Cleveland Marriott Downtown Lobby

Cleveland Marriott Downtown Lobby

How to mute alerts in Fantastical

If you have a shared Reminders list, Fantastical for Mac will notify you if someone else updates it. I don’t need to see these notifications, but it took me a little while to discover how to mute alerts for specific Reminders lists.

It’s not, as one might suspect, unders Preferences > Alerts. You actually mute the alerts under Preferences > Calendars, and it’s not at all obvious that this is where you do it.

First, open Preferences (Fantastical > Preferences or ⌘,). Then go to Calendars and right-click the Reminders list that you want to mute. Select Get Info.

Check Ignore alerts and Ignore shared calendar notifications as shown in the screen shot below. Then click OK button.

This method also works for muting alerts from individual calendars.

Snowy Night at One Atlantic Center

Snowy Night at One Atlantic Center

Automatically mount a network share using Keyboard Maestro

Because of some constant issues with Time Machine that I just couldn’t resolve, I switched to Arq, which offers a similar “go back in time” backup solution. I’ve had a generally positive experience with Arq; it’s been much faster and more reliable than Time Machine for me.

The only problem — and this is unrelated to Arq itself — was that my network share would disconnect when my MacBook went to sleep, and I couldn’t find a simple, reliable way to automatically remount the share when waking my MacBook. Then, I happened to find this postfrom Gabe Weatherhead. The post is five years old, but his solution using Keyboard Maestro still works perfectly.

I added one condition to his setup: My MacBook must be connected to my home Wi-Fi network.

I had tried Keyboard Maestro in the past, but I had never really found a compelling reason to purchase it. This simple macro has changed my mind, though, and I’m now a paying customer. Now to find more uses for it…

Lake Michigan sunset 2

Lake Michigan sunset
Lake Michigan sunset

Lake Michigan sunset 1

Lake Michigan sunset
Lake Michigan sunset

Halide: My favorite camera app

Halide app icon

When I first got my iPhone 6S, one of the features I was most interested in was the ability to capture RAW photos. The native camera app can’t capture RAW photos, but there are a number of third-party apps that can. At first I was using Manual, which captures RAW photos and gives you full control over various settings such as ISO, focus and white balance. (There’s also an automatic setting that takes care of all of that for you.) I still Iike Manual, but I recently read about Halide and decided to give it a try. I found it to be a powerful camera app that’s surprisingly easy to use.

Halide's main interface, shown against a neutral background to highlight the controls.
Halide's main interface, shown against a neutral background to highlight the controls.

Basic controls

At the top of the screen — in what Halide calls the Quick Bar — are a few basic controls that are available in manual mode and automatic mode. A white icon indicates that the option is turned off; a yellow icon means that it’s turned on.

  • Flash control  Flash (on or off; there’s no automatic option).
  • Location control  Location: If it’s off, location won’t be included in the photo’s metadata. Unlike with most other camera apps that I’ve used, location is off by default, and Halide doesn’t ask for permission to use location until you turn it on.
  • Grid and level control  Grid and level indicator: Rather than being a single horizontal line as in other camera apps, the level indicator is a rectangle that aligns with the middle rectangle of the grid. It turns yellow when the phone is perfectly level.
  • RAW control  RAW: If it’s on, photos are captured as Digital Negative (DNG) files, Adobe’s implementation of the RAW image format. (All iOS apps that can capture RAW photos capture them as DNG files.) If this setting is off, photos are captured as JPEG files, just like with the native camera app.
  • Settings button  A control that provides access to the user manual and allows you to rearrange some of the controls on the Quick Bar.
  • Histogram control  Histogram: If on, a live histogram is displayed on-screen. (This article from B&H Photo and Video provides an overview of histograms in digital photography. It’s written for users of digital cameras, rather than camera apps, but the same concepts in the “How to Read the Histogram” section also apply to apps like Halide.)
  • Automatic mode indicator or Manual mode indicator  A mode indicator (automatic or manual). Tapping the indicator changes modes.
  • Control to change between front and rear cameras  A control to change between the front and rear cameras.


Most of Halide’s controls are adjusted with gestures, so it’s easy to control with one hand, even in manual mode. The settings you would most commonly change while taking a photo (exposure compensation, focus and shutter speed) can easily be changed by swiping or dragging with your thumb while holding the camera with one hand.

Automatic mode

In automatic mode, denoted by Automatic mode indicator at the top of the screen, Halide only provides one other adjustment — exposure compensation (EV). As with other controls in Halide, you adjust it with gestures. Drag up on the screen to increase the EV, down to decrease it. Double-tap the EV indicator to reset it to 0.0.

Manual mode

In manual mode, indicated by Manual mode indicator at the top of the screen, you can adjust ISO, white balance and shutter speed. ISO is adjusted by tapping the ISO button button in the Quick Bar and adjusting the ISO control that appears above the focus controls. White balance is controlled by tapping the white balance icon to the right of the manual indicator; the icon indicates the current white balance setting and thus varies depending on the selected setting.

All of the available white balance modes. This menu is displayed when you tap the white balance icon, and the white balance icon always reflects the currently selected mode.

Shutter speed is adjusted in the same way that exposure compensation is adjusted in automatic mode. (The EV indicator becomes the shutter speed indicator, denoted by S, in manual mode.) Drag up to increase shutter speed (for a longer exposure) or down to decrease shutter speed (for a shorter exposure).


In manual mode or automatic mode, you can use either autofocus or manual focus. The focus control can conveniently be controlled simply by swiping. With autofocus engaged, just swipe right to activate manual focus, and drag the slider to adjust the focus manually. Swiping left will reactivate autofocus. (Tapping the Autofocus button button will also activate or deactivate autofocus.)

Focus peaking

Halide includes a focus peaking feature, activated by tapping the Focus peaking button button. With focus peaking turned on, Halide highlights in green the parts of the image with the sharpest contrast.

Photo view

Halide’s photo view displays a very limited subset of the photo’s metadata: file type (JPEG or RAW1), date and time, shutter speed and ISO. To see all metadata, you’ll need another tool (I like ViewExif) but it’s nice to be able to see at least some metadata without leaving Halide.

In this view, you can also “favorite” a photo by swiping right (a feature I don’t often use) or delete a photo by swiping left (a feature I find to be very convenient). There are also buttons that perform the same functions if you don’t like the gesture-based controls.

Swipe right to “favorite” a photo. Swipe left to delete.

Changing orientation

When rotating the phone from portrait to landscape (and vice versa), the controls that rotate or change position do so in a very natural looking way (with one exception noted below). While it’s not anything that would make or break an app, it’s an extra little detail that makes Halide that much nicer to use.

In many apps, rotating the phone means that the entire interface rotates, and not in a very graceful way. In Halide, the controls at the top of the screen briefly disappear and then reappear in the correct place when the phone is rotated. When rotating the phone counterclockwise into landscape orientation (so that the shutter button is under your right hand), the EV button (in automatic mode) or shutter speed button (in manual mode) smoothly rotates into the correct orientation. (The small preview of the last photo taken rotates as well.) When rotating clockwise to landscape (so that the shutter button is under your left hand), however, the EV/shutter speed button and last photo preview swap places. While it doesn’t look bad, it’s just not as smooth as the other interface changes.


Halide’s documentation, which simulates a paper user manual, is attractive but not very informative; it’s little more than a “getting started” guide. The website contains descriptions of a few key features (but not necessarily how to actually use them), but no real documentation. I had to figure out a few of the settings myself, but now that I have, I find Halide easy to use. Still, I think it would be helpful if the app had better documentation.

The missing feature

One feature I’d like to see in Halide is RAW+JPEG capture. RAW files retain all of the image data, but they generally don’t look good without some post-processing, and not every photo app on iOS can handle RAW files. If you want to share RAW files via email, text or social media, you need to convert them to JPEGs first.

JPEG files on the other hand are processed in-camera. Some of the image data is lost during that processing, but JPEGs are universally readable and usually look good enough to be shared.

Manual, the app I mentioned at the beginning of this post, can capture a RAW image and a full-resolution JPEG at the same time. It’s not a deal breaker for me, but it would be nice if Halide added a similar feature in a future release.

Aside from that, however, Halide is probably the best camera app I’ve used. I use it for all of my iPhone photography except throwaway JPEGs (for which I still use the native camera app).

  1. The photo view just displays the photos from your phone’s camera roll, so you may also see PNG files if you have screen shots in your camera roll. ↩︎

Sunset and storm

Sunset and storm over the Gulf of Mexico
Sunset and storm over the Gulf of Mexico

Sunset on the Cuyahoga River

Sunset on the Cuyahoga River
Sunset on the Cuyahoga River

Storm Clouds and Control Tower at ATL

Storm clouds behind the control tower at ATL
Storm clouds behind the control tower at ATL

Test Driving Transmit 5

I’ve been a Transmit user since version 3 and have always liked it (and Panic, the company behind Transmit). When Transmit 5 was released with support for Amazon Drive, I was eager to try it.

Amazon lets Prime members store an unlimited number of photos, including RAW files — which is unique among cloud storage providers, to my knowledge — on Amazon Drive for free. It seemed like a good addition to my backup plan, and it would give me access to all of my photos on my phone or iPad (assuming I knew which ones I needed, since the Amazon Drive app doesn’t show previews of RAW files).

But because my photos are on an external hard drive, and Amazon doesn’t allow the sync folder to be on an external drive, there were a couple of things I didn’t like. First, I had to upload photos by dragging them to the Amazon Drive app, so I couldn’t do anything close to an automatic upload. Second, there was no good way to see my files in a traditional files-and-folders interface. I was hoping Transmit 5 could solve these problems.

Setting up the connection

Setting up the connection was simple. Just add a new server by clicking Servers > Add New Server or by clicking the + button at the bottom of the servers pane.

Select “Amazon Drive,” click Next, and you’ll be presented with an Amazon login screen.

Set up a new server

After you log in, Transmit will set up the new connection, and you’ll see a screen like the one below where you can change various attributes like the name of the connection.

Amazon Drive configuration

Click Save, and you’re done.

On the front end, it works like any other connection in Transmit. You can browse the files in a Finder-like view, and you can preview them with Quick Look. (The files are still on a remote server, though, so Quick Look isn’t as fast as it is when previewing a local file.) One problem solved.

There are my photos
There are my photos


One of Transmit’s great features is its ability to synchronize a local folder and a remote folder. If I could use Transmit to synchronize my Pictures folder on my external hard drive with my Pictures folder on Amazon Drive, that would solve the other problem.

Unlike in Transmit 4, where the Sync screen was behind a button that had both an intuitive icon and a “Sync” label, the Sync screen in Transmit 5 is hidden behind this unlabeled button that doesn’t really scream “synchronize” to me: Transmit Sync button

But once I found it, the screen looked (interface updates aside) and worked exactly like it did in Transmit 4.

Same basic screen with an updated design

I simulated the sync first, and it took about one and a half minutes to determine that the local folder contained 378 files that weren’t on Amazon Drive. I proceeded to synchronize the folders, and everything went fine for about an hour. (I think Transmit is probably slower to upload that Amazon’s own app, but the extra features offered by Transmit are worth the trade-off to me.)

After about an hour (and all except 15 files successfully uploaded), uploads started failing. According to the message in Transmit, the Amazon token had expired; I suspect this was due to rate limiting. I simply closed the connection, reopened it, and synchronized again to fix the problem.


This is just a nice touch, but the Panic website has Apple Pay enabled, and it was super easy to use. My MacBook is too old to support it, but it worked perfectly on my iPad. I just tapped the “Buy With  Pay” link and authorized it via Touch ID. My serial number was displayed in the browser and sent via email almost immediately.

In the end, Transmit 5 solved my problems with Amazon Drive well enough that I thought it was worth the $35 price tag. (It’s currently discounted; the regular price will be $45.)


Experimenting with depth of field blur in Affinity Photo for iPad

Takeoff from Norfolk International

I took this video on May 25, 2017 while taking off from Norfolk International Airport (ORF). This one is a little longer than the other two takeoff videos I’ve posted, but there’s a good view across the water toward the end of the video. (The clouds and sky are nice, too.)