Sh*t my brain says and forgets about

Tag: hacks

Pinning Safari Tabs for Mental Focus

Have you heard about pinning tabs in Safari? If you have Mac OS X El Capitan then you have Safari 9 which includes tab pinning. From Apple’s Support documentation:

Pin Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Gmail, or any other website you visit frequently throughout the day. Pinned Sites stay put on the left side of your tab bar so you can easily get to them at any time.

I frequently keep several tabs open on my work computer – the three Gmail instances I’m in and’s Reader. Battling with my attention requires me to analyze my behaviors and continuously adapt to prevent problems. I recently discovered I frequently flip back over to Safari to look for the unread count in the tab titles and will derail my current thought process to read the email. My solution? Pinned tabs.

Safari Regular Tabs

Unpinned Stabby Tabs

As you can see I have an unread count in the far left Gmail instance. I’m driven to see what’s behind that (1). Now with the tabs pinned:

Safari Pinned Tabs

Pinned, Less Stabby Tabs

I know the email is still there and I’m super familiar with what order those tabs are in. The miracle though, is, I no longer see the title of the tab and am not driven to read the unread messages. When my mind has a moment to change course during the day, I’ll check my email.

Apple TV + Infrared Remotes

I have one of the new Apple TVs and I really do enjoy it. Having been a Roku-only house its nice to be able to get to some of the things only in the Apple world. I have AirPlay on my Pioneer receiver but it doesn’t work quite right all the time – but it works great on the Apple TV!

So there is one annoyance I can’t get around easily. I use a Mac mini in my entertainment stand as a server, my DVR (with EyeTV & HDHomeRun tuners), a webcam server (EvoCam) and a weather station data collector. When I watch DVDS and recorded TV through EyeTV I use the “old” Apple remote. The problem? The new Apple TV responds to the infrared from the old remote!

I dug through the settings of the Apple TV and there is no way to turn off IR on it. So until this is fixed I either have to use black electrical tape to cover the receiver or do this:


Physical hack FTW!

Home Hacks – DC Blower Motor

A couple days ago we had to replace the air conditioning condenser and evaporator units in our home’s central air system.  The unit was 21 years old and was leaking coolant slowly throughout the last summer.  It was just time.  The new unit is much more efficient, handles more air, and should be quieter even though it’s physically larger.

We had been talking about another item in our furnace and that was replacing the A/C motor with a D/C motor.  The A/C motor is called a PSC or permanent split capacitor motor and they are largely inefficient over time.  The Nest Thermostat allows you to schedule your fan to be on for time periods in the day.  We’ve been running our fan for 15 minutes every hour during the daytime to keep air circulating to reduce warm/cool spots and to help reduce dust.  Running the fan that much with a standard PSC blower is expensive and taxing on the motor itself.


The D/C motor is called an ECM – or electronically commutated motor.  It has a built-in transformer to convert to DC, uses less energy and can change its speed variably without suffering on efficiency.  The motors are also built with better ball bearings and are meant to be on 24×7 for the life of the unit.  The ECM motor is set to run at the lowest & quietest speed for circulation and then speeds up when the heat or A/C turns on.  We can leave the fan on 24×7 for the same (maybe even less) energy cost that the old A/C fan for 15 minutes every hour between 6am and 10pm.

If you have an energy efficient furnace (which we don’t right now) then you may be eligible for a rebate from your State.  The State of Wisconsin gives homeowners a $125 check for replacing their PSC motors with an ECM if you have a furnace that is efficient at 90% or greater.

More about ECMs

Mounting Wires Under a Standing Desk

I purchased an UpDesk PowerUp Series I (original) last year and love it.  I got the standard maple-colored desk top and am very happy with the density of the wood, quality laminate and curved front edge.  The one thing I was not very satisfied with was the mounting option given for the clasps keeping the wiring under it from hanging.  I was given a good amount of these self-adhesive twist plastic cable ties:


Simple yet effective solution, right?  Yes but only if the adhesive pad would stick longer than a couple of days to the underside of the desk.  The adhesive was hit or miss on the surface.  I searched around for solutions that were permanent but not so much that if I wanted to move wires or add additional ones it would require unscrewing something.  I ended up finding these gems at Home Depot:



They have an adhesive backing to them and an optional screw hole for which I bought 1/2″ #8 wood screws.  Works like a charm.  You then take any old zip tie and feed it through and tie your cords up.


So now I have the wires under the table all neatly attached.  I no longer have to worry about finding plastic ties fallen off the table and sticking to my hardwood floor.

Mac Screen Sharing (VNC) & White Screen

I’ve had problems connecting to my Ubuntu 9.10 server via Mac OS’ built-in VNC client, “Screen Sharing”.  Frequently when I connect, I get a white screen with no indication that the connection is working.  If I type characters or click the mouse, it does actually send those events to the remote side.  My only option was to use Chicken of the VNC (which sucks) to connect to my server.  Finally, I did some digging and found the solution/workaround.

  1. Open a new Finder window.
  2. Click “Go” and then “Go to Folder” (or hit Command-Shift-G).
  3. Type in “/System/Library/CoreServices” and hit enter.
  4. Find the “Screen Sharing” application, click once to highlight.
  5. Click “File” and then “Get Info” (or hit Command-I).
  6. Find the checkbox labeled “Open in 32-bit mode” and check it.
  7. Close the Info window and Finder folder window.

That’s it!  Apparently there is a bug in the application only when running in 64-bit mode.  I don’t really care why it fixes it, I’m just glad its fixed and I thought I’d share.

Thanks to the anonymous user on Mac OS X Hints!

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