Tidbits for 2021 Week 18
- Artbox 2: store kids art iOS app.
- 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.
Made a new markdown bookmarklet that:
I find it funny that my preferred Markdown Link format changes with my tools.
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.snippets
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.snippets
My wishlist for tomorrow’s event:
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.
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.
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:
It's cool that Spotify is getting into hardware with the Car Thing, but who is this product for?— Matt Ronge (@mronge) April 14, 2021
• New cars have CarPlay or Android Audio.
• In older cars, use a phone mount on the vent
Car Thing needs a phone to work anyway, so it's not like it avoids that hassle.🤔 pic.twitter.com/HJZrIUUI5r
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.
Now we know why they were looking for harware talent a few years back.↩︎
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.snippets
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.snippets
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.snippets
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.
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 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:
||Opens Finder in 1 Projects folder|
||Opens Finder in 2 Areas folder|
||Add file to Yoink|
||Copy markdown link with Hook|
||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.snippets
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Logical dates like ISO’s
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 (
2021-02-1) vs by number (
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.
Ben Brooks, on
Things and OmniFocus make for shitty reminder tools. They aren’t built for it. They are built for workflows, for managing tasks, projects, and tackling complexity with complex and flexible tooling. They are the JIRA of the personal task management world.
This prompted me to move to Reminders for the next few weeks. I’ve been struggling with Things for a while — nothing to do with the app, it still is one of the best designed iOS apps with the best backend sync engine.
But my love affair with Obsidian has changed my tasks/projects flow considerably. Now it’s Obsidian what I open to figure out today’s tasks, or sort what’s the plan for the week. And in the duality of project management use, Things was being left behind.
I’ve tried using the stock Reminders app since its last update a few times, but it has never stuck.
There’s an additional source of imbalance in the force: Fantastical. I’ve become a calendar worker; peers and superiors now look at my calendar to set meetings. Timeboxed work sessions have appeared out of necessity rather than philosophy. So what?
Fantastical has reminders support, which I’ve stayed away until now — because I didn’t want to dilute my tasks inputs into yet-another-bucket. But if the same bucket can have multiple interfaces, that seems like a workable compromise.
Let’s see how this three body problem turns out.snippets
Through the ways only a 5 year old can orchestrate, Robie ended up with a very old Timex digital watch yesterday. First thing he did was feature compare against my Apple Watch — took me a while to convince him that the indiglo backlight was actually a superior technology than an OLED screen.
Next, we arrived at the question of time. The marvel of his watch, my watch, my iPhone – all having the same time. But the magic ended abruptly when he asked about the analog kitchen wall watch…
Robie: “Why is it 7:05 and not 7:00 like ours?”
Me: “Dunno, your mom likes it that way”.
Ana: “I don’t like it that way, it just loses time”.
Me: (mumbling as we go up the stairs) “she does like it that way”.
Robie: (throughout his bath, bedtime story, and light-off) “But, is it a different time like when we travel? if it isn’t why can’t you fix it? why can it be wrong?.
As I write this, I can say the kitchen wall watch time has been synched with the Apple Servers — and I have so say… it does feel right.Parenthood
For 2021 — and my 40th birthday in Sept — I kicked the year with some aggressive experimentation inspired by Everyday Systems and the Atomic Habits book. The objective of which is to create new habits that help me level up by my fourth decade.
An everyday system, as defined by its mastermind Reinhard Engels, is
[…] a simple, commonsense solution to an everyday problem, grounded by a pun or metaphor.
This has worked surprisingly well, and even outlasted the usual honeymoon period after which all new year’s resolutions go to die.
Below my current list of systems and their compliance state:
I’m loosely tracking all of this with Pixelist - Habit Tracker app for iOS. I will deprecate the fails and play with the gaps to improve compliance for February.
User Jeffamazon , 4 months ago on reddit.com:
You know Citadel? The MM that took all our money today? Well now we finally won’t be at the mercy of the MMs. Instead, we’re going to temporarily join forces with the Galactic Empire and hijack the death star.
Our choice of weapon… $GME.
The posts was mix and match of many ideas at the time — the poster even says so — but as kick off document it has everything:
And it closes with a direct association to make the concept stick:
TL;DR: $GME is vastly oversold.
GME is TSLA one year ago. GME is AAPL in 2017. Add to that the greatest short burn you’ll see in history, and you’re in for a hell of a show.
Don Melton, on his blog:
Is Windows as elegant or easy as macOS? Hell no. But it works fine for typical tasks and, really, it’s ideal for gaming and transcoding. The real surprise is its flexibility as a development platform. Didn’t see that one coming.
Don is started the Safari and WebKit projects at Apple, and is someone I admire and enjoy listening to. So I’ll get down my high horse for a while about Windows PCs.snippets
Nice looking keyboard from satechi.net:
Apple users in mind, the keyboard features a full QWERTY layout, multi-device Bluetooth connection, and macOS function keys — all with a smaller, more compact size.
I’m patiently waiting for my Keychron K3 Ultra-slim — but alongside a new iMac, a dark keyboard is a must for me.snippets
Mark Gurman on bloomberg.com:
The new models will slim down the thick black borders around the screen and do away with the sizable metal chin area in favor of a design similar to Apple’s Pro Display XDR monitor. These iMacs will have a flat back, moving away from the curved rear of the current iMac.
One of these will be on my home office (closet) by the end of the year.snippets
A quick look back at the software and hardware that I feel made a significant difference this crazy year. Neither an exhaustive list, nor representative of what I used the most — simply a nod to those items that brought me some joy.
While I have a history of falling heads of heals for new software, it’s been a long time since an app so completely changed my workflows — and even my setup. I expect Obsidian to continue to influence how I work and play digitally in 2021.
Hook: right now it’s mostly a suplemental app to Obsidian. Hook enables me to easily create links to anything in my file system and paste them in a text file. Although a single feature utility at the moment, I see its use growing as my workflow moves away from app silos into a linked file and folder system.
TextSniper: during the 4 months I worked on the MacBook Air 13in screen, I spent a lot of time optimizing my movement across apps. This simple OCR app removed a small but continued friction point: carefully selecting text and cleaning up before the next stop. Seems silly, but I realized I would be in a flow and suddenly would have to slow down to carefully copy some text somewhere (HTML link, PDF, screenshot on bug report) before continuing.
Four months into the quarantine, I broke down and started to look for a monitor. Of course I would have loved a retina display, but Apple doesn’t sell the iMac’s 27in 5k display as a stand alone monitor. I initially worried about a 24in monitor with the same pixel count (2560 x 1440) as the 27in one I have at work — the contrary happened: the lower pixel density of the larger display now looks funny. Add the 1 cable USB C charging/connection and additional USB Type A ports, and this has become my favorite monitor ever.
Standing Desk Converter: while I’m linking to the one I bought, my recognition is mostly to the concept of standing desks. My health would have been suffered if I had not used this on the dinner table table for 7 months.
Microsoft Precision Mouse: I initially bought the Space Grey Magic Mouse — which is the one I’ve used at work for some years. But after a week, my wrist pain was considerable1, so I search for classically ergonomic mouse. Since the Logitech MX3 wasn’t available, I went for this Microsoft one and the pain was gone the next day2.
My theory is that at the office I have a lot more interruptions/breaks than I thought, which allows the wrist to rest.↩︎
I should mention it does seem to have some bluetooth conflict with my Keychron keyboard, but I haven’t been able to pinpoint who’s to blame since they work together fine on the iPad and the 2015 MacBook Pro.↩︎
ircrp on reddit.com:
- Navigate to brave://rewards/
- Scroll all the way down and press on the settings button of Tips section
- Untick the Reddit option (and all the other ones you desire)
- Restart the browser
This was driving crazy, seems they added it recently for Github, and since Brave is my work browser — I had to stare at the tip/rewards icon it injected on every comment.snippets
Peter Davison-Reiber on polymaths.blog:
Jon L. Jacobi, on techhive.com:
As I’ve said several times now, the Wyze headphones are super comfortable and do a stellar job of shutting off the sound from the outside world. They sound good if not great in that mode, and very good when not cancelling noise. Head to head, I’d give a slight nod to the aforementioned WH-XB900n’s in terms of sound. Then again, the Sony’s are four times the price. $50.
Wyze is going for the Uniqlo of smart products, and as the owner of several of them, I think they’re on their way.snippets
Horace Dediu, on www.asymco.com:
And so I’m writing this post on a Mac. The graph you see above was created on the Mac. It’s possible to do all this my iPad and even on my iPhone but it would be harder. But I’m also willing to bet you’re reading this on a phone.
And that’s the crux of it. The PC is still the machine of choice for authoring while the device is the machine of choice for consuming and consuming will always be more popular. What the iPad has done is taken a share of PC use and in my case I do use it for some tasks like email a lot more frequently. The theory would suggest that the iPad will continue its upward trajectory while the PC would abandon the low end.
I subscribe to this reality. While I rather take my MacBook over my iPhone or iPad if taken to a deserted island, my wife has switched most of her work to an 2018 iPad Pro with Brydge keyboard. It was initially out of necessity — her MacBook Pro was in Costa Rica while we were in the US — but it was enough to change her workflow.
The M1 Macs have push out/up that tipping point for me, but overall the bar has been raised, and that’s a great thing.snippets
Howard Oakley, on eclecticlight.co:
But above performance, battery life and heat production is usability. The M1 Mac’s new Recovery Mode is already in a different league from Intel Macs when it comes to usability. For me, that’s one of the most compelling reasons to buy an M1 model.
If it weren’t for the international shipping and taxes, I would have ordered an M1 Mac Mini.snippets
Jon von Tetzchner on vivaldi.com/blog/:
We are excited for you to test the new Vivaldi Mail. Some people fondly call it M3 and there is a bit of history to this that I’ll share later.
In fact, I’d admit that one of the reasons for Vivaldi’s existence is to provide a browser with a built-in email client. And today we have the first glimpse of it.
The cornerstone of Vivaldi is the database. All your mails from all your accounts are indexed, therefore searchable offline. If you prefetch your mails, we index all the content of the mails as well even before they are opened.
Used to love Opera’s M2 — even became an annoying purist that wouldn’t open internal mails that weren’t plain text while I worked there.
Then the convenience of Gmail won me over. But many mail clients later (currently Superhuman), I’m always game to try a new old one.snippets
Luc Beaudoin, on hookproductivity.com:
Hook will soon fully support Obsidian. That means you’ll be able to invoke Hook in the context of an Obsidian document and use Hook’s handy
Copy Markdown Link,
Hook to Copied Link, and other functions.
Great news. Both apps have become critical in my workflow during the past 6 months. Right now they work together with a bit of friction — still totally worth the effort.snippets
Alex Barredo, on apple.substack.com:
I’m using my faulty crystal ball, of course, but imagine a 2022 Apple laptop line up of: MacBook with M3 for $999, and the then two-year old MacBook with M1 for $849 (say $799 for schools?). Going lower means more buyers, and Apple computers can last for 5-7 years instead of iPhones mere average lifespan of 2-3 years.
Fun and thoughtful crystal ball. For sure the Mac’s release calendar and lineup is going to through some big changes.snippets