Keyboard hacks in macOS Sierra

I upgraded to macOS Sierra today on my work laptop. I hit a few minor niggles related to some keyboard hacks I had in place. The first was working around the fact that Karabiner no longer works in Sierra, which is well documented by Brett Terpstra here. I don’t rely too much on the “Hyper” key, so actually the main thing I cared about was remapping Caps Lock to Escape. This, by the way, has been a game-changer.

I uninstalled Karabiner and Seil, which I had previously installed to accomplish my hacks (although I was never clear what Seil was for).

The second issue was related. I type on a Das Keyboard Model S Ultimate. Before the upgrade, I swapped the option and command keys because it is natively a PC keyboard. This stopped working in Sierra. Despite setting the modifier keys to be swapped, the behavior did not change. So, I used Karabiner-Elements to accomplish the swap:



A watchOS 2 app that taps you at specified intervals. My old Casio watches have a feature where they beep twice at the top of the hour. This helps me be aware of the time without having to look at my watch. This would be even more useful if it were undetectable by others, via a tap on the wrist. This would also be useful for when giving presentations, so that you are aware of your time, again, without looking at your watch. I suppose this would be useful for any timing application. Right now, you always have to wake up your watch to see the time.

There’s an iOS app that basically does this:

App Idea: “Buzz Clock” for Apple Watch.


Dream Calendar App: Visualizing Time

The main area of improvement I see for current calendar apps is the visualization of time. In my previous sketch, I’m representing my schedule with two clocks (one for AM and PM). The problem with this is that it doesn’t do a good job of communicating the continuity of time. There are a lot of things to consider. I found an excellent post by Doug McCune with lots of nuggets about this topic. . He begins by identifying two main challenges: continuity and personal context. Both of these are quite applicable to designing a good calendar app. He wraps up this section, saying:

He goes on to discuss various representations like line charts, circular charts, spiral charts, and more. He specifically addresses using two clocks to show a day’s worth of data and brings up its problems:

The biggest problem with the chart is the incorrect continuity. A single clock on its own isn’t a continuous range, it’s really only half a range. So the clock on the left is showing 12am – 12pm, but when you reach the end of the circle the data doesn’t continue on like the representation shows. Instead you need to jump over to the second clock and continue on around. It’s difficult to see the ranges right around both 12pm and 12am, since you lose context in one direction or another (and worse, you get the incorrect context from the bordering bubbles).

I recognize this, but I’m still on the fence as to whether this is enough to throw out the clock metaphor entirely. Nonetheless, it’s a fascinating read with great insights. Although his goals are different from mine, there are many things I can learn from his piece.

I also found a gallery of time-oriented visualizations that will hopefully spark some ideas as I continue to explore this calendar app idea.


Dream Calendar App (Sketch)

Here’s a doodle of some ideas I’ve had in my head, based on my rant of current calendar apps. I’m exploring the use of clocks to show my busyness landscape. Although it gets a little awkward at the AM-to-PM transition, clocks are ubiquitous and easily interpreted. I’m using clocks also to show duration, which, by stacking, I can save space. So, each line on the grid represents up to two hours. Events with zero duration and all-day events should be treated differently.



Coffee Log Followup

Jeff Mueller wrote an amazing piece explaining the technical details of my use of MultiMarkdown tables, Launch Center Pro, and Day One. He even wrote an application that helps with the encoding. Check it out.

These kind of logs can be expanded to apply to anything that you want to track: books, movies, beer, meals, etc. Josiah Wiebe has a pretty good list of actions.

Now that Publish by Day One has been released, you may see more of these entries on display on that platform. Day One has done a spectacular job of reducing the friction of putting content online with beautiful presentation. Here’s a slightly cropped version of my first coffee log post:


Shawn Blanc beat me to the punch, which is slightly unfair because he was a beta tester:). I did adapt some of the changes he made into my Coffee log action, including adding a title to the entry, adding a “Roaster” row, and moving the tags to the bottom.