America’s Terrible Choice

The horror of watching something terrible unfold right in front of you makes it nearly impossible to look away. The 2016 election is such a train wreck, the candidates’ voices like the horrible screeching of metal, so much vitriol like blood spilling onto the tracks.

All the world’s a stage and the greatest nation in the world has sunk to become the world’s stage for reality TV. This campaign has all the makings from bombshell accusations from FBI Director James Comey and Trump’s outright threats (I’ll put her in jail!) to backstabbing within the party (sensible Republicans versus The Donald) and outside interference (I’m looking at you Russia). Could Shakespeare write such a dark farce? If he tried, would scholars label it as tragedy or comedy?

The investigations of Clinton’s emails—opened and reopened during this campaign—ended as much ado about nothing. Twice. Likewise the so-called assassination attempt at a Trump rally. The “assassin” was nothing more than a member of their own Republican Party holding a sign in peaceful protest of a truly terrible candidate.

I feel like the main character in a (more) dystopian version of The Truman Show. Is this reality? Really? The whole campaign is so transparently ridiculous and almost scripted to seem unreal, yet here we are hunkered down on the edge of chaos with a hopeful tyrant snapping at the heels of the only presidential candidate on the ballot.

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.

Ouch.

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 Annual New Monthly Upgrade Annual Upgrade Monthly
$237.60 $297 $213.84 $267.36

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 textexpander.com. 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.”

Alternatives

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.