Mac 20 Questions Podcast 117 starting the day in bed with Siri

When you’re lying in bed in the dark room, your eyes are not ready for looking at bright lights and in fact not even ready to open, what you really is Siri. The only trouble is, is that if your wife is in the other room listening she will think that you are talking to your secret lover first thing in the morning. So you might have to explain what you’re up to just so that you keep out of trouble. It is quite useful to be able to ask Siri what time it is and first of all decide whether it is time to get up or not. Then you can ask Siri to tell you what appointments you have for the day. It may well be that there is something on first thing and you really do need to get your butt out of your bed and get the day properly started.

Using Siri to check emails and the social networks

Apple Siri

I find it’s quite handy to ask Siri to tell me how many emails I’ve got. Siri will offer to read me the last three emails that have arrived or I could ask for all of them to be read to me. It really depends on how many emails there are in the inbox. That little bit of time when it’s a bit too early to get up and inside the bed is much warmer and toastier than it is in the rest of the house can be a great time for doing some thinking. Deciding what you want to do for the day, making one or two plans or just for checking up on some of the news. This morning Siri told me that’s the email came in from the Guardian newspaper with the latest news headlines. Now and then there will be something interesting in there. I also have the Guardian App on my iOS devices.

The new iOS app called Workflow

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One of the best things about using computers is when you can get it to do what it is best at, which is to automate things. This new application gives us some of the automation on iOS, on our iPhones and iPads that up until now has only been available on our Macs. In some ways it works quite similar to the Mac application Automator, or maybe it is a little bit like keyboard Maestro. You can set up a new automation just by dragging in building blocks of code and not need to know how to do any coding, in order to get something really cool happening automatically.

When I got the application there was a tutorial which had you build a workflow automation step-by-step. It is a quite simple workflow which gets you to take three photographs and turn them into a gif and then for that photo to be uploaded to your choice of social network. Once you have made this workflow you can save it out so that it becomes as if it was an application on your home screen. I find that Workflow is very handy if you combine it with the application Launch Centre Pro. I can see that I’m going to be a much bigger user of Launch Centre Pro now that I am saving the workflows into a group button. The main limitation with this Workflow application is going to be how much of an imagination you have for working out what you can do with it. Then all you have to do is to put the building blocks together to make it happen.

New workflows popping up everywhere

The application only came out yesterday and already people are publishing, sharing the workflows that they are creating through the sharing webpages from the makers of the application. People are also getting enthusiastic with creating these workflows and sharing them out through the social networks such as Twitter and also with Facebook. There is a lot of good and geeky automation happening on iOS all of a sudden and I like it!

What to do when there is no electric in the house

What I had expected to do today was to create a podcast and also to create a tutorial video for YouTube about Pixelmator for iPad. For the whole morning there was no electricity in my house so I had to do other things. So long as I didn’t need to connect up to the Internet I still had my iPad and iPhone that were fully charged and ready for action. The podcast that I started recording before I got out of bed this morning I continued by recording extra bits while I was walking the dog. Then when I got back into the house I added some more recorded audio to finish it off. I did the first part of the editing of the audio within the application is using to record which is my favourite single track audio app, TwistedWave Further my career top blogging time. If I had been making a video blogging type of podcast I could have continued recording snippets of audio while I was standing on the roof inspecting broken tiles. I could have also continued with the audio capture while I was out in the shopping town next to the beach, but I decided to leave that for another day. In any case, it was good to get back home and find out that the electricity was again working.

I did see the notice yesterday to say that the electricity was going to be turned off. I should have turned off my iMac before I went out walking the dog. I was only out walking for about 30 or 40 minutes and I should have had enough juice in the UPS, but didn’t. It usually isn’t a good idea to have your computer turned off without shutting it down properly. I think I got away with it though! Since I started the iMac back up again this afternoon everything seems to be working okay. I will have to do a test to find out how many minutes I have by using the UPS to shut things down properly.

Dictating with DragonDictate and editing words or making videos

On a normal day I would be writing by dictating into DragonDictate and also editing those words. I will also be creating videos by recording tutorials into ScreenFlow. As I discovered with my trip to Ireland I can still pretty easily crank out thousand word articles, using just my iOS devices and dictating into Siri. It isn’t quite as accurate as DragonDictate and it would take a little bit longer, but even so it is still a pretty efficient way to work.

I think that there may be some applications that you can use to record your screen on the iPad or iPhone, but I don’t think they work very well. It is far better to use a screen recording application such as Camtasia or ScreenFlow. So the video work which was a Pixelmator for iPad tutorial that I had planned for today will have to wait until tomorrow.

More interviews of Mac users to come

Next week’s Mac 20Q interview will feature Bob Middleton who is a Mac user living in Japan. So it is going to be quite interesting to get the lowdown of what it is like to be a Mac user in the far east, in the land of the rising sun.

Posted in Podcast.

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