ldstephens

Since trading in my two iPads, my iPhone 15 Pro Max has become my daily driver. This shift made me re-evaluate how I use the Home Screen for maximum efficiency. Here's the thing: I despise cluttered screens with multiple pages, folders, Today View widgets, or widget stacks. So, my challenge was to access everything I needed from a single, Home Screen.

Here’s where the “Choose from Menu” action in Apple Shortcuts comes in. The “Choose from Menu” action in Apple Shortcuts is designed to streamline iOS device automation. It allows you to create customizable menus, presenting options for you to choose from when the shortcut runs. Whether it's selecting a favorite contact, choosing from a list of apps, or picking a specific destination in a navigation app, the “Choose from Menu” action lets personalize your shortcuts and tailor them to your specific needs.

I use three “Choose from Menu” shortcuts:

  • Other Apps: This shortcut houses apps I don't use daily but still need occasionally.
  • My Shortcuts: This one groups my most-used shortcuts for quick access.
  • Read-Later Apps: This shortcut brings up my favorite read-later apps like Omnivore or Instapaper.

By placing these shortcut icons on my Home Screen, I have all my essential apps and shortcuts readily available on a single page.

I learned how to create the shortcut from this article, How to Create an App Launcher Using Shortcuts | appsntips. It explains how to create it from start to finish.

This approach might not be for everyone, but if you want a clutter-free Home Screen, give “Choose from Menu” shortcuts a try!

Subscribe via Email (Powered by Substack):

RSS Feed | Email Me
© 2024 ldstephens.me

So, Google has decided to shake things up with its fancy new AI-powered search tool, leaving indie bloggers and creators like us feeling a little pissed off.

The Search Generative Experience (SGE) promises users direct answers to their burning questions right there in the search results. But guess who is getting shoved to the bottom of the fucking pile? Yep, you guessed it we are.

Tech research firm Gartner predicts traffic to the web from search engines will fall 25 percent by 2026. Ross Hudgens, CEO of search engine optimization consultancy Siege Media, said he estimates at least a 10 to 20 percent hit, and more for some publishers. “Some people are going to just get bludgeoned,” he said.[…] People who rely on the web to make a living are worried.

This has me thinking about the future of this blog. A considerable amount of its traffic comes from Google searches. Over the past few years, that traffic has dropped off. However, it appears that Google search results will soon come to an end for small indie blogs. The only other sources of traffic for this blog are email subscribers and RSS. Unfortunately, I have no way of knowing how many RSS subscribers I have. So, the question is: am I wasting my time and money continuing this blog? Buckle up, fellow indie bloggers and creators. We have some decisions to make.

If you follow this blog via RSS please let me know by sending me a quick email. Thank you for being a reader!

Source: Gerrit De Vynck and Cat Zakrzewski, The Washington Post

Subscribe via Email (Powered by Substack):

RSS Feed | Email Me
© 2024 ldstephens.me

We're about to get faster, slimmer, better-looking iPads next week. What the iPad needs is the software this device deserves.

David Pierce: “Before they even launch, I feel confident telling you these are the best iPads ever. But after all these years, I still don’t know how to tell you whether you should want an iPad. Or what you’d want to do with it. This has been true forever, of course. The iPad is the jack-of-all-trades in Apple’s lineup, a terrific device in many ways that still feels increasingly redundant now that so many people have big phones and long-lasting laptops.”

Subscribe via Email (Powered by Substack):

RSS Feed | Email Me
© 2024 ldstephens.me

Hey friends, if you've ever wished you could set a default maps app on your iPhone, I've got a workaround for you. Map Redirect is an app extension that lets you set your default map app.

With Map Redirect, the days of being stuck with Apple Maps as your only option are gone. Instead, you get to choose which app handles your map links. Whether you're a die-hard Google Maps fan or a devoted Waze user, Map Redirect lets you open map links in your preferred app. You can set it to always open links in your chosen app or Map Redirect can prompt you each time, allowing you to pick the best app for the job on the fly.

If you're tired of Apple Maps this may be what you're looking for.

Subscribe via Email (Powered by Substack):

RSS Feed | Email Me
© 2024 ldstephens.me

While sitting at my desk the other day, I realized it was time to streamline my RSS reading routine. I was constantly bouncing between apps: Reeder as my RSS client, Goodlinks for saving articles to read later, and Omnivore for highlighting and listening to articles.

This juggling act felt inefficient. I decided to centralize everything in Reeder. With Reeder's built-in Read Later functionality and its integration with Instapaper, I can now manage all my reading needs in one place. I added my Instapaper account to Reeder as a “save to location,” allowing me to also read my saved Instapaper articles directly within Reeder.

But that's not all! By opening an article in Instapaper for highlighting, and thanks to the new Obsidian plugin for Instapaper, my highlights will effortlessly flow into Obsidian. This new approach promises a smoother, more integrated reading experience!

Subscribe via Email (Powered by Substack):

RSS Feed | Email Me
© 2024 ldstephens.me

Aisha Malik – TechCrunch “President Biden has signed a bill that would ban TikTok if its Chinese parent company, ByteDance, fails to sell it within a year. The bill, which includes aid for Ukraine and Israel, was passed by the U.S. Senate in a 79-18 vote late Tuesday after the House passed it with overwhelming majority over the weekend. The bill gives ByteDance nine months to divest TikTok, with a 90-day extension available to complete a deal. If ByteDance doesn’t sell TikTok, it would become illegal for app stores to distribute the app in the U.S.”

M.G. Siegler – Spyglass.org “The Chilling of TikTok Of course it won't play out this way. First and foremost, there will be lawsuits. Second, a change of control in Washington may happen before a change of control of TikTok. Third, none of this may matter anyway. By passing this bill, Congress has draped the service in a scarlet letter. And damned it to be bogged down in bureaucracy for its remaining days. Regardless of the merits of this action – I happen to agree with the sale/ban, not because of the fear of data or overt propaganda, but the more subtle subversion where what is simply omitted from feeds sways the masses – I don't believe it will ultimately matter what happens in the end. TikTok's model is predicated around advertising and again, this mark and even just the uncertainty is going to make that a very big challenge going forward. The audience is massive and the demographic is key, but how is, say, McDonalds going to feel about advertising on a platform that the government has effectively deemed an enemy of the state? […] But again, this feels like the end of TikTok regardless. Unless a white knight comes riding in quickly – and it sure doesn't sound like China is going to allow that to happen – the die is cast. The sale or ban may ultimately be put on ice. The chilling effect will linger.”

I have expressed my opinion on the ban here Update: TikTok: It's 'a weapon of war' and here TikTok: It's 'a weapon of war'.

I feel bad for the folks who have built their livelihood on TikTok The hard lesson that TikTok creators may have to learn.

Subscribe via Email (Powered by Substack):

RSS Feed | Email Me
© 2024 ldstephens.me

Our trusty old JVC TV, while not a smart one, is and has been a good TV. It was paired with an equally old Roku that had been giving us problems lately. Since the TV itself was still working fine, we decided to upgrade the streaming device. This led us to Roku or Apple TV 4K.

One deciding factor was the growing frustration with all the fucking ads on Roku. Then I came across this article Roku Eyes Patent That Would Inject Ads Into… Everything | Techdirt and that solidified our decision to move away from Roku.

Enter the Apple TV 4K. The speed is fantastic, and the ability to control the TV with my iPhone is a game-changer. No more frantic searching for the remote! We love our new Apple TV 4K!

Subscribe via Email (Powered by Substack):

RSS Feed | Email Me
© 2024 ldstephens.me

This is an update to my post TikTok: It's 'a weapon of war' ➡️. According to Fortune “some ex-TikTok employees say the social media service worked closely with its China-based parent despite claims of independence.” […]

“Evan Turner, who worked at TikTok as a senior data scientist from April to September in 2022, said TikTok concealed the involvement of its Chinese owner during his employment. When hired, Turner initially reported to a ByteDance executive in Beijing. But later that year, after the company announced a major initiative to store TikTok’s U.S. user data only in the U.S., Turner was reassigned—on paper, at least—to an American manager in Seattle, he says. But Turner says a human resources representative revealed during a video conference call that he would, in reality, continue to work with the ByteDance executive. The stealth chain of command contradicted what TikTok’s executives had said about the company’s independence from ByteDance, Turner says. Turner says he never met with the Seattle-based manager. Instead, Turner had weekly check-ins lasting less than seven minutes with the Beijing-based ByteDance executive.” […]

“Nearly every 14 days, as part of Turner’s job throughout 2022, he emailed spreadsheets filled with data for hundreds of thousands of U.S. users to ByteDance workers in Beijing. That data included names, email addresses, IP addresses, and geographic and demographic information of TikTok U.S. users, he says. The goal was to sift through the information to mine for insights like the geographical regions where users watched the most videos of a particular genre and decide how the company should invest to encourage users to be more active. It all took place after the company had started its initiative to keep sensitive U.S. user data in the U.S., and only available to U.S. workers.”

Subscribe via Email (Powered by Substack):

RSS Feed | Email Me
© 2024 ldstephens.me

I've been using Overcast on my iPhone to listen to podcasts for almost 10 years. However, recently I've been hearing good things about Apple's Podcast app, so I thought I would give it a try.

After using Podcasts for a little over a week, I switched back to Overcast today. I found Podcasts confusing and clunky to use compared to Overcast. While Overcast doesn't have transcripts of shows, on the rare occasion that I need a transcript for a podcast, I can always go to the Podcasts app to get it.

Subscribe via Email (Powered by Substack):

RSS Feed | Email Me
© 2024 ldstephens.me

The other day I wondered if an iPhone could be a person's only computer. After doing a little research I discovered that with iPhone 15 Pro using USB C, it could be.

The iPhone 15 Pro can handle many tasks with the right setup. Here's how to turn your iPhone 15 Pro into a more computer-like machine. With its USB-C port, the iPhone 15 Pro can be transformed into a computer by connecting a keyboard, mouse, and external monitor. With a USB-C dongle, you can add additional storage space.

If this has made you curious I recommend watching this video by Stephen Robles. This is pretty fucking cool but I'll be sticking with my M1 MacBook Air.

Subscribe via Email (Powered by Substack):

RSS Feed | Email Me
© 2024 ldstephens.me