TidBITS debuts fab-looking new website

I am beyond proud to be on the TidBITS masthead.

I therefore celebrate any improvements to this venerable, Apple-flavored tech-news operation.

TidBITS, run by amazing wife-and-husband duo Tonya and Adam Engst, saw a major upgrade last week: After months of planning and prep work, it debuted a spiffy new website.

It’s hard to overstate what an improvement this is.

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I try out Apple’s new HomePod for TidBITS


As someone who’s ambivalent at best about listening to music, I’m not an obvious user candidate for Apple’s new HomePod speaker.

After all, the audio device is inextricably tied to the Apple Music service and aimed at those with ravenous appetites for all manner of melody. The speaker is, first and foremost, a music appliance.

Yet, I adore the HomePod.

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I like winter just fine if I have a snowblower

For this Puerto Rican, living in Minnesota can be a trying experience.

Oh, summers are just fine, especially when deliciously wet, Caribbean-like air slaps me in the face. (Once, when I was visiting friends in San Juan, the weather was hotter and more humid in St. Paul, which sounds crazy but is not uncommon.)

Minnesota winters, though? I have been in the Twin Cities for three decades now, and I still have my “dear God, what have I done?” moments in January or February when the mercury takes a polar plunge.

But, over the years, I’ve learned to make my peace with the fearsome King Boreas.

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Twitter for Mac is no more; I try alternatives

As a Twitter power user, I’m in mourning because my favorite Mac-based software for accessing the popular social network will soon be no more.

That application, also called Twitter, is an elegant one-column construct that for years has permitted me to effortlessly and enjoyably access my various accounts. Now, though, Twitter is killing off the Mac app. That’s a shame.

With a sniff and perhaps a barely audible sob, I must move on.

For a TidBITS article, I kicked the tires on three Mac-based Twitter-app alternatives.

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I partake of the wireless-charge revolution

Of the many, many tech gadgets I’ve tried over several decades as a tech writer, a few stand out in my mind because of their ingenuity, beauty or both.

The TDK Wireless Charging Speaker is one of these. Made by then-Minnesota-based Imation in a licensing deal with Japan’s TDK, the compact audio gizmo kicked out nice sound.

But what made it unusual was it’s top surface, which incorporated a wireless-charging technology call Qi (“chee”).

Newfangled at the time, Qi allowed certain kinds of phones (including iPhones, if they were fitted with a special kind of case) to replenish their batteries simply by being placed on a wireless-power surface.

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My #bestnine Instagram pictures for 2017

Here are my #bestnine Instagram photos for 2017:

1, 6 and 8: Mississippi River Boulevard vistas taken while on bicycling excursions

2: My neighbor Colleen’s backyard while she was working an an interesting, unusually colorful project

3, 4: St. Paul-skyline shots taken from the Pioneer Press’ 7th-floor outdoor patio

5: Me and St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman just before the St. Paul Winter Carnival Torchlight Parade

7. Great shot of downtown St. Paul and my buddy Chris as we were on a ride

9. I took a lot of bicycling shots this year, and this is one of my favorites.

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My 2017 was the best and worst of times

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times — There’s a cliché for you, but I can’t think of a better way to describe my 2017.

The year started with the death of my brother, who was hit by a car while crossing a busy street. I spent the rest of the year agonizing about what to write on this topic — but realized I got it exactly right with my initial Facebook announcement:

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Facebook pals get creative for my birthday

I’m not crazy about Facebook, which is so chaotic and convoluted that it does a number on my OCD.

Oh, but I love Facebook on my birthday as best wishes pour in by the dozens.

Among those are bursts of creativity I cherish. The above, by my alwaysingenious friend Steve Borsch, is a wonder.

Here are a few others, some of which also tap into my nerdy tendencies.

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Apple’s iPad Pro ad is, in a way, about me

Apple’s new TV spot about a roving girl and her iPad is one of my favorite Apple ads of all time — and I do not say this lightly since the company’s advertising has always been top-notch.

Initially, I couldn’t quite nail down why this spot so resonated with me, and then it hit me. That girl is me — and not just because she’s wearing nerd spectacles like mine, or rides her bicycle everywhere as I do with my bicycle.

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I discuss Instagram on Joiner’s MacVoices

Instagram is a passion of mine. It is my favorite social network even though I’m sometimes more active on Facebook and Twitter.

Instagram’s simplicity — a grid of squares representing carefully curated pictures I want to share — appeals to me.

The service has lately added other bells and whistles, such as a “stories” feature for sharing ephemeral photos and videos in a Snapchat style, but my emphasis still is on the traditional photo posting.

So I was delighted when Chuck Joiner had me on a recent episode of MacVoices to pick my brain about my favorite tools for getting the most out of Instagram — especially if you’re a user of Apple devices.

This conversation is an update of sorts to a (now somewhat out-of-date) TidBITS article about Twitter tools.

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My alma mater profiles me briefly, brilliantly

My St. John’s University alma mater recently profiled in its glossy magazine a number of alumni who have worked as professional journalists.

Writer Dana Drazenovich whipped up a bunch of bios that are brilliant in their brevity and yet sum up professional lives perfectly.

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