About Podcasts Pt. 1: My Personal Podcasting Pilgrimage

May 10, 2015

About Podcasts Pt. 1 – My Personal Podcasting Pilgrimage → via @_patrickwelker

In this post I muse on how my listening habits changed over the years.

How To Not Fall In Love

Speaking for myself, I didn’t know for a long time what I wanted out of podcasts in general. My scope was limited: (1) I only subscribed to a few selected Apple tech podcasts and (2) I primary wanted to gain knowledge. This was my sole motivation for listening to them.

With a few years distance I can now say that what I did was like a Safari hunt. My ears functioned like an archaic muzzleloader, always aiming for the hidden gems in an episode – be it a useful Hazel rule I didn’t know of, or, an interesting use of TextExpander I haven’t thought of myself. Being in an all ears mode for 80 minutes just to get one geeky tip that might boost my productivity - or makes my nerd heart jump - was I admit it “a tad exhausting”.

Being a geeky fellow my loot after such a treasure hunt usually consist of zero to one cool tip in average. In general, the listening experience with this approach didn’t feel (too) enjoyable, nor efficient.

Getting To The Bottom Of My Listening Habits

Still, I couldn’t just dismiss podcasts. So what was it with me and them that didn’t work? Although I was fascinated by them, it’s fair to say that we didn’t exactly hit it off. The obvious thing to do was blaming the counter-party. I went on questioning podcasts for being a useful source of information more than once over the last years. The result: in a way I was wrong and right at the same time with this assumption. Hence, the answer is two-folded (at least for me), and I’m going the explain what I believe were the two major mistakes I made.

Sniper vision, Adieu!


The first point is a focus issue: I listened to podcasts for the wrong reasons.

Let’s take David Sparks and Katie Floyds excellent tech podcast Mac Power Users as an example. I listened religiously to that show. It’s a great show, but being a power user myself it felt like reading my own diary over and over again. It was equally hard or rather impossible for David and Katie to find me a holy grail in each episode.1

To tackle my focus problem, part of the solution was to stop going on a treasure hunt. Nowadays, I listen to podcasts because I enjoy how the hosts communicate with each other. I’m a bit of a Paparazzi in that I like getting a glimpse of their private lives, witnessing how they mock each other and have a good time.2 It’s infectious, makes me smile; for me is the magic behind podcasts. It is precisely what makes them such a charming medium.

Conclusion number one is that podcasts mainly aim to entertain you. If you’re main reason is to tune in for the hard facts, you’re better off reading a more in-depth article on the internet or going to the library.

Being More Random

The other part of the solution was to broaden my horizon and not limiting myself to the Apple tech scene. Naturally its such an obvious point that it took me a while to figure this out… I’m wired that way – sometimes I take my precious amount of time to get to the bottom of even the simplest thing in the world. Variety is key, after all I don’t want to eat lentils all day.

With 18 podcast subscriptions I still don’t exactly blow the roof off subscription-wise. Aside from the shows I regularly listen to, services like Huffduffer allow me to bookmark episodes that interest me and discover new featured content or picks from other users. I also welcome the fact that apps like Overcast try to make exploring the variety in the podcasting landscape easier. Now, instead of just Apple-centric podcasts, I’m also subscribed to some psychology, science and comedy related shows.

Conclusion number two is a simple one: Like in agriculture, the soil of your fields will stay fertile longer if you mix things up and plant different seeds every now and then. After all, the great benefit of podcasts – and the number one reason why they are so hugely popular – is the healthy variety of topics and interesting people. If you have thought about it, there’s probably a show for exactly that topic.3


Thanks to these two small adjustments there is a happy end and I managed to fall in love again with podcasts.

  1. Yes, I really know most of the magic tricks to make my invisible unicorn jump through hoops. I still listen to them, but only selected shows make it to my queue. MPU is still the show I recommend to new Mac users.

  2. For instance, I tremendously enjoyed the Dawn Patrol team scheming on how to get their absent co-host @macdrifter on-board using an Android device. (← Dunno if I’ve picked the correct episode.)

  3. Finding a subscription-worthy show on the other hand can be a bit harder.

Expand Short URL's with StretchLink

April 30, 2015

Expand Short URL's with StretchLink → via @_patrickwelker

You know what? There’s this guy on the internet who constantly fills my feed reader with useful tools, scripts and services he builds (in the middle of the night). Instead of being really, really mad at him because one lifetime isn’t enough to check out all what he’s doing, I’m truly grateful and in a weird sense also proud like a dad/brother/groupie/zebra that he supports the Mac community – especially in a time when all the cool kids are developing for that smart buzzing rectangles in our pocket.

So, today I retired my homemade Keyboard Maestro macro, bought this guys app and be done with it.

I won’t describe what this little gem does, nor do I feel the need to tell you who developed it. You should know if you read this blog… and you should head over and send him a dollar. Even better… wait until the hype is over and pay the full price (which would be $1.99) – that’s how grown-up zebras in the wild do it. I’m domesticated… so I rushed to the StretchLink site and bought it.

Project Naptha – Copy and Translate Text from any Image


One of things I need to do from time to time is copying text from screenshot. On the Mac there is Condense and on the iPhone I use Textgrabber (because the company behind it, ABBYY, really know what they are doing). So I’m all set. But… if YOU want to perform this little circus trick on your own and don’t want to spend a dime then take a look at the (Google Chrome) browser extension “Project Naptha” by Kevin Kwok.

The website works as a live demo and is a joy to browse trough; you can copy and paste each and every text in the images. There are tons of examples, additional details, an animated GIF and lots of background information. Even the chapter about security and privacy is clearly visible in large letters right on the site. It’s honest, open and direct – I like it:

So there is a trade-off that has to happen between privacy and user experience. And I think the default settings strike a delicate balance between having all the functionality made available and respecting user privacy. I’ve heard complaints on both sides (roughly equal in quantity, actually, which is kind of intriguing)— lots of people want high quality transcription to the default, and others want no server communication whatsoever as the default.

Naptha can also read out text to you and you’re can depend on it even if you use that Windows machine at work.

More Wallpapers and Customization

April 25, 2015

Having linked to some nice space wallpapers in one of my last posts, I feel I could throw some more related links at you that have been sitting in my local link list file.

Let’s start with some sites that you can browse…

… and then add some single wallpapers for the iPhone 6…




Movie buff’s can also search for “wallpaper” on CriterionCast and Designers are generally a good source for cool wallpapers (cf Louie Mantia or David Lanham) – you can also stalk them on Dribbble.

If it isn’t enough for you to have these wallpapers shining at you from your Mac Desktop what about changing the login window wallpaper on your Mac? Jacob Salmela shows you how to do it – see the comments if you want to do this on Yosemite.

Ben Brooks provides one of the links I miss since MacThemes Forum & Co. have vanished from the internet. You can learn how to replace the system font. It’s a good found by Ben. Although, my eyes are hurting a bit ((fiery red wallpaper)).