Maintaining Different Git Identities

I like to have separate “identities” for my private and work stuff when using Git: Commits at work should be authored with my work email and commits in private projects with my private account. Until now I would always configure this per repository as soon as I noticed a commit done by the wrong email.

As I was setting up my new computer and edited the global .gitconfig, I wondered if there is a better way to keep this separate. Turns out there is one: With the release of version 2.13, Git introduced “Conditional Includes”.

With these includes I can set a specific gitconfig-file to be include for all repositories within a specific location. As I store all my work projects within the folder ~/Work, I set the default user-config to be my private one and include the work-specific configfile for all Git repositories within that location.

name = Firstname Lastname
email = <private email address>
[includeIf "gitdir:~/Work/"]
path = .gitconfig-work
name = Lastname, Firstname
email = <work email address>

The risk of being annoyed by wrongly associated commits is vastly smaller now — until I start checking out work projects to ~/Desktop/tmp for minor fixes.

To check your configuration, make sure to be in a directory which is tracked by Git. Non-Git directories will always show the default configuration:

$ cd ~/dev/justcurious
$ git config
<private email address>
$ cd ~/Work/projectA
$ git config
<work email address>
$ cd ~/Work/not-a-repo
$ git config
<private email address>

Moving to a System Font Stack

The trends in webdesign are fairly short-lived. It’s a steady move between using different color palettes from pastel to neon colors and back. Currently there seems to be a trend to go back to that classic blue color (almost #00F) for links like Github changed to earlier to this year.

While I am not really fond of discussing colour schemes, something else appears to be happening that I welcome: the trend back to a system font stack. Native font stack means to use a font on websites which the user has already installed, skipping custom Webfonts. In the early years of the web this meant to choose a Font which was most likely to be available on all devices (like Verdana). The 20176 edition of this tackles it in a more sophisticated manner: Trying to find the best font available for each particular platform.

If you look at the (current) CSS rules of my website you will see this:

font-family: -apple-system,
"Segoe UI",
"Helvetica Neue",

Quite lengthy – and there are plenty blogpost going into detail on which order is the right one: bitsofcode, CSS Tricks, Smashing Magazine. So if you’re on a Windows machine, you will read this text in Segoe UI; on a Mac in San Francisco and on an Android device in Roboto.

From a design perspective this might resemble a nightmare – not knowing how stuff will look at the user end – yet it comes with a clear technical benefit: there is no more need to deliver the font families along side the content. No more FOUT, FOIT or FOFT (seeing text in the wrong font or not at all until it has been loaded). Whenever I am somewhere with non-perfect Internet connectivity this drives me crazy.

For me it replaces a set of Google Web Fonts which where hasty picked based on what I saw on other websites. And surely there are websites where the font plays a huge part in the experience (for me that’s Medium for example). But personally I would prefer to have more websites use the system font than ill-suited Webfonts.

And just to be sure: Once everybody has seen enough of the new system fonts, the design trend will go back to Webfonts again. Hopefully the current issues around them are resolved in a standardized way by then.

Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 SE Review

The Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 SE

Two years ago I tested a couple of Bluetooth headphones and settled on the BackBeat Pro headphones by Plantronics. I have been very happy with them for the time being and it’s successor model, the BackBeat Pro 2, got good initial reviews I wanted to give them a try as well. This is my personal review after almost two weeks using them at work and at home. For the lack of any other comparisons I will mostly go into what’s different to the old pair.

Once unpacked the first impression that they are lighter and look way less bulky. And this impression also solidifies when putting them on: They feel lighter on the head and sit a bit more comfortable on the head. Thanks to the overhauled design I’m not looking like an alien as I did with the version one.

Comfort and Controls

The most distinct improvement first: For me the increased comfort while wearing the headphones justified the expense right away. As I would also call the old version comfortable, the new version fits my head better. Previously I had to take them off after an hour or so of usage because they would put a bit too much pressure on my ears. This has gotten definitely better and now I find myself wearing the headphones all through the morning for example. Yet the earcups could be just a tad thicker for even more comfort.

They sticked with the physical controls for all control elements on the headphones themselves. So without having to grab my device I can control the music player, adjust the volume, and take calls. In comparison to the old model the volume is now also adjusted on the left earcup and behaves more like buttons than the dial. And the OpenMic feature is now an additional option on the ANC switch. I like both changes as this behavior seems more intuitive than the context-depending actions on the previous model.

They also have the “smart” sensors for stopping the music when you take the headphones off, but I disabled this also for the new headphones after a few days as I find it rather confusing and sometimes even annoying.

Sound Quality

Albeit the sound is similar to the first version, the bass sounds a bit “fuller” for the lack of a better term. Yet they are still far from the bass heavy headphones from Beats and alike. As I listen mostly to Rock music I prefer the new sound signature.

The quality for calls is a bit of a mixed bag: In a mostly silent environment it’s okay and the person on the other end can understand me fairly good. But in a situation with more background noise, e.g. while walking down a crowded road, the quality deteriorates quite a bit and it’s harder to be understood. But the quality on my end has improved over the first version: It’s easy to understand the person you’re talking to without the small distortions the old headphones showed every couple of seconds.

A nice surprise was the improved quality when listening over the (old) SBC codec which is the only one supported by my old MacBook Pro. For all other input devices it supports the better aptX and AAC codecs.

Noise Canceling

The active noise canceling (ANC) hasn’t changed much as far as I can tell, regardless of what the Plantronics PR material says. I never listened to the Bose QX35 or the Sony MDR-1000X, so I can’t compare them with what’s proclaimed as the references for noise canceling on Bluetooth headphones (but also costs twice as much).

In everyday situations it blocks out some of the background noise like the cars and the generic sound baseline while commuting to work. Yet you can hear and understand announcements without much hassle. I like this actually quite a lot.

While working the headphones and the enabled ANC actually help me to concentrate by blocking large parts of the background noise, especially since there is a large construction site next to my office.

Other Observations

  • They removed the microphone from jack cable. Yet the cable (with mic) from the old headphones can be used without a problem.
  • The printed wood-imitation seems rather out of place. Not sure how well this ages when you use the controls often.
  • The multipoint Bluetooth connection (you can connect these headphones to two sources at the same time) is still a feature I love about these headphones.
  • Thanks to the new design I now also use the headphones also when leaving the house where I only used them stationary at my desk beforehand.
  • The “Special Edition” is probably not worth the higher price, if you don’t need NFC and don’t mind the different colors

Add to 2Do v1.0 – Now also available for Chrome

Yesterday I released version 1.0 of my “Add to 2Do” extension, for both Chrome and Firefox:

This is the first version for Chrome, but has essentially the same the first version of my “Add to 2Do” extension on the Chrome Web Store. Like it’s Firefox pendant it will create a new task in your 2Do inbox with the title of the current tab and the URL as note. While the functionality and behavior is mostly the same, there were quite a few changes under the hood to get it there.

Migrating to WebExtensions

Essentially this version is a complete re-write, granted it’s less than a hundred lines of code. While the first version for Firefox used Mozilla’s own Add-On SDK, I migrated it over to the WebExtension format as a reviewer suggested. This format has been introduced by Chrome, and even Microsoft’s Edge uses it, making it a somewhat universal standard for browser extensions. Are We WebExntesions Yet has a nice overview on the current state of Firefox catching up with Chrome.

My first go at it was to mimic Mozilla’s starter tutorial on WebExtensions. Plenty of example code on the MDN was an easy start to cover the tab tutorials on how to use the Tab-related APIs, what I struggled the most with was the part of calling a different URL scheme to make use of the x-callback-url endpoint of 2Do. The Firefox add-on used the proprietary Request object, which isn’t available from the WebExtension framework, yet native XMLHttpRequests will require a try-catch block to avoid errors. So after some fiddling and research I went with using a temporary iFrame.

Next Steps

For myself the current state is “good-enough” and I don’t have any immediate plans to extend the extension in any major way. The direct to-dos left in 2Do are to polish the entries in the Chrome WebStore and on the Mozilla Add-On directory. And to better document and organize the Github repository.