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Geoff Taylor

technology, photography and other interests

A feed by Geoff Taylor


Butterfly and pink flowers

Permalink - Posted on 2018-07-01 19:07

Butterfly and pink flowers
Butterfly and pink flowers

Raindrops on leaf

Permalink - Posted on 2018-06-17 13:28

Raindrops on leaf


Permalink - Posted on 2018-06-14 23:44


Sad flower. Nice colors, though.

Permalink - Posted on 2018-06-14 22:57

Sad flower. Nice colors, though.
Sad flower. Nice colors, though.

Rotary Telephone, L'Ouest Hôtel

Permalink - Posted on 2018-05-10 03:03

Rotary Telephone, L'Ouest Hôtel
Rotary Telephone, L'Ouest Hôtel

Keyboard Maestro: RSA Archer Deep Link

Permalink - Posted on 2018-03-18 15:35

This macro will only be of interest to RSA Archer users, but it’s pretty useful to me, so I thought I’d share it. The macro asks for the tracking ID of an Archer record and creates a deep link to the record.

In this example, I have the macro configured to create a link to a Finding, so I set the trigger to the string fdl. When that string is typed, the macro asks for the tracking ID of the record, constructs the link and pastes it into the application where I typed the trigger string.

In a deep link, Archer percent-encodes any character that isn’t alphanumeric. But I had trouble getting the Keyboard Maestro variables (since they contain percent signs) to play nicely with the percent-encoded URL. I solved this problem by setting the RecordLink variable to a path that’s not percent-encoded: /GenericContent/Record.aspx?id=%Variable%TrackingID%&moduleId=%Variable%ModuleID%. It contains the tokens for the TrackingID and ModuleID variables.

The Execute Shell Script action uses Python 3 to percent-encode the characters that Archer expects to be percent-encoded. (There are other ways to do this; I just used Python because it’s familiar to me.) You may need to update the path to Python in that action.

Here’s a screenshot of the Keyboard Mastro Editor:

Keyboard Maestro screen shot

Here it is in action:

Keyboard Maestro animated demo

You can download the macro here. Change the value of the ArcherURL variable to the URL of your Archer instance. (Don’t include a trailing slash.) Change the value of the ModuleID variable to the ID of the application you want to link to.

Email, Then and Now

Permalink - Posted on 2018-01-20 10:15

Sometime during the mid to late ’90s, I watched an episode of a TV show that I didn’t regularly watch. (Since I can’t even remember the name of the show, I’m guessing that’s the only episode I ever watched.) The only thing I remember about it is that one character gave another character a gift — printed copies of every email they had ever exchanged. Email was regarded as a temporary, passing trend — something that should be preserved on paper.

Now, in 2018, I delete dozens of emails on a daily basis, without a second thought (mainly newsletters, to be fair; I get very few personal emails these days). But ironically, I wish I had printed and saved my earliest emails, particularly the one I received from the CEO of Rickenbacker. In the mid ’90s, email was still was a novelty to most people, and I guess even CEOs received so little of it that personal replies were possible. But I didn’t foresee that I would go through a dozen or more email accounts in my lifetime, losing a little history each time I switched, and it never occurred to me to save or print those emails until I no longer had access to them.

Frozen Fountain

Permalink - Posted on 2018-01-07 18:59

Over several days of subfreezing temperatures, the fountain in the courtyard of my apartment building froze. The falling water wasn’t actually frozen, but it kind of looks that way in the picture.

  Frozen fountain
Frozen fountain
  Frozen fountain closeup
Frozen fountain closeup

Getting Old

Permalink - Posted on 2018-01-04 14:53

A sure sign that I’m getting old: I immediately downloaded Brighter and Bigger after reading this post by Dr. Drang.

Cleveland Marriott Downtown Lobby

Permalink - Posted on 2017-12-22 23:15

Lobby of the Cleveland Marriott Downtown at Key Center
Cleveland Marriott Downtown Lobby

How to mute alerts in Fantastical

Permalink - Posted on 2017-12-10 08:35

If you have a shared Reminders list, Fantastical for Mac will notify you if someone else updates it. I don’t need to see these notifications, but it took me a little while to discover how to mute alerts for specific Reminders lists.

It’s not, as one might suspect, unders Preferences > Alerts. You actually mute the alerts under Preferences > Calendars, and it’s not at all obvious that this is where you do it.

First, open Preferences (Fantastical > Preferences or ⌘,). Then go to Calendars and right-click the Reminders list that you want to mute. Select Get Info.

  Fantastical preferences screen

Check Ignore alerts and Ignore shared calendar notifications as shown in the screen shot below. Then click OK button.

  Fantastical preferences screen

This method also works for muting alerts from individual calendars.

Snowy Night at One Atlantic Center

Permalink - Posted on 2017-12-09 19:51

Snowy Night at One Atlantic Center
Snowy Night at One Atlantic Center

House-hunting workflows

Permalink - Posted on 2017-12-09 11:53

My wife and I are looking for a new house, and I quickly realized there were two common things that took a little more effort than I liked. First, collecting the important information (address, list price, Realtor.com URL) about each house in a place I could easily find it later, and second, searching for the nearest supermarket, pharmacy and other stores and services. Using Workflow, I was able to automate these tasks.

Save House to Bear

The first workflow is called Save House to Bear. It takes the information exported to in the share sheet by the Realtor.com app and saves it to a new note in Bear. The property address becomes the note’s title, and if the Realtor.com app exports a photo in the share sheet (it usually does), the photo will be added to the note.

  Animated GIF showing the workflow
Running the workflow from the share sheet in the Realtor.com app
  Property listing saved in a Bear note
A property listing saved in Bear

Search Near Address

The second workflow is called Search Near Address. When the workflow runs, it will ask you for the source of the search address. If you ran the workflow using the Run Workflow extension and Workflow detected an input address, it will ask you if you want to use the input address, the clipboard or a manually entered address. If no input address was detected, or if you didn’t run the workflow using the Run Workflow extension, it will ask if you want to use the clipboard or a manually entered address.

The workflow will then ask you for search terms, and it will show you businesses matching the search terms near the search address. Selecting one of the search results will open it in the Maps app.

  Address selection screen
Select the search address
  Search results
Search results

Automatically mount a network share using Keyboard Maestro

Permalink - Posted on 2017-10-21 11:41

Because of some constant issues with Time Machine that I just couldn’t resolve, I switched to Arq, which offers a similar “go back in time” backup solution. I’ve had a generally positive experience with Arq; it’s been much faster and more reliable than Time Machine for me.

The only problem — and this is unrelated to Arq itself — was that my network share would disconnect when my MacBook went to sleep, and I couldn’t find a simple, reliable way to automatically remount the share when waking my MacBook. Then, I happened to find this postfrom Gabe Weatherhead. The post is five years old, but his solution using Keyboard Maestro still works perfectly.

I added one condition to his setup: My MacBook must be connected to my home Wi-Fi network.

  Screenshot of Keyboard Maestro macro

I had tried Keyboard Maestro in the past, but I had never really found a compelling reason to purchase it. This simple macro has changed my mind, though, and I’m now a paying customer. Now to find more uses for it…

Lake Michigan Sunset 2

Permalink - Posted on 2017-10-14 01:19

Sunset over Lake Michigan as seen from an airplane
Lake Michigan sunset

Lake Michigan Sunset 1

Permalink - Posted on 2017-10-14 01:16

Sunset over Lake Michigan as seen from an airplane
Lake Michigan sunset

Gizmodo's field guide to RSS

Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-12 12:26

This is a good introduction to RSS (or a refresher for a lot of people) from Gizmodo. For following blogs, it really is better than Twitter or Facebook because you never miss a post.

(Here’s my RSS feed. 🙂)

How check sorting was automated

Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-12 12:23

Interesting story from Tedium about how check sorting was automated.

Halide: My favorite camera app

Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-06 20:20

Halide app icon

When I first got my iPhone 6S, one of the features I was most interested in was the ability to capture RAW photos. The native camera app can’t capture RAW photos, but there are a number of third-party apps that can. At first I was using Manual, which captures RAW photos and gives you full control over various settings such as ISO, focus and white balance. (There’s also an automatic setting that takes care of all of that for you.) I still Iike Manual, but I recently read about Halide and decided to give it a try. I found it to be a powerful camera app that’s surprisingly easy to use.

  The Halide interface
Halide's main interface, shown against a neutral background to highlight the controls.

Basic controls

At the top of the screen — in what Halide calls the Quick Bar — are a few basic controls that are available in manual mode and automatic mode. A white icon indicates that the option is turned off; a yellow icon means that it’s turned on.

  • Flash control  Flash (on or off; there's no automatic option).
  • Location control  Location: If it's off, location won't be included in the photo's metadata. Unlike with most other camera apps that I've used, location is off by default, and Halide doesn't ask for permission to use location until you turn it on.
  • Grid and level control  Grid and level indicator: Rather than being a single horizontal line as in other camera apps, the level indicator is a rectangle that aligns with the middle rectangle of the grid. It turns yellow when the phone is perfectly level.
  • RAW control  RAW: If it's on, photos are captured as Digital Negative (DNG) files, Adobe's implementation of the RAW image format. (All iOS apps that can capture RAW photos capture them as DNG files.) If this setting is off, photos are captured as JPEG files, just like with the native camera app.
  • Settings button  A control that provides access to the user manual and allows you to rearrange some of the controls on the Quick Bar.
  • Histogram control  Histogram: If on, a live histogram is displayed on-screen. (This article from B&H Photo and Video provides an overview of histograms in digital photography. It's written for users of digital cameras, rather than camera apps, but the same concepts in the "How to Read the Histogram" section also apply to apps like Halide.)
  • Automatic mode indicator or Manual mode indicator  A mode indicator (automatic or manual). Tapping the indicator changes modes.
  • Control to change between front and rear cameras  A control to change between the front and rear cameras.


Most of Halide’s controls are adjusted with gestures, so it’s easy to control with one hand, even in manual mode. The settings you would most commonly change while taking a photo (exposure compensation, focus and shutter speed) can easily be changed by swiping or dragging with your thumb while holding the camera with one hand.

Automatic mode

In automatic mode, denoted by Automatic mode indicator at the top of the screen, Halide only provides one other adjustment — exposure compensation (EV). As with other controls in Halide, you adjust it with gestures. Drag up on the screen to increase the EV, down to decrease it. Double-tap the EV indicator to reset it to 0.0.

Manual mode

In manual mode, indicated by Manual mode indicator at the top of the screen, you can adjust ISO, white balance and shutter speed. ISO is adjusted by tapping the ISO button button in the Quick Bar and adjusting the ISO control that appears above the focus controls. White balance is controlled by tapping the white balance icon to the right of the manual indicator; the icon indicates the current white balance setting and thus varies depending on the selected setting.

  All white balance icons
All of the available white balance modes. This menu is displayed when you tap the white balance icon, and the white balance icon always reflects the currently selected mode.

Shutter speed is adjusted in the same way that exposure compensation is adjusted in automatic mode. (The EV indicator becomes the shutter speed indicator, denoted by S, in manual mode.) Drag up to increase shutter speed (for a longer exposure) or down to decrease shutter speed (for a shorter exposure).


In manual mode or automatic mode, you can use either autofocus or manual focus. The focus control can conveniently be controlled simply by swiping. With autofocus engaged, just swipe right to activate manual focus, and drag the slider to adjust the focus manually. Swiping left will reactivate autofocus. (Tapping the Autofocus button button will also activate or deactivate autofocus.)

Focus peaking

Halide includes a focus peaking feature, activated by tapping the Focus peaking button button. With focus peaking turned on, Halide highlights in green the parts of the image with the sharpest contrast.

Photo view

Halide’s photo view displays a very limited subset of the photo’s metadata: file type (JPEG or RAW1), date and time, shutter speed and ISO. To see all metadata, you’ll need another tool (I like ViewExif) but it’s nice to be able to see at least some metadata without leaving Halide.

In this view, you can also “favorite” a photo by swiping right (a feature I don’t often use) or delete a photo by swiping left (a feature I find to be very convenient). There are also buttons that perform the same functions if you don’t like the gesture-based controls.

Swipe right to favorite Swipte left to delete
Swipe right to "favorite" a photo. Swipe left to delete.

Changing orientation

When rotating the phone from portrait to landscape (and vice versa), the controls that rotate or change position do so in a very natural looking way (with one exception noted below). While it’s not anything that would make or break an app, it’s an extra little detail that makes Halide that much nicer to use.

In many apps, rotating the phone means that the entire interface rotates, and not in a very graceful way. In Halide, the controls at the top of the screen briefly disappear and then reappear in the correct place when the phone is rotated. When rotating the phone counterclockwise into landscape orientation (so that the shutter button is under your right hand), the EV button (in automatic mode) or shutter speed button (in manual mode) smoothly rotates into the correct orientation. (The small preview of the last photo taken rotates as well.) When rotating clockwise to landscape (so that the shutter button is under your left hand), however, the EV/shutter speed button and last photo preview swap places. While it doesn’t look bad, it’s just not as smooth as the other interface changes.


Halide’s documentation, which simulates a paper user manual, is attractive but not very informative; it’s little more than a “getting started” guide. The website contains descriptions of a few key features (but not necessarily how to actually use them), but no real documentation. I had to figure out a few of the settings myself, but now that I have, I find Halide easy to use. Still, I think it would be helpful if the app had better documentation.

The missing feature

One feature I’d like to see in Halide is RAW+JPEG capture. RAW files retain all of the image data, but they generally don’t look good without some post-processing, and not every photo app on iOS can handle RAW files. If you want to share RAW files via email, text or social media, you need to convert them to JPEGs first.

JPEG files on the other hand are processed in-camera. Some of the image data is lost during that processing, but JPEGs are universally readable and usually look good enough to be shared.

Manual, the app I mentioned at the beginning of this post, can capture a RAW image and a full-resolution JPEG at the same time. It’s not a deal breaker for me, but it would be nice if Halide added a similar feature in a future release.

Aside from that, however, Halide is probably the best camera app I’ve used. I use it for all of my iPhone photography except throwaway JPEGs (for which I still use the native camera app).

  1. The photo view just displays the photos from your phone’s camera roll, so you may also see PNG files if you have screen shots in your camera roll. 

Sunset and storm

Permalink - Posted on 2017-09-02 20:40

Sunset and storm over the Gulf of Mexico
Sunset and storm, Gulf of Mexico