Things I Have Written

Image Publish Shortcut

I’ve mentioned here before that I don’t want to have to remember the mechanics behind things like how post summaries work when writing posts. The same applies to images in my posts – I wrote an image handler shortcode but if I have to remember parameters or manually paste shortcodes in iA Writer as I crank out an article, I’ve failed.

Tech is supposed to seamlessly enable me to write and publish, not stand between me and my site like a high priest demanding complex incantations that require years of practice to master. Like I’ve said before, the whole point of me using an app like iA Writer is because it has the writing experience I want, and I don’t want to have to write text in Hugo templates. The site shouldn’t dictate how I write, it should just put whatever words I dictate on display when I’m done.

So… not …

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Making the Newton

Apple Newton advertisement

Like every other Apple nerd alive at the time, I was aware of the Apple Newton when it came out in 1993, but I was paying a bit less attention to Apple at that point in my life. I was starting a career in a PC-centric semiconductor company, and that was the beginning of my years-long sojourn into the Windows PC world. As a result, I was unaware of some of the more fascinating stories about how the Newton came to be.

This week Stephen Hackett and Quinn Nelson kicked off their new podcast Flashback with an episode about the Newton. What followed was a couple enjoyable hours of me scouring the web and devouring articles about the Newton and the team that literally suffered and sacrificed everything to make it.

One of the articles they mentioned was a Gizmodo reprint of an article by Tom Hormby on Low End Mac, The Story …

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Summary .Render

Having decided that I needed a custom summary rendering solution, I started whipping up a shortcode before realizing that wouldn’t work since I was calling it from a partial. So I started creating a partial, but an interesting conversation with Vic Hudson convinced me to create an alternate layout to call with .Render instead.

More on that conversation later. First, my summary.html layout file:

<article>
    <header>
        <div class="post-title">
            <a href="{{ .Params.linkurl | default .RelPermalink }}">
                <h1 class="title">{{- if .Params.linkurl -}}<i
                        class="fas fa-link fa-sm"></i>&ensp;{{- end -}}{{ .Title }}{{- if .Params.linkurl -}}&emsp;<i
                        class="fas fa-external-link-alt fa-xs"></i>{{- end -}}</h1>
            </a>
        </div>
        <div class="post-meta">
            <div class="date">
                <span class="posted-on">
                    <i class="fas fa-calendar"></i>
                    <time datetime='{{ .Date.Format "2006-01-02T15:04:05Z07:00" }}'>
                        <a
                            href="{{ .RelPermalink }}">{{ . …

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Summarizing Hugo Content Summaries

Hugo content summaries and I have a complicated relationship. Rather, the design decisions behind the Hugo .Summary page variable intrigue me.

I’m going to tell you how I render my post summaries on my site front page, main blog page, and many of my various section pages, but not today. Today I’m going to write many words about why I had to come up with my own way of rendering Hugo post summaries. I apologize, but it has to be done.

By design, using .Summary to display a post summary strips out all the HTML formatting. The summary will appear as one block of text, regardless of paragraphs and line breaks in the original text. In addition, any images or footnotes or any other non-plaintext will be removed.

This is … an interesting choice. And not, I suspect, what most people want. …

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iA Writer Footnote Converter

I use iA Writer on iOS and Mac as my primary text editor for writing blog posts. I like its Files app integration and ability to work with Working Copy and other Files app providers. It’s also really easy to get at anything written in iA Writer because they’re all stored as iCloud Documents in an iA Writer iCloud folder.

One thing I have had an issue with though is that iA Writer does markdown footnotes in a way that doesn’t work when I post it to my sites as an .md file and compile it with Hugo. For that matter, it didn’t work when I used to put it into Wordpress with markdown enabled either.

iA Writer’s footnote format looks like this:


There is a footnote at the end of this sentence[^this is the footnote].

That doesn’t convert to a proper markdown footnote in most (all?) markdown …

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The Unwieldiness of Complex Shortcuts

I use and rely on Shortcuts app for many of my iPad workflows. The most complex of them that I’ve created are for publishing to my Hugo-powered blog, and for publishing episodes of the various BubbleSort podcasts.

One issue with Shortcuts that I’d love for Apple to address, which they almost certainly won’t, is the ease with which they become too complex to manage or restructure.

Case in point is my Blog Post Publish shortcut, which I wrote in such a way that I could use it for multiple websites. This necessarily leads to multiple menus and multiple nested If statements, since Shortcuts doesn’t support the “else if” construct.

Nested If statements in Shortcuts

Instead, the next if clause gets forced under an Otherwise statement, so that if written in code, it would like something like this:

If (blog == “ …

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Hugo .Summary Customization

In my article on supporting link posts in Hugo, I went on a short tangent about the Hugo .Summary function and the fact that I wasn’t using it, but was instead piping .Content to the truncate function.

Mainly I wasn’t using .Summary because it basically strips out the html paragraph tags and makes a big block of text. I find this an interesting choice, because who does this? No one, that’s who. Everyone who uses summaries wants legible summaries, including paragraph breaks. Hugo summaries make the assumption that a handful of words will be enough to draw your readers in, and that that’s the look you want in the first place.

Hugo does provide for overriding this by putting a summary in front matter, but that seems like a major kludge considering how easy it would be for .Summary to take a few option parameters. …

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 Mistaking Familiarity for Intuitiveness

I don’t remember Gruber making the “iPads aren’t as intuitive as Macs” claim as part of his public confusion about how the iPad works, but I’m sure some people have. And, as Matt Birchler says in his excellent skewering of the “iPads are too damn complicated!” narrative, that’s ludicrous.

I think Matt’s onto something with the explanation that a case of familiarity and unfamiliarity is really the issue here, not the iPad itself. I’d say the real issue with the people I’ve seen on Twitter claiming no one can decipher the iPad’s mysteries is the inverse – unfamiliarity mistaken for counter-intuitiveness.

As I said yesterday, the iPadOS multitasking UI does have issues. I’m not debating that at all. What I am debating is that it’s so complicated as to be unreasonable, and whether every possible iPadOS feature needs to leap directly into the user’s brain the first time they pick up an iPad, or whether it’s ok that some learning is involved.

Also, the clunkiness of the …

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 Stephen Hackett Rewatches the 2010 iPad Keynote

This is a fun video. Stephen Hackett analyzes the 2010 iPad introduction keynote, presented by Steve Jobs.

It’s pretty funny seeing how limited the original iPad was, especially considering the brouhaha today from some seasoned Mac veterans lamenting that the iPad is too confusing. 🤣

I submit to you that the same people who couldn’t figure out how to work on iPad then due to its very real limitations are some of the same people who can’t figure out how to work on it now, even with its greatly increased capabilities.

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Can Everything Be Discoverable?

There are good arguments to be made that Apple hasn’t always helped the iPad live up to its promise. Certainly John Gruber thinks so, as evidenced by both the title and body of his recent post, The iPad Awkwardly Turns 10.

My issue with what he wrote is not his claim that iPad multitasking is fiddly and unintuitive and a bit incoherent and inconsistent. It is. And it’s not his assertion that iPad multitasking is non-discoverable:

How would anyone ever figure out how to split-screen multitask on the iPad if they didn’t already know how to do it?

I can’t really disagree with that. It’s just that I don’t know how much that does or should matter.

Not everything in technology can be intuitive. Sometimes things have to be learned. And some of the people complaining about the fact that all iPadOS features don’t present themselves as fully-formed concepts directly into the user’s brain upon iPad unlock are people who created Markdown, or who are iOS programmers, or who use Photoshop, or who have elaborate writing workflows.

None of those …

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