Echo Hide

I’ve had a new Echo Show since the day it was released. I wish I could trade it in for an Echo Hide.

This, believe it or not, is how I use my Echo Show in the kitchen.


Every time I walk into the kitchen the device lights up with a screen full of wonders such as “World Class Restaurant Servers Moldy Apples” or “It’s National Hot Dog Day!” or some other annoying buzzfeed-ian nonsense. It’s awful. Then at the bottom of the screen it’ll add a little note like, “Try, ‘Alexa, tell me about hot dog day.‘” I’m never doing that, but I can’t ignore it either.

To be honest, I mostly bought the Show for setting cooking timers. I loved setting timers on my original Echo and thought it would be great if I could see them all at the same time. Except I can’t. Sure, I can say, “Alexa, set a timer for 10 minutes” and then say, “Alexa, set a timer for 8 minutes.” She’ll do what I ask, but if I want to /see/ the timers I have to say, “Alexa, show me my timers,” which she’ll do, but only for a few seconds before going back to showing me another stupid headline like “Sia to release christmas album!” Who?

I like Alexa better when I can’t see her.

UPDATE, 10 minutes later: Sure enough it is possible to turn off much of the nonsense. That’s a little better.

Posting to Hugo from Org Mode using ox-hugo

ox-hugo is an Org exporter backend that exports Org to Hugo-compatible Markdown (Blackfriday). That also includes the generation of front matter (in TOML or YAML format) required for Hugo posts.

What that means is that I can have an org file and each headline will become a hugo-compatible markdown file with all the appropriate front matter? Awesome!

I’ll have to think about whether to use it regularly for since it adds a level of abstraction between the original “master” post in Org Mode and the final Markdown post used to render the site. Basically, I need to “render” each post twice. I’ll try it with a few posts to see how it feels. (You’re soaking in it!)

My New iPod Nano

I’d been using an old click-wheel iPod for listening to music in the car. It’s nice having music ready to go without futzing with hooking up my iPhone and cables every time I get in the car. Unfortunately, it stopped working a few months ago.

When I heard Apple was discontinuing the iPod Nano and iPod Shuffle, I hustled to Best Buy and bought a brand new Nano before they were gone.

iPod Nano

I like being able to get in the car and just push the play button to continue listening to an audio book. Having to take out my phone, connect cables, find and launch an app, select something to listen to, and hit “play” adds just enough friction so that I often don’t bother listening to anything.

Having to sync everything using iTunes on my Mac adds a bit of friction, but it’s the good kind. It’s the kind that forces me to consider what I’d like to listen to until next time. That’s fine with me. Audio books take forever to listen to, so it doesn’t come up often.

iPod Nano

It also works great while walking. The Nano is tiny and it’s nice not having my phone with me. The downside is that it doesn’t work with the Airpods, so I have to use chorded headphones like some sort of Neanderthal. On the other hand, there’s no need to worry about charging the plain old EarPods.

It’s a nice setup.

A Privacy Choice - Rands


And I’m not even worried about this one meeting. I’m worried about all of the meetings and the collective compounding impact of all the small seemingly inconsequential decisions in a company where the business is selling advertising versus a company where the business is selling product.

I switch to using Chrome once in a while, even though I generally prefer Safari. Chrome has collected all the energy and the ecosystem and is better when doing any sort of web development. This usually lasts about 2 months.

I switched back to Safari again a couple of weeks ago. Privacy concerns are a significant reason, and Rands understands the feeling.

Is This the Life We Really Want? - Roger Waters

Is This The Life We Really Want?

After nearly 25 years I’d sort of given up on seeing a new solo record from Roger Waters. Then, surprisingly, here comes “Is This the Life We Really Want?”

He’s still angry and writing about the same basic things he has for the last 40 years or so. Fine with me, that’s what I’ve always liked about him. For example, this bit from “Broken Bones”:

When World War II was over
Though the slate was never wiped clean
We could have picked over them broken bones
We could have been free

But we chose to adhere to abundance
We chose the American Dream
And ooo, Mistress Liberty -
How we abandoned thee

And then there’s this more current note, from “Picture This”:

Picture a courthouse with no fucking laws
Picture a cathouse with no fucking whores
Picture a shithouse with no fucking drains
Picture a leader with no fucking brains

I really like this record. Some of it is very Floydian, and that’s never a bad thing.

From TextExpander to Alfred

One side effect of an app developer’s decision to move to a subscription model is that the monthly charge is a regular reminder for me to re-evaluate that app’s value. Sometimes I decide the value is no longer worth the monthly overhead in both money and friction.

Such is the case with TextExpander. I’ve relied on it for years and use it many times every day, but darn if that monthly fee hasn’t been nagging at me.

So today I moved1 all of my snippets into Alfred and canceled my TextExpander subscription. Alfred’s snippet implementation is not quite as complete as TextExpander’s, but it’s good enough for how I use it. I’ll miss the occasional benefits on iOS but I don’t write that much on iOS. What I won’t miss is the monthly cost and mental overhead of a software subscription it turns out I didn’t really need.

  1. Thanks to this tool by Daniel Diekmeier [return]

Wonderful Software

I love software. Even though I long to be one of those “I’ve only used X for 10 years and nothing else matters” people, there’s just no way. I use, and love, many things. Here I list a few of my long-time favorites. These are wonderful apps that have held up for years and continue to be useful and valuable.


Where to begin with Tinderbox? I’ve been keeping notes in Tinderbox for at least a decade. I occasionally stop using it for a few months and then feel a flood of relief when I come to my senses and launch it again. Tinderbox is clever and powerful and a little weird, but in such a good way. Tinderbox can be anything, and everything. It’s an outliner and a visual mapping tool and a smart agent for processing notes. Mostly, it’s wonderful software.


Zengobi’s Curio is another application that can be anything. Its core is simply an infinite whiteboard onto which you can place files or write or both, but it’s much more than that. And, like Tinderbox, it’s riddled with thoughtful touches. I work well in a visual environment. Spacial memory helps me find and remember things so I love Curio on the big iMac. It’s beautiful and feels wonderful to use. Also, the developer, George Browning, is almost inhumanly responsive.


DEVONthink is a workhorse. It’s big, complex, and powerful. I keep years of history and thousands of documents in DEVONthink and I can find things in a snap. With the new version of DEVONthink To Go I have access to everything on all of my devices.

The Brain

Whenever I demo The Brain I get a lot of oohs and aahs. It’s one of a kind and it’s wonderful. Everything links to everything. It’s the most powerful mind map you’ve ever seen, only better. Prior to the upcoming Version 9, The Brain was a Java app, which always made me feel a little dirty and made my OS complain. Version 9 is a native rewrite and it looks and feels much better. My main brain file only has about 3,000 thoughts but I can find any of them quickly, and then easily jump to linked topics (thoughts). The Brain pleases the visual connection parts of my actual brain.

Those are a few of the wonderful apps that I’ve used and loved regularly for many years.


I thought it odd that Quicklook doesn’t work on Markdown files. I found the quicklook plugin, QLMarkdown, which not only makes Quicklook work with Markdown (.md) files, but it actually renders the markdown.

Installed using Homebrew as directed and it just worked.

$ brew update
$ brew cask install qlmarkdown


My ongoing efforts to stop using Emacs continue to fail.

Moving away from Emacs becomes more difficult every time I adopt a new Emacs module, replacing yet another tool or process. This time, I’ve started using Emacs for reading RSS feeds. I’m trying Elfeed as my feed reader. It looks like this…


The list of feeds is maintained as an Org Mode file using elfeed-org. I have the feed list and elfeed’s database in Dropbox so everything syncs nicely.

Elfeed is fast, easy way to burn through a long list of feeds using familiar keybindings in a familiar environment. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, I guess.

Resuming my experiment with Known

A month ago, in Pausing my experiment with WithKnown, I wrote that Known was “accidentally a decent IndieWeb-enabled blogging platform”. After a few weeks trying to wrangle Wordpress into a useful IndieWeb platform, I feel differently about Known. Known is a darn fine, simple, and IndieWeb-complete blogging platform. It works so well that there can be nothing accidental about it.

So, as I tend to do, I set up a new site using Known at The theme is simple and posting things couldn’t be easier. In fact, it’s very “Tumblr-esque”, which I like for this type of site.

I set up cross-posting to Twitter and Mastodon via easy-to-configure plugins. I connected for bringing Instagram and Twitter likes and replies (webmentions) back into the original posts.

The entire process took maybe an hour and I’m already posting and seeing webmentions. That was easy.