Smithsonian

We decided, sort of last minute, to take Beatrix up to see the Air and Space Museum in DC. She and I went to the Udvar-Hazy Center last year but this was her first time at the main museum.

She had a blast and saw all kinds of cool things and I, obviously, got lots of photos. Here are the ones I don't hate too much to share...


Update: Looking at that elephant photo I'm seeing so many things wrong with the composition... Should have rotated around to the left a couple of feet...

Movies I Have Seen

Marco Arment posted a list of popular movies he’s seen (and those he hasn’t seen) from the last fifteen years. For him it was a confession about how many he has not seen. I went through his list for myself partly out of curiosity and partly because it made for an easy blog post.

To generate the list Marco combined lists of the Academy’s Best Picture nominees and the Top 10 highest-grossing for each year.

I’m not sure whether this says anything really about my movie viewing. A lot of them I’ve seen because I have a kid. A fair number are on my list to see but I just haven’t gotten to them yet. And, of course, I haven’t noted whether any of the movies I saw were any good. Some of them were very good an some of them were downright awful.

Key: Bold means I’ve seen it, Italic means I haven’t seen it

2000:

Gladiator

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Traffic

What Women Want

Meet the Parents

Chocolat

Erin Brockovich

Mission: Impossible II

Cast Away

Dinosaur

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

The Perfect Storm

X-Men

What Lies Beneath

2001:

A Beautiful Mind

Monsters, Inc.

Ocean’s Eleven

Gosford Park

In the Bedroom

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Moulin Rouge

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Shrek

Pearl Harbor

The Mummy Returns

Jurassic Park III

Planet of the Apes

Hannibal

2002:

Spider-Man

Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones

Men in Black II

Die Another Day

Minority Report

Chicago

Gangs of New York

The Hours

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

The Pianist

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Signs

Ice Age

My Big Fat Greek Wedding

2003:

Finding Nemo

The Matrix Reloaded

The Matrix Revolutions

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Lost in Translation

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

Mystic River

Seabiscuit

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

Bruce Almighty

The Last Samurai

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

X2

Bad Boys II1

2004:

The Incredibles

Ocean’s Twelve

Million Dollar Baby

The Aviator

Finding Neverland

Ray

Sideways

Shrek 2

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Spider-Man 2

The Passion of the Christ

The Day After Tomorrow

Meet the Fockers

Troy

Shark Tale

2005:

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Crash

Brokeback Mountain

Capote

Good Night, and Good Luck

Munich

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

War of the Worlds

King Kong

Madagascar

Mr. and Mrs. Smith

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Batman Begins

Hitch

2006:

Little Miss Sunshine

Casino Royale

Cars

The Departed

Babel

Letters from Iwo Jima

The Queen

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

The Da Vinci Code

Ice Age: The Meltdown

Night at the Museum

X-Men: The Last Stand

Mission: Impossible III

Superman Returns

Happy Feet

2007:

No Country for Old Men

Juno

Ratatouille

I Am Legend

Atonement

Michael Clayton

There Will Be Blood

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Spider-Man 3

Shrek the Third

Transformers

The Simpsons Movie

National Treasure: Book of Secrets

300

2008:

The Dark Knight

Quantum of Solace

WALL-E

Slumdog Millionaire

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Frost/Nixon

Milk

The Reader

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Kung Fu Panda

Hancock

Mamma Mia!

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa

Iron Man

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

2009:

The Hurt Locker

Avatar

The Blind Side

District 9

An Education

Inglourious Basterds

Precious

A Serious Man

Up

Up in the Air

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

2012

The Twilight Saga: New Moon

Sherlock Holmes

Angels & Demons

The Hangover

2010:

The Social Network

Toy Story 3

The Kings’ Speech

127 Hours

Black Swan

The Fighter

Inception

The Kids Are All Right

True Grit

Winter’s Bone

Alice in Wonderland

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1

Shrek Forever After

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse

Iron Man 2

Tangled

Despicable Me

How to Train Your Dragon

2011:

The Artist

The Descendants

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

The Help

Hugo

Midnight in Paris

Moneyball

The Tree of Life

War Horse

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1

Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol

Kung Fu Panda 2

Fast Five

The Hangover Part II

The Smurfs

Cars 2

2012:

Skyfall

Argo

Amour

Beasts of the Southern WIld

Django Unchained

Les Misérables

Life of Pi

Lincoln

Silver Linings Playbook

Zero Dark Thirty

The Avengers

The Dark Knight Rises

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Ice Age: Continental Drift

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2

The Amazing Spider-Man

Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted

The Hunger Games

Men in Black 3

2013:

Monsters University

12 Years a Slave

American Hustle

Captain Phillips

Dallas Buyers Club

Gravity

Her

Nebraska

Philomena

The Wolf of Wall Street

Frozen

Iron Man 3

Despicable Me 2

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Fast & Furious 6

Man of Steel

Thor: The Dark World

2014:

Birdman

American Sniper

Boyhood

The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Imitation Game

Selma

The Theory of Everything

Whiplash

Transformers: Age of Extinction

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Guardians of the Galaxy

Maleficent

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1

X-Men: Days of Future Past

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Interstellar


Notes:

  1. All I can hear is Nick Frost saying, “You ain’t seen Bad Boys II?!”

Mac Apps Addendum

When I wrote my last piece about applications on the Mac I left out a couple of things.

Screen Sharing

This is a really useful app if you have more than one Mac on your network (at home I have my MacBook Pro and my ‘old’ Mac Mini, at my parents’ I can have the MacBook Pro and their ancient iMac). It lets you share the screen, and take control of, another Mac. And you can make the shared screen full screen so you can just do a three-finger swipe to go between Macs.

On the Mac you want to control you need to have screen sharing enabled in System Preferences > Sharing:

Then to connect you go to the Shared section in your finder, click on the Mac you want to control to bring it up, and click on “Share Screen…”. If you’ve got everything set up right a window that is the desktop of that Mac will show up. Then you can go to View > Enter Full Screen to make that shared desktop it’s own space so you can swipe between that and your actual desktop.

It is much easier to connect like than than to try to find the app and go from there. For one thing the Screen sharing app is hidden. It’s not in Utilities:

The other issue is that connecting through the app is really finicky and hard to set up. If you do the Screen Sharing through the Finder it does all of the configuring for you.

Why Carbon Copy Cloner

No one has asked but I thought it might be good to explain why I’m using Carbon Copy Cloner rather than the cloning app I had used for so long, Super Duper. I had been using Super Duper and it works fine. But as soon as you start backing up more and more things it becomes cumbersome and difficult to schedule things.

The main issue with Super Duper is that it can only run one copy task at a time. So if you want to back up your Mac Mini and an external drive to a network attached storage device and to a second big external drive, for example, that’s four separate copy jobs that Super Duper can only run consecutively. When cloning a 1TB Mac mini the first time can take 24-36 hours you’re talking about almost a week just to get the initial clones done. How much on those drives has changed in that time? And what if Super Duper or the Mac crashes? Then you have to start over again. With concurrent copy jobs in Carbon Copy Cloner I had the initial clones my complex of five different jobs done in less than 24 hours.

Then there’s ease-of-use. Super Duper has little in the way of graphic user interface. It’s little more than a skin on the functional code. And scheduling copy jobs is hard in that each job can only be scheduled at most once every 24 hours. If you want to keep a drive backed up more often than that you’ll have to create separate jobs and schedule each for a particular time of day. In Carbon Copy Cloner You can easily schedule a job as often as every hour. And, especially in the latest update (version 4) the interface is easy to navigate and much more intuitive than Super Duper.

If you just need a simple, functional drive cloning app, and are fairly comfortable with minimal user interface, then Super Duper can work fine for you. It’s $28 to unlock scheduling and smart updating. Carbon Copy Cloner, which in my opinion is an easier-to-use and more flexible app, is only a little more at, $40.

SuperDuper!

Carbon Copy Cloner

Mac Apps

As it has been quite a while since I've written about my must-have Macintosh apps (or anything at all, really) I am using the occasion of having purchased a new MacBook Pro (which I shall write about in depth very soon) to update my list of essential apps for the Macintosh personal computer.

I’ve divided them up into categories. Other than that they’re listed in no particular order. I’ll also include a link to where you can get each app.

Utilities

Backblaze - Backblaze is easy online backup for your computer. It works on Mac or PC and for a few reasons it is my preferred offsite backup. Why do I need offsite/online backup? Well, if the house burns down with my computer and backup drives inside then I know everything is saved on a server somewhere. Backblaze is $5/month – less if you pay by the year or more – but you can try it for free and even get a free month (and give me a free month, too!) if you use my referral link when you sign up… https://secure.backblaze.com/r/01q1u4. Backblaze lives in your System Preferences and just works behind the scenes.

Alfred - Alfred is probably the app I actively use more than any other. It’s an on-demand menu bar that lets you launch any app or do quick internet searches or control iTunes or a thousand other things. The Spotlight bar in Yosemite does a fair amount of that now, too, but I’m used to Alfred and I think it looks much nicer. Plus, Alfred has an available Powerpak that lets you do even more amazing stuff like customizable workflows and syncing between Macs. It’s super useful. Alfred itself is free and the Powerpak is £17 (whatever that currently is in US dollars). There is also an iOS app that lets you remotely run Alfred tasks and workflows.

Dropbox - My wife and I would be totally lost without Dropbox. If you haven’t experienced the miracle that is Dropbox here is a quick summary. You install it on your computer (Mac or PC) and it creates a folder called Dropbox on your machine. Everything you put in that folder is synced automagically to the cloud and, in turn, to any other Dropbox folder on any other machine logged into the same Dropbox account. My wife used to carry (and risk losing) a thumb drive around with her with all of her work files on it (currently more than 5GB of stuff). That’s asking for trouble. Not only can it get lost, but what if you forget to back it up? What if something confidential is on there like your taxes? With Dropbox she can forget about carrying the drive because everything just magically syncs to all of our computers. You can also use Dropbox folder syncing between different accounts if you share a folder. That is how Mr. Fish and I transfer podcast files to each other. Dropbox is free to use and you get 2GB to use but there are lots of ways to increase your storage for free – referring other new users, connecting your iOS devices with Camera Upload, etc – which has gotten us up to 5.8GB total. You can pay $9.99/month to upgrade to Pro which will give you 1TB of storage but don’t do that unless you really need to.

Carbon Copy Cloner - This is another app I use for backing up my system. In this case it is for local backups. I use CCC to clone my entire Mac Mini to a network attached storage unit (using this one if you’re interested). I also clone a USB drive that has my entire photo library and some other big video files to the NAS. They recently updated CCC to make it even easier to use. It is $39.99 but you can try it for 30 days for free. I could probably get by with just using Time Machine for backups but I really like redundancy in backups.

Hazel - Hazel is one of those apps that you don’t realize how much you need it until you get it and use it for a while. They call it “Automated Organization for your Mac” and that’s a good, if not very exicting description. Essentially, in Hazel you can set up rules for files and folders to get things automated. Want to clean up your Downloads folder regularly? Set up a rule in Hazel and she does it for you. One of the biggest uses I have is to monitor the Camera Uploads folder in Dropbox. As I mentioned above, you can link your iOS device to Dropbox to get more storage, that means letting the Dropbox app on your phone import every photo you take into the Camera Uploads folder. Well, that’s going to fill up your dropbox pretty quick. So I have Hazel monitor that folder and when a new image shows up it imports it into iPhoto (for backup sake) and then put it in the trash. And I have Hazel monitor the trash, too. Any file that’s been in there for more than three days get’s deleted. Hazel is like Alfred in that there are a lot of really amazing things it can do but you’re going to have to play around with it and figure out how it works for you.

Bartender - Bartender saves me from having a menu bar with apps extending all the way to the left side of the screen. For $15 (you can try it for free for a month) my menu bar goes from this:

To this:

CleanMyMac - I use CleanMyMac to clean my Mac. It works well and looks nice and I haven’t seen anything better so I use it. It scans your system for stuff it doesn’t need like extra language files or old caches or even big files that haven’t been used in a while and then lets you decide if you want to go ahead and delete them. It also monitors the trash and if you move an app you don’t need anymore to the trash CleanMyMac will ask if you want to delete any associated files also (Yes, yes you do.). It is free to try and $39.95 to purchase. They have a CleanMyPC for the same price.

Audio and Video

Lightroom - Lightroom is my photo editor of choice. It’s not cheap, especially when you have a free option like iPhoto or the upcoming Photos app from Apple, but it is made for professional photographers. Lightroom lets you do just about anything you can possibly do to photo files. Don’t buy it directly from Adobe, though. They’re going to try to rope you into a Creative Cloud subscription that will run you $10/month… forever. If you buy it from Amazon it will run you less than $150 and you’ll be able to download the standalone version right away.

Exposure - Exposure from Alien Skin runs either as a companion to Lightroom or as a standalone app. Basically it lets you emulate films and other photographic processes in your digital photographs. It’s not an essential app for most people but it does work really well and I love the results I get with it. It normally runs $149 but if you follow the more popular Lightroom and photography sites you can sometimes find really good deals on Exposure. I paid less than $100 for my copy.

Pixelmator - I would call Pixelmatr the poor man’s Photoshop but it’s way more capable than that implies. At only $30 it’s super convenient if you’re like me and only need a Photoshop-type app every once in a while for small jobs. For example, I made every one of our Podcast logos in Pixelmator.

Audio Hijack - Audio Hijack is one of those great utilities that does one thing so well that you end up finding a million ways to use it. Brandon and I use it to record ourselves for the podcast but you can also use it to record any audio that comes into your Mac. I’ve pulled songs off YouTube (shh, don’t tell anyone) and grabbed audio clips from movies to use in the podcast. I’ve even used it to set recording levels on the mixer I got for the podcast. If you do anything with audio you should probably have Audio Hijack on your Mac.

Logic Pro X - Ok, you almost definitely do not need Logic Pro X for making a podcast. You can do most of what you need to do in Garageband. But, having used Garageband, and now Logic, I can say that it is definitely worth the $199 to upgrade to Logic. It gives so much more control over every aspect of recording, editing, and encoding a podcast audio file. Sure, it’s expensive and there is a fairly steep learning curve but Logic is a great program and it makes my life easier.

Fission - Fission is by the same folks who make Audio Hijack and it is also a very useful app. I use it to trim and fade in/out audio clips I record in Audio Hijack. It also has a batch converter function that I use to convert audio files between formats.

Handbrake - Handbrake is billed as a converter for video but if we’re being completely honest most people only use it for one thing: ripping movies from DVD to a computer. It works great for that. There are a ton of different finicky settings and parameters in Handbrake but the built-in presets usually work well. And the best part of Handbrake is that it’s free.

MetaMovie - Once I have a movie ripped from a DVD and on my computer I use MetaMovie to add cover artwork and all of the metadata to the file. With MetaMovie you can search internet databases quickly for artwork, metadata, and chapter info then have all of that encoded in the file. After that you can import into iTunes and the data and artwork will show up anywhere you view the file: iOS devices, Apple TV, etc.

Communication

Skype - I’ll be honest, I don’t like Skype. But it’s free and it works. Brandon and I use it to talk to each other during our podcast recording sessions. I also sometimes use it to talk to family when we or they are away on vacation, especially when wifi is cheaper than roaming.

Twitterrific - Twitterrific on the Mac isn’t great. It’s in need of some serious updating but Twitterrific on iOS is my preferred client and Icon Factory are working on a new Mac version.

Reeder - My favorite RSS reader on the Mac (I use Unread on iOS). It works great.

Chrome - For those times when Safari isn’t supported. Or if you just need to open a page in a second browser.

Ulysses - Ulysses is my preferred writing environment on the Mac. I’m writing these very words in Ulysses. And it has iCloud integration and a great iPad app as well. It’s very customizable without being too technical (such as BBEdit).

Other Useful Apps

Droplr - Droplr is my url shortener of choice. If you follow me on twitter you have seen me share links and images and gifs with Droplr.

SystemPal - System pal monitors your Mac’s system. I use it for the CPU temp monitor that I keep in the menu bar.

Fantastical - I use Fantastical to manage events on all of my devices, Mac and iOS. My wife and I currently have eight different calendars in iCloud and Fantastical makes it super easy. It was one one of the first calendar apps to have natural language processing for inputing events and that really reduces friction in entry.

1Password - 1Password is the best way to organize any information you want safe and secure. I put passwords, credit cards, identification info, secure notes, etc., in there. You just remember the one master password and everything is accessible. 1P is available for Mac, iOS, Windows, and Android so you have no excuse not to secure your info. Seriously. Do it.

TextExpander - This is a very useful little app that lets you have custom text snippets triggered but custom text strings. For instance, when I type “addy” on my Mac it automagically expands to my email address. I also use it for html markup and fixing my common typos. They have an iOS version, too, but I usually just use the keyboard shortcuts in the settings menu for that.

Deliveries - Deliveries is my package tracker of choice on Mac and iOS. It works great and syncs between devices.

Wunderlist - My wife and I use Wanderlist to organize our projects and to-dos. It works great for us because it syncs and we can share lists (or choose not to share lists). And having Mac and iOS apps makes it easy to enter and keep track of tasks.

PDFpen - I use PDFpen for signing digital documents and for joining scanned bills into a single pdf for archiving each month. It works great for both although it does a lot more that I don’t really use it for.

Soulver - The best way I can describe Soulver is a cross between a spreadsheet and a scratchpad. It’s a great way to quick math and it’s another one of those programs that you find a million uses for after you start using it.

Apple Apps

These are the Apple apps I use on a regular basis. They’re all free and likely already on your machine so I’m not going to link to them.

Mail - I know a lot of people hate Apple’s Mail app but it works fine for me. I don’t get all that much email, though, to be honest.

iPhoto - I use iPhoto purely because it lets me save all of my iPhone photos automagically through iCloud. I very rarely use it for any editing. It’s going to be replaced by the new Photos app this Spring which looks to be much more capable so I may use that more.

Safari - I use Safari as my primary browser. Firefox is kind of garbage now and as fast as Chrome is giving Google any information about my browsing gives me the creeps. Plus, if you use Safari on iOS it syncs bookmarks and tabs really easily.

Image Capture - Most people probably don’t know that Image Capture is even on their Mac. But it’s there, hiding in the Applications folder. If you need to import images or video from any device connected to your Mac but don’t necessarily want those files to go into iPhoto or iTunes use Image Capture to simply import the files and put them where you want them. Very handy when you’re on vacation and just need to batch import images to free up SD card space without having to edit in a full application.

Audio MIDI Setup - If you have any issues setting up audio input or output devices – very common if you’re doing a podcast – this is a great place to start fixing them. You can choose which devices are used for input and output as well as setting levels for those devices. It does what the System Preferences > Sound pane does but so much more.

Finally

There you have it. A ton of apps that I pretty much have to have installed on my Mac to make everything work the way I want.