Agenda for iOS Review

Agenda … is one of the most interesting note-taking apps I’ve used. The app is simultaneously structured around projects, like a task manager, and dates, like a calendar app.

What makes Agenda a little bewildering at first is its use of dates and projects, which sometimes makes it feel like a calendar app and other times like a task manager, even though it’s neither. The app doesn’t try to force you into a predefined system. Instead, Agenda gives you multiple ways to organize and view your notes through tagging, filtering, sorting, and searching. The upside is flexibility that should accommodate almost anyone’s workflow. The downside is that it can take time and experimentation to discover how it can work for you.

(Via Mac Stories)

The parallels with Orgmode are, at least to me, obvious and surprising in a good way. I played with Agenda on iOS. The metaphor was a visual analog to how I use (or, more correctly, strive to use) Orgmode for Getting Shit Done.

Hmmm … I wonder how long until there’s a way to integrate the two …

Finder’s Stationery Pad Feature – How Is This Not More Well Known? →:

Tim Hardwick, writing for MacRumors:

Stationery Pad is a handy way to nix a step in your workflow if you regularly use document templates on your Mac. The long-standing Finder feature essentially tells a file’s parent application to open a copy of it by default, ensuring that the original file remains unedited.

Follow the link for a way to set any file on your Mac to be a template file, so you don’t overwrite it. I don’t feel bad for not knowing about this trick, since I’ve never heard it discussed, and since the name doesn’t really describe what it does. On the other hand, I feel stupid for never wondering what that checkbox does. This will be very handy for automation tools like Keyboard Maestro.

∞ Permalink

(Via 40Tech)

Pretty useful feature I may have to play with more.

Over on subtraction.com there’s an article on how to sling links from your iPhone (or an iOS device) to your Mac.

The author is one of the developers of a tool I use daily. It’s called Bumpr [App Store], and it lets you chose any of your installed browsers to open a given URL.

The other bit of this recipe uses AirDrop, a utility built into Apple’s operating systems. This is a bit of tooling I’ve never used. Essentially I forgot the thing even exists.

Step one is to install the afore mentioned Bumpr utility on your Mac. 

Also on:

Warning

There are potential issues with web site functionality, ethics, and breaking your OS if you follow the below steps. Your Mileage May Vary. If you break something or find yourself in existential anguish over the moral implications of this recipe (see Ethics, &c. below), they are totally on you.

Recipe

I take a “defense in-depth” approach to security. While I use ad blocking add-ons in my web browsers and often use text-only browsers to reduce the attack surface, they don’t help for other apps. Here is how I keep my hosts file updated for another layer of ad blocking on my hosts.

First, we need to get the latest version of an ad blocking hosts file. I get mine from winhelp2002.mvps.org.

cd ~/Downloads
wget http://winhelp2002.mvps.org/hosts.txt

Then we need to calculate the difference between the system’s current hosts file and the one we downloaded.

diff -ud /etc/hosts hosts.txt > hosts.patch

Let’s back up the hosts file including permissions in case we make an error.

sudo cp -p /etc/hosts hosts.bak

Next, we apply the patch to the hosts file as root.

sudo patch -b /etc/hosts hosts.patch

Finally, we need to refresh the DNS cache to reflect the changes.

sudo killall -HUP mDNSResponder && echo macOS DNS Cache Reset

If you find something is wrong with your host or your soul, you can revert the change.

sudo cp -p ~/Downloads/hosts.bak /etc/hosts

… and then re-execute the DNS cache refresh command just above.

For Windows hosts, download the hosts.zip file from the above link. It includes a batch file to automate the process.

For GNU/Linux, BSD, and Unix hosts something similar to the macOS instructions will work for you.

Ethics, &t.

Many will argue that this type of system-wide ad blocking is unethical up to and including theft. This is a valid argument. However, I do subscribe to the sites and services I value the most, such as the New York Times & Japan Times for home delivery(!), magazines like the Atlantic, and websites like the Brooks Review.

There are security risks, privacy concerns, and system performance issues that are equally valid. And some ads (auto-playing videos, anyone?) consume an inordinate amount of bandwidth at additional cost to me when I am on a metered network. These tip the scales toward blocking, in my humble opinion.

Once ad networks and the sites that use them prove their commitment to effective security practices, exhibit proper security hygiene, and respect users’ privacy by default I will reconsider my approach.

Please feel free to comment constructively. Don’t be evil.

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I love this tip for adding a Recents stack to macOS:

Most users are aware that you can drag any folder into the right-hand side of the Dock to turn it into a stack, but the following lesser-known trick creates a unique stack type containing your most recently opened applications, documents, or servers.

Alternatively, you can also set this unique type of stack to show the Favorite folder locations and Device links that appear in your Finder’s sidebar.

From macrumors.com.

This saves me time, especially when dealing with MS Office files. I work with several to dozens in a day, so having this stack instead of relying on the built-in Powerpoint or Word, &t.functionality makes a noticeable difference.

Now, if I could just trigger and navigate it with the keyboard …

Anyway, open a terminal window and enter the following:

defaults write com.apple.dock persistent-others -array-add '{"tile-data" = {"list-type" = 1;}; "tile-type" = "recents-tile";}'; killall Dock

The stack should appear on your Dock. Right click it and tailor it to your needs. Please note:

Note that you can change the number of items shown in a recent items stack in the following way: Click the Apple () logo in the menu bar, select System Preferences…, open the General preference pane, and choose another number from the Recent items dropdown menu.

Enjoy!

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I struggled figuring out this little gem. I will spare you my journey to resolution. Suffice to say the process is easier than it seems and High Sierra will dymanically load the required keys as you access systems.

Here’s a simple post of what worked for me:

-1. Don’t execute a ‘ssh-add -A’ at any point in this process. A lot of advice recommends this at various steps. It is not needed in my experience.

  1. Edit or create $HOME/.ssh/config, adding the following lines:
Host *
AddKeysToAgent yes
UseKeychain yes

If you already have a config file, add the two lines ending with ‘yes’ to the ‘Host *’ section. If you have different keys for different destinations, make sure you specify them in the host definition sections that should come before the ‘Host *’ definition. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, these exceptions don’t apply to you.

  1. For each of your private keys on your macOS host, do the following from the terminal:
/usr/bin/ssh-add -K $HOME/.ssh/id_dsa

… where ‘id_dsa’ is the name of each of your private key files, one file per command. The important part is that the ‘ssh-add’ command needs the full path to the private key files. If you get an error on the ‘-K’ option, try dropping it.

  1. Open your keychain properties on your macOS host and search for ssh. The keys you added should be listed with their full paths.
  2. From the terminal, execute the following:

/usr/bin/ssh-add -l

… to list your keys. It should return none of your keys. This is expected.

  1. SSH to a destination host that already has your public key in the $HOME/.ssh/authorized_hosts file. It should work.
  • Back on your macOS host, again execute the following:

  • /usr/bin/ssh-add -l

    At least one of your keys added above should be in the list.


    This is an imperfect recipe. My MacBook Air is otherwise unavailable so I am working off of memory. I will replicate this on my home Mac Mini and edit this post for accuracy as I go.

    Also on:

    I don’t know if I buy this as useful, but cool that it’s an option:

    That’s actually even better than what I had originally suggested, as here it’s also suggested to use CapsLock with a dual purpose as well – Control when held down and Escape otherwise. I have no idea how this never came to my mind, but it’s truly epic! A crazy productivity boost just got even crazier!

    From <a href=”http://emacsredux.com/blog/2017/12/31/a-crazy-productivity-boost-remapping-return-to-control-2017-edition/”>http://emacsredux.com/blog/2017/12/31/a-crazy-productivity-boost-remapping-return-to-control-2017-edition/</a>

    PSA: Importing the OS X Path into Emacs:

    The exec-path-from-shell package is a must-have for the OS X Emacs user. Before I found it, I could never get the search path for Emacs configured correctly. Once I installed it, all those problems disappeared and I haven’t thought about them since. Really; if you’re using Emacs on a Mac, you need this.

    (Via Emacs – Irreal)

    Here’s the recipe from my config:

    (when (memq window-system '(mac ns))
    (use-package exec-path-from-shell
    :ensure t
    :config
    (exec-path-from-shell-initialize)
    ) )

    Since I use the same config on multiple OSes the opening line makes sure it only installs on a OS X/macOS host.

    I own a mid-2011 Mac Mini Server. Earlier this year I brought it to Japan with me. Being relatively compact, it was easy to transport. But it was in rough shape: hard drives loudly hummed, the fan whistled, and the whole operation ran hot.

    Over on Reddit I outlined my situation as basically Is upgrading my Mac Mini’s Disks Worth It? The answer was yes! I got a Dell 27″ IPS display, an AmazonBasics monitor mounting arm, and cleaned up my desk to celebrate. Note to self: I still need a good chair.

    Then I tackled the big issue – work at home.

    There is not much need for me to bring my company issued MacBook Air home with me most days. My current generation iPad with a Magic Keyboard handles 90% of what I need in the off hours. But what about what about the 10%, and when I work from home?

    Using VMWare Fusion on my Mac Mini, I set up a virtual machine for work. It only took 4 tries to get it set up properly for work. The issues were with the setup mechanism with the corporate environment, but VMWare did me few favors – it doesn’t support non-English keyboards in guest VMs without editing each VM’s VMX file, no Unity for macOS guests, no T.R.I.M. support, and other headaches. Regardless, the apps I need for work installed and work in the VM … mostly.

    Next I need my backup plan for the Mini, buy that chair I mentioned, and come up with an elegant way to disguise my desk when not needed. I’m thinking small curtains.

    I might consider an incremental upgrade to a 2012 Server but not to the 2014 Mac Mini models due to their lack of user replaceable components. If Apple were to release a new Mac Mini in the 2011/2012 mold with updated everything I would jump on it.

    As things are, even though my Mini is now end of support with Apple, it works well with upgrades. When the Mini dies, if Apple keeps on its current course, I’d get a topped out MacBook Pro 15″ (2015 model if I can find one) and just permanently dock it with a smart outlet to keep the battery in as good a shape as possible. I’d hope I’d never have to use it as an real laptop (unless the 2015 keyboard is an option) but use Negative Visualization to prepare me for the experience.

    It would be sad, though.

    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