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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.
I am making some DNS changes, so there may be sometime downtime while everything propagates.
I have moved Pens and Planes to Blot.im. 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.
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. 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.
When somebody mentions space pen, what pops into your mind? I bet it’s either the fact you can write in very hot or cold temperatures, upside down, and, yes, in space, or you picture the Fisher Bullet pocket pen, as it is pretty much the only model sold in big-box stores. I have a Fisher Bullet, but it is not my favorite space or pocket pen. My favorite Fisher pen is the AG7, or as Fisher markets it, “The Original Astronaut Space Pen”.
The Fisher AG7
The design of the pen isn’t out of this world, but it is a timeless, and classic design. I think it could safely be called a retro design at this point, because the design hasn’t changed much, if at all, over the years. The pen is wider at the top and tapers towards the grip section, which has a circular groove to provide extra grip. The pen is made from brass, but doesn’t have the weight of most of the solid machined brass pens available on the market today and is lighter than some of the machined aluminum pens I have. The brass is chrome plated, which gives it a nice and shiny finish, but the chrome finish means the pen is a fingerprint magnet. The chrome finish means the pen can be a little more slippery to hold, but the grooves grip area mentioned above does a really good job of counteracting the slipperiness of the finish.
The clip has a nice angle at the bottom which makes it easy to fit over the lip of a shirt pocket, notebook cover, pen case, etc. but the clip still rests against the barrel to provide a nice hold on whatever you decide to clip it to. The clip is mounted to the very top of the barrel which allows the pen to sit very low in a shirt pocket.
Compared to the minimal or no branding on many pens today, the branding could be considered a giant flashing billboard. Fisher AG7 is engraved into the clip, and the engraving takes up pretty much clip. “AG7 Space Pen by Fisher..USA..” is engraved around the circumference of the barrel, though the font size is a lot smaller and less noticeable than that on the clip. Even though the branding on the clip is very noticeable, I really like it and think it fits will the overall design of the pen.
The click mechanism is one of my favorite things about the AG7. Instead of using the top button to deploy and retract the refill, the AG7 uses the top button to deploy the refill and a side button to retract the refill. The mechanism makes a nice, satisfying click each time. Did I mention that this setup is really fun to play with and fidget with? The buttons are close enough that you can press the top button with the tip of your thumb and press the side button with the knuckle of your thumb fairly quickly to your satisfaction and to the annoyance of those around you.
I found the AG7 to be slightly top heavy when I first got it, but after using it for a while, and especially after using some machined pens, I don’t notice the slight top-heaviness like I used. The opening of the barrel is a little wider than the refill which means there is some tip wiggle, which means clicky writing due to the refill hitting the side of the barrel. I solved this by unscrewing the barrel and rotating it before screwing it back on, so that the refill was always resting against the side of barrel.
Top to Bottom: Tactile Turn Mover, Fisher AG7, TiScribe Bolt, Fisher CH4, Karas Pen Co. Retrakt
As much as I love the AG7, I know it is not a pen for everybody. The main, possibly only, driving factor in whether the AG7 is a pen for you is how feel you about the Fisher space pen refill, because that’s the only refill that fits. If you like, or can tolerate, the space pen refill, I think you will the AG7. If you despise the space pen refill, I doubt the AG7 will change your feelings.
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