DevOps-to-Things with macOS Shortcuts

If you’re a Things user like me, and have to deal with Azure DevOps for working on software projects, I wouldn’t doubt that you’ve thought that there must be some way the two can be linked–some way to get the work items you’re focusing on from DevOps into Things. Up until now, I’ve been adding my important work items to my Things inbox manually, either by copy and pasting their titles, or re-typing their titles in their entirety–both methods of which are frustrating and time consuming. In my opinion, entering items into your task manager shouldn’t force you into a mental ‘context switch’, and switching into Things to paste/type in long-winded work items from DevOps typically leads to this happening, at least for myself.

Trying to solve this, I decided to automate the process with the new Shortcuts app in macOS Monterey. It’s my first ‘big’ shortcut, and whilst I am a software developer and could’ve very well written a fully-fledged script in a language of my choice for this, I settled on Shortcuts for this for two main reasons; it easily integrates with the applications I needed it to integrate with, and it’s easy to share the automations I create with others. The Shortcuts app is the future of automation in the Apple ecosystem, so I very much enjoyed this opportunity to properly dive into it.

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The simple, but mind-bogglingly persistent problem with Melbourne’s new trains

A photo I took of the HCMT on its first passenger (aka. revenue) service.

Update 11/12/21: A lot of what I wrote here I have discovered in time to be incorrect–primarily that the buttons aren’t touch sensitive, but rather pressure sensitive. The timeout/lockout behavior seems to have been altered.

Have you been on one of Melbourne’s new High Capacity Metro Trains (HCMTs) yet? They’re very nice–long, plenty of comfy seats as-well as standing area, and modern passenger information with dynamic line maps, all as you’d expect from a modern metropolitan/suburban train system. It’s checkmarks all the way down, except for one problem. Sometimes the doors don’t open.

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Bye GitHub Pages, and hello…

Hi all – it’s been while, hasn’t it? Since we last spoke, I’ve made another revolution on the computing merry-go-round, finding myself using my old 2015 MacBook Pro again. Amongst other reasons, I’m (again) seeking simplicity in my computing, with the aim of being able to focus more on what really matters in life. And with that, out goes Windows, and in comes macOS. To be honest, it feels like I never left – this is a good thing.

Following this philosophy, I took a look at the blogging situation. To be honest, blogging felt like a chore; my last post was over a year ago. How can I make this easier for myself, hopefully to entice myself to blog more? Firstly, I’d like an app to blog, a dedicated editor in which to author my posts (Open Live Writer doesn’t exist on macOS). And secondly, I’d like to move away from static site blogging–as much as I appreciate the flexibility and customisability–running a git push every time I wanted to publish a post felt like setting the barrier too high. So the answer was simple in this case, find a hosted blogging service that doesn’t suck ( and an app to publish to it (MarsEdit 4.) And so far, so good.

Switching back to Mac has also caused me to pick up some new productivity tools, which have had a major positive improvement on my workflows and productivity levels. I stumbled across OmniFocus whilst browsing the App Store one evening, and before I knew it I had ordered a copy of David Allen’s Getting Things Done off of Amazon. Just a few days ago I finished reading it, and I hope to blog soon about it. It’s been immensely helpful with getting my education, work, and other projects in order, and with focusing adequate time on each without worrying about the ‘other things I should be doing’. Overall, it was a very good read–one I can see myself coming back to every view months.


For the last few months, I’ve been absolutely fascinated with the SerenityOS project and it’s awe-inspiring rate of progress. For every day that goes by, new features and bug-fixes get merged in, and development screencasts from the creator Andreas Kling are an almost daily occurence. The operating system itself follows a design philosophy that has all-but-disappeared from computing in the last 15 years or so – a philosophy that I, along with every other fan of this project, want so badly to reappear in the modern computing landscape. See below for a screenshot as of November 2019 —

Screenshot of SerenityOS as of November 2019

It could be nostalgia, real productivity value, or both that drives my want for a return this kind of desktop computing metaphor. No animations, superfluous UI trinkets, padding or dark patterns. I’d describe it as a snapshot of the personal computing metaphor where the utility value for software developers was at it’s highest; right before a seemingly general pivot from what I’d call ‘focus-on-productivity’ computing to ‘focus-on-consumption’ computing. What we left behind in the early 2000s was, in my opinion, the perfection of the desktop metaphor for computing professionals.

In a spot of boredom last night, I attempted to get SerenityOS running in a virtual machine on my Surface Book 2. This proved harder than I’d had expected, so I’ll quickly outline the steps I took to get the development build working – in case anyone else can derive some value from my learnings.

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