Delays and Page Shuffle

It has been a frustrating few weeks. We are working our way through the legal steps to secure our future home. Last week we learnt that there would be an additional delay.

The delay was not entirely unexpected. We saw it coming but others did not heed our warnings in time. After months of getting our side ready, even transferring funds into escrow, the meeting to sign was cancelled at the last moment.

A critical document was missing from the seller’s dossier. Without the document nothing can be signed and sealed.

Born of Annoyance

The funds have been returned and we await a new signing date.

Rather than sit impotently by, I channeled my energy into something I could control. I wrote and published a new application.

Shuffling Pages

A while ago Megan asked me how she could shuffle pages within a Portable Document Format (PDF) file. She had teaching resources that she wanted to reuse but the order and content of the pages was becoming predictable.

Had these been printed bingo or flash cards, she could have easily jumbled them up herself. But these were not physical cards. They were PDF documents on her tablet computer.

Over the following hour, I learnt that needing to shuffle pages within a document is rare enough to be difficult to do. Reordering or moving pages is possible but only one move at a time. OS X even includes a shuffle Automator action but it does not shuffle, it interleaves.

I put together a small command line tool to perform the shuffle. Since then, that tool has been good enough for Megan but not ideal. Having to use the Terminal.app is not a great experience.

With the changing of the signing date, it messed up my schedule. I found myself with a short gap in my schedule and too much personal distraction to focus on anything too demanding.

I looked through my list of possible future projects and settled to write Page Shuffle.

Page Shuffle's icon
Page Shuffle’s icon

Page Shuffle is not a complex application but it serves a purpose and does it well. I picked it because of that clear purpose and the few decisions that needed making during development.

Screenshot of Page Shuffle on OS X
Screenshot of Page Shuffle on OS X

To spice the application up a little I included an Automator action that actually shuffles PDF pages, rather than interleaves them. I also included a command line interface. I doubt either will see extensive use but they are available.

Channeled Creativity

Looking back this has been a response to not having control over something very important to me. Yet, being able to see oncoming problems with no influence to avoid them. The combination feels toxic.

Page Shuffle has been a silver lining. Not what I expected from this period, but a positive when all could be seen to be stagnating.

Hopefully this delay will not be for too much longer.

Comments in Apple Photos

After upgrading to Apple Photos from iPhoto, I struggled to find how to comment and like shared photos.

A shared photo in Apple's Photos application
A shared photo in Apple’s Photos application

Did you spot the button?

Comment button in Photos.
Comment button in Photos.

To comment and like a photo in Apple Photos, click on the speech bubble in the lower-left of the photo.

In this first version, there is no menu item or alternative means to access this functionality.

Street Cleaning with a Vacuum

I regret not photographing or filming a bike mounted dual hose vacuum cleaner. The bike rider drove around and used the vacuum to suck up leaves that had fallen and banked up during the autumn. It was such an odd sight and took me a moment to realise what was happening.

The bike had two hoses. One on either side of the bike’s frame. With two hoses the rider could suck up leaves without dismounting. Whichever hose was closest to the problematic leaves was used. A clever design.

That was a few years ago and I have not seen such bikes again.

So when we visited Brussels and I saw a big street vacuum, I did not hesitate to record the moment and put together a short film.

You can watch the street vacuum in use on YouTube.

Street vacuum cleaner
Street vacuum cleaner

I filmed the man cleaning the streets near the European Union buildings in Brussels, Belgium. I presume, given the stickers on the machine, that these are used across the city and not just this section.

Street vacuum cleaner
Street vacuum cleaner

Tiny Spider

My reaction to spiders has changed since living in Australia. I am still uncomfortable when I first notice a spider but after a moment the rush of fear subsides. After Australian spiders, justifying a fear of spiders in France is impossible.

It is difficult to really fear insects in Europe once you have lived in Australia. That is not to be macho or suggest bravado. I can claim neither. Instead living in a country where a real fear of spiders is justified provides perspective on those times when the fear is utterly pointless.

I remember the first spider I saw crawling on the wall in my Sydney apartment. That moment of not being sure quite how nasty that tiny creature might be. Tracking the tiny black creature moving disturbingly quickly along the wall.

Since that first Australian spider I encountered all manner of nasty insects. They exist but despite the perception that Australia is full of lethal animals, you rarely come across them in your daily routine. Locals do however take more care than tourists and immigrants. This extra care can go unnoticed and that can lull you into a false sense of safety. That care is also not explicit but instead just a childhood habit instilled by parents and teachers over many years.

Australian kids are taught to never never prod and poke around under fallen branches and rocks. Adults are careful when gardening and working around the borders. Venturing into the bush requires good shoes and covered legs. Fridges are home to magnetic leaflets with silhouettes of spiders identifying those with nasty bites.

Explaining the joys of a childhood nature trail to an Australian results in tears of laughter and shock. You were encouraged to lift up rocks and seek out hidden creatures? Crazy.

With that comparison in mind, I took the chance to film a tiny spider in our bathroom. Harmless, beautiful, and now safely outside.