The State of RocketINK

April 22, 2015

Hi guys and girls,

This is a meta post. I felt it was about time to talk to you again and tell you what (not) happened to this blog. I try to keep it brief. Promised.

Health

In fall last year I told my parents that I have problems regarding that thing I vaguely mentioned from time to time in this blog: depression. In the last decade I have isolated myself a good deal – I’m a hermit – and only my girlfriend knew about my condition.

In November 2014 I had some financial problems. I knew that by February 2015 I would have no money left. This caused my depression to reach new heights – at least that is what I think is my happening in my brain, I don’t know for sure. I spend a week sitting on my sofa just starring blankly into the abyss, so I’m fairly sure it is depression.

In January 2015 the financial problem was solved – a lucky coincidence. I now have a steady income. I haven’t had one for 10 years. At least in that regard I have more peace of mind now (although I do not know for how long I will get my paycheck… but this doesn’t matter right now).

A month ago I build up the courage to finally see a doctor and currently I’m on the waiting list for a free spot. I started to meditate (and not only do the guided relaxation tapes) and talked with more people who had similar problems. Putting it all together, I’m in a much better place than when this year started.

My thanks to every one of you who checked in on me during my hiatus.

Blog

Writing RocketINK was always some kind of antidepressant for me and I will continue writing here. It is a bit hard to get into writing again. I want to, but there’s a barrier at the moment. This is why I’m activating security protocol B2.

Security Protocol B2

As you can see there is no “teaser image” at the top. I’m trying to streamline my writing process. As little work as this picture is/was, from now on I won’t put it on every post – it always kept me from doing short link posts and sometimes from writing larger articles, too.

I have a few other ideas in my head and will go back to the drawing board for RocketINK V2.

Monodraw – The Ultimate ASCII Art Editor

March 03, 2015

Monodraw – The Ultimate ASCII Art Editor → via @_patrickwelker

Quick question: What is the best way to get back to posting on one’s blog after a long dry period? The answer is easy. Write a short post about an awesome piece of design, preferably a Mac app.

Now witness doing exactly that. The subject of todays post is not just any Mac app… it’s an ASCII art editor. And what an editor it is: Monodraw by Helftone is a nerd manifest – think Photoshop for ASCII art.

monodraw-robot.png

Plain text has been around for decades and it’s here to stay. Monodraw allows you to easily create text-based art (like diagrams, layouts, flow charts) and visually represent algorithms, data structures, binary formats and more. Because it’s all just text, it can be easily embedded almost anywhere.

The Monodraw beta is now publicly available. Go ahead download the trial and decide for yourself if it’s something for you. If your answer is “Yup. An ASCII art editor is most definitely what I dreamed of in those cold lonesome nights” then you can put your order in and get the early adopter price (which is 40% off aka $29.99).

As you can tell by now, I find the idea of a pro level ASCII art editor utterly cool. Since I first read about Milen Dzhumerov’s (@milend) and Atanas Mahony’s (@amahony) idea to build such an app, I couldn’t wait what these two guys bring to the table. The wait was worth it. Some of you might argue that $50 for this app is a steep price, but keep in mind: the market for an ASCII art editor is assumably smaller than for a Photoshop or Illustrator alternative. Feature-wise the price is also justified. In short: I hope $50 from enough people will support the development up to a version 2.0 someday.

Some of the use cases for the nerdy folks out there are outlined on the website. If you want to create a unique mind map or flow diagram, this is a strong contender. If you want to beef up the documentation for your latest command-line utility, go Monodraw and make them shine. Enough talk, more pics.

monodraw-outline-opt.png

monodraw-diagram-opt.png

monodraw-macro-opt.png

monodraw-bigben-opt.png

PS: Good to be back.

Merging screen shots on iOS with LongScreen

December 21, 2014

Merging screen shots on iOS with LongScreen → via @_patrickwelker

The iPhone is not a Mac. On my big fat desktop computer I have multiple the lovely ImageMagick to take care of all my image merging needs. If you’re desperate to script something, there’s a way to do it on iOS, too – it’s Dr. Drang’s infamous cleanbar script.

The strange thing with being a Mac guy is… sometimes I don’t want to overcomplicate the simplicity that iOS is (and should be)… (for me). In those cases I’m always glad when “there’s an app for that”.

One of those cases where I like it simple: image editing. More precisely, merging screen shots. Welcome to LongScreen.

For $0.99 you can…

  • merge images horizontally or vertically,
  • clean-up the mess behind you and delete the original shots,
  • clean the statusbar (Hi Federico!) and…
  • use the app with x-callback-url’s.

LongScreen makes use of the beauty that iOS 8 is or better - has brought to us: once you have created your newly merged screen shot, you’re only one tap away from passing it of to Transmit or Dropshare.

I haven’t tested the results in cleanbar, but when LongScreen cleans-up the statusbar there can be issues sometimes:

2014-12-21-longscreen-statusbars.png

… like blur issues you see ↑ and ↓. It is iOS 8’s new transparency which provides a certain challenge.1

2014-12-21-longscreen-blurr.png

The app is relatively young, so I’m sure those issues will get ironed out over time. I’d also like to see more options, c.f. creating a tile like…

1 2      1 3
     or
3 4      2 4

… having an optional resize option or choosing to fill the transparent padding in-between the images with a color.

The last pet peeve is that there should be a tiny bit more documentiation on the existing URL scheme. So far I figured out that longscreen:// will launch the app. Obvioulsy there’s also an auto-merge option since the developer is hinting at a parameter for the x-callback-url:

  • Set url parameter count=0 will now find the latest image sequence and merge them automatically.

UPDATE: Here is the LongScreen x-callback-url API documentation along with merge and copy/save actions for Launch Center Pro.

It would be nice to a have a small website along with the documentation. For now, you can get it touch with Shing Cheong Cheung via Twitter or App.net.

In the end I’m glad that I have another useful addition to my screen shot tool-belt on iOS. I even find LongScreen this useful that I ignored my personal rule of not purchasing something from a developer who doesn’t have a website.

ui

PS: Another minor wish of mine is that the rather odd time of “9:41” get’s exchanged with something visually more appealing like 8:00 or 12:00. UPDATE: On the other end, I get it after reading this (Thanks @michaelj).

  1. 2Do adds a small blue line at the top of the screen. Obviously this screams for trouble when trying to clean the statusbar automagically.