Saturday, August 13, 2016

iOS Calendar Apps

iOS devices come with the default Calendar app which to likely adequate for the majority of people but I was on a mission to find a calendar app that left me satisfied. After years of using the out of the box Calendar app, I began to explore. Part of this had to do with my introduction to the world of URL schemes a number of years ago. Some apps supported it better than others but it's not as relevant anymore. I'll give some quick highlights of some of the apps that I tried out and what I recommend.

Calendar App (built-in iOS app)

Displays day, month or year views. You can enable a timeline view to go along with the calendar. There is no week view. The month view doesn't display daily event details unless you click on each day. The Today widget only displays the current day's events. Overall, I would prefer to have the flexibility to view details at a weekly or monthly level.

Fantastical 2 by Flexibits Inc ($3.99)

I decided to try this app because it was highly rated and recommended. It also supported URL schemes which were big before sharesheets. Fantastical has a unique timeline view. There is a continuous vertical scroll of events with days scrolling sideways like ticker tape. That's pretty neat. There is also a month view if you pull down on the ticker. You still have to scroll through the days in this view. There are no traditional calendar views by day, week or month and there is no at a glance view of events that week with full details. The widget offers a month view with a timeline under it. The app supports natural language input when creating events. E.g. You can type "Lunch with Bob at noon tomorrow" and it will enter in the relevant date/time and title. There is also a unique keyboard for selecting the time of the event. It allows for multiple alerts and supports Launch Centre Pro and TextExpander. I probably used this app for a year or two before I got tired of having to scroll through events. I was looking for something a little more traditional yet customizable.

My Recommendation:
Week Calendar by WeekCal B.V. ($2.79)

I heard about this app from a podcast. The general consensus was that it could look a little messy but it had the most features and views. I purchased it and it is feature rich. It did not disappoint. It has many views - List view, day, agenda (laid out like a planner), week, mini month (event titles shown), month and year. It allows for a ton of customization from conditional formatting (e.g. event contains "meeting", colour it yellow) to customizing how it talks with other apps to allowing pinch to zoom in/out in a view to editing inline without opening the event. The Today widget shows a timeline view of today and tomorrow. I can't state how happy I am with this app. It satisfies all of my needs in a calendaring app. It is worth the money in my opinion!

myCal PRO: Calendar & Event Organizer by johnhair.com ($5.49)

This one has a detailed month view, good week and day views. There's a cool watermark feature showing which events belong to which calendar. You can customize the font sizes to display more on the screen. There is no today widget though. Overall, a decent effort.

Easy Calendar by T. van Zummeren ($2.79)

This one focuses on the Agenda view exclusively. It has a simple interface, night mode, font size adjustment options and a few other features. It uses popups to view days and appointment details. This app has no Today widget. It's decent, easy to use and configure but I need more.

Calendars 5 by Readdle ($9.99)

This app has a number of views including a timeline, day, week and month view. The month view shows details for all days that month but you can't scroll if days have a lot of events. You can set up as many reminders as you want. It also supports Tasks which is unique for a calendar app. It's other distinguishing feature is natural language input like Fantastical. The Today widget is fairly basic, showing only today's events.


Calendar Widget Apps


Week Cal Widget for iOS calendar by Crater Tech LLC ($2.79)

Displays week view in a widget including event details. Good for an at a glance view but events with longer titles may get truncated. You can increase the height of the widget to help but you can't view the full event without opening it. Decent for a widget.

Agenda: Widget+ by Jeeeyul Lee ($1.39)

Displays in a timeline view. Has a number of customization options related to adjusting formatting and spacing, and seeing how far an event is from your location. This widget displays today and tomorrow.


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

App Idea - Conversation Tracker [UPDATE]

I finally found something that satisfies pretty much all of my requirements: Momento

This app is a diary app that allows you to add different types of tags: Contacts, Events, Location and Custom Categories. It actually works quite well. Let's look at my original requirements list:
The app should allow me to:

  • easily document a quick snippet of info: it could be just some text, it could be a link to an article, an image or video (but mostly text or a link)
    • It does this quite well. It supports adding text and images but not video.
  • create a contact list that can pull selected contacts from your Contacts App or Facebook (all that is needed is the first and last name, maybe a notes field, optional photo, and perhaps a link to the actual contact in the Contacts app.
    • This app allows you to reference Contacts in the Contacts App but it only pulls in and stores the name which is all I need.
    • You can also type in a name if it doesn't exist in your Contacts App.
  • link as many contacts as you want to the note. These are the people I have shared the story with.
    • You can add as many contacts to each note as you want.
  • contacts should be searchable and easy to add if missing.
    • Once you have used a Contact once, it will appear as an option at the top of the list as you type the name.
  • create a category list (allowing for a tree structure in case you want more flexibility in filtering.)
    • This app supports custom tags so you can use this as the category. Since the app separates the different types of tags, there is no need for a hierarchical structure.
  • link as many categories as you want to the note.
    • This is possible.
  • categories should be searchable and easy to add if missing.
    • Once you have used a tag once, it will appear as an option at the top of the list as you type the name of the category.
    • You can type in a name if it doesn't already exist without having to exit the note.
  • display notes based on contact or category with filters to break down search results.
    • You can display notes based on contacts, events, location, custom tags, rating and articles with photos.
    • You can also search for content within notes.
  • share stories with Twitter, Facebook, Email, etc... without revealing the contacts and categories used.
    • This app allows you to share stories if you wish. I'm not sure if it reveals tags.
  • access this data without having to log into a service. All data should be stored locally within the app.
    • All data is stored on the phone, not in the cloud.
    • One drawback is that you have to use iTunes if you want to backup the data. It is still in development so hopefully they add this feature.
It also supports URL schemes which is another thing I mentioned in my original article. I've already created an action in Launch Center Pro to take the link I have on the clipboard, ask me to provide a description and it will create a note in Momento. I also have a basic one for adding a note without copying from the clipboard.

$0.99

I've been trying it out for about a week now.
I note down an idea, tag the people I've mentioned it to, add categories and tag an event if I want to bring it up there.
Of course it only works if I actually use it consistently. We'll see how it goes but so far so good.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

App Idea - Conversation Tracker

I think I have a really good app idea for any of you developers out there. I likely won't get around to developing it any time soon so feel free if you're so inclined.
 
PROBLEM #1: I’m bombarded with information on a daily basis; some of it useful, a lot of it not so much. Some of it is funny or worth remembering and would be great to use at a social gathering... but when that event happens, it often drops off the priority list in my brain and is promptly replaced with less interesting stuff. I need something to preserve of these morsels of information to keep the conversation going.
 
PROBLEM #2: Now that I have it tracked, I may like to use this information tidbit over the span of a week or two, or maybe come back to it much later when the initial wave of excitement subsides (e.g. blue/black vs white/gold.) If I do come back to it later, I now have to remember who I told… lest I be that person who keeps telling the stories over and over again. Not so amusing the second and third time around. I need something to track who I’ve told.
 
PROBLEM #3: If I attend a social event and find out that one person who I have never met is interested in a particular topic… let’s say hockey. Instead of wallowing in stories of the Canucks being ousted from the playoffs, I could dig up some cool factoid related to hockey that may turn a dull conversation into something a little more fun (e.g. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taro_Tsujimoto). I need something to categorize these bits of info so that I can easily find it when needed.
 
RESEARCH: I looked at a number of options out there but couldn’t exactly find what I was looking for. Let me know if you know of anything that solves all three of these problems in one app. Here is what I looked at:

  1. Contacts Journal - This is a CRM tool for the iPhone. It would work except that you cannot assign one note to many contacts. FAIL!
  2. Flexile - This is a database builder app for the iPhone. It looked very promising as it supported table look-ups but does not support one-to-many links. I need to be able to link multiple people to one note. FAIL!
Then I thought of note taking apps. A number of them support adding tags. I could simply add a tag for each of my friends. This would need to be an app that I didn’t use for any other purposes as I wouldn’t want to affect tagging for the rest of the app. I found an app called:
  1. Idea Store - This note taking app allows me to add as many tags as I want to each 'idea' or note. This is the best one I have come across so far but it only satisfies problem 1 and 2, not 3. I could also use tags for 3 but I would prefer to keep these separated unless you are able to create them in a hierarchical structure to separate them. The other problem is that this app was last updated in 2012 so it may not survive an OS upgrade. It also doesn’t support URL schemes which would allow me to add a note and add tags using Launch Center Pro (not having to access the app itself. But… it is the best option to date so I will give it a shot.
Anyone else know of any iOS tools out there that might be able to do this?
 
The app should allow me to:
  • easily document a quick snippet of info: it could be just some text, it could be a link to an article, an image or video (but mostly text or a link)
  • create a contact list that can pull selected contacts from your Contacts App or Facebook (all that is needed is the first and last name, maybe a notes field, optional photo, and perhaps a link to the actual contact in the Contacts app.
  • link as many contacts as you want to the note. These are the people I have shared the story with.
  • contacts should be searchable and easy to add if missing.
  • create a category list (allowing for a tree structure in case you want more flexibility in filtering.)
  • link as many categories as you want to the note.
  • categories should be searchable and easy to add if missing.
  • display notes based on contact or category with filters to break down search results.
  • share stories with Twitter, Facebook, Email, etc... without revealing the contacts and categories used.
  • access this data without having to log into a service. All data should be stored locally within the app.
I haven’t found anything close to this in the App Store but maybe I’m not searching properly. Ultimately, I think it would be a useful tool to keep track of your conversation starters. No more silence with you run out of things to talk about when you need to rely on your brain and its poor memory.
 
Anyone want to develop this? :)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A Comparative Review of iOS TV Trackers

UPDATE (2016-08-13): Despite the comparison below and TV Show Tracker 3 taking the crown, I have since switched back to iTV Shows 3. Even though there are flaws in it as outlined below.... at the end of the day, I felt like the iTV app was a little more polished and user-friendly. I'm still looking for a better app if you have one to suggest but for now, I'm okay with using iTV Shows 3.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
In this article, I'll be comparing three TV tracker apps that I have installed on my iPhone:
  1. iTV Shows 3 (3.4.2)
  2. TeeVee 3 (3.3)
  3. TV Show Tracker 3 (3.5.3)
I'll have a look at the main features of each TV Tracking app and compare them. I'll then provide my final verdict and recommendation.

Round One: Viewing upcoming and recently aired shows
 

iTV Shows 3


Pros:
  • Visually appealing.
  • Shows the number of days until the next show airs, not just the date.
  • Shows both upcoming and past shows.
  • Shows the network the show is aired on.
  • Has the most accurate information out of the three apps that shows when the next season of an episode will return.
Cons:
  • Upcoming and past show are on two different lists which seems unnecessary.
  • Tapping the name of the show takes you to the episode list instead of the show details. You can still access the episode details by tapping the episode in question from the episode list but this seems unnecessary.
     

TeeVee 3


Pros:
  • Visually appealing.
  • Shows the number of days until the next show airs, not just the date.
  • Shows how many shows you have yet to watch.
  • Tapping the name of the show takes you to the episode details. You can tap a button to get to the episode list if desired.
Cons:
  • Doesn't show you past shows which is especially annoying when the shows air that day and disappear from the list.
  • Doesn't show the network the show is aired on.
  • Doesn't show the name of the upcoming episode.
     

TV Show Tracker 3


Pros:
  • Shows both upcoming and past shows. Past shows can be found by scrolling up.
  • Shows the network the show is aired on.
  • Tapping the name of the show takes you to the episode details. You can tap the back button to get to the episode list if desired.
Cons:
  • Very plain presentation of the shows on the schedule.
  • Doesn't show you the number of days until the next show airs.
     

Verdict (Round One: Viewing upcoming and recently aired shows)

Despite the lack of graphical imagery on the schedule and the lack of the countdown clock, TV Tracker 3 wins this round as it handles both past and present shows in one list. The list defaults to today's shows. You scroll one way to see upcoming shows; you scroll the other way to see past shows. The UI makes perfect sense. It's too bad that the countdown clock is missing as I really like that feature but I can live without it.
 

Round Two: Episode Tracking
 

iTV Shows 3


Pros:
  • Visually appealing.
  • Groups episodes of the same show together.
  • One button press away from the schedule. 
Cons:
  • There is no option to turn grouping off.
  • There have been numerous occasions where a show that I've checked as watched will suddenly appear again as unwatched. This seems to occur after software updates but I'm not sure if it is related.
  • To access the schedule, you have to hit the menu button and select "My Shows". An option for one-button press to switch back and forth would have been more convenient.
     

TeeVee 3


Pros:
  • The schedule and episode tracking list are one and the same. To mark a show as watched, you have to tap the show and press the Episodes button. This gives you a list of episodes to check off.
Cons:
  • The combined to-watch list doesn't include any episode details.
  • Requires two button presses to get to the episode list.
     

TV Show Tracker 3 


Pros:
  • Lists all unwatched episodes in a row, one after the other. It only shows 5 episodes at a time for each show unless you click to view more.
  • One button press away from the schedule. 
  • Tapping the episode in this list will take you to the details of the episode that you selected. You can easily access the episode list from here too.
Cons:
  • Tapping the latest episode doesn't ask you if you want to mark previous episodes as watched. This feature is only available in the episode list view.
  • Very plain looking.
     

Verdict (Round Two: Episode Tracking)

This round goes to TV Tracker 3 which handles show tracking quite well despite its plain appearance. TeeVee doesn't have a specific section for episode tracking. iTV Shows handles this well but keeps losing track of watched shows and groups shows together. TV Tracker 3 is the clear winner for me in this round.

Round Three: Episode List
 

iTV Shows 3


Pros:
  • Tapping the latest episode asks you if you want to mark previous episodes as watched.
  • Shows the date, title and episode number.
Cons:
  • The episode list can only be accessed from the "My Shows" section. It's not accessible from the Schedule or episode details page.
  • Doesn't display how many episodes you have left to watch.
     

TeeVee 3
 



Pros:
  • The episode list is accessible from the show details page.
  • Shows the title, part of the description of the show and the episode number.
  • Shows you how many episodes you have to watch.
Cons:
  • Tapping the latest episode does not ask you if you want to mark previous episodes as watched.
  • Does not show the date of the show. You have to go to the show details to find this information.
     

TV Show Tracker 3



Pros:
  • Tapping the latest episode asks you if you want to mark previous episodes as watched.
  • Shows the date, title and episode number.
  • Shows how many episodes you have left to watch.
Cons:
  • The information displayed on the episode list pages could be condensed.
  • The episode list doesn't fit in with the rest of the app (look and feel) - it supports swiping left and right to switch shows but also has a back button if you look at the detail of an episode. This can cause confusion as swiping back will switch episodes instead of going back to the episode list.
     

Verdict (Round Three: Episode List)

I'd say that this one is a draw between TV Show Tracker 3 and iTV Shows 3. I like the look of iTV Shows 3 but the functionality is the same in TV Shows Tracker 3 and it also tells you how many episodes you have left to watch.

Round Four: Episode Details
 

iTV Shows 3 


Pros:
  • Shows a description of the show, episode number, date and network.
  • Shows a countdown clock for shows that are coming up and a count-up clock for shows that have already aired.
  • Allows fans to submit comments and like the episode.
Cons:
  • This page would benefit from an image from the episode.
  • There is a play icon on the page which opens Safari but doesn't load anything.
  • There is no direct access to the episode list from this page which is a major drawback in my opinion.
     

TeeVee 3
 



Pros:
  • Shows a description of the show, episode number, date and network.
  • Shows a countdown clock for shows that are coming up.
  • Has a link to an episode preview video that works.
  • Easy access to show info, cast and the episode list.
Cons:
  •  The episode detail page would benefit from an image from the episode.
     

TV Show Tracker 3
 



Pros:
  • Shows a description of the show, episode number, date and network.
  • The episode detail page includes an image from the episode.
  • Shows how many shows you have yet to watch.
Cons:
  • Doesn't show a countdown clock for shows that are coming up.
  • Doesn't have a link to an episode preview video.
  • Easy access to show info (by tapping the show's main image) and the episode list.
     

Verdict (Round Four: Episode Details)

This round goes to TeeVee which provides easy access to all of the information that you need and a video preview. The comments feature in iTV Shows is a great idea for those who want more info about a show but it's more of a nice to have. TV Tracker 3 has all of the basic information you need.
 

Round Five: Adding and Removing Shows
 

iTV Shows 3
 


Pros:
  • Quick and easy lookups.
  • Includes details to differentiate different versions of a show that may air in other countries.
  • Includes the year that the show first aired.
Cons:
  • It would be nice to have access to more of a description in case there are two instances that look similar.
     

TeeVee 3
 


Pros:
  • Includes the year that the show first aired.
Cons:
  • Doesn't include additional details to differentiate different versions of a show that may air in other countries.
  • The list of shows doesn't always seem accurate.
  • It would be nice to have access to more of a description in case there are two instances that look similar.
     

TV Show Tracker 3
 


Pros:
  • Includes details to differentiate different versions of a show that may air in other countries.
Cons:
  • Searches seem to take a little longer.
  • Doesn't include the year that the show first aired.
  • It would be nice to have access to more of a description in case there are two instances that look similar.
     

Verdict (Round Five: Adding and Removing Shows)

iTV Shows 3 is the winner here by a small margin. There are slight advantages that help you select the correct show. It seems to have a more accurate list of shows that TeeVee.

Round Six: Today Widget
 

iTV Shows 3
 


Pros:
  • Displays today's shows, the episode number and title, time and network.
  • Tapping on the show will take you into the app to the episode details.
Cons:
  •  Only displays the current day. Other apps show tomorrow's shows as well.
     

TeeVee 3
 


Pros:
  • Displays the shows for today and tomorrow, the episode number, time and network
Cons:
  • Doesn't display the title of the episode.
  • Shows that have already aired will disappear from the Today view.
  • Tapping on the show will load the app. It won't take you to the show details.
     

TV Show Tracker 3
 


Pros:
  • Displays the shows for today and tomorrow and the time they air.
  • Initially only displays today's shows but gives you an option to view tomorrow's shows.
  • Tapping on the show will take you to that show's episode list.
Cons:
  •  Doesn't display the episode number, title or network.
     

Verdict (Round Six: Today Widget)

iTV Shows 3 is the winner. Even though it does not include tomorrow's shows, it has the best widget implementation although I do kind of like the minimalist view of TV Show Tracker 3.

Round Seven: Settings
 

iTV Shows 3
 


Pros:
  • The app will send you notifications 15 minutes before the show airs if set in the settings section.
  • Offers options to sync across devices.
  • Allows you to display a badge number on the app icon which shows the number of shows left to watch.
  • Includes sorting options.
Cons:
  •  Doesn't allow you to exclude shows from your watch list.
     

TeeVee 3
 


Pros:
  • The app will send you notifications 15 minutes before the show airs if set in the settings section. You can customize this setting.
  • Offers options to sync across devices.
  • Allows you to display a badge number on the app icon which shows the number of shows left to watch.
  • Has an option to hide spoilers (although I haven't tried it yet.)
  • Includes sorting options.
  • Includes an option to export episodes into your calendar which some people may like.
Cons:
  • Doesn't allow you to exclude shows from your watch list.
     

TV Show Tracker 3
 



Pros:
  • Allows you to choose what section of the app to default to when you open the app.
  • The app will send you notifications 15 minutes before the show airs if set in the settings section. You can customize this setting.
  • Offers options to sync across devices if you pay for the app.
  • Allows you to display a badge number on the app icon which shows the number of shows left to watch.
  • Allows you to exclude certain shows from appearing in the watch list. This is useful if you have shows on your list that your wife or girlfriend watches. These shows will only show up on the schedule and not on the watch list.
  • Includes sorting options.
Cons:
  •  None.
     

Verdict (Round Seven: Settings)

TV Show Tracker 3 wins this round as it includes an option to filter our shows from your watch list. All other options are fairly consistent across all apps.

Bonus Round: Notifications
 


Verdict (Bonus Round: Notifications)

All three apps display similar information. The only difference is that TV Show Tracker 3 does not include the episode number which is not a big deal. This round is a draw.

Final Verdict: TV Show Tracker 3


I've been using iTV Shows 3 the longest but I have recently made the transition to TV Show Tracker 3 as my TV tracking app of choice. It has a lot of the same features as the other competitors but has a better UI. I would recommend TV Show Tracker 3 based on my experience.

It is certainly not perfect and I am interested in hearing about any other options that are out there but it serves my needs for now. I will probably keep iTV Shows on my phone and turn off notifications so that I can see the countdown clock for some of the upcoming shows. Let me know if you have any other recommendations.

At the time of this writing:

Note: Prices are in Canadian dollars.




Friday, February 27, 2015

iOS Automation - Importing Daily Notes to Day One as one entry

I've been trying to think of a way to use my diary app (Day One) a little more often. Usually I find that I either don't have time or I'm too tired to summarize the day before bed.

One idea that I had was to submit bite-sized entries as the day wore on. The shorter the update, the less of a burden it would be to write it and the more likely that an entry would happen.

I chose Day One as it's one of the most popular diary apps on iOS and it supports URL schemes (more on this later...) 

The approach that most people would take would be to launch the Day One app, open a new entry... add notes... save... repeat... This works but it would end up creating multiple entries for that day. I was hoping to only have one for the day. The other approach would be to open the relevant entry and keep adding to it but I was hoping to add a timestamp of when I added each comment. To do this, I would have to type in the date and time manually before adding each entry. Sounds like a job for automation!

So I turned to iOS automation using a combination of the following workflow-based applications:
  1. Launch Center Pro: This app is used as a central place to go to open other iOS apps and run various actions using URL schemes.
  2. Workflow: This app takes advantage of iOS 8's sharesheets, with the new ability to send data from one app to another.
  3. IF (formerly known as IFTTT): This app connects cloud based services with actions local to the phone. It is possible to connect IF with Launch Center Pro (LCP) and run LCP actions from IF.
  4. Drafts 4.0: This app is a note taking app that support actions. These actions support URL schemes and Javascript.
The goal was to prompt me for text, prepend a timestamp to it, add it to a text based note and at the end of the day, automatically send it to Day One and clear the note for the next day.

I must warn you that the following automated workflows may appear to be more convoluted than necessary. I'm sure that there are better ways to accomplish the same thing. This is how I chose to do it.

1) Appending a date and text to a Drafts 4.0 note


Launch Center Pro's action

This URL scheme will prompt you for text, send the text to Workflow, run the "Append to Drafts with Date" workflow and return to Launch Center Pro at the end.
  • launch://x-callback-url/clipboard?text=[prompt-return:Text]&x-success={{workflow://run-workflow?name=Append%20to%20Drafts%20With%20Date&x-source={{Launch Center Pro}}&x-success={{launch://}}}}

Workflow's "Append to Drafts With Date" workflow

Unfortunately, Launch Centre Pro doesn't have the capability to add a timestamp so I had to rely on Workflow instead. I hear that it may be possible with TextExpander but I chose to use this method instead.
  1. Get Clipboard
  2. Set Variable
    • Variable: Text
  3. Date
    • Use: Current Date
  4. Format Date
    • Date Format: Short
    • Time Format: Short
  5. Set Variable
    • Variable: Date
  6. Get Variable
    • Variable: Text
  7. Add to Variable
    • Variable: Date
  8. Combine Text
    • Separator: Custom
    • Custom:  :
  9. Add to Draft
    • Mode: Append
    • Draft UUID: ################
    • Edit in Drafts: Off
    • Run Action: Off
This will append an entry to a Drafts 4.0 note prefixed with "YYYY-MM-DD: "

The idea would be run the Launch Center Pro action whenever I wanted to record a bite-sized entry.

2) Scheduling a Task in iOS


It turns out that it is not possible to schedule a task to run at a specific time on its own. The best solution that I was able to come up with was to use IF (formerly known as IFTTT) to send a notification at a specific time which when opened would trigger the relevant action.

If you know of any other way of scheduling a task, please let me know.

3) Sending Content to Day One




First we start with an action from the IF app.

If the time of day is 11:15pm then run a Launch Center Pro action. In order to run LCP actions from IF, you need to set up a Launch Center Pro account and link it to IF.

IF's Recipe:


  • Trigger:
    • Every day at
    • Time: 11:15pm
  • Action:
    • Run custom URL
    • Which device? (select the relevant iOS device)
    • Custom URL:
      • workflow://x-callback-url/run-workflow?name=Send%20Content%20To%20Day%20One&x-source=((Launch Center Pro))&x-success=((launch://))
  • Notification:
    • Push to Day One?
  • Sound:
    • None

Workflow's "Send Content To Day One" workflow


  1. Get Contents of Draft
    • Draft UUID: ################
  2. Set Variable
    • Variable: Content
  3. Get Variable
    • Variable: Content
  4. Count
    • Count: Characters
  5. Calculate
    • Operation: /   (divided by)
    • Operand: 3.142
  6. If
    • Input: Contains
    • Value: .
  7. Open Draft
    • Draft UUID: ##############
    • Edit in Drafts: Off
    • Run Action: On
    • Action: Export To Day One
    • Key: (Leave blank)
    • After Success: Nothing
  8. Otherwise
    • Vibrate Device
  9. End If

Drafts 4.0 "Export To Day One" Action


  • Steps: 
    • 1 step: URL
      • Description: Open a URL
      • URL Template: 
        • dayone://post?entry=[[draft]]
  • Action Groups:
    • 0 groups
  • Description:
    • Send draft to Day One as a journal entry
  • Advanced:
    • Confirm before running: Off
    • After Success: Default
    • Log level: Errors

4) Clearing the Drafts Note after Content Has Been Sent To Day One



Unfortunately, it's not possible to include this function in the previous step because Day One does not support x-callback-url URL schemes. These allow you to launch another application, perform and function then then return to the original or another application. Without it, the previous action will open Day One and add the content to a diary entry. The edit window in Day One would remain visible instead of returning to the application that launched the initial request.

If the time of day is 11:30pm then run a Launch Center Pro action.

IF's Recipe:


  • Trigger:
    • Every day at
    • Time: 11:30pm
  • Action:
    • Run custom URL
    • Which device? (select the relevant iOS device)
    • Custom URL:
      • workflow://x-callback-url/run-workflow?name=Remove%20Drafts%20Content&x-source=((Launch Center Pro))&x-success=((launch://))
  • Notification:
    • Remove Drafts Content?
  • Sound:
    • None

Workflow's "Send Content To Day One" workflow


  1. Get Contents of Draft
    • Draft UUID: ################
  2. Set Variable
    • Variable: Content
  3. Copy To Clipboard
  4. Get Variable
    • Variable: Content
  5. Count
    • Count: Characters
  6. Calculate
    • Operation: /   (divided by)
    • Operand: 3.142
  7. If
    • Input: Contains
    • Value: .
  8. Open Draft
    • Draft UUID: ##############
    • Edit in Drafts: Off
    • Run Action: On
    • Action: Remove All Text
    • Key: (Leave blank)
    • After Success: Nothing
  9. Otherwise
    • Vibrate Device
  10. End If

Drafts 4.0 "Remove All Text" Action


  • Steps: 
    • 1 step: Script
      • Description: Run JavaScript
      • Script: 
        • var sel = draft.content;
          draft.content = "";
          commit(draft);
  • Action Groups:
    • 0 groups
  • Description:
    • Remove all lines from your Draft
  • Advanced:
    • Confirm before running: Off
    • After Success: Default
    • Log level: Errors

Conclusion


Although it is a little convoluted, this workflow ends up working quite well for me.

Some of the things that I learned during this experiment:

  1. You cannot schedule an automated tasks on a non-jailbroken iPhone without manual intervention.
  2. To schedule an automated task, you will need to use IF (aka IFTTT) and Launch Center Pro. A Launch Center Connect account is required (no additional cost and initiated within the LCP app itself.)
  3. It is possible to add a timestamp and delimiter using Workflow. TextExpander also works apparently but I haven't tried it out.
  4. Day One doesn't support x-callback-url URL schemes. This means that you cannot chain actions together. Without support for it, the action sequence will always end at Day One. I have contacted their support team and have put in an request for this.
  5. IF recipes are typically triggered a few minutes after I specify.
  6. You can only modify text using Javascript in Draft 4.0. The built in options in Workflow and LCP don't allow you to modify content, only add to it.
  7. It is possible to check for content in a variable using Workflow but the process is not very straight-forward. 
That's all for now. Let me know if you have any better ways of going about all of this.


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Weightloss Workaround

I've discovered a secret... a way to magically lose a pound or two within 15 minutes.



All it takes is to have a hot shower. It doesn't always work and may be more prevalent in the winter when it's cold in the bathroom but I have repeatedly weighed myself before and after a hot shower and typically lose 1 - 2 pounds.

Your mass doesn't really change from taking a shower. It may even increase due to absorbing water but your weight will generally go down. This is because heat rises causing an updraft around your body, tricking the scale into reducing your weight.



If you track your weight daily, this would be the best time to weigh yourself. :)



Note that if the temperature in the room is close to your body temperature after the hot shower, you may not notice much of a difference but give it a shot and start feeling ten times better everyday!


Other weight-loss workaround tips:
  1. Always weigh yourself right after you get out of bed in the morning. This seems to be when you weigh the least.
  2. Go to the bathroom before you weigh yourself. This sometimes helps.
  3. Don't wear any clothes when weighing yourself.
  4. Weigh yourself before eating any food.
  5. Have your hot shower right after you wake up and then weigh yourself.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Devolution of EA's NHL Series

 
The NHL video game series has been a love of mine for as long as it has been out. It has always been the one game that I could pick up and play at any time - a quick game here and there. When I got an XBOX 360 back in 2007, my online gaming quickly ramped up. The introduction of the EA Sports Hockey League is what made the game for me - allowing you to build you're own player and earn attributes as you play games and earn achievements.


NameLast PlayedGamerscoreDays played at least once
NHL® 14 12/21/2014 1:03:07 PM 165/1000 (17%) 206 days
NHL® 12 09/08/2012 23:35 235/1000 (24%) 196 days
NHL® 11 09/12/2011 0:04 430/1000 (43%) 172 days
NHL® 13 09/06/2013 23:15 315/1000 (32%) 159 days
NHL® 09 09/09/2009 23:12 420/1000 (42%) 157 days
NHL® 10 8/21/2010 12:07:10 AM 515/1000 (52%) 116 days
NHL® 08 03/06/2009 0:04 75/1000 (8%) 72 days
NHL® 07 8/22/2007 7:15:31 PM 1000/1000 (100%) Don't have accurate # of days but achieved 1000 gamerscore
Then came NHL 15... I was initially quite excited about it. It would the first game on the new generation of consoles. It would give me a reason to buy an XBOX One. NHL 14 wasn't released on the new console despite being a good candidate for the new console, giving the devs an extra year to work out the quirks of the XBOX One. NHL 15 was certainly hyped over the course of the year and excitement turned to worry which turned to dread as news finally game out right before release that NHL 15 would be missing most of the modes that made the game fun (at least for me.) Initially, I didn't get NHL 15 because there was no online league component. There was however a promise of a makeshift online play option (minus goalie control.) In the end, I bought an XBOX One with a deal that included a free game. I chose NHL 15 as I didn't want to pay for it. Still... I had hope that I would still be drawn into the game. After a number of months, here's where I stand with NHL 15:

NHL® 15 10/05/2014 30/1000 (3%) 2 hours

Please EA... I beg of you. Do not make the same mistake and leave out key pieces of the game that keep gamers interested. Without the online league component, the addiction was no longer there. On the one hand, it gave me back some of my life and sleep but I do miss the fun times.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Recommended iPhone Apps - Jan 2015

I am quite a collector of iOS apps, having a few hundred (569) apps on my phone. Some may call this obsessive but I blame it on an app called "AppsGoneFree" which I have checked every day for the last couple years. Most of these apps linger on my phone, going untouched as I don't have time to go through them all but there are many, many apps that I use on a daily basis. I thought I'd share some of my favourites. A number of these are paid apps and in most cases, worth it. You get what you pay for in many cases. There are also many excellent free apps in this list too. I've left out some of the more popular ones such as Facebook, Flixter, Shazam, Yelp, Evernote, etc...

Must Haves (in my opinion):

  1. Launch Center Pro: Quick launch app that allows you to code actions using URL schemes. It allows for integration with other apps. I use it to group contacts (includes dialing), bookmarks, search queries for numerous sites, posting to twitter and facebook at the same time, launching Waze with my home or work address, saving photos to Dropbox, etc...
  2. Fantastical 2: This calendaring app has replaced the default iOS calendaring app for me and it integrates with Launch Centre Pro. It also has an awesome Today widget.
  3. Tweetbot: This is a popular alternative to the default Twitter client. It will probably eventually die as Twitter stops supporting its API but it still is one of the better apps I've tried, saving your place on your timeline and having the ability to create lists, etc...
  4. Reeder: I use this to catch up on website articles. It's an RSS reader with gesture support. I use this daily and it supports Readability to display the whole article without ads. It used to hook up with Google Reader but works with Feedly's online RSS reader service too. It makes RSS reading very fast.
  5. Appsgonefree: Paid apps that go free that day are posted in this app. These are curated and include apps with 3 star or higher ratings. Typically there are about 5 - 10 apps listed per day so it's not overwhelming like some of the other apps like this. I think Apple removed this app from their App Store... The daily posts are still available on the AppAdvice website.
  6. 1PasswordGreat for keeping track of all your passwords and works with iOS extensions in iOS 8 so you don't need to use the browser within the application anymore. It also allows you to wirelessly synch your passwords on the same network if you don't want to store your passwords in the cloud.
  7. Pocket: This is to capture articles to read later. I use this a lot but I find that I have a hard time finding time to revisit these articles but at least they are there for future reference.
  8. My Forecasts: Your WeatherThis is my favourite weather app so far. It shows temperature, precipitation, visibility, wind, etc in hourly line and bar graph format. Rotate your phone to get the traditional weekly forcast. It also has a Today widget which is really nice.
  9. Clips: This app has a Today widget that will show you your latest clipboard items. It stores your clipboard history (can be customized). It's really nice having this as a widget as you don't have to leave the app you're in. It also has a keyboard but it doesn't need to be used for the widget to work.
  10. Threes!: I am so addicted to this game. Worth the $ in my opinion.
  11. Emoji++: This is a keyboard that displays all emojis in a vertical scrolling list. I can never go back to the original Emoji keyboard.

Nice to Haves

  1. Day One: This is one of the better diary apps that I've seen. It integrates with Launch Center Pro which is really nice.
  2. Musixmatch: This has a Today widget that will display the lyrics to the song you're listening to and follow along with it. Pretty neat.
  3. Drafts: A really flexible note taking app that supports workflow and integrates well with other apps (Launch Centre Pro, etc...) It also has a really useful Today widget which shows you your most recent notes.
  4. Workflow: This is a new app that looks really cool. I haven't had a chance to play with it but it can do some really cool things such as make a pdf out of any page, speak text on the screen, find lyrics to any song, shorten URLs, append to Evernote, and so much more.
  5. IFTTT (If This Then That): This is another workflow app that is also in the cloud. You can do things like send a notification to you at 7:00am with today's weather or if you take a picture, upload it to Dropbox or if the Canucks score then send a notification.
  6. Instacast: I use this to listen to podcasts. I like being able to speed up the audio (x2) without affecting the pitch. I've heard Overcast is also good. I'll be checking that out soon too.
  7. Radar: Show you where the Translink buses are in real-time.
  8. Transit App: So much better than the Translink app. Allows you to map out your route on a map and shows you multiple options. It also automatically shows the nearest bus stops.
  9. tinyCalc: This is a calculator that is a Today widget. Helpful when you don't want to leave your app to calculate something. E.g. The RBC app logs you out when you leave their app but now I don't need to leave the app.
  10. Vert: This unit converter does what many others do not - convert into feet and inches. Most other apps will display feet with decimals after it.
  11. Paint Tester: This is a cool app that lets you take a picture of a room and try out different colours on the wall. Works quite well.
  12. Anything After: This app lets you know if there are any extra scenes after or during a movie's credits. I use it every time I go to a movie now.
  13. Occasions+: Helps me keep track of birthdays. One of the few apps that doesn't have to pull data from Facebook and other online services. I prefer to keep that data local.
  14. Crossy Road: This is an addictive game that is reminiscent of frogger but it includes tons of playable characters with their own themes/animations. Check it out.
  15. Ticket to Ride Pocket (USA and Europe): Both games are really good renditions of the board game and supports pass and play, over wifi, solo, etc...
  16. Emojimo: This is a keyboard that will attempt to convert your messages to emojis automatically as you type. Not sure if I'll use it much but it's kind of fun.
More info about some of these apps can be found here if you're interested: http://www.macstories.net/roundups/my-must-have-iphone-apps-2014-edition/
This is what inspired me to create my own list.

I'm sure I've missed a few but it's a start. If anyone has discovered any cool apps, please respond to this post and share. I'm currently on the lookout for the ultimate To Do list app. I've tried quite a few and still haven't found one that sticks. I'm also looking for a replacement Music app. I'm also looking to replace iTV shows which I use to keep track of what I'm watching on TV but I find that it's a little flaky and loses its place sometimes. Let me know if you have any suggestions.

Monday, August 24, 2009