Byword

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There’s nothing more enjoyable than seeing a major update come through for one of your favourite apps, recently the case with Byword. As stated by the developer, Byword is a simple and efficient text editor for the Mac, iPhone and iPad, allowing you to write, sync documents (Dropbox, iCloud), and now directly publish – one of the main changes in version 2.0. What follows below has a focus on iOS, which is where I exclusively use this app.

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Publish
Via a once only in-app purchase of $5.49 (AUD) which enables the feature on both iPhone and iPad versions, Byword now has an option to publish your words directly to blogging platforms Tumblr, Blogger, Scriptogram, and of course WordPress, which is exactly how this article has been posted. This feature also enables integration directly with the notebooks in your Evernote account. I particularly like this feature as it allows me to easily archive any posts (or drafts that may not have made the cut and will be subsequently reviewed) for later reference. More about this in a future post when I will outline my writing and publishing workflow.

Essentially, posting an article to WordPress is now as simple as opening Byword, drafting the post, adding any required images or links, and choosing publish in settings. You will be asked which linked service you would like to publish to, and for WordPress, be given options for status, tags and categories which you may have set up on your site. The only downside is that the integration does not automatically populate categories or tags, you’ll need to remember what you have set up.

Once done, I can then sit back and marvel at the eloquent prose I have unleashed into the world. Or, as reality would have it, see the dozen or so typographical and grammatical errors I had somehow missed in multiple proof reads, which must then be edited and reposted. Those not requiring post-publish editing have generally been proofread by the dept4 editorial team (wife and children).

Byword Screenshots

Byword Screenshots

Byword Screenshots

Syncing
In what can only be described as a master stroke of irony, this paragraph had been written extolling the virtues of Byword’s syncing abilities, however a few seconds after the following screenshots were taken, choosing to accept the remote (iPhone) copy of this draft resulted in an unexpected shut down of Byword, leaving me with the local copy, containing none of my additions or edits made on this mornings bus commute. Though I cannot completely rule out user error, no incorrect tap should have caused a crash. Hopefully this was just an isolated event occurring on initial use of this feature, and I have subsequently added further text on my iPhone, iPad and iPhone again which have synced perfectly through Dropbox. I have also previously experienced robust syncing through iCloud.

As I have noted above, and is seen in the screenshots below, a new syncing feature is the ability to preview version conflicts, allowing an informed decision about which to keep – a nice addition, as I will often start a post on my iPad, edit further on my iPhone, finalising the article when back on the iPad.

Byword Screenshots

Byword Screenshots

Byword Screenshots

Why Byword?

Quite simply, I enjoy writing in Byword as it provides enough additional features (including an extra row on the keyboard with commonly used Markdown keys, cursor placement, and buttons to insert images and links) to reduce the friction of writing, yet avoids distractions to getting words on the page. Support for writing in Markdown is essential in getting posts up on my site, and I am certainly looking forward to utilising the publish to WordPress feature rather than copying and pasting the HTML to WordPress which was my standard process. Byword is available now in the App Store

Check out a great review (as usual) of this update by Federico Viticci at Macstories, and on a side note, I cannot wait for this.

The Portland Press

Though familiar with, but never having backed a Kickstarter project, I was unaware of Crowd Supply, a similar means of crowd funding startup projects.

The design of the Portland Press appeals to me, however I guess as always it comes down to what’s in the cup. Though you have to admit, this is certainly a stylish way to brew your favourite coffee.

Have I backed it? Again, no – though at the time of writing I still have 11 days to change my mind.

Check it out and decide for yourself.

The Portland Press

Addition, 8 June 2013:

Now over 50% funded, and perhaps testing the the 30% theory of successful crowd funding.

My Aeropress Recipe

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My previous post linking to the Aeropress World Championship results generated further discussion from readers around what makes up my own recipe for the Aeropress method of brewing.

I have experimented on a number of different methods, and probably the one that suits me best at the current time is based (similar ratios, different exact measurements) around that published by Tim Wendleboe, who, amongst other things, was the 2004 World Barista Champion.

Firstly, my method has evolved from specifically measuring and weighing both the ground coffee and water added each and every time, to one based on consistent volumes measured by “eye” (grinding directly into the Aeropress scoop which gives me 12g by weight) and filling the brewing chamber to number 3 (thus adding 150g of water). I am a firm believer in using specific weights and measures to gain an understanding of what you are trying to achieve, and then, where possible, obtaining consistent results using more practical markers which avoid the need for excessive amounts of tinkering and effort. Particularly when all you want is the brew you have been yearning for since rising (perhaps weigh and measure for the second cup of the day, once your eyes are actually open!).

Many other variables will influence what ultimately ends up in your cup, the obvious one being the quality and roast level of beans you are using. I have found greater satisfaction with light to medium roasts, with some of the fruitier African origin beans more suited to my taste preferences. Other variables include water temperature (off the boil, 92–95 degrees celsius), coarseness of grind (coarse initially, but experiment yourself a bit here; definitely grind just prior to brewing), and stirring/steep time (refer below).

One thing you will most likely notice should you linger over the cup long enough, is the altering flavour profiles as the brew cools – certainly something I’d encourage experimenting with, as this can often lead to some surprising results.

So in summary, here we have it.

  • 12g coffee (coarse grind)
  • 150g water (92–95 degrees celsius; just pre or off the boil)
  • add just enough water to cover and wet all grounds to allow for bloom
  • after 10 seconds, add remaining water to number 3 on chamber
  • stir 3 times then seal chamber with plunger (don’t press)
  • press after 60 seconds
  • enjoy !!

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No doubt you will notice some differences between my exact process, and the one outlined by Tim on his site (particularly if you view the video, as I do not routinely use Barry White as background brewing music – though I acknowledge it probably works quite well!). Ultimately, it will come down to both your own personal preferences and practicalities of how much time and effort you wish to expend each and every time you brew. I’d encourage you to read around, as there is certainly no end to the recipes and resources on this, and many other brewing methods.

One other point to note, I have yet to try the inverted brew method that is also quite popular, however I had done enough tinkering to the point of settling on the above. That experiment is for another day.

I would be very interested to hear any other recipes or techniques that work for you. Please let me know in the comments below.