If you have read my blog before, you’ll know that I am a big fan of Alfred (here). I love the shortcuts and the ability to make things quicker. One of the things I find myself doing quite frequently is looking for domains and their traffic counts on Alexa, Compete, and Quantcast. (more…)
I like to think I have been making the most of what’s available on my Mac. This means taking advantage of some obscure and some not so obscure apps. I want to go through some of those apps and a little about their usage to help others get some of the benefit I get. There are certainly other products available and even ones I use. The 5 apps I describe are the ones I use the most frequently (and recommend to just about everyone I come in contact with who uses a Mac).
I use Capistrano to deploy my webapps and have been for a while. I also deploy right from my laptop quite frequently. So I was a little taken aback when I could deploy in one place and not in another. It turned out that Capistrano was having issues with deploying to multiple servers. In fact, it turned out that the problem had the appearance of being Capistrano, but in actuality, it was Net-SSH. The whole issue can be tracked via the Lighthouse ticket here. I’m going to show you how to diagnose if you have this problem faster and how to fix it.
I use Bash one liners a lot. I think they are an important part of any programmers and sysadmins toolkit. If you can’t write a bash one liner, even a simple iterator, then you really need to learn. I promise it will make your life infinitely more pleasant.
Frequently I find myself writing things that require a loop or an increment of numbers. A good example would be like something that would walk over my web servers and check their uptime, load averages, etc. Using seq, that’s easy. But since Mac OS X doesn’t come with the seq command, I would previously improvise.
My editor of choice for most of what I do on the Mac (when I’m not in the shell using Vim) is Textmate. I recently came across a neat plugin called the Textmate Minimap. Essentially this plugin opens a map across the side of your Textmate window (like another drawer on the other side) and allows you to scroll full screens. You can move the editing window screen by screen in the minimap. This is equivalent to a visual page down.
I have been using Git a lot lately and have found a lot of things I like better in Git than in Subversion. The one major item that was really bothering me was that there wasn’t really too many Git clients that could help you visualize the repository. I mean show merges, commits, branching, blame, etc. Seeing that CVS and Subversion have been around for a lot longer, there are many clients for them and now that I have been using Git for a while on the command line, I decided to take a look again.
What I am looking for is simple. I want 2 things:
- In the typical Mac style, I want a great looking interface. I want to be able to see who did what, when, and why (assuming good commit messages from the developers).
- Easy navigation through all the features. I am not planning on using any of the commands visually, I am still an archaic command line junkie.
One of my favorite features of git coming from Subversion is the ease of branching. I branch for everything now that I am using git. So in order to best track my changes, I was hoping for something to help me visualize my branches. I didn’t count this specifically in my desires because it wasn’t a requirement to be acceptable, but it definitely would have helped to tip the scales.
To quote Apple, “It’s the world’s first multi-touch mouse.” It’s a wireless mouse that attaches to any computer that has a keyboard, mouse and Bluetooth via Bluetooth. It’s sleek just like everything else Apple makes. But the best part is that (as of now), its only $69. Good work Apple.
I could go on and on about why I think its cool and what it can do, but why waste time on my website reading a summary, just check it out on Apple’s web site: http://www.apple.com/magicmouse/
I just wrote a blog post about an external trackpad for the Mac with multi-touch (found here). But wouldn’t it be cool if someone wrote an app that allows you to tether your phone to your laptop and use it as a multi-touch trackpad?
All you would have to do is open the app on your phone and you’d be able to control the mouse on your screen. You can control your lights from your phone and your iTunes from your phone, so why not your mouse? For all i know the app might already be out there. If it is, someone tell me, otherwise, someone write it :).
I used to be a big fan of ergonomic keyboards (and I still am). But I am an even bigger fan of the multi-touch trackpad. I have even extended it by using MultiClutch (I know the link looks funny, but that’s the page title, I promise). MultiClutch allows you to extend the swiping and pinching of fingers to extend to other applications and key combinations (both locally and globally). This means that it is so much a part of my daily productivity that I have had to make due without an ergonomic keyboard.
If someone knows about an external multi-touch trackpad (either wireless or USB) that supports 1,2,3 and 4 finger multi-touch, please let me know. And if one doesn’t exist, please let Apple know :). Ultimately what I would like my “at home” setup to be is a wireless ergonomic keyboard along with a wireless ergonomic multi-touch trackpad.
I’d like to hear everyone’s thoughts on this.
Things by Cultured Code does come with a high price tag. But it is by far the most useful todo app that I have come across.
Let’s do a quick salient point pro/con analysis of this. One of my favorite parts of Things is the concept of context. When you create a todo item, you can tag it with what context it is in. Then you can sort or show your todo’s by context. You can sort by multiple tags. This can be shown with the following example, “How can I see what phone calls I have to make for work?” You can click on the items tagged with work and phone. Then you’ll have which phone calls to make.
The biggest con here is the hefty price tag. It definitely does cause some sticker shock. Between the USD $10 for iPhone app and the USD $50 for the laptop/desktop version, USD $60 can be quite a bit for the simplicity of a todo app.
I have found that since spending the USD $60, I have become a lot more efficient and productive. There are also a lot fewer things that fall through the cracks. I have to face facts that I have a pretty poor memory. So when I have something to do, I immediately put it into Things and then sync it as soon as I am in the same place as my laptop again.
One of the beautiful aspects of Things is its simplicity. It has a simple interface and a very succinct group of menus. The only thing that I believe that Things is missing is alerts. I like the iCal sync and iPhone sync, but I would like it to integrate into Growl. This would be even more useful if you could give specific times that you want the Growl notifications to pop up. I know this isn’t possible in the current state of the iPhone OS (until push notifications from the background are available). But this is certainly an available on the laptop/desktop setup.
I am a big believer in FOSS and Open Source in general. However, I am also a big believer in the right tool for the right job. Sometimes that tool costs a little bit of money. Although it may not be the right tool for everyone, it happened to be a tool that made me a more efficient worker and person.
For months I have been trying to figure out the best way to download Youtube videos to watch on my iPhone my hour commute to work. I tried a few different methods, the most recent of which was TubeTV. TubeTV was good except it was missing a few key features like continuing partially downloaded files and importing directly into iTunes. I could live with this up until it completely stopped working for me (otherwise I would still be using it).
I have a few tools for making and keeping myself more productive. One of those tools is Quicksilver. I know it is a widely used tool so I won’t spend time talking about everything it can do. However, from the Blacktree website, it is:
A unified, extensible interface for working with applications, contacts, music, and other data.
I like to be reminded of things, but I usually hate putting them into Entourage or Things (which I will definitely be covering in a future blog post). A shortcut using Quicksilver is to do the following:
- Initiate Quicksilver (in my case): CTRL-SPACE
- Type the ‘.‘ to enter text mode
- Enter your reminder message: Relax your eyes
- Press TAB and select Large Type
- Press CTRL-Enter and select a period
- For testing, use Run After Delay and Tab over to the third box
- Enter an element of time. Again for testing, we’ll use 5s (the ‘s‘ being seconds) and press enter.
And there you have it. It will appear before your eyes 5 seconds after pressing enter. Just remember, there is no stickiness with Quicksilver. If it closes for any reason (computer restart, Quicksilver crash, etc), your reminder is gone with it.
When I did my most recent upgrade (the latest Mac software updates), it broke my Perl install. In order to figure out if your Perl is broken like mine was, you will get a result like this:
beacon:mail elubow$ perl -MIO
IO object version 1.22 does not match bootstrap parameter 1.23 at /System/Library/Perl/5.8.8/darwin-thread-multi-2level/XSLoader.pm line 94.
Compilation failed in require.
BEGIN failed--compilation aborted.
I had a little trouble finding out how to fix this. So I am posting this here in case it helps someone else out. It was a simple fix (since CPAN doesn’t work) that you have to do by hand. Go to the CPAN site and download dist IO here. Download and untar it and run the following commands:
beacon:IO-1.2301 elubow$ sudo perl Makefile.PL
Writing Makefile for IO
beacon:IO-1.2301 elubow$ sudo make install
cc -c -arch i386 -arch ppc -g -pipe -fno-common -DPERL_DARWIN -no-cpp-precomp -fno-strict-aliasing -Wdeclaration-after-statement -I/usr/local/include -O3 -DVERSION=\"1.23\" -DXS_VERSION=\"1.23\" "-I/System/Library/Perl/5.8.8/darwin-thread-multi-2level/CORE" IO.c
<strong>Removed for brevity</strong>
Files found in blib/arch: installing files in blib/lib into architecture dependent library tree
Appending installation info to /System/Library/Perl/5.8.8/darwin-thread-multi-2level/perllocal.pod