It’s probably more common given this last year, but I personally work in two different offices during any given week. This presents some challenges when it comes to technology setups. I don’t imagine I am that unique in thinking that the more equal these two environments are, the more productive I can potentially be, so I have gone to some pretty great lengths to ensure my setups are very close to equal from a hardware and software perspective, given a few constraints.
This is the area with the most constraints because for my home office I do not require a laptop for any reason, where as with the work office, I do. Both locations utilize Mac hardware. This is, and has been a requirement for employment for some time, and yes I absolutely understand the massive privilege that this is. On to the hardware..
Home Office 🏡
24” iMac M1 (2021)
Razer Viper Ultimate Mouse (Mercury)
Apple Magic Keyboard with Touch ID
Apple Magic Trackpad
13” iPad Pro (2018) w/Pencil
AirPods Max + Shure Microphone (Same stuff I use for the podcast)
iPhone 12 mini
Work Office 🏢
13″ MacBook Pro M1 (2020)
32” LG UltraFine 4K (32UN880)
Razer Viper Ultimate Mouse (Black)
Apple Magic Keyboard with Touch ID
Apple Magic Trackpad
13” iPad Pro (2018) w/Pencil [Same iPad as above]
iPhone 12 mini [Same iPhone as above]
This gives me basically the same hardware setup for muscle memory.
macOS + Big 4K+ Monitor + Keyboard and Mouse
*I am not a dual monitor person
When it comes to email applications, I have used them all. When it comes to managing work and personal email, I have landed on Apple Mail as a means of managing both. For personal mail I use the wonderful Fastmail and my work mail all runs through Office 365. Both of which sync perfectly between all devices. I was using Airmail for a long time, but the differences between the iOS and macOS versions drove me a bit mad.
This is an easy one, the only calendar app I use and regularly recommend is Fantastical and it works flawlessly with both Fastmail CalDav calendars as well as Office 365.
This is going to shock you.. I keep all my personal notes in my main space in Craft and all my work notes in a separate space.. INCRAFT! Can you believe it!?
Like email, I have also tried every task manager that exists. They all have their trade offs. The one that most closely fits my needs and way of thinking is Things. It could be argued that I should keep all my work related stuff in Office 365 tasks app, but I am still pretty resistant to managing multiple task apps.
File storage 📁
This one is a little convoluted, but it’s by necessity, not choice. My personal files are 100% in iCloud Drive. It works great for me. All my work related stuff is in Microsoft OneDrive because of the integration with all other work related services. I also have Dropbox for collaboration with external engineering teams. It’s a bit annoying having work stuff spread across both OneDrive as well as Dropbox, but it’s easier for me to manage that versus managing other people on how to use stuff outside their normal workflow.
This one is pretty straight forward. Personal stuff mainly runs through iMessage and Discord. All work messaging goes through Microsoft Teams. Is it my favorite? Definitely not. Does it work on all my devices and get the job done? Yep.
I think the biggest point of this whole article is not really what I am using for each task or area of life / work, but rather the power of using a single platform of architectures and software. Using a single platform that I am comfortable and very familiar means my work is not impacted by the tools. This is not a template for how to be productive, or how to be a power user. Think of it as a bookmark to look at how you work in multiple locations and see if there are some small ways you can make things easier on yourself. 😀👍
Raise your hand if you like dealing with your home network.
✋ This is me raising my hand!
I assume most people probably don’t. And of those most, most of those probably don’t even give it much thought past what their ISP gave them or installed when they signed up. I am on the other end of that spectrum it seems. I love optimizing, tweaking, and upgrading our home network. So much so that after one year in our new house, we are now officially on to Home Network 2.0!
Yep, because we didn’t know all the ins and outs of the new house in terms of what network installation would look like, I took the easy route and went all wireless (with the slight exception of the two units using ethernet for backhaul. That’s a fancy way of saying that the two units talk to each other over the cable instead of through the air.). We started in this house with two AMPLIFIALIEN units. They are fast, WiFi 6, and mesh capable with ethernet backhaul. For the most part they are good units, but they were too hands off (which, yes, is what most people want. So this is actually a great feature for most). I like to dig in and see what’s going on though for the sake of learning new things, and just plain curiosity. I pretty much love any equipment that can be rack mounted, so when it came time for ::Home Network 2.0::, you better believe there is going to be a rack involved!
For most home setups the two ALIEN units would be overboard, but what if we want to go WAYOVERBOARD, how would one do that? Have a seat, I will tell you just that!
First, you need to get a list of all the stuff you want to get for the new network. Here is mine.
1x Network Controller (Cloud Key Gen 2+)
1x 24 Port Managed Switch (USW-24-G2)
3x 8 Port Managed Switch (USW-Lite-8-PoE)
3x WiFi 6 Access Points (U6-Lite)
1x 1000 ft of CAT6a Cable (trueCABLE CAT6a)
1x Bag of Push Through CAT6 Cable Connectors (trueCABLE Cat6A Pass Through Connectors)
6x CAT6 Keystones and Wall Plates
Various tools for making holes and running cables through the walls
Some tools that the majority of people won’t have but are very handy for this kind of work
Fish Tape (Steel or Polymer depending on where you are working)
Simple, right? It sounds like a lot of work to run cables through the walls, crimping the connectors, and mounting access points to wall, and you would be kind of correct, but it’s all doable as long as you plan things out and take your time. Once you rush, you will be sorry.
You cut holes in your walls!? Yep! One thing I can’t handle is cables dangling, so all cables get routed so they cannot be seen. This is technically optional, but when you see the results, you will be glad you did the extra steps.
Sometimes you need to go overboard even if it’s just because it brings you happiness! I know all this is not the case for you reading this right now, but even if you scale this all the way back to running a single extra ethernet cable to a part of your house where you get terrible or no WiFi, it’s all worth it! Also if you do go all in on the crazy, you get cool real-time topology maps of your network and clients, and who doesn’t want that!?
Oh, one other side benefit of Home Network 2.0 is that I can add on cameras as well that will integrate with this infrastructure and allow me to record all video directly to the local Cloud Key Gen 2+ on its internal 1TB drive without the need for cloud recording, and given the PoE connection to the cameras they are instant view rather than waiting for a wireless connection to handshake before you can view. 👍
I hope this was helpful in any way to each of you, whether you want to upgrade your home network, or simply get your wall mounted tv cables tucked away out of sight. Go forth and go overboard on some area of your life that will bring you happiness!
I have had https://burk.io running on blot for several years now (since ~2018) and it continues to be great. The setup is easy, clean, and fast. If you haven’t seen blot in action, at a high level, it’s a folder structure that you maintain and blot uses that structure to create the site. There are a million of these kinds of static blogging engines that have come and gone, but this is the one I like and feels like it will be around for the long haul. Anyway, enough of my sales pitch! Blot has two options for how your files are stored and accessed; Dropbox or git. Dropbox is arguably the easier option since it’s drag and drop, in fact, this is what I was using for quite a while because of that simplicity. I don’t use Dropbox for anything else so it seemed kind of silly to keep it around just for my website when git is available as well. I also found that updating the site through git was faster than waiting for Dropbox to do whatever it needed to do to sync files. I also recently switched to using a 13″ iPad Pro instead of a MacBook Pro for my secondary computer (::a story for another day::) and using Dropbox on iPad for this kind of setup wasn’t good at all.
I should probably step back and describe a bit how I have things set up on the Mac. I use Nova for all my web-related editing. It’s a great text editor that I like very much and also has git integration which makes it a one-stop-shop for all things web code. My blog posts originate in Craft and then eventually move over to Nova to publish. This setup removes any friction to publishing so this means the only thing that gets in my way of writing posts is me not writing them. No one to blame by myself. Perfect.
The ideal solution for the iPad would be Nova on iPadOS but I won’t hold my breath on that… So, now we get to how I complete this process on my iPad and attempt to keep the flow at parity with my Mac flow. I use two apps on the iPad. One for the git portion and one for the editing. For managing git and files there doesn’t seem to be any better way to go than Working Copy. This is a great visual git client that is quite intuitive with a nice layout for managing your git repositories. It also acts as a file provider within iPadOS so this means other apps have access to these files much like iCloud Drive. The second app is Textastic for the actual text editing. Because of the file provider ability you can view your git directory structure all within Textastic so there is minimal back and forth between the two apps. It’s as easy as making your edits in Textastic, switch to Working Copy, and push your changes to the server. Done.
For those familiar with git, you already know this, but for everyone else, the premise of git is that it stores and controls information, usually source code. When you make changes to your code you create small notes or “commit messages” with each update (unless you are a monster in which case you probably don’t comment your code either). A side benefit that I like about this for blogging is that you now have a record of what changes you have made in the past and can reference them if something breaks in the future or if you simply need to know what you changed and when. It’s 100% up to you to make sure these commit messages are useful, but if done well they can be a very nice addition that you get for free simply by using git as your backend.
So there you have it! My complete blogging setup from Mac to iPad. It was the one worry I had when moving from the MacBook Pro to the iPad 13”, but that worry is long gone now with these great tools. I imagine apps will change around from time to time as new text editors land on the iPad but that is fine given the awesome foundation infrastructure that this setup is built on!
And yes, it is possible to add the Dracula theme to Textastic! 🧛♂️
I have been a fan of The Twilight Zone for a very long time. I watch them quite regularly and have seen each episode countless times. Generally I watch them on variousstreaming services depending on which one had access to the content at a given point in time. The problem with streaming services is that you never know what content they will have, when they will have it, or even what versions they will have.
Given my affinity for The Twilight Zone, I wanted to have a “golden set” that we knew would always be available. This lead me to searching around online for the best possible quality I could find to use as source material. This turned out to be a complete collection of all 5 seasons on Blu-ray. I picked up a previously owned copy on eBay and it showed up about a week later. For most, this is where the story would end now that they had their own set in their collection. For me though, discs are a no go. I want the entire library in our Plex library so I can watch it on any device and with no DRM. This meant it was time to start ripping and encoding. Here is the process I went through to create my golden set..
Side Note: I did this all on a Mac, but both the hardware and software exist on Windows as well if that is your platform of choice.
This is technically optional, but I did it for two reasons. One, I wanted backups of the discs in case something happens to them. And two, I wanted to work on everything from a local drive instead of messing with discs and waiting for the drive to spin up. I use MakeMKV for this. Simply pop in the disc, and select Backup Disc in MakeMKV, and wait!
Step 2: Extract Individual Episodes
I used MakeMKV for this also. Open the media backup file that was created in step 1. MakeMKV will scan the file and display the episode files within the file. Export these to your drive so you have each episode as a separate .mkv file.
Step 3: Convert .mkv to .mp4
.mkv files are playable by a lot of systems, but I wanted them to be more universal so I went with conversion to .mp4 files. This also makes applying metadata easier in the next step. I used Permute to convert from .mkv files to .mp4 files. This software is not on Windows, but Windows has a ton of options for this.
Step 4: Apply Metadata
Although the video files are fully playable, it’s nice to have all the episode titles, descriptions, cover art and so forth for when you view the files in a media player like Plex. MetaZ is a fantastic piece of software to do this. You drag in your .mp4 files, update the metadata and click write. Done. The program will churn for a bit and then poof, you have your new file in all its metadata glory.