October 2022

Nov 06, 2022

The big fall back has just taken place as we switched away from the somewhat archaic Daylight Saving Time (singular saving, not plural), and skipped through Halloween. The nights are suddenly a lot darker and October is officially done, so it’s time to do yet another monthly round up. Grab your pumpkin spiced latte while you can, and check in with me as i run through the past month. There’s a lot of stuff I’ve been doing in the background, and something pretty significant that is making a big difference in my life right now and is likely to continue to do so for the foreseeable future.


As I’ll add a few more details to later on, I have had a bit of a focus this month on my Alfred workflows. First of all I have updated Doctor Drafts, my Alfred workflow for Doctor drafts with a bug fix and some new URL handlers. To go along with this, I also did quite a big documentation update on the website, adding new examples about automation with external triggers. in fact I even posted on thoughtasylum.com about how to use Doctor Drafts in your own scripts.

I also did a complete update of the documentation links used within Doctor Drafts. These are actually managed through some publicly available JSON files. I realised they were woefully out of date as Greg had done some big updates on the Drafts website. If anyone spots anything out of date in the future, I’d appreciate a nudge as these are not always front of my mind when I think about the workflows.

The other particularly notable update was to Dose, my workflow for controlling the Amphetamine app. I added support for instructing Amphetamine to stay awake until a certain time. This was after it was requested by a user on Twitter. The update works for me, but unfortunately not this user. It looks to me like their locale (US?) is causing AppleScript to miscalculate the difference between two times. I haven’t reproduced it yet, so I have not been able to fix it, though I can see exactly where the calculation fails - from debugging it looks like the calculation is such that A-B<0 even though A>B … but for me A-B>0. I think I’m going to have to risk switching my locale when I get the time (no pun intended) to see if that helps me reproduce the issue. I’m pretty confident once I can reproduce it I can fix it, but I haven’t got to that point just yet.


It has been a little while since I had a mention on the Automators podcast, but I got a brief mention on episode 113 this month in the discussion of Alfred.


As is so often the case, I don’t feel like I’ve spent a great deal of time on the forums lately, but when I take a look through all the conversations I’ve been involved in, I’m inevitably quite surprised the volume is so high.


As usual, I’ve been busy pitching in wherever I can on the Drafts forum, helping out other users of the super-powered text capture and processing application.


I also spent a bit of time on the Automators podcast forum trying to help out fellow automators with their challenges. Interestingly, it looks like I topped over 2K likes on my posts recently, so I must be doing something right over there.


I am much taller than average, and have pretty large hands with rather long fingers (XXXL gloves are not easy to come by), which means I need a larger mouse to avoid the classic fingertip mouse claw I was plagued by for so many years. As a result I have been using Logitech MX Master mice for years now and they are the best I’ve fond to fit my hand. One issue though is that on Windows, the scroll wheel occasionally stops working. It’s down to the Logitech software that runs in the background. The fix is to kill and restart it. Something I found I need to do once every month or two. Of course a restart of an app is something that can be scripted, and I did. I finally added a couple of my scripts for doing this to a gist on GitHub. The BAT script will pop up a window briefly, but if you prefer the cleaner aesthetics of no ‘command window flash’, the VBS (yes VB Script still lives for me) script will run the same command line instructions, but in a hidden window.

I’ve also been working on my Alfred workflows to try and get some details and changes to ready them for inclusion in the upcoming Alfred workflow directory. I’m still working through some requirements and this was not something that had been on my radar, but the Running With Crayons folks contacted me directly to ask if I’d be interested in submitting my workflows - which was very kind of them. But, thanks to some weirdness and other necessities, it is an ongoing process.

I have also been making some fundamental changes to my Obsidian vault. I’m in the process of merging two of them, looking at my plugin use, reviewing my use of meta-data (I think I can apply and make use of more), and restructuring the entire thing utilising the Johnny Decimal approach. This whole thing is something I’ve been researching and planning out for the past three to four months, and is something I’m expecting to finish by the end of the year as I have quite a bit of work to put into it as I have several thousand notes to reprocess and recategorise for a start. Ultimately, I should have a vault where I have a clearer idea of how and where I expect it to grow, more sophisticated capabilities (through improved metadata and plugins), and at that point I expect I’ll look into some new automations. I still have some additional specialist vaults, but this merging will bring together my professional content with my non-professional technical content, which was starting to get some overlaps and duplication; hence the desire to merge them.

Finally, I’ve very much buried the lead for my month. I have taken a bold step (for me) of resigning my position as a consulting manager and joining a new organisation on the customer-side of things. This time as a learning systems advisor. The application process and the offboarding to ensure I leave everything nicely wrapped up for my old colleagues took a lot of my usual available time over the last two to three months, and it has been a little stressful on more than one occasion as deadlines whirled around.

In this new role, I should get the opportunity to work with a wider range of technology and its application in a global organisation, which is rather exciting. On the flip-side, it is honestly a terrifying change for me - I’ve rarely changed organisations, and this last one had me in various posts for over a decade. In addition I always have raging imposter syndrome no matter what role I have. But, inside, I could feel I needed a change, or at least to try something a little different - so I know it was the right thing for me to do. I know for a fact I am going to miss consulting. If it doesn’t work out, or if I miss it too much, I can see myself returning to it at some point; but for now, I’m all in on trying something new, learning about loads of great technology, and pushing myself into a whole new set of challenges.


I’m frustrated that during October I didn’t manage to put out even one video tutorial, so I am hoping to spend some time in the latter half of November working on maybe a few of those. My kids asked me what the subscriber count was now for the channel (they are YouTube fanatics). It had been seven subscribers last time we looked, and we expected it might have got up to about ten. It was just shy of one hundred. So that made me feel even more guilty about not having some more content up this past month.

The first half of November, my focus will be on getting my Alfred workflows finished off and tested for inclusion in the directory.

Throughout the month I will also be chipping away at my not-so-little Obsidian rebuild project. It gets various bits of attention throughout the day and evening as I use it, so there’s certainly an element of natural development to it, but I’m also expecting to set aside blocks of time here and there to do bigger bits of work such as experiments, batch updates and high-volume note moves.

Beyond the above, I’ll just be seeing where things take me, reviewing my back log of blog and automation ideas to see what I fancy picking away at, and of course pitching in with insights and suggestions on the forums, Twitter, etc. wherever I think I can add something useful.

Thank you once again to everyone who has donated a coffee. Cheers!

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