Day One 2: The Future Looks Bright

I’ve done almost a complete turnaround since my review four months ago. Although I still feel justified for my comments at the time, Day One 2 has been improving at a very quick pace.  Besides the App Store updates themselves, I was lucky enough to get on the TestFlight beta for the iPhone app, which has been a great experience.  I now have a channel to report bugs and issues, with some great back and forth about some of them.  Most of these have been rapidly fixed.  Pretty much every complaint in my original article has been fixed or improved.  Only one that’s about the same is that map tab, which I still have no personal use for, but I guess some people do.  No big deal.

Since the review, however, there have been some incredible new features.  Most notable is IFTTT integration.  This has eliminated my need for sifttter, and I now get my Untappd checkins in almost real time, as opposed to one summary at the end of the day.  This also opens up some other fun possibilities, since even if there isn’t a channel for what you want to get into Day One, if you can get an RSS feed, you’re set.  I did this with Letterboxd, so I can get an entry for when I’ve seen a movie.  I won’t talk about other features that aren’t released yet, though they’ve talked about them.  And they are awesome.

I’m really happy to be back on Day One and from my personal experiences so far, its future looks really bright.  I think it’s a great time to give it another chance if you’d had problems in the past.

Day One 2

I have a very rocky past with Day One.  I always wanted to love it, partly because everyone else seems to and I figure I must be missing something, yet I always found the app littered with bugs and issues that at best very slowly got fixed.  And even worse, support staff always seemed to indicate me that they’d never seen any issue I experienced; my situation was unique.  Yet interestingly, I’d see the same thing in app reviews in the App Store. So either their support staff had terrible memories or their logging system needs to be replaced.  In the end, I frustratingly stopped using Day One and switched to Momento.

This week the oddly-named Day One 2 was released.  I was hopeful, but ultimately disappointed.  I hope to see some of these issues addressed in app updates, but I’m not hopeful.  Keep in mind that this is only for the iPhone app.  The only real use for the Mac app I have is the scripting to get my Untappd checkins into Day One.

In v1, I always had it set to default to my timeline.  I like that that’s now the standard view.  But, now half the screen is wasted with two enormous buttons; one to add a photo and one to add an entry.  Do they really need to be so large?  Afterall, there’s a perfectly nice journal-colored + button at the bottom, which is conveniently where your finger is from unlocking with Touch ID anyway.  Hopefully those two buttons will be major shrunk or optionally eliminated in favor of seeing more of your timeline.

I’m really in favor of the new way of only showing the date once at the right edge of the timeline.  I find it makes it more readable for showing each day.  But what time was each entry made?  It would totally make sense to have the time at the right edge where the date would be, where it was in v1, but they instead jammed it into the line with the tags, weather, location, etc.  It now gets lost.

One of my favorite things about v1 was how each entry would show you a small map at the bottom if you had a location added.  And it was interactive after tapping on it to open it in a full view, allowing you to zoom in and out and scroll.  Now for some reason you need to tap the bottom of the entry to open a modal “info” window which contains the map.  To make it worse, not only is the map not interactive at all, but it’s zoomed way far out.  See the v1 and v2 comparisons of the same entry.

 v1.jpg  v2.jpg

But the fun continues.  If you tap on the map, you get three choices: Open in Day One Map, Open in Apple Maps, and Open in Google Maps.  Always one to prefer to stay in the current app, I would choose to open in Day One map.  Big mistake.  This is what I get:


I still have absolutely no idea what I’m supposed to make of this.

Otherwise, I guess it’s a nice update.  The thing most people seem to be pissed off about is the changing in syncing to only Day One’s own sync server.  I understand their reasoning for it, since I myself experienced data loss and such.  This doesn’t really bother me that much.  But still, I really think they should have just gotten Dropbox and/or iCloud syncing working reliably.  Everyone else seems to be able to.  I could report these issues to Day One support, but from past experience, I’m afraid it would lead to a lot of back and forth of emails, to finally be told that no one else is experiencing said issue and that’s that.  Or maybe I’ll see some of these issues addressed in updates.  We can hope.  I still want to love it.

Beer in Bali

My wife and I spent an amazing 2.5 weeks in Bali.  Other than a couple of beers a friend brought for me from New Zealand, all I drank was Bintang, mostly because that’s pretty much all you find.  It’s a typical pale Asian lager, but what stood out for me, other than the atomsphere for it, was that it had absolutely none of the nasty aftertaste most of the Asian lagers have.  Plus, it was refreshing in the heat; so much that my wife, who loves some heavy IPAs, sours, and Belgians, asked for it often.



BeerMenus for iPhone

BeerMenus is a web site I’ve mentioned many times as a crucial resource for me for finding what beers my favorite bars in NYC currently have on tap, or finding nearby ones. This all of course assumes the bar keeps its BeerMenus page updated. Most of my favorite bars update daily.

BeerMenus always had a quite passable web app, but was always susceptible to the inherent issues of web apps; no/poor resume state on restart, non-native-feeling UI, etc. That’s all thankfully a thing of a past as BeerMenus now has a true native iPhone app. And it’s great. There’s not a ton to say about it since its purpose is relatively simple, at least for the time being.

The first tab, Places, shows you a list of nearby bars in its database, using location services. In each entry right from the index you can see if it’s a bar or a beer store, how far away it is from you, how many beers they have on tap/bottle/can, and most importantly, when the list was last updated. This list is in the Nearby tab of the Places tab. The second Places tab, and what I often use, is called Following.  This is the function I always wanted most from the web app: quick access to a list of my favorite bars. If you create a free account with BeerMenus, you can mark bars or stores as favorites and always have quick access to them here. Boom.

The second tab, My Beers, is something I never really played with. It looks to be trying to provide similar functionality to Untappd. Since I already use Untappd, I really don’t have the need to check my beers into another service, but we’ll see where they go with this.

Next tab, My Feed, shows a feed of what beers are being added to the bars or stores you’re following, or when your favorite beers are being added. This is a cool feature I don’t use often enough, since I tend to just go right to my favorite bars to see what’s on tap.

The Me tab is simply a means to log in and out of your BeerMenus account. I suspect there will be more functionality here in the future. I do look forward to seeing what they do with it.

The last tab, Search, is exactly what it sounds like. You can search for beers or places.

What I always loved in BeerMenus was viewing the actual beers’ entries. From the list you could aready see what style the beer is, and its ABV. Tapping to view the beer’s info page gives a description of the beer, as well as what  bars or stores have it. My one big complaint about this view is that when the description is relatively long, you have to tap a more link to expand it. That’s fine, but you have to go to a new page to view it, then back to its entry when you’re done. I never understood why this couldn’t be either just fully-expanded by default, or just expand in place when more is tapped. Hopefully that will be addressed in a future update.

All in all I’m super excited that BeerMenus is out as a native iPhone app. I use it often and can finally delete my stupid home page bookmarks for each of my favorite bars. I’m not exactly sure where they’re going with their social aspect, but I’m looking forward to finding out.

Get BeerMenus here for free.

Records for Mac

Push Popcorn released Records for Mac on Tuesday.  Records looks to be what Bento should have been.  I can’t give much of an opinion on it yet, since it doesn’t yet have any mechanism for importing data, so I can’t really do much with it.  Import is coming in version 1.1, according to Push Popcorn.  Once data import is available, I’ll be very interested to try importing my HanDBase database exports and if successful, try to automate a process as much as possible.  Stay tuned.

Records is currently on sale in the App Store for $30, regularly $50.

Next Glass for iPhone

“Taste, reimagined.” I guess, but the app forces you to create a login before you can even use it. That’s a non-starter for me. I guess this is what happens when you have VCs back your app. And maybe I’m a bitter New Yorker, but people who do what the woman in the demo video does annoy the hell out of me. Put your freakin’ phone away, pick your beer, and get the hell out of my way.


TapCellar for iPhone

A couple of years ago I wrote a post about the sad state of beer apps for iOS. Sadly, it hasn’t gotten much better, with one huge exception: The Gravity Well Group released TapCellar for iPhone. For those who aren’t morons like me who created a database for beer from scratch, it’s been done for you, and really well. 

to;dr: It’s awesome and costs less than a pint of good craft beer. Buy it.

TapCellar is for the true beer geek, yet simple and straightforward enough for the simplest of use; the OmniFocus of beer apps. The app’s goal is to track your beers in various ways, and “Never have a bad beer twice.”

The first thing you’ll notice upon opening the app is that it contains every beer from BreweryDB, currently almost 34,000 of them.  The app stays in sync, so its database stays up to date with BreweryDB’s.  You can sort and filter these beers in pretty much any way you like, and save those for later viewing; they get saved to TapCellar’s side bar, which is just a left-to-right swipe away.  Each beer can be rated, bookmarked, added to a shopping list, and to a storage inventory.  You can create multiple Beer Journal entries within each beer, tagging location and adding photos.  The journal entries are pretty much where the social features start and end: you can share “mug shots” of these entries in anything available in the iOS share sheet.  There’s also basic checkin functionality for Untappd.  That’s it.  But it’s great.  TapCellar was never meant to be a social app.

I’ve been beta testing TapCellar pretty much since it’s infancy, and the question on my mind all along has been whether it can replace my own HanDBase database for recording all the beers I have.  The answer is sadly no, simply because I’m just too vested in my own database, now with over 1000 beers.  TapCellar, however, has become the perfect compliment to my own database.  I rely on it to keep a shopping list for beers I won’t remember once I’m actually in a beer store, as well as keeping track of what I have stored at home.  TapCellar’s built-in functionality is just so much better for this than anything I was ever able to come up with. I have happily deleted my database of stored beers.

I’ve only scratched the surface of what TapCellar can do.  For less than the price of a pint of good craft beer these days, go pick up TapCellar and see what it can do for you.  You won’t be disappointed.


One Reminder/Task Manager To Rule Them All

Spoiler / tl;dr: it doesn’t exist.

Damn this is a frustrating topic for me.  Technology is supposed to make our lives easier.  For the most part, of course it does.  But a key part of this for many of us is dealing with reminders and managing tasks.  And most of us carry a device, in my case an iPhone, in our pockets all the time, making them the perfect command center for this.  But this is where it all falls down.

In my case, I have three key apps in this process: OmniFocus, Fantastical, and Checkmark.  They each excel at at least one function, and where each excels, the others are kind of crap.  There are tons of task managers out there, but OmniFocus always worked best for me. OmniFocus for iPhone is a really good app, but it pretty much sucks for entering time and location reminders.  Time-based reminders (and general calendaring) is where Fantastical excels, with its natural language parser.  I can add todos very quickly and efficiently.  These todos also sync with the iOS Reminders, as well as OmniFocus if you enable it.  So they’ll get into OmniFocus by way of Fantastical anyway.  Both OmniFocus and Fantastical suck for location-based reminders.  OmniFocus is decent at it, but it’s extremely limited.  This is where Checkmark comes in.  Checkmark is absolutely fantastic at location-based reminders, but not efficient at time-based.  In Checkmark, you double-tap on one of your pre-set up your locations, and tell it whether you want to be reminded when arriving or leaving, as well as a choice of delays.  So I can have it remind me of something 15 minutes after I get home.  This is brilliant.  OmniFocus requires separate contexts for arriving at home and leaving home.  And no time delays.  And Checkmark is self-contained.

So, there’s a lot of friction when it comes to entering tasks/reminders.  I have to stop and think about which of three apps is best suited to the particular item.  This is bad.

  • Time-based reminders: Fantastical
  • Location-based reminders: Checkmark
  • Project-based tasks/reminders: OmniFocus

I really wish there were one app that could do all of these things well.