Categories
nerd technology writing

Updated WordPress, Updated Theme

Updated to the latest WordPress 5.3 “Kirk” and trying out the default 2020 theme.

With a few tweaks, I think I like it.

2019-11-17 update: I don’t like numbers that descend below the baseline, so I’ve swapped the font from the default to Gentium Book Basic.

Categories
nerd technology writing

Fast Software, the Best Software — by Craig Mod

Fast Software, the Best Software — by Craig Mod:

Software that’s speedy usually means it’s focused. Like a good tool, it often means that it’s simple, but that’s not necessarily true. Speed in software is probably the most valuable, least valued asset. To me, speedy software is the difference between an application smoothly integrating into your life, and one called upon with great reluctance. Fastness in software is like great margins in a book — makes you smile without necessarily knowing why.

John Gruber posted about this article over at The Daring Fireball and he’s right. It is a delightful read for a nerdier audience and hammers home some excellent points about software.

If you are so inclined, give it a read.

Categories
brain culture nerd technology

Keep Podcasts on RSS

I’m still upset that Google provided Reader, then killed it. Don’t let the same mess happen with podcasts.

Big companies are trying to monetize and monopolize an open standard. Please don’t let this happen. Learn more:

Categories
brain nerd technology

Your terminal is not a terminal

Your terminal is not a terminal: An Introduction to Streams:

Streams are just that: streams. In the same way that a river has a stream of water, programs have streams of data. Moreover, just like you can use steel pipes to carry water from one place to another, you can use UNIX pipes to carry data from one program to another. This was the very analogy that inspired the design of streams:

We should have some ways of connecting programs like a garden hose — screw in another segment when it becomes necessary to massage data in another way. This is the way of I/O also. — Douglas McIlroy
Streams can be used to pass data into programs and to get data out of them.

The running water water analogy is a great way to explain many complicated topics and Lucas Costa uses it to great effect. You even uses |pipes| to flow input from one command to the next.

Go read his post if, like me, you find yourself scratching your head trying to understand how to work efficiently on the command line.

Categories
music nerd

Virtuoso Series – Mark Knopfler

It is always amazing to me when someone excels at performing and almost looks bored while explaining what they do. Witness Mark Knopfler.

There’s more.

Categories
brain life nerd writing

Breaking Digital Bonds

My habits have become terrible. All of my idle moments are filled with Twitter, Instagram, and endless mindless games of Microsoft Solitaire (which is the best handheld solitaire game I have found to date and please don't download it for your own sake and sanity just DON'T DO IT).

So it's time for some change. The easiest change is to read more, not in witty chunks of 240 characters or 500-word articles on, well, everything. I mean reading real books of fiction and non-fiction, and I mean reading for fun and not to learn anything. I mean reading like I did when I was a kid riding my bicycle to the public library between the polo field and elementary school to fill up my summer reading booklet with titles.

I've had a Kindle for years. It's the third-generation Kindle with the physical keyboard. It's slow, and I'm old and need lots of light to read now. As I was finally finishing American Gods by Neil Gaiman, a book I purchased two or three years ago and only finished Sunday night, I found myself leaning into the lamplight and squinting to make out the words. It was frustrating, so it didn't take me long to upgrade to the Kindle Paperwhite and I got it yesterday and it's wonderful.

Now I'm digging into the five-volume box set of George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones saga, which may be too ambitious. Having watched the series on HBO (and eagerly anticipating the final season), reading the books is like watching it again in slow motion in my brain. The writing is great, but I'm not sure if it will hold my attention to the end. I wish I had read it before watching the series so I could kvetch about how they did so-and-so wrong and "No, it wasn't like that in the book!" with all of my fellow nerds.

Reading more will, hopefully, lead me to write more regularly. One plan to reframe my brain on the front is to simply move around a bit. Today I have holed up in a local coffeehouse. Cliché, I know, but it's working. I can see they have Wi-Fi, but I refuse to ask for access. That invisible Wi-Fi wire will bind my mind and I'll be stumbling through Twitter and reloading Reddit before I know it. If I really start jonesing for a connection, I have a paper notebook and pencil.

In case of emergency…unplug!

These grand plans for change are fresh on my mind. For now, it's working. I have written more today than I have in the past year. Much of it is rambling. Nobody would want to read it, but it's getting garbage out of my brain. I spent many years making a living as a writer, enough time to know that the words will start making sense if I just start giving them form outside of my brain. I remember someone saying something like "you can't think your way out of writer's block" and that is so true. Thinking is important, but spilling thoughts into a more physical medium is the only way to break a block. It seems like a contradiction, but you must write your way through writer's block.

Categories
art design nerd writing

Typography for Everyone Makes Texts Much Easier to Read | NOUPE

Typography for Everyone Makes Texts Much Easier to Read | NOUPE:

The starting point for the observation is always the continuous text, which is what we write into the p-tags on the web. This text is the index, meaning it keeps the font size of 100 percent. All other elements are derived from that.
According to this, the first step is getting the text to a comfortably legible size. A lot of this is just a matter of taste. For me, this value is at 18 pixels, I don’t want it to be any lower. Common publications are mostly around 14 pixels. No matter which size you define, it is important that it is the foundation for all other elements.
Headlines (hl) should have 180 to 200 percent of the original size, secondary headings (h2) 130 to 150 percent, and tertiary headings (h3) should only be slightly bigger than the running text. In many cases, you’ll see h3 as a simple bold text. You should be able to go up to 125 percent without problems. Footnotes shouldn’t exceed 75 percent of the size of the continuous text.

This is good advice and reading the entire article is worth your time if you use words. This is also a good time to recommend The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst.

Categories
nerd technology

Migrating from Fever to Inoreader

After reading Wired’s article It’s Time For an RSS Revival I’ve been reconsidering my RSS setup.
Shaun Inman’s Fever has served my RSS needs since June 2012. Shaun marked Fever’s end of life in December 2016. I’ve been holding onto it ever since and will continue to keep it running on my host provider, but it’s time to consider other options.
Alongside that aging installation, I’ve dropped my favorite feeds into Inoreader. I think I heard about it from John Gruber on The Talk Show. Inoreader’s free tier so far seems to be working great for my meager RSS needs. It has it’s own Inoreader app and syncs up with my preferred iOS RSS client Fiery Feeds.

Categories
apple nerd productivity technology

Omni Roadmap 2018 – The Omni Group

Omni Roadmap 2018 – The Omni Group:

Welcome! Each January, we like to pause and reflect on the past year’s accomplishments and to share a roadmap of our plans for the coming year. There’s a lot to share this year—particularly about our plans for OmniFocus in 2018—so let’s dive right in!

It’s been an exciting 25 years for Omni! I’m a huge fan of their software, particularly OmniFocus for Mac and OmniFocus for iOS, and look forward to updates coming this year.

Categories
music nerd

50 Cent accidentally made $8 million in bitcoin – The Verge

50 Cent accidentally made $8 million in bitcoin – The Verge:

At the time, a single bitcoin was worth only $662, and the rapper’s fans could pick up the album for a fraction of that. In total, he pulled in over $400,000. Since then, the value of bitcoin has soared: the price of the cryptocurrency rose as high as $17,000 earlier this month, only to drop under $10,000 in recent weeks. (At the time of writing, bitcoin is now worth a little more than $11,000.) After sitting untouched in his account for years, 50 Cent’s earnings are now worth $7 million to $8.5 million, based on the current fluctuating bitcoin valuation.

It’s only January, but 50 Cent forgetting he had a a fortune in Bitcoin may end up being my favorite tech story of the year.

Categories
culture life nerd

Meaningful Internet Acquaintances

The internet has become my primary source of entertainment and enrichment over the years. It serves me for reading to socializing and audio to video. I’ve been thinking about the people who help me find the things I enjoy most online and narrowed it down to three people: Marco Arment, Dan Benjamin, and Merlin Mann. These three are the wellsprings that led me to so many great other things over the years.

Dan Benjamin

Dan’s 5by5 network introduced me to podcasting and more internet pals. I later found Relay.FM, a podcast network led by Myke Hurley and Stephen Hackett.

Podcasts I like

You may enjoy some of my favorite podcasts made by a group of awesome people. I have listed them below along with links to the hosts’ Twitter feeds.

These are just the cream of the crop and I thank them for “All the Great Shows.”

Marco Arment

Marco brought me Tumblr, Instapaper, and my most-used iOS app Overcast. Tumblr is a lot of fun. The other two count as life-changers for me. Almost everything I read or listen to online comes to me through something Marco made. He’s “like, really smart” and opinionated. Find our for yourself at marco.org.

Merlin Mann

Merlin is the consistent thread through much of the content I consume. He would groan about this, but his (dormant since 2011 and lovingly still available) website 43 Folders was the beacon that led me to him. Funny sidetrack: While checking to see that the site was still live, the last post was announcing what was the most recent version of Instapaper at the time.
Of the three, Merlin has had the biggest impact on my life. You can tell from the way my wife rolls her eyes when I say “Merlin said foo on bar podcast today.” I feel like I have traveled with him to WWDCs in San Francisco and talks from Rutgers to New Zealand. I even remember when he used to be Merlin Mann and talked to his wallet.
Oh! Oh! Don’t forget You Look Nice Today. It was literally the first podcast ever made.[^This is not at all true.] Merlin made that with his amigos Adam Lisagor and Scott Simpson, who are also awesome and hilarious internet people.

All the great people

There are so many people I have kinda sorta met through the Interwebs who also deserve recognition because I am thankful to learn and laugh with them.
Brett Terpstra deserves a special acknowledgment. His website is filled to the brim with Mac goodies. Don’t believe me? Be sure to check out his projects page. His app Marked is a must-have for anyone writing with Markdown on a Mac.
Others on the short list are Matt Alexander](https://twitter.com/mattalexand), Haddie Cooke, Jim Dalrymple, Guy English, Ken Jennings (the Jeopardy guy), Jason Snell, David Sparks, and Christina Warren. I could go on if this wasn’t becoming so maudlin. There are so many.

Final note on “Netquaintances”

While searching for references I found “The Story of John Roderick,” a wikidot page crafted by Jochen Römling. Being such a cool thing, I emailed a quick note to the craftsman in Sweden and had a terrific little email conversation with him.
A lot of days we look at the internet and see a raging dumpster fire of a thing. Take a closer look. Pick through the ashes. Find the gems and share a little light with each other.

Categories
apple nerd

Apple Video Series – Taking iPhone Photos

Apple has prepared a series of tutorials about how to take photos with the iPhone 7. Several focus on Portrait mode, but most of them provide good advice for taking photos on any mobile device with a camera.
shoot-on-iphone-7

Categories
nerd technology

Third-Party Apps Confused by Gatekeeper Path Randomization

Have you noticed that some of your third-party applications—the ones that aren’t installed using the App Store—aren’t updating automatically? If you try to force a check for updates from the Application menu, you may see an error dialog that includes something like “can’t be updated while it’s running from a read-only volume.”

This isn’t a new problem. The “feature” was enabled for your own good in macOS Sierra last summer. It didn’t grab many headlines and began quietly hindering automatic updates in some apps. For me, that means apps like Panic’s Coda and Dropshare by the Dropshare folks. The devs at Rogue Amoeba (famous for apps including Airfoil, Audio Hijack, Fission, and more) wrote a detailed post about this. Apple has also documented this.
The fix is easy, but not immediately obvious for mid-level nerds like me. To properly install the app, you have to move it from ~/Downloads to /Applications in the Finder. You cannot use a third-party Finder replacement such as Path Finder (like I do). All I had to do was open the Finder and move it out of, then back into, /Applications.
In doing so I found another “feature.” I presume because /Applications is the proper home for, well, applications, Apple wants them to stay there. Drag and drop and you will find an alias. Hold down the Command key before you click and drag it out. After you’ve finished doing the application Hokey Pokey, everything should be back to normal.

Categories
nerd technology

Fix for Old-Timey Apple Keyboards

;tldr If the caps lock on your old keyboard stopped working, try to install and use Karabiner-Elements. It fixed the problem for me.
The caps lock on my beloved Apple Keyboard Extended II I use at work stopped working recently. I tend not to type in ALL CAPS often, but sometimes I have to type ridiculous acronyms and caps lock is the key I need. Later I noticed it wasn’t working on the one I use at home.
There are several breakpoints, so I first chalked it up to hardware failure. These things are more than 26 years old after all.1 They also require a Griffin iMate adaptor to convert their ADB connections to USB. After I saw the problem on both keyboards, I knew something was up.
One of the updates to macOS Sierra 10.12.x broke it. This was a problem, but it was a software issue and software can be fixed. I found Karabiner-Elements fixed my problem. It enables user to remap their keyboard. You can do lots of cool stuff with this (like creating a super meta hyper key), but my needs are simple for now.
After installing the software, I opened the settings and set caps lock to caps lock. That was all it took to return functionality to my caps lock key. I added it to my Login Items (under Users & Groups in the System Preferences) and I’m ready to ROCK AND ROLL!

  1. That’s crazy to think about. Apple introduced the Extended II on Oct 15, 1990. It was discontinued in March 14, 1994. Source: Wikipedia
Categories
nerd productivity

xkcd – always a fave

This is why I look like a wizard when I work.

Categories
nerd technology

Wrapping Earbud Cords

I’ve been going to the gym (more on that later) and haven’t fallen to the siren song of Bluetooth earbuds. I’m still stuck with the cords on my trusty Apple EarPods. I got tired of the tangles and remembered this video published by The Verge.

I hope it helps my fellow slow adopters.

Categories
nerd productivity technology

macOS ⌘⇥ App Switcher on wrong display

Sometimes when I press ⌘⇥, the switcher pops up on the wrong display. This seems random, but I learned it isn’t.
The switcher display shows up on the last display where the Dock was active. That’s all there is to it!
The solution wasn’t hard to find, but the answer I read was on StackExchange.

Categories
nerd productivity

Is me

Emails

Categories
nerd productivity technology

No Smile Here as TextExpander Subscribes to New Business Plan

Years ago I got hooked on automation for fun and productivity, and expanding snippets of text on my Mac made me feel like a wizard.
In those early years, I waffled between Typinator and TypeIt4Me before the introduction of the iPhone. I moved to TextExpander sometime around 2010 when it began syncing with my then-new iPhone. I used it exclusively until Tuesday, April 5, when Smile Software announced the transition to a subscription plan.

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. —Proverbs 16:18 (NKJV)

The idea of a subscription model doesn’t bother me. The software is awesome and remains the only snippet expander that is widely supported by iOS app developers. Why write off more than five years of building habits and muscle memory?
The exorbitant cost.

Expanding Costs

I think I got into the game with my first purchase of Textpander 3 circa 2010 for $19.95 (after taking advantage of a $15 discount). Continuing to invest in the system, I later upgraded to version 4 for $19.95 followed by an upgrade to the last version for another $20. These purchases for my Mac were coupled with versions 3 and 4 on iOS for $4.99 each.
If you’re keeping up, that’s a total investment just a hair short of $70 to license the software for roughly five years, or about $14 a year.
Under the new subscription model, the cost is easy to project for the next five years. The charge over five years for new users paying monthly will be $297. “Loyal” users get a break for 12 months. Here is a full breakdown of subscription costs over a five-year period.

New Annual New Monthly Upgrade Annual Upgrade Monthly
$237.60 $297 $213.84 $267.36

Doesn’t Compare

Smile Software isn’t breaking any new ground with its move to a subscription model. Adobe and Microsoft also made the move, but the return on investment simply doesn’t compare.
If my memory hasn’t faded too much, major version releases of Adobe’s Master Collection arrived about every three years with an upgrade cost of $1,800. The company now charges $50/month to access the entire stable of pro editing software with regular updates, or $1,800 every three years.
Microsoft’s Office Suite used to be in the neighborhood of $400 with deep discounts for students to $150. Now, those apps are available to regular users of Office 365 for $6.99/month, or $419.40 every five years. This includes services such as free tech support, 1 TB of OneDrive cloud storage, and web versions of Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and Outlook in addition to the full desktop apps.
The cost to subscribe software from Adobe and Microsoft is comparable to the prior cost to buy boxed versions off the shelf. Based on my personal experience, the cost to subscribe to TextExpander will increase from an average of $14/year to $42.77/year, a 205.5 percent annual increase.

Technical Difficulties

There are other concerns beyond price.
Smile seems proud to drop sync services with Dropbox and iCloud to host its new Meteor app on the Galaxy cloud service. No more free to cheap, widely available, mature services available. Just the new textexpander.com. They seem to be taking Steve Jobs 2007 “very sweet solution” for developers to heart.

This was a case where history proves that Jobs wasn’t always right. Smile’s mandatory replacement locks users into a service that is arguably less secure. After fallout from the company’s initial announcement and press release, Smile Software issued a clarification the next day explaining upgrade options and the company’s intention “to support it on El Capitan and the next major upgrade of OS X.”

Alternatives

What now?
After turning off snippet expansion in TextExpander, I am adding snippets to Keyboard Maestro as needed. Keyboard Maestro is life-changing software I already owned that easily handles snippet expansion and so much more.

What Else Can Keyboard Maestro Do? Pretty much anything you can imagine including launch applications, click the mouse, palettes, execute scripts, insert text, manipulate windows, record macros, built in flow control, use text tokens, menus and buttons, open, file actions, clipboard history, control itunesnotifications, notifications, and perform image actions.

I lose syncing with iOS this way, but will just enter my oft-used snippets into the the Text Replacement features built into iOS. You can find these options on your iPhone under Settings > General > Keyboard > Text Replacement. Snippets entered here will sync with your other Apple devices, but lack form entry and support for multiple lines or paragraphs of text.
A few other options include Typinator (by ergonis) and TypeIt4Me (by Ettore Software, App Store affilitiate link) along with aText (by Tran Ky Nam Software), the cheapest alternative for a sawbuck. Ettore also offers TypeIt4Me Touch (App Store affiliate link) that syncs with iOS using iCloud.

Long Story Short…

It’s too late to keep this long story short. If you scrolled to the end, here’s the nut of it. TextExpander has priced itself out of my business and I’m using Keyboard Maestro instead.

Categories
art design nerd

Looking up and down while spinning left and right

I have had this “Trippy spinning optical illusion” (found at the always interesting kottke.org open in a browser window since I found it on Feb. 1, 2016.
Spinning optical illusion
From kottke.org:

Somehow, this woman seems to be spinning both clockwise and counter-clockwise simultaneously. This is worse than the spinning ballerina. Anyone know who did this? Randomly found it on Facebook and couldn’t trace the source back…

The most mind-blowing of this type of animation I have seen to date. Kudos to the designer!