Text Expansion is Built-in to iOS. Seriously.

I’ve been looking into Text Expander and things like it for the past few days, and I ran into this lifehacker article pointing out that iPhones and iPads have text expasion built right into iOS starting at version 5. I have no idea why they’ve never mentioned anything about it, because it’s really useful to have when using big fat fingers to type on tiny glass screens. Here’s how to set it up: 

Set Up Text Expansion (Shortcuts)

1. First things first, let’s get text expansion (or Shortcuts, as Apple calls it) set up. To get it set up, either watch the video up top or follow these steps:
2. Open up the Settings app on your iPhone’s home screen.
3. Tap the General section.
4. Tap the Keyboard section.
5. Swipe down to the bottom and tap the button labeled “Add New Shortcut…”
6. Under “Phrase” type the phrase you want the shortcut to expand to, and under “Shortcut” type the shortcut you want to type instead. For example, if you wanted “brb” to expand to “be right back”, you’d type “brb” for the shortcut and “be right back” for the phrase.
7. Tap save when you’re done.

So what does that mean? It means that you can set up shortcuts for your phone number, so when you type something like phn it will expand to your full phone number. Or when I type kr.com it’ll automatically expand to www.kevinrothermel.com. You can create a shortcut for whatever you want, and they’ll sync across all of your iPhones, iPads, iPods, and whatever other iThings you may have.  If it doesn’t seem like a big deal, at least give it a try. 


Getting Fiddly with Things, Omnifocus and Nozbe

I’ve been getting fiddly with my task management apps again over the past few days, mostly because I’ve been listening to Merlin Mann’s podcast and Omnifocus keeps coming up in his rambles. Well honestly, it’s also because I love Cultured Code’s Things. It’s been hugely influential in getting my life more organized. But there are a few gripes that I have with it. Namely: I want to be able to email tasks to it and I want it to play nicely with other services like Dropbox and Evernote. 

So I started out today thinking that I’d give Omnifocus the ol’ 14 day free try. It’s very feature rich, and a lot of the big famous productivity nerds use it. But the more I think about it, the more I think that using an app for the long term that you outright buy a license for is a good way to find yourself at the mercy of an unresponsive developer. 

There’s simply no need for a sales based dev to be listen to their users. Once they’ve sold you a license, you transition from paying customer to liability.  For them, it’s about keeping people just happy enough so that new customers continue to buy in. I think this is why Things has been so slow to interate and improve. Cultured Code is a business that’s based on selling new licenses of Things, not on keeping longtime users happy. Maybe it’s not intentional, but without that motivation, it seems to be happening. 

Which brings me back to Nozbe. I’ve tried Nozbe out twice and found plenty to like and dislike. It does a pretty good job of syncing with other services and I LOVE that you can email tasks into it. That is one huge broken problem with my workflow right now. Also, I like that it makes more explicit use of GTD contexts than Things. Yes, you can use tags for this in Things, but it’s easy to get lazy about contexts when they’re not built into the system. 

However, I’ve quit using it very quickly both times for a couple reasons: 

  • The desktop app doesn’t have keyboard shortcuts yet (seriously). 
  • The interface feels clunky…lots of pointing and clicking and fields to fill in. 
  • They only recently released their own iOS apps.  
  • There’s no Someday/Maybe list, which seems weird compared to other GTD based software.
  • And while it’s name sounds vaguely nose related, there’s no question that their colors were directly inspired by a nasty bout with the flu … lots of browns and greens.  

But all of that will eventually have to be fixed because they are a subscription based service. They make money so long as their users continue to be happy. Because of that, it can seem pricy. But I think the value of having a company that is dedicated to keeping their users is probably worth it in the end.  

I’m not really sure what my point is with all of this, but I think I may have talked myself into giving Nozbe a third shot. 

Instead of actually getting things done. 

Roger Ebert on His Rules for Twitter

Roger Ebert, back in 2010:

My rules for Twittering are few: I tweet in basic English. I avoid abbreviations and ChatSpell. I go for complete sentences. I try to make my links worth a click. I am not above snark, no matter what I may have written in the past. I tweet my interests, including science and politics, as well as the movies. I try to keep links to stuff on my own site down to around 5 or 10%. I try to think twice before posting.

Via Daring Fireball

The Hummer Saw its Shadow—6 More Years of Recession.

I spotted this H2 out for a drive a few weeks ago. It seems like it’s been a few years since I’d last seen one. But I’ve noticed more and more of them on the road since then, returning from the dark recesses of McMansion garages where they’ve been slumbering since 2008. Clearly, someone forgot the double-tap to the head. 

There’s no “too soon” for a Hummer owner. It must take some big brass ones to dust off the harbinger of the end of Western Civilization to take it for a spin. But no one ever confused conscientiousness, nuance and empathy with traits that would be found behind the wheel of GM’s answer to the M1 Abrams Battle Tank. So move your ass out of the way, recession, America’s riding shotgun and we’ve got ass-kicking to do  … or …  groceries to get. And we might need to pick the kids up at the rec center while we’re out.