Change default save location of screenshot on Mac OSX


Mac OSX lets you easily capture screen shots of your entire screen or just a specific window using:

Command + Shift + 4

I use this functionally often and got tired of captures being saved to my desktop (the default). To change you simply run terminal and change the system default:

defaults write location ~/Pictures/Screenshots/

Make sure the directory exists first or it will not work.  To have the changes take effect, you then must type:

killall SystemUIServer

Another useful trick is to be able to screen cap directly to clipboard and never store the screen shot on your drive. This makes it really easy to paste into documents or e-mails. To do this

Command + Control + Shift + 4 (not f4).

Its a bit hard to execute the keystroke with one hand so you can use two hands then use the mouse to select the area you want to capture.

My @nytimes Dialect Quiz Map

Image Source:

The new york times released a fun dialect quiz map that attempts to pin point where you live based on how you talk.  The basic idea is that a combination of things you say and how you say them can uniquely identify where you grew up.  Most questions are coming from a Harvard Dialect Survey started in 2002.

Typical question

Screen Shot 2013-12-23 at 11.57.50 AM

Working in the NLP space I had high hopes that the quiz would work quite well.  Having grown up in Seattle, which does not have a significant amount of dialectic uniqueness, I also had some doubts on its accuracy.  It turns out that I was right.

My results:


Although it was not totally accurate it does not mean that it isn’t a useful tool.  The accuracy is highly dependent on the individual and their geo-dialectic past.  My wife, for example grew up in an around New York City.  When she took the survey it was able to pin point the exact town that she grew up in.

Real Applications

With this type of dataset there are some really interesting applications that could be used.  For example, marketers could comb social media and simply through the language used in the posts determine demographic information to target adds.  Another interesting idea would be to attempt to uniquely identify a person by the works and phrases that they write.  This could be used as a form of authentication similar to that of examining the canvas of a famous lost work of art.

In order to make this more useful the accuracy has to be better.  I’m especially interested to see if it could be improved by incorporating more mainstream idioms or cultural norms.  For example, if I talk about coffee am I talking about latte’s at Starbucks or a cup of joe at Dunkin.

Take the quiz

Take the quiz and let me know how it went.  Here is the link:

Add Syntax Highlighting to VIM on Mac OS X

It is extremely useful to be able to quickly edit code files inline in the mac terminal.  This post assumes you are at least somewhat familiar with the vim console text editor.  On mac by default you simply get plain text which whatever theme you are in.  For the homebrew theme you will see something like this for a simple ruby on rails controller file:

Screen Shot 2013-12-21 at 12.13.30 AM

It is much easier to look at and edit code if it is color coded.  It is quite simple to enable this on mac.  You just need to edit the .vimrc file to contain a few lines.  The .vimrc is usually located at the user root ~/.vimrc, if it does not exist you can create it using vim.

vim ~/.vimrc

Then add the following lines:

filetype plugin indent on

set term=builtin_ansi

syntax on

After adding these lines you should

Screen Shot 2013-12-21 at 12.12.22 AM

If you run into trouble, here is a link: