2021, Allison Sheridan
NosillaCast Apple Podcast

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[0:01] Hi, this is Allison Sheridan of the NoCillaCast Podcast, hosted at, a technology geek podcast with an ever so slight Apple bias.
Today is Sunday, December 4th, 2022, and this is show number 917.

Ccatp #753 — Nic Of Nic’S Homepod Repair

[0:16] This week our guest on Chit Chat Across the Pod is Nick of Nick's HomePod Repair. You might remember the article about Steve's amazing experience with Nick repairing our big girl home pod, I don't know, like a month or so ago.
Now, it wasn't just that some guy repaired a HomePod, it was how he did it and how he broadcast live video of the repair as it was happening that made it even more interesting.
I wanted to know more about how Nick got into doing this and how he creates his videos, so I asked him to come on to talk about it.
Now, I expected to have a fun nerdy conversation and that definitely happened. But what I didn't expect was to find a very kind, thoughtful person who just exudes good karma.
Care about HomePod repairs or not, I am sure you'll find this a delightful conversation.

I'M Still Using It

[1:00] I've been getting some amazing I'm Still Using It stories from people and it is killing me to wait until Christmas to read them to you. But I must stay strong. These stories will help me to have time to play with my grandkids so they're very valuable to me. If you haven't yet sent yours in, I hope you'll write up a couple of paragraphs about a piece of tech,
software, hardware, something that's still bringing you joy after many, many years. Send,
me an email with the title I'm Still Using It so that it sorts into the mailbox I made just for these wonderful stories. Thank you so much to everybody who sent them in and,
I hope more of you will continue to write these stories because they're getting a lot attraction and people really enjoyed the ones that I played over Thanksgiving.

The Sheridans Finally Cut The Cord

[1:41] I have to say, I feel like Steve and I have made fire. But it's because we've done something probably 85% of you have already done. We finally cut the cord and cancelled our cable TV service,
from our ISP Frontier. I want to chat about it because there's a few interesting points I didn't appreciate before we went through the process. We were paying for Frontier,
I'm sorry, we were paying Frontier for Fios Internet, a landline telephone, I know, we're old, and paying them for TV. Outside of Frontier, we also subscribe to the major TV streaming services including Hulu, Paramount Plus for Star Trek, Amazon Netflix,
HBO Max, and probably a few more I can't even remember. Oh yeah, Apple TV Plus too, I forgot about that one. Anyway, while my TV watching is pretty much only the streaming services, Steve likes to watch the news along with a few documentary shows here and there.

[2:32] We've been loyal TiVo subscribers for ages to record our shows. We had a primary TiVo, plus a smattering of TiVo mini sprinkled about the house, so all shows were available in every room with a TV. Even though the TiVo user interface hadn't seen much change in a long time,
it was reliable and it made sense to us. When people first started talking about cutting the cord, they talked about using an antenna. This sounded cool because the major network channels actually have less compression than if you use a cable, or a Fios in my case,
for the signal, so you get a higher quality picture.
We have a two-story house with a clay-tile roof that's very fragile, so there was no way we were going up a 30-foot ladder to put up a rooftop antenna.
I bought one of the recommended ones to mount on the walls inside your house and we tried it out.
Lasted I think maybe three days before Steve was ready to throw it out the window.

[3:25] While we could get a good signal, it would somehow lose the signal and we'd have to fiddle with it. Fiddling was not exactly what we were looking for.
Over the last few years, watching the Chordkillers podcast with Tom Merritt and Brian Brushwood over at, I've learned a lot about how to watch TV without cable, and over the years I've made suggestions to Steve, but he was never interested.
When our friend Pat Dengler tried a couple of these services out and she told us about them, he still wasn't ready to try it out.
But then something did happen. Our buddy Ron, who's been on the show a few times, you've heard from him. He comes over every Friday night and one week he told us he was cutting the cord.
This was interesting because he also had Frontier Fios, TV, and a landline phone service. He said he saved an enormous amount of money switching to YouTube TV and that Frontier actually helped him to do it.
I was dubious that it would work for us and I didn't even push Steve to consider it.
But then, Ron got a new TV and he asked Steve to come over to help him mount it. When they were done getting it set up, Ron showed Steve YouTube TV.
When Steve came home, he said he was ready to give it a try. I was shocked.

[4:32] Ron had demonstrated for him how easy it is to record shows and that he could record as many simultaneous shows as he could currently using TiVo.
He showed him how to find the channels and it all worked as expected. It was different from Stevo, but not bad different.

[4:47] I wasn't sold yet because I didn't believe it would actually save us that much money. Ron was convincing, but he had not spent the time I had every darn year negotiating with Frontier when they tried to raise our bill, and I would fight them every time until they agreed to bring it back down.
Some years I actually finished the negotiations paying less than when they started trying to raise my rates.
I had negotiated my bill with Frontier down to $155 per month for the three services, While Ron was paying close to $200 per month, I called Frontier to chat about what my savings might be.
The first thing I found out was that in less than a month, my clever negotiation from the last time I'd called was just about to run out and our bill was going to go up to $190 a month.
Yikes! That was as high as Ron was paying. So with that as my starting point, my new friend at Frontier immediately told me that that she could give me a $10 per month discount coupon for the first year of YouTube TV if I quit paying Frontier for TV service.
So YouTube TV is normally $65 per month, but I would be paying $55 per month for that one year.
Now I have no explanation for why they were helping me. Why are they paying me to leave?
I know I was an annoying customer because I called them every time they tried to raise our rate, but they were still making bank on us.
I'm also sure they get some sort of deal from Alphabet for converting us to YouTube TV, but you know, the math just doesn't work out.

[6:16] As Ron had explained to me, the reason canceling TV service saves so much money is that virtually all of those weird annoying fees disappear.
Maybe you don't have this kind of nonsense in your country, but we were paying a VoIP administrative fee and a sports broadcast fee and a cable card fee.
The one that really bothered me was that sports fee since I've watched virtually zero sports.

[6:39] Another item in our inexplicable discount category is that they gave me a $10 per month loyalty credit for the next year. That's right. For leaving the TV service, they paid me $10 per month.
Since my new rate for Fios was going to be higher than what new customers get, they also gave me a $10 per month new subscriber discount for the following year.

[7:03] So in case that's becoming confusing, Frontier saved me $30 per month on buying YouTube TV and paying frontier for Fios. When I canceled my TV service, my bill went from $190 per month down,
to $46 per month. I told the woman on the phone that I was glad she explained those two credits and that they were only for the next year. I said that'll keep me from calling and hollering at you
in a year when the price goes up. She responded, no it's not gonna stop you but you won't holler at us, but you will call us and ask us what promotions are available to you then.
I thought that was really interesting. She actually encouraged me to call back and find out what I could get. So there was one more item in the savings column. I was able to cancel our
TiVo subscription, which saves us another $150 per year. So the grand total savings for the first year will be $1,217 for a year. We were paying over $1,000 extra a year for television. That,
doesn't even count all of the streaming services we pay for. That was amazing.
Anyway, the financial benefit takes my breath away, but something else happened that sweetened the deal even further.

[8:23] Ron told me to ask for this, but I can't believe they gave it to me. We had 100 megabits per second symmetrical Fios internet when I started the conversation.
But when I canceled our TV service, saving all of that money.
They upgraded us to 500 megabits per second symmetrical for free. Like no technician had to come out and worked with us for hours to get it working, but they didn't charge us anything.
So the bottom line is that we saved $1,200 per year, we got our internet speed increased by a factor of five, and we still get to watch all of the same TV we were paying for before.

[9:01] We've also simplified our environment. We watch YouTube TV through our Apple TVs that were already in place. We have one at every single TV, which means we were able to get rid of a TiVo Edge, a TiVo Mini Vox,
and three TiVo Minis. Steve's been selling the TiVos on eBay as we speak, and one of the edges he got, he already got $85 for it, so that's even more savings. Now, Ron also pointed out that those TiVos use a lot of energy, but I haven't been able to quantify the savings there yet. Now,
the only complaint we have with YouTube TV is that it's much harder to precisely scroll in a show to skip commercials using the Apple TV remote. There also seems to be an issue restarting YouTube TV if it was the last app we ran on the Apple TV. We have to restart the app sometimes three times,
before it'll start up. These are small annoyances and a small price to pay for $1,200 per year savings and a 5x increase in internet speeds. Now I'm sure you're all smiling knowingly at us because you've been saving this money for years, but like I said, we feel like we have made fire.

Announcing Transcripts For All Podfeet Podcasts

[10:06] Jo from the Northwoods is a beast at learning new things and implementing the things she learns. When she met me in real life, she bought one of my older MacBook Pros because she wanted to learn the Mac and potentially move over to macOS, leaving Windows behind. Shortly after that,
she decided to start a podcast, and I offered a wee bit of help. I suggested a few apps to her.
I suggested Hindenburg as a multitrack editor, Audio Hijack for recording different sources, and off Phonic to level my audio or level her audio I should say and get it to the loudness standards for podcasting.

[10:38] Approximately eight minutes later she had abandoned Windows, bought a modern M1 Mac, mastered all of the apps I suggested and created her podcast, start with small steps with 116 episodes already recorded.
Now when I say she mastered the apps I suggested, I'm not kidding.
She actually watched training videos, she read the manuals, and she is now regularly helping me with these apps even though I've been using them for years when I run into
problems. She also keeps up with what's new on the apps she uses. Jill's diligence and constantly staying up to date and being so knowledgeable will now bring a definite benefit
to you. Jill tipped me off that the web service Auphonic that processes our mutual audio files had a new feature. George Holtzman, the developer, implemented a speech recognition engine using
an open source tool called Whisper by OpenAI. What this means to you is that I'm going to be able to provide transcripts of all of the pod feed podcasts.
Now the lured amongst you are thinking, wait a minute, doesn't she script the no silica st with full-fledged, beautifully crafted blog posts? While that's true, Chit Chat Across
the Pond Lite normally has no text version at all. And even on the no silica st you might find benefit to hearing Bart's explanation on security bits beyond just the articles to which he links in the show notes.

[11:57] Deep dives are written out fully, but there's a lot more content available in the audio. Not only will this be a benefit for those with hearing impairments, but what if you did hear an episode but you wanted to reference something you heard, or quickly refresh your memory?
You could search for a word or a phrase in the transcripts and you'd be able to find it.

[12:17] Now the process to create the transcripts is incredibly trivial and easy through The service works on the concept of presets.
I have one for the NoCellicast, one for programming by stealth, and one for Chit Chat Across the Pond Light.
Now the processing is mostly the same between those three presets, but the three presets add the correct logo to the file, add the metadata like the artist and the podcast name,
and then it securely transfers the mp3 file to Libsyn, which is the service that serves all of my audio files.
To produce a show, I select the preset, point it at my audio recording on my computer, and Offonic does all of the rest.
When it's done, the mp3 file is ready for you to download with your podcatcher, and I can download a copy for my own archives.
Adding transcripts to a preset is just as easy. In addition to the mp3 output file, I can choose three different output file formats.
Subtitle, which is a VTT file, transcript, which is HTML, and speech, which is a JSON file.

[13:20] Now, the only output file type I think I'll be using is the HTML transcript unless someone can explain to me something nifty I can do with the VTT subtitle or JSON speech files.
Alphonic is fairly quick to transcode the high-quality M4A file into an MP3, but transcription takes a bit longer.
I haven't timed it since I've only done it once or twice, but it seems to be, I don't know, maybe anywhere from 20 minutes to a half hour, maybe an hour.
I've really got to keep track of that. But I did one today that went pretty quickly, but the one I did last time seemed to take a lot longer, probably a longer show.
Anyway, the main thing is that it does take a little bit longer than doing just the audio. So I might have to wait a little bit to publish the podcast until the transcript is ready.
Now I love the download interface of Auphonic because it shows me what the waveform looked like before it leveled the audio.
If I've been in a conversation with Bart or another guest, it is astonishing how different the two waveforms look from before and after.
I can also play the audio from this interface.
Once the transcription and mp3 files are ready, there's a download button right next to them in that audio player interface.

[14:32] I realized as soon as the transcription was available that it would be very tedious to deal with these files on my own.
So it would be in my best interest to automate what I did with them right from the beginning.

[14:46] I use Hazel from NoodleSoft to automate file management and I knew it would be the perfect tool to help me with the transcriptions.
I was already using Hazel to deal with the MP3 file downloads from Offonic.
Hazel watches my downloads folder and if it sees any files starting with the nc underscore prefix and with an extension of.mp3, it automatically removes them from the downloads folder and,
puts them into a dedicated folder I have called ncaudio2022.
Hazel also watches that folder and when the files have been sitting there for two weeks, it moves them over to my Synology for cold storage archive.

[15:23] Now what I needed for the transcripts was going to be a bit more advanced, but not that much harder.
I set up Hazel to again watch the downloads folder and this time to look for files starting with nc underscore and then ending with.html. That should uniquely identify the transcripts files.
I set up a second rule for Hazel to look for the chit chat across the pond transcripts. When Hazel finds a match, I told her to move these files to a folder on my Mac called Transcripts All Shows.
For the tricky bit. Hazel can also connect to remote servers and use secure file transfer protocol, SFTP, to log in and push the files up to my server.
So I created a directory on at the top level called transcripts, and I told Hazel to watch that transcripts all shows folder on my Mac.
Anytime it finds a new one, it pushes those new files up to slash transcripts.
Now I created a diagram, of course I did, to try and illustrate all of the automation I just described. Hopefully it'll clarify what I'm doing.

[16:26] Now this was only the first part of my automation. You may have noticed that the NocillaCast show notes are very standardized.
That's because I use TextExpander to create them. It automatically creates the introduction, including the date for the show, and it creates the sections for the articles, how to support the show and the outro.
This automation needed to now include the link to the transcript of the show. One of the cool features of TextExpander is that you can embed snippets inside of other snippets.
That allows me to create a standalone snippet that links to the transcription and then use it in different ways for the different shows.
The chit chat across the pond show notes don't have as much of a rigid structure because they're often just a short paragraph with a link to play the show.
If it's programming by stealth, it'll also include a link to Bart's show notes.
With its standalone snippet for the transcripts, I can then include it just like that in the chit chat notes, but I can also embed it in the more complex snippet for the no silica shows.

[17:24] Text expanders embedded snippets or nested snippets, I guess it's another way to call them, is super powerful and it makes automation so much easier.
In theory, it also makes me less error prone as well. I say in theory, because much of these podcast related snippets rely on me executing them on the correct day.
The files you download, whether the audio files for your podcatcher or the transcript are all date-based, the names are date-based.
So I've instructed TextExpander to automatically create the episode names using the format of year, month, date.
Now on rare occasions, I don't post Chit Chat across the pond on the same day I record it. And basically, anarchy ensues as a result.
I use the same date format snippet to name the audio files, so I can end up where the blog post and the podcast episode and the transcript will all have the wrong date.
On other rare occasions, I start the NocellaCast show notes before Sunday and I have to manually go in and change all of the data info there too.
Now both of these are surmountable problems for those rare occasions when I do things on an off day, but the automation works all the rest of the time.

[18:34] Now the bottom line is that the pod feed podcast shows will now be even more accessible with full transcripts for the hearing impaired and those transcripts might benefit others.
I have no intention of editing these transcript files, but Off-phonic does offer an editor where you can listen and edit at the same time. If a volunteer wanted to take on this task,
I might consider that, but for now you'll get whatever whisper by OpenAI gives us.
I may also change slightly where the files end up on my server, but if I do move them, be assured that I'll have a redirect so you can always go to slash transcript slash the episode name dot html.
Now I'm working on a way that you'll be able to just look at that top level directory so you can scan what's available, but I don't have that working quite yet.

[19:21] Please let me know if you find value in the transcripts, whether it's because you aren't able to listen, you choose only to read, or you want it as a reference to find something you heard on a podcast.
Even if only one person gets value from this, it's basically free for me to create it through Auphonic and with my automations by Hazel and TextExpander, it won't be any more work than clicking that download button in Auphonic.

[19:44] By the time you hear this, the transcript of my conversation with Nick about HomePod repair will already be available, linked in the blog post for that episode of Chit Chat Across the Pond. How cool is that?

Support The Show

[19:56] I am delighted to announce that we have a new hero today and his name is John Endel.
He's our hero because he went to slash PayPal and he donated money to help support the shows.
So you remember all those tools I just finished mentioning that helped make the show work like a phonic and text expander and Hazel and Hindenburg?
None of those applications are free so every bit helps to keep the show going. Thank you, John, for being our hero this week.

Replacing Ulysses With Bear

[20:22] I've mentioned quite a few times that I use the awesome blogging tool for the Mac, MarsEdit from Red Sweater Software.
Every blog post you read has come from MarsEdit.
MarsEdit lets me write in the plain text language Markdown, or I can write in HTML, or I can mix and match the languages when needed.
For example, it's much easier to create a bulleted list in Markdown with a simple asterisk on each line than it is to use opening and closing li tags in HTML.
But sometimes I prefer the formatting of links in HTML.
MarsEdit lets me use the right language for the right job without fighting with me.

[20:55] Now another reason I love MarsEdit for blogging is how easy it is to add images to my posts and to format and size them exactly the way I want. I can drag them into the text editor and the upload utility opens. Within there I can use medium markup templates that I've created.
One of my templates allows me to specify that I want an image uploaded into a figure that is right justified with a 10 pixel margin on the left and a caption underneath. If I'm I'm feeling frisky, I might use my left-justified or even center-justified template.
MarsEdit prompts me to create a post slug, which is the text you see after It lets me use posts or put posts into categories, which is what allows you to see the blog post or just the security bits post or all of the chit chat across the pond posts.
I also add tags using MarsEdit, but I'm pretty sure the way I built my interface to the site doesn't actually allow you to use the tags for anything, but I still tag away as though they do something.

[21:50] When I'm done writing up a blog post, I can send the post to my website as a draft and do final updates on the site like adding the featured image.
When I'm done and I publish, I can refresh MarsEdit and the final published version syncs back down from the web to my Mac and MarsEdit.
It's a delightful tool and I love using it.
There's only one thing I want it to do that it doesn't do. I want it to run on iPadOS.

[22:15] But it doesn't. And even though I constantly beg the developer, Dangel Jalkut, to write the iPadOS app, he has not done it for me yet.

[22:24] Now if I've got a fabulous writing tool on the Mac, why do I need it on my iPad too? Because I find it delightfully relaxing to write on my 12.9-inch iPad Pro with its magic keyboard.
I'm less distracted, and it's a great device when I'm sitting in bed sipping my morning coffee.
I also prefer to use the iPad while watching TV or riding in the car on long road trips. I spend a lot of time in my studio working with my big display in my comfy giant chair, but I need to change a venue after a while.
I might want to sit on the back deck with the cats and Tesla playing outside on the grass, or maybe just sit in the kitchen so I can see outside.
Just a different place. But I don't always want to write on my iPad. I want to flip back and forth between the iPad and Mac.

[23:07] While it would be ideal to have MarsEdit on iPadOS, the next best thing would be a cross-platform Markdown Editor for writing my rough drafts. I don't need to do the final edit there. I'd be happy enough copying the Markdown from the Text Editor when the first draft is done and pasting it into Mars Edit on the Mac.
A few years ago, I went on a hunt for a tool that would let me write my blog posts rough drafts on the iPad and Mac and sync happily between them. My requirements were it had to sync between the Mac and iPad so I could easily write in either place depending on my mood.

[23:40] Number two was it had a support markdown and, if possible, a mixed environment with HTML. Finally, number three, and it's just as important as one and two, for me to use,
any tool in the iPad to write long form, it simply had to have support for Text Expander. I gotta tell you, you know, life is too short to type everything out like an animal. According to my weekly Text Expander report, I normally save around 45 minutes per week using Text Expander. That's an average of 39 hours per year.
So think about it, that's like a week of work vacation. So yeah, Text Expander is a requirement. And I've already just finished telling you all the reasons I love TextExpander. So there's a surprising number of apps that support markdown for text editing on the iPad, but adding in that TextExpander requirement really narrowed down the playing field. I wish Apple would just,
implement TextExpander in iPadOS already. And when I did my search a few years ago, I settled on Ulysses because it was on both platforms and it supported TextExpander. It was in Setapp for the Mac, so it was an easy pick to,
just try it out. Finding it adequate, I bought into their subscription model so I could use it on my Mac and iPad. After I got into using Ulysses, they changed their pricing model.
To use a cross-platform on all of my devices is now $40 per year or $6 per month. Not super expensive but it's not insignificant.

[24:59] Ulysses has nice themes, and it has a mode where you can focus on just a paragraph at a time. It also has a typewriter mode that's delightful.
The line you're currently typing on is always centered on the screen. For some reason I don't keep it that way, but I'm always delighted when I give it a play.
Ulysses allows you to sort notes into folders with a simple drag and drop.
This is how my brain works, so I really like that. It has metrics in the sidebar to tell you how many words you've written, and how long it will take someone to read it to themselves or read it out loud.
That out loud reading part helps me out a lot when I'm figuring out how long the blog post will take me to read.

[25:36] Now there's two things that have been really getting on my nerves with Ulysses over the past few years.
These two paper cuts have been grating on me and why I decided recently to ask for help looking for an alternative to Ulysses.
I struggle with links in Ulysses. Like most Markdown editors, it lets you hit command K to produce a pop-up window where where you can enter the text you want people to see and a second field for the link itself.
It will create under the hood the standard Markdown link format.
This format puts the text in square brackets and the link in round brackets. Now I say under the hood because as soon as you create the link, Ulysses puts the text and link in this ugly box where you can't see the plain text format for the links.
It's annoying as heck to try to edit because my cursor either won't go inside the box it is inside the box and I can't type text to the right outside the box I'm always struggling with getting my cursor in the right spot. It's kind of hard to explain but it irritates me all the time. Again it's a paper cut but it's all,
all the time.

[26:36] As I mentioned, I sometimes also want to use HTML links like I do with MarsEdit. It seems Ulysses seems to get very confused by these HTML links.
It'll italicize part of it, for example, and sometimes everything that comes after that.
The Markdown export also seems to get confused by these HTML links. In the export, it'll escape out the angle brackets in the HTML, which makes them useless when it's put into a real blog post.
It's so aggravating I have to go back and fix any links I created this way.

[27:08] In the same vein, Ulysses gets very confused by programming code I may embed into a post. It will escape out certain characters, even when I've got them in the little back ticks,
like I'm supposed to, so when I export the text in Markdown I have to peer very closely at every character to see where it might have borked it up.

[27:26] As you know, I like to put images into my blog posts. My process is to take screenshots with CleanShotX while I'm writing an article.
I save them to a folder and I name them exactly what I want the alt text to be for those images.
By doing that, it speeds up my process because when I pull them into the final product in Mars Edit, the tool automatically takes the title as the alt text.
Does make my titles long, but who cares? I get the alt text for free and I can tell my images apart in Finder.

[27:54] I still want to pull all my images into the blog post using Mars Edit during the final edit, but I need a good way to put that placeholder into the Markdown text editor I use.
Ulysses does let you drag in images, but it puts them in as dee-dee-diney little thumbnails that don't help me see what the image is.
It also doesn't show me the Markdown that it would include in the image title.
My work around, I should say, has been to type the image name onto a separate line near where I want to put the image, offset it by three equal sign, so hopefully I notice it when I go into the final edit in Mars edit.
It was a hacky way to do it, but I had no choice.

[28:30] I put the call out to our Slack community, giving them my requirements for a Ulysses replacement and I got some swell suggestions, one of which became my new text editor.
Let's briefly pass through those apps I didn't choose before I talk about the one I really like.
Marty Gensius suggested Craft from Luki Labs. Craft is a beautifully designed freemium app that has a different take on notes.
It uses blocks so you see your notes in a rectangular layout like playing cards on a page. It emphasizes design elements like embedded images. There's a lot of capability in the free
app, and if you want more storage and collaboration, you can subscribe for $5 a month. While Craft is a cross-platform, markdown editor and has text expander support, I didn't actually give this
a good college try because it was too fancy for this particular work. I might give it a try later to meet some of my other note-taking requirements, but I actually want something plain with few bells
and whistles. If a beautiful design in a note-taking app is something you're looking for, check out craft from Now, Alan suggested I take a look at Obsidian. He said he really likes it.

[29:40] Grumpy, also known as Mike Price, said David Sparks of Mac Power users goes bananas about it, and that Federico Vettici is a fan of it as well. David is a dear friend and a brilliant technology
guy so that sounded like a good recommendation. Sometimes he goes a bit overboard on the nerdiness of his integrations but I respect that in a person.
Obsidian has a plugin architecture that allows the functionality to be extended. I like that in an app. In order to use TextExpander you would have to install a plugin via their Obsidian Hub. I'd rather see it built in but I assume that it works just as well. I went to to check it out and I was immediately stuck.
While Obsidian works on a very reasonable freemium model, I wasn't able to check out the cross platform integration without paying $10 per month for the iPad app.
That's kind of a lot of money compared to the $40 per year I was paying for Ulysses.

[30:36] Now Marty also suggested trying drafts, which will do Markdown and supports TextExpander.
I tried drafts years ago and the basic design didn't suit me. It's more for crafting short drafts that you would then export as a tweet or a Tudor or post.
Drafts may have changed, but when I tried it, every time you opened the app, you were facing a blank page.
That makes sense for the use case I just described and for which drafts is designed, but I want a sidebar with folders and notes nicely filed away to be my opening page.
I didn't test drafts this time around.

[31:10] The winner for me turns out to be a delightful cross-platform app called Bear from, also suggested by Marty.
Berry is incredibly simple and elegant. It is, of course, cross-platform and it works with Markdown and TextExpander.
It's the most reasonably priced of everything I tried.
The subscription price is only $1.50 per month or $15 per year.
You could use a lot of the features of Bear without paying a dime, But, you know, at $1.50 a month, it seems an easy buy to support the developers and get a bit more capability in return.

[31:45] Syncing between iOS and Mac OS is essential. And I have a confession to make. I don't know how bare does it.
I know it works and I know it's super fast. I clocked it in once at eight seconds, but I don't remember configuring it and I can't find any settings to enable syncing.
The only thing I can find is a toggle in the app to disable syncing on a specific device. I'm guessing it's via iCloud Sync and it just magically works? So I guess if I can't remember how I did it, we can safely say that the sync is effortless.

[32:17] Before I get into the functionality of the app, I want to say that I love the way Bear handles links.
If I want the link to be on some text, I can copy the URL first, select the text, and hit command K. This pops open a little window already pre-populated with both the text and the link so I can review it and I can either hit save or if I want to keep my hands on the keyboard, I can hit enter to go through the options to save.
When the link is created, it shows the text in red in square brackets and then a simple chain icon inside round brackets.
There's no need to see that long URL glopping up my text, right? If I click on the chain link icon, it allows me to edit that text link combo again that I talked about.
But if I click on the text for the link, it opens it in my browser.
And, Bearer treats HTML links like first-class citizens, too. The HTML doesn't get escaped in any way, the URL itself is formatted in red and it's a live link so you can test it to make sure it's correct.
It's absolutely the best of all worlds for linking. I felt my stress level go down 50% using Bearer over Ulysses just because of this. So far, I haven't run into any weird escaping problems in Bearer when I type in code inside of Backticks.

[33:31] Now, I tested dragging in images from my desktop into Bearer while writing on my Mac, and the images come in nice and big just like I wanted.
When I export to Markdown, the images don't come along as Markdown because Markdown is just plain text, but the names of the images show up in the Markdown.

[33:48] This means that when I get over to TextEdit, I can see the name of each image where it goes in the blog post.
No longer do I have to type in the three equal sign on a separate line to grab my attention for where the images go. It's another time saver.
I can even take screenshots on the iPad and drop them into Bear and they look great.
I can hear Bart right now losing his mind because he prefers to add images at the end so he doesn't lose his train of thought.
We joke around often about how I can juggle multiple thoughts without dropping many of them. And I think that's evident my preferred workflow.
If I don't drop in images while I'm writing, I find that I either forget what screenshot I wanted to drop in or I get lazy later and I don't go back in and recreate them.

[34:32] Now, Bear doesn't use traditional folders to organize notes. Instead, the app uses the concept of tags.
I'm still a bit clumsy at using this way to organize my information, but I'm getting better at it.
You can create a hierarchy of tags that create what look like folders, and you can drag and drop notes into one of these nested tag, I'll call them folders, once they exist.
When you're starting from scratch to add a note to a tag, you actually type the tag right into the body of the note.
You type a hashtag followed by a word or words and it'll put a little pill shape around it so it knows it's, so you know it's a tag.
Now this new tag will show up in the left sidebar.
Using tags lets you keep notes in multiple locations which could be handy. If you want to create nested tags, you add the upper level tag as before, but then you add a slash followed by the sub tag and enclose it in a second hashtag.
Once you have these tags and nested tags created, you can start new notes within the appropriate nested tag in the left sidebar, and that newly created note will automatically be tagged.
When I first started using Bear, I found this whole tagging thing really annoying, but I keep discovering new ways to make it easier and I'm kind of getting the hang of it.
When I exported my first blog post to Markdown and pasted it into Mars Edit, I realized I'd have to delete these tags so they didn't appear in the blog post.
But then I found a toggle in Bear's preferences where you can have the tags removed on export.
Perfect solution.

[35:56] Now there's only one problem with this tagging system, and it's that you can't use the hashtag symbol in any of your texts because it'll turn into a tag.
I ran into this with some links that had hashtags as in-page anchors, which are shown with a hashtag.
The suggested workaround is to wrap anything with a hashtag in it as a code block to make sure it doesn't become a tag.
That's fine and bare, but it would get back to MarsEdit, it'd be formatted as monospace text, which may or may not look okay.
I used it in some of the articles here this week and looks a little funny, but it's okay.

[36:31] Now, on the Mac version of Bear, you can use Command-F to search within a note, just like any normal app.
You get the classic little window with a button to add a replace option if you desire.
But the iPadOS version of Bear is oddly missing the ability to search within a note. Command-F does nothing.
So I went searching the Bear website to figure out how to search within a note.
Turns out you can't. You can only search from the column of notes and it finds all notes with your search term. that might be useful, you still can't find all instances of a word or a phrase within a single note.
I searched for the word draft because I wanted to change it, and it correctly found this note that I've written here, but it only showed a tiny preview where it found one instance of the word draft.
When I selected the note, it didn't highlight the word in my document, so I didn't know where the word was, nor did it allow me to find other instances of the word.
If I wasn't so delighted with the Markdown and Link Support in Bearer, I think I might have given up on this app when I found this big missing feature.
I sincerely hope someone tells me, oh, Allison, you just missed it. It's here. Here's how you do it. Please. I'd really like that.
But I don't think that's going to happen because the bearer documentation doesn't mention it. So I don't think I'm wrong. But again, I hope I am.

[37:49] Now this is going to sound like I'm describing an app I don't like, but I'm going to tell you about another missing feature.
Bearer doesn't have any kind of built in viewer for your rendered markdown. On the Mac, the app supports integration with Brett Terpstra's Marked app, which is a Markdown viewing application.
Marked 2 is $14 in the Mac App Store or you can buy it directly from Brett at and it's available also as part of Setapp.
I already have Setapp and I already bought Marked 2, so on my Mac it's easy enough to keep it launched when I'm writing in bare so I can make sure everything looks right.
But on iPadOS, there's no equivalent of Marked and I think that's an Apple-imposed limitation. The bearer developers could have included a viewer, but they apparently chose not to.
This isn't a showstopper, and not being able to check how things work does keep me more focused but I kind of still wish it had that capability.
Now, I don't know how important metrics are to you, but I do need to keep situational awareness of how long my blog posts are to make sure Steven Getz won't yell at me for the show being too short.

[38:50] Maybe you have a certain number of words or characters you're allowed for an article you're writing for someone else, or maybe you're working on your great novel and you want to keep track of how many words you've written.
On both the Mac and iPad OS versions of Bear, there's a little eye icon in the upper right that tells you how many words, characters, and paragraphs you've written, and approximately how long it will take to read out loud.
Below those metrics are icons that you can press to allow you to export to Markdown, PDF, HTML, Word, JPEG, or rich text format with a single tap.

[39:22] On iPadOS, even with an external keyboard, you get a set of icons that allow you to do some standard Markdown formatting, such as adding headings, a line separator, also known as a horizontal rule,
bold, italics, underline, strike through, adding links, bulleted and numbered lists.
You can also add tags with the hashtag icon and even enter a drawing mode or insert an image from the camera or image gallery.
On the Mac, you get a few more options like code and code blocks, along with highlighting and attaching files, but it doesn't have the drawing mode.
Changing themes is always fun and both versions have several built-in. Oddly, there isn't much flexibility in choosing the font.
I really like the red graphite theme that uses the Avenir Next font. It's a good thing I found a font I like because you only get to choose between six different fonts within Bear.
I love the distraction-free mode with both sidebars collapsed. Those sidebars contain the list of tags and the list of notes within the current tag.

[40:21] Bear allows you to link from one note to another within the note. I don't have a lot of use for this option, but I gave it a go while working on the next I'm Still Using It segment for the Christmas week.
I created a separate note for each of the seven new entries that we have so far. I put them all in a nested tag called I'm Still Using It, all lowercase because that's how Bear does it.
Then I created a note called I'm Still Using It Part 2, and I pasted in links to each of the short notes from the contributors.
From the main note, I can click on any of the note links and they open immediately. This is kind of a contrived example, but I wanted to test it out in case it's of value to you.

[40:59] The bottom line is that I really enjoy writing with Bear. It's $25 per year, less expensive than Ulysses, and now I don't cringe when I know I need to enter a link. In fact, you'll notice
the show notes this week have a lot of links. I was just putting links in right and left about everything I talked about so you can find those things if you want to follow those links.
I was able to export all of my notes from Ulysses and import them into Bear with no trouble at all. They're waiting for me in an auto-generated, untagged folder, but I,
might just leave them be. The good news is that I finished my analysis three days before my annual Ulysses subscription was due. Big thanks to Marty, Al, and Grumpy, Mike Price,
for helping me find a great alternative that actually saved me money.

Transcript To Nc_2022_12_04

[41:46] Hey, did you know that a transcript of this very podcast is available? I've put a link in the show notes and you'll find that at the end of every episode it'll,
just say transcript and then it says view an unedited transcript of this podcast auto-generated by alphonic speech recognition using whisper by OMPA and AI and a link to look at that transcription.
So I hope you guys appreciate it.
That is going to wind us up for this week. Did you know you can email me at allison at anytime you like? In fact, that's how you should send in your I'm still using it suggestions.
We want to read those. We want to hear about the things you're using that have lasted the test of time. You can also ask me a question, send a suggestion, just send it on over.
You can follow me on Twitter at podfeed, but I'm not as active there as I am on mastodon at podfeed at Of course, there's a link in the show notes. If you want to join in the fun of the conversation, you can join our Slack community.
Where is it? Everything good starts with

[42:47] So it's at slash Slack. You can talk to me and all of the other lovely Nocilla Castaways. You can support the shows at slash Patreon, or with a one-time donation at slash PayPal, like John did this week.

[43:00] And if you want to join in the fun of the live show, head on over to slash live on Sunday nights at 5pm Pacific time.

[43:06] Music.

[43:22] And I'll see you next time.