In episode 21 of Automators, David and I were joined by the lovely Dr Drang! You may have heard him on a few other podcasts, including Mac Power Users.

We dug into getting started with HyperCard and HyperTalk – back when those were available, these were created by Bill Atkinson – and there’s a story about him having to submit the number of lines of code he wrote when he was working on QuickDraw that made me smile!

Nowadays Dr Drang mostly using Python to program his automations – with a dose of AppleScript and Keyboard Maestro to get certain information.

Regular Expressions are something we talked about in depth, they’re hard to explain – let alone on a podcast, but as David said – they’re essentially a special language for searching. One thing I forgot to say on the podcast was that regular expressions can and do vary between languages – but the basic rules stay the same which makes things easier! If you want to get started with Regular Expressions then Regex 101 is a pretty good place to get started – you can input plenty of sample text and it highlights what you’ve matched as you go, as well as explaining your expressions and having the quick expressions area in the bottom right-hand corner.

Another thing we talked about are things you don’t necessarily want to complete to automate – such as sending invoice emails or creating the harsher reminder email to pay an overdue invoice. This is something well worth keeping in mind when creating automations – even if you can automate it the whole way through, it’s good to have some human intervention in some areas. And in some places, you can’t automate things – such as adding a repeat to a reminder, so you need to step in and do something.

Local weather is something lots of people want! And while Weather Underground has shut down you can still use Dark Sky’s API if you want to program your own solution, and for an “out of the box” solution you could use Netatmo and Carrot weather – I do both of these!

Drafts is one of my favourite applications ever and it was great to hear Drang break down his blogging workflow and how it makes use of the great automation features available to us in the app. The Drafts Action Directory is an excellent resource and all of the actions there can be installed whether or not you’re a pro user of the app.

Handling missing input in Shortcuts

One tip I talked about in regards to Shortcuts is checking if input is present – and I have a fairly standard setup I use to handle this:
* Count Items
* If equals zero
* Get photos/files – depending on what you want
* Else: get the input provided to the shortcut.

This means that when I run my shortcuts from the widget screen, Drafts, Launch Center Pro, or directly within Shortcuts, I don’t get confused when it doesn’t work.

It was excellent to have Dr. Drang on the show, and I hope you enjoy the episode!

Thank you to Luna Display and TextExpander for sponsoring this episode.

Listen to Automators 21: Invoicing, Writing, and Regular Expressions with Dr. Drang

Anker recently released a USB C to lightning cable, and while there are dozens of USB A to lightning cables out there, USB C cables which are approved for iPhone are new.

 

My first impression after opening the Anker box is that this cable is thick, when compared side by side with an Apple cable it isn’t that much thicker though – just enough to give one a feeling of solidity, I plan to keep this cable in my on the go cable bag and am confident it won’t be as susceptible to the kinks that inevitably happen with thinner cables. As with all Anker cables, it comes with a nice cable tidy on the cable – as these attach to the cable with a mini loop they don’t go missing easily, and that means that with my always on the go everywhere lifestyle my cables are more likely to stay wrangled.

The cable works like you would expect it to work, I plugged the USB C end into my MacBook Air charger, and the other into my iPhone Xs Max with the battery pack attached, I did not try to measure the speed scientifically, but it felt like it charged just as fast as the Apple USB C cable which is what is most important for me! I also used it this morning to pair my Magic Keyboard to my MacBook Air – and as expected, it worked fine!

What I do like about this cable is the rounded corners and moulding where the connectors connect to the cable – these are less likely to snag on things, and combined with the thicker casing on the cable itself also increases its lifetime for people who bend their cables near the connectors. We all know someone who abuses cables and probably internally wince when they do so to ours!

Anker’s Lightning to USB C cable is definitely well made, and with it being cheaper than the Apple version I’d wholeheartedly recommend it instead if you’re in the market for a cable that can connect your Mac to your iPhone, AirPods, or new iPad (aside from the latest Pro models) directly.

Thanks to Anker for sending me this cable to review!

I’m very pleased to announce that this year I’ll be attending and speaking at MacStock! It’s my first time for both – but I’ve heard such great things about the conference that I can’t wait to join everyone there for a weekend of fun and nerdery. If you want to come to the event you can use the code rosemary to get a discount on your ticket – while the early bird sale is running this means your ticket will be just $169.

Stay tuned for more details as they’re announced, and I hope to see you July 27th and 28th in Woodstock!

As well as a meetup before WWDC in Orange County, David and I are hosting a meetup at WWDC – Tuesday lunchtime to be specific! We don’t have the precise location nailed down yet (we’d like to meet outside) so make sure to keep an eye out for updates on this event! As well as David and myself, Alex Cox and Matthew Cassinelli of Supercomputer, and Simon Støvring developer of Scriptable will be there! If you’re around we’d love to meet you and say hello.

You can sign up for a free ticket on Eventbrite. Make sure to keep an eye out for emails from them to confirm your ticket and with updates we send out.

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