Tag Archives: macOS

The FreeBSD-native-ish home lab and network

For many years my setup was pretty simple: A FreeBSD home server running on my old laptop. It runs everything I need to be present on the internet, an email server, a web server (like the one you’ve accessed right now to see this blog post) and a public chat server (XMPP/Jabber) so I can be in touch with friends.

For my home network, I had a basic Access Point and a basic Router.

Lately, my setup has become more… intense. I have IPv6 thanks to Hurricane Electric, the network is passed to my home network (which we’ll talk about in a bit), a home network with multiple VLANs, since friends who come home also need WiFi.

I decided to blog about the details, hoping it would help someone in the future.

I’ll start with the simplest one.

The Home Server

I’ve been running home servers for a long time. I believe that every person/family needs a home server. Forget about buying your kids iPads and Smartphones. Their first devices should be a real computer (sorry Apple, iOS devices are still just a toy) like a desktop/laptop and a home server. The home server doesn’t need to be on the public internet, but mine is, for variety of reasons. This blog being one of them.

I get a static IP address from my ISP, Ucom. After the management change that happened couple of years ago, Ucom has become a very typical ISP (think shitty), but they are the only ones that provide a static IP address, instead of setting it on your router, where you have to do port forwarding.

My home server, hostnamed pingvinashen (meaning the town of the penguins, named after the Armenian cartoon) run FreeBSD. Historically this machine has run Debian, Funtoo, Gentoo and finally FreeBSD.

Hardware wise, here’s what it is:

root@pingvinashen:~ # dmidecode -s system-product-name
Latitude E5470
root@pingvinashen:~ # sysctl hw.model
hw.model: Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-6820HQ CPU @ 2.70GHz
root@pingvinashen:~ # sysctl hw.physmem
hw.physmem: 17016950784
root@pingvinashen:~ # zpool list
zroot   420G   178G   242G        -         -    64%    42%  1.00x    ONLINE  -

While most homelabbers use hardware virtualization, I think that resources are a tight thing, and should be managed properly. Any company that markets itself as “green/eco-friendly” and uses hardware virtualization should do calculations using a pen and paper and prove if going native would save power/resources or not. (sometimes it doesn’t, usually it does)

I use containers, the old-school ones, Jails to be more specific.

I manage jails using Jailer, my own tool, that tries to stay out of your way when working with Jails.

Here are my current jails:

root@pingvinashen:~ # jailer list
NAME        STATE    JID  HOSTNAME              IPv4               GW
antranig    Active   1    antranig.bsd.am
antranigv   Active   2    antranigv.bsd.am
git         Stopped
huginn0     Active   4    huginn0.bsd.am
ifconfig    Active   5    ifconfig.bsd.am
lucy        Active   6    lucy.vartanian.am
mysql       Active   7    mysql.antranigv.am
newsletter  Active   8    newsletter.bsd.am
oragir      Active   9    oragir.am   
psql        Active   10   psql.pingvinashen.am
rss         Active   11   rss.bsd.am  
sarian      Active   12   sarian.am   
syuneci     Active   13   syuneci.am  
znc         Active   14   znc.bsd.am  

You already get a basic idea of how things are. Each of my blogs (Armenian and English) has its own Jail. Since I’m using WordPress, I need a database, so I have a MySQL jail (which ironically runs MariaDB) inside of it.

I also have a Git server, running gitea, which is down at the moment as I’m doing maintanence. The Git server (and many other services) requires PostgreSQL, hence the existence of  a PostgreSQL jail. I run huginn for automation (RSS to Telegram, RSS to XMPP). My sister has her own blog, using WordPress, so that’s a Jail of its own. Same goes about my fiancée.

Other Jails are Newsletter using Listmonk, Sarian (the Armenian instance of lobste.rs) and a personal ZNC server.

As an avid RSS advocate, I also have a RSS Jail, which runs Miniflux. Many of my friends use this service.

Oragir is an instance of WriteFreely, as I advocate public blogging and ActivityPub. Our community uses that too.

The web server that forwards all this traffic from the public to the Jails is nginx. All it does is proxy_pass as needed. It runs on the host.

Other services that run on the host are DNS (BIND9), an email service running OpenSMTPd (which will be moved to a Jail soon), the chat service running prosody (which will be moved to a Jail soon) and finally, WireGuard, because I love VPNs.

Finally, there’s a IPv6-over-IPv4 tunnel that I use to obtain IPv6 thanks to Hurricane Electric.

Yes, I have a firewall, I use pf(4).

For the techies in the room, here’s what my rc.conf looks like.

# cat /etc/rc.conf
# Defaults
# Set dumpdev to "AUTO" to enable crash dumps, "NO" to disable


# Networking

vlans_em0="37 1000" # 1000 -> WAN; 37 -> Home Router

ifconfig_em0_1000="inet netmask"
ifconfig_em0_37="inet netmask"

route_home="-net -gateway"

cloned_interfaces="bridge0 bridge6 bridge10"
ifconfig_bridge10="inet netmask"

## IPv6

ifconfig_gif0="inet6 2001:470:1f14:ef::2 2001:470:1f14:ef::1 prefixlen 128"

ifconfig_em0_37_ipv6="inet6 2001:470:7914:7065::2 prefixlen 64"
ipv6_static_routes="home guest"
ipv6_route_home="-net 2001:470:7914:6a76::/64 -gateway 2001:470:7914:7065::1"
ipv6_route_guest="-net 2001:470:7914:6969::/64 -gateway 2001:470:7914:7065::1"

ifconfig_bridge6_ipv6="inet6 2001:470:1f15:e4::1 prefixlen 64"

ifconfig_bridge6_aliases="inet6 2001:470:1f15:e4::25 prefixlen 64 \
inet6 2001:470:1f15:e4::80 prefixlen 64      \
inet6 2001:470:1f15:e4::5222 prefixlen 64    \
inet6 2001:470:1f15:e4:c0fe::53 prefixlen 64 \


# Firewall

# Jails


# Mail


# Web

The gif0 interface is a IPv6-over-IPv4 tunnel. I have static routes to my home network, so I don’t go to my server over the ISP every time. This also gives me the ability to get IPv6 in my home network that is routed via my home server.

As you have guessed from this config file, I do have VLANs setup. So let’s get into that.

The Home Network

First of all, here’s a very cheap diagram

I have the following VLANs setup on the switch.

VLAN ID Purpose
1 Switch Management
1000 pingvinashen (home server) WAN
1001 evn0 (home router) WAN
37 pingvinashen ↔ evn0
42 Internal Management
100 Home LAN
69 Home Guest

Here are the active ports

Port VLANs Purpose
24 untagged: 1 Switch management, connects to Port 2
22 untagged: 1000 pingvinashen WAN, from ISP
21 untagged: 1001 Home WAN, from ISP
20 tagged: 1000, 37 To pingvinashen, port em0
19 untagged: 1001 To home router, port igb1
18 tagged: 42, 100, 69, 99 To home router, port igb2
17 untagged: 37 To home router, port igb0
16 tagged: 42, 100, 69 To Lenovo T480s
15 untagged: 100 To Raspberri Pi 4
2 untagged: 99 From Port 24, for switch management
1 untagged: 42; tagged: 100, 69; PoE To UAP AC Pro

The home router, hostnamed evn0 (named after the IATA code of Yerevan’s Zvartnots International Airport) runs FreeBSD as well, the hardware is the following

root@evn0:~ # dmidecode -s system-product-name
root@evn0:~ # sysctl hw.model
hw.model: AMD GX-412TC SOC                               
root@evn0:~ # sysctl hw.physmem
hw.physmem: 4234399744
root@evn0:~ # zpool list
zroot  12.5G  9.47G  3.03G        -         -    67%    75%  1.00x    ONLINE  -

The home router does… well, routing. It also does DHCP, DNS, SLAAC, and can act as a syslog server.

Here’s what the rc.conf looks like

syslogd_flags="-a '*' -H"




# Get an IP address from the ISP's GPON

# Internal routes with pingvinashen
ifconfig_igb0="inet netmask"
ifconfig_igb0_ipv6="inet6 2001:470:7914:7065::1 prefixlen 64"

route_pingvinashen="-net -gateway"


# Home Mgmt, Switch Mgmt, Home LAN, Home Guest
vlans_igb2="42 99 100 69"
ifconfig_igb2_42="inet netmask"
ifconfig_igb2_99="inet netmask"

ifconfig_igb2_100="inet netmask"
ifconfig_igb2_100_ipv6="inet6 2001:470:7914:6a76::1 prefixlen 64"

ifconfig_igb2_69="inet netmask"
ifconfig_igb2_69_ipv6="inet6 2001:470:7914:6969::1 prefixlen 64"

# DNS and DHCP



# Router Advertisement and LLDP

Here’s pf.conf, because security is important.



nat pass on $ext_if from $int_if:network to any -> ($ext_if)
nat pass on $ext_if from $mgmt_if:network to any -> ($ext_if)
nat pass on $ext_if from $guest_if:network to any -> ($ext_if)

set skip on { lo0 }

block in all

pass on $int_if   from $int_if:network   to any
pass on $mgmt_if  from $mgmt_if:network  to any
pass on $sw_if    from $sw_if:network    to any
pass on $guest_if from $guest_if:network to any

block quick on $guest_if from any to { $int_if:network, $mgmt_if:network, $ill_net, $sw_if:network }

pass in on illuria0 from $ill_net to { $ill_net, $mgmt_if:network }

pass inet  proto icmp
pass inet6 proto icmp6
pass out   all   keep state

I’m sure there are places to improve, but it gets the job done and keeps the guest network isolated.

Here’s rtadvd.conf, for my IPv6 folks



For DNS, I’m running BIND, here’s the important parts

listen-on     {;;;;; };
listen-on-v6  { 2001:470:7914:6a76::1; 2001:470:7914:6969::1; };
allow-query   {;;;; 2001:470:7914:6a76::/64; 2001:470:7914:6969::/64;};

And for DHCP, here’s what it looks like

subnet netmask {
        option domain-name-servers;
        option subnet-mask;
        option routers;
        option domain-name "evn0.loc.illuriasecurity.com";
        option domain-search "loc.illuriasecurity.com evn0.loc.illuriasecurity.com";

host zvartnots {
    hardware ethernet d4:57:63:f1:5a:36;

host unifi0 {
    hardware ethernet 58:9c:fc:93:d1:0b;
[…] subnet netmask { range; option domain-name-servers; option subnet-mask; option routers; } subnet netmask { range; option domain-name-servers; option subnet-mask; option routers; }

So you’re wondering, what’s this unifi0? Well, that brings us to


This laptop has been gifted to me by [REDACTED] for my contributions to the Armenian government (which means when a server goes down and no one knows how to fix it, they called me and I showed up)

Here’s the hardware

root@t480s:~ # dmidecode -s system-version
ThinkPad T480s
root@t480s:~ # sysctl hw.model
hw.model: Intel(R) Core(TM) i5-8350U CPU @ 1.70GHz
root@t480s:~ # sysctl hw.physmem
hw.physmem: 25602347008
root@t480s:~ # zpool list
zroot   224G   109G   115G        -         -    44%    48%  1.00x    ONLINE  -

The T480s has access to VLAN 100, 42, 69, but the host itself has access only to VLAN 100 (LAN), while the jails can exist on other VLANs.

So I have a Jail named unifi0 that runs the Unifi Management thingie.

Here’s what rc.conf of the host looks like

# Set dumpdev to "AUTO" to enable crash dumps, "NO" to disable


ifconfig_em0="up -rxcsum -txcsum"
vlans_em0="100 42 69"

cloned_interfaces="bridge0 bridge100 bridge42 bridge69"

create_args_bridge100="ether 8c:16:45:82:b4:10"
ifconfig_bridge100="addm em0.100 SYNCDHCP"
ifconfig_bridge100_ipv6="inet6 auto_linklocal"
rtsold_flags="-i -F -m bridge100"

create_args_bridge42=" ether 8c:16:45:82:b4:42"
create_args_bridge69=" ether 8c:16:45:82:b4:69"

ifconfig_bridge42="addm em0.42"
ifconfig_bridge69="addm em0.69"


ifconfig_bridge0="inet up"


I used Jailer to create the unifi0 jail, here’s what the jail.conf looks like

# vim: set syntax=sh:

unifi0 {
  $id             = "6";
  devfs_ruleset   = 10;
  $bridge         = "bridge42";
  $domain         = "evn0.loc.illuriasecurity.com";
  vnet.interface = "epair${id}b";

  exec.prestart   = "ifconfig epair${id} create up";
  exec.prestart  += "ifconfig epair${id}a up descr vnet-${name}";
  exec.prestart  += "ifconfig ${bridge} addm epair${id}a up";

  exec.start      = "/sbin/ifconfig lo0 up";
  exec.start     += "/bin/sh /etc/rc";

  exec.stop       = "/bin/sh /etc/rc.shutdown jail";
  exec.poststop   = "ifconfig ${bridge} deletem epair${id}a";
  exec.poststop  += "ifconfig epair${id}a destroy";

  host.hostname   = "${name}.${domain}";
  path            = "/usr/local/jailer/unifi0";
  exec.consolelog = "/var/log/jail/${name}.log";

Here are the important parts inside the jail

root@t480s:~ # cat /usr/local/jailer/unifi0/etc/rc.conf
root@t480s:~ # cat /usr/local/jailer/unifi0/etc/start_if.epair6b 
ifconfig epair6b ether 58:9c:fc:93:d1:0b

Don’t you love it that you can see what’s inside the jail from the host? God I love FreeBSD!

Did I miss anything? I hope not.

Oh, for the homelabbers out there, the T480s is the one that runs things like Jellyfin if needed.

Finally, the tiny 

Raspberry Pi 4, Model B

I found this in a closed, so I decided to run it for TimeMachine.

I guess all you care about is rc.conf

ifconfig_DEFAULT="DHCP inet6 accept_rtadv"
# Set dumpdev to "AUTO" to enable crash dumps, "NO" to disable

And the Samba Configuration

# Network settings
workgroup = WORKGROUP
server string = Samba Server %v
netbios name = RPi4

# Logging
log file = /var/log/samba4/log.%m
max log size = 50
log level = 0

# Authentication
security = user
encrypt passwords = yes
passdb backend = tdbsam
map to guest = Bad User

min protocol = SMB2
max protocol = SMB3

# Apple Time Machine settings
vfs objects = catia fruit streams_xattr
fruit:metadata = stream
fruit:resource = stream
fruit:encoding = native
fruit:locking = none
fruit:time machine = yes

# File System support
ea support = yes
kernel oplocks = no
kernel share modes = no
posix locking = no
mangled names = no
smbd max xattr size = 2097152

# Performance tuning
read raw = yes
write raw = yes
getwd cache = yes
strict locking = no

# Miscellaneous
local master = no
preferred master = no
domain master = no
wins support = no

comment = Time Machine RPi4
path = /usr/local/timemachine/%U
browseable = yes
read only = no
valid users = antranigv
vfs objects = catia fruit streams_xattr
fruit:time machine = yes
fruit:advertise_fullsync = true
fruit:time machine max size = 800G  # Adjust the size according to your needs
create mask = 0600
directory mask = 0700

That’s pretty much it.


I love running homebrew servers, home networks and home labs. I love that (almost) everything is FreeBSD. The switch itself runs Linux, and the Unifi Access Point also runs Linux, both of which I’m pretty happy with.

While most homelabbers used ESXi in the past, I’m happy to see that most people are moving to open source solutions like Proxmox and Xen, but I think that FreeBSD Jails and bhyve is much better. I still don’t have a need for bhyve at the moment, but I would use it if I needed hardware virtualization.

Most homelabbers would consider the lack of Web/GUI interfaces as a con, but I think that it’s a pro. If I need to “replicate” this network, all I need to do is to copy some text files and modify some IP addresses / Interface names.

I hope this was informative and that it would be useful for anyone in the future.

That’s all folks… 

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MarsEdit 5.2: Search, Microposting, and Preview Improvements

A while back I asked Daniel Jalkut for a feature. Today, I saw this

MarsEdit 5.2: Search, Microposting, and Preview Improvements –:

Micropost Panel

New defaults are available under Settings -> Blogs -> Publishing to specify which Categories, Tags, and Post Kind should be used when publishing with the Micropost panel.

This made me so happy, as I’ve been loving MarsEdit for the last year or so. I know, I’m late to the party, but I can assure you, it’s still rockin’.

I might actually blog more now, but let’s not keep promises that we can’t keep, shall we?

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macOS log(1): Finding out the previous name of BT device

I got a new mouse yesterday to use it with Mac Mouse Fix, an amazing application that “Makes Your $10 Mouse Better Than an Apple Trackpad!”. I can assure you it does.

The mouse connects via Bluetooth, a short-range wireless technology that even after 25 years, it’s either insecure, unstable or both. Sometimes it’s none, but only when the vendors of both sides are aware of each other.

Anyways. I connected the mouse and renamed it to “Antranig’s Mouse”, now all I need is a cat. An hour later a friend asked me which model was the mouse. I had no idea, but I thought, hey, the original name of the BT device was the model name, right? Maybe I can check that.

Luckily, macOS logs everything, and I mean everything, so I used the log(1) command to see what was the previous name.

Here’s the command to run and what the output looks like

log show --style compact --info --last 12h --predicate 'process == "bluetoothd" && subsystem == "com.apple.bluetooth”' | grep setName
2024-01-06 18:57:38.908 Df bluetoothd[375:8d0c1] [com.apple.bluetooth:CBStackController] setName: device 01903735-1591-7A71-C597-CE40C2ACB232, 'Dell Mouse MS5120W' -> 'Antranig's Mouse'

A simple explanation:

  • style compact: log has styles of output, there’s the default, which is long, and there’s compact, which is short. You can also set it to json.
  • info: type if information, it can also be default or debug.
  • last: time range, can be set to m, h, d for minutes, hours or days.
  • predicate: a macOS predicate, for more information check Predicate Programming Guide.
    • process: a process, in this case bluetoothd.
    • subsystem: a macOS subsystem, in this case com.apple.bluetooth. How did I know that? note sure, but my brains contains a lot of information.
  • grep: Unix grep(1), because we party like its 1969.

I also don’t remember how I knew that I should look for setName, but that’s life for you.

And of course, we get the output, the device was previously named Dell Mouse MS5120W

That’s all folks…

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macOS Sonoma’s Keyboard Layout Switching: When Apple needs actual diversity

I did it, I finally upgraded to macOS Sonoma. To my surprise there’s only a single thing that’s bugging me… Switching the keyboard layout.

Multi-lingual people use multiple keyboard layouts. Most of the time we use custom keyboard layouts because Apple doesn’t like listening to its customers on how keyboard layouts should look like.

Here’s what happens when you switch the keyboard layout on macOS Sonoma

(and here’s the GIF version)

This is really bad, as many people might have multiple layouts which have the same icon. In my case, for example, I use both the Armenian Eastern Alternative layout (custom made, as Apple still ships a very bad Armenian layout) and the Armenian Typewriter layout (custom made, as Apple still… you get the point).

They both have the same “icon” so it’s impossible to know which layout I’m choosing.

Compare this with macOS Ventura where you can see exactly which layout you’re choosing. Here’s a screenshot from Lilith’s computer.

Yes, Lilith uses Armenian Phonetic with English, also a custom layout, as Apple still… didn’t we just do this?

Clearly, Apple lacks diversity. They don’t have people there who use multiple layouts, or custom layouts, or maybe they all just use Emojis to communicate. I really don’t know how this happened, but it was clearly a very bad decision for the majority of the planet.

Dear Apple, if you are reading this, please just email/iMessage/call me, I will show you to to make this better again (just “minify” the old version) and show you the proper Armenian layouts. There are 7 of them. Actually, just have a look at Xorg, the community has published the proper layouts there decades ago.

Thank you.

That’s all folks… 

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macOS Desktops limit?

If you’ve ever wondered how many Desktops you can have on macOS, the answer, based on my 10 second test is 16. I do, however, have two apps in fullscreen mode (OmniFocus and Music.app).


I wonder if this is per screen. If any of you has an external monitor, please test and let me know!

Fun fact: you cant do “⌘⇪3” (Command+Shift+3) to capture the screen if you’re in Mission Control, instead I ran the following inside a terminal.

sleep 5 && screencapture /tmp/foo.png

If you like to nerd out on Unix-y stuff, here’s a screenshot from the manual page of screencapture(1).

Screenshot 2023 11 02 at 7 52 29 PM

Better documentation is needed, indeed.

That’s all folks…

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Pen and Paper

For the last 6 to 10 months, I’ve been trying to find the proper digital tools to manage my life. Spoiler alert: I keep failing to do that.

In the last 5 years, my main and only job was to do one thing and one thing only, run illuria, Inc., a company that I co-founded with my friends. At some point, specifically when your team has more than three people, you need some kind of task management tool. And I’ll be honest here, I don’t care which one that is, most of them do the same thing anyway. We ended up using Notion, and we like it very much. I like the database feature and my team loves the Kanban boards. Half of the team does development and the other half does development-related things (release engineering, infra) and business-y stuff, such as sales, marketing, what have you, so we never had any issues with Notion.

(To be clear, while I like Notion and any other tool would do the job as well, I have to say that I never liked Jira’s UI/UX. That one is, indeed, enterprise-y, but that’s a story for another day).

But last year I started taking some more responsibilities (kind-of-)outside of work. Co-hosting and producing a podcast, running a community of Armenian hackers, teaching cybersecurity (I actually end up teaching Unix + Networking + how computers work, but turns out that’s what actually 80% of cybersecurity is anyway), contributing more to open-source (specially since we open-sourced our little utility, Jailer) to name a few.

Which meant that I needed a digital tool to manage the non-work part of my life as well.

The obvious choice was to use Notion, since I know it anyway. That ended up being a disaster for a very weird reason: It only works online. Even if you have the desktop app, it’s still just a wrapper around the website with some nice things like desktop notifications and such.

I know, this sounds strange to many people, but I don’t like being online all the time. Sometimes I enable iOS/macOS’s DnD, to get some work done, but sometimes I go completely offline with no distractions at all.

Unlike most other developers, I work completely locally. From my development environment to my infrastructure tools, everything is synced local/prod. This is actually a good reason to not use the fancy features of the cloud, but again, that’s a story for another day.

I have been told, by my friends, that my options are the following:

Go as basic as possible and use Notes.app. Well, I like this option, but I had two issues.

First, it’s Apple only. Yes, you can actually connect the Notes.app to your IMAP account and sync that with other Unix machines using clients like Evolution, but now the features are limited to text only. Not even tables :/

Second, the iCloud sync has some weird issues. not always, but from time to time, I was shouting “WHERE ARE MY NOTES???” just to see them appear minutes later.

Apple Notes.app? tested, liked it overall, but it’s not for me.

My friends’ second option? Go as deep as Obsidian!

I fired up Obsidian and I fell in love immediately. It was like love at first sight. Vi keybindings? it’s there. Plugins? it’s there. Run shell commands on your notes? it’s there!

After couple of days, I had everything ready. I had my folders (please, let’s call them directories!), my notes all migrated, all the plugins I needed for my weekly and daily notes (similar to what we had on Notion at work), etc etc.

And then days passed, and then weeks passed. What happened? I totally forgot that Obsidian even exists. I noticed that my wall had… sticky notes (FreeBSD branded!), my Mac had… sticky notes!

This made me so frustrated for multiple reasons.

Not that I only had two types of sticky notes (analog and digital), I also could not “search” in them!

I ended up turning the analog notes into digital, and tagging them at their title, so I could at least search using the macOS Window API.

And then I saw something awesome. Cortex Podcast released the Sidekick Notepad!

Wait wait wait, are you thinking that I bought the Sidekick Notepad? Nope, I did not 🙂

But what I ended up doing is putting all of our office’s legal pads next to me at home, we were not using them in the office anyway!

Two weeks later and I’m writing everything as needed. I take notes, I write my todo lists. I made my legal pads horizontal, similar to the Sidekick Notepad and woof is was awesome!

For a moment there I started using the Moleskine Classic Notebook, since it was more portable than yellow/white legal pads, but that didn’t work as well. I guess I needed something that can be teardown on the fly and no very-hard cover.

Why am I telling you about all of this? Well, uncle Dexter has asked on Mastodon “500 reMarkable ads later… Is anyone using one? Would you recommend it?”

I have used reMarkable (the first one), and I loved it. Not because it was an awesome technology or such, but because it made me think the same as if I was writing on paper with a pen.

So, if you, like me, have suffered for a long time to find the best “digital time/notes/todo management tool”, then you’re probably an analog person, like me.

Just take a sheet of paper, start writing on it with a pen.

That’s all folks…

P.S. I might actually end up buying the reMarkable 2 and check how that goes, or even the Sidekick Notepad. But with my writing speed, I’d need at least 4 Sidekicks every 3 months. Let’s wait and see 🙂

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More macOS Display Resolutions

I assume that this feature has been around for a while, maybe it came with Ventura, but I noticed it just today.

Turns out, if you have a MacBook Air and you want more resolution in the expense of sharpness, you can go to System SettingsDisplays, Click on Show all resolutions and get more options.

Screenshot 2023 05 15 at 1 04 07 PM

I just moved from 1680×1050 to 2048×1280. While I don’t recommend this for most people, it it useful if you do development in your terminal (like I do) and want to see more context.

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Light & Dark Wallpapers for iOS: Solving a problem that Apple created

One of the best features of macOS is the ability to have Light and Dark, as well as Dynamic Wallpapers. You’d think that Apple has done some Apple-y way to implement that, but not at all.

It’s actually part of the High Efficiency Image File Format that allows sequences which are multiple time-related images.

Here’s an example of Ventura’s default wallpaper.

Ventura graphic

As you can see, it’s multiple images.

So a while back, I thought hey, I can make a Light & Dark wallpaper for myself, which I did.

SCR 20230414 w9m

For some reason, I forgot to use these wallpapers on my iPhone and iPad. Days ago I tried, and oh boy, Apple messed up again.

Here’s how the image looks like on iOS/iPadOS.


It just loops over the images and if you try to set it as a wallpaper it sets the first one. That’s it…

Anyway, now that I’ve complained about Apple, let me show you how to use “Dynamic” wallpapers. Again, this is just a hack, it would’ve been easier if Apple just tested their own wallpapers on iOS/iPadOS.

Let’s start with iOS first.

Setup two identical wallpapers using the new iOS lock screen customization thingie.

IMG 6553
IMG 6554

After that, setup a Shortcut automation to set the wallpaper based on time. In this case, I use sunset and sunrise.

IMG 6551

The automation itself looks like this.
IMG 6552

Fun fact: Apple messed up again. You know how your iPhone changes appearance automatically between Light and Dark mode based on sunset and sunrise? Well, it doesn’t match with Shortcuts automator! the Shortcut automator will set your wallpaper sooner than iOS changes its appearance. I guess they each have their own “calculation” of when sunset/sunrise is.

Okay, but this wasn’t that hard.

How about iPadOS. Well, that’s more complicated.

First, you need to have a copy of each wallpaper (light and dark), and then you have to put them into an Album.

After that, you need a Shortcut automation that looks for these images and sets them as a wallpaper. Another inconsistency that we really didn’t need between platforms…

Here’s an example.

IMG 0125

Here’s the automation itself

IMG 0127

Fun fact: Sometimes iPadOS will forget to set the wallpaper and you’ll get a notification that says “Missed automation” or something like that. I forgot to screenshot that, but if you have an example, please do send me an image.

Congratulations, now you have Dynamic Wallpapers on iOS/iPadOS.

That’s all folks…

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Antranig Vartanian

March 7, 2023

You’d think that macOS would have a Mission Control shortcut that does “Switch to last used Desktop”, but no, it does not. And this makes macOS very hard to use for people like me, who have 10 Desktops.

Screenshot 2023 03 07 at 2 50 52 PM

On the other hand, WindowMaker, the window manager that “reproduces the elegant look and feel of the NeXTSTEP user interface”, which macOS also was based on, had that shortcut for almost exactly 10 years.

Screenshot 2023 03 07 at 2 50 12 PM

Someone PLEASE add this simple and powerful feature.

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