June 7, 2019 at 9:00am

Read-it-Later with…

I’ve used Instapaper relatively consistently since Marco Arment introduced it. Was that a decade ago now?

Occasionally I’ve stopped using it, or toyed with other services like Pocket, or Safari’s Reading List feature. In the end, however, I’ve always gone back to Instapaper.

Despite that usage, I’ve never been interested in any of the service’s power user’ features. They’ve always felt disjointed from my larger workflows. My Instapaper history is an island of data that is unconnected from my other information, which is primarily kept in DEVONthink.

The End of Instapaper

At this point, I’m giving up on Instapaper. The finally nail in the coffin was the realisation of just how hard it was to get my data out of Instapaper. The RSS feed it provides is truncated, and links back to the Instapaper version and not the original article. So all my reading was excised from all my knowledge held in DEVONthink.

Fortunately, DEVONthink makes available a script that works in version 2.x (and not yet beta 3.0) that is able to create PDF versions of an Instapaper archive, using a CSV list of links available from Instapaper.

I was able to run this last night. It took about 3 hours to pull down over 2,000 articles. Now, these all exist within DEVONthink.

This experience has convinced me that I need a better way to manage my reading list such that I keep available my archive for more immediate use.

The Benefits

If this new process works, the benefits will be:

  1. One less app/service to deal with.
  2. Ubiquitous access via system-level extensions.
  3. An integrated corpus of information that can be better leveraged for future purposes.

Finding a Better Read-it-Later Workflow

My new workflow is still a work-in-progress.

I am going back to basics and plan to use Safari’s in-built Reading List feature. This has the benefit of being universally available across all Apple platforms. This will serve as my queue. From there I can push articles deemed worthy of keeping to DEVONthink for long-term archival.

Safari’s Reading List, combined with its Reader view, should be sufficient enough for most purposes. It doesn’t work offline, which was a key feature of Instapaper… but let’s be realistic. When am I ever offline?

When importing to DEVONthink I will most likely save it as a clutter-free web archive or Markdown. I can do this using the share sheet on iOS and the DEVONthink clipper/share extension with macOS.

DEVONthink 3 (currently in beta) offers a simple Reading List’ feature similar to Safari’s, but it seems a bit underwhelming at this stage. The iOS version is older and doesn’t have this feature at all. It is unlikely that I will adopt this element into my workflow at this time.

Breaking Down the Steps

So, in summary, these are the workflow steps:

  1. Identify article at source generally through Safari or Fiery Feeds.
  2. Push the article to the system-level Safari Reading List.
  3. Read the article in Safari, optionally using Reader View.
  4. Capture article into DEVONthink using the share sheet, share extension/browser extension/clipper.
  5. Leverage DEVONthink’s Groups’ feature to save the article to the correct location and the See Also’ feature to find similar information.
workflow software reading devonthink instapaper
May 31, 2019 at 10:01pm

How Differential Gears Work

Watching things like this remind how little I know.

May 31, 2019 at 7:31pm

Drafts for Link Posts


I’ve been noodling around trying to figure out the most effective way to write and publish onto this Blot-powered page, especially from iOS, but also recognising that I do also use macOS.

The answer is always Drafts, isn’t it? That app that I keep trying to incorporate into my workflow, and then keep forgetting about.

Thanks to @vasta and galexa I should be able to develop a better/faster/more efficient process.

In fact, this post has been written in Drafts, utilising its share sheet extension as suggested.

link workflow
May 31, 2019 at 7:19pm

Efficient Publishing of Link Posts to Blot

I’ve been noodling around trying to figure out the most effective way to write and publish onto this Blot-powered page, especially from iOS, but also recognising that I do also use macOS.

This is theoretically easy, since Blot just needs a file to exist in a Dropbox folder. Where I’ve found some problems, though, is in the production of link blog posts. Recent experimentation on my other blog using MarsEdit and its lovely Safari extension for the creation of link posts has made me more frustrated with my current workflow for link posts here on Blot.

While a work in progress, this is the process I have developed to simplify’ publishing a link post:

  1. Write the file in Notebooks app. Invoke a TextExpander .link shortcut to prepare the file metadata and paste the contents of a clipboard (that would contain the URL of the page to be shared) into a prepared Markdownified URL.
  2. Rename the automatically generated filename to one suitable name for Dropbox. Consider use of TextExpander .ds shortcut.
  3. Copy and paste/drag and drop quoted content from original webpage.
  4. Add additional commentary.
  5. Invoke the share sheet and select a Siri Shortcut.
  6. Choose the Blot Post shortcut.
  7. Select where within my Dropbox Blot structure to save the file.

Not as seamless as a Safari extension, but probably easier than what I’ve been doing to date. If anybody can suggest improvements, I’m all ears.

workflow blot
May 28, 2019 at 12:00am

Seven West Media Buys Remaining Stake in Community Newspaper Group in WA

Print and television giant Seven West Media has taken control of Community Newspaper Group in a deal that gives the company increased control over the West Australian media landscape, but has brought fears more jobs could be lost.

The deal brings several of Perth’s major suburban newspapers under the same company that owns The West Australian and Sunday Times newspapers, and top-rating TV news destination Seven News.

Well, this is depressing. As if our local media scene was not already enough of a monoculture.

May 22, 2019 at 8:03pm

Reading in the Age of Constant Distraction

Reading in the Age of Constant Distraction:

Horizontal reading rules the day. What I do when I look at Twitter is less akin to reading a book than to the encounter I have with a recipe’s instructions or the fine print of a receipt: I’m taking in information, not enlightenment. It’s a way to pass the time, not to live in it. Reading—real reading, the kind Birkerts makes his impassioned case for—draws on our vertical sensibility, however latent, and where it does not assume depth, it creates it.”

This article provides an interesting insight into the value that reading can offer the mind; how it can engage in a way that the shallows of the internet’s social platforms cannot (and will not, because they’re optimised for engagement, not consideration).