Podcasts I Listen To

I love podcasts. They are a great way to pass the time and learn something while doing mundane tasks like walking the dog, folding laundry, or anything else that does not keep your mind fully occupied. I have been listening on and off since the early 2000s, back when it was just guys grabbing a mic and recorder and talking about whatever they wanted because it was their show. No networks, producers, or production companies; just content.

A lot has changed. The whole genre has become more commercial, but some of the content has become really nuanced and in-depth. The variety is amazing. Search for any subject you are interested in, and chances are you will find a show about it. Some shows take 30 minutes to discuss one topic and move on; others cover a subject in depth for 12 hours over as many episodes.

So if you listen to podcasts and are looking for your next favorite show, or if you want to try it out and are looking for a place to start, here’s a list of a bunch of my favorite shows that I am listening to now.


Breakpoint Breakpoint

Originally started as a Christian radio show by Chuck Colson, Breakpoint is technically three different podcasts in one feed: Breakpoint, The Point, and Breakpoint This Week. The original Breakpoint is a daily five-minute commentary by John Stonestreet, President of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. Each episode is about five minutes long and features one issue affecting the cultural moment. The Point is also a one-issue commentary, but only about one minute long. Breakpoint this week is a one-hour weekly show discussing the news stories of the week from a Christian worldview. The show is thoughtful and engaging and breaks down current stories and issues from a Christian viewpoint.

Upstream Upstream

Upstream is another podcast from the Colson Center that features Shane Morris interviewing Christian authors and scholars about more theological topics. It can get pretty weighty, but after every episode he publishes a Further Upstream” episode where he talks to one of his fellow Colson Center staffers who helps him make the original episode much more accessible.

Rooted in Christ Rooted in Christ

Rooted in Christ is a podcast of Redwood Christian Ministries, founded by my friend Eric Stephens. Eric interviews evangelistic thought leaders from around the country to learn their stories and inspire others to sharethee gospel. The show shines an up-close and personal light on their stories and is raw and honest.

Ask Pastor John Ask Pastor John

John Piper is a Christian pastor, teacher, author, and thought leader in Reformed theology. He is the founder of Desiring God, of which this is one of the podcasts. They release shows several times per week that feature sermon snippets, Pastor John answering questions from listeners, and other content. Pastor John is one of the most knowledgeable theologians living today, and yet his teaching is very approachable and easy to understand. Almost every point he makes on something is informed by quoted scripture.


Mac Power Users Mac Power Users

These next two are podcasts by David Sparks. David is a lawyer by trade but has been using Macs and other Apple gear for 40 years. He and his co-host Stephen Hackett discuss all kinds of ways to get the most out of your Mac, including software deep dives, recommendations on software and hardware, and interviews with developers.


Also an Apple-centric podcast, David and Rosemary Orchard discuss how to get the most out of your devices using automation. Honestly, this is where I learned a lot of what I know.

True Crime

True crime is a huge genre. There are tons of shows using a variety of formats. Some tell a story in one or two episodes; others take a whole season to dive into an incident and cover everything. Hosts also come from a variety of backgrounds, such as former law enforcement, investigative journalism, and armchair detectives, all of which put a different spin on the way they approach cases.

Let’s start with some weekly, episodic shows.

True Crime Garage True Crime Garage

TCH is easily my favorite true crime show. The Captain and the Colonel have produced over 600 episodes. Some cases are one-shots; some cases take several episodes to do deep dives. I also like that they periodically go back to update cases that have seen new information come to light. They also have a really good sense of humor.

The DeckThe Deck

The Deck is one of several AudioChuck podcasts that I listen to. Each week, host Ashley Flowers tells you about a cold case that the police are looking for help with. Over the years, police departments have produced decks of playing cards with case information on the back of each card and distributed them in prisons, hoping that inmates might know something about the crime (hence the name). Ashely does her homework and delivers a good show.

Crime JunkieCrime Junkie

If you like The Deck, you should definitely give Crime Junkie a listen. Also by Ashley Flowers, Crime Junkie is similar but with a slightly looser premise, as the cases are not always quite as cold. Along with Ashley’s co-host, Brit, they discuss all kinds of crimes and some mysteries to boot.

Anatomy of Murder Anatomy of Murder

While the previous shows were headed by very knowledgeable enthusiasts, AoM is headed by two professional crime fighters. Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi is a former NYC prosecutor, and Scott Weinberger is a former deputy sheriff. They bring their experience to the show, offering insights about procedure and the justice system that others don’t have.

Park Predators Park Predators

Hosted by investigative journalist Delia D’Ambra, Park Predators tells stories of crimes that occur in state and national parks. Each episode covers a different murder or other mystery. I enjoy camping, but this one makes me want to stay home.

This next batch of shows covers one case over an entire season, usually about 12 episodes. Some come out weekly, others all at once, so you can binge. They tend to have a lot more depth because they cover so much more information. If you’re a serious crime junkie, these are definitely worth a listen.

Counter Clock Counter Clock

Counter Clock is another show by Delia D’Ambra. Each season, Delia picks one case and dives deep into every facet of it. I especially found seasons 3 and 4 fascinating. You can pick any season you want, download all the episodes, and binge it like a Netflix show.

Gone South Gone South

Gone South is a documentary podcast with two seasons by Jed Lipinski. The first season is about the murder of Margaret Coon. While doing the research for season one, Jed learned about a loose crime organization known as the Dixie Mafia. It’s a really interesting story about organized crime in the Deep South.

Somebody Somewhere Somebody Somewhere

Somebody Somewhere is another investigative journalism podcast, this one by Jody Gottlieb and David Payne. The first and third seasons are particularly interesting because they tell the stories of the unsolved murders of the only two US attorneys murdered while on the job. There are a lot of twists and turns, but they navigate them and explain everything quite well. I recommend binge-watching these if possible because there are a lot of details and they can get confusing if you go awhile between episodes.

Our final category” or type of true crime podcast is the single season. These are similar to limited series (or what they used to call miniseries) on TV. They only have one season for the purpose of telling one important story. Once you listen to the last episode, you can remove them from your feed, although sometimes they may drop an update to the story in the feed or a trailer for a new show coming out on their network.

The Letter The Letter

The Letter is both a tragic story of random murder and the senseless loss of a loved one and a beautiful story of forgiveness and redemption. It tells the story of Zach Snarr, murdered by Jorge Benvenuto in 1996, and the pain and loss their family went through. But it also tells the story of how Jorge, captured and sentenced to prison, wrote a letter to Zach’s parents, apologizing for the crime, and how they got together to make some form of amends. Especially for me as a person of faith, I found the story to be a very inspiring story of repentance and redemption.

The Deck Investigates The Deck Investigates

As you may surmise from the title, The Deck Investigates is somewhat of a spinoff of The Deck by Ashley Flowers. But instead of dedicating each episode to one case, Investigates tells the story of the 1984 murder of Darlene Hulse over an entire season. Earlier this year, Ashley toured this story at live events, but now she has released it as a complete binge-able season.

One caveat on this show: I placed this in the only season category, but looking at the website, there is a mention of it being season one. So there is a possibility that this show could have more seasons. It may come down to whether or not Ashley finds another case that merits this kind of attention.


Undetermined is about the suspicious death of Jessica Easterly Durning and relates to the autopsy designation of undetermined for the cause of death. These cases get little to no attention or investigation because the police do not know for sure if foul play was involved. Jessica Noll and Todd McComas take you through the whole story of what we know happened and how the family has been fighting since 2019 to get more answers.


History is a broad subject with a lot of niche interests. That being said most of my recommendations are shows produced by Aaron Menkee, who does a great job finding largely unknown stories, that are often a bit weird and macabre. If these aren’t your cup of tea I would suggest doing a search for podcasts that cover your historical interests, as you are bound to find something that you like.

Lore Lore

Lore is Aaron Menkee’s flagship podcast. In fact, it’s not just a podcast. Menkee has produced two seasons of a TV series and several books under the same name. Each week he covers several short stories from history in a style that is reminiscent of Paul Harevey’s The Rest of the Story. One of his taglines is the scariest stories are true,” and from the episodes I have listened to, he may not be wrong. On any given week, you may hear about witch trials, pirates, ghosts, or any other subject that comes from our world’s crazy history.

Cabinet of Curiosities Cabinet of Curiosities

Cabinet of Curiosities is similar to Lore, but it is more of a freak show than a museum. Twice weekly, Aaron delivers two short stories of the strange and twisted from history. Some of these stories, if you didn’t know they were real, you would swear were made up.

Grim & MildGrim & Mild Presents

Grim & Mild Presents has a similar format to the true crime podcasts that take a whole season to cover one case, but instead they cover a subject in history. The show is biweekly, covering 13-episode seasons with no breaks. Season 1 was all about the history of sideshows. Season two is about pirates. The current season is called Bedside Manners and details some of history’s most interesting medical techniques, like bloodletting or other weird cures for diseases.


If you are interested in learning more about journalism and how it works, check out Killed. Justine Harman explores the history of various stories that were never published because they were too controversial. She often interviews the reporters who worked on the stories but either had to take the story somewhere else or never got to tell it. This includes an essay on Gore Vidal from George Magazine and a story from a piece from New York that was meant to exonerate Jeffrey Epstein.

The Sunshine Place The Sunshine Place

This is a fascinating story! The Sunshine Place is the story of the rise and spectacular fall of Synanon, which started as a kind of hippie drug rehab program in the 1960s and devolved into a terrifying cult that featured beatings, guns, and fortified communes. Executive produced by Robert and Susan Downey, Jr., and narrated by Sari Crawford, whose father was a founding member and met Sari’s mother there, The Sunshine Place takes you on a wild ride from innovative rehab program to dangerous cult.

So there you have it. Hopefully, in this list, you will find something you like. If not, it might inspire you to go looking for other shows that cover your interests. If you have any suggestions, please leave them in the comments.

Photo Credit:

Podcasting by mikemacmarketing is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

May 3, 2023 podcasts

Walk Thru the Bible

Walk Thru the BibleWalk Thru the Bible

This weekend, I had the pleasure of attending a training conference from Walk Thru the Bible, which is a Christian teaching ministry that helps people understand the important themes and people of the Bible and how it all flows together. Their courses combine basic verbal teaching with hand movements for each point, known as kinesthetic or tactile learning. For those who find learning easier when using hand or body gestures, it’s a great way to understand and remember concepts.

Our teachers, Tony and Chris Gibbs, were as knowledgeable as they were friendly and fun. For this conference, they took us through the New Testament, beginning with the intertestamental period (the 400 years between the end of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New Testament) to Revelation. They also have an Old Testament training course, which my church will be hosting in September. They also attended our Sunday services to give us a preview of what we will learn in the New Testament training later this year.

What I liked most about this training was that it was theology (which I love) but not a lecture where you are sitting there taking notes. Don’t get me wrong; I also enjoy those types of classes. But to be honest, I sometimes get tired and start to nod off, even if I am enjoying the content. This is one of the reasons why I take notes on the Sunday sermon. It helps me concentrate on what is being said and provides activity for my hands to help keep me awake.

But in this training, we were encouraged not to take notes because Tony would talk for a few minutes, giving us new gestures as he went. Then we would get up and do the new gestures and review the gestures that we had learned previously. This helped us remember the content better and kept us moving, so we remained actively engaged. It was also easy for even a Bible beginner to understand (it was theology that was not rocket surgery, lol).

So if your church is looking for a new way to teach biblical literacy or does a conference every year and is looking for ideas, I highly recommend you check out this ministry and consider the opportunity. It is a fun way to learn about scripture and fellowship with others in your congregation.

April 30, 2023 Christian

Servant Leader

Servant LeaderServant Leader

This post is part of my What is a Man?” series. When I say man,” I do not mean male” as in the sexual gender, although that does play some part in it. I’m referring to what makes up a true adult man—a good man. This is not someone perfect, as those do not exist, but someone who has matured and embraced qualities that make them, well, quality. Much of this comes from the study of Christian Scripture, but I believe it applies to anyone, regardless of their faith.

What is a man? In the last few years, our society seems to be struggling with the concept of what a woman is, and it is an important question. But in my way of thinking, if we struggle with one, sooner or later we are going to struggle with the other. As a consequence, our boys and young men are not taught the things they need to know so they can develop into wise, independent, and capable adults. So I decided to explore this topic, and it looks like it is going to take a series to do it. I decided to start with this concept of servant leadership because I think it can be challenging and has enough parts and pieces to lay a foundation on which to build the rest of the series. The scriptures have a lot to say about this, and I’m going to heavily rely on them.

A good leader is not a boss but a servant.

42 And Jesus called them to him and said to them, You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, [a**] 44, and whoever would be first among you must be the slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10: 42–45

In our modern culture, we often associate the word leader” with someone who is in charge, someone who tells you what to do, like a boss at work.

boss1 | bôs | noun a person who is in charge of a worker, group, or organization: I asked my boss for a promotion.

• Informally, a person in control of a group or situation: does he see you as a partner, or is he already the boss”? the boss of the largest crime family in the country.

verb [with object] (usually to boss someone around): give someone orders in a domineering manner: he does not like being bossed around.

While it is true that people with leadership qualities are the best people to put in charge of a company or team, a true leader is someone who serves others. I don’t remember who it was, but someone told me that a good leader is someone who asks, What can I do to help further your success?” This often means not telling someone what to do but asking what they need from you to fulfill their duties, grow as a person, and generally be the best version of themselves. Then the servant leader acts on those things to help the person in the way that they have asked.

Servant Leaders Commit Acts of Service

35 And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” Mark 9:35

Not only does a servant leader ask how he can help, he often helps without anyone asking. When he sees work to do, a servant leader just does it. When the trash needs to be taken out, a servant leader will take it out. If someone spills something in the kitchen and doesn’t clean it up, a servant leader will take care of it. And in the words of Wayne from Letterkenny: When a friend asks for help, you help em.”

This is leadership by example. When we do good, it can inspire others to do the same. If you want to teach your children to clean up after themselves, clean up after yourself. If you help out a friend or neighbor, they are more likely to help you when the time comes, or at least be more likely to smile and wave when they see you moving the lawn.

Don’t misunderstand, we don’t do these things because we want people to help us later or because we expect something like that (or anything else) in return. We do it to inspire others to be servant leaders themselves.

A servant leader puts the needs of others before their own.

35 In all things, I have shown you that by working hard in this way, we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Acts 20:35

We all have stuff” to do—work we need to get done both at work and at home. Sometimes it’s a lot of work. But a servant leader makes time for others. A servant leader does not think of helping others as taking away from their work or even their time because helping other people is part of their work.

That does not mean that every time someone has a need, we have to drop everything to help them through it. Sometimes the thing we are doing is urgent, and the other person’s is less so. So we can give them a timeframe when we can help and then stick to it. If, for some reason, that timeframe does not end up working, we can let that person know and give a new time, as long as we don’t keep putting it off indefinitely.

It’s also important to realize that we don’t need to have all the answers. Which is good because we can’t. We also don’t need to be responsible for fixing everything or even try to fix everything. Sometimes a servant leader just needs to be a good listener, to hear what a person is saying and try to understand. To be a good sounding board. When we take the time to do that, sometimes the person can work the problem out themselves, but they still need you to be there for that purpose.

Servant leaders follow their leaders.

17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. Hebrews 13:17

Almost every leader in the world has a leader that they follow. For those few people that don’t, they still have people who warn them about what they can’t (or shouldn’t) do. Servant leaders are not only servants to the people under” them but also to the people above” them. So they listen to and follow those who are leading and teaching them. This is not only how we as servant leaders learn and grow; it is also how we lead by example. When the people we are training and serving see us follow our leaders, it encourages them to follow us.

Servant leaders own their emotions.

2 Therefore an overseer [a**] must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, [b**] sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own household well, with all dignity, keeping his children submissive, 5 for if someone does not know how to manage his household, how will he care for God’s church? 1 Timothy 3:2–5

Men who would be servant leaders and good men in general must learn to own their emotions. In the last 10–15 years, our society has seemed increasingly angry, and the pandemic has only accelerated it. Whether we are leading others or not, we must set an example of calm and collectedness. A true man knows how to disagree with others without resulting in shouts, insults, or even physical violence. When our emotions do start to get the better of us, a real man learns to pull them back, apologize, and repent.

A real man also knows how to have a good time without losing control of himself through drugs or alcohol. I’m not a teetotaler. I enjoy a good beer (nut brown ales, stouts, and porters are best), a good glass of wine, or even a little bourbon. But not to excess. Do you say you’re not the driver for the night? I don’t care. A real man knows how to control himself, and that includes drinking.

Real men also know how to stand on their own two feet. To manage their resources and be responsible for them. We have a growing epidemic of young men living with their parents as long as they can, staying home, and playing video games. It’s one thing to stay home a few years after high school to work and get your education. But to me, a man is not a man until he moves out and pays his way.

The Values of a Servant Leader and a Good Man

To wrap this up and bring it home, I want to close with some important values that all servant leaders and good men need to have. This is not all-encompassing, and no one is going to be successful at it all the time. What is important is that we strive to achieve them every single day.


The greatest strength of a man is not in his body but in his values. The measure of a man is his ability to stick to a set of moral principles. Having integrity is the highest measure of a man’s reputation.


A man is someone you can trust. His word is his bond. The people in our lives need to know that they can trust us in every way possible. To keep our commitments. To feel safe around us. To know that we are good.


Men seek to understand and relate to the feelings of others. It does not mean that we have to agree with everything another person says. But to understand and try to relate to where someone else is coming from not only helps us relate and have a productive conversation, it also makes the other person feel seen and heard.


A servant leader and a good man work collaboratively with others. It’s an old cliche, but it’s true: No man is an island.” We need to stand on our own two feet as much as we can, but we also need to ask for help when we need it and be willing to work with others to solve their problems as well. Working together fosters empathy and trust and leads to integrity when people know they can go to you for help.


It’s one thing to be confident, but another to be cocky. No matter how hard we work, we rarely get anything done by ourselves. This is why, when you see an athlete interviewed after a great game or match, they often praise their teammates for the work they did. A good man knows he is not the most important person in the world; he is just striving to be the best version of himself that he can be.


Above all else, a servant leader and a good man show respect for everyone. Another person’s body, their opinions, and their rights He respects the law and those in authority, especially those in the uniformed services. It does not matter if you don’t like what the other person says, does, or represents. Respect is the basis for human dignity, which we all deserve. It’s good to stand up for what’s right and to obey the dictates of your conscience. But we must do it in a way that respects the beliefs and welfare of others. That is the measure of a man.

Bible references are taken from the English Standard Version

English Standard Version (ESV)

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Image Credit:

The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between the two, the leader must become a servant. - Max De Pree In TL;DR #127 - subscribe at wiobyrne.com/tldr/ #leadership #identity #focus #vision #goals #cultu by wiobyrne is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

April 29, 2023 christian man_series

Mac Automation

Mac AutomationMac Automation

Since the beginning of this year, everyone has been talking about Artificial Intelligence tools like ChatGPT. While this technology is still in it’s early stages, a lot of people are seeing the potential of what it can do:

  • Write or summarize emails and other documents
  • Prepare reports and copy
  • Create graphics and images

And the list goes on. While this technology is one part of automating our work, there are things it can’t do that other forms of automation can, like:

  • Open up and arrange the apps you need to start your work day
  • Automatically type out a standard email you send all the time based on a couple of keystrokes
  • Automatically tag, rename, or move files based on parameters you set
  • Switch your audio device inputs and outputs based on the work you are doing

These are just some of the things I use computer automation for on my Mac. In this article I’m going to breakdown how you can automate your everyday tasks and give an overview of some of the systems I use to get this work done.

Just to be clear: everything I am going to be discussing is available on the Mac platform. If you use Windows most of the apps are not available. Windows is a great system, but not so much for automation.

Mac Automation - What is it?

If you have used a computer for more than a week, I am willing to bet you have come across some forms of automation, such as keyboard shortcuts. Highlight some text and press Command+C’ and it will copy the text to your clipboard. Place the cursor someplace else and press Command+V’ and it will paste that text in the new location. It saves you the trouble of moving the mouse cursor up to the Edit menu, moving down to the Copy item, and clicking it. Congratulations, you just saved 5 seconds!

This is about as simple as automation gets. But what if I told you there were other ways you could save hours rather than seconds automating your work? You can, with a few other tools and taking the time to learn them.

I define automation as anything you can do to keep work moving by telling your Mac to complete tasks for you, with as little input from you as possible. This can be done in the form of keyboard shortcuts, telling an app to watch a folder and do something if it finds a file that meets certain parameters, or buttons on a Stream Deck.

We have entered a Golden Age of automation, where multiple systems can be combined to produce automations that do a lot more for you. When I start my day, I push one button on my Stream Deck that starts a Keyboard Maestro macro that opens apps for me, but it also runs a couple of different Apple Shortcuts along with some Apple Script to get everything set up exactly the way I want it. This would not be possible without different systems talking to one another.


Now that I hopefully have piqued your interest, let’s go over some of the tools that should be in the Automation Sorcerer’s Bag of Holding.

Text Expander

This is a great place to start because it’s pretty simple, very powerful, and if you type you can get something out of it. Text Expander (TE) sits in the background and watches for you to type certain snippets of text and when it sees them, it takes action by either expanding your snippet into a larger text or opening a form for you to fill out before pasting the info into where you are typing. So if you work for the Acme Moving Company” and you type the company name a lot, you could create a snippet of amc.” Whenever you type that, TE is going to change it into Acme Moving Company.”

Acme Moving CompanyAcme Moving Company

You can create a text expansion with as little or as much text as you want. You can also add formatting and placeholder text. It’s a great way to save time by automating things you type on a regular basis.


Hazel is an app that watches folders for you, and takes action on files in the folders based on rules you have set up. I take a lot of screenshots, but I usually only need them for about 5 minutes. Rather than go through the process of deleting them or letting them fill up my desktop, I created a Hazel rule. When a file with screen shot” in its name has been sitting on my desktop for 3 days, Hazel moves it to the trash. She also deletes files that have been in the trash longer than 10 days. This eliminates my having to do the maintenance work of cleaning up my screenshots and deleting the trash.

I also have a task every two weeks of downloading a PDF file from a site, then emailing it to my boss. I set up a Hazel rule so that when the file is downloaded, Hazel creates an email addressed to my boss, and attaches the file. She then tags and moves the file to a storage location.


Now we are going to get into some of the apps that connect well together. Moom is an app for managing your app windows, and can be used two ways. The first is through keyboard shortcuts. Activating a shortcut can move the window to half the screen (vertical or horizontal), center of the screen, nearly full screen, or to a different screen entirely, among others.


The other way to use Moom is with its savable snapshots. Open all the apps you use for a particular task, place them where you want, and then bring up the Moom Snapshot preferences. Give the snapshot a name and an optional keyboard shortcut. You can then activate the snapshot anytime by either clicking the keyboard shortcut or clicking on Moom in the menu bar and selecting the snapshot. You can also use Moom with Apple Script, but we’ll get to that later.

Apple Shortcuts

If you have an iPhone, you have probably heard of or seen Shortcuts on there. Shortcuts is a jack-of-all-trades type app. It’s a bit hard to explain because there are so many different things you can do with Shortcuts, but I’m going to try.

Shortcuts can be as simple as having only one action, like creating a button to switch focus modes, or to toggle dark mode on or off. Or they can have many actions, like when you toggle dark mode on, it then activates a focus, opens an app, and starts a certain playlist in Music. A great way to use Shortcuts is to go through your day trying to be mindful of the things you are doing, and identifying things you tend to do at the same time. I created a Shortcut for my phone that turns on my AppleTV, then makes sure the AppleTV is switched to my profile, then opens the TV app. If you have Home Kit connected devices you could also set the Shortcut to dim the lights or set a scene.

Gaming Sound OnGaming Sound On

In addition to being able to run actions on your Mac or iPhone on its own, one of Shortcuts super powers is being able to work with other systems. You can create a Shortcut, and then add it to a Keyboard Maestro macro or Hazel action. This lets you extend your automations to do lots of things at once by using different systems together to do what they are best at.

Keyboard Maestro

Keyboard Maestro (KM) is one of my all time favorites. It is the multi-tool of Mac automation apps. It’s another app that is a bit challenging to explain because it can do so much, and your imagination really helps here.

The basic idea of KM is that you create a macro that does one or more tasks based upon a trigger. If you have played around with If This Than That then you have some idea of what I am talking about.

The simplest type of trigger in KM is a keyboard shortcut, like pressing Command+C to copy, except that you can create any shortcut that isn’t already being used by your Mac. You can also create Command Palettes, which is a popover menu that displays when you click a keyboard shortcut. This allows you to assign the same shortcut to multiple macros and then pick from the list either with your mouse or by pressing the a letters in the name of the macro. Further, you can set a macro to fire when something happens on your mac, like running a macro when a certain app opens (I love this one).

Once you name a macro and set a trigger, KM has a list of a gazillion actions that a macro can perform, including running actions from other systems like Apple Shortcuts.

One of my favorite things to do with KM is what David Sparks calls set ups.” This is when you set up your Mac to do a specific type of work like setting up for your work day, or to write, or edit audio or video. In cases like these there are certain apps you want open, in particular places on your screen or screens. You may also want to set a focus or toggle dark mode. KM can do all of that, with the push of one button.

Side note: I tried to take a scrolling screenshot of my work set up, but it was too long. Same with my D&D one.

So, remember how I said some automation systems can work together? If you have been reading all of this to get to that info, get ready to be happy.

KM has actions for running Apple Shortcuts and Apple Script, which is a fairly simple scripting language that has been around almost as long as the Mac. These actions allow you to do things with KM that it otherwise is not set up to do. Here’s a couple of examples:

KM does not have a way to change system preferences. It can open them, but not change them. So when I want to switch my audio input/output from my speakers and microphone to my gaming headset, you would think I was out of luck. However, I use an audio control app called Sound Source, which allows you to make these changes from the menu bar. Since Sound Source has enabled Apple Shortcut actions, I created 2 Shortcuts one to switch my input and output to the headset, and one to switch back. I added this Shortcut to my KM D&D set up macro, and it switches the input and output while the macro is running. I then created a macro for the end of the session, which runs the Shortcut to switch them back.

Another great example is with Moom. KM does not have a way to directly interact with Moom, but it does allow you to use Apple Script. So with a little internet searching, I found the script for activating a Moom snapshot, and added it to my set ups. Voila. Now my windows move to the right places once the apps are opened.

Investing in Your Education

Finally, if you are still reading all of this and thinking Well that’s great, but I’ve never used apps like this” I have one more resource for you. Earlier I mentioned my friend David Sparks, known online as MacSparky. David has created Field Guides for KM, Apple Shortcuts, and Hazel, which are great resources for learning these applications. You can stream or download the videos, and he provides example macros you can download to help you learn. I highly recommend his guides for learning any subject he teaches on.

Do you have any Mac automation tips or tricks? Leave them down in the comments.

automator mac os x leopard by Shht! is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

April 26, 2023 productivity automation mac

Tabletop RPGs in the 21st Century

D&D OnlineD&D Online

When I was a little boy, I loved playing pretending games with my friends. I had a fantastic collection of toy guns, and some great action figures from Star Wars and He-Man. We would get together and either take the guns outside, running around pretending to shoot imaginary bad guys, or stay inside playing with the figures. It was so much fun.

But sometimes when you play these games, you run into problems. Like when somebody wants to have a power or ability that is unfair. When little boys play these games we want to defeat each other, or defeat the enemy together. Arguments can ensue, and it is difficult to resolve the issues because there is no frame of reference on how to decide who is right or what is fair.

Then in middle school I discovered another type of pretending game called Dungeons & Dragons. Known as a Table Top Role Playing Game (TTRPG), it lets you craft a character and act out what that character’s persona would do. They have detailed rules about what you can and cannot do, and a Dungeon Master (DM) or Game Master (GM) who crafts the story and interprets and referees the rules. We had a blast because we could pretend to wield amazing weapons, cast incredible spells, and have wonderful adventures right from my living room. Once I got to high school, my schedule got busier and I stopped playing.

A couple of years ago I found myself wanting to play again, but not having any friends that played. I searched online and discovered great new resources that were not available in the 1980’s. The first was the virtual table top (VTT). These are websites like Foundry and Roll20 that let you run the game through a browser. The map of the world you are in appears on the screen, along with tokens representing the players that can be moved around, and controls to cast spells, attack with weapons, or do anything else you would normally do in the game.

The other resource was paid Dungeon Masters. Now let me warn you that some in the TTRPG community would find this controversial, because if you already have a group of friends that play the game you don’t normally pay a DM. One of the members of the group either prefers being the one that crafts the story, or members of the group take turns being the DM with each new campaign. But I have two reasons why I think paying a DM is perfectly reasonable.

First, as I mentioned before I don’t have a group of friends (local or online) that play the game. Sure I could go to a local game shop and try to find other gamers interested in starting a group, or post online looking for groups (there are plenty of Facebook groups for that). But I found using a service like StartPlaying to be an easy way to find a DM and group and start playing.

The second reason is that I get to support a creator and their work of crafting story and art. DMs normally host one or two games per week, getting to play the game they love and supplementing their incomes. Others have transitioned to DM’ing as a full time job!

Take my DM Ned for example. Ned lives in Greece, and is an architect by trade. As a professional DM, he runs 10-12 games per week, making enough money to support himself and live comfortably. He has created his own world for his games to exist in complete with continents and countries, government systems, cultures, epochs in time, monsters, and special rules known as homebrew. This makes his games unique to the RPG world because everything outside of the normal rules was created by him. No other DM is telling the stories that he is telling.

While some old school gamers think playing online is weird, and don’t like the idea of paying to play, the internet has opened the game up to a lot of new players and allowed veteran players to get into more games, both without leaving their house. It has also opened players up to more TTRPG games because they can not only shop for them online, but also download the books and rules so they can learn and play without going to a store (however, if you like paper books I highly recommend you support your local game store).

If you are interested in learning about or playing table top role playing games, I have a bunch of recomenations for you.

Game Systems

Dungeons & Dragons

The Grand Daddy of them all. D&D is set in a medieval type world with dozens of races and character classes to choose from. There are also tons of campaigns to play, from fairly simple beginner campaigns to expert campaigns for veteran players with powerful characters. You can download the basic rules for free at the D&D website, as well as purchase other books and resources. Digital resources are distributed through D&D Beyond, which can be accessed from their site or on their mobile apps.

Pathfinder 2 from Kobold Press

Kobold Press has not been around as long as D&D, but they have created a great game system in Pathfinder 2. Set in a similar world as D&D, their system uses different rules for creating characters and performing actions during your turn. Digital resources are distributed in PDF format, or you can purchase books for shipping or from your local game shop.

There are lots of other games and systems out there, but these are the two that I am most familiar with and can recommend based on some amount of experience. Doing a search for Table Top Roll Playing Games” will bring you lots of options to explore.

Finding a Game

Start Playing

Start Playing is my first pick here because it’s where I found Ned, my current DM. Here you can search for all kinds of games based on game system, type (campaign or one shot), dates, day and time, and more. You don’t actually play games on this site, but you can find games, rate DMs, and manage your account. It’s a great way to find DMs and manage your games.


Roll20 is a one-stop shop for finding and playing games because it not only has a search function for finding games, but Roll20 is also a VTT. Here you can find games that are free and paid, sign up and play. It also has built in video and voice chat. My only problem with Roll20 is that when I was first looking for a game, I could never find the button to sign up for the games I found. I was probably just missing it, or maybe it didn’t show up in the browser I was using.


These last two suggestions are a bit more general, but they can work. There is a Pathfinder Discord server which has a section for finding games, as well as discussion about rules and other topics.

For Dungeons & Dragons I don’t think there is a general Discord server, but there are servers based on location. I live in Ohio, and found an Ohio D&D Discord Server that lists games throughout the state.


Facebook has a number of groups where you can post to find a game. All Things D&D: Group Finder is a very general group where people post looking for games or looking for players. D&D 5e Online is another similar group. Finally if you are looking for a local group to play in person, look for a D&D group tied to your area. For me, I found Cleveland Dungeons & Dragons which lists groups in the NE Ohio area.


TTRPGs have come a long way since they were born in the 1970’s. You can still play them the same way with books, paper character sheets, pencils, and physical dice around someone’s table. But as someone who loves tech, it’s great to see the amazing transition this game has made into the internet age. I think it’s one of the best parts of the social aspects of the internet. You can play with people all over the world right from your laptop, and make great new friends who share this interesting pastime with you.

Dungeons & Dragons Online - Mikhai Rusemary by Marco Hazard is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

April 23, 2023 D&D RPG

Baseball in 2023: The Beginning of a New Era

Pitch Clock! If you are a baseball fan, I suspect you have heard about the new rules that have been implemented since the beginning of spring training. These rules are going to change the game in big ways. Is that a good thing, or are they messing with the sacred? When I first heard about these changes I thought the pitch clock was a travesty. But as I have thought about it and done research, I think these are needed changes that will bring about improvement.

The Pitch Clock

This is the rule that angers and frustrates people the most. Baseball does not have a time limit. It never has. The pitcher has always been able to look in and then step off. Batters can step out of the box, adjust their gloves or helmet, and take a practice swing. The interesting thing is that these things have dramatically changed the length of the game. I could not find the source, but I heard my local broadcaster say that from 1950 to 1980, the average length of a game was about two to two and a half hours. In the first couple decades of the Twentieth Century they were about an hour and a half. As of 2019 the average length of a game was over three hours. Those are significant changes.

The pitch clock has been implemented in the minors for several seasons and it has reduced the length of games to 2-2 1/2 hours. I think this is much better than the recent consideration of reducing the game to 7 innings. This will introduce more of a rhythm to the game, which will keep fans interested. Younger sports fans or potential fans who think the games are too long and boring might give baseball a second look.

The Shift

I’ve never liked the shift. It wasn’t technically cheating, but you’re tossing an infielder into the outfield to protect against base hits which could lead to runs. It makes sense as a defensive strategy. The problem is the fans want to see scoring. This requires having runners on the bases. This is where the excitement of the game is. To be fair I do enjoy a low scoring pitcher’s duel, but not all the time.

Disengagement Rules

This is where things get complicated, but interesting. The pitcher being able attempt 2 pickoffs before risking a balk means fewer throws to first and more pitches to the plate. It means more base stealing. Who doesn’t love a good steal? And a pitcher being charged with a balk because he stepped off the rubber twice means more possible free advancements of runners which (again) leads to more excitement.

Larger Bases

This is another rule that could lead to more base stealing, as it shortens the distance between the bags and gives base runners more real estate to grab onto. Three inches does not sound like much, but it helps.

Rules Affecting Game Outcomes

One complaint or concern I have heard about these rules is that they could affect outcomes of games. The big one is the Disengagement Rule, in a case such as a pitcher throwing over too many times or stepping off the rubber incurring a balk, which could score a man from third and cost a team a game, or a run at the playoffs, or even a World Series. The same could be said for the Pitch Clock, where a batter could be called out to lose an important game, or a pitcher that takes to long and incurs ball 4 and walks a runner home with the bases loaded because he’s nervous about giving up a run.

And this is where I’m going to get people riled up, because I say so what?” It’s a rule of the game. It could happen. And the only one to blame is the player that violated the rule. Could it ruin a World Series? Well if it’s your team that loses because of the infraction, I suppose it does for that team and it’s fans. The other team doesn’t care.

What annoys me is the people who say: okay that rule is fine, but don’t use it for the games that are important.” If it’s a good rule, it should apply to every play, in every game, in every series. It’s as bad as when I hear people complain about a good pass interference call in a football playoff game. They will say: why don’t they let them play?” Because they cheated, that’s why. If it’s not a good rule then change it, or don’t implement it in the first place. But if it is a good rule, if it is fair, then it will make every play of every game better, regardless of the stakes.


Keep in mind this is not a comprehensive list of all of the rules that are changing, and that they are affecting games. What’s interesting to me is how this is going to affect pro baseball over the next 5-10 years. We could see new records in stolen bases, hits, RBIs, and other categories. It means shorter games, which could get younger sports fans interested in the game, knowing they don’t have to invest 3-4 hours to watch. I’m excited to watch this season, and how it unfolds.

What do you think of the new rules? Leave a comment below. Do you think this hurts the game by introducing things that were never intended, or improves it with a more reasonable time frame, or brings excitement through more scoring and base traffic, or something else?

Photo Credit: Pitch Clock!

March 20, 2023 Sports Baseball