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A New Board Game: {macro}Dungeon
Escaping The Amazon
1000 Words
Making A Userscript For Micro.blog
My youtube-dl Setup
A Thank You Letter To Developers 
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August 1, 2021

Blogging Setup. Mac & iPad Parity.

This was originally written in July 2021 for the Hemispheric Newsletter as part of One Prime Plus for the Hemispheric Views podcast.

I have had https://burk.io running on blot for several years now (since ~2018) and it continues to be great. The setup is easy, clean, and fast. If you haven’t seen blot in action, at a high level, it’s a folder structure that you maintain and blot uses that structure to create the site. There are a million of these kinds of static blogging engines that have come and gone, but this is the one I like and feels like it will be around for the long haul. Anyway, enough of my sales pitch! Blot has two options for how your files are stored and accessed; Dropbox or git. Dropbox is arguably the easier option since it’s drag and drop, in fact, this is what I was using for quite a while because of that simplicity. I don’t use Dropbox for anything else so it seemed kind of silly to keep it around just for my website when git is available as well. I also found that updating the site through git was faster than waiting for Dropbox to do whatever it needed to do to sync files. I also recently switched to using a 13″ iPad Pro instead of a MacBook Pro for my secondary computer (::a story for another day::) and using Dropbox on iPad for this kind of setup wasn’t good at all.

I should probably step back and describe a bit how I have things set up on the Mac. I use Nova for all my web-related editing. It’s a great text editor that I like very much and also has git integration which makes it a one-stop-shop for all things web code. My blog posts originate in Craft and then eventually move over to Nova to publish. This setup removes any friction to publishing so this means the only thing that gets in my way of writing posts is me not writing them. No one to blame by myself. Perfect.

Screenshot of Nova Mac app

The ideal solution for the iPad would be Nova on iPadOS but I won’t hold my breath on that… So, now we get to how I complete this process on my iPad and attempt to keep the flow at parity with my Mac flow. I use two apps on the iPad. One for the git portion and one for the editing. For managing git and files there doesn’t seem to be any better way to go than Working Copy. This is a great visual git client that is quite intuitive with a nice layout for managing your git repositories. It also acts as a file provider within iPadOS so this means other apps have access to these files much like iCloud Drive. The second app is Textastic for the actual text editing. Because of the file provider ability you can view your git directory structure all within Textastic so there is minimal back and forth between the two apps. It’s as easy as making your edits in Textastic, switch to Working Copy, and push your changes to the server. Done.

Screenshot of Textastic iPad app

For those familiar with git, you already know this, but for everyone else, the premise of git is that it stores and controls information, usually source code. When you make changes to your code you create small notes or commit messages” with each update (unless you are a monster in which case you probably don’t comment your code either). A side benefit that I like about this for blogging is that you now have a record of what changes you have made in the past and can reference them if something breaks in the future or if you simply need to know what you changed and when. It’s 100% up to you to make sure these commit messages are useful, but if done well they can be a very nice addition that you get for free simply by using git as your backend.

Screenshot of Working Copy iPad app

So there you have it! My complete blogging setup from Mac to iPad. It was the one worry I had when moving from the MacBook Pro to the iPad 13”, but that worry is long gone now with these great tools. I imagine apps will change around from time to time as new text editors land on the iPad but that is fine given the awesome foundation infrastructure that this setup is built on!

And yes, it is possible to add the Dracula theme to Textastic! 🧛‍♂️

Blogging Blot Git Dropbox Nova Craft Textastic Working Copy Dracula
July 24, 2021

Creating macOS Finder Links To Craft Notes

If you use Craft and have ever wanted to put an icon in the macOS Finder to get back to a note quickly, this is how I do it.

  1. Find the note you want the shortcut to within Craft.
  2. Grab the deeplink to that note.
  3. Paste that link into safari URL bar. (Don’t hit return)
  4. Grab the little globe icon in the URL bar and drag it to your desktop (This creates a .inetloc file)
  5. Rename that file to whatever you want.
  6. *Optionally you can modify the icon image if you would like.

Now you simply double click that file and it will open to your craft note directly! 🎉

If you keep your projects in Finder organized by folder like I do, this is a nice way to have a link back to your Craft notes related to that project all within the main Finder project folder. 👍

Video of the process

Craft Finder Shortcut
July 1, 2021

Creating The Golden Set

This was originally written in June 2021 for the Hemispheric Newsletter as part of One Prime Plus for the Hemispheric Views podcast.

I have been a fan of The Twilight Zone for a very long time. I watch them quite regularly and have seen each episode countless times. Generally I watch them on various streaming services depending on which one had access to the content at a given point in time. The problem with streaming services is that you never know what content they will have, when they will have it, or even what versions they will have.

Given my affinity for The Twilight Zone, I wanted to have a golden set” that we knew would always be available. This lead me to searching around online for the best possible quality I could find to use as source material. This turned out to be a complete collection of all 5 seasons on Blu-ray. I picked up a previously owned copy on eBay and it showed up about a week later. For most, this is where the story would end now that they had their own set in their collection. For me though, discs are a no go. I want the entire library in our Plex library so I can watch it on any device and with no DRM. This meant it was time to start ripping and encoding. Here is the process I went through to create my golden set..

Side Note: I did this all on a Mac, but both the hardware and software exist on Windows as well if that is your platform of choice.

Prerequisites

The Hardware:

  • I used an M1 iMac but any Mac is fine
  • A USB 3.0 Pioneer BDR-XS06 Blu-ray External Burner

The Software:


I broke the process into 4 steps

  1. Clone discs to internal drive
  2. Extract individual episodes as .mkv
  3. Convert .mkv to .mp4
  4. Apply metadata to episodes

Step 1: Clone Discs to Internal Drive

This is technically optional, but I did it for two reasons. One, I wanted backups of the discs in case something happens to them. And two, I wanted to work on everything from a local drive instead of messing with discs and waiting for the drive to spin up. I use MakeMKV for this. Simply pop in the disc, and select Backup Disc in MakeMKV, and wait!

Step 2: Extract Individual Episodes

I used MakeMKV for this also. Open the media backup file that was created in step 1. MakeMKV will scan the file and display the episode files within the file. Export these to your drive so you have each episode as a separate .mkv file.

Step 3: Convert .mkv to .mp4

.mkv files are playable by a lot of systems, but I wanted them to be more universal so I went with conversion to .mp4 files. This also makes applying metadata easier in the next step. I used Permute to convert from .mkv files to .mp4 files. This software is not on Windows, but Windows has a ton of options for this.

Step 4: Apply Metadata

Although the video files are fully playable, it’s nice to have all the episode titles, descriptions, cover art and so forth for when you view the files in a media player like Plex. MetaZ is a fantastic piece of software to do this. You drag in your .mp4 files, update the metadata and click write. Done. The program will churn for a bit and then poof, you have your new file in all its metadata glory.

Twilight Zone Series in Plex Twilight Zone Video Properties

Blu-ray mkv mp4 Twilight Zone MakeMKV Plex MetaZ Permute
June 28, 2021

Siri Shortcuts - Episode 12

Shortcut Name: Location for Micro.blog
Revision: 1.0
Add to Shortcuts!

What does it do?
This is a shortcut to allow for quickly sharing locations to Micro.blog.

How does it work?

  1. Get’s your current location.
  2. Asks for text input to search for locations near by (Example: Apple Store).
  3. Allows you to select from a list of locations found and grabs the map link.
  4. Let’s you select a TagMoji to prepend the text.
  5. Formats a post as TagMoji [Location Name, City](Maps URL to location).
  6. Copies this markdown link to your clipboard.
  7. Gives you an option to open a Micro.blog app (Official App or Gluon).

I chose to copy it to clipboard and open an app rather than doing it all in the shortcut for a couple reasons. One, it keeps the shortcut more simple for others to be able to modify. Two, this allows you to add more text to your post and add photos if wanted.

Kind of a proof of concept of a feature I can see being integrated directly into Micro.blog at some point.

Source Code”
Shortcut 012 Code Screenshot

Check out other shortcuts

iOS Shortcuts Siri
June 1, 2021

Less Paper Office

This was originally written in May 2021 for the Hemispheric Newsletter as part of One Prime Plus for the Hemispheric Views podcast.

The Paperless Office™ has been long promised and never delivered. As with just about everything in life, absolutes are rare. Rather than trying to pursue this idea of The Paperless Office, I strive for what I call The Less Paper Office.” Some stuff needs to be physical, and that’s fine, the vast majority, however, does not. Enter a relatively simple system I have put in place to accomplish a few key things:

  1. Reduce the number of paper documents we have to store in our house.
  2. Increase the likelihood that we can find a document when it is needed.
  3. Reduce the risk of document damage or loss.
  4. Improve the security of our documents.

So how do I do it? Here we go!

Here is a flowchart that shows the steps that each piece of paper goes through when it enters the house.

The Less Paper Office Flowchart

The nice thing about this system is that the apps are, for the most part, interchangeable to fit whatever devices you use. In this example, I am using Scanner Pro, but not too long ago I had been using SwiftScan (RIP Scanbot). The important thing is capturing the documents, not the apps you use to do it. My only caveat would be to ensure the app you are using is capturing good quality, high-resolution scans, and is performing OCR to aid in searching later. I didn’t mention traditional flatbed scanners, or fancier feeding scanners simply because I don’t use them and the speed and reliability of using my phone makes this whole process almost no effort so I know it will get done.

I hope this has given you somewhere to start if you were looking to reduce paper in your life. Do you do some of this, or all of it already? If you had tried something in the past and given up due to complexity, give this a go and see if it sticks!

Paper Scanning Hemispheric News One Prime Plus
Jason Burk | 1999-2021
blot.im! | 🧛‍♂️
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