Arq for Backups On My Macs


I’m diligent when it comes to backing up my computers. I make sure to always have local and offsite copies of everything. Years ago I began using Stefan Reitshamer’s Arq utility for making offline copies (to Amazon S3) and it was great. That is, until ongoing storage costs became prohibitive. S3 was relatively cheap at the time, but I was still paying hundreds of dollars per year for storage. When Backblaze and Crashplan showed up at \$5/month for “unlimited” backups, I switched (to Crashplan).

I never got on well with Crashplan. I never felt that I could “see” what was going on with my backups. The interface feels janky and the app would sometimes refuse to run after OS upgrades. But, it did the job and was cheap.

While reviewing my backups after the new year, I took another look at Arq and was reminded what a nice app it is. Arq just feels better. It can back up from anything to just about anywhere and does so quickly and securely. And the costs? One of the targets available is Amazon Cloud Drive, which offers “unlimited” storage for \$60/year.

So I’m back to using Arq for my backups and couldn’t be happier.

Capturing To An Org-Mode Date Tree In Current Buffer

I use Capture Templates in Org Mode for all sorts of things. Frequently, I want to capture something to a date tree, which automatically organizes entries by Year->Month->Day.

The usual way of doing this is to specify the target file as part of the capture template, like this…

("d" "Daybook" entry
(file+datetree "~/org/")
"* %?\n%t")

What I also wanted to do was capture to a date tree in the buffer I’m already visiting. This meant that I couldn’t specify the file name ahead of time. I assumed doing this would require a bunch of fancy tricks (I’m not good at writing lisp), but it turned out to be easy. I simply replaced what would normally be a string containing the target file’s name with buffer-file-name, like this…

("l" "Current file log entry" entry
(file+datetree buffer-file-name)
"* %? \n%u")

Now, I can easily add an entry to a date tree in any file I’m working on.

The Lomo'Instant Wide Camera

A photograph becomes real only when it’s printed. I love photographic prints of all kinds. This is why I’ve loved the Fuji Instax cameras. All you get is a print. No muss no fuss.

The Fuji Instax210 has been fun, but let’s face it, it’s kind of ugly. The later versions are better, but still not great. I loved the Lomo’Instant Wide the moment I saw it. Especially the “Central Park” version, so I bought one.

It’s great. Here’s why I like it (compared to my old Fuji):

  • It looks great
  • Zone focusing on the lens rather than via menu
  • Controls are on the back, and are buttons and led indicators. No LCD.
  • The lens cap doubles as a remote shutter release. Genius!
  • Comes with various lens attachments (Close-up, super-wide, etc)
  • It’s plastic, but not as “plastic-ey” as the Fuji
  • There’s a PC sync port. I can use an external flash!

Super fun, cute, and more versatile than the one it’s replacing. I’m happy with it.

Selfie (2017). Instax. Lomo'Instant Wide

AirPods are Awesome

I’m not going to write a long review or anything, but I did want to say that I love the new Apple AirPods. They are the most Apple-like new product I’ve used in a long time. After using the AirPods for a few days, one wonders what the hell every Bluetooth headphone maker has been doing for the past decade. I’ll forgive Apple the Siri-only interaction model with this round, but they need to fix that. Otherwise, the entire experience is wonderful.

Apple has (at least historically) been good at eliciting reactions like, “Well, of course this is how it should work!” They’ve done it again with the AirPods.

Ektachrome is Back


Film Is Not Dead:

We are very much pro film, in favour of film! Film is our heritage and we’ll continue to look at these opportunities and the one we can look at today is Ektachrome. — T. J. Mooney, Kodak Alaris

I haven’t shot any color reversal film since Kodachrome went away, but I may have to dust off the JOBO and mix up some E6 chemistry soon. This is good news.

A Short Break From Twitter

I haven’t been “on” Twitter since the first of the year. As of today that means it’s been a whole week. It sounds stupid just saying that, “A whole week.” Big deal. But, it’s been surprisingly difficult to stay away.

I realized that I was using Twitter as an excuse to do nothing useful. I’d scroll and click and scroll and click and I loved it. So what’s the problem? The problem is that I was always looking for something new to do, or more likely, just hoping to be entertained. Nothing inherently wrong with that, but I was doing it during every spare moment, and frequently in moments that I couldn’t spare. Not productive.

Too much of a good thing is a bad thing, so I’m taking a break. I don’t know how long it will last. It’s just an experiment.

  • I’d like to lose my pervasive fear of missing out.
  • I want to know if my background stress level changes.
  • I want to learn to seek things out deliberately rather than passively having everything streamed at me.
  • I want to reduce my intake of snark and false outrage.
  • One immediate side effect is that after one week without Twitter I’m already less angry at the world. That’s something worth pursuing.

In the meantime, I’ll be here at and probably more active on Instagram.

The Untouched Touch Bar

I don’t use the Touch Bar on my MacBook Pro for anything other than Function keys and Touch ID. I love having Touch ID on a Mac, but man I sure miss having real Function and Escape keys.

Maybe I’ll learn new behavior over time. Maybe there really is a decent use for the Touch Bar. Right now though, I would swap the Touch Bar for actual keys in a heartbeat. Also, still hate the keyboard.

Open Letter to Apple - Dave Pell

Dave Pell:

But I’m a grown-ass man. I’m not some punk you can distract by making me ponder which version of black I want on my next iPhone. I want the same keyboard I’ve been getting the hang of for the last decade. I want the same form-factor. I want what’s coming to me. I want the best consumer computing device ever put on a store’s shelf.

I want a new MacBook Air.

You tell him, Dave.

I’ve had one of the fancy new Touch-Bar-having MacBook Pros for a few weeks and it’s a lovely machine. But, what I’d rather have is a slightly-faster MacBook Air with a Retina display. I want the old keyboard and I want real function keys. I want that razor-sharp leading edge and wonderful taper. Maybe we could compromise on the Touch Bar and just give me Touch ID up there in the corner.

I don’t like that the best computer I’ll ever have is the one I can no longer have.

I would also like a new MacBook Air, please.

This Is a Job for Beeminder

I ran into the word Akrasia again recently and it reminded me of myself:

Akrasia (əˈkreɪzɪə; Greek ἀκρασία, “lacking command”).

…a lack of self-control or the state of acting against one’s better judgement. The adjectival form is “akratic”

I think about this sort of thing in January, naturally. I had first heard of Akrasia when I was actively using Beeminder a few years ago. I’m not sure why I quit using Beeminder (well I do, but I’ll never admit it). Since I’ve become fatter and more out of shape than I’ve been in years, I’m firing up Beeminder again to see if it helps curb my akratic tendencies.

Previewing Markdown in Emacs using Marked

In some cases I prefer to edit files using Markdown rather than Org Mode. Marked App works great for previewing Markdown and quickly sharing or saving in various formats.

The Marked Bonus Pack contains a bit of Lisp for sending my current Emacs buffer to Marked for preview…

(defun markdown-preview-file ()
  "use Marked 2 to preview the current file"
   (format "open -a 'Marked' %s" 
       (shell-quote-argument (buffer-file-name))))
(global-set-key "\C-cm" 'markdown-preview-file)

Now I just hit “C-c m” and the current buffer is instantly previewed in Marked App. Nice.