Welcome to the lab.

Web Excursions for October 19, 2016

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This week’s web excursions brought to you in partnership with Udemy. Learn anything, and get any course for $15 using this link.

Toby - Make tabs work for you
This is very close to being the Chrome tab manager I’ve always wanted. It’s easy to save and restore a window full of tabs, but also easy to organize them into whatever groups you want. Drag and drop tabs, and manage open tabs with a great looking interface. I do wish there was a list view, as once you get a lot of tabs stored it takes a bit too much scrolling to work with the grid view it uses.
Grammar Snob on the App Store
For those who revel in critiquing other’s grammar, even in text messages, a sticker pack that lets you add edit marks and corrections in Messages on iOS 10. This will not go over well with spouses, friends, or enemies. But you’re used to that.
Collaborative Bot Platform
Build your own conversational bot that understands natural language and integrates with a ton of messaging platforms.
NotePlan: Lean Markdown Calendar, Todos and Notes on the Mac App Store
Ok, this looks amazing. Write and edit notes, tasks, and events in Markdown, then get a calendar view, task list, even integration with Reminders and, Calendar, and other apps.
A free mac app that will export your Apple Notes to Markdown. Not only would this be a great way to transition from Apple Notes to a Markdown-based notes system (ahem, BitWriter is coming), but also a great way to continue using notes but maintain a portable backup. Nice.

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TableFlip: the cure for Markdown table editing

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I was a beta tester for TableFlip, an app for editing Markdown (MultiMarkdown) tables painlessly, and I’ve been waiting excitedly to talk about it for quite some time.

The table format that showed up early in MultiMarkdown was very effective for adding HTML tables to documents. All of the pipes and dashes were a pain to type out, though, and if the table got large enough, it got difficult to edit and update. This led to a lot of solutions and text-based utilities, but nothing that made it truly simple.

TableFlip gives you a spreadsheet interface for quickly creating and editing tables in Markdown documents. You can open the file you’re currently editing in a text or Markdown editor and add or modify tables, or create new ones and copy them to the clipboard. Much like Marked, it will make the changes live in the document, and update if the document does. In fact, you can use it with Marked to add advanced capabilities to any text editor.

The output from TableFlip is clean and well-aligned. “Table cleanup” scripts can do this, but with this workflow you don’t have to worry that making changes will mess up all that carefully added whitespace.

I believe that TableFlip is a game changer for anyone who uses tables in their Markdown writing. The current price is $18.99 US, but there’s a “Launch Celebration” sale running until October 15th that will give you an instant 20% discount. The developer is also running a “Share-for-discount” campaign that can earn you 80% off by getting the word out on social media.

TableFlip requires macOS 10.10 or newer. Find more info at the TableFlip website, and see the roadmap for upcoming features.

A better Hyper key hack for Sierra

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In the last Web Excursions, I posted a hack for getting Hyper Key functionality back in Sierra. It uses Karabiner-Elements and Keyboard Maestro. It couldn’t do one of the things I liked best about the Hyper key, though: allow me to tap it without hitting any other keys to use send Escape. My muscle memory for that has gotten to the point where using Vim without it is an exercise in pain.

Matt Petty posted a different hack to GitHub, one using Hammerspoon with Karabiner-Elements for more flexibility. Granted, it’s a lot more complex to configure, but I now have full functionality back.

Here’s a link to the necessary configuration files. I also put my own Hammerspoon configuration up with a few ideas for using it the way I was used to. My Hyper key shortcuts were frequently app shortcuts, so that’s what’s listed in the example.

I had most of my other shortcuts set up through BetterTouchTool and System Preferences, so I’m just adding lines to the Hammerspoon config to send the same key combination and continue to trigger those.

I made some for loops in my examples to allow more efficient configuration of a bunch of keys. Even if you don’t know Lua (I sure don’t) it should be pretty easy to extend those lists. By the way, the Lua section at tutorialspoint was quite helpful with learning the syntax basics.

Matt also helped me figure out the combination of Lua and Hammerspoon API calls needed to create sequential hotkeys. In my example, you’ll see a section where I configure it such that hitting Hyper-A,F opens Finder. A lot of my app shortcuts were based on this kind of thing because it allows me to group apps by type under a single letter, then use common keys to launch apps within that type. More combinations available, which is kind of the point of the Hyper key to begin with.

Hammerspoon can do a lot more with automation and shortcuts. It’s definitely worth checking out.

SearchLink 2.2.3 with Apple Music searches

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Most of my free projects are the result of solving my own problems, and often get left behind once I’m not actively using them anymore. Among the ones I’ve used every day for years now is SearchLink. I still consider it the most useful thing I’ve ever written.

The first part of this post is just to announce a new version, 2.2.3. If you’re an experienced SearchLink user, go ahead and download it below. If not, I’d recommend heading to the project page and getting a feel for it first.

SearchLink v2.2.3

Generate Markdown links from web searches without leaving your editor.

Updated Wed Sep 28 2016.

More info…

New in this version:

Bing Is Dead

Bing is shutting down what I believe to be the last free search API available in December. Given a complete lack of alternatives, the primary search is now done with a DuckDuckGo scrape. In DuckDuckGo, you can append a “” to a search query and it will automatically open the first link. So I’m leveraging that and just grabbing the redirection result.

As Amazon changed their format for affiliate links, I had to update both the script and the configuration parameters. If you’re using SearchLink to generate Amazon affiliate links, you’ll need to update your config in ~/.searchlink. The amazon_partner key should now be a string with your shop tag instead of the previous array.

amazon_partner: "bretttercom-20"

Apple Music

SearchLink can now search Apple Music and generate proper affiliate links. The results are essentially the same as using the !iart, !ialb, etc. iTunes searches, but formatted to search more specifically and output a link conforming to slightly different parameters.

The new searches are:

  • !amart – Apple Music Artist
  • !amalb – Apple Music Album
  • !amsong – Apple Music Song

Cool new thing: You can also add an “e” to the end of Apple Music album or song searches to get an iframe embed of the album:

[diamond dogs](!amalbe)

gets replaced with:

<iframe src="//tools.applemusic.com/embed/v1/album/697174645?country=US&at=10l4tL&ct=searchlink" height="500px" width="100%" frameborder="0"></iframe>

which gives you:

Social Handles

Now, if you select just an @username and run SearchLink on it, it will automatically turn it into a link to a Twitter profile. So @ttscoff becomes [@ttscoff](https://twitter.com/ttscoff).

I also added quick conversions for Facebook profiles, using !@fb. So you can type !@fb ttscoff to create [ttscoff](https://www.facebook.com/ttscoff) (or [ttscoff](!@fb)).

A Quick Tutorial

Aaron Dowd (@thepodcastdude) has created a video intro to SearchLink. I’m hoping to write a post soon that walks through why I love this project and how I use it. Time…

YouTube Video

Check out the SearchLink project page for the latest documentation and downloads.

nvALT 2.2 take 2.2 (one more time, with feeling)

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Ok, so the first nvALT 2.2 release was an unmitigated wreck. The second one was something just less than a major disaster. A minor major disaster? Here’s one more for you, this one tested by a good number of people already, and hopefully good to go. Thanks to everyone who’s donated already, it gave us additional incentive to get this release fixed up in the face of new OS issues and variables.

As a summary, the first issue was that we built the release on the macOS 10.12 (Sierra) SDK, which was a bit risky as far as backward compatibility, especially considering the age of the Notational Velocity code nvALT is built on. Then there was the fact that 10.12 removed OpenSSL, so some core libraries used in nvALT weren’t available for dynamic linking anymore. After a couple of failed attempts, I think I’ve built a static library that will run on any system equalt to or newer than 10.9.

Then there’s App Translocation. This new security measure in macOS causes some serious issues for apps that update via mechanisms like Sparkle. I’m still waiting to learn more, but in the meantime we’re distributing nvALT via codesigned disk images (DMG) that require the user to drag the app to the Applications folder manually, which is essentially the only thing that Translocation considers a safe install.

This version also fixes an issue with freezing while typing a tag name, creating new notes by pasting, crashes while editing, and TaskPaper formatting. Download below.

nvALT v2.2 (122)

A fork of Notational Velocity with MultiMarkdown preview and advanced Markdown editing capabilities. Other good stuff.

Updated Fri Sep 30 2016.

More info…

Web Excursions for September 26, 2016

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This weeks web excursions are brought to you in partnership with Udemy, and here’s a special offer: Until October 1st, get any course for $15 using promo code UDEMYDREAM.

Hyper Key hack in Sierra using Karabiner-Elements and Keyboard Maestro
For those who’ve upgraded to Sierra and are lamenting the loss of their Hyper Key (because Karibiner breaks in 10.12), here’s a hack using Karabiner-Elements and Keyboard Maestro.
Honestly, the escape key functionality of my original hyper key (tap for escape, hold for modifiers) has become so ingrained in my muscle memory that I’m happier doing a simple hack to make it just an escape key, and then using a basic key combo to trigger a Keyboard Maestro group with my old launching shortcuts.
Expanded Comics
I don’t read a lot of comics, but not because I don’t appreciate the art form. This new app demonstrates a potential future that combines 3D animation, models and sculptures, original music, and other things you’ll never see on a page. Comic fans might scoff and wax nostalgic, but this is motivating for me to dive into graphic storytelling again.
inessential: Memory Graph Debugger Tips
The latest Xcode has a new memory graph debugger, and Brent Simmons shares his tips after his first day of working with it.
The MIT License, Line by Line
From /dev/lawyer, an in-depth look at what the MIT license actually means. It’s something anyone using it should probably understand, but very few of us do.
Pantsuit: The Hillary Clinton UI pattern library
Worth blogging based on the name alone, this is the internal design system for Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
Usar Marked 2 para previsualizar AsciiDoc
A Spanish-language how-to for using Marked with AsciiDoc.

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