Month: August 2021

Craft Notes 101 with James Eaton

Today I am happy to present a Craft 101 video with James Eaton where he walks me through how to set up my Craft notes system, what I can do to make it more useful, and how to get the most out of this app.

This was a lot of fun to make and I can’t wait to see how it helps anyone looking to set up a Crafts notes system.

Things included in this video:

  • How to organize your notes
  • How to make Craft a PKM system
  • The difference between notes, pages, cards, and blocks
  • How to make a wiki for a person/author
  • Many quick tips

I want to thank James for being a part of this and I hope to make a more advanced walkthrough with James in the near future as I get more time with Craft and look to take the next step with it.

How I Play Pokemon on OpenEMU

As a kid growing up with a GameBoy Color (I had the Gorgeous Green version), Pokemon was one of the most constant games I played. I played Yellow, Red, Gold, and Ruby all to completion. After Pokemon Ruby I had a falling out with the games because it seemed to get more complicated with IV and EV being more prominent as well as competitive play. I just wanted to catch Pokemon and beat the story in each game, not worry about whether the Pokemon I just caught is the strongest it can be. I moved on to other games on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 at this time as well, which also became a factor in Pokemon drifting away from me as I grew older.

Recently I have wanted to go back and play Pokemon games, but because Nintendo has yet to make them available on the Switch, I had to look elsewhere. Thankfully, MacStories recently shared an app that you can sideload onto you iPhone that allows you to play emulated games. The app is called Delta, and it’s free.

After I installed this on my iPhone with AltStore I knew that I wanted to play Pokemon as I edit my podcasts. If there is one thing that warrants playing video games while you work it is podcast editing. Sadly, Delta seems to be an iPhone only app. When I launched it on the iPad it was in iPhone compatibility mode, which I didn’t think would be an issue for me. I had planned to have this in split-screen with Ferrite running simultaneously, but alas that did not work either. Turns out that you can’t even run an app in iPhone compatibility mode in split screen on the iPad.

For now, Delta remains on my iPhone and I play Pokemon when I have some downtime or just want to relax at home on the couch while watching TV. This didn’t completely fix my problem for the podcast editing issue, but that is where my M1 MacBook Air comes in handy.

I remembered reading an article about how the new M1 Macs were fantastic for emulating games on the GameCube, and I figured that if my Mac can handle Gamecube games without it should be more than able to play GameBoy games.

Thankfully, after a quick google search it turns out there is a fantastic all-in-one option for emulating games on the Mac called OpenEmu. This app is something I wish I knew about earlier, because it is an app I thought I could only dream of. I tried emulating games years ago on a Windows PC and it quickly became a Frankenstein of sorts with different apps, files, BIOS, and other core items you need just for it to work, let alone play at the correct frame rate or aspect ratio. OpenEmu makes emulating games as simple as dragging the ROM into the app and you are ready to go.

Once I found some ROMS online (Google it, there are plenty of sites online) I can open the game within OpenEmu and begin the pure nostalgia.

Controller Support

One of my favorite things about both Delta and OpenEmu is that they support external controllers, and thanks to Apple allowing both Xbox and PlayStation controllers to be paired to your Apple Devices you most likely have a compatible controller.

If you are in need of a controller you can either purchase an Xbox or PlayStation controller, or if you plan to play exclusively Nintendo games you can buy the beautiful 8Bitdo Sn30 Pro+. All are options that work for the iPhone and Mac, and you can always make use of them for their respective consoles in the future if you decide to buy it.

Once I put my Xbox controller into pairing mode, I was able to connect it to my Mac. Once connected, it is just a matter of assigning buttons to the controller in OpenEmu’s settings page.

After about 15 minutes worth of work I am all set to start playing my games while I edit my podcasts. I can’t tell you how adding this to my podcast editing workflow has allowed me to edit for longer stretches without feeling bored or getting cabin fever. I don’t have the sound on the game, and I am able to fully pay attention to the podcast, but I am giving my hands and eyes stimulation while I listen for audio issues, outtakes, and more. When I do find something that needs to be edited, I pause the game (or just leave it running if I am not actively in battle) and make the quick edit and continue listening to the podcast and playing OpenEmu.

Editing with Hindenburg while playing OpenEmu

Quick Tips with OpenEmu

If you are like me and want to edit podcasts while playing the game, you may want to consider turning on “Always float popout gameplay window on top” enabled and also turn off “Always pause gameplay when in the background” so that when you are editing your podcast you can have the editing app active but still be able to see and play your game.

If you have a Mac or iPhone and want to learn more about emulators you can check out Delta and OpenEmu. From there, you find plenty of websites and walkthroughs on how to use these apps and where to download the ROMS you want to play.

Happy gaming!

The podcast episodes that make me better

I wanted to fulfill my promise of bringing some fun to this issue and share some podcast episodes I listen to fairly often. I have been an avid podcast listener as long as I can remember it being available on iTunes. As someone that drives two hours a day for my day job I fill the time almost exclusively with podcasts. This collection is just the tip of the iceberg for me, and the reason I listen to them multiple times varies. In general, it all boils down to a combination of enjoyment and knowledge. I have left every episode listed below feeling better than I was before I listened. If you want more, I am happy to add to the list in a future issue.

  • Automators #28: Keyboard Maestro and the Mac – Keyboard Maestro was Shortcuts for the Mac before Shortcuts can’t to the Mac. It has so much power and this episode gave me a taste of the app and what you can do with it.
  • Longform: Jenny Odell – This podcast opened my mind in many ways, mostly in ways I can’t articulate here in this newsletter. If you ever feel like you are on the internet too much, have caught yourself Doomscrolling, this is a podcast that is worth a listen. You can also buy Jenny’s book, How to do Nothing, and gain even more insight.
  • Compound Writing: How to Design a Sustainable Daily Writing Workflow for Blogs and Newsletters with Michael Jones – Michael gives a talk about his story in making The Supercreator, what he did to brand and define his newsletter, how he writes daily, and what you can do to stand out. Michael is a genuinely nice person and graciously gave me a half hour of his time to chat with me about Tablet Habit as I got started with it. If I ever feel lost or want to make sure I am doing the right thing with this newsletter I listen to this.
  • Media Voices Podcast: Man cannot live by newsletter alone, the realities of going solo as a journalist – An audio documentary showcasing newsletter writers in all stages of their writing careers. This is some fantastic reporting, interviewing, and editing to show the good and bad sides of newsletter writing. It doesn’t just show the wildly successful stories, it also shows when things don’t work out and what those people have learned from it. This is easily one of the best pieces about the creator economy I have consumed in the past year.
  • 43 Folders Podcast: John Gruber & Merlin Mann’s Blogging Panel At SxSW – Merlin Mann and John Gruber have a talk at SxSW in 2009 where they talk about what makes for good blogging. Really, this talk is about creating things online in general. Online publishing as changed dramatically since 2009, but very little about this talk has seemed to become obsolete after more than a decade since it was given.
  • Mac Power Users #583: The Obsidian Deep Dive – David Sparks and Stephen Hackett dive deep into Obsidian and helps newbies to the app understand what it is, what it can do, and how you can make it work for you. There have been a few meaningful updates since this episode went live but it’s still suitable for those getting started.
  • Automators #71: Automated Capture – David Sparks and Rosemary Orchard show how to handle capturing ideas, tasks, notes, etc. and what to do to ensure you have a system that works.
  • Do By Friday: The Doodler – This isn’t a normal productivity podcast, so be warned about that. That said, this is my favorite podcast to listen to to get back to the basics of Drafts. The hosts have creator of the Drafts app, Greg Pierce, on as a guest and talk about what Drafts is, what it can do, and how you can make it your own. If you want a fantastic text editor that holds a lot of power user options download Drafts and give this a listen. Bonus points if you listen to their later episodes, one revisiting Drafts to do more with it, the other where they write their texts in Drafts.
  • Automators #73: Custom Drafts Themes, Syntax, and more with Tim Nahumck – Tim, who is a friend of mine, shares how one of the latest updates to Drafts allows you to use custom themes and custom syntax. This is for the people that already use Drafts. If you aren’t familiar with the app I suggest you listen to the previous episode of Do By Friday.

The 5 Things I Learned from Casey Newton

In the latest episode of A Slab of Glass I interviewed Casey Newton, creator of Platformer, about his writing process. This is what I learned in the interview.

1. Take Your Shot

This is partly something I learned prior to this interview and partly something Casey validated for me during the interview.

I asked Casey to be on the show, thinking he would fully decline (politely). To me, he seems like such a busy person so why would he “waste” it on someone like me. This is me not giving myself enough value.

I also felt like one of the reasons he was so receptive to me asking him to be on the show was because I had a different angle than others. Instead of just talking about how he went independent, I wanted to talk about his process. He even told me in the interview saying that I am the first person to ask him about how he does his work, which I took as a compliment.

So if you have someone that you want on your show, ask them to be on but have it be mutually beneficial if you can.

2. Have a system, and stick with it

Casey spoke at length about how he uses Notion and Roam in a system, and I noticed that he not only had a place for everything but he also had a well thought out reason for each decision, and he continually stuck with that system to accrue more value from it over time.

People who care deeply about notes are also the ones to jump ship every time something new comes along. While it can be fun to play around with the latest software, if you keep moving from one app to another it isn’t allowing you to have any real value accrue over time.

There will never be a perfect notes app, you just have to pick something that has flaws you’re willing to live with.

3. Be judicious with your tags and labels

One feature that most of the newest notes app have, including Apple Notes, is tags. If you have redundant tags, it can grind your note taking effectiveness to a halt. For example, if you have a tag like iPad and another tab like iPads you now have duplicate tags. So after some time you might be looking for something about the iPad but when you use your tags you now aren’t sure if the correct tag is iPad or iPads.

If you continue to maintain your notes like a garden your yield will be much more prosperous. So when you add tags, look to see if there are potential tags already in your system before making new ones.

4. Brain dump everyday

Casey mentioned about how he just brain dumps with Roam as a pseudo journal of sorts. This reminded me a lot about daily notes, which I am a huge fan of.

One thing that I know has helped me as a writer is to have a place like a daily note or even a scratch-paper app like Tot to quickly jot down something in my mind. Once it leaves my brain and goes into a note or onto a piece of paper my mind lets go of that thought completely. When I do this enough times the only thing left to think about are the big things. Things like my newsletter, my plans for my house projects, my goals for the next 5 years, things that need significant time for my brain to noodle on.

The items I captured earlier are still important, and I do indeed process them. Most of the time those quick thoughts either go into an ongoing note like one I have for house projects, or it goes into my task manager as something I should do.

Another benefit with daily notes is that sometimes a thought you had that seemed small can grow into something much larger. I have had multiple things pop in my head that sparked an interest of mine and caused me to write about it here on Tablet Habit. My piece about Regex, for example, was a simple thought I wrote down one day and after hours of playing around with Regex I decided to write about it.

Allowing my brain to stretch out a bit every day is the mental exercise I need to keep my writing and thought processing limber.

5. Just use a to-do app, they all do the same thing

Casey had a singular hot take about to do apps and it was that most to do apps are just meant to be glorified checklists and they all do pretty much the same thing. So instead of wasting your time fiddling with different apps you should just pick one and live with it. He used to use TickTick, but now uses Todoist. Just find one that is pretty enough for you and functions the way you want it and start using it. Embrace its flaws and make it work for you.

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