February 14, 2021
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.
February 12, 2021
The Right Time
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.
January 31, 2021
State of the Habits - January
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:
- HIIT Man: Define myself as a High-Intensity Interval Training person so I practice it more.
- With a target of 5 min first week, and 10 the 2nd. I’m already at 15min a day of T-Handle Kettlebell exercises.
- Zero Coke Zero: No Coke’s or Dr. Pepper’s during the weekdays.
- Surprisingly easy once I replaced it with club soda with half a squeezed lemon.
- Mind the joy: Be aware and in control of the hundreds of joyful moments through out the day.
- Direct result of reading Flow last year, and probably the single most important lifehack I’ve done in the last 5 years.
- An Errand a Day: Tackle the personal tasks lists.
- Just do one, it’s adds up quickly.
- Bipedal mobility: I can get there walking.
- Another one for the toolbox. Not an everyday thing, but I’ve exchanged a couple of 5 minute drives, for 30 min walks.
- localhost pillow: Once the head hits the pillow, no browsing the internet.
- Not the same as being offline — video streaming is allowed for example. But no wondering without intent on the web.
- DoerEats: Cook something.
- Instead of just making a sandwich, I’ve cooked a few evening omelets to put a check on this.
- Motion & Action: Don’t get stuck in planning, execute something.
- For side-projects and personal stuff, I overthink instead of experimenting and iterating from there. It has felt good to have this on the agenda daily.
- No S Diet: No snacks, sweets, seconds, except (sometimes) on days that start with “S”.
- Another of Reinhard Engels creatures. Having some trouble with too many Special days with Ana, but still more days on it than off it.
- Walkabout: Whenever I get stuck on something walk it off™.
- Not an everyday thing, but it has been useful tool to have.
- Inward Thinking: When there’s something nagging me, give me time to explore it.
- You know that thought that leads you to a rabbit hole? sit quickly without anything electronic in reach, and follow it.
- Compound reading: Remember to read stuff that adds something, whoever small.
- This is the same as opening Instapaper instead of twitter. Not doing so great.
- Weekend Luddite: Avoid my devices on weekends (Breakfast to Dinner)
- Currently at 50% compliance, next weekend breaks or makes the trend.
- Writing session: Set time and either write or just sit there.
- Not working, need to reframe it on habit stack it differently.
- Pleasure reading: Read what makes me happy.
- Having conflicts with compound reading I think.
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.
January 30, 2021
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.
This story is complex and has many angles, but what interest me is the clarity of the initial post, and the update a month later.
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:
- Reason to believe
- Risk contingency (what could go wrong)
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.
January 25, 2021
Tidbits for 2021 Week 4
- Hush: Block nags to accept cookies and privacy invasive tracking in Safari on Mac, iPhone and iPad.
- Iconduck: thousands of downloadable open source icons and illustrations.
- Noo: map mouse buttons and multi-touch gestures to keys.
- Cycles: another simple timer made in swiftui.
- Gitify: GitHub notifications on the menu bar for Mac/Win/Linux.
- spotter: open source launcher for macOS.
- yabai: Another tiling window management for the Mac. I might try this one.
- Haste: Web search app for macOS. Good option if you don’t use LaunchBar or Alfred.
- TV Forecast: Pretty TV shows tracker and explorer for iOS.
January 18, 2021
Tidbits for 2021 Week 3
- Whirl: iPad app for ephemeral sketching.
- Spaceman: View your Spaces / Virtual Desktops number or name in the menu bar.
- Analog: Beautiful paper card based productivity system.
- CotEditor: Swift Plain-Text Editor for macOS.
January 17, 2021
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.
January 15, 2021
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.
January 15, 2021
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.
January 11, 2021
Tidbits for 2021 Week 2
- Unclack: macOS utility that mutes your microphone while you type.
- OpenIn.app: macOS application for smart link handling for browsers, emails and files.
- TabFS: browser extension that mounts your browser tabs as a filesystem.
- Apparency: Preview macOS Apps details like Gatekeeper, notarization, hardening, entitlements and more. Includes Quicklook plugin.
- iPreview: Everything geeky Quicklook plugin — since Glance appears to have stopped working.
December 27, 2020
My 2020 Sofware and Hardware of the Year
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.
Software of the year: Obsidian.
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.
Software Runners Up:
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.
Hardware Runners Up
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 considerable, 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 day.
December 27, 2020
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.
December 14, 2020
Tidbits for 2020 Week 50
- Soundore: browser ambient noise generator. Scroll down for more options.
- OneTab: convert all of your tabs into a list, now available for Safari 14.
- Hookshot: macOS Window Snapping with cursor gestures. Trying it out this week.
December 14, 2020
Peter Davison-Reiber on polymaths.blog:
For Things Parser 3 […] I decided to use the popular and well-supported TaskPaper format.
If you use Things and Drafts, this is a must have. May take a bit to get used to the TaskPaper format again, but prefer to use the common format.
December 7, 2020
Tidbits for 2020 Week 49
- text.fish: Useful page reader than can get around some paywalls.
- Ejectify: Automatically unmounts external volumes when your Mac starts sleeping.
- Grist: open-source SQLite-based spreadsheet with Python formulas. I like.
- Radicle: secure peer-to-peer code hosting. This could be the start of something.
November 30, 2020
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.
November 30, 2020
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.
November 30, 2020
Tidbits for 2020 Week 48
- TEXTREME: text processor with crazy effects.
- Is Apple silicon ready?: great resource to check if Apps are universal yet. The more info links are great to see what’s the official word.
- Mail-To-Merge: rudimentary-yet-smart mail merge solution to get you out of a bind.
- Badgen: cool badge generating service.
- Universe app for building websites now available for Mac.
November 29, 2020
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.
November 27, 2020
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.
November 27, 2020
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.
November 22, 2020
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.
November 15, 2020
Andrew Beyer on blog.1password.com:
[…] we’re announcing a new partnership with Privacy.com. 1Password now lets you create virtual cards in your browser to make online payments more safely. You can create as many virtual cards as you need and control where and how they’re used.
Finally got a chance to test this and in works great. Sadly it needs the 1PasswordX plugin — which doesn’t work in Safari — so I need to go out of my workflow to use it. Will see if it’s easer to open my personal Brave profile, rather than opening the Privacy.com app and doing multiple copy/pastes.
November 9, 2020
Tidbits for 2020 Week 45
- TripMode 3: if you work remote on slow internet or with data caps, this is the app to have.
- Raycast: VC backed next-gen launcher with multiple integrations (Github, Google Docs, etc). Very interesting.
- Dendron: open-source markdown notes tool built on top of VSCode.
Note taking is officially a fad. W00t.
- Polar: Integrated reading environment for EPUBs, PDFs, & web pages. Love this new crop of geeky desktop apps.
- Cometeer: Nitro frozen coffee capsules. I’d try this.
October 26, 2020
Tidbits for 2020 Week 43
- Planet eBook: Classic literature publications with better formatting.
- Bongo Cat: Hit the bongos like Bongo Cat! a meme webapp.
- Tinysheet: tiny spreadsheet with minimal functions, easy to use on mobile touchscreen keyboards.
- Pitch presentation in open beta. Beautiful decks for power teams with integrations. Next Gen powerpoint basically.
October 25, 2020
Raman Shalupau, on ksaitor.medium.com:
In this article, I’ll try to recreate the exact timeline of events, the damage, commentary on how this could have happened. I’ll also talk about a few moments that I don’t yet understand (mostly around 2FA) and hope my readers will be able to help me out.
Not much on how it happened, but good reminder that you need to constantly self-audit your security setup. Other than not using Chrome’s password manager, this is not an all too different setup than mine. Curious of wary he finds the attack vector was.
October 19, 2020
Tidbits for 2020 Week 42
- Maestral: A lightweight and open-source Dropbox client for macOS and Linux.
- PiP-it!: workaround YouTube’s iOS App Picture in Picture limitation.
September 23, 2020
Nick Milo’s on the Linking Your Thinking YouTube Channel:
In this video, you’ll learn exactly the simple steps on how to get started with the Obsidian app for note-taking as a complete beginner.
This is the best Obsidian intro video I’ve seen. Subscribed to see how he continues to develop the course. I’m keeping my own Obsidian notes here.
September 22, 2020
Carlos Melegrito’s spanner-app.com is brilliant:
Drag a folder, start a server. Build, then export. Spanner makes using Hugo easier than ever. Less set-up, more mark-up.
This is the push/tool I needed to move some old websites from Persona.co to Hugo.
September 22, 2020
Stefan Reitshamer on arqbackup.com:
So, we decided to implement the entire UI as a “native” UI. It’s got better keyboard navigation, it’s more intuitive, has a smaller disk footprint, and supports drag-and-drop to easily restore files to your desktop or a Finder window. It just feels better.
Happy with the news. Arq 5 with BlackBlaze B2 Is my cloud backup solution — I use Backblaze Unlimited for Ana’s MacBook because it’s simpler. I didn’t initially upgrade to Arq 6 because of the noise around the UI, not that it affected me much, but with backups boring is mostly good.
When Arq 7 is out I’ll do some napkin calculations and consider the move to Arq Premium and streamline my workflow a bit.
September 22, 2020
Tidbits for 2020 Week 38
- Roam-highlighter: Chrome extension to highlight text on page to copy to Roam/Obsidian. Best one I’ve found, hope it comes to Safari 14.
- Nudget: budgeting iOS app with quick entry and multi-currency support.
- Vill Q: macOs software to draw on screen and making screen annotation. Useful for screen-sharing calls.
- Tageslicht: share your iOS camera view on an external display.
September 17, 2020
Amazing Digital Photography course by Marc Levoy:
An introduction to the scientific, artistic, and computing aspects of digital photography. Topics include lenses and optics, light and sensors, optical effects in nature, perspective and depth of field, sampling and noise, the camera as a computing platform, image processing and editing, and computational photography. We will also survey the history of photography, look at the work of famous photographers, and talk about composing strong photographs.
Just getting started on the YouTube videos, but this is amazing.
These 18 videos represent a sequence of lectures on digital photography, from a version of my Stanford course CS 178 that was recorded at Google in Spring 2016.
Marc Levoy is a Standford Professor, the person behind the Google Pixel camera, and is now at Adobe building a camera app. So, he knows photography.
September 14, 2020
Tidbits for 2020 Week 37
- Shareful: Provides any app with a Share button with a Copy, Save, and Open action.
- Lunar: macOS utility to set brightness and volume on external monitors.
September 9, 2020
Sped up footage from an onboard camera during Falcon 9’s launch of the SAOCOM 1B mission — SpaceX’s first launch to a polar orbit from the East Coast.
The angle and sound of this video makes it amazing.
September 7, 2020
Dave Nania, on shirtpocket.com:
In the meantime, my advice for macOS Betas remains as valid as ever: do not install a macOS Beta unless you have a critical business need to do so. These Betas, even when public, are not for general use, and certainly not for anyone who wants a reliable system for day-to-day work.
They don’t even have an alpha yet. I’m excitedly waiting by the fence on macOS 11.0 while things settle down. Catalina has enough personality kinks as it is.
September 1, 2020
Tidbits for 2020 Week 35
- Nessie: extremely simple web browser for Windows, based on the Trident engine.
- Screenotate: screenshot manager for Mac and Windows with OCR.
- BlackHole: virtual audio driver for macOS that allows applications to pass audio to other applications.
- Longplay: iOS music player for those who enjoy listening to entire albums start-to-finish.
- Keysmith: create shortcuts for any string of actions you can do with your mouse and keyboard on macOS.
August 25, 2020
Charlie Belmer on nullsweep.com:
The Kindle is far from the most invasive privacy app I have seen, but it records a lot of behavioral reading information I don’t like. I’ve been trying to get away from the the Kindle ecosystem for the past year or so, and now use Marvin for reading on my iPhone. I no longer use the Kindle device, though I dearly miss e-Ink.
Good reminder. I don’t think this data is used for nefarious reasons, but it does exist.
It makes me a bit uncomfortable also because I like to remove DRM from my books and convert them to ePUB — which I convert back to AWZ. Since sync works across devices on these files, it’s a safe bet that all the data is also stored.
I’ve been eyeing the Kobo e-Ink devices, but until there’s a good ePUB sync solution with iOS.
August 21, 2020
Tidbits for 2020 Week 33
- Isoflow: easy isometric diagrams on the web.
- yFi: get notified, automatically reconnect, or ignore a drop in WiFi TX rate.
- Bluesnooze: Turn BT off when your Mac sleeps, and switched on when your Mac wakes.
- MonitorControl: Control external monitor brightness, contrast or volume on macOS.
- macintosh.js: virtual Apple Macintosh with System 8, running in Electron.
August 21, 2020
Seher Asaf, on businesstraveller.com:
They can choose to book the room for the night for an additional 25,300 Yen ($233); however, guests staying for a night in the twin bed room can’t sit in the pilot’s seat or “touch the instruments”, according to the hotel. A “transparent acrylic board” will separate the cockpit from the room.
No kinky sim stuff then.
August 1, 2020
Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters
This was a powerful read. Racism is both a straight forward and complex subject. A lot of it involves a reality I cannot comprehend because it’s alien to my everyday life. This novel uses the magic of alternate history to peer into that reality.
Story wise it’s a slow burner that eases you into an alternate United States where slavery was never abolished in the south. By the time you’re painted the full picture, shock gives way to sad acceptance how this could have been:
Under the Fugitive Persons Act, those who escape from service are to be captured and returned, anywhere they are found in the United States, slave state or free.
This is an excellent book on its own. But I’ve gone back to that alternate reality a few times over the past month to be a better listener to the recent protests.
July 30, 2020
On Easy Implementations
After a few weeks of pandemic eating, I’m back in intermittent fasting mode. While there are medical benefits for it, the reason IF works for me is the ease of implementation:
- At 6 PM I stop eating until 12 PM the next day. (Minus a coffee with a shot of milk foam for breakfast).
Side benefits are that it curbs my sugar and late night carbs anxiety eating. But when I try to do it the other way around — no chocolate after a healthy dinner — I fail.
The simple implementation can generate other desirable behaviors that would require more complex rules — if you wanted to define the same outcome in the requirements.
Something similar happens with working with a standing desks. It is not that standing is better than seating. For me, it is harder to stand incorrectly for long periods of time, than to slouch in my chair for much longer.
I get tired standing up, which makes me move, then I sit, then I get bored and stand up again. This is a better behavior based on designing my workplace around standing.
These has been a couple of successful cases, I have a lot more failures (doing push-ups before brushing teeth comes to mind). There’s no right one-size-fits-all with lifehacks, because our life’s are different. We are left to experiment, observe results, and try again.
July 27, 2020
On Lack of Control
Mornings are my most difficult time to be a parent. I’ve always been a late sleeper, which makes the 5-6am Daddy, Daddy call challenging. On top of that, I fall into a bad mood as a result for the rest of the ante meridiem activities.
My cheap psychology theory is that even when the kids wake me up at the time I was expected to - the lack of control over it sets me off.
This might me a similar feeling my own team experiences when I call them with a fire at any point throughout the day. It says a lot of their attitude that they haven’t replied with a expletive yet, because there been days I’m ready to throw one of my little treasures out the window at 6am.