Our house had a built-in workbench in the basement that looked original (about 50 years old), and as we begin the demolition downstairs for a reno, I am thinking of how I can repurpose these drawers from it. I’m really in need of a tool chest in the garage.

I had slowly accumulated six Raspberry Pis over the past couple years, each running their own home service (HomeAssistant, Pihole, etc). This proved to be annoying to manage all the hosts, so last month I opted to consolidate the apps onto my mac-mini in Docker. Things have been great since, but now I think I want to trade in my mini for a laptop, which I won’t be able to have always-on like I did the mini. So another migration: I’ve moved back to Raspberry Pi, but this time to just a single rpi4 board running Docker. I wish I did from the start instead of buying more Pis – everything is quick and incredibly easy to manage. 🐳

Four weeks ago, I spent a quarter of my weekend fixing a toilet, the wax ring wasn’t sealing right. Three weeks ago, our dishwasher broke and I needed to replace the freshwater hose and water valve solenoid thingamajig. Last weekend, I needed to replace the thermal coupler on our fireplace. This weekend our oven stopped working – and so far it’s nothing easy either like the thermal fuse.. It never ends. 🧰

Well my first 2022 goal is completed ✅. I’ve retired and sold off all my old hardware that didn’t have biometric authentication, got a new MacBook (2020 M1 Air) that has Touch ID, and grabbed a Touch ID keyboard for my M1 Mac Mini. I also spent a great deal of time planning and migrating my overly complex, multi device, and manually-synced KeePass + StrongBox + Google Authenticator setup to just simply using Apple Keychain Access. To my surprise, the simple/friendly UI for Keychain Access (System Preferences > Passwords) supports 2FA/Verification codes. I’m not sure when they slipped that feature in, but it’s wonderful.

I just setup an Alfred Workflow for some global hotkeys that bring Zoom.us into focus and toggles audio andor video (download here). The hotkey for un/mute (⌃⌥⌘␣) is easy enough, but I would love to just have a small custom macro keypad for Alfred, or rather, a big red button on my desktop sitting behind my keyboard for this workflow. Kind of like this, with a Raspberry Pi Pico and a button like this instead. I’ve already got all the parts – so if I ever find myself with a spare two hours, this is what I’m gonna do. 🎙

My menu bar is looking like it’s getting out of hand these days – but each one is pretty useful and works for me. I could hide most of them, or collapse them with a tool like Vanilla, but I have a hard rule with UI/UX and in life to keep things front-and-center, out in the open, on shelves, readily available. This rule helps with my productivity, and prevents things being tucked into drawers to be lost, hidden, andor forgotten.

From left to right:

Stop Listening to a Rock

I went to a craft fair once and there was a rock that had “turn me over” written on it, when I picked it up and turned it over, it read “haha, you just took instructions from a rock”. I thought that was pretty funny.

Phones are kinda the same, if you think about it. There’s a notification/ping, you pick it up, and then an app is telling you to open it, & you do. When boiled down, phones are basically just metal, sand, and oil, & we’re taking instructions from them. Not so funny now, & kinda a crappy thought.

Our phones feel like a magic portal between the things we care about and people we love, and that’s great, but shimmed in the middle of that are algorithms, marketing firms, ads, stake holders, etc, to ensure that bridge is as lucrative and as frequently used as possible (I won’t get into that any more, this movie explains it well enough).

I’ve long been an advocate of no notifications, for the aforementioned reasons and also to help focus on deep work. I believe any device should simply be a tool, used for an intentional purpose when you need it, not a device that interrupts you and attempts to bid for your actions, for gain, with suggestions and recommendations.

I believe notifications should induce a feeling of dread, not joy. Notifications, in my opinion, should be saved for critical or urgent matters only – everything else should be async, done at leisure. Perception of words is relative, so let’s define a bit: “critical” means of upmost importance, that it’s absence would be unacceptable – think notifications for your work meetings so you’re not constantly late & then at risk of loosing your job. “Urgent,” fields anything that could be a time sensitive emergency situation that you need to act on or else – think being able to receive calls from your partner if their car breaks down at the side of the road.

When setting up any new device, after I install all my dozen of apps I head to the notification settings panel, and turn off every single notification in a quick first pass. No thought here, no decision fatigue going through 30 of them – just everything off. Then I begin a second pass, and I start to think deeply about each app, “Could a notification from this be urgent or critical?” Nearly all are an easy “no”.

I typically end up with just Phone, Message, and Calendar notifications turned on. From there I can do more granular per-app refining to ensure spam calls aren’t getting through, and Calendar pings are only relevant to the important events. All and all it only takes a couple of minutes to do, and probably saves a ton of time in the long run.

Admittedly after implementing this the phone does start to seem a lot more boring when it stops being that source of notification endorphins, but I think that’s a good thing. I highly recommend not listening to rocks, for me, for the last couple of years it has made my life like 2% better, which is a pretty good thing.