Big Sur Gotchas  

My upgrade to Big Sur has gone reasonably well. I like the new UI a good bit, with some small quibbles (bring back the proxy icon, please), and there’s some nice capabilities that have been added, along with (seemingly) a little bit of speed up juice.

Here, however, are a couple of the random things that broke and how I fixed them.

Proxy Icon Delay

As mentioned above, if you use the proxy icon in places like Finder (or other toolbars), having the proxy icon hidden behind a mouse over and delay.

I don’t get why they did it, and I expect it’ll be an option in an upcoming point release. In the meantime, the best thing you can do is remove the delay.

defaults write -g NSToolbarTitleViewRolloverDelay -float 0

Apple Wallet Not Working

After upgrading, the cards I’ve added to my wallet, that work everywhere else, weren’t working in Big Sur. Going to the Wallet System Preference Pane would give some error that would direct me to a link about System Integrity and using “Full Security”.

All of that was a red herring. Though I did need to boot into Recovery Mode.

  1. Reboot
  2. Hold CMD+R to get into Recovery Mode
  3. Utilities -> Terminal
  4. csrutil clear
  5. Reboot

Somehow, my system integrity was in an “undefined” state. This fixed it.

Apple Watch Not Connecting

I often use my Apple Watch to unlock my Mac (especially since I’m working from home for the foreseeable ever). But, for some dumb reason, it wouldn’t connect.

Eventually, after a bunch of googling, the advice was “re-pair with your phone”. So I did. And that fixed it.

(And now I can unlock 1Password with my Watch, which is pretty nifty.)

iCloud Tabs Not Syncing

This is just seemingly broken across a lot of users. Sadly, I don’t have a fix.

Don’t Upgrade to a .0 Release If You Don’t Need To

This stuff is why people recommend not upgrading to a .0 release unless you need to. Or, you’re a glutton for punishment.

That being said, these are mostly minor things. All-in-all, it’s been a pretty stable, solid release.

Time Management in the Age of COVID  

In a bit of a break from everything else that’s going on, I thought I would document (mostly for myself, but, hey, maybe it’s useful to someone else) how I manage my time/workload.

I’ve always had a pretty rigorous process that I try to adhere to, so that I can keep a number of plates spinning at once. During this new COVID reality, I’ve worked hard to adhere to my process and tools, as sitting just feet away form my computer (or with my iPad/iPhone) could lead to simply filling up every available minute with work.

Inboxes

Mostly, my life is run out of two inboxes. Mail and OmniFocus.

Email

Much of my work comes in via email. Questions to answer, work to do or delegate, etc. There’s a lot that flows through here. I try to optimize this in a few ways:

  • I keep my inbox lean and mean because I’m ruthless about what shows up there. If it’s stuff I need, but never need to read, it gets filtered via a series of rules, and marked as read. For me, unread messages are a mental tax. I’ve got a reasonable amount of rules. This is a place that running mail through something like Google (GSuite or GMail) is nice. Those rules run server side, and mail is taken care of. If I never to need to read it, it gets unsubscribed, or gets filtered and deleted. If I start getting a new type of message frequently enough, I’ll flag it in OmniFocus to build a rule about it later.
  • Then, what hits my inbox, is mostly stuff I need to deal with. I try to follow the “4Ds of Time Management”. Do it now (it’s fast an easy), Delegate it (it’s someone else’s work), Defer it (I don’t need to do anything with this yet), or Delete it (I don’t need it at all). Do and Delete are pretty obvious. Defer involves me adding the message into OmniFocus, and then archiving it, using the OmniFocus Mail Clipper to send it to OmniFocus, and set the defer/due dates to come back to it. 1Delegate is also something I use OmniFocus for, in the same way. I ship the mail into OmniFocus, and update it to know that I’ve assigned it to someone else, and with a date to follow up on it. Then, I forward that mail (or stick a task in Jira, etc.) to handle the actual delegation.
  • What’s left in my inbox is things that fall in the “I just want to do them, but haven’t had the time or energy yet” category. Most people would say “well, then you should defer them”, but that is an extra mental tax that I don’t want to deal with. So they stick around my inbox for a day or two. Maybe even longer. As soon as my inbox gets to more than maybe 10 messages, I get ruthless about pruning it back. These “messages I should do, just haven’t done yet” are the first ones to get culled.

These steps keep my inbox (and my unread message count) in the single digits (or, occasionally, empty), which for me, is a wonderful little place to be.

However, that does mean that lots of stuff ends up in my next inbox.

OmniFocus

I swear by OmniFocus. I pay a lot of money every time there’s an upgrade, so I can run it on every device. Even if it’s not perfect, and there’s little UX things I’d like to change, it still is far more valuable to me than almost any other tool. Why?

Basically, it just lets me dump everything from my brain, my email, Slack, whatever, into a place where I can build little views that surface what matters to me.

There are a lot of ways to manage your life in OmniFocus. You can go down the rabbit hole with fiddly little bits. I try to limit that to occasional bursts of fiddliness. Mostly, I use a couple of views:

  • Forecast view show me in a week/month glance, what is due. I go back and forth on using due dates. I mostly have come to agree with the viewpoint that due dates are for things that are really due, and everything else should just be available for you to pull when desired. I’ve taken to working that way, but I add due dates to things like checking in or following up, so that I don’t forget to do those.
  • I have a couple of Perspectives I use. One, a Today view, is pretty simple: what is due today, what is flagged, and what have I tagged to focus on. The last bit there is a recent addition and has helped me. Every morning(ish), I go through my work projects, look to see if anything should get tagged to focus on, and if so, I tag it. Pretty simple. My other perspective is a view of work I’ve delegated out to people who work for me. What needs following up, what is due by someone else, etc. I check this every morning (and, again, may tag something so it’s on my Today view), and also check it out whenever I’ve got a meeting with someone.

More or less, that’s it. Those are the big rules. Everything else is little things I do to make my life easier, but those are the big rocks that I don’t change that frequently, and it’s how I keep all my plates spinning.

There’s probably one other, minor, inbox for me …

Slack

Work pops up in Slack. Generally, I follow the same rules. The “defer” option though, is I’ll flag it as a Saved Item. If it’s Saved, and has been there for more than a couple of days, I’ll move it into OmniFocus. If it’s Saved, because I need to store the info, it goes into something like Notes.

Those are the processes/tools I use to keep my life afloat. I mostly talked about work, but personal tasks also follow these same rules. So I can just run my life off of my laptop, or my phone, or my iPad, whatever tool I happen to have in front of me. And I don’t worry about missing something, because I can quickly drop it into OmniFocus (I’m starting to play around with Drafts for quick capture, but I’m not all the way there yet).

It does give me comfort to know that, mostly, if stuff matters, I’ve got it captured somewhere.

  1. I think I use this more than anything. I ship emails into OmniFocus at least a few times a day. 

Time to Breathe  

After not sleeping for the better part of a week, last Saturday was the start, I hope, of a new era of not being quite as worried about the future.

I’m still worried.

But not quite as worried.

Time to breathe, before we get back to work.

Vote for Biden  

Go. Do it. Go vote. Please.

Building Positive Habits  

During this whole pandemic thing1 I’ve not learned how to knit, or play the guitar, or even read more books. It’s mostly been work, family, and trying to stay sane.

The one thing I have focused on is trying to build more positive habits. For me, that’s mostly meant:

  • Focusing on eating better (easy, since my home office is 2 floors away from the kitchen, and there’s not free food everywhere), and
  • Exercising (without 90 minutes a day commuting, I’ve been able to spend more time with the family and get a 2-4 mile run in most days)

After the first six months of these habits, they really are habits. I can tell when I’ve eaten more than normal, or had a particularly unhealthy eating day. I feel it physically and emotionally when I don’t run.

The downside of these habits is that I started to develop some knee pain. I don’t stretch very often, and I’m not very flexible, so the downside of working from home (less daily movement aside from exercise) has lead to more aches and creakiness when running.

This lead to my third habit, and the one I never thought I’d develop: yoga.

I’ve spent the last month doing a 30 day beginner’s yoga program. I can do it in the morning while the kids eat breakfast, and, after 3 or 4 days of not being able to sort of take the yogi-ness of it seriously, it clicked for me. I don’t think I’m a devotee, but I do find that the 20-30 minutes a morning that I do the yoga starts my day off with a bit of calmness, and I think it’s following through to the rest of my day in increased patience and understanding. 2 At a minimum, I think my knee hurts less.

  1. I figure linking his name to pandemic is a worthwhile endeavor. 

  2. My family and coworkers may disagree. 

Facebook has an Inkling Who Will Win in November  

One month later, with Trump down in the polls and the political winds shifting, well, let’s just say the company has changed its tune. Dramatically. Not only has it banned Holocaust denial, it’s also banned anti-vax advertising and taken steps to pro actively manage the disinformation shitshow that will be the Trump campaign post election.

Witness this quote, from Zuckerberg himself, in his recent post framing why Facebook will now ban Holocaust denial from the platform: “Drawing the right lines between what is and isn’t acceptable speech isn’t straightforward, but with the current state of the world, I believe this is the right balance.”

John Batelle’s Searchblog

Up until two weeks ago, Facebook was a place where QAnon conspiracy groups flourished, aided by its recommendation algorithms; where you could pay to promote anti-vaccine misinformation; where Holocaust denial was treated as a legitimate political opinion; and where conservative news outlets were known to get a pass on rule enforcement to avoid upsetting the right.

As of today, none of those things are true.

One Zero

Facebook. More than willing to do the right thing, if the right thing is politically expedient.

How Not to Setup Network Time Mahcine on a Synology  

  1. Setup network Time Machine on your Synology
  2. Forget to uncheck the “Enable Recycle Bin” checkbox
  3. Watch as, slowly, every small file change leads you to fill up your Time Machine volume.

These Links Tell a Story  

I’ve just been collecting some of these links for the last few months. Almost everyone I’ve talked to feels better, healthier, and more sane if they’ve stopped, or limited their Facebook usage.

Facebook ignored or was slow to act on evidence that fake accounts on its platform have been undermining elections and political affairs around the world, according to an explosive memo sent by a recently fired Facebook employee and obtained by BuzzFeed News.

“I know that I have blood on my hands by now,” Zhang wrote.

Facebook Ignores Political Manipulation

Political manipulation is a known problem that has been happening on Facebook for years, and they’ve got no solution.

With all the negative press around, you might think they are not doing a good job at avoiding criticism, but consider the alternative that they’ve been able to weather all this because they’ve been able to deflect the criticism and avoid scrutiny and accountability. I know this all sounds pretty unhinged right now, but, stay with me. This is a company who hires conservative politicians to its highest ranks in multiple countries, while maintaining a veneer of political neutrality. The same company pretends its not the arbiter of truth while employing tens of thousands of people to do exactly that. Ask yourselves: What has changed at Facebook?

Facebook, The PR Firm

But you wouldn’t know that by the way they act. They are so worried about being regulated that they’ve now sold their soul (or what little is left) to the devil, so they can parry the “bias” issue rather than the real issue: that the good of Facebook is drastically outweighed by the negative created by the news feed, engagement, and Facebook groups.

Both reports were filed before the shooting took place, but identified the event and broader Kenosha Guard community as likely to incite violence. Last week, Facebook specifically identified militia groups as potentially inciting violence and removed a number of militia pages alongside hundreds of groups affiliated with QAnon. Still, it seems those warnings weren’t enough to trigger Facebook’s existing policies. It wasn’t until Wednesday morning, more than nine hours after the shooting took place, that Kenosha Guard was cited by Facebook as violating the Dangerous Individuals and Organizations policy and removed.

Reached for comment, Facebook said the company’s investigation had produced no direct links between the shooting and the Kenosha Guard accounts. “We’ve designated this shooting as a mass murder and have removed the shooter’s accounts from Facebook and Instagram,” a Facebook representative said. “At this time, we have not found evidence on Facebook that suggests the shooter followed the Kenosha Guard Page or that he was invited on the Event Page they organized. However, the Kenosha Guard Page and their Event Page violated our new policy addressing militia organizations and have been removed on that basis.”

Facebook chose not to act on militia complaints before Kenosha shooting

Tremendous system you’ve got there, Facebook. It definitely is much easier to know who to remove, if you wait until they kill people.

But Facebook says there’s a reason why right-wing figures are driving more engagement. It’s not that its algorithm favors conservatives — the company has long maintained that its platform is neutral. Instead, the right is better at connecting with people on a visceral level, the company says.

“Right-wing populism is always more engaging,” a Facebook executive said in a recent interview with POLITICO reporters, when pressed why the pages of conservatives drive such high interactions. The person said the content speaks to “an incredibly strong, primitive emotion” by touching on such topics as “nation, protection, the other, anger, fear.”

Why the right wing has a massive advantage on Facebook

It’s not a bug, it’s a feature.

Fifty-two percent of voters support shutting down social media platforms altogether for the week of the presidential election, according to a poll from GQR research shared exclusively with Axios.

Majority polled back a social-media blackout for election

Hey–the people seem to get it though! Let’s turn off the garbage heading into the election, and see if we can’t survive this hells cape!

The big picture: The News tab expansion is the latest effort by Facebook to pay news organizations for their work. The company has come a long way from its initial stance of refusing to pay publishers or hire human editors just two years ago.

Facebook accelerates News tab launch abroad

Also, a number of new countries are about to be horribly screwed.

Don't Walk Out. Quit  

Dozens of Facebook employees, in rare public criticism on Monday of their own company, protested executives’ decision not to do anything about inflammatory posts that President Trump had placed on the giant social media platform over the past week.

The employees, who said they refused to work in order to show their support for demonstrators across the country, added an automated message to their digital profiles and email responses saying that they were out of the office in a show of protest.

The protest group — conducting a virtual “walkout” of sorts since most Facebook employees are working from home because of the coronavirus pandemic — was one of a number of clusters of employees pressing Facebook executives to take a tougher stand on Mr. Trump’s posts.

Inside the company, staff members have circulated petitions and threatened to resign, and a number of employees wrote publicly about their unhappiness on Twitter and elsewhere. More than a dozen current and former employees have described the unrest as the most serious challenge to the leadership of Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive, since the company was founded 15 years ago.

Don’t walk out. Quit. Nothing is going to fix Facebook until they face an existential threat that forces Zuckerberg to reckon with the impact of his decisions.

I Miss Community  

Community Table Read

The cast of Community held a table read of one of their typically funny and heartfelt scripts. Community very much got caught up in NBC not knowing quite what to do with it, and the fact that we got six seasons (and a movie?) of it is remarkable.

This table read reminded me:

  • How much I loved the writing on this show
  • How much it shines through when a cast truly cares for each other (see also Scrubs)
  • How funny it is to watch someone who is not entirely familiar with this show stumble into the absurdity

It’s a wonderful half hour. Follow it up with the 40 minute Q&A session that followed.

After Dan Harmon’s Harmontown podcast ended, I didn’t realize how much I’d missed his particular brand of heartfelt absurdity. Rick & Morty is hilarious and wonderful, but it doesn’t have the emotional core that Community did.

I guess it’s time to start rewatching again …