On Open Source and Syncing

I’ve been wanting to dip my toes into the open source world for a long time. I certainly have used open source projects for a long time. I was an active supporter of NeoOffice, the OpenOffice.org port for Mac, helping to write documentation, and answering support questions. It was fun.

This time I am the one writing the code. This is my first project, but from the looks of my hard drive this won’t be my last.

Introducing sync.applescript

Makes it sound like something spectacular, no? This one is for you Mac users who want to have files backed up / synced onto a thumb drive. It is designed to be run from the destination location and sync files found elsewhere.

So, for example, I keep a copy on a thumb drive. I plug in the drive, run the application and it updates folders on the drive to match the folders on my computer—updating the changed files and deleting the deleted files.

It is a one-way sync, updating directory with any changes in directory, filling a backup role, rather than a true sync.

It uses AppleScript to run a command line utility call rsync to do so.

I’ve set it up on GitHub for anyone who wants it.

https://github.com/jakeosx/sync-applescript

How Do I use that?

Go to the GitHub page, download the AppleScript file, put it in the directory you want your files to be copied to (so I put mine on the thumb drive). Read the README. It has all the answers you want!

Basically, you add in the path to the folders you want to copy, and tell it if your drive is FAT32/exFAT or no.

Seriously, I spent a lot of time on that README, and it should have all the answers!

It is also released under the GPL3, so feel free to copy, use, pass it around, modify as you wish as per that license!

WARNING

NEVER TEST SHIT YOU FIND ON THE INTERNET ON LIVE DATA! Try this out with a copied folder to make sure you get it. It isn’t set up to delete anything on the origin folder, but will on your synced folder. Play with a few files and see how it works before you set it up for real.

BACK UP YOUR SHIT. ALL OF IT. And yes, that is the intent of this program, but still.

TiddlyWiki Home Page

For the past few years I’ve been using TiddlyWiki as my home page for my browser. The purpose to to be a hybrid bookmarking/note taking place for things I want to remember.

Let me tell you, it continues to be one of the best decisions I have made.

Let’s give an example. Just two days ago I decided to learn about aliases for macOS (they are a unix/linux tool) so I could more easily work with the scripts that make LampLight.

I found some links, and did some readings, and tried things out. Boom it works.

So I take those links and I save them–which isn’t much different than you’d do with bookmarking, right? BUT I also pulled out some of the information, so I had both there, accessible. So instead of just links in a folder, my alias tiddler looks like this:


Alias Commands

alias PHRASE=’the command you want it to run’

use ; for multi-line commands.

Bash Profile

to add the alias commands to your home directory in the file:

.bash_profile

  • http://www.linfo.org/alias.html
  • https://jonsuh.com/blog/bash-command-line-shortcuts/
  • https://coolestguidesontheplanet.com/make-an-alias-in-bash-shell-in-os-x-terminal/

Now, when I need that information, not only do I still have the links, as I would with bookmarks, but I’ve got a note that probably answers my questions.

Sure, not every entry is that organized. But they all have the option to be, which is a great feature.

I have notes for everything from nerdy linux scripts to food recipes, lists of books to buy, and a collection of hundreds of images for potential covers. I have a page for bills, with links to every place I have to log into and make payments.

So, do you go down those research paths? Find interesting links on social media? A little tool like this, your own personal wiki, could help you find those things later.

Ode To My Phone

Our smart phones have become an extension of our lives. I was using mine the other day, typing away at a chapter on a story and took a moment to think how great this thing really is.

So a nerd love letter from me to my phone.

Communication

The first part is easy, and it should be. Above all other things, we use these devices to communicate. The phone part, sure. Text messaging, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, you name it, there is an app, and we chat… All of us. Inherently I think this is the primary function, and use, of our phones: Talking to other humans.

We love it. And rightly fully so. I can be sitting in a museum in Ottawa and show a picture to my mother who is on vacation in Denver in an instant.

With our phones we are now close, even when we are not.

Camera

This one turns out to be a section on its own. Adding cameras to cell phones wasn’t an obvious thing when it first happened. They were small, took bad pictures, and you couldn’t really do much with them.

Now?

Yes, I have a DLSR and a few nice lenses. I have a few old film cameras and love taking them out.

But my primary camera is my phone. It is an older phone, and yet still takes amazing shots. Coupled with the fact that it is always with me, and it is easily my number 1 camera.

Add in all the effects apps such as Hipstamatic (my personal go-to) and editing is also possible on my phone.

New York City #hiptstamatic
New York City #hiptstamatic

Writing

I recently got a Bluetooth keyboard for my phone. I have a Logitech one that is fantastic, BUT it doesn’t travel well because of its size. So I use it with my phone, but only in certain places.

I wanted one that could go more with me, and so I ended up grabbing an iClever one that folds up, and has a little ergonomic angle too it (my keyboard of choice will always be the Microsoft Natural…)

Portable Awesome
Portable Awesome

This paired with a mini stand to hold the phone at an angle, and suddenly I have the hardware combination that turns my phone into something very useful for on the go writing.

I have Byword on my phone, something I’ve raved about before. Also Scrivener as well, which is pretty powerful in its phone edition. DayOne (for now at least, grr subscription fees) for my journals. Notes for… Uh, notes. Evernote as well. Even Pages / Word / Google Docs.

All in a little package that folds up, comes apart and fits in my pocket.

All Packed Up to Go
All Packed Up to Go

Art

I’m not good at this part, but still I love it. I have a few drawing apps on my phone, mostly Sketchbook is the one I use, but Paper and Sketches Pro are also great.

I can doodle away, anywhere, and make some neat things. I’ve seen what people with actual drawing skill can do on these little apps and it is amazing.

I have worked on book covers on my phone before, using Pixelmator to edit some files on the go.

And More…

Duolingo to learn Spanish. Buddify to practice meditation. Amazon to buy things. Podcast apps, Scanner Pro which will let you scan in documents by taking picture of them. Spreadsheet apps. Libib which I used to categorize my books. Run keeper and MyFitnessPal to help with my body.

My phone is my main source of music these days. Purchased, streaming, ripped from CD and synced over.

Ebooks from many sources for reading on the go.

And of course the Internet itself, in my hand for whatever new need pops up.

News, weather, reminders, grocery lists, calendar, all there.

Why did you write this?

Other than an excuse to use my new keyboard? (That’s right, composing this on Byword on my phone.)

I have friends in all kinds of places, doing all kinds of things.

A reminder of the versatility of the tool that someone already has can be a good thing. As someone whose first computer when he was a kid was a Mac Classic, I can say the power available to us in our phones is amazing.

Just from a publishing standpoint, I could write a book, edit a book, make the cover using pictures I took, produce a PDF and ePub file of that book, ALL on my phone.

And yes, specialized tools will always be better, but not all of us have those, nor can afford them. And it isn’t “making do” if it works. If it is working, then we are working.