July 21, 2020

On the Contents Page and Pages of Content

Receiving a Wired Magazine in the late 90’s provided me with hours of restrained entertainment. The ritual began by inspecting every page of the issue from start to finish — regardless of the cover.

Physical magazines have an index, but its UX doesn’t require you to choose an article to get started. The experience invites browsing.

This mindset is missing from the a la carte on-demand infinite availability nowadays.

I try to make the effort to mentally switch view modes from an streaming river to something closer to a bookshelf — where the content is not going away, and is available to pick back up. This helps me reduce the anxiety of the paradox of choice, and even adding enjoyment to wasting time.

July 20, 2020

Tidbits for 2020 Week 29

  • Camo: Use your iPhone or iPad as a pro webcam.
  • Cascable Pro: Use your DSLR or mirrorless camera as a webcam using just USB or WiFi.
tidbits
July 20, 2020
Loserthink: How Untrained Brains Are Ruining America
★★★☆☆

Loserthink: How Untrained Brains Are Ruining America by Scott Adams

I did not enjoy reading this book, but it was a good mental exercise. It kept reminding me of light Jordan Peterson — which is not a bad thing, but not what I expected.

The book has useful pockets of knowledge and anecdotes. But every few pages it can’t seem to avoid reminding that he know better than you , which while probably true, becomes annoying.

Why read it then? because now is an important time to read things that challenge you and makes you uncomfortable. In this sense, it’s worth a read.

However, if you haven’t read How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big, read that one first. This one suffers from too many as I said on my other book, which doesn’t allow it to stand on its own.

July 19, 2020

Rain or Shine

Weather means different things in different cultures. In Norway they say there’s no bad weather, just bad clothing — which I learned the first time I cancelled a morning run because it was raining.

Back in Venezuela, cancelling would have been normal, because if it wasn’t sunny you’d wait half an hour, and the weather will be fine again.

In Scandinavia you can’t do this because then you might never be able to exercise. They take weather out of the equation because it affects the outcome so much. In the tropics we leave it because it doesn’t.

Makes me wonder if there’s a major element of my everyday life that I should ignore, and get better clothing for.

July 19, 2020

Alternative to Note-Taking Apps

Akkshaya Varkhedi on akkshaya.blog:

After battling with so many apps only to feel guilty for not having the discipline to consistently use them, I’ve finally resorted to the most personal and easy alternative ⁠— writing things down.

Well, that’s a crazy idea. Totally valid points in the post though. I just think that throwing everything into a bucket and let the computer figure it out is going to win in the end.

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July 18, 2020

On Crashing Waves

When swimming on a beach with big waves, you fall into cadence in response to each. Whatever works for one wave can be repeated for a whole set, but always one will come that’s different enough that it requires you change your strategy.

You can dip under, swim towards, or maybe even swim back to the beach to catch it. It depends on the wave, your position, your level of energy, etc. With a major force like the ocean, you must adapt — there’s no negotiation.

Sometimes you miscalculate, and you’re literally sweep off your feet. Remember, you can’t fight the wave — you must remain calm a let it carry you. And always keep in the back your mind that once you get out this… there’s another wave behind the current one.

July 17, 2020

Planning and Deadlines

Planning is wishful thinking, which is why optimist make terrible delivery estimates. Pessimists are always able to hit the target from afar better.

But fixing an optimist estimate by multiplying by two, is too simplistic. A better fix is something IT departments do all the time: not give estimates. Brilliant buzzwords like agile and sprints mostly allow us to get away with it.

The actual solution is simple: deadlines. You can get philosophical about planning, waterfall, sprints, etc. But if a products has to be live on a certain day, all BS goes out the window, and a minimum viable product plan will appear.

Deadlines are the reality check most plans need. And just like a meeting without an agenda, you should never one without the other.

July 16, 2020

Corner Cases Are How They Get You

Twitter’s hack yesterday was a serious issue, and signs point to an internal support tool as the vector to the attack. These non-technical attacks are usually attributed to a security lapse with a dose human error. But the core cause always relates to complex processes and systems abstraction to deal with them.

This is not a defense. The attack was luckily used for financial gain, but a similar attack targeting an election day or a tense international situation wouldn’t be a joke. I don’t envy being support at Twitter. You are a global target and especially when WFM, the attacks surfaces are even larger.

I’m very curious to read the post-mortem, hopefully with some related investigative piece. For sure it’ll read like a heist movie script.

July 15, 2020

On Mind Time Travel

I decided not to post today. To break the streak because I was tired/busy/uninspired — and I felt sad. Then I edited a mess of a draft to uncover something postable, and felt immediately better.

The challenge is to time travel the mind to the near future to remember this. To remember the near future when this too shall pass, and I’ll feel better after getting through the day.

But it but it’s hard to remember the future.

July 14, 2020

On Job Descriptions

Q: What do you do?
A: What needs to be done.

This answer sounds like an end of world movie title, but it can also be a typical job description — which few mention on LinkedIn. It also is a sign of a troubled organization.

Doing whatever needs doing implies that either: 1) you have enough clarity and perspective in your organization to correctly assess the needs, or 2) another person has these qualities and does it for you.

In most cases neither scenario is real. The needs of many agendas fill your inbox, and it’s only when you are at capacity, and one of the actual priorities gets delayed that a clear signal breaks through the noise to set it straight. Which still describes a working organization.

Yet, how many non-priority, misunderstood and plain wrong tasks consume time and effort before you reach capacity? How can these corrections of priorities happen more fluently?

Somewhere in the middle of what needs to be done and I just work here, lies the answer.

July 13, 2020

On the Speed of Consumption

Looking at a painting to remember it, to analyze it, or hoping that it awakens something in you1 — are very different activities.

I’m able to listen at up to 2x to podcasts with information I want to skim  . But on other podcasts want to savor the discussion. To be part of the conversation in my head, requiring the pause to assemble my ideas.

Same with books — on many, I want to enjoy each line, but others make want to tell the writer to hurry along, to get to the point. Which thanks to the marvel of reading doesn’t require changing the text in front of you — just how you engage with it.

The amazing variety of content nowadays makes it impossible to define the correct way of consuming any of it. The question then becomes: do you want to expose yourself to as much as possible — risking misunderstanding it, or invest in acquiring fewer content, but of the best quality.

I’ve answered this very differently over the last 20 years, but the overall trend is to use each of these methods as tools — and not be a purist about either corner.


  1. Community reference.↩︎

July 13, 2020

Tidbits for 2020 Week 28

  • Nudget: clean looking budgeting app for iOS.
  • Mimestream: fast native Gmail client for macOS. Impressive.
  • Mumu: better macOS emoji picker.
tidbits
July 12, 2020

Big Sur Disk Size Use

Howard Oakley, on eclecticlight.co:

Even for a beta, Big Sur has a voracious appetite for disks: as one leading developer, Jeff Johnson of @lapcatsoftware, discovered, when updating from the first to the second beta, macOS swelled to 27 GB in size. This is the result of its use of snapshots.

I did iOS 14 and iPad 14 Public Beta over the weekend. Will likely hold on Big Sur for a while longer.

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July 12, 2020

iA Writer Style Check

From ia.net:

Style Check is like a having a personal editor-in-chief on your device, carefully reviewing your text for redundancies, clichés and filler words as you type.

A local Grammarly. Going back to IA Writer for my non-existing longer posts.

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July 12, 2020
Shift (Silo #2)
★★★★★

Shift (Silo #2) by Hugh Howey

Amazing sequel. Didn’t know what to expect, which made the surprise even more enjoyable. It’s a continuation of the original story is coherent way — without being a rehash. Managing to give more than simple clues about the origin of the universe created, without ruining the mystery.

Being the second book in a trilogy is always hard because it can sometimes fell like any weak plot point is there as a filler. While this book doesn’t stand on its own (no one said it should) it’s a strong bridge to the last one.

July 2, 2020

How Big Sur Version Number Could Break Code

Howard Oakley, on eclecticlight.co:

[…] Big Sur is either 10.16.0 or 11.0.0, depending on where you look. If your conditional code has only been checking for minor version numbers, then it would see Catalina as 15, but Big Sur could be either 16 or 0 depending on how Apple numbers it. If the major version has indeed incremented for the first time in the last 20 years or so, and Big Sur turns out to be 11.0.0, then anything which assumes that this minor version number will be greater than 15 will break.

Something to consider if your hacks start actions weird on the new macOS.

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June 29, 2020

Tidbits for 2020 Week 26

  • HighTop: quick file access from MenuBar of local folders, Google Drive, or Dropbox.
tidbits
June 26, 2020

Jason Snell Thoughts on WWDC 2020 Keynote

Jason Snell, on sixcolors.com:

The truth is probably that the future of the Mac is as a pro” version of iOS and iPadOS. It’ll run more or less every app that’s available on the iPhone and iPad, but it’ll also run traditional Mac software. Over time, the distinction between iPad apps and Mac apps will begin to fade away entirely, and the Mac will just become a keyboard-and-trackpad mode of the iPad.

Busy week, so I was only able to consume on the news. But Jason’s take is the one the better looks at the future.

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June 22, 2020

Tidbits for 2020 Week 25

  • Spotlight: quickly switch tabs, search history, bookmarks, downloads in Chrome. $19 but looks sweet.
  • Iceberg: markdown writing editor for the WordPress block editor. $49.
  • Grayscale: menu bar app to easily toggle the grayscale display filter.
  • Codye: present code in 180 languages with themes on iOS and macOS.
  • Excalidraw: whiteboard tool to sketch diagrams with a hand-drawn feel to them.
tidbits
June 18, 2020

Om Malik on Dropbox

Om Malik on om.co:

I don’t blame Dropbox going the way they have — they are less about the individual customers and more focused on teams and corporations. That’s where the money is — and when you go public, you are all about the quarterly goals.” You don’t go public without knowing that Wall Street owns you.

I literally couldn’t said it best yesterday. But Om closes with an intriguing question:

I wonder why Backblaze doesn’t offer a simple syncing service?

I use Backblaze Backup for Ana’s Mac, and their B2C hosting for my Arq-based solution. I’d totally be into a Backblaze macOS/iOS/API sync thingy.

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June 18, 2020

Steve Blank on the Coming Chip Wars

Steve Blank’s excellent write up on the geopolitics of processors on the 21st century — steveblank.com:

Controlling advanced chip manufacturing in the 21st century may well prove to be like controlling the oil supply in the 20th. The country that controls this manufacturing can throttle the military and economic power of others.

​This is a fight that has already started, and we’re already living the tectonic shifts it caused. ​The outcome is far from certain, and if it doesn’t seem it might affect you… just look around for any electronic device.

The chips that TSMC makes are found in almost everything: smartphones (i.e. Apple iPhones), high-performance computing platforms, PCs, tablets, servers, base stations and game consoles, Internet-connected devices like smart wearables, digital consumer electronics, cars, and almost every weapon system built in the 21st century. Around 60% of the chips TSMC makes are for American companies.

[…]

In May 2020 TSMC announced it was going to build a $12 billion foundry in Arizona to make some of its most advanced chips. Foundries take at least three years to build and the most expensive factories on earth. Construction on TSMCs facility is planned to start in 2021, but actual chip production will not start until 2024.

The USA-centric geek in me will now cringe at not realizing how Intel’s fall from grace plays into all of this:

China is spending over a hundred billion dollars to become a world leader in developing their semiconductor industry.

​Much more details in the post, worth a read.

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June 17, 2020

This Morning Walk

Libby Delana on youtube.com:

I started walking, every morning over 8 years ago and haven’t stopped. Walking, for me, has been my way back to myself, a practice that brings me home.

This I must.

She wrote about it on Fast Company a few days ago also.

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June 16, 2020

Dropbox Password Manager, File Vault and Family Plan Announced

New products and features announced on blog.dropbox.com:

Dropbox Passwords:

The Passwords app saves your passwords in one safe place and autofills them so you can instantly sign in to websites and apps.

Dropbox Vault:

Using a PIN for secure access, Vault provides an extra layer of security for all your important personal files like insurance cards, passports, and housing documents. Files are organized in the cloud and accessible from any device.

Dropbox Family:

Dropbox Family lets up to six members share 2 TB of storage and have their own individual account views—under one plan with one bill. Members can create shared spaces to make content easily accessible to the whole family and each member has their own private space for personal content.

I’m mostly happy with my move to iCloud. Feature-wise, I miss the simplicity of Dropbox. But it’s a simplicity of a bygone era. Overall, all these seem like good features, but too little too late for me.

I still think Dropbox missed the boat discontinuing its Mail and Photos services a few years back. Going corporate might have been the right Wall Street option — still not sure, but it was the wrong one for geek users like me.

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June 15, 2020

HEY Email Service from Basecamp Launched

hey.com:

HEY is our love letter to email, and we’re sending it to you on the Web, Mac, Windows, Linux, iOS, and Android.

As usual with 37signal’s DNA, it’s very opinionated. No POP/IMAP, or external clients, or import from Gmail… and $99 a year.

The walkthrough is very detailed.

Still invite only, but very likely they’ll be opening soon for everyone.

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June 15, 2020

Tidbits for 2020 Week 24

  • readr.page: static feed aggregator for Hacker News and reddit written in Javascript. Good for pomodoro break escapades.
  • Collected Notes: a very simple note-taking blogging platform. Less geeky than blot.im.
tidbits
June 14, 2020

Mac ARM Transition: Re-engine, Not Re-imagine

Brendan Shanks, on bslabs.net:

My core prediction: The Mac is getting a re-engining, not a re-imagining.

Much like the Mac’s switch to Intel, this transition will be fundamentally simple and, ideally, invisible to end users.

Algo agree we will see a Mac Mini with an already existing processor inside as the Developer Toolkit. Great post to come back to once things get unveiled in a week… but overall I’d place my bets with its predictions.

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June 13, 2020

Scammy Commercial Hackintosh Announced

Hartley Charlton, on macrumors.com:

On its website, OpenCore Computer claims that it hopes to make Mac Pro-style workstations more accessible. The company’s lineup of computers, which they call zero-compromise Hackintoshes,” are advertised as coming with macOS Catalina and Windows 10 Pro pre-installed.

Although probably a scam, it makes little sense to expose yourself to litigation this openly. As this commenter points out:

It would be one thing if a company was selling computers without an OS and advertised it as 100% Hackintosh Capable”. But to actually include MacOS is just begging for Apple’s lawyers to notice you.

I’d love to see some basic systems ready to hackintosh. With the work - and added value - of setting up the OpenCore compatible componentes to minimize your hackintosh pain of setting up.

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June 9, 2020

Redesigned iMac to Rumored be Announced at WWDC

Sonny Dickson on Twitter:

If Apple is indeed announcing an ARM transition for 2021, this iMac promises to be the last Intel one. On the past PowerPC to Intel transition, the Plastic White G5 iMac didn’t change enclosures with the Intel model a year later.

This could be a great iMac to buy, because it’s likely going to be the pinnacle of Intel models. It will also hold its value for a while since it will be the new design.

That said, for my wallet, this will more likely open the door for a maxed out 2017 5k iMac (32gb RAM, i7) with an external 1TB Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) NVMe drive. Since redesign is about the only thing that helps lower the price of used Macs.

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June 9, 2020

Quotebacks Blogging Quote Tool

Tom Critchlow and Toby Shorin on quotebacks.net:

Quotebacks is a tool that makes it easy to grab snippets of text from around the web and convert them into embeddable blockquote web components.

Love everything about this concept. The Chrome extensions works great, the design is extremely functional, and there’s no central server — just the style JS, but that’s hardly a lock-in.

Quotes look extremely clean:

First and foremost, quoting gives context, helping readers see where an author is coming from. Quotes and citations are an important part in making and remembering history. And looking looking towards the future, they allow us to better see, understand, and build on the vast graph of human knowledge—the original web”—that other, greater internet of which this one is just part.

But you can also copy as markdown:

Secondly, quoting another person can be generous. Generous quoting can mean raising another’s voice alongside your own, affirming their authorship, and striving to not take them out of context. One can quote generously, no matter whether one is agreeing or disagreeing with another author.

Source: Quotebacks by Tom Critchlow and Toby Shorin

Currently it’s a Chrome only, with Firefox coming soon. I’m hoping for a bookmarklet so it can be used on Safari and iOS.

Regardless, I’m very excited about the vision of this project and will be playing with it over the next few days.

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June 9, 2020

How Google Meet’s Noise Cancellation Works

Emil Protalinski on venturebeat.com:

Serge Lachapelle, G Suite director of product management, has been working on video conferencing for 25 years, 13 of those at Google. As most of the company shifted to working from home, Lachapelle’s team got the go-ahead to deploy the denoiser in Google Meet meetings. We discussed how the project started, how his team built noise cancellation, the data required, the AI model, how the denoiser works, what noise it cancels out and what it doesn’t, privacy, and user experience considerations (there is no visual indication that the denoiser is on).

Long interview about the feature. I’ll try is as soon as available.

Crucially, Google Meet’s noise cancellation is being rolled out for all languages. That might seem obvious at first, but Lachapelle said the team discovered it was super important” to test the system on multiple languages.

“When we speak English, there’s a certain range of voice we use,” Lachapelle said. There’s a certain way of delivering the consonants and the vowels compared to other languages. So those are big considerations. We did a lot of validation across different languages. We tested this a lot.”

Ay Dios…

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June 1, 2020

Tidbits for 2020 Week 22

  • Spacetime iOS app • past and upcoming space launch information direct from agencies.
  • Middle • middle click button gestures for Apple Trackpad or Magic Mouse.
  • Command Palette • access to all Menu Bar functions of current focused app. I’m in love.
tidbits
May 31, 2020

Computer and Software Is Used by the Falcon 9

T.J. Tarazevits, on space.stackexchange.com on software:

They use Chromium and JavaScript for the Dragon 2 flight interface. The actual flight computers still run on C++.

I hope it has lots of memory.

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May 25, 2020

Tidbits for 2020 Week 21

  • Vidrio puts transparent webcam behind your windows. Seems very useful for trainings.
  • Tinnire • generative music app to concentrate or relax. iOS and Android.
  • Calndr.link • simple and easy way to generate calendar links.
  • Glance • Quick Look previews for geeky files.
  • Ambiently • free iOS ambient sounds app with nice design.
  • Thyself • interesting journaling app in with a chat interface.
tidbits
May 23, 2020

The Reinvention of iPad

Dave B, on Medium:

I think that’s going to be a big story of iPadOS 14. I suspect more apps are going to be following this same path. Landscape and portrait orientation won’t merely be two aspect ratios of the same basic thing. Portrait orientation will continue to be designed for use as Tablet Mode’, and landscape will now be designed as the de facto Laptop Mode’.

Excellent take. Not sure if Apple will be this explicit about the orientation defining the experience, but sounds very smart.

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May 22, 2020

NASA Declares That SpaceX Is Ready to Fly Its First Crewed Mission

Eric Berger on arstechnica.com:

The flight of the Crew Dragon spacecraft, carrying Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to the International Space Station, is set to begin at 4:33pm ET (20:33 UTC) on Wednesday, May 27.

Roberto Jorge, Roberto Andres and Roberto Francisco will be glued to the TV. Although I suspect it will likely have some delays — it’s been raining most afternoons in Florida, and I’m sure they’ll want everything to be perfect.

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May 20, 2020

Roundup of Remote Work Setups

Is not clear to me if we’re closer to the end of the WFM isolation or the begining. But here’s my favorite posts on the different setups from the makers of products I enjoy:

Josh Ginter, The Desks of The Sweet Setup

So here’s Blanc Media’s work-from-home setups, complete with a list of the main items in each setup. If you’re anything like us, you’re sure to be curious about a few of the coffee cups gracing these tables.

Jason Fried, The home office desks of Basecamp:

People are always curious about work-from-home (WFH), remote working setups. So, I posted a Basecamp message asking our employees to share a photo of their home office, desk, table, whatever. Here’s what came in.

Emily Marchant, The 1Password team share their work-from-home setups

Looking for inspiration for your work-from-home setup? From Studio Ghibli-inspired spaces to clean, minimalist setups, our team share what makes their workstations work for them.

I enjoy these posts so much. And while they can sometimes create an urge to purchase stuff — it’s also a reminder that sometimes the sausage gets made with fairly simple setups.

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May 19, 2020

Please Print (A Journaling Rant)

Patrick Rhone, on thecramped.com:

So please, I implore you, if you insist on journalling using any digital tool. Please also regularly print what you are writing.

I’m taking this to heart. Although the idea of my journal being out there is uncomfortable, it not existing — even to be dismissed — is a bit more.

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May 19, 2020
Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones
👍🏼

Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear

Finished this last year, and surprisingly, some of its teachings have stuck. There’s a lot of little gold nuggets on the book, and it’s actually on my reread list, but the most useful concept for me was habit stacking:

One of the best ways to build a new habit is to identify a current habit you already do each day and then stack your new behavior on top. This is called habit stacking.

More than any other lifehack over the past year, this has helped me not waste time on start long a habit without the help of an existing one.

Like many good self-help books, you have to be careful with expectations. Great ones are life changing, but it usually takes a lifetime to measure the change.

I feel this is one of those books: the time invested reading will totally pay out by the small improvements that come from its pages. Even (specially?) if you make a habit of revisiting it.

May 18, 2020
A Memory Called Empire (Teixcalaan, #1)
👍🏼

A Memory Called Empire (Teixcalaan, #1) by Arkady Martine

If sci-fi as a genre was laid out on a table, with page turning galactic battles on one end and space opera’s on the other… then this book would put its feet on the table while rolling its eyes1.

That said, it’s still closer to Asimov’s Foundation than Peter Hamilton, but the point stands: it does things differently than expected — than accepted, in fact.

This should be a boring book. If I tried to explain it at a party, people would be sad for my entertainment low bar2. But just like British drama, you can get away with so much when the characters are good.

And that’s the thing about A Memory Called Empire, I made friends and enemies of the characters, so I was along for the ride. Will absolutely read the next in the series when it’s out.


  1. As recognition this book just won award for best novel.↩︎

  2. As my best man and Robie’s godfather once said: you’re easily amused.↩︎

May 17, 2020

Listen(ing) Up

As the isolation eases up, I’m trying listen more and be openly curious of those around me. Most times I’m shy and respectful of others lives, and will not ask about areas I don’t feel the person gave me an opening.

I don’t think this is the right approach anymore. I will ask if I’m curious, and understand if the person doesn’t want to share. I will be more comfortable with silence, or at least not jump first to break it. In other words, I want this to be said about me someday:

He was humble, respectful, and listened more than he spoke.

📖 Ken Liu, The Grace of Kings

There’s a balance between being respectful and uninterested. I’m hoping to find mine.

May 16, 2020

Microsoft Precision Mouse on Mac

For some reason, during the last month using my beloved Magic Mouse became uncomfortable by the afternoon. I’ve been pulling some long hours on my travel setup, but the pain on my wrist was a bit worrying.

Enter the Microsoft Precision Mouse. I heard about it from John Siracusa and found a good deal on Amazon.

MS Precision MouseMS Precision Mouse

After a week, I’m in love. The wrist pain went away in one day — probably the magic of placebo — but I’ll take it.

One big part of it working from me is the app Mouse Fix. It allows the side buttons to work as previous/next desktop gestures, and most importantly: enables smooth scrolling.

MS Precision MouseMS Precision Mouse

With smooth scrolling in software, the mouse’s magnetic scrolling wheel feedback is extremely enjoyable. I don’t recall ever caring much for the sound of the scrolling wheel, but since this one is totally silent — I found myself toggling it on most of the time.

It’s not a cheap mouse, I got mine for $69, but it’s on the Magic Mouse price range. For the list price of $99 you’re probably better off looking at the Logitech MX Master 3, which is much more powerful for the price. But I didn’t want a monstrosity, just a good ergonomic mouse that allowed to replace gestures with buttons and didn’t look out of place next to my MacBook. And the Microsoft Precision Mouse delivers just that. Recommended.

May 13, 2020

Google’s Nest Aware New Pricing

Jon Porter on theverge.com:

The new model means that a single subscription now covers all of your Nest devices, rather than asking you to pay on a per-device basis.

Took them long enough, here’s yours truly 4 years ago:

[…] please, make it $10 a month for 3 cameras and suddenly I have more incentives to buy more than 1. I know video storage is not cheap, but your parent company might know a bit about cloud stuff.

Too late. Other than the two Nest’s I used as baby cams that now are in the rooms areas — I went all in on Wyze Cams throughout the house. Yes they’re way cheaper to buy, but it was the services cost that pushed me away.

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