527: Dictation and Text Capture


Yes please more Markdown talk


I’ve been thinking about a deep dive on it as a topic. What do y’all think?



Topic ideas:

  • History & basics
  • Markdown apps
  • Forks / Flavors / Power User Content (e.g. markdown in academia)

TextSoap alternative for the iPad: I used TextSoap for a very particular purpose: I write in MarkDown, and on my last job I converted to HTML before submitting articles for editing. One problem with every Markdown-to-HTML converter I’ve found is that they convert punctuation to HTML entities. For example, a quote mark becomes ”. This makes the HTML hard to read.

The second problem is that we required links to open on a new page, so I needed to insert target=“new” in hrefs .

I used TextSoap on the desktop to automate Markdown to HTML conversion, and then do a series of search-and-replaces for HTML entities.

I couldn’t find anything equivalent for the iPad.

So I put out a call for help on the Drafts community and got this:

Very nice, and easy to customize even for someone like me, with almost no scripting skills.

I’m a journalist; I use https://otter.ai to transcribe interviews. I’ve been using it for nearly a year now; prior to that I used https://temi.com.

I still take notes on interviews, because you can’t trust recordings and because it’s easier to write from notes than a transcript – particularly a machine-generated transcript. However, until I discovered automated transcription, I almost never recorded interviews. Now I record them routinely, and often check the transcript for quotes and to confirm my notes. Completely changed my workflow!

I use dictation about a third of the time on the iPhone but almost never on the iPad or Mac. I need to give that a try.

I dictated a first draft of this comment using Just Press Record, listening to MPU while out walking the dog.

And now I am dictating this paragraph on the Mac. It doesn’t work well – this paragraph required a LOT of clean-up. One problem: Dictation on the Mac copied multiple phrases twice. This may have been a problem dictating into the Discourse text field in Safari.

I still find typing easier when I have access to a real keyboard. @MacSparky , if I recall correctly, you’re dealing with chronic RSI?

I’ll keep playing with dictation on the iPad and Mac and see if I like it more. I know two freelance journalists who find dictation essential to cranking thousands of words a day, which they need to do to pay for theirs and their children’s shoes.


absolutely @ismh one of the best but least understood aspect of writing on computers today. IMO.

Well worth a deep dive. I find folk very resistant to using it. Those who don’t though are “L7”. I think it must be a California phrase. Other than David talking about it I never heard it used other than once. That was in “Wooly Bully” the 60s hit by Sam the Sham and the Pharoahs. As David explained after a couple of decades I found out it meant “Square” :grin:

1 Like

# Talk Markie to me.

1 Like

Yes, great idea.

As well as editing it would be good to cover options for onward export and publication, both online and to printed documents. In particular any user friendly options for styling this output.

Hi. I am a television producer and have been using dictation for years. One correction or data point I would like to add is that as a 100% iPad pro user for scriptwriting/digital audio editing/project planning I have been a heavy dictation user. My experience was that about a year and a half ago Dragon anywhere was funky for about a month, however, I use it on three different iOS devices daily and its functions perfectly. David, knowing how much you used to love it I encourage you to try it again because it really has spectacular functionality. (this entire note was dictated and edited with dragon)

And the opposite of L7 is C Moon. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uf0AnY9D9gw

1 Like

Does dictation on Catalina work better than Mojave?

I really liked this episode. However, what I would have liked to hear more about is how @MacSparky uses these tools, specifically Ulysses and Scrivener in his “day job”. Is he using both, or is he prioritizing one for his long form legal writing and contract writing? From old posts it looks like he used Scrivener in the past, but moving more towards Ulysses? Is this due to the usefulness of the app or because changes in his career?

Maybe other litigators can chime in on what they use for legal writing?

I like how Scrivener allows you to split your work into parts and have your reference documents right in front of you, but I find it clunky and more suited to screenplays and novels then professional brief writing. I haven’t tried Ulysses but I understand that it is more of a writing repository than a basis for this kind of project.

Maybe an episode just on writers and different types of writing (legal, fiction, poetry, academic) and the tools they use would be a cool episode. Kind of like the format used in the developer discussion.

1 Like

A summary of common challenges when working with different versions/flavors of Markdown, possibly a cheatsheet on what to look out for, things that are sometimes missed:

  • Example: Double spaces or nah for a line or paragraph break
  • Export options and differences
  • Ulysses! How to make it work for you, specific modifications you’ve made - e.g running a SearchLink query with a keyboard shortcut in Ulysses results in a bad paste result that I have to manually modify vs. other editors where the result is as expected (quite specific and trivial I know but hey…)
  • Using different editors for the same files
  • Using and customizing preview templates and styles

etc etc


Copied has been my clipboard manager of choice for all platforms but it hasn’t been updated in a long time - more than a year IIRC - and sometimes gets wonky. Problems I’ve had: I’ve lost whole lists of items, and had triples of every item.

I haven’t installed it on my new MacBook yet and have over the years tried other apps, such as Paste (takes too much space on the screen IMO and doesn’t give a persistent window option), Keyboard Maestro (still haven’t gotten the full hang of this), and Launchbar (not cross-platform).
I’m tempted to install Copied again though.

First time listener here, thanks for the show!

I heard the host say he used Apple Notes for reference. I don’t see any hints on this site about what that means or how that looks. “Reference” in my mind is like how many people use evernote, stashing thousands of receipts and web clips, as well as all the notes or reference that might be called “project support”. Is this what he means? Using Apple Notes as the giant longer-term storage bucket that can handle it all?

I spent the past 2 years trying every note app under the sun and am sadly back at Evernote, but in that time I never saw a good example of how a power user would use Apple notes.

Please Can you share more about your setup? Or point me to a resource showing an example?

1 Like

It’s a catch-all for me. I’ve got folders for major buckets in my life. Some recently edited notes include:

  • Last entry in my bank account that I reconciled
  • A note with specifications of my pickup after needing to replace a taillight
  • A list of links for next week’s episode of my podcast, Liftoff.

Did you try DEVONthink? Better Evernote than Evernote, unless you need something cross platform.

I’d be interested in hearing more about what you tried, why you rejected them and why you went back to Evernote. And why you’re sad about it.

@MitchWagner Yes, I believe so. My main OS is - please don’t tell anyone - Windows (and I use Dragon there all the time), but since the new Voice Control on Catalina I’m really diving into the Mac. Now creating voice commands and automations, so learning AppleScript. It’s fun :slight_smile:

Anyway, I found dictation on the Mac in Mojave, other than with Dragon for the Mac, a painful affair. Honestly I was discouraged immediately and never really dug into it.

On Catalina it works quite well. The important thing is to only use it in US English, or you’ll be stuck with less functionality and poor recognition rates. I tried UK English and it was a disaster.

On the iPad it’s brilliant, because the iPad never had dictation on-device. No waiting for phrases to be transcribed. You can add words and voice commands.

The fact that you can delete the previous words when you misspoke or VC made an error is so much better than having to use the Delete on the keyboard all the time.

The only thing that really isn’t great is the fact that VC only has an option to ‘go to sleep’. On the iPad it WILL start listening when you least expect it (and certainly never told it to wake up).

I’ve now created Shortcut icons to quicky enable and disable VC.

So… it’s worthwhile for sure, but there are still some niggles, that can partially be fixed by creating some custom commands/coice commands.

Thanks! American English is the only option for me.

I’m an American. We don’t even speak one language here.

I haven’t tried voice control. On the iPad and iPhone, I just use the standard dictation.

1 Like