Public Relations

I’m happy to announce a new app today: Citator for iPhone and iPad.
The brain-child of Clemens Bauer, Citator is a currently free app that lets you store, cherish and share memorable quotes.

Earlier this year, Clemens – whom I’ve known from the time we worked together on a local Apple Retailer’s customer loyalty app – approached me with an idea for an app to safe-keep quotes in.
Previous apps he had used for this appeared to become abandoned, and he desired a fresh, modern approach.

Features

  • A beautiful list you can filter or search to quickly find quotes you’ve stored before
  • Save Quotes from the app, or from any app using the Share- or Action sheet
  • In addition to the quote itself, you can specify the author of a quote, where and when it originated, and where you found it
  • Author’s images are automatically loaded from Wikipedia if available
  • Display a static quote you select on your Home- or Lock Screen (requires iOS 16) with a widget
  • Display a random quote (which can change in an interval of your choosing) on your Home- or Lock Screen (requires iOS 16) with a widget
  • Share quotes as text, or as beautifully rendered images
A quote shared as an image from Citator
Automatic loading author images from Wikipedia in action.

Pricing and Availability

Citator is currently free, available for iPhone and iPad on the App Store.
The app requires iOS 15 or newer and is currently localized in English and German.

TidBits and Fun Facts about the App and its Development

SwiftUI

The app is 100% SwiftUI, which, apart from a few SwiftUI widgets here and there for my other apps, marks my first fully-featured SwiftUI app.
I’ve always said that learning something new is always easiest on-the-go. That’s how I learned Objective-C many years back, it’s how I learned Swift, and now, it’s how I’m learning SwiftUI.
But It’s been a struggle for sure, and I don’t know yet what to think of it. I do like parts of it.
Yet I passionately hate that sometimes the simplest of things require workarounds upon workarounds. I’m not saying I know a lot about SwiftUI (I do not!), but as “the future of developing for Apple platforms” (paraphrasing here), it’s nowhere where it should be, in my opinion.
You want different code-paths for different iOS versions in your @ViewBuilder? You’re entering a world of pain.
You want to show a simple share sheet pre-iOS 16? Not available natively.
You want to show a popover for a specific row in a list? Yeah, right, virtually impossible.
There are a lot more like these, and it can be very frustrating.
And I admit, I don’t quite understand the premise of SwiftUI. Years and years were spent on creating graphical user interfaces, to the point where, in Xcode, for example, one could drag user interface elements for the app you’re working on where you want them to be and have an options interface to configure them to look the way you desire.
Now, the supposed future is going back to command-line-like interface programming for GUIs? Isn’t that a step back?
For now, I’d choose Xcode’s storyboards and auto-layout over SwiftUI any time.

It me.
List Row Backgrounds

The background of a quote in Citator is a blurred, darkened (or lightened, in light mode) version of the author’s image.
However, sometimes, there is no author specified for a quote, or an image cannot be found, which would render that quote’s background solid black or white, making it stand out in an out-of-place fashion.
Luckily, I found an – in my opinion – elegant solution. I thought it would be neat to have a background image created from the quote text itself. I don’t know why, but the concept of the quote text itself creating its own, unique background felt fitting to me, especially for this app.

Colors can be represented as hexadecimal values (i.e., #FF0000 for red, #00FF00 for green, or #0000FF for blue). All I needed was to turn the quote text into a hexadecimal representation.
The hashing algorithm MD5 takes data and creates a hash value of it, which consists of characters from A-F and from 0-9, which is the same hex color values consist of.
So when no author image is available, Citator creates an MD5 hash of the quote text and a bit of “salt” for added randomness (the author and the date), splits it up into individual, 6-character/digit strings and uses those to create a blurred, darkened/lightened gradient background image.

Colorful quote backgrounds, created from the quotes themselves.
Customizable Widgets

I love how the widgets turned out.
You can have static ones, where a quote you select will be displayed until you change it, and you can have dynamic/random ones, where the quote changes in an interval you define, with rules you set up.

A Citator widget, displaying a quote by Joan Baez.
Options for a dynamic / random-quote widget.

I also adore the new Lock Screen widgets. Clemens in particular was very happy that widgets can now be displayed on the Lock Screen in iOS 16, and they are a perfect fit for Citator.

Two Citator widgets on the iOS 16 Lock Screen.

The quotes used in App Store promotional material

At first, I thought I’d use quotes from movies (like in the short video above, with quotes from the fictional characters Dr. Ellie Sattler, Dr. Ian Malcolm and Indiana Jones). But then I got worried about copyright issues and scrapped the idea.
After a while of thinking about it, my mind wandered to Apple’s Think Different campaign, and that’s when I had the solution to my problem.
All quotes featured in the App Store promotional screenshots are by personalities featured in Apple’s Think Different campaign, like Amelia Earheart, Orson Welles, Alfred Hitchcock, Joan Baez, Martha Graham and John Lennon.


Clemens and I hope you enjoy Citator.
There’s more cool stuff yet to come!

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When I revamped my setup early this year, I struggled with getting a lamp for it.
For one, the desk is rather large, and I wanted something that could illuminate it all pretty well, without having to get two lamps, which would have been overkill.
Secondly, I wasn’t sure I really needed any additional light in the first place. With a glassy double-door, the office gets a lot of natural light, and in the evenings, I do have the “normal” lights I can turn on.
I even looked into some options and was close to purchasing the BenQ ScreenBar, but decided not to in the end – just because I wasn’t sure I really needed it.
But now that I’ve been using the BenQ ScreenBar for more than a week and a half, I do know better.

BenQ approached me on Twitter (via @BenQBeleuchtung) a while ago, asking if I was interested in receiving a free BenQ ScreenBar in exchange for giving my honest opinion about it on my social channels.
They had me at free, so here we are.

Disclaimer

Unpacking

The packaging is pretty simple and instructive.
There’s three parts: the ScreenBar (the light source), the clip (which holds it up on your monitor), and the USB cable.
Each item is annotated with useful information, so there’s really no need for a manual – which, if you still need it, you can get via the printed-on QR code.

Assembly

Setting it up

My external monitor is an LG 27UN880-B, which I’m able to pivot, rotate, tilt and elevate.
I was a little worried that the monitor’s ergonomic arm wouldn’t be able to handle the additional weight (the ScreenBar’s specifications say it’s just shy of 1 kg total (bar and clip), but I worried for naught.

You really just have to place the ScreenBar on top of your monitor, plug in the USB cable and you’re done.
Speaking of which, that is one long USB cable for something you probably plug into the monitor it sits on top of (1,5 meters).

I decided to use the thing the cable came wrapped up in to tie a bit of it up, because I don’t like loose cables hanging behind my screen – problem solved.
The good thing about the length of it is that I don’t *have* to plug it in to my monitor’s USB port. I could also plug it in to my Thunderbolt hub, and leave the monitor’s plug free for quick access when I need it. I prefer a cable that’s too long over one that’s too short, anyway.

Using the ScreenBar

I’ve been using the ScreenBar mostly with the Auto Dimmer running.
It automatically adjusts the brightness and color temperature using its light sensor. And here’s the only minor “issue” (if you can call it that) I discovered using it: the automatic adjustment doesn’t happen smoothly, but changes to the new temperature and brightness right away, which can be a bit jarring. On a cloudy day, where the light outside changes all the time, it becomes especially noticeable. But there’s a solution for those cases: turn off the automatic adjustment – which is done with a single tap.

With the buttons on top, I can quickly adjust the brightness and color temperature myself, which disables the Auto Dimmer.

The ScreenBar, according to the documents, was designed to avoid screen glare, and it does that very well.
What I find particularly nice is that you can “roll” the ScreenBar further to or farther from your screen:

And even though I have it turned all the way towards me, it doesn’t blind me. I’d have to lean in pretty far and down to be able to see the LEDs.

To give you an impression of the “power” of the ScreenBar, here are four stages of lighting in my office (during daytime, with the blinds closed):

All lights off
ScreenBar only
Room lights only
ScreenBar and room lights

Even with the room lights on, the ScreenBar very noticeably illuminates my work area.

Adjusting the ScreenBar’s color temperature
(from 6500K – cool light – to 2700K – warm light, and back)

Conclusion

Again, I received the ScreenBar for free from BenQ, in “exchange” for my honest opinion about it.
I seriously doubt I’d like it any less if I had had to pay for it – which, now, I wish I purchased it earlier.

It’s a great addition to my setup.
It rests on top of my screen without taking up unnecessary desk space (my desk is crammed as it is, even though it’s huge) and gives me light exactly where I need it – and beyond – when I need it.
The very minor, nit-picky “gripe” with the jumpy automatic brightness/temperature adjustment aside, I really couldn’t ask for more. It’s exactly what I want in a desk lamp.

I’m particularly looking forward to using this in the winter. It’s summer when I’m reviewing this, so, as I said, there’s lots of natural light, all the way into the evening, but come winter time, this thing will really shine. It’s already proven a fine companion during late-night coding sessions.

Be sure to check it out (see the links below), I do find it very useful.

Links

BenQ ScreenBar Website

BenQ ScreenBar Instructional Video – YouTube

Purchase the ScreenBar on Amazon DE (€109 at time of publishing)

Purchase the ScreenBar on Amazon US ($109 at time of publishing)

Q & A

I usually don’t leave comments open for my posts on my blog in fear of spam & co, but for this, I’m making an exception, in case you’d like to ask any questions about it.
You can also ping me on twitter, or by mail.

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I’ve got two maintenance updates to share with you.

Yoink for iPad and iPhone v2.4.2

Yoink is your files and snippets shelf for anything you can drag, copy, share or download.
It syncs across your iOS devices using iCloud.
You can quickly Handoff files to Yoink for Mac.
You can let it monitor your clipboard – even when Yoink itself is in the background – to save anything you copy or cut. Its Picture-in-Picture overlay gives you full control over what it saves, and you can pause/end it any time from there as well.
Use Picture-in-Picture not only for videos, but also for images, PDFs, eMails, websites, and more. You can even scroll through longer documents using the Picture-in-Picture controls.
Its Shortcuts library lets you automate almost every aspect of the app and gives you full control.

Version 2.4.2 brings the following improvements:
– It improves renaming files
– It fixes a potential battery drain issue when PiP was active and Yoink in the background

Links

Website
Usage Tips
App Store

Transloader for Mac, iPad and iPhone

Transloader lets you download links on your Macs, remotely from your iPhones, iPads, and other Macs.
With its Link- and File actions, you have full control over what happens when a link gets added to a specific Mac, or after a file is downloaded by the app. For instance, it works together very well with Downie.
With “Login Cookies”, you can even download files that require a login. And if you forget, you can log in after and restart the download.

Version 3.1.2 fixes a rare issue with its Share extension.

Links

Website
Usage Tips
Get to know Transloader 3 Blog Series
App Store (free)
Mac App Store


Should you have any feedback or questions, please do not hesitate to write me or tweet me!
Enjoy 🤗

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