Wednesday, January 28th 2015

Alfred Remote and Window Snap 

I’ve been so excited waiting for Alfred Remote as I knew it would be the most amazing way of using an additional screen (on iOS) to help throw windows around my desktop, for example on startup or when launching loads of apps (via Alfred for example).

Alfred Remote has just been released, and quick as a flash, I’ve updated the Window Snap workflow with two key improvements.

  1. A minor bug fix that prevented the workflow from working properly on Yosemite (see below if you are curious)
  2. An Alfred Remote page, built right in to the workflow.

Alfred Remote

The remote page being built in to the workflow makes it one of the easiest setups as a user of a plugin I’ve ever seen - hats off (pun intended) to the team behind Alfred, it is a beautifully done release and shows a wonderful level of detail and polish.

Yosemite and Apple Script bugs

Since it took me months to work this one out, despite it bugging me about five times a week, I thought I would document the solution to my pain.

In previous incarnations of OS X it used to be possible to write an apple script and have it self execute as a text file, like so:

tell application "System Events"
    ... etc
end tell

However, the problem with that is in Yosemite it triggers the dreaded -10810 bug because it can’t work out which application to ask the user to add to the Accesibility preferences, so it fails. The solution is to simply change the way of calling the script in the first place, from


to the more verbose but simpler

/usr/bin/osascript myscript.scpt

Friday, June 27th 2014

Technologist / Immigrant / Hacker

I love the fact that I got these two tweets in my timeline, one after the other, amazing juxtaposition:

Mr Srinivasan:

The technologist mentality is the immigrant mentality. Mobile, entrepreneurial, restless, a bit paranoid, striver, something from nothing.

Miss Stark:

“This is our world now… the world of the electron and the switch, the beauty of the baud.” —Hacker Manifesto, 1986

Thanks Saku.

Tuesday, June 17th 2014

Microsoft Azure Machine Learning 

This is interesting for a whole host of reasons.

Visualising Big Data
Microsoft have used every visual cliché possible, including a photo of actual grain silos.
For once Microsoft are talking about what the outcome of the product could be in terms that make sense to you, the customer (fraud reduction, demand forecasting etc).
Analysing the weather in terms of effects on business is rarely mentioned except by savvy analysts, yet it is mentioned here.
Human Analysis
The video and text make little mention of the fact that automated analysis, even of the machine learning variety, stills needs humans to interpret the data.
They haven’t made many claims about what the product does but they have deliberately used the wording what’s possible.

Sunday, June 15th 2014

Mac Window Management


Window management on the mac sucks.

I’ve released an Alfred workflow that helps me, you can try it too.


Michael Lopp (aka Rands) used to use Size-Up (source) and maybe still does. Rui Carmo prefers Moom (source). I’ve tried both of those and until about 2 years ago I was mainly using BetterSnapTool.

However all of these tools have a significant problem with their tiling approach — they stick too slavishly to the tiling window model. There are some windows that just hate being resized, Twitter (the official Mac client) and Messages are prime examples of this and they have just the kind of windows you want to move to the edge of the display to satisfy your OCD display organisation itch.

My Solution

Today I’m releasing my solution for moving windows to the edge of your display and shifting them to the next display. My finished workflow uses Alfred‘s power pack for hotkey management and is presented with a downloadable package with usage instructions on my bitbucket account.

I’ve released the source in the hope that you can re-purpose it and integrate it into your way of working, I know that not everybody else is quite the fan of Alfred that I am.

Tuesday, June 10th 2014

WWDC 2014 opinions polarised

I was somewhat distracted this year during WWDC as I was swamped in a code release push, so while I followed some of the live-blogging, I missed the live feed of the event from Cupertino.

Since then however I have been reading up on the opinions that have formed as a result of it. My take: Cloudy. In every sense of the word. Apple have finally acknowledged with products that we live in a world connected by network services (the ‘cloud’) and as always Apple seem to be implementing cloud like stuff in their own special way. Will it work?

Difficult to see, the future, is.


So rather than give my uninformed opinion, here are two almost completely polarised opinions:

Saturday, May 17th 2014

The High-Res Society 

It’s kind of surprising that a trend that lasted so long would ever run out. How often does it happen that a rule works for thousands of years, then switches polarity?

via Saku who wrote “So hard to explain to parents/ friends etc. what startups are about. So I send them this.” (source

Monday, May 12th 2014

iPhone 5 Sleep/Wake Button Replacement Program 

Just as I was getting infuriated with not being able to lock my iPhone any more, Apple come up with a replacement program. Thank goodness for that.

Saturday, January 25th 2014

Denon AVR automation

I’ve been working on home automation in what little spare time I have and since various bits and pieces of it are forked from GPL code, I thought it was time to give back. Most of my publicly available code can be found on either Atlassian’s BitBucket or on GitHub.

In particular, this post is to draw attention to my fork of Mr Turner’s AVR control scripts. I’m sure there are a bunch of folks out there struggling with the crazy UTP API that Denon implemented, which can be quite flakey if you have a less-than-perfect network setup like I do (WiFi, in an old building with super thick walls and plenty of interference). HTTP is obviously much more robust, however it hasn’t been documented by Denon, at least not that I can find. If you have found some official info, I’d love to be pointed towards it.

What Mr Turner did was to reverse engineer the control calls that are used in the built-in web server in the Denon AVRs. What I have done is:

  • restructure the shell script he wrote (some for my own understanding, some for good practice),
  • drop the GTK GUI (so if you want that, go for his original) and
  • update some of the XML parsing for the AVR-X?000 series machines.

All the details are on the project homepage.

Tuesday, December 17th 2013

How to be way more productive 

I don’t generally have a problem with blood sugar levels, but I do love the reading speed hack. I hadn’t tried that before but it is remarkably effective.

Monday, October 21st 2013

Swan Dive

On 16th October @adamhorner wrote:

Standing on the cliff edge, staring longingly out at the sunrise on the horizon, glancing warily down at surf crashing over rocks below …

… Sunrise wins. Swan Dive.

Swan Dive

Photo by Prayitno on Flickr

After almost three and a half years of phenomenal growth in Europe I am moving on from Palantir.

It has been a pleasure and an honour to work with such awesome people, an experience that I won’t forget.

I’m off to found a new tech company in the finance sector. If you follow me on Twitter, or watch the European Tech Press you should see launch details forthcoming over the next few weeks, after which we will be racing for the chasm. More details to follow here until we get our infrastructure set up.

Exciting times ahead.

Friday, September 20th 2013

The iPhone 5s and 5c 

The iPhone 5S is, in some measures, computationally superior to the top-of-the-line MacBook Pro from just five years ago. In your […] pocket.

Great write-up by Mr Gruber of his first week with the new iPhone 5s (including a little preamble about the 5c).

Sunday, September 8th 2013

iPhone Edge

Mr Gruber’s thoughtful follow up piece on the Nintendo hardware/software discussion got me thinking (along with thousands of others no doubt) about the long term direction of our favourite gadgets: smart phones1

I’ll pull out just the two sentences that Mr Gruber himself emphasises in his piece:

People do not want to carry extra devices. It’s that simple.

Then when discussing the trend towards phones large enough to resemble a small tablet (so-called ‘phablets’):

Why carry a phone and a tablet when you can just carry one device that falls somewhere in-between?

The answer to that second question today is because you can’t yet do everything on your phone. Sometimes you need more screen real estate or more power (either computationally or in wattage) than a phone can currently provide. Perhaps then it isn’t surprising that the Ubuntu Edge struck a chord with so many techies — although it broke crowd-sourced funding records, it didn’t get funded well enough to see the light of day per its original concept.

So what would the ideal phone look like short of being a combination of Communicator, Tricorder and Lightsaber?

Well, if you take those concepts a few Moore’s law busting steps forward might you end up with something resembling a Mac Pro2 in the form factor of an iPhone that works conceptually similarly to the Ubuntu Convergence? If so, I can only imagine one company that has the deep pocket book, design ingenuity, creativity and end-user focus — not to mention existing patents and products — to be able to pull that off.

Unrealistic? Totally. On my wish list? Absolutely.

  1. No, I didn’t think much about Nintendo either, does that put me in the same bracket as Mitch Lasky’s six year old daughter? 

  2. If you squint from a distance, I guess the new tubular Mac Pro might look a little like an incredibly over-sized two handed lightsaber for giants 

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