Marius Masalar

Photographer, Technology Writer, Podcaster

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Bear 1.6: Nearly-Perfect Notes

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For the past year or so, I’ve been using Bear as my primary note-taking environment. The app recently hit version 1.6, bringing along support for Siri Shortcuts, navigation refinements, sync improvements, dark mode on macOS, and more.

The Siri Shortcuts support opens up a lot of fun doors, and I intend to dig into that more deeply soon. But I wanted to take a moment to talk about note-taking in general.

I have a frustrating relationship with note-taking apps because I don’t love any of them—Bear included. Mainly, this is because I can’t seem to find a solution that fulfills all my needs.

Specifically:

  • I want something beautiful, quick, and minimal
  • I need to be able to access it on all my devices
  • Sharing/collaboration is a must

 Bear and Apple Notes

I use Bear because it comes closest to ticking those boxes, is updated frequently by a passionate team, and isn’t free.1

The...

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Master Mobile Photography →

The photography 101 course you’ve been waiting for

Over the past few weeks, I’ve had the pleasure of working with my friends over at The Sweet Setup to put together a mobile photography course.

The lessons cover everything from composition to editing, with tutorials from talented contributors like Erin Brooks, Austin Mann, Josh Ginter, and yours truly. I’m really proud of how it all came together, particularly the video layouts, which I had a lot of fun assembling.

Here’s a sneak peek at what they look like:
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The course is now live, and you can save 20% off your enrolment for the next few days!

If you take the course, don’t hesitate to reach out and let me know what you thought of it.

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Farewell, Inbox

An unsurprising end to the most innovative email overhaul since Mailbox

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Google announced that it will be shutting down Inbox by March 2019.

As someone who’s been using Inbox on and off since its early beta days, this news makes me very sad. The recent refresh of Gmail that’s meant to replace it is a great email system, but it’s more of the same. Inbox represented a new way of thinking about email, one that really resonated with me and a small contingent of others.

 What Makes Inbox Unique

Inbox had a few key advantages that I’m really going to miss, especially since only some will be integrated into the existing Gmail experience:

Bundles

By packaging emails into groups, parsing a full inbox becomes much easier, and operating on email in bulk is effortless. Not only that, but per-bundle notification settings allow me to set Inbox up as a “peaceful” email client for travel, where...

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My Life With Apple

Taking stock of my current setup as we look forward to what comes next

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It’s new device season, which makes this the perfect time to look back at the past year of living in Apple’s ecosystem.

I currently own:

  • an iPhone X
  • an iPad Pro 12.9” (the original from 2015)
  • a Retina iMac
  • an Apple Watch (Series 0)
  • AirPods

It’s a pretty thorough collection, but upgrading each of these on a yearly basis would be ridiculous. More importantly, months of sustained use tend to reveal which categories deserve an upgrade and which don’t require one.

 iPhone

I decided to be an early adopter with Apple’s transformative new iPhone update last year, and I don’t regret it. The iPhone X has been my favourite iPhone in a long time, and it’s held up very well over the course of the year.

I wrote about my overall impressions five months in, and basically everything I said then still holds true.

I don’t...

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Olympus 17mm f/1.2 PRO

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One of the most comforting things about my Olympus setup is that I don’t have to worry about stopping down to take full advantage of my lenses.

The ƒ/1.2 PRO primes, for example, were designed to excel even wide open, and while you can certainly stop down to eke out a bit of extra bite, the lenses are so sharp at ƒ/1.2 that I’m not sure I would ever feel the need to do so. Instead, aperture becomes a control that’s simply dedicated to managing depth of field in a scene, as it should be.

The 25mm ƒ/1.2 PRO is my workhorse lens, but I recently spent a few weeks putting the 17mm ƒ/1.2 PRO through its paces to see if it was worth adding to my kit. It would live alongside the smaller ƒ/1.8 that spends most of its time on my PEN-F.

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Unlike most reviewers, I don’t have major complaints about the 17mm ƒ/1.8. Sure, the manual focus clutch still doesn’t properly engage the MF aids (a...

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iPad Pro Screenshot Frames Workflow

Showcase your iPad Pro screenshots in a device frame using Workflow on iOS

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In my quest to learn and do useful things with Workflow (soon to be Shortcuts), I’ve been looking to solve a concrete problem: making device frames for the iPad Pro.

There have been a few takes on solving this problem already, most notably Jordan Merrick’s excellent multi-device workflow, but I wanted something that worked with both iPad Pro sizes and didn’t rely on external files (Jordan’s grabs the blank device frames from a web URL and unpacks them on its first run—more on this at the end).

Enter Frameshot X.

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Frameshot offers a perfect solution, but Marcin Chrobak’s original only offers iPhone X support. I’ve taken the liberty of expanding on Marcin’s efforts by creating two parallel workflows: one for the iPad Pro 10.5”, and one for the iPad Pro 12.9”:

iPad Pro 10.5” Frames
iPad Pro 12.9” Frames

Like...

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TP-Link Smart Bulb & Smart Plug

Plug & Play

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Apartment living tends to limit a smart home geek’s options. In a way, it’s a good thing because it’s forced me to be patient about adding more devices to my home.

Patience breeds perspective, and perspective has allowed me to avoid some common frustrations. With smart home equipment, like anything else, you tend to get what you pay for. Something that at first seems like a bargain (IKEA’s system, for example), turns out to be very poor value once you investigate what it requires and how limited its connectivity really is.

So far, the best balance of value, functionality, and ease of use that I’ve found is embodied in TP-Link’s line of smart home products.

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 Kasa

Many months ago, I got access to their flagship smart bulb, the Kasa Smart Wi-Fi LED Light Bulb, along with their Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Plug (Slim Edition). As always, I’ve reserved judgement until I could put...

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Amazon Allows Custom Fonts in Latest Kindle Update

Addressing a long-standing request, Amazon has quietly unlocked custom font support in the latest (5.9.6) firmware update.

The update is available to all e-ink Kindle models from the Paperwhite 2 onward and can be installed manually or over-the-air as usual.

All you need to do to make this happen is connect your Kindle to a computer and place compatible OTF or TTF font files into the “fonts” folder. There’s an instructional readme file in the folder with more detailed notes:

You can now install your favorite fonts on your Kindle and choose one of them to read your eBooks.

Any font you install must be either an OpenType (OTF) or a TrueType (TTF) font. All other font formats are unsupported. Also, fonts are usually available as a font family and may consist of several files for different font styles - one each for Regular, Italic, Bold, BoldItalic, etc. For the best reading experience,...

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Things 3.6

The Keyboard Warrior Update

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I may not have been very excited about the powerful workflow features that were recently added to Things, but the latest update is right up my alley.

Version 3.6 of my task management app of choice introduces vastly expanded keyboard support for iPad users. Over 70 new shortcuts have been added, allowing for a keyboard-first approach to working in the app.

While it seems like a very simple thing to accomplish in concept, the work that had to go into making this possible was significant. All of this shortcut work is predicated on the notion of a selection state, but iOS doesn’t have any such thing natively, so CulturedCode had to build it.

 Type Travel

The shortcuts are great, and allow for all the expected functionality like selecting, adding, and editing virtually any aspect of a task.

But they aren’t the exciting part.

One of Things’ greatest...

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My Inbox is For You

At the beginning of April, one of my business partners was away for a couple of weeks.

Her email vacation responder pointed people to my inbox, which gave me an opportunity to experience what email is like for everyone else. I’ve seen the tweets, glanced over at other peoples’ home screens to witness the red doom sausage of ten thousand unread emails, lost in time. It bewilders me.

Chris Coyier (you know him as the guy behind CSS-Tricks, or perhaps as co-founder of CodePen) recently started a blog about email, and a lot of it resonates with me.

From his latest post about people who say they’re terrible at email:

It downright scares me when I hear this from otherwise successful people. It’s straight up saying “I’m unreliable” which is a truly bizarre thing to announce, even if it’s true…I quite literally don’t want to work with someone, in any capacity, who I can’t expect email...

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