Category Archives: geek:mac

Not sure this has a better solution

So I’ve trying to step up my reccing game. It shouldn’t be hard since I’m almost starting from scratch; I didn’t manage to consistently update the blog I made for it, but it’s kind of more complex than I’d like.

The whole idea behind using for this was to automate as much as possible, as well as to get into using Markdown more.

First I used IFTTT to scrape a specific tag on my Pinboard account. but I ran then into the same issue I’m running into now: IFTTT can only append a .txt file on Dropbox. And wants .md files.

What I used to do was to try and once a week go and manually grab all the automatically scraped / formatted markdown from the .txt file that IFTTT had updated and Copy-paste this in an .md file that would recognize as a post. But it grew tedious; I forgot; it wasn’t the solution I wanted.

Right now I’m leaning towards using the ready-made HTML markup that AO3 generates with its Share button, and I was looking into finally learning how to use Quicksilver to append text to a file (say, a file to feed, but again I ran into that problem: an .md file IS a plain text file but Quicksilver only reads files with the extensions txt, .rtf, .rtfd, .doc and .TEXT

Siiiiigh. I’m now contemplating using Hazel to watch over a given .txt file and make a copy of it with the .md extension every time I update it; I think it would work, but how clumsy is that? Ugh.

Meanwhile, prodding at this issue also made me realize that another problem arising from the AO3 not having media-type differentiation (yet) and metadata-specificity is that the Share button for a podfic post doesn’t give any indication as to the author of the fic, which means I have to add it in myself even when trying to automate – it might not seem like a big deal but it can easily become a barrier to casual/rapid reccing, imo.

8GB or 16GB?

So one of the things I thought I might do now that I have some money coming to me – crossing fingers that I’m getting actually paid really soon? – is buy more RAM for my MacBook Pro.

I looked things up, knowing that it’s much, MUCH cheaper to buy third-party memory and put it in yourself, and it seems that one of the best options is to order from Crucial (there’s a UK webstore for Europe).

To avoid people making mistakes, Crucial even offers a downloadable tool you can run, which will tell you what kind of RAM you need and how much you can put in.

Oddly though, despite both Crucial estimating that I this beast can go up til 16GB (see here), and this other vendor through Amazon listing my model as compatible (see there) for their 2x8GB kit too, Apple itself, on this page I found when looking up memory upgrades, there, clearly states that my model – MacBook Pro (13-inch, Early 2011) – can only take a 2×4 = 8GB RAM maximum.

So… I don’t know what to do. Any idea?

ETA: Ohoh, Toby <3 link me to this – apparently Apple lies about a few models, for reasons, and my MBP should take 16GB. HOMG BYE BYE BEACHBALL?

links/recs for audio & video grabbing

A discussion with Sophinisba on twitter reminded me that I meant to post about these little tech things in case they proved useful for others, so here we go! A post of tips / links.

  • To grab embedded video I use the plug-in called VideoDownloadHelper for Firefox. It doesn’t work for everything, bc of the escalating tech war between video embed provider and the so-called pirates, but it works on certain sites, not just YouTube, and allows me to collect my favorite actor interviews and the like better than I would without it, so.

  • To grab Youtube vids, if I’m not using my FF plugin, I use the standalone java program called JDownloader (I know it’s not the first time I mention it here, Toby turned me onto it a couple of years ago). What I love about it is that it gives me a choice of formats to download, and one of those is MP3. It means I can quickly, painlessly download the sound from a vid I like (again, good for interviews if I want them on my iPod; good for amazing mashups you don’t know how to find elsewhere, etc. I don’t use it for music much, personally.)

  • If I want to grab the sound from a thing, especially a short thing, to use it in my own editing / podfic / podcast work, I don’t usually do the “download mp3” route – sometimes I can’t, anyway, if it’s not on Youtube or whatever – then I use Soundflower, which is a free Mac service/thing that allows you to tell your computer “record the sound straight from the source” to keep the quality optimum. I use it in combination with [Sound Studio] because that’s what I use for recording and editing, but you can use it with any other software – all Soundflower does is telling the computer what to use for “sound in” and “sound out”.

I really recommend this tool. It’s a small free thing, easy to handle, and can be life-saving.

Soundflower has also been useful to me when making a podcast from a Skype convo. There are several ways to do that, but the one time I did it successfully was with Templemarker last year for our pod_aware conversation. (Part 1Part 2Part 3)

To make sure the sound quality would be okay, we each of us recorded our side of the conversation only. Then she sent me her files and I integrated them with mine. The way Soundflower helped me here is that when I recorded my side, I told Soundflower to grab the sound straight from my mic, so I wouldn’t have to remove templemarker’s voice from my track later on.

It didn’t work perfectly because I somehow had a very faint trace of her voice in my recording, but that proved a godsend, because it actually served to help me align both recordings exactly later on before merging, so, yay. I don’t know how she recorded her side, but there was no trace of my voice in hers. The whole process took some time but was a whole lot smoother than I had expected, and I think the resulting recording is very nice indeed, for a Skype conversation recorded by amateurs without lots of great hardware or specifically dedicated bandwidth.

Just for the record, another way to do a podcast from a Skype convo on a Mac is to use Piezo – which I have indeed used for recording conversations but haven’t used to produce podcasts yet. 

I’m sure there are plenty other ways (tell me if you know them!) but that’s what I can talk about today. :D

fic reading workflow problems :(

So I am still completely struggling with my tablet fanfic workflow.

Here’s what I do, mostly on the computer but not only, that gathers links to fic I want to read:

  • open tabs in Firefox that will need “dealing with” later
  • grab links from Twitter either through favoring or opening tabs in Firefox

Eventually this results in:

  • if it’s on AO3, mark the fic for later, knowing I can find it again on its own page.
  • if it’s not on AO3, bookmark it to read on Pinboard

Here’s what I do on a computer with fic I just read – this is stuff I want to Continue To Do when switching to reading on the tablet.

  • if it’s on AO3, kudos or comment
  • if it’s on AO3, bookmark the fic right there
  • in every case, bookmark the fic on pinboard (which might cascade into other stuff from IFTTT actions)

This, obviously, doesn’t save the fic for offline reading (sadly), and doesn’t build up my local fic library, which is something I want to create a workflow for but have failed to do so far.

Here’s what I do when I grab fic to read on the tablet:

  • open fic in a browser from my twitter faves links, or from Pinboard to read (rarely), or, most likely, from the for later list in my AO3
  • download the EPUB file
  • import the file into Aldiko for reading

Later, I end up with the same file in two places in the tablet: in the Download folder and in the Ebooks folder where Aldiko copied it upon import… (sidenote, I have issues with Aldiko not really responding to touches on the screen – I find it hard to turn pages and nearly impossible to control the brightness with the downward or upward slide, ugh. Very annoying, and I can’t tell for sure if it’s Aldiko itself or the tablet, but I think it’s the soft. grr.)

Then I read fic, and I end up with fic that I want to

  • leave a comment or kudos for
  • bookmark on AO3
  • remove from my AO3 later list
  • bookmark with tags on Pinboard
  • eventually someday conserve for later in a fic library
  • but, at present, remove from Aldiko where it’s creating a file management nightmare

My lack of process is dumb and inefficient to the max, isn’t it? But I’m so far entirely unable to build a better, more efficient workflow, and I’m just stumbling around failing to make things better.

So I thought I’d describe this whole mess to you and ask if you have any ideas at all for how I could simplify things.

If it’s useful to know, let me note that my computer is a Mac laptop running Lion for now; the tablet is a Nexus 7 w/ Android Jelly Bean; I use Pinboard, IFTTT, Dropbox, Firefox on the mac (with plug-ins, willing to add more if necessary); I made a bookmarklet for myself; I’m not against using Instapaper; I can/could use the Kindle app for reading and have a send to Kindle email address, etc.

What I mean is, if you think of solutions, don’t hesitate to throw them at me even if they mean installing a new thing, you know? I’m willing to try. I just want things to be less fussy and convoluted than they are at the moment, because OOOOF.


So earlier today I was reading about Dropbox’s decision to retire the Public folder for all accounts created after July 31st, pursuant to their new Sharing Ways that allow any file anywhere to become “public”, and the apparition of fucking landing pages where a direct link used to be (I am pissed off, if that wasn’t showing).

From there I was reminded of the existence of, a thingum wot allows you to create a hosted blog by simply writing posts in Markdown that you push to a specific folder in your Dropbox.

Remembering that IFTTT now has the ability to create text files in Dropbox and, more importantly, *append* text to text files in Dropbox, I suddenly imagined that I would be able to publish a recs page / blog-y thing by having every new Pinboard bookmark with a certain tag to be appended to a .md text file in the relevant Scriptogram folder of my Dropbox.

3 hours later, and I have discovered

* that it seems a secret Pinboard tag (with a dot as first character) somehow fails to trigger this action (though I know for a fact that a friend uses a secret tag as trigger in a task of hers, wtf)
* that IFTTT doesn’t think case is relevant in filenames (???)
* that IFTTT doesn’t recognize a text file if it’s not sporting a .txt extension
* subsequently, that my plan cannot work

I think it’s time I went to bed.

Fear of change

So, iCloud, huh?

I finally applied the software update to Lion this morning, which came in as one undifferentiated package, and I found once I restarted that I had the new iCloud thing, as well as an upgraded iTunes. I didn’t expect individual software to be upgraded without being warned, but I guess that’s the Mac way, huh?

Anyway, now that’s done on the MBP (Ariadne) I should probably upgrade the iTouch (Arthur), and perhaps the iPhone 3G (Eames) to iOS5? I’m a little scared of losing apps and/or data, as some have reported losing.

I’m not scared to lose purchased data (music, video, apps) because I’ve never yet paid for anything on the iTunes Store – I’m planning to buy a couple of apps soon, but yeah, so far, nothing.

I do fear the big iTunes transfer, though. Remember how I hadn’t decided if the PC was going to remain the ‘master’ to the iDevices, and that one iTunes my main music/podcast DB? Well I’m not completely sure yet but I think I want the Mac to be the hub. Except that means moving my iTunes library across (not the files, that’s easy, they’re on en external drive) – and I am *terrified* it won’t work.

I don’t want to lose all my play counts and smart playlists and all that. Anyone knows how to move an iTunes Library wholesale from a PC to a Mac? Please, please chime in. I haven’t gotten a move on this because I’m basically paralyzed by fear. That’s not a good state to be in.

Looking forward to: TaskPaper & Scrivener

I’m having kind of a frazzled day where I know I have enough energy to get things done but I can’t settle down and focus on one thing.

Which led me to retool my todo lists and reminded me that I have yet to tell you how much I’m drooling over TaskPaper. It doesn’t do automatically-recurring tasks (and won’t, the FAQ says so), and it’s not on the web, though it does cloud-syncing to iOS devices (but nothing says I can’t make my own HTML from the txt files if I want to roll out my own web thing) – but apart from that I think it does pretty much everything I need, want and even crave from a todo application.

I know there are tons of them, and the geeky procrastinator part of me wants to check a dozen others out before settling, all while the anxious part of me is reluctant to start yet another trial with yet another tool that’s going to cost money soon – but I’m all ♥____♥ at it anyway.

Do any of you use it? I’d love to hear your comments!

Read more »


I was expecting beach ball references/metaphors for Steve Jobs’s death and was a little surprised when I saw none yesterday in the first hours (I admit I wasn’t scouring the internet for them either) – but, lo, all is as it should, XKCD drew pretty much exactly what I had imagined.

chr0me said on twitter: “The first program I ever wrote was in BASIC on an Apple in the 80s, and I’m typing this on my Mac: Rest in Peace, Steve Jobs.”

That made me think.

The first computer Dad brought home was an Apple II (maybe a IIgs?), probably in ’82, and when he started his tiny ‘computer club’ to teach his adult friends computing basics, including, well, BASIC, I was there with bells on, the youngest (10) member at the Tuesday night gatherings. I used to play games on that machine, mostly a game of snake that I remember vividly though I don’t know what it was called – maybe Serpentine? I’m sure it wasn’t Snake itself, the screenshots look nothing like my memories. For a while there I had a ritual of playing a few rounds every morning right after breakfast, before it was time for the bus to school.

There are Apple II emulators our there of course, like Sweet16 for example. I’ve half a mind to install a few and hunt down that snake game. I always sucked at it (I still suck at snake games – at very many video games, to be honest), but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be fun.

Anyway, I digress. There was that Apple II, first.

And then in August 2011, just now, I got this amazing, amazing birthday present of a Macbook Pro.

In between, I spent… well, thirty years using Windows, from 3.11 (I have really fond memories on Word in DOS, you guys) to Vista without, thank fuck, having to suffer through Me. I remember reinstalling 95 every three months, and 98 every year, and cursing all the bosses who didn’t allow me to keep trucking on with NT, much more stable despite its inherent steam-engine crankiness. *g*

Anyway – I’ve had iPods since the turn of the century, or what feels like it (2002 maybe?) – still have them all even the bricked ones: a 3rd gen 40gb (dead) & a 4th gen 40gb (on its death bed), before they were called ‘classic’, a button-less 4gb shuffle & a 4th gen Touch – so it’s not that Jobs’ genius didn’t impact me personally as well as, like everybody, peripherally…

But with all that PC-using history of mine, all my Windows proficiency… I was really, REALLY surprised to be able to say this:

The first program I ever wrote was in BASIC on an Apple in the 80s, and I’m typing this on my Mac: rest in peace, Steve Jobs.


This is the sound of time rushing by while I juggled too many balls (dropped a few) and tore my hair out over computer mysteries.

I’m not going to try to be very structured; I’m not in the mood and it would take me too long.

Five Things: 4 text editors I have at this moment installed on Ariadne the MBP, and another I will soon install.

SublimeText 2
Mou (“the missing Markdown editor for web developers”)

I installed Multimarkdown yesterday, and then the MMD bundle for TextMate, and then I spent an hour NOT UNDERSTANDING why it wasn’t working. After a while Math came to hold my hand on AIM, and it turned out I was making my test with a command that is in the doc but not in the soft, so it was unsurprisingly not working. ANASMASH. (hey TextMate dudes: don’t publish faulty documentation. BAD DOCS ARE WORSE THAN NO DOCS)

So I’m slowly learning to use MMD (she says, while writing a post in the WordPress interface without using MMD shorthand at all…). This is a goal of mine.

TextMate, now, yes, it seems SUPER CLEVER and very, um, handy? Or, say, potentially handy? But also… probably too much for me. I’m not a coder, after all, and I’m still not sure I grok how it works, and soon my trial will expire… I just don’t know how much of myself I want to put into that learning curve.

So I think I’m going to focus on MMD (here’s a special episode of the MacPowerUsers podcast about it), try to use Mou and see if I like it, and of course, eventually (next paycheck, whenever that is) the amaaaaazing-love-it-forever Scrivener.

Other links (stuff I haven’t tried yet):

how to make your Library folder visible (it’s hidden by default in Lion, grrrr)
iTerm 2, a terminal emulator / replacement for iTerm
Forklift, a file manager, FTP client and more
PathFinder 5, a file manager / Finder replacement

– not a Mac thing but an iPhone/iTouch app: a better (I heard) calendar, WeekCalendar.

I still haven’t installed any sort of launcher (Launcher, Quicksilver) but I’m also not using Spotlight to launch apps – haven’t gotten started using Spotlight, honestly. I click and use the Launchpad, which I’m only now starting to find irritatingly long/unefficient. I also still haven’t solved the iTunes question, nor the backup problem.


Let’s put this on the table right away: I haven’t yet solved the big questions.

* Which iTunes becomes the “master” iTunes for my iDevices (staying as is, with the PC as my main computer, or bestowing that privilege to the Mac?)

* How do I rejig my storage and backup strategies to include the Mac in the plans?

These remain unanswered for now.

Now, what’s been going on…

° I still have these two blog posts open in tabs, trying to make a decision:

John Gruber on getting rid of Flash & cheating w/ Chrome
Lex Friedman on reinstalling it

° I found Fluid, a wrapper to allow you to make any web-app into a ‘standalone’ app.

° It is with relief and not a small amount of joy that I installed Firefox & my trusted/necessary extensions, as well as my favorite download manager, jDownloader. Even though for a mysterious (non-mac) reason, I haven’t managed to “connect” the FlashGot FF add-on to jDownloader like I have on the PC (which allows me to select a link on a page and automatically trigger a download for it), I’m still pleased to have my usual tools at my fingertips. :)

° I’m still pining for a text editor I like, but since I haven’t tried anything but the pre-installed TextEdit I can’t honestly say I haven’t found anything – I just haven’t dealt with the issue. In the meantime it means I’m doing my blog-post writing either inside the WordPress editor (for this blog) or on the PC (for my other blogs / my journals / fic beta-reading, etc unless I edit in WordPress and then CP out of there, which has happened). This can’t continue very long. note to self: get yourself a proper text editor.

° I’ve started using Evernote on the iTouch a little more, which makes me think I need to install the Mac version and see how I like it.

° Not mac-specific: I’ve discovered and starting using, which I’m a little too addled at the moment to describe – the domain name stands for ‘if this then that’ and their tagline is ‘put internet to work for you’. You should read the about page, which has a lovely, direct URL:

° I’ve been doing recording and sound-editing on the Mac and I am floored every time anew by the quality of the built-in mic for voicework, as well as the pleasure and ease I experience doing editing with my fingers on the trackpad. Plus now my new Snowball mic arrived, whee! There is a LOT of podfic work in my future. <3 That's it for today, I think.