David Sinclair's blog

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


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!

Chicken GIFs discontinued

As recently mentioned, Apple informed me that my Chicken GIFs sticker pack for iMessage was to be removed from the iMessage App Store, since it hasn't been updated for several years.

That has now occurred, so it is now discontinued.

Somewhat appropriate that they killed the stickers on the same day that the last of our Rhode Island Red chickens died. One of the RIRs was featured on the icon of the sticker pack, and the GIFs featured the RIRs and Leghorns that we had at the time.

Rest in peace, Red, and Chicken GIFs.

Simon tip: website certificate service

Today I received a customer query asking how to use Simon to check for an expired website SSL certificate.

Of course, Simon is very flexible, so even if there isn't a built-in service for this specific case, if you can do it in the Terminal, you can probably create a custom script-based service in Simon to do it, too.

There are a number of ways to get certificate information, but this is one simple approach (if you know of a better way, let me know!).

I created a new script-based service, using the basic C shell, a one-line command, and a custom variable for the host name:

Website Certificate service screenshot

I then created a new test using this service. When accessing a server with an expired certificate, the output includes a "verify return code" message of "certificate has expired", so I used a Block filter to look at just that text (I pasted "Verify return code: " in the Start text, and an Option-Return in the End text), then a Find Required filter to make the test result in a failure if it doesn't find "ok", and finally an Override Custom filter if a failure, to output the error message:

Website Certificate test screenshot

For the success case, the last filter doesn't apply, so it just outputs the "ok":

Website Certificate test screenshot

Want to use this service? You can easily add it yourself, or import it by downloading from the Simon Extras page.

I hope you found the techniques in this post helpful.

Chicken GIFs heading for the chopping block

Apple has informed me that my Chicken GIFs sticker pack for iMessage will soon be removed from the iMessage App Store, since it hasn't been updated for several years. Since few people have downloaded it, I've decided that it isn't worthwhile to make new GIFs and submit an update, which Apple might reject anyway; it took several appeals to get them to originally approve it.

Chicken GIFs is an iMessage sticker pack, featuring a collection of animated GIFs of chickens. It isn't an app, so it's still fully compatible with iMessage, but Apple has a policy of pruning older stuff from their stores, which totally makes sense. Sticker packs seemed like a fun idea when first introduced, but never really caught on, perhaps in part because Apple never brought them to the Mac.

Once removed from the store, it'll keep working for people who have it, but nobody else will be able to get it. So if you want it, now is your last chance to download Chicken GIFs from the iMessage Store.

I was asking a buk-buk-buck for it, but I have now opened the gate and made it available free-range!

These are my own chickens (Rhode Island Reds and Single Comb Brown Leghorns). They can be lots of fun to watch. For these stickers, I chose excerpts from videos of them that could be fun reaction GIFs.

If you enjoy these GIFs, you can see more of my chickens (and ducks) in my weekly Flock Friday blog posts on my homestead blog.

Chicken GIFs is a standalone sticker pack; it won't clutter up your home screen, but will only appear in Apple's Messages app on iOS. Tap the stickers/apps button to the left of the text field to display the stickers and iMessage apps.

Tap a sticker to insert it in a message, or tap and hold to peel it, and drag it to stick on any message bubble, optionally using two fingers to rotate or resize it as desired.

Sound fun?

Last chance to download Chicken GIFs from the iMessage Store! It's free!

25 years of Dejal consulting

While Dejal has been around several years longer, 25 years ago today I started my first project working for someone else.

My first consulting project was a large medical practice management system called MMAS (for Macintosh Medical Administration System), including server and client applications. It was written in MPW Pascal for classic Mac OS, used by hundreds of medical clinics around New Zealand to manage their practices: everything from appointments, billing, patient medical records, and more.

Here's a screenshot of the window I worked on first, a prescription editor:

Prescriptions window

I described it in a bit more in my post marking the 20th anniversary. Read that for more details.

When I wrote that post, I had fairly recently stopped work on that project, after 19 years, and was a bit uncertain about my future. I was concentrating on my Dejal apps, while exploring options for more consulting work.

In the five years since then, things have worked out quite well. It turns out that there is a bit of demand for macOS and iOS developers (who knew?!), and I rarely haven't had projects filling my time. As discussed in my decade in review blog post last month, I've worked on several interesting projects, and continue to be fully booked with very enjoyable long-term projects, while finding a little time to work on Dejal apps and homestead projects too.

Who knows what the future holds, but I feel in a much better position now, with a bit of diversity in the portfolio, and exciting ongoing work. Long may it continue!

Introducing the Dejal Subreddit

I have just created a community for Dejal on Reddit, the popular site that bills itself as the "front page of the internet".

Check it out at r/Dejal/.

While I am winding down my own forums due to spam and lack of enthusiasm, it may seem strange to try creating a community on a third-party site. But a great feature of Reddit is the ability for subreddit members to upvote and downvote posts and comments, which not only encourages the most popular and useful posts to float to the top, it also helps reduce spam by pushing that to the bottom. It also has strong moderation tools to help with abuse.

This subreddit is an experiment. It's hard to build a community. But I know that many people use Reddit every day, so I hope that a reasonable number will embrace this new community as an opportunity to talk amongst themselves about Time Out, Simon, and other Dejal apps. I really hope people will suggest and vote on feature ideas there, too; that could be a valuable resource to help me plan future updates, and help my customers have more visibility into what is added.

I don't anticipate it being as good for support queries; you're welcome to post them there, and if the community grows, perhaps others will chime in to help, but at least in the meantime it'd be better if people continue to contact me directly via the contact form on the Dejal site.

Please join the r/Dejal/ community!

2020 vision

Last week I published my annual Dejal year in review post for 2019. This week, let's look ahead for what's in store for 2020. And yes, I couldn't resist using the "2020 vision" pun. Sorry not sorry.

I am currently working on a big update to Simon, my pro macOS app to monitor websites and servers. I'm not ready to provide details, but I think people will enjoy the improvements. Due to my various projects, it probably won't be out for a few months.

Once that is done, I will start on an update to Time Out, probably version 2.7, though I might go to 3.0. I have a long list of feature ideas, some of which are earmarked for 3.0, some could be done sooner or later; I'll refine the plan closer to the time. As always, feel free to get in touch if you have suggestions.

Over the holiday period, I whipped up a quick prototype of a new macOS app to scratch my own itch, and as a fun learning experience for using SwiftUI, Combine, and other new technologies. The basic functionality is working, but I still need to do the preferences and other features. But that's on hold until I finish Simon. I'm actually thinking about outsourcing this, as another experiment. I do consulting development work for others, but it could be interesting to be on the client side for a change.

As always I have various other app ideas in various stages of planning or prototyping. I hope to spend some time on those at some point, but realistically probably won't have time for a while; my existing projects, including consulting work, accounts for all the time I have, and then some.

Speaking of consulting, I'm continuing to work on SheetPlanner, with some really nice enhancements underway, plus ongoing improvements to NewsBlur and Turn Touch. And maybe other projects later.

In terms of conferences, last year I attended AltConf in San Jose (see my photos) and Release Notes in Cancun, Mexico (see my photos). This year I plan to attend AltConf again, but beyond that don't have any conference plans; I'll definitely go to Release Notes again if they have one this year, and may go to another one depending on what is announced, though I won't be surprised if WWDC week is it for this year.

On the personal side, my wife and I will be celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary with a big trip to my home country of New Zealand, plus the usual homestead projects and daily photos and such. Follow those two blogs if you're interested in me as a person.

It's going to be another busy year!

Dejal decade in review: 2010-2019

Happy New Decade!

(Yes, I know some pedants would say the decade doesn't start till next year, but that doesn't make intuitive sense.)

As we start a new decade, let's review what happened with the Dejal apps in the last one, January 2010 to December 2019:

My popular break reminder tool, Time Out, was first released way back in 2003, and started the 2010's with an update to version 1.5.6. It has been regularly updated, including a massive 2.0 upgrade in 2016. But that wasn't the end; it has had many updates since then, adding many useful features, and is currently at version 2.6.2. It is available directly from the Dejal site, via the Mac App Store, and via Setapp. It has been featured several times in the App Store, and regularly ranked #1 in the Health & Fitness category.
My pro app to monitor websites and servers for changes and failures, Simon, is a year older, having started back in 2002. It begin the decade at version 2.5.6, with a major upgrade to version 3.0 later in 2010, and another to version 4.0 in 2014, and is currently at version 4.3.1. It continues to be sold both directly and as one of the foundation apps in Setapp.
Pack, a simple iPhone app to make it easy to pack for trips, was introduced in 2014, and rewritten from the ground up as 2.0 in 2019. It is currently up to version 2.1.
Date Stamp, an iMessage app to provide customizable date stamp stickers, was introduced in 2016, and updated to version 1.0.1 in 2017. It may or may not be updated again, but works really well as-is. The iMessage store didn't have a very good start, but is more visible in recent iOS releases. Tell your friends if you like this.
Chicken GIFs is a sticker pack featuring many fun animated GIFs of my chickens, which can be used as reactions in messages. It was introduced in 2017. It probably won't ever be updated, but is fun as-is.
Caboodle, a "lean clean snippet machine", was one of my older apps, created in 2006, and updated to version 1.5 in 2013. I worked on a big 2.0 update for a few years, and sold it to Before Dawn Solutions in 2017, where they released the 2.0.
BlogAssist, another older app to do HTML markup, was created in 2003, updated to version 2.4.1 in 2015, then discontinued in 2017. I don't like to discontinue apps, but sometimes it is the best option.
Tweeps, an iOS app to manage Twitter accounts, was created in 2010, updated to version 3.3 in 2014, then discontinued in 2017. It had a short life, suffering the fate of many third-party Twitter tools.
Narrator was my first app for Mac OS X; an app to read out stories in multiple voices. It was created in 2002, updated to version 2.0.7 in 2010, then sold to Mariner Software later in 2010.

It's been a busy decade!


Dejal also produces macOS and iOS apps for other companies, under the banner of Dejal Consulting, since 1995.

The 2010's decade saw a significant change for Dejal Consulting, moving from having one big, long-term client (with the occasional smaller jobs) to a more diverse portfolio. While having a big client was comfortable, it was fairly disruptive when it ended. I enjoy having long-term projects, but I would prefer to avoid that disruption in the future, so now like to maintain at least a couple of bigger projects, and a sprinkling of smaller ones for variety.

I can't write about all consulting projects, but some publicly available ones in the past decade have included:

SheetPlanner, a pro-level outliner, planner, todo, calendar, and more. Written entirely by Dejal. Started in 2017, it recently reached version 1.2, with many great enhancements coming in future updates.
The iOS client for NewsBlur, a popular RSS reader. Contributions by Dejal, starting in 2015 and also ongoing.
The iOS and macOS apps for the Turn Touch remote, a beautiful wooden remote for your smart home. Contributions by Dejal, starting in 2019 and continuing.
Client Folder Maker, a macOS tool to make custom hierarchies of folders. Contributions by Dejal, starting in 2018.
Keynote Extractor, a better HTML export for Apple Keynote on macOS. Written by Dejal from 2016 to 2017.
zCloud, a menubar utility for macOS to easily share screenshots and other files. Written by Dejal from 2015 to 2016.
Profile, a large server/client medical practice management system for iOS and macOS. Dejal contributions to the macOS server/client apps from 1995 to 2014 (yes, 19 years!), and the iOS app written by Dejal from 2011 to 2014.

I am currently fully booked up for the next several months at least, but am always interested in talking with potential new clients. If you have a macOS or iOS project you'd like help with (or a custom Simon enhancement), check out my consulting page for more information.

Thank you

Thank you and welcome to my new customers, and many thanks to the long-term customers who are still enjoying my apps, and my continuing consulting clients. I really appreciate your support.

Featured blog posts of 2019

My blog posts often just cover new releases, but sometimes I post general-interest or developer-interest topics. Some highlights from 2019 included:

I hope you enjoyed these posts.

SheetPlanner 1.2 beta available

In between working on my Dejal apps and other projects, I've been hard at work on a big update to one of my consulting projects, SheetPlanner. Version 1.2 is now being beta tested.

SheetPlanner is a powerful macOS app that combines an outliner, todo, project timeline, calendar, notes, links, and more. This update includes a new picture column type, multi-selection in list cells, cell-specific styles and improved style controls, notifications for date cells, a timeline info popover, a date stamp option, and many more great enhancements.

If you're interested in helping test this update, please request the beta via the SheetPlanner contact form.

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


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.)

Pack 2.1 released

I'm pleased to announce version 2.1 of Pack, my simple trip packing app for iPhone.

If you missed version 2.0, you may be interested to learn that Pack is now totally free for everyone! It no longer has an in-app purchase to unlock features; everything is available. Read the 2.0 blog post if you're curious why.

Want to get it right now? Download Pack from the App Store. Read on for details.

Version 2.1 includes support for iOS 13, including dark mode. (Don't worry, it still works on iOS 12 too.)

Here's the packing view, where you cross off items as you put them in your suitcase:

Pack screenshot

Flip over to the Choose Items view to pick what to pack:

Pack screenshot

And editing items:

Pack screenshot

You get the idea. Of course, the light mode is also still available. But I know a lot of people prefer dark mode, myself included.

Version 2.1 also includes some improvements to tags, one of the new features of version 2.0, where items can have any number of tags assigned to them, e.g. "Clothing" and "Cold" to enable further categorizing items to guide choosing what to pack for a trip.

Notice in the screenshots above that some items, e.g. "Sweatshirt", appear twice, once under "Clothing", and once under "Cold". Toggling one will toggle the other, since they are just two tags for the same item. You can also arrange the items by name or by person, if that makes more sense to you. (Personally I usually use by person.)

Want to try it?

Again, Pack 2 is completely free! So download it from the App Store and try it before your next trip.

Please rate & review

If you do try it, please do me a favor and write a review for it. The old version had some 1-star reviews due to old issues, but I'd like to get some more positive ones there, to encourage people to give it a try. Pack has long been an indispensable app for me, and I'm sure others will find it useful too.

Thank you,

Attending the Release Notes conference

In a couple of days Jenn and I will be in sunny Playa Mujeres, Mexico, about 45 minutes north of Cancún, to attend the Release Notes conference; an indie software business focused conference put on by the guys behind the excellent Release Notes podcast. We'll be there a day either side of the conference, too, so we can enjoy some extra relaxation.

If you'll attend too, please feel most welcome to say hi. And if you want to attend, it isn't too late — I believe there are still a few tickets left.

I'll probably replace my usual Dejal shirts with more casual Hawaiian shirts, but may still have a Dejal badge or something. And my long beard is fairly distinctive:

David wearing Dejal shirt & cap

I will have business cards with my contact details and apps, plus Dejal and Time Out stickers:

Dejal business cards and stickers

And if you'll be there too, perhaps try using my free packing app, Dejal Pack, to make sure you don't miss anything when packing your suitcase. Recently rewritten as version 2! Did I mention that it's free? (Version 2.1 is currently waiting for review, too, with dark mode support.)

Looking forward to it!

Time Out tip: fixed image and blog themes

I recently got a support request for Time Out, my popular break reminder tool, asking to display a fixed image during the break.

Time Out uses HTML pages as break themes, so it is possible to have a fixed image as a theme — in fact the default theme, Icon, does just that, with the app icon.

So one way to have a fixed image is to:

  1. Choose the Reveal Themes command at the end of the Theme pop-up menu to open the Themes folder in the Finder.
  2. Duplicate the Icon theme folder and give it a new name.
  3. Replace the icon.png file with your chosen image.
  4. Edit the index.html to adjust the name and size of the displayed image.
  5. Edit the Info.json file to give the new theme a unique identifier etc.

Pretty easy. You can edit those files in TextEdit or any other text editor.

If the image is available on some website, it's actually a little easier. I have created an example theme on the Time Out extras page:

Download the Ducks & Fish theme

You can edit a copy of this theme to use a different image:

  1. Choose the Reveal Themes command at the end of the Theme pop-up menu to open the Themes folder in the Finder.
  2. Add the Ducks & Fish theme, if not already.
  3. Duplicate that theme and give it a new name.
  4. Edit the Info.json file to give the new theme a unique identifier, and change the URL to the desired image.

(This got me thinking, and I spent the last hour or so writing up notes on ways to make adding image-based themes even easier in a future version. I'm always trying to improve the app.)

While I was at it, I also added three themes to display my three blogs:

  • Dejal Blog (download link): a theme that simply shows the Dejal blog, so you can read it during your break, to see the latest news about Time Out and other Dejal apps (doesn't update very often, though, so probably not that exciting for a regular break).
  • Dejus Blog (download link): a theme that shows my personal blog, where I post photos and comments every day. Could be good for a short break a once or twice a day.
  • Yellow Cottage Blog (download link): a theme to show the Yellow Cottage Homestead blog, about my chickens, ducks, feral cats, bees, and other homestead topics. Could be good for a lunchtime break.

If you try those, you might want to set the Opacity to 100% on the Break Appearance page.

Time Out isn't a web browser or feed reader, but since the themes are just web pages, these show some of the interesting things you can do.

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