Topic 35 Posts

Journal

Shortcuts for macOS? Yes, please! →

I read Jason Snell's Mac wishlist ahead of next week's WWDC where he included Apple's automation app, Shortcuts:

One feature that the Mac desperately needs from iPadOS is, believe it or not, Shortcuts. I’ve written elsewhere about this, but essentially it’s easier for me to create automations for many tasks on iOS than it is on macOS — and it shouldn’t be that way. Shortcuts fulfills the promise of Automator in ways that Automator never did, and while it’s got a lot of room to grow, it’s clearly the future of automation on Apple’s platforms. Add in actions that can run AppleScript, Automator workflows, and shell scripts, and we’ll really have something.

I've used Shortcuts since before Apple acquired Workflow. I'd love to see it on macOS, but only if it also includes ability to run shell scripts. Yes, I know Automator already has the ability, but Automator hasn't been updated in years. Shortcuts on the Mac would mean that Apple takes automation on the Mac seriously for once.

If nothing else, having Shortcuts on the Mac would keep things in sync, and introduce automation to Mac users who aren't necessarily experienced with the terminal and writing shell scripts.

Atom's okay, but I prefer VS Code →

This article by SoftwareHow came across my radar today. It's a survey of text editors for the Mac.  In fairness they did a pretty thorough job evaluating most of the usual suspects.

I agree that Sublime Text 3 is the best commercial text editor for...well every platform, but for their recommendation of Atom falls as the best free editor is off the mark. I think Atom's okay, but in my experience VS Code is far more performant, and useful to me  especially for markdown and Python projects, where I spend most of my time.

Best Text Editor for Mac in 2021: Unbiased Reviews
A text editor is a handy, flexible tool that deserves a place on every computer.

VS Code

Over on Twitter, I make a public admission about my surprising love for VS Code.

Isn’t writing supposed to be fun?

After a month-long break, I return to writing my novel, only to realise that grinding through the rest of draft is a big mistake. It's time to face reality and ask myself what I really want from writing.

Cobbling together a platform →

Like Ben Thompson, we here at Six Colors are cobblers. We have used Memberful, MailChimp, WordPress and Stripe to build a membership program that lets us post free stories as well as members-only content, and then bundle it all up into an end-of-week newsletter.

Cobble is exactly how I'd describe the way I build my platform, cherrypicking bits of tech and chaining them together to build a somewhat cohesive whole. My publishing stack includes:

  • Ulysses – where I write everything
  • Ghost – blog, memberships (with Stripe)
  • MailerLite – newsletter*
  • StoryOrigin – author newsletter swaps*
  • Zapier – cross-posting to social media
  • BookToReader – digital content delivery

NB: I'm planning to end my use of MailerLite and StoryOrigin in coming weeks. StoryOrigin is transitioning to a paid service, and I'll replace MailerLite with Ghost for my newsletter needs.

We’re cobblers
Ben Smith of the New York Times wrote an excellent piece about the rise of writers building their own businesses, most prominently newsletters based on the Substack platform. This part, about compe…

Camping and Solo RPG

A recent camping trip to the Yarra Valley necessitates my first proper Solo RPG game session, armed with nothing more than a fist-full of dice, a notebook, pencils, and some random tables.

The Mac needs Shortcuts →

As much as I like the impetus behind Automator—automation for the masses!—it died on the vine. Apps didn’t support it well, and Apple failed to provide a robust enough library of actions to make it work well on its own. If I ever thought Automator was okay, one glance at Shortcuts (or its predecessor, Workflow) would disabuse me of the notion. Still, I end up using Automator regularly because it allows me to integrate AppleScript and unix/shell scripting directly into the Finder.

I agree it does; Shortcuts on macOS would be a terrific addition for the average user. Better yet, having Shortcuts sync across all devices (Mac, iPad, and iPhone) would be even better. I'd love to write a Shortcut on my MacBook Pro with it's proper keyboard and 13 inch display, then have them sync and be usuable on iOS.

That said, my automation needs are met with a combination of Automator and aText, and in both case I'm using them to wrap Python and Bash scripts. As good as Shortcuts is for Muggles (non-technical users), it is less efficient and clunkier than writing Python.