Opinion

What Is Your Perspective?

6th March 2021

I wrote last month about showing your perspective and owning your biases. It’s something I’ve continually thought more about since transitioning this blog to become more personal, rather than try to attempt to write generalised reviews or present this site as a source for news.

Before I may have written about an interesting app in a general sense, explained its features, and analyses the pros and cons. But now I tend to write more about my own experiences with an app, good or bad.

I used to think that this type of review wasn’t worth writing, since if I’m writing about myself then it probably won’t apply to a massive audience. But I realised that when I was reading other people’s writing, while I was usually interested in the topic itself, I found the most value when the author made it personal and provided their own perspective. And that’s what I’m trying to do with my own writing.

Now when writing about a topic, I remind myself that if anyone reads my blog, they’re probably not coming here as their primary source of news. So I may as well make it personal because what else have I got? I’ve only got access to one perspective. My own.

Writing

My (Short) Experience With TAIO

6th March 2021

Continuing my quest to find the perfect writing app, I turned to TAIO (Text all in One). It's been touted as the next best writing app, with it's modern design, and extensive built-in automation support.

I must admit, that clearly I didn't do my research very well. Because as much as I love the level of appearance customisation, and the overall structure to the app, I did not realise that it is not available for Mac.

The developers are working on a macOS version, but don't plan on releasing it anytime soon. That's good news, and means I'll probably look at it again once it's out. Since by then I assume the overall product would have matured even more.

It's unfortunate, since I think TAIO has a lot of potential. But I really want to use one app across all of my devices. So for now I'll be going back to iA Writer.

That will be it for a while I think. I'll spend the next few days putting together some thoughts on what I took from the past few experiments. But I expect that I'll be sticking with iA Writer for a while.

Experience

Having an App Featured in the Mac App Store

5th March 2021

At the start of last month, I released a major update to my app, Text Case. It got some good reviews, and that helped boost sales, which I'm very grateful for. But as you would expect, after a week or so, the initial surge ended, and it went dropped to a stable level every day.

But I was looking at the app analytics section App Store Connect one day and I saw  a huge amount of impressions on the macOS version. It was around 1 million impressions, where usually it would be around a thousand a month.

In the end, it was around 3 million:

I immediately thought it meant that my app must have been linked somewhere popular, or that it was featured in the App Store. Turns out it was the latter. Text Case was in fact featured in the "Apps and Games We Love Right Now" section.

I started thinking that this could mean a sudden increase in downloads because so many people would know about the app.

But as it turned out, there may have been a small increase, where the sales didn't drop off as fast as it would have done without the feature, but it wasn't what I was expecting.

Below is the number of units during the same period as the above impressions (February):

After a while thinking about this experience, I've come to the conclusion that this just shows how much word-of-mouth and direct recommendations work, compared to simply being visible on the app store. If a few reviews can have the same impact as millions of impressions, then they must be pretty effective.

For a while, I always imagined that simply being featured could push an app to get a large number of sales. Maybe it's because Text Case is a particularly niche app, but I think this proves that directly reaching people that would benefit from your app is the best way to grow sales.

Maybe this won't surprise anyone, but it's a perspective that a few people may find interesting, so I thought I'd share.

Writing

This Is How You Write →

5th March 2021

Greg Morris, writing about how you should write. Not how you should write, but how you should just write, and write however you want, wherever you want:

While you are worrying about everyone else’s opinions on the correct way to do things, you’re not writing. While you’re casting aspersions on other people that do not do things what you consider is the correct way, you’re not writing either. There is enough room on the internet for everyone to publish, and not feel like they don’t fit. There is no way you should be writing, no perfect blogging for you to be doing, and no advise that needs giving.

— Greg Morris, This Is How You Write

I would suggest that although there are positives and negatives to some decisions when it comes to writing, for example you might a certain app fits you well, or maybe a specific platform is better suited. These decisions are refinements, and can be done once you’ve started writing. Because the most important part about writing isn’t where you’re doing it, the tools your using, or the look of your blog, it’s the process of writing itself.

App

Using 1Writer as My Writing App

5th March 2021

As you may or may not know, I’m currently in the process of finding the right writing app for me. I’ve tested many in the past, but so far I’ve experimented with Craft, Werdsmith, and now 1Writer.

The short answer is that it’s yet another app that doesn’t quite fit what I want.

In some ways it seems similar to iA Writer (which is my default app I use as a fallback) in that it has a utilitarian design, and has good Markdown support. And it doesn’t just support Markdown and convert it to rich text, you view the formatting as you write, which is something I prefer, and is something that apps like Craft lack.

One thing I really liked was that you can add external file providers to your library, so this allowed me to use the same folder I use for iA Writer. It’s one of the nice touches that I want in a writing app, because I want everything to have a level of flexibility so I’m not stuck in any specific process.

Flexibility is also a reason why I’m moving away from 1Writer, since I would prefer better automation support, either in the form of dedicated Shortcut actions or at least a URL scheme. A lot of my writing starts off with a shortcut to generate a basic template or link post, and while there is a Share extension, I’d prefer to have this fully automated.

The final reason why I’m not continuing with 1Writer is that it’s only available on iOS, and while I do most of my writing on my iPad, I still write a decent amount on my Mac. Which meant I was using iA Writer on my Mac and 1Writer on my iPad, and I think that’s a rather pointless scenario when iA Writer is available itself on iOS.

So, again I’m left with another app crossed off, but this past week has helped me to redefine what I want in a writing app. I want it to be flexible regarding putting data into the app, and also taking it out and publishing my writing to my blog. I want an app that shows me the raw Markdown, possibly with a few visible formats like bold/italic, but I want to see the raw file as I write it. And I also want this app to be available on macOS and iOS. There are a few other things I would like, but these few points are what I’m setting as a standard going forward.

I’ve got one more app lined up in my experimentation, and that is TAIO. It’s a relatively new app, and I’ve waited to see some opinions of others before I give it a go. Iv’e seen some optimistic opinions on it, so that is where I will head next. After TAIO, I think is when my my decision will be made. As of right now, I’d say I’m heading back to iA Writer, but we’ll see.

Writing

Hey World: A Love Letter to Blogs →

5th March 2021

Hey's new blogging service, Hey World, is certainly something that has caught my eye recently. I've got some mixed feelings about it, but I do think that it could be a very good alternative for people that don't want to have to go through various hurdles just to publish words on the internet.

Matt Birchler, using the Hey World service, seems to have similar feelings:

Hey World looks like it aims to simplify the setup process even more, and remove some of the mental overhead that comes with starting a blog. You don't have to think of a name, find a theme, and figure out what service you're going to use, you can just write an email like you normally would, send it to world@hey.com, and boom you've got a blog post. People can even subscribe to your future posts via email or RSS, so they can follow along easily and however they prefer.

— Matt Birchler, Hey World: A Love Letter to Blogs

Like Matt, I already run a self-hosted blog, and I'm not thinking about making any major changes anytime soon. However the attitude towards treating newsletters more like personal letters is something I can get behind. It's also one of the main aims I have with my newsletter.

Standing Back and Watching

4th March 2021

In recent years, I think I've become somewhat more of a spectator when it comes to the latest trends in technology. Whereas in the past I would jump on every new social network, blogging platform, or whatever the new hype is.

I'm not sure if it's to do with age, and generally not having as much time or effort to jump into all the new things, but I'm beginning to become quite fond of well planned challenges and experiments. I'll be writing more about this in this months newsletter, but I've found them to be very effective in making informed decisions. Especially when used after doing some initial research, limiting the scope, and setting fixed goals/outcomes, rather than having a constant stream of new things being tested.

There are a few things that interest me right now where I'm just waiting on the sidelines to see how they evolve. Such as Hey's blogging service, cryptocurrencies, Clubhouse, and a few others.

I'm not saying I won't try new things anymore, but I'm trying to at least evaluate them properly, and making a decision whether things will actually add value to my life.

Writing

The Various Types of Title Case

3rd March 2021

As you may or not know, I'm the developer of Text Case, a text-transformation utility app for iOS and macOS. The app now supports tons of various pre-defined transformations and allows the creation of custom transformations, however, the app was originally based around one format, title case.

As the name suggests, title case refers to the capitalisation of text that is to be used as a title. But it's not something that has an objective set of rules. Instead, it's more of a rule that's based around personal style choices.

The most popular title case standards I've heard of are AP (Associated Press), APA (American Psychological Association), and CMOS (Chicago Manual of Style), but there are countless more.

And including the next planned release for Text Case, it will support a total of 9 different title case variations. Some are quite similar, however, as people like to stick to certain standards, I think it's important that there's a lot of options in the app. And since I've had a few questions in theist asking what the difference is, I thought I'd write a post to explain the implemented rules.

Please note, the implemented formats aren't carbon copies of the official standards, as some of the rules aren't exactly feasible to build into an automated tool. For example, a few standards have the rule to keep the second part of a Latin species name lowercase, and AMA seems to have a few rules based around greek letters.

But from the perspective of Text Case, here is how each of them is implemented:

American Medical Association (AMA)

  • Capitalise first and last word.
  • Capitalise major words.
  • Do not capitalise coordinating conjunctions (and, but, for, nor, or, so, yet).
  • Do not capitalise articles (a, an, the)
  • Do not capitalise prepositions of three or fewer letters.

Associated Press (AP)

  • Capitalise first and last word.
  • Capitalise major words.
  • Capitalise all words of four letters or more.
  • Do not capitalise articles, conjunctions, or prepositions of three or fewer letters.

American Psychological Association (AP)

  • Capitalise first and last word.
  • Capitalise the first word after a colon.
  • Capitalise nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and pronouns.
  • Capitalise all words of four letters or more.
  • Do not capitalise articles, conjunctions, or prepositions of three or fewer letters.
  • Capitalise the second part of hyphenated major words.

Bluebook

  • Capitalise first and last word.
  • Capitalise the first word after a colon.
  • Capitalise all words except articles, conjunctions, or prepositions of four letters or fewer.

Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS)

  • Capitalise first and last word.
  • Capitalise nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs.
  • Capitalise all conjunctions except coordinating conjunctions.
  • Do not capitalise articles of prepositions.
  • Do not capitalise "as" in any grammatical function.

Guardian

  • Capitalise all words except for "a", "an", "and", "at", "for", "from", "in", "of", "on", "the", "to”.
  • Capitalise the first word after a colon.

Modern Language Association (MLA)

  • Capitalise first and last word.
  • Capitalise nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and subordinating conjunctions.
  • Do not capitalise articles, prepositions, and coordinating conjunctions.
  • Capitalise the first word after a colon.

New York Times

  • Capitalise nouns, pronouns, and verbs.
  • Capitalise all words of four or more letters.
  • Capitalise "no", "nor", "not", "off", "out", "so", and "up".
  • Do not capitalise "a", "and", "as", "at", "but", "by", "en", "for", "if", "in", "of", "on", "or", "the", "to", "v.", "vs.", and "via".

Wikipedia

  • Capitalise first and last word.
  • Capitalise verbs, nouns, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, and subordinating conjunctions.
  • capitalise prepositions of five letters or more.
  • Do not capitalise articles, prepositions of four letters or fewer, and coordinating conjunctions.

Hopefully this has answered some questions that people have regarding the different title case variants. But if you have any more, then I'd be very willing to hear them. And if you spot something that isn't right, then please let me know!

Zoom

Zoom-Fatigue →

3rd March 2021

Commenting on a study regarding 'Zoom fatigue' and it's possible causes, Kevin Wammer suggests a solution that I think would be pretty effective:

Let me add a fifth solution. One that even works, when this is all over. When we meet again face to face:

Go for walking-meetings. Take your AirPods or whatever you stick into your ears to connect to the outside world, and go for a walk. Have your calls in nature. Take a notebook and a pencil, in case you have to write something down. Stroll around while talking to your boss about the latest sales-figures.

— Kevin Wammer, STANFORD RESEARCHERS IDENTIFY FOUR CAUSES FOR ‘ZOOM FATIGUE’ AND THEIR SIMPLE FIXES →

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