The Big Migration

TLDR; I moved this website to WordPress

The story

This blog used be a Tumblr. Moved to Squarespace. Then a WordPress. A Squarespace site again, and now I’m back to WordPress.

Why? Mostly because I don’t like Squarespace’s buggy mobile admin support and lack of an API. But also because WordPress allows me to tinker with code, css, Apple News and other fun integrations.

Hosting

This website now runs on a Google Cloud Compute Engine instance. It’s a free f1-micro instance which should be more than enough to keep this blog and a few side projects online. (You can find out more about the free tiers here.)

Why Google? Mostly because I already pay for my email via Gsuite, I use single sign on via oAuth for my blog and by hosting the blog there also it keeps everything nice and contained. But no Google Analytics, ads or other dirty stuff.

Don’t have a Google GSuite account yet? Give it a try.

Management

Google offers a barebones Linux Server, similar to Linode, Digital Ocean or a Mac mini at MacStadium.

I could have build the entire Nginx and SSL stack myself, but I decided to go the easy and stable route and search for a management layer that configures the webserver part for me and makes managing the databases and certificates a lot easier.

After a week of research and a mailbox that still gets daily offers from all the tools I tested, I ended up with RunCloud.

They allowed me to setup the web environment, add a LetsEncrypt certificate and install WordPress on a Google Cloud in 15 minutes thanks to this handy guide. With the extra benefit that it’s either free if you want to do the SSL part yourself, or just 8$ a month for SSL, Git support,…

And since they also have a good backup option available, a website that works on iOS and offer unlimited sites/apps on one Google Instance I was sold.

Migration

Having a server and a WordPress instance is one thing, but I also had years of content to migrate from Squarespace to WordPress. Luckily, this guide got me 99% there.

  1. Export Squarespace, which only works on macOS.
  2. Import into WordPress.
  3. Use a plugin to also import all images and remap them to a WordPress url.
  4. Fix permalinks.
  5. Find a theme that looks similar to my previous theme.

Finishing touches

Now that the hard work was done, I used Coda to restyle the theme so it’s more similar to what I had on Squarespace. New logo, a few css changes, rewrote the footer and changed a few php functions to show and hide metadata on posts.

I relinked it to Apple News, again via macOS, and used this plugin to redirect my previous RSS feed to the current feed. And I added a JSON feed too, and a web clip icon, Touch Bar icon and basic dark mode support.

Up next

  • Add automated and manual dark mode via Craig Hockenberry (it’s partially working now)
  • Play around with Cloudflare caching
  • Write more blog posts
  • Figure out how I can integrate Gitlab for theme versioning.

One more thing

Did I mention I did it all on an iPad with just Safari, Coda, Prompt, Working Copy and Pixelmator?

(Except for the two steps mentioned above that didn’t support iOS: Apple News (go figure) and Squarespace (as expected).

Affiliate links

  • GSuite – use this link to get a 20% discount for yo first year.
  • RunCloud – use this link and get 15 days of free usage on your plan.

Running Zendesk on an iPad

When it comes to working on an iPad I’m one of those “I wish I could and I kinda can but not entirely” kind of people.

I changed jobs this summer and my new job is basically using and running the Zendesk admin instance 9 to 5. And sadly, that interface requires a desktop browser. Why? Because Zendesk did something weird with iFrames in their admin interface that confuses Mobile Safari and makes scrolling impossible.

Today, motivated by a storm of iPad reviews that basically all said “great hardware limited by software“, I decided to download and install the top most iOS browsers and see if maybe one of them did work better than Mobile Safari.

The usual suspects didn’t work. Chrome did something weird with the resolution so that half the site was cut off, Firefox also didn’t allow for scrolling and loaded blank pages, and Opera was just horrendous.

Surprisingly Dolphin did load Zendesk smoothly. And it scrolled. And it loaded the buttons and drop downs correctly. It did some weird things with the ticket view, but luckily Zendesk has a pretty good mobile app for that.

I should probably blame the small iPad Pro screen for that issue, so when the new 12.9″ iPad is available on Wednesday I hope I can convince someone to install Dolphin and test it out for me.

So in short, that’s one showstopper I can partially scratch of the list. Up next: dual screen presenting.

PS: do use the full screen setting and enable desktop mode.

Filling the wrong gap

The latest ATP episode ended with an interesting thought by John Siracusa (starting 2:23:30)

Focus on gaming was interesting. Especially when they compare the GPU power to the XBox one.

That well all and good Apple, but you’re not convincing me. Oh Apple. You’ve got all the CPU power in the world, you are like a 100 times more powerful than the Switch but you do not have Breath of the Wild. Do you see the difference? Do you see the difference here Apple? What’s different. How is Nintendo able to make these amazing games with so much less power. And buy the the thing costs so much less money. Maybe that’s part of it too but either way.

I love the GPU, like, I love the fact that they have gaming demo’s. Oh look at this it’s in retina resolution. No console can do 120fps, which is true but pc’s can. But anyway, that’s not the problem. You’re not.. they’re filling the wrong gap.

People aren’t saying I would love to use my iPad as my primary gaming system, if only it did 120FPS. That’s not what people are saying. People are saying I would love to use the iPad as my gaming system if it only it had the games I want to play. It doesn’t.

All these games are not coming out on the iPad. It’s not because the iPad is not powerful enough. It’s plenty powerful. Anyway. They insist on bringing up gaming. They insist on comparing themselves to gaming consoles. And its like you don’t see the differences that people care about, its not the differences you think they are.

The phrase “filling the wrong gap” really resonates with me.

People who aren’t yet convinced that the iPad is a real computer and can replace your MacBook, aren’t all of the sudden going to change their mind now because of better CPU performance or a nicer screen.

“No one” is asking for a faster iPad. If the apps and operating system aren’t up to par, it’s just faster at doing a poor job. Whatever you could do on a previous iPad Pro, you can do on this one. Faster.

This new iPad has the same restrictions, limitations and flaws as any other iPad running iOS 12. If Apple really wants to turn the iPad into the computer of the future, and make more complex workflows possible, it’s the software that needs to change.

I really hope WWDC19 brings major changes to iOS on iPad. Cause theirs a big gab that needs to be filled there too.

Standing still. iPad Pro 2018

Apple released an awesome new iPad yesterday. Beautiful edge to edge display, Face ID, crazy fast.

But, even with all those new bells and whistles, it’s still the same iPad running the same iOS. It’s an iPad. A device that was perfect when it was released. And then kinda rested on its laurels and iterated with safe bets and predictable improvements

For example: the iPad was released with a great browser that took the mobile experience from iPhone and made it bigger. JavaScript and other benchmark results got faster. Split screen, h264 video, it all got better.

But when it comes to managing SAAS applications or using other web apps it’s still way behind what macOS has to offer. Why? Because it’s based on a browser that expected to display the mobile web and push all complex use cases to Apps.

Ever tried doing anything in the Squarespace backend from an iPad? You’re stuck in autozoom hell. Change settings in Zendesk? Better hope both the toggle and the save button are within view when the page loads. Cause scrolling ain’t working.

Similarly: Do you need to demo and present how an app or service works with your notes open in a Google Doc? Good luck. Whatever App the iPad shows on its screen is presented to your audience. You can’t have two instances of Safari open, and you can’t present one app and read from another.

The entire external display solution the iPad offers is based on opening the Photos app with lots of thumbnails on the iPad, and a tv that shows a selected photo nice and big to your grandmother. But it can’t and doesn’t support multiple displays or different apps on different screens.

Don’t get me wrong. I love iOS and if I could, I’d do without the Mac altogether. Apps are better, the interface is nicer, it’s more versatile and battery life is awesome. But even after the addition of Files, multitasking, a wicked fast cpu and gpu, it still lacks in professional use cases.

Maybe the iPad is not meant to do these things. But both of the use cases I described above are professional use cases fitting for a Pro moniker. Neither of them needs faster, better, stronger devices. They need a more versatile OS. It’s an iPad. Not a bigger iPhone.

Apple Keynote 2018

Pretty cool overview of what Apple announced this week. If you ask me, the Apple Watch was the star of the show, and the Xr was the product I enjoyed the most.

If people ask me what iPhone I’d advice them to buy it’s the Xr, no doubt about that

For me personally, if history implies patterns, you’d expect me to buy a 256GB iPhone Xs Max in black.

But the iPhone X was next years phone today when they released it, so it’s still awesome.

And although the Apple Watch Series 4 sounds awesome, if you consider the realities in Belgium it paints another picture:

  • No cellular option
  • No Apple Pay
  • Like everyone outside of the US no new heart monitor features

Which makes my Series 3 not that different. And, based in the photos, the 44m model seems a bit too big for me, and I’m not going to a 40mm. That would mean throwing out a lot of watch bands.

So.. did their new products impress me?

Sure.

Will I buy any?

 

Hide 1Password One-Time Password notifications

1Password allows you to add two-factor authentication codes or one-time passwords to its database. Very convenient cause it’s safer then using sms, can be shared across a family or team and allows you to delete the Google Authenticator app.

Since one of its latest releases the app automatically copies the code to the clipboard when you fill in a username and password. That way it’s ready to use on the next screen where most apps ask you to enter the code. You just select the text field and paste the code. No more juggling between apps.

1Password alerts you of the clipboard action via a notification. A notification that, if you don’t tap or dismiss it, will remain on your lock screen or Notification Center long after you need it.

Quick tip: since 1Password only uses notifications for the one-time passwords, go into settings and disable all options except for the pop up banner.

You’ll still be notified but the alerts won’t linger.

Apple Books

Stray thought that has been going through my head for a while now:

Considering:

  • The complete redesign and rebrand of iBooks in iOS 12.
  • The ability to mark any book, being it one you own or one you haven’t purchased yet, as want to read.
  • The ability to add unowned books to collections in Apple Books.
  • Apple’s focus on selling subscription services and increasing services revenue.

Wouldn’t Apple releasing Apple Books as a monthly subscription similar to Apple Music not be a logical step?

Easily toggle between light and dark mode in macOS Mojave

Apple has added a new dark mode, Dark Aqua, to macOS Mojave. Since there’s currently no easy way to toggle between the two modes, I’ve created a button you can add to your MacBook Pro’s Touchbar that allows you to quickly move from and  to the dark side.

Steps

  1. Create a Contextual Workflow in Automator and add the code below.
  2. Set the input to none, and pick a good icon.
  3. Save the workflow and give it a clear name like Dark Mode.
  4. Go to System Preferences > Extensions and choose Touch Bar.
  5. Enable your newly created workflow
  6. Go to System Preferences > Keyboard and choose Customize Controlstrip
  7. Drag the Workflow button to your Touchbar

The code

tell application "System Events"
    
    tell appearance preferences
        
        set dark mode to not dark mode
        
    end tell
    
end tell

Screenshots

The result