Using Hazel to Automatically Import Photos

Thomas Fitzgerald’s photo management workflow is reasonably similar to mine. I also process my photos using Lightroom and export them to Photos. I’ve been manually importing the exported Lightroom photos into Apple Photos and hadn’t spent the time to simplify that process. Thomas did it for me!

Thomas uses Hazel to watch his export folder and automatically import anything new into Photos. I’ve been using Hazel for years but did not know it could do that. The rules are simple and look like this:

Hazel

Since my exported photos are only temporary, I also have Hazel delete them when finished. Super handy.

Tried the Newton Mail client on macOS

In this interesting post about tools by Matt Birchler he wrote that “Newton is the best email app I have ever used.” Intrigued, I installed the 14-day trial.

Newton

After 20 minutes I realized Newton isn’t for me. I’m a multi-pane guy. I’ve used Mail.app or Mailmate, or Mutt or Emacs/Mu4e on my Mac for years. Newton behaves differently than all of those (by default). It shows a simple list of messages, and clicking a message opens the message rather than highlighting it and displaying its contents in a separate pane. I’m not sure I’d ever get used to that.

I like my messages displayed with the newest at the top. If I delete a message in the middle of the list, Newton highlights the older message below the deleted message. That’s not how I work. I’m usually working my way up the list, older to newer. Didn’t see a way to change that behavior.

Messages can be selected using Vim bindings, which is cool. I was able to move up and down the list using my keyboard and pressing “d” to delete the highlighted message. Great. However, I couldn’t archive messages messages that way by using the “e” key. For some reason, the Archive menu item was disabled when navigating using the keyboard.

Many of Newton’s coolest features don’t interest me. Snooze, Send Later, etc. would likely never be used, so paying $50/year for a subscription would probably not be worth it.

I barely use email on my iOS devices, so I didn’t try Newton there.

Newton is a nice-looking app with some interesting features, but I’ll be sticking with my boring old Mail.app for now.

Technology Fatigue

A few weeks ago I wrote that “Technology exhausts me.” I was exaggerating to make a point, but it’s still happening; and getting worse. I’m just not in the mood.

I’m not in the mood for any of my devices. I’m not in the mood for social media. I’m not in the mood for syncing, or two-factor authentication, or JavaScript frameworks, or WordPress issues, or Emacs hanging, or my Watch not seeing my phone, or firmware upgrades, or Alexa not turning on my lights, or any of dozens of other things I deal with daily.

I’m suffering from technology fatigue and I think I need a break from the things that cause it.

Alexa and Sonos

I have several Sonos speakers in my house. I also have several Amazon Echos. I’ve always wanted them to work together, and now they can.

I installed the latest Sonos and Alexa apps, let Alexa “discover” my Sonos devices, and now I can say, “Alexa, play Tom Petty in the living room” and that’s what she does. It’s been working great so far. The Sonos speakers are vastly superior to the little Echo speakers.

Apple still has a lot of catching up to do.

Hugo gets even faster

I slimmed down the templates and Hugo renders my site even faster:

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Built site for language en:
0 draft content
0 future content
0 expired content
2272 regular pages created
458 other pages created
2 non-page files copied
114 paginator pages created
216 tags created
8 categories created
total in 1290 ms

That’s down from around 2600ms

How did Amazon become my Smart Home hub before Apple?

How many years are we going to continue saying, “Well, Apple is going to do something amazing with Siri and Homekit any day now.” I’m not seeing any signs of that happening. An over-priced speaker with an under-powered voice assistant certainly isn’t what I’ve been dreaming of. I’ve tried. I have a Series 2 Apple Watch, an Apple TV, an iPhone, newer Macs, and a number of “smart” devices. I try, but Siri kind of sucks. Maybe I’m doing it wrong, but she just doesn’t get me. A few years ago Amazon sort of quietly lobbed the Echo at us and I’ve used a phrase starting with “Alexa…” many times a day ever since. Alexa isn’t perfect, but my frustration with her never reaches the fever pitch that it does when arguing with Siri. With an original Echo and a couple of inexpensive Dots, Alexa is always within earshot. No battery and nothing has to be on my wrist or in my pocket. And she seems to always hear me when I talk to her.

I want Apple to provide me the perfect ecosystem of hardware and software that is needed for a smooth smart home experience. So far they have failed to produce or even hint at anything.

So, with the introduction of the Echo Plus with a built-in smart hub, I’m heading even further down the Amazon path. If I can set up new devices without adding more hubs or device-specific apps I’ll be happy. Of course I don’t know how well it’ll all work, but Amazon’s track record with these things is pretty good. Surprisingly good.

I don’t understand how Apple, having had all of the smart home ingredients available to them for so long, can seemingly be so far behind Amazon. But that’s where we are. This stuff feels like a “hobby” for Amazon too, but they’ve gotten it pretty close to just right. I’m tired of waiting for “any day now.”

Revised Mac Backup Strategy

Whenever a drive fails in one of my Macs, I usually re-install everything from scratch. This happened to me again recently when the internal drive on my iMac failed. It feels good to start with a clean slate and re-evaluate what I need (or don’t). I’m now finally back in action after a week of the usual set of “Oh yeah, I forgot I need to symlink that” and “How did I build this last time?”

Reinstalling and configuring apps is easy enough, but what about my stuff? Restoring files has gotten a lot easier over the years.

I keep nearly everything in either iCloud or Dropbox. The only things that have needed special care are my photos, GPG keys, and SSH keys.

I regularly back up my SSH and GPG keys to an encrypted thumb drive, so those are covered.

For my music I’m just relying on Apple Music. I still have boatloads of MP3s on an external drive but never need them. It’s either vinyl or streaming these days.

Photos are a whole other thing. I have decades of photos arranged carefully in dated folders and I like it that way. However, my newly-discovered love of using an iPad convinced me it was time to go all-in with Apple Photos and iCloud storage. I’ve imported all of my photos into Apple Photos and am letting iCloud handle things from there. It’s weird, and I’m never comfortable when I can’t right-click something and see a “Reveal in Finder” option, but the benefits are compelling. As a hedge, I plan to export copies of photos each month to my usual YYYY/MM-Month/image-name.jpg structure, just in case.

So here’s how my backups are managed currently.

  • Most of my “stuff” is synced using Dropbox and iCloud.
  • The iMac’s internal drive is backed up to a Time Machine drive for quick retrieval of recent files.
  • The iMac’s internal drive is also cloned nightly to a bootable backup using Chronosync on another drive.
  • All media (Photo backups, Videos, Audio, etc.) is on it’s own external drive, and that drive is mirrored nightly to a second external drive using Chronosync.
  • My photo library is managed with Apple Photos via iCloud (and are also backed up by Time Machine).
  • Both the internal drive and the Media drive are backed up offsite to Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage using Arq.
  • I still bring a full clone of everything on an external drive and bring it offsite once a year.

Am I missing anything?

Surprise! The iPad is a Content Creation Device

A few quick thoughts on using the iPad in anger this week.

Contrary to everything I’ve ever believed, I’m starting to think of the iPad as a content creation device. I look at the screen and see Affinity Photo and Ulysses and Procreate and Linea and it makes me want to pick one and just make something. I would not have believed it had I not dove in and given it a fair shot.

I’ve been using the iPad exclusively while at home for more than a week and I have been continually surprised by how much I enjoy it. I’ve been emailing, managing projects, editing photos, drawing, tweeting, and generally carrying on like it’s actually normal doing stuff on an iPad other than reading social media sites and playing games. Who knew?

Once my iMac is fixed I plan to go all-in with Photos and I’ll be benching Lightroom/Photoshop for the time being. That’s crazy talk, but I’m finding it pretty great just snapping and editing and having everything update everywhere with zero effort on my part. Affinity Photo is more than I’ll ever need for editing photos. Sharing is a zero-friction thing.

I’ve been doodling with the Pencil using Linea and that’s been a lot of fun. I love paper and “art supplies” but I’m not serious about art so who cares how I make it?

I’ve been writing blog posts (like this one), project notes and documentation, journal entries, and everything else using Ulysses and it’s still great. Everything syncs flawlessly and quickly to every device. I can easily export to whatever format is required. There’s something to be said about using the same editor, everywhere, which is something I’ve never done.

I know, much of this is obvious to many of you, but it’s been a revelation to me. I’m having so much fun living (part-time, for now) on the iPad I can’t stand it. Life’s weird.