December 25, 2020

Gratuitous Cat PictureGratuitous Cat Picture

2020 Review

2020 was fucked up in so many ways. I am struggling to make sense of it. I can’t get my head around some of the news.

  1. 300000+ dead and 74+ million are okay with it.
  2. Martial law in America? Being discussed in the White House?
  3. Tear gassing peaceful protestors on the streets of the capital for a photo op?
  4. An apostate waving a Bible around and that is okay?
  5. Chavez coming from the grave to monkey with our elections?
  6. Only a handful of Republican elected officials in Congress finding what is going on objectionable?
  7. The President of the USA explicitly addressing White Nationalists?
  8. Attempted murder is a crime. So is an attempted coup. This surely can’t be the “new normal.”

I could go on, but I am going to stop.

Two books which everyone should read:

  1. It Was All a Lie by Stuart Stevens
  2. Hiding in Plain Sight: The Invention of Donald Trump and the Erosion of America by Sarah Kendzior

News on the Apple Front

I am excited by Apple Silicon. Waiting for the iMac reboot. Praying that my old iMac(mid-2011) lasts till the new machines come out.

Big Sur is an improvement over Catalina but not by much. That might be a function of my lack of exposure. My main machine, the iMac is running High Sierra because it can’t run anything newer. I am using Big Sur on the Air, but with COVID restrictions, the need for portability is low. I need to use Big Sur more before I make up my mind on it.

Writing Software

I had a brief fling with Emacs for a while. It ended with me searching for a solution to my writing needs.

Drafts

Drafts has become the primary program which controls my writing. Everything starts in Drafts. Notes, lists, blog articles, and miscellaneous doodling with text. It is the program which gives me the least friction. These are some of the features I am fond of:

  1. Fantastic quick input menubar addition.
  2. Full-support for Markdown. Actions geared towards Markdown input make the process of writing in Markdown easy.
  3. Integration with iA Writer, BBEdit and iThoughts when I need it.
  4. Lovely full screen mode with typewriter scrolling.
  5. Actions to perform anything I want.
  6. Full support of macOS goodies. Services menu, text replacements and everything else.
  7. No friction.

Drafts is a program with a database backend. It doesn’t support individual text files. But I write in it and when it is ready for archiving, I export files to individual text files and file in the appropriate folders. I have a plain text file backup and I get to use the goodies in Drafts to produce the content.

I can get rid of all the elements except the editing window and keep writing in Drafts without any distraction. It is Ulysses with full support for Markdown including tables.

I am happy with this setup. Drafts is making me write.

nvUltra

nvUltra is in beta. The product is coming along nicely. The last few months have been a little choppy but this might be the answer to the needs of a lot of people who are looking for a replacement for nvALT. I am looking forward to its release.

Obsidian

Obsidian is an Electron based note-taking application. I am going to write about it in detail once the beta period ends. At this point, it is too fast moving a target to adequately cover.

Geared towards “knowledge management,” this is a new program which is getting a lot of attention amongst the nerds. Concentrating on the creation of linked nodes of information, this is a different kind of note-taking program.

I am getting over my distaste of Electron apps to explore this program. One of the best features of the program? A published plug-in API. That means, developers all over the world have the ability to add features and capabilities through plug-ins. Think Sublime Text, Atom, VSCode, and TextMate, but for note-taking and knowledge management. I can’t wait to see what developers add to this program.

BBEdit

One of the things I noticed about Emacs was it’s struggles with opening large files and that surprised me. BBEdit has no such problems. I convert books I read from the .epub, .azw, .pdf, and .mobi files to text files and like reading them in a text editor. This gives me the ability to take notes in the document and have all of it searchable and indexed.

BBEdit, Sublime Text, and surprisingly, Obsidian have no problem dealing with these files. I like to use BBEdit to read these books. After my experience with Emacs, I wanted to settle on one program for all of my writing and BBEdit was the program which came closest to fulfilling that function. Drafts took over that task and I use BBEdit exclusively for my book reading. It is snappy, reliable and an absolute treat to live in.

Other Software

Alfred

Alfred is crucial. I use this all the time. More than 130+ times a day.

Keyboard Maestro

Keyboard Maestro is another utility which gets used multiple times a day. I have all kinds of macros written in it. Anything which I find myself doing repeatedly gets turned into a Keyboard Maestro macro and that makes my life so much easier.

Path Finder

Path Finder is a Finder replacement. I love it. It does so many things better than the Finder that it is something that I am growing to rely on.

Enpass

After 1Password moved to subscription, I moved my password handling chores to Enpass. It works and works fine. I am happy with it.

EagleFiler

EagleFiler is my digital dump. I have everything I need to keep a record of in various EagleFiler files. Recipes, receipts, manuals of programs and things, and so on. It is fast, reliable and well-supported by the developer. In fact, there are two products from this developer which are crucial to my life. EagleFiler and SpamSieve, which takes me to the next crucial element of my digital life.

MailMate

MailMate in association with SpamSieve manages my email. Lets me write in Markdown. Has fantastic customizable keyboard command support and it handles my email tasks. I have been using it for a few years now and have grown to rely on it to exclusively handle all of my emailing needs.

Conclusion

I hope the next year is better than the one we have been through. Hope you and your family stay safe and in good health. Happy New Year.

macosxguru at the gmail thingie.

Note: I was not sure that I would write the end of year post, but Loren provided me the inspiration at My 2021 Essential Mac Apps. Every year towards the end of December… | by ldstephens | Dec, 2020 | Medium.

Thanks to: Photo by Vladislav Murashko from Pexels


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