My Favorite Star Wars Movies

I recently recorded an episode of Retake about Rogue One. At the end of the episode, TJ and I started talking about where the movie fell within our personal favorites list. I realized I don’t have this list written down somewhere.

You’ll notice that certain Star Wars movies are missing. I love this franchise, so I have good things to say about all the movies, but some just didn’t belong here. I’m sure you’ll understand. Here’s my list:

  1. The Empire Strikes Back
    This should go without saying. The Empire Strikes Back is Star Wars in all of its glory. The film is written very well, Vader has his best lines, and John Williams adds the iconic “Imperial March” to the list of Star Wars themes.
  2. The Force Awakens
    The opening line of this movie is literally, “This will begin to make things right.” Hell yea it did! After years of mostly-terrible Star Wars movies, this one made me excited about the franchise once again.
  3. Rogue One
    The first of many (I hope) spin-off movies that explore other parts of the Star Wars universe. The film has its flaws, but still a great Star Wars film.
  4. A New Hope
    I didn’t plan it this way, but right now A New Hope is fourth on my list. I love this movie, but you can tell it didn’t understand how big it would be.

This list will obviously change as more movies come out. What about you? Send me an email with your thoughts.

My Brief Review of the 2016 MacBook Pro with Touch Bar

Earlier this year, Apple updated its MacBook Pro. Here are my thoughts on the new computer

Taking a good picture of this laptop is hard

For the first time since 2010, I went out and bought a brand new computer. I chose the 15-inch Space Gray, 2.7 GHz Intel Core i7 MacBook Pro with 512GB SSD and 16 GB of RAM. Setting up the new machine was easy because I’ve automated the heck out of it. Here are my brief thoughts on the laptop:

  • The addition of Touch ID is way nicer than I initially thought it would be. Unfortunately, Touch ID doesn’t work for everything. This could be because developers haven’t had time to completely add support for it.
  • I miss the Apple logo that lights up. I finally have an awesome sticker to put there, but now I can’t use it.
  • Space gray is awesome. If Apple ever makes a matte black MacBook Pro, I will sign away my first-born.
  • The trackpad feels big. Katie Floyd talked about having to contort her arm so that she doesn’t accidentally click it, and I can relate a bit. I don’t hate it, but the palm rejection needs to be better.
  • I didn’t know the Touch ID sensor is also the power button.
  • The keyboard is better than the first-gen butterfly switches. Yes, there isn’t much travel, but I don’t mind it. I prefer a mechanical keyboard, but I don’t hate using it when I’m just using the laptop on the couch (which is quite often).
  • Calling the Touch Bar a gimmick is ignorant. At the moment, there aren’t many things I wouldn’t be able to do with a keyboard shortcut. As usual, I think we’ll see third-party developers imagine new ways of using it that’ll become more valuable to power users. For now, the actions in the Touch Bar are insanely useful to new Mac users.
  • The display is significantly brighter. I had my previous MacBook at full brightness, the current one is only at about seventy-five percent. It’s beautiful.
  • I think USB-C is great. I was able to easily hook up to my Thunderbolt Display via adapter, and have access to all the other peripherals I needed. Very soon, we’ll all be using USB-C stuff anyway.
  • I did have to buy an extra power adapter so that I could have one at my desk, and another for on the go. Having a display that also charges the laptop is a luxury I’d gotten used to. That cost me $125 USD. Ridiculous.

There is plenty more to say about this machine, but overall, I love it. After working with this machine for about three weeks, I’m excited about the possibilities and the future of the MacBook Pro.

Shaping Your Job Search by Tara Mann

Tara Mann:

I recently spent a few weeks serial interviewing. I spoke to around 20 companies in the span of about a month and damn it was exhausting. I knew early on that I needed to add structure to my job hunt. Presented here are some of the principles and thought processes that guided my search.

Tara has got some great tips here. I’ve been using Highrise to track my job search, but I think I’ll be moving to a Google spreadsheet too. Whatever it is that you decide to do, the pattern of advice seems to be to stay organized.

Partly Sunny Review: Weather Reimagined | MacStories

Jake Underwood writing for MacStories:

Partly Sunny, like other paid weather apps, is loaded with data. At its most informative, the app will give you temperature (high, low, “feels like,” and current), precipitation chances, sunrise and sunset, cloud cover, humidity, visibility, and multiple charts and graphs. That sounds cluttered, but Partly Sunny’s interface is designed to only provide you as much information as you want for it to show.

After David Smith discontinued Check the Weather, I switched to Dark Sky. Dark Sky is full of a lot of great information, but its design is lack luster. Partly Sunny is an app that uses all the great data from Dark Sky, and displays it beautifully!

My Brief Review of ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’

The first of the non-saga Star Wars movies has finally come out, and I really liked it

Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso in Rogue One.

Kelly and I went to go watch Rogue One on opening night. I purposely didn’t read anything about the film, and was completely spoiler-free going in. Here are my thoughts, that are full of spoilers.

Seriously people, spoilers. You’ve been warned.

  • It still felt like Star Wars without the crawl.
  • The score is ok. Michael Giacchino did a great job making it feel like Star Wars within the time he had to do it.
  • Understanding what the Death Star is made with was cool.
  • I don’t think we’ve visited so many places in one Star Wars movie.
  • Felicity Jones and Diego Luna are amazing in this movie.
  • Vader. Oh my goodness. Vader, people. Vader. Vader.
  • I wanted more Vader.
  • James Earl Jones came back for Vader, and it was an awesome… 2 scenes 😭.
  • This story adds so much context to A New Hope.
  • Leia’s motion capture face is terrible.
  • The first two acts are a bit slow, and unfortunately don’t use the time to give more information about the supporting characters.
  • Everyone dies. Everyone. That was a surprise for me, but made sense.
  • All in all, I really liked it, but The Force Awakens is still my favorite of the recent Star Wars movies.

Rating: B+


I’ll be doing an episode about Rogue One on Retake. Subscribe to the show, so you don’t miss it!

Say Hello to Version Five

What’s new in the newest version of the site.

2017 is almost here, and as has become customary, I usually address some of the bigger issues with the site on a yearly basis and redesign the whole thing. Except this year, I was really happy with the design of this site, so while it is the next major version of The Bold Report, it’s not a complete rewrite. Instead, it’s a thoughtful iteration on what I felt to be a great foundation. Here’s what changed:

Bug Fixes

  • Remove font-smoothing on footnote popovers - This was super annoying. It looks like the footnotes were using a whole different weight.
  • Display art directed posts nicely in index - I had done stuff that completely messed these up. If you’re curious about art directed posts, you’ll find a list in the archives.
  • Fix the original newsletter idea - I had originally implemented a small thing that would come up from the bottom when you scrolled, but it felt to intrusive. I want you to subscribe because you want to, not because you’re being pestered to do so.
  • Fix lists in blockquotes - Unordered and ordered lists looked terrible in blockquotes. The spacing was all off. Fixed that.
  • Update favicon and apple touch icon - I’ve been using this new orange color on Medium, and really liking it. Decided to make the switch. The Bold Report originally had an orange logo, so in a way we’re going back to that.

Site Enhancements

  • Display byline and date better - Took up a lot of space, and drew the eye way too much.
  • Display tags in a more secondary place - When there were more than three tags, the visual hierarchy was kind of messed up. It didn’t look good. Now I’ve moved it to the bottom and it has more room to breathe.
  • Design a better archives page - I loved the archives page, but it was just a giant list of posts and when you’re already in the hundreds of posts, it just doesn’t feel entirely useful. So the new page has the list, but now has some starting points.
  • Give more priority to newsletter - This solution ended up being deleted.
  • Make 404 more helpful - Check it out. You tell me what you think. I think it’s way more helpful.
  • Redesign Search - This is my favorite new thing. Now you can search directly in the header like before, but you’ll see results right below it. You can still press enter if you want to see results larger, but I think it’ll help you find content easier. Huge shoutout to TJ Draper for helping me with this.

You can view the full release with relevant pull requests on GitHub. If you normally read in your RSS Reader, take a look at the site. Would love to hear your thoughts.

Speeding Up Your New Mac Setup

I bought my first new Mac since 2010, and thanks to Past-Tim, it was pretty simple.

Past-Me has been a jerk many times. Past-Tim doesn’t think about Future-Tim, saving him time, money, and sometimes even heartache. Setting up a new Mac can be a huge pain, and thankfully Past-Me finally did something nice for Future-Me.

I left great documentation and resources that helped me get this new machine setup in about thirty minutes. That’s unheard of. But as with everything, there are still some holes that need patching, so I thought I’d write something up, to document the process even better for next time. After all, Past-Tim is now me.


Important Caveat: I don’t setup new Macs from a backup; I like to start fresh. If you like starting your new Mac from a Time Machine backup, you don’t need most—if not all—of this.


Step One: Clone dotfiles Repo

# First we clone the repo
$ git clone git@github.com:smithtimmytim/dotfiles.git ~/.dotfiles

# Then we run the install script
$ cd .dotfiles
$ script/bootstrap

Having dotfiles version controlled is awesome, and this is the first machine I setup with them. The repo comes with a list of packages and apps to be installed. When I run the install script that comes with dotfiles, it installs Homebrew, sets up sensible macOS defaults, and much more. My vital apps like 1Password, Dropbox, Alfred, Hyper, etc, are all installed. Also, because I use mas—which you can install via Homebrew—all of my favorite Mac App Store apps are installed too.

You may be asking yourself, how is this possible? In part to dotfiles, but the Brewfile is where the magic happens. If you’re familiar with a Gemfile—a Brewfile is that, but for Homebrew. It contains a list of the packages and apps I want installed. You can look at my Brewfile here, and you can read more about the whole concept on GitHub.

Also, once you clone dotfiles you might notice that you can’t see it. That’s because files that begin with a period are hidden by default. Make those files visible by entering the following command into the terminal:

$ defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles YES

Step Two: Install Ruby Versions and Gems

$ rbenv install 2.3.0
$ rbenv install 2.3.1

I use rbenv to manage my Ruby versions.1 I don’t have to manually set this up, because it’s already been done for me with dotfiles. At the time of this writing, I’m using Ruby 2.3.0 and 2.3.1.

Now, let’s install the gems I need in each Ruby version:

$ gem install bundler jekyll rails

Step Three: Clone atom-config Repo

# First, quit Atom.
# Then remove the current Atom config
$ rm -rf ~/.atom

# Now clone the Atom config from GitHub
$ git clone git@github.com:smithtimmytim/atom-config.git ~/.atom

My text editor of choice is Atom. Which still kind of surprises me since I stuck to Sublime Text for so long. Atom is regularly updated, and has a very vibrant community. People continuously make all sorts of plugins for it.

I’ve seen a lot of people have their Atom config inside their dotfiles repo, but I felt like having it as its separate thing and that’s worked for me. atom-config comes with all the obvious things you’d think would come with a config. I also use package-sync to get all of my different packages downloaded and installed in no time.

To me, the ease in which I can version control my preferences is a big reason to use Atom. I did check in my Sublime config, but it wasn’t as easy to maintain, and it felt dumb to check in all the packages I was using instead of having a simple list of them. It’s a nit pick, but it’s the type of thing that makes or breaks a developer workflow.

Step Four: Create new SSH and GPG Keys

You’ll need an SSH and GPG key for lots of things, but I primarily use mine for GitHub. Creating a new SSH key is pretty easy. Here’s some documentation on how to do that.

Now, for the GPG key. This isn’t as simple, and honestly I don’t know how this works. I did some research on whether you’re supposed to create a new GPG key when you move machines or whether you’re supposed to migrate them, and was still confused. If you know more information about this, I’d love to hear from you on Twitter.

Anyway, first you need to download the GPG command line tools to create new keys. I download GnuPG for OS X. Once you’ve done that, you can follow the steps from the GitHub documentation to create your new key and add it to GitHub.

You might be wondering, what the hell is GPG? Well, that’s quite the hefty answer. I found this page to be very informative.

Step Five: Login to 1Password App

I’m shocked at how amazing the setup for this has become. Kelly and I are using 1Password Families, so setting up the app on a new machine is now as easy as scanning a QR code, inputting my master password, and… that’s it. I’m still baffled at how easy it was.

At this point, 1Password is the gate to everything else. Once I have 1Password installed and setup, I now have access to all of my software license codes, website logins, and a whole lot more.

Step Six: Login to Dropbox App

I run most of my system through Dropbox. I pay for the Pro plan which get’s me a terabyte of space. I think the only things I don’t have on Dropbox are the sites and projects I work on, because all of that is on GitHub. Doing things this way is pretty convenient, and helps me take all my important files to the new computer.

However, the initial setup of this is not fun. Because Dropbox on the Mac currently downloads all of your files locally, when you first do this, it can take days to sync. This isn’t ideal because some files are more important than others at the beginning. I want to have my Alfred preferences, or my Keyboard Maestro macros first. But to do that, I have to go through the nightmare of setting up selective sync and then redoing it once the right files have downloaded. Eventually—who the hell knows when—Dropbox will launch Project Infinite for everyone. That’ll solve this problem and more.

All this being said, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a backup! I use Time Machine to keep backups just in case things get wonky. Dropbox has lost files of mine before, so I like to have a plan b. The Sweet Setup’s advice on this topic is wise.

Conclusion

In summary, this setup process is pretty awesome. Automating things like this saves so much time, and gets me coding quicker. I’m loving my new Mac, and a large part of it, is that setting it up was headache free. If you decide to use this, I’d love to hear about it! If you need help, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Enjoy your new Mac!

  1. Why rbenv? Ruby is a regularly updated language with new features and security patches. Different projects will run different Ruby versions based on the dependencies of the project. Being able to use multiple Ruby versions is important if you work with Ruby. The rbenv README is a great resource too

CSS Shorthand Syntax Considered an Anti-Pattern by Harry Roberts

Harry Roberts:

There’s a very small but surprisingly significant (and even more surprisingly frequent) issue I spot a lot in other peoples’ code, either when working directly with it, refactoring it, or auditing it: the use of shorthand syntax in CSS.

Typically we would view shorthand syntax as a benefit: fewer keystrokes, fewer lines of code, less data over the wire. Sounds great! However, it comes with a rather troublesome side effect: it often unsets other properties that we never intended to modify.

Great read. When I was writing the code guide for ACL, this was one of those things that had to be included. Our codebase was already riddled with unnecessary shorthand usage, but if we could prevent future use, that was a win. Here’s what we wrote:

Use shorthand for properties and property values where it makes sense. Avoid using shorthand properties like background when you only need to set background-color. Using the shorthand automatically overrides any preceeding(sic) longhand declarations and can make unnecessary work for others. This applies to background, border, margin, padding, etc.

As Harry makes clear, there are exceptions. But I would argue that if your codebase is large, and has many people working on it, err on the side of not using shorthand. If you work on a design system, I’d almost say to never use it, but that would be ignorant. As with everything, we have to try to think through as many situations we can, and then do our best.

Questions to Ask in Interviews

I’m open-sourcing questions I ask in interviews too.

As you might’ve heard, I’m looking for a job. Julia Evans wrote a great post on questions she asks during interviews. It’s helped me so much, prompting me to ask questions I’d never thought of before, or never had the guts to ask. Julia’s post reminded me that when you’re interviewing somewhere, you should be interviewing them as much as they’re interviewing you.

Here are some of my favorites from her list:

  • What’s your approach to technical debt?
  • How often do you have meetings? Are there any scheduled/standing meetings? Who talks to customers (if appropriate) and how?
  • How are disagreements solved - both technical disagreements and other kinds? What happens when personalities clash?
  • Can you tell me about a time when you’ve had to let someone go?
  • What’s your retention rate of women over 1.5 years? Do you think you could have done anything differently to keep people who left?
  • How much vacation do people get? If there’s “unlimited” vacation, how much vacation do people normally take?
  • How does internal communication work? This one is super important and I need to remember to ask it more.

These are just a few gems from the amazing list she’s made. Here are some I like asking too:

  • What is something you dislike about [company name], and do you feel something is being done to address it?
  • Is there a clear path for career growth opportunities like added responsibility, promotions, raises?
  • How would you describe [company name]’s design philosophy?
  • Does your product have a design system? If not, why?
  • What’s the approach to working on your design system?
  • How often do you feel you’re working on something where requirements aren’t clearly defined or are constantly shifting?
  • Can you give me some details about [company name] efforts to create a more inclusive team?

As Julia writes in her post, don’t ask all of these in the same interview, and ask the same question to several people. You’ll start noticing a pattern in their answers; good or bad.

Have questions you like asking too? I’d love to hear about them.

The New MacBook Pro Is Kind of Great for Hackers by Adam Geitgey

Adam Geitgey:

I’m not here to change your mind about the MacBook Pro. Yes, it’s probably too expensive and more RAM is better than less RAM. But everyone posting complaints without actually using a MBP for a few weeks is missing out on all the clever things you can do because it is built on USB-C. Over the past week or two with a new MacBook Pro (15in, 2.9ghz, TouchBar), I’ve been constantly surprised with how USB-C makes new things possible. It’s a kind of a hacker’s dream.

I completely agree with Adam here. The opportunities at our fingertips with USB-C are pretty exciting. I will say: it’s ironic that his mobile examples bring out how much more compatible the new MacBook Pro is with Android devices.