Quick automations that I profit from each and every day.

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Photo by Nathan McBride on Unsplash

2020 was a great year for me — this little annoyance of a global pandemic aside. I moved out of the city, have five months left at my job, automated my life, sit here now with an uncertain future and all the freedom I could wish for.

Life’s a tumble, but overall I kind of like it — and having the mind space that automation affords me plays a great role in that. So here is what I automated this year to save me hours of time, effort, menial work.

I automated my automations

The most important thing that I did in 2020 was to go one step further and made sure to run all my scripts at system startup. Having automations is nice and all, but if you still need to click the script, worse even need to navigate through the console and run a python script you end up wasting time — and more importantly you waste mind-space. …

And her legs played me like a JsFiddle

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Photo by Mike Von on Unsplash

The late October rain storms held the city in its cold, wet grip and I had little to do but stare out the windows, enjoy the momentary stasis of traffic, life, people — until I heard the familiar creeking noise of the hallway floorboards. Someone had arrived, with likely a case so severe that it warranted a trip to my run down little office on a day like this — I should have known to curb my excitement.

The days for helping failing marriages find their inevitable ends lay behind us with a long, busy summer of being the guy with the front row seats and the telephoto lens. My thoughts drifted to Mary, the woman so angry that I could have been a lamp post and she still would have slept with me after handing her the pictures. That has always been how I liked them, angry, aggressive, gone with the wind without even having to tell them to leave. …

How a seemingly slow way of working quickly becomes much faster

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Photo by Juan Gomez on Unsplash

I’m sure you have seen this interesting rift between programmers that goes beyond the friendly competition about who favors which IDE or which programming language has the nicer syntax — the rift that extends to the very core of how we navigate the systems in front of us.

In essence, there are two kinds of people when it comes to computer navigation: Those who rely on the mouse and can’t understand why anyone would rather type text and on the other side, there’s us few who have seen the light and prefer using the keyboard as much as possible.

Using the keyboard is MUCH faster once you get used to it

There isn’t anything inherently wrong with using your mouse, but given you know what you’re doing, the keyboard is undeniably the faster choice. …

Some useful analogies to my daily work

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Photo by Michelle Ding on Unsplash

As you, my dear reader, will have undoubtedly deduced by now, I am back on the train to work, back to scouring the 30-cents-a-book isle in our local second-hand shop for readable material, and managed to lay my hands on a most peculiar example of the papery kind: A collection of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

I have since studied it to great detail and realized a certain undeniable congruence to my daily work, findings that I have taken to paper and want to share with you today.

Self-evident truths are not always self-evident to others

This may just be my biggest takeaway so I shall put it to the front: Watson, even though far from an imbecile himself will often times struggle to follow the train of thought that lead to Holmes’ conclusions. Even more: he is by now trained in Holmes’ general approach, but comes to different results and only half the way — does that sound familiar to you? …

I transcended shame years ago.

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Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

I have done some weird things in my day, some of them I would not admit to freely — but using Excel for coding tasks is one of my guilty pleasures that I will not hide from anyone.

Always ask: What if I just used excel instead?

Forget the turing test, does your great program idea pass the Excel test? What if, for example, you were to use simple spreadsheet formulas to generate the report, did you know that Excel can easily do RegEx replacements, if statements, and that you can even call online functions and get up to date prices from online services?

Excel can connect to real Databases, can produce .csv and JSON files, you can query it from the outside using Python or other programming languages. You can use spreadsheets as your database, use it for content generation and you can import them into Wordpress sites to mass-create thousands of posts for news aggregator or video websites. …

My workflow for rapid content curation that generated me hundreds of dollars

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Photo by Etienne Boulanger on Unsplash

I realized today that I have developed a really cool productivity hack that I assume few people know of — and one that can save you hours and generate hundreds of dollars if you have a use for it.

What I am talking about is rapid link and content curation that can be used in a variety of ways.

Get my free freelance writing spreadsheet that I generated this way

Here you go, save yourself hours of time. No catch, this is exactly what I use myself to hunt for freelance writing work. …

Furniture, trains, and people all work in mysterious ways

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Photo by Ugo ° on Unsplash

Picture a rainy evening in late February, darkness beginning to fall, a total collapse of the sole train line home — all because some weird guy discarded their old furniture down a bridge and a train crashed into it.

Nobody is injured, in fact, this incident won’t even make it into local newspapers, much less national television. It hardly raises the commuter’s fists, this is the third major delay in as many months — and the first to include furniture rather than humans.

Neither bus nor taxi traffic can be established in the first five hours — and when I finally close my apartment door behind me the clock will show half past midnight. …

Episode one: The call that came too late

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Photo by Clay LeConey on Unsplash

If only the call had come sooner — even by just a minute. In my years as an inspector on the JSON Response team I have seen my fair share of harrowing incidents involving timeouts — but the case of the Postman was by far the worst.

To this day I think back to it on a sleepless night, dwell on the what-ifs and whatnot and wonder if we could have done anything different, if I could have prevented the events that followed.

I know the answer to that, but even if coming late was part of our job description as inspectors I can never quite shake off the feeling of inadequacy. So many things had to go wrong at the right time to lead to this chain of events, it all should have ended with the second-long database outage in an unimportant back-end server. …

Let me save you hours of your time and keep you sane and happy while you write

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Photo by ConvertKit on Unsplash

Today I want to show you a tool that I have been using for years and it is honestly the best productivity enhancement in my arsenal. I save several hours each week and write thousands more words thanks to it and it’s all freely available to you as well.

At the end of the article I will show you how to install it and give you a link to my own script file that has grown for months and will save you even more time — but first let me show you exactly why it is so useful.

Tl;dr: I will show you an AutoHotkey script file that fixes your typos, expands long words, is super fast and lets you write at a much higher speed with some really useful additions I made over time. …

A free tool that will save you a lot of time

Traveling at warp speed.
Traveling at warp speed.
Photo by Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash.

Code completion has long been an accepted and expected feature of coding tools and IDEs in particular, but in recent times, we’ve been getting some tools that range somewhere between super useful and super scary.

My main contact point here is the increasingly well-known TabNine, a VS Code extension that puts AI-powered autocomplete at your disposal.

Context-Based Autocomplete

Code snippet.
Code snippet.

Look at the example above. What do you see? Instead of using the more commonly used os.open as it normally would, TabNine now recognizes that the file is named renameLowerCase and assumes that this is the likelier use case I have in mind.

Actually, this one wasted time for me since I sat there, slowly clapping and then switching windows to create this article. …



Programmer by day, creative writer by night. Find me at https://codingtofreedom.com

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