Désolé, j’ai posté le billet par erreur sur ce blog. Si vous vouelz le lire, c’est ici :
No idea if it can be of any interest to anyone but me, but I started a really tiny blog dedicated to me (re)learning to use GNU/Linux or, more precisely, using Manjaro, a really neat distribution that runs great on my old ThinkPad.
It’s here : Linux? Why Not.
There are already some posts published (and more are planned) but — surprise? — I have no idea how often I’ll update it: subscribe to its rss feed to be informed.
As always, it’s ads and tracking-free.
Since the beginning of the lockdown, my brand-new-but-broken Mac has been stuck at the repair shop and I’ve been using an old hand-me-down T420 ThinkPad as my main computer.
I had to replace its slow hard disk with a faster SSD, I had lying around, and the laptop needed a good cleaning but it was in perfect working condition and, despite its age (2011), it runs incredibly well. Be it under Linux Ubuntu or Manjaro but also, mind you, under Windows 10 Pro. I don’t know what magic the devs at Microsoft have recently done to Windows, but it feels great to use it on this 2011 laptop (it even feels snappier than Ubuntu).
So, I used this ThinkPad for the whole lockdown and what I expected to be a temporary workaround turned out to be such a satisfying experience that, now that the lockdown is over here in Paris, I haven’t yet checked with the store to see if I could come to grab my Mac. I have not missed it once.
What I have done since the end of the lockdown, though, is to purchase the ThinkPad X220, the T420 little and lighter brother.
It was released the same year as the T420 was; it uses the same CPU (2nd Gen Core i5 2520M), the same ram (up to 16 DDR3, 8Gb officially) and, more important to me, the exact same keyboard as the T420, but in a smaller package. And it runs as great under Windows, or Linux.
Me liking the ThinkPad does not come as a total surprise. I owned an X220 back then, in 2011, when it was brand new. And the X200, prior to that. So, I knew I liked them, but I had forgotten how much.
Having recently switched from iTunes to Spotify for all my music, it baffled me to discover the Mac app doesn’t come with an equalizer. Is no one at Spotify giving a fuck about, you know, sound?
So, yesterday I searched for a solution that would work with Spotify.
eqMac2 is a free and Open Source equaliser for the Mac. Yep, for the Mac: the app will let you adjust the sound system-wide, not just in Spotify.
Once started, it quietly sits in the menu bar.
I’ve just started using it, so there is not much I coudl tell beside the fact that so far it’s wroking well. It comes with a set of pre-defined settings but you can easily create and save your own. Which is neat.
The app itself is lightweight and doesn’t seem to be intrusive at all. Kudos to its dev(s).
This is not a secret: most of us don’t need a 10th of the power that comes with our computer, or even with our phone.
“So, what?” You may ask.
Three things. Beside the fact that we keep on paying for power, most of us probably just don’t need. This power also has two side effects that can be a problem: heat and shorter battery life.
Heat is the processor getting hot doing its job–crunching numbers–which in the long run can be bad for the hardware, wearing it down. A CPU working harder is also more power hungry, reducing autonomy and battery life. And a CPU getting hotter needs more air… from spinning fans, that will also impact the battery and generate noise. I hate noise.
Solution? Put a leash on the CPU, don’t let it go too high, too hot. It’s good for the hardware, for the battery, and for the ears.
It’s on Scripting OS X and it’s what I’m doing right now to a new Mac Mini.
I genuinely tried to use Catalina, but no, thanks. I’ll go back to Mojave for the time being.
This is not a long-term solution–I will have to upgrade eventually–but it gives me time. Time during which I can work without having to fight my operating system. Time for Apple to fix the mess.
Let’s just hope they change course faster than they did with their Butterly keyboards…
A few apps on iOS do not support dark mode–in my case it concerns five apps, some I often use: my bank app, Antidote FR/EN dictionaries, my mobile carrier and Apple’s own “Apple Store” app.
Apple’s Shortcuts–free in the App Store–comes with a neat feature called Automation that can force those apps to use dark mode, well kinda by automatically turning Smart Invert on each time you launch one of those apps.
Yesterday, I mentioned using SwitchResX to create custom screen resolutions when those provided by Apple are not enough to compensate for my bad eyesight.
But you don’t have to have a bad eyesight to create a custom resolution. Maybe you want things on screen to be a bigger so you can see them from farther away? Or whatever.
Let’s just create a custom together.
I already explained how I configure the iPad to turn it into this neat ultra-portable device that I use with no problem despite my bad eyesight. Now, it’s the Mac’s turn as, by default, every text and menu are way too small and not contrasted enough for me.
I’ve been using Drafts for many years. But merely as a quick notepad as it’s lightening fast to open and to let you write anything and then, much later or immediately after jotting something down, to let you decide what to do with it–making Drafts the perfect and fastest ‘everything bucket’ there is on iOS: no need to hesitate, just write everything, anything, down in Drafts knowing you’ll decide what to do with all your notes later on.
But Drafts is much more capable than being the fastest note-taking app. Much more. It was just that I had no need for more features in an iOS app… that had no Mac companion app to let me, well, access my texts and notes outside of iOS.
Since then, the dev has released a Mac version. Alas, it was lacking some advanced features that would make me consider using it. That’s no more the case since its latest update: the Mac version now fully supports Actions–in short, Actions are the scripting thingy that comes with Drafts, that let you do many, many funny things to and with your notes.
And that changes everything.
So, even though the Mac version still has a few rough edges, for the last two weeks I’ve been almost only using Drafts to write on the iPad, the iPhone and on the Mac. And it has been an amazing experience. So much, I can hardly believe it myself.
Drafts stays lightweight and fast (it now contains a tad less than 700 notes, as I imported quite a lot of research in it, some very short or very long), while offering me as many–or as few–advanced features as I need to organise my notes, without ever turning itself into an ugly, cumbersome monster.
Advanced features like Workspaces (think ‘saved smart folders’), Tags and now Actions that let me organise my notes and projects like I want them to be, with only the tools I need within each project (this is amazing), and with an almost instant-on search engine to find whatever I need within a specific project or through all of them, with the tools to do whatever I need to do with my notes–and that includes publishing content to WordPress, though I’ve not tested it yet.
Drafts is lean, it’s fast, it’s powerful, and it’s well-thought. I’m in love with this app.
It is not perfect, sure. And it lacks a few features to replace Ulysses in my toolbox–give me inline images (not in Preview), first-line indentation (it’s a visual clue I rely on a lot to navigate my prose), and give me a Split/Merge tool–but nonetheless I’m so tempted as it’s such a pleasant experience to use it on the iPad and the iPhone, and now on the Mac too.
Drafts is free–like in free beer, no string attached to fully enjoy the fastest notebook on iOS–or subscription based (20€/year) if you need its advanced features.
BTW, if you read French and want to find some real world use cases, it might be a good idea to go read my old friend Urbanbike: he is a long time Drafts user and share a lot of advice 😉
Edit: Some precisions in what I’d love to see in Drafts.