Thoughts When Shifting To A New Mac

So at the moment I’m shifting on to a new Mac. I’ve previously been using two, a pretty good MacBook Pro and a terribly slow iMac. Now I have a top of the line MacBook Pro, 16Gb of RAM, 1Tb SSD and an i7 processor. It’s pretty schmick.

Of course there’s a downside to a new Mac. You need to set it up just right and that can take some time. It is considerably easier and less painful in this era of cloud computing.

Apple’s iCloud is the first revelation. You log in to iCloud and down come your internet accounts, the passwords saved in your KeyChain, Safari’s bookmarks (and history it seems) and the Desktop and Downloads folder.

Then we get to installing applications. Almost all the apps I use now come from the Mac App Store so getting them installed is just a matter of opening the App Store and reviewing my list of purchased apps. There are another set of apps I have courtesy of SetApp and those are just as easy to install. Ones required for work are installed via JAMF. That leaves a few quirks; 1Password, Chrome, BBEdit, iTerm, and some others not terribly important. OK, Karabiner Elements is pretty important, we may talk about that later.

Now we have setting up. Safari and Chrome are easy. Most of the apps I install I use the default preferences. The hard ones are iTerm, BBEdit and bash.

Even these are easier in this day of cloud resources. All the dot files and my personal bin directory are stored on github so I can pull them down on to a new Mac in seconds. Even better, inside my personal bin are my favourite font, Input, the Solarized colour schemes for BBEdit, and a shell script brewer that runs a brew install for each line of a text file, brew_me.txt, also in the directory. Yes, I know it’s a trivial script but is saves me remembering and typing:

while read b; do
   brew $b
done <brew_me.txt

I have a number of similar “trivial” scripts. One day I’ll clean them all up and make them public. So what absolutely makes the grade and gets included in brew_me.txt.


I might add one or two later but they are the essentials.

The final useful thing that hides in that folder is the file com.googlecode.iterm2.plist, yes, iTerm2 is capable of reading it’s preferences from any directory you like. It’s set at the bottom of the General preference pane. Makes setting iTerm up easier, store the preference file somewhere that’s part of your git repo and you are done.

Karabiner Elements, my favourite keyboard hacking tool has a new feature, it can import complex modifications from the net via your web browser and they have a web page full of them. The other nice thing about it is the preference file is saved in the .config folder in your home and is easily understood JSON. Much nicer than the XML in a plist and also easily stored in your git repo. I cannot recommend Karabiner Elements too much, it is the perfect tool for such things as changing the caps lock key to something more useful and less dangerous. I have my keyboards set so caps lock on it’s own does nothing, shift-caps lock does a caps lock and if you hold it down and hit another key it becomes a modifier equivalent to holding down Shift-Ctrl-Option-Command. It’s one of the complex mods you can download from the mods page.

Thinking about how iTerm2 and Karabiner Elements handle their preferences you can tell a piece of software that’s been written by a real hacker. They have nice, tiny, touches like these. The same can be seen in the way pandoc looks after it’s own bash completion, you just add eval "$(pandoc --bash-completion)" as a line in your bash profile and there you have it. Now if BBEdit had a similar scheme I’d be in paradise. By the way, if you’re interested in bash completion then running pandoc --bash-completion gets you a damn fine example of how to write one, though you can always go bbedit /usr/local/etc/bash_completion.d and have a look at the complete list.


Books, Books, Beautiful Books

I just saw a picture of my brother’s first grandchild, Teddy, with a pile of books entirely coverering his lap. It was part of a message from his Mum announcing that she has decided to become an Usborne sales consultant.

The picture reminded me of the important place books held in my childhood and the place they hold, thanks to me, in my daughter’s life.

When I was a small child I suffered from constant, chronic asthma. I was always missing school and my Mum often had to take me along to Uni lectures and tutorials as she juggled a sick child with study.

My family are all big readers. Mum swears I taught myself to read on summer vacation in Surfer’s Paradise almost out of boredom. Mum would buy my brother and I magazines and books to keep us occupied while she and my Dad read on the beach. My father wasn’t as big a reader as the rest of the family but on vacation he read Ian Fleming, Len Deighton and John Le Carré. I would flick through picture books and picture magazines (Treasure was my favourite, Graeme had Look & Learn that had less pictures and more text). So one vacation, when I was a little over three and a half, while flicking through Treasure on the beach I apparently managed to connect the pictures and words in “Treasure” well enough to start reading.

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Hiding From The Heat

Here are some notes from two days hiding from the heat in shopping centres.

First, bigger shopping centres have better air conditioning and better food courts. Marrickville Metro might have free parking but Broadway is a better hiding spot. It also has more stores for “window shopping”. The Australia Post outlet at Broadway is open 7 days, which is why I went there today.

Talking of parking, the man punching tickets at Hoyts will let you sneak in and get your parking ticket stamped for an extra free hour even if you haven’t seen a movie if your cool about it. I had my parking ticket in my hand and said “Excuse me, I just need to get my ticket stamped” and he let me walk the few feet to the machine. Oh, and I did it before I had my bags of shopping. I guess he doesn’t care if I’m scamming a few bucks off the parking company.

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A Smaller Life

Today’s Daily Prompt is “The Things We Leave Behind”.

Over the past four weeks I have left behind a grat deal.

I moved from a three bedroom house to a small bedsit and many years of accumulated “stuff” had to go.

Letting go of furniture was easier than I thought. I had several pieces from my parents that I thoughtI had an emotional attachment to but when the decision came it was easy to let them go. They are just objects, large ones at that, and memories persist without them.

A number of smaller objects stayed because they strongly invoked not just memories of people but memories of them at a particular point in time or space.

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Summer Storms

Today’s Daily Prompt is “Storm”. The moment I saw the word I thought of the summer storms of my childhood. The Newcastle “Southerly Buster”.

A day in the summer school holidays. Scorching hot. The air would be hot and dry, the sky clear. It didn’t slow down my friends and I, we would continue playing with sweat pouring off us, though if one of the yards had a sprinkler going it was hard to resist playing in the water. If no sprinklers were available then perhaps we would climb into the huge oak tree in the empty block of land near the start of the street, perhaps we would retreat into the bush behind the houses on one side of the road to find a cool corner.

Some time after lunch you could start to see the Southern sky becoming darker and darker, starting to threaten. Then late afternoon it would come. First the cooling southerly wind the a few minutes later the pouring rain. Huge drops of water splashing into the quickly forming puddles. Gutters already running full.

We would stay out watching the storm approach and when the rain started pouring run for home, often soaked by the time we arrived there.

The simple joys of a bunch of young boys.

Am I About To Have Another?

At Eternity's Gate by Vincent Van Gogh

‘At Eternity’s Gate’ by Vincent Van Gogh (Wikipedia)

Last night was bad again. The black dog well and truly had me in his jaws and was giving me a good shake. The noises in my mind are getting bad again and the anxiety levels are rising.

The worst thing with the anxiety is that it becomes a vicious circle, one cause of anxiety is the rising anxiety level. It’s true that my anxiety levels rose steeply before my last mental breakdown and my anxiety levels are rising steeply at the moment. Mostly I’m anxious about increasing symptoms of another breakdown and anxious about it becoming a self fulfilling prophecy.

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Ten Minutes To Tell Of Love

My Filco keyboard

My Filco Keyboard

So today’s daily prompt is another exhortation to write whatever comes to mind for ten minutes.

Our weekly free-write is back: take ten minutes — no pauses! — to write about anything, unfiltered and unedited. You can then publish the post as-is, or edit a bit first — your call.

(I’m not going to do an edit. Just fix spelling and egregious grammatical errors.)
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Fiction For Me

Books, books, books

Books, books, books

Today’s Daily Prompt is:

When reading for fun, do you usually choose fiction or non-fiction? Do you have an idea why you prefer one over the other?

I read both, I enjoy both. I write mainly non-fiction (for some reason I just can’t manage plot) but when it comes to fun I read fiction.

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Spaghetti Bolognese

Spaghetti Bolognese

Spaghetti Bolognese

So Today’s assignment from Writing 101:

Tell us about your favorite childhood meal — the one that was always a treat, that meant “celebration,” — or that comforted you and has deep roots in your memory.

Spaghetti Bolognese! I have memories from even an early age of eating Spaghetti Bolognese.

The sauce cooking in the old, square, stainless steel electric frypan, the big black controller sticking out with the knob on top to adjust the heat. The battered lid that only just fit (and at that, not terribly tightly).

The smells come back so strongly as I sit here writing forty to fifty years after that cooking. First the strong, stringent smell of onions being chopped. Tomatoes being chopped, or canned ones opened, don’t have a smell that lingers through the years. Onions, green capsicum and beef mince searing on the hot frypan, those I remember. The colour of the onion changing as it softens, the capsicum curling with the heat before the pink mince hits the sizzling pan and is quickly broken up by the wooden spoon as the colour changes to dark brown.

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