About Productivity, Social Networks and everything else I'm interested in

Keyboard Maestro and the automation mindset


Keyboard Maestro always sounded like a useful app, but I wasn’t sure how I would ever use it. Now that I have it, I keep finding new ways to use it.

I think Keyboard Maestro is perhaps one of the more difficult apps to explain, because how I use it might vary greatly from how you use it, but once you get to know how it works and some of the things it can do, maybe you’ll see how you might use it.

Some simple use cases for Keyboard Maestro

At its simplest, Keyboard Maestro can do things like TextExpander where you type a few letters and have it expand to a much larger message, but that’s really a narrow view of what it does. In fact, I prefer to use TextExpander for those sorts of uses. I use Keyboard Maestro for more complicate situations.

For example, have you ever tried to add a bunch of iOS apps to an iTunes library, only to have iTunes warn you that some of the apps already exist? If you have, you know what follows. Each time iTunes finds a duplicate application, it will stop everything and ask if you want to replace the app until you press “OK” and then it will continue. Keyboard Maestro can wait until iTunes asks and then answer for you. I once left iTunes running like that and went to lunch, letting Keyboard Maestro do the menial work for me.

Keyboard Maestro can trigger events to happen when an app quits or when it launches. For example, when SuperDuper launches, Keyboard Maestro automatically unmounts my Time Machine backup (because I don’t want Time Machine to interfere with SuperDuper). When SuperDuper quits, Keyboard Maestro unmounts the SuperDuper clone (otherwise Spotlight tends to find apps and files on both drives) and remounts my Time Machine drive.

When I am using Microsoft Word and have an open document, Keyboard Maestro automatically saves the file for me every 3 minutes, so I never have to worry about losing work.

Mac OS X supports customizable keyboard shortcuts for menu items, but they have to include the Command key (⌘). With Keyboard Maestro, I can assign any keyboard combination I want, and if I accidentally use the same keyboard combination twice, Keyboard Maestro will pop up a menu and let me choose between the two of them.

Putting several steps together

As I mentioned, the key (no pun intended) to using Keyboard Maestro is to start getting into the mindset of thinking “Could I automate this?” whenever you find yourself doing something repeatedly.

For example, I access a database of journal articles that are available to download as PDFs. I recently discovered that if I email those articles to myself, the database will include all of the citation information necessary. But emailing them is a bit of a pain. Each time I find an article I have to click on the ’email’ button, which triggers some JavaScript which reveals a place where I can enter my email address. I have to type my email address, then I have to copy the title of the article into the Subject: line, then I have to check the box to say that I want the email to be “plain text plus the attachment”, then I have to hit the ‘Send’ button. Once it is sent, I have to click ‘Continue’ to dismiss the alert that tells me the email was sent, and then I have to go back to the previous page in my browser history.

All told there were twelve steps involved for each article, and some of those steps had multiple keystrokes involved, such as ‘type my email address.’ (Actually I was typing my Send To Dropbox email address, so the PDF and the email body with the citation would also get saved.)

With Keyboard Maestro, once I decide that I want to save an article, I simply press one keyboard combination, and it does all of the necessary steps. It even brings me back to the previous page so I can continue searching. Not only does Keyboard Maestro do these s steps approximately 100 times faster than I could, it never accidentally misspells my email address, or hits the ‘tab’ key three times instead of two times, or forgets to check the box that says ‘Yes, include the PDF in the email.’

The end result is that I have more time to spend doing what I want to do (looking for interesting articles) and don’t have to spend any time or mental energy on the boring, repetitive, easy-to-make-a-mistake parts.

Do you install a lot of applications?

As someone who tests a lot of software, I find myself running Installer.app a lot. Anyone who does this a lot knows that there are usually about 5-6 different screens that you have to go through from start to finish.

  1. Click install
  2. Click Continue
  3. Click Agree (to the EULA)
  4. Click Continue Installation
  5. Wait for it to finish
  6. Click Close

If you’ve done that often enough, you know that you can press ‘Enter’ and ‘Tab’ (or Shift + Tab) to get through those, but it’s a lot faster to have Keyboard Maestro do it for you. (You’ll still have to enter your password manually, so don’t worry about accidentally opening an installer and having something bad happen.)

Do you make backups?

I make backups of my calendar and contacts information every week. Well, at least I always intend to. But, well, if it relies on me remembering to do it, I probably won’t do it.

With Keyboard Maestro I can schedule this backup to happen automatically. So now, every Monday at 9:00 a.m. I get a Growl alert which says “Backing up Contacts” (which alerts me that it’s about to happen so I don’t accidentally interfere with it), then the Contacts app opens, and Keyboard Maestro selects File » Export » Contacts Archive… presses ‘Save’ when prompted, and then quits Contacts app.

Then the entire process repeats with BusyCal.

The whole process takes a few seconds, and all I have to do is wait.

(Speaking of automation, I won’t even mention that those backups are automatically saved to a particular folder using Default Folder X, and that once they are saved, Hazel automatically zips them and moves them to Dropbox. Oops. Well, maybe I’ll mention it just a little.)

Automation reduces annoyance

Computers are great, but sometimes we have to do things that are repetitive and boring. Computers should be doing those repetitive and boring things for us. Keyboard Maestro makes it easy to get your computer to do some of those annoying things for you. All you have to do is figure out the parts that can be automated, and then sit back and watch as your computer works for you. OK, so Keyboard Maestro isn’t exactly a robot butler, but it’s still a step in the right direction.

A demo is available from the Keyboard Maestro website, a full license is US$36. While that may seem like a lot to the “Apps should be $1! Or free!” crowd, those of us who value our time and satisfaction will see it as money well spent. Download the trial and spend some time with it. Don’t dismiss it because there’s a learning curve. Start small and figure out some little ways to use it, and then watch as you develop the automation mindset. Once you get used to thinking this way, you’ll wonder why it took you so long.

Keyboard Maestro and the automation mindset originally appeared on TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Mon, 01 Oct 2012 12:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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via TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog http://www.tuaw.com/2012/10/01/keyboard-maestro-and-the-automation-mindset/

How Big Companies Should Innovate


Mature corporations are designed to execute on the science of delivery — not engage in the art of discovery. They’re bad at innovation by design: All the pressures and processes that drive them toward a profitable, efficient operation tend to get in the way of developing the innovations that can actually transform the business.

This was the core thesis of the first article in this series. However, I also pointed out a paradox: being bad at innovation and good at execution isn’t necessarily undesirable. Once businesses refine their model as start-ups and move towards mature operations, we as shareholders want them to shift from exploration to efficiency. We want our leaders to push their businesses toward profit generation.

But giving up the pursuit of innovation seems less than satisfying, if not unrealistic. Executives will always look for ways to achieve meaningful growth and engage in strategic renewal. If the odds were 99:1 against breakthrough innovation inside the mature company, we’d still see leaders chasing after that golden ring.

So how do you empower your corporate innovators to bring their ideas to market? How do you avoid wasting millions, if not billions, on projects destined for failure? How do you leverage your unique position to create meaningful returns and capture potential growth?

The answers to these questions aren’t simple. If you’re willing to acknowledge the barriers in your way, there are a few tried and true levers you can pull to ensure your intrapreneurial endeavors are better positioned for success.

Create autonomy. This is one of the most important weapons in the arsenal of new businesses. If the antibodies already exist within your organization to destroy new endeavors, you need to go outside of the organization to overcome them. In his seminal work, The Innovator’s Dilemma, Clayton Christensen made the point that for disruptive innovations to be pursued effectively, they require autonomous business units. He was completely right. What’s more, his solution applies not just in the case of disruptive innovation, but also the business model innovations that we repeatedly fail to embrace. The constant need to drive towards operational efficiency can be avoided through the creation of new organizations.

If Gerber’s failed adult food business had been born outside of its existing organization, would the managers have distributed a product that looked like Gerber baby food? If they’d been able to pay the same amount for different packaging on the open market, what would the outcome have been? Would Gerber own today’s V8? Would they operate smoothie stores like Jamba Juice? Would they have growth rates similar to Innocent, Naked and Odwalla?

We can’t know for sure. But one thing is certain: faced at the onset with internal pressure to drive cost out of production, it was far less likely that Gerber could truly innovate. It could not build an adult food business within its existing structure.

Incentivize for long-term viability. Pursuing innovation inside a big company is a balancing act. The obvious assumption behind all corporate innovation is that companies have assets that can be unleashed to create value. However, in the process of unleashing this potential, leaders must make sure their innovators develop sustainability. Though giving away free support and access to infrastructure is vital in this process, doing too much of this can backfire. Leaders must manage internal transfer pricing to ensure the development of viable business models.

Imagine you want a group inside your company to figure out new ways to sell your excess widgets. To encourage this activity, you give a bunch of your excess widgets to a team and ask that they market them as something new and different. Your team comes up with a model that’s wildly successful; their excess widgets sell like hotcakes. Then, when your team goes to scale up their business, you realize that they hadn’t considered the cost of buying new widgets at market rates. After all, they’d been given all their widgets for free. The business then becomes unprofitable and goes belly up.

This might seem like a far-fetched example, but this type of failure happens more often than you’d think. Free access to salespeople, manufacturing capacity and marketing dollars all can inhibit the generation of sustainable business models. Transfer pricing inside a company is already a complex issue. But when it comes to innovation, it must be approached even more thoughtfully.

Test to learn. Over the past few years, Eric Rieslean start-up movement has gained meaningful traction in the entrepreneurial community. The lean start-up puts forth an ideology of systematically testing your business model against the assumptions you’re making. If you can move from uncertainty to certainty using the fewest dollars and in the shortest period of time, you’re destined for great things.

The foundation of this theory, and others like it, is the scientific method. Questions are asked: Can our new asset offer a solution for our customers? Can it be profitable? Intrapreneurs must then be encouraged to test early and test often. Little by little, they can turn a hypothesis about the market into proven results.

If evidence come back that invalidates the basic hypotheses of the project, teams can cut their losses before they’re too great. Simultaneously, as intrapreneurs test their ideas to gain supporting evidence for their products and services, they can justify requesting funds.

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino has been quite successful using lean operations in his efforts to innovate. A group inside his office, New Urban Mechanics, is charged with coming up with different technological solutions to city problems. Their major constraint, as described to me by one of its members, is capital. The New Urban Mechanics will only, initially, pursue opportunities that can be tackled with a small team and lean software development. By keeping the initial cost of exploration low, the office avoids stakeholder and voter scrutiny. The corporate antibodies, arguably stronger in government than anywhere else, that would normally attack innovation don’t even know change is on its way. And when change does come, it works and is affordable.

Use your brain. Alfred Sloan, the late CEO of General Motors, was known for his focus on maximizing return on investment (ROI). It contributed to his success in transforming GM, a distant second in the automotive market, to a giant within the American industry.

Despite the famed CEO’s respect for ROI, Sloan periodically invested in innovative efforts that couldn’t possibly be justified by the numbers alone. Sloan created a central R&D unit to develop platform technologies for GM, protected the decentralized operations of his brands, and invested heavily during World War II on the hypothesis that capacity needs would pick up. When strict adherence to ROI didn’t make sense, Sloan used the most valuable tool in his management portfolio — himself.

Creating guidelines to protect innovation can work; after all, the first three steps in this post suggest as much. But at the end of the day, intuition will always play a role in management. Vision can be invaluable in forecasting where profits will flow if the world changes. So when common sense and your Excel spreadsheets don’t line up, use your brain.

This is the second post in a three-part series. Read the first post here.

via HBR.org http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2012/10/how_big_companies_should_innovate.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+harvardbusiness+%28HBR.org%29

New Field Guide: 60 Mountain Lion Tips


​I’m pleased to announce the newest MacSparky Field Guide is for sale: 60 Mountain Lion Tips. This is the first Field Guide I have co-authored and who could possibly be better for this collaboration than Brett Terpstra?  Brett and I, along with Merlin Mann, gave a session at Macworld earlier this year talking about some of our favorite Mac tips. This book took the idea and ran with it. 

The book includes 60 tips carefully selected by Brett and Me. Chapters include Mountain Lion, Mail, Spotlight, Terminal, and Third Party Apps. Most of the tips have a screencast showing you exactly how Brett or I pull off these magic tricks on our Macs. There are 53 screencasts and over 1.5 hours of video. The book is over 650 MB.

Brett and I included a range of tips ranging from basic to advanced. Our goal is for anyone to pick this up and have a black belt in Mac-nerdery by the end. The book is $7 and you can get it in the iBookstore for your iPad or a PDF version if you are iPad-less or iBookstore-less. The iBookstore version was created in iBooks Author and includes all of the whiz-bang interactivity that comes with it. It was a lot of fun creating this book. I’m quite proud of it and I hope you dig it.

You can check out the book’s website at 60tips.com or buy it below.​

via MacSparky http://macsparky.com/2012/9/new-field-guide-60-mountain-lion-tips

The Knowledge Revolution Is Not About Big Data, It’s About Well-Connected Little Data – Forbes

The Knowledge Revolution Is Not About Big Data, It’s About Well-Connected Little Data – Forbes.

Big data: “deep” but not “wide”

Graph Databases: The New Way to Access Super Fast Social Data

Graph Databases: The New Way to Access Super Fast Social Data.


Graph Databases for (among others) Social Network Analysis.

Can you gamify content curation? This startup thinks so


Many video curation startups do away with the old-fashioned programming guide to help users find TV shows and online clips. Turkey-based Woisio, which launching its private beta Monday, takes a little bit of a different approach: it keeps the guide – but gets rid of the programmers. Woisio wants to instead use game mechanics and collaborative filtering to compile a new set of channels, and in turn get rid of the traditional middlemen. “Media shouldn’t be mediated,” said the company’s founder Mujdat Ayoguz when he stopped by our office a few weeks ago.

Here’s how Woisio works: The platform offers viewers a number of different channels, called stages, including comedy, style , music, politics and so on. Each of these channels is programmed to show clips at a certain time, but users can skip forward or go back and catch up on past programming. There are also local stages, so you can specifically watch clips in the New York politics or Los Angeles music channel. Videos can be up- and downvoted, much like stories on Reddit.

However, unlike on Reddit, votes don’t automatically equal exposure. Instead, they translate to a virtual currency, which the publisher of a video can then use to bid on future air time for other clips. The basic idea behind this: Publishers get rewarded for popular content, and programming becomes a bit of a marketplace. Think virtual stock exchange, but for content curation.

Woisio’s idea is intriguing, but the whole bidding process seems unnecessarily complicated.

The idea is kind of intriguing, especially since every user can also be a publisher. However, the whole bidding process adds an extra layer of complexity that could turn off publishers, and in turn make the whole platform much less appealing for end users.

The other problem of Woisio’s approach is that most of Woisio’s content consists of clips found on YouTube and elsewhere. Turning that kind of material into a synchronous, scheduled experience doesn’t make all that much sense, as Chill.com found out the hard way when it tried to enable real-time viewing experiences around catch-up videos from Hulu and elsewhere.

Still, Woisio may be onto something with its idea of turning curation into a game. Ayoguz told me that he eventually wants to roll out the service all over the world, and then have publishers and communities playfully compete against each other for the right to show clips on the world stage. That does sound intriguing – even if the site’s current setup doesn’t really seem ready to capture the world quite yet.

Woiso’s team of six is based in Turkey and Mountain View. The company has raised close to $1 million in seed funding, and is now looking for additional investments.

via Filter RSS feeds http://gigaom.com/video/woisio-closed-beta/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+OmMalik+%28GigaOM%3A+Tech%29