The personal weblog of Jack Baty

Wait Until I'm At a Mac

John Gruber:

…whenever it comes down to it, it always feels easier to me to just wait until I’m at a Mac and create it there.

Me too, John.

I’ll spend hours tweaking scripts and gadgets on my Mac, but on iOS I feel that if I need to resort to using Workflow I’ve failed. Yes, it’s irrational.

Giving Spark Mail a Try

I love email. In spite of its faults, email is the most reliable way to communicate with anyone, anywhere, anytime. It’s been this way for decades. It works.

Email is also a pain in the ass. Email puts anyone at all in charge of my todo list. Clients forward me 30-message email threads with only “Thoughts?”. Spam. Reply-all nonsense. You know the list. We’ve been bitching about email for years. People keep trying to “fix” it or replace it. Good luck with both of those. I’m perfectly comfortable with email. I’ve gotten pretty good at it.

That said, I love to play with different approaches to email. In the past couple of years I’ve switched between native Gmail web, Apple Mail, Mailmate, Mutt, and Mu4e.

Today I’ve been trying Spark to see if any of the modern approaches to email are useful. First impressions are positive. We’ll see how “smart” the smart inbox is. I forward all of my email accounts to Fastmail so multiple-account features aren’t useful to me. I like “snooze”. Not sure about “Pin” vs “Flag”. It’s new and shiny and I’m having fun with it.

The thing I may not be able to live with is not having easy access to individual emails. I can’t seem to drag and drop emails into, say DEVONthink. I also don’t see a way to link directly to a message. I use links to email everywhere so that could be a deal breaker.

In the meantime, Spark seems clever and pretty. I’ll see how I feel in a week or two.

Dimension of Miracles (Book)

Dimension of Miracles

Dimension Of Miracles by Robert Scheckley was a fun Science Fiction romp from 1968. It felt very much like “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” but predates it by many years.

I thought it was funny, smart, and clever. The audio book is read by John Hodgman, who did a fine job.

Richard Baty Photos

My grandfather’s photo albums are stacked in my basement. There are 24 of them. My plan has been to scan, caption, and upload everthing. It’s been slow going, but I’m picking away at it.

I’ve been trying to decide where and how to post the images. Should I use Wordpress, or Flickr, or Facebook, or SmugMug, or what? While deciding, I exported the albums from Lightroom to static galleries and dropped them on my VPS with a bare-bones index page. This is the simplest thing possible and is probably good enough and definitely more permanent than the other options.

So for now, they’re going here:

A test post using Netlify CMS

One of the things preventing “normal” people from using a static CMS is that there’s not a comfortable way to for them to edit and preview content. I myself prefer editing markdown in a local text editor. Most people don’t work well that way.

This post is being written in my browser using Netlify CMS. When saving, it’ll create a new markdown file in the Github repo and Netlify will automatically re-build the site and push it to the Netlify CDN.

Update 2017-03-17 It worked very well. The only thing I still need to deal with is adding Tags to the CMS UI. I tried using a “String” type but that put single quotes around the entire thing, breaking the build. Oh well. This is a nice way of editing existing posts via an easy-to-use web control panel, for times I’m not at my desktop computer.

I've Canceled My Apple Music Subscription

Ever since my favorite music streaming service, Rdio, was shut down, I’ve been forced to find a replacement. The contenders were Spotify and Apple Music. I’ve never loved Spotify, and iTunes is a mess. I subscribed to both services to see which I prefer.

Today I canceled Apple Music and will continue using Spotify. I’d like to tell you that I have a thoroughly-considered list of reasons, but I don’t. I went with Spotify because that’s what the others on my family plan prefer. Spotify is good enough, so who am I to argue?

One little thing that I do appreciate about Spotify on iOS is that I can simply swipe the cover art to go to the next song. Cover art is the largest single thing in the UI I don’t understand why Apple’s Music app doesn’t use for anything at all. I won’t miss iTunes.

Hey podcasters, get to the point already

I followed a link to a Podcast because it was about Todoist and included thoughts by Merlin Mann. Merlin was involved with the initial development of OmniFocus and has been a GTD/productivity nut forever so his opinion is valuable to me. Eager to hear his take on Todoist, I started listening to the podcast.

They got to the part about Todoist, but it took nearly forty minutes! Good lord, why does every podcast take so long getting to the damn point?

Chronos Made My Dumb Watch Dumber

After becoming somewhat attached to notifications on my Apple Watch, I missed them when wearing my automatic watch.

In order to make my beloved analog watch a little smarter, I bought a Chronos. The Chronos attaches to the back of any watch and adds “smart” features like step counting and notifications. This sounded like a great idea.

What I found was that using the Chronos made my dumb watch dumber.

When wearing the Apple Watch, whenever I feel a little tap on my wrist I just glance at the Watch and see the notification details. When wearing the automatic watch with the Chronos attached, I’d get a tap on my wrist and reflexively glance at my watch and see… the time. In order to actually check the notification, I still needed to take out my phone. This was frustrating and not useful.

I like to wear my automatic watch when going out at night. Recently, I grabbed the watch on my way out and realized I hadn’t charged the Chronos. That was the end of it. The whole point of an automatic watch is that it takes no batteries and never needs a charge. I’m not interested in remembering to charge a watch that should never need charging.

I removed the Chronos and my nice, manual, automatic watch went back to its normal task of telling the time and making me happy.

Workflow Automation

“Powerful automation made simple” (and in only slightly more than 43,000 words!)

I poke fun, but it reminded me that I’m still working toward a less complicated life. As cool as Workflow is, I’m better off resisting its charms, lest I fall down yet another rabbit hole while trying to “improve my process”.

ONA Bowery Bag

The Bowery is my second bag from ONA. I wanted something small that I could carry everywhere and the Bowery fits the bill. I carry a Leica M, the Fuji X-Pro2, a couple rolls of film, spare battery, and a notebook. I like everything about it. I’m told it looks a lot like a purse but that’s fine with me.