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18th May 2019

World of Warcraft Classic now has a release date, and it has also entered into a beta testing phase. Which means some players are now getting the chance to either remember what World of Warcraft was in the early days, or in some cases I imagine they are seeing it for the first time, depending on when they started.

If you want to read more about WoW Classic, I would recommend checking out the website. But the short version, is that after 15 years, WoW has grown to be quite a different game than it once was. The sense of community has gradually disappeared, with more tools being added to the game, that simply add you to a random group to do a certain task, and then you leave. Before it was more organic. Another major difference is the difficulty, WoW was full of challenges, and although everything was a lot slower, you felt like you really earned any reward you got.

Just for the record, I’m going to play this game like mad.

So, while beta testing has been going on, there are clearly some people that either have clouded memories of the past, or just had completely different expectations. So much so, that Blizzard has had to write a post on the forums titled “WoW Classic “Not A Bug” List“. To inform beta testers that the bugs they are reporting, are actually art of the game. And most likely were there for some time.

They introduced the post in the most polite way I could think of:

As we’ve discussed before, the nature of WoW Classic sometimes invokes different memories for different players, and this leads to certain misconceptions for some about what is or isn’t working as intended.

I find it funny thinking about all of the reported bugs, and how many of these are actually features that people have forgotten about. It appears some people are going to have a bad time when they first play WoW Classic.

Read the full post on the WoW forums

 

17th May 2019

Since the start of this year, I’ve been writing a daily journal on a separate part of this blog.

After I started writing the entries, I realised I didn’t want the boring task of creating the file in a specific directory, and creating the same title/header over and over again. So I added a tiny bit of automation.

Things Task

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The first thing I did was to set up a task in Things, that repeated every day, simply to tell me to write my journal. After a while, I noticed that I would sometimes get very close to 12 before remembering about it. So I added a reminder for 11 pm, which gives me a bit of time to delay and still get it done in time.

Journal Template Shortcut

To take the hassle out of creating the initial file, I created a relatively small shortcut that creates the template and opens it in iA Writer.

I have a specific directory for my journal entries, and this keeps them all in one place.

It also uses the current date to create the filename and the heading for the post.

From there, it opens iA Writer, so I can jot down what I did in that day. And it’s ready to be published

You can download my “Journal Template” shortcut for reference.

Linking the Shortcut to the Things Task

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While Things is useful enough to help me remember I need to write my entry, and the shortcut helps to create the initial file, I also linked these together.

I did that by adding a custom URL into the body of the Things task, so whenever it notified me, I could tap on the task and then on the link. It would then launch the shortcut, and lets me immediately start writing.

It also allows me to not starting right away, as sometimes I’m not in the best place to do it, or I just want to put it off a bit longer.

The url is quite simple, and is in the following format:

shortcuts://run-shortcut?name={name}

{name} is the name of the Shortcut, but URL encoded. You may be able to work this out yourself, but my app Text Case can also do this for you.

More Automation

After I finish writing my journal entry for the day, I then publish it to my blog. I use the built-in “New Draft on WordPress” share extension, which then opens the draft in Safari where I can add the category, and publish.

It’s a reasonably quick task, but something else I plan on automating. So in the near future, I will be creating another shortcut, that can take the latest journal entry and publish it to my blog using the specific category and time I like.

23rd April 2019

For quite a few years now, I’ve been using Overcast as my podcast app of choice. It’s a great app, and it’s praised by basically anyone that uses it. However, I had never really used an alternative. So I wasn’t sure if I really was using the best app that was on offer.

After doing a bit of research, and hearing about it in the past, I decided on Castro. It’s the app that I’ve seen the most talked about online, second to only Overcast.

As I mentioned on my journal entries on April 8th and 9th, one of the best features of Castro, in my opinion, is the focus that’s put into queuing episodes. And in particular, the idea of triaging new episodes, so that you can have a more refined queue. This helped me a lot, as I was getting to a place where I had so many episodes build up in my list, that I didn’t know what to listen to next. And in some cases, there were episodes that I knew that I would never get around to listen to, but I just didn’t want to remove them.

Starting with an import of my subscription from Overcast via the export/import OPML files in both apps, the Inbox in Castro was filled up with the most recent episodes of all my subscriptions. From there I started assigning each episode to either the top/bottom of the queue, or removing it from the list. This resulted in a pretty small queue, I think it was around 6 episodes, and my list would usually be around 20 in Overcast.

As new episodes continually appeared in the Inbox, I found it rather easy to sort through them, and pick out the episodes I wanted to listen to. It seems strange, but this feature alone made me listen to many more podcasts. It removed some of the unnecessary choice, so I could always find something I wanted to listen to. Because of the queuing, and the fact that you prioritise episodes in the queue when triaging the Inbox, it’s always ready whenever you just want to jump in a quickly listen to something. Or maybe in the morning, when you haven’t quite woken up yet, but you still want something for the commute.

I did think I would miss the two great enhancements that Overcast offers, Voice Boost and Smart Speed. However, Castro have their own versions, Enhance Voices and Trim Silence. I didn’t notice any difference in this regard. So either, they both work with a similar level of quality, or I just don’t notice the feature on either apps. Either way, it’s not an issue for me.

One thing I did notice about playback though, was when resuming an episode, I really missed Overcast’s “Smart Resume”. It’s really handy when you pause in the middle of a word, because Overcast will rewind slightly to the gap before the word. It sounds like a minuscule feature, but you soon get used to it.

Something else that caused me a bit of friction when I first started using Castro, was the way you found the show notes of an episode. In Castro, you swipe left → right and “activate” the Info button, which launches the show notes above the current context. However, I was really used to the interface in Overcast, where you swiped right → left to view the show notes, and then once more to view the chapters (if the episode had them). These are nothing major, and are mostly caused by muscle memory.

After using Castro as my podcast app for a while, I was in a situation where I wanted to listen to a podcast on my iPad. And that is when I discovered the lack of Castro! So after all the benefits I found with the queuing feature, the nice refreshing interface, and also a few pain-points, I literally couldn’t use the app anymore. I kept using the Castro app on my phone for a few days, but I had to stop, because managing two podcast apps would be crazy.

In conclusion, I would like to state that I really like Castro. And while there are a few things that I was used to in Overcast, that caused friction when using Castro, the overall experience was great. I just can’t use an app on iOS that isn’t universal anymore. I’ve gone back to Overcast for now, and I’m going to try and take small things I’ve learned from triaging episodes in Castro, so I can better handle my podcast list. But I’m always going to be hoping for the day when Castro comes to the iPad.

11th April 2019
Permalink

The Home Office are the people who deal with EU citizens requests seeking for settled status in the UK (among other things, of course), but it appears they made a bit of a mistake when sending emails to some of them asking to resubmit their information:

The Home Office sent the email on Sunday 7 April asking applicants, who had already struggled with technical problems, to resubmit their information.

But it failed to use the “blind CC” box on the email, revealing the details of other applicants.

In another message apologising to those who had been affected, the Home Office wrote: “The deletion of the email you received from us on 7 April 2019 would be greatly appreciated.” – Ross Hawkins, BBC.

Basically, someone doesn’t know the difference between CC and BCC, and now the department may have to make an apology in Parliament. Along with the fact that they breached the Data Protection Act.

30th March 2019

Just over one week ago, I released the first major update to Text Case. Since then, I’ve written and published four guides on different parts of the app. While they don’t combine to create a Text Case “User Manual”, I think they explain the most fundamental parts, and hopefully some features that users will be surprised by.

What Is Title Case?

In the first guide, I explained what Title Case is, and where it’s used. Title Case is the major format in Text Case, as that’s the most popular one for writers, because it’s more complicated than you’d think.

In Text Case, I support four different standards of Title Case, so this guide explains the standards, and also how to customise them in the app.

Read the guide.

Customising Text Case

Quite self-explanatory, but as there are quite a lot of things you can customise inside Text Case, I thought it would be useful to have these explained all in one place.

Read the guide.

Using the Action Extension in Text Case To Format Text

As I mentioned before, Text Case has an Action Extension, so you can use Text Case to format any text selection in iOS. This guide explains how to enable the extension, and also how to use it.

Read the guide.

Using Siri with Text Case

You can use Text Case with Siri Shortcuts, and also as an action inside the Shortcuts app. This guide explains every thing Siri-related.

Read the guide.


If you haven’t already got a copy of Text Case, you can find it on the App Store.

28th March 2019

This is a guide related to my app, Text Case. It’s a utility app that lets you transform text into various different formats. You can find all the guides in one place, and Text Case on the App Store.


Everyone loves Siri. Well they don’t always, but sometimes it can be pretty useful. Fortunately, Text Case supports Siri so that you can convert text into any format using it!

Unfortunately, there’s no way for apps to take any form of input from Siri, so Text Case uses your clipboard as a form of input and output.

Siri Shortcuts

The simplest way to open up Text Case to Siri, is to record a custom phrase for a specific format.

To do this, you’ll need to navigate to the Setting screen, and tap on “Add to Siri”. That will bring up a list of every format in Text Case, and after tapping on one of these, the Siri Shortcut interface will appear, where you can record a phrase to use with this format.

One a Siri Shortcut is set up, to format your text, all you need to do is to copy some text, say the phrase to Siri, and the formatted result will be ready to paste wherever you want.

The Shortcuts App

That’s not all you can do with Text Case though, as you can even use these actions within the Shortcuts app.

However, as Text Case deals with the clipboard, you will need to make sure you set the clipboard to the text you want to be formatted, and then retrieve the clipboard when you want to use the results.

Here is a basic example of how you can make use of Text Case inside a Shortcut:


You can download Text Case on the App Store.

 

27th March 2019

This is a guide related to my app, Text Case. It’s a utility app that lets you transform text into various different formats. You can find all the guides in one place, and Text Case on the App Store.


Although the main Text Case app can be a very useful app to have open while you’re formatting a few pieces of text, sometimes you just want a little less friction while you’re writing.

That’s why you can format any text in iOS, simply by selecting text, sharing it to Text Case, and then just tapping once on the format you want to use. It’s a flow I use whenever I’m writing on my iPhone or my iPad, because it allows you to completely focus on your writing, without needing to manually switch apps to just format a title.

Enabling the Extension

First off, you’ll need to enable the Action Extension. This can be quite long-winded, so it’s best to follow along with the screenshots below, or there are some written steps.

  1. Select any text in your favourite text editor.
  2. Tap Share.
  3. When the share sheet appears, on the bottom row you’ll find an option called “More” with three dots as the icon. Tap that.
  4. It should then open a list where you can enable and disable any available actions from your installed apps. You need to enable Text Case’s “Convert Text” action.
  5. After that, tap done, and it will appear in the list of actions in the bottom row of the share sheet.

Formatting Text via the Extension

Once you’ve got it enabled, formatting text is rather simple.

  1. Select the text you want to format.
  2. Tap Share.
  3. Select “Convert Text” from the bottom row of the share sheet.
  4. When Text Case appears, you just need to tap once on the format you want to use. By default Title Case will be the first option.
  5. After you tapped on the formatted title in Text Case, you will be returned to your previous app, where your text should still be selected.
  6. You can now tap on Paste to overwrite the text with the formatted version.

You can download Text Case on the App Store.

26th March 2019

This is a guide related to my app, Text Case. It’s a utility app that lets you transform text into various different formats. You can find all the guides in one place, and Text Case on the App Store.


There’s quite a lot of things that you can change in Text Case, so you can feel more at home while formatting all of your lovely text.

Theme

First off is the theme. There are currently two themes in Text Case, the obvious Light and Dark options. More will come in the future, but alas, that’s not relevant to this guide.

The theme is applied globally, and therefore it affects the app and the share extension. The theme changes the background colour, the input field colours, and the colour the formatted results that appear in the app.

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To change the theme, you just need to navigate to the Settings screen, tap on the Theme option at the top, and then select a theme from the list.

App Icon

You can also change how Text Case appears from your home screen, with 22 different icons to choose from.

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To change the app icon, you navigate to the Settings screen, tap on App Icon, and select one from the list. An alert will appear to confirm the change.

Title Case Style

As mentioned in a previous guide, “What Is Title Case?“, you can change the style of Title Case that is used within the app. So if you want to know more about Title Case, and how to change it, check out the article.

Formats Section Order

There will always be formats that you use more than others, so that’s why there’s an option to rearrange the format sections in the app.

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This can be managed from the Settings screen, under “Change Section Order”. Once there, you can drag the sections to indicate the order you want them displayed in.

Below each section title, you can see the current number of formats that are visible for each one. Just a quick note, if a section has no visible formats, it won’t appear in the formats list when transforming text.

If you do make changes to the order, you can always go back to the default option, by tapping on the Reset button in the top-right corner.

Enable/Disable Formats

Along with rearranging the sections in Text Case, you can hide a format completely, so it won’t appear in the app or share extension.

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It’s very simple to do, just choose the “Enable/Disable Formats” from the Settings screen, and then tap to enable or disable formats as you wish!


You can download Text Case on the App Store.

25th March 2019

This is a guide related to my app, Text Case. It’s a utility app that lets you transform text into various different formats. You can find all the guides in one place, and Text Case on the App Store.


Title Case is the term people use when referring to the format in which titles should be capitalised. However, this isn’t an entirely objective format, as there are multiple standards that different writers use, and also some choose to customise them even further.

In Text Case, I’ve chosen to support four different standards of Title Case:

These standards are much bigger than just rules on how titles should be capitalised, but it is, of course, the only relevant part for Text Case.

AP

AP format is commonly used by news organisations, as the Associated Press offer style guides for a wide arrange of writing, and it can be easy to use one entire standard.

With AP format, the first and last words are always capitalised, along with all verbs, nouns, and adjectives. Any prepositions or conjunctions that are four characters or more are also capitalised.

APA

APA format is very similar to AP format, in that it uses the same base rules, except that the last word isn’t capitalised by default.

MLA

MLA format is commonly used by academic writers when writing papers. It is a rather simple standard to follow, with all words being capitalised, except for a specific number of conjunctions.

CMOS

CMOS is one of the more popular standards that I’ve seen among bloggers, and it’s one that I use myself. In CMOS, all words are capitalised except for any preposition or conjunction. It’s commonly used when doing comprehensive, in-depth writing.

Changing Title Case Style in Text Case

You can change the Title Case style by navigating to the Settings page, choosing “Text Case Style”, and then selecting the style that you wish you use.

You can also tap on the Info icon on any of the styles, to find out more information on how they are used, and also a link to read more about them.

When you’re using the Title Case format, you can see the style that is being used on the top right of the formatted result. For example, the app in the screenshot is using APA style.


You can download Text Case on the App Store.

13th March 2019

Twitter have announced (on Twitter) that an updated camera interaction is on its way. So you’ll be able to access the camera with just one swipe:

This is a really good improvement. I’ve even downloaded the official Twitter app again, so I’m ready to try it out.