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.
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.
Amazon Affiliate Link Format
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
Sorry it’s been a slow week of posting here. Much to do.
Speaking of, nvALT ran into some trouble with Sierra that I hadn’t noticed because I’ve been cheating and running a dev version for so long. That prompted David and I to get this one last release of nvALT out and ensure stability for at least the next year.
In the meantime, we’re getting close to a BitWriter beta. This will be the replacement for nvALT, rewritten from the ground up and using modern code that will be easier to maintain moving forward. Keep your eyes peeled on this blog and Twitter, both ttscoff and nvALTApp will have beta signup and release news.
In the meantime, you can continue to report nvALT issues on GitHub, but I wouldn’t count on any future releases except in the case that I screwed something up on this update that breaks it for everyone.
Note that this release should run on 10.9 (not tested), but that’s the minimum. If you’re running something really old and nvALT is currently working for you, don’t update.
The release should show up in automatic updates (nvALT->Check For Updates), or download it directly below. Stay tuned for more BitWriter news!
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Here’s a quick note to let you know about the current Back to School promotion from Udemy. Learn some iOS and Swift skills for just $15 (normally $200) using the code 15B2SCHOOL (or clicking any of the links below to have it applied automatically).
The coupon works sitewide, but here are some featured courses I’d highly recommend for any developer working with iOS.
Thanks to VPN client Shimo for sponsoring BrettTerpstra.com this week!
As some of you might know, a couple of months ago Apple announced that PPTP VPN will no longer be supported by Apple’s built-in VPN client on macOS Sierra. Security issues are mentioned among the main reasons for this decision: PPTP VPN has simply become outdated, vulnerable to threats, and insecure.
Although this might seem to be a reasonable change which would motivate Mac enthusiasts to switch to more secure VPN protocols, it is also understandable that it may cause some users inconveniences in the immediate future.
For those who will miss PPTP VPN on macOS Sierra and look for alternatives to Apple’s built-in VPN client, there is one great solution. It’s the VPN Client for Mac Shimo. Not only is it ready for macOS Sierra and supports PPTP, it also supports L2TP, Cisco AnyConnect, OpenVPN and all standard-compliant IPSec connections.
The developers at Feingeist Software have recently announced a major update to Shimo. Shimo 4.1 now easily handles complex VPN networking configurations, including route management and DNS handling.
A 30 days free trial period allows you to test the full range of functionalities that Shimo offers. Among the benefits that you get by using this VPN client are the highest security standards and an optimized user experience. Shimo also allows you to automatically connect VPN accounts based on certain trigger conditions: your network connection is automatically secured whenever required, for example, when connecting to an unknown Wi-Fi network.
Users can also configure actions to be performed when a particular VPN connection is established or terminated. Connect to network servers, launch other applications or just check your company email — everything is possible with Shimo’s automation features.
I’m not one to spend time on rumors, and rarely invest much energy in speculation, but the technical specs dug up by Softorino while hacking away on the next version of WALTR are intriguing.
The benchmarks they’ve run show that the A9 chip in the iPhone 6 Plus can already handle VR video playback. VR requires 2 streams of at least 4k video quality, and the A9 chip can provide that. An A10 chip in the next iPhone should reasonably be more than capable of it, which makes speculation about an Apple venture into VR a reasonable conclusion.
CloudCannon has finished their Jekyll beta, making Jekyll and plugins available to all users on every plan. They’ve also added a bunch of configuration options and cool features like inline editing for Markdown files. If you want an easy way to run a Jekyll blog with an awesome GUI, check it out.
A worthy charity of interest to my Scottish friends.
Our vision is to enhance life of Adults with Learning Disabilities/Difficulties (ALD) and/or with mental health issues, by promoting social inclusion to those individuals and to raise awareness & understanding to the public.
By enhancing their lives & sense of wellbeing is to become a valued member of society via inclusion in all things.