How I Use Regex
How and why I use regular expression, lessons I learned interviewing Matt Birchler, and a great link about Safari on iOS 15
I just wanted to say that I greatly appreciate you being a premium Tablet Habit member. It is a joy to be able to share with you this exclusive premium content. If you ever have any ideas for me or want to share a workflow you can always email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Regex and Why I Use it
This may not be a typical Tablet Habit post, but I have been learning and trying to utilize regular expression (Regex) more. If you aren't familiar with Regex think of it as a way for you to search for text that matches a criteria.
Something like finding text between parentheses or numbers that have only 3 digits. The kinds of things that you can't serach for easily in a traditional Find and Replace action.
There are two websites I am using to make this happen, and I thought they might help you learn more about Regex and what you can do with it.
RegexOne is where I have been going to learn about Regex. From the very beginning is helps someone with zero Regex experience understand how it works and what you can do with it. Spend 15-30 minutes a day and you will start to understand Regex in no time.
Regex101 is also a fantastic resource to learn, but I use this more as a testing station for my Regex. Once I have a use for Regex, I will text it out at Regex101 just to make sure it works. It is much easier for me to paste in some examples and test Regex there than it is when I am using Shortcuts to find and replace text using Regex.
Where it Comes in Handy + Free Workflow
Regex is useful to me when I want to find and/or replace text in automation like in Shortcuts. For instance, I have a shortcut that I use to find instances of text that is in between parentheses, which happens when I have links in Markdown. I often find myself wanting just the links, and nothing else. Instead of manually deleting everything but the links, Regex makes things easier. In this shortcut I take that text and output it as a list. From there, I copy that list and paste it into where I want it.
Other Regex Resources
I wanted to share more interesting links, podcasts, and a book all about Regex in case you are also interested in learning more.
3 Things I Learned Interviewing Matt Birchler
In the first episode of what I am now calling Season 2 of A Slab of Glass I interviewed Matt Birchler, YouTuber, writer, and Apple Enthusiast.
I have always been a fan of Matt's work, and I was very happy to have him on the show, and I learned 3 things that I think has helped me as a creator immensely.
1. Do what makes you excited
Matt exudes excitement in his work, and that is a good thing. When someone is excited about the work they are doing, and genuinely enjoy the process it shows in the final product. Between A Better Computer and Birchtree everything shows just how excited and joyous he is.
2. Bring positivity, because no one likes negativity
Matt tends to focus on the things he enjoys and the things he is excited about, rather than flaming or tearing down the things he doesn't. In a recent Birchtree post about this exact topic Matt explains it with a superb example.
I don’t mean to say everything you create needs to be happy-go-lucky, but you should try to have your content add to the overall conversation. You should be trying to make content that gives people value, and this is the most common thing I see people get wrong when they make a run at this (I definitely do this too, although I think I make this mistake far less these days). Here’s a basic example…A link post to another blogger where your comment is something like “this guy is wrong, I can’t believe they think like this,” is negative content. It adds nothing to the conversation, and you’re certainly not making friends doing it. However, that same link post with something like, “I think this person is wrong, here’s an alternative idea that I can defend,” is way better.
Honestly. I think his entire article titled My Simple Advice to Aspiring Tech Commentators encases exactly what I felt with him in our conversation.
3. Have a system that works for you
Matt works hard on his videos, articles, and more. I know because I have enough experience to see what it takes to have a product like he has.
Along with the actual work of writing and video production comes the stuff not many talk about, the systems in place to reduce friction.
Matt touched on this a number of times in the episode of A Slab of Glass. He speaks on it first when he talks about his screen reocrding process. He uses Screenflow, which is a premium app, but he uses it strictly for screen recording and editing. For everything else he uses a diferent system.
He also went into his system with Obsidian and notes. He spoke about how he doesn't use a lot of the pro-user features, but it works for him.
I think Obsidian is kind of one of those apps where I feel like I'm using 2% of it and that's fine for me. I feel like I could listen to someone, argue 'it's not native, it's an Electron app, it's too big, all these things are complicated, this is too nerdy.' I could just nod along and say, 'you're right. All those things are right. But I really like it it's super satisfying to type in and it works.'
Finally, he uses Figma for his design work because that is what he in comfortable with. For Matt, that's enough to stick with it rather than bounce to a new app or service and learn how that product works. It also helps that Figma is one of the sleekest web apps I have ever seen.
To put it in another way, find what works for you and stick with it.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Matt and if you haven't you can listen to the full interview here.