Franz – one app to view them all: What’s App, Telegram, Messenger, Twitter, LinkedIn, GCal etc

Screenshot 1453
I started using an application called Franz recently to help me view an unwieldy load of messages on several platforms for multiple projects. I had used Adium before but it died in 2017 with macOS High Sierra, I think.

Note that this is a desktop application only. 

I love that Franz includes GCal, because scheduling meetings are critical with working groups, volunteers, committees, and recently, reunions. Technology and a soft, persuasive touch help get busy people together, and switching to a person’s favoured platform helps. After all its to help protect the environment and promote harmony!

Switching between services is a keystroke away – I’ve arranged it as Cmd-1 (What’s App), Cmd-2 (Telegram), Cmd-3 (Facebook Messenger), Cmd-4 (Twitter) etc.  Franz can handle emails too but those are much more scary so I restrict those to mail programs. 

Franz is available on multiple platforms at meetfranz.com. 

Franz is multi-platform

 

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Free exhibition at SBG: “Beneath Tide, Running Forest” – an art and science exploration of Singapore’s marine biodiversity

“Beneath tide, Running forest” is an art and science exploration of Singapore’s marine biodiversity. Curated by Dr. Ruobing Wang, this is a group exhibition by four local artists: Chen Sai Hua Kuan, Shirly Koh, Henry Lee & Wang Ruobing.

Exhibition details: 24 Nov 2018 – 14 Apr 2019: 9:00am – 6:00pm @ Singapore Botanic Gardens: CDL Green Gallery @ SBG Heritage Museum, free entry. For details, visit the NParks webpage.  

Catch artist Henry Lee live in action at the gallery from 2.00pm – 3.00pm on the 2nd, 9th, 16th and 23rd Dec 2018

ArtScience exhibition

 

Turning off Office Intelligent Services to prevent data access (macOS)

Microsoft Office 365 introduced Office Intelligent Services at least as far back as 2016, These are cloud-enhanced features on the Office applications Word, Outlook, Excel and PowerPoint meant to aid the user. I only noticed this last month, i.e. September 2018, when Office 365 updates on my Macintosh each flashed a window about turning on “Intelligent Services”. I dismissed those but went on to check.

With the Office Intelligent Services option turned on, it appears that document content would be accessed by Microsoft. Even if it is Microsoft policy to not use this data for other purposes, this poses a problem for confidential data. I have kept that data off any cloud service, including the ones provided by NUS. This option, however, circumvents that control of privacy with any Office document.

Happily, Office Intelligent Services can be turned off within the preferences settings of each of the Office applications. Just go to Preferences > Privacy (in earlier versions this is “Security & Privacy”) > unselect Enable services, like so:

Word preferences

Office Intelligent Services

I process student data intermittently, so I keep this option turned off. After checking in on colleagues, a couple of Mac users had this option turned on, without them being aware of having opted in or of its significance. This is a problem, so I’ve suggested to NUS IT that they explain this to users.

It was suggested that I might be prompted every now and then by Office 365 to turn Office Intelligent Services back on. That would be terrible, but it’s been two months since, and not word from the suite!

Switching to macOS Mojave on my MacBook Pro (15″ early 2013)

Time to make the jump to macOS Mojave 10.14 on my early 2013 15″ MacBook Pro. It’s a pre-TouchBar, pre-USB-C 16GB RAM MBP so I am nursing it as long as I can. I’ve made a couple of visits to an authorised Apple Service Provider Care over the years, the last in July to change its battery.

If you were not prompted to update, visit Apple’s Mojave page. See Gizmodo’s “14 Things You Can Do in macOS 10.14 Mojave That You Couldn’t Do Before” [link]. I look forward to the cleaning up of many cluttered desktops amongst my students by Stacks!

My MBP specs
mbp-highsierra

Mojave popularises dark mode; our eyes sure need a rest!
mojave

Back after the jump…

Update: It took an hour

Digital competencies with year 2 undergraduates at RVRC

The learning programme for second year RVRC students is made up of 12-hour forums in three pillars: resilience, reflection and respect. I offered RESL07: “Digital Literacies for the 21 Century” originally to a class of 15 but added the waiting list so there are about 30 students now which is unwieldy and its a struggle until I redesign the class.

This forum exposes undergraduates to a diversity of tools, to learn about selecting the right tool for a specific task or project, and then to appreciate competent use which amplifies ability. This is done through group work and comparisons which brings about the realisation that often a critical element to technological use is planning, communication and camaraderie.

They are quick to engage new tools so really it is about having purpose and being sensitive but also confident about the people they will work with.

Reduce blue light impact on eyes – at least with Night Shift and F.lux

After reading Lifehacker articles about methods for improving sleep for high-stressed desktop warriors, I used F.lux to reduce blue light at night. It is automatically triggered from sunset to sunrise based on your location. This is available on all platforms.

Well, adjusting screen brightness is important too. And ultimately for a good night’s sleep, stop using a device in bed.

Besides a better snooze, there was also research about harmful effects blue light could cause to the eye. And when I got new spectacles recently, blue filters were already a default provision in the new lenses.

Last week, new research further highlighted the possibility of permanent, irreversible damage to the eye – “Blue light from mobile phones and computers can cause irreversible damage to eyes: Scientific Reports study” [link]. The brief advice there was to “avoid looking at cell phones or tablets in the dark, and wear sunglasses that can filter both ultraviolet and blue light.”

Well, with that, all Mac users should now be keen to trigger Night Shift on their devices – on both iOS and macos). Go to Settings/System Preferences > Display & Brightness/Displays > Night Shift:

Night Shift on iOS
ios-NightShift

Night Shift on macos
NightShift-macos

We will review our use of devices and cut down on mindless scrolling, I hope. But younger users, with long years of exposure ahead of them, will demand better solutions from device manufacturers. Notice has been served.