Awesome batch print trick for macOS

I came across an old, yet awesome, batch print trick for macOS yesterday. I had a series of PDFs that I needed to print and didn’t want to have to open each file to do it. I read about it in a post by Jesse Chapman titled “How to batch print multiple files in Mac OS X without opening them“.

The other day I wanted to print 25 PDFs without having to open each one and go to File > Print. Sounds simple enough. Turns out, it’s so simple that I couldn’t figure it out for quite a while.

There’s probably a command line way to do this, and I’d love to find that too. For now, this is pretty cool!

Image by Geraldine Lewa

Making sense of JavaScript array methods with Array Explorer

Sarah Drasner shared her awesome Array Explorer tool on Twitter the other day. It’s design is pretty simple, and yet a powerful way to learn JavaScript arrays. What you do is pick a couple options from drop-down lists to find the right array method you need for a project.

I still find arrays challenging and yet learning how to work with them in JavaScript is so important. If you’re still figuring this stuff out, definitely take a look at Array Explorer, bookmark it, and use it.

Sarah even made the code for Array Explorer available on GitHub so you can see how she put it together too.

A reminder how to use a semicolon

How to use a semicolon by The Oatmeal
How to use a semicolon by The Oatmeal

Now and then I feel like I need a refresher on how to use certain forms of punctuation. Today it was the semicolon, which I have abused on multiple occasions.

The most feared punctuation on earth.

I did a little Googling and found this awesome guide on The Oatmeal titled “How to use a semicolon“. Not only is this guide really useful and worth bookmarking, it is a reminder of just how awesome The Oatmeal is, generally.

Other terrific grammar guides include:

Even people who write for a living could use a reminder now and then. I certainly do.

Source: How to use a semicolon – The Oatmeal

Using the iPad Pro for everything, in detail

Is the iPad Pro, the "everything" device?

MacStories’ Frederico Viticci has published a very comprehensive guide to using the iPad Pro for everything. I saved it to Instapaper and I have a 79 minute read to look forward to. That about covers my train rides to and from work.

I’ve been thinking about the viability of using the iPad Pro for everything I currently do on my MacBook Air as part of a forward-looking thought experiment. The prices of Apple hardware have a tendency to skyrocket due to currency fluctuations. The prospect of replacing my MacBook Air one day (may that day be in the distant future) leaves me more than a little breathless.

On the other hand, a tablet could be a very convenient replacement if it has enough flexibility to cover my day to day tasks. My very rough estimation, before reading Viticci’s essay, is that it probably would meet virtually all of my requirements. My big question mark is what to do about my photography but, perhaps, there is answer to that too?

With that, here is “A Computer for Everything: One Year of iPad Pro”. Boil some water and get comfortable.

Image credit: Pexels

Better management

I had opportunities to manage people in my various roles and becoming a manager was definitely a work-in-progress. Because I have been both a manager and an employee at different stages of my life, I’m pretty interested in what successful managers do that creates their successes.

I’m really enjoying this episode 76 of Debug about management. Some insights that appeal to me include –

  • Managers need to constantly watch for burnout and adopt tactics to avoid it or, failing that, alleviate it through varied projects, changing the pace and constantly talking to your team members.
  • Take an active interest in your team. Get to know them well enough to be able to pick up on negative trends (perhaps due to overwork or stress) before they become problems so you can address them constructively.
  • Being a manager doesn’t make you the king/queen. It doesn’t mean ruling by edict.

If I were to flip through a book on management best practices, I am sure I would find myself ticking off a number of the worst practices poor managers have adopted. The positive side of that is that it has given me a helpful perspective on how to do the job better (if I ever, hypothetically, found myself in a management role again). I have also learned a fair amount just being an employee.

One theme which fascinates me is finding a constructive balance between planning and metrics on the one hand, and allowing for a degree of flexibility and autonomy that is both empowering and helps employees achieve their targets. The challenge with too much planning and structure is that it can basically squeeze the creativity right out of your employees. On the other hand, your work must ultimately make a positive contribution to the company’s bottom line so a degree of planning and measurement is essential.

Most interesting, for me at least, is how even creative work like mine has to have some form of structure and must be measurable. After all, content marketing is supposed to help boost sales and there are often clearly defined success metrics you need to achieve even though the work itself may be relatively unstructured.

Image credit: The conductor by me, licensed CC BY NC SA 2.0

Paul Graham’s tips for start-ups, curated

Stelios Constantinides has curated his favourite Paul Graham tips for start-ups in a handy Medium post titled “Paul Graham’s Startup Advice for the Lazy“. Handy reading for entrepreneurs of various shapes and sizes.

Image credit: Power Point by Robert Scoble, licensed CC BY 2.0

A great guide to GPL for WordPress developers

Richard Best has a terrific guide to GPL for WordPress developers along the lines of the famously simple “human readable” Creative Commons license explanations on his site, WP and Legal Stuff, in his post titled “A human readable summary of the GPL“. He actually has two versions, both of which are worth taking a look at. I like his version modelled on the CC license explanation format:

A human readable summary of the GPL by Richard Best
A human readable summary of the GPL by Richard Best

Best has also published “A Practical Guide to WordPress and GPL” and it is available in three packages. The top package is the “business package” which includes –

access to a terms of use builder through which you can build draft online terms of use for your WordPress commercial themes or plugins shop, with open and honest GPL licensing as well as protections for your business.

The terms of use builder isn’t exactly revolutionary but what I like about it is that it is designed for a specific niche: WordPress theme and plugin developers who license their products under GPL. Best also released a demonstration video which reveals a nice, clean interface and a great looking end result. You’ll have to view the video either in his blog post or the promo page for the ebook packages.

The standalone ebook option is a little pricey at $25 for the PDF but if you consider the cost of legal advice on the topic, it is probably worth it.

Image credit: Light Reading by Martin, licensed CC BY 2.0

Tips for new Olim moving to Israel

Our friends have been asking us about our move to Israel late last year so I started preparing a list of tips that have helped us and thought I’d share them.

First, a little disclaimer:

  1. These tips don’t replace advice you get from the various agencies and Israeli Ministries that have published terrific guides and “how tos”. These organizations include the Israel Centre in South Africa; the Jewish Agency and the Israeli Ministry of Absorption. Read those first, they are great resources, very helpful.
  2. These tips are our hacks that worked for us (mostly). You’ll find other people have their own too (check out Adventures in Aliyaland and Welcoming Olim too). These may work for you, they may not.
  3. We moved from South Africa so some of these are more relevant to South African Olim who are moving to Israel from there.
  4. I’ll probably update this post as new tips come to mind and I’ll indicate the changes in the text. Feel free to suggest tips of your own in the comments and I’ll add them to the list and credit you.

Shipping your stuff from SA

  • Share containers are cheaper but make sure your container will ship soon or you could wait a long time for your stuff. Sometimes it is cheaper in the medium term to take a container for yourself if you have enough stuff.
  • Weigh up the relative costs of taking all your appliances versus just buying new stuff when you arrive in Israel. Think about how long you may need to wait for your fridge, freezer and washing machine.
Flying into Tel Aviv
Landing in Tel Aviv

Aliyah admin

  • Do your citizenship stuff at the airport if you can. It makes a huge difference and means you can start functioning effectively when you walk out of the airport building.
  • It is worth making sure you have the right Hebrew spelling of your names before you arrive so you can give that to the Ministry officials in the airport. Sometimes they come up with weird spellings of names and changing names afterwards is possible but a bit of a pain.
  • Make appointments to meet with the Absorption Ministry and schools liaisons as soon after you arrive as you can. It gets the ball rolling.
  • You will need to open a joint bank account before you meet the Absorption Ministry liaison so do that as soon as you arrive (we went with Bank Leumi and we’re happy with them – we also received our cards in a week which helped with other stuff).
  • Start ulpan as soon as you can. Knowing Hebrew isn’t essential but it really helps day to day. Check when classes begin and whether the ulpan schools in your area offer convenient classes.
  • You’ll need to pick a healthcare provider when you become a citizen so research the options before you arrive. We went with Maccabi and we are happy with them.

Communications

  • We went with 012 Smile/Mobile and they have been pretty good. Good coverage and pricing.
  • Mobile contracts are theoretically 12-24 months but, in practice, you can usually cancel on a month’s notice so changing isn’t too problematic as far as I know.
  • You’ll probably need a credit card to place your orders so open your bank account ASAP. We received a credit card in about a week.

Bank accounts

  • Credit cards work a little differently. The whole balance is paid off on a day you can select each month. You’ll need to make sure you have enough in your check account to cover that payment and remember that your day to day card transactions don’t come off your cash balance as you go, only when the balance is paid each month.
  • Israelis use checks so order a checkbook and refresh your memory how to fill them out. Remember to use American date formats!
Crossing the street
Crossing the street

Travel

  • You don’t need a car as much as you did in SA, not nearly as much.
  • Cars are really useful for travel beyond public transport routes and when public transport doesn’t operate (like שבת).
  • Aside from that, get a Rav Kav card (you can often get one from the train station but ask around). Pre-pay money for your bus rides (each bus line/company may require a separate balance). You can also load train travel passes onto your Rav Kav card so it becomes a sort of universal public transport card.
  • You can pre-pay money for bus rides on the bus itself when you get on. I pay about 50 Shekels at a time. You’ll figure out how much you’ll need as you use public transport. I think the minimum deposit is 30 Shekels. A bus ride in Modi’in is about NIS 4,20 and about NIS 6,90 in Tel Aviv.

Getting stuff done

  • You don’t need to be able to speak Hebrew for most of what you need to do but it helps, even if you know 5 words. You’ll learn more.
  • Don’t be too polite. As helpful as Israelis generally are (some aren’t), they are also really busy and work hard so you have to be persistent and nag at times.
  • You may think that sending a text message or email will help move things along but, often, you just have to go to an office and deal with it in person.
  • Its ok to be forceful. You don’t have to be aggressive but be assertive. It isn’t that easy for ex-South Africans but it is an important life skill for us newbie Israelis.
  • Don’t take it personally when Israelis give you a hard time or are abrupt, it usually isn’t meant to be personal. Israelis aren’t big on patience.

Advice from other Olim

  • “If there’s one (general) suggestion I can make, it’s to leave your expectations behind – things work differently here (especially, for example, the education system). Don’t compare your new reality with your old one – just go with the flow and your life will be a lot easier. Also, don’t send out birthday invitations too early – parents just look at the day of the week and send their kids on the next relevant day (so you may end up with 15 kids on your doorstep 2 weeks early).” – Shely Mowszowski Cohen
  • “I don’t advise to apply or get your Israeli ID from the airport. Rather do it in the city you are settling in [Paul: I still recommend doing this at the airport, just remember it can be a bit chaotic getting the family through]. Due to the fact if you loose your id you can’t do it in your city but in Lod.” – Rael Jacobs