Automatically Sending Tasks in Bear Notes to Todoist

There were two notable things I did this weekend: spend it with my kids, as it was my wife’s weekend to work (she’s a nurse and must work one weekend per month), and build a series of clever automations using Apple’s Shortcuts app.

I love using the Bear Notes app for most things, like quickly logging tasks. This includes my 5 Critical Actions for the week, and any open threads I have at the end of the day*.

But Todoist is my main task manager, with reminders, subtasks, and the whole 9 yards.

So I ended up building 3 Shortcuts to send tasks from Bear to Todoist:

  1. Process tasks specifically in the 5 Critical Actions note. I did this so I can properly label the tasks as such…Todoist doesn’t let you create create labels on the fly.
  2. Process any note via the Share Sheet
  3. Process every note, looking for tasks in all of them, and creating the tasks plus a link back to the original note for context.

I’ll share the first one with you here…the other two are reserved for members.

Here are the Steps:

  1. Get the contents of the 5 Critical Actions note (you can replace this with the title of any note).
  2. Split the note’s contents by new line.
  3. For each line in the note, do the following:
    1. Look for the characters - [ ] at the beginning. Bear converts this into a tick box in app, representing a task.
    2. If it exists, remove it, leaving only the task itself.
    3. Add the task to Todoist, with the label 5-Critial-Action

That’s it! I’m using Text Case to actually format the text to remove the
 - [ ]. That is a free, tip-supported app.

How it Works

Get contents is a built-in Bear action, but you likely do this with any notes app. Apple Notes, for instances, returns the contents of a note when you search.

Split allows you to break up the contents by some delimiter (or marker). In my case, I did it by new line, but you could do it by any character. This allows me to look at each line individually.

Since I only want to add tasks, I search for the characters I mentioned. This prevents contextual text or footnotes from getting added to Todoist.

Todoist’s (iOS-only) shortcuts allow you to set a label, priority, and more, allowing me to use a label specific to the note:

Unfortunately, Todoist doesn’t let you create labels on the fly.

No Improvements

This is one of the rare automations I built that I don’t feel needs any improvements — but that’s mostly because it’s limited in scope to one note.

As I mentioned earlier, I have 2 other shortcuts to do more advanced stuff, which greatly improve upon the shortcut outlined here.

But you can definitely use those one as a template for your own. Split and Text Case are both worth understanding if you’re going to make your own shortcuts.


Thoughts and Lessons from the Apple Vision Pro Presentation at WWDC

Let me start by saying before the WWDC Keynote, I wasn’t even remotely excited about Apple VR product.

The Meta Quest doesn’t excite me, and when I had Google Glass, I liked it, but I didn’t love it.

Suffice to say, Apple blew me away with their approach to the Apple Vision Pro. And the early reviews do not disappoint.

From a business/technology/create approach, here were my initial thoughts:

Apple shows you can go cheap, or you can go impressive. Meta announced a $500 version of the Quest mere days before WWDC. Part of the reason I wasn’t excited for Apple’s version is I’m not even remotely interested in the Quest or the Metaverse.

But Apple went high end, making the Vision Pro a full $3000 more than the cheaper version of the quest.

Not everyone will be on board, but there’s no denying that their product is impressive in such a way that Meta is getting dragged on Twitter. Meta basically owned this space for the past 5-7 years and Apple just kinda blew them up.

The lesson: Don’t just race to the bottom. You can create a high-end service and charge a premium if you impress.

They are reusing Aux tech created in VR for other apps. Earlier in the keynote, they showed an iPad feature where they tell you if you’re holding the screen too close.

I can’t help but think this was tech they developed for eye tracking on the Vision Pro, that made its way into other parts of the OS already.

The lesson: use your sawdust. When you create, look at each part of your process and see how you can use it.

They are smartly taking familiar experiences and moving them to a new medium first. One of the problems with the Meta Quest, that Sara Dietschy points out, is the interface and experience is unintuitive because it’s unfamiliar.

But Apple took several things into account when they design the UX for the Vision Pro:

  1. We know how to use our eyes and hands
  2. We know how to use the apps they demoed
  3. The ideas behind the UX are familiar (make a call, send a text, browse a website, etc)

All of these combined means everything comes very naturally to us.

The lesson: Lower your learning curve, lower your barrier to entry, and you’ll create better, happier experiences for your customers.

They are never first to market, but they are much better when they enter. There’s a reason that post-1997 Apple is never first to market on a product.

They do a ton of research on real-world use. During the presentation, they used the term “cheek width” to point out they’ve studied faces.

But with the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and AirPods, they took care to truly understand how people use the current crop of products, and improved upon them.

The VR/AR space is so controversial already; even though it’s been around for 10+ years, there’s still a lot of mainstream pushback.

Creating a whole other world is weird, uncanny valley, dystopian nonsense to a lot of people.

But Apple focused on how their product augments your current experience. You can still see your environment. You can still see real people in the real space. And they can see your eyes.

The lesson: There’s a lot of weight put on being first to market so you can make a name for yourself. But you could just be better. If you impress, reuse lessons you’ve learned, and create better experiences, you can blow up the competition.

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The Belkin MagSafe Mount for Studio Display

I ordered the Belkin iPhone Mount with MagSafe for Mac desktops and displays in December, and it came in last week. My initial impression: it’s nice — way nicer than the laptop one.

Here’s the shot from my iPhone on the mount, first with, then without, Center Stage:

Here’s what I like about it:

  • It’s compact and folds up nicely
  • It’s fully adjustable for tilt, and the head slides so you can adjust the phone to sit closer or further from you.
  • It can be mounted on a tripod. This will likely replace All of the other phone tripod mounts I have.
  • The MagSafe is quite strong. I have the Peak Design case1 and the phone stayed mounted no problem.

All-in-all I’m really happy with this purchase. I highly recommend it if you have a monitor and want to use your iPhone as a webcam — whether or not you use Continuity Camera to do it.

Want a video demo? Join How I Built It Pro

Here are a few more photos of the mount:

  1. Also MagSafe. More on that later. ?

I Broke My Podcast Sponsorship Rule and There Were Consequences

I have a confession: over the summer, I panicked a little bit. I wasn’t sure I was going to hit my podcast sponsorship goal for the year. I was short on sales, slacking a little, and you know…the whole pandemic thing. So I panicked. I reached out to a bunch of sponsors, made a couple of deals that were more beneficial to the sponsor than to me, and ended up breaking one of my biggest rules for the show. It didn’t go over well.

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On Buying Jeans and App Subscriptions

It seems that increasingly, more software companies are moving to a subscription model, where instead of paying once to own the software (or app), you pay monthly, or annually, to keep using it at the latest features. Adobe was perhaps one of the first major companies to do it with Creative Cloud. Now we see it in WordPress plugins, and increasingly, iOS apps. Fantastical did it this year, and this week Deliveries announced they are moving to subscription.

But before I tell you why this is a good thing, I want to tell you about buying jeans.

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5 Years with an iPhone

Recently on my podcast, How I Built It, I got to speak to Stephen Hackett. During our chat I was reminded of, and subsequently mentioned, the time Phil Schiller (now an Apple Fellow – congrats Phil!) tweeted a link to my blog with the text, “Joe switched!” It was my most popular blog post up until that point, and remains one of the most popular. In honor of that, I wanted to do a new write up: 5 years with an iPhone.

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Find the Right Podcast Membership Benefits with Stephen Hackett

Stephen Hackett is one of my favorite podcasters, and cofounded my favorite podcast network, Back in 2018, I spoke to his co-founder Myke Hurley about starting podcasts. Since then, Relay has really ramped up their membership program and I though Stephen would be the perfect guy to talk to about putting out tons of content and deciding what to make free, and what to make paid. Sponsored by Yes Plz, iThemes Security Pro, and TextExpander.

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Books Recap for April 2019

I finished 1 book(s) this month and read about 730 pages. To celebrate being over officially halfway to my goal, I decided to slow it way down and read a very dense and long book. That’s why I only finished one in April. Let’s take a look!

Think Simple

The only book I actually finished this month was the disappointing Think Simple. One reason it may have been disappointing for me was I don’t think it was written for someone in my situation. The target feels like heads of big companies who need to uncomplicate their businesses.

That said, I was really hoping for some great insight into how business are run. What I actually got was a love letter to Apple, and Steve Jobs specifically. Yawn. There are so many of those out there that I could have done without another. Here’s what I wrote on Goodreads:

That said, I was interested in lots of stories (which he primed in the beginning of the book) and what I got was love letter to Steve Jobs with like 5 other companies mentioned. Open to a random page and you’ll probably see his name or “Apple.”

To be fair, he also really loved Ben and Jerry’s which got mentioned the (distant) second most.

Currently Reading: Alexander Hamilton

Because I read Think Simple over the course of 4 days, I decided I would dedicate the rest of the month to Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton, a book that’s been on my reading list since I heard the soundtrack to the musical. I knew it was long, but I thought I’d be able to finish it by the end of the month. As it turns out, I’m about halfway through.

So far, I’m really enjoying it. It’s really interesting to get an in-depth look in early politics, and as Chernow points it, it seems that Hamilton showed up at every important event in America’s early history. The biggest takeaway to me is that partisan and personal sniping is about as old as the country, though we tend to think back on those times with rose-colored glasses.

I hope to finish this one and another in May – and given that I’m traveling next week, I should be able to get a good chunk of it read.

Alternatives to Apple’s AirPower

I’m not gonna lie – I was really looking forward to AirPower. I was willing to pay entirely too much for it, because I’m all about wireless charging. As of today, Apple announced they’re cancelling AirPower. Since Apple announced it (all the way back in 2017), I’ve looked into AirPower alternatives, but never made a purchase. Here are the ones that look good to me.

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