Automators 38: Simon Leeb and Pushcut

On this week’s episode of Automators we got to tallk to Simon Leeb, creator of Pushcut. As well as diving into the origins of Pushcut, we also explored Simon’s home automation setup before wandering into the wonderful world of iBeacons!

Automators 38: Simon Leeb and Pushcut. Thanks to our sponsors for this week’s episode: PDFpen from Smile , Flatiron School and Freshbooks.



Automators 37: Mac Maintenance & Management Magic

In episode 37 of Automators David and I got our enchanted brooms ready and went to town on maintaining and managing your Mac. We did our best to get out all the cobwebs and find a way to automate all of this, while there may not be a robot vacuum for your Mac, there are plenty of tools you can use to make the magic happen automatically – good whether it’s your system or one you end up managing because the owner relies on you to do it!

First up we tackled trash. I realised after the show that while we talked about how to use Hazel’s built in preference pane to manage the trash, I didn’t go into detail about how I do the more specific things that don’t show up there. The answer is (relatively) simple, I add the trash as a folder – this is easiest to do if you have something in the trash as you can drag that into the selector in Hazel. This lets me add all the usual Hazel rules, though I should also mention I’m doing it this way because that’s how I’ve done it for quite a while, rather than this being a good practice!

We also talked about Dropzone, there are a lot of actions available that you can just install in Dropzone, there’s an official actions page and a further action repository, I really need to look into deleting/moving files after I’ve done specific actions, but these are a great way to automate nonetheless.

I hope you enjoy this episode of Automators, it was great fun to put together!

Automators 37: Mac Maintenance, Management Magic. Thanks to our sponsors for this week’s episode: ExpressVPN, Freshbooks, and Flatiron School.


Automators 35: Automating Business with Don McAllister

In the latest episode of Automators David and I got a chance to talk to Don McAllister about the systems and processes he has built over the years to automate ScreenCastsOnline. As a recent addition to their team, it was a fun look behind that side of the curtain, and I hope the system and processes Don has in place will inspire you!

Automators 35: Automating Business with Don McAllister. Thanks to our sponsors for this week’s episode: PDFpen from ExpressVPN, Freshbooks and Bottomless.


Automators 34: Getting Cozy with Regular Expressions

When David first talked about doing a show on Regular Expressions I confess I was a little nervous, how do you explain something so text based in audio? Well, it turns out that with a lot of determination and research you can – and hopefully you won’t confuse everyone on the way!

 

To dive into the world of magic with text search listen to Automators 34: Getting Cozy with Regular Expressions. Thanks to our sponsors for this week’s episode: PDFpen, from Smile, Zapier, and Freshbooks.


Automators 33: Packing List Extravaganza in Drafts

It’s no secret that I love to travel – and I also love to be organized! Making a packing list is great fun, until you forget something so in this episode of Automators David and I decided to find as many ways as we could to solve the problem of creating a packing list. Naturally our techniques overlapped in a few places, but we still came up with a variety of solutions – which you can use to solve other problems too.

 

I’ve documented most of the Shortcuts in the show notes for this episode, but my Drafts action group (and accompanying Shortcut) need a little more space – so let’s dive in!

First of all, no matter how organised I might be I still need a task in my task management system to actually do the packing, so I kick off my process with a Shortcut, it looks through my calendar for all day events, I choose one of them, and then it creates a new Draft (tagged with packing) before adding a task to OmniFocus with the title “Pack”, a due date of the start date of the trip, and a link to my Draft in the note. You can download the Shortcut here: Create Packing List (Drafts & OF)

Now let’s look at my Drafts action group, this has 8 actions (I’ve expanded a little since recording).

Manage Template List
This gets you started with creating your basic lists if you don’t have them yet – you choose categories (it suggests Clothes, Toiletries, and Technology), and then set the emoji for each category before adding items to it.
If you already have a list you get 4 choices:

  • Add category – Asks you for the name of the category, an emoji to represent it, and items to add to it.
  • Update Emoji – Shows you all your categories and the emojis associated with them for editing.
  • Delete Category – Gives you a choice of categories to delete.
  • Manage Category Items – Allows you to add or remove items in a category as well as correct spelling.

None of these actions affect anything in any of your packing list – maybe someday I’ll get to it, but not yet.

Tips:

  • To find emoji quickly use Emojipedia, it has a great search and you can copy the emoji with just a tap.
  • Add a 🔋 emoji after anything that needs charging – I have a few actions to help you keep track of those.

 

Tag Packing List

This just adds the tag “packing” to your Draft so you can filter for these quickly.

 

Add Packing Items to List

This shows you a prompt with a list of your categories, you tap a category, deselect items within that category you do not wish to include (I assumed that you’ll likely want all items in a category), and the items are added to your list. After this it runs the action “Sort Packing Items” automatically.

 

Sort Packing Items

You might be wondering why I’m bothering to assign emoji to my categories – aside from “they’re cute”. It’s simple: Emoji are sortable. So everything with a 👖 tag is grouped together. This way I can both visually identify items in a category, and the sort action (which is alphabetical) groups them together. All the items are in the task format in Drafts, this looks something like this:

- [ ] 👖 Jeans
- [x] 👖 TShirt
- [ ] 🛀 Shampoo

Tapping on one of the [ ] boxes checks it off ([x]) or unchecks it. The x is sorted below the space so unchecked items stay at the top.

 

Uncheck All

I like to reuse my packing list on the way home to make sure I don’t forget anything and that everything is charged, this unchecks everything, resets charging icons, and sorts the list again for me.

 

What should I charge?

Maybe I travel with too much tech, but I do travel with a lot and most of it needs charging – after all, what good is a battery pack that isn’t charged? Everything that needs charging has a 🔋 icon at the end of it, this action grabs all of those items and shows them to me, selecting one replaces the battery with a 🔌 emoji, so I can see it is ready.

 

Charge

For items that you add outside of your list you may wish to add the battery emoji, instead of hunting though your keyboard for it use this action. It will also replace the battery with a plug or vice versa.

 

Delete Item

This just deletes the current row in Drafts.

 

This all works with scripts in Drafts, I can’t guarantee it will work perfectly so I would love to hear your feedback!

 

To hear more about ways to create packing lists listen to Automators 33: Packing List Extravaganza. Thanks to our sponsors for this week’s episode: ExpressVPN and Daylite.


Automators 31: Making Your ScreenFlow Flow and More with J.F. Brissette

In this episode of Automators David and I got a chance to dive behind the scenes of ScreencastsOnline and into the Terminal app (not at the same time) with J.F. Brissette. David and J.F. met years ago at Macworld!

J.F. does editing and assembly for ScreencastsOnline — which means he spends a lot of time working with video and audio in ScreenFlow, and he has got his workflows down with automation. As he said “it needs to be automated if you’re going to use it as much as I do” which is something worth bearing in mind for any application you use heavily.

Keyboard Maestro is his tool of choice (as it is for many people), and he has many macros which he has found. The Clipboard History Switcher specifically makes it much easier to copy and paste elements around — also allowing you to create a palette of elements from your macros, something that applies to many kinds of work!

J.F. also uses Terminal a lot, for everything from opening apps to checking what day you were born on or what day your birthday will be on next!

open -a Safari
open -a "Keyboard Maestro"

These open apps — because Keyboard Maestro has a space in its name it needs to be wrapped in quotation marks. Note that capitalisation is optional, and you can use either single or double quotation marks — J.F. tends to use lowercase and single quotations, like this: open -a ‘keyboard maestro’.

cal 01 2021

This will show you a calendar for January 2021 – so you can quickly scan for “11” and see that my birthday will be on a Monday!

We also had a look at regular expressions, which are a way to do search (and replace) with extra magic by defining very specific patterns. Shortcuts even supports regular expressions, both to “Replace Text” as well as with “Match Text”, which can be followed by “Get Group from Matched Text.”

Thanks to our sponsors for this episode:

  • ExpressVPN: High-Speed, Secure & Anonymous VPN Service. Get 3 months free with a 1-year package.
  • Pushcut: Automation your way. Trigger iOS Shortcuts from anywhere. Try it free. P.S. If you haven’t listened to our members-only special yet you should – the camera and audio equipment were all monitored (and set up by) J.F.! Listen to

Automators 31: Making Your ScreenFlow Flow and More with J.F. Brissette.


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