5th November 2019

I write a lot of my blog posts on my iPad using iA Writer, and because it is mainly a text editor, it doesn’t support adding photos directly into a document. This makes it slightly more cumbersome for myself when I’m trying to include an image in a post, so I’d have to go to the web interface of my blog, upload an image manually, and then copy the URL.

However, it recently came to my mind that I could probably automate this process. And of course, that would be with the Shortcuts app.

So I made a simple Shortcut that can be run from the Share Sheet, accepting only images.

Then because I simply want to upload it to my WordPress blog (I have no separate CDN for images), I attempted to use the “Post to WordPress” action. Which I only just discovered can upload media, along with posts and pages.

And just like when you upload a new post using that action, the result is the URL of the uploaded post/page/media.

Although the URL that was returned wasn’t exactly the one I was looking for. I was expecting the absolute URL for the image that was uploaded. But instead, it was the URL of a kind of “preview” page, which is essentially the same template used for a blog post, except the content is the image that was uploaded.

This stumped me, and I was considering giving up with the Shortcut at this point. But I realised that Shortcuts can handle articles on websites pretty well.

So I played around with the various actions that dealt with articles and found a very simple solution to extract the image URL. It turns out, in the weird media post (that’s not actually uploaded as a blog post 🤨) has the uploaded image set as being the featured image.

That meant that I could extract that using the “Get Details of Article” action, right after the “Get Article using Safari Reader” action, and then select to get the “Main Image URL”. And it worked perfectly.

So with the fundamental work done, I added an “Ask for Input” action at the beginning, to extract the title of the media. And also a “Text” block, to use the title and image URL and format it as Markdown so it can then be quickly copied and pasted into a document in iA Writer.


So after all of that talking, I’m sure you would like to see what the Shortcut actually looks like:

Upload Image To Blog Shortcut Screenshot

Download the Upload Image To Blog Shortcut

Hopefully either the resulting Shortcut can be useful to other people, or at least my thought process behind it, as no matter how good you think you know Shortcuts, it also seems to surprise you.

5th November 2019
Permalink

Thomas A. Fine, writing at Sentence Spacing:

So I was on twitter last month when Marcin Wichary asked “Any ideas on what this key/glyph was for in the early Sholes Glidden typewriter?”

This image is from a U.S. patent, applied for before the typewriter went to market, but it was definitely there on the first models.

It’s a fascinating piece of research, and I didn’t want to spoil it here. So I’d recommend reading the full piece, to see what the mysterious ⫶ character was used for.

5th November 2019
Permalink

Matt Birchler, writing at BirchTree:

I don’t know how to blame here, Twitter or Apple, but the Twitter app for Mac is really rough in its current form. Text editing specifically is really hard to justify and is not what I would expect from any app on the Mac.

I’ve been using the official Twitter app for macOS ever since it was available, and I’ve found it to be pretty reasonable. But just like Matt shows in this video, it still doesn’t feel completely at home on the Mac.

Hopefully improvements can be made to make it fit in with the macOS ecosystem. But I’m worried that this relies on changes to Catalyst, and potentially iOS, because this is essentially the iOS Twitter app. So I won’t be holding my breath. Maybe I’ll have to switch back to Tweetbot.

4th November 2019

If there’s one game that I’ve been enjoying as part of Apple Arcade, it’s Outlanders. I have been mildly obsessed with it ever since I gave it a try, very soon after it was available.

Outlanders Map

In essence, Outlanders is a game where you control a town of people, have them build out the town, whether it’s a farm to create a sustainable food source, or a tavern which they can go to at night that increases their happiness.

It’s very fun, and it’s based around scenarios that have a primary and secondary goal that you aim towards. For example, the level I’m on right now (6, which is currently the last) has an overall target to build 7 Windmills (which are used to convert wheat to flour, in order for a Bakery to make food), and 5 Taverns. All within 120 days. The optional secondary goal is to have a population of at least 70 by the type you finish.

Outlanders Level 6

At the start it’s relatively simple. You have some people forage for foot, while others focus on getting wood, and building houses for a growing population. But eventually you have a big population, that requires a lot of focus on what needs to be prioritised next. The maps are also finite, so the amount of resources (wood and food) will eventually dwindle down, leading you to build farms, windmills, and bakery’s to sustain the food for the population.

The first five levels I managed all within a few attempts, however this last one is proving to be quite difficult. Which is actually one reason why I’m enjoying it. It’s a fun game, which requires attention, and a general plan on how you are going to build out the town and population.

I really hope that the developer adds in more levels soon, as it’s only a matter of time before I’m finished with this one.

You can download Outlanders as part of Apple Arcade, and I would recommend it as not only one of the best games from the subscription, but of the many games that I’ve played on iOS over the years.

4th November 2019
Permalink

Alan Macleod, writing for Fair.org:

While not labeling its own wealthy and powerful elites as “oligarchs,” US corporate media do, as noted, occasionally acknowledge that the United States itself is an oligarchy. But even those admissions are few and far between, appearing for the most part only in articles devoted to arguing exactly that point. Otherwise, the US is overwhelmingly presented as a democracy and a force for good in reporting.

And when a politician like Bernie Sanders suggests that these oligarchs influence the media, senior editors react angrily, claiming he is “ridiculous” and a “conspiracy theorist.” What a strange country the US is—an oligarchy without any oligarchs.

3rd November 2019
Permalink

Brent Simmons:

You choose the web you want. But you have to do the work.

A lot of people are doing the work. You could keep telling them, discouragingly, that what they’re doing is dead. Or you could join in the fun.

I agree, all you have to do is join in.

23rd October 2019
Permalink

Laura Staugaitis at Colossal:

The photographer tells Colossal that his work centers around the topic of the Anthropocene (the era of human influence on Earth’s biological, geological, and atmospheric processes). “In my photography, I explore the origin and scale of that idea in an effort to understand the dimensions of man’s intervention in natural spaces and to direct attention toward how humans can take responsibility.” Hegen explains that aerial photography in particular helps convey the Anthropocene because it shows the dimensions and scale of human impact more effectively.

It’s fascinating subject to focus on, and the photography is stunning.

Tom Hegen also created a short video containing some aerial shorts of the greenhouses.

I will be definitely following him on Instagram, and keeping an eye on his work.

19th October 2019
Permalink

David Thompson:

I like Git commit messages. Used well, I think they’re one of the most powerful tools available to document a codebase over its lifetime. I’d like to illustrate that by showing you my favourite ever Git commit.

This commit is from my time at the Government Digital Service, working on GOV.UK. It’s from a developer by the name of Dan Carley, and it has the rather unassuming name of “Convert template to US-ASCII to fix error”.

This is a rather funny bug fix, but at the same time there’s a lot of good points you can take from the level of detail that was put in.

17th October 2019
Permalink

BBC News:

A flaw that means any fingerprint can unlock a Galaxy S10 phone has been acknowledged by Samsung.

It promised a software patch that would fix the problem.

The issue was spotted by a British woman whose husband was able to unlock her phone with his thumbprint just by adding a cheap screen protector.

When the S10 was launched, in March, Samsung described the fingerprint authentication system as “revolutionary”.

All I can do is laugh.