My New Favorite Pants

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I’ve been a huge fan of Bluffworks’ clothing for a long time. I wear their khakis every day to work. They’re built as travel pants, so they’ve got lots of zippered pockets and security pockets, but they are also lightweight, quick-drying and very breatheable, so they are great everyday pants, especially in muggy Japanese summers. Last year, Bluffworks created a blazer that I have loved wearing, and this year, they created matching suit pants to turn the blazer into a real suit. I received the Gramercy pants on Christmas Day and I’ve gotta say they are the best pants I’ve ever worn. The fit is amazing—even better than the suit pants I actually had tailored at Macy’s last year. If you’re looking for a technical fabric suit, the Gramercy is pretty awesome.

Getting back to the things I've learned

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A long time ago, I used to log one new thing I learned each day. I’d save up this 365 line list for publication on January 1st of the following year. I stopped doing it because it became cumbersome to keep up with-but I have come to miss the practice. When I couldn’t readily come up with something I had learned that day, I went out of my way to find something new to learn about. Usually this involved a cursory glance at the top page of Wikipedia, but at least I was learning something new-which is never a bad thing. So, I’m bringing it back. No, not for this upcoming January 1st, but I will be starting the logging of new things learned this New Year’s Day. So be on the lookout for another list of learned things next year.

OmniFocus and Siri on iOS 11

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For a long time, OmniFocus on iOS had this weird (but useful) ability to suck in tasks from the iOS Reminders app and import them into OmniFocus. With the release of iOS 11, you can directly import things into OmniFocus using Siri. For example, “Add a task called ‘bananas’ in OmniFocus”, will dump a task called “bananas” in the inbox. You can use dates to add due dates, and it’s aware of context and projects, but you have to use Reminders’ word “list” when talking about projects and contexts are handled with “when I get home” and the like. It still can’t do anything with defer dates, which is disappointing, because I think most advanced OmniFocus users are using lots of defer dates with flags instead of due dates. Also, Siri is still kind of dumb and can’t understand you sometimes—which leads to misunderstandings and incorrect words. If you have a project called “Groceries” and Siri picks up “Grocery”, well, you’re SOL. And this happens all the time. My biggest complaint is that all this stuff doesn’t work through the Apple Watch—which is how I want to use this voice-controlled stuff. If you try this fancy OmniFocus import stuff on the watch, Continue on iPhone. Only, pulling up the iPhone doesn’t seem to do anything. No handoff, as far as I’ve seen. If I had my iPhone out, I’d just type in all this stuff or use the myriad of Drafts actions or Workflow workflows that I’ve built. The one time I want to use voice-only, is on the watch. Now, none of these issues may be anything that the OmniGroup can change. It may just be how the new Siri integration works. But, it sucks. It’s kinda useless and it’s disappointing. I had hoped for more.

TextExpander AppleScript for Expanding Snippets

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Not sure how useful this’ll be in the grand scheme of things, but the latest update to TextExpander added a new command in its AppleScript dictionary. You can now use expand string, expand snippet or expand abbreviation to well…expand things. If you have a huge library of snippets—as I do—you may find this useful. Unfortunately, anything you use this for will not be portable, but for personal-use scripts, it could be helpful.

Here’s an example in full:

I have a TextExpander snippet for ;tom that is defined as such: %@+1D%Y-%m-%d.

tell application "TextExpander" to expand string ";tom" then returns 2017-09-07.

OmniPlate: ERB Templating for OmniFocus

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I’ve been wanting the same kind of templating that the iOS versions of OmniFocus had on macOS for a while. I finally got that a few months back. This post touches on a project I actually completed quite a while ago. I just never got around to writing about it—even though the code for it is up in the OmniFocus repo. The project is called OmniPlate. It takes Taskpaper-formatted OmniFocus templates, runs them through the ERB preprocessor and then imports it into OmniFocus. Simple as that. It’s useful though. Aside from being a lot faster than an AppleScript templating system, the Taskpaper-formatted templates are native and easier to maintain. But after adding a little Ruby into the template, you can do any number of cool things.

If you’re not familiar with ERB, you just stick Ruby code in like so: <"%Y-%m") %>. Suddenly, you can add a formatted current date anywhere in the project. Then you can start setting defer and due dates with date math. You can use text filtering and processing to do anything you like. It’s infinitely flexible. You need to understand Ruby, but if you do, the sky’s the limit.

Protip: If you’re a LaunchBar user. Search for the template you want to run, and pass is to OmniPlate. After hitting enter, it’ll import it into OmniFocus. You can run it from the command line just the same. The script assumes ARGV[0] is the template, so feel free to splash ARGV[1] and so on into your templates and just pass them in after the templates to further customize your own stuff.

Check out the project on GitHub.