I’ve not written an update for months. If you are new here, thanks for joining!

The reason for the extended delay is that I have been toiling on the latest edition of ‘Responsive Web Design with HTML5 and CSS’, which is now finally released.

This 4th edition is a massive update and took the best part of a year to get finished.

I gave access to a free chapter a few days ago, and you can get it here now too.

If that piques your interest, have a browse around the site for more info about the book. Or join the Discord server for on going chat on the subject.

If you have any interest in picking it up, now is an especially good time. As it is one of the publishers best sellers, it’s on offer at Amazon until the 8th November with 25% off. Surely there is someone you know would love a copy for the holidays? 😀

What next? Vim course? JavaScript book

After the endless evenings of writing, I’ve been trying to take a little time for myself but there are only so many episodes of ‘Married at First Sight’ I can stomach! So, I’m considering what people would like most, next?

Two projects I have in my mind currently are a video course on using Vim, focused on front-end development, and a beginner focused book on JavaScript. Do let me know if either of those interest you? If either sounds good, maybe I can flesh out the idea a little more with the topics you would like to see covered in one of the next updates.

Blog posts

In case you missed them, I’ve managed to start getting a few blog posts out the door. 4-5 for September, a couple in October. The usual subjects; text-editors, CSS – you know the drill!

YouTube

I’ve also started to publish on YouTube again as that too had taken a hiatus. I do enjoy creating for YouTube because it takes me back to the practice of product reviewing that I used to do for mac magazines like MacUser back in the day. This one was a review of a hand-built split ergonomic keyboard called the Sofle.

I’ve been building and hand-wiring a few keyboards since the beginning of the year, both wired and wireless, mostly Dactyl Manuforms. I’ve been striving to find the ultimate form for my needs; jokingly referred to as the ‘end game’ in keyboard geek circles.

Building my own has been pretty fun and I’ve learnt a bunch of stuff along the way. The next video is likely to be on building those and then hopefully I’ll get back to doing some on Vim/Neovim. I’ve got a few of those written; just need to film and edit them!

Are you a trackpad or mouse user?

I tried using an Apple Magic trackpad for a few months and was left underwhelmed.

Part of the reason I wanted to try the trackpad is because it can sit neatly between the two halves of my keyboard. But ultimately, I just can’t get the fidelity when using it. It’s OK, but even after months of using one day long, I’m just more effective with a mouse. Trying to have an Instagram worthy setup just isn’t reason enough for me; I’m back to the trusty Logitech MX Master mouse now.

I suspect many opt to use a Magic Trackpad on a Mac because they have grown accustomed to trackpad interactions from having a MacBook of some sort; moving from desktop to desktop, exposing the Desktop etc. That’s very nicely handled with the trackpad but that’s fundamentally just not how I use my Mac. At least not any more.

I have window management nailed on my Mac now. That was the shortcoming on Mac that kept tempting me back to Linux. I’m happy on Mac now, so I should probably tell you how and why, and perhaps it approach you may take something from too.

Apologies to readers on Windows and Linux; this part is very Mac centric – I believe window management is better by default on those OSs so perhaps you can read along and chuckle at least.

Mouseless app switching and window positioning on Mac

For the longest time I wanted a way to focus if open, or open and focus if not open, the apps I want to switch to as I work without resorting to a mouse or ‘command-tabbing’. A shortcut driven way to get to my apps and arrange their windows.

I’ve been enjoying this approach for months now and I’m entirely happy with it. I’ve set this up with Alfred and Rectangle Pro.

I can press:

  • Hyper + k for Kitty (my preferred Terminal/Neovim)
  • Hyper + g for Google Chrome
  • Hyper + s for Sketch
  • Hyper + p for Spotify
  • Hyper + f for Finder

The pneumonic can obviously suit however suits you best.

In case you are unaware, ‘Hyper’ is a press of multiple modifier keys (ctrl+shift+cmd+opt) in one go. You assign this to a particular key on your keyboard (if your keyboard is not programmable, use Keyboard Maestro) and then hold that while pressing the key in question.

No more alt+tab or Expose. I don’t even have to use Alfred and start typing the application I am after.

So that’s opening and switching. Then I can manage the window size and position too.

Here are the window size and positioning shortcuts I have:

  • Hyper + 1 puts the window 1920 * 1080 at the top left (for HD screen recordings)
  • Hyper + 3 for the first third
  • Hyper + 6 for the second two thirds
  • Hyper + 9 for the last third
  • Hyper + arrows move the window to one side or another of the screen. Press it again at one side of the screen and it will move to the next screen
  • Hyper + 0 makes the window maximised

There are a few tools you can accomplish this same approach with; Keyboard Maestro, Alfred, Rectangle Pro, Raycast. Whichever you choose the goal remains the same. You want to be able to open or switch to your most used apps with a single keypress, and position the windows of said apps just as easily.

Raycast, while the current favourite with dev influencers, and currently free, fell a little short for me. It can’t handle sending windows across to another screen when you keep sending a window right/left and it doesn’t allow custom window sizing. If you don’t have those limitations or needs, Raycast would likely be your cheapest/easiest option.

If you would like to see a video on this setup, let me know. I love it!

PS. Buy my sons book!

My twelve (now 13) year old published his second novel just before his birthday. Scalpius Strike is the second book in his ‘Golden Ninja’ series; very much in the mould of Alex Rider/Young Bond.

My son has really struggled at school (he was clinically diagnosed with ADHD last year), often finds himself ‘on report’ or sent out of lessons. But he is able to hyper focus on things that capture his imagination. Writing his books being one of them.

If you have kids 9-13, maybe they would enjoy Scalpius Strike. My son would certainly love to hear from anyone who gets it and reads it. As you might imagine, it’s not a money-maker for him, but he really appreciated the reviews he got on the first, Glass Arm.

The end

That’s the end of my news for this update. If you made it this far thanks for reading and you can send me feedback at contact {at} benfrain.com or add a comment if you are reading this on the website.

I am on Twitter @benfrain but I’m not really a fan of social media but if that works for you, I’ll certainly meet you there.