or changes.

Version 5 has lots of other improvements, including the ability to check if other synced copies of Simon are still working, a new Link Checker filter, to validate all links on a web page, a Server Result filter, to easily check result codes, an iMessage notifier, to send a message, a new Speak Error notifier, a completely new app icon, and more improvements.

Note that Simon 5 is a paid upgrade. Anyone who buys now or since September 1, 2020 will automatically get version 5.

Read the Simon 5.0 blog post to see the new icon, screenshots, and more information about the many improvements.

Ducklings!

As a bonus for reading this newsletter, check out some recent posts on my homestead blog about some new ducklings that just hatched. So cute!

- David

Time Out 2.8.1 released

Another day, another release. Here's a quick bug-fix update of Time Out to version 2.8.1, to fix one issue.

I received several support queries about not getting breaks after updating to 2.8. This version added a feature to automatically skip breaks if Do Not Disturb is on, but apparently a lot of people leave this on permanently, or when otherwise would like breaks. Since this was a new feature, I really should have defaulted the option to off, to not skip for DND.

So this update simply does that: it turns that skip preference off, both by default and for anyone who used 2.8. If you do want to skip for DND, you can turn it back on after updating to 2.8.1.

Sorry for the hassle for everyone affected by this oversight!

Want to try it?

If you are using the Mac App Store edition, you can update via the App Store app.

Similarly, if you are using the Setapp edition, it will handle that update for you.

If you are using the direct edition, you can use the Check for Updates feature in the app to update.

Otherwise, download Time Out now!

Time Out 2.8 released

I'm pleased to announce the general release of an update of Time Out, my popular break reminder tool.

Version 2.8 includes several great enhancements, including a new option to end a break early, the ability to postpone breaks instead of skip them with app exclusions, support for Do Not Disturb for exclusions, a choice to show the time since the last break in the status item (instead of a countdown to the next one), support controlling the app via URL schemes, a new LCD Digital Clock theme, and much more.

Read on for details.

New option to end a break early

  • Added a checkbox and interval picker to the Break Appearance page, to show a button to end the break early.
  • If checked, at the specified interval after a break starts, a End Break Early button will appear in the control panel, enabling stopping the break.

Control for the end early option

  • This is different than the Skip Break button, as it counts the break as done successfully; a distinction that matters if you care about the break statistics.
  • The interval defaults to halfway through the break duration, but the amount and units can be changed as desired.
  • When the End Break Early button appears, the Postpone and/or Skip buttons are hidden.
  • Another use case is to set a long break duration, e.g. half an hour, but allow ending the break after a few minutes, to have variable-length breaks.

End early break control

New option to postpone breaks for app exclusions

  • Added a pop-up menu at the top of the Exclusions page to choose to postpone due breaks if an app exclusion applies when due, instead of skipping it.
  • If one of the postpone intervals is chosen, when a break is due to start, and one of the specified apps is open or frontmost, the break will be rescheduled by the specified number of minutes.
  • This was a popular request for people on Zoom meetings, to ensure they get their break soon after the meeting is over.
  • The breaks will continue to be postponed until the exclusion no longer applies.
  • Also renamed the When Open and When Frontmost options to be more compact, both to show more of the app paths, and because Skip When Open doesn't make sense with a postpone option.

Exclusions options

Added an option to skip breaks when Do Not Disturb is on

  • A new checkbox was added to the Exclusions page to also skip breaks when the macOS Do Not Disturb feature is on.
  • Useful for important meetings when you don't want any interruptions, including breaks. If you always leave it on, you might want to disable this option.

Can now show the time since the last break in the status item

  • Added options to the General preference for the status item, to show the time since the most recently completed break, instead of a countdown to the next one.
  • Useful if you want to see at a glance how long you've been working.
  • The icon can also show the label color of the last break that was done, instead of the next one due.
  • The tooltip for the status item now also includes the time since each break was done.

Option to show the time since the last break

Control Time Out via URL schemes

  • A popular request: some functions of Time Out can now be controlled via URL schemes.
  • timeout://break/micro/start will start the Micro break.
  • timeout://break/micro/postpone1 to postpone the Micro break by the first postpone amount.
  • timeout://break/normal/postpone2 to postpone the Normal break by the second postpone amount.
  • timeout://break/mybreak/skip to skip "My Break"; use lowercase and omit spaces and punctuation for the break name in the URL.
  • timeout://break/micro/reset to reset the Micro break.
  • timeout://pause will pause breaks indefinitely.
  • timeout://pause/10m will pause breaks for 10 minutes (use "s", "m", "h", or "d" units, or no suffix for minutes).
  • timeout://resume to resume after a pause.
  • timeout://preferences to show the Preferences window.
  • Let me know if you want any other functions to be available via URL.

Other changes

  • Added a LCD Digital Clock theme, that shows a nice old-school LCD-like digital clock.

LCD Digital Clock theme

  • Updated the Pexels Nature theme.
  • Added the option to not register a purchase in the Mac App Store edition, or defer registering. Registering the purchase with Dejal enables restoring it on any of your Macs; if you don't register, you'll have to purchase again if you install on another Mac, or wipe your current Mac.
  • Entering your name is now optional when registering in the Mac App Store edition, or restoring a purchase in the direct or Mac App Store editions.
  • Now prevents app expose during a break.
  • If the Advanced option to disable switching breaks etc is enabled, continuing typing is now also prevented during breaks. (Let me know if you'd prefer this were a separate option.)
  • When changing a break to start from fixed time on the Break Schedule page, the natural break option is changed to Continue Countdown, to avoid it drifting (you can change it back if you don't mind that, but it's a common support question).
  • Fixed the screen fading when using the Ask When to Start schedule option with the None theme.
  • Also fixed handling of Break Actions when Ask When to Start is used.
  • Improved the layout of the Break Actions to avoid occasional drawing anomalies.
  • The status window can now be displayed in all macOS Spaces, and the preferences window will move to the active Space when displayed.
  • Added a check that the timers are still working, to diagnose an issue that one person reported.
  • Fixed the Spotlight keywords of the app to use an array instead of a comma-separated string.

Want to try it?

If you are using the Mac App Store edition, you can update via the App Store app.

Similarly, if you are using the Setapp edition, it will handle that update for you.

If you are using the direct edition, you can use the Check for Updates feature in the app to update.

Otherwise, download Time Out now!

Time Out 2.8b2 released

Here's a second beta release of an update to Time Out, my popular break reminder app for macOS!

I don't plan on adding any more features for this update, so please help me test this new version.

This second beta includes some exciting improvements:

New option to end a break early

  • Added a checkbox and interval picker to the Break Appearance page, to show a button to end the break early.
  • If checked, at the specified interval after a break starts, a End Break Early button will appear in the control panel, enabling stopping the break.
  • This is different than the Skip Break button, as it counts the break as done successfully; a distinction that matters if you care about the break statistics.
  • The interval defaults to halfway through the break duration, but the amount and units can be changed as desired.
  • When the End Break Early button appears, the Postpone and/or Skip buttons are hidden.
  • Another use case is to set a long break duration, e.g. half an hour, but allow ending the break after a few minutes, to have variable-length breaks.

New option to postpone breaks for app exclusions

  • Added a pop-up menu at the top of the Exclusions page to choose to postpone due breaks if an app exclusion applies when due, instead of skipping it.
  • If one of the postpone intervals is chosen, when a break is due to start, and one of the specified apps is open or frontmost, the break will be rescheduled by the specified number of minutes.
  • This was a popular request for people on Zoom meetings, to ensure they get their break soon after the meeting is over.
  • The breaks will continue to be postponed until the exclusion no longer applies.
  • Also renamed the When Open and When Frontmost options to be more compact, both to show more of the app paths, and because Skip When Open doesn't make sense with a postpone option.

Other changes

  • Added a LCD Digital Clock theme, that shows a nice old-school LCD-like digital clock.
  • When changing a break to start from fixed time on the Break Schedule page, the natural break option is changed to Continue Countdown, to avoid it drifting (you can change it back if you don't mind that, but it's a common support question).
  • Fixed the screen fading when using the Ask When to Start schedule option with the None theme.
  • Also fixed handling of Break Actions when Ask When to Start is used.
  • Improved the layout of the Break Actions to avoid occasional drawing anomalies.
  • The status window can now be displayed in all macOS Spaces, and the preferences window will move to the active Space when displayed.
  • Added a check that the timers are still working, to diagnose an issue that one person reported.
  • Fixed the Spotlight keywords of the app to use an array instead of a comma-separated string.

Want to try it?

If you are using the direct edition, you can change your Updates preferences to include beta releases, then use the Check for Updates feature in the app to update.

Otherwise, download the beta now!

Time Out 2.8b1 released

Announcing the first beta release of an update to Time Out, my popular break reminder app for macOS!

This first beta includes:

Added an option to skip breaks when Do Not Disturb is on

  • A new checkbox was added to the Exclusions page to also skip breaks when the macOS Do Not Disturb feature is on.
  • Useful for important meetings when you don't want any interruptions, including breaks. If you always leave it on, you might want to disable this option.

Can now show the time since the last break in the status item

  • Added options to the General preference for the status item, to show the time since the most recently completed break, instead of a countdown to the next one.
  • Useful if you want to see at a glance how long you've been working.
  • The icon can also show the label color of the last break that was done, instead of the next one due.
  • The tooltip for the status item now also includes the time since each break was done.

Control Time Out via URL schemes

  • A popular request: some functions of Time Out can now be controlled via URL schemes.
  • timeout://break/micro/start will start the Micro break.
  • timeout://break/micro/postpone1 to postpone the Micro break by the first postpone amount.
  • timeout://break/normal/postpone2 to postpone the Normal break by the second postpone amount.
  • timeout://break/mybreak/skip to skip "My Break"; use lowercase and omit spaces and punctuation for the break name in the URL.
  • timeout://break/micro/reset to reset the Micro break.
  • timeout://pause will pause breaks indefinitely.
  • timeout://pause/10m will pause breaks for 10 minutes (use "s", "m", "h", or "d" units, or no suffix for minutes).
  • timeout://resume to resume after a pause.
  • timeout://preferences to show the Preferences window.
  • Let me know if you want any other functions to be available via URL.

Other changes

  • Added the option to not register a purchase in the Mac App Store edition, or defer registering. Registering the purchase with Dejal enables restoring it on any of your Macs; if you don't register, you'll have to purchase again if you install on another Mac, or wipe your current Mac.
  • Entering your name is now optional when registering in the Mac App Store edition, or restoring a purchase in the direct or Mac App Store editions.
  • Updated the Pexels Nature theme.
  • Now prevents app expose during a break.
  • If the Advanced option to disable switching breaks etc is enabled, continuing typing is now also prevented during breaks. (Let me know if you'd prefer this were a separate option.)

More coming!

  • This is a beta release, and more improvements and fixes will be added in subsequent betas.
  • If you have any requests, let me know via the contact form or the Dejal Subreddit.

Want to try it?

If you are using the direct edition, you can change your Updates preferences to include beta releases, then use the Check for Updates feature in the app to update.

Otherwise, download the beta now!

DejalNews #81: Time Out 2.7, Simon 5 betas, SheetPlanner, Caboodle, New Year posts

DejalNews header

DejalNews 2021-01, issue #81

Welcome

Happy New Year! 2020 was a trying year for many, but hopefully 2021 will be better for all.

This is DejalNews, an occasional newsletter from Dejal.

I don't believe in New Year resolutions, but am trying a Yearly Theme this year. My theme is the Year of Consistency, so as part of that, I'm going to try to be more consistent in publishing these newsletters.

If you want to receive these newsletters in your email inbox, head over to the DejalNews subscribe page to sign up.

Time Out 2.7

Since the previous newsletter, Time Out version 2.7.1 has been released.

This update includes a new app icon, plus a number of changes for compatibility with Big Sur, including being built for Apple's new M1-based Macs, in addition to Intel ones. It also includes a much-requested new feature to ask to start a break, improvements to the break preview feature, adds several new break themes, and much more.

Read the blog post for more information on Time Out 2.7.

Simon 5 beta

There have also been a couple more beta releases of a major upgrade to Simon, my website and server monitoring tool. Version 5 includes a much-requested feature: syncing the Simon data between multiple Macs! Tests and other data can be viewed and edited on any of your Macs, and checked on a specific Mac, plus notifiers can be performed on any of the Macs, even a different one than did the check. For example, have a Mac in a data center do a check, and play a sound or speak some text on the Mac on your desk if it fails or changes.

Version 5 has lots of other improvements, including the ability to check if other synced copies of Simon are still working, a new Link Checker filter, to validate all links on a web page, a Server Result filter, to easily check result codes, an iMessage notifier, to send a message, and much more.

The subsequent betas added a new Speak Error notifier, a completely new app icon, and more improvements. There are some issues still to address, so there will be more betas before this is in general release, but it's making progress.

Note that Simon 5 will be a paid upgrade after the beta period. Pricing and release date to be determined. But anyone who buys now or since September 1, 2020 will be eligible for a free upgrade.

Read the Simon 5.0b3 blog post to see the new icon, and the 5.0b1 post for screenshots and more information.

SheetPlanner 2.0

One of my consulting projects is SheetPlanner, a powerful macOS app featuring an outliner with custom columns, notes, links, timeline, calendar, and more. Version 2.0 was just released, the culmination of a year of work, which makes the outliner features available for free, so everyone can have an excellent outlining tool. It also adds several great new features, including multiple sheets in a document, my nemesis the print preview, and much more.

Check out SheetPlanner!

Caboodle

Speaking of which, for those of you have used Caboodle in the past, or are still using either version 1 from Dejal or version 2 from Before Dawn Solutions (who acquired it a number of years ago), you may like to know that while Caboodle is no longer available, it has a path forward: the aforementioned SheetPlanner. I wrote an importer for both version 1 and 2 Caboodle data in SheetPlanner, so you can import your data without having to export first, and without losing anything. It even supports decrypting encrypted entries.

If you use Caboodle, migrate over to SheetPlanner.

Featured blog posts of 2020

Every year around the New Year, I write a series of blog posts. The first highlights blog posts on interesting topics written the previous year, other than app release posts and DejalNews posts.

In 2020, those posts included the introduction of the r/Dejal community on Reddit, celebrating 25 years of consulting work, a bunch of tips on Time Out and Simon, and more.

Check out the summary of posts from 2020.

Dejal Year in Review: 2020

Another traditional New Year post is to recap the state of the Dejal and consulting apps; what updates they got during the year. Plus reviewing how my plans for the year panned out.

Take a look at the app updates in 2020.

Looking Ahead: 2021

The last in the New Year series is forward-looking: giving some vague indications of what's in store for Time Out, Simon, and potential new apps. Plus consulting and more.

Read my thoughts on 2021 projects.

Time Out gifts

If you haven't already taken advantage of a free gift of Time Out, my break reminder tool, it's not too late.

Become a supporter at no cost. This permanently unlocks all of the current features.

Please share this link with your Mac-using family, friends, and colleagues, so they can enjoy the benefits of regular breaks too.

Stay safe

Stay safe everyone! Please enjoy the Time Out gifts, stay home, use masks, keep a safe distance from others, and hang in there. We'll get through this.

- David

Time Out 2.7.1 released

Here's a quick update of Time Out, my popular break reminder tool, to fix a few issues:

  • Fixed an issue that caused text for the Text theme to be forgotten.
  • Fixed the Break Preview prematurely stopping.
  • Tweaked the new Ask to Start feature to immediately ask when due, instead of waiting for a natural break.
  • Tweaked the appearance of the status menu.
  • Worked around an issue with displaying a time like 23 hours 45 minutes as "0 seconds".

Want to try it?

If you are using the Mac App Store edition, you can update via the App Store app.

Similarly, if you are using the Setapp edition, it will handle that update for you.

If you are using the direct edition, you can use the Check for Updates feature in the app to update.

Otherwise, download Time Out 2.7.1 now!

Time Out 2.7 released

I'm pleased to announce the general release of version 2.7 of Time Out, my popular break reminder tool.

This update includes a new app icon, plus a number of changes for compatibility with Big Sur, including being built for Apple's new M1-based Macs, in addition to Intel ones. It also includes a much-requested new feature to ask to start a break, improvements to the break preview feature, adds several new break themes, and much more.

Big Sur

Apple's latest version of macOS, Big Sur (macOS 11) has a number of refinements to its appearance. One that is immediately apparent is that app icons now look more like iOS ones, with a rounded rectangle (aka "squircle") shape, and often more bold colors.

Time Out's icon has adopted this style, taking the relaxing palm trees and smiling hammock that you know and love, and leaping through the frame into the scene, thanks to the excellent Matthew Skiles:

Time Out icon

Version 2.7 also includes several other changes for Big Sur compatibility, including using the Dejal green color for controls and the sidebar if the accent color in General System Preferences is set to "multicolor", and a number of other UI tweaks. It also fixes an issue where the break control panel could move downwards on each break in Big Sur.

Apple Silicon

As you probably know, Apple recently introduced new super-fast low-end Macs using Apple-designed "M1" chips. Time Out is now a universal app for Apple M1 silicon and Intel on Big Sur; it also supports back to Yosemite (macOS 10.10).

New option to ask to start a break

This update adds a much-requested new feature to ask to start a break, as a new option on the Break Schedule preferences page:

Ask options

If chosen, a time interval control appears to specify a limit, after which it should start anyway. This defaults to 5 minutes (also supports units of seconds and hours; like other interval pickers, tab to or click the units to edit via arrows, typing, or click again to show a menu). When a break is due with this option, the control panel will appear, with a button to manually start the break when you're ready, and the screen won't dim:

Start controls

When you click the Start Break button, the screen dims and the break continues as normal. If you don't click within the time limit, the break starts anyway; this is needed to avoid accidentally blocking subsequent breaks. As a helpful reminder, a countdown to auto-starting appears once halfway through the time limit.

Improved break preview

When clicking the Preview button on the Break Appearance page, the break now appears with a Stop Preview button to dismiss it. The preview has no time limit; it'll remain until dismissed. Dismissing the preview doesn't count as skipping it, so doesn't affect your statistics or daily limits:

Stop button

If you want to try the full break experience, click the Start button in the sidebar instead.

Several new break themes

The default "Icon" theme has been updated to use the new app icon, and a new "Round Icon" theme has been added that includes the old icon, if you miss that.

Other new break themes include a "Dejal Blog" theme, that shows the Dejal blog for news from Dejal, "Dejus Blog", that shows my personal blog, with daily interesting photos, and to complete the set, "Yellow Cottage Blog", that shows my homestead blog, with pictures of feral cats, ducks, chickens, and more. Check 'em out!

As an example of a static remote picture, there's also a "Ducks & Fish" theme, that shows that. You can edit the theme to show a picture of your choosing. Plus an "Inspirational Quotes" theme, that shows a quote for each break, a "Pexels Nature" theme, that shows a random nature picture, and "Photo Slideshow", that can be edited to show 10 local images of your choosing.

Pexels Nature theme

Plus a bunch of little quality-of-life improvements

When looking at the handy Activity view, sometimes you may want to know more precisely when an app was used (I know I do; I use this feature all the time). So I added the time range to the tooltips for breaks and apps on the Activity page.

A fun feature of the status menu (available to supporters via the General page) is that when you click an item in the menu, the full window expands out from the status menu. That looks especially nice when the full window is aligned with the status menu, so now the Advanced option to reset the position of the full window after displaying the status menu is a checkbox to keep that behavior, instead of a button for a one-time reset. So you can freely move the window around the screen, and it'll be back with the status menu next time, if that's what you want.

Speaking of the status item, I tweaked the size and alignment of it when only an icon or only the countdown is displayed, to look a bit nicer, and fixed break rows not highlighting properly in the status item menu on recent macOS versions, and worked around Apple bug with displaying a time like 59 minutes 30 seconds as "0d".

Another fun thing is throbbing red heart icons that appear to indicate supporter rewards. But some people didn't notice them, and were surprised when a feature reverted after the hour trial. So now the info popover for a reward trial automatically appears each time a page is displayed during the hour trial, to make that more clear.

Oh, and speaking of rewards, a reminder as a reward for reading this far: if you haven't already taken advantage of it, you can become a supporter for free at present; since March I've been giving it away to help people working from home. If you have already got that, don't worry; the new features in this update will be fully unlocked for you.

On the Exclusions page, it now skips breaks during a screen recording by default for new users. Existing users can see this blog post to add this exclusion. It now skips when using Zoom too; see this blog post.

Break Actions are a handy feature to play sounds, show notifications, and more, before, during, or after a break. I fixed a bug where they could occur incorrectly if manually starting a break while paused, and now list scripts in alphabetical order, plus fixed the Sound Action Repeat checkbox color in dark mode.

Finally, I added Dejal Reddit and other tweaks to the Help menu.

Phew, that's quite a lot of improvements!

Want to try it?

If you are using the Mac App Store edition, you can update via the App Store app.

Similarly, if you are using the Setapp edition, it will handle that update for you.

If you are using the direct edition, you can use the Check for Updates feature in the app to update.

Otherwise, download Time Out 2.7 now!

Time Out 2.7b2 released

Here's a second beta of Time Out 2.7.

The general release will probably be in a couple of days, but I'd appreciate a few people kicking the tires now, to make sure nothing is broken.

A big change in this release is that it is now built for Apple's new M1-based Macs, in addition to Intel ones. I don't have an M1 Mac (yet), so if you do, I'd especially like to hear of any issues. Update: Actually, due to a third-party incompatibility, this version is not built for M1. But I've fixed that for the general release. If you have an M1 Mac, please get in touch to get early access to that.

Another big change is the app icon, adopting the new Big Sur style, thanks to the excellent Matthew Skiles:

Time Out icon

Plus a bunch of fixes for Big Sur and more; read on for the full changes in this beta:

Big Sur

  • Time Out is now a universal app for Apple M1 silicon and Intel on Big Sur; it also supports back to Yosemite (10.10).
  • Improved the row heights in the sidebar on Big Sur.
  • Fixed the break control panel moving downwards on Big Sur.
  • Fixed the appearance of the Activity headers on Big Sur.
  • Improved the layout of some other controls.
  • Updated the app icon for the Big Sur squircle style.

Updated break themes

  • Updated the default Icon theme to use the new app icon.
  • Added a Round Icon theme that includes the old icon, if you miss that.

Other changes

  • When manually starting a break while Time Out is paused, actions are now performed as expected, instead of performing them after resuming.
  • Added the time range to the tooltips for breaks and apps on the Activity page, for a more precise indication of when each occurred.
  • Changed the Advanced option to reset the position of the full window after displaying the status menu from a button to a checkbox, to keep that behavior, instead of a one-time reset.
  • Improved the size and alignment of the status item when only an icon or only the countdown is displayed.
  • Some people missed the red heart icons indicating supporter rewards, so now the info popover for a reward trial automatically appears each time a page is displayed during the hour trial.

Want to try it?

If you are using the direct edition, you can change your Updates preferences to include beta releases, then use the Check for Updates feature in the app to update.

Otherwise, download the beta now!

Time Out 2.7b1 released

I'm pleased to announce the first beta release of Time Out 2.7!

This update includes changes for compatibility with Big Sur, plus a much-requested new feature to ask to start a break:

Ask options

When enabled, the break control panel appears without dimming the screen, with a Start Break button to actually start the break:

Start controls

This update also includes improvements to the Preview feature, to preview themes without affecting stats:

Stop button

It also bundles several more themes (that are available via the Time Out Extras page), and a bunch of other changes.

Here are the full release notes; read on for more information:

Big Sur

  • The app is compatible with Big Sur; please let me know of any issues you notice.
  • Controls use the Dejal green accent color on Big Sur if the accent color in General System Preferences is set to "multicolor".

New option to ask to start a break

  • Added a new option in the "when this break is due" pop-up menu: Ask When to Start.
  • If chosen, a time interval control appears to specify a limit, after which it should start anyway. This defaults to 5 minutes (also supports units of seconds and hours).
  • When a break is due with this option, the control panel will appear, with a button to manually start the break when you're ready, and the screen won't dim.
  • When you click the Start Break button, the screen dims and the break continues as normal.
  • If you don't click within the time limit, the break starts anyway; this is needed to avoid accidentally blocking subsequent breaks.
  • A countdown to auto-starting appears once halfway through the time limit.

Improved break preview

  • When clicking the Preview button on the Break Appearance page, the break now appears with a Stop Preview button to dismiss it.
  • The preview has no time limit; it'll remain until dismissed.
  • Dismissing the preview doesn't count as skipping it, so doesn't affect your statistics or daily limits.
  • If you want to try the full break experience, click the Start button in the sidebar instead.

Added several new break themes

  • Added a "Dejal Blog" break theme, that shows the Dejal blog for news from Dejal.
  • Also added "Dejus Blog", that shows the author's personal blog, with daily interesting photos.
  • And to complete the set, "Yellow Cottage Blog", that shows the author's homestead blog, with pictures of feral cats, ducks, chickens, and more.
  • As an example of a static remote picture, added a "Ducks & Fish" theme, that shows that. You can edit the theme to show a picture of your choosing.
  • Added an "Inspirational Quotes" theme, that shows a quote for each break.
  • Added a "Pexels Nature" theme, that shows a random nature picture.
  • Added "Photo Slideshow", that can be edited to show 10 local images of your choosing.

Other changes

  • Now skips breaks during a screen recording by default for new users. Existing users can see this blog post to add this exclusion.
  • Also now skips when using Zoom too; see this blog post.
  • Fixed the break control panel sometimes moving offscreen.
  • Fixed break rows not highlighting properly in the status item menu.
  • Worked around Apple bug with displaying a time like 59 minutes 30 seconds as "0d".
  • The scripts for Break Actions are now listed in alphabetical order.
  • Fixed the Sound Action Repeat checkbox color in dark mode.
  • Updated the Help menu to include the Dejal Reddit and other tweaks.

Want to try it?

If you are using the direct edition, you can change your Updates preferences to include beta releases, then use the Check for Updates feature in the app to update.

Otherwise, download the beta now!

DejalNews #80: Simon 5 beta, Time Out gifts, themes, and tips

DejalNews header

DejalNews 2020-10, issue #80

Welcome

This is DejalNews, an occasional newsletter from Dejal.

Very occasional, sometimes — the last one was back in April. That seems like an eternity ago now, doesn't it?

If you want to receive these newsletters in your email inbox, head over to the DejalNews subscribe page to sign up.

Simon 5 beta

The big news from Dejal is that I have introduced the first beta release of a major upgrade to Simon, my website and server monitoring tool. Version 5.0b1 includes a much-requested feature: syncing the Simon data between multiple Macs! Tests and other data can be viewed and edited on any of your Macs, and checked on a specific Mac, plus notifiers can be performed on any of the Macs, even a different one than did the check. For example, have a Mac in a data center do a check, and play a sound or speak some text on the Mac on your desk if it fails or changes.

Version 5 has lots of other improvements, including the ability to check if other synced copies of Simon are still working, a new Link Checker filter, to validate all links on a web page, a Server Result filter, to easily check result codes, an iMessage notifier, to send a message, and much more.

Note that Simon 5 will be a paid upgrade after the beta period. Pricing and release date to be determined. But anyone who buys now or since September 1, 2020 will be eligible for a free upgrade.

Read the blog post for screenshots and more information.

Time Out gifts

If you haven't already taken advantage of a free gift of Time Out, my break reminder tool, it's not too late.

Become a supporter at no cost. This permanently unlocks all of the current features.

Please share this link with your Mac-using family, friends, and colleagues, so they can enjoy the benefits of regular breaks too.

Time Out themes

A while ago I published a blog post with three new break themes, kindly contributed by a Time Out customer.

One shows a scenic picture for each break, another shows an inspirational quote, and the third has placeholder for your own photos or custom images.

Time Out tips

I also published a couple of tips for Time Out since the previous newsletter.

The first was particularly relevant in these Zoom-y times: how to automatically skip breaks when on a Zoom call.

The second was how to avoid a break starting while doing a screen recording.

Dejal subreddit

If you use Reddit, you may like to join the r/Dejal subreddit, as a community for Dejal customers, and another support channel. Learn more.

Vote!

If you're in the US, and haven't already voted, please make a plan to do so. It's important.

Stay safe

Stay safe everyone! Please enjoy the Time Out gifts, stay home, use masks, keep a safe distance from others, and hang in there. We'll get through this.

- David

Cash Cow Revisited

I was interested to read a post from the Agenda folks titled "Cash Cow Revisited", discussing how their "feature gating" sales model has gone. Spoiler: almost three years in, they're very happy with it.

That mirrors my own experience. My Time Out break reminder app has used basically the same model since version 2.0 was released in 2016, except I call it the "supporter" model.

It's a bit different than the model used by most other apps, so I welcome more apps using it. It's all upside for customers: you can download and use Time Out for free, as a useful app with all the basic functionality you need. Some extra features are available as rewards for supporters, but you can try them for an hour at a time, as often as you like, to decide if they are worth paying for. If you become a supporter, all of the current features are permanently unlocked, plus any that are added within the supporter period (3, 6, or 12 months). Once the supporter period expires, all those features remain available. If I add new supporter rewards after that, you can try them, and extend the supporter status if you like them.

I have been giving away the Time Out supporter status for free since the pandemic started, but people continue to become supporters, raving about the app, and sharing with others, for which I am grateful. Everybody wins!

While it's a bit more work to track supporters and features, I hope that more apps adopt this model. It may not work for all apps, but for those it does, it is much better for everyone than traditional models like paying up-front, paying for major upgrades, or subscriptions that stop working if they expire.

Three new Time Out themes

A benefit of Time Out is that it can improve even between updates, through the addition of themes and script actions.

Themes are different appearances during a break, and can be changed on the Break Appearance preferences page, while actions are things that can be done before, during, or after a break, which can be added on the Break Actions page.

The app comes with a bunch of themes and actions, plus you can download more from the Time Out Extras page, or even make your own — themes are just web page URLs or local HTML, and actions are AppleScripts or similar scripts, so anyone with experience with those can make new ones.

Note that changing the theme or adding more than one action are supporter rewards... but you can currently become a supporter for free, so everyone can benefit from these nice features.

If you do make new themes or actions, I encourage you to share them so others can benefit; I'll list them on the Time Out Extras page, and may bundle them with future versions of the app.

Time Out customer Bruno Bernardino recently made and contributed three great new themes, that I think many people will enjoy.

The first is called Pexels Nature, which you can download via that link. It shows a random image of nature for each break, from the Pexels image site, e.g.:

Pexels Nature theme

The second is called Inspirational Quotes, which shows a random inspirational quote for each break, e.g.:

Inspirational Quotes theme

The third is called Photo Slideshow, which is similar to the Pexels Nature one, except you can customize it to show one of 10 local photos for each break. It comes with placeholder images; replace them with your own — your kids, pets, dream vacations, personal goals, or anything else! The placeholder images have the instructions:

Photo Slideshow theme

What's more, Bruno made GitHub repos for each of these, that include additional content to help test these themes. If you want to customize them, or use them as a basis of new themes, you might find these useful:

Thank you Bruno for creating these!

Installing themes is easy:

  1. Go to the Break Appearance page within Time Out.
  2. Choose Reveal Themes from the Theme menu to open the Themes folder in the Finder.
  3. Drag the downloaded theme's folder into the revealed Themes folder.

Check out the Time Out Extras page for several more themes and actions, and please contribute if you make new ones!

Don't already have the app? Download Time Out now!

Time Out tip: how can I avoid a break starting while doing a screen recording?

Similar to the previous tip about skipping breaks during a Zoom call, you can also skip breaks during screen recordings, if that's something you do frequently.

Here's how:

  1. Go to Time Out's Exclusions page.
  2. Click the + button to display the choose panel.
  3. Navigate in the panel to select this path from your startup disk: System ▸ Library ▸ Core Services ▸ screencaptureui, and click Choose.
  4. Change the added exclusion to Skip When Open.

That will prevent a break from starting while recording the screen via QuickTime Player, or taking a screenshot or screen recording via ⌘⇧5.

Time Out tip: how can I automatically skip breaks when on a Zoom call?

Time Out has a handy feature to automatically skip breaks when specified apps are frontmost or running.

With a lot of people working from home now (and don't forget to get your free supporter status for Time Out), many people are using the Zoom teleconferencing app.

Some folks are finding that the app exclusions feature doesn't work reliably for Zoom, as it is using an internal helper tool during a call, e.g. for screen sharing.

There's a solution for this. Follow these steps to stop breaks occurring during meetings:

  1. Locate the Zoom.us app in the Finder.
  2. Right-click it and choose Show Package Contents.
  3. Navigate into the Contents ▸ Frameworks subfolder, and find the Transcode app.
  4. Go to Time Out's Exclusions page.
  5. Click the + button to display the choose panel.
  6. Drag the Transcode app into the panel, and click Choose.

You should add both the main app and the helper one, and will probably want to set both to Skip When Open.

DejalNews #79: Time Out gifts and tips, 25 years of consulting, Dejal Subreddit

DejalNews header

DejalNews 2020-04, issue #79

Welcome

This is DejalNews, an occasional newsletter from Dejal.

If you want to receive these newsletters in your email inbox, head over to the DejalNews subscribe page to sign up.

Time Out gifts

The past couple of months have been quite the decade, haven't they? It certainly seems that way. With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting the world at present, many people are working from home for the first time. To help out in some small way, I decided to give away my popular Time Out app.

While Time Out is always free to download and use, the best features are only available as rewards for supporters. But in these trying times, everyone deserves a reward. So I have created a page where you can become a supporter at no cost. This permanently unlocks all of the current features.

This is available even if you previously purchased Time Out — the gift will extend your support.

And for those who do buy, I am now including a link enabling you to give Time Out supporter status to others. Please share Time Out far and wide, and give this gift with my compliments.

Time Out and Simon tips

I've published a couple of tips since the previous newsletter.

One was a tip for Time Out, on how to add breaks to the Calendar — a couple of break action scripts to add an event for each break, with the start and end times matching the time of the break.

Another was for Simon, my website monitoring tool, on how to use Simon to check for an expired website SSL certificate.

Chicken GIFs discontinued

I had a fun iMessage sticker pack featuring GIFs of my chickens. As part of Apple's routine cleanup of old content, they removed it from the store. Which is disappointing, since it still worked fine, but I understand their policy.

So now you'll have to visit my homestead blog if you want a dose of funny chickens (and ducks, feral cats, bees, and more).

25 years of consulting

A couple of months ago I celebrated a milestone: a quarter century of helping others create Mac (and later also iOS) apps. Read that post for an ancient screenshot of my first project, and more info.

Dejal subreddit

Since I'm slowly phasing out the Dejal forums due to lack of use and spam attacks, I thought I'd try another kind of forum: the popular Reddit site. So I created r/Dejal, a subreddit on that site. It hasn't seen much adoption yet, but you're welcome to join and post feature requests and such there. Learn more.

Traditional year-end posts

Every year I do a series of posts, including featured blog posts of 2019, and a review of how the previous year went, though this time I did a decade in review, 2010 to 2019. I also published a rather optimistic 2020 vision post, looking ahead to this year, though the pandemic has scratched any hope of attending conferences, and delayed my trip to New Zealand.

Stay safe

Stay safe everyone! It's a difficult time at present, affecting the whole world in dramatic fashion. Please enjoy the Time Out gifts, stay home, use masks, keep a safe distance from others, and hang in there. We'll get through this.

- David

Take a Break when Working from Home

With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting the world at present, many people are working from home for the first time. To help people cope with that, some companies or individuals are offering assistance, e.g. the free Take Control of
Working from Home Temporarily ebook by Glenn Fleishman
.

I wanted to contribute something too, and thought that everyone using a Mac could benefit from making sure they take regular breaks... and I have an app for that: Time Out, my popular break reminder tool for macOS.

While Time Out is always free to download, the best features are only available as rewards for supporters. But in these trying times, everyone deserves a reward. So I have created a page where you can become a supporter at no cost. This permanently unlocks all of the current features.

Get your free Time Out supporter status now!

Time Out tip: add breaks to Calendar

I just had a customer wish that Time Out could track breaks taken in their Calendar app. That is definitely an interesting idea, so I was going to add it to my feature concepts list for consideration in a future version (and I still will), but it occurred to me that we could probably do that now with AppleScript actions.

As you may know, Time Out has the ability to perform various actions before, during, or after a break occurs. I made two AppleScripts based on Apple's sample code for the Calendar app, and added them to the Time Out Extras page.

Download the scripts now.

The "Add to Calendar Start" script creates a new "Time Out break" event in the first available calendar, at the current time, with a duration of an hour. To use this in Time Out, install it as normal (reveal the scripts folder via the + button on the Break Actions page, and add the two scripts there), then add an action set to be performed "After Start".

The "Add to Calendar End" script finds that event (assuming it is still within that hour), and updates the end time to the current time. So to use this, add an action set to be performed "After Any End" (i.e. when the break finishes, done or not).

Here's how it'll look in Time Out (with a couple of sound actions for good measure):

Break actions

If you want to add the events to a different calendar, you can edit the scripts (I included a commented out example). Just make sure you change both the same way.

I may add a more integrated calendar feature in the future, but in the meantime, it's great that such enhancements can be done immediately. I hope this is helpful to some people.

DejalNews #78: Time Out 2.6, Pack 2.1, other releases

DejalNews header

DejalNews 2019-10, issue #78

Welcome

This is DejalNews, an occasional newsletter from Dejal.

If you want to receive these newsletters in your email inbox, head over to the DejalNews subscribe page to sign up.

Time Out tips

I've published a couple of Time Out tips since the previous newsletter.

The most recent was to answer a frequently asked question: how can I stop the window appearing after restarting my Mac? If you've wondered that, read that post.

Earlier, I posted a tip on how to have custom fixed image and blog themes. Time Out's break themes are very flexible; read that to learn more.

Time Out 2.6 released

Speaking of Time Out, version 2.6, and a couple of bug fix updates, were recently released.

Version 2.6 includes several much-requested enhancements, including the ability to have breaks that occur at a fixed number of minutes past the hour, scheduling a smaller duration and frequency (great for "blink" breaks), a Random Word theme, Catalina support, and more.

Apple also wrote a feature story for the Mac App Store.

And Time Out is now included in Setapp, the popular subscription service for Mac apps. (But don't worry, it's also still available in the Mac App Store, and directly from my site.)

Release Notes conference

I recently attended the Release Notes conference in sunny Mexico. Check out all of my blog posts about the trip, if you can stand some decadence mixed with networking and discussions. That was a great trip, and excellent conference; I hope they do it again.

Pack 2.1 released

Time Out wasn't the only recent release. In preparation for my trip to Mexico, I updated my Pack iPhone packing list app to support iOS 13 and dark mode. Pack is completely free, and very simple, so try it for your next trip!

SheetPlanner 1.1 released

There were updates to some consulting apps, too. SheetPlanner 1.1 included dependency features, new progress and symbol column types, auto-enter options, and many more great enhancements. This is a powerful and very useful app, with a great roadmap of future enhancements. Highly recommended for anyone who needs an outliner or more powerful planning tools.

NewsBlur 9 released

Finally, NewsBlur 9 included full screen, autoscroll, customizable story titles, story change highlighter, and return to last read story, among other improvements. An excellent cross-platform RSS reader, always improving.

- David

Time Out tip: how can I stop the window appearing after restarting my Mac?

The Time Out preferences window always appears when opening the app from the Finder, but when you restart your Mac, the window should not appear, even if it is launched via the Automatically start Time Out… preference.

If it does unexpectedly appear after you restart your Mac, the most likely reason is it was launched either by Login Items or the Dock.

To check the Login Items, go to System Preferences ▸ Users & Groups ▸ Login Items, and see if Time Out is listed. If it is, remove it.

If that doesn't solve it, check the Dock: show the Time Out icon in the Dock if it isn't already (via the General preferences), then click-and-hold on its icon in the Dock to show the menu, and look at Options ▸ Open at Login. Uncheck that if checked.

To ensure you don't miss your breaks, make sure the app is launched by checking the Automatically start Time Out… preference on the General page. (Note that this will only work if the app is within your Applications folder.)

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