Automators Episode 68 - Guest20 Feb 2021
Towards the end of 2020 I was caught by surprise and asked to appear as a guest on one of my favourite podcasts; Automators from Relay.fm. As the name implies, this is a podcast about automation, and is very much based around end-user personal automation rather than larger business and enterprise automations. Having never been on a podcast before, I took the plunge and accepted.
About the Episode
The episode I guest on is episode 68, titled rather eponymously as Stephen Millard and ThoughtAsylum. We recorded in mid-January and published 29 January 2021.
In the episode, I join the regular hosts David Sparks and Rosemary Orchard and we talk about some of my background in IT and automation as well as more specifics.
Even though there was some show prep, we ended up covering a lot more than I had originally expected in the episode, which runs to a little over an hour including a few ad breaks.
There’s quite a few things in the show notes, but I think it got whittled down a little, so here’s a more complete list of things referenced during the episode based on the original episode notes, and in the order that they first came up in the episode.
- ZX Spectrum - Rubber Keyed, 48K, 8-bit Micro Computer.
- XYplorer - File Manager for Windows.
- Drafts - Data Capture and Processing App for macOS/i*OS/watchOS.
- Keyboard Maestro - Macro Automation Utility Application for macOS.
- Power Automate - Microsoft Web Automation Platform.
- PowerShell - Powerful Windows Scripting Language.
- Windows Subsystem for Linux - Linux as Part of Windows.
- AutoHotkey - Script-Based Automation App for Windows.
- File Juggler - Automated File Organiser for Windows.
- DropIt - Automated File Organiser for Windows.
- This is the one I was struggling to remember the name of in the episode.
- Tasker - Automation Utility for Android.
- ThoughtAsylum.com - Stephen Millard Personal Web Site.
- Elgato Stream Deck - Hardware Panel with Programmable LCD Keys.
- Shortcuts - Apple App for Automation on i*OS.
- Stream Deck Icon Generator - Shortcuts-Based Icon Generator (Blog Post).
- TextExpander - Cross-Platform Text Expansion Utility.
- Hazel - Automated File Organiser for Mac.
- Toolbox Pro - Swiss-Army Knife of Extra Shortcuts Utility.
- Data Jar - Shortcuts Utility App for Data Storage.
- Drafts Directory - Directory of Drafts Additions: Actions, Action Groups, Workspaces (soon Syntax & Themes).
- OF Taskpaper Action Group - Rosemary’s OmniFocus Action Group for Drafts.
- TADpoLe Documentation - Complete Documentation for TADpoLe.
- ThoughtAsylum Action Group Suite - Links to the Seven ThoughtAsylum Action Groups for Drafts in the Suite.
- mermaid - Markdown Style Syntax for Diagramming and Charting.
- Obsidian - Multi-Platform Personal Knowledge Management System.
- GitHub - Platform for Distributed Version Control.
- Capturing for Obsidian Using Drafts and GitHub - Populating Obsidian From Drafts Via GitHub (Blog Post).
- ThoughtAsylum Core Action Group - Core Action Group for ThoughtAsylum Action Group Suite for Drafts.
- Font Awesome - Vector Icons and Social Logos for the Web.
- Automators Forum - Automators Podcast Forum (I’m sylumer on there).
- Drafts Forum - Drafts App Forum (I’m sylumer on there).
Preparing for the Episode
In preparing for the episode, Rosemary sent me a Google Doc to complete with a basic outline for the episode, and I completed this over the course of several weeks as it was around the holiday period.
Having never recorded for a podcast before I also spent a bit of time testing recording set-up using Rogue Amoeba’s Audio Hijack, based on the information in a video from Stephen Hackett (one of Relay.fm’s founders).
I had lots of issues with picking up background noise on the recording, and then more issues with Skype, but after turning off some of the other equipment in my home office, such as my NAS and Mac Mini server, the background noise issues improved at least a bit.
Recording the Episode
Unfortunately, my set-up, that I had tested several times before the evening we recorded, of course didn’t work when I did my final testing on the day. Fortunately, I did re-test a little in advance of the call and was able to workaround it, but I’m sure Jim Metzendorf, who edited the episode worked some magic to up the quality.
The approach I ended up having to adopt was I spoke to Rosemary and David over Skype with audio going into Skype from my desktop Jabra Speak 510 USB speaker phone, the audio coming out to my Apple Airpods (gen 2), and my Audio Hijack recording being captured on my Blue Yeti microphone, which I use for work and is mounted on a simple boom arm and a Blue Yeti compatible shock mount.
I think if I’m invited to take part in more podcasts I need to invest in a more directional microphone and a decent USB audio interface. That seems to work for better lots of podcasters than the frantic balancing act I ended up doing even though I’d tested several times in advance.
All told, we had few breaks and brief chats between recording the sections of the podcast and it didn’t take too much over the length of the episode as published.
Like many other people, I don’t like the sound of my own voice, so I haven’t listened to this particular episode. Hopefully my nerves didn’t show through too much, though I can guess there’s more than just a couple of filler words in there - I’m not a regular public speaker or broadcaster.
Overall, it was a lot of fun and talking to David and Rosemary was a lovely experience, though it actually wasn’t the first time I’d spoken to Rosemary, having met her once in person while I was in Vienna. But, if you get happen to get invited to guest on Automators, I’d highly recommend accepting.
I hope those who have listened, and those that will listen to the episode will get something useful from it. It’s why I share all the stuff that I do. If you did enjoy the episode, feel free to give me a shout out with what you enjoyed in particular, or even any questions you might have.