Displaying Your Wireless Network in the Touch Bar on a Macbook

If you have a Macbook laptop, you’re probably familiar with the touch bar. It’s a neat little LED display above the top row of your keyboard that Mac OS/X uses to display context-sensitive widgets. However, you don’t just have to accept the widgets that Apple provides–you can in fact customize the touchbar however you like.

“But why would I want to do this?”, I hear you ask. Well, maybe you need to have a custom status of some kind displayed on your menu bar. For me, it was… wireless networks.

MTMR is my new favorite utility.

That sounds confusing, but hear me out. Sometimes when I am traveling, I get kicked off of whatever wireless network I’m on. I wanted a way to easily determine what network I was on, without having to keep clicking on the wireless icon in my menu bar. I found that the touch bar was a convenient way to do that, and in this post, I will show you how I did it.

First, download an app called MTMR. MTMR stands for “My Touchbar. My rules.” Installation instructions are on that page, but most users will want the dmg file.

Once that’s installed, you can edit the file $HOME/Library/Application Support/MTMR/items.json to change what appears in the menu bar. The contents of the file are JSON, and you can edit this in whichever editor you like. Furthermore, once you save changes, they take effect immediately–no restarts of the MTMR app are necessary!

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Monitoring RAM Usage on OS/X

I recently noticed that something was using up lots of RAM on my Mac, as it would periodically slow down. I had some suspects, but rather than regularly checking in Activity Monitor, I thought it would be more helpful if I had a way to monitor usage of RAM by various processes over time.

Due to previous success with my Splunk Lab app, I decided to use it as the basis for building out a RAM monitoring app. The data acquisition part, however, was trickier. The output of the UNIX ps app isn’t very structured, and I had some problems parsing that data, especially in situations where there were spaces in filenames and arguments to those commands.

So I wrote a replacement for PS. It turns out that Python has a module called psutil, which lets you programmatically examine the process tree on your Mac. I ended up writing an app called Better PS, and it writes highly structured data on each current process to disk, which is then ingested by Splunk.

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