Managing Stress and Expectations ⇢

Some good advice from Justin Baeder (@eduleadership) that can be applied to many other fields besides education:

As a leader, you have multiple stakeholders, all of whom have expectations of you, whether stated or implicit. Those expectations don’t cause stress unless you internalize them.

And we need to be careful about internalizing all of everyone else’s expectations for us, because there’s no natural limit. No matter how hard you try to be a superprincipal, you’ll eventually burn yourself out if other people get to decide how heavy a burden you bear.

Hear me on this: work flows to the competent. If you’re great at what you do, people will give you more to do. They’ll ask more of you. They’ll expect better, because that’s what their experience with you has conditioned them to do.

Serial and the Triumph of Tape ⇢

Robert McGinley Myers, who has quite a bit of radio and podcasting experience himself, writes about why Serial (the well-known podcast that ended its first season yesterday) has become so popular:

What makes Serial special, for me at least, is not that it’s just a good yarn, though that certainly helps. It’s that much of the yarn is made of tape, and so many different kinds of tape: journalist interviews, police interviews, court testimony, scenes in cars and parking lots, and of course those phone calls from the Maryland Correctional Facility. The story was compelling because if felt so immediate, so real. Tape was what made it real.

There’s nothing new about this kind of reporting, and there’s nothing new about using great tape to keep listeners on the edge of their seats. What’s new is that the medium of podcasting let Serial go deeper, for longer, to gather and sift and edit together so much tape so compellingly that millions of people kept coming back week after week to the same story.

Create Affiliate Links on iOS with Workflow

iOS power users are raving about Workflow, a new app released on Thursday that brings automation to iOS devices. The app is powerful, and one of the first things I wanted to do was to create a workflow that would create affiliate links for Apple and Amazon. For the non-bloggers reading this, affiliate links give me a small kickback when you (the reader), click on a link on my site and then make a purchase at Amazon, iTunes, the Mac App Store, or the iOS App Store.

There is a Mac app called Affiliate that does this but it only works when I’m posting from my laptop. I wanted a workflow that would perform the same function on my iPhone or iPad. I had invested some time in trying to figure out how to do this with Drafts but was unsuccessful. When Workflow was released on Thursday, I decided to see if I could build a workflow that would serve this need.

After a bit of fiddling around and learning the app as I went, I ended up with the following (split into two screenshots since it wouldn’t fit into one):


IMG_0025  IMG_0026

This workflow requires that Clean Links be installed, which is a free app that turns shortened and redirected links into the true location of the item. It also requires the user to copy the iTunes or Amazon link to the clipboard before running the action. When the workflow is run, it passes the link through Clean Links, determines if it is an iTunes or Amazon link, applies the appropriate affiliate code, and copies the resulting affiliate link to the clipboard. I can then paste it into whatever I’m working on.

One caveat… I could not get this to work as an extension. I’m not sure why. It may be a problem with Workflow (which is only on version 1.0) or there could be some other problem. To get around this I simply added the workflow to my home screen so that I can run it with one tap.

Feel free to download this workflow and modify it to serve your own purposes.

Workflow Brings Automation to iOS 8 ⇢

I have already had a lot of fun playing with Workflow, an app released yesterday which can automate tasks on iOS 8. I can see how it will be a fantastic complement to Drafts (which is limited to text inputs and outputs).

Workflow – first teased by Ari Weinstein and team in January 2014 – takes another approach: instead of relying heavily on a specific functionality (such as text editing) or third-party apps and services (like IFTTT and Dropbox), Workflow is primarily aimed at automating native iOS apps and features.

Workflow can automate Calendar events and Reminders, it can parse and extract data from webpages in Safari, and it has full support for Photos and sharing services. It even works with iCloud Drive and extensions. Workflow’s first version lacks some obvious features like backup and sync, but what it does today is an extremely powerful proposition – from both practical and conceptual standpoints.

Byword Love ⇢

David Sparks (@MacSparky) writes about his undying love for Byword, a text editor for iOS and Mac:

The thing about Byword is that it just delivers. The design is solid and unobtrusive. Its developers understand iteration and avoid change for the sake of change. Byword was one of the first multi-Apple-platform text editors and continues to lead in this respect. It supports Dropbox, iCloud, and most recently adds support for Handoff.

I use Byword almost every single day on my iOS devices and it is indeed a great text editor. What makes it the perfect app for me is the in-app purchase that adds the ability to publish to WordPress. One of the workflows I’m most proud of building is one in which I capture selected text, the page title, and the URL of a webpage via Drafts and then send it to Byword for publishing to this website. It’s what I’m doing right now and it saves a ton of time.

A Plan To Resuscitate Catholic Schools ⇢

Chester E. Finn, Jr. offers five ideas on how to revive Catholic schools in the United States:

Catholic schools strive to do important things for the children who attend them beyond adding to their test scores. They’re also good for communities—especially the urban variety—for Catholic churches, and for the Church as a whole. The best of them are surely worth preserving, improving, reconstituting, maybe expanding or replicating. It’s time to end their slow decline and all the handwringing. But how?

Things on Sale ⇢

Cultured Code’s “Things” task manager is currently free for iPhone and iPad through November 28th – a savings of $30. The Mac version is also currently 30% off. If you want to get a top-notch task manager at a fraction of the price of OmniFocus, this is your chance!

A Thorough Review of Todoist ⇢

Even though I am fully invested in OmniFocus as my tool of choice for staying organized and on top of all my responsibilities, I still enjoyed reading this thorough review of Todoist by Federico Viticci of MacStories.

Todoist kept me sane when I was organizing MacStories’ iOS 8 coverage and planning the launch of MacStories Weekly. I’ve been using Todoist for three months now, and it’s become a key piece of my personal and professional life that prevents me from crumbling under the weight of tasks and projects that need my time and attention.

With the launch of version 9.5 for iOS 8 today, I thought it’d be a good time to share my considerations on the service, some tips and tricks, and the details of how I rely on Todoist to get work done.

Creation Without Consumption ⇢

Brett Terpstra writes about his experiences in education and how he learns best:

My entire life I’ve been “bad” at school. I can’t sit through lectures, and I can’t concentrate on reading assignments. I can read, and I can comprehend, but it takes great effort to focus on what is being said and to block out my own thought patterns. I learn by doing, and I only learn things that are of interest or immediately applicable to me.

In my elementary years I was placed in a school that catered to this. It was based on Ralph Waldo Emerson’s ideas, and followed Henry David Thoreau’s methods. I was encouraged to develop the curriculum and answer my own questions. I returned to public schools in 5th grade, and never really made the transition. For the same reasons I’d been “excused” from standardized education for a few years, coming back to it was a horrible experience for me.