My Computer Had A Bug

Sep 6, 2015   #hardware  | 10 words

A bug in the system

Sorry about that, little fella!

Script for renaming photos

Aug 30, 2015   #photography  #scripting  | 161 words

Wall with Painted Stones (2015)

I manage my image files manually and like them named in a particular way. Each image is named using its capture date and description. I write a description for every photo I keep so I can easily see and find things using just my Mac’s Finder.

The above image is captioned “Wall with painted stones” and was taken on August 29th, 2015 so its filename should be “20150829_Wall with painted stones.jpg”. I use Photo Mechanic to ingest, name, tag, and file my photos but it will not allow renames to use the Description IPTC field. I was told that was because it’s too easy to create files with invalid characters. On the other hand, Lightroom handles this fine, but I’m trying to wean myself from Lightroom so I had to come up with something else.

I used the wonderful exiftool to create the following one-liner and it works perfectly…

exiftool '-FileName<${CreateDate}_$Description.jpg' -d %Y%m%d%%-c -ext jpg .

Book: The Fold

Aug 29, 2015   #book  | 88 words

The Fold

As a new audiobook user, I enjoyed listening to The Fold, by Peter Clines, although it felt a bit too similar to his earlier book, “14”.

I found the first two thirds to be very good. Mike using is eidetic memory to put together pieces and possible secrets about “the door” was the most fun. But then it turned into a monster movie. Too many good stories seem to do that. Once the monsters came out I sort of just coasted to the finish.

I still recommend it.

Jason Fried on mechanical watches

Aug 29, 2015   #analog  | 88 words

Jason Fried:

And then there’s the machine on my wrist. It’s powered entirely by human movement. No batteries, no cables, no daily dependency on the outside world. As long as I’m running, it’s running. And as long as one person checks it out once a decade, it’ll be working as well in 100 years as it works today. It’s better than modern. It’s timeless – yet it keeps time.

Exactly. This is why I enjoy my mechanical watch more than my Apple Watch by quite a wide margin.

No longer using an app launcher

Aug 28, 2015   #Apps  | 205 words

First, there was Quicksilver. Then, there was Launchbar. Then there was Alfred. Then there was Launchbar again. I’ve been using one app launcher or another for so long that I find it hard to use a computer without one.

While learning about some of the fancy file manipulation features in Launchbar, it occurred to me that, neat as they are, I never used any of those features. After thinking about it, I realized that I only use three features: app launching, clipboard history, and the calculator. This made me wonder if I really need Launchbar. Turns out that I don’t.


Launching applications is something that later versions of Spotlight does just fine. This means that Spotlight handles about 90% of what I used Launchbar for.

Clipboard History

How anyone operates without something to manage clipboard history is beyond me. I use the one built into Launchbar constantly. While looking for a replacement I learned that Keyboard Maestroincludes a decent clipboard history feature. Since I use Keyboard Maestro all the time it solves that problem.


Having quick access to Launchbar’s inline calculator is handy, but not necessary. I’ve used Soulver for years and recently discovered Numi which is even handier for making quick calculations.

On moving back to a static website

Aug 21, 2015   #Blogging  | 359 words

Sigh. We’ve been here before. I’m once again considering moving my blog at to use statically-rendered files. I’ve done this several times before, mostly because I like the idea of static blogs and whenever I run into a new static site generator I decide that THIS TIME I MEAN IT! Except I always get frustrated and switch back to the ease and convenience of a dynamic CMS (typically Wordpress) after a few weeks or months.

But this time… this time it’s becoming a philosophical thing. I believe in the preservation of content. Not just for the next few years but also for the next few decades. I manage a lot of servers and every couple of years I have to replace many of them, and every time it’s a pain in the ass to move the sites and apps running on them. PHP/Ruby/MySQL version issues almost always cause problems. And this is only a matter of a couple years.

I want content to last forever, without needing a whole team of babysitters on stand-by. ( doesn’t count).

I also want to not worry about hosting requirements. A static site lets me simply copy some files to a server at Amazon, Github Dreamhost, wherever, point the DNS and I’m off. As long as there’s a web server running and the web server is ready for me it’s all good. Plus speed, security, simplicity, etc. Everything I believe in points to making my site static.

On the other hand, static sites are still hard to make and modify. It’s supposed to be as simple as a “directory full of markdown files” but it’s more than that. It’s building and rsync and file handling and front matter and so on. There’s no method of simply dragging an image onto a page and having it all placed and pretty. No easy slideshows, no “Customize” button or other fancy stuff. No MarsEdit!

I need to work on being ok with all the downsides, but if I’m going to put my money where my mouth is I need to make it happen. Again.

UPDATE 2015-08-28: Ok, I did it. is running on Hugo.

Manton Reece’s upcoming microblogging app

Aug 17, 2015   #Blogging  | 74 words

Manton Reece recently shared the following Sneak peek screenshot of his upcoming microblogging app.


I can’t wait to see what he’s is working on. What I want it to be is a microblogging app that I run at my own domain and that can optionally syndicate to Twitter/Tumblr, etc. I’d like it to be less invasive than the WordPress version of a microblog I’m using today. It’s good to see activity around this stuff.

Please Don’t Buy a Digital SLR — The Brooks Review

Aug 17, 2015   #photography  | 188 words

Please Don’t Buy a Digital SLR — The Brooks Review

You see, for the normal person, owning a dSLR will not yield a better picture. It is far more likely that you will get worse picture with a dSLR than with your iPhone. I know that many of you who didn’t heed my advice to not read this, are now thinking I am nuts.

Yep, I think he’s nuts. How is it “far more likely” that someone will get a worse picture?

Pick up any decent dSLR today and out of the box it will just work as long as you know how to turn it on and push the shutter button. Compared to your iPhone it will start up faster, focus much faster in any lighting condition, and your photos won’t look like shit in anything but broad daylight.

One doesn’t need to know the first thing about aperture, shutter speeds, or ISO to successfully use a modern SLR on day one and make better photos in the process. I get Ben’s point, but I don’t think he gives either “normal” people or their cameras enough credit.

Publishing my “notes” using Fargo

Aug 17, 2015   #Blogging  | 285 words

I’ve had an on-again-off-again relationship with Dave Winer’s Fargo outliner/publisher. I love outliners, and Fargo is a nice outliner, but I don’t really need a new one. My old one works just fine for general note-taking.

On the other hand, publishing with Fargo is pretty slick, so I fired up an outline and made it available at

Why? Good question. Mostly, I wanted a place to write things that may or may not be tweet-worthy, but that I feel like sharing. What I should do is keep that sort of crap to myself but I’m way past the ability to do that. I think we all are.

Fargo works by hooking into Dropbox. It writes my outline to an OPML file and keeps it in Dropbox. Also, if configured to do so, Fargo will automatically create a folder (also in Dropbox) of HTML files that comprise a simple website/blog. All I needed to do is get those HTML files to a server somewhere, which I do via Rsync but it could use Github pages or S3 or whatever.

Here are screenshots of my outline and the accompanying rendered site.


Jack Baty Notes

If you don’t need more than a simple timeline of posts, organized by Year/Month/Day, it’s a fine system. It’s a nice way to get a static blog rolling. Another benefit is that the entire thing is available as an OPML file. My only concern is that it seems Fargo hasn’t been high on Dave’s list of priorities lately. I think he still uses if for parts of so with any luck it’ll receive more love moving forward. In the meantime, I found it to be lot simpler to get running than something like Jekyll.

Back to Tinderbox

Aug 15, 2015   #Tinderbox  #workflow  | 395 words

I never actually stopped using Tinderbox, but for the past six months or so I’ve not been using it as my “daily driver”. There are a few reasons for this, but primarily I just wanted to check out my options for note-taking and project management.

There are two approaches I take when in comes to keeping notes and lists. The first approach is to use fancy, pointy-clicky apps like Tinderbox, Circus Ponies Notebook, Evernote, and Curio. The second approach is to go text-only, which is what I did a few months ago. Again.

I’m so in love with the idea of a text-only system that I occasionally abandon everything else and go all-in. Going text-only with my notes usually means that I also move all my supporting apps to text and terminal-based solutions. So my life becomes a collection of “simple” tools like Mutt, Tmux, Vim, Markdown, LaTeX, IRC, Taskwarrior and so on. It’s awesome. But then, fatigue sets in.

It took longer this time around for the text file fatigue to take hold since I’d recently discovered Spacemacs and Org Mode. Org Mode is fantastic, and Spacemacs makes using Emacs acceptable for a long-time Vim user like me. Org Mode is kind of life-changing, and I let it change everything. I moved my daybook, book log, journal, project notes, everything into Org files via Spacemacs. It was fun and I was learning so why not?

Eventually, I realized that not only was I spending tons of time learning Emacs, I was also spending a lot of time re-inventing the things I’d already had. My Tinderbox daybook is awesome, and I’ve been using it for years. It doesn’t make sense to replace it. Same goes for all my project notebooks (kept in Tinderbox). The only thing “wrong” with my existing toolset was that it wasn’t plain-text, and I’m realistic enough to know that plain-text is no more future-proof for my purposes than the (text-based) XML files that make up Tinderbox documents. I was just looking for an excuse to expand my use of Org Mode.

So here’s where I’ve landed. My project notes, daybook, and all my logs (books, movies, food, etc) stay in Tinderbox. Org Mode remains my todo/agenda system because it’s truly a great system for those things.

Things have once again settled into a pattern I’ve seen before, and I like it.