Chipping Away

Even with my newfound lack of time, I’ve had the occasion to dabble in some tech now and then, even if furtively and guiltily while the kids napped and at (further) expense of my own rest.

For instance, I’ve alternately been fiddling with YQL to scrape news out of poorly designed web sites with Pipes, CSS to do some UI elements for iPhone web apps, and Dashcode (which, to my surprise, now allows you to create both desktop and mobile versions of web apps in the same project, with the desktop version looking suspiciously like the default iPad layout – but, alas, redirecting to the mobile one on an actual iPad).

My current mid-term project, which I’ve been pursuing at a sedate pace of perhaps ten lines of code a week, is an Evernote import module for Yaki, which I’ve decided to do based on the (so far rather spurious) notion that I will eventually be getting an iPad and the fact that I draft most of my stuff on Evernote despite the (current) lack of rich text editing there (I use Textile and a custom service to preview notes).

This because thanks to Dropbox and a few extra knick-knacks I can post to this site trivially from any normal computer, but the Dropbox team doesn’t seem to have time to implement basic text editing on the iPhone app (go and vote for it, be a nice fellow) despite it already working on the Android one.

Which is, in my opinion, odd, given that they actually pushed out an update for the iPad recently and adding an editor for plain text files doesn’t seem like that much of an extra effort considering that Dropbox on an iPad is just plain weird as a viewer.

So I decided to roll my own web UI to publish content here, and there are several things I’m looking at:

  • Using the Evernote API, which is fairly straightforward to do in Python but which may entail my fiddling around with OAuth, something I’m loath to do at this stage.
  • Building a decent web UI for previewing and importing notes into Yaki, which I’d very much like to use from both an iPad and an iPhone (despite my looking at Dashcode, variants of iUI and whatnot, I’m liking jQTouch a lot).
  • Patching Yaki a bit further to allow for digest authentication and/or TLS in a sane way.
  • Converting Evernote rich text notes into Yaki content, because I’m hopeful that some day I’ll be able to at least use basic formatting and sane URLs (Evernote keeps adding http:// to whatever I type as an URL on a link, which is wrong and still not fixed, despite my complaining about it for ages now…).

And, as backups:

  • Parsing Pages documents (although I’m unsure of how I’ll transfer/upload them into Yaki in the first place – probably e-mail, given that there’s already a simple SMTP listener in the source tree).
  • Looking into the new generation of web-based editors, skipping the hideously big Bespin and looking at stuff like this great Textile editor (which doesn’t work well on Mobile Safari at all – yet).
  • Looking for an iPad programmers’ editor that does SFTP (seriously). There are already a few interesting ones out there, but I’m very curious about this one and hope it comes out soon.

None of these are trivial, but most of them are interesting intellectual pursuits that give me a good feel of how their respective fields are progressing (parsing new file formats is always interesting, for instance, regardless of how passé it may seem…).

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