Mac Average Users? Some contentious thoughts on the show

I’d like to take the time to utter some criticism/constructive feedback as MPU is near and dear to my heart. I have been listening to MPU for 4-5 years, I still enjoy listening and I think the transition from Katie to Stephen has worked out quite nicely. I also still enjoy the interview shows very much. However… when it came to topic shows more than not in the past weeks and month I felt that the Mac Power Users have become the Mac Average Users. I rarely learn something from listening and the issues covered often are just the basics - and by no means advanced or nerdy. A few examples:

  • #544 Notes Roundup: the show talked in great length about Apple Notes and then some well-known citizens of the Apple note-taking universe like Drafts and OneNote - litte mention of the new wave of connected note-taking approaches, little mention of Roam, nothing on Obsidian etc. What got a mention though (once again) is Tot… seriously… does Relay have any kind of secret agreement with the IconFactory people? It looks like some kind of (not too) guerilla marketing campaign. Not just at MPU and Relay but also at MacStories for example. I mean… it is a neat looking text editor with a questionable business model not the reinvention of computing.

  • #539 Back to Email: Again: just covered the usual suspects. On the other hand, the interview parts were a very good idea.

  • without further specific examples… I just have the impression that many of the general discussions have become quite shallow, adding little insight / offering rarely innovative thoughts.

  • More Power Users: Yet another news discussion segment? Hm… Why not living up to the name? More Power Users could’ve been a real nerd extravaganza covering topics too specific and detailed for the main podcast. A news segment is not what I am looking for when listening to MPU. There are other podcasts that which are focused on news and can therefore do a better job.

So… this is not about trashing MPU and I absolutely get it: Both David and Stephen have a lot on their plates, need to keep their businesses running, need to make money etc. And MPU is not bad by any stretch of the imagination. However, my impression over the past months has been a decline in quality and depth. MPU has been one of the first podcasts I subscribed to and I really hope that it sticks around for a long time. That’s why I hope my critique helps to sharpen the senses. Maybe I am wrong or expect too much. It would be really interesting to me how everybody else feels about this. But this is were I stand at the moment.


Yes. Exactly that. Nothing more to add.


MPU remains one of my favorite podcasts and the first one I listen to when a new episode is released.

That said, I too would like more depth and exploration of less familiar apps. I believe MPU should go deeper while remaining assessable to those of us who are “power users” relative to the general population but who are not IT specialists, coders, developers, or podcasters. I also agree that we don’t need MPU covering tech news.

Hitting the right balance is exceedingly difficult and I believe David and Stephen do an incredible job. They will not be able to please everyone. Perhaps a bit more depth and better coverage of lesser known and newer applications would enhance an already great podcast.


I usually learn at least one new thing per episode but (and this may be sacrilegious) I don’t listen to every episode.


LOL, I can assure you we don’t do that sort of thing. Ads are clearly marked as ads. Mixing advertising and editorial content is not the way we run the business.


What I like about MPU is that I don’t feel compelled to listen to every episode, and I like to think that David and Stephen are OK with that. No one is, or should be, interested in everything, and because each show’s topic is laid out well in the title and show notes, we can all make decisions on what episodes get our attention. For example, email is such a small part of my day, I have no interest in learning better ways of using it. So I deleted that episode without a second thought.

On the other hand, I do listen to episodes on topics for which I already consider myself a power user because there are different styles of power user. The Keyboard Maestro episode from a few months back comes to mind. My approach to KM is still colored by my initial impression of it as an easier substitute for AppleScript’s UI Scripting, and David and Stephen’s approaches to the app are different enough from mine that I get new ideas. I suspect that if I already used KM the way D&S do, that episode would have seemed less useful to me. Maybe you’re not getting as much out of the show lately because you’ve already been assimilated into the D&S Way.

Finally, what I really came here to say: Tot is 2020’s Vesper.


I know. However the bigger point is that Tot got mentioned so many times on MPU, other podcasts in the Relay universe and MacStories (which you are not responsible for) that it LOOKS like an ad campaign. What is actually going on probably is that some of you know the people behind the app / get beta versions to test / indeed just like the app and talk about it. Tot is just the best current example for a trend that I observe and that is probably normal when you produce and consume a lot of content on a certain topic.

Oh, wait. There was one other thing I wanted to say. To me, the world of Roam/Obsidian/Notion/Zettelkasten is very different from the world of Notes/Drafts/Tot, and a show that mixed the two wouldn’t do justice to either type of note taking. I would like to hear a show on RONZ, though, even though I’m pretty sure it isn’t for me.


My new word-of-the-day. (Or the pluperfect, “ZORN”.)

Thanks for that.


I don’t think there’s ever any doubt about that. One thing Relay means to me is a separation between sponsorship and reporting.

That said, I do think there’s a kind of bias rampant throughout all big tech podcasts: people tend to talk about other people that they like.

A common refrain on MPU, for instance, is “Those guys over at ___ are awesome.”

Is that ever false about any developer? There’s nothing wrong with being happy with _David Smith, Greg at Agile Tortoise, or the Omni Group. Still, I guarantee that the devs at Agenda or NotePlan or Tyme or even Microsoft are also awesome.

We’re all human. We have a tendency to think of the things and people we like. While I don’t fully agree with the fundamental critique in this thread, I do think that there’s a (very weak) kind of nepotism alive and well in the tech “influencer” space. Y’all wield quite a bit of power when you casually mention how great an app is—and more importantly when you don’t mention something. Just something to be careful of!


The Rest Of New Zealand?

Oh! Roam, Obsidian, Notion, Zettelkasten. That actually took me too long…

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I’d be OK with a show on the Rest Of New Zealand, too.


At least Tot has a Mac version. :fire:


This was our thought as well, and is an episode(s) already on our schedule for later this year.


Oh, dear. Maybe I’ve been assimilated into the D&S Way.


Thank you for expressing my feelings in this regard more eloquently than I could do it myself. :slightly_smiling_face:

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Here’s my contribution - from Rotokauri showing my mobile office in the back of our Maui camper van…


Good thread. First of all, let me lay out my fan credentials here: I’ve been listening for about 10 years. I’ve listened to 95%+ of the episodes you’ve recorded. (Like others on this thread, I do skip an occasional episode now and then.)

I listen to 1-1.5 hours of podcasts daily. Mac Power Users is the only podcast for which I have a notification set for when a new episode hits. I literally structure my Sunday around MPU, to the extent that I delay exercise until after 3 pm because I know that’s when I’ll have a new episode of MPU to listen to while I walk.

And I still enjoy MPU a great deal.

That said, yeah, I think the show has gotten into a bit of a rut. I think the problem is that it’s going over the same apps, over and over. @ryanjamurphy names some apps that are worth exploring: Agenda and NotePlan jump out at me as applications I’d like to learn more about from the MPU perspective.

And yeah the new generation of networked notes apps — Roam Research and Obsidian — are extremely exciting. (I’m trying to figure out for myself whether they’d be useful to me or whether they’d just be another way for me to avoid doing anything productive.)

Noteplan is particularly intriguing. I made comments here that I’d started using it, stopped, and now I’ve picked it up again. You can almost use it as a full-fledged to-do app, like OmniFocus and Things. But I find it’s a great “do one thing well” app — for taking daily notes. On meetings, or just on things that crop up during the day. So yeah an episode on Noteplan vs. Agenda vs. ??? would be excellent.

I know that @ismh and @MacSparky have both started using DevonThink lately and I’d like to learn more about how they’re using it. I’m neck-deep in DevonThink and I still can’t figure out if I even need it!


Wait … Which part of New Zealand already got covered so that we could have a show on the rest of what is a reasonably small country? (speaking as a kiwi).

I hope it was Eketahuna.


It must have gotten hot in the camper. The iPad and Mac are warped. :wink: