Hey Bartender

May 10, 2017

Bartender is an app to manage the Mac’s menu bar. The price is a hefty $15 and I’ve often thought who would waste $15 to rearrange and hide menu bar items.  Then one day I was working on my Mac and I did not see the Calendar Icon on the menu bar.  Did it crash?  Did it not start up the last time I booted the Mac?  When did I last boot my Mac?  Is my Mac infected?   A thousand and one questions bombarded my head.  Finally I figured out the problem.  After switching Applications a few times with the Alt-Tab keys I noticed sometimes I could see the Calendar Icon and sometimes I could not. The answer to the enigma – some Applications have many items on the horizontal menu bar and some have very few. 

Here’s an example of the menu bar without Bartender:


For a few weeks whenever I needed to access a hidden menu bar Icon I Alt-Tabed until the needed Icon appeared.

Finally, you guessed it, I broke down and bought, installed, and configured the Bartender Application.  Now, I don’t notice it much while working on the Mac which is probably the best selling point: I don’t have this aggravating and annoying menu bar issue all the time.

Here’s an example with Bartender:


Here’s an example with Bartender expanded:


While Bartender is definitely not for everyone I’d recommend Bartender if your menu bar Icons have encroached on your Application Menu and you use the menu bar Icons.

VLC for IOS to the Rescue

April 17, 2017

A couple of days ago I discovered “home movies” (DVDs I burned onto my Mac and loaded into iTunes) were no longer are accessible on my iPad. I also noticed the Video app is now the TV app on my iPad. This is not acceptable! In a few days we are embarking on a Road Trip with our 4 1/2 year old Grandson. We must have Thomas the Train, Go Diego, and other classics on the iPad or Grandson will not be happy and thus we won’t be happy.

After tiring of banging my head against the Apple Knows Best wall I gave up on the TV app and searched for alternatives.

Joy! I discovered VLC has an IOS app. I installed it and after resorting to reading the short introduction screen was able to download “home videos” to my heart’s content. The process is simple:

  • Start VLC
  • Enable Sharing via WiFi
  • Enter the URL displayed directly under Sharing via WiFi in your browser’s address window
  • Drag “home videos” to the browser window

VLC is now one of y must have apps on my IOS devices.

Thanks VLC


March 4, 2017

LiquidText is an innovative IOS application with a single purpose that is to review PDF documents. The user interface is unlike any other PDF reader I have used. The screen is split into two side by side panes. The left pane holds the PDF document and the right pane holds the Workspace.

LiquidText’s basic Use Case is to highlight text. Next the user can choose a highlight color, drag the highlighted text to the workspace, or insert a comment. With LiquidText you can move the highlights and comments around and/or group them as you desire.

Another really cool feature is the capability to pinch the document to view widely separated portions of the document.

LiquidText integrates with iCloud, Dropbox, Box, and One Drive.

You can export and share documents from LiquidText with or without the Workspace displayed. If desired you can also just export the Workspace.

I’m using Liquid Text on my iPad to read/review articles from the web. Using the Workflow app with one touch I create a PDF version of the web article and save it to Dropbox. Then, with LiquidText I review the article later at my leisure. I prefer this method to read later services because I can highlight and comment on sections I find interesting.

LiquidText has a paid version. It gives you the ability to combine multiple document reviews and adds more highlight colors. I have not seen the need to spring for the paid version. However, if I keep using the app as often as I do now I probably will just to support the developers.

Finally, I really wanted to include some visuals, but still trying to figure out how on the iPad. For now just go to the developer’s web site at: liquidText

The Three Body Problem

January 18, 2017


Shhhhh! The Universe is watching and It’s Dark Out There. That’s The Three Body Problem’s message; a book written by Cixin Liu.

For most Nerds The Three Body Problem is a classical Physics problem: Given masses, current position, and velocity of three bodies (a special case of the n-body problem) there is no way to analytically calculate the motion of these bodies.

The author takes this problem and crafts a spell-binding trilogy (The Three Body Problem is book one) starting with three Suns in erratic orbits causing chaos on the planet Trisolaris. Meanwhile a Chinese Scientist discovers a technique to broadcast RF throughout the Universe using the Sun as an amplifier, and of course Trisolarians receive the signal and respond or the story would be short and boring. They rejoice for they have found another inhabitable planet within 4 Light Years without the disastrous climate swings experienced by a planet in an erratic orbit around 3 Suns. What luck! Of course the Solarians set off to make the Earth their new home. However, since 4 Light Years is a long way off unless you can travel at the speed of light the Earthlings have several centuries to prepare for their coming. Well, the story marches on for seemingly eons of time with both adversaries gaining the advantage from time to time. And just to make the saga a little more interesting the Dark Universe weighs in from time to time.

When the tale has been told and all is said and done (Ecc.) the triology is about the fate of the Universe, not just Trisolaris and Eath.

The books provide the reader with many interesting hypotheses to ponder. For example, Einstein’s two Theories of Relativity declare the Speed of Light constant, but Time is not. Time slows down as gravity increases or relative velocity increases. That’s why clocks tick slower on GPS satellites and a theoretical Space Traveler would age less than their twin on the Earth. Does time slow down as the speed of light decreases? It does in Cixin Liu’s trilogy.

I wrote this review a couple of week’s ago and never did publish it — 70 year old memory? Yesterday I read an interview with President Obama in the NYT times. The subject of the interview was reading. In the article the President mentioned The Three Body Problem was one of his favorite books. How cool is that? Me and the President have something in common. Click Here to read the interview. Also, the review jogged my memory. Hey, I ought to publish my The Three Body Problemreview.

Remember, the Universe is watching and it’s Dark out there …

2016 the year that was

January 7, 2017

2016 was a good year for me. Turned 70. Traveled extensively, including New Zealand. Finally cruised Milford Sound, a dream for 30+ years! Hosted (the CCMGA) the Master Gardener State Conference. Learned how to use mixers, other A/V equipment, and produce videos operating the equipment for the Master Gardener Training Classes. Discovered iPhones don’t work well after a good cleaning by Maytag. Still waking up to “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” tune in my head; two year old Grandson is addicted to YouTube videos of the same.

Many people with the advent of a new year set goals, or generate New Year Resolutions or both. For myself a few weeks ago I read an interesting article this year advocating asking three questions insteads. Here goes my attempt.

Proud of this year

Exercised more than any year I can remember and did not suffer any exercise related injuries like I usually do. Most of the reason is I joined Orange Theory Fitness in June. Their program is an hour a day of intense interval training divided between threadmill, rowing machine, and weights with a diabolical trainer to guide you. Of course since I’m paying them for the privilege of sweating like a stuck pig I go almost everyday to get my money’s worth.

The CCMGA hosted the 2016 Texas Master Gardener State Conference. I helped develop the web site. Also pitched in an helped wherever I could at the Conference.

Lessons Learned

Don’t expect too much of other people, especially adults. Their Dance is unique shaped by everyone they’ve ever known usually very different than my Dance. In the end there is one Dance we’ll all have to do alone. Until then Dance on.

Rabbits eat pansies no matter what you treat them with. Just give up and live with a colorless landscape in the Winter.

What am I willing to let go of

I’m retired but still seem to have to much to do and not enough time to do it. Brings to mine an old quote “I’d give half my kingdom for a moment of time. Therefore, it makes sense I let go of something. But it’s hard, really hard. I’m not doing anything I can let go of – Family, Master Gardener, website development for volunteer groups, nerding out on my computer, etc. Okay, here goes a couple of things over the side of the boat:

  • Nerd like projects I’ve been spending time on including Learning Python, Migarating from Evernote, Developing a Mobile App and a couple of others I’ve been spending hour after hour banging away on my laptop
  • My garden plot

Reflections on a Two Year Old

December 25, 2016

Babysat my two year old grandson three days this week. He is an amazing creature and I suspect all two year olds are.

He learns at an astronomical rate. He bounces from joy to despair to joy again in a few seconds.

When his family – mom, dad, brother – are not around, he asks about them constantly.

He loves animals.

He asks why incessantly.

He runs everywhere. What age do we stop running?

I could go on and on and on and on but after three days with the little angel I’m really tired.

Summary, It’s a shame we grow up

Gravity vs. time vs. Age

December 12, 2016

According to Einstien’s theory of General Relativity gravity slows down time. That is, clocks tick faster on GPS satelites than they do on the Earth. Clocks on the surface of the Earth would tick faster than clocks on the Sun because the Sun has more gravity. The greater the gravity the slower the clock ticks

Based on my experience, a data point of one, age makes clocks tick faster. Clocks tick much faster now that I’m 70 than when I was 16.

Why didn’t Einstein include age in the theory of General Relativity?