Nerds on Draft: Science Tourism [Link]
Nerds on Draft: Science Tourism [Link]

Last week's episode of Nerds on Draft was a bit rant-y and I apologize for that. However, I think there are some good ideas that distilled out of the conversation. Check out the show notes for some interesting links too. I really like the De-Textbook mentioned in the show.
blog  NOD 
20 hours ago
Q&A With Steven Pinker [Link]
Q&A With Steven Pinker [Link]

I've always enjoyed Steven Pinker's books and essays. He's a truly thoughtful scientist. This question and answer piece on parlio is a great example of his clear and logical thinking. Even when the questions veer toward unimaginative or ignorant, his responses are still thought provoking and to the point. There's too many good ideas to quote them all so I'll leave the core principle here as bait.

That the human condition is improving. It's not just violence, but every other measure of human well-being that is on the rise: longevity, literacy, health, affluence, education.
blog  Science  Link 
5 days ago
LaunchBar Adds Action Builder
LaunchBar Adds Action Builder

I recommend starting with the documentation. While the Action Builder is a huge step forward, it's still not beginner level stuff. If you have experience with Keyboard Maestro, this is still more complicated.

Access the new Action Editor from the main LaunchBar menu:

The editor greatly simplifies the plist creation (which I assume is the primary function) but most of the "work" in an action is performed by some sort of scripting language. Luckily, LaunchBar supports all of the built-in OS X scripting languages.

The Action Editor has a logical interface and there's a lot to like but it's still going to be a challenge for most novice users. Check out some of the existing actions to get some ideas. You can open them in the Action Editor to see how they work and get sense of the difficulty.

As I said almost a year ago LaunchBar is the best off-the-shelf launcher and action tool but customizing it requires a good deal of effort. Alfred is also very good, if more simplified. But Alfred has a shallow learning curve for creating custom actions.
blog  Mac 
6 days ago
Single page of notes wins SF author John Scalzi $3.4m deal
Publisher Tor says ‘we’d be nuts to decline’ 13-book contract, which will include three young adult novels alongside next instalments of Old Man’s War series
6 days ago
Nerds on Home Brewing [Link]
Nerds on Home Brewing [Link]

This week Nerds on Draft brings you lots of weird geeky talk about home brewing. Not the computer-y kind, but the beer kind. If you like to build stuff, we also talked about building versus buying and when work can actually be more fun.
blog  NOD  Link 
11 days ago
You Have Pain
You Have Pain

Pain is good. Well, let me qualify that. The reason we've evolved to have so many pain receptors is that they serve a valuable purpose. They tell us when there's a problem with one or more of our biological systems. It's been well documented that the absence of pain does not result in a happy individual. We live and die by the tiny notifications that our body sends our brain. We prioritize our actions based on pain. If you pinch one hand and set the other on fire, you will prioritize moving the flaming limb over the mildly uncomfortable limb.

This is also my relationship with notifications. Much has been written about the evils of notifications on our computers. While the lament is real, it always strikes me as being annoyed by the experience of pain. Hitting myself in the face all day will certainly distract me from meaningful work, but noticing when my hand is on fire is pretty awesome. The trick is not to hit myself in the face all day. I accomplish this by not turning on notifications for trivialities.

I receive no notifications for Twitter. I only receive email notifications from VIPs on iOS. I do receive notifications for instant messages but I only receive messages from people that mostly have more important things to do. I receive a limited number of Slack notifications for DMs on two groups.

I also use the Do Not Disturb feature of iOS liberally.1 Whenever I walk into a meeting I toggle off the world. It's a hugely underrated feature and easily accessed on iOS 8. Learn these settings. Browse the Notification settings in iOS too. Remove as many as you can get away with. It's unlikely you need a notification at the exact time a package is delivered. It's unlikely that your text editor has anything urgent you need to know. Avoid the constant and unnecessary pain created by too many green toggles.

Even with all of this golden silence, I do need notifications. I need to know when my flight is delayed. I need to know when a server at work is offline. I need to know when it's time for my next meeting. I also really need to know when my kid's school is calling me. These are all the reason I carry a phone in my pocket. It's not there to look up quotes from 80's movies. It's there to punch me in the face when I need it.

I use even fewer notifications on OS X and almost none on Windows, except for Outlook meetings. ↩
blog 
13 days ago
Inside ILM [Link]
Inside ILM [Link]

Wired has a lengthy interview article about the history of ILM. While I found the format awkward to read, the content was worth it. The images are also great (I zoomed in on that Death Star construction image for a long time).
blog  Link 
13 days ago
FBI admits flaws in hair analysis over decades
Forensic hair matches were overstated in many cases heard before 2000, including those of 32 defendants sentenced to death, the FBI and the Justice Department acknowledged after a review.
16 days ago
The Last Day of Her Life [Link]
The Last Day of Her Life [Link]

A wonderful heartbreaking essay By Robin Marantz Henig:

When Sandy went back to the waiting room to meet Daryl, she was weeping uncontrollably. Between sobs, she explained the diagnosis and the inevitable decline on the horizon. She felt terror at the prospect of becoming a hollowed-­out person with no memory, mind or sense of identity, as well as fury that she was powerless to do anything but endure it. With Alzheimer’s disease, she would write, it is “extraordinarily difficult for one’s body to die in tandem with the death of one’s self.” That day at Mapstone’s office, she vowed that she would figure out a way to take her own life before the disease took it from her.

The essay is about so much more than dealing with a diagnosis. It's about humanity and empathy for our future self as well as others.
blog  Link  Humanity 
17 days ago
On the Design of 1Password for Apple Watch [Link]
On the Design of 1Password for Apple Watch [Link]

From the 1Password blog (which is totally worth subscribing to):

It all came to a head when we were on a business trip and in a meeting with a handful of individuals whose opinions we really respect. With our usual gusto we showed off 1Password for Apple Watch and…it fell flat. Out of the five people in the room with us, only one person was genuinely excited about. They say two outta three ain’t bad. No one ever says anything about one outta five.

I love these candid looks into development. It's not magic. It's just work by people that care about what they make.
blog  Link  Security  iOS 
17 days ago
Stop sanitizing the history of the run-up to Iraq War
Jeb's Iraq follies are diverting, but they miss the real issue.
18 days ago
Oral History as a Gift
Oral History as a Gift

Mother's Day was last week and this year I gave a gift to my mother by giving a gift to my daughter.1 I spent Sunday telling my daughter as many of my childhood "mom" stories as I could recall. I then got us all together on a FaceTime call for my Mom to tell more stories.

Here's a thing that people of my generation are now having to deal with. Our memories of our childhood are washing out and our parents, if they are still around, are forgetting some of the best times of our lives. The people that want these memories the most are our children. Home movies were rare when I was a kid. For all of the hipster mystique that the Polaroid format has now, they are actually terrible archive records. I'm left with fuzzy, muddy pictures with no dates or context.

More than the photos, my six year old child wants the experience. She wants to know that her experience of the world isn't so different from mine. It's reassuring for her to hear that a superhero like her dad also struggled to make friends in school, was bored by adult conversations and liked to dress like a weirdo whenever he could.2

For my mother, it creates a bridge of communication between her, so far away in distance and years, to her granddaughter. It opens new areas of understanding and entirely new possibilities for conversations. She gets to be an old friend to a young girl.

I now understand that oral history serves a real purpose for both the young and old of my family. It brings the human experience into a common perspective for us all. It's a shocking realization that I may actually be the elder of my tribe charged with continuing the story.

I congratulate Hallmark on the creation of one of the few marketing tools I actually appreciate. ↩

Yes, I had Mork rainbow suspenders but I also had pretty bitchin' Garanimal corduroys. ↩
blog 
18 days ago
Thing Explainer Book by Randall Monroe
Thing Explainer Book by Randall Monroe

I really enjoyed the Randall Monroe book "What If?" and now I get to look forward to his latest work Thing Explainer. I love his approach to story telling through obscure problem statements. Each "answer" is really just a new problem to unpack. Thing Explainer builds on the xkcd comic/blue print "Up Goer Five". I like schematics and blue prints so this will certainly provide hours of nose-to-page enjoyment.

For what it's worth, I also really enjoyed An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments last year. It is also nicely illustrated and thought provoking.
blog  Science 
19 days ago
BitTorrent Sync vs Dropbox – The Dafacto Blog
For many years, I stored the majority of my data in Dropbox. A few months ago, however, I migrated to BitTorrent Sync (BTS), and haven’t looked back. This article explains why. Synchronization of multiple folders Dropbox provides synchronization of a single folder—your “Dropbox” folder. In my case, however, I wanted to synchronize data across multiple …
19 days ago
Cheers Ireland! That sorts our Safe Harbour issues out – Dropbox • The Register
Speaking of Dropbox ::: Cheers Ireland! That sorts our Safe Harbour issues out – Dropbox
from twitter
19 days ago
These Two VIN Digits Reveal Model Year and Country in Seconds
Seems inefficient ::: These Two VIN Digits Reveal Model Year and Country in Seconds
from twitter
19 days ago
Satanists sue Missouri for religious exemption to antiabortion law: “Religious liberty isn’t theirs alone” - Salon.com
Satanists sue Missouri for religious exemption to antiabortion law: “Religious liberty isn’t theirs alone”
from twitter
20 days ago
Taskmator 2 with Reminders
Taskmator 2 with Reminders

The first time I mentioned Taskmator for iOS it was a year ago and it was a newly fixed successor to TaskPaper.1 As a reminder, TaskPaper for iOS was removed from sale and the source code was made available as open source. The developer of Taskmator cleaned up the original TaskPaper and fixed a number of major bugs on iOS 7, including issues with Dropbox syncing. Here we are a year on and Taskmator is showing that it's not just a dev and dash project. There's a trajectory that includes new features.

Last week a major update to Taskmator was released and it goes beyond the original TaskPaper functionality in new and interesting ways. The salient new capability is the automatic conversion of an @alarm tag into a notification. To aid in the creation of properly formatted tags, there is also a new date picker.

Any tag of the format @alarm(2015-05-09, 12:30:37 PM) is processed by Taskmator into an active notification.2 The notifications are like any other alert on iOS.

The Taskmator implementation doesn't ruin the flexibility of plain text. An @alarm tag entered manually outside of Taskmator is converted to a notification once the file is opened in the app. This is the biggest weakness of the functionality. There is not sufficient background refreshing to keep notifications up to date on iOS without opening the file. If you are constantly checking tasks on your phone or iPad like I am, then there's little concern. Taskmator processes alarm tags each time the file is viewed.

Editing and completing a task in Taskmator works as expected. Slide right-to-left on a task to open the data picker. The picker is pre-populated with the current date and time. Unfortunately, if there is already an alarm set, the picker is not updated to that date and time. It's a minor issue in my regular use.

The standard TaskPaper-esque slide left-to-right on a task to mark as done also works. The task is marked with a @done tag and the @alarm tag is removed.

This is a great evolutionary step from the original TaskPaper app. I'm thankful Jesse made TaskPaper open source instead of killing it off because it has provided the basis for someone else to improve upon his work. The implementation also preserves the best aspect of plain text. I can work in Editorial for iOS and Taskmator or jump into Sublime Text PlainTasks or TaskPaper on my Mac. It's up to me and there are few consequences.

Taskmator | iOS Universal | $3

I'm not going to give a deep dive on the TaskPaper format here. See this previous article if you are interested in plain text for task management. ↩

I'm not a fan of the time format. I prefer 24 hr time but that's a point of personal taste. They are equally functional. ↩
blog  iOS  Productivity 
21 days ago
How to Push Back Against Billionaire Donors
Reporters should apply the same level of scrutiny to campaign financiers as they do to political candidates.
22 days ago
Leaving New York and Also Technology [Link]
Leaving New York and Also Technology [Link]

This essay by Benjamin Hart on the Awl is already a classic for me. It's so close to being an actual Verge article that I almost didn't bother reading it. I'm so glad I did. The opening paragraph is pure gold but it's chock full of little treasures like this:

And Zgliewzki, the Polish diner everyone loved (though nobody I know had ever been there) shuttered to make way for Polski, a modern take on Slavic cuisine featuring a forty-two-dollar ramen kielbasa stuffed with sustainably farmed foie gras.

"sustainably farmed foie gras" made me laugh out loud.

I'm jealous of how fantastic this essay is. The on-the-nose humor kills me.

The last straw came in February, when, while waiting in a Trader Joe’s line that snaked around the block twice to buy conflict-free hummus, I learned via Periscope that my co-worker Steve had been selected for Amazon drone-delivery beta testing.
blog  Humor  Link 
25 days ago
Redacted for Mac Launch
Yesterday, Redacted for Mac hit the App Store. It's this little app I've been working on here and there to quickly hide parts of an image. Here's a one minute video demo if you want the quick rundown. All I...
business  development 
25 days ago
37 Excellent Apple Watch Tips & Tricks
You probably think your Apple Watch is cool already, but wait till you try these top-notch tips and tricks. As with Apple’s other products, it’s easy to miss a lot of the watch’s small details and und
hardware  Tips 
26 days ago
Congratulations on Your Opinion [Link]
Congratulations on Your Opinion [Link]

Stu Maschwitz:

If you’re still having a hard time seeing my distinction between reactions and opinions, here’s a helpful rule of thumb. Your reaction doesn’t require anyone else to be wrong.

This link was from a timely tweet by the author himself. It's a good boundary condition to consider. The internet seems to have forgotten the meaning of "opinion." I still regard them as similar to a certain popular orifice.

By way of Stu on Twitter
blog  Link 
26 days ago
Pixelmator Update with Repair Tool [Link]
Pixelmator Update with Repair Tool [Link]

Pixelmator is an extremely impressive application and it's probably much cheaper than anyone would believe. Check out their demo of the repair tool functionality on their blog. It's pretty mind blowing as part of a $30 Mac app.

Pixelmator | Mac | $30
blog  Mac  Link 
26 days ago
Is Pagico 7 the easy-to-use app to replace OmniFocus and Bento for your data & task management? [Sponsor]
Is Pagico 7 the easy-to-use app to replace OmniFocus and Bento for your data & task management? [Sponsor]

My thanks to Pagico for sponsoring Macdrifter this week. The new version looks fantastic. It looks so good that I'm running a longer than usual ad copy. Pagico runs on multiple platforms, makes reference material a core feature (like I do) and syncs everywhere.

Some apps are great at managing projects & tasks, and others are great at managing data. Pagico 7 is one of the few apps that combines data organization with task management into one easy-to-use package. It's all your notes, tasks, files, projects and clients in one app.

The biggest advantage of Pagico is that users can manage everything all together. This means you can have boarding passes right next to travel itineraries, or design drafts alongside with meeting notes.

When you have todo lists stored in different projects or contacts, it's easy to overlook them and miss your deadlines. So Pagico has a Dashboard view that turns all your tasks into one interactive flowchart. Unlike the usual calendar view, the flowchart is very effective in giving you a forecast of your workload. It's particularly helpful to keep users informed about those bigger, long-term tasks.

Navigating among your projects is easy, even when you have hundreds of them. Pagico allows you to manage projects using tags, and it has a very powerful tag browser that lets you easily browse through your projects.

When projects are finished, Pagico can also archive them effectively. Once archived, projects will be out of sight to reduce visual clutter. But they will still be accessible using the tag browser. This way, you can easily locate an old project with just a few clicks.

The new Pagico 7 also works with Zapier, allowing Pagico to connect to thousands of 3rd party apps. For example, you can create zaps to turn new Pagico tasks into events in Google Calendar, or save emails matching certain keywords into a selected project, etc.

Pagico 7 is a great productivity platform with lots of unique features. You can download and try Pagico 7 for free for 2 weeks.

Availability & System Requirements

Pagico 7 is launching on May 5, 2015. It's available for OS X (10.7+), Windows (Vista+), Ubuntu (12.04+). Pagico Plus (sold separately) is available for iOS (6.0+) and Android (4.0+) devices. The cloud sync for personal use is free with Pagico Plus.

About the Developer

The Pagico productivity suite is developed by NOTES 17 LLC, a small software team located in Indianapolis, IN. The company develops innovative software products for a wide range of platforms.
blog  Sponsor  iOS  Windows  Productivity 
27 days ago
Creating Bands for Apple Watch [Link]
Creating Bands for Apple Watch [Link]

Apple now details the requirements for third party bands. I doubt officially licensed bands will be all that much cheaper, given this:

Apple Watch lugs will be available soon through the Made for Apple Watch program.

The license terms seem relatively unencumbered though (minus the usual boilerplate about sublicensing).
blog  Link  Hardware  Apple 
27 days ago
Microsoft Metadata Slurping Spree [Link]
Microsoft Metadata Slurping Spree [Link]

From Lisa Vaas over on NakedSecurity:

That means that everybody who succumbed to the viral spread of the tool gave up metadata that included not only age and gender, the writers said, but also geolocation data

I'm assuming that some sort of authentication was required to get accurate geo location information beyond what is available from an incoming IP address.

I did think this was interesting though:

Not coincidentally, Microsoft was also busy at Build touting its new "Hello" authentication protocol, which supports three types of biometric authentication: fingerprint, iris and yes, facial recognition.

Clearly facial recognition, alone, will not be an effective form of authentication. But if some combination of these factors is to become a future standard, we're definitely in the process of removing iris and facial features as reliable and unique methods.
blog  Security  Link 
28 days ago
U.S. Indictment Details Plotting in New Jersey Bridge Scandal
An indictment released in New Jersey on Friday filled out specifics of the George Washington Bridge lane-closing scandal, and the delight three conspirators took in it.
4 weeks ago
The 9, no 10, no 13, no 14 rung ladder of Buddhism | kung fu grippe
More timely than most people can know. And so on the nose. ::: The 9, no 10, no 13, no 14 rung ladder of Buddhism
gstar 
4 weeks ago
Plex Update Adds Enhanced Music Support [Link]
Plex Update Adds Enhanced Music Support [Link]

Plex ended April with a rather significant update for music libraries. The latest update makes it easier to edit the music library and provides long awaited features like multi-disc support. But if you are a Plex Plus subscriber you also get enhanced meta data through Gracenote.

I gave up on using Plex for music because I didn't like the experience as well as my Synology Audio or iTunes Match. This update has prompted me to import my copious music collection back into Plex.1

All Plex users get the enhanced music support with better browsing, concert tour listings, music videos and better surfacing of suggestions.

The Gracenote fingerprinting is a great enhancement but only available to Plex Pass members. Thankfully I'm a lifetime pass holder because I really like the new meta data.

I run my Plex server from my Synology so it's less of an import and more of just pointing Plex to the existing music on the Synology. It still takes awhile to index a large music collection. ↩
blog  Link  Plex 
4 weeks ago
Layers Conference [Link]
Layers Conference [Link]

I'm not a designer. My taste is objectively bad and I actually like socks with sandals. I'm also not part of any clique that I am aware. But I do think I have a keen sense of authenticity.

The Layers Conference looks like one of three conferences I actually ever wanted to attend. Awesome people talking about the stuff that makes them excited is my favorite thing. Go ahead. Go read those bios and tell me that doesn't sound great.

If I didn't house a constant fear that my family would run away if I ever left for more than eight hours, I'd totally be there.
blog  Link 
4 weeks ago
Nerds on Draft With iOS Automation and Saison Dupont [Link]
Nerds on Draft With iOS Automation and Saison Dupont [Link]

Nearly an hour and half about iOS Automation and one of the best Saisons around? What's not to like about the latest Nerds on Draft? iOS 8.3 has really improved the toolchain for many people, but the quality of the apps are still what keeps me enthralled with the platform. More than ever before, there are terrific ways to automate even the most rudimentary tasks on iOS. Except, listening to this podcast. That's all on you.
blog  NOD  Link 
4 weeks ago
Hosting Your Website After Death [Link]
Hosting Your Website After Death [Link]

No offense, because I can understand why someone may want to do this, but I don't care if this site dissapears when I do. If you care about your site beyond the 80 year lifespan we are alotted, this is a detailed discussion of the pitfalls.

For example, a friend of mine once purchased lifetime hosting for $199 from a company called TextDrive which was later acquired by Joyent, and somewhere along the way the companies decided to shut down their service, then restart it, then shut it down again.

I do care that may child may some day want to read all of the irrelevant crap I've written here. It's a pretty good example of what her old man was like (nerdy, sarcastic, cynical and kind hearted). That's the great thing about a static website. My entire blog exists on thumbdrive in a safe, along with my journal and 1Password vault.
blog  Link 
4 weeks ago
New WordPress Zero Day Exploit [Link]
New WordPress Zero Day Exploit [Link]

This is bad. Update your WordPress blogs. Maybe consider something more simple if you're not the size of TechCrunch.

"If triggered by a logged-in administrator, under default settings the attacker can leverage the vulnerability to execute arbitrary code on the server via the plugin and theme editors," Jouko Pynnönen, a researcher with Finland-based security firm Klikki Oy, wrote in a blog post published Sunday evening. "Alternatively the attacker could change the administrator's password, create new administrator accounts, or do whatever else the currently logged-in administrator can do on the target system."
blog 
4 weeks ago
Presenting With the Apple Watch [Link]
Presenting With the Apple Watch [Link]

From Fraser Spiers:

I was initially confused about this as it's not obvious what puts it into each mode but here's the rule: if you have a Keynote presentation open in Keynote on your iPhone when you launch the Watch app, it will control that presentation. If you're looking at the Keynote file picker when you launch the Watch app, it will go into Keynote Remote Remote mode and start trying to connect to Keynote on your Mac or iPad. That's a lot of Keynote.

I'm fairly cynical about this watch thing, but I can definitely get behind use cases like this. The watch could be a great presentation tool if it starts to integrate vibration responses for timers and slide tranistion alerts. It could make you seem almost omniscient, staring your audience in the eye while changing slides and triggering animations at the exact right time. All of this could be enabled by an ordinary looking watch on your wrist.
blog  Hardware  Link 
4 weeks ago
Delete Completed Reminders in Reminders.app
RT : If you were wondering how to nuke all those completed tasks in Reminders.app, here's an applescript for that:
from twitter
5 weeks ago
4-Year-Old Boy Meets His Life-Saving Bone Marrow Donor « CBS Boston
Don't forget there are awesome people out there ::: 4-Year-Old Boy Meets His Life-Saving Bone Marrow Donor
from twitter
5 weeks ago
Your Password is Too Short [Link]
Your Password is Too Short [Link]

Jeff Atwood takes a look at password length and complexity across several services.

That's a bit better, but you can't really feel safe until the 12 character mark even with a full complement of uppercase, lowercase, numbers, and special characters.

I like 1Password and it thinks some of these passwords are moderately OK. It's not until passwords reach about 20 characters, that 1Password thinks these are very strong.

A convenient and crushingly disappointing trick is to create a smart folder in 1Password to show weak passwords.
blog  Security 
5 weeks ago
Just-released WordPress 0day makes it easy to hijack millions of websites [Updated] | Ars Technica
RT : Just-released WordPress 0day makes it easy to hijack millions of websites -- hooray for static site generators.
from twitter
5 weeks ago
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