Current software of awesomeness

This is my current list of software for Mac development that I find useful and highly recommend. I’ve also listed some of the junk software I’ve given up on.


Software


 

 

Paw HTTP REST API testing client. I really like PAW as a REST endpoint test client replacement for Postman. Mostly it is very stable and has a much better UI. It is super duper pretty looking. I guess I’m a sucker for eye candy. Also useful is the ability to use dynamic values when pulling values from one response to use in another request. The various supported auth methods can be really handy as well. Invaluable. Buy it, use it love it.

 

Little Snitch The  best firewall for the Mac. The best personal firewall. I also run NAT on my edge as well a a “real” firewall with deep packet inspection, but this one can also prevent local outbound connections. It’s surprising how much software wants to phone home and spy on you. Adobe and Microsoft. In the newest version there is a sexy new tool. The new map view in Network Monitor shows realtime information about all current and past network connections and their geographic location. It provides filtering and selection options helping to assess particular connections based on the server’s location.

 

GIF Brewery Makes animated GIFs and MP4 movies simple and easy. I think Gfycat bought it an now its free as it is now called GIF Brewery by Gfycat. Hopefully they won’t infest it with ads. While you can do all this in Adobe Premiere Pro the project startup overhead is annoying and sometimes you want to get thinks done quickly and simply. So far it hasn’t been destroyed by ads and the like. Fingers crossed.

 

Reeder An RSS client. I use an account from Feedly as a source. Syncs with my iOS reeder client via cloud bits. It used to be priced at $20 but now it is $9.99. Has an excellent dark them. Has Mercury Reader built into it. This is nice to fetch the entire article without having to load the web page. Not on by default and you have to click the link on every RSS item. Not too painful. Reeder needs support for ad blocking as well as better page zooming. The mark all as read is annoying placed. I would like the addition of a right click menu function. Instead of a dedicated button hidden and the bottom of the window.

 

Sublime Text GUI text editor. Pretty powerful. I continually have to force myself to stop using vi and even remember I have a GUI editor. It’s hard to break decades of habit. I’m pretty good with vi. Also, I really loathe vim. I have to spend time making vim look like the classic vi. My brain simply cannot process the vim UI, it must be broken. Sublime has a thing called “Distraction Free Mode” which is super handy and does the obvious. It is pretty expensive as well at $70.

 

Tower A GUI GIT client. Can clone whole repositories. The GIT cli is perfectly adequate but I’m lazy and like eye candy. How is that for honest? At $80 it is one of the more expensive apps I’ve purchased. I think there is a Windows version now. The ability to open multiple repos and work with multiple repos simultaneously is pretty nice. I’m paranoid about losing code and have redundant repos in multiple availability zones. The new version has a much better search. No dark mode. I’ve been bugging them forever.

 

Transmit SFTP and S3 client. Sometimes drag and drop is faster than a CLI. It is able to use ssh aliases for hostname and credentials. Transfer resume doesn’t really work. Supports 2FA. The list of supported cloud providers has grown large now including the ever elusive Microsoft OneDrive for Business. The developers of Transmit also make a very good game called Firewatch. Be sure to check out that game.

 

Screenflow Made by a company called Telestream. They are really trying to turn it into an NLE more than anything but I use this for recording gameplay. It can record 4k at 60 fps. It can record iOS screens and from iPhone cameras as well. It can output in Apple ProRes. The only weak point is the audio recording mix. It can’t record game auto, computer audio, and mic audio on operate channels. It mixes them all into one stereo channel.

 

Wirecast AV tool I use this for streaming game play to Twitch when I’m on a Mac. It also supports using an iOS device as a second camera input. Really not much else to say. Telestream has another product called Gameshow which is really for the Twitch only crowd. It is a one time purchase for lifetime. Prices for Wirecast range from $99 to $1000. If you don’t need all the features of Wirecast, like support for the many streaming sites (who uses these things anyway?), check out Gameshow. They also have a YouTube only version which obviously only supports streaming to YouTube.

 

PeakHour SNMP network monitor. Supports UPnP discovery. Works with every SNMP version I’ve thrown at it. It’s nice to see how much bandwidth I’m using in real time. I don’t have a data cap but sometimes downloads can get out of control and these are easily spotted. Version 4 finally has proper dark theme and no longer sucks like version 3. Default graph line color is now much more intelligent than before. There is also a PeakHour Remote http client you can use on your phone to remotely monitor traffic. There is no support for automated quality testing from sites like fast.com. Custom destination are only basic ICMP.

 

Textual An beautiful native MacOS IRC client. Not very expensive at all. Lacks any decent number of plugins though. As much as Slack is nice. I am always on IRC. It does have automatic nickserv auhentication support which is nice. Also supports inline video and images. Limechat should never display topic except in window title bar and thus it was always truncated unless you had a giant window size. Textual has a dedicated topic window pane. Much nicer fonts. Performs well with IPv6 only connections. Hmm what are those? Supports SOCKS and HTTP proxies which I need sometimes to stay safe via an SSH tunnel.

 

 

The perpetual and never gets old software list:

  • XLD Use for converting FLAC to ALAC. I don’t believe in 24-bit FLAC.
  • Gas Mask /etc/hosts fast switching client. Useful when you don’t want to wait in DNS zone transfers.
  • brew Awesome. My ‘brew list’ grows constantly.
  • VLC Plays any audio/video even if damaged.
  • HandBrake Convert video from various formats.

All the tons of open source software I use every single day. Awesome stuff like:

  • youtube-dl Rip from web sites. Oh so very very awesome indeed.

Desktop software I’ve dumped:

  • Skype – This software has become a joke. It’s lost all its purpose. I do not want a Facebook like chat client. This software is a joke. Replaced by Slack video calling.
  • Amazon Cloud Drive – Now completely useless. Amazon suckered everyone in with unlimited storage and then pulled the rug out. Jerks.
  • Pixelmator –  I can do almost everything I need to with Preview and Photos. Has almost no value any more.
  • Hazel – Extremely impossible to figure out UI. Why is rule making using the UI some impossible and backwards? The rule creation process is totally convoluted and makes no sense at all. Ended up automating file movement with shell scripts. Very frustrating software.
  • limechat – I moved on to a better IRC client. There is nothing wrong with this client especially given that it is free. Textual is just better.

To finally come full circle back to good software, another app that surprisingly has become far more useful than before is Notes. Yes, the Apple written built into the OS Notes app. I do worry about the security of putting confidential information inside notes. I really need to actually test this. It seems to have decent security and encryption. A 16-byte key is derived from the user’s passphrase using PBKDF2 and SHA256. The note’s contents are encrypted using AES-GCM. Not NSA proof but definitely difficult for your office enemy to penetrate.

Chrome is really starting to suck these days

unnamed

When I switched from Firefox to Chrome about six years ago it was like a breath of fresh air. It was clean, super lightweight, and most importantly it was fast, really fast. I had never seen Javascript render so fast. Those days are long since gone. Google has fallen victim to its own success. Google keeps adding more and more features and the browser keeps getting heavier and slower.

Plugins generally are heavy weight and slow. A few still retain much goodness. After the terrific plugin YouTube Options shot themselves in the head by charging a ridiculous monthly fee a new one emerged called Magic Actions for YouTube. It is a super useful plugin and I like it except for one thing. They decided upon the super-idiotic route that flash control panel took; you change options from a live web site. They do this for several reasons. It allows them to advertise more easily and they can more obnoxiously beg for money. Fortunately I only have to go there a once or twice a month to change things. The other annoyance is they add a toolbar beneath the youtube window which I never ever have had a reason to use and they refuse to let you disable it. Like I can’t remember I am using your plugin? Oh that’s right you put it there for more subscriptions to your YouTube channel. Shameless.

These are my must have plugins:

Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 2.49.52 PM

Youtube switched from Flash video as default to HTML5 as default. This is one more welcome nail in the Flash coffin. However, we lost video larger than 2k (1080p) and WebM container format via the VP9 codec does not look as good. It looks good but the difference is noticeable. Sorensen Spark is superior. This is coming from a tried and true Flash hater. I can rant about browser plugins forever.

But I digress … Chrome consumes gobs of memory. This is a screen shot of the memory usage after running Chrome for five minutes.

Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 2.54.49 PM

As you can see Chrome is using a ton of memory. This is absurd. I also see millions of there error messages in my logs:

kernel[0]: Google Chrome He (map: 0xffffff80bb8b21e0) triggered DYLD shared region unnest for map: 0xffffff80bb8b21e0, region 0x7fff94e00000->0x7fff95000000. While not abnormal for debuggers, this increases system memory footprint until the target exits.

I had to finally resort to disable the error reporting as my logs became useless:

$ sudo sysctl -w vm.shared_region_unnest_logging=0

Google, please fix this crap. Your features deployment have overtaken your stability. I really don’t want to have to switch back to Firefox. I really don’t.

RAM

Disney domains

 

wdw

In less than a week after creating a Disney account these are the domains I have received email from:

@disneyonline.com

@wdw.disneyonline.com

@experience.disneydestinations.com

@disneydestinations.com

@vacations.disneydestinations.com

@disney.com

@mkt5993.com

@disneyprivacycenter.com

I’m looking forward to even more email.

 

 

 

Much better now …

Chrome-logo-2011-03-16

 

Running this command made my life much better.

$ defaults write com.google.Keystone.Agent checkInterval 0

I’m more happy than I was before running this command. How did I get so happy? Let me explain. Google claims “By default, Google Software Update currently checks for new updates once a day.” This is completely false. It checks hundreds of times per day or more. It almost seems like it checks all the time. There is functionality to throttle the frequency of checks. However, if you change the interval to any other value it is not respected.

$ defaults write com.google.Keystone.Agent checkInterval <frequency>

This does nothing. This command is not respected. My firewall logs were clogged with attempts from the various Google attempts to check for updates. Automated updated were nice but I really didn’t want to have to be bothered with parsing out all the update checks to see useful information in my log files. It would check for updates as often as every fifteen seconds for hours on end.

It all lives in this directory:

/Library/Google/GoogleSoftwareUpdate/GoogleSoftwareUpdate.bundle/Contents/Resources/

Screen Shot 2014-11-03 at 8.05.35 AM

If you are really paranoid there is also a plist in /Library/LaunchAgents called com.google.keystone.agent.plist this will force a check upon login.

I don’t know why Google doesn’t allow the user to directly control these processes. Google continues to hide more and more features it thinks are power user only features.

More info here: https://support.google.com/installer/answer/147176?hl=en

Google Fiber Installed

 

I finally have Google Fiber installed and it is fast … very fast. The service technician was very clueless about the networking side of the technology but was well versed in the TV and physical plant used by Google.

Here is one of the speed test results:

The above results are fairly typical. I have run the tests several times. In fact it is so fast that it breaks the normal Ookla speedtest. It actually generates a weird error. You have to use a special site provided by Google. http://provo.speedtest.googlefiber.net/ It runs the Ookla software so I don’t suspect any shenanigans. Here is an index of the various tests. http://www.speedtest.net/isp/google-fiber I suspect that most of the tests were done via a wireless device. The WiFi APs in the house are only capable of 600 Mbps. When I had great signal strength I could only manage about 250 Mbps through wireless. I suspect with TCP overhead and driver overhead the MacBook Pro I with a Thunderbolt to ethernet was using couldn’t drive the connection any faster. Given typical TCP overhead of around 3% that would be 30 Mbps on a 1000 Mbps connection. It’s funny that that the wasted bandwidth of TCP overhead exceeds most peoples internet connections.

The best part about Google Fiber is that it replaced Comcast. The Comcast service was terrible. Truly undeniably awful.  The customer service was downright bad. Every CSR I ever interacted with was clueless and knew nothing beyond “reboot” your modem. You got completely difference answers depending upon whom you spoke with. You can add my vote to the “worst company in America.” Earlier this year Comcast fearing significant customer loss to Google Fiber came through the neighborhood and upgraded all the STBs in the house to the latest and also upgraded the Internet connection speed from 20/5 to 250/100, all with no cost increase. The true speeds were nowhere near what you were paying for at all. In fact they lowered the price by $75 per month. It was such a joy to send back all that crappy Comcast equipment. When I called to cancel service with Comcast they tried to keep me as a customer. I explained there was no offer that could match the Google offering. The local Comcast office transferred me to a retention CSR. She tried anyway; all in vain. She said she could offer me $99 per month service for TV, phone, and Internet for six months. I told her I needed gigabit speeds and it would have to be free for six months. She thought I was joking, I wasn’t in the slightest. It was obvious she was getting quite a few of these kinds of calls. I have no sympathy for Comcast.

It is really quite amazing what happens when a monopoly faces some competition. Even if Google Fiber is not available where you live you have to appreciate that Google has really stirred up a fairly stagnant market. Almost all ISPs had very little incentive to increase the connection speeds. Centurylink is a major ISP in the Utah area and they now are advertising that Gigabit speeds are now available. Of course it is all marketing and I can’t find a single address or person that is eligible for the service. But at least someone has kicked these companies butts into gear. Google may track and record everything you do like a mini-NSA but at least they provide a good service. Good riddance Comcast.

There are a few annoyances with the service. First the TV STB’s can act as WIFi Access Points which is great. However you cannot have separate SSIDs for the 2.4GHz and the 5GHz frequencies. It is pretty annoying. You can have separate SSIDs on the network box. Having the STBs act as WAPs is a great feature but is hampered by some lack of functionality. There are basically no advanced options for the TV STBs. They are disabled as APs by default.

Screen Shot 2014-11-01 at 5.30.23 PM

The Storage Box provides 2 TB of storage space, which allows you to store up to 500 hours of HD programming, and connects to the TV Boxes using MoCA or Ethernet. If MoCA fails it will fall back to ethernet.

A complete list of devices is here: https://support.google.com/fiber/topic/6005232?hl=en&ref_topic=6063014

The TV UI is pretty polished and highly responsive. In fact it is so responsive that if you rapidly click buttons on the remote control you can outpace the UI and it will queue up all those commands and execute them all which can lead you somewhere you didn’t intend to go. The Comcast IR remote was so unresponsive and slow to respond to input that you would furiously mash buttons in the hope the UI would react only to be disappointed and frustrated. It would ignore all other commands as well. The Google TV remote connects to the STB via Bluetooth. It also does IR for your TV. The Nexus 7 tablet is also a pretty nice little device. You can fling content like YouTube to your TV from it. The TV control interface on the Nexus is really pretty bad and hard to figure out what to click on. The flat UI does not lend itself to intuitiveness. I found myself often looking around for where to push an Okay button as it would be in random places on a particular page. The lack of contrast in the interface causes lots of issues. The Google Fiber TV app needs a lot of work.

The program guide on the TV UI is pretty nice except on thing. The program description is crammed vertically between the channel numbers and the times. It is awkward to read. This really needs to be displayed horizontally instead. Also there is a vertical bar that covers all the program descriptions to indicate a more precise time indication. It should be shortened to display in the row of time blocks instead of covering the whole UI.

The remote is connected to the STB via Bluetooth. It performs very well. All companies should stop selling IR  remotes immediately. Not having to aim the remote is not only enhancing my already significant laziness it makes me feel even more in control. However, if you have a receiver providing audio out to speakers there is no way to program the remote to change the volume on the receiver. This is a a major oversight. It would be nice to just use the Google TV remote for all functions. In the help section for Google Fiber there is no help about how to program it with a receiver except this annoying line:

“If you are familiar with electronics, you can certainly come up with your own creative way to connect!”

The page also says, “… supports only controlling the volume on your TV …”

They even say it won’t work, “…the Google Fiber remote control is not programmable to control external audio equipment.”

Google please fix this.

The Google Fiber website integrates nicely with your existing Google account. Unlike every other TV service provider out there, there are no annoying ads for movies and Pay Per views. It is typical Google clean and well designed. Companies like Comcast and DirecTV could learn a thing or two. Instead of hiding useful features behind upgrade links they should make the web site useful.

Arctic Ocean Trip Day Nineteen

Arrived home in Salt Lake City Utah. The trip is finally over. The total distance traveled is currently up for debate. The motorcycle odometer reports 7689 miles traveled (12374 kilometers). Two different GPS units report a distance of 7542 miles traveled (12137 kilometers). Either way it was quite a distance traveled.

 

trip-map

Nineteen days of traveling and I’m pretty tired. The bike managed to get me home in one piece, which I’m pretty happy about. I’m none too happy with the Alaska Department of Transportation and their complete lack of construction zone warning.

 

This is final photo of the trip:

 

 

Arctic Ocean Trip Day Twelve

Departed Wiseman in the morning and made it half way to Coldfoot, AK before running out of gas. I had to use some fuel from my emergency tank. It was plenty to get to Coldfoot to refuel. Bryan came back to check on us and he proceeded to run out of gas. The roads were still wet and slippery but at least I could see. My jacket and pant are still mostly wet but the rain liner is keeping my insides dry. My boots were so crusty with mud I had to bang them on the ground for a few minutes in order to free up the laces. The insides were still pretty wet. I put on the same socks because it was too much effort to get out new ones. They had mostly fried on the floor of the cabin overnight. We made it to the Yukon River crossing and they still had fuel. GS snob was back again. Mentioned he had a GS like five times, even managed to work in the fact that it was a 2014. I got to hear all about his awesome shocks. Dude … no one cares you have GS. Shut up.

Tyler had another flat in Fairbanks. This time it was terminal. We had to send a to truck to get the bike at a place called Mocha Dans where we shipped the wounded bike three miles to Dan the Man’s place Adventure Cycleworks. On a Sunday evening no less he replaced the Michelin Anakee III tires with Heidenau K76 tires, big improvement; much better tire. Dan is quite a character, but those are the best people. He was a big help and anyone thinking of doing the Dalton highway should look to him for guidance. He gave us many tips on how to take care of our bikes. Met a cool Brazilian guy named Riccardo who is a professional photographer.

Had dinner at some place called the family restaurant. Bryan wanted to eat there. It was really the only place open. He became violently sick afterwards. We stopped at a gas station (imagine that), I purchased a bear claw. Spent the night at the dorm room at the University of Fairbanks. This place must be miserable during the winter.

I was unable to record any video on the GoPro’s; too much work, not enough electricity, not enough time.

IMG_8248IMG_8250IMG_8251IMG_8252IMG_8254IMG_8240 IMG_8241 IMG_8242 IMG_8243 IMG_8244 IMG_8245 IMG_8246 IMG_8247