31st May 2019

It was a quiet day at work. A lot of people were working from home, which meant less chatting. And, of course, we were a tad more productive.

After work, I was presented with a new lawn mower from my dad. So I immediately cut the grass in our back garden as soon as I got home. This took longer than I thought. But it turns out the included cable is really long, as is a perfect fit for our garden. So no extension leads were needed at all.

When I’d finished all the gardening for the day. I cooked dinner, and caught up with the latest episode of The Instance podcast. Which I do on Twitch, as that’s where they stream and host the live video.

Since then I’ve just been finishing up a very small update to Text Case. It’s nothing serious, just a funny addition that a friend suggested. Hopefully it’s released soon!

30th May 2019

Work was pretty fun today. Nothing spectacular, but we had a lot of funny conversations throughout the team, and we even got a lot of work done.

I’m still looking forward to tomorrow, as it’s my last work day until next Thursday. As I’m off to Scotland on Sunday!

Over here on the blog I was a bit more active than usual.I published three things!

Firstly I linked to a piece about an Open Letter to GCHQ regarding their Ghost Protocol idea. I then linked to a review of the recent update to Linky on MacStories. And finally I wrote a full article about how I automate publishing blog posts.

In the evening I popped out for a coffee, played some World of Warcraft Classic, and watched a ton more Big Bang Theory with my girlfriend.

30th May 2019

I wrote recently about how I’m automating my daily journal, and it mainly focussed around how I started the writing, as the publishing was quite a manual process.

However, I’ve now managed to automate the publishing part of my writing process. Which I’ve been using for every blog post since, not just my daily journal.

I started off with Federico Viticci’s Publish to WordPress shortcut1, which he posted on his incredible Behind the Tablet article. But I had to make a few changes to make it work with the way I’ve configured my blog.

Here’s Federico’s description of his shortcut:

Publish a Markdown post to WordPress via the Shortcuts action extension. The shortcut can extract the h1 Markdown header from a post and use it as title. Optionally, you can publish both standard and “linked list” post types by adding a custom field supported by your WordPress installation.

The changes I made were:

  • Changing the Format parameter of the ‘Post to WordPress’ action to Ask When Run. This way I can alter between standard and link type posts. The shortcut already handled linked posts so it could extract a URL and add that as a custom field on a post. But my theme styles linked posts slightly differently, and it depends on the post format to do that.
  • I also changed the Publish Date parameter to Ask When Run as sometimes I like to schedule posts. Or if I’m publishing my journal, and I’ve slightly run into the next day, I like to make sure it’s published on the correct date.
  • One section I removed was the file saving, as I don’t particularly need another copy of the final results. I like to think of my blog as the place for canonical copies.
  • The last action was to open MacStories in the browser, so of course, I changed that to the url of this blog. So I can quickly check out the live version.

In essence, it’s a relatively simple shortcut, in that it takes text and publishes it here on my blog. However it takes care of so much of the annoying parts of the publishing process, such as setting the categories, tags, post types, extracting links for sources, and still more. I guess that’s the perfect case for automation.

One last thing I have to call out, is the natural language parsing when entering a publish date for a post. When using the web interface for WordPress, I found it really irritating to use the date/time picker. But now I can write something like “tomorrow at noon” or “yesterday at 23:00”, and it just understands it perfectly.

I’m not sure if this will directly benefit anyone, but I hope it at least shows some benefits of using automation when publishing to a blog. And also, that it’s very beneficial to keep checking out the many Shortcuts that people like Federico are sharing.

Download Federico’s “Publish to WordPress” shortcut.

Download my modified “Publish to WordPress” shortcut.


  1. The shortcut also includes the Title Case action from my app, Text Case. Which I (with a massive bias) find very helpful. 
30th May 2019
Permalink

Ryan Christoffel, writing at MacStories:

Linky is a tiny utility for iOS that I love. The app serves as an easy way to share to Twitter or Mastodon from the iOS share extension, and I use it every day to tweet MacStories articles or new episodes of Adapt. Used from Safari, the Linky share extension can automatically populate a tweet compose field with information from the site you’re viewing, such as its title, URL, and featured images. Linky’s ease of use makes it my favorite way to share content via tweets.

Earlier this week, Linky was updated with two new enhancements to its text shot feature. For years now the app has enabled easy creation of text shots for sharing portions of an article, or personal thoughts that exceed Twitter’s character limit. That text shot feature is now better than ever though thanks to the addition of highlighting and visual customization options.

I’ve been looking for a good quality “text shot” app for a while, and I was even thinking about making my own one. However, I already use Linky for sharing links, so it’s great that it’s now incorporated this feature.

You can expect me to be sharing more text shots on Twitter from now on.

30th May 2019
Permalink

Sharon Bradford Franklin and Andi Wilson Thompson writing for Lawfare:

Last fall, Lawfare published a piece by Ian Levy and Crispin Robinson of GCHQ entitled Principles for a More Informed Exceptional Access Debate. Our organization, the Open Technology Institute, has worked alongside other people and organizations to coordinate a response from an international coalition of 47 signatories, including 23 civil society organizations that work to protect civil liberties, human rights and innovation online; seven tech companies and trade associations, including providers that offer leading encrypted messaging services; and 17 individual experts in digital security and policy. Our coalition letter outlines our concerns that the GCHQ proposal poses serious threats to cybersecurity and fundamental human rights including privacy and free expression. We shared our letter with GCHQ officials on May 22, and we are now releasing it to the public as an Open Letter to GCHQ.

In the open letter, which is notably backed by Apple, Microsoft, Google, WhatsApp, and others, explains how the “Ghost Protocol” would work, the consequences, and also the recommend to abandon the idea completely.

Lawfare and the letter explain the Ghost Protocol quite well, but in essence it means every message and conversation would also be sent to a hidden recipient. Similar to how BCC works with email.

It’s pretty serious stuff. And I sincerely hope it’s abandoned. However, institutions like GCHQ seem to always have another idea up their sleeves to try and bypass your personal privacy.

Here’s one section from the paper I found interesting about the risks it creates in regard to cybersecurity, and threats to human rights:

The GCHQ’s ghost proposal creates serious threats to digital security: if implemented, it will undermine the authentication process that enables users to verify that they are communicating with the right people, introduce potential unintentional vulnerabilities, and increase risks that communications systems could be abused or misused. These cybersecurity risks mean that users cannot trust that their communications are secure, as users would no longer be able to trust that they know who is on the other end of their communications, thereby posing threats to fundamental human rights, including privacy and free expression. Further, systems would be subject to new potential vulnerabilities and risks of abuse.

Read the Open Letter to GCHQ

29th May 2019

Today was meant to be the day that Arsenal finally won the Europa League trophy. However, after a promising first half, we crumbled in the second. The end result was a 4-1 loss.

It wasn’t the best evening of my life. But I watched some Big Bang Theory with my girlfriend, and ate some of the cheesecake she made me.

28th May 2019

I’ve been trying to collect my wishes for iOS 13 for quite some time, however the list never grew that long. So, today I published my short list of iOS 13 wishes.

In the non-work part of my day, I spent my time food shopping, and watching The Big Bang Theory with my girlfriend. We’ve gone back to the start of season 10, and already watched 4 episodes tonight. Hopefully it’s not long before we get to the latest season, I haven’t seen any of that yet!

28th May 2019

I was going to try and write a big long post about my wishes for iOS 13, but my list sadly never passed 6 items. So seeing as WWDC is just around the corner, I’ll publish what I’ve got.

Dark Mode

I’ve wanted this for quite some time, and it looks like we’re going to be getting it. So I think this is a near-guaranteed part of iOS 13.

Shortcuts API

I want apps to have a much deeper integration with Shortcuts. Mainly the ability to add native actions into the Shortcuts app. But also parameter support, so apps like my Text Case won’t need to interact solely with the clipboard.

Home Screen Widgets

We’ve been waiting for a refresh of the home screen for a while, and I think the ability to add “widgets” would be a good fit.

Picture-in-Picture on iPhone

This is a feature that I don’t hold much hope of being implemented. However, there are scenarios where I want to watch a video while quickly doing something else on my iPhone. So Picture-in-Picture would
Be very handy. Although sporadically used.

More Widgets on the iPad

I’m not sure why this ever changed. But on the iPad you used to be able to see two columns of widgets, and now it’s restricted to just one. I want the whole screen to be filled with them!

Do Not Disturb while Using a Device

One last annoyance that has turned into a feature request, a Do Not Disturb setting that still applies when you’re using the device. If I’m watching a video with my girlfriend during dinner, I really don’t need to see notifications. Especially as it usually pushes what we’re watching momentarily.

27th May 2019

Today was very much a continuation of the weekend, in that we basically did a bit of housework, but mainly lounged around the house watching television.

Late afternoon we did have some of my family round for coffee and cake, so we weren’t completely shut away from the outside world.

In the evening, I very much benefitted from my girlfriend being ill, as I managed to (partially) make her watch Harry Potter. We watched Order of the Phoenix, so maybe I’ll try another one soon.