Tag Archives: tips

Achieve Nerdtopia with Alfred for OS X: Paul Ciano’s five–part series

If you’re twitching for an Alfred–specific post (my last was in April), I suggest Paul Ciano’s five–part series, Achieve Nerdtopia with Alfred for OS X. Thanks for geeking out, man! :star:

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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.

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!

Write The Docs EU — Christine Burwinkle — Pairing with designers to create a seamless user experience

I’m at Write The Docs EU today in Budapest and will post semi–unpolished notes from sessions throughout the day after each talk finishes.

Christine is a tech writer from Atlassian, who is best known for Jira and Confluence.

  • Went from five to thirty designers in the last two years.
  • Goal: Help casual users, too!
  • Ten tech writers, 400 developers.

Techniques borrowed from designers are used for their writing.

Three main design principles (printed and framed, hanging on their office wall):

  1. Be familiar
  2. Grow with me (help users become power users)
  3. Give me clarity

Aside: Android UX principle is her personal favorite.

Audience/Personas — they printed them everywhere.

Designers took a year–long project:

  1. What role is a feature targeting.
  2. What is assumed skills/background
  3. How do

Leverage data from designers to help them craft better documentation.

Measure success by piggybacking:

  • Usability testing to determine if they need documentation, and publishing FAQs (if necessary).
  • Analytics results.

Diving into borrowing design techniques

Workshopping example: Empathy maps (to bring focus to the user)

  • Better understand their feelings “before and after” a situation
  • Work backwards from the “after” situation to create an ideal state, and empower users.

They’re huge fans of Post–Its:

  • Easy to move ideas around.
  • Excellent for separate collaboration and brainstorming.
  • Inexpensive, mobile, and fun!

Workshopping example: Sparring sessions

  • Critique session to bring group thinking into design and planning.
  • Confirms if goals are met with the prototype.

Sparring with TWs (technical writers)

Before the session, TW sends:

  • Draft to discuss
  • List of goals in the document

Superb sparring session tips

  • Timebox!
  • If your team is given to negativity, try positives–only for five minutes. Fantastic idea!
  • Make sure everyone is heard. Use a checklist, or give everyone one minute to list feedback.
  • Leave with at least three action items.

Workshopping example: 6–ups

  • Divide a sheet into six parts.
  • Focuses on ideal solutions.
  • Gets out of thinking in words. (Draw!)
  • Great method to build on ideas from colleagues.

Workshopping example: User stories

  • How does a user get to a feature? Is it controlled? From many different areas with different goals?
  • What does a user do before? What do they (usually) do next?
  • If they fall out of line in the process, documentation is needed for additional context.
  • Lo–Fi: Use colored stickers to “vote”, then build the document plan based on problem areas.
  • Australian slang: “Doco” is short for documentation. :)

Finding the right projects — look for:

  • A team that finds value in design and tech writing.
  • A designer who sees value in the docs
  • A new project that’s running lean and has some momentum.
  • Look for projects that are data–driven.

Explore and expand

  • Read design principles and techniques.
  • Follow UX blogs.
  • Write a documentation experience plan.

View an article with Instapaper Text only using the keyboard

As a happy, longtime Instapaper user, I need the Instapaper Text bookmarklet often when settling in for a lengthy read on my MacBook Air.

I’d like to share a tip that’ll save time of switching to your mouse or trackpad.

When the bookmarklet is saved to your browser, you can use it with the page you’re viewing by following these steps:

  1. Move your cursor to the address (a.k.a. location) bar by pressing Command + L.1
  2. Type the first few letters of the bookmarklet name (or the whole thing if you type quickly).
  3. Press Enter.

If you use folders in Instapaper2, you can take this a step further by saving the bookmarklet for those folders as well.


  1. Mac: Works with Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Safari
  2. Pro tip. If you send saved articles from Instapaper to your Kindle, don’t mix text articles with media so those particular entries aren’t wasting space in that periodical (Amazon’s term, not mine). I have video, audio, and photo folders as well. 

Caveat when upgrading from Google Authenticator 2.0.0 to 2.0.1 (iOS)

If you upgraded to Google Authenticator 2.0.0 (see my last post) and recreated all your account tokens, I’d like to warn you.

Your old account tokens will be restored. This means it’ll be difficult to determine which ones are current.

Solution: Rename your current accounts before upgrading from 2.0.0 to 2.0.1 with these steps:

  1. Tap the pencil icon located at the top right corner.
  2. Tap on the name of each field to edit.
  3. When you’re done, tap the check mark located at the top right corner.

Google Authenticator 2.0.1 - Edit Step 1 Google Authenticator 2.0.1 - Edit Step 2

After you upgrade, you can confirm the new tokens still work, then delete the old ones.

My thoughts on NMX BlogWorld 2013

Brett Kelly and Bryan Villarin

Almost one month has passed and I’d say it’s a good time to share my meager notes of my experience at NMX BlogWorld 2013 in Las Vegas.

  • If you aren’t able to help a visitor with their super–specific question(s), give at least one takeaway so they don’t leave empty–handed. For example, someone’s blog was focused on browsing sites securely, and an Incognito window with Google Chrome was new to them. That was nifty.
  • For the most part, most attendees are shy. If someone glances in your direction, and they’re a few feet from your booth, introduce yourself or say “hello”. You never know.
  • WiFi will not work consistently.
  • Keep your laptop and phone charged.
  • Save a few relevant Twitter searches for the event/conference.
  • Bring business cards. I didn’t, and I won’t make that mistake again.
  • Carry a couple pens and pocket notebook.
  • After seeing a panel of speakers, open your notebook and write for 5–10 minutes about anything that comes to mind. Do the same thing at the end of the day. (This is also useful for everyday life.)

I also met Brett Kelly for the first time ever in real life and we took a photo. He’s super cool. (He spoke at “Productivity Power Panel: Learn the Tools, Tactics, & Workflows of Highly Productive Bloggers”, and I’ll post my notes from that separately.)

Overall, I had a great time working at the WordPress Happiness Bar in the exhibitors’ area with several other fine Automatticians, and I look forward to more opportunities like this in the future.