Setting up a New Mac from Scratch

My trusty 2013 MacBook Pro died over the weekend. Here is everything I installed and configured on my new machine to get it up to speed. Setting up a new machine from scratch is a great way to clear the cruft that inevitably builds up over time.

I’m sure I’ll find a few more things in the next month that I forgot, but this is ~95% complete.

  • 1Password – Without this I wouldn’t be able to get in to anything. First app I installed.
  • Dropbox – File transfer was going to take a while and I needed it for syncing data for other apps below.
  • Setapp – One of the best purchases in the last few years. One subscription for tons of apps. Below is what I installed right away.
  • Drafts – I installed the Mac beta. All of my text starts here.
  • Things – My current to-do list
  • Soulver – Best Mac and iOS calculator
  • Tweetbot – My fav third-party Twitter client
  • Copay – Bitcoin wallet
  • Pixelmator Pro – I’ve completely stopped using PhotoShop and use this instead.
  • Trello – Project management. I prefer the desktop app to the web client because I like standalone apps.
  • FruitJuice – Gotta keep your laptop battery healthy.
  • Amphetamine – Keeps your Mac awake when it needs to do things like download your entire Dropbox. Better than Caffeine, the alternative.
  • Slack
  • DaisyDisk – Visualizes your disk space and helps you find giant files
  • The Unarchiver – Installing a lot of new stuff means unzipping a lot of files. The Unarchiver is the best at it.
  • Hazel – Automated organization. Renames files I download and stores them automatically, dumps the trash, organizes my desktop, etc.
  • RescueTime – Time management software that I’ve used since 2010.
  • Keybase – Security and identity
  • Notion – Project management, documents, collaboration, publishing. Basically runs my work life.
  • Zoom – Video conferencing
  • Rocket – Slack-like Emoju picking for your entire OS
  • TextExpander – Text snippets + AppleScript automation kickoff
  • CarbonCopyCloner – I set up weekly drive clones to external harddrives. Saved my bacon multiple times. I didn’t lose a thing this time because I backed up the night before automatically.
  • Backblaze – Offsite backup. Critical.
  • WordPress – I like managing all of my sites from this single app.
  • Adobe CreativeCloud – Primarily for Typekit
  • Sketch
  • Spotify
  • Turbo Boost Switcher Pro – Toggles the Turbo Boost feature on your CPU for better battery life.

Chrome Extensions

  • Zoom video conferencing – Changes all Google Hangouts links to Zoom links
  • Wappalyzer – Figuring out what stacks other sites are using & figuring out whether or not things I install are actually activated
  • DuckDuckGo – My default search engine
  • Ghostery – Death to all tracking scripts
  • Stayfocusd – Blocks social media during the workday
  • What Have You Made Today? – My favorite new tab screen
  • Larder – My bookmarking of choice

Development Tools

Misc Settings and preferences I set

  • Hot corners – Can’t live without them since 10.4
  • Generated new SSH keys
  • defaults write AppleShowAllFiles YES – Gotta see those hidden files
  • Apple’s enhanced dictation – The extra suite of dictation tools
  • True Tone on
  • Night Shift on

Light temperature, Sleep, and F.lux

I posted again over at The Primal Challenge today. Here is the post, in its entirety, below:

I don’t know about you, but the “no glowing rectangles an hour before bed” rule is difficult for me. At Hillsdale I am usually so busy that I can’t avoid using my laptop before bed, lest work go unfinished. That used to affect my sleep a great deal, but then I came across a tip in Matt Madiero’s book, Roots.

Matt recommends a great piece of freeware called F.lux. Made by Stereopsis, F.lux is a free, cross-platform (Windows, Mac, and Linux) piece of software that changes the color temperature of the screen on your computer at night to the ambient light around you. Normally, screens are set around 6500 K, roughly the temperature of sunlight, which is great for waking you up, but not for allowing you to fall asleep. Some CRTs go all the way up to 9300 K. F.lux changes your screen temperature at sunset to around 3400 K, which is roughly the temperature of halogen light.

When I first installed the software, I didn’t think it made a noticeable difference until I turned it off a few hours later in order to edit some photos. When I turned F.lux off, the screen hurt my eyes! I can’t definitively say it has improved my ability to fall asleep since I’ve used it because I am getting more exercise during the day and I am usually exhausted by the time I go to bed, anyway. Since turning it off hurts my eyes so much, though, I suspect that f.lux is at least not hindering my brain from making melatonin to make me sleepy.

Stereopsis cites a lot of research which deals with the effects of color temperature. Here is an excerpt:

“…we surmise that the effect of color temperature is greater than that of illuminance in an ordinary residential bedroom or similar environment where a lowering of physiological activity is desirable, and we therefore find the use of low color temperature illumination more important than the reduction of illuminance. Subjective drowsiness results also indicate that reduction of illuminance without reduction of color temperature should be avoided.”
– from the paper: “Effect of Illuminance and Color Temperature on Lowering of Physiological Activity”

So, does this mean it is okay to use your computer all of the time before you go to bed? No. It is still best to keep things pretty low-key and dim before you go to bed. You should also avoid having lights in your room at night. (I covered up all of the lights on my gadgets.) When you must use your laptop at night though, lower the color temperature with F.lux. Also, if you are the type of person who reads for an hour before bed, use a bulb with a lower color temperature. Wikipedia has a good chart of common bulb color temperatures.

Want to know something interesting? Those most of those curly florescent bulbs that Congress is trying to get you to buy are around 5500 K. So not only do they contain mercury and are more expensive than incandescent bulbs, but they are also ruining your ability to fall asleep. As Bastiat noted so long ago, government intervention has unintended consequences.

Day 244 – Snow Leopard

Click on the photo to view it at a larger size:

I installed Snow Leopard the day after it came out, since I was on a retreat in the middle of the woods when it was shipped. I can tell a major difference in how fast my computer processes and exports photos, and I like the new Expose and contextual menu layouts. The upgrade was definitely worth $30.

I start classes tomorrow!

Day 234 – Ashland / Palm Pre

This morning/early afternoon, I went to Ashland with HankD and Jackie to go to Fin Feather Fir Outfitters. While in Ashland, we stopped at Ashland University, where Jackie went to college. Above is a photo of one of the buildings on campus.

A note on my Palm Pre: I found out today that it is possible to put the phone into developer mode and install third party apps. My Pre just got 20x better! This is wonderful, as the Palm App Catalog is still in beta form, and has very few apps. Visit to see how to do it.

As of right now, I have a Google Voice app, a better Twitter client, a DOF calculator, a tip calculator, a scientific calculator, a unit converter, a Google Mobile web apps launcher, an iTunes remote, an IP address revealer, a flashlight app, and a quick dial application installed.

Day 204 – Major Photo Edit

A few years ago, I did a major photo edit for a lady in my school district. The original 4×6 photo had 5 people in it, and she wanted the guy on the far left taken out, but there was a problem: the guy next to him had his arm around him. So, I spent about two hours putting the guy’s arm back in and fixing the back ground. Click on the image below to see the before and after at a larger size:

Day 188 – More Kayaking & Misc.

I have only had my kayak out four times since I bought it a little over a week ago, but I am really enjoying it! I took it out tonight at the Wellington Reservation. Here is the view from where I sit:

Since I used my Dad’s camera to take the above photo, I found some pictures of me on it that he took down in Tennessee. Here is one of me in the hat I bought to keep the water from my paddle from dripping on my head:

Now for the misc. part:

I found two free cool Mac apps over the past few days: Adobe Kuler and The Unarchiver.

Adobe Kuler is actually an online application, but it has an Adobe AIR desktop plugin, so it has a nice desktop application. Kuler lets you browse, create, and download color schemes. You can import them straight into Photoshop or Illustrator. You can even create color schemes from photos! This is a must-have if you are a designer or artist.

The Unarchiver is an unarchiving utility. Yes, your Mac comes with one preinstalled in the system, but this one is better. It supports 30+ file formats, including some pretty obscure ones,and it can handle filenames with foreign character sets.

Day 187 – HTML 5

As many of you already know, HTML 5 was released a few days ago. Say goodbye to XHTML! (Finally!)

Here are a few resources for those of you who want to get an edge on the competition and see what is new in HTML 5 so you can implement it right away:

Also, here is a PDF cheat sheet from Smashing Magazine. Click on the image below to go to where you can download the full PDF:

Day 90 – Anti-Productivity Apps

Yesterday I wrote about my 6 favorite productivity apps. I thought it only appropriate that today I write about the opposite: anti-productivity apps. These are things that help me waste time (like I need a lot of help doing that…) while I am supposed to be doing work. I am not a huge gamer, but I like to play some small games when I am killing time. Here are the three applications (besides my internet browser) that I most often find lowering my productivity.

NetNewsWire (freeware)

NetNewsWire by NetGator

When I actually need to get work done, the first application I close is my feed reader, NetNewsWire. It is a feed aggregator made by NewsGator. That is just tech jargon for a program that pulls updates from websites you subscribe to and displays them all in one place. You can look at all of your favorite news sites, blogs, webcomics, photo journals, etc. without opening up a formal web browser. I currently subscribe to 59 feeds, but that changes weekly depending on new sites I find and if I get bored with something I am subscribed to.

By the way, NewsGator makes great free readers for Windows and mobile operating systems, too!

Solitaire XL (freeware, 10.3 and up)

Solitaire XL by Lavacat

Solitaire XL is made by Lavacat Software. For those of you who have switched over to a Mac from Windows, you probably miss playing solitaire to kill time. There are no solitaire applications pre-installed in OS X, so multiple developers wrote freeware solitaire apps to fill this void. I think Lavacat’s UI design is the best of all solitaire apps for OS X I have seen. I don’t play it often, but I put it in this list for those of you who miss playing solitaire and want a version for OS X, but didn’t know it until you read this. (Say’s law!)

Enigmo 2 ($19.95)

Enigmo 2 by Pangea

“Enigmo 2 is a 3D puzzle game where you construct mechanisms to direct lasers, plasma, and water to toggle switches, deactivate force-fields, and eventually get them to their final destination.” It is built by Pangea Software and really appeals to people who like geometry and angles. I enjoy the challenge of constructing ways to direct water, plasma, and lasers through obstacles and to their destinations in a certain amount of time.

Day 89 – Productivity Apps

We read articles like “Top 10 [insert adjective here] Apps” on Digg at least once a week. Well, I decided to out together a list, not because I think I know better what is best, or I am discontented with the few thousand other top 10 articles out there, but because I wanted to put a list together of what I use most and often to make my life easier. In fact, there are not even 10 apps on this list, nor do I claim that these are the best designed, or the best for the job. They are simply the ones I have found and use almost on a daily basis. I will provide a brief description of each one, why I use it, and a link to where you can get it. I will also indicate the cost, though most of these apps are free. Keep in mind, I use Mac OS X, so the PC users are out of luck unless the developers make a Windows or Linux version of these apps I don’t know about it. Also, I am running these on 10.5.6, so if you are running older versions of a Mac OS, they might not work. (Look, if you are using 10.3, 10.4, or below, it is time to upgrade. If you are still using system 9 or below, it is definitely time to upgrade, and I am surprised you can actually view this site on that system.) With that said, here are 6 applications I use pretty much daily to keep my life in order and running smoothly.

Please Digg this article if you find it useful!
Please Digg this article if you like it!

Think (freeware, 10.4.9 and up)

Think by Freeverse

Think, by Freeverse, is an application to help you focus on the matter at hand on your computer screen. Open Think, select an application to use, and Think puts a dark (or colored, if you want) screen behind your current application window so other things on your computer screen do not distract you. You can bring another application into Think temporarily by clicking on it on the dock, but once you select the original application you were working on, it goes behind the screen once again. This application is particularly helpful when I am writing papers, because it is easy for me to get distracted by other things on my computer screen. Also, since you can bring in other apps, it is easy to use Dictionary (which comes pre-installed on OS X) to look up words or synonyms without getting distracted by other things. Also, if you leave an IM client up, you will still know when you have messages because Think keeps the Dock viewable.

Anxiety (freeware, 10.5 and up)

Anxiety by Tom Stoelwinder

Anxiety is a lightweight to-do list app written by Tom Stoelwinder of Model Concept. It sits on your desktop and allows you to quickly add tasks and check them off when finished. Best of all, it syncs with Mail and iCal to keep your to-dos all together and viewable without having either iCal or Mail open. You can sort the to-dos by category (calendars in iCal), or list them all together. I set this application to launch on startup and to stay viewable in all of my spaces so I am constantly reminded of what I need to do.

Timer (freeware, 10.4. and up)

Timer by Apimac

“Timer is a complete and professional stopwatch, alarm clock, countdown and clock utility” made by Apimac. It is free and has an easy-to-use interface, like most Apimac software. I only use it for the countdown and alarm, though I can see the benefits of using its other features. The countdown is especially helpful when doing laundry, which I just did yesterday. Other uses include cooking, napping, or taking a break while working. Just set how much time you want to spend, set which alarm you want, and go about your day. What’s helpful is that you can launch an application after the time period is over. If you are really resourceful, you can write your own application to launch which quits all games or time-wasting applications at the end of the time period so you can get back to work. I have not had to go to this extreme, but I know people who would certainly benefit from it. If this is you, but you don’t know Applescript, I can write a custom app to do this for you at a low cost. Contact me.

1Password ($39.95 USD, 10.4.11 and up)

1Password by Agile Web Solutions

1Password is a secure password managing, form-autofilling, password generating, and award-winning utility made by Agile Web Solutions. 1Password integrates directly into most browsers (Safari, Firefox, Flock, Camino, OmniWeb, DEVONagent, Fluid, iCab, and NetNewsWire) to securely manage and auto-fill web forms. It also has iPhone/iPod Touch and Palm support. You have to unlock 1Password when you open an internet browser, but this one instance saves immense amounts of time if your normal browsing includes logging into multiple sites each session. You can also access your information through 1Password’s UI, and this also requires unlocking it before use. Essentially, this is a much better version of Apple’s Keychain Access if you already use that. It saves me immense amounts of time and makes my online experience progress quickly and smoothly.

iClip ($29 USD, 10.4 and up )

iClip by Inventive

iClip, by Inventive, is a multiple clipboard and scrapbook utility. It allows you to store virtually unlimited items from your clipboard to recall later. I use this daily for copying multiple items and keeping them on hand for later use. For example, if I am writing an email and sending someone multiple URLs, I find them and copy them one right after another, and then paste them all in the email afterwards instead of copy and pasting them individually. It saves a great deal of time, especially if you are looking for something three hours later. iClip saves a predetermined number of your clipboard items until you clear them.

Spaces (included with Mac OS 10.5)

Spaces by Apple

For those of you who use Leopard and do not know about Spaces, it is time to be enlightened. Spaces allows you to have multiple workspaces at once so your windows do not pile up. You can easily toggle between these spaces by keyboard commands or by clicking on the application, but either way, it saves an immense amount of time. No longer do you have to move windows around to find what you were working on––just open different tasks in different spaces! I set certain applications to open in certain spaces so I always know where they are, which is very helpful. With this, I use Expose, also included in 10.5 (and 10.4). Expose allows you to see all of your windows at once, or temporarily show your desktop by simply moving your mouse pointer in a predetermined corner of your screen or by using a set hotkey. If you have 10.5 and are not using these applications, open up System Preferences and enable them (the fourth icon from the left on the top row). You will be glad you did. In fact, I think Spaces is enough of a reason to upgrade to 10.5 if you haven’t already done so. Of course, there are many, many other reasons to upgrade.

Day 56 – Safari 4 Beta

As many of you already know, Apple released the Safari 4 Beta yesterday. I will spare you all of my thoughts on it, but I like it a lot. Its design has changed slightly, but the big improvement is all of its back end additions that are really paving the way for new web standards. Check out Apple’s list of 150 Safari 4 features to see what I am talking about. Click the photo above to view a larger screenshot.

I have one grievance right now: the 1Password plugin is not supported right now. I am sure it will be as soon as Agile figures out how to make the plugin work with the new layout and back end. I should cut them some slack since it was released yesterday.

Day 14 – Disk Warrior

Disk Warrior

Disk Warrior, produced by Alsoft, has saved me and hard drives that I have worked on multiple times. Corrupt catalogue on your drive?  Lost file directory data? Corrupt sectors on your startup disk? Disk does not mount? Disk Warrior will fix it. I keep my CD in my bag just incase something happens. You never know when disaster will strike your hard disk, so when it does, save your files with Disk Warrior. (Of course, I still recommend frequent backups…)


Here is some praise from Macworld on Disk Warrior:

Few utilities are as important and as reliable as DiskWarrior 4. Throughout many years, this program has showed its value as a data and bacon saver, and this new version continues to provide essential maintenance and repair features. This may be one of the few programs that every Mac user should own.


Today was my first day of classes. I think this semester is going to be great! After my first English and Microecon classes tomorrow, I will write my initial thoughts on my classes. I also got my Vibram Five Finger shoes today! I wore them around for a few hours; they are pretty comfortable!