Author Archives: Bryan Villarin

About Bryan Villarin

Bryan is a Happiness Engineer at Automattic. He's also a photographer and card magician. He loves reading — especially with Instapaper — and watching Seinfeld reruns.

Ramming speed

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Our tabby cat, Monica, was trying to get into the bedroom through a door that was slightly open. (Thick carpet, so it’s difficult to move the door.)

She kept pushing her head through the door opening. Arms flailing. Pondering.

Finally, she shoved her way through like a battering ram.

It was like watching a butterfly break out of its cocoon.

The second time was less eventful. I would reference a clip from The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. In scenes where the, um, young protagonists (heroes) would morph into Power Rangers, the shot has them jumping from an invisible platform and onto the ground.

With enthusiasm.

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PayPal, I’d like to use my password manager

After news broke of the eBay security breach, I updated my account passwords for eBay and PayPal1.

With my trusty password manager, KeePassX, I cloned my current PayPal entry in preparation to generate a new password. To my horror, I saw the following password requirement pop–up:

Screenshot: PayPal change password screen

I’d like to use much more than 20 characters, and not be able to easily type my password. Kthxbai. :)


  1. PayPal is owned by eBay Inc. 

The gimp I am

My left foot has been hurting a lot the past few days, so I’m finally going to the doctor tomorrow.

I have no idea what causes the pulsating pain. Inflammation of tendons or ligaments? (I can barely put weight on it, and I can’t point my foot toward my knee like the other one.)

Another chance, Asus RT-N16 Wireless-N Gigabit Router

For a little over two years, I’ve been using an Apple Airport Express because my Asus RT-N16 needed to be replaced. After I got the replacement, I never opened the box — until today.

Charter Communications sent a contractor this morning to our new place in Temple City to setup our internet connection (which went smoothly, by the way). After they left, I removed the shrink wrap and installed DD-WRT on my Asus router without a hitch.

For now, I look forward to proper bandwidth monitoring at home, especially since we have a 250 GB/month threshold for Charter’s Internet Plus plan.

Hug from Alx

I can be tough on myself, so I appreciate an emotional boost like this:

Thank you, Alx. I’m glad I work with you. :)

Write a post on your TV

I can comfortably write in Simplenote, WordPress, or Day One apps on our TV. If I don’t want my laptop on my lap, or my iPhone in my hands, this is another option.

I starting writing instructions, but realized Apple has solid support documents. :)

  • About AirPlay Mirroring in OS X — AirPlay Mirroring lets you send what’s on your Mac screen to an HDTV wirelessly with Apple TV.
  • iOS: Use AirPlay Mirroring — You can use AirPlay Mirroring to mirror exactly what’s on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch to your HDTV via Apple TV.

Alfred snippet idea: Waiting For

I often need to wait to hear back from someone about an issue or question, but I didn’t have a system for tracking those instances.

Lazy.

So, I created a new Alfred clipboard snippet!

Alfred waiting for clipboard snippet

Dynamic placeholders are cool.

  • {date:full} looks like Thursday, April 24, 2014.
  • {time:long} looks like 10:18:20 PM PDT.
  • {clipboard} is used for the internal thread URL.

In practice, each entry takes less than one minute:

  1. Copy the URL to my clipboard.
  2. Press Command–Alt–C to display Alfred's clipboard viewer hotkey.
  3. Type my "Waiting For" snippet keyword: a8cwf.
  4. Fill out the "Who" and "What" lines.
  5. Review your Waiting For entries when needed.

I could remove the "Who" line, but the "What" line should be a super short sentence (or two).

Once the entry is no longer relevant, remove it.

Why not use a task manager?

I don't feel like putting these into Things. Those are tasks I need to do.

In contrast, I review my Waiting For entries periodically and ping people when appropriate.

I confess. I've scheduled a task to appear every other day to review my Waiting For entries. If those grow, perhaps I should consider adding more context in those threads.

I'm feeling good about this one. :)

Where I profess my love for Alfred

Alfred is one of my besties. Without needing to reach for my trackpad, I have so many cool activities available from my keyboard, and I’m pretty sure I haven’t dug into all of its features. Most of these are work related.

Alfred usage 2014-04-23

Forty custom searches helps speed my workflow. A few dozen snippets, such as:

  • pre–defined replies, some with dynamic placeholders to be substituted for a URL
  • my home address
  • email addresses
  • frequent usernames and URLs; the latter used when replying to site owners at work
  • email signatures (personal and work)
  • ASCII art

Handy calculator. Blazing fast file navigator (I rarely use Finder). A custom workflow that opens my work applications with a single keyword. Several other nifty workflows from talented, determined people. System commands, like Sleep, Shut Down, Empty Trash, or Quit All Applications.

Display large text across your screen so you can share with someone across the room — and everyone in between. (Command-L, or Command-Option-L to display a phone number rather than a calculation.)

Most importantly, instead of using Google to check spelling:

Why do you love Alfred? I’d love your suggestions — please leave a comment!