For iOS 14 Shortcuts, seems the volume control function for AirPlay devices is only reliable after the audio begins. So for a DarkNoise shortcut, it switches to an AirPlay device, then DarkNoise plays, and finally after a four seconds wait the volume is controlled.

Coconut-Gochujang Glazed Chicken With Broccoli is pretty good. We added Gochugaru (Korean pepper flakes) for extra heat. Would recommend serving as a rice bowl though. It begged for a bowl.

Upon a recent update to VMware Fusion 11.5.5, sound began crackling in Windows 10. For some reason

sound.virtualDev = "hdaudio"

was missing from my .vmx file so Windows 10 was using VMWare’s generic audio drivers. Added that line into the .vmx file and all is well as now Windows is using its High Definition Audio device drivers. Thanks to this AppleVis post for giving me the idea.

Follow up: I just noticed that this AppleVis post reported nearly the same issue I had and the same fix. Apparently this may be known to be an issue at VMWare.

Keep MacBook from Sleeping with Lid Down

The MacOS app Amphetamine is pretty slick. As promised, it keeps my MacBook Air awake even if the lid is closed and there is no external display attached. So now I can run it as a part-time file server (via SFTP and Secure ShellFish for iOS). At least, that’s the plan. Since it is running on a laptop, I really appreciate the audio alert it’ll give if I unplug the MBA while Amphetamine is keeping it awake. Now that MacOS 10.15.5 has battery aging management, now is the time to try this out.

My goal is to somehow simplify things by no longer needing an aging QNAP NAS and using a single platform. I love the idea of having a spare laptop but also actively using it and getting more value out of it.

I finally got around to messing with iStat Menu's Time menu and I’m sold. Having a calendar and events embedded in the clock is lovely.

Upgraded to 16" MBP ❤️

Since 2010, I have always had a 13” Mac laptop — now I’m on a 16” MacBook Pro and I love it. I upgraded from a 2018 MacBook Air.

I waited for the new 13” MBP. The new 13” MBP had the necessary Magic keyboard but didn’t satisfy in terms of evolution: its screen was not 14” as rumored; it has the same thermal system; the same speakers; and the same mic. However, the latest 13-inch MBP has slightly better single thread CPU performance than the base 16” MBP I got. Finally, it seemed as if the latest 10th gen Intel chips that might work for the 16” wouldn’t provide too much of a performance boost (no wonder there’s so much interest in ARM). And I might be waiting a while for that. Assuming the 16” ever gets a refresh before the surmised ARM revolution.

What did I want? I really wanted the wide color gamut of the MBP since I’m a prolific photo taker and editor. In addition, I really wanted a laptop that will last beyond three years (like my first ever 2010 13” MBP, RIP)— even if ARM becomes a thing. A laptop that has enough CPU cores for ARM emulation, if needed (though I suspect for a few years  apps will be delivered as dual Intel-ARM binaries).

I use x86 Windows 10 in VMWare and on my 2018 MacBook Air, it was nearly unusable. So the 100% base 16” MBP seemed like a good fit. 

So without a solid evolution of the 13”, the 16” began to look pretty nice. 

Now, my Windows 10 VM can take over two of six cores and four gigs of ram without any noticeable system impact. Also, it is now apparent 16 gigs of ram really is the sweet spot for my use cases. And it is awesome to use a 16” screen on my lap wherever I want. For basic things, like writing to my blog in MarsEdit, it never gets warm enough to notice. Oh, and yes, photos look so very good and editing on this 16" screen is a dream. I’m uh also taking a liking to the Touch Bar.

For the Touch Bar, I just wish I could enable the expanded control strip without losing app-specific controls. For example,  if I’m in an app with Touch Bar support, it should show the app’s controls with a shrunk control strip. However, if I’m viewing just the desktop, the Touch Bar should immediately show me the expanded control strip — I don’t want to press the <.

Why must Apple hide three finger drag on their touch pads under Accessibility? It’s my favorite touch feature of the touch pad.

Just found out that MacOS Catalina’s new shell (zsh) doesn’t require me to remove spaces from file names for my simple Markdown to PDF shell command — nice!

for f in *.md; do pandoc $f -o ./Archive/${}.pdf -t latex; done

With [Watchsmith](, I get a hamburger when my move/exercise/stand goals are met.

Apple delayed shipment of 2020 MacBook Air. Understandable. Buyer’s remorse came fast and furious so I canceled. I’ll keep mashing those butterfly keys for a while longer.

I’m experimenting with [Meteobridge Templates]( and Siri Shortcuts so Siri can tell me about the weather just by pulling data off the local network data logger. Works pretty good!

“Hey Siri, play some music.” “Okay, let’s kick things off with Widespread Panic.” 😳

A Very Good Overcomplicated Journal Workflow

Our journal workflow is probably more complicated than it needs to be. There’s room to optimize this workflow. It grew out of our moving away from Day One when they went to the subscription model. At the time there were some terrible limitations and we wanted none of it. Instead, we went with a semi-automated method involving iOS Shortcuts, iOS Notes, 1Writer, Homebrew (for Pandoc and LaTeX toolchain), and my favorite Swiss army knife GraphicConverter. The final archival format of each journal entry is a beautiful, open standard and searchable PDF generated by Pandoc using LaTeX (MiKTeX distribution).

The Shortcuts step creates or seeds a range of dated Markdown files with dated headers. The filenames follow the very sortable format of “yyyy-MM-dd” or, for example, "2020-02-09". Of course, with Shortcuts limitations interacting with Files, I have to create the files in the Shortcuts folder and then move them to the 1Writer iCloud folder. Once those are seeded, we copy and paste from shared Notes to the Markdown files. I add a ✅  Checkmark emoji at the top of each Note that I’ve transferred so me and my partner know it’s been copied over. 1Writer is setup to save all journals to iCloud.

If we need to add a photo to a journal entry, we split screen with 1Writer and Photos and drag a photo over to 1Writer. 1Writer puts the image file, with the original filename, in the same folder as the Markdown files. If we need a collage, we create it in Google Photos app (though we don’t actually use it for sync!) because it does  a really good job at collages of photos with different dimensions. Google Photos saves the collage to Photos and we go from there.

Once a month’s worth of journal entries (Markdown files) are complete, I then have a workflow to convert the Markdown files to PDFs. This is where Finder, GraphicConverter, Pandoc and LaTeX come in.

Since 1Writer is using iCloud, it’s all downloaded to my MacBook without any effort. So first I copy the files to a non-iCloud syncing folder in my ~home folder. I then make sure the space in the .md file is turned into an _ before processing (won’t be escaped automatically with this command line “script”). Finder makes this child’s play by multi selecting files in Finder, right click, and click Rename n Items. This Rename feature is something I deeply miss whenever I’m on a Windows 10 machine.

Next, some photos won’t be properly rotated, so I use GraphicConverter to Auto-rotate photos by clicking the Rotation icon on a thumbnail in Browse mode.

Next, I finally run a command that I modified from somewhere on the internet. I was not talented enough to put this command together from scratch. This command is why I had to wait on installing Catalina until Homebrew was compatible with it. With the following command, you just need to have a working Pandoc and LaTeX environment with a subfolder named Archive:

cd ~/Journal-compile/
for f in *.md; do pandoc $f -o ./Archive/${}.pdf -t latex; done

To be neat, I then rename the output PDFs so that the _ are spaces. I’m not a monster. 

Then I load GraphicConverter, and in Browse mode, use the “Set Exif Date from Filename” tool on all the freshly minted PDFs. This sets the file date to the date of the journal entries. The format I use is YYYY-MM-DD. Then I copy the PDFs and source files (with images) to various Cloud and NAS folders. Of course, I keep the PDFs separate and that’s what we always reference back to. PDFExpert is currently our choice app for viewing journals since it has excellent file content search and SMB syncing.

Now, a lot of this is broken up so the workflow isn’t onerous. But I admit for most people, this is just ridiculous. But the benefit of this workflow is our memories are in a open format where it matters with no proprietary nonsense.

Since you likely read through all of this, here’s the Shortcut for generating blank journals. I bet it is also more complicated than it needs to be. But it works well.

The dull spectacle of me trying to figure out the kitchen sink’s plumbing. My iPhone is a handy remote eye, well suited for dark, tight spaces.

I would very much love it if MacOS Catalina stopped logging me out of some anonymous Apple ID service. Every week, if not more. And the process to log back in is mayhem. Maybe 10.15.3 will fix it?

Screen Shot 2020 01 31 at 7 09 16 AM

Unearthed and powered up a Raspberry Pi 3. Took a bit of time to remember how I configured it for HomeBridge. Upgrading to Debian Stretch for the heck of it.

I’m pleased that MacOS 10.15’s Photos app reconstructs Live Photos from exported .heic and .mov pairs that I uploaded to my NAS via PhotoSync. 📱👍

I love Shortcuts. There goes a tedious repetitive task to oblivion!!📱

Never fails. This infernal badged Sys Prefs issue is so far the most annoying MacOS Catalina issue I’ve had. What services need iCloud to be logged back in? Why does MacOS forget so easily?

To HomePod: “How’s the timer?” HomePod: “The timer is cancelled.” 🙀🤷‍♂️📱

Dear iPadOS notes: I’d love a default where a new single Notes window launches when I tap your springboard icon instead of the last split screen I used with 1Writer.

Nest Cam vs HomeKit Secure Video

There’s been some frustration with the current state of HomeKit Secure Video, but coming from a very pricey Nest Cam IQ Outdoor that basically is useless without another subscription (cancelled when they removed camera features), HomeKit Secure Video is a revelation. I’m using a Logitech Circle 2 with HomeKit Secure Video and its non-delayed, non-lagged, over the LAN, live video starts… every… single… time. Compare this behavior with always having to toggle the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor Cam off and on to get past the blue spinning wheel and get a several second delayed live video. So HomeKit Secure Video’s direct over the LAN live video coupled with video clips as a value add with an iCloud storage subscription, HomeKit Secure Video is great. But yes, be careful about those notifications and the sensitivity of people/animal/car detection. I’ve had people detected across the street, which frankly, is more impressive than annoying. And yes, you can only get one live stream at a time with the Circle 2. That’s workable.

Sometimes my Sonos goes out of sync with the HomePod. The HomePod appears to then go through a process to resynchronize — maybe 75% successful. They’re within earshot of each other so makes since a HomePod might do some fancy sync.

I didn’t end up with even one permission prompt after installing MacOS Catalina & launching various apps. Maybe I accidentally turned off SIP? No… that’s not it. Or it’s not so bad in the current installation version. 👍👍📱

So MacOS Catalina’s SideCar feature requires the Mac user and target iPad to be signed in to the same AppleID even if the iPad is connected to USB. 👎👎👎👎👎👎👎📱