Drafts, Quickly Becoming my Main Text Editor

I’ve been using Drafts for many years. But merely as a quick notepad as it’s lightening fast to open and to let you write anything and then, much later or immediately after jotting something down, to let you decide what to do with it–making Drafts the perfect and fastest ‘everything bucket’ there is on iOS: no need to hesitate, just write everything, anything, down in Drafts knowing you’ll decide what to do with all your notes later on.

But Drafts is much more capable than being the fastest note-taking app. Much more. It was just that I had no need for more features in an iOS app… that had no Mac companion app to let me, well, access my texts and notes outside of iOS.

Since then, the dev has released a Mac version. Alas, it was lacking some advanced features that would make me consider using it. That’s no more the case since its latest update: the Mac version now fully supports Actions–in short, Actions are the scripting thingy that comes with Drafts, that let you do many, many funny things to and with your notes.

And that changes everything.

So, even though the Mac version still has a few rough edges, for the last two weeks I’ve been almost only using Drafts to write on the iPad, the iPhone and on the Mac. And it has been an amazing experience. So much, I can hardly believe it myself.

Drafts stays lightweight and fast (it now contains a tad less than 700 notes, as I imported quite a lot of research in it, some very short or very long), while offering me as many–or as few–advanced features as I need to organise my notes, without ever turning itself into an ugly, cumbersome monster.

Advanced features like Workspaces (think ‘saved smart folders’), Tags and now Actions that let me organise my notes and projects like I want them to be, with only the tools I need within each project (this is amazing), and with an almost instant-on search engine to find whatever I need within a specific project or through all of them, with the tools to do whatever I need to do with my notes–and that includes publishing content to WordPress, though I’ve not tested it yet.

Drafts is lean, it’s fast, it’s powerful, and it’s well-thought. I’m in love with this app.

It is not perfect, sure. And it lacks a few features to replace Ulysses in my toolbox–give me inline images (not in Preview), first-line indentation (it’s a visual clue I rely on a lot to navigate my prose), and give me a Split/Merge tool–but nonetheless I’m so tempted as it’s such a pleasant experience to use it on the iPad and the iPhone, and now on the Mac too.

Drafts is free–like in free beer, no string attached to fully enjoy the fastest notebook on iOS–or subscription based (20€/year) if you need its advanced features.

BTW, if you read French and want to find some real world use cases, it might be a good idea to go read my old friend Urbanbike: he is a long time Drafts user and share a lot of advice 😉

Edit: Some precisions in what I’d love to see in Drafts.

Writing French characters with a qwerty keyboard on the iPad

Yesterday at the library, while I was happily typing my way through some research, a young person asked me how I enjoyed the iPad and, after noticing that the ‘odd little keyboard’ it was connected to was US/qwerty, how I typed all the accents we use in French.

I looked at her. As far as I could tell, she was a student and it was surprising to imagine students today not being taught to type but, hey I also had to learn it all by myself back then. So, I briefly explained her how it works (well) and–learning to write English–why I decided to switch to a qwerty layout.

She seemed genuinely interested. So in case you were wondering too, here is the written version of what we talked about.

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I’ve a better idea, Apple

Instead of telling me that if I don’t renew my subscription I’ll loose all my playlists why not giving me an option to, you know, export and save them?

I don’t own the music I listened too for a year using Apple Music, I’ve no problem with that. But the playlists I took the time to carefully create and refine during that time, shouldn’t they be mine to keep?

iPad and Poor Vision Part 1: Setting up the iPad and iOS

The iPad is an amazing device–for leisure, for reading, for listening and for working–as long as you don’t take into consideration one tiny detail: out of the box, I can barely use it at all.

Why? Because of my terrible eyesight, texts, menus and buttons are unreadable: too small, too thin, and not contrasted enough.

Luckily, iOS comes with many accessibility options that can help a lot. Depending your needs.

In this post, I will list the settings I use to compensate for my bad eyesight. It’s not an exhaustive list–not even as far as vision goes.

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macOS: How-to invert colors in a video

Why would anyone want to invert colors in video, you may ask?

Well, let me ask you this: why wouldn’t they want?

More seriously, I do that for a very specific reason: my bad eyesight makes it so that I can’t read black text on a white background. You know, the kind of text you occasionally find in books, or in slides. The kind of slides, you’ll find almost everywhere while watching College de France many lectures. Like in Dario Mantovani’s Usages juridiques du passé (dans la pensée des juristes romains).

A slide from Dario Mantovani’s lecture "Usages juridiques du passé (dans la pensée des juristes romains)". Text is printed in red on a white background.
A slide from Dario Mantovani’s lecture “Usages juridiques du passé (dans la pensée des juristes romains)”. Text is printed in red on a white background.

To read this slide, I need the background to be dark and the text to be light.

Under macOS, I could easily invert colors of the whole screen, but that’d be impractical as that’d also invert colors in all my other windows that are already dark.

Here is how I invert only the colors of a video under macOS (see here for Windows).

  1. Install IIna, a free fork of VLC optimized for macOS. It’s a great app, really.
  2. Open the video you want to invert and go to Video->Video Filters.
  3. In the window that opens, click the + sign at the bottom left and select Negative. Click Add.
  1. Back to the first window. Click the Save button that is next to the new line with your filter and give your filter a name.
  2. Done. From now, with any video you play in IIna, you just need to go to Video-> Saved Video Filters, and click your filter. Or you can define your own custom keyboard shortcut in the Filter window.
The same slide in inverted colors. The text is now blue on a black background.
The same slide in inverted colors. The text is now blue on a black background.

My deepest apologies to Dario Mantovani for the treatment I put him through, but I’m sure he’ll understand that I was more interested in being able to read his slides than to look at him during his lectures 😉

Cloud & Privacy: Boxcryptor

Abandon privacy all ye who enter the cloud” is something that should be engraved over the entrance of most, if not all, cloud services.

At least this is what it feels like to me, having to relinquish all notion of privacy and intimacy knowing my files will be analysed—some cloud providers being more invasive than other in that regard. 

I’ll gladly open all my files and folders to any legit authority asking me to do so, provided they have a reason and the right to ask. But I don’t want anyone else accessing my files–be it on purpose, in order to offer me some service, or because of a security breach–to be able to read them.

I don’t want anyone to discover that I’m the author hiding behind the pen name of dear « Dulcinea Von Liebe, Duchess of Hot Steamy Romance ». I don’t want anyone or any algorithm to be able to read my medical documents, or to see the pictures of my cat. That’s none of their business. That’s, you know private. And that’s not the reason why I decided to use cloud to store my files.

The obvious solution would be to not use the cloud at all. Problem solved, thx for reading, bye. Save that I want to use the cloud: it’s a great tool. It’s just the lack of a stricter legislation that makes it such this Wild West and this Eldorado for those companies, giving them free rein over our data.

Enters Boxcryptor. 

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Google explains why the Pixel 3a has a headphone jack

Google explains why the Pixel 3a has a headphone jack:

We debated on this headphone jack but we really felt that consumers at this price point in this price tier really needed flexibility, and that’s what that headphone jack gives you. We still support digital audio, and it is the ultimate way to consume your audio. You can either use the USB-C adapter on the bottom, or you can use Bluetooth headphones. And digital audio is incredible. But, a lot of people have headphones, and we didn’t need to create anymore e-waste in the world so we’ve decided to put a 3.5mm headset jack in so that people could use the accessories that they already had available to them.

… And that is why every single phone (and tablet) should have a mini-jack port, no matter its price or its user ability to throw away cash on some high-end smartphone. And that is why I don’t want no wireless headphones.

Updating PHP from 5.4 to 7.3, WordPress not functioning anymore?

This morning, after WordPress complained once again that my PHP version was not secure enough, I updated it from 5.3 to 7.3. Everything went perfectly fine with this update, save for the slightly annoying fact that the blog was not accessible anymore.

Bad error 500, bad!

To make it short, this article explains everything much better than I could, you just need to activate another module called nd_mysqli, in your cPanel or wherever you went to update your PHP version on your host.

Many thx to the author for sharing the solution.