How to subscribe to keyword mentions in HackerNews via RSS

If you’ve ever wanted to get notified via RSS every time a keyword is mentioned on HackerNews, there’s a neat service called HNApp that allows you to do just that. You can use it to follow mentions of your product or even just to follow discussions related to topics you’re interested in.

For example, I subscribe to a feed for the term “Strong AI”. This happens a few times a week and is almost always is part of an interesting discussion about the future of artificial intelligence.

If you search for “Strong AI” on HNApp, you’re presented with a list of recent discussions that include that phrase as well as links to subscribe via RSS or JSON:

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You can then plug the RSS URL into your favorite RSS reader and voilà, you’ll now be able to keep track of future discussions that use that term:

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I usually add the RSS URLs in the Feedly web app then use their iPhone app to read when I have downtime.

Here are a few other examples to get you thinking: WordPress, Calypso, Tesla, React.

HNApp searches occasionally time out so if you perform a search and it errors out, just try again later (RSS readers should automatically do this so there’s no issue there).

HNApp also supports following specific users which I use to learn from insightful commenters such as Patrick McKenzie, Ed Weiss, Jonathan Rockway, TokenAdult, and several others.

If you get use out of HNApp, give a shoutout to Nikita Gazarov on Twitter for the work he put into building it.

How to Add Terminal Aliases in Mac OS X Lion

One quick productivity hack is to add command line aliases to your Terminal in Mac OS X.

For example, I prefer typing c instead of clear to clear the terminal and I usually add all sorts of shortcuts for cd’ing into directories that I use often.

Here’s how to do it:

1) Navigate to your home directory:

cd ~

2) Open up .bash_profile using vi:

vi .bash_profile

3) Add an alias (press i):

alias c="clear"

4) Save the file (press Escape, type :wq, and hit Enter)

5) Restart Terminal

If you followed this example, you should now be able to just type c and Enter in Terminal to get the same affect as typing clear.

For more information, this post gives some additional examples of aliases you can add.

How to Change Your Default Terminal Prompt in Mac OS X

By default, when you open up a new Terminal window in Mac OS X the command prompt displays a relatively long name:

I prefer to shorten this to a simple dollar sign ($) in order to free up space.

To change your default command line prompt, follow these instructions:

1) Navigate to your home directory:

cd ~

2) Create a file called .bash_profile

vi .bash_profile

3) Add the following line (press i)

export PS1="$ "

4) Save the file (press Escape, type :wq and hit Enter)

5) Restart Terminal

You should now see something like this:

There are other ways you can configure the command prompt (for example, showing the current time), but I prefer to keep it simple.

How to Change Your Default Screenshot Location on Mac OS X Lion

I’m just getting around to setting up my new Macbook Pro and figured I’d document my experiences in case it helps anyone else.

In order to write tutorials I need to take screenshots and by default Mac’s save screenshots to the Desktop, which I don’t like because  the Desktop tends to get cluttered very quickly.

Instead, I prefer to keep them in a separate folder reserved only for screenshots.

To change the default screenshot location, follow these instructions:

1) Create a folder called Screenshots in your Pictures folder (or wherever):

2) Open up Terminal and enter the following (one line):

defaults write location /Users/yourlogin/Pictures/Screenshots

(Replacing yourlogin with your login name.)

3) Restart your computer for the changes to take effect

After you restart, new screenshots will be automatically saved to the Screenshots folder instead of the Desktop:

Hat tip to Macworld for the original instructions.