735: Catching up with Ryan JA Murphy


Thank you America for switching for daylight savings!

Over here in New Zealand, we live in the future, so it’s Monday here.

The daylight savings switch means that the podcast arrives in my inbox an hour earlier, which fits my Monday morning schedule much better :slight_smile:


So, THAT’s why we change our clocks here in the States? Well, making a New Zealander happy is no more foolish a reason than the usual ones that are given. :man_shrugging::slightly_smiling_face:


Having to get up an extra hour early for work was not fun.

@ryanjamurphy Would love to hear the sub-points under your organizational principles, if you don’t mind posting it.

  • @MacSparky Why use Whisper Memos rather than dictating into Drafts? Alternately, you could use Voice Memos and then run it through a transcriber. What does Whisper Memos do that those alternatives can’t do?
  • The Grammarly app supports voice dictation in a similar fashion to the app described by Macsparky. I gave it a try and it’s ok. And it might save money for folks already subscribed to Grammarly.
  • As a Mac power user, I find the concept of distinct virtual environments for different types of work fascinating. In my case, I have a dedicated home office, and I have observed over the years that I use this space for specific tasks—work-related activities, paying bills and so on. When I’m just goofing around on the Internet, or reading an ebook or articles, I do it in another room. Even when I’m taking breaks from work in that room, I’m in work mode. It’s interesting to consider the possibility of having multiple virtual spaces for different modes and tasks–a 1940s movie newsroom for writing, a Victorian office for doing finance work, the Oxford University library when I’m doing research, the set of the 1970s Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson when I’m doing interviews, and so on.
  • @ryanjamurphy If you’ve given up on Readwise Reader, what are you now using for read-it-later? Anything? And are you using the main Readwise app?

Overall, this was an extremely good episode. Ryan is one of my favorite people in the community and I was excited to see his name as guest when the new episode dropped. The episode did not disappoint.


Something just occurred to me: @MacSparky, when you say you write in Yosemite using your Vision Pro, I get that you’re describing a virtual environment—you’re actually in your home office or backyard or a coffee shop or whatever—but you’re referring to a virtual recreation of the park, right? Not the recent MacOS version?

I am legit minorly confused by this. Pretty sure you mean the park.

Yes, he means the National Park in California – and he has posted photos.

You mean the design theory for time tracking? Sure, I’ve just published it here:

I am generally a fan of everything the Readwise team is doing, but neither Readwise and Reader have kept me as a user for two reasons:

  • It’s not local-first/file-over-app. I want my canonical stuff on my devices in file formats I can mess around with.
  • It wasn’t the best PDF experience. Most of my reading takes place in PDFs — in fact if I save something for later, I turn it into PDF first.

My reading workflow over the past year has become Zotero (+ turn it into a PDF manually, lately via Printfriendly’s extension in Arc) → BookendsDEVONthink, and then I read with a number of PDF apps. (DEVONthink provides some automations, like sorting it into a specific folder (I use year/semester). Most of this happens in 2–3 interactions: one to add things to Zotero (one more to PDFify it if necessary), and then one to invoke my Zotero to Bookends automation.

Worth noting that I don’t really read much RSS/blogs with this. I’ve decided to try to emphasize academic reading. I check a few news sites manually every day or so but I’m even thinking about cutting that habit lately!

(PS: If Readwise Reader has since become the best PDF reading experience, I’d love to hear about it!)


It hasn’t changed in the way you mean. It’s still best for PDFs that should’ve been text/HTML files. Any time the PDF format was chosen to preserve information and convey meaning, Readwise struggles with it. Since their philosophy is that words should be quickly consumed in order and highlighted to review later, I don’t think it will change.

1 Like

An excellent workflow, and thank you. I don’t know whether it would work for me, but perhaps I can adapt it. Most of my read-it-later activity comes from news sites, with almost no academic reading.

After I posted my earlier message on this topic to you, I started thinking about what bugs me about ReadWise Reader. And it’s exactly as you said: It’s not local-first/file-over-app.

PDF to DevonThink is also a possibility. DevonThink itself is not great as a reading app, particularly on the iPhone, but it had not occurred to me to try it in conjunction with another PDF reader.

Currently, I’m trying Omnivore, which is essentially an open source ReadWise Reader clone that permits export of entire articles in Markdown to Obsidian or Logseq. Readwise Reader will only export notes and highlights.

I’d love to create a corpus of everything I’ve read that looks like it’s worth saving, and be able to query that corpus using an LLM.


I have such a collection of about 4,500 PDFs going back to about 2012.

Is it life changing? No, of course not. But every once in a while, I’m in a meeting, and I think of something from six years ago and am able to pull it up and share it within a couple of minutes.

It sure is a good parlor trick.

Not pictured: all of the times I fumble about and fail to find it, publicly embarrassing myself.

Yes, I’m looking forward to this likely inevitability. For now, good search and sorting skills generally work pretty well.

FWIW my practice of sorting things by the semester I read them in has been excellent. My mind works in semesters (for obvious reasons). When I’m struggling to find something, I can pretty easily think of the other things I read at about the same time, remember which semester that was (“Oh that was in the last term of my Master’s,” etc.) and find it that way.


+1 :rofl:


Yeah @MitchWagner … I meant the below. I can see the confusion.


Readwise Reader is my walled garden for things I need to read in the near term with intention, not the bucket into which I’ve chucked all my reading material.

Everything that’s in Reader also lives as a PDF, an ePub, or a markdown file on a drive I own and control. I upload a copy to Reader, and delete it once I’m done with it.


Why Printfriendly over the Mac’s built in Save as PDF option within the print dialogue window?

1 Like

I can’t say I thought of the default save as PDF, but I just tested them to compare.

  1. macOS’s system print → save as PDF is a bit clunkier to reach (probably could be optimized, but I couldn’t find a way to make it fewer clicks than PrintFriendly)
  2. PrintFriendly’s results were cleaner and nicer than the PDF that macOS produced
  3. PrintFriendly gives you the ability to manipulate and delete elements on the PDF before saving, which is handy in case there’re big distracting things on the article page that were not cleaned by default

Does Printfriendly keep links on the page active? I seem to think the MacOS Save as PDF keeps their “link” formatting but did not keep the links “clickable.”

Regrettably no, the links are dead via PrintFriendly too (good catch).

For me, links in PrintFriendly-created PDFs usually do work. Here’s a sample PDF created with PrintFriendly from this thread: https://k00.fr/printfriendly

Maybe it depends on the web source, host browser or PDF viewer being used?

1 Like

DevonThink itself is not great as a reading app, particularly on the iPhone

Just what is a good PDF reader on an iPhone? Given PDFs are created at fixed dimensions and layout, i.e., the text doesn’t reflow (one of the benefits of PDF), they aren’t made for the tiny form factor of a phone. You can only do the best you can with displaying such documents.