Rely little on iOS Shortcuts

Okay, it was a little perilous to get this issue of the Weekly Thing to all of you. You see, I use Shortcuts extensively to generate the newsletter. It has evolved a lot since the I first shared the setup and now relies on about 20 shortcuts that work together. With the upgrade to iOS 15 this week some of my hooks to other apps stopped working. PANIC! ?

One of the nice things about Shortcuts though is you can bang around in them pretty easy. After some workarounds, and then a final swap out of Toolbox Pro for Data Jar I was able to get the thing to generate. It was touch and go, and I’ve got some cleanup to do to fix things, but here it is! Winning! ?

(Via Weekly Thing)

It’s not winning.

I have one Shortcut that is critical to my workflow. It stopped working on my upgrade to iOS 15 on my iPhone. What’s worse, it stopped working with no better information than that the Shortcut stopped working. I do not have time to “bang around in them” to figure out what Apple broke.

If Shortcuts is supposed to augment and/or eventually replace Automator and other MacOS tools, Shortcuts has to be bulletproof through upgrades. If it doesn’t replace those tools, Shortcuts still needs to be bulletproof.

Categorized as tech

Offered without comment

Police Blotter: Man Who Is “Too High” Aggressively Plays Instruments At Guitar Center; Man And Woman Hit Each Other With Hair Iron:

Police responded to a disorder at the Guitar Center on Hamilton Place Boulevard. The manager told police that a black male, wearing a black baseball hat with an American flag, blue shirt with stars and jeans, came into the business and began aggressively playing the drums and other instruments, causing a scene. She said she asked him if he could continue playing the instruments in a more calm manner. He said he was “too high” and began to argue with her, at which point she asked him to leave. She said she wanted him trespassed from the property, but he was no longer on scene for police to do so.

* * *

A man on Ivy Street told police that a woman had taken his phone and driven away. The man had two cuts on his hand that he said the woman gave him with a hair iron. He said that she was driving him home, and when they arrived at his grandparents’ house, he asked her to take him to another address. He said she refused to take him anywhere else, and when he exited the vehicle and went inside, he realized that his phone was gone. He called police and then began chasing the woman on foot. He said when he caught up with her to retrieve his phone, she got her hair iron from the trunk and struck him with it. He said he then grabbed it from her hand and hit her in the leg. The man said he did not want to press any charges. The woman told police that when they arrived at his grandparents’ house, he refused to get out of the vehicle and requested to be taken to his friend’s house. She said she refused and he took the keys from the ignition and ran out of the car. She said she then chased him around the house to get the keys back and returned to her vehicle, opened the trunk and retrieved her hair iron. She said that at some point he struck her and she retrieved the iron to hit him. She said he then took it from her and hit her on the front of her leg. The woman was unwilling to show police her injury or take a picture of it. She had no other injuries or bruising. She did not want to press any charges against him. She pulled up in her vehicle shortly after police arrived on scene. The man’s phone was in her vehicle and it was returned to him. As there were no witnesses to the event, both of them admitted to striking the other, and neither was willing to press charges in a mutual combative instance, both of them left the area separately and stated they would not be contacting each other.

Categorized as I84D

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s popularity is plunging says new poll

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s popularity is plunging says new poll:

And when matched up against Matthew McConaughey, the actor would beat [Texas Governor Greg] Abbott by 9 points, while Beto O’Rourke nips at Abbott’s heels.

From The Hill:

Neither O’Rourke nor McConaughey has officially declared a run for office.

Alright, alright, alright

I don’t think any of the 3 would make a good governor, but 2 of them would do better than the incumbent. 

Categorized as politics

Watch Martha Wells and Becky Chambers in Conversation |

Watch Martha Wells and Becky Chambers in Conversation |

… Brookline Booksmith hosted Martha Wells (Fugitive Telemetry) and Becky Chambers (A Psalm for the Wild-Built) in conversation—and now, anyone can watch it! The bookstore has posted their hour-long discussion on YouTube for all to see.

Chambers’ new novella, A Psalm for the Wild-Built, is the story of a tea monk who encounters a robot in the woods. The robots of Panga attained sentience ages ago, and no one has seen one since, but this one has come back to the human world to ask a seemingly simple question: What do people need?

Wells’ latest is an entry into her beloved Murderbot series, which began with 2017’s All Systems Red. This time, Murderbot finds a dead body on Preservation Station and reluctantly assists human security in figuring out what happened.

The two discuss outlining (or not); television watching (Wells, like all wise viewers, enjoys Elementary); how much time Chambers thought about tea while writing Psalm; writing with compassion for your characters; and how excellent it is that more voices are telling their stories in SFF.

A fantastic talk with two authors who’s’ works I enjoy for entirely different reasons but read during the pandemic.

Cannot stress enough how great a TV show Elementary is.

※ Links above are ones I inserted.

Apple Watch what?

Apple Watch Series 7: The MacStories Overview:

… the Series 7 Apple Watch is the first to support a native QWERTY keyboard interface.

This is interesting.

With tapping or swiping (via a new feature that Apple is calling “QuickPath”) supported, this should make text input on the device vastly more straightforward. Writing out short texts or emails on the Apple Watch may finally be a reasonable thing to do.

Hmm. I’m less interested, and now concerned that this new input method required a marketing term.

From Tidbits:

watchOS 8 on the Apple Watch Series 7 adds a full keyboard that lets you enter text either by tapping or by sliding your fingertip from character to character in a manner that has long been common on smartphone keyboards. Apple’s version of this system, dubbed QuickPath, taps into machine learning to predict the words you’re trying to enter.

Thanks but I’d rather not. If they kept the keyboard to the swipe method only sans branding, I’d be ok. Until QuickPath is proven trustworthy or disable-able, I’ll consider other options.

Back to MacStories:

Beyond text input, the Series 7 also includes widespread design updates to Apple’s first-party watchOS apps to make use of the new screen real-estate. Buttons are bigger, interface elements are more spread out, and far more content is visible on each screen.

None of this I found a problem on my S5 watch. Or on my smaller S2. Maybe a third-party can take advantage and show something compelling. Apple hasn’t yet IMHO.

The display is also made from a new crystal … 

This does not solve a problem for me. Your circumstance may vary.

New Faces

Don’t care.

Battery Life and Charging

The Series 7 will have the same 18-hour battery life as Apple has essentially always advertised for it. This year though, the always-on display is getting 70% brighter indoors when your wrist is down. In other words, Apple has made it easier to read the display when it’s in power-saving mode, but has still maintained the same battery life metrics.

I still think the dumbest idea Apple has had in the last 5 years is an always-on watch display. As soon as I tell someone they can turn that shit off and how to do it, they do. They don’t seem to care they get a battery increase. They just want it gone. That they get a battery improvement is gravy.

I’ve always thought always-on display was a feature designed for one specific audience, tech writers in and of San Francisco.

I am open to understanding use cases for it outside of my experience.

Case and Colors

Don’t care.


If Apple Fitness+ works for you, jump on it. For me, I don’t care.


The Series 7 Apple Watch isn’t a particularly groundbreaking update,


but all of the changes are welcome improvements.

“All” changes? That seems a generous stretch.

The new display looks like an exceptionally nice upgrade, and the improved resistance to cracks and dust will keep this line of Apple Watches pristine.

If this was a problem for you, I can see this being welcome.

Overall, while I’m not entirely sure how enticing the Series 7 is for users who already have a Series 5 or 6 Apple Watch, it still looks like an excellent device for anyone who buys it.

Respectfully I disagree.

Bottom line:

This device gets so close to an upgrade for my S2 Watch. Maybe after there’s more information about that keyboard, or my S2 dies.

I would not consider it to upgrade my S5.

If you need a new Apple Watch, I suggest getting a S5 or S6 while you can, or an SE or S3.

If the S7 does something fantastic for transit in Tokyo (the reason I bought my S2 in Japan many years ago) that none of the current watches can do OR can do it faster in real life, then get a S7.

Categorized as tech

Childhood memories

Childhood memories

On nicknames:

My parents gave me PJ for Paul Junior. Most people I met when I went by PJ assumed it meant (Paul | Peter) (James | John | Jehosephat | something J-based). No one seemed to puzzle out the last name as a possibility.

When I reached middle school and moved halfway across the country I tried a brother’s name on for size. It did not fit.

In sports, I was Jorgy. On radio, I was Bob.

On developing a mantra:

It developed over time. For most of my life I took things way too seriously. One day I was golfing with my family, riding in a golf cart with my brother. We watched our Dad totally lose his shit on one bad shot after another – playing a game.

It took over a decade of work but eventually I landed on: “if this is the worst thing that happens to me today, I’m ok”.

On favorite books:

I have too many to name. Tolkien’s oeuvre, Asimov’s Foundation, Herbert’s Dune, and a wide assortment beyond those, and not just SciFi/Fantasy.

On free-range memories:

Free-range was the status-quo when I was a kid. I remember walking to school by myself to kindergarten. I remember playing in the water in the street during thunderstorms. We rode unbuckled in cars. My siblings and cousins flailed around in our grandfather’s pickup truck bed on the way to … everything. None of this is ok today.

I also adventured through forests, spent afternoons in friends’ pools, found turtle remains at the edge of a swamp, made forts in trees, swam in a river, messed with geese (a mistake), ice skated on a pond, caught trout and crayfish, put out a fire, and dozens of other empowering and stupid things.

On feeling grown up:

We lived near Lake Michigan. On the weekends my Mom & Dad would take the boat out with me and my siblings as deck hands. Often we would troll for salmon – driving very slow back and forth with some heavy lines in the water. One magical weekend I was no longer obligated to go. I stayed up late the night before watching Monty Python and then slept in the next morning. I got very good at sleeping in.

On curse words:

I’m fairly certain the first time I swore was an infamous event at my friend Ray’s house the first time I visited. I don’t remember what I said, but Ray heard it. More importantly, his mother heard it. I’m not sure she ever forgot it.

On feeling bittersweet:

I lived in Tokyo for 3 years. I miss the people, the food, the culture, the trains, and about one thousand other bits. I do not miss being on a train and having older people yell at me about the war or people changing seats if I sat next to them. I might not understand bittersweet, and this did not happen when I was a kid.

Categorized as I84D

Mailchimp Change

Via Dave Pell’s NextDraft:

Mailchimp, the newsletter service that sent this to you, just sold to Intuit for a cool $12 billion. More amazing than the number, which is damn amazing, is that the company never took any outside funding, making this the “largest-ever acquisition of a privately-held bootstrapped company. It’s also a huge windfall for the founders of Mailchimp, which opted for profit-sharing instead of stock-based compensation for employees.” When I first started with MailChimp, I used to call founder Ben Chestnut for tech support. Now I might call him for a loan. Congrats to him and the team.

The problem isn’t that Mailchimp found a buyer, it’s the buyer they found.

A fascinating pair-up. Mailchimp is an exemplar among startups: agile, focused, competitive, bootstrapped, driven by a novel product that still seems mercifully simple compared to the nerdly alternatives.

Intuit, on the other hand, is the ultimate sprawling corporate parasite, despised by every tricked taxpayer, an eyeless life-form lurking in the deepest depths of rent-seeking, regulatory capture and political lobbying.

So long, Mailchimp!

(Via Boing Boing)

I spent over 2 hours on the phone and on-line chat today to delete an old Mint (independent when I signed up, now an Intuit property) account I no longer use.

Mailchimp becomes yet another property, like Medium, where I have to decide if the content is worth dealing with the platform. If a content producer, like the afore mentioned DavePell and his NextDraft, decides it is still right for them to be on Mailchimp if I decide it is not right for me, I wish them all the best in their endeavors.

Categorized as tech

A Mini upgrade?

Apple announced a new iPad Mini.

As described here I set aside an iPad Pro for a Mini early last year. That was one of many steps to a smaller, more modular compute platform.

How might this new Mini help with that?


… with a larger 8.3-inch Liquid Retina display … Featuring the brand new A15 Bionic chip … A new USB-C port … and cellular models with 5G … [edited to get rid of most of the marketing – pj]

The Mini plays key roles for me:

At home it is my primary on-line news reading device. When I finish reading my soon-to-depart analog paper I fire up my articulated-arm-clipped Mini. I read my digital subscriptions on it.

When I travel it is my chief media consumption device on sometimes cramped conveyance, like airplanes and Japanese commuter & subway trains.

I’ve long been a fan of the iPad mini, especially for travel. It’s so compact, yet very powerful for almost everything you would want an iPad to do.

(via The Loop)

Around town the Mini is my “laptop” with the Japanese Magic Keyboard and Magic Trackpad I carry in my Tom Bihn Le Grand Derrière.

Across all of my use cases, one key aspect of the new iPad Mini model will help me: the display is brighter. I have a privacy shield on my current Mini, but even before I applied it the display seemed dim. I’ll be happy for the extra light when I need it.

The other key aspect I use my Mini for is listening to podcasts. Nothing changes there.

Less intriguing

The Mini comes … 

… in four gorgeous finishes. … New advanced cameras, Center Stage, and support for Apple Pencil (2nd generation) enable new ways for users to capture photos and videos, communicate with loved ones, and jot down their ideas when creativity strikes. [I left in the marketing – pj]

In addition to the deëmphasis on Lightning connectors my OG Apple Pencil would need to be replaced as well.

The Mini comes in colors, which will be unseen with the obligatory case, unless a viable transparent option exists.

The cameras on mobile devices always disappoint and more so on tablets, thus one reason why I reëntered the digital camera owners realm. Center Stage is “neat”, but most of my colleagues on most of my video calls leave their cameras off. Unless I plan on speaking I leave mine off as well.

Bottom Line

Will I buy this upgrade? Eventually

Will I buy it day 1? Unlikely

Will I buy it before my next international or long haul business trip? Probably

Will I wait for it to start to be discounted? No

What about the rest of the Apple announcements? They’re not for me at this time

Categorized as I84D, tech