Comfort Zone Adjacent

Back in August I wrote about a plugin that I had created for the Stream Deck that was to help me with my pre-stream activities as I was terrible at remembering things, or just assuming things were still working since last time.

Just over two weeks ago someone dropped me a DM as they were interested in my plugin after reading my blog post but I had never released it into the wild. So I decided that I would dust it off again and get it into a releasable state for 2023, most likely just building a webpage to explain it and host the file.

Functionality

The core functionality of the plugin is very basic in fact is uses the baked in toggle nature of the Stream deck buttons, there was an underlying flaw that I wanted to address.
The state of the buttons persisted between uses, so if you Toggled on that you had published a tweet, the next time you opened the deck it would still be lit up.
For a Preflight Checklist that is going to be reset each use, that wasn’t ideal.

So I set about redesigning how the plugin worked, forcing it to toggle off any button on their first load, but ensuring that it didn’t reset when navigating between page on the stream deck.

Success, WOO.

But actually the ability to keep a button lit up was actually useful, if you were using the Plugin to track achievements or seasonal goals. So I set about adding the option to Persist a Buttons’ state between restarts of the stream deck.

This part took me the longest as the Property Window was always behaving in ways I didn’t expect. But after quite a bit of tinkering and help via BarRaiders PI Toolkit I got everything working as expected.

Comfort Zone

So once I got the plugin into a working state, I then started reading over the requirements for applying to have the plugin listed on the Stream Deck Plugin Store.
I wasn’t that far away from being able to submit the plugin, so I set about ensuring that everything was correct, then when I shared it publicly I also submitted it for the store too.

On the 24th of Feb I got confirmation that it was on the Plugin Store under Productivity, If this wasn’t terrifying enough people were actually downloading it.

Currently there are 487 downloads in the store, I’m hoping people that have grabbed it find good uses for it.

If you’d like to grab it, the plugin is here https://apps.elgato.com/plugins/com.welshtroll.preflightchecklist 

Toot Readers & Links

One thing about Mastodon that actually feels like twitter used to back in the day, is logging in and being able to catch up on updates of those you follow in 20 minutes.

I mean it’s likely due to the fact I haven’t followed tonnes of people at this stage, but even without adverts,  there is/was a lot of company spam on Twitter, how many contests did I enter where following was expected?

But I’m not entirely gone from Twitter, there are still a number of folks that are only on that platform that I like to see updates from, secretly hoping the migrate somewhere soon, as I don’t want to cut them out completely.

Sadly there are some that are just leaving Social Media altogether like Jeff Atwood who tweets I enjoy quite a bit.

I have been pondering following Belghast’s example and greyscaling my twitter icon and header and marking my account as private, but after 15 years I’m not quiet at that step just yet, maybe by the time 2023 arrives.

All links on me

In other news I wanted a common site to link all my online presences together, I like Linktree but thought why not just add one to my website, so I built find.welshtroll.co.uk to start things off.

I am hoping to develop this into a more fully formed site in the future, some on a need by need basis, others like light/dark theme modes or opening links in new tabs.

 

Duck Duck Go Mobile App

So I’ve been running the Duck Duck Go app on my phone for about a year now. I felt that the the trade off between using Chrome (where everything is always logged in but tracked ) and DuckDuckGo, boils down to convenience, yes I may need type my credentials more frequently but for the amount of benefits it gives me it’s feels  worth it.

Browsing

90% of my browsing is just looking stuff up, random stuff, IMDB, Just watch, I’m not even logged into a site to see most stuff.
However we all know that even the most basic searches using a big Search engine is likely to be tied to your account, tracked via cookies ad profile ID, then you will be seeing adverts for things related to that search hours and days later.

By default DuckDuckGo will use it’s enhanced privacy protection to block many trackers, However there are other baked in features that can be set to automatically wipe your tabs and/or browsing data, either on a timer or when you exit the app.

If this isn’t a feature you want to occur all the time you can list a site as fireproof, so it avoids this fate

But not only does DuckDuckGo give you a browser it also offers two additional tools that you can sign up to be part of (at the time of writing this 

Duck Email

Big business means Big data, your data to be exact, our inboxes are swamped with marketing emails of one kind or another. Each of them is a tiny self-contained bundle of ways companies can track you.

They will track

  • is your email address still valid
  • did the email reach it
  • did you open the email
  • did you scroll or interact with the email in anyway
  • did you click a link/image in the email

One of the features they have started rolling out is a email forwarder that sends emails to an email address of your choosing but it removes tracking data from emails (the 3 elements in the list above).

Also at anytime you can generate a random email address that will do the same, only it’s not giving out your duck address but still linked to it.
Lastly you can response to emails and they will go back via DuckDuckGo not giving away your actual email still.

App Tracking Protection

So the latest feature that is being trailed is Tracking Protection from your installed Apps. I love how simple the idea here is, DuckDuckGo setups up a local VPN, the checks happens on your phone, the data never sent out to anyone else. Then the app and you can control what apps use it or don’t make use of it. Some apps that have this tracking nastiness baked into them break completely so you have to toggle those apps off.

Think all those tracking cookies are rough?
Then when you see the quantity of data that can be captured and supplied via app tracking about you and your device, it’s frankly scary.

Android Apps 2022 Edition

The apps I use most frequently.

I have not shared a list of my Android apps for a while and it’s very weird a number them haven’t really changed much in the last 5 years or so. Take this as my “Frequently used” list of Apps for my Pixel 3a, which I’d had for a year or so now and other than the lack of SD card slot has been a rather decent phone.

Fenix (2) – Twitter App

I have tried a number of Twitter apps over the years, going back to my Nokia N95 (Twibble) there were apps that tried to offer a half decent experience outside of the website. As Applications and phones evolved there were more dedicated apps like those on the Blackberrys.

For me Fenix (original) made some great strides towards offering the functionality  that I was looking for in a twitter app, the second version of the application built on that even further.
To be perfectly frank I haven’t bothered to shop around in recent years as I don’t feel I’m lacking in any functionality currently.

My favourite feature is the ability to favourite users, which acts like it’s own list that you can see in it’s own column and generate notifications for. This is especially useful if you want to keep up with certain users and not miss their content.

Deezer – Music

Tried a handful of times but I never got on with Spotify, previously we used Google Music as it was easily integrated to the family setup but when they decided to merge it into Youtube, we decided to move to something else.
We went for a change and opted for French company Deezer’s service, I knew a few people using it all of whom had good experiences and the interface wasn’t terribly dissimilar to the .

It does the trick has lots of the usual features that i suppose all music services do nowadays, my main requirement was that it allowed me to upload some of my rarer tracks that don’t exist on any streaming platform.
Bonus if I can use it in the car, the TV less important.

I like shortcutting my playlists so that can just set it going without having to open anything up.

Bandcamp

Some of the music I pick up isn’t on many stream sites yet, or may never be. The band camp app is great for playing those tracks as well as browsing for new stuff. Plus if you have favourited an artist you can configure it to notify you on any new releases rather than having to rely on email, or you could get both I’m not your keeper.

Pocket Casts

I have been using pocket casts since I bought it in 2013, it  has seen a lot of changes in appearance and functionality but the underlying functionality that originally drew me to using it  thankfully still remains.
There are some additional features that are locked behind another upgrade but I’ve not had any need to purchase that.

Carrot

Not gonna lie the only reason I have the Carrot Weather App is for the LOLs.

Stupid yes, but gives me a giggle sometimes when I need it. Careful using swear mode at work, especially if you have text to speech on.

Trello

Organise all the things.
I swear I use Trello more for organising my brain than anything else. I love to visually see a task list, sometime I may split them into multiple tasks or add checklists to allow me to focus on the subtasks of something bigger, but yes ultimately I am looking for a simple view of those tasks.

Normally I use it mostly on the PC or laptop, but sometimes I want to add some new ideas that just popped into my head and I know I will not remember then by the time I am home. Other times I just want to see what things, I have listed, that need attention.

Trello uses a simple board configuration to allow you to drag and drop labelled activities, you are able to configure tags and dates and descriptions for tasks.

NovaLaucher

Nova Launcher remains one of the best things about my phone, it has taken away that fear of having rebuild/reconfigure your home screen and settings when you wipe or  upgrade your hardware. This one feature alone is amazing but the vast array of options that you can configure allows you to make your Phones home screens and App trays work in the way best suited for you.

I will always generally have at least one app tab for applications I use on a high-frequency basis, in the past I had a tab just for games. Being able to split the app tray into more logical and meaningful groups works so well for how I use my phone and speeds up finding applications. Plus you can hide any apps that you don’t use or that are baked into the device.

Some of the other features I really enjoy as things like tapping the media folder on bottom bar opens a folder with 4 applications contained inside it. However when you swipe up on that folder I have configured it to open the Deezer application. Another example is that tapping my wife’s avatar opens up our messages, swiping up dials her  mobile directly.

I love small quality of life features that make using the phone easier. As I said settings can be backed up and restored so when you move to a new device you can just import them without having to remember the thousands of steps and changes you made to get it just so.

Lastly

I am still using Pixlr as mentioned on my 2018 post for most of my Photo Editing tasks however they altered how their payment model worked and the option that I bought to remove adverts is now a month or annual subscription where as I paid £1.61 to permanently remove them in 2015, which is still being honoured , but the made reason this isn’t in the top section of the list.

Previously I listed Google Keep, I still use it but for mostly when I want a way to list items and check them off, Keep has that functionality build it for shopping  lists or holiday item packing, plus it’s easier to share Keep list than a Trello board.

I use DuckDuckGo Browser but want to save that for a dedicated post.

That’s all from me.


What apps do you use day in & day out? Or that you would struggle without?

RPG Notetaking

I always like take notes when playing Tabletop Role Playing Games, however moving into the digital world I have found it tricker to do.

If course I can use a pen and paper or one of the numerous erasable notebooks. The paper solution is kind of wasteful, but when the games run on for years it can be difficult to find the right note book/pages or you may have destroyed the notes in that time.

So I’m sold on writing and keeping them digitally, there are a number of solutions that take your notes and digitise them but that again suffers from the difficulty in searching through them.
I have tried to use a note on Roll20 to keep track of them however as I have my windows pop-out of the main window, which when it goes into edit mode, re-attaches itself to the main window, vrenders it frustrating as it’s in the way of the scene.


So for the last month I’ve been testing out CherryTree which as the name suggests makes use of a tree structure to allow you to build a hierarchical structure for your notes.

The application has a huge list of features that I won’t begin to list but I’ll pick the most useful for me and my TTRPG note taking my requirements which are fairly straightforward.

  1. Customisable Colours and Fonts
    I want a dark scheme but not always black or grey, I need to able to read it comfortably.
  2. RichText
    An editor that allows me to highlight words and even cut and paste
  3. Link between Nodes for cross referencing
    To help referencing information between different areas
  4. Ability to search
    Straightforward I know but I want to be able to find data as and when I need to refer back to it.

So far I’m very happy with the application and I can even export nodes into PDF if I want to share anything with other team members.