I have A LOT to be thankful for

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the United States, and while the year’s not quite over yet, it has certainly been a remarkable one for me so far. So much has happened over the past several months that it would be difficult for me to believe if I weren’t currently living it. Since this time last year, my life has changed quite a bit, and for the better. No, I didn’t win the lottery or anything like that, but there’s plenty to celebrate nonetheless.

Since 2009, a lot of my focus has been on my professional life: my job, programming, side projects, etc. I spend time with my family and we have our fun, sure, but my priority has been to provide a stable, comfortable life for them and to make sure it stays that way. This year, however, it was time for my wife (Biffy) and I to take a step back and put more focus on some of our personal long-term goals instead.

It’s been a lot of hard work, but it’s all been totally worth it. Some of that hard work has already paid off. Some of it won’t be realized for another couple of years. But all in all, it’s all been really great and I’m so, so thankful for the things Biffy and I have accomplished in 2017.

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The Imposter’s Handbook is now available in print. I purchased the eBook version earlier this year and it’s a well written book that delivers on its purpose. I haven’t finished it all the way through yet, but I will, and it will come in handy in the future as well. I’m thinking of purchasing the softcover edition that just came out so I can have a physical copy at my desk. It’s well worth the $50 if you ask me.

As someone without a formal education who works professionally as a software developer, I can relate to Rob Conery’s experience and I’m so glad he wrote this book. I’m definitely in the target market. But even if you do have a Computer Science or Information Technology (or equivalent) degree, you can still benefit from The Imposter’s Handbook as a refresher on some of the things you learned back in college.

Since many job interviewers seem to place a heavy emphasis on this stuff, it’s great to have a good resource like this if for nothing else than to have a refresher on hand with most of the relevant topics all wrapped up in a single book. When I finish reading the book, I’ll keep referring back to it throughout my career.

NOTE: The “buy” link for the print edition is a little hard to find on the linked page so here it is in case you have trouble finding it.

Major software update from Literature & Latte:

Scrivener 3 is now available for macOS at only $25 for existing customers and $45 for new users. And Scrivener 3 for Windows is on its way.

While Scrivener didn’t make my list of most frequently used software in 2017, I do have a license for version 2 and it is my favorite app for long-form writing. I don’t have a book in the works at the moment, but when I do, I’ll be looking forward to giving the version 3 update a spin because it looks pretty awesome.

The Software I Use (2017 Edition)

I mentioned in my recent MacBook Pro review that I spend a lot of time at my computer. As you would expect, I use a wide range of software for a ton of different tasks. Since my setup is constantly evolving (and sometimes devolving, admittedly), I thought it might be interesting to document what software I’m using, why I use it, and to eventually see how my setup changes over the years.

What follows is a detailed survey of the software I relied on in 2017. Everything mentioned here are things that I use either every day, almost every day, or on a semi-regular basis.

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Two Months with the 2016 MacBook Pro

I’m a serious computer user. It’s my job to be. But even if it wasn’t, I’d still be spending a ton of time on the computer. Every day, I spend hours upon hours typing away at my desk. On a daily basis, I develop software, use Photoshop, manage my finances, organize daily tasks, write blog posts, emails, and more. Any computer I own gets put through its paces and Apple has always delivered ever since I switched from Windows Vista back in 2009.

I had been using a 13-inch MacBook Pro for a few years and it was time for me to upgrade to a 15-inch model. My eyes are finally starting to outgrow 13-inch computer screens and I had been eyeing the new “Touch Bar” MacsBook Pros since they came out last year. So two months ago, I purchased a refurbished 15-inch MacBook Pro 2016 (the Space Gray Touch Bar model). The 2017 updates didn’t offer enough extra to justify spending hundreds of dollars more, and I didn’t want to upgrade to a “new” 2015 computer, so 2016 it was.

Overall, I’m happy with my purchase. It is definitely an upgrade from my older 13-inch MacBook Pro. It’s noticeably faster, has a larger, amazingly bright “retina” screen, and has twice as much RAM and disk space than I had before. But unfortunately, unlike every other MacBook I have ever purchased from Apple, this time my experience hasn’t been all good. I guess it was bound to happen eventually.

I’ll go ahead and get the bad out of the way first.

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Who Killed the Encyclopedia? is the latest topic on Tedium. Remember Encyclopedias? They were mostly on their way out when I was a kid, but I fondly remember Encarta ‘95 (it came with our Windows 95 family computer). It even had a wacky adventure-game-like thing (called MindMaze) where you answered trivia questions to progress.

As a side note, I recently discovered Tedium and I’m loving it so far. Very interesting deep dives into topics that on the surface don’t seem very interesting. Like the other day’s issue on lint — that issue’s sponsor, Space on Earth III, by the way, led me to discover ambient music and how great it is to listen to while programming.

Plain Text Notes System

Back in February of 2016, I wrote about my plain text notes setup and why I decided on the simple medium over dedicated apps and services that offer more robust features.

Seeing as to how that article is one of the more popular posts on my blog, I thought I’d publish an update on my plain text notes system. Long story short: I tried another app but ultimately came back to plain text. There’s just nothing more reliable and flexible.

If you aren’t currently putting digital notes to use, you really are missing out. I encourage you to give this plain text notes system a try because it’s easy to set up, doesn’t require pricey subscriptions, and will definitely stand the test of time.

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Better StatCounter Code

Recently, I switched to StatCounter for my web stats. I briefly used Piwik, which seemed great until I realized all visits were being logged as a “Direct Entry” and there seemed to be nothing that could be done to fix the problem (I checked mod_cloudflare, etc. to no avail). StatCounter has everything I need and is accurate.

However, looking at the JavaScript code StatCounter provides to be included on my website, it could definitely use a few tweaks. Here’s what the original code looks like:

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I tweaked my theme to be more minimal, and moved the search bar over to the archive page. Overall it feels a lot leaner, and is much cleaner. This is an evolution of the previous design, not a complete re-do.

I just re-designed this website recently, and while I liked it, after a few days of use the new design was feeling a little clunky and the there really was no need for such a heavy header bar when there was already a sidebar. Some changes were in order.

I also added a new responsive menu that shows up on narrower screens (such as phones).

Extending BBEdit with AppleScript

In my previous article where I speculated on when Bare Bones will release BBEdit 12, towards the end of the article I made a statement comparing BBEdit to my other most-used text editor, Sublime Text:

Whenever I switch to Sublime Text, I miss the “look and feel” of BBEdit (which is important, I think, for someone who spends most of their time with a text editor), but when I’m in BBEdit I miss Sublime Text’s editing capabilities.

What I forgot to mention is that BBEdit can be extended to sort of mold it into the text editor you want it to be (to a certain extent, of course). I just haven’t explored that aspect of it just yet—until now, that is.

And when I mentioned missing Sublime’s “editing capabilities”, I’m not talking about some crazy text wizardry that BBEdit happens to not support. I’m talking about some pretty basic things by modern text editing standards:

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