A simple Drafts work diary

Topics for posts are piling up and I don’t have time to write them up. I’ve recently plotted out posts on

  1. The dangers of stored strain energy and how I avoided shooting my older son with the head of a screw when he helped me run some load tests a couple of months ago. This topic was inspired by the May 4 episode of the Generational podcast, in which Erik Hess and Gabe Weatherhead discussed the dangers of their former workplaces and Gabe’s propensity for setting himself on fire.
  2. Thermal stresses and why Katie Floyd’s glass baking dish blew up on Mother’s Day. This one would harken back to Dan Rutter’s post on Pyrex, which I read through a link from Marco Arment.
  3. The alleged design and craftsmanship in this artisanal bottle opener which Justin Blanton made the unforgivable mistake of ordering.
  4. How revisiting the comic books I loved as a teen has left me disappointed in both the writing and the artwork. The one exception is the early Conan series by Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor-Smith, and that’s probably because I’ve always seen myself as a latter-day Conan—black-haired, sullen-eyed, sword in hand, a thief, a reaver, a slayer, with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth.

And that doesn’t include more topical posts that I’ve given up on writing because their time has passed.

So tonight I’m taking the easy way out, with a short post about the iOS Drafts app inspired by David and Katie’s recent iOS Automation episode of Mac Power Users and by the Generational episode with Greg Pierce,1 the developer of Drafts.

Last night I asked a stupid question about Drafts on Twitter:

Y’know what’d be great? If @draftsapp could append to a Dropbox file named according to the date, creating the file if necessary.
Dr. Drang (@drdrang) Mon May 13 2013 8:16 PM CDT

It was stupid because Drafts can already do what I was asking for, as several kind people told me without snickering. Here’s the Dropbox action I came up with:

Drafts work diary

In my defense, the reason I didn’t realize I could use a date tag (the thing inside the doubled square brackets) in the name of the file is the name of the option that must be chosen with it: Predefined. It just didn’t seem right to me that a file with a predefined name could have its name defined on the fly. Also, it seemed superfluous to have a Timestamp option for the file name if a timestamp could be provided through tags. Still, the ability to use tags in file names goes back to version 2.5.3—I should have known about it.

Anyway,2 this action is intended to help me keep track of what I’m doing at work, what the action described at the end of this post should’ve been. The idea is to launch Drafts when I switch from one task to another, tap in (or dictate) what I’m about to start working on, and invoke this action. Each time, a pair of lines will be added to a diary file for that day, one with the timestamp and the other with the note I wrote for it. Like this:

1:14 PM
Started 200° test

1:45 PM
Ended 200° test

1:54 PM
Started 300° test

The improvement over the old system is that now I’ll have a separate file for each day, all in the same Diary folder in Dropbox. To me, this is a more natural way to organize diary entries, rather than having them all with time and date stamps in a single big file. Each day’s file will have a name like 2013-05-14.txt.

This is, in many ways, the same sort of thing Katie Floyd is doing with Day One. I like Day One, but I prefer using plain text files in case there comes a time when I want to run some script over my diary files to extract information. I have no plans to do that, but I want leave open the possibility.

Of course the real trick isn’t coming up with a Drafts action, it’s developing and maintaining the discipline to make an entry every time I switch contexts. I’m working on that.

  1. Gabe and Erik have been killing it on Generational. You really should make room for it in your listening schedule. 

  2. Have I ever mentioned how much I hate the non-word “anyways”? Once limited to the sort of people who say “irregardless,” it’s now everywhere, tormenting me.