Google Calendar shortcuts and tricks

Since I started managing people, I spend a lot of time looking at my calendar!

Here’s some shortcuts I use a lot:

  • view:
    • m: month view
    • w: week view
    • d: day view
  • navigation:
    • n: next (if you’re in month view, it jumps to next month, if you’re in week view, it jumps to next week, etc)
    • p: previous
    • t: jump to today

I have the calendar pinned on the first tab, so ⌘+1 always brings me to it (I think it’s CTRL+1 in Windows and Linux).

The first thing I do in the morning is to look at what’s in for today–this way I make sure I don’t forget to attend important meetings because I get deep down into something else and then I forget. So I will press “d” and “t” to get the calendar to ‘day view’ plus ‘today’.

I use the other shortcuts to quickly flip between dates when I’m booking new events or to find what is upcoming.

There are also shortcuts to create and edit events but I found them not very useful as you still have to modify the time and date of event anyway-I find it easier to use the mouse to schedule this.

Copy using the command line without overwriting existing files

I learnt about cp‘s -n (or “no clobber”) option that lets you copy, but not overwrite files that already exist:

cp -Rvn folderA folderB

The above would Recursively copy the contents of folderA into folderB, and print a message per file it copies (with the v option). Great to know when things get stuck or interrupted 🙂

It’s quite useful when trying to copy from something like a folder in a remote drive that keeps disconnecting. So if the network times out you can always run the command again after reconnecting, and it will skip files that are already there.

Note that if a file has been partially copied, then cp will skip it the next time and not complete the download. So don’t use this method for stuff that requires some degree of integrity–you’d better reach for tools such as scp.

Don’t force users to install node modules globally when you can avoid that

How often have you seen instructions for installing a project that are something like this?

git clone https://wherever/the/project/is
cd cloned_folder
npm install -g gulp # <-- 😱

(or, instead of gulp, any other utility that the project requires for development)

This is not a good idea. You’re installing the same version of a utility globally, and perhaps the project has not been tested with that version. Things might break or even worse, work not-so-well in a strange, undebuggable way!

Don’t do it.

A better way is to use npm scripts, which belong to the project, and specify development dependencies in package.json, so when you run npm install, it also installs devDependencies locally to the projects’ node_modules folder. This keeps everything under control and does not pollute other people’s computers global space.

So, for example, if a project was asking users to run npm install -g gulp, they should do this instead:

  1. Install gulp locally as a development dependency, saving it to package.json:
    npm install --save-dev gulp
  2. Add a new entry to the scripts array in package.json:
    "build": "gulp"
  3. Ask users to run
    npm install

    the first time. And

    npm run build

    each time they need to build the project

The reason this works is because when npm runs a script, it modifies the current PATH variable to add node_modules/.bin, which contains any binaries that you installed as part of your modules. So your computer will search for binaries starting in the .bin folder, before searching in any other default location for binaries in your computer (e.g. /usr/bin)

You can find more documentation about this behaviour in the run-script page of the npm manual. I really encourage you to read it as it has lots of good stuff and Things You Wished Had Known Before 🙂

And in case it makes things clearer, this is how a hypothetical package.json would look before:

  devDependencies: {}

And after:

  devDependencies: {
    "gulp": "12.34.56"
  scripts: {
    "build": "gulp"

With this, the devDependency is clearly stated on the package.json file, the project developer will be developing with that version, and will not get surprises! (and the users of the module won’t either).

Another advantage of this approach is that you are not tying the project to a specific utility.

If you decide to use grunt instead of gulp later on, you just need to do whatever changes you need (Gruntfile instead of Gulpfile, edit package.json etc), and yet users of the project will still start the build process with npm run build.

It’s invisible to them (except perhaps running npm install again)!

You’re hiding internals that they do not necessarily need to know about, so it’s a good abstraction. Seriously—you won’t even need to update your getting started guide! Good stuff.

Hope that helps!

If you want to learn even more cool npm scripts tricks, I recommend Kate’s talk and accompanying post. Actually, I just realised she explained the same thing I did, so here’s her take, haha!

Fixing a “git mess” with cherry pick (from the command line)

Yesterday we were remotely pair programming (by me sharing my screen and my colleague Alex looking at it), and at some point I had to send a PR with a test change to validate the process would trigger the automation he had set up… but turns out he had changed something on the repo after I had forked and cloned it, and so I had a conflict!

I somehow resolved it (note to self: talking while resolving conflicts is not a good idea) but when I then pushed my branch to GitHub and created the pull request, it would not run automation because of that conflict (even if I had ‘resolved’ it).

I did not want to clone again and apply the changes… and neither wanted Alex! He said that everything is fixable with Git, so he showed me how to get myself out of this situation.

First we add the upstream remote to our repository, so we can check it out:

git remote add upstream

We fetch the data from the upstream repo:

git fetch upstream

Run a git log to find the hash of the commit we do want to keep (the Good Commit):

git log

Say it produces something like this:

Author: sole
Date:   Thu Mar 2 16:02:03 2017 +0000


commit 1337133713371337133713371337133713371337
Author: sole
Date:   Thu Mar 2 15:55:26 2017 +0000

    testing at the request of @ochameau

commit 0b225a66cf3ad67b3c67360d0e7c1e329ca3ce34
Author: Alexandre Poirot
Date:   Tue Feb 28 11:57:23 2017 +0100

    Upload screenshot and status

We don’t want the last commit (0BAD0BAD), we want the previous one (13371337). So make a note of that hash somewhere.

Now we check out their master branch (which we want to use as the base for our modification):

git checkout upstream/master

And we tell git to apply our changes from The Good Commit, using the hash we found before:

git cherry-pick 1337133713371337133713371337133713371337

Since I didn’t even change the same file he changed in his other commit, this applied neatly. No conflicts!

The problem is that my local repository is now different from the GitHub copy, because I had pushed a version which had an additional commit to resolve ‘the conflict’ (I tell you, this was quite messy!)

The solution is to force push to my GitHub repository (gasp!):

git push origin HEAD:master -f

And you don’t need to update the PR that had “conflicts”–GitHub already picks that you updated the repository, and since there are no conflicts anymore, the integration stuff works 🙂

Using the currentColor CSS keyword

I learnt about this CSS keyword via Glen Maddern’s talk at Cold Front in Copenhagen, back in September, and I was super astonished I hadn’t heard about it before! I guess I do too much JavaScript 😏

Anyway, it represents the current inherited color, so you can use it to create borders and backgrounds and things like that, matching the color of the element, but without actually writing it again! This can help in avoiding repetition and keeping the CSS more manageable, or in Glen’s use case, in writing more responsive components.

Given this HTML code:

<p id="thing">hello <span>world</span></p>

and this CSS code:

#thing {
  color: blue;
  font-size: 3rem;

#thing span {
  padding: 3px;
  background-color: white;
  box-shadow: 0px 0px 20px currentColor;

the color for the box-shadow in the #thing span will be blue, because it uses currentColor, which at that point has inherited blue from #thing. If we change the color of #thing to something else, we do not need to update the code for #thing span. Beautiful!

You could even use CSS variables to set a global colour variable that is used in the document, and currentColor will inherit values set with var. For example:

body {
  --thecolor: red;

#thing {
  color: var(--thecolor);
  font-size: 3rem;

#thing span {
  padding: 3px;
  background-color: white;
  box-shadow: 0px 0px 20px currentColor;

… renders the text red, and the box shadow is red as well.


Unfortunately it seems like calc() doesn’t accept color units yet, which means we cannot do maths on the color values. Otherwise, we could do things such as what CSS pre-processors do, generating new colours using hsla functions, etc.