ldstephens

Welcome to my tech notes! I'm glad you stopped by.

I’ve started a new blog on the Pika platform.

I want to write about whatever the fuck I want. Loren’s Blog is my space to share my thoughts on life, current events, culture and whatever else crosses my mind. I'll still be writing about technology here on “ldstephens tech notes”.

I chose Pika for my new blog for its minimal feature set and simplicity. I’ll never know how many people read my new blog. It has no stats, email subscription, or a way to follow it other than an RSS Feed. That’s somehow freeing! You can also follow me on Mastodon or Bluesky.

Welcome, and happy reading!

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Hey friends, as many of you know, I have been using Drafts for many years, and I just discovered the Command Palette. It's a window you can open to quickly search for and run actions, commands, and switch workspaces. It’s invoked with the keyboard shortcut Command-Shift-P or by tapping the Command Palette icon. Then, start typing to find what you want. The Command Palette makes it super easy to streamline your workflow. If you’re a Drafts user, give it a try. It's on iPhone, iPad and Mac.

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It's been a little over a week since I started this experiment. I tried a new approach to capturing content directly into its final app instead of using Drafts. I planned to use iA Writer for blogging, Apple Notes for notes, and Things for tasks, with a “Quick Add” shortcut on my iPhone's Dock to streamline the process. However, this experiment didn't work out.

Here’s why:

Drafts is simply better at capturing temporary notes, quick thoughts, and ideas. It excels at quickly grabbing those fleeting thoughts and snippets of information. When I need to merge content, Drafts allows me to easily combine notes which isn't available in iA Writer or Apple Notes. Apple Notes also lacks a simple way to export or move captured content. These limitations make it less practical for my workflow.

In conclusion, Drafts remains my go-to app for initial content capture and organization on my iPhone.

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Hey friends, as I mentioned the other day, I’m switching to iA Writer for my blogging and writing. This means capturing my ideas directly in iA Writer. Since GoodLinks is my go-to read-it-later app, I’ve created some Custom Actions that seamlessly transfer content from GoodLinks to iA Writer.

Previously, I wrote about creating Custom Actions in GoodLinks and later shared several actions for sending content to Drafts. Both posts were well-received, so I’m excited to share three Custom Actions for sending content from GoodLinks to iA Writer with you.

Title, Author, URL, Selection to iA

ia-writer://x-callback-url/new?text=[title]%0A{_}[author]{_}%0A[url]%0A[selection-text]

This action sends the title, author, URL, and selected text in the active article to iA Writer as plain text.

Selection – iA

ia-writer://x-callback-url/new?text=[selection-text]

This action sends the selected text in the active article to iA Writer as plain text.

Markdown Title, URL – iA

ia-writer://x-callback-url/new?text={[}[title]{]}{(}[url]{)}

This action sends the title and URL of the active article to iA Writer as markdown.

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As a long-time Drafts user, I'm experimenting with a new approach to capturing content.

Most of my capture happens on my iPhone. Traditionally, I’ve used Drafts to gather everything, then send it to its final destination. I’m thinking of bypassing Drafts and capturing content directly into its final app.

Here’s the plan:

  • Blogging/Writing: Capture in iA Writer
  • Notes: Capture in Apple Notes
  • Reminders and Tasks: Capture in Things

This method covers most of what I capture.

To streamline the process, I've created a shortcut called Quick Add on my iPhone for quick capture to Things, Notes, and iA Writer. The Quick Add shortcut, in my Dock, allows me to quickly add a new task to Things, a new note to Notes, or a new idea for a blog post to iA Writer. I’ll let you know on how this works out for me.

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Hey friends, have you ever wanted to scan a document and have it scan to “text” instead of PDF or JPEG? Well, now you can with Simple Scan.

Simple Scan by Greg Pierce of Agile Tortoise is a portable scanner app for iPhones. It allows you to capture high-quality scans of papers, receipts, and photos with just a few taps. You can save your scans as PDF or JPEG files and easily share them via email or cloud services. In addition to PDF or JPEG with version 5 you can now scan to text“Text” format option shares on the text recognized by optical character recognition as plain text. This can be output to a text file, or shared to other applications as text.

I have a workflow where I can scan a document to “text” and share it directly into Drafts Greg's other great app.

Check it out.

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Since the new iPads were introduced a couple of weeks ago there has been a lot of chatter about what one can and can't do on an iPad. One of the complaints I encountered was about not being able to set a default app to open certain file types in iPadOS. You know one of those posts about why someone can't use an iPad.

Well, there is a way sorta. Let's take a .txt file. The most common files that regular users have are .txt .md or .pdf. The last app to open a file type will be the default until you open it with a different app. Here's how it works:

For example, to change the default app that opens a .txt file on your iPad, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Files app and find the .txt file you want to change the default app for.

  2. Tap and hold the .txt file until a menu appears, then select “Share.”

  3. In the share sheet, you’ll see a list of apps that can open the .txt file. Choose the app you want to use.

  4. The file will open in the selected app. From now on, whenever you open a .txt file, your iPad will remember this preference.

My preference for .txt and .md files is to open in 1Writer and .pdf files to open in the default Preview in iPadOS.

Remember, iOS doesn’t have a universal way to set a default app for file types, but this method works for accessing files with your preferred app. This works the same way in iOS on iPhone.

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Jaron Schneider

“One comment I saw on Threads in the hours after reviews went live stuck with me and continues to play in my head. It alleged that the disconnect between tech reviewers and actual users was never more obvious than in iPad reviews. It said that they, and I am included in this, just don’t “get” it and that real creatives have been happily using only an iPad for years, yet we as reviewers have echoed the same refrain about iPadOS for just as long. Clearly, tech reviews are not in tune with real iPad users this and many responses like it read. […] Trying to do things the way you’re used to doing them on a computer is a recipe for disaster when it comes to the iPad. […] But that’s the world tech reviewers live in: they are fluent in multiple types of tech language and when they try and integrate the iPad into an existing workflow, even a workflow designed by Apple, it stumbles and falls. […] “A lot of people don’t realize that we’re aging. A younger generation’s version of computing is massively different than ours. If we had iPads growing up we’d be interacting differently, too […] Apple is an at an impasse. It can continue iPadOS and the users who know it and nothing else will continue to love it, but reviewers and those who work in a wider ecosystem of devices will regularly complain. Or, Apple can change iPadOS to be more like a computer and upset the users that are used to the current experience. If there is anything obvious from all of this, it’s that Apple has to do something, but very likely whatever that is, it won’t please everyone.”

I found the reasoning in this article interesting. People like me, who grew up using desktop computers, often critique iPadOS for limiting the iPad's potential despite its powerful hardware. The disconnect arises because we try to use the iPad like a computer, leading to frustrations with tasks that are simpler on traditional desktops. Younger users, who have grown up using iPads, have adapted and don't even realize that limitations exist.

There's a generational shift in digital fluency, with iPadOS satisfying an iPad-centric workflow but disappointing those expecting a more computer-like experience.

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Google search has started giving me Google's AI-driven search results. This has led to the search engine providing inaccurate, irrelevant, and sometimes nonsensical answers. I’m increasingly frustrated as AI-generated results replace more reliable, human-curated information. Let’s call this the enshittification of Google search!

To avoid this shit, I have taken advantage of a few strategies, that work, recommended by OSX Daily and appsntips. That being said, take a look at these articles if you want your Google searches to return to the old way.

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Inspired by a recent trend on other blogs, Manu recently shared his blogging workflow. Here's a look at mine!

Idea Capture and Drafting:

  • Drafts App: I use Drafts for all my ideas and initial writing. It allows me to easily capture quick thoughts and inspirations.
  • Starting and Developing Posts: I begin writing posts in Drafts. Sometimes, I even finish an entire post there. For longer pieces or when I need a more focused writing environment, I send the draft to either iA Writer or Ulysses.

Editing and Publishing:

  • Grammarly: Once my writing is complete, I use Grammarly to check for typos and punctuation errors.
  • Write.as: After editing, I copy and paste the markdown text into write.as, my blogging platform.
  • Email Distribution: Next, I paste the content again into Substack for email distribution to my subscribers.
  • Cross-Posting: Finally, I cross-post the blog content to Medium.

Organizing Published Work:

  • Markdown Archive: All published posts are saved in markdown format to a dedicated “Published” folder within my iCloud storage.
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