Send text securely with Vault

Vault is a tool that lets you send passwords or sensitive information by encrypting it with a password and setting an expiration date. By sending the generated Vault link, your private information is not stored on mail servers or in databases where it can live forever.

This tool is helpful if you work in a tech support environment. Many times you need information from customers that is sensitive in nature, and if they email it to you, then it always be stored in your help desk, email server, and remain searchable forever.

Vault Screenshot

By using Vault, the only information they send to you is a link and a password to unlock the vault. After it expires, neither the link or the password can open it which makes that data useless. The data inserted into Vault is encrypted in the browser and encrypted on the server.

HelpSpot Vault is a free tool with no signup required and if you’d like to hear more of the backstory on this app listen to Inside HelpSpot Vault a 15-minute podcast.

If you are doing any form of support or passing data around this is a tool to bookmark and use. As Jeffrey Wyman said on ProductHunt, “I always cringe when I see how easily people give up their passwords over email.”

4 Apps for a Minimal Mac Experience

As developers, we get junk everywhere. Hundreds of files in your Downloads folder, dozens of apps open at once and lots of little utilities that overwhelm your menu bar. Let’s check out a few of my favorite apps to help you keep focused and experience that blissful minimal Mac experience.

Hazel by Noodlesoft

Hazel bills itself as your personal housekeeper and it performs admirably. It installs through System Preferences and allows you to create automation rules.
Here are a few that helps prevent junk from piling up:

Automatically delete files that have been in the trash for a set number of days. It also supports “app sweep” to uninstall any leftover artifacts from removing an application.

Auto Trash Downloads

A good Hazel rule to pair with emptying the trash is setting up one that finds old files in your Downloads folder and automatically moves them to the trash.

With this setup, now any downloads added four weeks ago is automatically trashed.

Limitless Rules

You can setup many different rules for your personal workflow. For example, I have one in place to sync from Dropbox/Camera Uploads to Google Drive, so I get a secondary backup.

Bartender

The menu bar can quickly turn into a dumping ground of every utility app that you keep running. I have 14 apps with menu bar icons and just looking at that giant list is overwhelming.

With Bartender you can hide all these behind a single icon, giving you the ultimate minimal menu bar.

Of course, all the apps are still accessible from Bartenders icon, the star in the above screenshot.

Hocus Focus

On a Mac, when you switch apps the last opened ones cascade in the background. If the active app window is smaller than the others then the back ones can call for your attention.

Hocus Focus is designed to prevent this by automatically hiding inactive apps. This helps remove distractions and clutter.

Moom by Many Tricks

Moom is an app that allows you to quickly move and resize application windows. Using a grid, you can position an app at any location on the screen.

Splitting two apps across the screen is great when doing research so you can position your browser on one side and your writing app on the other. Just note that if you are using Hocus Focus, you will need to set both apps to not automatically hide in this scenario.

What I like about Moom is that you don’t have to remember any keyboard shortcuts. Just hover over the “full screen” icon in the upper left of your open app and the grid pictured above auto expands so you can position how you want.

Minimal Mac Zen

These four apps will help you get in the zone and keep you from losing focus. If you’ve been feeling overwhelmed give these a consideration. They are essential to all my Macs.

A First Look at Lingo

Lingo is a new Mac app launched by the people from the Noun Project. It’s designed to be a simple app to store and quickly browse for visual assets for your projects. The app supports photos, illustrations, icons, and any other visual asset.

Pricing is free for a personal plan, and if you’d like to share your library with a team, then you will need a paid package starting at $9.99 a month. All plans store your assets in their cloud and off your hard drive.

Lingo Demo

To get items into the app, you can drag and drop them from Finder or use the more traditional file upload tool. Once uploaded you can then drag them into folders in the sidebar for categorization. Plus you can edit the description and tags for easier finding later.

Lingo Tagging

Lingo doesn’t have any integration for finding all your existing assets and the easiest way I found to find all of yours is by using an advanced search in Finder.

Finder Image Search

Besides having simple access to all your assets, it includes drag and drop exporting to many popular apps including Sketch, Keynote, Adobe Creative Cloud, and more.

For a first release, it seems solid, and I didn’t run into any problems with the fundamental operations. Where I would like to see it improve is tighter integration with the Noun project, so I wouldn’t need the second app to find icons.

I’m also not enthusiastic on being forced to use their cloud service with no option of using your Dropbox account or Google Drive.

Overall I do like this app to help stay organized. I have “stuff” everywhere on my Mac, and this will help save me time the next time I’m looking for a particular image.

You can find out more and download the app from the Lingo website.

PatternFly — UX Goodness with the ease of Bootstrap

Patternfly is a community project of designers and developers collaborating to build a UI framework for enterprise web applications. Combining UX best practices with the powerful Bootstrap framework, it gives you a complete package for your apps administration area. It features premade layouts, patterns, widgets, and styles to give you a solid base to build off.

Here are some of the highlights of PatternFly.

Dashboard
An Example Dashboard
Example Login Page
Example Login
Example with Vertical Nav
Example with Vertical Nav

Patternfly appears to be a comprehensive resource for the next time you need to build out a new application. Another nice feature is this is a collaborative project between designers and developers, and by having developers contributing it should be designed in a way that works with standard data.

Checkout Patternfly for more information and to download or contribute.

A First look at Attendize, the open-source ticketing application

Attendize is a free & open-source ticket selling and event management platform. The app was created to offer event organizers a solution to managing general admission events, without paying any extra service fees outside of the payment processor.

It is currently in the early stages of development and let’s take a look at what all this application is about.

Attendize Installation

Attendize allows two methods of installation, a web-based installer and through the command line. I went through the command line and installed on a Laravel Homestead Vagrant box. The app could not have been simpler to get setup, and if you are comfortable with Laravel, you will fill right at home.

Here are the commands as they outline in the documentation:

git clone https://github.com/attendize/attendize
cd attendize
cp .env.example .env
vi .env #Set the database and mail settings etc.
composer install
php artisan attendize:install

Next setup a vhost to point to {yourpath}/attendize/public and visit the site in the browser where the login screen greets you:

Login
Attendize Login

Unfortunately, there hasn’t been a user to login with so you need to change the URL manually and visit /signup so that you can create this user.

Attendize Signup
Attendize Signup

After filling out the form, you can then login to the new account and continue setting it up.

Creating Events

Create Event Form
Create Event Form

You can create an unlimited number of events, and the setup is completed through an overlay window. My only complaint with this screen is the start and end date calendars.

Calendar Overlay
Calendar Overlay

Being an American it took me a minute to figure out the format in the date picker. It’s not that big of a deal, but it took me a few seconds instead of coming naturally. Dates and times are the bane of all web developers existence.

I also noticed a few minor issues on this form, for example hitting tab in the description doesn’t go to the next field. Instead, it wants to indent. I believe this is due to the WYSIWYG in use.

Where this form is awesome is with the Venue Name field. For my fictional event, I immediately thought of the Orpheum Theater in Memphis Tennesse. As I started typing “Orphe” it came up in the auto-complete.

Venue Selection
Venue Selection

That is a nice touch and came as a surprise. After saving the event, it’s time to create tickets for this event.

Create Tickets

Create a Ticket
Create a Ticket

Each event can have as many ticket options as you need. It even supports limited quantities and start/end dates for when they go on sale. This means you can offer special tickets like “Early Bird,” with the flexibility of even offering tickets for different levels. Maybe one for your whole conference, one for just workshops, or one for a single day. Your imagination is the limiting factor.

The Event Page

After setting the event life, you can visit the event page which auto generates the ability to purchase tickets, the event details, Google maps of the location, and your logo.

Stripe handles the payments for tickets, and another nice touch is a countdown showing you how long you have to complete the purchase.

Order Details
Order Details

I imagine this works well when you are getting close to selling out, and another benefit is it makes me want to hurry up and give my money.

Event Dashboard

The final feature I wanted to cover is the event dashboard which gives you a quick overview of how your event sales are going.

Dashboard
Dashboard

This shows charts for tickets sold over time, page visits, and sales volume. All the important data you will need to keep an eye on your event sales.

Final Thoughts

I’m very impressed with Attendize and even more fascinated with how young this app is. The only issues I came across were minor, and nothing show stopping. The only feature that I believe is missing is the ability to get a few more details of the customer when they are purchasing tickets. For example, some conferences like to get t-shirt sizes or special dietary concerns. Having a simple extra field system would fit in great here.

If you want to run an event, I highly recommend checking it out. I can only imagine how good it’s going to get.

For more information, you can visit the Attendize website and view the project on Github.

Wallcat — Every day a new desktop image for your Mac

I enjoy a minimal Mac experience. At the end of the day, I quit all my apps so I start the next day with a fresh canvas.

Having a clean desktop at the end of the day puts me in a done with work mindset and I love having a great looking desktop image. Over time this image gets stale and I start looking for a new one.

Wallcat, is a simple Mac app that does one thing — Sets a new beautiful desktop wallpaper every day. That’s it.

For ultimate simplicity, Wallcat has three settings launch at login, select an image channel, and share the image.

The channels include Gradients, Structure (Buildings and Architecture), and Fresh Air (Outside). After using this app for a few weeks I’ve only had one day where I didn’t like any of the images in the categories.

If you enjoy changing your desktop image or just want to mix things up this app is for you. Minimal, Simple, and Useful. It can’t get any better.

Wallcat is free in the App Store.

John Saddington on Side Projects

Side projects are a creative outlet for a lot of developers. It allows you to take an idea and turn it into something real. Besides solving problems, it gives you valuable experience in many important areas like launching, marketing, and more.

In this interview, I was able to spend a few minutes with John Saddington, a developer, and writer. John has created numerous side projects over the years including Desk.pm, a minimal markdown writing app, and TOMO, an app currently in development to reimagine human resources. Let’s take a look at how John gets inspiration and how he manages to launch.

Hi John, can you tell us about yourself?

I’ve been building software for 18 years, professionally. What I mean by that is that I was getting paid by a company to do it, but I built my first program much earlier than that! It was a choose-your-own adventure game in BASIC and you could either slay a dragon or save the princess… but you couldn’t do both. I started programming because of video games and my desire to build my own. I have yet to build a production-grade, market-ready game but perhaps at some point I will.

I first found you from your app Desk.pm and it later went on to become one of Apple’s Best of 2015. What do you think was the catalyst for that?

Luck, to be honest. Sure, I put in a lot of work but it’s impossible to really know what impacted the decisions. I’m humbled and honored by the attention… Apple has really made my particular journey really fun!

Otherwise, if there’s anything that was super-helpful to me it’s just that I spent a lot of time connecting to my readers and my customers as well as sharing my story of how I built it. That’s been a big part of how I build these apps anyways and I enjoy giving them a behind-the-scenes look.

You are also working on a new app, TOMO, can you tell us about that?

With TOMO I have a dream of open sourcing HR and all of the systems and tooling surrounding the human resources and human capital space. It’s one of the last places within the organization that has yet to fully adopt an open source philosophy with collaborative tooling. I hope to change that. You can follow our progress on the TOMO blog.

During the development, before you launched, did you ever get hit with negative thoughts? No one will ever buy this. Some other app already does this. etc..

All the time. In fact, there’s a general paranoia and fear that you have to work through so that you can get to launch. No one likes criticism but you know it’s coming. No one likes to work on something and not have it appreciated. But, there’s a large potential for that to happen. It is vastly more important that you execute and try and then fail than to not try and fail. In other words, if you’re going to fail you might as well fail while giving it a shot.

You write a lot on your personal site john.do, do you believe this helped you in making the apps you create a success?

Yes, and that’s because writing for 15 years every single day has forced me to become better at clarifying my thoughts into understandable ways, which directly relates to creating messaging and copy that can be interpreted and understood by potential consumers and customers. The more you practice the fine art of communication the better you become.

I know other developers who have created side projects and once they’ve found a little success they quit work and focus full time on it. Are you planning anything like that?

Nope. Most, if not all, of my side projects are just side projects — very few of them spin up into a big business and only a handful even had the remote potential to do that. This is a healthy exercise for me, though, and I’m fine with the side projects being side projects.

I’ve heard others say you should make around $12,000 a month before you even think about quitting your job. Do you think that figure is accurate once you account for taxes, insurance, and everything else related to being self-employed?

I suppose that’s fine if you live that type of lifestyle but I know that I’ve started many startups and projects with far less. In fact, I’m doing that right now as I don’t have a paying job and am working on savings as I get TOMO up and running.

If you’re driven to solve a problem then you’ll figure out a way to make the finances work… or you don’t and you go get a full-time job. There’s no right or wrong way of doing this but those who want to solve big problems and find deep and abiding satisfaction in their work will do whatever it takes to get there. The rest will just have to settle for a more modest and perhaps more mediocre career, which, I suppose, is sad, but most people will do that.

Where do you find your inspiration for both creating apps and for doing so much writing?

I’m inspired by the problems that I encounter day-to-day. The problems that I have experienced the most viscerally are the ones that I really want to solve.

Finally, what is the best way of keeping up with you and your future endeavors?

@8bit is a good place to start and if there’s anything that I’d like to add it’s just this: Your life is really, really short and if you’re not working on stuff that matters… then what are you working on… and why? What do you really have to lose? At some point we will all get old and die and if you think you’re going to look back and regret the decisions that you’re making today… well, you have to do something about that. Now, today. Get going.