Standup.app

Standup.app is a tiny little Mac app that I made last week because I needed it in my day job. I’m not sure what to do with it or what will ultimately become of it, but, as usual, I figured I should make the app available in case anyone else finds it useful.

It helps facilitate the super-short standup call I run with my team every morning.

It also serves double-duty as a weird, helpful presentation utility for the seemingly never-ending stream of video meetings I have throughout the day.

I know there are other solutions out there, but this one is mine and built to my odd specifications.

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The Apple Hero 2020 Needs

Rakhim is the hero we need in 2020.

Please don't let the comedic nature of the video turn you away. I'm not sure if there is a better way he could have presented this.

Stay for the entire trainwreck so you can appreciate the focus of a two-trillion dollar company that says subscription services revenue is the future.

He really does make some excellent observations about usability, attention to detail, care, and obviousness in software.

I cackled for the full 18 minutes.

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Categories
macOS Apps

Dot Dee Tee

Inline with my affinity for backing up and owning my data, one component of that strategy is avoiding proprietary file formats and databases whenever possible and reasonable. That's why I prefer plain text (and more recently .textbundle) for all of my notes, and why I'm so meticulous about how I organize my family's photo archives.

It gives me the agility to move from app to app or even (heaven forbid, it may eventually happen) to a new platform as my needs change. If you own your own data, there's no lock-in.

So along those lines, here's a very tiny optimization (is that the right word for this?) that I've been doing for years that helps keep my reference material organized and more easily searchable and filterable.

(Oh, and also a quick story about how I effed up someone else's data.)

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Listen Up

One of the best things that have come out of the pandemic for me has been my little Mac app, Ears. I had the idea for it and built it about a month into quarantine because I was in so many remote meetings throughout the day. And depending on the time of day, how much notice I had before the call, if my kids were around, all sorts of reasons - I found myself frequently switching my Mac’s audio between speakers, AirPods, headphones, etc. It was a pain, so I built Ears to make that easier.

Since that first release in June, I’ve been refining the app to fit my workflow even better. And tonight, I’m delighted to push out a new release with additional features for all the work-from-home-warriors out there jumping between calls.

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Surtainly Not

Eighteen hours later, I'm here to write about the dumb, little toy of an app I made this morning just for Big Sur. I honestly don't expect other people to use it. I'm not even sure if I'll keep using it. It was more of a "I hate this. I wonder if I can fix it?" type of thing.

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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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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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StopTheJeff

Jeff Johnson is my favorite kind of developer. He's stubbornly pragmatic in solving the most infuriating types of problems that customers face: The myriad software paper-cuts forced upon us by large corporations trying to squeeze an extra penny of engagement out of every user and the skeezy, underhanded, web developers exploiting our every click.

This post is my next in the ongoing series I promised to write about my favorite apps in support of #IndieSupportWeeks. I've been meaning to write about Jeff's apps for a couple weeks now, and today’s blog post about his newest creation finally forced my hand into doing so. It's just too deviously clever an app not to write about.

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Additional MailMate Tips

I received a ton of great feedback from visitors about my MailMate love-fest earlier this month. Most people didn't know the app existed. So, here's a few more details around how I have my setup configured along with the hidden preferences I've enabled.

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Fastmail Wrapper for macOS

I keep looking through my archives of old, private coding projects - the ones that I built just for myself to solve a particular need - to see if I can find any that other folks might find useful. So, here’s another one I spent a few hours cleaning up recently.

It's a native macOS app (wrapper) around the fastmail.com website that supports:

  • Multiple Fastmail accounts.
  • Native macOS notifications (and sounds).
  • Customizable Dock icon badges.
  • Keyboard shortcuts (⌘1 - ⌘9) to quickly open specific accounts.

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MailMate

MailMate is a glorious, configurable, ultimate-nerd-dream of an email client built just for macOS. I use it every day in conjunction with Fastmail and SaneBox to give me email super powers.

But the killer feature? It just fucking works.

And believe me. I’ve tried every single email client for Mac and iOS – paid apps, free apps, subscription apps, apps from small companies, and apps from giant corporations.

I don’t know what else to say except that I love this app so much. And unless I’m horribly mistaken and there is secretly a giant corporation hiding behind MailMate and slurping up all of my private data, MailMate is built by a single developer, which is even more awe inspiring.

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So, uh, I think Catalina 10.15.4 Broke SSH?

I was completely at my wit’s end and feeling like I had lost my mind until about a half hour ago. And I don’t know what difference connecting via a hostname versus an IP address would make when specifically using a non-standard port above a certain threshold. I’m not even going to go into it. I don’t want to end up on Hacker News again bitching about Catalina. I just hope I’ve stuffed this post with enough keywords so that anyone else searching on Google might come across the answer.

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Categories
macOS Server

A Quick Shell Script to Keep a LAN File Server Mounted All the Time

Now that we're all stuck at home practicing social distancing, my children's mood depends on their favorite TV shows and movies always being available during their iPad free time. And my sanity depends on not hearing the awful clicking noise of the external drive our video library is stored on while I'm working at my desk. Moving it to a networked file server running off a Raspberry Pi was simple enough and solved the problem. But after trying a few 3rd party apps to keep the network share always mounted, here's the simple shell script I wrote instead.

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I May Have Gone Overboard with My Keyboard Shortcuts

I live and die by my keyboard. And here are the shortcuts I couldn’t do without. (Maybe this post should have been titled "A Love Letter to KeybaordMaestro".)

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Quick Access to My Favorite Folders with Keyboard Maestro

So, I did what I almost always do when I face a situation of deep despair on my Mac. I reached for the greatest Swiss Army knife of them all – Keyboard Maestro – and came up with an incredibly lo-fi solution that isn’t as feature rich as what those other apps offer or as convenient as Dock folders (when they don’t disappear), but it works for me!

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Focus

As apps deviate further and further away from the HIG with custom UI, whether for design reasons or in the pursuit of a mythical, cross-platform code base that management thinks will cost less, we lose the benefits of a well reasoned platform that was formerly easy to work with and a joy to use.

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Categories
macOS

Running commands remotely on a Mac that you don't have access to using Hazel and Dropbox

...I'm just glad I'm to the point in my nerd existence where I can be happy applying a fix and not caring about the real underlying issues that don't concern me.

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Categories
Hacks Hazel macOS Nerdery

A ridiculously dumb brute-force approach to getting around macOS's security UI and making my software a better experience for my customers

Until Apple gives 3rd party developers a way to properly request the permissions we need to build the apps our customers want, hacks like these are going to be the norm.

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Gone

So, uhhhh. This isn't good. I really hope I'm just confused and not sounding a false alarm, but... Back in April I wrote a quick post about how I was backing up the shared iCloud Photo albums that my friends and family all use to send pictures and videos of our...

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Aftermath

So last week was incredibly stupid. I've had one thing I've written reach the #1 spot on Hacker News before, plus an old website that reached the top of the trending del.icio.us charts, as well as a few moronic tweets that garnered a couple hundred likes, and one appearance on Slashdot...

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Categories
macOS Personal

Broken

This isn't the blog post I intended to write. In fact, last night I drafted up one about my problems sending background push notifications with Amazon SNS (coming soon!). And after the ridiculously over-the-top shit-storm that blew up over my dumb tweet earlier this week, the last thing I wanted...

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Categories
macOS

macOS 10.15 Vista

I completely realize and wholeheartedly own-up to the fact that I'm a geek and a Mac power user above and beyond what normal muggles will ever experience, nonetheless, this is the first-run experience I was greeted to this afternoon after upgrading to Catalina. Another update... It's now 48 hours later. Ignore my...

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Categories
macOS

More Apple Photos Fuckery

Back in May I posted a Twitter rant about how iCloud Photos was fucking up videos I shot on my phone after upgrading to iOS 12.3. I'm happy to report that hasn't happened again. But now I'm running into this... Every two months I upload a bunch of photos to Shutterfly...

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Categories
macOS Photography

Reviving an Old Mac App

A long time ago, on a Mac far, far away... In 2011 I had an idea for a tiny little Mac app called CommandQ. I'm a terrible touch-typist and it just so happens that on U.S. style keyboard layouts, the Q and W keys are right next to each other. That means...

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The Mac Won’t Be Sherlocked

With last week’s WWDC news announcing that Catalyst (Marzipan) is now an official thing, there have been a metric crap-ton of Twitter Hot Takes™ declaring UIKit the one true way forward. I'm not going to debate that. Instead, I just want to point out that not everything in computing revolves around a...

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Creating a Permanent SSH Tunnel Back to Your Mac at Home

Today's post is a bit more technical than what I've been writing about lately, but it's also partly for my own reference to save me some googling when I forget everything again in the future. I was always a big fan of Apple's Back to My Mac service. I found it...

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iTunes Match Failed Me

Remember iTunes Match? It's great. But Apple stopped promoting it (probably rightly so) a couple years ago when they realized they could make more money charging $10/month for Apple Music than Match's $25/year. Anyway, I loved it and still do. It uploads all of your digital music to Apple's cloud and...

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Categories
Backups macOS

Backing Up Shared iCloud Photo Albums and Where to Find Them on Disk

In my quest to backup ALL THE THINGS, I turned my attention earlier this week to the shared iCloud Photo Albums my friends and family use to pass around photos and videos of our kids. All of the items in my iCloud library (and my wife's library) are combined and backed...

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Fixing a Broken Service With a Tiny Bit of Automation

This post is a nice, unintentional follow-up to yesterday's one about backing up all of my family's photos and home videos. Anyway... My kids go to a fantastic daycare. My wife and I couldn't be happier. The teachers are wonderful, they love our children, and our kids adore them, too. But,...

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Backing Up Everything (Again)

This will take a while. Bear with me. I'm obsessive about backing up my data. I don't want to take the chance of ever losing anything important. But that doesn't mean I'm a data hoarder. I like to think I'm pragmatic about it. And I don't trust anyone else to do...

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A Stupid Idea?

I have a stupid idea. Bear with me... Apple's new MacBook Pro is rumored to be updated later this year with the function keys replaced with a tappable OLED display. The idea being this display could change based on the app you're using. But what if it wasn't just the function...

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Categories
macOS

Coding on My iPad Pro

Last month, my 9-5 job was kind enough to gift me an iPad Pro and its new keyboard. I've had a few iPads in the past, but they've always ended up stashed away, unused, in a drawer somewhere. I simply never got hooked on their utility. I never found that...

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Finding Related Messages in Apple Mail

After migrating my company's email away from Gmail a few years ago, I've become firmly entrenched with Apple's Mail.app on the desktop. Everything works great, but I do miss having access to Rapportive's Gmail extension. It's great at providing extra information related to the person you're emailing with. To make...

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Remember to Backup

I've written twice before about how important it is to have reliable, automatic backups running on all of your machines. I'm especilly thankful for mine this weekend. After travelling for the American holiday, I returned home to find my iMac in an unbootable state. I'm not sure what happened exactly —...

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Categories
Backups macOS

A Big Mouse Cursor

I spend about ten hours a day staring at two 27-inch Apple cinema displays. It makes coding great. But, with that much screen real estate, I keep losing my mouse cursor. I'll have to jiggle it around for half a minute trying to find where it's disappeared to. No more! Yesterday I...

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Categories
macOS

Search Mac and iOS Documentation From Chrome's Omnibox

Earlier this week, the Chromium Blog announced an official extension API for Chrome's omnibox (search bar). I've always loved keyboard driven interfaces — the command line, [Quicksilver](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quicksilver_(software)), Alfred, etc — so, I immediately started thinking about what I could build with it. My first idea was a documentation browser for Apple's...

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How I Backup my Mac

Four years ago, on another blog, I wrote about my file backup strategy — everything I use to keep my data safe. A lot has changed since then. CD's and DVD's have fallen by the wayside, raw hard disk space has gotten insanely cheap, and online storage has finally taken...

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Categories
Backups macOS

Forward Your Growl Notifications to Twitter

I've got three Macs that I regularly use. One at work, a laptop for personal use, and a Mac Mini connected to our living room TV. I use Growl on all three — it's so ingrained in my workflow (IM notifications, new emails, background tasks) that I often forget it's...

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Categories
Hacks macOS

How to Stream Your iTunes Music Over the Internet

Update: Want to stream your iTunes music over the internet? Try Highwire! It streams your iTunes library and a whole lot more :-) I keep all of my iTunes music stored on a Drobo attached to an Airport at home. This frees up valuable space on my laptop and lets me...

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Categories
Hacks macOS

Sort Apple Mail Messages Using the Keyboard

I don't know how I ever missed this Apple Mail plugin, but you absolutely have to give MsgFiler a try if you're a heavy keyboard user. It lets you move messages into any folder in your mailbox using only the keyboard. Press ⌘9 to pull up a TextMate-like list of your...

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Managing Exchange Invites in Apple's iCal

For better or worse, most of my coworkers live and die by their Exchange calendars. Unfortunately, as a developer working on a Mac 24/7, there aren't many options for dealing with the barrage of Outlook invites I receive each day. I can either use Entourage which only kinda-sorta-works, or I...

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Categories
Hacks macOS AppleScript

How To Install PEAR in Mac OS X Leopard

Unlike previous version of OS X, Leopard doesn't come with PHP's PEAR repository installed by default. Luckily, installing is quick and painless. From a command line: curl http://pear.php.net/go-pear > go-pear.php sudo php -q go-pear.php Just press enter to select all the default choices except for the installation directory. For that, use /usr/local. (Thanks,...

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Categories
macOS PHP

How to Enable PHP5 In Mac OS X Leopard

I've seen a lot of visitors searching for information on enabling PHP5 in Mac OS X Leopard. It turns out to be quite easy. Leopard ships with Apache 2 and PHP 5 pre-installed. To enable PHP simply: Open your favorite text editor and edit /private/etc/apache2/httpd.conf Uncomment line number 114. It should read LoadModule php5_module ...

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Categories
macOS PHP

My Favorite New Leopard Feature

Select a file in Finder and press ↩ to rename it. Finder now excludes the file extension...

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Categories
macOS

Leopard First Impressions

If you squint your eyes and look to the side of your monitor, Leopard is actually quite attractive. VirtualHostX is broken at the moment. That'll be fixed as soon as I roll out Apache 2 support. The new iCal is hot. I love that there is now a physical separation between local...

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Categories
macOS