Categories
Productivity

Figuring out how Drafts REALLY works

On my way back from Arizona a few weeks ago I decided to play around with Drafts a bit. Now I use Drafts every day. When it went to a subscription model more than a year ago it was a no brainer for me. This is a seriously powerful app when you need it.

But since my initial workflows and shortcuts I’ve not really done too much with it. But after listening to some stuff from Tim Nahumck I decided I needed to invest a little time … and honestly there’s no better time than cruising at 25k feet on your way back from Phoenix.

Ok, first of all I never really understood workspaces. I had some set up but I didn’t get it. That was the first place I started.

Each workspace can have its own action and keyboard shortcut thing which I didn’t realize. This has so much potential. I can create workspaces for all sorts of things and have the keyboard shortcut things I need when I need them! This alone is mind blowing and I’m disappointed I didn’t look into this feature sooner.

I have 4 workspaces set up:

  • OF Templates
  • O3
  • Scrum
  • post ideas

Initially since I didn’t really understand the power of the workspace I had them mostly as filtering tools to be used when trying to find a draft. But now with the custom action and keyboards for each workspace I have them set up to filter down to specific tags AND use their own keyboards.

The OF Template workspace is used to create OmniFocus projects based on Taskpaper markup. There are a ton of different actions that I took from Rose Orchard (of Automators fame) that help to either add items with the correct syntax to a Task Paper markdown file OR turn the whole thing into an OmniFocus project. Simply a life saver for when I really know all of the steps that are going to be involved in a project and I want to write them all down!

The O3 workspace is used for processing the notes from the one-on-one I have with my team. There’s really only two actions: Parse O3 notes and Add to O3 notes. How are these different? I have a Siri Shortcut that populates a Draft with a template that collects the name of the person and the date time that the O3 occurred. This is the note that is parsed by the first action. The second action is used when someone does something that I want to remember (either good or bad) so that I can bring it up at a more appropriate time (the best time to tell someone about a behavior is right now, but sometimes circumstances prevent that) so I have this little action.

In both cases they append data to a markdown file in Dropbox (i have one file per person that reports to me). The Shortcut also takes any actions that need to be completed and adds them to OmniFocus for me to review later.

The third workspace is Scrum. This workspace has just one action which is “Parse scrum notes”. Again, I have a template that is generated from Siri Shortcuts and dropped into Drafts. During the morning standup meetings I have with my team this Draft will have the things I did yesterday, what I’m working on today, and any roadblocks that I have. It also create a section where I can add actions which when the draft is parsed goes into OmniFocus for me to review later (currently the items get added with a due date of today at 1pm … but I need to revisit that).

The last workspace is post ideas (which is where I’m writing this from). Its custom keyboard is just a markdown one with quick ways to add markdown syntax and a Preview button so I can see what the markdown will render out as.

It’s still a work in progress as this draft will end up in Ulysses so it can get posted to my site, but I’ve seen that I can even post from Drafts to WordPress so I’m going to give that a shot later on.

There are several other ideas I have bouncing around in my head about ideas for potential workspaces. My only concern at this point is how many workspaces can I have before there are too many to be used effectively.

So glad I had the time on the flight to take a look at workspaces. A huge productivity boost for me!

Categories
Automation

Receipts

Every month I set up a budget for my family so that we can track our spending and save money in the ways that we need to while still being able to enjoy life.

I have a couple of Siri Shortcuts that will take a picture and then put that picture into a folder in Dropbox. The reason that I have a couple of them is that one is for physical receipts that we got at a store and the other is for online purchases. I’m sure that these couple be combined into one, but I haven’t done that yet.

One of the great things about these shortcuts is that they will create the folder that the image will go into if it’s not there. For example, the first receipt of March 2019 will create a folder called March in the 2019 folder. If the 2019 folder wasn’t there, it would have created it too.

What it doesn’t do is create the sub folder that all of my processed receipts will go into. Each month I need to create a folder called month_name Processed. And each month I think, there must be a way I can automate this, but because it doesn’t really take that long I’ve never really done it.

Over the weekend I finally had the time to try and write it up and test it out. Nothing too fancy, but it does what I want it to do, and a little more.

# create the variables I'm going to need later

y=$( date +"%Y" )
m=$( date +"%B" )
p=$( date +"%B_Processed" )

# check to see if the Year folder exists and if it doesn't, create it
if [ ! -d /Users/ryan/Dropbox/Family/Financials/$y ]; then
	mkdir /Users/ryan/Dropbox/Family/Financials/$y
fi

# check to see if the Month folder exists and if it doesn't, create it
if [ ! -d /Users/ryan/Dropbox/Family/Financials/$y/$m ]; then
	mkdir /Users/ryan/Dropbox/Family/Financials/$y/$m
fi

#check to see if the Month_Processed folder exists and if it doesn't, create it
if [ ! -d "/Users/ryan/Dropbox/Family/Financials/$y/$m/$p" ]; then
	mkdir "/Users/ryan/Dropbox/Family/Financials/$y/$m/$p"
fi

The last section I use the double quotes “” around the directory name so that I can have a space in the name of the processed folder. Initially I had used an underscore but that’s not how I do it in real life when creating the sub directors, so I had to do a bit of googling and found a helpful resource.

The only thing left to do at this point is get it set up to run automatically so I don’t have to do anything.

In order to do that I needed to add the following to my cronjob:

0 5 1 * * /Users/ryan/Documents/scripts/create_monthly_expense_folders.sh

And now I will have my folder structure created for me automatically on the first of the month at 5am!

Categories
Computers

iPad versus MacBook Pro

May people ask the question … iPad Pro or MacBook Pro. I decided to really think about this question and see, what is it that I do with each device.

Initially I thought of each device as being its own ‘thing’. I did these things on my iPad Pro and those things on my MacBook Pro. But when I really sat down and thought about it, it turns out that there are things I do exclusively on my iPad Pro, and other things that I do exclusively on my MacBook Pro … but there are also many things that I do on both.

iPad Pro

There are apps which only run on iOS. Drafts is a perfect example. It’s my note taking app of choice. Using my iPhone in conjunction with my iPad makes Drafts one of the most powerful apps I use in the iOS ecosystem.

During meetings I can quickly jot down things that I need to know using my iPhone and no one notices or cares. Later, I can use my iPad Pro to process these notes and make sure that everything gets taken care of.

I can also use Drafts as a powerful automation tool to get ideas into OmniFocus (my To Do App of Choice) easily and without any fuss.

I also use my iPad Pro to process the expenses my family incurs. We use Siri Shortcuts to take a picture of a receipt which is then saved in a folder in Dropbox.

I monitor these images and match them up against expenses (or income) in Mint and categorize the expenses.

This workflow helps to keep me (and my family) in the know about how (and more importantly where) we’re spending our money.

Mint is available as a web page, and I’ve tried to use macOS and this workflow, but it simply didn’t work for me.

Using OmniFocus on the iPad is a dream. I am easily able to process my inbox, perform my weekly review and quickly add new items to do inbox. The ability to drag and drop with with either Apple Pencil or my finger makes it so easy to move tasks around.

The other (obvious) use case for my iPad Pro over my MacBook Pro is media consumption. Everyone says you can’t get real work done on an iPad and they point to how easy it is to consume media on the iPad, but I think that shows the opposite.

When you’re ready to take a break from doing real work, the best media consumption device is the one you have with you 😀

MacBook Pro

When I really thought about what I use my MacBook Pro for I was … surprised. Quite honestly, it’s used mostly to write code (in Python) using my favorite editor (PyCharm) but other than that … I don’t do much on it that I can’t do on my iPad.

When I record podcast (OK, really, just that one and just that one time) I use my MBP, and if I have a ton of stuff I need to clean up in OmniFocus then I’m over at the MacBook, but really, it’s doesn’t do anything I can’t do on the iPad Pro.

Maybe I don’t do real work in the macOS ecosystem?

What I do on both MacBook Pro and iPad Pro

Honestly, they both do a great job of getting me to where I want to go on the internet. Some people think that mobile safari isn’t up to it’s macOS counterpart (and they’re right) but for my (non-coding) needs, it doesn’t really matter to me. They both work really well for me.

I also tend to use OmniFocus on both when I want to mark things as done, add new items, or make bulk edits (OF3 on iOS finally made this one a possibility).

I also use the terminal to access servers via ssh on both platforms. The great thing about the command line is that it’s mostly the same where ever you’re coming from.

Terminus on iOS is a a great terminal app and I can just as easily navigate the server there as I can using the terminal app in macOS.

I’m also just as likely to plan my family’s budget on iOS as I am macOS. It just kind of depends which device is easier to get to, not what I’m planning on doing. Excel on both platforms works really well for me (I work in a Windows environment professionally so Excel is what I use and know for that kind of thing).

Finally, writing. I use Ulysses on both macOS and iOS and really, I love them both. Each app has parity with the other so I never feel like I’m losing something when I write on my MacBook Pro (or on my iPad Pro). Sometimes, it’s hard to really tell which platform I’m on because they do such a good job (for me) to make them basically the same.

All in all, I don’t think it’s a question of which to choose, iPad Pro or MacBook Pro, iOS or macOS … it’s a matter of what device is closest to me right now? What device will bring me the most joy to use, right now? What device do I want to use right now?

iOS or macOS? iPad Pro or MacBook Pro? These aren’t the right questions to be asking. It should be … what device do I want to use right now? And don’t care what anyone else thinks.

Categories
Technology

Hosing my WiFi set up

I have been wanting to put shelves up in my office above my desk for some time. The problem has been that the ones that are sold at Lowe’s or Home Depot are not really what I wanted (too short) and I’m not a super handy guy with building stuff (that’s more my dad and brother) so I’ve just been putting it off. For an embarrassingly long time.

Last a couple of weekends ago my dad had volunteered to help me out in putting up some shelves.

On Saturday at 8:30 we started. All in all the process went really, really well. Only one extra trip to the hardware store (it’s usually about 3) and the shelves were nice and level.

Since I wanted the shelves above my desk we needed to move it, and all of the electronics that were on it, and plugged into the outlet behind it. This included a UPS / Battery backup that all of my electronics were plugged into.

We moved everything away from the wall, and then I moved it back. No. Big. Deal.

Now, the timing may have just been coincidental, but the next morning I needed to do some work for my job-y job from home. I took my laptop into my office (with the brand new shelves) and plugged it into the UPS.

I noticed the lights flicker and discovered that the WiFi router (my trusty AirPort Extreme) seem to have reset itself.

No big deal. I just rebooted and we were all good.

Later that day I plugged in my iMac and then stuff got real. The lights went out. I figured that the breaker tripped, but the sprinklers next to the breaker were on so I waded out through to the box and turned the breaker back on. Or so I thought. I came back in and the lights were still off.

At this point I freaked out because, well, that’s kind of what I do. I went back out and turned the breaker off and then back on. Lights are back.

OK, lets try this again. I plug the iMac back in and … crap. Lights are off again.

Back to the breaker (at this point the sprinklers are off) so off and on the breaker went.

OK, one last time and … mother f!

Somehow I was able to go from being able to have my UPS plugged in and everything being fine, to not.

OK. Swap out the UPS and put back the Surge Protectors. Everything powers on and we’re good.

Except we’re not. The light on my AirPort Extreme is suddenly not a solid green, but instead a flashing amber. I consult the internet and get a very unhelpful message

These are some typical reasons for the status light to flash amber:

The base station hasn’t been set up, or it was reset and needs to be set up again. Use AirPort Utility to set up your base station.

A firmware update is available for the base station.

The base station is set up to use Back to My Mac, but Back to My Mac isn’t working or the password is incorrect. If you’ve upgraded to macOS Mojave, you should remove the base station from your Back to My Mac network, because Mojave doesn’t support Back to My Mac.

The base station can’t connect to the Internet, such as when Internet service is down at your location, the base station can’t acquire an IP address from your primary router, or the WAN Ethernet connection to your router isn’t working.

The base station is set up to wirelessly extend the range of your network, but is too far away from the primary Wi-Fi base station.

If your base station is an AirPort Time Capsule, its internal hard disk is experiencing an issue that requires repair.

And suddenly my entire WiFi is down. And I am sad.

I tried a ton of things to get the AirPort Extreme Back, but nothing is working. I finally throw in the towel and decide to to use the WiFi access point from my Fios router.

This means that I have to update the WiFi on:

  • 3 iPhones
  • 2 iPads
  • 1 MacBook
  • 2 MacBookPros
  • 1 iMac
  • 2 Wemo Switches
  • 2 Raspberry Pi
  • 3 Apple TVs (2 4th Gen and 1 3rd Gen)
  • 1 WiFi connected Scale
  • 1 Ring Doorbell
  • 1 Ring Chime (connected to Ring Doorbell)

It also means that I need to plug my Netgear switch into my Fios router instead of the AirPort Extreme. No big deal, right? Except that it was because I forget that the port that the Cat5 cable is plugged into on a router is important.

I spent an embarrassingly long time trying to figure out why my Sonos and Hue Lights weren’t on my network.

Emily kept telling me to take a break and relax and that was, in that moment, the last thing I wanted to do.

I was able to get all of the iOS and MacOS devices connected back to the internet (via WiFi) and decided that I needed to forget the network and watch game 5 of the World Series.

By the end of the 7th we had the game off and were catching up on CW Comic Book shows.

It was a rough day. But I learned a couple of things:

  1. LAN Port 1 on the Fios Router is the right port
  2. Sometimes, you just need to take a step back and think instead of just react
  3. I have a crap ton of WiFi devices

I’m still working on trying to get the AirPort Extreme back to working so that I don’t need to get a new WiFi router ( have I mentioned how awful the Fios one is? ).

Categories
Productivity

OmniFocus 3!

The OmniGroup posted on their blog the other day that they have a ship date for OmniFocus 3 … May 30.

To say that I’m excited is a bit of an understatement. I’ve been a loyal OmniFocus user for about 5 years now, and though I have declared OmniFocus bankruptcy once, I still believe it’s a super useful App and I could not imagine life without it.

OmniFocus3 will bring with it tags which is something I’ve really wanted and struggled without in using OmniFocus2. Sometimes things don’t just fall into pure GTD contexts and tags appear to be a recognition of that.

The initial release on May 30 is iOS only. The Mac Version is set to be released in 2018 but no firm date has been announced.

Only 25 days until upgrade day 😊

Categories
Wordpress

Why Ulysses is Awesome

I started writing my last post on my iMac but because Apple Photos is a bit … finicky with the iCloud syncing a screenshot I had taken on my iPad wasn’t there.

No fear, just keep writing in Ulysses, then move from the iMac to the iPad and drop the image in. It worked, no problems no fuss. It just works.

Now, if only iCloud would just work …