And the winner of the international statistic of the year is… | World Economic Forum

And the winner of the international statistic of the year is… | World Economic Forum:

Kim Kardashian is an unlikely champion of statistics, but a tweet from the reality TV star in January 2017 contained a startling figure that has been named International Statistic of the Year.
She shared a table showing a range of violent or unexpected ways people meet their deaths annually in the United States. Kardashian’s aim was to highlight how many more Americans are killed by fellow citizens with guns, than by terrorists.
The table also revealed that lawnmowers are actually more deadly than terrorists.

Someone should send those lawnmowers after the terrorists. That’ll show them nothing runs like a Deere.

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.

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.

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

I'm Progressive Now

I got my first pair of glasses nearly 10 years ago and remember seeing the world through new eyes. I’ll turn 45 this week and just got my third pair. This time I got progressive lenses; what old-timers would have called bifocals. These just don’t have the line across the lenses.
With the updated prescription, I am seeing the world through new eyes again. If you catch yourself squinting to read or find you need to hold things at arms length to make out the words, I recommend getting a checkup. It’s worth it to be able to see again!

America's Terrible Choice

The horror of watching something terrible unfold right in front of you makes it nearly impossible to look away. The 2016 election is such a train wreck, the candidates’ voices like the horrible screeching of metal, so much vitriol like blood spilling onto the tracks.
All the world’s a stage and the greatest nation in the world has sunk to become the world’s stage for reality TV. This campaign has all the makings from bombshell accusations from FBI Director James Comey and Trump’s outright threats (I’ll put her in jail!) to backstabbing within the party (sensible Republicans versus The Donald) and outside interference (I’m looking at you Russia). Could Shakespeare write such a dark farce? If he tried, would scholars label it as tragedy or comedy?
The investigations of Clinton’s emails—opened and reopened during this campaign—ended as much ado about nothing. Twice. Likewise the so-called assassination attempt at a Trump rally. The “assassin” was nothing more than a member of their own Republican Party holding a sign in peaceful protest of a truly terrible candidate.
I feel like the main character in a (more) dystopian version of The Truman Show. Is this reality? Really? The whole campaign is so transparently ridiculous and almost scripted to seem unreal, yet here we are hunkered down on the edge of chaos with a hopeful tyrant snapping at the heels of the only presidential candidate on the ballot.

Thoughts on Subscription Creep

While some subscriptions clearly aren’t worth the cost to me, others are. The problem is that a bunch of cheap subscriptions add up to a bunch of money.

  • $11.99 for Netflix for 4 screens + ultra HD
  • $11.99 for Hulu no commercials
  • $9.99 for Apple Music
  • $14.99 for HBO Now
  • $13.99 for web hosting
  • $19.99 for Slingplayer
  • $4.99 for CBS

No one feels like much. Together, they’re nearly $90 a month, or more than $1,000 a year.
Ouch.
We cut the cord on cable a long time ago, and we’re still coming out on top compared to the cost of a cable subscription, but we aren’t getting all of the channels but we never watched all the channels.
That isn’t including the puny bit of patronage I am able pay to my favorite Internet acquaintances, particularly Marco Arment and Brett Terpstra. Shout out to 5by5 as well. They’re great!

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.

Finding Peace in Laundry

Doing laundry from start to finish can quiet a troubled mind if you set your mind to it.
I'm talking about being mindful here—completely in the task—and it works with any simple task. The methodical nature of doing laundry, washing dishes, or sweeping the floor can help quiet mental gremlins and find focus again. Change the way you think about these tasks; convert them from mindless to mindful.
Laundry provides several different ways to relax and focus completely on the task.

  • Sorting laundry: darks, whites, lights, and other stuff
  • The drone of the washer and dryer
  • The smell of clean laundry
  • Folding warm clothes

Focused folding is a ritual. When I studied aikido as a young man, my sensei taught me to fold my hakama in our dojo after practice. He referred to the careful folding process as the "Japanese press" because it would look perfect when unfolded to wear next time.
One of life's simplest pleasures is outfitting your bed with clean sheets. That luxurious feeling surprises me every time, a great way to end a day after meditating with eight loads of laundry.