653: Workflows with Chris Christensen

Yet another fascinating session!

I would especially love to hear more about how people use the Descript app in real life.

I’ve got an annual subscription, and I think that the only thing that’s stopping me use it well is that I want to use it to edit keynote presentations but because the presentations have a lot of animations and when you edit the text, the videos look horrible and jumpy.

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Good episode! I’m partway through listening now.

Minor correction, of personal importance to me: GE Information Systems didn’t own CompuServe. They owned a competing online service, GEnie. I spent a lot of time on the Science Fiction RoundTable there in the 90s, and met people who are still my real-life friends today.

The SFRT had some notable regulars, including Neil Gaiman; George R.R. Martin; J. Michael Straczynski; who created “Babylon 5” and other great TV; Cory Doctorow; Tad Williams; Katharine Kerr; and Wil Wheaton.


It was great to hear the PowerBook Duo get some love from Chris on the show. I had the Duo 230, complete with dock – that was a glorious machine despite its black and white built in screen.

I’d had or used Apple ][+, ][c, ][e, GS and several Mac machines before, but the Duo 230, that ingenious dock and the modem… they were game changers for me. It was the first computer that truly felt portable and limitless.

Well now I’m going waaaaay down that rabbit hole.

Um … you’re welcome???

Depending on how far down that rabbit hole you want to go, I can talk to you about the history and introduce you to some people.

Genie was a big part of my life for most of the time it was around. I’m still in touch with friends I made there, both online and in person.

Also, an EVEN MORE NITPICKY NITPICK: I’m pretty sure the two number-strings in CompuServe addresses were not separated by a dot. They were separated by a comma.

My CompuServe address was 70212,51. I still remember that, more than 20 years after I last used it. And yet there are all manner of more useful information I forget!


You are correct. I just Googled mine and found a hard copy article I wrote in 1995 (for an organization). I’m not sure how I feel about my analog life being online.

Yes, it was a comma, and some people even say, that the reason for a comma in the 10-Digit-Block of an extended Keyboard was those CompuServe Adress, and the ability to write it faster…

anyone make a note of the trackball Dave mentioned? couldn’t see it in the show notes.

For me this was one of the best episodes in a while, really enjoyed it.

@ismh @MacSparky Just a heads up, you may want to change that link about the Momenta Pentop in the show notes. The essay you linked is from what looks like a plagiarism for hire site…

I imagine this isn’t quite the right place to ask, but the conversation on web apps brought up a sore spot for me.

I like how on iOS I can save a URL bookmark to my home screen and use it as a self-contained web app. I think it’s called a progressive web app (PWA)? However, not all websites launch in a separate “browser instance”. Some sites will simply relaunch Safari and open a new tab (like a normal Safari bookmark).

Is there something I can do as the user to force the bookmark to be a PWA or is it entirely up to the developers?

It reminds me of when the iPhone first launched without an App Store. If the only way to have apps were to have web apps then I suspect this would be better and more consistent. But along the lines of the discussion, if web development is initially the best way forward for a lot of apps I wish Apple would do just a little bit more to make the experience more consistent and “native feeling”.

Yep— developer dependent. There might be more Apple can do to support this, but it’s really down to the technologies developers choose to adopt when building web apps. Personally, I just keep a folder in my browser bookmarks in Safari for those sites I wish were PWAs.

There was once Marcato but it’s not in my local App Store, so I don’t know if it’s still maintained/available. Some people have used Shortcuts to create site viewers— specify a URL, then “show web page at (URL)”; save that shortcut to your homescreen with your choice of icon.

I haven’t used that trick for a while, so I’m not sure how robust it is these days e.g. maintaining state in the background etc… And although there’s no address bar, you likely still won’t be able to get a 100% full screen experience…

Thank you. I’ve spent a couple days using Shortcuts to launch URLs with Show Webpage. It definitely doesn’t work as well as a PWA, but I like it more than opening a new tab in Safari. I was mostly concerned that it would not keep me signed in between sessions, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. I may need to sign in every once in a while (I assume? though I don’t know yet). But importantly, I don’t need to sign in every time I launch the Shortcut. So, thank you for the suggestion. The biggest downside is that the webpage doesn’t persist in memory as an “app” to swap between it with the app switcher. For my use case, that isn’t a deal breaker.

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I found another drawback. If you use screen time (even if mostly for statistical purposes like I do) then if you don’t properly “finish running” the shortcut it will continue being counted in the background and provide spurious numbers.

I wanted to provide another update/drawback. The way iOS 16 handles Shortcuts now enables screen interactivity while the notification from the Shortcuts app shows the progress of the shortcut. I feel this is an improvement to iOS, but now when Shortcuts is displaying the webpage there is a persistent and banner that can’t be dismissed. It’s there because while I’m viewing the “web-app” the Shortcut is running, so I can’t dismiss it until I “quit the app”/“finish running the Shortcut”. The main drawback is that it covers the top of the screen the entire time.