OSOMac http://www.osomac.com Making your life easier, one App at a time... Sun, 07 Dec 2014 13:39:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 HandBrakeBatch – Problem with custom presets http://www.osomac.com/2014/12/07/handbrakebatch-problem-custom-presets/ http://www.osomac.com/2014/12/07/handbrakebatch-problem-custom-presets/#comments Sun, 07 Dec 2014 13:39:39 +0000 http://www.osomac.com/?p=1744 The newest version of HandBrake, 0.10.0, breaks the ability of HandBrakeBatch to read your custom presets. There have been some changes in the format of the file containing the presets, and HandBrakeBatch is not yet able to parse the new format. The application will still work, but will fall back to the default presets.

If custom presets are important for you, and you still want to use HandBrakeBatch, do not update HandBrake. If you have already updated, you are out of luck for the time being. I plan to spend some time looking into this during the Christmas break, so possibly I will release a new version of HBB before the New Year (no guarantees).

In the meanwhile, even if it is not so convenient, you can still use HandBrake to manage your batch conversions.

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Missed messages http://www.osomac.com/2014/11/30/missed-messages/ http://www.osomac.com/2014/11/30/missed-messages/#comments Sun, 30 Nov 2014 15:27:42 +0000 http://www.osomac.com/?p=1741 A couple of days ago I realized that the Contact page of the website was broken. Everything seemed normal for the user, but I did not receive any message, because of a mis-configuration of the postfix server. I don’t know when the page stopped working, so potentially I might have missed messages for several months…

Apologies if you tried to contact me and did not receive any reply, that’s only because I never received your messages, otherwise I always reply to all messages.

The page is now fixed, so feel free to contact me again and this time I will receive your message.

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HandBrakeBatch 2.23 released http://www.osomac.com/2014/11/09/handbrakebatch-2-23-released/ http://www.osomac.com/2014/11/09/handbrakebatch-2-23-released/#comments Sun, 09 Nov 2014 10:01:46 +0000 http://www.osomac.com/?p=1735 After a long time with no updates, here is a new version of HandBrakeBatch. The credit does not belong to me though, I have simply merged a pull request kindly provided by Michaël Fortin. Many thanks to Michaël for his contribution.

Here are the changes:

  • Xcode-recommended project changes to fix warnings.
  • Set path control to “Standard” style instead of the deprecated “Navigation Bar” style.
  • Minor layout (alignment) tweaks in main window.
  • Moved all frameworks and dylibs to Frameworks group.
  • Replaced Growl with OS X notifications. Deployment target is now 10.8+ (Mountain Lion) instead of 10.7 (Lion).
  • New Yosemite-style icon.

As usual, you can update from the application itself, or download the new version from the product page.

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Todoist, my new productivity tool http://www.osomac.com/2014/10/26/todoist-new-productivity-tool/ http://www.osomac.com/2014/10/26/todoist-new-productivity-tool/#comments Sun, 26 Oct 2014 12:07:30 +0000 http://www.osomac.com/?p=1714 Over the few months, I have been happy with org-mode, combining an incredible flexibility with the reliability of a plain text file in a Source Control System, and with the raw power of Emacs under the hood. Still, I am moving away, at least for a while. My main issues with org are:

  • Limited functionality of MobileOrg: this is by far the main reason why I started looking for alternatives. Unfortunately at the moment I do not have the time to contribute to the project, and the tool is limited. On top of that, you need Emacs running somewhere for the sync to happen. The iOS workflows that I posted in the previous posts rely on a working network connection, and I found them not completely reliable.
  • No notifications: this is not a deal breaker for me, as I spend enough time in the tool, but time and location based notifications are handy.
  • Complexity of the configuration: elisp is a powerful language, Emacs allows you to customize absolutely everything, but when you start to use org on a bunch of machines, requiring different configurations, and you end up having to use git to synchronize them (see theses old posts to understand why I had to do that), it can become tricky to get the config right;
  • Agenda views are static, and it can be a lot of work to set up the perfect views for your workflow.

I still miss OmniFocus sometimes (less and less to be honest), but I need more and more a Windows compatible tool, as at work I am stuck on a Windows machine. So, I decided to have a quick look at the evolution of the various platforms since last time I looked at them. I decided to do this exercise with an open mind, and try tools which I previously discarded for lack of what I used to consider basic functionality (i.e. start dates). Mostly, I played with Asana, Toodledo, and Todoist. I also found a couple of interesting new tools, based on Evernote, but I do not want to pollute my Evernote account with hundreds of to-do items.

Asana is free unless you have a big team, and both Toodledo and Todoist have a free version and offer you a trial for their respective premium versions (similarly priced). Toodledo gives you two weeks, while Todoist gives you an entire month. This is a great policy in my opinion. Two weeks are just right to get your hands dirty on a similar tool, and one month is perfect. To be fair I could not find the free trial option on the Todoist’s website, but I received an invitation shortly after creating an account.

As you can guess from the title of this post, my preference has fallen on Todoist. The tool is not perfect, but what I particularly like is the low friction, at least in my workflow. It does everything I need, it does not get in my way, and the adaptation time was short. Before getting into the details of Todoist, I’ll quickly explain why I ruled out Asana and Toodledo.

Asana

asanaThis platform has been greatly improved since last time I used it, especially the iOS app is great. This said, I am still annoyed by the web interface; I can’t exactly explain why, I just can’t get along with it. It might simply be that I have not spent sufficient time with it. The real deal-breaker for me is the lack of an interface with Microsoft Outlook: at work I have to use Outlook, and there is no simple way to create a task from an email. It is possible to forward emails to a specific Asana address, but that’s cumbersome, and poses security issues: I can’t simply forward emails, potentially including confidential attachments, to an external service (and I don’t have the time to scrub the messages before sending them either).

Toodledo

toodledoThis platform is powerful, but it has a couple of strange limitations, and the worst web interface of them all… Toodledo is highly customizable, but some basic GTD concepts are difficult to implement. As an example, there is no concept of “Project”. You have folders, you even have goals, but simply no projects. There are various ways to work around this limitation, but that’s just more friction, which is the worst problem in these tools. This said, I could have lived with this limitation; the main issues I had with Toodledo are the unreliability of the web interface, and the clunky sync: I played with it for several days, and it has consistently been slow. Slowness can be acceptable, but whenever I edited several tasks I ended up having 5 or 6 being updated at the same time, and then I got a generic error saying that the operation could not be completed: that’s bad, because I don’t want to have to remember and check everything I just did… This happened several times; it might have been a transient problem (several days long), or an issue with my region, but that’s a major problem for me. Also, I ended up “losing” tasks, and using the tool to look for them rather than being reminded of them; this might be due to the learning curve, but it’s not a good start. This is a shame, because Toodledo can be synced with Outlook tasks (using gSyncit, a tool that I have been using successfully for some time to sync other data), and provides an open sync API, which gives you the freedom to use various apps to manage your tasks.

Todoist

todoistLet’s come back to my tool of choice. Todoist has a modern design, and just the features I need without too much fuss. The tool runs on pretty much every platform (although, to be fair, most of their “apps” are just web views: this is fine for me, since the web view in question is very well designed, and allows the developers to update most platforms at the same time and more frequently), and the Outlook plugin is great: with one button I have a task from an email, without any sensitive content. The task only contains the Outlook ID of the message, as a link, so I can open the original email with a click. The task name can be customized, so you are not limited to the email’s subject.

Another big selling point for Todoist is the speed and reliability of the sync. It just happens, and I do not even need to know that it exists. It works, and my tasks are instantly on all my devices. And finally, a nice touch is the badge on the app icon on iOS, which is updated even if you don’t open the app (this may seem trivial, but almost no other todo app gets it right).

In terms of functionality, this is what I like:

  • Inbox implemented right: Nothing special, but new tasks go there when you are not in a project, which is all I need.
  • Projects and sub-projects: I thought this was a given for this type of tool, but clearly it is not (Toodledo, I’m looking at you…) so I’m glad Todoist offers it. For some strange reason, Todoist developers did not think filtering by projects was important, but luckily their users have requested this feature and it is now available in all web view based apps (though not documented yet). To filter by project you need to add “p:project_name” in your query. Also, filtering on a parent project does include sub-projects, which is good.
  • Customizable filters: This is common, but Todoist goes one step further and syncs your filters across devices, which is great.
  • Recurring tasks from completion date (and not only from due date): the syntax is weird, but the feature is there.
  • Multiple reminders: You can set an arbitrary number of reminders for a task, both location-based and time-based. This is useful, and it compensates the lack of a “Start Date”, at least in my workflow. Also, being able to set location-based reminders on a computer, and getting the notification on the phone, is neat.

Todoist is not perfect though, these are the main problems for me:

  • Natural language implemented wrongly: Todoist allegedly allows you to express dates using natural language, but in reality the syntax is strict. Examples: 10am is not accepted, only “today at 10am” is; “every Mon and Wed” is wrong, you must use “every Mon, Wed”; worst of all, “oct 21” is not valid, you have to use “21 oct”. This is not a major issue, I can get used to the syntax, but I hope the parser will improve overtime.
  • Non-standard keyboard shortcuts: the most annoying one being SHIFT-Enter to create a task below the current one, while in every other system SHIFT-Enter creates an item above the current one. In Todoist, CTRL-Enter creates a task above the current one.
  • Sub-projects and sub-tasks are poorly implemented: The functionality is there, but the interface is not. Creating a subtask is counter-intuitive, while it should be handled through drag & drop (OmniFocus gets this perfectly right). Also, there seem to be limitations in the data-model, as sub-items are just a matter of indentation and have no real link to the parent. As an example, once you archive a sub-project, no links are maintained to its former parent.
  • Project based filters still not available on iOS, but I expect this to be fixed soon, given that it works on all web-based clients (web app, Mac, Windows, and Outlook for sure).

There is another feature unique to Todoist worth mentioning: productivity analysis (with karma points). I haven’t played with it much yet, don’t know if I like it or will use it, but it can be disabled and it does no harm anyway. Might be good for motivation.

Anyway, after a couple of weeks I am mostly happy with Todoist. I managed to migrate all my org-mode files and I’m pleased to report that the tool has little overhead: I spend little time setting up Todoist, my time goes into getting things done. As soon as my complimentary Premium period ends, I will definitely switch to a paid account.

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Apple Gears Up for New iPads http://www.osomac.com/2014/10/11/apple-gears-new-ipads-2/ http://www.osomac.com/2014/10/11/apple-gears-new-ipads-2/#comments Sat, 11 Oct 2014 09:04:43 +0000 http://www.osomac.com/?p=1703 The tech giant shows no signs for slowing down.

Mere weeks after Apple unveiled their largest smartphones yet, and amidst criticism of the their latest releases’ propensity for bending, Apple has confirmed their October 16, 2014 iPad event.

Many months ago, Cesare wrote about the tablet and how many people considered it a low-hanging fruit, berating the tech giant for hardly being innovative. With the iPhones currently dominating the market, however, it seems that launching the new iPads might just be the only way to go. Journalists have just received invitations – similar to those of the iPhone 6, but this time with the tag line “It’s been way too long.” – for the event, which takes places from 6pm UK time in the Town Hall Auditorium in Cupertino, CA, with simulcasts being shown in Apple’s Kurfürstendamm store in Berlin.

It’s expected that the latest range of iPads will have bigger screens, operating on the premise of “bigger is better”, which was seen in the iPhone 6, giving users who create and manage content on their tablets a bit more leeway. This is a logical move, as mobile markets continue to push forward and take over some of desktop and notebook consumer bases. As tablets continue to grow more powerful and developers continue to make apps that give them the functionality of more traditional computers while preserving their mobility, tablets are quickly becoming preferable over clunky computers. The new iPads are also expected to feature Apple’s new payment system, the Apple Pay, which can be used in conjunction with the Touch ID functionality, confirming payments with fingerprints rather than passwords.

Of course, more could be unveiled at the coming product launch. Apple’s teaser said that it had been too long, so we could be excused for thinking that Apple’s other products may also be getting much-needed upgrades. Ever since the success of the iPhone 3G and 4, the iPod Touch has become largely neglected, and so have most of their other products. With the tech giant now handling the iWatch, it seems the time is ripe to begin looking inward for developments, rather than outward.

Speculations have also risen about possible updates to the Mac Mini, and Apple would do well to begin expanding their line to include old products as well, winning back old fans and gaining new followers because of their commitment to their user base.

No matter what products are unveiled at the event on October 16th, Apple must strive to find a way to present their ideas in novel ways, especially in light of the “Bendgate” issues. Samsung has already made quick jabs on the issue, with O2 noting that ironically enough, Samsung has also published a concept video of a tablet that bends and twists. Could this next generation of iPads be the one where bending and twisting are packaged as features and not flaws? It looks like we’ll have to wait and see.

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Stanford’s password policy shuns one-size-fits-all security http://www.osomac.com/2014/04/28/stanfords-password-policy-shuns-one-size-fits-security/ http://www.osomac.com/2014/04/28/stanfords-password-policy-shuns-one-size-fits-security/#comments Mon, 28 Apr 2014 11:57:32 +0000 http://www.osomac.com/?p=1684 Finally a fresh idea about password policies. I really can’t understand why in 2014 there are still companies (including banks) forcing a maximum length for passwords.

Stanford University network engineers have unveiled a refreshingly enlightened password policy. By allowing extremely long passcodes and relaxing character complexity requirements as length increases, the new standards may make it easier to choose passwords that resist the most common types of cracking attacks.

via Stanford’s password policy shuns one-size-fits-all security | Ars Technica.

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Apple: The Next Thing and Low Hanging Fruit http://www.osomac.com/2014/04/25/apple-next-thing-low-hanging-fruit/ http://www.osomac.com/2014/04/25/apple-next-thing-low-hanging-fruit/#comments Fri, 25 Apr 2014 13:18:48 +0000 http://www.osomac.com/?p=1681 I don’t agree with David. It’s easy to say that the tablet was a low hanging fruit now, but before the iPad the very concept of tablet did not exist… Apple took a huge risk in launching a completely new product category, which became mainstream. We should also remember that people were laughing at the idea of Apple making a phone, as the market was already taken. What Steve’s Apple did, at least three times (let’s not forget the iPod), is to create new markets.

Apple might do the same with the next product. Maybe you’ll wear it on your wrist, but I doubt it will be a watch.

It seems to me that with phones and tablets, Apple has already taken the low hanging fruit.

via The Next Thing and Low Hanging Fruit — MacSparky.

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Linode Introduces Hourly Billing http://www.osomac.com/2014/04/11/linode-introduces-hourly-billing/ http://www.osomac.com/2014/04/11/linode-introduces-hourly-billing/#comments Thu, 10 Apr 2014 22:05:16 +0000 http://www.osomac.com/?p=1676 Finally Linode moved to hourly billing, following DigitalOcean‘s model (hourly billing by default, capped at the monthly price). I don’t see Linode moving more into DO’s territory: Linode’s cheapest instance costs four times more than DO’s, but it is also more powerful and only comparable to a similarly priced instance on DO.

Since I switched from Linode to DO, I missed the advanced console and admin tools provided by the former, not to mention the 8 virtual cores (not guaranteed, but available most of the time when I was using it); switching back is now a concrete possibility, the absence of hourly billing was the real show-stopper for me.

Introducing hourly billing. Now you can enjoy Linode services billed in hour increments, add services to your account without needing to pre-pay, and be invoiced at the end of each month only for the hours you used.

via Linode Blog » Introducing Hourly Billing.

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Imagine no SSL encryption, it’s scary if you try http://www.osomac.com/2014/04/10/imagine-ssl-encryption-scary-try/ http://www.osomac.com/2014/04/10/imagine-ssl-encryption-scary-try/#comments Thu, 10 Apr 2014 11:13:28 +0000 http://www.osomac.com/?p=1672 Some sound advice.

To test a website, you do not need to put in the port number. The test will default to port 443 (HTTPS). So I was able to test Dreamhost.com by just using “dreamhost.com” in the form. At the time I tested, dreamhost had not updated to the fixed version of OpenSSL, and so the test reported it as vulnerable.

Here is the address of the test tool.

In case you wonder, osomac.com is not affected.

SSL Test

via Imagine no SSL encryption, it’s scary if you try | Agile Blog.

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Disqus is Testing a New Form of Advertising http://www.osomac.com/2014/04/10/disqus-testing-new-form-advertising/ http://www.osomac.com/2014/04/10/disqus-testing-new-form-advertising/#comments Wed, 09 Apr 2014 22:37:28 +0000 http://www.osomac.com/?p=1668 At some point I was considering switching to Disqus for comments, now I am glad I did not. Also, I find it interesting how the explanation sounds defensive (and not clear).

Do not get me wrong though, I think it’s completely legitimate to try to monetize the huge community Disqus has built; I just believe there should be a way for website owners to switch to a paid plan and opt out from the ads.

For the last month, in very small numbers, we’ve been testing out a new advertising format: Sponsored Comments. We’re expanding that test based on early, promising results. So soon, it’ll be more likely that you come across a Sponsored Comment.

via Heads Up: We’re Testing a New Form of Advertising | Disqus: The Official Blog.

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