The Title

This is something I’ve long intuited based on my own web browsing habits but never really put into words. When I stop and think about it, modern web browsers drive me crazy by limiting tabs to a maximum width because that width is almost never enough to show the full page title.

Well, except one web browser: Safari.

If Safari on macOS Monterey is heading in a similar direction where web page titles are going to be even more truncated, that’s going to make me sad. I guess we should do something about it.

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MeetingBuddy

A few weeks ago I built a niche little app idea dubbed MeetingBuddy. You choose a target app from a pre-defined list (or pick any app on your Mac) and a time interval and MeetingBuddy starts screenshotting that app’s windows.

Each recording session goes into its own folder where all of the screenshots are organized by date. But! while this is all going on, MeetingBuddy is also OCR-ing any text found in the screenshots and storing that alongside each image in a sidecar file.

You end up with a folder of recordings for each session. Images and their corresponding text contents.

Why is this useful? Honestly, I’m not exactly sure that it is just yet. But here’s what I’ve been using it for.

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Shelley

I’ve written previously about using Hazel on macOS to react to a new file appearing in a synced iCloud Drive folder and running commands. But I wanted a faster solution that I could trigger from almost anywhere – including an iOS Shortcut. A way to send a command directly from my phone (or maybe any other device?) to my Mac.

What I came up with is a tiny, macOS menu bar app I call Shelley – because as a friend told me, it’s a Frankenstein of a hack.

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Download Jigsaw for macOS

Jigsaw is one of those ridiculously fun (dumb?) ideas that come along and smack you upside the head one day and you can’t help but take an afternoon to build.

Apple already lets you sync the contents of your Desktop using iCloud. But, if you’re a visual person like me who often arranges their Desktop icons in meaningful ways, not having the positions of your files on screen also stay in sync is frustrating as I move between my laptop and desktop throughout the day.

Jigsaw solves that by syncing the positions of your Desktop icons over iCloud. Move a folder on your iMac, and a few seconds later it mirrors itself on your laptop.

Jigsaw is free to download.

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Visually Syncing Your Mac’s Desktop

For me, my Mac’s Desktop is my staging ground, my active workspace, the digital representation of my mental RAM. I’ll typically have all of the files related to the task I’m currently working on stored on my Desktop. Once it’s complete, I’ll either file them away or delete them and move on to the next thing.

Having the Desktop on my iMac at home stay in-sync with my work laptop eases the transition and context switching as I move between locations. Dropbox has been doing this for years, but actually getting into the correct folder in Dropbox always has just enough friction to keep me from using it with active files the way I do my Desktop. When Apple added the option to sync your Documents and Desktop folders into iCloud Drive a number of years ago, it was a perfect fit for me…

…almost.

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DIY Video Hosting

I’ve been a paying customer of Vimeo since 2014 – specifically, their Pro plan. But when my renewal email arrived in April, myself and other small developers were seeing sales slow down as the pandemic worsened. Another $240/year was a tough sell for the small amount of video content I was hosting with them, and I wondered if there might be a cheaper alternative – either another service or by hosting videos myself.

So this is how I moved off Vimeo and started hosting my own video content.

On average, my bandwidth bill has dropped to $11/month – and that includes videos, static assets, and ALSO binary downloads for all of my Mac apps. Previously, I was paying $20/month just for video hosting on top of the rest of my bandwidth.

It’s definitely a geekier solution that requires more work up front to setup, and I’m not sure I would recommend it for a “real” business, but for my needs it was a fun project and I’m happy to save $200 a year.

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BespokeApp

I really don’t know if anyone has a need for this other than me. But I’ve built this app a few times for myself in the past, so last night I finally took the initiative to make it generic and reusable – both for my future self and anyone else who might find it useful.

It’s called BespokeApp. It’s a simple iOS app that gives you a tabbed web browser with the pre-defined websites of your choosing.

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GrannySmith

And so now I think about not just all the photos and videos – but the 65,234 comments across 16,752 items we’ve shared. (How do I know those exact numbers? I’ll tell you in a minute.) Each one may be insignificant by itself. But combined? They represent 2,596 days of shared family history.

And when I think about losing the post she made about our newborn son in the hospital? Or the one she commented on last week? Only because there’s no way to get access to that trove of data? It breaks my heart.

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Do You Hear That?

Shortly into quarantine at the beginning of March, I realized I had a problem. My iMac has too many audio devices, and managing them was becoming a pain in the ass. And it was all because working full-time at home again, in this new age of frequent work video meetings, Slack and Discord calls, and dealing with two young, screaming kids with no school to attend, created a perfect storm of audio requirements.

So I did what I always end up doing, and wrote the app I wanted for myself.

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