A Place for Everything

Not long after UPS delivered a large cardboard box to our garage, I carried it upstairs to the kitchen to unpack it and set it up.

The table and the counters were full, so I had nowhere to put it down. Why are the table and counters full? I don’t know, they’re always full, aren’t they? Except for like 5 minutes after you clean them off and admire them and think “We should always keep them looking like this!” And then don’t.

Lacking any other option, I put the box down on the stovetop. Now, don’t worry, I had not used the stovetop for several hours, no one else was home, the box was only like half-way on the stovetop, and it wasn’t even on the side that I had used.

Next I went to clear some space on the kitchen counter. Which is when I saw it. Or, more specifically them.

“Dammit,” I thought to myself. “Those are definitely mouse droppings. We haven’t had a mouse for months! Since winter, I think!

“I should have Ethan buy some mousetraps before he comes home. Wait, do we have any mousetraps left? I think I bought a three-pack last time. I hate mice. Gross. I’m going to have to clear off the counters and bleach everything.

“Check under the sink…I think that’s where we put them. No, that’s not it. What is that? I have no idea. Why is that even under the sink? Nevermind. Oh wait, I see one! Nope, that’s not one. I guess we don’t — wait! Way in the back there, that’s one! It says DCON on the side of the box!

“Yes! Now, where’s the crappy crunchy peanut butter we use to give the dogs pills and bait mouse traps? On right, it’s next to the stovetop! I used it earlier to give Mort his pill. Oh, UGH! You know the peanut butter is going to be behind the box I put down, isn’t it?”

Which is when I turned towards the stovetop, and saw smoke coming out from underneath the large cardboard box.

I’m going to fast-forward to tell you that everything is OK.

The good news is that there was no harm done except to spot on the bottom of the external box. The inside box was fine. The kitchen now smells like burnt cardboard, which is dëlightful, but compared to burning down the house, it’s OK.

What the {expletive deleted} happened?!?!

As near as I can tell, when I put the box down on the countertop/stovetop, the corner of the box must have hit the knob which turned on the corresponding burner. Which was under the cardboard box.

The good news is that it was only bumped one notch.

Well, you’d think that would be good, right? Except this knob goes from “OFF” to “HIGH” as you turn it clockwise. So accidentally bumping it “Just One Notch” meant that the burner, underneath the cardboard box, was on high. As were my chances of accidentally burning down the house. I’m just glad I didn’t think we might have stored the spare mouse traps in the bathroom or (G-d forbid) in the garage or something, which would have taken me longer to go to and return from.

Here’s where I state the obvious part, and then end with two “funny-ironic” details.

The moral of this story is painfully obvious to anyone capable of reading these words: Never ever ever put anything down on the stovetop (well, except a pot or pan), even if there is nowhere else to put down the thing that you want to put down. Put it on the floor. Yes, even if it’s a big unwieldy box. Because even a stovetop that you 100% know is “off” might not be. Or you could accidentally turn it on. 1 in 1000 odds? Maybe. Higher than that? Maybe. Still. Learn from my mistake. Please.

Assuming the stovetop isn’t on isn’t as bad as assuming a gun is unloaded, but it’s not good, either.

To finish this story, I have two ironies to share.

First: Back in January, I bought two fire extinguishers for the house. One is in the kitchen. I didn’t even remember we had it until about 90 minutes after this incident. I am now left to wonder if things had gotten worse, would I have remembered it before I was standing next to the fire department when it suddenly dawned on me? Who’s to say?

Second: What was in the box that almost caught fire and burned down the house? A counter-top ice maker. Yes, you heard me right: I almost burned down the house… with an ice maker.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a mouse-trap to set.

And some counter-tops to bleach.

Add Personal Pronouns to Your Zoom Account

Today (21 June 2021) Zoom has added an option to add personal pronouns to your account, and they can be displayed after your name when you join meetings.

Update: If you add your pronouns using this method, others may not see them until they update to the latest versions of Zoom.

Update 2: Zoom has added a blog post about this and a support document too.

“Do I need to do this if I have already added them to my ‘Display Name’ in Zoom?”

That will continue to work, but this new feature allows you to easily share or “unshare” your personal pronouns. So if you find yourself adding them for some meetings and removing them for others, this might be an easier and better option.

“How do I enable this?”

You should be able to go to https://zoom.us/profile and click the “Edit” link to the right of your name.

Click the “Edit” button where indicated

Once you do so, a new view will appear:

Under ‘Display Name’ there is a place for pronouns.

There is a dropdown to ask if you want to “Share in a meeting or webinar?”

  • Ask me every time
  • Always Share
  • Do Not Share

Once you have the settings that you prefer, don’t forget to click “Save”:

Note that even if you choose “Always Share” or “Do Not Share” you can override your decision on a per-meeting basis after you have joined the meeting by clicking your name in the “Participants” list. Click the “…” button to reveal the option.

First, open the “Participants” panel and find your name:

Second, hover over your name with the mouse/trackpad and the line will change to this:

Click “More” and you will either see “Share” or “Unshare” depending on the current setting. Since mine are already set to share, this is what I saw:

If I choose to “Unshare My Pronouns” for this meeting, my default will be used for the next meeting that I join, or I can decide to share them by repeating the process and choosing “Share My Pronouns”:

Note! If your Zoom account is part of an organization (Admins)

If you are an admin for an organization, you must enable this setting before users (including yourself) can use it.

To do so, go to https://zoom.us/account/setting and scroll to bottom until you see the setting named:

“Allow users to enter and share pronouns”

You will notice that it is off by default_ (selector slid to the left). If you want to enable it, slide it to the right.

You will be asked to confirm your choice, and then asked if you want to be prompted again in the future, which I don’t want, so I checked the “Do not remind me again” box:

If your Zoom account is part of an organization (Non-Admins)

If you are not an admin and would like to use this feature, you may have to let them know this feature exists (it was just added on 2021-06-21). They may not know where to find it, so sending them the URL https://zoom.us/account/setting might help, especially if they understand that it is not just “off” but disabled by default, so no one can use it unless it is enabled as an option for those who choose to use it.

“I’ve seen people add pronouns after their name, but I don’t really understand it. Where can I learn more?”

There is a very helpful and straightforward site called MyPronouns.org which is the one that I used after it was recommended to me.

“Should my organization enable this setting?”

Users are not required to enter their pronouns, so there’s no reason that I can see to leave this setting disabled, and I wish it was enabled by default, but no one at Zoom asked me.

“My organization doesn’t have any transgender or non-binary people in it.”

Imagine someone was discussing a building which had no wheelchair access, and who said “We don’t need wheelchair access, no one here uses a wheelchair.”

You see the “chicken and the egg” problem there, right? If you don’t have wheelchair access, no one who needs wheelchair access can use that facility.

Likewise, while it may be true that no one who is currently a part of your organization is transgender or non-binary, that might change in the future.

There are some other important points to consider:

A) Sharing pronouns is something that everyone can do, and should, if they are willing and comfortable doing so, because it increases the number of people will see it and get used to it. If sharing pronouns is “only” something we expect of people who are transgender or non-binary, then it becomes a symbol of “otherness”. If everyone (or nearly everyone) shares their pronouns, then it is more likely that people who are non-binary and transgender would feel comfortable sharing their pronouns as well.

B) If people inside your organization ever have meetings with people outside your organization, they may want to share their pronouns in those meetings, which will again help to normalize the practice, especially if it is something that is done by most people, rather than just some.

“Should we require everyone to add their pronouns?”

No. If there are people who are uncomfortable sharing their pronouns, that seems like an unreasonable thing to require them to do.

Encouragement to share pronouns is good, especially when others lead by example, but generally speaking it is not something that I would recommend requiring. Encourage people to ask questions if they have them. It might be helpful for someone who is willing to offer to help explain this to people who might not understand the benefit.

Please feel free to share this article, copy it, modify it to suit your organization’s needs, etc…

Since this is a new feature, I found it difficult to find information about how to use it. You are obviously welcome to share the link to this post with others, but if you need to write-up your own “intro” or “how to” feel free to copy this article as a starting point.

Using Thunderbird for “Send Only” Email

Exactly 10 years ago today, I wrote Use Mailsmith to create a “send-only” email account for TUAW (which was later ‘replaced’ by Engadget).

Unfortunately, Mailsmith did not make the 64-bit transition, and another app known as “Let.ter” seems to have disappeared (although last time I checked, it did still work, but I don’t think it integrated with the macOS address book).

If you use Gmail (or “Google Suite” or whatever it is called), you can use a link like this to send email without ever seeing your Inbox:


Obviously replace example@gmail.com with your actual email address. That link will bring up a ‘Compose’ window, which you can use as normal, and then when you send the email, you will be left with a Gmail window which is basically inert.

However, I wanted a Mac app for this. More specifically, I wanted an app which would be able to autocomplete from my macOS Contacts..

It turns out to be much harder than you might think.

Most email apps think they are doing exactly what users want by making sure that they retrieve email as effortlessly as possible. Let’s be honest, that’s a reasonable assumption.

My first attempt was to set up an email app that I don’t usually use, and then either change or delete the IMAP information, so that the app could not download email.

Most email apps will freak out if you do this. First off, most of them won’t even let you delete the IMAP information, and if it is incorrect, they will continually throw error messages as you. Again, it’s a reasonable assumption that users will want to download email, so I can’t really fault them for this, but I found that it was extremely frustrating to deal with the error messages.

Recently, I decided to try this again, and found that it was actually possible to do. It’s not 100% as “clean” as I would like, but it works well enough, and until I find something better, this is what I will be using.

Thunderbird Swoops In

Thunderbird is the mail app from Mozilla, the people who make the Firefox web browser. I had tried this a few years ago and couldn’t get it to work, but it struck me as the email app that was most likely to allow this level of customization.

A search for “Thunderbird Send Only” led me to this post on Superuser:

A Thunderbird account is only for receiving mail. It cannot send mail at all.

To send mail in Thunderbird, you use an identity, not an account. Unfortunately, Thunderbird’s user interface makes the relationship between accounts and identities confusing, as the “Manage Identities” button is found within Account Settings.

Add an identity to your default account, and if necessary add a separate SMTP server for the new identity, but don’t otherwise configure the account. The new identity can send mail independently of the account, and it will never try to receive mail.

I also came across forum post from January 3rd, 2009 (!) saying essentially the same thing, so I decided to give it at shot. Apparently this has been possible for a lot longer than I realized.

The Thunderbird distinction between Identity and Account is important, so I will try to use both terms very carefully from here on.

Here’s the Downside

As far as I can tell, in order to set this up, you have to give Thunderbird access to a “real” email account to create the Account.

You can set this account to not download email automatically at launch, and not to download email periodically, but if you click on the ‘Inbox’ it will download email in the inbox, so that makes it a “No Go” as far as being a 100% reliable “send only” account for that email account.

However, I have an old Gmail account which I pretty much never use, which gets almost no email (even spam!). I created it for a project or something which never went anywhere. So it’s a good Gmail account to use to set up the Thunderbird account because even if it did download email, and even if there was email for it to download, there would be nothing in there to distract me.

You could even set up a new Gmail account and create a Gmail filter to automatically delete all incoming email. But I had this one already, so I decided to use it.

If you don’t have a spare email account, creating a new Gmail account is a bit of a hassle, but, IMO, worth it.

Here’s How to Do It

Step 1: Set up a new account in Thunderbird using an existing email account. This is not the email address you want to use for “Send Only” but another “dummy” account.

Step 2: Once you have it setup, click on the very top level (see screenshot above, item #1), and then choose “Account Settings” (item #2).

Thunderbird 001 Click On Account Settings

Step 3: Click on “Manage Identities” at the bottom right corner.

Thunderbird 002 Manage Identities

Step 4: Click to Add a New Identity

Thunderbird 003 Identities Add

Step 5: Fill Out Information. Items 5, 6, 7, and 8 are the only ones that are required (as far as I can tell.) #8 may not be required, but it’s definitely something I recommend. This should be the account you want to use as “Send Only”.

Thunderbird 004 Fill Out Identity

Don’t click “OK” yet – click on #7 to create a new SMTP server. This is a vital step!

Step 6: Enter SMTP Server Information. This is the information for the “Send Only” account.

Thunderbird 005 STMP Info

Note that I have given the “Description” (item #9) to make it obvious that this is the SMTP server I want to use when using it as “Send Only”.

Items 10-14 will differ, depending on the options for “Connection Security” and “Authentication Method” that you will have to choose for your email provider. What is shown here is for Gmail, but if you use another email provider, it may be different. (If email does not send, or does not send from the proper account, remember this step, because this is probably where you will need to come back to.)

Step 7: Set Default Identity.

Click the “Manage Identities” button again (see Step 3) and you should have two Identities now. Either choose the one you want to use as “Send Only” and click “Set Default” or click the one you aren’t going to use and click “Delete”.

Thunderbird 007 Default Identity

You can see above that I’ve already deleted the one I’m not planning to use.

Step 8: Set the Outgoing Server (SMTP).

Thunderbird 006 Default STMP Server

Click the next to #15 and change it to the “Send Only SMTP Server” that we created in Step #6. I wish I could delete the other SMTP server, but I cannot find a way to do that. Let me know if I missed it.

Step 8: Send a Test Message.

  • Close the “Tab” with the account settings.
  • ⌘N to open a new “Compose” window.
  • Check the “From” address is the correct one (if not, go back to Step 7).
  • Send a test email to yourself. If you set up a Gmail SMTP server, the first time you send a message Thunderbird will open a browser window to authenticate you with your Gmail account. Once you’ve done that once, you won’t need to do it again.

There Is No Step 9. Hopefully.

I hope that will work for you. If not, let me know. It can be a bit of a challenge writing up instructions after the fact because I’m always afraid I will forget some detail or some step that I did the first time through.

If you want to discuss this, please post to this thread on the Mac Power Users forum.

Optional Steps

  • in “Account Settings” click on “Server Settings” and uncheck the boxes next to “Check for new messages at startup” and “Check for new messages every X minutes” and “Allow immediate server notifications when new messages arrive.” This should prevent Thunderbird from automatically downloading email from your the email account we setup in Step 1.
  • in “Account Settings” click on “Copies & Folders” and choose options for where you want copies of sent messages to be stored. You may want to set it up to automatically BCC yourself at the “Send Only” account so you’ll have a record of those emails in that account. (Note: if you use Gmail for SMTP, it will automatically store the message in your Sent email ‘folder’ on Gmail, so you don’t need to do that for Gmail.)

My Shepherd Will Supply My Need


My shepherd will supply my need;
Jehovah is His name.
In pastures fresh He makes me feed,
beside the living stream.

He brings my wandering spirit back
when I forsake His ways,
and leads me, for His mercy’s sake,
in paths of truth and grace.

When I walk through the shades of death
Thy presence is my stay;
one word of Thy supporting breath
drives all my fears away.

Thy hand, in sight of all my foes,
does still my table spread;
my cup with blessings overflows;
Thy oil anoints my head.

The sure provisions of my God
attend me all my days;
O may Thy house be my abode,
and all my work be praise.

There would I find a settled rest,
while others go and come;
no more a stranger, or a guest,
but like a child at home.

Source: https://youtu.be/ZDrmIJhO-34

Sometimes you find something you just have to share. – TjL

Plattsburgh Clergy Condemn Insurrection and the Lies That Led to It

TO THE EDITOR: On Jan. 6, 2021, our nation suffered an attack as insurgents breached the Capitol.

As religious leaders, we are deeply grieved and angered by this injury to the norms of democracy and the fear experienced by all those who felt themselves at risk of harm. We also mourn the loss of life as a consequence of the chaos.

We unequivocally condemn the violence of Jan. 6. We condemn the actions of those who allowed themselves to be led by anger and fear fueled by lies and conspiracy theories. We denounce leadership which creates divisions and hatred.

While we may disagree with particular policies and actions of government, we acknowledge this Congress and the incoming president and vice president as duly elected.

In the coming days and weeks, we pray for peace and pledge ourselves to doing what we may to promote truth and justice in this nation for all its people.

We continue to pray for the families of those who lost loved ones because of the violence on Jan. 6. On this week when a new president and vice president is inaugurated, we pray for our divided nation. We pray for those who are so hurt and afraid that they would resort to this kind of violence. We stand with and pray for those who work tirelessly for justice and peace. We pray for those who speak truth to power. We pray for the day when people with competing ideals will sit together in harmony at the table of democracy and fellowship.

At the dawn of this new administration on Jan. 20, with all of its hopes and possibilities, we implore people of faith to fervently pray for peace and unity in our nation, and may those prayers, actualized in our civility and kindness toward one another, bring healing to our nation.

Rev. Philip Richards

Rev. Gregory Huth

Rabbi David Kominsky

Rev. Timothy J. Luoma

Rev. Sally Chase White

Rev. Rebekah L Solar

Rev. Martha E Connor

Rev. Chrysalis Beck

Rev. Peggi Eller

Rev. Nicoline Guerrier

Rev. David Ousley

Rev. Paul Heller


Originally published 19 January 2021 in the Press Republican of Plattsburgh, NY

Matthew 25:31-46 – The Sheep and the Goats

This is the Gospel reading for next Sunday (November 22, 2020) which I have recorded so I can listen to it throughout the week. I have used 4 translations:

  1. NRSV
  2. The Message
  3. NIV
  4. NASB

I thought I would share them here for others who might be working on the same passage and who would like to be able to listen to the passage throughout the week, either in one or all of those versions.

You can download an MP3 with all of the versions, or an MP3 of just one version, using the links below. The text of each translation is also included.

Matthew 25:31-46 (All 4 Versions)

Matthew 25:31-46 (all 4 versions)

Download: Matthew 25:31-46 (all 4 translations)

Note: if your MP3 player understands “chapters” then it will be able to jump directly to each translation, if you wish.

Matthew 25:31-46 (NRSV)

Matthew 25:31-46 (NRSV)

Download: Matthew 25:31-46 (NRSV)

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory.

32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats,

33 and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left.

34 Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world;

35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,

36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’

37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink?

38 And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing?

39 And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’

40 And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’

41 Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels;

42 for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,

43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’

44 Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’

45 Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’

46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Matthew 25:31-46 (MSG)

Matthew 25:31-46

Download: Matthew 25:31-46 (MSG)

31-33 “When he finally arrives, blazing in beauty and all his angels with him, the Son of Man will take his place on his glorious throne. Then all the nations will be arranged before him and he will sort the people out, much as a shepherd sorts out sheep and goats, putting sheep to his right and goats to his left.

34-36 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:

I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.’

37-40 “Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’

41-43 “Then he will turn to the ‘goats,’ the ones on his left, and say, ‘Get out, worthless goats! You’re good for nothing but the fires of hell. And why? Because—

I was hungry and you gave me no meal,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
I was homeless and you gave me no bed,
I was shivering and you gave me no clothes,
Sick and in prison, and you never visited.’

44 “Then those ‘goats’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn’t help?’

45 “He will answer them, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me—you failed to do it to me.’

46 “Then those ‘goats’ will be herded to their eternal doom, but the ‘sheep’ to their eternal reward.”

Matthew 25:31-46 (NIV)

Matthew 25:31-46 (NIV)

Download: Matthew 25:31-46 (NIV)

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne.

32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.

33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.

35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,

36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?

38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?

39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,

43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

Matthew 25:31-46 (NASB)

Matthew 25:31-46 (NASB)

Download: Matthew 25:31-46 (NASB)

31 “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.

32 And all the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, just as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats;

33 and He will put the sheep on His right, but the goats on the left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

35 For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in;

36 naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’

37 Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink?

38 And when did we see You as a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You?

39 And when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’

40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it for one of the least of these brothers or sisters of Mine, you did it for Me.’

41 “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, you accursed people, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels;

42 for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink;

43 I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’

44 Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or as a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’

45 Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it for one of the least of these, you did not do it for Me, either.’

46 These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Automators Podcast, episode 58

I was extremely pleased to be on episode 58 of the Automators podcast on Relay.fm.

This was my first time on Automators, which is a show that I have really enjoyed since it first began.

I’m guessing anyone who has managed to still find and read my site probably knows this already, but I’ve also been on a few episodes of Mac Power Users too:

Links and Show Notes

Here are the show notes for Automators 58:

Free Books: Healthy Clergy Make Healthy Congregations

(Note: These books are only free today, September 3rd, 2020)

Steve McCutchan posted on The Presbyterian Outlook’s website that today (September 3rd, 2020) is his 54th wedding anniversary. He adds:

My wife, Sandy, who passed away this past November 30th, in addition to being my faithful companion, was also the chief editor of all my books. This includes the nine-volume series, Healthy Clergy Make Healthy Congregations (HCMHC). I’ve decided that in celebration of the fifty-three years we spent together and in thanksgiving for all she contributed to me, I’m going to GIVE AWAY ALL NINE VOLUMES of the HCMHC series on that day.

Here are links to the Kindle versions of each book, plus a 10th book which is also free today:

Those links go to Amazon.com and to the Kindle versions. They should show a price of $0.00. (If not, you may have missed the deadline.)

I’m not sure if they are free in other Amazon stores other than Amazon.com.

I haven’t read these books, so I can’t vouch for them directly, but it seems like a generous offer, worth checking out.

Thanks to Steve for making these books available in honor of Sandy’s memory.

These Are Not the Masks You‘re Looking For…

Scene: Jenkins, a product manager at Disney, reports to his Boss about Disney’s new licensed Star Wars masks for COVID-19…

Jenkins: “Hey boss! We’ve got those Star Wars face masks for sale on the website.”

Boss: “Great! People need to be wearing masks, and we have some iconic masked characters: Darth Vader, Boba Fett, Kylo Ren, The Mandalorian…”

Jenkins: “Um…”

Boss: “What?”

Jenkins: “It’s just, um. Those are all excellent suggestions, sir. It’s just that… We didn’t make those.”

Boss: “Oh. Huh. Well… Ok. Decided to do with Storm Troopers then?”

Jenkins: “Oh… Storm Troopers… Yeah that would have been a good one…”

Boss: “…”

Jenkins: “…”

Boss: “So what did you…”

Jenkins: “We’ve got an R2D2…”

Boss: “Oh, the gold droid who talks a lot? I lov—”

Jenkins: “Um, no sir, that’s C3PO… He’d be a good one, though, I’ll write that down. We did the other one.”

Boss: “You did a mask of a droid… but not the one whose head is shaped like… a head?”

Jenkins: “Yes sir… We have some others.”

Boss: “Show me…”

Jenkins: “This one features the 1977 cast…”

Boss: “1977… Jenkins, you do know we’ve made a few more of these movies since then, right?”

Jenkins: “But this is iconic artwork, sir…”

Boss: “Why does Leia look like she’s one of Luke’s legs? And… is she wearing a turtleneck? And a tiara for a belt?”

Jenkins: “Sir, you mentioned our newer properties, I think you’ll really like this one, it has iconic symbols from the new movies.”

Boss: “Not those stupid dice, I hope…”

Jenkins: “No, sir, we’ve gotten rid of those, as you asked. Look here.”

Boss: “What are these?”

Jenkins: “Those are symbols of the rebellion.”

Boss: “That one looks like the adapter I used to have to use for my 45 RPM albums.”

Jenkins: “Sir?”

Boss: “Nevermind. Who is the guy with the tusks?”

Jenkins: “You know, sir, that’s… um… Darth… Tuskus…”

Boss: “Where are the X-Wings?”

Jenkins: “Oh, um…”

Boss: “You said iconic symbols. I don’t see an X-Wing, or a TIE Fighter, or even a lightsaber. Those are pretty important symbols of Star Wars, right? How about the Millenium Falcon?”

Jenkins: “You’re going to love this last one. It’s ‘The Child’…”

Boss: “Who?”

Jenkins: “‘The Child’? From ‘The Mandalorian’?”

Boss: “You mean ‘Baba Yoda’?”

Jenkins: “Actu— Yes. Baby Yoda, sir. You’re going to love this one.”

Boss: “Jenkins. Did you cut off Baby Yoda’s ears?”

Jenkins: “No no no. See, of you hold the elastics out like this, see how it kind of looks like the shape of ears?”

Boss: “When people wear this mask, are those elastics going to stick out like that?”

Jenkins: “Um. No?”

Boss: “No, they’re not. So it’s just going to look like they’re wearing a mask with Baby Yoda’s ears cut off.”

Jenkins: “I…”

Boss: “Get out.”

Jenkins: “Yes, sir. I’ll bring your ideas to the team.”

Boss: (pushing button under desk) “I don’t mean out of my office. I mean out of the building. These men will show you the way. We’ll send your last check to you.”

Compare macOS Versions with zsh and is-at-least

Update (26 July 2020)

Howard Oakley has reported that Big Sur is both 10.16 and 11.0.

For the purposes of shells scripts, sw_vers will return 11.0 unless SYSTEM_VERSION_COMPAT=1 is set. If it is set, then sw_vers will return 10.16.

To my mind, this new information only makes the following suggestion more useful, because it will work under either scenario.

end of update

Original Post

I have already run into an issue where I’ve had to adapt some of my scripts for Big Sur.

(n.b. if you have used the -p arg to shasum in the past, it no longer exists in Big Sur. There is a new -U option which is not the same as what -p used to do. Ironically, -p was for ‘portable’ mode.)

It has already been noted that Apple is referring to Big Sur as “macOS 11” which presumably means that sw_vers -productVersion will return ‘11.0’ once Big Sur is out of beta.

However, at least as of this writing (10 July 2020), sw_vers -productVersion on Big Sur returns ‘10.16’.

If you are trying to write a shell script which can be used on both Big Sur and earlier versions of macOS, how can you check to see which version you are running?

I would like to recommend the following, which uses a feature which I believe is unique to zsh — and since Apple has made zsh it’s preferred shell, I recommend writing all of your shell scripts in zsh (however I should note that I may be a little biased, as I’ve been using zsh for 20+ years).


The zsh feature in question is called is-at-least and you use it like this:

autoload is-at-least

is-at-least "$MINIMUM" "$ACTUAL"

where $MINIMUM and $ACTUAL represent the two numbers that you want to compare. What is especially nice about is-at-least is that it can compare version numbers such as 10.15.5 and 10.13.4 and 10.16 (or 11.0).

Note: the autoload is-at-least line needs to be called once-per-script before you use is-at-least but once you’ve loaded it, you can use is-at-least as many times as you want in that script.

The key here is that regardless of whether Big Sur reports itself as 10.16 or 11.0, we can use ‘10.16’ as $MINIMUM and then set $ACTUAL to the version of macOS that we are using.

Note that you don’t have to use variables here, you could do this:

autoload is-at-least

is-at-least "10.16" "$ACTUAL"

The result of is-at-least will be zero if $ACTUAL is at least equal to 10.16, or 1 if it is not.

Here’s a complete example script as a gist for those who may find it useful.

#!/bin/zsh -f
# Purpose: Check to see if we are running on Big Sur
# From: Timothy J. Luoma
# Mail: luomat at gmail dot com
# Date: 2020-07-10
# this will check to make sure `sw_vers` exists
# if it does not, this is probably not macOS
if ((! $+commands[sw_vers] ))
echo "$NAME: 'sw_vers' is required but not found in $PATH" >>/dev/stderr
exit 2
## First we get the value for this Mac and save it to `$ACTUAL`
ACTUAL=$(sw_vers -productVersion)
## load 'is-at-least' so we can use it
autoload is-at-least
## "Is the version of macOS that we are using _at least_ 10.16?"
is-at-least "10.16" "$ACTUAL"
## EXIT will be '0' if ACTUAL is at least 10.16
## EXIT will be '1' if ACTUAL is _less than_ 10.16
if [[ "$EXIT" == "0" ]]
# This is Big Sur (or later)
echo "YES"
elif [[ "$EXIT" == "1" ]]
# This is BEFORE Big Sur
echo "NO"
# we should never get here
echo "This should not have happened. EXIT = $EXIT"
exit 0

view raw
hosted with ❤ by GitHub