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Using An Elgato Stream Deck With OmniFocus


I bought a 32-key Elgato Stream Deck because I was getting tired of remembering (and running out) of hotkey combinations. And at the time, I was ramping up my streaming game and wanted to add a little convenience to my life. What I didn’t expect was the ridiculous amount of power and macro-pad like the Stream Deck enables.

I originally set up the Deck with a bank of simple launcher keys for opening applications. And that works fine. But I quickly discovered the concept of profiles and the process of assigning a profile to an application.

Here’s what that means: you can create an entire profile (a screen of buttons) for an application that automatically opens when that application is active. So when I open Brave, the Stream Deck switches to a profile of Brave buttons I have programmed. When I open Resolve for editing, it shows me buttons for video work in Resolve. And when I open OmniFocus, it shows me a bunch of hotkeys I programmed for OmniFocus.

Ignore the four buttons on the right. Those are shortcuts I use to get to certain profiles while streaming.

Starting at the top, I have two Perspective keys. One takes me to my Projects view and the other takes me to my Kanban view. That’s it. Yes, I could put these in the sidebar of OmniFocus, but for some reason, it’s simply faster to have them here.

The remaining five buttons on the top row run Omni Automation scripts for managing where my projects live in the Kanban cycle. Those scripts (and the corresponding Stream Deck buttons) move the projects from one state to another.

“To Do” adds the project to the Kanban board as a potential project by adding a to-do tag.

“In Prog” removes any other Kanban tag and adds in-progress.

“Waiting” removes any other Kanban tag and adds waiting.

“Done” removes any other Kanban tag and adds done.

“Clear” any Kanban tag, which means I’ve removed it from the Kanban flow entirely.

One note here, this entire process is done on a project level and not a task level. It’s a set of scripts I altered from the Omni Automation site. If you’re interested in these scripts, you can pick them up here.

To set these up is a bit of a pain. Technically, there’s a way to run these scripts from a url-callback scheme. But I’ve never succeeded in making it work.

Instead, I cheated. I opened up my keyboard settings and added hotkeys for each of the scripts I wanted on the Stream Deck.

Then, in the Stream Deck settings, I added them as a hotkey.

On the second row is a simple one called “View Project.” Because I’m working primarily from this Kanban view in OmniFocus, I regularly want to go from the Kanban Perspective to the project itself. The nice part here is that there’s already a hotkey to do this: ⌥ + ⌘ + R

Last row! The first three work the same as the scripts on the top row. They are hotkeys in the Keyboard settings and then assigned in the Stream Deck.

“Template” runs a project templating script that I use for every project I create in OmniFocus.

“Sort” is a script that sorts projects by name. You can find it here.

“Update Reviews” is one of the more popular scripts I’ve created, so I need it here as well. You can read up on it here.

The last button I have is “Copy to Obsidian.” This is a multi-action key I set up to copy the title and link of the selected project. It then opens Obsidian so I can copy both of those to a new note and get to work!

I know there is a ton more I could do here, but these simple keys make my life so much better overall. If you have a chance to pick up a Stream Deck, I highly recommend it.

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18 days ago
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How to Go From an Awkward Past to Your Dream Life

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Get your past, present, and future selves on the same page with three steps.

Think of yourself as three people in one.

  • Your Past Self is who you used to be. Every action you have taken is in the past.
  • Your Future Self is who you want to become. You have hopes, dreams, and ambitions for the life your Future Self is going to live.
  • Your Present Self is who you are today. Your Future and Past Selfs are constantly in flux, and you’re why.

Ideally, all three of you are on the same page. That often isn’t the case. There can be a lot of tension between our Past, Present, and Future Selfs. That tension limits our potential and makes us miserable.

Here are three house rules you can establish to quit the bickering and get your Past, Present, and Future Selfs to work together.

Rule 1: Don’t blame your Past Self for everything wrong in your life.

I get it. Your Past Self was kind of awkward. You didn’t know anything, and there are so many things you’d do differently now.

Don’t worry about it. Everyone was an awkward teenager. We were still figuring things out. We still are.

While the events of the past are fixed, they’re open to interpretation. Yes, the past is full of awkward, embarrassing, and painful experiences. Some of them happen to everyone; some of them shouldn’t happen to anyone. They’re facts. They happened. Now we can choose how we interpret those facts and move forward.

It’s very disempowering to assign responsibility for everything that’s wrong with your life to anyone else, even your Past Self. If they got you into it, they’re the only one who can get you out. Your Past Self can’t take action. Only your Present Self can take action.

If you don’t like a choice made by a previous Present Self, make another one.

Rule 2: Don’t hang all your hopes for the future on your Future Self.

We may not like where things are today, but the future is going to be awesome, right?

We’ll get to bed earlier tonight. We won’t snap at our kids tomorrow. We’ll have more time to take walks next week. We’ll be making more money next year. When we live in a nicer house with a bigger yard with an outdoor kitchen, then we can invite people over for dinner and build some lasting friendships.

Our Future Self is going to be living the life! Or they certainly could be.

You can see where your Past Self’s decisions have gotten you. If you like the direction you’re heading, keep it up. If not, start making adjustments.

Find ways to set your Future Self up for success. Put the reusable shopping bags in the car so you don’t forget them when you head out running errands tomorrow. Sign up for a painting class. Set your morning alarm to go off 15 minutes earlier. Increase your 401(k) contributions by 1%. Listen attentively when your son wants to give you the VIP tour of the empire he built across the living room from LEGOs, wooden blocks, and couch cushions.

Some days, the adjustments you make to shape your future reality are going to be big, and you’ll know they’re going to have an impact. Those days are few and far between. Most days, the adjustments are imperceptibly small. You’re going to wonder if you’re making a difference. Those are the days you have to trust that your Past Self as set you on the right course.

You can think of those days as being normal.

Rule 3: Don’t let your past sabotage your future.

If we compare our Past Self to our Future Self, our Past Self can be kind of skittish. Our Past Self was awkward and didn’t know anything. Our Future Self is sophisticated and has everything figured out.

Our Past Self knows us very well. They know what we’re capable of. They made us who we are. They built us up and they know exactly how to take us down. If our Past Self gets spooked, they can start feeding Fear inside information to get us to back off on these ambitious plans.

Our Present Self has to reassure our Past Self that everything’s under control. Five years ago, we didn’t have the skills and resources to live the life we’re living now. We weren’t ready then. We aren’t ready now to live the life we’re going to live five years from now. “But here’s what I’m doing to get us ready…”

Your Past Self should be intimidated by your plans for the future. If you think about it, you were probably once intimidated by the thought of the life you’re living now, but here you are. You made it.

Even your Present Self should be a little nervous looking forward. It means you’re setting risky goals. It’s exciting, isn’t it?

You are capable of change. Your Present Self—you, the one reading this—has the responsibility to act, to bridge the gap between who you were and who you want to be.

All of this comes down to what we’re going to do today. Today is when we decide to act on our ideas for the future. Today is when we turn ideas into memories instead of letting those ideas lapse into regrets.

Carpe diem.

Question: What are you going to adjust today? Share your thoughts in the comments, on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook.
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34 days ago
Toronto, ON
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Psychogeography News - April 2021

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After a hiatus of a few years, I have decided to attempt to resurrect the psychogeography news for this blog. I used to do it monthly, prior to that I did it via a mailing list. Anyway, it seems like I stopped it in November 2016, so that’s over 4 years! Anyway, I am going to give it another go. The news will contain anything related to: walking, the city, urban space, landscape, public art, architecture, space-related activism, and so on – so whatever loosely comes under the rubric of ‘psychogeography’. I hope you find it interesting:

The Guardian: A joyless trudge? No, thanks: why I am utterly sick of ‘going for a walk’

An entertainingly cynical, article by a Canadian living in the UK during lockdown. It covers anything from dodgy footwear to Margaret Thatcher. Click herefor full article.

The Claude Glass Revolutionized the Way People Saw Landscape

This is a really interesting academic, short, article about how a little mirror, named after the landscape artist Claude Lorrain, changed the way people viewed the landscape. For those Situationists amongst you, Lorrain was of interest to them due to his depictions of ruins (“the charms of the ruins”). The Situationists had a problem with the nostalgia engendered by images of ruins (and ruins themselves) and actually used one of Lorrain’s paintings in one of their maps. Click herefor the article.

The Guardian: Is that a unicorn? No it’s a teenager taking a hike in the great outdoors.

This is about the Ramblers attempts to get young people out and about (and bumbling) in Britain’s wide open spaces. Includes some research and stats, for those who are interested in that kind of thing. Full article here.

Revisiting the Concrete Architecture of Belgian Icon Juliaan Lampens

I’m a big fan of brutalist architecture (and even included a large section on the work of Chamberlin, Powell and Bon in my thesis). I’m not an expert, though, and hadn’t heard of this chappy. An interesting article, with some nice images, herein The Wallpaper.

French Artist Unveils New Optical Illusion Installation in Italy

This uncanny installation appears on the façade of the Pallazo Strozzi in Florence. It’s really fabulous and must be super to see in person. It reminds me of the opening to Civilization and its Discontents where Freud talks about how memory, and the unconscious, has the effect of forgetting. Freud uses a beautiful analogy of the ancient city of Rome to help him explain how the unconscious works (click hereif you’d like to read my take on that). Click herefor some images of the installation.

Building a Feminist City

This editorial, discussing the current focus on women’s safety in public space following Sarah Everard’s death, takes its starting point as Haussmann’s Paris (very Situationist). Click hereto read the article in The Guardian.

Mouse Hole Update

A Really cute one to finish on. This from a blog entitled ‘Walks Between the Commons: American mom living in London’. It’s about a little mouse hole installation that local people decorate and offer gifts up to the pretend mice that live there, such as Christmas cards. It’s, basically, a sweet little bit of guerrilla urban creativity. Click here for the images.

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77 days ago
Toronto, ON
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Out of the Clouds


It’s been awhile since I posted anything new in here. Here’s a new render I made - still pretty much playing with the same elements I’ve been using for a few years, mixed into something new like a trusty Lego set. I could generate endless variations, though perhaps it’s time to add some new pieces to the kit. Rendered in Clarisse IFX with some post in photoshop.

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82 days ago
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92 days ago
Toronto, ON
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The new Gowalla, and open data around places

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I saw that Richard Eriksson shared news about the “new Gowalla”.

I replied to Richard’s tweet:

I haven’t delved into it, have you see anything about data licensing?

I’ll just come right out and say that I’d love for the basics of location data to be openly licensed, maybe synced or improved with OpenStreetMap over time. <twitter.com/bmann/sta…>

I then headed over to LinkedIn and posted there to see if I could get some mapping friends to weigh in, tagging Will Cadell of Sparkgeo of and Eric Gunderson of Mapbox:

I am completely uninterested in spending a bunch of time on a platform which doesn’t have AT LEAST non-commercial re-use of data around locations.

Do you all know anything about state of the art location (business, place, etc) licensing?

Are people syncing back to Open Street Map as a shared layer?

Can we include IndieWeb protocols like Micropub “check ins” so we can extend beyond a silo from day one?

Any info, speculation, or hard earned learnings welcome ;)

I’d be happy to participate in Gowalla-like activities – but I don’t want to do it if the links, identifiers, and data are all owned by another locked down platform.

The location of a store, what type of store it is, and user “enrichment” like photos, reviews, etc. shouldn’t be locked in one data silo.

There is more awareness around these issues, so maybe we can raise them early, and get these platforms to address this up front.

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116 days ago
Toronto, ON
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Did you know: We drink Canadian beer out of American cans, where’s the logic in that?


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Did you know: We drink Canadian beer out of American cans, where’s the logic in that?


During the recent aluminium tariff “trade war” between the US and Canada, the lowly beer can became a sign of the entire debacle. It began on August 6 when the US announced a ten per cent tariff on aluminium from Canada, to take effect August 16.

This was the second time in three years that such a tariff had been imposed by the US, with the Trump administration claiming that Canada had unfairly increased its exports and become a “threat to US national security.”

On August 28, the owner of a small Ottawa brewery told CBC Radio’s “As It Happens” that the tariff was costing his company an extra two cents for every can because no beer cans are manufactured in Canada. Statistics Canada data from 2018 shows that Canada imports more than two billion beer cans annually.

So we brew our own beer, we smelt the aluminium, but we import the beer cans. It’s hard to see the logic in that.

Indeed, after the US tariff announcement, Jean Simard, the president and CEO of the Aluminium Association of Canada, told the New York Times (August 6) that he would be pushing the Canadian government to retaliate by applying tariffs on American-made aluminium products. “We can drink Canadian beer out of Canadian cans,” Simard said.

But on September 15, just hours before Canada was set to impose its own aluminium tariffs, the US government-backed down and removed its tariffs. Mr. Simard then seemed to have lost his resolve about beer cans and instead was quoted as saying that “you can’t manage trade on a commodity like aluminium.” Simard did not respond to requests for an interview.

For her part, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland declared, after tariffs were dropped, that “common sense has prevailed.”

But a closer look at the aluminium situation suggests that common sense has little to do with it. In fact, like most globalized businesses, the aluminium industry looks more like a Rube Goldberg-style absurdity machine than a model of “common sense.”

A century ago, financiers from the US and UK selected Quebec as the site for aluminium production because of its hydropower potential and set about erecting dams to power a smelter complex throughout the Saguenay River Valley. The Inuit and Cree communities had little say in the process that displaced them for the sake of a North American aluminium industry.

Canada now has nine primary aluminium smelters – eight in Quebec and one in Kitimat, BC – with three owned by US-based Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa), five owned by UK/Australia-based Rio Tinto (which bought Alcan in 2007), and one (Aluminiere Alouette) owned by a consortium that is six per cent owned by Quebec. It’s hard to consider this a “Canadian” industry, but that’s the euphemism that is always applied. These are the members of Jean Simard’s Aluminium Association of Canada. Oddly, the US administration considered a US company (Alcoa) – which owns one-third of the Canadian smelters – to be a part of this “national security threat.”

Aluminium is infinitely recyclable and melting aluminium for recycling uses 95% less energy than using virgin ore.

Bauxite, the ore that is the basis for aluminium, is not mined in Canada, so the smelting companies import the ore from Guyana, Jamaica, Guinea, and Australia. The ore travels thousands of miles to the smelters by fossil fuel-powered vessels, a factor not calculated into the industry’s claims to be a low-carbon venture in Canada (due to the use of hydropower for smelting rather than gas or coal).

Alcoa and Rio Tinto are also the world’s top two bauxite mining companies, owning many of the mines in those countries, where they have been accused of environmental and human rights violations. Rio Tinto is currently under fire for destroying Aboriginal heritage sites in Australia.

These smelters are called “primary” because they only accept “virgin” input (bauxite and/or alumina), not recycled aluminium. In this, they are like the plastics industry, which insists on “virgin” input rather than adapting to utilize the mountains of plastic waste.

Aluminium, however, is infinitely recyclable, and according to www.recycleeverywhere.ca, melting aluminium for recycling “uses 95% less energy than using virgin ore” because the temperatures needed are significantly lower than primary smelters.

Light Metal Age magazine states that there are some 42 secondary aluminium producers in Canada (four in BC and most in Ontario and Quebec), which take recycled aluminium for melting – but currently their capacity is paltry compared to the big nine smelters, who send their aluminium ingots, rolls of sheeting, etc. to the US.

Huge companies such as Crown Holdings Inc. (global headquarters in Yardley, Penn.) and Ball Corporation (global headquarters in Broomfield, Co.) manufacture billions of beer cans to sell back to Canadian breweries. Ball Corporation buys some of its aluminium rolls from recycler Novelis.*
Green agenda



A spokesperson for labour union Unifor – which represents smelter workers – told me by phone that they would be in favour of Canada manufacturing its own beer cans on a large scale. “We are in favour of an increase in any sector of manufacturing in Canada,” he said, and added that Unifor is “not opposed” to using recycled aluminium.

Perhaps a lesson can be learned from Canada’s experience with personal protective equipment (PPE) for the pandemic. Initially, Canada was importing all its PPE from other countries. But in March, according to The Energy Mix (Sept. 4), the federal government issued a “call to action” and more than 6,000 Canadian companies offered expertise and capacity to manufacture what was needed, and 1,000 companies retooled to manufacture PPE.

This is an indication that the industry can “turn on a dime” when necessary.

Maybe it’s now time for recycling to turn on a dime. Year after year, Statistics Canada data has shown that our recycling of metal is on a downward trend, with less and less diverted from landfill. Perhaps if there were regional secondary aluminium producers in every province, along with local can manufacturers to supply the more than one thousand small breweries across the country, we would “drink Canadian beer out of Canadian cans.”



Before being bought up by Rio Tinto in 2007, Alcan created the means for turning billions of discarded aluminium cans into new ones. In 1989, it established “melting facilities” for UBCs (used beverage containers) at five locations, including at Berea, Kentucky. By 2001, the Berea plant had become the largest aluminium recycling facility in the world.

In 2005, this part of Alcan was spun off as a company called Novelis and in 2007 it was bought up by the Indian conglomerate Aditya Birla Group. By 2019, Novelis was recycling 60 billion beer cans per year, accounting for 61% of the company’s recycled content. Ironically, the cans are shipped from recycling centres around the world.

Novelis had long touted its “urban mines” rather than geophysical mines, which may be why Rio Tinto showed no interest in Novelis when it purchased Alcan.

Joyce Nelson is a contributor to the Watershed Sentinel and quarterly environmentally focused magazine headquartered in the Comox Valley. Her latest book, “Bypassing Dystopia,” is published by Watershed Sentinel Books.



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120 days ago
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