Killing the Dock

There are lots of design decisions made by Apple in OS X (now macOS) one can appreciate. I like the universal menu bar at the top of the screen. Overall it saves on space (assuming you need a menu bar).

One I do not like is the Dock. By default it takes up a lot of space, windows cannot cover it, and it wants your attention often. Application windows behave oddly compared with other Desktop Environments using a similar metaphor.

Kill The Dock (for MacOS) – Michael Rurka — ルデ – Medium

Shrink the Dock with zoom

In the Dock settings, move the Size slider all the way to Small. Select Magnification and set the slider to Max.

Hide the Dock

Select “Automatically hide and show the Dock”.

Increase Hover Time

In the terminal set the delay for the Dock to 5 seconds. Set the number higher if you want.

defaults write com.apple.Dock autohide-delay -float 5 && killall Dock

Kill the Bouncing Icons

Someday someone will tell me why Apple decided a bouncing icon in the Dock demanding the user’s focus and attention for even the most mundane information is a good idea. I cannot even imagine.

I followed MacWorld’s Rob Griffiths‘ advice from here:

defaults write com.apple.dock no-bouncing -bool TRUE && killall Dock

Use Witch, Alfred, & Keyboard Maestro to Improve Things

I use Alfred similar to Michael’s approach. I also use Keyboard Maestro for launching shortcuts to either launch or raise specific apps – for example, Control-Command-S for Slack. Alfred – Productivity App for Mac OS X & https://www.keyboardmaestro.com/main/

Most important, I use witch to provide Windows-like task switching via Command-tab. Witch · Many Tricks

The Big Rethink

I am recovering from a bout of illness. I will save you, Dear Reader, the gory details.

The event is causing me to re-evaluate my habits, workflows, automation, and outsourcing. My reluctance to call on my friends and co-workers or my building concierges for help caused me more suffering than I should have endured, would have triggered my recovery sooner, and lessened the impact on others – especially at work.

Part of my rethink is my recovery-mandated sobriety. Focus is always a challenge for me after a few beers. Gaining the increased focus, the additional time, and needing the distraction provided time for reflection.

I made notes, rambling fever dreams and otherwise. I also cranked through a bunch of Mac Power Users and similar podcasts. My plans percolate and bounces around my brain.

Look forward to possible new posts about what I am doing and why.

This is some unicode: & ’ “ ” 👺

[sourcecode language=”emacs-lisp” title=”” ]
(setq this-is-some-setting t)
[/sourcecode]

Troubleshooting Emacs Org2blog

Go here: When posting I get ‘Lisp error: (wrong-type-argument listp t)’ #216 for the history on this issue.

For fun, here are some Unicode characters: ” ‘ & 🗾 😄

Here is my current slim emacs config to get org2blog working:

(setq load-prefer-newer t)

(package-initialize)
(add-to-list 'package-archives
             '("gnu" . "http://elpa.gnu.org/packages/"))
(add-to-list 'package-archives
             '("melpa" . "http://melpa.org/packages/") t)
  (package-refresh-contents)
  (unless (package-installed-p 'package+)
    (package-install 'package+))

(add-to-list 'load-path "~/src/org-mode/lisp")
(add-to-list 'load-path "~/src/metaweblog")
(add-to-list 'load-path "~/src/org2blog")
(add-to-list 'load-path "~/src/xml-rpc-el")
(add-to-list 'load-path "~/src/pretty-mode")
(add-to-list 'load-path "~/src/use-package")

(require 'org)
(global-set-key "\C-cl" 'org-store-link)
(global-set-key "\C-ca" 'org-agenda)
(global-set-key "\C-cc" 'org-capture)
(global-set-key "\C-cb" 'org-iswitchb)

(require 'xml-rpc)

(require 'metaweblog)

(require 'org2blog-autoloads)

(require 'auth-source)

(setq
 auth-sources '(
                "~/.authinfo.gpg"
                )
 epa-file-cache-passphrase-for-symmetric-encryption t
 auth-source-debug 'trivia
 )

(setq
 org2blog/wp-blog-alist
 `(
   ("PRJ"
    :url "https://www.prjorgensen.com/xmlrpc.php"
    :username ,(car (auth-source-user-and-password "prjorgensen.com"))
    :password ,(cadr (auth-source-user-and-password "prjorgensen.com"))
    :default-title "Hello, World!"
    :default-categories ("Uncategorized" "org2blog")
    )
   )
 )

(require 'use-package)

(use-package htmlize
             :ensure t)

I created local git clones for xml-rpc-el, org-mode, org2blog, metaweblog, pretty-mode, and use-package.

This is done in order to post a draft of this blog. Then I will publish it.

Wish me good times!

Axle Wrapped: Performance Review & Stoicism

You may not know I am on a global work assignment in Japan from the United States. I get to have two management teams, one in each country, and two performance reviews! Ain’t I lucky?

My US manager sandbagged me with my review. I woke this morning to a meeting request for my review at 21:00 JST. There was no warning and no notice.

My history with these types of activities is complicated. I won’t go into detail now. Suffice to say I find little value in these lazy “one size fits all” retail approach to HR. A good leader does not require such a complicated artificial construct, nor do truly empowered and well lead employees.

Never the less, I’m shackled with this time consuming obligation. I need to take time and reflect on good old fashioned stoicism to get my head right. It would be great unwrapping myself from around my HR axle as well.

First, it’s important to remember at the moment my career path, goals, and objectives align with my employer. The alignment is temporary.

Second, my employer’s goals and objectives reflect what is right for the company. There is nothing requiring me to like or even agree with the goals and objectives. Gainful employment encourages my active engagement toward them, yet my gainful employment is not the object of my life.

Third, the common theory of “you will get out of the process what you put in” is false. It is not true in physics, engineering, romance, cooking, finance, politics, small appliance repair, Pokemon Go, or much of anything in life.

Fourth, these retail HR systems are more and more geared toward meaningless concepts and platitudes which fail to bolster any concept of anti-fragility or resilience. Anecdotally friends and peers shared ratios of three or more positive comments to every negative comment in reviews. Others shared “the bell curve” – in any team the manager plots the best and worst performers on a chart and scores everyone else somewhere in between because “you can’t have a team of all above average or below average” members. Arbitrary artificial constructs like these try to pave over the world’s variables (I’ve seen plenty of teams with no above average performers, typically in non-critical roles) plus fail to offer employees any tangible constructive feedback (i.e., “You were rated a 2 out of 5 because there are too many 3s and 4s on the team already.“)

Fifth, companies want some degree of fragility in their employees. They cannot rely on loyalty any more, especially in the US and other countries with at-will employment. Employee retention is usually a balancing act between enough training, team building, and encouragement to make employees feel empowered & add value while subtly keeping them just fragile enough to fear change.

Stoicism and Us | New Republic talks about these concepts in other contexts, such as the cancer diagnosis in the opening paragraph.

What matters, in good times or bad, is not whether you have a job, an income, a family, or a home, but whether you have the inner strength to realize how little such things matter.

This quote, Dear Friends, helps me unwrap my mental axle.

Stoicism is having a moment in the robot revolution | The Financial Times talks about a new book by Svend Brinkmann, Stand Firm: Resisting the Self-Improvement Craze – Kindle edition by Svend Br…. Full disclosure: I have not read the book yet. This article however talks about a few of the concerns I laid out above in the context of the current stoicism fad in Silicon Valley. This neo-stoicism smacks of exuberant exceptionalism without embracing the negative things in life. The side bar about this in relation to Ryan Holiday’s writings (which I enjoy) intrigues me.

This idea of embracing the negative leapt to my attention today when I read Feeling bad about feeling bad can make you feel worse | Berkeley News. This study (full disclosure: I have not read it yet) seems to reinforce the concept of the negative things in our lives can make us better at living our lives.

This long, rambling screed flowed fairly quickly. I feel better about my impending US performance review (and the soon-to-follow Japan review). I remain bearish toward the whole process, but at least I can get on with my day. And I hope to learn something more about dealing with things like this in the future.

What do you think? Am I off-base? Do you agree? Have I missed the boat entirely? Add your tempered, well reasoned thoughts in the comments or on the social media.

Date: 2017-08-15 Tue 11:54

Author: Paul Jorgensen

Created: 2017-08-15 Tue 13:55

Validate

[TokyoGringo] Fun Japan Fact – all cell phones’ cameras have a shutter sound

I tried to get service for my US iPhone 6S+ here in Tokyo. The delightful woman helping me warned me, “You know, if you swap this out you will get a Japan phone with the shutter sound. Are you sure?”

Oh. No. Not sure, and not by a long shot.

I recalled my first US trip with my JP colleagues where their shutter sound constantly disrupted slide presentation after slide presentation. I volunteered my phone for hundreds of silent slide pictures of decks later offered for download.

When I returned to Japan I found the sound ever present. I assumed the shutter sound a cultural choice, what with the Japanese camera stereotype and all. I filled it away as an annoyance like on-line banking and moved on.

I embrace my education. As I stated regularly on the PVC Security podcast, there is a certain freedom in knowing you will screw up at least ten times per day.

It also means I will try to get all my future mobile phones in the US (assuming the shutter sound is my major concern).

What Users Should Require in Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)

We, the users, should stop thinking about software as a thing to own. The direction is toward a service model for better and worse.

What should a keen-eyed shopper value?

  • No data lock-in – the user should own their data and be able to export it at any time through the native user interface without having to jump through hoops (except for encrypted data – see below). The export should be in a common format like plain text, XML, CSV, etc. and not a proprietary format.
  • Direct support – a web interface, email address, and chat at a minimum is required. Any service only offering support through an app store is a major red flag.
  • Multi-platform – unless you only live in Apple’s or Google’s ecosystem any SaaS must at least support your top two platforms. If you are GNU/Linux or Windows on your desktop, this is a must-have for your mobile devices.
  • Multi-cloud – unless you only live in Apple’s ecosystem any SaaS must support Dropbox as a second option at a minimum. iCloud is limited to macOS, iOS, and Windows but the Windows support is abysmal IMHO.
  • Mobile support – must handle landscape and portrait layouts and support tablet sizes. I am surprised at the software that still does not do this basic task.
  • Encryption – must support industry standard best encryption options. If a SaaS offers its own custom encryption RUN AWAY! Exporting encrypted data should offer unencrypted and GPG-passphrase-encrypted options though few do today.
  • Active development – this is easiest to verify if they have a public GitHub or similar repository. App stores will also show when the last update hit. Careful reviews of app store ratings can help figure out the historical time line. Check in Reddit and StackExchange and other public forums.
  • Native (non app store) desktop releases – on the desktop the ability to get the software outside of the Apple or Microsoft or Google app stores is a plus. Even if you prefer the app store version – and most users should for the added security – the developer’s willingness to offer a direct-to-the-customer version of their software with a license is a good sign. Also, any revenue the developer gets from these direct sales is 100%. Apple app store versions costs the developer 30% or so.
  • In App Purchases – not bad in and of themselves, a developer should not “nickel and dime” customers with small features. There should be an option for some kind of a premium bundle which offers all add-ons for a reasonable 1 time fee.
  • Data sync – this is a tough one. Most SaaS developers will come up with their own sync solution after changes to DropBox made it more difficult for developers. iCloud on iOS & macOS works in the Apple ecosystem. OneDrive might eventually for Microsoft and some Android stuff, and Google Drive for the Google stuff. I think so long as the sync adheres to the above you are good.
  • Local storage – some apps like 1Password and TextExpander offered local repository options but deprecated them for IMHO less than compelling reasons related to sync and cloud. Users should have the option to store sensitive data locally and forgo sync & cloud for that data.
  • Feature & scope creep – watch out for Saas that suddenly introduce changes for enterprises and large groups while removing or reducing functionality for individual users in order to accommodate the expansion.

What else should users look for in a SaaS product?

Subcription Victims

Ulysses, the popular macOS and iOS text editor, went to a subscription model. LastPass recently upped their monthly subscription price to $2/month, a 100% increase (among other things). 1Password, TextExpander, and a host of others have done the same.

I’m no fan of the subscription model for software – I think developers overvalue their efforts in many cases. I also understand that the other popular revenue models also suck. Apple does not make this any easier for developers or users.

I do not have an easy answer as I am not a developer. As a user, I am taking responsibility for the cost/value proposition each service (which software is becoming) offers to me. Part of the calculus is how much time and effort and enjoyment (or lack thereof) I will get leveraging another option.

Others take the victim approach to these announcements. In many cases I understand why. There is an increasing trend for revenue model changes happening without notice. Some companies do a poor job on their first stab taking care of existing customers. Others overcompensate for their existing users, alienating new users who think they are getting ripped off because they didn’t buy version 1 back in 2008 (or whenever).

David Sparks made the comment that “What [users] shouldn’t do is trash the app in review because you’re not happy with the business model.” I disagree. A developer’s or company’s behavior is relevant to the app review process as it exists today, especially in the Apple ecosystem. Many application developers act on negative comments in these reviews.

Now, were Apple and Google and Microsoft and other app store overlords to open up the app review process to categories such as technical, ownership, support, etc., my disagreement with Mr. Sparks would fall away. A more nuanced approach to feedback is needed in general. That is another post for another day.

I do agree with the fundamental fallacy of relying on negative app reviews for change. As a user, I recommend applying at least part of your righteous indignant energy toward something more positive for you.

I was in a 7 day cooling off period before jumping on the Ulysses bandwagon when the switch occurred. The initial cost for macOS and iOS before the change was a hurdle. In the new model, I can test it for two months for about $10 (as pointed out by Dr. Drang) before committing.

Fundamentally, anything only in the Apple ecosystem is a hard sell for me. I use and like using Windows 10, flaws and all, on my Surface Pro 4. I use my Nexus 6p running Android N almost as much as my iOS devices. If the application or service cannot run on at least one of those platforms, I have no need for it right now. 1Password and TextExpander are cross-platform, by the way, as are LastPass and iaWriter – two apps I am leaving.

By the way, I am doubling down on Emacs and org-mode. I picked them back up recently to help solve a few work related workflow issues. I get infinitely more flexibility with it and it is cross platform on everything but iOS. I learned I can capture and edit org-mode with Drafts.

And I like using/configuring/tweaking Emacs. Bonus.