Categories
Journal

The TODO Silo

Yesterday I saw the news that Microsoft will be shutting down Wunderlist in 2020. I’d used Wunderlist for a time before its acquisition, and it was a decent task manager. But I moved away because while it looked beautiful, its way of working didn’t quite gel with me. (That’s also a criticism I have of Trello.)

Microsoft now have their own app, with the unoriginal name of Microsoft To-Do. It’s sorta-kinda the successor to Wunderlist, and the app they’re suggesting that current users migrate to. You can also export your data from Wunderlist as a ZIP file, although I’m not sure how useful that’ll be. From my experience with other services, it’s a nicety that doesn’t help if you want to import that data into another service.

This got me to thinking about the information I put into Todoist. While I get immense value using Todoist to organise my life, its ability to export data is rather limited. For one thing, I’d need to go to the web version of the app to even attempt that. That’s not soley a criticism of Todoist, by the way. Trello has export options too, but none let me import the data into Todoist, so I ended up re-entering some stuff by hand.

So now I ensure that any info that I want to keep for posterity gets copy-pasted to a file somewhere. One I can access from the cloud if need be.

Could it be the folks who do all their organising using plain text files, or even physical bullet journals, are onto something?

Categories
Journal

Changing My Writing Workflow

I’ve bounced around several different apps over the last few years for my writing.

For a time I used Byword on both my iPad and Mac, and it remains a good app.

But then I checked out Ulysses, which has earned itself many plaudits.

As I found, though, there were some niggles with Ulysses. Many features only worked if you kept your writing in iCloud. If, as I was doing at the time, your writing was on Dropbox, you only got a subset. And Ulysses was a bit too eager to help with Markdown formatting.

So I made my own writing workflow using Sublime Text on the Mac and Editorial on the iPad. It worked, albeit with some tweaking. (Sublime Text is a coder’s editor, though it can work with Markdown and there are writing plugins available for it.)

Alas, Editorial seems abandoned. And my lashed-together writing setup in Sublime Text started to break down. I never did figure out what the problem was. I returned to Ulysses and moved my writing back to iCloud.


Then things got weird and frustrating with the arrival of iPadOS 13.2. Ulysses started having issues synching with iCloud, telling me my documents weren’t accessible, or not synching at all. I could still access all my documents on the Mac (phew!), but it was an aggravation I didn’t need. Restarting the iPad would sometimes cure the issues, but sometimes not.

The final straw came yesterday. I’d not had any sync problems for several weeks, then I found that Ulysses hadn’t synched at all overnight. There’s no way to retry synching or diagnose where the problem is. Even after a restart, I was still looking at a day’s writing that wasn’t there. (Though it was definitely there on the Mac.) Eventually it resynched. But by then I’d reinstalled iA Writer on the iPad and was moving all my writing into the Documents folder on iCloud Drive.


If I’m going to have my writing in the cloud, I want to be certain that it’s in the cloud. iCloud may not be perfect, but it works. And because my documents are on my Mac, they’re also backed up to Time Machine and online to Backblaze.

I’ve now bought iA Writer for the Mac. It costs only a fraction more than my current subscription to Ulysses, but that’s a one-off fee. I’d already gotten iA Writer for my iPad a while ago, and had been using the Android version for a time on my old Lenovo phablet.

While it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of Ulysses, it excels in one crucial aspect—not getting in my way. Yes, it wants me to store my writing into its own structure in iCloud. But it’s gracious in allowing me to choose where I want to store my documents.

And because all my writing is now back in the Documents folder in iCloud Drive, I can do automation of tasks using a combination of Keyboard Maestro and Hazel on the Mac.


All the applications I’ve mentioned above have their strengths and weaknesses. And there are plenty of other options out there to consider.

Which one is best for you? That depends a lot of what you want to do, and which of the bells and whistles might help you to achieve that. If you use more than one device or platform for your writing, that’ll affect your choice too.

You might not even need a specific writing app. TextEdit on the Mac and WordPad on Windows could do the job as well. On the other hand, both of those are plain text editors with a few word-processor niceties bolted on.

Categories
Journal

More iPad woes.

Sigh. I’d hoped that iPadOS 13.2.2 had dealt with my various app glitches. But this morning I opened Ulysses to be greeted by an error message that it could access the .ulysses index files on iCloud. Thankfully, the Mac app is working just fine, and a restart of the iPad got things going again. Still, it’s worrying. This is stuff that should have been ironed out in beta-testing.

Categories
Links

Un-updatable apps | Riccardo Mori

I suspect this sort of issue is going to bite a lot more people over the coming years, particularly those with hand-me-down iDevices. My mum’s iPad Mini 2 is now stuck at iOS 12, but at least she has me to troubleshoot problems.

Categories
Journal

Well, it’s official now: all BBC radio stations (and most likely all podcasts too) are gone from TuneIn Radio.

The BBC seem determined to silo all their radio content inside the BBC Sounds app.

If they take podcasts off of Overcast, I’ll be pissed off!

Categories
Journal

Grr! I had to restart my iPad Mini 4 again this morning, to get Duolingo working, and updates installing. Whatever Apple changed in iPadOS 13.2, it’s really annoying me now. 13.3 had better be here soon!

Categories
Journal

Another restart required on my iPad Mini 4, to unblock Overcast. And I had to delete then reinstall Duolingo to get that working. All this has happened since I updated to iPadOS 13.2.

Thirteen seems to be an unlucky number for Apple.

Categories
Journal

I’ve been having weird app issues on my iPad Mini 4 (iOS 13.2). Overcast wasn’t downloading podcasts, Duolingo refuses to start any lessons, Ulysses has stopped synching, and app updates were stalled. A restart got Overcast working, but Duolingo and Ulysses are still wonky. Argh!

Categories
Journal

My 12-year old Canon G9 is slowing down. It takes several seconds to process each shot, which made photographing animals at Longleat a challenge. I’ll use it for still life stuff until it gives up the ghost, but I think I’ll be using my iPhone SE as my primary camera now.

Categories
Links

Six Reasons Why iOS 13 and Catalina Are So Buggy

David Shayer, the author of this article for TidBITS, is a former Apple software engineer, and his insight into how bugs are (or rather, aren’t) fixed, is both enlightening and depressing. 🐞