Kevin Durant's MVP Award Acceptance Speech

It was fitting that earlier this week ahead of mother's day Kevin Durant accepted the NBA MVP Award and thanked his mother as the true MVP. This video is a must watch. I'll admit that it made me tear up watching Durant describe what his mother meant to him in his path to become one of the NBA's best.

The Best Way to Proofread Your Writing on a Mac

Back in 2008 - 2009 I wrote for The Next Web for fun. As a blogger, timing from breaking news to hitting the publish button was critical. This meant grammatical errors were often casualties of the rush to publish. 

It was during this time I started using Mac's built in Text to Speech technology to assist in proofreading. I'm an auditory person so hearing what I wrote helped quickly identify errors.

To active text to speech go to System Preferences > Dictation & Speech (and select the Text to Speech tab).  There you can set the hotkey, voice and the speech rate.  Once activated simply highlight your post or whatever text you want to proofread and type the hotkey. Boom!


Solve Your Mac's Cluttered Desktop Forever with Default Folder X

Default Folder X is always one of the first apps I install on any new Mac. It provides a variety of workflow enhancements around saving and opening files and folders. Although it's a $35 app it's worth that alone for one awesome feature: hover + click on existing Finder window to change directory of Save dialogue.

It's probably easiest to see in my GIF of that feature below...

My Google Calendar Setup

I like to have all my calendars and events in one place. This includes Facebook events, friends birthdays and Meetups I'm attending. Here is how I break down my calendars in Google.

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"Mike Bracco"
My personal calendar for things such as doctors, catching up with friends or anything like that.

Used for recurring events such as work payroll or recurring bills that I have. I don't use my calendar as a task manager - it's more for just reminders of where certain bills fall on a recurring basis.

All work related meetings/events.

"Contact Birthdays"
Subscribed calendar provided by Google which lists your Google Contact birthdays.

"Email Marking | StoryBots"
Subscribed calendar for work providing list of when various email marketing campaigns are sent.

"Facebook Events"
Subscribed calendar of my accepted Facebook Events. You can get this URL by visiting your Events List and then selecting the gear dropdown to export. You'll then be presented with a dialogue which will contain your unique webcal Events (and birthday) URLs.

"My Meetups"
Subscribed calendar of the Meetups I've RSVP'ed to. You can obtain the webcal URL Google Calendar by logging into your account, going to your Meetup Calendar and finding the export option.

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"US Holidays"
Subscribed calendar provided by Google which lists US Holidays.

The Fastest and Most Efficient Way to Interact with Facebook on a Mac

I'm all about efficiency and limiting the number of browser tabs or apps I have open on my Mac. If I'm doing work I prefer to interact with social services through the menu bar or use hot keys without having to change browser tabs or switch to an app in another space. MenuTab Pro for Facebook is the perfect app to do this for Facebook. 

It's a cheap $2 Mac app that provides quick access to your Facebook account including the news feed, chat and friend requests. When you receive a new notifications the icon in the menu bar lights up red and gives you an alert popup if you choose. You can then simply hot key to the menu bar app, review and address the notification and be back to what you were doing within seconds.

Unify Your Contacts Using Cobook

Having a single address book that you manually maintain is not realistic today. With different contacts on Gmail, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn among others it's important to have all your contacts unified and searchable in a single place. I've tried numerous "unified address" book services but my favorite by far is Cobook. It's available on Mac, iPhone and iPad with an Android version in the works.

I use Cobook to unify my Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and AngelList contacts. After authenticating your social accounts your contact's entries in Cobook will have active tabs for the social services you're connected with them on. An additional cool feature is the latest content posted by that contact for things such as Twitter or Instagram is displayed inline within the app.

Batch Rename Files Instantly with Name Mangler


Name Mangler is an indispensable app for OS X that allows you to batch rename files. I first bought it back in 2010 and have used it on a daily basis since. It's built by Many Tricks which is a well known indie Mac developer (of Butler fame).

Name Mangler takes a file or folder of files and renames them according to the logic you set.  This includes things like changing case, find/replace, adding prefix/suffix and many more complex operations. All you have to do is drag the files or folder you want to rename into the drop area, set your rename logic and click rename. However, one of the coolest features are "Droplets".

Droplets are essentially rename presets you save as an app (they have .app extension). You can then place these Name Mangler Droplet apps in your dock or as a favorite in your Finder sidebar. Once a droplet is created you simply drag files on top of the app in order to rename the files. Name Mangler doesn't actually open - the process happens in the background.

The main use case of Droplets for me is changing a file's name/extension to lowercase and then replacing spaces with underscores (so FTP ready). I use the "Bracco" in the screenshot below is a Droplet that performs the above rename actions.



How to Migrate Your Spotify Playlists to Google Play Music


I've been a paid Spotify user since the day it was launched in the US but I recently made the switch to Google Play Music. The major driver was the abillity to have my 16k matched songs, which I migrated from iTunes, alongside the subscription music. Also, I don't use much of the social features in Spotify so I won't be missing those.

In any event, I was faced with the daunting manual task of migrating the playlists I invested in building in Spotify over to Google Play Music. While there are 3rd party tools that allow you to export CSVs of your playlist from Spotify, Google Play music has no public API for playlist creation or a method to turn the CSV into a playlist.

I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered Portify which was built to solve this very problem. The tool created by Sebastian Mauer is written using NodeJS, AngularJS and app.js. It uses the unofficial APIs of both services. While passwords for both services are needed it runs on localhost so you don't have to worry about that. 

For instructions on how to run this check out Sebastian's blog post. You'll notice in the comments that some people have run into issues but it worked perfectly for me. Below are some screenshots I made of the app.


Control Google Play Music in Chrome with System Wide Hotkeys Using Alfred

If you use a Mac and don't already use Alfred then download it now. Seriously, stop reading this and download it now :). A Mac without it is unusable for me. This is especially true since the release of Version 2 with the Powerpack add on.

At its core, Alfred is an application launcher that replaces OS X's Spotlight. It has come after earlier generations of similar products including Quicksilver and Butler among others. However, Alfred is much more than an app launcher. A lot of the power comes from the Powerpack add on ( £15) which allows to create complex workflows (which can be download from the Alfred community).

On my favorite workflows is controlling Google Play Music in Chrome (but also supports Safari) with hotkeys - download here. Thx to Steven La for creating it!

Below is a screenshot from Alfred and the hotkeys I've set. I'm now able to use hotkeys to go to previous/next and play/pause system wide. I don't have Google Play Music as the active tab in Chrome or even have Chrome as the active app. Also with Google's Notification Center (requires Chrome 29 beta) you'll get the nice system wide track info alerts as well (screenshot below). 


Alfred Preferences for Workflow

Chrome Beta 29 Notification Center