Journalists need to collect “string:” fragments of ideas and information that might turn into stories later

Laura Shin at Poynter.org describes how several journalists build their string collections, and organize them — or don’t:

Fleeting thoughts and observations that seem interesting, if not directly relevant to your article, could someday lead to another story, whether that’s a quick blog post or a book.

Capturing these random thoughts in an organized fashion is challenging. That could be why few writers do what is sometimes called collecting “string” — or, random threads of thought that could someday be spun into a larger story. (When reporting this article, I approached many writers who said they do not collect string. Some even asked me how to define the term.)…

Whether you decide to go with a detailed organization scheme or a looser method, the emphasis here is that you should collect random thoughts and observations that seem interesting, whether or not you end up using them later. And you should have a method for reviewing them to make sure that the ideas you’ve collected don’t gather dust.

I’m thinking about trying out DevonThink, which now has an iOS app. Among other things, it seems like a good way to organize a string collection.

And this blog is of course a big string collection. Which might be a good tagline for it.

Bruce Schneier: How hackers break passwords, and how to pick good ones →

Find a good password management app and let it worry about picking good passwords and remembering them. Schneier recommends Password Safe for Windows, but says he can’t vouch for Password Safe on other platforms because he has not evaluated them. I like 1Password, which supports Mac and iOS, which I am familiar with, and Windows and Android, which I’m not.

Something to hope for in iOS 10

Brief Thoughts and Observations Regarding Today’s WWDC 2016 Keynote [John Gruber/Daring Fireball]

It seems possible that with iOS 10 we may be able to change our default Web browser. I’ve been wanting that for years. It’s something you can easily do on the Mac, and it’s a simple area where the iPhone and iPad lag behind Android.

Also, I’d like a way to change the default keyboard. Right now you can do it in a halfway fashion; it doesn’t stick. It’s like Apple wants you to use the stock keyboard as default while switching to alternatives for occasional specialized tasks. I just want to be able to use a third-party keyboard 100% of the time. Again, a simple area where Apple lags far behind Android.

I don’t understand what’s going on with the lock screen in iOS 10, and don’t want to devote the time to watch the keynote video. I’ll just wait and see what comes out over coming months.

WWDC rumor roundup

What to Expect at WWDC 2016

I’d be very interested in a Siri SDK to allow developers to integrate Siri into their apps.

I might be interested in Siri on the Mac, though a keyboard and trackball work very well for me, so it’s hard to imagine switching. It would be more interesting if I could type queries to Siri – which, come to think of it, Apple has already been doing with Spotlight updates.

Proximity unlocking the Mac using the iPhone would be very nice. I’ve tried third-party utilities that did that, but they proved unreliable.

I like very much the idea of Apple implementing security features in iOS and iCloud that are so tough that even Apple can’t break them.

iMessage for Android? Sweet. Would love to bring my Android friends onto my iMessage network. On the other hand, would Android users use an Apple app? Probably not.

[Juli Clover – MacRumors]

Good news about the Apple App Stores

The New App Store: Subscription Pricing, Faster Approvals, and Search Ads [John Gruber – Daring Fireball]

Among the changes: Apple is throwing open the doors to allow developers to charge subscription pricing.

That’s a big step forward for two reasons: It will allow developers to implement a try-before-you-buy model with App Store apps, same as on downloadable Mac or Windows apps.

I’m a guy who likes to try new apps, and that can be an expensive habit when the apps are only available in the App Store. For example, last week I dropped $10 for the Mac version of the Airmail email app, as well as $5 for the iOS version, because you really need to try that app on every device to give it a fair workout. After a few days, I decided Airmail is not for me (performance too slow). $15 down the drain. Ouch. Be nice if I could try it for 30-90 days, then decide whether to pay to keep using it, as is typical for downloadable desktop apps.

Hell, it would be nice if I could try an app for an hour. Or a half-hour. Or 15 minutes. Long enough to give it a workout and decide whether it’s worth staying with.

The other reason to be encouraged by these changes is that it provides developers with a way to get off the creeping-featuritis treadmill. Because the way pricing works now, developers need to come out with a new version every now and then to get users to pay for an upgrade. So the developers start adding useless features to get people to upgrade. Now, developers will have the option to say, “This app is done. Nothing more I need to do with it,” and continue to offer support and minor upgrades for new versions of the OS. I guess developers could have done that before — charge for support and compatibility upgrades separately — but perhaps the market would not have stood for it.

And of course it’s a way for developers to make more money. That’s nice, but honestly I’m not all that concerned with how much money OTHER PEOPLE are making.

iOS makes third-party keyboards into second-class citizens

Link

iOS is keeping other keyboards from greatness – Katherine Boehret, The Verge

Boehret complains that third-party keyboards are unable to use dictation. But that's only one of the problems with third-party keyboards.

Support for third-party keyboards – and web browsers – is one area where Android is just plain better than iOS. iOS is always pushing you back to using the stock keyboard and browser. Android works more like a PC; if you change the default, you change it everywhere, throughout all applications and the operating system, which is as it should be.

I am kind of digging the new Microsoft “Word Flow” keyboard for iPhone

Link

Word Flow is a “swiping” keyboard, where you don’t pick up your finger between letters, and it has an “arc mode” that curves the keyboard for easy typing on one corner of the screen. Nifty!

I haven’t had much luck with third-party keyboards on iOS. Apple wants you to use them for occasional, added capabilities. It doesn’t want you to set a third-party keyboard as your default. This is one area where Android beats Apple.

Why TextExpander’s move to subscription pricing was a bad decision

The three-year cost of running TextExpander on the Mac has gone from $20 to $142.56. That puts TextExpander in the price range of Microsoft Office, Adobe Lightroom, and TurboTax.

And more.

As for me: Smile says it will continue to support the current version of TextExpander through the current and next versions of OS X. I’ll stay with it until I get a compelling reason to upgrade or switch.

Ironically timed, just this morning I saw a write-up of an intriguing alternative for large numbers of complex text snippets.

TextExpander 6 and TextExpander.com [Michael Tsai]

Microsoft launches Hub keyboard for iOS

Link

The free keyboard lets you access your clipboard history, contacts, OneDrive and SharePoint documents, and translates what you type into other languages.

The keyboard gets only 2.5 stars on the iTunes store, with 35 reviews in. People are saying it’s slow and buggy.

iOS has weak support for third-party keyboards. iOS is not good at letting you designate a third-party keyboard as your main keyboard; Apple apparently wants you to toggle to the third-party keyboard for some specific reason, then go back to using the main iOS keyboard most of the time.

Microsoft Launches Hub Keyboard for iOS [John Voorhees – MacStories]

How to use the predictive keyboard on iPhone and iPad

Call me a dope, but I never noticed the keyboard is trying to predict the next word as I type.

Also: How to get special characters, symbols, and diacritical marks when typing on the iOS keyboard. I’ve seen this instruction a few times before, and will probably forget it next time I need it.

How to use the QuickType keyboard on iPhone and iPad [Luke Filipowicz, Rene Ritchie, and Allyson Kazmucha – iMore]

I’m still liking TaskPaper after a day

That’s already a breakthrough. Sometimes I spent a few hours on the weekend configuring a new productivity app and it fails to survive even an hour on a workday.

Here’s a big thing I like about TaskPaper: Because it’s plain text I can just arrange things however I want. Put tags at the beginning of a task. Arrange tasks into projects or not. Change the order however I want. Go crazy.

Two significant drawbacks: It doesn’t automatically support dated tasks. I mean, you can add a date to a task, but it won’t automatically stay hidden until the appointed day and then magically appear in your task list when it’s time. I knew that when I started trying it. There are workarounds, and I can live with it.

The second drawback is more significant: Because my task list is just a text file that syncs with Dropbox, if I walk away from my desk and make a change on my iPhone or iPad, that change will likely result in desktop conflicts. The only workaround is like the old joke: “Doc, it hurts when I do this.” “So don’t do that.” I need to remember to close Taskpaper when I leave my desk. That’s too easy to forget. I can think of a couple of workarounds: Keep a separate “errands and chores” list for things I need to remember to when I’m away from my desk, and keep a separate inbox exclusively as a place to add tasks as they occur to me when I’m out and about.

Day two with TaskPaper is Tuesday.