Dual Wristing

I’ve started to wear two watches: a mechanical one, and an Apple Watch.

Here they are on my skinny, hairy wrists!

For anybody who knows me, the Apple Watch is obvious: I’m a huge Apple fan and the Watch has made a measurable difference in my life: this watch-face above is what I use most of the time, and it helps me track my activity, sleep and water intake. It also has my calendar, and a shortcut that lets me start an exercise. In short: it’s the utility watch. A beautiful utility watch.

The other one is probably the cheapest good-looking mechanical watch I could find: a Fossil. Watch aficionados will probably cringe at the brand, but I’m still very early into mechanical watches, and this one looked sweet at that price point. The mechanical watch is pure indulgence, and that’s because just like my Leica and my record player, it’s the love of the device, its history, how it feels, and the intangible that attracts me here. It’s delightful to think about a purely mechanical contraption, entirely without batteries, on my wrist. Feels like magic.


A few of my friends have already said I’m a bit crazy for wearing not one, but two anachronistic devices for telling the time, when most of them make do with just their phone. I thought a bit about the why of dual wristing, and I felt a couple of things:

Our future self does not have to let go of our past. There is beauty, delight and wonder to be found in things that are outdated. Especially if, for their time and technology, they are well designed. I’ve always had this dual nature in me: I love the newest gadgets, but I seek the old and mellow. I’ve tried at times to analyze why is it that the Leica M (with its really old, inefficient manual rangefinder focus) is still my ideal camera. Part of it is that in search of efficiency, a lot of new technology has forgotten that we buy gadgets also for the experience. What does it feel when you sit in a chair? Or you see a delightful interaction on screen?

But frankly: a larger part is just self-serving idiosyncrasy.

This is just the way I am. Time to embrace it.

Trip to Lepakshi Veerabhadra Swamy Temple

Yesterday we did a road trip from Bangalore to Lepakshi temple. It was around 110kms each way, and it’s an easy day trip from north Bangalore, and takes about 2 hours each way. The drive was good, although on the way to the temple we ended up deviating through a stretch of bad roads (courtesy Google Maps and its insistence on the shortest roads instead of the best ones).

Also my first longer trip on the Jeep

There are only 2 things to see at Lepakshi really, the temple, and a recently constructed statue of Garuda, which we visited first.

It’s pretty imposing isn’t it?

You can’t really go to the Garuda (we assumed because of crazy Indian crowds that would desecrate it), but there are couple of viewpoints from where you can take photos.

The temple itself is the highlight really. Constructed by the old Vijayanagara empire, it really brought back memories of my trip to Hampi. An interesting distinction being that the temple is still functional, and has a daily pooja.

We really liked this shiva lingam carved from a single stone.
And this lovely tree with so much shade.

A good trip overall, and very much recommended. I took the photos in the post using an iPhone 12 mini with Halide, and then edited them using RNI Films.

Great Mac Apps That I Wish Were Built-In to macOS

One of things that make a Mac way better than iOS for power users is the ability to customize a bunch of things. While Apple has steadily been deprecating (& removing) older insecure ways to extend system functionality, and in the process, making a lot of these apps non-functional, there’s still a few gems that I simply can’t live without.

Most of these are tools with extremely simple functionality that I wish Apple had built-in to macOS ages ago. Here’s a few:

Yoink

Yoink makes drag-and-drop easy. Here’s how it works:

It’s extremely simple but a life-saver when you want a “shelf” for copy-pasted content. Yoink can accept pretty much anything, including text, and it conveniently appears only when you start dragging. It’s a perfect example of a great system add-on.

PixelSnap

PixelSnap measures distances on your screen. As a web developer, this has been invaluable multiple times in creating pixel-perfect layouts and when you simply can’t trust your eye.

Krisp

When you are working from home, a great no-nonsense microphone and speaker boosting app is a must. Krisp removes all annoying noises, boosts volume, removes distractions and in the new version (although it does not work on M1 Macs yet) has a Krisp camera module that brings great virtual backgrounds to every app.

How it works is extremely simple: you just select a Krisp virtual speaker and mic in every app, and that’s it!

Magnet

Magnet is my preferred solution for window management on a Mac. It’s a menubar app and mostly does not have a UI. I’ve turned off window snapping since I’m always irritated by it, and only use keyboard shortcuts to move windows around. Magnet can also moves windows between monitors, which is lifesaver now that I’ve started using dual displays again. The default keyboard shortcuts are intuitive and easy to remember and don’t clash with any other editor I use. It’s ⌘⌥⌃← to move windows to the left screen for example.

This is the #1 feature I wish had been built-in to the Mac.

Raycast

Raycast is the modern, extensible Spotlight replacement. Spotlight is frankly way, way better than most launchers on Linux, but Raycast is 5x better than that.

It’s also—most importantly—as fast, or faster than Spotlight at everything it does. I’ve disabled the system shortcut ⌘-Space, and made Raycast the primary launcher.

CleanShot

CleanShot is what I’ve been using to make these demo screenshots and videos. While Maverick really improved the Mac screenshot interface and brought parity with iOS (including enabling screen recordings), CleanShot still has one feature that is invaluable when sharing screenshots and screencaps: a native upload to cloud feature that generates short urls with just a click of the button.

I also have the keyboard shortcuts in this set to the same ones as the system shortcuts, and I’ve disabled the in-built screenshot functionality.

Vanilla

If you install all my suggested apps above, menu-bar management will quickly become a must have. That’s where Vanilla comes into play. Again, a very easy to use interface that really should’ve been built-in to the Mac:

Vanilla hides extra icons behind a left caret, and expands it when clicked:

The Vanilla icon itself is the silent dot in the middle, that has options when clicked:

A simple app that is an absolute must have.

Dato

Dato is a great replacement for the default Mac menu-bar date-time indicator. It makes it so much more useful. Instead of showing the widgets when you click it (who made that decision btw? So freaking weird), you now get a proper calendar listing with your upcoming meetings and timezones of your team members:

It’s an absolute great thing to have always on your menu bar.


That’s it! If there’s a Mac app that you love and use every day I’d appreciate a comment here, or a ping on twitter: @vishnugopal.