Update from 2016-09-21: The Facebook problems have been fixed. Thanks to everyone for the feedback and the testing help. (If you're interested in all the ugly details, there's a detailed technical blog post on the Shindigital website).

The all-new Remembary 3 has been out for almost a month now, and while the feedback has been generally positive, a number of people have reported problems getting the app to connect to Facebook properly.

I am working hard on fixing this problem, and hope to have an update out some time in September. 

What has made fixing this problem extra difficult is that the Facebook connection only fails for some users, and not for me or any test users I've been able to set up. 

If you're having trouble connecting Remembary to Facebook, please get in touch with me - the more examples I can collect, the easier it will be for me to figure out what's going on. I'm also building a group of testers who can help me make sure everything work properly. Please let me know if you'd like to be on this testing team - you'll not only help me fix these kinds of problems, but you'll also get new versions of Remembary a little bit earlier than everyone else!

Posted
AuthorAndrew Burke

Remembary 3 has been a long time in coming but it's finally here. It took extra long to arrive because it's almost a complete ground-up rewrite. Every UI element, every interaction, every theme has been redone from scratch. But it's not just a simple replacement: several new things have been added as well. Here are the details:

Redesigned Themes

The most obvious change is in the updated themes. All the favourite themes from Remembary 2 are still available in Remembary 3, but they've been streamlined for a more contemporary and cleaner look -  while also keeping the rich and subtle textures that make them so nice to write on. Remembary's themes now work on every screen size from the 3.5 inches of an iPhone4 all the way up to the almost 13 inches of an iPad Pro, and on iPad they work in portrait and landscape.  

Remembary 3 has five new themes, including a new default: "Bamboo". These have a blog post of their own.

Pick a Font - Any Font

Remembary 3 still has the collection of unique handwriting, calligraphy, and vintage typewriter fonts that were so much fun in Remembary 2, but now you can use any font available on your device. The fonts listing is now in three sections: Specialty, for the app-sepcific fonts like Royal Vogue and Jane Austen; Recommended, which includes a selection iOS fonts that work nicely with the themes in Remembary; and System, which includes every other available font, including multiple weights and even international fonts.

iCloud Photo Library

Remembary 2 scanned iOS6's Asset Library to find photos and videos that matched the currently displayed day. The downside was that it could only find photos that were stored on your device. Remembary 3 now uses Apple's powerful iCloud Photo library, which can search any photo, Live Photo, or video that you ever took - even if it's not local to your device. The popup listings just use the thumbnail versions of the photos already stored in your device. Tapping on a photo to bring it up in a full-screen browser will download the full version from iCloud if necessary.

The new iCloud photo library lookup is much more powerful than the old system, and it's super fast - so fast, in fact, that I've removed the progress spinners from the top of the page since they hardly ever show up anymore.

Word Count

Over the years, several users have requested a word count for each day's entry. Some people like to have a daily writing target - but of course others would rather not have a number assigned to their writing. It took me a lot of false starts to figure out the best place to put the word count. I finally settled on a very small number in the bottom right corner of the page, where it's obvious if you know to look for it, but easy to ignore if you'd rather not see it.

New Feed Popover

The feed items popover has been redesigned with a more compact look with the bar at the top of each entry colour-coded by type: red for calendars, light blue for Twitter, dark blue for Facebook, and orange for RSS feeds. Tapping on the info button on the right side of an RSS item or a Tweet will open it in Safari or Twitter. Tapping on the body of a feed item will copy the text directly into that day's diary entry, complete with a timestamp. This lets you quickly build up an overview of your day from your events, tweets, status updates, and blog posts. This feature was in Remembary 2, but you had to tap on a tiny button that was easy to miss. Now the whole entry is the button.

 

New Cover Screen

Remembary 2's cover screen was very 2012 skeueomorphic: leather texture, brass corners, a faded paper label. It looked pretty cool, but it didn't really match many of the themes besides Codex and maybe Notebook. The new cover is more contemporary: semi-opaque, blurring the page contents beneath it. This lets the cover better express the selected theme, especially the new ultra-dark "Nocturne" and the very bright "Morning" themes. The optional diary title now uses the currently selected font, too.

Remembary 3's new translucent cover page, showing a password hint.

Password Hint

Over the years, I've had unhappy Remembary users write in to say they've forgotten their passwords. Unfortunately, there was nothing that I could do - the diary and password lives exclusively on your device. Now when setting a password you can also set a password hint. If you guess the password incorrectly more than four times, the hint will slowly appear beneath the password field. Hopefully this will keep anyone from losing their old diaries.

Much faster export 

Another way to protect your diary is to export it to a file. Remembary 2 had a long-standing problem where saving files - especially large files like data exports of a year worth of diary entries and social feeds - would take a very long time, often many minutes, even on a modern high-speed device like an iPad Pro. I managed to find and fix the problem, and now you can export multiple years of diaries very quickly. 

There's a whole lot more changes and updates in Remembary 3 - but what's most important is that this is all on a new modern platform and I can now start adding new features to the app. Look for new updates in the coming months.

Posted
AuthorAndrew Burke

There are many new features and updated designs in the new Remembary 3.0, but the most obvious ones are the new themes that have been designed for the app. Here's a quick overview:

Bamboo is a light and breezy theme with a richly-textured pale paper and a light bamboo wood background. I liked it so much I made it the new default theme for new users. It's a little more universal and elegant than the previous starter theme, Codex (which is still available - don't worry!). This casual and natural look goes well with a light handwriting font like Jenna SueAndrew, or Noteworthy, or the elegant Royal Vogue, as seen here.

Leather is the result of some serious time spent exploring some great texture libraries. I wanted to have a theme that felt rich and luxurious without having too much distracting bling, and I think I succeeded. It also has a fairly subtle watermark. Leather works nicely with Times New Roman Italic, Hoefler Text, or Helvetica Neue Thin

Nocturne comes from recent studies that have shown that bright blue light, like that from an iPad or iPhone, right before bed can interfere with sleeping patterns. Many people like to write in their journals at bedtime or sometimes even when they wake up in the middle of the night - and although Remembary has a few other dark themes I wanted to make something that could be used in a totally pitch-black room without dazzling the user or waking up anybody nearby. This theme, with its black-on-black background and deep red text is hard to see in regular daylight, but it's perfect for night-owls. Use an extra large, thick font for this to ensure legibility - Marker Felt, Chalkboard, or Avenir Black Oblique are good choices.

Morning is sort of the opposite of Nocturne: something with bright whites, blues, and yellows to help you get your day started if, like me, you prefer to write in your journal with your morning coffee (pets optional). This works with a nice strong clean font like Avenir Black Oblique or perhaps Baskerville.

Grime is an expression of an idea I've had for a while: writing a journal like on a messy stack of papers. Some people like to be neat and orderly, and others like to get down and dirty. What's great with Remembary is that no matter how messy things might LOOK, everything is perfectly organized under the hood. I enjoyed adding some light staining and a grimy background - some early versions got a little carried away, but the final one doesn't distract too much from the writing. I've found this theme works really well with the custom Underwood Champion font.

Posted
AuthorAndrew Burke

(This is a shortened version of a blog post found at http://www.shindigital.com/blogposts/102)

Remembary is a big part of my life. I use it almost every day. It contains over a decade of my diary entries, half of them copied in from my handwritten journals. It's the way that I reconnect to my past and think about the future.

The last update deployed to the App Store was on January 24, 2014. This is over a year and a half ago. The version in the store hasn't been updated for iOS8 - it hasn't even been updated for iOS7. Why is that? Don't I care about my own software?

I actually care a lot. I care so much that I want to produce the best, most stable and reliable product that I can. I've also been working on the app quite a bit since the last update - in fact, I've dedicated entire months and have even turned down paying work to get Remembary updated for the latest iOS features.

So why is Remembary still an iOS6 app?

The full-time job that pays $30/week

The first thing to know is that, contrary to common perception, it's very difficult to make a living in the App Store. Remembary frequently shows up in "Top Grossing" charts, but averages about $30 to $50 a week. Some weeks it makes no money at all. Even when the app has been featured on nationwide TV or newspapers, the resulting spike in sales, which is enough to push it to #1 on some charts, only lasts a few days and totals to about $400. 

I realized early on that Remembary wasn't likely to make me rich and I've been okay with that. Building and selling and promoting and supporting a product is an amazing experience and has been great for me professionally in terms of building up my portfolio and my reputation. It's also deeply satisfying to know that something I've made is used by people every day to record and reflect upon their lives.

That said, I have to approach Remembary like an indie musician or an amateur novelist: I'm creating something that some people might love, but the odds of making much money from it are very small. I have to do it for the pure passion of it.

... and I have to do something else to put food on the table.

Keeping up with all the changes in iOS every year, especially over the last few years with the introduction of "flat design" in iOS7 and all the new APIs and even new languages in iOS8 and iOS9, can be a full-time job, but since it only pays a fraction of what it takes to make a living, I have to take on other paying work and try to find the time to work on Remembary in the gaps between other projects and commitments.

Updating for iOS7 - then iOS8

The biggest change with iOS7 was new constraint-based layout and a new aesthetic approach based on thinner fonts and a flatter look. With iOS8 this became even more important, especially with the rumours of multiple-sized devices and even split-screen support coming down the pipeline. This was all exciting, but it would require completely rebuilding and rethinking every single UI component in the application - over 16 screens worth of sometimes quite complex layouts.

A favourite feature of the app is the over a dozen bit-perfect full-screen themes with rich textures and subtle details like watermarks and frayed edges. Not only did this not fit with the new aesthetic, but I'm still figuring out the best way to scale or resize these images to work with split and variable-sized displays.

In the summer of 2014, I cleared my work schedule and turned down paying work for over a month to finally dig in and get Remembary up to date. iOS8 was now in the pipeline and I had heard that it supported many new enhanced rich text features. Rich text (bold, italic, underline, colour, and embedded images) would obviously be a great feature for a diary app - many competing apps had tried to support rich text through allowing Markdown or HTML tags, but this wasn't WYSIWYG, which I consider to be of prime importance in any modern app, especially an iOS app.

I started doing research and it turns out that while iOS8 did support new rich text features, they were only "easier and more powerful" in comparison to the earlier versions of iOS, where you had to build your own rendering engine essentially from scratch.

What little documentation available seemed to assume that one was already an expert in text-rendering technology, but I finally managed to make some solid progress. Remembary could now support rich text of various kinds, finally users would be able to emphasize parts of their text. However, I quickly ran into problems: assigning italic or bold doesn't work for all fonts - the custom handwriting and typewriter fonts that I had included in Remembary and which were some of the most popular features of the app often only had regular modes. This makes sense - Jane Austen never needed a bold version of her handwriting, and you would need a whole new typewriter if you wanted to use italics on a vintage Underwood - but it was a big frustration for me in Remembary. If a user added bold and italic to regular text and then switched to a font that didn't support those features, the highlights would be clobbered and they would stay gone if they went back to their original font. This was unacceptable behaviour for a diary app!

So after all of those weeks of work, I pared it back to only support underline, which works for any font and is still valuable as a means of highlighting text. Not as fancy as I had hoped, but still useful.

No new feature goes unpunished

However, rich text also automatically supports embedded images. At first I thought this would a great feature: users could tap on the pictures from that day to add them directly into their diary, mixed in with the text. Building this took some work and it ran a little slowly, but it was an exciting breakthrough and it looked great. But adding images turned out to have all sorts of cascading problems:

  • exporting the diary into a backup data format to be re-imported elsewhere was now much more complicated since Remembary now had to store potentially megabytes of embedded binary data along with the diary text. 
  • even worse, the natural thing to try to do with text that has image support is to copy and paste images into it from elsewhere, or take copy this mixed content and paste it into an email or a Pages document or some other environment. Considering that this is something that people have been able to do in Mac OS since the 1980s, I assumed that this was a mature, solved problem. It turns out that every program has to build its own custom data format for copying and pasting anything more complicated than plain text. 

I happened to be sharing an office at the time with one of the best iOS development shops in the country, and I got one of their top developers to take a look at this rich text / copy-paste situation. His analysis included phrases such as "this is definitely non-trivial," "I can't guarantee that when pasting from other apps everything will work properly," and, "this might be something that you have to wrestle with every time a new version of iOS comes out, possibly even minor revisions."

Remember, working on Remembary is a part-time job that pays far below minimum wage. 

Soon after this, a new high-paying gig came up and, having run out of money, I had no choice but to take it. 

The Future - Remembary 3.0 (or at least Remembary 2.9)

The heavy lifting part of the new gig is finally wrapping up and I'm starting to find myself with some extra time on my hands - time I hope to start dedicating to Remembary.

The new iCloud Photo Library is a perfect for Remembary, with almost instant access to any pictures in your library without having to take up dozens of gigabytes in your machine. The preliminary tests of Remembary with this new library are encouraging - although, once again, the only tutorials that I could find explaining how the new APIs work had bugs in them that made them crash when I tested them on my device. 

So, I'm still working on Remembary. The dreams of an earth-shattering 3.0 release with full rich media support have gone up in smoke, but I am aiming for a simpler update which at least uses the newer layout frameworks and obvious APIs like the new photo library. 

The best way to maintain a living iOS application is regular updates, adding small features every few weeks or so. The major changes required for iOS7 broke that pattern and I'm still trying to pick up the pieces before new versions of the OS break things even more. The next update should at least get Remembary on a proper foundation so I can move forward with more frequent updates in future.

I'm still using Remembary every day, like I have for five years. I plan to continue doing so for many more.

Posted
AuthorAndrew Burke

While Remembary gives you lots of extra context for your diary's entry, it's still built around the core idea of WRITING about each day. The act of writing helps you reflect on and understand your day differently from just reading about it. Even with helpful features like voice dictation and tapping to copy your Tweets or Facebook statuses into your diary, you'll probably be spending a lot of time typing into the app.

Some people are able to type with the iPad's on-screen keyboard very quickly and accurately. However, if you're used to regular keyboards, and especially if you're a touch-typist, then the lack of physical feedback can make it frustrating. Also, to save space the on-screen keyboard requires modifier keys to access commonly used characters like & and $. It doesn't have easy navigation keys either, and reaching out to tap on the iPad isn't very accurate with smaller fonts.

Because of this, quite a market has grown to help you type on your iPad. Here are three different things I've tried, and what I think of them.

Apple Bluetooth Keyboard (w/ Origami Case)

This is an iconic Apple design that has been around since 2007. It's rugged and beautiful, and the full-size keys make it a pleasure to type with. I already had one of these keyboards when the iPad came out and one of the first things I did when I got it home was pair them up. 

The fact that the iPad and the keyboard are completely separate has its pros and cons. You can put the iPad on a stand at eye level while keeping the keyboard down at a better position for your hands, for example. On the other hand, it can sometimes be awkward if you're sitting on a couch or in bed, or are otherwise in cramped conditions: you have to find *two* ergonomically correct resting places.

There's one big problem I've had with this Apple keyboard: I think it was designed as a space-saving desktop item, not as a travel accessory. It has a large power button on the side which is very exposed and easy to hit as you're putting the keyboard into a bag. This not only turns on the keyboard but can wake up your iPad as well and drain batteries on both. If they've both been turned on and something in your bag jostles the music control keys at the top of the keyboard, your bag might suddenly start playing music while you're walking down the street. The first time it happened to me I was in a hotel corridor when the soundtrack to Inception suddenly started playing - quite scary until I figured out what was happening! 

Also, instead of being a simple on/off switch, the button has to be held down for a while to turn off. This is supposed to take five seconds, but I've been using this keyboard for years and it *still* takes me several tries to actually turn it off correctly.

The best solution I've found for these problems is the InCase Origami Workstation.  It wraps around and protects your keyboard, making it much less likely for buttons and keys to be pressed accidentally.  When you want to type, it cleverly folds back and velcros into a nice stand. The whole combination looks like a laptop when the iPad is in landscape mode, but it's even nicer in portrait mode - I like seeing Remembary's book themes at their full height. Typing on a long screen makes it feel more like a piece of paper or a book, too (and reminds me a bit of Apple's early Macintosh inspiration, the Xerox Alto).

I kept a handwritten diary for years before I started Remembary, and over the years I've been gradually typing in all of my old entries (at least the ones where I can read my handwriting!). I've found the Origami also makes a great book stand for transcription:

InCase Origami case as transcription stand. Victorian fireplace and Carmenère not included!

InCase Origami case as transcription stand. Victorian fireplace and Carmenère not included!

Touchfire Keyboard

The Apple keyboard is nice, but it's an extra thing to have to carry around with you, and with the case it takes up almost as much volume as the iPad itself. For those who want to travel light, or who only occasionally need to do heavy typing, there's the really cool Touchfire Keyboard

The Touchfire isn't a standalone keyboard, but instead it's a clear cover that fits over your iPad and gives the virtual keyboard a physical presence. It's just a thin piece of silicone rubber, so it takes up virtually no space, especially when it's folded up. It has built-in magnets that lock it into place, and which can even help it stow away inside a Smart Cover. 

I was given a Touchfire keyboard while I was at a conference last year and it turned out to be great for taking presentation notes. It greatly improved my typing while still letting me just keep the iPad on my lap. However, when I settled into my hotel room that night to write in my diary, I found I much preferred using a full-sized 'real' keyboard. 

Also, the rubbery silicone of the Touchfire can attract cat hair, cracker crumbs, dust, and other such debris, although it cleans pretty easily. I also found that when folded up it looks a little creepy, like a leftover molted skin from a snake or an Alien, or something like that.

If you spend a lot of time in lecture halls or on airplanes or in other contexts with cramped seating, the Touchfire is great. Otherwise, you might get more mileage out of a physical keyboard. The Touchfire is so small that I used to travel with both the Bluetooth keyboard and the Touchfire, so I would have plenty of options.

Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover

I said I "used to" travel with two keyboards, because my newest iPad keyboard is the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover. This is a keyboard that also doubles as an iPad cover. It snaps into place as a cover using the iPad's built-in magnets. Then when you want to use it as a keyboard, the iPad fits into an angled slot. 

Logitech.png

The clickable cover idea might make you want to dance in a Microsoft Surface commercial, but this is nicer than the Surface keyboard since it has just enough depth for real spring-action keys.

Unlike the Apple keyboard, this has a proper hard-to-hit-accidentally sunken power switch. Since it's usually locked in place as the iPad's cover, it's also much less likely to inadvertently play music or drain your iPad batttery.

The keyboard/cover isn't cheap at $100, but you could easily pay that much for a separate Bluetooth keyboard and protective cover anyhow.

There are a few downsides, though:

First, the cover is made out of similar aluminum to the iPad itself and doesn't provide any protection for the device's back - and the keyboard/cover combination is too big for most cases. So if you often pack your iPad with other gear, you're likely to scratch and maybe even dent both the cover and the iPad.

Second, to be able to fit a full keyboard into the available space of an iPad cover, Logitech had to make the keys a bit smaller than a regular keyboard. Also, at the top left where I'm expecting either an ESC or a "1" key, Logitech has put a "Home" button - so when I'm about to type in a date like "December 11", I frequently end up leaving the app and going back to the iPad launch screen.

Third, the aluminum can dent relatively easily. A few days after getting mine, I dropped it on a hard floor, and while at least it didn't break it now doesn't fit quite so nicely anymore.

Lastly, because the iPad fits into a slot instead of resting on a stand, it doesn't work as well for transcription as the Apple keyboard/Origami combo.

Posted
AuthorAndrew Burke

Some people have found Remembary crashing on startup in the last few days. I've done some research and have discovered that Facebook has made some changes to their feed data format that break Remembary's feed reader. Facebook has a habit of introducing changes without telling anybody about them, and this looks like one of those situations. 

I've fixed the problem and will be submitting the update to the App Store shortly. In the meantime, here's what you can do to keep Remembary from crashing:

  1. Turn off internet access on your device. The easiest way to do this is to go to Settings and turn on "Airplane Mode".
  2. Without internet access, Remembary will open without crashing. Go to the Feed Prefs settings (the 'four inward-pointing arrows' button in the toolbar) and switch to the 'Facebook' tab. Tap on the switch to turn Facebook fetch OFF.
  3. Go back to your device settings and turn internet access back on again (turn "Airplane Mode" off).

Once you get the update next week, you'll be able to turn Facebook fetch back on again and everything should be fine.

I always feel disappointed when an app I use has an update and it turns out to only be a bug fix - so I'm also going to add some new fonts and themes to this new version. The new fonts are: 

  • Marion Italic
  • Gill Sans Light
  • Chalkboard
  • Baskerville Semi-Bold

There will also be three new themes: "Gradus Light", "Gradus Dark", and "Gradus Mono". There's been a recent trend away from densely-textured realistic-looking "skeuomorphic" looks (which Remembary uses a lot) towards "flat UI". These aren't completely flat, but they don't have 3D looks and use simple gradients instead of textures. 

Here's a preview of "Gradus Light", being built in Pixelmator:

For the technical-minded and curious: the 'checkins' feed from Facebook is supposed to have location specifications, which include name, address, and lat/long coordinates. Remembary uses these coordinates to put that checkin on its map. However, the new changes (unannounced and undocumented, as far as I can tell) will sometimes include just a text title for the entire location, often if it's a checkin at a custom event that doesn't have a specified location. Remembary was built to expect a complete data structure with coordinates, and in this case Facebook just gives it a single piece of text. This confuses the app enough to make it crash.

The fix simply makes sure that the returned value is actually a data structure, otherwise it skips trying to get a location for the checkin. I'm also adding better error handling so that if (when!) Facebook changes things again without telling anybody, it will simply skip funny data rather than crashing outright.

Posted
AuthorAndrew Burke

There are many reasons to keep a daily journal: a private place for your thoughts, a wayto reflect on each day, a place for your future self to see what you were doing in the past, and even just great daily writing practice. 

But many people have trouble starting a diary, and even more trouble keeping the daily habit. I’ve managed to keep a diary for almost a decade - and while it hasn’t always been easy, I’ve learned a whole lot. I put all of these lessons I’ve learned into my iOS diary app Remembary

Here are some tips for getting into and keeping the diary-writing habit, and how you can use Remembary to get the most out of them. You don't need Remembary or even an iOS device for them to be handy, but I've included notes on how Remembary can help in each case. 

If you like what you see, you can buy Remembary on the iOS App Store.

1. Make it easy to write - anywhere and anytime

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Any habit will be difficult to start and maintain if it's hard to do. Some people try to write only at a special desk, only in a special book, and with a special pen. This can be great for "getting in the mood" but it can lead to trouble if you're on a trip, or you've misplaced your special book or pen. Also, in these digital days, writing quickly and legibly with a pen is becoming a lost art. It's much better if you can get things written down quickly, any time and any where. Do you have some time on the bus or in a waiting room? If you have your diary with you, you can quickly write something down.

Remembary lets you write your diary anywhere you have your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch. If you're on the road and have left your iPad at home, you can write on your iPhone and then transfer your entries back afterwards through DropBox or iTunes.

Remembary lets you type on the screen or with an external keyboard - if you're using more recent iOS devices, you can even dictate your entries with voice recognition. If you still like the look of handwritten diaries in handsome books, it has a dozen retina-grade themes and a wide choice of fonts, including Renaissance calligraphy and even a recreation of Jane Austen's handwriting.

2. Be private and personal for a change

With all the social media and online forms of expression available these days, we are in a golden age of writing about ourselves - but all of this writing is done in public. In a world of Facebook, Twitter, and blogs, it's still important to have a place to write exclusively for an audience of one: your own self. When you're writing in your journal, it's important to just write whatever you feel like, without worrying about who might be reading. Simply writing 100% honestly about your feelings or your ideas can help you work through them - and that's much more difficult if you're worried about who might be reading. 

Make your diary your own, for yourself only. If you still like sharing your thoughts online, or are working on a memoir for when you become famous, consider your private diary to be a rough draft, but still keep it for your eyes only.

Remembary can be secured with a password, making sure that nobody else can see your diary. If you also lock your device with a passcode and also encrypt your backups, your digital diary is almost impossible to break into - certainly much safer than any physical one with a built-in lock.

3. Build a Chain of Days

Keeping a daily journal is, obviously, one of those habits that requires daily effort. Starting and keeping a daily habit can be very difficult, especially these days when so much in our lives is chaotic and unstructured. 

One strategy that works really well for building daily habits is the "Seinfeld Calendar" where you mark each day when you've done your task and try to build as long a chain of days as possible. This gives extra weight to each day: you're not just missing a single day, but instead you could be breaking a chain of several weeks.

Any page-a-day diary will let you quickly see which days you've missed, but Remembary also has a calendar view that shows days with entries in green and days without entries in grey. This lets you see at a glance where you have gaps, and how long a "Seinfeld Chain" you've been able to build.

4. Use your social media and pictures to help remember what you did

If you have missed a few days in your journal, don't worry - and certainly don't give up! Just fill in the gaps as best you can as soon as you can. Even a short diary entry is better than nothing, and the longer a day stays empty, the harder it is to remember what happened.

These days, though, we have so many extra ways to remember what happened each day. Twitter, Facebook, blogs - all show what we were doing and thinking, timed to the minute. Every photo or video you take these days is likely to be timestamped to the second. Pictures and postings made from your phone are frequently geotagged, so you can even see where you were doing things, as well as when. 

Even if you're writing out your diary on paper, you should use your computer or phone to help remember what you did every day. It's easy enough to forget just what happened in the morning, let alone several days earlier.

This is the feature that makes Remembary special: it's the only diary app that stores your life on your device. It automatically fetches your Facebook and Twitter feeds and lists your postings by day and time. It also automatically searches your photo library and even your Photo Stream to show you every picture you took each day. It even makes an instant map out of any geotagged pictures or tweets or Facebook checkins. The latest version also shows calendar events for each day too.

If you're in a rush, you can even fill in a quick overview of your day by tapping on tweets or status updates or events to copy the text directly into your diary, complete with a timestamp.

Some people who still like to write their diaries on paper still use Remembary just for the way that it collects all of the feeds in one place and helps them remember their days.

5. Enjoy looking back

While writing in a diary can be good for your mental health today, the greater value comes after you've been writing for a while and you can look back on what you've written earlier. Journal entries are like a letter to your future self, and reading back on your past is a great way to get perspective on your life. 

Living your life in real time day by day, it's easy to get distracted by details and busy-work. Reading through several weeks, months, or years of a diary can help you see bigger patterns in your life and behaviour and emotions. What did you find important? How did your thoughts about people or things change over the years? How different was your day-to-day life? How have you changed? 

Even if you're just starting the journal-writing habit, it's enlightening even just to look back on what you were doing and thinking a month or even a week ago.

Understanding how valuable what you write today will be to your future self is an extra motivation to keep writing every day.

I've put almost a decade of diary entries in my own copy of Remembary, and I've included many ways to browse through them.

The calendar display lets you jump around by month, but also includes buttons for quickly jumping to the exact same day one year in the past or in the future. It's fascinating to compare what I was doing on the same day every year, and Remembary makes it easy to do so. I also recently added a "Random" button, which jumps me to a random entry somewhere in my life - I like to cover the date and try to guess when it was written (or at least figure out the correct year!).

Remembary also has a scrollable, categorized list of all entries, including brief summaries of each day - just swiping through this can give a quick view of the big events in your life. You can also search in this list by any text that's in the diary or in the related feeds. You can even just type in parts of dates to see, for example, what you were doing every Friday.

6. Get help

While your diary should be private, your writing habit doesn't have to be. Get started writing with a friend and encourage each other to write. You can also get automated help: set an alarm or reminder to get you to write every day. 

For Remembary, I set up a diary tips email plan to help you get started with diary-writing. Enter your email on the sign up page, and you'll get daily emails for a week, followed by several weekly reminders. These emails will give you extra tips for getting started with the diary-writing habit, regardless of whether you're using Remembary, another app, or writing on paper. Also please note that your address will only be used for diary tips - it won't be used for anything else or sold or transferred anywhere).

Hope you find these tips useful. Let me know what you think. To find out more about Remembary, take a look at the video below and explore the rest of this site and blog. You can also buy Remembary from the App Store - for a fraction of the cost of a paper diary.

 

Posted
AuthorAndrew Burke
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Remembary's picture support is one of the things that makes it a unique and powerful diary app. In most cases, Remembary starts checking all of your pictures as soon as you start using the app, but sometimes things can go wrong. Here are some things to check to make sure that Remembary is getting pictures properly.

1. Make sure you have pictures on your device. Sometimes the iOS/iTunes photo sync doesn't work properly and sometimes the photo library just disappears. Simply take a look at the "Photos" app and make sure there are pictures in there. You can also take a look at Photo Stream to see if anything is coming through there. Remembary checks both the local photo libraries and your Photo Stream.

2. Make sure that Remembary has access to the photo library. If you're on iOS6, go to the "Settings" app, pick "Privacy", and then "Photos". You'll get a list of all apps that have access to the photo library. Make sure Remembary is on this list and make sure that the switch next to it is set to "ON". If you're on iOS5, access to the photo library is granted through "Location Services". This access is turned off if you selected "NO" to the access questions when you first started the app.

3. Make sure that Remembary is set up to receive pictures. Tap on the 'four arrows pointing inward' icon in the top bar to bring up the Fetch settings box and then tap on the "Auto-Fetch" tab Make sure that "Auto-fetch Photos and Videos" has been set to "ON". iOS has a bug in the photo library that can sometimes make Remembary crash if there aren't any pictures in the library - so now Remembary checks to see if it crashed the last time you were using it, and if it did it turns off the photo auto-fetch and displays an error message page. 

4. If all of this has been set up correctly, try going to a date where you know you have photos in your device - a recent birthday or something like that - and see if pictures show up. It might take a while for them to appear if you have a big photo library (you'll see a little spinner to the right of the feed buttons while it's looking for pictures).

5. Go to today's entry and tap on the camera icon to take a picture directly from the app. Once the picture has been taken, it should show up in today's picture menu.

If you're still having trouble getting pictures to show up, please contact me with more details and I'll help you out personally.

Posted
AuthorAndrew Burke

Recent updates to Remembary have changed how the app connects to Facebook. Some people have reported having trouble getting connected.

Because iOS6 has Facebook authentication built-in but iOS5 doesn't, Remembary has to do a few tricky thing to make sure it works properly for everybody. There are several things to check to make sure Facebook is working properly:

RemembaryFacebookSettings.png

1. If you're on iOS6, make sure that you have set up your Facebook account in the "Settings" app and that you have enabled Remembary.

2. If you're on iOS6 and have a Facebook account already set up in the "Settings" app, make sure that the "Use iOS Facebook Account" switch is set to 'On' in Remembary's feeds panel (the 'four inward-pointing arrows' button in the top bar).

2. If you aren't set up with an iOS6 system-level Facebook account, you'll see an "Authenticate with Facebook" button on that panel instead. If you're already authenticated, you should see a "Log Out of Facebook" button. 

3. Go to the "Auto-Fetch" tab in the feeds panel and make sure the "Auto-fetch Twitter/FB/RSS Feeds" switch is set to "ON".

4. Sometimes, things just need to be refreshed. Try writing a new Facebook status update, then leave Remembary and come back to it - then flip to yesterday's entry and back to today's entry. Does the new status show up properly? You might also want to double-check your Facebook timeline and then go back to earlier dates in Remembary that should have status updates and see if anything shows up.

FacebookFeedsTab.png

5. Note that Remembary only downloads Status Updates and Location Check-ins that have text in them. If you're just posting a picture without any comment, then it won't show up. Also, things like writing on other peoples' walls or liking a page etc. won't appear either.

If you're still having trouble getting connected to Facebook, please let me know. You can also reach me on Remembary's Facebook page.

Posted
AuthorAndrew Burke

The latest update to Remembary is now available in the App Store. This was supposed to be a quick fix to address some quirks found in 2.0.2, but I decided to take the time to fully upgrade the app to support iOS6, as well as the new iPhone5 and iPad Mini.

Here are some highlights:

  • All of the themes have been updated with 'tall' and 'wide' retina graphics to support the new iPhone5. All of the app's popups and panels have had their layouts adjusted to use the full height.
  • The bug that was preventing calendar events from showing up in iOS6 has been fixed.
  • Remembary now uses iOS6's built-in Facebook authentication. Note: The Facebook permission prompt asks for access to your 'friends list' - this is a requirement for the Facebook API but Remembary doesn't use it at all. It just uses your status updates and location check-ins.
  • Twitter has removed the ability to check unauthenticated accounts, so the freeform Twitter address field has been removed from the Twitter settings box. Now you can only use Twitter accounts that have been configured in your device's Settings.
  • There was a embarrassing bug that only showed up when during "Fall Back" daylight savings time adjustments, since it makes for a day with 25 hours. This has been fixed.
  • There is a bug in iOS6's (now patented!) implementation of the 3D page turn logic that sometimes makes it show the wrong page when the device is rotated. Remembary 2.0.3 has extra checks in place to catch this bug and fix it on the fly. You might notice brief flashes of the wrong page and layout when you rotate the device - but Remembary should be showing you the proper day's entry in the proper orientation.
  • For 2.0.2, I moved Remembary from the "Lifestyle" category to "Social Media". I'm not sure it entirely fit in there, and sales seemed to slow down a bit, so I've moved it back to "Lifestyle".

I'm also working on more updates and even a few surprises before the big diary-buying New Year's season. Look for 2.1 (or at least 2.0.4) soon.

Posted
AuthorAndrew Burke