My Favorite Keyboard Maestro Macros

I got a request to share my favorite Keyboard Maestro macros and so I put a few of them together here. Keyboard Maestro (KM) is a Mac app that allows you to create complex automations to control your software in almost any way imaginable. It’s incredibly powerful, but it can also be useful even in simple ways.

I should note that while I developed some of my macros from scratch, others were shared by other users and I’m using them now or have adapted them to my use. I also have, no kidding, 181 macros so I won’t be sharing them all. Here are some of my favorites.

I use a KM palette to access several frequently used macros at the press of my caps lock key.1 If you have multiple macros have the same hot-key as the trigger, KM will pop up a little window to let you select which one you want. My actions including Omnifocus action, which opens another palette with common Omnifocus actions; Activate Moom, a window management utility; Omnifocus – Quick Add, for creating a new to-do; Invoke PopClip, Trigger Macro by Name, invokes any macro by typing its name; Move active window to center of iMac display, which because I multiple monitors will move whatever window is frontmost of any of the monitors to the center of my main iMac display; and Fix URLs, which if invoked in Ulysses changes Markdown format URLs to Ulysses native links and if in BBedit, changes them from a specific way that Jimmy Akin types them in Word docs into HTML format2.

Another frequently used macro will take the currently active browser tab and extract the Page Title and URL and format it as Markdown — [Page Title](URL) –for pasting in any number of places. Because each browser handles this differently I have separate macros for each one and then have specified they’re only active in that particular browser. But since they all have the same hotkey, I can just invoke the macro and the correct macro is always chosen.

Macros can also be invoked by changing conditions, such as the detection of a USB device, so when I turn on my mixer, this simple macro launches Audio Hijack and then starts an Amphetamine session for 3 hours to keep my computer from going to sleep while I’m recording.

This next one was inspired by Dr. Drang. This set of macros will take the currently active tab in the current web browser and open it in another. For example, my default web browser is Brave, but I usually want to use Apple sites in Safari, or vice versa.

I’ve recently started using an El Gato Stream Deck and I’m just figuring out how to use it best, but one thing I’ve done is create KM macros for certain Adobe Audition audio editing actions that usually require multiple keypresses and then assign those to Stream Deck keys.

 

This is one of my most recent ones. It works with my Philips Hue Smart Sensor to suggest when I should turn up the heat or AC in my office (which tends to be either too hot or too cold), because I often don’t realize until I’m either freezing or sweating. It checks the outside temperature via the Dark Sky weather service then gets the temperature as reported by the Hue sensor in the office. The two temperatures are compared and if the conditions for winter or summer are met, it gives me the appropriate prompt through a notification.

That’s probably enough for now. If you want to dig deep into Keyboard Maestro, I recommend David Sparks’ Keyboard Maestro Field Guide, which is a video course that will take you from the basics to advanced concepts of KM.

And if you would like specific help with implementing any of these macros yourself, let me know in the comments.

  1. I very rarely used my caps lock for its intended use so years ago I remapped it to the Function-18 key (which isn’t a physical key on most keyboards) so then any macro that has F18 as the trigger key will be on the palette.
  2. This has to do with our podcast Jimmy Akin’s Mysterious World

Incrementing the Nanny State

January 1 is a traditional date for new laws to go into effect, 21st century humans being all about segmenting and notating things, and so I find myself perusing the latest new laws our overlords in Washington and Boston have seen fit to burden us with.

One that catches my attention is a new Massachusetts law that bans idling of car engines. While this linked page is about idling in Boston, it’s a new statewide law. The summary of the law is that you can’t leave your car unattended and running for more than five minutes. There are limited exceptions, like when you need the engine to do some necessary task like operating a lift. I’ve seen other descriptions say that letting an idling unattended car defrost the windshield is also permitted, but the law doesn’t explicitly say that .

But of course I’m also thinking of a different case. We’re now told by all the relevant safety figures that we should not buckle kids into car seats in bulky winter coast as it’s not safe. But if we can’t heat up the car on sub-freezing days, what are we supposed to do? Should I put my kid in a dangerously cold car with no coat on? If the goal is to prevent idling the engine to avoid pollution, sitting in the car with the child in a coat and unbuckled until the car is warm before taking off the coat and buckling him, then we’re not really saving any gas. We’re just creating frustration.

This is yet another law that adds to the thousands of laws on the books where many of them don’t think through all the possible consequences and just put us on the wrong side of steep fines.

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Looking Back on 2019

It has become my custom to spend the last couple of days of each year to write up a review of what happened in the year and then to give a brief glance forward.

The growth of StarQuest (SQPN)

Last year I made the switch to working at SQPN full-time. I had been part-time executive director since 2015, but when Fr. Roderick split off with Trideo at the beginning of 2018, we had to make a decision about what to do with SQPN, either to go all-in or shut it down. And we went all-in.

As 2019 began, we’d had eight months to rebuild the network’s programming with a bunch of new shows, including our most popular one, Jimmy Akin’s Mysterious World. We added even more new shows in 2019, including American Catholic History, Secrets of Technology, Secrets of Star Wars, Catholics of Oz, Secrets of Disney, and Raising the Betts. That last one is a show I do with Melanie where we talk about what’s going on in our family, the fun stuff we do, what we’re cooking and so on. It’s different from my other shows because it’s more personal and because it has brought Melanie into my working world. I always said I’d get her on a podcast.

My hope is that in 2020, we can finally get the network back to a financially secure footing, close our budget deficit, and be confident for the long-term future. It won’t take a lot to close that gap, but it seems to be the hardest gap to cross.

Home repair and improvement

It seems to have been a better year for home maintenance. We did have to replace our refrigerator this year. It was over 10 years old and held together by duct tape and replacement parts had become rare and expensive. We bought the new fridge on the Mass. sales tax holiday, saving a nice chunk of cash, and I’ve been pleased with how it’s worked out. While it’s not larger in exterior dimensions, there seems to be more usable space inside and replacing the swinging freezer door with a drawer has meant it is much easier to get things in and out of the freezer.

But other than that, it’s been a good year for the house. Which probably means that 2020 will be see a bunch of stuff needing to be done. It’s like there’s a cycle.

Trip to Gettysburg

Our big family vacation this year took us to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. I wrote about that at length previously, but the short version is that we’d intended to go at the end of our big Kentucky trip in 2018, but Ben got sick and we had to go straight home. This time we got a full week at the end of July. The battlefield was awesome, as was the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton shrine nearby, but the weather was brutally hot and we left a day earlier than planned because we couldn’t take another night of sleeping in the oppressive heat. From now on, mid-summer camping is in the mountains or by the sea, where it’s cooler.
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Using Hue motion sensor temperature with Geektool and Keyboard Maestro

One part of our smart home setup is our Philips Hue lighting system. Over the years I’ve replaced many of our old light bulbs with Hue smart bulbs in various fixtures, which allows us not only to control the lights with automation and schedules, but also with our voices using Alexa and Siri. We can also group control of them through compatible switches without having to rewire what’s in the walls.

Philips also makes a motion sensor, which is great for rooms that don’t get a lot of traffic during the day, meaning that the lights go off when no one’s using them or where people often forget to turn them off. I have one of these sensors in my office and another in the pantry/laundry room. What’s nice is that these sensors also have thermometers in them, which means I can track the temperature in the rooms. Unfortunately, to find out out what the temp is, you have to open either the Home app or the Hue app to find out. Unless you do a little home programming.

I wanted to have the current ambient temperature of both rooms to be constantly updated and displayed on my desktop and, also, to get notifications if the temperature gets too cold in the winter or too hot in the summer and I might want to turn on the heater or the air conditioner to adjust the temperature.1

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Recipe: Spicy Moussaka with Yogurt Topping

This recipe comes from the cookbook Mediterranean Hot, by Aglaia Kremezi. It’s one of Melanie’s favorites, but she doesn’t make it except a couple times per year because of the amount of time it takes to put together. This is definitely not a weeknight dinner. But it is very good, slightly sweet, kind of spicy, very savory. Definitely give it a try. (We discussed it in episode 19 of our podcast Returning the Betts, if you’d like to know more about the recipe and the cookbook.)

DESCRIPTION

From the book: “I cook this lighter and much hotter version of the ever-popular dish, moussaka, at home. It tastes much better the day after you make it, when all the flavors have had time to blend. Prepare it one day in advance, let it cool, refrigerate it, and reheat it just before serving. It is ideal for parties and you can easily double or triple the recipe.”

INGREDIENTS

2 large eggplants (about 1-1/2 pounds), sliced lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices
Sea salt
Olive oil
1 pound potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch slices
3 large red bell peppers, seeded, quartered lengthwise, and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 pound ground lean lamb
1-1/2 cups chopped onions
3-5 teaspoons Aleppo pepper or 1-1/2 to 3 teaspoons cayenne pepper, or to taste
1/3 cup red wine
1/2 cup dried Zante currants
1 pound ripe red tomatoes, grated or 2-1/2 cups good quality canned chopped tomatoes with their juice
8-12 grindings of black pepper or to taste
1-2 pinches of freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 – 1 teaspoon Ras el Hanout (optional)
1 pound plain Greek yogurt (or 2 parts plain yogurt and 1 part heavy cream)

2 egg yolks

DIRECTIONS

Salt the eggplant slices and place them in a colander. Let them drain for at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile heat about 1 inch of olive oil in a deep, heavy skillet and briefly fry the potato slices without letting them cook through. Remove with a slotted spoon and layer them on the bottom of a 9×12-inch glass or ceramic ovenproof dish at least 2-1/2 inches deep (or a lasagna pan).

In the same frying oil, sauté the peppers, stirring often, until they start to color, about 10 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and reserve. Also reserve the frying oil.

Measure out 1/3 to 1/2 cup of oil and return it to the pan. Sauté the lamb in the olive oil, stirring often, for about 10 minutes, until no longer red. Add the chopped onions and continue to sauté, stirring, for another 10 minutes or until the onions become translucent. Add the Aleppo pepper and the red wine, and after the mixture boils add the currants and tomatoes. Lower the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper and nutmeg, and add the Ras el Hanout if you are using it. Remove from the heat. The mixture should be quite spicy.

Wipe the eggplant slices with paper towels and place them on a baking sheet. Brush on both sides with the reserved oil, and broil until golden on both sides. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Arrange the eggplant slices over the potatoes. It doesn’t matter if they overlap. Layer the sautéed peppers over the eggplants and top with the lamb and tomato sauce.

In a bowl, mix the yogurt with the egg yolks, stirring well. Pour over the lamb and tomato mixture.

Bake for about 1 hour, or a little more, until the top starts to color and the moussaka is bubbly. Let cool completely, refrigerate, and reheat just before serving.

To reheat, place in a preheated oven at 400°F for 20 to 30 minutes, until bubbly.

Using Zapier to Setup Omnifocus Projects from AirTable Entries

As you may know, I produce about a dozen different podcasts, most of them weekly, and keeping track of all the tasks of pre-production, recording, editing, distributing, and promoting them is challenging for a one-man operation like myself. Some shows I host, while others have their own hosts. Some shows I edit, while some have their own editors. It’s a lot of moving parts and if I don’t track every step, it could quickly fall apart.

I use Omnifocus, a Mac-based application, as my project management tool of choice and that’s where I keep all of the individual tasks that need to be checked off. Meanwhile, I use AirTable, a web-based database, to keep track of the shows, their episodes, who’s involved, and what stage of production they’re at, among other things. Since the steps to produce an episode of each podcast is pretty much the same every time, that means this process is ripe for automation. What was missing was a way to connect the AirTable and Omnifocus parts of the process because I was finding that I’d enter an upcoming episode of a show in AirTable and forget to setup the Omnifocus project. I needed some way to trigger the project creation from the first step of a new episode. Enter Zapier. Read More and Comment

Where Would We Go, Lord?

I have to be honest, I don’t get all the angst about staying Catholic. Don’t get me wrong; this may be my own moral failing, an inability to get sufficiently upset at how bad things are. But when I read other Catholics write about how they struggle with staying Catholic despite all the scandals and how it’s the sacraments that keep them in the pews and that the constant drumbeat of bad bishops, faithless laity, and narcissistic priests has them one foot out the door … I don’t get it.

I mean, have you seen humanity? Have you read the Bible? When has it ever been different?

Yes, what bishops and popes and priests do is important. Yes, I fully support airing out the dirty laundry and confronting our sins. Lord knows, I’ve been writing about it professionally and personally for the past 20 years.1 But what does that have to do with my faith?

God is still God. He’s still in Heaven. Jesus is still Jesus. He’s still in the tabernacle. The Holy Spirit still fills my heart and soul. The saints are still the cloud of witnesses; they still inspire and educate through their example and intercede in their prayers. The sacraments still fill me with grace. My prayers still ascend. I still talk to my children about the Light of Christ within them.

Why should some news story suck that out of me? Why should the loss of a priest threaten that? Or a bishop’s failure to govern or to attain personal holiness? If Christ cannot be found in the newspaper stories or articles shared on Facebook, He can be found in my brother on the street. The face of Christ is in my sister panhandling on the corner.

In the end, what could possibly separate me from the Church, the Body of Christ? Nothing, that’s what.

A couple of years ago, I decided I would no longer argue about theology or the scandals or Church controversies online.2 Because, what’s the point? Will I change someone’s mind with a well-crafted bon mot… or more likely an attempted barrage of invective? No, I doubt it. Yes, I read to be informed, but I don’t need that break in my peace any more because I know that Christ is still king no matter how much we endeavor to screw up the Church down here. And if God wants the Church to be fixed and the pews to be full of people, He will do it. And if He wants the pews to be empty for a while, that’s His prerogative. As for me, there’s nowhere else to go. There’s nowhere else I want to go. Where would I go?

  1. This blog, especially in its first 6 years, was a compendium of the rot that had entered into the Church.
  2. Which I have managed, with notable lapses.

My Pocket Go-Bag

A couple of years ago, I did a post about what I carried in my pockets on a day-to-day basis and mentioned that I no longer carry a bulky wallet, but instead have downsized to a minimalist wallet. However, I was still carrying pockets full of other stuff that would weigh me down and make my pockets all saggy and baggy.

That’s when I decided to go with a pocket go-bag. A regular go-bag is bag you have packed somewhere in your house or your car that contains emergency essentials that you would need if you had to “go” on a moment’s notice.1 A pocket version, however, is not so much for emergencies, but contains you may not always need with you, but would all go together: If you need one, you should probably have them all.

It’s a bit of something in the middle between a regular wallet and a larger day bag or messenger bag or backpack.

So for my pocket go-bag, I needed a handful of items that I would need when going out for the day or longer, but not if I’m puttering around or running an errand. Here’s what’s in mine.

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Tip: Use your charcoal ash to reduce trash odor and kill pests

Have you ever had one of those strokes of brilliance that happened entirely by accident? One of the longstanding problems I’ve had as a homeowner has been the disgusting nature of our outdoor garbage barrels.

We get trash pickup every two weeks, a 96-gallon trash barrel and two recycling barrels of the same size. We also don’t have a garage, so the barrels sit in the sun on the side of the house. You can imagine what it’s like after two weeks in the hot, summer sun. It’s disgusting. Not only does it smell, but the barrels are literally crawling with maggots. It’s so veery disgusting. (I hate maggots.) After every pickup, I used to have to hose down the trash barrel to clean it out.

Another fact about our home: When we grill, we grill exclusively on charcoal, not propane. I love the taste and smell of charcoal on grilled food and charcoal grilling is something I’ve become very good at. I also grill a lot in the summer, as often as the weather and other factors allow. This means I go through a lot of charcoal and create a lot of ashes. I used to dump them in an out of the way place in the backyard, but that got messy after a while so I just began dumping it straight into the trash barrel. It turns I should have been doing that all along.

Ever since I began dumping the ashes in the barrel, the problems of smell and pests have dramatically lessened. I never see maggots any more before or after pickup and while you can smell the trash right next to the barrel and when you lift the lid, it doesn’t waft over the whole side of the house and down the driveway like before.

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Tesla Solar Panels: One Year Later

I wrote a long post last year about our saga getting solar panels installed on our house and approved for activation by the local electrical utility.1 While the panels were installed in the spring of 2018, we weren’t able to turn them on until August 2018. So one year later, how is it going?

Pretty awesome, to be blunt. In July 2018, our last full month on the grid, we used about 1 ,200 kWh of electricity from the utility, costing us about $286 in charges2.

This July 2019, our solar panels covered all of our electricity usage (in a massive heat wave) and generated an excess of 500 kWh to put back in the grid, generating a credit of $100. The Tesla solar panel lease is about $130, meaning we paid about 1/10th the amount for electricity this July over last.

Our current total credit balance for the year is about $450 so far and if current trends match last year’s, we should be on track to cover most, if not all, of our winter usage.3 I am very, very happy with this.

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