‘Kestrel’ novelist Matt Gemmell embraces extreme minimalism [Setups]


Matt Gemmel pares down the setup to distill writing magic.
Matt Gemmel pares down the setup to distill writing magic.
Photo: Matt Gemmell

The classic writer’s garret, a small room where a tortured scribe toils over lonely hours to put words on the page — using a quill or a fountain pen or maybe a Smith Corona typewriter — has been tastefully updated.

Now it’s all about a 12.9-inch iPad Pro locked hard into the Ulysses text editor to prevent any distractions. There’s also a highly customized mechanical keyboard and really nice noise-canceling headphones. At least that’s how Scottish novelist Matt Gemmell limits his gear in a minimalistic setup, he told Cult of Mac.

It helps him focus on writing. That, and sitting his ass down in the chair for hours a day. The chair is a Herman Miller Aeron, by the way. The spartan surroundings need not lack comfort, after all. It’s about limiting distractions.

Let there be lighted Zoom calls [Setups]


You, too, can have a clean, well-lighted place for Zoom calls.
You, too, can have a clean, well-lighted place for Zoom calls.
Photo: UGenya806@Reddit

Redditor UGenya806, who works in marketing for San Francisco-based DocuSign in Germany, takes appearances on Zoom calls seriously. After all, their job has always been remote and will remain so, even when others return to offices following the COVID-19 pandemic.

UGenya806’s setup centers on an M1 Mac mini tethered to dual Dell 24-inch 4K monitors and a CalDigit TS3 Thunderbolt 3 Dock. The mini is connected wirelessly to a Magic Keyboard and a Magic Trackpad.

A stand-mounted MacBook Air rounds out the mix, but is usually used separately as a standalone machine, not with the peripherals.

Work/podcasting/gaming setup sees major upgrades [Setups]


Nothing like a big new display and new furniture to put the
Nothing like a big new display and new furniture to put the "set" in "setup."
Photo: WRM2@Reddit

After working remotely as a digital marketer for a startup for more than a year, EU-based Redditor WMR2 decided it was time to upgrade the ol’ MacBook Pro-based work/podcasting/gaming setup. Enter new desk, chair and external display.

What, you were expecting a new computer? That’s not always necessary.

Apple joins rivals to create open standard for smart home devices


Abode Iota is a security system by itself
Building your smart home is about to get a whole lot easier.
Photo: Abode

Apple is teaming up with Amazon, Google, and the Zigbee Alliance to create a new open and royalty-free standard for smart home devices.

Project “Connected Home over IP” aims to increase compatibility among smart home gadgets and make development easier for device manufacturers. It should also simplify smart technology for consumers.

Ikea’s dirt-cheap wireless charger is elusive for a reason [Review]


The Livboj is under there somewhere.
The Livboj is under there somewhere.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

This is the Livboj, an inexpensive but hard-to-find Qi charging pad from Ikea. Last week, I visited my local Ikea to stock up on frozen cinnamon buns. I got lost, and found a stack of these amazing devices instead.

Despite its dirt-cheap price tag of 5 euros ($5.50), the Livboj is pretty great. So far I’ve experienced none of the problems other people report from far-more-expensive Qi pads. You should snap up one of these elusive chargers — if you’re lucky enough to spot one.

New Mac Pro grille is actually a terrible cheese grater


Cheese grater pro
You *could* use the Mac Pro to grate cheese. But you won’t be happy.
Photo: Winston Moy

The new Mac Pro sure looks a lot like a cheese grater, but it turns out that it’s pretty bad at grating cheese.

YouTuber machinist Winston Moy painstakingly re-created the complex circular structure of the new Mac Pro grille using his Shapeoko mill to put Jony Ive’s work to the test. The video of the entire process proves quite fascinating. However, the end result kind of disappoints.

Skip to the 5:30 mark to see it in action:

Ikea ad teases Apple for Mac Pro cheese grater design


Mac Pro cheese grater
The new Mac Pro's price tag grates on some people's nerves.
Photo: Apple

The cheese grater jokes will eventually die down, so Ikea’s Bulgaria stores this week quickly joined the fun of teasing Apple for its new Mac Pro.

The Ikea ads feature, of course, a four-sided metal grater against a white backdrop under the headline, “Designed for apples.” But the joke doesn’t stop there.

Best wireless iPhone chargers now that AirPower is dead


Wireless chargers
Wireless chargers are easy to use and look stylish in any room.
Photo: Mophie

Owners of late-model iPhones (starting with iPhone 8) can stash all their old Lightning cables in a desk drawer and start charging their phone more easily with a wireless charger. Instead of sticking a wire into your phone and attaching it to a power adapter, you just place the phone on a small charger pad — or on a stand-up charging pad — and you’re good to go.

Now that Apple officially killed off its AirPower charging mat, it’s time to take the plunge and get yourself a third-party wireless charger. And if you’ve got one of those newfangled AirPods wireless charging cases, a charging pad is even more essential to your setup.

Here are our recommendations for best wireless chargers.

Control Ikea’s new blinds with HomeKit


Ikea’s new blinds work with your iPhone via homekit.
Ikea’s new blinds work with your iPhone via HomeKit or a dedicated app.
Photo: Ikea

Too lazy to get up and close the drapes? Then you need Ikea’s new HomeKit-enabled blinds, Kadrilj and Fyrtur. These new powered blinds have already launched in Germany, and can be integrated with your home hub, your Alexa, or your Google Assistant.