Nisus Blog

Pronounced "Nice-us"

 
 
 

Apple Wants Their DTK Back

March 6th, 2021 · No Comments

According to several reports it appears that Apple would really, really like developers to send back the DTK (Developer Transition Kit) Mac mini.

Thanks again for participating in the Universal Quick Start Program and committing to building great apps for Mac. We’re following up with shipping instructions to return the Developer Transition Kit (DTK) that was loaned to you as part of the program. Please take a moment to review these details and ship all DTKs back to us by March 31, 2021.

As we mentioned in our last email, upon confirmed return of the DTK, you’ll receive a credit for 500USD in the form of a one-time use promo code valid until the end of 2021. You can use it toward the purchase of a new ‌M1‌ Mac or other Apple products ordered through the Apple Store Online.

From what I have heard from developers who have access to the DTK, most are very happy to send them back. It appears the DTK minis are at best alpha level hardware. There are reports of many hardware and software issues. Also a bit slow compared to their M1 cousins (the DTK runs an A12Z chipset found in the current iPad Pro). Yet I know that a few of these will pop up on eBay as collectables with ridiculous pricing attached. Someone is going to by one of these (looking at you, Stephen Hackett!) and I can’t understand it. On the other hand, Nisus still has a Power Mac G4 Cube in near perfect working order, so there is that.

I say send it back, get your 500USD credit and get a new M1 Mac and hope they fix this issue.

→ No CommentsTags: Dave · General

M1 Fever

February 20th, 2021 · 1 Comment

I have to admit my resistance to the new M1 Macs is eroding quickly. Between the universally positive reviews from both reviewers and customers alike, I’m struggling to stay M1 clean. I have my eye on a Mac mini, but I think I would also enjoy a fanless MacBook Air or a MacBook Pro that has all day battery life.

It’s not that I need one of these computers. I have a fairly recent mini that I quite like. I really don’t need to upgrade. Yet, I’m being pulled into upgrading like a moth to a flame, or Guy Fieri to a diner. I’ve seen the mini for as low as $599 US at more than one place, and these sales are making things worse. Twice as fast and off the charts efficient is a combination that’s hard to resist. Add in sale pricing and I’m in serious trouble. 

Do any of you have one of these new M1 Macs? If so, please leave a comment below. I’m interested in your opinions on these new machines. 

In the meantime I’m going to keep resisting. For now. 

→ 1 CommentTags: Dave · General

Urdu and Digital Typography

February 12th, 2021 · No Comments

There’s a lot of complexity that goes into the display of text. Text features like ligatures, small caps, and font substitution surface some of the complexity, even for languages like English whose Latin letters have been part of technology since the very beginning (ASCII encoding was standardized in the 1960’s). For languages whose letters and typography aren’t as simple as English things are much harder.

This article on digitizing the Urdu language explains the bigger challenges. It’s fascinating to read about:

The shape of each letter changes, depending on the letter that comes before and after … In 1980, Mirza Jamil wrote out every combination of Urdu letters that he could think of — roughly 20,000 by most accounts.

The traditional nastaliq script also requires that letters change their height based on their position within a word. There’s a slant to everything, so the text looks like the “wings of flying geese”. You can see the slant in this sample image of nastaliq:

It’s wonderfully artistic, but a difficult writing system for fonts and technology to properly handle.

→ No CommentsTags: General · Martin

M1 Mac Boot Options

February 5th, 2021 · 1 Comment

Remember when you needed to use various keyboard shortcuts to boot your Mac into Recovery Mode, or to reset your PRAM? If you have a Mac with an Intel chipset, you still need to remember these shortcuts. However, if you have a new M1 Mac (I’m not jealous of those of you who purchased one, not at all!), it appears that you can forget those shortcuts. 

According to an Apple support document, you now access the various boot modes by holding down the power button for 10 seconds. You’ll then see a new Recovery Options screen that shows your boot drive and an Options icon that will show you the various boot modes that are available. All the boot modes you are used to are there, plus a few new ones.

So to sum up, booting into Recovery mode on an M1 Mac no longer requires memorizing keyboard shortcuts. I have to admit it’s going to take a while before I unlearn these shortcuts, but this is progress I suppose.

Oh, and if you do own one of these M1 Macs, please hesitate to tell me, even though I’m really not jealous of you at all. Really. 

→ 1 CommentTags: Dave · General

Upgrades And The Mac App Store

January 29th, 2021 · No Comments

We have been receiving quite a bit of email on this subject lately, so I thought I would explain how to qualify for upgrade pricing if you have purchased from the Mac App Store. 

The Mac App Store does not allow developers to offer upgrade pricing. That leaves customers with two choices:

  • Purchase Nisus Writer at full price on the Mac App Store. 
  • Purchase directly through our store.

If you would like to purchase through us to receive the upgrade discount, you can follow the excellent instructions Martin provided in our FAQ (which answers many, many Nisus app related questions). Alternatively, you can email your Mac App Store receipt as proof of purchase.

Please know that while we make more money from direct purchases, feel free to buy from wherever you like. All of our customers are treated and appreciated in the same way. 

→ No CommentsTags: Dave · InfoClick · Nisus Writer Express · Nisus Writer Pro

Extract Text from Images

January 22nd, 2021 · 1 Comment

Nisus Writer recently added a feature that allows you to extract editable text from your photos, scans, PDFs, and other images. This process is often called optical character recognition (aka OCR).

Let’s see how text extraction works using a COVID relief notice I recently received from the United States government:

Once the image is in Nisus Writer Pro document, select it and use the Extract Text From Image command to generate an editable text version of the image:

Most of the text is correct and in sequence. There are a few minor errors and text misplacements, like the number 6 appearing before the title– perhaps caused by the Treasury Department’s seal alongside the main textual content.

Let’s try a few others images, like this paperback book and store receipt:

Overall pretty good! Usually editing extracted text is a better starting point than retyping something entirely.

The accuracy of the extraction will depend on a variety of factors including the quality of the image, whether text is slanted or rotated, the language and words in the text, and your system version. Nisus Writer uses Apple’s machine learning capabilities to accomplish this task, and requires at least macOS 10.15 Catalina.

Hopefully you’ll find a good use for this new feature.

→ 1 CommentTags: Martin · Nisus Writer Express · Nisus Writer Pro · Tips

Jump Around Quickly While Writing

January 15th, 2021 · No Comments

One of my favorite new features in Nisus Writer Pro 3 is the Go To Content command. Whenever I’m writing a reasonably complex document I often want to jump around it, to consult material from other sections or simply work on different parts of the text. Nisus Writer has a Navigator sidebar that can aid in this task, showing key document structure like the Table of Contents or Bookmarks. But I wanted a faster workflow.

You can use the new Go To Content menu to see a list of available destinations, like all your Table of Contents headings. Or perhaps all text using a particular paragraph style:

This listing allows you to quickly filter by keyword or partial text, so you only have a few destinations to look through. This is a great way to find the desired heading (or other special content) and jump right to it.

Skip the Mouse
One thing I love about the new Go To Content command is that I can keep my hands on the keyboard the whole time. Using Nisus Writer’s multi-key shortcuts I’ve established a few shortcuts to trigger variants of the Go To Content command. For example: Command + GT for Go to Text in TOC, and Command + GB for Go to Bookmark.

Once a “Go To” dialog is open, it’s quick to finish the job via the keyboard:
1. Type a few keywords to narrow down the list of destinations.
2. Press the Down Arrow key to select the desired destination.
3. Press Return to jump to the destination text.

Okay, so maybe it doesn’t take that long to grab your mouse and click around, but it feels really great when you get something done using only the keyboard. You stay more focussed on your writing– in the flow. If you haven’t bothered to train your habits to reduce mouse usage, I suggest you give it a try. It can be a revelation!

Learn More
For more details on this new feature in Nisus Writer Pro, please see the Go To Content section of our user guide. It goes over some other details and tricks, like using the Go To Content dialog to produce a list of specialized search results.

→ No CommentsTags: Martin · Nisus Writer Pro · Tips

Nisus Writer Updates for Big Sur

December 22nd, 2020 · No Comments

Nisus Writer Pro and Nisus Writer Express recently added support for Apple Silicon and macOS Big Sur. But those versions still had some rough edges to smooth out when running on Big Sur. Today we’re happy to release Nisus Writer Pro 3.2.1 and Nisus Writer Express 4.2.1 to fix the most commonly reported Big Sur issues.

Aside from improving app behavior on Big Sur, these updates include a variety of other fixes which you can read about in the full Nisus Writer Pro release notes or Nisus Writer Express release notes.

Happy Holidays from all of us at Nisus!

→ No CommentsTags: Nisus Writer Express · Nisus Writer Pro

Apple Silicon Support for InfoClick and Thesaurus

December 22nd, 2020 · No Comments

If the elves brought you a shiny new Apple Silicon Mac we have some app updates for you. The new versions of InfoClick (our email search tool) and Nisus Thesaurus now run natively on Apple Silicon.

Aside from Apple Silicon support, InfoClick version 1.2.6 includes a handful of bug fixes which are listed on the InfoClick release notes page. There are no other changes for Nisus Thesaurus.

→ No CommentsTags: InfoClick · Nisus Thesaurus

Nisus Writer Updates: Dark Mode, Big Sur, and Apple Silicon

November 17th, 2020 · 3 Comments

We are happy to announce the release of Nisus Writer Pro 3.2 and Nisus Writer Express 4.2. These new versions are significant updates that add support for Dark Mode, macOS Big Sur, and Apple Silicon among other new features.

If you’re a Nisus Writer Pro user:
• Take a brief tour of what’s new.
• Get the update inside the app, direct download, or the Mac App Store.

If you’re a Nisus Writer Express user:
• Take a brief tour of what’s new.
• Get the update inside the app, direct download, or the Mac App Store.

→ 3 CommentsTags: Nisus Writer Express · Nisus Writer Pro

Big Sur and Apple Silicon Updates Coming Soon

November 13th, 2020 · No Comments

This week Apple released macOS Big Sur. If you’re a Nisus customer you may want to hold off on updating your system, as we’re aware of some issues. Most of the problems are minor, but one potentially significant issue is that Nisus Writer Pro may be unable to import and export certain document file formats– notably DOC and DOCX.

This week Apple also revealed new Macs with Apple Silicon (M1 chip). Early reports suggest that these new Macs will be fast. It’s an exciting change! But there’s a potential downside as well, if your software isn’t compatible and can’t be run using Apple’s Rosetta translator.

Nisus Software is on top of both of these big changes. We expect to have app updates available very soon, to provide both Big Sur compatibility and native support for Apple Silicon.

→ No CommentsTags: General · Martin

Apple Silicon Macs Will Be Very Fast (Maybe)

November 7th, 2020 · No Comments

If you have been wondering how fast the upcoming Apple Silicon Macs will be, it appears that they will be quite robust, to be polite. 

Appleinsider found a mysterious Geekbench entry for an “A14X.” This 8 core chip could, judging by the benchmarks, be very fast. I normally have no use for benchmarks but if true, these new Macs are going to be quite speedy. 

There is no way to know if this is real, but I want to believe. I guess we’ll find out Tuesday

→ No CommentsTags: Dave · General

So I Have A New MacBook Air

October 31st, 2020 · No Comments

I know I shouldn’t have purchased so close to the release of new Macs, but I did. A bit of background: I own a 2018/2019 MacBook Air (2018 and 2019 models are the same, apart from very minor upgrades) and I love it, apart from the infamous butterfly keyboard. This Air has been very reliable for me. However, that keyboard… let’s just say I have feelings about it that I can’t express without using words I shouldn’t. I was going to hold out until next year or the year after, but the price was too good to pass up, so I pulled the trigger on the 2020 Air. 

So what’s it like? I haven’t used it much, but I’m going to take the weekend and migrate my stuff over to the new machine after I’m done posting this. I can say that the keyboard is wonderful. Not mushy, decent travel, good feel… all the things the butterfly keyboard isn’t. My fingertips will thank me for making this purchase. 

I’ll post more after I’ve used it a bit, but so far I’m happy. 

Do any of you own one of the new Magic Keyboard equipped MacBooks? Let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear about your experiences with these new MacBooks. 

→ No CommentsTags: Dave · General

Where In The World Is Big Sur?

October 24th, 2020 · No Comments

It’s right here, apparently:

However, I was referring to Big Sur the operating system. There have been two Apple events and quite a few products released over the past two months. As of this writing, there has been no official release. The beta program is still ongoing, with developer beta 10 and public beta 9 as the latest releases.

So what’s the hold up? If I had to guess, it’s waiting for yet another Apple Event sometime in the next few weeks. I would imagine this event would feature all things Mac, so it makes sense to wait for said event.

Personally I’m fine with waiting. Big Sur is going to be a big change, so I’m ok waiting for a stable release. It also gives us (Nisus) more time to be ready with compatibility updates for our apps.

In the meantime, I’ll keep using the developer beta and hope for the best.

→ No CommentsTags: Dave · General

5G

October 16th, 2020 · No Comments

I watched the iPhone 12 event and I was struck by the number of times the phrase “5G” was mentioned. It seemed to be over the top. Then I found this video:

I didn’t laugh at first but after 30 seconds or so I started to laugh at the absurdity of it.

Happy 5G everyone!

→ No CommentsTags: Dave · General

Nisus Writer Beta Testers Wanted

October 9th, 2020 · No Comments

Do you enjoy using new features before everyone else? Do you like sharing your ideas and feedback? If you’re an existing Nisus Writer Pro user and interested in helping out, please sign up to become a Nisus Writer beta tester. We’d love for you to join us!

→ No CommentsTags: Martin · Nisus Writer Pro

Big Sur Beta Testing

October 2nd, 2020 · No Comments

I have been using developer betas of macOS Big Sur and in my opinion it is less problematic at this point than macOS Catalina. That operating system filled me with rage in a way none has since Leopard. Big Sur does not make me want to chuck my computer in the bin, so I guess that is progress.

If you haven’t already you should familiarize yourself with how Big Sur looks and works. It’s quite a change! There is a distinct iOS-like feel in Big Sur, with its bold colors and translucent menu bar. The new squared app icons only add to that perception. Again, it feels like iOS has come to the Mac. 

Really though, it’s not that different in practice. It still works like a Mac with an updated interface. That happens every few years on macOS. I’m very curious to see this on one of the new Apple Silicon Macs that are coming soon. 

I’ve hit some bugs to be sure, but most of them have already been fixed. I’m sure there are still a few nasty ones out there, but I haven’t hit them yet. I will say that Mail currently is a train wreck, but Mail has always been a train wreck in macOS betas. 

I’m eager to see the final release. I’d prefer it be less buggy than Catalina, and I think that will happen. I can dream, can’t I?

→ No CommentsTags: Dave · General

Nisus Writer’s Improved Document Versioning

September 25th, 2020 · No Comments

Nisus Writer adopts macOS autosave, which means copies of your document are automatically and periodically saved while you’re editing. The system preserves earlier autosaved copies so you can restore prior document versions. These prior versions aren’t kept forever (only Apple might say how long), but they’re incredibly useful if you realize you made a mistake or otherwise need to access earlier work.

Overall this arrangement works very well. However, there is one aspect of it that always seemed needlessly frustrating to us. When you enter Apple’s document version browser to compare earlier versions side-by-side, it’s not clear exactly how many versions exist, nor when they were created. There is only a graphical timeline along the side of the screen that looks like this:

That might look cool, but it’s not a great interface for finding a version from exactly the right date. It also won’t let you compare more than a single prior version at once; you can only compare the current document with a single prior version. It would be nicer if you could open and inspect any number of prior versions, in a space that’s not constrained by the version browser.

To fix these problems we added a dedicated version listing to Nisus Writer Pro version 3.1 and Nisus Writer Express version 4.1. The list shows you exactly what versions are available:

Nisus Writer’s list makes it so much easier to get an overview of what’s available, so you can pick out a significant version. You may open any number of prior versions in read-only mode so you can compare them at your leisure, extract earlier content, or save a copy elsewhere. Nisus Writer’s listing also marks versions that are exact duplicates, so you don’t need to bother looking at them.

We hope this improvement and all the other smart considerations in Nisus Writer help you with your writing!

→ No CommentsTags: Martin · Nisus Writer Express · Nisus Writer Pro · Tips

The Keyboard is Fixed!

September 18th, 2020 · No Comments

Over the past year Apple has updated their entire MacBook line. Some of the line, like the MacBook Air, received updated Intel chipsets that make the machines so hot I worry that your expensive Mac will destroy itself from the inside. Some machines like the base MacBook Pro 13″ received nothing more than a storage upgrade. That’s great, but boring. The MacBook Pro 16″ was revamped significantly. However, the big news is all received updated keyboards that finally ends the reign of terror that is the butterfly keyboard.

The new keyboard now uses scissor switches with more travel. Anyone who has read past editions of our newsletter know how much the author (me) intensely dislikes the butterfly switch keyboards. While I don’t yet own a MacBook with the new Magic Keyboard I got a chance to try one of these new machines for a few days. I have to say that while it doesn’t have as much travel as the pre-2016 keyboards it feels much better. It’s also not loud, which is an added bonus. 

I’m sure it was tough for Apple to admit defeat, but they did the right thing fixing these keyboards. If they fix the thermals on these machines (especially the MacBook Air) I will have to find something else to complain about. 

I’m not quite sure how I feel about that.

→ No CommentsTags: Dave · General

Apple Store in New York During COVID-19

September 10th, 2020 · No Comments

When my wife and I moved back to Manhattan in 2007, the Apple Store on 5th Ave became my primary store. Over the years I had been to the store in SoHo, Chelsea, on the Upper West Side, Grand Central Terminal, and the Upper East Side. But the 5th Ave store, which was open 24/7 was always my go-to store. Others also flocked to this store. In 2011 it was the most photographed building in NYC. People always crowded down and up the circular glass stairwell and used it as the setting for wedding photos.

Sometime by May of 2017 it was closed for renovation. The entire cube was removed. The store shifted to cramped quarters in what had been the FAO Schwartz toy store nearby. And then by September 2019, a new cube, hidden behind white plastic sheets appeared.

A short time later, when the white sheets were removed, iridescent plastic remained to hide what was inside.

The store finally reopened by early November, and then COVID-19 hit. All Apple Stores closed along with everything else in NYC. Months passed and my wife and I rarely left our studio apartment. Most of our contact with the outside world was through our Apple devices… via the Internet. Then in August it became clear that my wife’s MacBook Air needed a new battery.

We contacted the 5th Ave. store and learned that its current hours, from 6:00 AM to midnight, offered the best possibility of avoiding other people. I scheduled a visit for very early in the morning to drop off the Mac. I arrived with my mask on. The ten staff members outside far outnumbered the potential customers and I was second in line in time for my appointment. My identity was checked, then my temperature. I was asked to answer a number of health-related questions. I was able to pass muster on all counts and then I was invited to go downstairs.

The tables were set with hand sanitizer in pump jars along with boxes of individually wrapped sanitizing wipes. I was welcomed graciously and asked to sit and wait for a couple of minutes. Never have I seen any Apple Store with fewer people.

Each of us sat far more than the requisite 6 feet away from one another. Our Mac was received by a “Genius” wearing a mask and immediately wiped down. I was told that the machine would likely be ready within three days. The next day I receive an email notifying me that I could come back to pick up the Mac with its new battery. I repeated the intake process. Approximately the same number of people were present. The technician presented me with my wife’s Mac, wiped it down again and I left… through a stairwell on the far side of the store, again, minimizing contact with any other people.

A friend recently asked if I knew why Apple stores don’t get robbed. It’s not because nobody is there. The answer: too many iWitnesses.

→ No CommentsTags: General · Mark