Archive for February 22, 2017

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Overcast 3

Marco Arment (tweet):

Previously, tapping an episode in the list would immediately begin playback. This is nice when you want it, but accidental input was always an issue: I found it too easy to accidentally begin playing something that I was trying to rearrange, delete, or see info about.


Some kind of “Up Next”-style fast queue management has been one of Overcast’s most-requested features since day one. It took me a long time to come around to the idea because I thought my playlists served the same role.


Google provides an extensive control panel that lets you block certain ad categories. Most are clearly placed in Sensitive Categories and were easily disabled before launch, like gambling, drugs, etc., but I kept hearing from customers who’d seen other ads that offended both of us.


No closed-source code will be embedded in Overcast anymore, and I won’t use any more third-party analytics services. I’m fairly confident that Apple has my back if a government pressures them to violate their customers’ rights and privacy, but it’s wise to minimize the number of companies that I’m making that assumption about.

Fortunately, the Google ads made relatively little — about 90% of Overcast’s revenue still comes from paid subscriptions, which are doing better now. The presence of ads for non-subscribers is currently more important than the ads themselves, so I can replace them with pretty much anything. So I rolled my own tasteful in-house ads with class-leading privacy, which show in the Now Playing and Add Podcast screens[…]

I really like the interface refinements in this version. I didn’t use episode playlists much before because it was so awkward to add to them. Now it’s easy.

Triaging episodes is much easier now, too. It’s easier to read the summary, I don’t accidentally play the episode when I just wanted to see its info, and no more swipe-to-delete, which had been slow and not fully reliable.

I think it still needs some work for handling unfinished episodes, though. If I don’t add them to a playlist before starting them, it’s too easy to switch to another episode, lose my place, and forget to go back. I would like to see either a history view or the return of the In Progress smart playlist.

See also: Steven Aquino, John Gruber, Federico Viticci (tweet).

Previously: Twitter Sells Fabric to Google.

Update (2017-02-23): Jason Snell:

Now, with Overcast 3, I have a different approach. I now have two playlists. One, called Priority Playlist, basically functions as my play queue. That’s the stuff I will definitely listen to if I have the time, ordered in a way to keep me happy. A few of my must-listen podcasts add their episodes to this playlist automatically, but most don’t.

Setting my playlist settings (left) and adding an item to my playlist (right). The second playlist is called All Episodes, and as the name would imply, it shows every podcast episode from every podcast I subscribe to, with the newest episodes at the top. From this list, I can scroll to see what’s new and if anything pops up as an immediate must-listen. When I find such an episode, I tap once to reveal Overcast 3’s new episode-action strip, tap the Add icon, and then tap “Add to Priority Playlist” or, if I’m really excited, “Play Next.”

Update (2017-02-24): See also: Accidental Tech Podcast, The Talk Show, Under the Radar.

Google Site Search Discontinued

Barb Darrow (Hacker News):

This spring, Google plans to discontinue Google Site Search, a product it has sold to web publishers that wanted to apply the industry’s leading search technology to their own sites.


Once a customer’s allocation of search queries is exhausted, the account will “automatically convert” to the company’s Custom Search Engine, or CSE for short.


CSE is a free, advertising-supported version of Google’s search technology, that provides similar features and functions to GSS, according to the email.

This is disappointing. The e-mail that I received seemed to suggest that I should look into Google Cloud Search, but that’s a totally different product. To provide a search engine for my Web site, I would need to switch to CSE. Years ago, I switched from CSE to GSS because I wanted a better user experience and no ads. CSE devotes much more of the page to ads than a regular Google search; on my 30-inch display, the actual search results from my site start more than halfway down. Now, Google apparently would rather show ads than let me keep paying for GSS.

I’m not sure yet what I’ll do. I have been using DuckDuckGo’s search for this blog, but when I tried it on the C-Command site the results were much worse (less relevant and incomplete) than Google’s. However, that was a while ago, so perhaps it’s better now.

See also: Barry Schwartz.

Update (2017-02-22): There are also changes to CSE.

Update (2018-07-20): Google (via John Gordon):

We are excited to announce an expansion of our Custom Search Engine offerings. We offer the following implementation options for Custom Search Engine.

OmniOutliner Essentials

Ken Case (tweet):

In OmniOutliner’s new Essentials edition, your entire focus is on your own content: there are no distracting sidebars or panels. You can choose to work in a window or in a distraction-free full-screen mode, selecting from a set of beautiful built-in themes. As you write, you’ll be able to see some key statistics about your content so you can track progress towards your goals. But our goal is to help you focus on your content and whatever task you’re working on—not on the tool you’re using.

With the Essentials edition, we’ve lowered OmniOutliner’s entry price from $49.99 to an extremely affordable $9.99.

Brent Simmons:

MORE was by Living Videotext, which was Dave Winer’s company. Later I went to work at Dave’s company UserLand Software, which also included an outliner in its app Frontier, which I worked on. So there is a sort-of family tree connection from OmniOutliner back to MORE.

Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C Infographic

Lloyd Chambers:

The infographic from OWC shown below might help in some ways, but there are various “gotchas”. MPG recommends generally buying full-speed Thunderbolt 3 cables, for maximum interoperability. However, lower speed cables intended for use with USB-C have their place also.