Recent tidbits

  • Moodmonk: iOS mood journal that suggest positive content, daily affirmations, exercises, and thoughts.
  • Catapult: macOS menu-app that let’s you create or open your projects easily.
June 14, 2021

A Missed Hello Becomes a Lost Goodbye

Last week a childhood friend passed away. The type of close friend where we called each other cousins — and our parents were uncles correspondingly. We drifted away over the years. Can’t remember the last interaction we had other than some BS over WhatsApp.

On Friday I dreamt of him. I knew it was a dream so I just enjoyed his presence. It’s amazing what we can make out of the randomness our cortex throws at us. It was just as I remembered being with him. His brash jokes, his roaring laughter, his inability with staying put, and also his bravery.

It was fighter pilot type bravery. Literally jump out of plane, scuba under rocks, motorcycle up a vertical wall while screaming like a maniac bravery.

He was not fearless. I know, for a very small window of time — I rode in front of him on our enduro trips. But he would get a look of determination, he didn’t allow himself to be the obstacle. He was going to always try. He lead most trips very soon.

I know there’s little we could both have done to stay closer. Paths just diverge, and when both emigrate the common ground fades even more. But it pains me that over the last year I had one thousand awake minutes every day to do a quick call. Ask him what’s up, remember a fall, or a whole weekend fixing a damn carburador.

Too late. He’s gone. But if I’m feeling hollow for missing a minute in a year — can’t imagine what those that are lamenting missing a lifetime with him are feeling.

June 7, 2021

WWDC 2021

What a great start. The keynote itself was ok, but the overall feeling of a iterative improvements gave us fantastic features and updates. Rapid fire thoughts:

  • Shortcuts for Mac: mentally insert a yes! GIF here. Still waiting for details, but having automatization and easy scriptability across the platforms is great news.
  • Better iPadOS Multitasking: better as in button based window management — rather than hard to discover and remember gestures — is a huge improvement.
  • Safari redesign: in fairness, of course the desktop features Opera did it all first™, and the new design is a close cousin of Firefox’s 89. But the Mobile Safari UX looks sweet.
    • Extensions for iOS/iPadOS: gets a double sweet from me. Hopefully now my favorite extensions will finally come to Safari.
  • Live Text: OCR across all your images is a powerful and useful feature.
  • Universal Control: is typical Apple, a feature that has existed for years on other platforms/3rd party apps, but done in such an elegant and integrated way it sets a new high bar.
  • Focus: very simple profiles for notifications, but happy it’s available across all platforms also.
  • iCloud+: confused, all I understood is now I get a free VPN with my iCloud plan.
  • Quick Notes: already have this with Drafts on Mac, but useful on the iPad when using the Pen.
  • On Device Siri: hopefully means faster Siri for simple tasks. Not holding my breath.
  • macOS Monterey:
    • On device Dictation: without 60 timeout will be useful.
    • New Split View Options: minor but great for me, you can now swap full screen split windows or make them both go full screen without having to return to regular size first.
June 1, 2021

Firefox Redesign

Selena Deckelmann on blog.mozilla.org:

We redesigned these tabs so that they floated neatly, and we added the visual indicators, like blocking autoplay videos until you’re ready to visit that tab. We detached the tab from the browser to invite you to move, rearrange and pull out tabs into a new window to suit your flow, and organize them so they’re easier for you to find.

I really like it. Very clean. Will use it the rest of the week — although I don’t see myself leaving Brave.

Also of note: with the M1, all browsers feel crazy fast. Not sure if the baseline speed of these machines is the contributing factor, but Firefox 89 flies on my MacBook Air.

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May 31, 2021

Tidbits for 2021 Week 22

  • McClockface: collection timepiece widgets for the home screen.
  • Cloudron: self-hosting app manager and store.
  • WidgeTube: YouTube videos widget on the Home Screen.
  • SlideMark: Web app for creating markdown slides.
  • Trexy: Track Expenses Easily
  • Numbr: web currency calculator combined with a notepad.
  • UTC Time: Show the time in UTC in the menu bar or a widget.
tidbits
May 24, 2021

Square Nears Launch of Checking, Savings Accounts

Mark Gurman, Kurt Wagner, and Jennifer Surane, on bloomberg.com:

Evidence of the still-unannounced plan appeared in hidden code in a recent update to Square’s app for Apple Inc.’s iPhone and iPad. The code references both types of accounts and indicates that the checking version will integrate with Square’s existing debit card for businesses

The closure of Simple and transfer of its accounts to BBVA have been rough. The App, the fees and overall experience have not been great. Hoping Square is an option soon.

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May 23, 2021
Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All the Facts
4/5

Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All the Facts by Annie Duke

Some books influence you, others are thought provoking — this one I gave as christmas gifts last year to my uncle and cousins-in-law. Which is to say, it’s a great book.

I didn’t buy into every single concept, my notes included lots of questions and counter-arguments. Never in exasperation though, but in a healthy debate with the authors voice in my mind.

Although I read this book about three years ago, the following passage has become part of my operating system, and I revisit it weekly:

Decisions are bets on the future, and they aren’t right” or wrong” based on whether they turn out well on any particular iteration.

Like the above, other ideas continue to influence me: the difference between listening to a friend vent versus actually expecting advise, the difference between chess and games, using prospective hindsight for better planning. All these and other great nuggets of ideas could justify books of their own.

In this sense, this is the best sort of self-help book. It gives you a story, a set beliefs, evidence to back them up, and then challenges you to come up with a better answer.

It’s also a tight book, not driving a point over and over with different examples. The overall arc of the book does have a driving idea. But some chapters barely touches it before going down a different rabbit hole. Not all of them are as interesting or convincing. But all them make sense, and I don’t recall skimming over any.

I haven’t heard a lot of positive things about Annie Duke’s latest book — but I’m still going to give it a go. Thinking in Bets ROI has been so high that even a total dud would leave her in good standing with me.

May 21, 2021

Apple TV+ Is Making a Wool Series

Press Release on apple.com:

Wool” is a set in a ruined and toxic future where a community exists in a giant silo underground, hundreds of stories deep. There, men and women live in a society full of regulations they believe are meant to protect them. Ferguson will star as Juliette,’ an independent and hardworking engineer.

I went through all three books ../Books/Wool (Silo 1) last year — this could be a great series. And Ferguson as Juliette makes perfect sense to me know.

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May 20, 2021

Kobo Elipsa is a 10.3 inch e-note and eReader

Michael Kozlowski on goodereader.com:

Kobo has just announced the Elipsa, which is their first E INK product that is geared towards professionals. You can freehand draw, jot down notes, edit and make highlights in a dedicated app, and you can also do the same thing in PDF files and ebooks.

Looks a bit chunky to me, but glad the Kindle is getting some competition on the new_ish_ e-Ink reader/note taking category. Personally, the smaller Supernote A5 X seems more interesting, but Kobo’s reach is much more massive.

Update: Turns out the handwriting recognition is done by MyScript, who’s Nebo app is the best HWR software on the iPad. Still not getting one, but it does tip the scale.

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May 19, 2021

Hidden Fantastical Settings

macsparky.com:

There are only so many settings a developer can put in a setting screen. Along the road of development, there are often niche settings that don’t make the cut. For better apps, developers often leave hidden settings to access via Terminal or URL callback.

Can’t believe I hadn’t linked to this. Extremely useful if Fantastical is your default Calendar.

These are the ones I use:

Always Show All: Set to YES (“1”) to have the details always visible in the event and reminder popover.

x-fantastical3://defaults?key=AlwaysShowAll&value=1&type=bool&group=1

Dim All Past Items: Set to YES to dim all events and tasks on days in the past. This affects Mac and iOS, List, Month, Week, and Day View.

x-fantastical3://defaults?key=DimAllPastItems&value=1&type=bool&group=1

Default Event Duration: Specify the default event duration in seconds (gives finer control than the presets in the app). For example, to make a default event duration of 25 minutes, use 1500 seconds.

x-fantastical3://defaults?key=DefaultEventDuration&value=1500&type=int&group=1
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May 18, 2021

1Password for Linux Released

Dave Teare, on blog.1password.com:

But nothing beats a full-featured desktop app that takes advantage of everything the operating system has to offer, especially if it can make the browser experience itself better (spoiler alert: it does).

Nice to have in the hypothetical universe where I need to switch to Linux. Great to have in the current universe where the devOps stores the production environments credentials in a teams account.

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May 17, 2021

Tidbits for 2021 Week 20

  • Sleeve: currently playing track from Spotify & Apple Music, displayed right on Mac desktop.
  • VitalSigns 3: macOS system monitor for intel and M1 (beta).
  • Brave Playlist: Save for later for YouTube, Twitch, Vimeo, Soundcloud and nearly any podcast. Interesting.
tidbits
May 17, 2021

GTD Advanced Workflow Diagram

Scott Moehring ​on moehrbetter.com:

When I read GTD, there was an existing flowchart, but I wanted to make my own. It was supposed to be just for myself as a GTD binder cover insert. When I was done with the design, I was so happy with it that I shared it with David. He liked it and put it on his site as a free downloadable file.

Not new, but I crossed this great printable PDF before and lost it. Posting mostly as a note-to-self.

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May 17, 2021

How M1 Macs Feel Faster Than Intel Models

Howard Oakley, on eclecticlight.co:

Benchmarks are all very well, but one almost universal comment made about M1 Macs is how much faster they feel, even when performance measurements don’t show as big a difference as we might like.

I tell anyone who asks about the speed: the late 2020 MacBook Air M1 feels consistently fast — not necessarily having a faster top speed — but plowing through every tasks that would slow down the early 2020 MacBook Air Intel.

Since I had two 16GB RAM MacBook Air’s back to back from each architecture over the last year — I was certain the speed difference wasn’t anecdotal over the same tasks. Which is supported by this explanation:

[…] Because those processes are handed over to the Efficiency cores, all they do now is slow other macOS background tasks, to which we’re much less sensitive.

And while there are many more elements, it mostly boils down to optimization:

[…] Because Macs with Intel processors can’t segregate their tasks onto different cores in the same way, when macOS starts to choke on something it affects user processes too.

The chip wars will argue for years if Apple Silicone is faster than other processors — but the integration that Apple now has will make the end result clear: M family will feel way faster.

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May 16, 2021

You Can Take My Hand Coffee Grinder from My Cold, Dead Hands

Tyler Chin, on gearpatrol.com:

Most importantly, hand grinding my beans brings me closer to the hands that farmed them. I try to buy coffee from roasters that are sustainably and ethically sourcing their beans. Coffee farming is a labor-intensive job, sometimes with minimal profit. As cheesy as it sounds, I feel a connection to the farmers who spend their days making sure the rest of the world stays caffeinated.

I used a hand grinder during most of 2020. The above is a great sentiment, but I was so happy to be reunited with my electric grinder — and don’t think I’d ever switch voluntarily.

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May 16, 2021

System76 Launch Keyboard

From system76.com:

The Launch Configurable Keyboard is engineered to be comfortable, fully customizable, and make your workflow more efficient.

Open source, on keyboard settings (works on any PC you plug into) super hackable and … $285.00. Which is about 3x my mental keyboard budget. But for a developer or IT admin that needs to use multiple PCs, this seems like a great option.

I’m very happy with my Keychron slim keyboard(s). Surprisingly the K3 75% has become my daily driver, with the K1 being used less and less. Unsure if I’ll sell it for another K3 when we get back to the office or prefer to have the two different ones.

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May 16, 2021

Creative Selection: Inside Apple’s Design Process During the Golden Age of Steve JobsCreative Selection: Inside Apple’s Design Process During the Golden Age of Steve Jobs

Creative Selection: Inside Apple’s Design Process During the Golden Age of Steve Jobs by Ken Kocienda

This is probably the best book Apple’s internal workings that I’ve read. It is also a great technical manager book with lots of stories and examples. It shows some of the real friction that exists within a perfect company like Apple — which gives you perspective of problems we all encounter.

My agreeable personality also enjoyed that this is an inside baseball book published with some sort of permission/blessing from Apple. This is not a disgruntled employee complaining and airing out the company’s internal failures. Not that that wouldn’t be a great book — but the good nature of the writing doesn’t get in the way of making me question the reasons behind each statement. I felt safe taking the stories at face value.

I absolutely recommend this book to anyone who likes Apple, the iPhone, and software development in general. Much like Michael Lopp, I hope Kocienda continues to write on these topics. I will be very interested in any other follow up books.

May 14, 2021

On the iMac 24in M1

The iMac 24in is my perfect monitor — if I squint a little. If you add the M1 computer hidden in its chin, you get my perfect computer… only not so much perfect than my current configuration.

iMac vs DelliMac vs Dell

Last summer when I bought my beloved Dell PC2421DC 24in 1 monitor I accepted its non-retina QHD (2560x1440) resolution because the smaller screen size was less bad than other options. I seriously considered a few 4K monitors, but because of price and didn’t want to deal with scaling and performance hit2.

The new iMac M1 24in sent me down a what if? rabbit hole. If switched this MacBook Ait M1 + Dell 24in QHD come for a new iMac — how would my display situation look?

Monitor Size

Monitor height x width x length (in)
Dell PC2421DC 14.02 x 21.17 x 1.68
iMac 24in 18.1 x 21.5 x 0.45

Mind you, the iMac chin is the computer, which requires we compare…

Viewing Area

Monitor Diagonal (in) Display Area (in)
Dell PC2421DC 23.8 20.75 x 11.67
iMac 24in 23.5 20.48 x 11.52 3

Here we see the panels are very close in size, so we can move on to the really important part:

Native Resolution

Monitor Native Equivalent
Dell PC2421DC 2560 x 1440 2560 x 1440
iMac 24in 4480 x 2520 2240 x 1260

So close! but, regardless of the quality of the display resolution (PPI) we’re sacrificing area. Unless…

Resolution Scaling

Monitor @100% @150%
iMac 24in 2240 x 1260 2520 x 1417.5
iMac 21.5in 2048 x 1152 2304 x 1296

With a little of the scaling I was so allergic before, we arrive at a a close to QHD equivalent resolution with better PPI. In my defense, it’s not quite the same because a 4.5K monitor has more pixels than a 4K monitor. Which means that the UI sizing is going to scale consistently, not having some assets in hi-DPI while others in standard resolutions.

Still, I’m going to wait for the Pro version of the iMac — mostly because of the Display. A 27in 5K iMac would have driving me mad with configuration anxiety on Apple’s website. Luckily, I’m currently my best Mac setup ever — which allows to be a bit responsible.


  1. More here ../2020/2020-12-27 My 2020 Sofware and Hardware of the Year↩︎

  2. My early 2020 Intel MacBook Air had enough difficulties driving its own display.↩︎

  3. Estimated. I couldn’t find any measurements on Apple’s site, but using the Diagonal Measurement, the screen resolution and good old pythagoras, you can get an estimate.↩︎

May 11, 2021

UnTab Chrome Search Extension

Akash Hamirwasia on getuntab.vercel.app:

UnTab is a browser extension that lets your search through tabs, history, actions […]

Looks great. Will be playing with it. The gold standard for the command palette in the browser is Vivaldi, which I revisit every few months but never stick with it.

The Eesel extension is another option I’ve played with, but UnTab wins big on size: 101KiB vs 1.29MiB. However, Eesel does have a lot more features.

Depending on how people adopt Chrome’s new Tab Search, will these pro-extensions likely grow.

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May 5, 2021

No iPhone 14 Mini Rumor

Benjamin Mayo, on bzamayo.com:

Apple doesn’t really care for the smaller size, they want the price points. By 2022, the components of the 6.1-inch model will have gone down and Apple will be able to sell it as the cheap flagship again.

Bit late, but I think Benjamin nails it: Apple brought the mini size back because the flagship price went to high.

That said, both my wife and I love our 12 Minis.

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May 5, 2021

UX Redesign for Amazon’s Kindle App

Leo Vogel on leovogel.medium.com:

My research found that readers don’t organize their ebook libraries. Users with large libraries have difficulty remembering what is in their library — which results in them browsing their library, but this too is cumbersome. Research also found that users read multiple books concurrently, selecting a book based on their current mood. Readers preferred to read different genes [sic] depending on their current mood—the current genre also determined if a user wanted to see their current reading progress. The last finding was that some users want to have one shared library for their whole family, similar to Netflix or other digital media accounts.

Nice touches all around. Really liked the shelf concept for multiple books you may be currently reading. Says a lot of the lack of competition and vertical integration of the ebook industry that neither Amazon nor Apple need to cater to advance users.

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May 5, 2021

Nuzzel is Shutting Down

Tony Haile on blog.nuzzel.com:

Twitter announced today that they will be acquiring Scroll and this version of Nuzzel will be shutting down on May 6, 2021.

Sad about this, because it was a great way to have good links and tweets surface. Without a doubt I have opened Nuzzel x100 more times in the last year than the official Twitter app.

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May 4, 2021

Tidbits for 2021 Week 18

  • Charmstone: open up to 8 apps with a small overlay triggered from a shortcut.
  • PolyGit: full powered iOS Git Client.
  • Menuwhere: show macOS front app menus at the current mouse location.
tidbits
April 28, 2021

Bookmarklet: Markdown Title or Selection to Clipboard

Made a new markdown bookmarklet that:

  1. Grabs either any selected text (if any), otherwise the page title
  2. Copies it to the clipboard in standard link format.

Code is on Github, and to use simply grab this link 🅫 Link 📎 to your Bookmarks Bar:

I find it funny that my preferred Markdown Link format changes with my tools.

A few years back1 I change all my markdown bookmarklets to reference links format, but my recent love affair with ../kb/Obsidian has brought me back to a more classic output.


  1. Also worth noting that the most popular post on this blog was on bookmarlets.↩︎

April 28, 2021

Drafts Web Capture Released

agiletortoise, on forums.getdrafts.com

Drafts Web Capture is a web page that integrates directly with your Drafts iCloud storage, allowing the creation of drafts from any web browser on any platform.

This is great, I have a bunch of bookmarklets based on the URL Schemes that I use every day, but I see a few potential uses for this.

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April 26, 2021

Earth Restored Photos

Toby Ord tobyord.com:

Only 24 people have journeyed far enough to see the whole Earth against the black of space.

The images they brought back changed our world.Here is a selection of the most beautiful photographs of Earth— iconic images and unknown gems —digitally restored to their full glory.

Amazing photos on a great looking website. Even the backdrop to the project is great:

I restored these images over many long evenings. During the days I worked on a book, which would consume me for three years.

The book is on philosophy, still, added to my list.

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April 19, 2021

Apple Spring Loaded Event Wishlist

My wishlist for tomorrow’s event:

  1. $1.999 iMac that shames any PC for the same price.
  2. Magic Mouse 3 with actual (gasp) buttons.
  3. $999 Apple Display that shames any PC monitor for the same price.
  4. AirPods 3.

There’s a very high probability that none or these will be released, but hey, it’s my wishlist.

Why no iPad stuff? I’m absolutely fine with my new (used) iPad Pro 11in 2018. So I’m happy for some big changes I may purchase (used) in a year or two.

April 19, 2021
Shorefall (The Founders Trilogy, #2)
4/5

 

Shorefall (The Founders Trilogy, #2) by Robert Jackson Bennett

Shorefall is a fun continuation of the previous book Foundryside. I absolutely recommend it and I’m ready to read what’s next in the series. It also falls into the distinct category of books that got me out of a fiction slump, all which always have a special place in my heart.

The whole concept of magic as coding is still there, but is not expanded — which is a bit sad. I enjoyed the story and characters, but was a bit disappointed in the end. While the first book was self contained, this one leaves more open threads and doesn’t give the last act as much closure as I was expecting. It’s a trilogy, so this usually happens in book 2.

Still, I absolutely enjoyed the book. It was fast paced, and had a lot of action. Actually, and this is an observation, it had a lot more action than expected, which made me feel that some of it was writing for a movie or TV show. Not a bad thing, especially when done in a fun way as in this case.

April 15, 2021

Spotify Launches Smart Player Car Thing”

newsroom.spotify.com:

Car Thing enables you to play your favorite audio faster, so you’re already listening to that hit song or the latest podcast episode before you’ve even pulled out of the driveway. Switching between your favorite audio is effortless, allowing you to shift gears to something else as soon as the mood strikes. And when it comes to controlling the device, use it in the way that works best for you, whether that’s voice, touch, or physical controls.

Looks very cool, but I think Matt Ronge hits the nail of the head:

Who is this for really? Have to confess that I signed up, just for the love of hardware1_, but since I already have CarPlay — I find it hard to think when it would be useful. Maybe it will be a Wireless CarPlay cheap substitute. Still, it does look nice.


  1. Now we know why they were looking for harware talent a few years back.↩︎

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April 15, 2021

System76 Announces COSMIC Desktop for Pop!_OS 21.04

Alexander Gerber on blog.system76.com:

We’re providing a honed desktop user experience in Pop!_OS through our GNOME-based desktop environment: COSMIC. It’s a refined solution that makes the desktop easier to use, yet more powerful and efficient for our users through customization.

Pop!_OS has some pretty cool UX implementations recently. These seems like a brave logical step for them to own the experience.

If macOS suddenly disappeared, I’d use either Pop!_OS or elementary OS.

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April 12, 2021

Tidbits for 2021 Week 15

  • Bird Folder: Name new folders after random birds in macOS. Stupid, yet brilliant.
  • Dolt: SQL database that you can fork, clone, branch, merge, push and pull just like a git repository. I want ro use this off something.
  • Typewriter: Markdown editor for macOS and iOS with syntax highlighting and live preview support.
  • Wormhole: share files with end-to-end encryption and a link that automatically expires.
tidbits
April 6, 2021

Brent Simmons on The Perfect To-Do System

Brent Simmons, on inessential.com:

[…] these apps are all going to take more constant input from you than you’d wish for. They don’t take away the need for some amount of self-discipline to use them effectively.

Aww crap. So true.

After a month in Reminders, I’m considering going back to Things — but not after discovering (duh) that I currently don’t have a habit for reviewing tasks. My task manager is a black hole where tasks go to die.

If I really have to do it, I remember or react to another input. The only category of items that make me visit my task manager are my payment reminders. Which could be calendar items, only if I don’t forget about them.

What to do? What to do.

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April 3, 2021

BrakeCODE’s Drive Image Suspend Cloud Service

blog.brakecode.com:

DISCS is a new feature of BrakeCODE that allows you to seamlessly suspend cloud compute instances to disk in order to save on cloud vendor cost. This service is useful for instances that don’t need to run 24/7 yet are ones that would benefit from maintaining state […]

I have a few scripts that deal with images which run so much better from hosted instances - compared to my 100mb internet. Current I delete and restore an images in Linode once a month to run them, but this seems like a way more efficient solution. Will try it out soon.

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March 25, 2021

Iterations Are Bets

I’m a practitioner of continued iteration, a believer that perfect is the enemy of good. You need to start your project with something basic, solid, workable. Iterate from there to an MVP, and then grow it to a full product.

Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how many times you iterate, you never reach that point. I haven’t found a rule to objectively identify this is happening. In my experience, you get a gut feeling after enough iterations that there’s no further breakthrough in the horizon — and you still don’t have the solid baseline you need.

You suddenly accept that any further iteration will result in small improvements, and decreasing returns for your efforts gives you once certainty: you will not arrive at your target delivery date with your expected solution.

I write this not looking into the past with nostalgia, but after a long day. One of my projects ran into this fate. I know that I could push the project forward. But the project cannot iterate itself out of this path. In a year, even two, a reboot will be necessary.

When this happens, you have to remember to let go of sunken cost. The best thing to do is to turn the ship around quickly. Accept blame and review the steps taken with the new insight. You will find a past iteration that’s workable — and fork from there.

March 24, 2021

Simple Hyper Key App For macOS

Ryan Hanson on ryanhansondev.medium.com:

A common solution for this problem is to remap a key (often caps lock) to the hyper key”: a combination of shift, control, option, and command. Since this modifier key combination is very unlikely to be taken by shortcuts in any application, it collectively becomes an extra modifier key. My take on this solution is a single purpose app called Hyperkey.

I’ve been looking at setting up a hyper key for a while, and although there are many options, I’d shied away of the configuration. After a day of playing with this app, I’m sold.

I set it up as the right command key for now. In combination with Alfred, the freedom to move many obtuse key combos to simple ones is great.

A few of the key combos I’ve created/moved:

Shortcut Action
right ⌘ + o Opens/Hide Obsidian
right ⌘ + 1 Opens Finder in 1 Projects folder
right ⌘ + 2 Opens Finder in 2 Areas folder
right ⌘ + y Add file to Yoink
right ⌘ + m Copy markdown link with Hook
right ⌘ + c Copy link with Hook

The list will likely grow over the next few weeks, but I have drank the hyper key kool-aid for sure.

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March 23, 2021

Tell Me a Little Bit More

In this time-compressed work era, many go straight to the ask. Requesting the feature, fix, report, or expected solution from the start.

But sometimes it’s worth flipping this around and trying to understand what is the pain point. Asking for more information — not as a deterrent on the request, but with genuine curiosity — can be a powerful tool.

Tell me a little bit more is the best phrasing for it that I’ve found. It’s a friendly way of asking why multiple times, and the opposite of how hostile staying quiet to extract more information is. Yet it serves the same objective: giving you a chance to better understand the problem to solve it.

And while delivering a solution is good, solving a problem is better.

March 22, 2021

Tidbits for 2021 Week 12

  • Mac Mouse Fix: my favorite mouse utility is now an App that works great with Big Sur.
  • UTM: QEMU frontend for M1 Macs. Looks nice and it uses Apple’s Hypervisor virtualization framework to run ARM64 OSs. Will look at this with some bash scripts I need to work on soon.
  • Bookfeed.io: RSS feed of all newly released books from your favorite authors. Subscribed.
  • xbar: a BitBar reboot for the Mac menubar with hundreds of plugins.
  • DisplayBuddy: Control external displays from your Mac menu bar. No M1 version yet.
  • Scan Thing: fun scanner that lets extract objects, text, images from the real world for iOS and Mac.
  • Aqueux: OS X Tiger inspired collection of dynamic wallpapers, for desktop & mobile. Instant purchase.
tidbits
March 22, 2021

The New Tool Trap

Don’t change tools to fix a problem. Change tools because you need to reset your workflow, or you want to optimize some process — but never bet that changing the tool will fix what’s wrong. In most cases, problems have nothing to do with the tool. Sure, a new tool or service can help you reduce friction or better distribute it. But any problem you are blaming on your tool is more likely related to workflows, poorly defined tasks, or… you.

As someone who loves tools, utilities, apps, software, services, alphas, betas, etc, I have zero moral authority to suggest not to try any new tool. But be aware not only of what you’re really changing but also why.

Let me put it this way: if you’re fat, changing your shirt can help you feel better or start a new habit. But it won’t magically make you lose weight. The tool comes along for the journey, but it has little to do with the destination.

Also, remember there’s a cost when changing your workflow, and if it’s higher than the benefits of the switch, then you’re going to end up in a worse spot.

Finally, be careful with how specialized your new tool is, or the level of abstraction from real data it removes you to. Unless you want to be easily replaced by AI or machine learning, then your job and workflow should be continuously changing. Anything close to a perfect system means that you –at the top of it — are yet another tool that can be to be optimized.

March 21, 2021

Humanist Optimist

Had a fun afternoon listening to a member of the previous generation argue against: vaccines, GMO crops, mass food production — among others.

Since we were invited I practiced my best listening skills, trying not to fill story blanks with common knowledge and accepting factoids to reach a bit farther in my attempt to understand. Even with the healthy dose of skepticism 2020 injected into many of us, my brain kept yelling fact check! fact check!.

However, apart of the teeny tiny detail of facts, I also noticed a difference in our priorities. And neither of us was wrong. I just realized I’m a humanist at his point in my life: meaning, humans come first. All 8 billions of us.

Earth, the Moon, Mars, asteroids, each will be consumed at the service of the species. Not fair or pretty, just the way it is.

Yes, we can be cleaner, more efficient, less cruel. But humans come first. I’m not trying to convince anyone right now, it was the realization that this is the first principle filter I apply to arguments and ideas.

I’m very sure 20 years ago, I didn’t have this mindset. So good luck to whomever is going to listen to my crap in 20 years.

March 20, 2021
To Be Taught, If Fortunate
5/5

 

To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers

I read this at the beginning of the pandemic last year. It’s a sci-fi story, but not set up in a soap opera or too distant future. It is not disconnected from our current timeline. Actually it has surprising, but fairly probable realities. The characters have depth and their behavior is believable. And as usual with great sci-fi there’s no bad guy. Exemplefied but my favorite quote of the book:

We should’ve known better, as students of the universe. There’s no escaping entropy.

As 2020 progressed and SpaceX launches continued, the possibility of a space faring future and certainly future. Like this is seems again possible. It’s a book I’ve been whose overall feeling has been in the back of my mind.

I’ll likely start one of Becky Chambers other books soon and can easily recommend To Be Taught, If Fortunate as a great weekend read.

March 19, 2021

Macintosh Application Environment

aux-penelope.com:

As A/UX development was winding down, Apple was working on another project called the Macintosh Application Environment. This was an emulator that allowed users to run Mac software under Sun’s Solaris or Hewlett Packard’s HP-UX. A great deal of A/UX technology went into the design of this ill-fated product. This page is a pictorial tribute to the Macintosh Application Environment, running under Solaris 8 on an Ultra 10 workstation.

Never knew this existed. Can imagine an alternate reality where a dying Apple tries to survive as a friendly UI layer on top of Linux in the late 90’s.

snippets
February 22, 2021

Daily Index Cards with Daily Numbering

Using the same numbering format for digital and analog organizing seemed like a given compatibility requirement for me. But by just changing the numbering of my index cards to Julian Date and making their sorting magnitudes easier, my workflow has improved. The usefulness of these low-effort analog notes add value because they help me make better and easier digital notes with what I identified in the previous step.

Julian DatesJulian Dates

Logical dates like ISOs YYYY-MM-DD work great for files and folders. But on loose pieces of pages with my terrible handwriting1, the system breaks down quickly. There’s also a lot of additional information that is not useful in the moment: year and month are easy enough, but it’s 6 characters (plus 2 separators) more than I need when: 1) creating the note, and 2) sorting them.

On 2) sorting, is where the simple D format2 shines: try to quick sort pieces of paper by date (2021-02-19, 2021-01-30, 2021-02-1) vs by number (50,30,32) and notice which one you finish faster. You can argue that dates allow you to sort and classify, because when you need to check on a day’s note you’d have to convert from the Julian date calendar — and you’re right.

Here’s the thing: I’m hardly going back to these notes. I’m storing them, yes. But they are just a step above sticky notes. I’m drawing on them in meetings, making quick lists, writing an important concept or something I didn’t understand. Their value is in creating a visual reminder of where my thoughts were at the time of writing — not so much as document of record.

These notes have really helped me on my shutdown and startup routines, and extracting the most important items from days. That’s it.


  1. Anything beyond 3 digits becomes unreadable — evident by the fact that I didn’t need to blackout anything on the photo, since my handwriting is encrypted even to me↩︎

  2. Formally Day of year (numeric) D in the Unicode #35 standard, it’s a non-issue to get the date from iOS shortcuts, Alfred or even use them in Obsidian.↩︎

Productivity