Carrying Stones

Moving a mountain one stone at a time

Thoughts on Subscription Creep

While some subscriptions clearly aren’t worth the cost to me, others are. The problem is that a bunch of cheap subscriptions add up to a bunch of money.

  • $11.99 for Netflix for 4 screens + ultra HD
  • $11.99 for Hulu no commercials
  • $9.99 for Apple Music
  • $14.99 for HBO Now
  • $13.99 for web hosting
  • $19.99 for Slingplayer
  • $4.99 for CBS

No one feels like much. Together, they’re nearly $90 a month, or more than $1,000 a year.


We cut the cord on cable a long time ago, and we’re still coming out on top compared to the cost of a cable subscription, but we aren’t getting all of the channels but we never watched all the channels.

That isn’t including the puny bit of patronage I am able pay to my favorite Internet acquaintances, particularly Marco Arment and Brett Terpstra. Shout out to 5by5 as well. They’re great!

No Smile Here as TextExpander Subscribes to New Business Plan

Years ago I got hooked on automation for fun and productivity, and expanding snippets of text on my Mac made me feel like a wizard.

In those early years, I waffled between Typinator and TypeIt4Me before the introduction of the iPhone. I moved to TextExpander sometime around 2010 when it began syncing with my then-new iPhone. I used it exclusively until Tuesday, April 5, when Smile Software announced the transition to a subscription plan.

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. —Proverbs 16:18 (NKJV)

The idea of a subscription model doesn’t bother me. The software is awesome and remains the only snippet expander that is widely supported by iOS app developers. Why write off more than five years of building habits and muscle memory?

The exorbitant cost.

Expanding Costs

I think I got into the game with my first purchase of Textpander 3 circa 2010 for $19.95 (after taking advantage of a $15 discount). Continuing to invest in the system, I later upgraded to version 4 for $19.95 followed by an upgrade to the last version for another $20. These purchases for my Mac were coupled with versions 3 and 4 on iOS for $4.99 each.

If you’re keeping up, that’s a total investment just a hair short of $70 to license the software for roughly five years, or about $14 a year.

Under the new subscription model, the cost is easy to project for the next five years. The charge over five years for new users paying monthly will be $297. “Loyal” users get a break for 12 months. Here is a full breakdown of subscription costs over a five-year period.

New AnnualNew MonthlyUpgrade AnnualUpgrade Monthly

Doesn’t Compare

Smile Software isn’t breaking any new ground with its move to a subscription model. Adobe and Microsoft also made the move, but the return on investment simply doesn’t compare.

If my memory hasn’t faded too much, major version releases of Adobe’s Master Collection arrived about every three years with an upgrade cost of $1,800. The company now charges $50/month to access the entire stable of pro editing software with regular updates, or $1,800 every three years.

Microsoft’s Office Suite used to be in the neighborhood of $400 with deep discounts for students to $150. Now, those apps are available to regular users of Office 365 for $6.99/month, or $419.40 every five years. This includes services such as free tech support, 1 TB of OneDrive cloud storage, and web versions of Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and Outlook in addition to the full desktop apps.

The cost to subscribe software from Adobe and Microsoft is comparable to the prior cost to buy boxed versions off the shelf. Based on my personal experience, the cost to subscribe to TextExpander will increase from an average of $14/year to $42.77/year, a 205.5 percent annual increase.

Technical Difficulties

There are other concerns beyond price.

Smile seems proud to drop sync services with Dropbox and iCloud to host its new Meteor app on the Galaxy cloud service. No more free to cheap, widely available, mature services available. Just the new They seem to be taking Steve Jobs 2007 “very sweet solution” for developers to heart.

This was a case where history proves that Jobs wasn’t always right. Smile’s mandatory replacement locks users into a service that is arguably less secure. After fallout from the company’s initial announcement and press release, Smile Software issued a clarification the next day explaining upgrade options and the company’s intention “to support it on El Capitan and the next major upgrade of OS X.”


What now?

After turning off snippet expansion in TextExpander, I am adding snippets to Keyboard Maestro as needed. Keyboard Maestro is life-changing software I already owned that easily handles snippet expansion and so much more.

What Else Can Keyboard Maestro Do? Pretty much anything you can imagine including launch applications, click the mouse, palettes, execute scripts, insert text, manipulate windows, record macros, built in flow control, use text tokens, menus and buttons, open, file actions, clipboard history, control itunesnotifications, notifications, and perform image actions.

I lose syncing with iOS this way, but will just enter my oft-used snippets into the the Text Replacement features built into iOS. You can find these options on your iPhone under Settings > General > Keyboard > Text Replacement. Snippets entered here will sync with your other Apple devices, but lack form entry and support for multiple lines or paragraphs of text.

A few other options include Typinator (by ergonis) and TypeIt4Me (by Ettore Software, App Store affilitiate link) along with aText (by Tran Ky Nam Software), the cheapest alternative for a sawbuck. Ettore also offers TypeIt4Me Touch (App Store affiliate link) that syncs with iOS using iCloud.

Long Story Short…

It’s too late to keep this long story short. If you scrolled to the end, here’s the nut of it. TextExpander has priced itself out of my business and I’m using Keyboard Maestro instead.

Finding Peace in Laundry

Doing laundry from start to finish can quiet a troubled mind if you set your mind to it.

I'm talking about being mindful here—completely in the task—and it works with any simple task. The methodical nature of doing laundry, washing dishes, or sweeping the floor can help quiet mental gremlins and find focus again. Change the way you think about these tasks; convert them from mindless to mindful.

Laundry provides several different ways to relax and focus completely on the task.

  • Sorting laundry: darks, whites, lights, and other stuff
  • The drone of the washer and dryer
  • The smell of clean laundry
  • Folding warm clothes

Focused folding is a ritual. When I studied aikido as a young man, my sensei taught me to fold my hakama in our dojo after practice. He referred to the careful folding process as the "Japanese press" because it would look perfect when unfolded to wear next time.

One of life's simplest pleasures is outfitting your bed with clean sheets. That luxurious feeling surprises me every time, a great way to end a day after meditating with eight loads of laundry.

Smooth Like Molasses

When I was a kid, I loved Archway’s molasses cookies, but I have seen them in years. I stumbled across a recipe and had the ingredients handy (sans cloves) and whipped up a batch from scratch. They are a new favorite in our house and a greater threat to my belt line.

Looking up and down while spinning left and right

I have had this “Trippy spinning optical illusion” (found at the always interesting open in a browser window since I found it on Feb. 1, 2016.

Spinning optical illusion


Somehow, this woman seems to be spinning both clockwise and counter-clockwise simultaneously. This is worse than the spinning ballerina. Anyone know who did this? Randomly found it on Facebook and couldn’t trace the source back…

The most mind-blowing of this type of animation I have seen to date. Kudos to the designer!

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