Mac 101, For a Developer Friend

I recently had a good friend purchase her first Mac! So, I emailed her with some tips and tricks. She said I should post it, so here it is. Enjoy!

UPDATE: Now at

First Principles

Here are some things you can start with!

  • Set up iCloud. This is good for sharing settings between your iDevices at least.
  • Run software update (click the  button, then hit “Software Update”
  • Peruse the App store (it’s also under the  Menu)
  • Learn to type ’s! (option + shift + k) Very important! (gratuitous !!!!!!s)

Mac Basics

  • There is only one menu bar. Always at the top. The current app’s name appears next to the . You can quit that app by clicking its name and hitting the ‘Quit …’ option
  • Most apps have a ‘Help’ Menu item. have a look in there if you want some tips Most commands use the command key (the one with the Swedish Place of Interest Symbol on it… look it up). You still have stuff like command-tab, to switch between programs. Remember, windows stole a lot of things from mac ;) so you sorta know how to do stuff already
  • Almost all apps use consistent keyboard shortcuts. Example: command + q to quit, command + s to save, etc. You will get used to some of these with time. Also, the 1984 mac team chose the cut/copy/paste/undo keys, so you know those already too.
  • Just remember, it’s command now, not control. They chose command because its right under the cut/copy/paste keys, so for ergonomic reasons.

Where Stuff IS!

  • All programs get installed to /Applications. if you click on the desktop, then go to the ‘Go’ Menu, you can see applications there when you’re starting out, the ‘Go’ menu is your friend!
  • Finder (that happy guy stuck down in the doc), is how you find your files. Look around in there if you need to find something (This is also why windows named it ‘explorer’.)
  • All your trashed files end up in the trash can. you can clean it out in a predictable way (right click and empty trash, or open it, and empty with the button) (Windows ☞ ‘Recycle Bin’.)

Settings / System Preferences

System preferences is available under the  menu

  • Get used to the “natural” scroll. Resist the urge to inver the scroll direction on the track pad
  • Acquaint yourself with multi-touch! add some internet accounts if you like -This will make posting to twitter, flickr, et al a bit easier
    • Create a shortcut to System Preferences from the keyboard
    • Open System Preferences
    • Click Keyboard
    • Click the ‘Shortcuts’ tab
    • In the list on the left-hand side, click ‘App Shortcuts’
    • Click the ‘+’ to add a new shortcut
    • Set the menu item name to ‘System Preferences…’ & the shortcut by pressing the shift key, command key, and ‘,’ like so
  • Now, from any app, you can get back to settings by typing that in!


There are many. I’ll suggest a short list. These are in the App Store.

  • Alfred ☜ Productivity Butler! Read about it later and try it if you like.
  • Mint QuickView ☜ If you use, you should use this app!
  • Cloud app ☜ If you ever need to share screenshots (like i did above), use this app
  • Adium ☜ Chat Client
  • Dropbox, naturally

Development Stuff

  • Sublime Package Manager ☜ will help you install all the cool stuff the cool kids are using
  • Brew Package Manager ☜ Install packages
  • Mou ☜ Edit those .md files you see a lot on GitHub using “Markdown”. Speaking of…
  • GitHub ☜ Read this stuff and install the client or the command line tools

This isn’t meant to be comprehensive. Just a way to wet the feet and generate followup questions.

Never Forget


Joe Flint on the report that Netflix’s recent gains was because competitors like HBO and Showtime were on the decline:

“The research is simply incorrect. Both HBO and Cinemax services have shown significant domestic subscriber growth the past two years,” an HBO spokesman said. In 2012, HBO said it added 1.9 million subscribers and it expects a similar figure for 2013.

Okay, but Netflix added 2.3 million subscribers last quarter. HBO and Showtime may not be declining, but Netflix is a rocket ship compared to them when it comes to growth — and that has to be concerning to both of those companies.

And it’s why they’re going to have to go direct-to-consumer as well at some point. Probably sooner than they think.


When the sun sets on Stonehenge on the shortest day of the year, it’s rays align with several important stones.  Twice a year, the streets of Manhattan also line up with the setting sun, a phenomenon dubbed “Manhattanhenge”. Really, most cities with grid systems will see a similar effect (though it’s most dramatic in cities with tall buildings and a view of the true horizon).  You can use a great tool called The Photographer’s Ephemeris to find out the “henge” dates for your city grid - or even individual streets.

Yesterday, (Friday, January 24th) the sun lined up with New York Avenue, a street in DC that runs diagonally up to the White House. (The orange line indicates alignment with the setting sun).

I went out with our multimedia intern Meg Vogel, and captured some images of the sun setting in line with a rather Stonehenge-y sculpture that sits in the middle of that street.

Here are dates for sunset “henge” events in some cities this year:

Manhattan May 25th, July 17th

Philadelphia April 5th, September 6th

Washington DC March 18th, September 24th

Chicago March 16th, September 26th

Phoenix March 20th, September 22nd

Portland, OR March 18th, September 24th

Is your city/town a grid? When’s your henge?

(via kqedscience)


When the moment comes to pop the question, he will not be so foolish as to say, “Will you marry me?” That would smack of the old Victorian repressions — and besides, marriage will long since have been abolished. Instead the lover (hereinafter to be known as “the Response”) will exclaim to the sweetheart (hereinafter to be known as “the Stimulus”):

“My IQ is satisfactory, my blood count satisfactory, my basic metabolism satisfactory, my male hormones present in satisfactory qualities. My instincts are wholly mature, my thyroid and pituitary glands properly adjusted, and I am capable of following the higher mammalian mating pattern. Will you live with me happily ever after in heterosexual matehood?”

“Let’s synthesize!” the Stimulus will reply, as hand in hand these twain go marching into the heterosexual dawn.


— Malcolm Cowley’s parodic prediction for the future of love circa 1930, doubly amusing yet uncomfortably prescient today, in the age of data and personal genomics and the quantified self. (via explore-blog)




[via @Brilliant_Ads via @BenedictEvans]




[via @Brilliant_Ads via @BenedictEvans]


On Curation, and The Internet

A friend recently asked how I find the things I find on the net. That used to be a simple answer; reddit. Nowadays, I have a new method of keeping up with what’s happening online, and offline. It hadn’t occurred to me until just now that it’s a bit complicated, so I thought I’d write a bit on my habits. 

Here are my rules:

  • Use Reddit or news aggregation sites sparingly. They’re meant to eliminate curation, but if everyone is curated in the same way, you’ll miss out on good stuff that’s not more widely popular.
  • Keep follower counts under 175 or so. Reasons & research below, but this is the upper limit we can reasonably expect to manage.
  • Adjust constantly. Unfollow inactive people/accounts. Tastes change and so should your social connections.
  • Learn to distinguish “annoying” from “personally dissenting”, especially when it comes to opinionated posts. Unfollow annoying people/accounts.
  • Go to the root. Don’t just read the repost; find the source and consider following that source, too.
  • Compliment those who complement your feeds. Encouraging someone that posts stuff you like goes a long way!
  • Share what you like, in balance. Don’t hijack other people’s stuff; just retweet or link to their post. That lineage is also good info for your followers. Also, don’t repost every post from a specific source.
  • Never ever worry about unfollowing. You probably do a great job ignoring those annoying people or news agencies in real life already. Don’t opt-in to being annoyed or giving yourself reasons to dislike someone/something.

Read More

"Every artist learns through imitation."

In this rare interview, interview-averse Calvin & Hobbes creator Bill Watterson echoes Mark Twain’s notion that "all ideas are second-hand" and Virginia Woolf’s assertion that the essence of art is imitation

Pair with Watterson’s indispensable 1990 commencement address on creative integrity

(via explore-blog)

Yes. I’m just learning this.

(Source: , via explore-blog)


Pupil reflections in photographs could help investigators solve crimes
The eyes are more than windows to the soul, thanks to technologies that can reveal reflected faces in pupils of photographs. Dr. Rob Jenkins of the University of York’s Department of Psychology published a study that showed how pupils in photographs of faces can be “mined” for hidden information. 

Zoom. Enhance. Got ‘em!


Pupil reflections in photographs could help investigators solve crimes

The eyes are more than windows to the soul, thanks to technologies that can reveal reflected faces in pupils of photographs. Dr. Rob Jenkins of the University of York’s Department of Psychology published a study that showed how pupils in photographs of faces can be “mined” for hidden information. 

Zoom. Enhance. Got ‘em!