Late Bloomer Edition: Markdown All the Things!

Obviously I’m a bit late to the party here, but I guess late is better than never. It recently dawned on me that mucking about with lots of different file formats, interfaces and ways of doing things is rather counterproductive.

A lot of my work these days are related to generating content, be it a simple blog post like this or writing customer proposals and documentation. In the end, the deliverables are often quite different, but at the core they are strangely enough very similar. After all, the main thing is content, right? The file format itself, or how it is generated, doesn’t really have a bearing on the content at all, it’s just a delivery method. Lipstick on a pig, if you will.

So, in an effort to get rid of a lot of unnecessary visual and mental clutter , I’ve decided to go all in and Markdown all the things.

After all, Markdown is just text, with some simple formatting options. No fluff, no convoluted UI’s, just text. Plain, simple, and very easy to work with. I currently use atom.io as my preferred editor, which is working out very well so far.

Of course, from time to time my deliverables might just be a .PDF file, or even a Microsoft Word document, but there are ways to work with that and still keep Markdown as the core content creation engine.

I’ve just put my first foray into Automator on GitHub. The Auto-convert .md to .docx is a simple Folder Action that runs pandoc to automatically convert files put into a given folder to .docx format. It’s simple and it’s crude, but it works. Next I’ll be looking into how I can use pandoc with a Microsoft Word reference file, to make sure that the generated files adhere to the corporate templates I normally use, but for now this does the job. I also plan on extending this to convert to other file formats as I need them, now that I’ve got this first one up and running.

Do you use Markdown or pandoc? If so, please let me know how – I know I’m only scraping the surface of what is possible to do here, and any tips and hints on what do do next will be very welcome!

Now, if only Evernote would support Markdown natively…

Check for OS X Updates Automatically

Yeah, I admit it. I want OS X Mavericks, and I want it now.

Unfortunately, it´s not available yet from Software Update. So instead of manually checking every 5 minutes or so, I decided to create a small bash script that does it for me.

It´s very, very simple, but I think it does the job:

First off, pop into Terminal and get root access:

[cc lang=”bash” width=”100%” theme=”blackboard” nowrap=”0″]
h0bbel::h0bair { ~ }-> sudo su –
[/cc]

Then create a small bash script, I named mine update.sh, that contains the following:

[cc lang=”bash” width=”100%” theme=”blackboard” nowrap=”0″]
while true
do
softwareupdate -l
sleep 60
done
[/cc]

Change it to be executable by running
[cc lang=”bash” width=”100%” theme=”blackboard” nowrap=”0″]
chmod +x update.sh
[/cc]

Then run the script, to have softwareupdate run over and over again (60 seconds after it completes) until you break it with ctrl-c

[cc lang=”bash” width=”100%” theme=”blackboard” nowrap=”0″]
h0bair:~ root# ./update.sh
Software Update Tool
Copyright 2002-2010 Apple

No new software available.
[/cc]

At least I now get warning once it´s available. I can has Mavericks nao?

My Slate Setup

macbook-pro-too-mainstream-1.jpgAbout a year and a half I go, I took the leap from running Microsoft Windows as my main operating system and switched into full “hipster mode”, i.e. switched to a Macbook Air and OS X.

Simply put, “the change” was not that hard and most everything has worked without problems, and for those things that still require Microsoft Windows, well, there is VMware Fusion for that.

While I´m admittedly still a novice OS X user, and not even close to mastering OS X, I´d like to share my current Slate setup.

Slate is a OS X window manager that makes it much easier to resize, focus and arrange your applications. The real beauty of it is that everything is controlled via the keyboard, no need to reach for the mouse.

By combining PCKeyboardHack and KeyRemap4MacBook with Slate, I am now able to move my windows to pre-arranged locations on my display, or even “throw” a window to another monitor if required.

None of this was originally my idea, I´ve stolen quite a bit from Using Slate: A Hacker’s Window Manager for Macs and other sources, but the end result is simply a dream to work with.

As suggested in A useful Caps Lock key, I have remapped my Caps Lock key to F19, and set F19 up as Hyper key (Control, Command, Option and Shift pressed simultaneously), and use that as a trigger in Slate. One thing I always forget to do though, is to disable the Caps Lock key whenever I connect a new keyboard to the Mac. After a recent re-install I could not for the life of me figure out why this setup was not working, until I remembered that I had to disable the key (as mentioned in the article linked to above).

The first thing you’ll need to do is disable the Caps Lock key in OS X. Head to System Preferences’ Keyboard pane and click the “Modifier Keys…” button. Set Caps Lock to “No Action.”

My current .slate config files looks like this

Seasoned Slate users, will notice that I am barely scratching the surface of what is possible here, but this is a work in progress. I really want to set up pre-defined application locations and window sizes based on my various multi-monitor setups (Macbook only, home office, work office, etc.), but that is still a work in progress.

How fun is it being able to hit caps-lock right-arrow and throw an application window from the internal Macbook screen to a secondary screen on my right? And at the same time resize it to fill the entire screen!

I may just be me, but I do find pleasure in these little things. Especially when they just work. Now I just have to remember to use them frequently, muscle-memory is a powerful tool when it comes to efficiency.