Recent Articles By Andrew Orr [RSS]

A List of macOS Touch Bar Apps

· Andrew Orr · Link

The Touch Bar on recent Macs doesn’t seem to get a lot of love, but David Nield writes about macOS Touch Bar apps that do make use of it.

We’re only going to limit ourselves to mentioning one Apple app in the list, but dig around, and you’ll find that pretty much every native macOS program includes some Touch Bar shortcuts you might find useful.

Personally I’m of the opinion that the feature is gimmicky and doesn’t add much functionality to Macs.

Some Guidelines on how to Spot Bad Science

· Andrew Orr · Link

Recently I wrote a PSA on Wi-Fi and cancer, and a lot of people disagree with me by sending me links to studies and other news that also disagree. That’s fine, but at the same time a lot more effort goes into scientific research than cherry picking Google results. I don’t claim to know better than these studies, but a scientific study needs to be taken into context of the field as a whole. John Oliver had a good segment on studies and how they can be misunderstood. Compound Interest has a rough guide to spotting bad science and red flags to watch out for. I’ve made use of this guide for some time, and I think it’s helpful.

This graphic looks at the different factors that can contribute towards ‘bad’ science – it was inspired by the research I carried out for the recent aluminium chlorohydrate graphic, where many articles linked the compound to causing breast cancer, referencing scientific research which drew questionable conclusions from their results.

Facebook Documents to Show how it Preyed on Kids

· Andrew Orr · News

It sounds like some Facebook employees were worried the company was misleading kids who spent their parents’ money on in-app purchases in games.

Nomie 3 is a Private Lifelogging Tool

· Andrew Orr · Cool Stuff Found

Nomie 3 is a lifelogging tool that lets you track almost anything you can think of. Whether you want to track your water intake, caffeine intake, number books read, how much exercise you do, etc., this app  can do it. Best of all, it’s 100% private. You don’t have to create an account or connect to a cloud service in order to use the app. According to its privacy policy, there is no third-party disclosure or third-party analytics, and it complies with Fair Information Practices. The app is free, and there are no ads. There are certain in-app purchases that unlock functionality, but the app is also useable without these purchases. I discovered and downloaded the lifelogging tool last night and will be using to track various metrics in my life. App Store: Free (Offers In-App Purchases)

Nomie 3 is a Private Lifelogging Tool

Thoughts About an iPad-First Workflow

· Andrew Orr · Link

Ryan Christoffel writes about key things to think about if you want to adopt an iPad-first workflow.

Software limitations aside, the iPad clearly has a lot going for it; the iPad Pro is a more attractive Mac alternative than ever before. But moving to the iPad still involves some growing pains. The longer you’ve used a traditional computer, the harder an iPad transition can be. There are a few key things, however, that can help make your iPad adoption a success.

I’m not fully iPad-first yet because I still need to get a keyboard for it. But once that happens then my transition will be complete.

David Weil, Simon Kinberg to Produce for Apple

· Andrew Orr · News

Sci-fi lovers rejoice! A 10-episode season of a sci-fi series is coming to the company’s unnamed video platform from David Weil and Simon Kinberg. 

Did You Know the IRS Offers Free Tax Filing?

· Andrew Orr · Link

Private tax companies don’t want you to know this, but if your income is below US$66,000 the IRS offers free tax filing software. If your income is above US$66,000 you can still file for free, but you’ll have to do it manually with fillable forms. However, thanks to the long government shutdown this year, tax returns will end up being late.

Collection 1 is a Massive New Data Breach

· Andrew Orr · Link

Troy Hunt, creator of the Have I Been Pwned? tool, wrote a blog post about the latest data breach called Collection 1.

Let’s start with the raw numbers because that’s the headline, then I’ll drill down into where it’s from and what it’s composed of. Collection #1 is a set of email addresses and passwords totaling 2,692,818,238 rows.It’s made up of many different individual data breaches from literally thousands of different sources.

To find out if your account credentials were leaked, visit

Questions for Apple in 2019

· Andrew Orr · Link

Since 2015 Above Avalon has published a list of questions for Apple, across hardware, software, services, and “big picture.” Here are the questions for Apple in 2019.

January is a great time to embrace the unknown rather than come up with Apple predictions for the next 12 months. Accordingly, this is my fifth installment of Apple questions as a new year kicks off.

It’s a big, detailed list and lays out things we wonder and things rumors have suggested.

KeepSolid Launches Family Organizer App

· Andrew Orr · Cool Stuff Found

The Family Organizer app by Keepsolid offers several features, like a family calendar, shopping list, and family task manager. Fill your family calendar with collective and personal events, invite others, and schedule all sorts of activities. The calendar will be synchronized between your family members, allowing everyone to keep track of others’ plans. This is further facilitated by a handful of convenient features and colorful, clear visualization. Create and manage shopping lists, set reminders, and use other handy functionality to ensure that your groceries are done and that they are exactly what you needed. Never again will you lack an important ingredient or have ​unnecessary extra because of some confusion. Assign tasks to family members and track their completion with ease. You will always know how everyone’s faring, whether Lil’ Jimmy visited the dentist, or if someone needs your help. Great feature for everyday planning and collaboration. App Store: Free (Offers In-App Purchases)

KeepSolid Launches Family Organizer App

Universal TV Exec Jason Katims Joins Apple

· Andrew Orr · News

Mr. Katims as created moves like Parenthood, Roswell, About a Boy and Rise. He was also involved with Friday Night Lights, Boston Public, and The Path.

How to Use JavaScript When Creating Shortcuts

· Andrew Orr · Link

Redditor u/keveridge put together a nice guide on how to use JavaScript when creating Shortcuts. JavaScript lets you perform complex actions that would be hard to do with regular shortcut actions.

We make use of the Safari web browser, running within the shortcut, in order to execute the JavaScript. To do so, we:

  • make an HTML file that contains our code and provides an output;

  • pass the contents of the file to Safari as a Data URL;

  • use Get Contents of Web Page to render the page provide the output to the shortcut.

Apple Watch Could Soon Come to Medicare

· Andrew Orr · News

Apple is in talks with at least three private Medicare plans to subsidize the Apple Watch for at-risk seniors. 

27 Adobe Alternatives to Use on Different Platforms

· Andrew Orr · Link

It seems that Adobe is raising the price of its subscription in specific countries, although U.S. users have been spared. Lifehacker compiled a list of 27 Adobe alternatives in response.

I haven’t tried out all of these apps myself, nor am I the target audience for them—as I don’t really dabble in 3D animation, alas. While we normally recommend apps we’ve used at Lifehacker, in this case, I’ve included recommendations from the various Twitter users who have suggested them when applicable.

On my iPad I quickly bought Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer, and both of them work great for my workflow.

Changing its Mind, Roku Bans Alex Jones

· Andrew Orr · Link

Doing the opposite of most major internet companies, Roku decided for a couple of hours it would allow Alex Jones on its platform.

“After the InfoWars channel became available, we heard from concerned parties and have determined that the channel should be removed from our platform. Deletion from the channel store and platform has begun and will be completed shortly.”

If Roku was going to cave so quickly it shouldn’t have decided to let Alex Jones on in the first place. At least pretend to put up a fight for a couple more days.

How to Understand Apple Watch Heart Rate Data

· Andrew Orr · Link

Beth Skwarecki wrote a helpful article explaining how to understand Apple Watch heart rate data and what all the numbers mean.

Some major caveats on everything we’re about to say: first, everybody is different, so if your numbers are higher or lower than you’d expect, there isn’t necessarily anything wrong with you. There’s a wide range of normal.