A few cool Mac apps I use

It’s been a few years since I wrote about the Itsycal calendar app that I use on my Mac. It still is the default time and calendar app on my Mac’s menu bar.

Here are a few more cool Mac apps that I use and love.

Clocker

Clocker displays time from additional time zones on Mac’s menu bar or as a floating panel. In my work, I look up UTC time a lot, and so I set up UTC time on Clocker to show it on the menu bar. You can also click on the menu bar to expand the locker to show preset additional time zones.

A section of my Mac's menu bar showing Clocker on the left displaying the UTC time. Itsycal on the right. Both are set to show time in the same format.
A section of my Mac’s menu bar showing Clocker on the left displaying the UTC time. Itsycal on the right. Both are set to show time in the same format.

You can read more about Clocker in this review, and download it from its developer’s website.

TextSniper

TextSniper extracts text from images and other places on the screen in seconds. You can activate it using a preset keyboard shortcut and screen-grab text from any part of the screen. TextSniper then copies the text from that part of the screen to the clipboard using Optical Character Recognition (OCR). You can then paste the text anywhere using the regular Cmd + v keys.

Popular Apple commentary website 9to5mac.com reviewed TextSniper here. You can see TextSniper in action and purchase it for a small price (License for 1 Mac $6.99 and License for 3 Macs $9.99) from their website here.

CleanShot X

CleanShot X is a nifty Mac app for grabbing, annotating and sharing screenshots. It also captures GIFs and screencasts. I use a lot of annotated screenshots and screencasts in my line of work and so it is important to have a handy app for that. I used Droplr for about five years but it was getting stale. Droplr’s annotation tools were lagging and inadequate at the time I stopped using it in favour of CleanShot earlier this year.

As an aside, it is great to see the Licecap software that I used years ago (circa 2014) for simple animated screen captures as GIFs is still being maintained. If you want a no-frills, simple app, try that one!

I discovered CleanShot X from Jason Fried’s tweet earlier this year and liked it after trying it for a few weeks.

You can learn more about CleanShot X in the following video review and check its pricing here.

iPhone upgrade

I woke up to the new iPhone dubbed as iPhone 13. It is as gorgeous and amazing as every other iPhone before it. I’d love to buy the iPhone Mini, but both the original iPhone SE and iPhone 7 in the house, which I bought in 2016, are still going great for my needs, so I chose to delay the gratification.

The iPhone SE is a bit flaky, and I anticipate upgrading it sooner than the iPhone 7. I hope to hold on for two more years with my now five-year-old iPhone 7 and upgrade to iPhone 15 in two years.

Unless either of them dies early —you never know!— in which case, I will buy a new iPhone Mini right then.

Got my first Covid vaccine jab today!

Today, on the tenth day of the current lockdown, I got my first vaccination jab done! We just walked into the local vaccination centre, and they have spaces!

My age group wasn’t eligible to book until this week. When I tried to book my vaccination earlier this week the latest slot I could book is six weeks away. After booking my slot, today, I got a message saying I can book the vaccine. Clearly, something is off with the booking system.

Despite booking for October, we decided to try walking into one of the two vaccination centres in the neighbourhood. The closest centre displayed a sign that walk-ins are not allowed. So we drove past to the next one, and it turned out they had some spaces!

The rest of the process was smooth and effortless. I am afraid of needles, but I did not even realize they jabbed on my left arm! The staff were very professional, friendly, and nice.

Despite the great success we had with the Covid response in 2020, I must say as a country we floundered on the vaccination program for whatever reason. It took the deadly delta variant to appear in our community to expedite our vaccination program on a war-footing. I feel like we dropped the ball somewhere when we were Covid-free in the six months before the current lockdown: an example that past performance increases confidence more than ability. We should have continued the same 2020-level of rigour into 2021 on both eradicating and vaccination fronts.

Anyhow, I am glad to get my first jab done today and looking forward to booking the second jab in three weeks. Some clicks to commemorate today:

Level 4 lockdown anticipation

With a community case detected this afternoon in Auckland, the Level 4 rush begins, for which I’m contributing as well.

The roads and supermarket aisles and check out lines are busier for a Tuesday afternoon.

(This post is brought to you from the supermarket checkout line with a moderately full trolley.)

Fingers crossed, we won’t have a lockdown. We will know in a few hours.

Fifteen of the 100 little ideas

My blogging friend and coworker Nick shared this list of 100 Simple Truths in a recent post on his blog. I love reading such lists because you find some ideas you identify yourself with and also:

In quoting others, we cite ourselves.

Julio Cortázar

Following is a selection of the fifteen ideas that I highlighted in my Kindle as I read through those 100 ideas. My thoughts are in brackets.

1. It’s 100% off if you don’t buy it. (I use this trick to postpone or avoid vanity purchases.)

10. Be happy with what you have, while you work for what you want. (Helps me appreciate my current life while I constantly work to imporve it.)

14. Demotivated because of how long it’ll take? Remember the time will pass anyways. (We successfully applied this truth to move to the first world, and for both my wife’s and my careers — all long-term daunting pursuits with longer lead times and no guaranteed outcomes, but have luckily turned out in our favor and significantly improved our standard of living. We are reapplying this to our next project we are currently working on.)

18. Choose consistency over intensity, because consistency compounds. (Why I am keen on my meditation, and exercising habits.)

32. If you lower your expectations, you’ll rarely be disappointed. (Helps upkeep my sanity in situtions that invlove other humans which is almost all the time!)

39. Speak when you have something to say, not when you want to say something. (I would like to think this is what I do on this blog, and in other real-life situations, with mixed success.)

41. Being busy is not a badge of honor—it’s a lack of freedom. (A similar thought came to my mind just last week when someone told me they are busy in back-to-back meetings, and again this week when someone showed me 800+ count of their unread emails and how much it would go up by that evening if they didn’t intervene.)

45. Admit when you’re wrong, show humility when you’re right. (Helps me be gentle and graceful when people are apolegetic, or arrogant.)

49. Life only gives you what you decided you could have. (I can do better here by deciding I can have more.)

52. Avoiding stupidity can often be a better strategy than seeking out brilliance. (I think this is the same thing as the mental model I am learning called Inversion.)

58. Read to find new ideas, write to understand them, implement to learn from them. (Why I read a lot of blogs and books, and share some of my learnings on this blog. But I should implement a few more of the ideas I learn.)

59. Your current habits are a sneak peek of your desired future. (I am both afraid and excited that this is true.)

65. Compare upwards and feel envy, compare downwards and feel grateful. (I don’t discuss this to not offend the less privileged people than I am, but I believe in this idea. I compare with my past self to feel grateful.)

71. Being great is just being consistently good. (I see this all the time with successful people and organizations.)

99. No one owes you anything. (This helps me feel grateful for what I have and deal with disappointments by lowering my expectations.)



A new quote on this blog!

The Quotes page on this blog is one of my favorites. On it, I list some principles that resonate with me. I just reordered the quotes and added this quote.

All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.

Blaise Pascal

I think this quote is similar to the importance of the Joy of Missing Out (JOMO) principle that I believe I first learned from It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson.

I am also deliberately practicing this quote and JOMO right now in my life.

Mid-year update on my 2021 workouts

I exercised 25 of the 28 weeks so far this year.

Overall, I skipped ten workouts and exerted myself 70 times at three workouts per week. I am happy with the volume of my physical effort so far.

I am looking forward to keeping this pace through the rest of the year. I will likely miss another 10-12 workouts before December because life happens! Yet, I anticipate I will exercise at least 60 more times before the end of the year.

I look forward to reaching the end of this year with my usual annual average of 120-130 workouts. Then take two weeks off at the end of the year and start again!

I love that you will never be done with exercising! I feel like crap when I don’t move at least three times a week.

Ask iOS Apps Not to Track

Today I got some interesting prompts when I opened the Twitter app.

But first, you can disable these prompts for all apps by toggling off Allow Apps to Request to Track from Settings > Privacy as following:

Back to the prompts, it is funny how Twitter framed their prompts as if it is doing something beneficial to me, and even offering some choice.

No thanks, Twitter.

Importance of emergency fund

I am re-reading Morgan Housel’s The Psychology of Money this year and I highly recommend this book to everyone!

There are many nuggets of money wisdom in that book. I try hard to resist my urge to share everything I read and learned from this cool book. But today I read the following that reminded me why I save personally: no reason.

Save. Just save. You don’t need a specific reason to save.

Saving for things that are impossible to predict or define is one of the best reasons to save.

Savings that aren’t earmarked for anything in particular is a hedge against life’s inevitable ability to surprise the hell out of you at the worst possible moment.

Chapter 19, All Together Now, The Psychology of Money.

I think this is also the world’s best definition of emergency fund.

This is why when my neighbors knocked on my door last Christmas Day to inform me about the crack we made in their bedroom window (by a misfired $7 dart off our fence), I was truly, genuinely happy to spend whatever is needed to get their double-glazed window fixed. I know I saved no-reason funds for unexpected surprises like this.

In the end, it cost me $350 and I paid that with no regrets or stress!

Reading books: quality over quantity

Out of the 11 books in my this year’s reading list, I already read five books in the last few years and some just the last year:

  1. What I learned by losing a million dollars.
  2. The Psychology of Money.
  3. Atomic Habits.
  4. Style: the basics of clarity and grace.
  5. The Customer Service Survival Kit.

I am going to re-read them all this year.

The year-end lists of books read by some people I follow are really long! And I only read a handful of books for the past two years (2019 and 2020). While I am cool with the amount of reading I do, I must admit, at some corner of my mind I had the nagging feeling of having to read more. Nevertheless, when I made a tentative list of eleven books to read in 2021, I included the above five books that I already read in the years past.

I felt validated last week when I read the blog post of my ex-colleague and an excellent human Jeremey, titled On Re-Reading and The Book Quantity Trap. I particularly liked this quote in Jeremey’s post:

A good book gets better at the second reading. A great book at the third. Any book not worth rereading isn’t worth reading.

NASSIM NICHOLAS TALEB

That validated my thoughts on reading and re-reading a few, but good books. And today’s meditation of The Daily Stoic emphasized the same point.

What if, when it came to your reading and learning, you prioritized quality over quantity?

What if you read the few great books deeply instead of briefly skimming all the new books? Your shelves might be emptier, but your brain and life would be better.

May 20th page of The Daily Stoic

Here’s to reading and re-reading a few but what I believe are great books!