The site aggregates headlines from independent publishers that focus on Apple products and software. It also serves as a directory of single-person weblogs within our community. Over the past few years, social networks have become less and less exciting to use and there have been some subtle indications that the open web is poised for a comeback.
The new #OpenWeb site and its clean design is a quick way to not only get some news and insights if you use Apple products, but also to discover new bloggers. I like the focus on indie blogs, which is where I spend most of my time online. I have most of these blogs in my RSS feed already, but this is worth following for discovery, as the author intends to continue adding new blogs.
A link post is a type of post common on many blogs, including here at 40Tech, where the post links to a story on another site. The purpose of a link post is to say to the reader, “Hey, here’s a good story.” Often the post adds a few words of commentary. The post on sharing your WiFi credentials with a QR code was an example of a link post.
I’ve recently come up with an easy way create a link post on 40Tech using Ulysses and the Workflow app on iOS. I copy the author’s name to the clipboard, select the text I want to quote, and run the workflow via Safari’s share sheet. The workflow prompts me for the name of the other site, before opening Ulysses with my post almost all ready to go. All that’s left for me to do in Ulysses is add some comments, pick my tags and categories, and publish the post.
Behind the Scenes
Here’s what happens, mostly behind the scenes, in the Workflow app:
After Workflow asks me to type the name of the publication, it sets it as a variable;
Workflow gets the clipboard contents (which should be the author’s name, if you copied the name to your clipboard as I explained above), changes it to title case in the event that it isn’t properly capitalized, and sets it as a variable;
Workflow gets the URL from the Safari web page, as well as the text I selected on the page;
Workflow puts together the pieces and creates the text for the post; and
Workflow opens Ulysses with the text as a new sheet.
In the first part of step 4, above, Workflow creates a header tag (#) followed by the name of the story as a clickable link. That’s because Ulysses will take the URL that follows a header tag in the first line and add it as a “linked_list_url” custom field on my WordPress blog. That’s what makes the title of my link posts clickable, and sends you to the other site when you click the title.
Here is a screenshot of the entire workflow:
Here is a link to download the complete workflow in the Workflow directory. I realize the final two steps could probably be redone using a “New Ulysses Sheet” action, but this is working so I’m not messing with it. If you are going to use the workflow yourself, you’ll need to change the path at the end of the second-to-last step to point to a group that already exists in your Ulysses setup (mine points to 40Tech > Linked).
My link post workflow on iOS is now almost as efficient as it is on Mac. More on my Mac workflow soon.
[Mac] Someone please tell me why I didn’t discovery this, oh, maybe six years ago? If you have a blog and write about software, you’re constantly looking looking for high quality icons to use. The method quoted at the bottom of this post from Macworld makes it easy.
Even easier, I’ve found, is a tip I stumbled upon a while back on another site. I’ve been unable to relocate the source, so regretfully can’t credit it, but I remember the tip: find an application in your Finder, and drag it onto the Preview icon in your Mac’s dock. Preview will then open, showing you all of the artwork used in that application, including the icon. You can then export a high quality version of it to use in your blog post.
In the Finder, select the program in question, and press Command-C (or if you love menus, select Edit -> Copy). You’ve now got a full copy of the application on your clipboard. . . Now launch Preview, and press Command-N (File -> New from Clipboard for you menu users). You may be surprised at the result: a full copy of the chosen application’s icons, in every available size.
I was recently asked to identify some of the essential WordPress plugins that we use are here at 40Tech. A few years ago, we covered five of them. Amazingly, we’re still using all five. There are other plugins, though, that we also use. While I would prefer a lean WordPress installation, these other plugins bring functionality that is important. With that in mind, here are ten additional plugins that make 40Tech tick.
Almost two years ago, I wrote about the positive experience that I’d had with WooThemes when switching over to the current WordPress theme that powers 40Tech. I implemented several custom changes to the theme we use here, and the WooThemes folks were very helpful as I worked things out. Lately, though, the WooThemes team has taken a step that has given me pause. Specifically, WooThemes is integrating tracking into all of their themes – new or old – so that they can get a better idea of how their customers are using their themes.