I’m hiring.

I’m in need of a research assistant for the next three months (concluding 24 March) to help me prepare for a book I will be writing.  The position calls for someone with excellent library skills and the ability to track down rather obscure data and information.  Minimum 10 hours per week.

The position will start on 20 January 2014 and conclude on 28 March 2014 (10 weeks).

Position description and how to submit an application.


Flagged Mail messages to OmniFocus (revised)

For quite some time, I used a small script from Hunter Hillegas that would send any flagged messages in Mail to the Inbox in OmniFocus. The script ran on my main server at home, which is always on with Mail running. Peter Borg’s excellent Lingon 3 triggered the script every minute. This was handy because I could flag a message when I’m out and about and it would appear in my OmniFocus almost immediately. Brilliant.

Since upgrading to Mavericks and moving all of my mail to FastMail, however, something broke and the script ceased to work. I thought about getting in touch with Hunter directly, but soon realised this was a teachable moment and that it was time I started to learn a bit of AppleScript. And so, after tinkering around for a good hour or so, including taking a tip from a MacRumors post, Hunter’s original code remains, but with modifications to the early bits where multiple IMAP accounts (and their Inboxes) were originally defined.

Here is the code:


A slight change in workflow.

The recent release of Mavericks and the complete re-write of Keynote has forced me to reconsider my workflow. I use Keynote every day for teaching and writing some client reports. I know the ’09 version very well, but haven’t quite taken to the new ’13 version. Some user interface decisions are bizarre, to the say the least. A good example is how sliders are now used to create space before and after paragraphs.

The main issue for me, however, is that Keynote files no longer sync between my computers using SugarSync. Others were having this problem with the 1.X version of SugarSync, but for some reason I wasn’t affected. At least not until Keynote ’13. Keynote files are actually packages (or bundles, as some call them), and these don’t play well with sync services such as SugarSync. To be fair to SugarSync, I recall reading in the past that they do not support Mac bundles such as those created by Keynote, Pages and Numbers.

After spending days struggling to find a decent sync solution (one of which involved setting up ChronoSync to poll all computers on my network to check for changes every 5 minutes), I decided on BitTorrent Sync. I had tried it before but couldn’t find a use case. Alas, BT Sync struggles with Keynote ’13 files as well, but its sync capabilities with all other files is superb. By the time I ditched Keynote ’13 for the previous Keynote ’09 (a decision which took much less than a week to actually make), I had already gone all in with BT Sync, thus rendering SugarSync (which is still excellent) unnecessary.

I’ve also recently pulled my old late-2008 Macbook Pro out of retirement. It’s now (again) my main computer. The iMac is now downstairs serving as the house server. Everything syncs to it, and it syncs to everything. It has seven hard drives hanging off of it: two to do versioning of my work files (each every five minutes, alternating), three as nightly clones, and another two as backups of my versioning disks. If that sounds ridiculous, that’s because it is. It also takes care of hourly backups to Amazon S3 using Arq. My 11″ Macbook Air sits quietly on my desk beside the Macbook Pro, waiting to be taken out of the house on weekdays. Because it is synced in real time using BT Sync, it’s always ready. If not synced automatically, moving files between all three machines (new versions of software, for example) is easy using Dropzone, and I always have each machine’s screen open using the built-in screen sharing feature of OS X.

Other apps I’ve been using recently:

  • Sente: after a good friend had been pestering me for years to try this, I finally caved. Reading and making notes on articles on my iPad is a treat, and these notes are synced to my computers.
  • I still use PDF Expert on the iPad to read miscellaneous pdf files, for example assignments submitted by students. I have it sync with a specific folder in my Dropbox account which serves as a bit of a repository of random stuff. (At one point, I had students submit assignments via email, and one of my computers would run an AppleScript that would strip the message of the pdf attachment and upload it to this Dropbox folder. Thus, it would be available instantly on my iPad.)
  • I moved back to the open-source version of TextMate after playing with Sublime Text for over a year. The alpha of version 2 apparently doesn’t like to have application settings synced via Dropbox (unlike Sublime), so I’ve ensured my various config files are up on gist for future reference. I still write mostly in LaTeX. I will do the odd file in markdown and, where necessary, convert it to .docx using pandoc.

Celebrating a retirement!

A dear friend, mentor and world-class scholar retired this month.  Professor Paul Wilkinson has been at York University for 40 years.  In that time he has established himself as a foremost authority in several areas, including tourism geography, recreation planning and environmental management.  Paul was my PhD Supervisor from 1997 until 2001.  He was a hugely positive influence during these formative years as I developed into a full-time academic.  It goes without saying that I wouldn’t be where I am today without him.

Congratulations, my friend.  Sorry I couldn’t be there to help you celebrate.  


Manitoba Aviation Council – Annual Conference

I was honoured to be asked to speak at this year’s annual Manitoba Aviation Council Conference in late April.  I attended the 2011 Conference (but was unfortunately out of town for the 2012 event) and found it to be an excellent opportunity to see and hear what is happening in all aspects of commercial and general aviation in the Province.  I’ll be speaking broadly about the Canadian aeropolitical scene as viewed through a New Zealand lens, using as the title of my talk The Canadian aeropolitical landscape: lessons from New Zealand.  I’ll speak to issues of market access and withholding rights (ownership/control) and bring in a comparative assessment of the role of airports in the context of commercial airlift.  Canada and New Zealand are not hugely different in many respects, but there are some stark differences.  Much of this can explained by geography, government policy and economic development objectives. 

It’s out…


After quite a few years in development, this was finally published in late 2012.  I’m pretty proud of it, and the credit certainly goes to Tim for pulling it all together as a cohesive whole.  It offers loads of excellent advice – and not just for those writing Dissertations and Theses in Tourism Management.  Between the three of us, we’ve been at this for quite some time, so plenty of collective wisdom contained within…

Not Another Mac Podcast #86 – guest appearance

I was a guest on episode #86 of Not Another Mac Podcast, a podcast run by Mark Greentree out of Australia. This was a real treat because it is one of my favourite Mac-related podcasts. I find every episode has at least one topic (often more) which is relevant to my workflows or interests. If you’re a Mac user, you’d do well to subscribe via iTunes.

In the episode, we talk about how some things in the Apple ecosystem often do not work and then discuss issues surrounding building a home theatre system using Apple-provided tools. We then round things out with our picks. Mine were Sublime Text 2 and iGist.

Listen to the episode.