TIL that iOS Shortcuts is a bit particular when it comes to photos

A few months ago I’ve built a simple iOS shortcut for quickly snapping a photo and sending it to a fixed email address. Its first action/block was “Take Photo”, it had always worked fine, right from the start.

Fast forward to today when I had just finished setting up my new iPhone. I triggered the shortcut, a picture was taken and then … an error message: The file “Camera 2021-07-10 09-10-11.png doesn’t exist.” I’ll spare you the story about the ensuing hour of debugging but in the end, it was a simple fix.

I just had to open the Camera app and manually snap a regular picture once. Apparently that then created some hidden folder behind a dusty curtain in the darkest depths of iOS which Shortcuts needs but can’t create itself. On the previous iPhone I had used the camera for weeks before getting into Shortcuts, so that issue never arose — but on the fresh device I hadn’t bothered with the Camera app and instead went straight into automation mode.

After that, my shortcut just worked fine. What an obscure bug, though.

Tags: #til #ios/shortcuts #ios/automation

TIL how to scan, search, filter and rejigger CSV & JSON data using `sqlite-utils` 💻

sqlite-utils is a handy little CLI tool to work with CSV and JSON data. Its v3.10 update introduced a new memory command that makes it trivially easy to pass raw data into the tool without extra steps:

The new sqlite-utils memory command can import CSV and JSON data directly into an in-memory SQLite database, combine and query it using SQL and output the results as CSV, JSON or various other formats of plain text tables.

Here’s an example — fetching a JSON file of public RECUP locations, then printing a table of whose name contains “cafe”, sorted by ZIP code:

curl -s "https://partner.recup.de/files/export/locations/location_exports.json" \
  | sqlite-utils memory - '
      SELECT zipcode, city, name
      FROM stdin
      WHERE name LIKE "%cafe%"
      ORDER BY zipcode
      LIMIT 10
    ' -t

In his announcement blog post for v3.10, author Simon Willison also showed how to combine different sources of data, i.e. different files, using sqlite-utils. Pretty exciting stuff. 🤯

I’m going to have fun with this!

Tags: #til #sqlite #json #csv

TIL how to store git credentials for different HTTPS hosts 💻

When accessing different git repo hosts (GitHub, GitLab etc.) via HTTPS it’s necessary to enter your credentials. Fortunately, git offers a convenient way to automate this process by securely storing your credentials.

First, I needed to enable the credential helper:

> git config credential.helper store

Next up, I cloned a remote repository via HTTPS. git asked for the personal GitHub access token I previously generated (on GitHub under Settings → Developer settings → Personal access tokens):

> git clone https://carlo@github.com/carlo/whatever-whatever.git
Cloning into 'whatever-whatever'...
Password for 'https://carlo@github.com': 

Once I entered the password, my login info was saved in ~/.git-credentials:

> cat ~/.git-credentials

Naturally, I prefer using SSH but for those times when that’s not an option, my life got easier because I learned about the credentials storage.

Hat tip to this TecMint article and the git-credential-store documentation for teaching me new things.

Tags: #til #git #github

German climate law is partly unconstitutional, top court rules:

Germany will have to improve its emissions targets from 2031 following a complaint by a coalition of climate activists, including Fridays for Future.

I can’t overstate how important this ruling is. Young climate activists sued against the law, basically saying “Stop offloading this shit on us”, and our supreme court agreed. So great.

"Pure", UK 2019 📺

Over the last two days I’ve watched the 6-part 2019 British TV mini-series “Pure” about a young woman struggling with ever-present disturbing sexual thoughts.

Hard to watch at times but really good nonetheless. It feels like an honest look at humans dealing with their mental health and their sense of self — and the stupid stigmata that come with the territory. Hard subjects, and still has some light-hearted moment and feels hopeful.

And no, despite the occasional nudity it’s not a sexy show.


I’m a fan of delta.chat which is a messenger like Signal, WhatsApp, Messages — but its backend is email. Great idea, well executed, iOS/Android/others, yet nobody I know is using it. Every few months I play around with it and then it goes back in the drawer.

A shame, really.

That “well done, you” jingle in the NYT crossword app (you know the one) never fails to make me smile.

Those Presh Mems

My wife and I have a lovely1 tradition: our Jar of Precious Memories.

During the year, every time we do something nice together we keep the ticket, receipt, place card etc., and put it in the jar. Then, on New Year’s Eve we’ll crack it open and think back. Sometimes it’s a postcard picked up during a weekend trip, sometimes it’s a movie ticket, and sometimes it’s just a receipt from our fave restaurant where we had a particularily great lunch.

Finding delight in the supposedly “small things” and remembering to stop and smell the roses, so to speak—to me, these are important skills to cultivate. That’s how those presh mems are made, you know?

  1. Subjective statement. [return]

Started reading Provenance by Ann Leckie 📚.

Leckie’s wonderful Imperial Raadch books really took me by surprise last year, so … high hopes.


You know what? All in all, 2020 wasn’t that terrible. Yes, there was a lot of pain and suffering (isn’t there always?) but I wouldn’t be surprised if 2020 were to go down in history as a year where at least some communities/ cities/ countries/ polities did start to get their shit together to make some overdue changes.

(Always with the optimism, yes. Humankind can’t afford to be pessimistic.)

Yes, these are useless kitsch but I find them hilarious nonetheless. (Wouldn’t buy them, tho.)

Slowly getting back into iOS after years on Android (plus iPad). There’s a lot to like in iOS 14!

Spent two hours over the weekend to migrate 2 years of Google Fit data to Apple Health. Most of it made it, the important stuff. I’m pretty happy I could get it to work!

Finished reading Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom by Ted Chiang. 📚

A neat scifi short story about probability, free will and parallel universes. I liked it quite a bit.

Paolo Bacigalupi’s A Full Life 📚 is a poignant science-fiction story about America the Western World in the age of climate change.

That one kinda hit home.

Just created an account on The Storygraph, a new “keep track of your reading” alternative to the dumpster fire that is Goodreads. 📚 (I came across an article about it in NewStatesman.)

Look me up if you’ve set up an account there! Maybe we can figure this thing out together. 😏

The other day I read Blood Grains Speak Through Memories, a scifi short story by Jason Sanford. 📚

This 2016 Nebula Award finalist presented an interesting, far-future, pro-eco biotech setting with just enough world-building to make it work. In the end it was a tale of loss, betrayal and humanity. I liked it because I could almost feel the numbness and pain of the main protagonist, even though the world itself felt a bit weird.

Goodreads is not good anymore 📚

I just want to keep track of my reading, and I want good recommendations and maybe get into discussions over books I’ve read. By now, GR feels just like a data mining machine to me which it probably is (thanks, Amazon). Do you have any recommendations for me?

I’ll try to use this here M.b account for that … It’s a bit unstructured (in comparison to Goodreads et al) but it also feels like a throwback to the good ol’ blogging times (G-blog represent!) — and maybe, just maybe, that’s enough.

Finished The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu. 📚

I didn’t like it; I don’t get the hype about it at all. It’s got a few interesting ideas, sure, but the storytelling was clinical, the characters were 1.5-dimensional at best, and the dialogs were wooden. What am I missing here‽

Started reading “The Three-Body Problem” 📚 today — in English. I’m curious to finally see what all that fuss is about. 😏

A few months back I gave its German edition a go but that felt terribly wooden, somehow. The English edition is more to my liking so far.

I’m going to miss the astrophotography feature of the Pixel 3a. (Switching to an iPhone SE 2020 in a few days to see whether iOS14 does something for me.)

These photos are nothing special per se but the fact that my affordable phone took them, that is something.

How small satellites are radically remaking space exploration is a nice quick overview about the ongoing small-sat and small-rocket space industry revolution. 🚀

Now, two emerging technologies may propel NASA and the rest of the world into an era of faster, low-cost exploration. Instead of spending a decade or longer planning and developing a mission, then spending hundreds of millions (to billions!) of dollars bringing it off, perhaps we can fly a mission within a couple of years for a few tens of millions of dollars. This would lead to more exploration and also democratize access to the Solar System.

In recent years, a new generation of companies is developing new rockets for small satellites that cost roughly $10 million for a launch. […] The concept of interplanetary small satellite missions also spurred interest in the emerging new space industry.

Cancel Culture and the Problem of Woke Capitalism - The Atlantic:

If you care about progressive causes, then woke capitalism is not your friend. It is actively impeding the cause, siphoning off energy, and deluding us into thinking that change is happening faster and deeper than it really is. When people talk about the “excesses of the left”—a phenomenon that blights the electoral prospects of progressive parties by alienating swing voters—in many cases they’re talking about the jumpy overreactions of corporations that aren’t left-wing at all.

Good article, not a condemnation of activism but a call for actual change, and a better direction for all our energy.

Indi Samarajiva: American Passports Are Worthless Now (Map) due to the US being governed by COVID-19:

At the same time, you can’t trust Americans. Americans have poor hygiene (low masking rate) and at least 40% of the population can’t be trusted to even believe that COVID-19 exists, let alone to take it seriously. They’re likely to refuse testing, not report symptoms, break quarantine, and generally NOT follow rules. Americans have a toxic combination of ignorance and arrogance that makes them unwelcome travelers.

Yikes. Rings true, tho.

We visited the #Munich zoo today. I petted a sleeping piglet. 🐖 Good times are good

“Something something #vanlife”, I think