Six Shortcuts Livestreams I’ve Done in May

26th May 2020 | Permalink

Matthew Cassinelli:

Since the start of May, I’ve streamed with the developers of Charty, Timery, and LaunchCuts (plus talked to the Data Jar developer), plus in the process reached out for more streams in the form of Chris Lawley showing my editing videos on iPad with LumaFusion, I showed Matt Cox the basics of shortcuts over an hour, and I had the pleasure of Jason Snell walking me through one of his Charty shortcuts.

Matthew has created quite a collection of videos with these live streams. I’ve just watched the Charty and LumaFusion video so far, and although I don’t use these apps myself, I still found them interesting. I’m definitely going to watch the rest!

The Awesome Mac OS Catalina Fonts You Didn’t Know You Had Access To

26th May 2020 | Permalink

Ralf Herrmann, writing at Typography.Guru:

Apple has recently licensed fonts from type foundries such as Commercial Type, Klim Type Foundry and Mark Simonson Studio to be used as system fonts on Mac OS Catalina. But since these fonts are an optional download, many users of Mac OS X are not even aware they have access to them for free.

To see and install these optional fonts, open the FontBook application and switch to “All Fonts”. Browse the font list and you will see lots of font families that are greyed out—either because they were deactivated or they weren’t downloaded yet. If you right-click on a font or font family that wasn’t downloaded yet, you see an option to download the individual font or entire family.

Who would have thought there was essentially “hidden” fonts in Catalina? I certainly wouldn’t.

Well, there’s tons. And it includes some pretty nice ones as well, such as Domaine Display, Canela, Proxima Nova, Graphik, and Produkt.

Apple Releases iOS 13.5 With COVID-19 Exposure Notifications, Face ID Bypass for Masks, FaceTime Setting, and Apple Music Stories Sharing

22nd May 2020 | Permalink

Ryan Christoffel, writing at MacStories:

Today Apple released what is essentially a COVID-19 update for iPhones. iOS 13.5 includes several features specifically designed for our current global pandemic, including exposure notifications, mask detection for bypassing Face ID, and a new prominence setting for FaceTime, along with a nice new Apple Music sharing feature optimized for Instagram Stories. With WWDC and iOS 14’s reveal only a month away, this is likely the last major update to the current OS release cycle.

This update is no doubt going to be known as the COVID-19 update, simply because of the exposure notifications. But seeing as we don’t have an app that supports that currently here in the UK, it’s really just the “Apple Music x Instagram” update for us. Which is totally fine with me. Because I really like how it’s been done, and it looks great!

Charty for Shortcuts

22nd May 2020

I came across Charty recently on Twitter, and it looks like it’s going to be a great addition to the growing collection of apps that are designed to slot directly into the Shortcuts app.

After playing around with it, I was going to write an in-depth article on what I thought about it, but instead I’ve found three articles that I think explain it really well. And they also include examples so you can see what type of charts you can create.

Greg Morris:

This is one of those apps that at first you dismiss, but when actually looking around the app you realise just how helpful it can be. That’s because developer Rodrigo Araújo has thought about almost every aspect of the app. Building on the success of his first app ChartStat he aims to make it easy for everyone to visualise any kind of data.

Jason Snell:

Making charts by hand is labor intensive. But it gets easier if you can make the chart one time and just update the data as new numbers flow in. If that sounds like a job for user automation, you’re singing my tune—and I’m happy to report that the new app Charty is built to add charting capabilities to the iOS Shortcuts app.

Matt VanOrmer:

There are lots of Shortcuts actions and routines that generate data and could easily benefit from a simple bar graph or pie chart to provide useful insights more quickly and effectively. One example that comes to mind is graphing time-tracking data from Toggl once every week, let’s say, to see what tasks or projects you’ve been the most busy with — all without having to open the unpleasant Toggl app or the clunky web client from your iOS device. Charty is the perfect companion for those who accumulate lots of meta-data about their lives and want to frequently revisit and reassess the areas they are seeking to improve — whether that be calories burned, books read, or tasks completed, Charty plugs right into your existing Shortcuts routines and allows you to quickly turn those datasets into easily-digestible graphics. The option to create default chart format settings and custom “Export Profiles” of chart size, font size, and background color both help to add consistency in how your charts are formatted before saving them for yourself or sharing with the world.

The Best Way To Retain What You Read

21st May 2020 | Permalink

Brett and Kate McKay:

We’re exposed to a torrent of media these days, much of it dross that we’re happy to forget in the time it takes to scroll to the next thing. But sometimes we’re reading a passage in a book or article that is so interesting or inspiring we feel we’d like to remember it for a long time. 

Typically, even if we mentally repeat and rehearse the arresting content, we find ourselves in the position described above — just a day, or even an hour later, we can’t recall what we read. Interesting, weighty, even potentially life-changing insights have permanently evaporated from our minds.

The solution:

If you’d like to retain and secure more of the information you consume instead of letting noteworthy knowledge pass right through you, here’s the best way to do so: share it with someone else.

I’ve never known the science behind this, but I’ve certainly noticed that I learn things better when I’m teaching it to others. Just like right now at work, I was on a training course where I didn’t quite remember everything. But when I was tasked with teaching other people, I found that I could recall the knowledge much easier.

Why Bespoke Contact Tracing Apps Don’t Work so Well on iOS

21st May 2020 | Permalink

Kane Cheshire:

While Apple and Google work on a new cross-platform contact tracing API to help tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re starting to see some countries release bespoke apps built using just the existing Bluetooth APIs on each platform.

What we’re quickly seeing in the media about these solutions is that the iOS app has some limitations while in the background (i.e. not the visible and active app), and as a result the creators of these apps are often recommending people leave the iOS app in the foreground, or that they work better if Android devices are nearby.

A great explanation on why contact tracing apps don’t work that well on iOS, and at a much higher level of detail than most publications have been reporting.

I would also say, that even if you’re not interested in the context around contract tracing, you can get a really good understanding on how Bluetooth works in general on iOS apps.

Twitter Starts Testing a Feature That Limits Who Can Reply to Your Tweets

20th May 2020 | Permalink

Suzanne Xie, writing at the Twitter Product Blog:

Twitter is where you go to see and talk about what’s happening. But sometimes, unwanted replies make it hard to have meaningful conversations. (Ahem, reply guys.) Since last year, we’ve been working to give people more control over their conversations starting with the ability to hide replies. We also began trying out new ways to start conversations with casual, fleeting thoughts. And now, we’re testing new settings that let you choose who can reply to your Tweet and join your conversation.

Twitter also posted a short video showing off how the feature would work:

So tweets will (for the small percentage of users that can access the feature) have three options regarding who can reply: everyone, only people you follow, or only people you mention in the tweet. That seems to make sense, and they are probably the most common options you’d want if you wanted to limit replies.

It does seem slightly odd though, in that you would be able to have a public Twitter profile that no-one can reply to. However, as soon as you mention someone in a tweet, they can reply, since that’s allowed on all three options. SO at least you won’t be able to troll people, and at the same time stop them from replying.

Well, no matter happens with this idea, I’m personally all for Twitter experimenting with features such as this. And also the mentioned “fleeting tweets” idea, that interesting me as well. Surely one’s going to stick eventually?


Update: Since seeing a thread between Twitter and NASA, the benefits of this feature have clicked my head. Since you’ll be able to limit who replies to each tweet, your threads can stay perfectly clean!

The Largest Ever Ozone Hole Over the Arctic Has Now Healed

20th May 2020 | Permalink

Back in early April, it was announced that CAMS1 was tracking a record-breaking hole in the ozone above the Arctic:

Ozone columns over large parts of the Arctic have reached record-breaking low values this year, and the ozone layer over the Arctic is severely depleted at altitudes of around 18 km. The last time similarly strong chemical ozone depletion was observed over the Arctic was during spring 2011, and ozone depletion in 2020 seems on course to be even stronger.

The Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS*) has been closely following the rather unusual ozone hole that has formed over the Arctic this spring.

In late April, they then shared on Twitter that the hole had healed.

People were then assuming that this had something to do with the lockdowns happening all over the world because of COVID-19. However, they say that the lockdown probably had no effect on this and that it was due to an unusually strong and long-lived Polar Vortex.

Either way, it seemed like a pretty interesting thing to read about, so I thought I’d share. And I think I’m going to start following them on Twitter, as they seem to share a lot of intriguing bits of data.


  1. The Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service. Which is implemented by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts on behalf of the European Commission. 

How I Use Todoist To Organise My Life

20th May 2020 | Permalink

Greg Morris, on how he uses Todoist:

So. No apologies here, but I ripped off this idea directly from Matt Birchler’s write-up on his Things setup. Even though he is a strong believer in the ability of Things, and also everyone in the replies seems to think the Todoist design is trash, I think very much that we have the same outlook on GTD. The basis of this revolves around “offloading your brain” so you can focus on other things.

I never set levels of tasks that I HAVE to get done each day, but I DO aim to get 3 main things ticked off each working day. This set up has been how I get everything done daily and also why I forget loads of meaningless stuff. This isn’t a GTD set up, but it’s my set up and it all starts with the Inbox.

Greg’s use of Todoist really fascinates me. He combines a general inbox, with the daily task of sorting them, and on top of that, it looks like he has a very intentional structure. Which is the part that I like the most because if you can understand why someone did something, it’s much easier to see if you can use that information to improve upon something of your own.

There’s also a ton of stuff that Greg talks about, that I just didn’t know was possible in Todoist. For example, you can link to emails from an item, which I imagine would be very handy, and also the new Upcoming screen looks like it would be very beneficial.


Not long after sharing his Todoist setup, Greg also wrote another post, “Cracking the Todoist Code“, where he goes over the natural language support, and how you can bring it all together:

Since sharing my Todoist set up and how I get things done loads of people have given me some ideas and shared their experience. One of which I wanted to try to help out with, and that is the natural language input. This feels amazingly natural to me, but for some feels like a bit of a code — so let’s crack it together.

Simulating the Spread of Infections

20th May 2020

One of my favourite YouTube Channels, Primer, has a new simulation video. This time it focusses on simulating the different phases of infections, and tracking how various factors such as population size, infection rate, and infected duration affect the simulation.

I found it rather fascinating, and I would definitely recommend watching the video. Although, it’s not specifically a COVID-19 simulation, or even meant to exactly represent real-life. So don’t look at the results and expect a perfect with the current COVID-19 situation.