TECHNOLOGY NOTES

Find Me

Search
Tags
Theme
Latest articles from Technology Notes

Pinboard Approaches by Federico Viticci

Vittici posted a love story to Pinboard on Macstories yesterday. I agree with most of it and its a great article. Pinboard remains one of my most-used websites and I find I often discontinue use of apps if they don’t give me easy ways to get stuff into it.

One of the questions I often get is why would anyone use a dedicated bookmarking service when solutions like Evernote can bookmark links and even clip full webpages. The answer is obvious for me: simplicity.

On iOS, Pushpin is a damn fine Pinboard client.

As far as the Mac goes, I add things seamlessly to Pinboard using an Alfred workflow called PinAdd.

I read my unread Pinboard feed in Readkit. It’s a total reading/storage/indexing solution for my view of the web. I haven’t opened Instapaper in months.

The Slippery Slope of Knives

The title of this post sounds like an Adventure Time episode but it refers to the purchase of buying a simple folding knife. Refer back to my earlier article about how this type of thing gets started. Use caution and good judgement when going down the EDC rabbit hole.

Rather than go into why I bought a few knives since that last piece1, let’s talk instead about the knives themselves because I got a surprising amount of feedback from readers wondering what I thought of the knives on ADN.

Spyderco Caly 3

The Caly 3 is my favorite knife so far. I have seen the knife often referred to as a “gentleman’s folder” because of its sleek, thin shape and stylish look. The blade came razor sharp out of the box (just ask my thumb) and the entire construction of the knife feels like it is of the highest quality. From the carbon fiber scales2 to the metal, high-riding “deep carry” clip to the laminated ZDP-189 steel of the blade, the whole thing just feels incredibly well put together.

It is the most expensive of the bunch but it is also the knife I’ll carry around with me most often because it doesn’t call attention to itself and the size lends itself to being something that would fit any pocket, ready to go anywhere. It does take some practice opening and closing the knife with one hand but, using your thumb to press on the frame lock and your index finger in the “spyderhole” to break the hook up seems to be the easiest way to accomplish it.

The Caly 3 has a nice weight and the construction is solid with stainless liners and frame. While they have been drilled out somewhat to reduce weight, it retains a bit of heft but the carbon fiber scales weigh almost nothing so it ends up being a balancing act that works out in the user’s favor. The size of the knife when closed is about 4 1/16” and, when open it is about 7”.

This knife is awesome. Highly recommended.

Benchmade 551 Griptilian

The 551 is my “work” knife. When I am working on the house, this is the knife in my pocket for a number of reasons. The blade is half-serrated, half plain-edge which makes it useful for things like cutting zip ties or tubing as well as slicing open bags of things like rock salt or wood pellets. The 154CM steel is extremely hard and will take a beating and the axis lock makes it very easy to open and close with one hand.

The Benchmade Griptilian is a bit too grippy for me to carry all the time because the scales have a very rough texture on them. They will rip up your hands if you need something in the pocket where your knife is. However, keeping the goal in mind, extra grippy scales lend themselves to doing real work because you’ll often have wet, muddy hands and you don’t want the knife to slip or twist in your hand while cutting something.

The 551 is about 4.62” when closed and 8.07” when open. Highly recommended knife – extremely solid but not cheap.

Kershaw Cryo

The Cryo was a bit of a surprise to me. I was looking at Sebenzas and Hinderers because I was curious about the design. Those knives are crazy expensive but the search took me into a forum where people were discussing a Rick Hinderer collaboration with Kershaw knives that used his famous frame lock design in an inexpensive knife. This collaboration yielded the Kershaw Cryo. The Cryo is a “flipper” knife. This means that there is a spike on the frame side of the knife when its closed that you can press to make the knife spring open and snap into locked position. It is a handy feature and fun to play around with.

The knife is made using 8Cr13MoV steel so it balances hardness, sharpness and protection from the elements. I have found the knife to retain its edge fairly well but it wasn’t as laser sharp as either the 551 or the Caly 3 out of the box. It is still serviceably sharp however and I find myself carrying it quite a bit, despite how great the Caly 3 is. I haven’t seen any of the misalignment or construction issues mentioned in several of the reviews I’ve read. It feels well-made and solid. Overall it feels more expensive than its $25-30 price tag implies and, at that price, you’re not risking much to pick one up.

This knife is when its 3 3/4” closed and when 7 3/4” open. It is a good pocket-sized knife and, despite its considerable heft and smooth scales, I like it quite a bit. Cheap and recommended.

Gerber Ripstop I

link to image containing all four including the Ripstop for size comparison

The Gerber Ripstop I is a tiny knife. It is referred to as a “paraframe” knife as well which means that it has an open construction with no scales. This makes the knife very light but I don’t really feel like it works well as a normal pocket carry. I would be afraid that the things rattling around in my pocket might sneak in the sides and get nicked up. Or worse, my finger. Because of that, I generally keep the Ripstop clipped to my laptop bag. It is extremely small and light so it doesn’t add signficant weight and it is very sharp.

The small size also means that there is no flexibility for where you attach the clip. You can remove the clip, but there’s no other options for re-attaching it. This was the first knife I bought and, at $10, I can hardly complain that it lacks features of more expensive knives.

If you’re looking for a cheap little frame-lock knife, it’s hard to go wrong at the price but I’d recommend stepping up to a better knife right off the bat. What the Gerber Ripstop was good for, for me, was clueing me into the fact that I would actually end up using a folding knife a lot more than I thought I would. Once that became apparent, I knew that further investments wouldn’t be a waste and I went looking for more refined alternatives. If you’re still reading this, I suspect many of you will do the same so my recommendation is to skip the starter knife and do some research on getting a higher quality, more flexible knife. I don’t think you’ll regret it.

On that topic, “flexibility” is important to consider when buying a knife. The term can be used to describe many characteristics of a knife but I use it to refer to how easy it is to actually carry the knife on a daily basis. I tend to keep my knife in my front left pocket or back right pocket. To that end, having the ability to swap out where the clip goes is important. The first thing I usually do when I unbox a knife is flip the clip over to enable me to use it “tip-up”3 with the blade opening fitting snugly against the outside of my pocket to prevent accidental openings. This is the safest way to carry it and it also works for me ergonomically.

The knife/EDC rabbit hole is a deep one. There are some really smart geeks writing posts and lists about this stuff that I never took notice of because it was never an area of interest but, now that it is, I’m finding the content they’ve written is top notch and well worth a look.

Good luck with your knife purchase, nerds!

Affiliate links are used throughout this article. Clicking will help support the site. Thanks in advance.


  1. These things start slowly and innocently but before you know it you have bandages on your fingers and you’re looking at sites reserved for the real enthusiasts

  2. That’s “grips”, for you non-knife nerds in the audience (assuming you’re still reading). 

  3. “Tip-up” or “tip-down” refer to how the knife rides in the pocket – with the tip of the knife pointing up or down. I find tip-up carry feels much more natural. You just lift the knife out of the pocket and it is in the right position to use the “spyderhole” or thumbstud to open the knife. 

Slack: Early Contender for 2014 App Of The Year

Go read Gabe’s review of Slack1. I’ve been using it for team collaboration for almost three weeks and it is exactly what I’ve always wanted in an app of this genre.

From Gabe’s article:

First I’d like to clear up a strange interpretation that isn’t wrong but rather misleading. A couple articles, portray Slack as a chat service or social media aggregator. While it can be used for that purpose, it would be like calling Twitter a dating service. Slack is a collaborative working environment that also provides a chat service.

I have set a high bar for the features I need in a collaborative chat client and I’ve been pretty patient with committing to one when one of those features is lacking. Some have gotten tantalizingly close but they fall down on some key functionality like lacking a fully-functioning iOS client or search or a viable business model. Slack hits all of the high notes. After using it for a week, I was ready to commit for the long haul because it is nothing short of amazing.

If you have a small team that needs a central communication repository but also well-thought-out methods for sharing, commenting on and storing files, this service is a clear winner. Sign up for Slack1.


  1. This is Gabe’s referral link. 

iMessage Woes and Preferences

The other day there was an email in my inbox stating that Kickstarter had been hacked and number of email addresses had been stolen. Being a barely-functioning paranoid, both my wife and I started changing our passwords 1 all the way down to the combination on our luggage.

One very unwelcome change occurred during that process 2. Ties to iCloud run deep through the iOS and Mac ecosystems these days and, when an iCloud password is changed, lots of things take place that you have very little control over. Surprisingly almost all of the things that needed to work worked perfectly after I re-entered my new password. The lone bit of craziness was iMessage.

iMessage gets a lot of grief in the tech press which is a shame because, when iMessage is working, it is the best messaging platform out there. It is easy to be frustrated by the feeling that Apple doesn’t seem to be that interested in getting a hammerlock on the messaging aspect of iOS because the state of private instant messaging sucks right now. Google has ruined Gtalk with its Google+ integration (and by being Google), the various multi-clients don’t often support newer protocols of the more recent, “closed” systems like Skype, iMessage and Google+ so you’re left with multiple clients running and a hodgepodge of badly implemented half-measures.

There have been beacons in the darkness, but their reach is limited and trying to sell all of your friends and familiy on a new messaging platform, especially one that costs money, is a tall order. There are other, feature-rich super messaging clients like #SLACK 3 but they work best for a group or small company.

So iMessage stands poised to have the best reach because anyone with an iOS device and an iCloud account can message you over any data connection (and in some cases with an SMS fallback). It almost seems to good to be true since everyone I know that I would want to message has an iOS device. Yet Apple, despite the immense breadth of their userbase, has unleashed an unfinished and, at times, problematic mess of technology on their customers.

I will say that I seem to have less problems than most people I talk to when it comes to iMessage but it really shouldn’t matter. The app should be reliable and easy to use. If Apple ever wants to have an audience of appreciative users, it must be easy to setup and flawless in execution. Hopefully they’ll get there someday.

Back to my password changing story….

After we changed our passwords, my wife and I had a lot of problems start cropping up. Some messages were flat out failing to send. Some were stuck in limbo. Some were causing the notifications to pop-up twice. I started to worry that we would never get things back to working order again. Eventually we did though and actually things are working better than ever now.

Here are some tips that might help if iMessage isn’t working as well as you’d like.

  1. Only activate one phone number or address under the option “You can be reached for messages at”.
  2. Make this change consistent across all of the Apple devices associated with that ID.
  3. Delete your old iMessage conversations.
  4. After making these changes, wait a few hours before sending more messages.

The first item aims at avoiding multiple email addresses and phone numbers associated with a single iMessage ID. Having more than one linked seems to cause a lot of issues.

Number two is an easy one to get wrong if you’re not paying attention. Make sure you set iMessage up the same way across every device you have logged into iCloud. This goes for Macs, iPads, old iPods, old iPhones, your usual iPhone 4 and anything else you can think of. In my experience if just one of those devices has multiple contact choices selected it will keep the messy cycle alive.

Number three might be too much for some people because they use their iMessage conversations as a note database.5 Conversation threads do seem to be persistent and exist across all of your devices so why not? The problem is that they can be associated with those now-defunct contact addresses and keeping the conversations around will cause messaging conflicts. Deleting your conversations is a much safer way to go. If you are smart, you’re already using Chatology for reading archived conversations anyway.

Number four is easy. Make these changes and go to sleep for the night. When you wake up, hopefully iMessage will be working as well for you as it seems to be working for me. It is consistent, fast and surprisingly reliable.


  1. Using 1Password, of course. 

  2. I am grateful that it was only one unwelcome change. These things can often end badly. 

  3. I really love #Slack. If I could use it for everything, messaging-wise, I would do so in a heartbeat. 

  4. Yes, Alice, your EDC iPhone. 

  5. Bad idea.