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I have had different versions of this post in my head, depending on what task manager I was using at the time, telling myself it was the one I was going to stick with. OmniFocus was that app for a long time. Then it was Todoist, then OmniFocus, then TickTick, then Reminders, then Omni…, well you get the idea. I would use an app for a few months then switch to another. It’s not very productive switching apps every couple of months, but I would only have a handful of tasks to move each time. I was using OmniFocus up until I got on the Fantastical v3 beta. Fantastical added Todoist support, so I installed Todoist thinking I was just gonna mess with it and go back to OmniFocus. I was wrong.

I have always liked Todoist, especially its natural language input, but there were minor things that caused me to not use it for long periods of time. I am 99.9% mobile only, so a good mobile app experience is a must for me. Older versions of Todoist would not allow you to create tasks from the home screen of the mobile app, only inside the Inbox or a project, which frustrated me. With older versions, there was no way favorite or pin items for quick access, which again frustrated me. When Todoist released the Todoist Foundations update last year, I glanced at it but didn’t try it because I was happy with OmniFocus. That update fixed all the shortcomings I felt using Todoist, though I didn’t know it at the time. 1

Now, I can add new tasks from pretty much any screen of the app, which I really like. Todoist’s QuickAdd function and natural language processing is the best I’ve ever used, and something I always missed when using other apps. I love the new task view which makes it easy to adjust a tag/label, due date or time, reminder, or add a note to a task. With OmniFocus, I was using Drafts to create new tasks because I could type them in TaskPaper format using natural language and OmniFocus would parse the natural language. 2 I do have a couple of actions for creating Todoist tasks via Drafts, though I find myself using the Todoist app to create the tasks more often than not.

Sections, and sub-task support were also added during the Foundations update, and both are something I am using more than I thought I would. I’ve got a couple of large projects going at home, and I’m using sections and sub-tasks to keep everything organized.

As I said above, I have always liked Todoist, but I love it more than I ever have since the Foundations update. It feels like home” and I do not see myself leaving it anytime.

  1. There were some things that were changed prior to the Foundations update but I can’t recall when they rolled out.

  2. The fact that OmniFocus has natural language processing for tasks created via automation but not directly in the OmniFocus app has always confused me.

11 February 2020 · Apps · Mobile

Posting to with Drafts and Shortcuts

One of things I did this week while working on the site was to modify an existing Drafts action and Shortcuts shortcut to make it easier for me to post the markdown links for images in a post.

This Drafts actions activates this shortcut. The shortcut opens the photos interface, I select an image, the shortcut resizes it, uploads it to my assets folder for Blot in Dropbox, copies the file name and extension, and copies the markdown link to the clipboard. Drafts is the re-opened automatically and pastes the markdown link wherever the cursor is. This process is way quicker than uploading images to Dropbox, finding the image to get the file name, and then typing the markdown link. In order for the shortcut to work for you, you will need to modify the path to the folder you store your Blot images at. You may need to change the path in the markdown link in the text box at the end of the Shortcut.

Currently, this shortcut works best with uploading a single image at a time. The shortcut will upload multiple photos, but will place the name and file extension for all photos selected in a single markdown link. I am not that proficient with Shortcuts so I am trying to figure out to make the shortcut to generate a markdown link for each photo uploaded per shortcut run. I will update the post when I get it figured out.

This Drafts action is what I use to publish a Blot post using Drafts. It uses the first line as the title of the markdown file and the body of the Drafts is what Blot publishes. The screenshot below probably explains better it than I did.

7 February 2020

DNS Changes

I am making some DNS changes, so there may be sometime downtime while everything propagates.

6 February 2020

Switching to

I have moved Pens and Planes to I tried to keep the RSS feed should the same but I wasn’t able to, so here is the new RSS feed just in case.

For those who aren’t familiar with Blot, it’s a static-site generator that uses it’s own folder in Dropbox to store everything related to your blog and then creates the site on Blot’s servers. Creating a new post is as simple as placing a file, whether it’s a .txt file, .md file, Word document, bookmark or image in Blot’s folder. Editing a post is as simple as editing the file in Dropbox, using your app of choice that can access Dropbox files.

That simplicity, especially editing a post, is the biggest reason I decided to move the site over to Blot. Publishing to WordPress from iOS is easy enough (all my posts are written on my iPhone and/or iPad), but since I like to keep a copy of all my posts, editing or updating a post meant editing it through the WordPress app as well as the copy I kept in Ulysses. With Blot, I just have to edit the Dropbox file, which makes the editing and updating process quicker and easier.

The only downside I’ve seen with the move to Blot, is that post comments use Disqus, which I have never been a fan of. There is something about the Disqus service that I’ve never liked the feel of, though I’ve never been able to exactly pinpoint what that something is. I have disabled comments for now, partially due to my personal preference against Disqus and partially due to not getting a lot of post comments. If you would prefer to have the ability to comment on posts, I will gladly put my personal feelings aside and enable commenting with Disqus. I would love to hear your thoughts on Disqus, so please let me know via email or Twitter.

The lack of posts here is something I plan on changing. Moving to Blot isn’t going to magically write more blog posts for this site, but I hope that the simplicity of posting and editing with Blot helps remove some of the friction with my previous setup and thus encourage me to write more.

Many thanks to David Merfield and Thomas Hall for their help with figuring things out, running scripts on my WordPress Export, and getting the site up and running.

6 February 2020

Refreshed in the Wind

I have always enjoyed watching airplanes take off and land, and fly overhead. As a kid, whenever we drove past an airport I remember looking as hard as I could in the hopes I would see an airplane, even if I knew I wouldn’t see one.1 I can remember my dad stopping on the side of the road to let me watch a plane take off or land. My son is the same way I was as a kid, and yes, I have stopped the car to let him watch an airplane. Why do we do this? I was reminded earlier of a quote from one of my favorite books that I think perfectly describes why.

…Here, refreshed in the wind, I rediscover what I had previously held to be certain truths. I again become aware that no pilot alive can resist watching a plane take off or land. He may pass a motionless airplane without noticing it, but the moment his ears detect the first burst of power from a plane, however distant, he will turn his head regardless of everything else around him and watch it.”He will also rudely break off in the middle of a conversation to watch a plane landing, though there may be a constant flow of them. From observance of such activity he enjoys an abiding satisfaction, as basic and everlasting as that found by a deep-sea sailor on his obligatory pilgrimage to the nearest harbor…” — Ernest Gann in Fate Is The Hunter

The refreshed in the wind” line has always stuck with me, because of a feeling I sometimes get at airports when the wind is just right. It is a feeling of calm and peace, and it is in those times that I’m even more grateful that I am able to do what I love. I don’t know why I get this feeling when the wind is a certain way, I just do. I get this feeling the strongest on clear days, when the temperature is around 75 to 80°F, and the wind is about 5 to 10 knots. When I get this feeling all I want to do is stop and watch the airplanes take off and land, and simply take in the sights, sounds, smells, and as crazy as it may sound to some, the beauty of the airport. As stressful as my job can get, it is in these times that I am refreshed in the wind, and that I can’t imagine doing anything else.

  1. Who am I kidding, I still do it as an adult.

6 February 2020

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