Mac20Q Podcast 109 Michael Carnell

Michael Carnell

I was pleased to get as a guest Michael the winner of the mind node software on the Mac20Q show and found out that Michael is an all round lucky fella. He has also recently won an iPad from somewhere else so he had the iPad to be able to use the touch version of the MindNode Pro on that as well as make use of the desktop version.

Digital technologies are having a huge impact on people in the home and in the workplace. Drawing on years of experience as an engineer, programmer, system architect, developer, trainer and Information Systems manager, I now devote my time to system consulting, development, training, and writing. For more details on what I have written, check out my list of publications.
Through the Palmetto Technology Hub he refurbishes and donates used computers and equipment to the local non-profit community.

You can find Michael Carnell at his web site. He is a Social Media Monster.


Merlin Mann and Markdown

I have been scratching my head about using markdown or multi mark down, I heard Merlin Man saying about how he uses it all the time when he has to write anything. I heard Don mention markdown also, I think it was in connection with getting some software to be able to use it or do it.

So I was curious about it. What is it and what is it for. How could I use it maybe? Seems that the idea is that you are using standard things you find on the keyboard to put a sort of formatting on your text. It was devised by John Gruber and there are application that will take that simple text and turn it into html.

A text-to-HTML formatting syntax for web writers. Markdown allows you to write using an easy-to-read, easy-to-write plain text format, then convert it to structurally valid XHTML (or HTML). You can try it out, right now, using the online Dingus.

I also see that markdown can be used in Scrivener too. In fact in Scrivener there is support for MultiMarkdown which is a derivative of Markdown.

It seems the whole idea behind the markdowns is to be able to focus on the writing rather than messing about with formatting and yet have it more readable than just plain text . I suppose once you get use to putting in the hashes and stars and things you can do that.

So why should I use it?

I can make html easy without much bother already. All I have to do is to type into the create a new post while in WordPress and switch to the html tab and there it is. I can put in what ever formatting I want and it is pretty easy. John Gruber does say though it is there more to make text writing more readable while it is text still.

Or I can just use something like Espresso that has code completion that will close tags -and will also let me put in snippets of html and help me to build a html page.
I also have text expander that has a downloadable set of html snippets that will throw in the html for me without out much bother into TextWrangler for example. TW is amazing all the stuff that it does I have not yet found the need to upgrade to BBEDIT or TextMate


There are other WYSIWYG html editors too – that let you throw in your content and you can see and grab the html from with the same application to  use however you like.

Also of note you don’t have to move to multi markdown to get more functionality you can just use the html tags within you text for example if you want a table. Will be more readable in MMD though.

What is Markdown?

So what is all the fuss about Markdown then. Is it easy to put in header tags, links, lists horizontal lines and have text in bold or italics. Is it easier with markdown than with the other ways of generating html and why would anyone need it still?

Truthfully on the mac I still have to wonder why I would use it. When I am putting up web pages into my blogs I use mars Edit and I put in simple html tags with some keyboard shortcut I have available. I have a text expander snippet when I want to have an image I have already placed in the document put on the left with the text flowing around it. I can see the preview of what I have done and it is all sorted for me .

Then on the other hand I have not found a code writing app for the iPad yet . I could use the touch version of TextExpander though. I thought I could use that in Simple note but you have to pay up to use the integration with TE in SImple note .


Then I found something that make learning MarkDown worth the effort – Edito a simple text application that has some extra keyboard keys that give quick access to the characters that you use to do the Markdown thing.
It is very annoying to try it without the extra keys in a normal text editor like simple note.

You can send out the finished files in an email as html text, an html file – or send out as text in the body of an email or as a file attached to an email

Creating html code on an iPad

It is a pretty simple application –  aside from the area where you type in your markdown there is not much else. You have a button to press when you want to see the cheat sheet for writing markdown. After a while you will remember the star and hash characters and so on – easy enough. Hash tags on either side of a word or a sentence to make it a header like h1 to h6
3 stars with or without spaces in between to get a horizontal rule
star then space followed by the sentence gives you a list
the number with a full stop then a space in lines to get ordered lists

Just typing in normally – it makes it into paragraphs and gives you the paragraph tags. If you want a link you can put the words for the link inside square brackets followed immediately by the link inside the parenthesis round brackets. It is a similar process for putting images in there.

Built in Web Browser

There is a web browser built in – it is there just as a courtesy so that you can go surf grab something to use in your writing.

There is even a CSS function in Edito that styles whatever you create. You get 9 to choose from to view your xhtml – I have not yet found a way to get access to that CSS yet and when you send out the html file from the app  it goes without the CSS file that  styled it in Edito. Wondering what is the point of having it there?

So if you are looking for a way to write html via markdown on your idevice then have a look at edit and it is not expensive at €3.99