Thoughts on Installous and Paid Apps

I used to download all my apps from Installous back when iOS was the latest version of software. Including many (sometimes expensive… *cough* TomTom) paid apps.

Although I virtually had access to every possible app for free, I used very few paid apps in the end. There are some notable exceptions however. I started to use Instapaper and Reeder on a daily basis; two excellent apps that I highly recommend you check out.

When I finally upgraded to iOS 5 – I had delayed for a while as I didn’t want to lose all the apps and functionality I was used to – I decided to not jailbreak again. I would support developers of quality software and purchase the apps legitimately.

I had originally intended on buying all the paid apps I had downloaded for free, but came to realize, while it may be morally correct to some, a) I didn’t use most of them regularly enough and b) I wouldn’t have purchased any if I had never jailbroken.

I think this is one of the key issues with current copyrighting and distribution laws: no revenue is lost as the content would never have been purchased in the first place.

Therefore by pirating, I exposed myself to quality software, which I grew dependent on, which in turn caused me to actually want to start paying for apps.

Now am I saying we should all pirate everything? Definitely not. However there must be some way to monetize interest in content and exchange payment(s) for content, where both the consumer and producer are better off.

Right? Or am I in a deluded fantasy…

Quick Tip: Google Chrome Search Engines You Need To Add

I have remapped my CapsLock key to open a new tab in Chrome, much like the Search key on the Chromebooks. With this quick hack, comes much added utility, with the help of custom search engines in Chrome.

Services: Google Chrome, AutoHotKey.

My most regularly visited websites such as all the Google Apps (Gmail, Reader, Docs, Calendar) can be opened with two key presses from anywhere on my computer:

  1. CapsLock – Opens a new tab in Chrome.
  2. Website Identifier – a single letter that can be defined by going to chrome://settings/searchEngines and adding a custom search engine.

Another use for this has been searching Twitter handles. Now I’m sure there are better ways of doing this, but I constantly found myself googling “@<username>” to find people on Twitter. So I decided to add a custom search engine in Chrome:

This enables me to type “@” into the address bar, hit tab, type a twitter username and navigate directly to their page.

If you have any other interesting uses for custom search engines, let me know!


Custom search engines don’t require the “%s” operator to work, which enables the super speedy hotkey access to bookmarks.

Quick Tip: Searchable Reading Archive

Sure, this is pretty easy to achieve using Pinboard/ Instapaper/ Readability for a cost, however this technique is totally free.

Services used: Instapaper, ifttt & Delicious [1].

  1. Save all online content you want in your archive to Instapaper, using your favourite method.
  2. Make an ifttt task to send your archive’s RSS feed from Instapaper (link down the bottom of your Instapaper folder) to Delicious as a public [2] bookmark.
  3. Search your links at the following URL, replacing “%s” with your search term,


1. If you already use Delicious, append a unique tag during Step 2, in order to separate your other bookmarks from your archive.
2. The bookmark needs to be public, otherwise search may not work.

Howard DJ’s like a mad bloke.

Howard DJ’s like a mad bloke.

originally posted on

Happy Birthday…

‘The Hamster Wheel’ showed this image of sky writing gone wrong, supposedly for Clint Eastwood’s birthday. Hilarity.

As shown on “The Hamster Wheel”, on ABC1 5/10/11.

Simplenote the Motivator

The story of how Simplenote motivated me to actually start writing a blog after so long without being able to put ‘pen to paper’.

Simplenote – Homescreen worthy.

Yes, I know, the blog isn’t exactly racing towards having hundreds of posts, but I actually have written more than I ever have, for any reason, other than school assignments! You see, it’s all just sitting in Simplenote – but not stagnating; it is being fine-tuned whenever I have time. That is the beauty of Simplenote. It is there when I need it, providing a distraction free writing environment that lets me focus on my ideas and getting something written.

I recall the moment Simplenote got me to start writing, quite well. It was during a long road trip to the beach. I was bored, but listening to music on my iPhone. I tried playing games but I never get too captivated by any of the iOS offerings so I was still looking for something to do. I opened up Simplenote and saw a note that said ‘Blog Post Ideas’. It contained several general ideas I had picked up over the past few days since creating this blog. I thought, “Why don’t I just start writing whatever comes into my head?”

I tapped out several hundred words on a series that I am yet to finalise. Even on that little iPhone keyboard, it wasn’t too painful, as I can almost touch type with it. Also, with the keyboard filling up most of the screen, there was almost no temptation to waste time revising what I had already written, or be subconsciously paralysed from writing by seeing a blank canvas, a feeling I experience quite often. I just tapped away, not caring if what I had written made sense, so long as it conveyed the story I want to tell. I can always go back over this work, when I am not feeling like writing, to polish it off. Even if that never happens, does it need to be polished?

The most interesting articles I read online are laced with opinion and emotion from the author – not just the facts. I am more likely to agree with someone’s point of view if I empathise with them, feel like I know them or like them. I also find that the more I ‘polish’ anything I write, the more emotion that gets scrubbed away.

Anyway, I digress…

Without Simplenote on my iPhone, synced to my laptop with ResophNotes (yes, it’s a PC), I never would have started writing anything for this blog and it would have sat dormant indefinately. So if you’re having trouble writing, why not give it a shot? There’s something soothing and refreshing about using a plain text editor with a decent font (I’m looking at you Notes on iOS and your Marker Felt font!).


Welcome to mjichael: the unrelated, incomplete works of Michael Johnston. This blog has no topic, theme. I am that it will give me somewhere to share all the tips, tricks, ideas and musings that I think of on a seemingly regular basis.

I can’t guarantee that the blog will be updated with any regularity, or at all. You have been warned.

In the mean time, check out, my experimental web design site.