December 11, 2013

My little Mac world

After Allan's comment in my last post (he just got a new macbook - woohoo!). I thought I would run through the stuff I have on my mac that I find essential.  Without these apps, my mac would be far less fun to use. (do remember I collected all of these a bit at a time not all at once!)  

First I will repeat what I said in my comment...  

Learn the keyboard shortcuts!  It will save soooooo much time if you don't have to use the mouse all the time.  Over at Mac Geek Gab on the last podcast, they posted a link to a keyboard cheat sheet.  When I was figuring this stuff out, I had to go search for the ones I wanted. Wish I had found this about 4 years ago! 

Next - go check out Don McAllister's Screencasts Online.  Don does a fantastic job, you can try it out before committing to it, and he is the world's nicest guy ever (yes I have met him in person!).   He has an entire series on Mavericks, so if you have upgraded, go have a look!

I hope everyone has some sort of backup application. I use Crashplan, but there are many out there. If you are not backing up your data, you will lose it.  So figure out a way either with a pay for service, a backup drive, several free services over the net... whatever you have to do - find something that will keep a copy of stuff you don't want to lose. 

Now on to the essential apps: I couldn't decide which one of the first two should be 1 and ended up saying they both are... 

1a.  Alfred.  If you do nothing else, go check out Don McAllister's screen casts on Alfred.  It simply makes your mac fantastic.  Seriously fantastic.  A few keystrokes and voilà! You can do anything.  

1b. Busycal - you can get this in the mac app store.  Apple's calendar really sucks wet socks. Seriously.  I hate it.  I originally bought this because I could change the fonts so I could see my entries. It is fantastic.  

2. Mail tags - Mail Act-on  for use with  Yes, I use and these things make it work for me.  They are working on the next release (which I will have to pay for - but I will because I love them so much I don't want to live without them). 

3. Omnifocus - this one is not for everyone just because of the price.  I have it on all my devices (yes I forked over the cash for it - it was so worth it to help me get my projects together and keep things going).  I know there are other things that are "free" (although you do get what you pay for!) and other todo type apps have wandered onto the scene, but I have been using this for about 4 years now and I love it. 

4. Evernote - it keeps everything (except maybe tax returns LOL).  I can copy/paste, drag/drop, email, web clip, scan - stuff I want to keep.  It's fantastic and it can be free (without all the features, but still very very good).  They even make it easy to get the premium for a month, do some of the high end feature stuff, then drop the premium, but you still keep the stuff you've done.  Pretty cool. And they have a fun podcast too.
5. 1Password - If you don't have a password manager, you have huge trouble waiting to happen.  Not only does this store passwords, it fills out forms, stores credit card info, stores secure notes, stores software licenses.  Don't wander onto the web without it. It is awesome.  

6. Text Expander - this saves so much typing time even for seemingly minor things. Some key strokes are so much easier than others... create a snippet.  Some words I always spell wrong... create a snippet.  Some emails I send over and over - create a snippet.  Endless uses.  

7. Command Q - if you use the keyboard like I do, you will manage far too often to Quit an application rather than close a window (CMD+Q  and CMD+W are right next to each other on the keyboard). This app does one thing and one thing only - makes it necessary to hold the Q on CMD+Q for a few extra seconds so you don't accidentally close something you want to keep open.  

8 iStat Menus - gives you lots of extra info on how your mac is behaving, right on your menu bar.  Especially on my old mac, I used it all the time to keep track of when I was over taxing the memory and cpu.  On my new one it's not so essential, but I'm so used to using it, I moved it over. 

9. Hazel - if you have routine stuff that is annoying to do you can usually create a rule in Hazel to get it done.  Empty the trash on a regular basis, move files out of the download folder, there are many things it's nice to automate and Hazel makes it easy.  

10. F.lux - this is a freebee and it's lovely.  As night falls, flux will adapt the screen color to be easier on your eyes and brain. Get it. You'll be happy you did.  

11. Dropbox - this is nice for moving files around works beautifully.  I only use the free 2GB it gives me, but it has come in handy more than once. When I had a Windows machine, I used to let 1Password live there, but now that I only have a mac, I moved 1PW to iCloud.  

12. Bartender - last but not least.  It seems every app has stuff that wants to live in the menu bar - to the point, you just can't see all of it especially on a small laptop.  Bartender to the rescue!  It cleans things up and keeps the ones you don't want to see all the time, out of sight. 

I think that's enough for now.  Have a look at these. There may be some you want to use yourself, others may not be for you at all.  But if you don't look, you'll never know. 

Posted by: Teresa in FUN at 09:17 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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December 08, 2013


My new Macbook finally finally arrived on Friday.  It took about a month because I didn't get an "off the shelf" model and for some reason, it's taking extra time to build special orders.  Oh well.

Must say I LOVE it.  It's very very fast.  All the apps open immediately, a reboot takes all of 20 seconds (shut down back to login screen).  Thank heaven!  My poor old iMac is so slow, it takes about 30 seconds just to open an app.  *sigh*

This is my first Mac laptop so some things are different than the desktop variety.  For one, I have enabled FileVault so if I have it with me when I'm out and about and someone steals it, they will have to get the files decrypted before they can do anything with it.  Gives me a little extra time to use the "find my mac" and erase everything.   Then there is the whole battery management thing. 

So far so good.  Now maybe I'll feel like getting more stuff done since I don't have to spend half my time waiting for the computer to respond to any request. 

My iMac?   I'm using that pretty much exclusively with Remote Desktop to my office stuff.  Great screen, stable connection.  All in all it's a win-win.  

I'm still fiddling with it. 

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November 22, 2013

A little joyfulness

This video is from last year, but I only just saw it and it makes me happy.  Beautifully done.  Turn up the volume, this is 5 minutes well spent.

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September 24, 2013

About a week

That's when the regular hockey season starts. Yay!  But whether you like hockey or not, this video of Patrick Kane doing some fancy stick handling is amazing.  

Of course after it went viral, his teammate Brandon Bollig had a go at it too.  Have a look and a laugh. 

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September 23, 2013

Observations while traveling

More jottings from my people watching while on the road. 


White Cotten sundress with spaghetti straps? It's only about 50 degrees outside... you look ridiculous! 

Whew screaming baby during boarding. That kid wants down NOW.  Poor mom! 

Boarding pretty smooth. Didn't have to check my bag. Always a bonus. 

Sharing a row with a flight attendant.

The video screens have been raised and lowered 4 times now all before take off. They are like yoyos or they are flapping to get us started.

Great view of Boston harbor on takeoff. First time I got a chance to check it out from the air. Cool thing to see all the buouys and islands from above. Much better than a map. 

Too bad AA doesn't do an inflight flight tracker on their wifi page like Southwest does or pilot chatter like United.  Oh well. 

All in all a fairly painless flight.  

Boarded the wrong train when leaving O'Hare (it wasn't going anywhere!).  Found a train that was leaving, good, sweltering car, bad!  Had a moment of panic thinking I hadn't taken the right train, only to realize there is only one direction for the train to go once leaving the airport... alrighty then.  Got off at next stop and waited for next train... whew a/c is nice!  

And headed back home again...

Dude on the train - all you had to do was say "excuse me" and I would have moved to allow your fat ass to sit down. Sitting on me, even partially - is bad form.  

Woman in a purple velour track suit - awesome.

Ink - 4 girls with lots of it... scanty clothes to show it off.  Ummm... okey dokey. 

Wine bar at O'Hare... damn it's way too early to get a drink, especially as I had a migraine yesterday.  *sigh*

It's not the workout studio. Really. Exercise tank and leggings for flying? Even if your shoes match the top... No. Just no. 

Aaaaaaand I get to wait an hour for the shuttle bus to get my car.  Joy. 

Lady... Either silence your stupid ringer or answer your phone. Don't just let it ring. It's irritating. 

Full bus and I get stuck behind the big overweight guy who has to recline his seat. Ugh. 

Can we get these people on board and get going? Good grief. Clueless.  

The woman next to me is making tiny scared noises every time the bus driver turns a corner.  Holy smokes!  

And made it to the car without resorting to barbed sarcasm.  I think this is a major accomplishment. 

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September 18, 2013

Travel Fun

I'm in Chicago for a couple of days for work.  So far I have managed to get one thing done I was worried would be a huge problem.  Turned out to work fine (a server issue).  Enormous relief!  Second, even more worrisome server gets dealt with tomorrow... Ugh.

Got back to the hotel in time for a storm to break.  Decided to stay in for dinner and not play hide and seek with the rain and lightning.  Met a delightful woman from New Zealand at the hotel bar. She is in Chicago sight seeing for a few days.  A most excellent way to round out a day of travel and tech. 

I may even have a new travel observations post when I get back.  We shall see.  I did manage to note a few things on the way here.  Stay tuned. 

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September 12, 2013

On a lighter note

Saw this posted on G+ today.  It's been quite a while since I heard it but it still makes me laugh. 


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September 04, 2013

A little news you can use

It looks like expedited boarding is back via the TSA. Just give them your finger prints and you can leave your shoes on. But only if you are a frequent flyer.

I must say, I'm glad I only have to fly a few times a year.

Even if you don't care to read about astronomy and various studies of galaxies, the link still has a pretty picture of a nebulae.

Mark your calendar! September 10th is the date for the announcement of the newest iPhone among other goodies.

In an effort to grab some media attention, Samsung has a new gadget.

Hmmm... not really grabbing me, gotta say.

Wonder if this is any good. I will wait for word from the encryption community. It would be interesting to know if anyone is listening in... then again it would also be good to know who is listening instead of guessing.

Last of all, let's have a glass of wine. So far one glass isn't forbidden.

You are now informed.  Have a lovely evening. 

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August 29, 2013

Hello - ello - ello

A bit echoey in here isn't it.  Wonder if there is anyone hanging around?  It has been a heck of a few weeks.  I feel like popping in to dash off a short post and never quite make it. 

Work has been work.  Had a power supply fail the other day and it took quite a while to get everything back up and running.  Most annoying. 

The real fun has been in our quest to update the furnace and air conditioner.  The house is 20 years old this year and the units are builder models.  They have about run their course of life. Especially the furnace.  Oil burning furnaces don't last nearly as long as natural gas.  So it was time to start the process of installing the new before the weather gets down into the single digits and the furnace just stops.  

We're going to put in a heat pump for those "tween" times of the year when it's above 40 degrees, but the house needs some heat.  It always makes us crazy turning on the furnace when it's still "light jacket weather" outside. But I refuse - utterly refuse - to spend all day in a house like an icebox.  The heat pump will work beautifully to warm the house to a temp I can live with and it's way less expensive than oil.  

Naturally it can't be that easy.  You really didn't think it was a simple matter of picking units and having them installed now did you?  Really?  

This is me we're talking about. Nothing is EVER simple. 

When they finished the basement in this house, they put in 2 rooms, one we use as the tv room and the second was a bedroom including walk in closet and 3/4 bath and door to the outside, I use it as my office.  In between these 2 rooms is the unfinished bit used to house the furnace and hot water heater. 

The door to the unfinished bit is in the tv room so everything has to be dragged through two rooms to get it in and out.  Lovely... but that's not even the worst.  

When finishing the closet and bathroom, they closed off access to the point where the utilities enter the house through the outside wall. They ran the line for the freon from the outside a/c unit over the ceilings of the closet and bath.  With the new units having much higher pressure, the old line must be changed out.  Soooo... they wanted to drill yet another hole in the side of our house, under the porch to run the new line.  

Ummmm... no.  Just no.  We don't need any extra holes in the side of the house.  

We called a local contractor.  He brought his guys in and they pulled down the center parts of the ceilings of each room.  Now the new lines can be run.  Then the contractor will come back and patch the ceilings.  

The contractor is also going to run some conduit.  The cable, phone and electric all come into the house at that same point.  If any new lines need to be brought in (such as fiber optic) it will be an easy matter and no one has to tear down anything or poke any new holes in the house.  

If you're keeping score, we've got... all the closet items sitting in the back of the tv room.  Holes in the ceilings of the closet and bathroom, sticky plastic all over the floor to keep things fairly neat. And we still haven't finalized the heating - a/c units we will be putting in. 

Here's hoping we can figure out which units to install that will work best for us and get them in before the first snowfall.  We shall see. 

BTW - it was a good thing I cleaned out that closet a couple weeks ago. Made it so much easier to drag all the stuff out. At least that part went right. 

Posted by: Teresa in FUN at 09:37 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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August 19, 2013

A sure fire method of frying the brain cells

I'm still cleaning closets.  I have completed 5 and emptied a 6th. At this point my concentration is completely shot.  

It's not that cleaning a closet is particularly hard physical work... well, except for dragging out some of those book boxes.  It's all the decisions. 

The first decision is the only easy one.  Is it trash?  Okay then throw it out.  I'm running across plenty of trash which means I'm able to pare things down by maybe a 1/4.  I like that decision.  

Once I have decided it's not trash... this is where it gets difficult.  Am I going to keep it or will it go to charity?  If charity, which charity?  If I keep it where will it live now? Are there other "like" objects in other closets? Is there space for this one or do I need to move the entire lot to a bigger place?  In this closet?  A different closet?  In the box it has been in? In a different box? Do I need to buy a box or boxes? If so what size and how many?

I have been following Andrew Mellen's advice of "one home for everything and like with like" so this requires quite a bit of thought.  It's tiring.  (BTW I highly recommend his audio book - very very entertaining)

The interesting thing is how much stuff is scattered throughout the house.  It's not exactly messy.  Most people think I'm rather too severely tidy.  But take something like lightbulbs.  We had lightbulbs in numerous places. Packages and individual bulbs randomly set down on shelves in plain sight or hidden behind stacks of other items.  We often bought more bulbs because we didn't know we already owned a package of a particular type.  Now I have one entire closet shelf with 4 bins of lightbulbs in various shapes, sizes, and wattages.  Need light?  Look there. 

The same applies to things like extension cords, travel toiletries, camera equipment, etc. 

Things are coming together... slowly.  Once I finish all the closets I will have to move on to drawers.  I rather dread that.  Even more small objects stuck in drawers and more decisions.  Maybe by then I will be an expert or this last large closet may just do me in.  

If you don't hear from me again, I'm probably collapsed over one of the boxes of books and papers, mind blown.  I foresee sorting those is going to be one hell of a job. 

Posted by: Teresa in FUN at 10:26 PM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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