Mac Tip: Quick Switch Sound Output

I’ve been an Apple Macintosh user for a long time now, but I often do things the hard way.

I work from home and mix up the work day by listening to podcasts. If the family is around I will put on the headphones as to not disturb them, but some days when I’m alone I remove the headphones and listen through the iMac speakers. 

The obvious way to switch from headphones to internal speakers and back again meant I went to System Preferences->Sound, selected the Output tab and then picked which way I wanted to hear the audio. No, not difficult but there has to be a better way.

It turns out there is (otherwise this post was completely pointless). When you go to the Menu Bar you should see the speaker icon. Clicking on it shows you the volume. Here’s the key..if you hold down the Option key while you click on the speaker icon you get a nice menu:

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There you go switch away, nice and easy.  Maybe everyone already knew this, but I doubt it. 

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A Laptop for Writers – and Developers →

Matt Gemmell:

I used to be a software developer, and my computer use was split between my desktop machine (a big iMac with the maximum amount of RAM, upgraded processor, extra display, and all kinds of attached gadgets), and my “evening or travel” machine. I didn’t code, or design, on the evening machine if I could possibly help it – and since I work from home, the big desktop was always within reach.

I’ve been using the new MacBook for the better part of a month and haven’t had much time to write a review just yet, but it’s coming. Matt’s post pretty much reflects my experience with the new laptop. It’s great and the new keyboard and trackpad are fantastic. The keyboard worked for me almost instantly. I had gone into it with the idea I wasn’t going to like it. Marco Arment’s post about the MacBook came out while my MacBook was on order so I had some doubts.

I have a different use-case with the MacBook. I am a developer, unlike Matt. I use Xcode and Sublime Text for Ruby development. I have no problems using the little MacBook for the projects I build. I use both Xcode 6 and 7. I don’t baby the laptop, often have PostgreSQL running alongside an instance or two of Sublime Text and an Xcode IDE up and running. Works great.

No, it’s not as fast as my main machine, an iMac 5K, but I didn’t expect it to be either.

 

 

CODE Keyboard – The Best Mac Keyboard

I have an addiction to keyboards.  It’s more like an addiction to the pursuit of my ultimate keyboard. I’ve tried many including:

  • Apple Keyboard, wired and wireless
  • Microsoft Ergonomic
  • Microsoft Ergonomic 4000
  • Matias Quiet Pro Keyboard for MAC

Each seemed to work well at first but after a short time their weaknesses surfaced. I was able to return the Matias but I have a pile of lackluster keyboards.

Enter The CODE Keyboard

I used to love the original IBM PC keyboard. You know the one, it was loud and had a very responsive feel. I knew when I was pressing a key, no doubt about it. The feedback is fantastic from the IBM keyboard but those are a thing of the past.

Apple once made a keyboard very similar the one from IBM, but those are also a thing of the past. I understand you can still find them from time-to-time on eBay.

I remembered a post by Jeff Atwood where he talked about his dissatisfaction with keyboards, the solution…create his own. I never thought of creating my own but since Jeff is a developer, then maybe his wants were similar to mine. The result is The Code Keyboard.

The Hardware

code keyboard

The keyboard is actually manufactured by WASD Keyboards, a company known for great keyboards with very flexible configurations.

This keyboard is HEAVY. It feels like the IBM PC keyboards of old. A solid, beefy and well-built keyboard. The CODE website says it weighs 2.42 pounds, but I don’t know which version it refers to.

The keyboard is offered in 87 and 101-key options. I chose the 87-key version because it uses less space and I don’t need a numerical keypad. The key options is what really drew me to this keyboard. Cherry keys switches are used offered in green, clear and brown. I’m using clear and picked these due to sound; of the three the clear switches have the last “click” sound but still offer the tactile feel.  Even though I have the clear switches, they aren’t silent:

Ultra-rare Cherry MX Clear mechanical key switches are the heart of the CODE keyboard. These switches are unique in the Cherry line because they combine solid actuation force with quiet, non-click activation, and a nice tactile bump on every keystroke. These hard to find switches deliver a superior typing experience over cheap rubber dome keyboards – without deafening your neighbors in the process.

The keyboard is backlit, which is really nice. It’s not a feature I required but after having it, I love it. It’s useful when I have the lights off in my office and I’m working.

Configurable

There are a set of DIP switches on the underside, used to control various functions; such as turning backlighting on and off, keyboard layout (QWERTY, Dvorak or Colemak) and Mac support.

Keytool

Mac support was critical for me when searching out a new keyboard. I hate having Mac support as a second-class citizen. I want the command key where it belongs, next to the space bar. This is easy with the CODE, just a DIP switch change. The only problem, now the Alt key is in the wrong spot. Thankfully WASD has take care of this for us, they include a keycap puller in the box that allowed me to easily swap the keys I needed.  Really nice touch.

WASD also offers replacement key sets in various colors and custom key sets such as the Mac command key and others. I found them to be a bit pricey so I just stuck with what came stock.

Usage

I’ve been using this keyboard for going on 3 months and could not be happier. I use this keyboard for writing software as well as my daily writing, emails and Twitter. It’s not ergonomic and I wondered if it mattered. So far, it has not mattered at all.

The key presses are smooth, no binding, just nice press with tactile response and a clean release. This is how a keyboard should be…no mushy keys. For the same reasons I use an Aeron chair, spending money on a good keyboard is as important as any piece of furniture.

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A nice touch is the media keys on the far right of the keyboard. These keys allow me to pause and play podcasts in Instacast and control the volume. A really nice touch with great positioning.

All the media keys are clustered together for easy reach, not spread out along the top of other keyboards.

I’m hoping this keyboard lasts a really long time because I love using it everyday.

Recommended?

You bet! This is a great keyboard. Considering the keyboards companies dare ship with their computers today it’s not really hard to make something better.  The CODE is great, not just better.

The price is probably what will keep people from buying it. At $171 delivered to my door it’s not exactly inexpensive but either are the other tools I use. A craftsman who has the best tools isn’t necessarily a better craftsman but at least he can’t blame his tools.

If you’re in the market for a really well-built, durable Mac-compatible keyboard then you should at least consider this keyboard.

8 More Great Bootstrapping Podcasts to Jumpstart Your Day

bootstrapping podcasts

I listen to a lot of bootstrapping podcasts throughout the year, trying new ones and retiring those that stop producing new episodes or I lose interest. I wrote up a list a while ago about bootstrapping, 7 Great Bootstrapping Podcasts to Jumpstart Your Business Today, and thought it was time for an update.

8 Great Bootstrapping Podcasts

I’m not including any bootstrapping podcasts from my previous list, only ones I’ve discovered and listen to on a regular basis today. The old list still includes some favorites so you should check that list out too.

This list is not me pulling together a quick list but is curated since the last list. I have probably reduced 50 podcasts down to this final 8.  I hope you find some new gems here.

ConversionAid

ConversionAid podcast has turned out to be one of my favorites. Hosted by Omer Khan, who is an ex-Microsoftie and runs ConversionAid to help companies “create software that sells”.

Omer interviews entrepreneurs who have taken an idea and oftentimes a unique approach to finding paying customers. The format gives listeners answers to the questions we all have trying to start and run a software or service business. Each episode seems to introduce a business and founder I never knew existed. Discovering new businesses, business models and their leaders gives new perspective to how I think about my business.

Every episode has been great and makes me look forward to the next.

Website: conversionaid.com/podcast

TropicalMBA

TropicalMBA is:

a popular podcast and blog dedicated to the growing movement of location independent entrepreneurs worldwide.

I’ve been listening to this podcast for a while and always learn something new and valuable. Each episode is focused, addressing a particular question or topic. Some episodes resonate more than others. Recent gems include:

I advise you visit the website for each episode you listen to. If you just listen in iTunes or other podcast application you’re missing out. The show notes are as valuable, if not more, than the audio itself. You’ll find tons of shows notes, links that reference other episodes with similar content and not to mention the great comments from listeners.

Website: tropicalmba.com

Bootstrapped Web

Hosted by fellow CT resident Brian Casel and left-coaster Jordan Gal, Bootstrapped Web is a podcast that chronicles the journey Brian and Jordan take bootstrapping their own businesses.

Episodes discuss aspects of their businesses, updates and business lessons learned along the way as well as interviews with fellow entrepreneurs that compliment their own journey. I appreciate the candidness in each episode. It is so easy and natural to discuss all the wins we make each day but I think more important to reflect on the failures too so that we learn from them. Their guidance is solid and battle tested..great podcast.

Website: bootstrappedweb.com

Chasing Product

Hosted by Chris Hawkins, Chasing Product is an interview style podcast with people who have taken the leap to create software products. Chris reflects on his own pursuit of a product and the challenges he faces with a seemingly simple, yet elusive task. So many software developers are in jobs they don’t like and have that idea in their head they would like to create and live off of for years to come.

These interviews profile many that have done just that; left their job and are living the dream. OK, maybe the dream isn’t exactly as they had envisioned but it is independence just the same. Great stories and Chris has a great radio voice. Enjoy!

Website: chasingproduct.com

Rocketship.fm

These are generally short interviews, 30 min or less, with entrepreneurs from the companies you have probably heard of before. The questions are laser-focused and give listeners actionable items to try in their own businesses.

Each episode is has a single theme or takeaway but inevitably, you learn much more. These folks are entrepreneurs themselves and produce a lot of episodes, more than I can listen to..not sure how they do it. The win for me is the variety.

Website: rocketship.fm

Art of Value

A tough concept to grasp for so many is providing products and services to our clients in terms of value. Value is the language of business owners. As a software developer, I am learning this lesson. It’s easy to create things we think are worth building but no matter what we build, it has to have value to our customers or they won’t buy.

Art of Value is all about creating those happy customers and earning more money. Episodes are interview format and talk with people from all types of businesses but focus on one theme..value.

Transitioning from hourly to value pricing is my #1 focus in my own business today. Showing customers the value I can deliver vs. the commodity hourly resource my company has been over the years. This podcast has been key in my thinking about the why and how to make that move.

Website: artofvalue.com

Marketing Optimization

Marketing is hard. Marketing is especially hard for developers and Marketing Optimization really helps distill down the concepts. Topics are broad but include everything from SEO to UX design to conversion optimization and beyond.  Each episode is pretty deep, so at least for me it takes some focused listening.

Another nice touch is that each episode has a video so you can watch the interviews.

Website: marketingoptimization.tv

Rogue Startups

This is a new podcast with episodes starting the first of the year. Newer episodes have two hosts and they interview entrepreneurs who have specific skills (productized consulting for example) or they discuss topics important to running your business. Episodes are roughly and hour and packed with good content and happy dialog:

Never before in history has it been easier for talented individuals to escape the confines of the rat race society and go down their own path.  Our hope is to inspire and educate you on how successful startup entrepreneurs have done that.  This is no pie in the sky podcast with esoteric BS about business, Make Money Online schemes, and any other “flash in the pan” type business.  This is for people just like you and me who know there must be a better way, and want to find it.

Website: roguestartups.com

Hack the Entrepreneur

I’ve only been listening to Hack the Entrepreneur for the past couple months but look forward to all new episodes. The format for this one is interview style but takes unique approach:

Hack The Entrepreneur  is a show which reveals the fears, habits, and inner-battles behind big name entrepreneurs and those on the path to success. Hack The Entrepreneur is released three times per week on Monday,Tuesday, and Thursday mornings.

On Hack the Entrepreneur we know that everyone is unique and has to find their own path to success, but after speaking to entrepreneurs every day as part of my own successful business I became obsessed with the idea of finding the ‘replicable’ things behind leading names and people on their way up to try to find patterns.

The insight you gleam from each of these interviews is really priceless. It’s nice to learn about the angle we don’t normally hear about.

Website: hacktheentrepreneur.com


These are the bootstrapping podcasts I’ve found and stuck with since the last list. I try new ones all the time and forget about the ones that don’t resonate and add value to my own pursuits.

Suggestions are always welcome, please add those to the comments so I can give a listen. Thank you.

Website Filtering Using OpenDNS

I happen to have a 15 year old at home who insists on using websites and chat services that distract her from more important academic activities. The ability to apply some website filtering is a topic I’ve learned a bit about over the past few weeks.

I can testify first-hand that the Internet can be a giant waster of time. Services such as ooVoo, SnapChat, Instagram and others can be fun to use and share with friends but can interfere with academic pursuits. We also found an increasing number of websites not family friendly.

Having a conversation with a friend who was facing the very same issues, he suggested OpenDNS. Surprisingly, I had heard of them. I decided to take a look at their free service level.

Setup was really simple. The first step is to switch from using Google DNS to OpenDNS name servers. A quick router change and we were switched over.

OpenDNS has quite a few settings to restrict sites but nothing is turned on by default, so after switching name servers you really won’t be able to tell the difference.  Name lookups seemed to be faster but that’s hard to measure.

Visiting all the settings pages isn’t really necessary but good to see what’s available.

Security Settings

Website Filtering - Security Settings

The security settings are flexible with nice defaults. These are the defaults and I haven’t really seen a need to change these.

Dynamic IP Update

Use a cable provider and have a dynamic IP address? No problem. Simply enabling Dynamic IP Update in Settings allows update of your dynamic IP address with the DNS update client. The client runs on your Mac or Windows PC and sits up in the toolbar just waiting for your Internet provider’s DHCP address to change.

I love when I can just set it and forget it.

Default Settings for Website Filtering

Website Filtering - Custom Security Settings

It’s easy to set a variety of different levels of security. You can view and customize any level. I wanted control over the categories being filtered so I chose the custom level. It’s just as easy to pick one of the three levels (High, Moderate, Low) and just customize their defaults.

Filtering this way takes a big swing at generally offensive website categories. Since each category is a curated list of websites, this may result in some sites being blocked you don’t wish to be blocked and some not blocked that should be. There is an easy way to take care of this “Manage Individual Domains”.

Manage Individual Domains

Website Filtering - Manage Domains

The ability to add domains not on the groups of websites defined by OpenDNS is really nice. You have the ability to add a list of specific domains you want to make sure no one can visit.

You’d be surprised how many websites use doubleclick and googleleadservices. They get blocked and it feels pretty good to stop that bit of unwanted traffic.

Have a website being blocked but you need access? No problem, add to the list of sites you want to never block. Very flexible indeed.

Does it Work?

You bet it works and it works really well. Here is me trying to visit the oovo.com site:

Website Filtering - Blocked Domain

Stats

What good is a service without stats?

Website Filtering - Stats

I can see the total requests on the network, which domains are being blocked and how often, as well as see the domains which are not blocked and determine which are good candidates to add to the blocked list.

Website Filtering - Blocked List

Success

Implementing OpenDNS was really easy. Their onboarding experience was very straightforward.

Previously we had been using Google DNS and noticed slowness at times. Over the years I have felt less interested in using Google services, so moving to different DNS was a nice win.

Using OpenDNS seems to give us really fast name resolution but more importantly websites are being blocked that are not fit for young eyes. It also lets a data geek have good insight into all the domains we access daily and find more candidates to block.

Switched to DuckDuckGo

Duckduckgo

I finally made the switch to using DuckDuckGo for search, full-time, and I couldn’t be happier.

I tried switching from Google to DuckDuckGo then to Bing and back to Google within the last year. The search results didn’t seem to be a good as Google’s, but that has seemed to change.

I made the most recent switch over a month ago on my main development Mac, which I use most of the day, as well as my MacBook and iPad. Since I can’t switch search providers on the iPad running Chrome, I have to use Safari but it’s a small price to pay.

The problems I used to see with DuckDuckGo was missing search results. I would compare results to Google and the results that helped me most were coming from Google. DuckDuckGo often had irrelevant or the least relevant first. This is not the case today. I spot check the results with Google and DuckDuckGo is spot on or better. When I see poor results in DuckDuckGo, I see poor results for the same search in Google.

Both search engines are good but I feel morally better supporting DuckDuckGo.

 

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Product + Support – Hiten Shaw →

I discovered a new series of interviews with entrepreneurs called Product + Support. It’s created by Ian Landsman founder of UserScape.

The first one is up with Hiten Shah and it’s really good. The interviews talk about running a successful product business, which we can never get enough.

The line up of future interviews looks fantastic as well. I think this series is worth checking out.

Podcatch.com

Dave Winer is always working on something new, something creative and innovative. While running out of something good to listen to Dave cam e up with Podcatch.com, a curated list of podcasts from friends.

New shows from my friends’ favorite feeds. That’s what I need when I’m rushing to get out of the house and don’t have time to load up my phone with good shows. I’m getting a lot more value for my podcast-listening time. And so can you!

The list is if full of a variety of podcasts so there has to be something to catch your ear.

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I have already discovered a couple new podcasts to add to my Instacast client.

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Reading List →

Here is a great list of business book from Jonathan Stark. I’ve read many of these but found some I wasn’t aware of:

via Expensive Problem – Business Coaching for Dev Shops.

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ASP.NET 5 and More with Scott Hanselman →

Microsoft has gotten a bad wrap for many years, I’ve done a fair amount of it myself. I think today’s Microsoft has a very different public-facing gorilla than it used to be.

The MS Dev Show recently interviewed Scott Hanselman, where he was very open about Microsoft today and dealing with their detractors. Very good, very entertaining listen. It’s really good to hear from Scott who has always been committed to moving things forward at Microsoft.