March 20, 2023
Books to Read - 2023-03-13
Book recommendations. Haven’t done these for a while. So here is a list of books you should read.
- The Big Myth How American Business Taught Us to Loathe Government and Love the Free Market by Oreskes, Naomi, Conway, Erik M.. This was informative and detailed. It also had the ancillary benefit of increasing my blood pressure. Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway do great books. I have read a couple more of their books.
- Win Every Argument The Art of Debating, Persuading, and Public Speaking by Hasan, Mehdi. Mehdi Hasan hosts a news show on MSNBC, he provides an interesting international perspective on the subject of debating and persuading. Brilliant stuff, full of fantastic stories.
- How the South Won the Civil War Oligarchy, Democracy, and the Continuing Fight for the Soul of America by Richardson, Heather Cox. “Heather Cox Richardson is an American historian and professor of history at Boston College, where she teaches courses on the American Civil War, the Reconstruction Era, the American West, and the Plains Indians. She previously taught history at MIT and the University of Massachusetts Amherst.” She is brilliant. This was a work which tries to explain America from the context of the history of this country. Brilliant and informative. She has a newsletter where she discusses current news topics through that same lens of historical context. Subscribe to it.
- It’s OK to Be Angry About Capitalism by Sanders, Bernie. Senator Bernie Sanders is one of a kind. This is a great read full of his strident voice. I loved it.
- Empireland How Imperialism Has Shaped Modern Britain by Sanghera, Sathnam, James, Marlon. This is an attempt to understand the British Empire, and its effect on current Britain.
- For a lighter read. Get the Chief Inspector Gamache novels. They are written by Louise Penny. Entertaining and gripping reads. There are 18 books(so far) in the series. Start from the beginning. Thank me later.
macosxguru at the gmail thingie.
Note: My thanks to Photo by Min An
February 27, 2023
Bike Outliner Keeps Improving
Product: Bike 1.9 Preview (103)
Writing about Bike when it was released, I wrote that the product could be improved with the following features:
- I want to use my own themes and fonts.
Themes are still on the roadmap. Fonts have been implemented. You can use your own fonts and that makes working in it a pleasurable experience.
- Full screen sucks. I want the editing window in full screen to be smaller than the whole screen of the computer.
Full screen is improved. This makes full-screen workable.
- Typewriter Scrolling. I don’t want to look at the bottom of the screen when I am writing.
This is something that is critical to my workflow specially when I have a longish document. Not having to stare at the bottom of the screen is a relief. Makes writing in Bike and working in a long document easier. This was a huge friction point for me. So glad to not have that irritation anymore.
I am enjoying following along with the progression of this application which is central to my workflow. The product gets better with every iteration and the developer, Jesse, is working hard on it. To get preview releases, check this box:
This is not going to work on the App Store version. You can bug Jesse to change the license to a direct one. If you don’t do that, you are getting an insider look at some of what is coming down the pike for the next major release.
macosxguru at the gmail thingie.
January 12, 2023
2022 was an interesting year. Life after the advent of COVID needed a lot of adjustments, and I am not sure I am done with that at all. I have managed to avoid COVID so far. The main reason behind that is my tendency to hunker down and decrease all interactions outside the home. In other words, I am scared shitless. It is not a healthy way to live.
Need a new desktop. Have been holding off buying a new computer with the expectation that there will be new iMacs around the corner. The M1 iMacs were launched in May of 2021. They haven’t been updated since. Can’t justify paying full price for a machine which is a year and a half old. The other alternative is the Mac Studio and I am considering that, but an all-in-one configuration has it’s charms. By the end of the first quarter of 2023, I will spring for a new machine.
Apple used to have yearly updates to its machines, they seem to have moved away from that schedule and now you get staggered updates to desktops and laptops. I have heard good things about the latest laptops, but I don’t need portability. I have an old MacBook Air which fulfills my portable computer needs.
2022 was an interesting year for software. I went all in on Obsidian. Got frustrated with it. Switched over to a combination of iA Writer and Sublime Text. Went back to Obsidian. Over the last year, the developers of Obsidian addressed some of my gripes about it. For instance, it now supports macOS Services. “Lazy typing” is still not supported but a Keyboard Maestro macro which turns two spaces to a period and Auto-shift on my Planck keyboard lets me type capital letters without the Shift key being involved in the process. That has made working in Obsidian easier for me.
Obsidian is sneaky. It is ostensibly a Markdown based text editor. But it introduces elements which extend both Markdown and text editors in unique ways. Obsidian Canvas is the latest addition to the program. An interesting implementation of mind-mapping to the tool. Canvas gives you an unlimited canvas to explore ideas. This is not Markdown but you can turn most of it into Markdown. It is a well-thought out implementation of the idea and is a useful tool.
It is sneaky because you are going to be reliant on Obsidian for everything you do. It will add features to Markdown which will make it the only logical program to deal with all the additions that you have incorporated in your writing. They look like plain text in the other editors but they lose the effectiveness when you are not in Obsidian. Callouts is an example of such a feature.
The secret sauce which makes Obsidian shine is Community plugins. There are a host of plugins which add value to the use of Obsidian. I am surprised by the ingenuity of the plug-in developers who extend the usefulness of Obsidian to me. Some of the plug-ins which get used significantly include:
I have a lot more plug-ins installed. They improve search, keyboard commands and some other assorted functions on the editor.
The experience of using Obsidian is not unlike that of using Emacs or VIM on the computer. You are going to go into the rabbit hole of customizations since a lot of Obsidian is customizable. Your work will suffer from this obsession. That is one of those things which make iA Writer a useful foil. At the complete opposite end of the spectrum, iA Writer is barely customizable. I am trying to achieve a desirable middle ground.
Helping with that middle ground is a theme called Minimal. I use it. I don’t care about any other themes. This is the one which reduces my need to customize the look of the editor. It works. It helps that it comes with the following color schemes: Atom, Ayu, Catpuccin, Everforest, Gruvbox, macOS, Nord, Notion, Solarized, and Things. I switch between the color schemes available when I get tired of Solarized.
I use Obsidian because it lets me use themes and my own fonts. It lets me manage my tasks through Kanban boards and task lists. Lets me read my books. Take notes. It is customizable to an insane level. It lets me think and write. Over the years, I have realized that the perfect text editor does not exist. There is friction associated with the use of any editor you choose. Obsidian, at this stage is the text editor with the least amount of friction for me.
The only thing which occasionally bugs me about Obsidian: Electron uses a ton of memory. Not as much as it used to, but it is noticeable.
I love working in Obsidian. My use case is not representative of the “typical” Obsidian user. I am not interested in “knowledge management,” am interested in taking notes. Notes which make sense to me. Not interested in MOCs (mainly because I don’t know what it means). I am interested in notes, categorizing them with tags, and being able to locate them when I need them. I link to connected notes in a haphazard way. I am not interested in creating a knowledge network. My networking of notes is geared towards corralling notes together which I might need later. It is geared towards reminding future me that there are associated notes which I might want to explore. The new-fangled terminology around the whole field of “knowledge management” seems a fad which I am skeptical about.
I have found a font which I am using for everything. SF Mono.
Besides Obsidian, Bike Outliner is the program which gets the most use on my machine. It is the best outlining application that I have ever used.
More Solutions Which Get Used Every Day
These get used on my computer multiple times every day:
2022 was a strange year. I was not as productive. Hope to get back to a normal level of productivity this year. Will see how that goes.
Note: Thanks to George Milton for the photo.