This Site: Adding JSON Feed support…

Quick site update for you all!

Last week ushered in a new feed format called JSON Feed. Similar to RSS or Atom syndication, JSON Feed simply creates a way for you to syndicate content from your site to a feed reader of your choice.

What is different though, is that rather than churning out XML (which developers tend to avoid), the end result creates a feed written entirely in JSON, which is way easier to read and write.

Getting into the weeds.

If you want to get into the nitty gritty, you can read all about the full V.1 spec here: https://jsonfeed.org/version/1

If your site runs on WordPress, there’s a plugin for easily implementing a JSON Feed. Click here to download it.

Lastly, if you are curious how your feed will look in a reader that supports JSON Feeds, you can check that out here: http://json-feed-viewer.herokuapp.com (spoiler alert: it looks really great)

Still on the fence?

I certainly don’t blame you. It’s still very early days, and many would posit that releasing a new feed spec alternative to the now widely adopted RSS spec, is a complete waste of time at this point in the game.

I think it is worth your time because:

  • Over all, it’s a much nicer reading experience for your feed-consuming visitors.
  • The pedigree of its active development is very high (Manton Reece and Brent Simmons).
  • It takes very little time and effort to add it to your site.
  • More and more main stream feed readers are starting to support it.

If you would like to add my JSON Feed to your feed reader, you can find it here: http://thaddeushunt.com/feed/json… or in the left nav (click the nav button in upper right on mobile.

Leverage Your AT&T Unlimited Plus Account to Get HBO Free Without Paying for Their Video Services.

So this week, AT&T announced that they were giving their “Unlimited Plus” accounts access to free HBO streaming. At first I thought the offer existed for only folks who had Unlimited Plus in addition to a subscription to any of their video services (Uverse, Direct TV, Dish Network) – simply additive, and not separate. But then I saw multiple news outlets stating plainly that you could have free HBO with just the Unlimited Plus account. No additional video subscription required.

Being an Unlimited Plus account holder that doesn’t pay an additional dime to AT&T for video services, this was welcome news!

There was still the elephant in the room though – how do you get a login account for a video service without paying for another subscription?

The good news is that you can, but it sure as hell isn’t obvious.

Here are the steps…

  1. Head to directvnow.com.
  2. Click the “Sign In” link.
  3. Below the login fields you’ll see a “Don’t have DIRECTV NOW?” link. Click that.
  4. This will take you to an account sign up page. Before you fill anything out, click the “Verify Number” link.
  5. Type the phone number on your Unlimited Plus account and click “Check My Number”.
  6. The site will then text you at your number. Follow their instructions and reply to the text with a simple “Yes”. The site will then refresh – pronouncing that you are eligible for free HBO – taking you back to the account set up page.
  7. Fill out the account fields and click through to the next step.
  8. On this next screen you will be given the option to just stream HBO, or sign up for a DIRECTV Now package at an additional cost. Choose the HBO-only option and you are done!

Yes, you get pressured into purchasing an additional monthly subscription to DIRECTV (of course you do, starting price $10 a month) but other than that, you are never asked for a credit card or anything.

It truly is a free service as advertised!

Register Those Devices!

Now that you have your free DIRECTV Now account, you can use it to register your streaming devices accordingly. In the interest of simplicity, I just downloaded the HBO GO apps (NOT the HBO Now apps) on my iOS and tvOS devices and did the usual activation dance via hbogo.com/activate.

Taking a bullet.

I always get overly irritated when companies aren’t straight forward with their highly publicized offerings. I won’t go into the hours I put in simply finding out how to make this work. Or the 30 minute chat session where an AT&T rep bold-faced lied to me, stating that I had to have a monthly subscription to an AT&T video service in order to receive the free HBO access that was being offered.

I’m sure the info is out there but, honestly, it should’ve taken me under 10 minutes to figure this out. Hopefully, by boosting this signal, I can give you back some of the day that I missed! Enjoy!

Influential Videos: Volume 1

Hey everyone! Happy Thursday!

As I mentioned somewhat recently, I’ve been angling to make this space a wee bit more diverse topic-wise: creating a more complete reflection of myself and my interests. This post is a quick, bit-sized step towards that goal. It’s not tech-related. So if you are here for that, feel free to move on. No hard feelings.

Every once and a while during my internet travels, I come across a video that takes a simple everyday action, and presents it in such a way that it permanently changes the way I do the same action moving forward. It’s kind of amazing when that happens, and it always makes me smile when to receive those literal “life-changing” moments.

Here are two such examples. One for the apple eaters out there, and one for anyone who uses paper towels:

And…

Just like that! After decades of doing the opposite, I consume apples and paper towels far more efficiently!

Do you have any videos you’ve come across that changed the way you’ve always done things? Leave some examples in the comments below! I’d love to see them!

Apps Used Daily: Pedometer++

When you sit in front of a computer like I do for the better part of a typical 8 hour day, you need an activity to clear your head at the end of all of it.

Some people go to the gym, some play video games, some journal about their day – whatever it is that helps you hit that reset button – you do it. It gets the cobwebs out, making you feel refreshed and ready for another day.

What do I do? I have a walking practice. Part physical activity, part meditation, communing with the open air has become such a critical part of my physical and mental health. So much so, that I wanted to start tracking it.

Luckily, iOS offers a TON options. I started off by using the Nike+ Run Club app. It was free, it offered maps of the routes I took, and it kept track of my “runs” (even though I was walking). But it was also overkill, with too many taps for me to get to information I merely wanted to glance at.

I just needed an app I could open, glance quickly, and see how far I’d walked in a day.

Enter Pedometer++

When I started researching pedometer apps for iOS, Pedometer++ immediately bubbled to the top as it’s really well thought of in the app dev community. I was fortunate for that too. Researching apps can be a lot of fun, but it can often turn into a rabbit hole scenario and I didn’t particularly want that kind of situation whilst looking at step tracking apps. So, having seen it, I downloaded it and took it for a spin.

Perfect choice for me.

After a week of use, I knew I had a winner. When I open Pedometer++ it immediately presents each day’s steps as a bar in a graph. If the bar is red, you haven’t walked much at all. If it’s orange you’ve done ok, but you haven’t reached your daily goal (which you can set in Pedometer++’s settings). When it hits green? You get treated to a celebratory burst of green confetti!! It may seem silly, but I have to confess to smiling each time I see that confetti fly. That light gamification is a fun touch.

It’s those little flourishes that make Pedometer++ an app I use daily. I appreciate the attention to detail that went into this app’s admittedly spartan layout. Everything pops and is easy to read at a glance. Colors are crisp, type faces stand out yet stay out of the way, and the spacing of everything is just all-around pleasant to look at and interact with.

As far as accuracy is concerned, Pedometer++ syncs with iOS’s baked-in Health app, surfacing the data from your phone (and/or Apple Watch, if you have one, I don’t) within the app. I found it to always be accurate on the distance I walk while, albeit rarely, off on the number of steps I’ve taken. Otherwise, it seems  entirely in lock-step with my stride and gait. It also displays elevation gain, which it offers as “floors” of stairs you’ve hiked up.

An outstanding iOS widget.

One last thing that I’d be remiss to not point out is Pedometer++’s Today Widget.

It offers the perfect amount of UI from the app itself, right on your lock screen. It loads quickly and works like a charm when I take my phone out mid-stride and tap the lock button to wake my iPhone.

A++ for my needs.

I wouldn’t write about Pedometer++ if I wasn’t smitten with it. It truly is that perfect blend of clear and concise data delivery that doesn’t look boring or bland. I truly look at it several times a day and it’s a perfect companion for my daily walking practice.

I think you’d like too!

Links:

Tips: *Revisiting* My Workflow (again) for Launching .scriv Files in Marked and Scrivener Simultaneously

Back in May, 2014, I created an Alfred workflow that allowed for you to target a specific directory that houses your project files in Scrivener, select your file, and open it in both Scrivener and Marked 2 simultaneously for live preview markdown rendering whilst working in Scrivener.

The theory behind why I created it can be read in the original post here.

A few months ago a kind visitor to this site left a comment stating that the workflow I created, no longer worked properly. It’s been years since I constructed that workflow and since then Alfred, Scrivener, and Marked have gone through several versions, so it didn’t necessarily surprise me that something came unplugged.

Either way, it was an opportunity to revisit the workflow, and I am happy to report that I’ve since fixed it!

If you think the workflow could be of service to you, here are the steps to get it up and running.

One crucial checkbox:

Getting this workflow to function properly involves checking a box in Marked 2’s preferences. So before you do anything:

  1. Launch Marked 2 and click the “Marked 2” menu in the upper-left and then click “Preferences”.
  2. Click the “Apps” tab at the top of the preferences window
  3. Then, under the “Scrivener” section, check the “Open .scriv files in Scrivener when opened in Marked” box. Once checked you can close the preferences window if you want.
Install the workflow in Alfred.

Installing workflows in Alfred is still super simple. If you want to save some time, you can download the workflow file here. Once downloaded, double-click the file and that should drop you into Alfred’s workflow preferences pane, prompting you to import it.

That’s it! From here, you can tweak the workflow to better suit your needs. For instance, I’ve got my .scriv files stored in my “Documents” folder, so you may want broaden, or narrow, the workflow’s search scope.

In short, feel free to make it your own.

The steps to invoke the workflow haven’t really changed:
  1. Bring up Alfred and type “scrivmarked” (again, you can change this keyword in Alfred’s workflow preferences).
  2. Use you arrow keys to scroll up or down to highlight the project you want to open.
  3. Once highlighted. Hit the right arrow key.
  4. Scroll down to highlight “Open in Marked and Scrivener” hit enter.

That should open your Scrivener project in both Marked and Scrivener, ready for you to write blog posts or any content for the web!

Useful links: