Text Expansion

Buying an iPhone 3 in 2009 turned into a more expensive exercise than I’d expected. From a modestly capable Microsoft Guru, I became an Apple ecosystem addict and mostly abandoned the Microsoft world in which I’d been immersed since before they even thought of Windows.

I only missed a couple of things in switching to the Mac: Windows, true to its name, allowed managing program windows more easily with keyboard shortcuts or by mouse clicks, but I really miss Windows’ excellent text expansion capability.

In Windows you have access to a tiny, free, and outstanding program called:


AutoHotKey is a “text expansion program”. If you spend time pounding a computer keyboard, it’s a blessing. Here’s how it works; in the program, I set up shortcuts.

For instance, if I type:

  • kkb, AutoHotKey writes “keyboard” in its place.
  • I have it replace hhome, with my street address, complete with new-line returns.
  • nnz becomes New Zealand.
  • eeml becomes my email address,
  • wwh becomes my tongue-twisting suburb, Whangaparaoa; and
  • ddmob is my wife’s phone number.
  • Remember your passport number? You don’t have to. Just type ppn.

Apple fail — almost

Apple also have a free text replacement facility. It’s built-in and available in System Preferences under Settings > General > Keyboard > Text Replacement.

And it works.

Sort of.

For commendable security reasons, Apple don’t allow independent developers to delve as deeply into the nuts and bolts of the Operating System (oos) code as Microsoft (mms) do; as a result, keyboard shortcuts (kkbs) don’t work universally throughout the system.

Even the expensive subscription-based commercial text expansion programs for iOS and MacOS like Text Expander and aText don’t work everywhere within the OS, or in all programs.

Autohotkey rules

The free, Open Source Windows utility AutoHotKey—a scripting language for desktop automation—created by Chris Mallet and others wipes the board with Apple’s relatively anaemic equivalents.

So what about Apple?

Keyboard shortcuts have the useful advantage of working in both MacOS and in iOS. As long as you’re signed into a Mac, iPad, or iPhone with your Apple ID, the keyboard shortcuts are synchronised between all of your devices.

Happy Days.


Not only did keyboard shortcuts not work everywhere but, infuriatingly, the synchronising was so patchy and unreliable that in the end I just gave up on it in frustration.

Until now

Thank you Apple Updates, thank you.

There was no fanfare, maybe they didn’t want to admit how bad it had been, but I’ve noticed recently that, suddenly, Apple’s Text Shortcuts synchronise flawlessly across my devices. And they work more widely throughout the system.

It’s great. The facility doesn’t have the power of AutoHotkey, but for simple shortcuts which don’t need macros, and special key inputs using Ctrl, Cmd, Return, or Shift, it does a good job.

Death of capitalism; bring it on

Capitalism is nourished by growth. Without growth it can’t survive. It’s a function of the debt-based monetary system which requires growth to cover future interest commitments.

We cannot easily address climate change without threatening the capitalist system’s very existence. It could be done, but the status quo has its head up its backside and won’t acknowledge the extent of the problem.

Eventually things will change, the sooner that happens the better for your children.

I’m not holding my breath.



Thanks for joining me.

I’ll be posting about a range of topics; most importantly, about our environment, our ongoing destruction of it, and how to prepare our grandchildren for the bad stuff that’s coming.

I’ll also cover economics, politics, and a lot of computer stuff.

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton


The tail’s preparing to wag the dog

Mixed Member Proportional Representation (MMP) is a vast improvement over our old First Past the Post voting system. Sections of the community who were marginalised under First Past the Post now have a voice. That’s certainly true of Maori, the Greens, and Winston First’s indefatigable blue rinse brigade.
To a degree it’s a good thing.

How long before it becomes an anchor around the legislative neck and makes government impossible?

Where will it all end?

Somebody tell me what to do

I’d like a Gray Power Party to boost my New Zealand Superannuation. What about a Kate Sheppard Ladies’ Party with a persondate to banish manholes to Personchuria. Can we do without a Jockstrap Party to declare the Rugby World Cup ours as of right? There’s definitely a need for a Petrolheads’ Party for the promotion of phallic exhaust pipes for the under-endowed, and a Wouldn’t Work in an Iron Lung Party for the equitable redistribution of filthy capitalistic gains.

Continue reading “The tail’s preparing to wag the dog”

Check your prejudices

People don’t vote for policies

In the UK a couple of elections back, the website Vote For Polices showed that when asked to chose their preferred policies without knowing which party’s policies they were, voters preferred the Green Party. The Conservatives fared badly.

vote for policies choices

For whom did they vote in the real world? Yep; the Conservatives, who should have been fourth choice.

Now it’s your turn

Here are two websites where you can check your actual preferences for the imminent New Zealand election. I think “I Side With” is the most realistic:

Please check them out. You will be surprised. For me, I Side With produced a more credible result than Vote Compass; they allow users more sensible fine-tuning of the alternatives. Even so, I was surprised to find that New Zealand First came high on my list.

That led me to check New Zealand First’s policies, and another surprise – despite Winston Peters’ devious, opportunistic, and waka-jumping ways – his party’s policies are, mostly, surprisingly sensible.

Not enough to encourage me to vote for him though.

Sorry Winnie.

Here is my result from “I Side With”

Some of my old friends will be horrified, but my swing to the left has been on-going since waking up to the total failure of neo-liberal policies.

Here are my results from “Vote Compass”

Mana’s position was a surprise too, but despite Hone Harawera’s radical activist past, his policies too are generally sensible. I’d like to see him make his peace with the Maori Party and avoid splitting their vote.


Volto e-bike review

I welcome feedback on this review. If you have anything important to add, or if I’ve got something wrong please let me know in the comments, or on FaceBook.

After a couple of days of research into the available electric bikes in New Zealand, I concluded that the best bang for the buck is the range of 3 different e-bikes from Volto in Tauranga. A 10 minute test drive on one of Pete Wilcox’s bikes at Rockgas Wanganui‘s e-bike agency left me smitten.

The Volto bikes are manufactured in China, but supposedly designed by New Zealanders for our conditions.

The Volto Falcon e-bike

Safety first

Contrary to expectation, I feel safer on the e-bike in city traffic than I do on my conventional bike. The extra acceleration available, especially from a standstill, makes it easier to keep up with the flow in busy city traffic; you’re not being shunted to the side of the road and made vulnerable to negligent car drivers who’re dying to open their doors in your face, or to suddenly back out of an angled parking space because they didn’t see you coming. Or maybe because they did.   :o)

At stop signs and traffic lights the same applies; I’m less vulnerable because I can accelerate as easily as a car, again, avoiding being shunted to the side of the road.

The bike

The Volto (mine’s a Falcon) has 3 power levels; I haven’t found it necessary to go beyond level 2, even on steepish hills. My perception: hills are flattened by a factor of about five; head winds are forever vanquished.

I expected the considerable extra weight to be a handling issue, but it isn’t so; the weight distribution is perfect, and handling is a no-brainer even after 76 years of serious abuse to muscles and joints.

I needed an hour or two to get accustomed to the available power; your mileage may differ. Don’t switch on the controller until you’re in the seat, with the support stand raised, a brake applied, and power level set; otherwise it’s too easy to inadvertently nudge the twist grip and have the bike take off on you. An applied brake cuts power from the motor until it’s released.

I’ve noticed that there’s much less irritating vibration from rough chip road verges than on my normal bike. A factor of tyre size? Dunno.

The Volto Tui folding e-bike

Choosing an e-bike

Here are my criteria and the brownie points for the Volto:


  1. Battery voltage and capacity: 36V, 16 Ah (576 Wh); in line with other brands. You can upgrade if you wish, but I’ve found it more than adequate for town use.
    Battery placement is in the centre of the bike which is preferable. Some have them above the rear carrier which is bad for handling because it raise the centre of gravity.
  2. The motor output, at 300W, is plenty powerful enough.
  3. The rear wheel hub motor is a no-brainer. Front hub motors are vulnerable to traction and handling problems; crank motors put too much load on the bike’s chain.
  4. There is a 12V/24V battery charger available here for we caravan nuts.
  5. 3 power levels, combined with 6 conventional gears meet my needs and then some. I rarely get out of the top two gears.
  6. The bike has a solid rear carrier and a good kickstand.
  7. Excellent brakes in the hubs: front – disc, rear – roller, both brake handles incorporate a motor cut-out.
  8. The aluminium alloy frame helps to keep the weight down.


So far, none at all.

Minor niggles

  1. The front light has a flasher mode, but the rear light doesn’t. I’ll probably swap with my other bike’s light.
  2. It’s not easy to locate the power controller buttons in the dark.
  3. I’d prefer a slightly higher top gear ratio. Even with power level 1, the motor often seems to overtake my pedaling.
  4. As far as I can tell, removing the rear wheel is a major mission. So if you have a puncture, you’re in trouble. I’ll be investigating the puncture-resistant tires that come with some more expensive machines.
  5. The optional extra front basket needs extra support.

See the bikes here

Find a dealer here

The Volto Tui step-through e-bike

Full specifications of the Volto Falcon and Tui

Battery: 36V, 16 Ah (576 Wh) or 23 Ah (828 Wh), mounted behind seat post for central weight distribution. 3.5kg (16Ah), easy to remove, frame locked. Charging time: 8 hrs when empty

Motor: 300 W brush less direct drive (no internal gears)

Controller: high efficient MOS-FET controller, max. 18A, up to 60V. Full throttle on right handle with PAS override. Drive modes: PAS only, Throttle only, mixed.

Speed: up to 32 kph on motor

Display: Easy to understand LED Display with battery level and 3 level PAS control, 6 kph option, waterproof

Brakes: Front – Shimano Disc brake, Rear – Dia Compe roller brake, both brake handles with motor cut-out

Range: on PAS level 1 up to 90 km, depending on terrain and weather condition

Gears: Shimano Tourney 6-speed, 52T front sprocket, 14-34 MEGA RANGE cassette

Frame: Alloy 6061, hydroformed, rated load: up to 120kg. Frame size: 17″, suitable for riders from 155 cm to 185 cm. All screws and washers stainless steel. Rear mounted side stand.

Fork: Suspension fork

Wheels: 26″ double wall Alloy rim, heavy duty 3mm spokes, 26×2.1 tyres

Seat: Volto comfort seat with swivel function to remove battery

Weight: 28 kg incl. battery

Warranty: 2 years on battery and motor, 5 years on frame, 12 months on other parts

Accessories: including charger, LED front and rear lights and bell

Optional: front basket, 23 Ah battery (+ $240)



Top choice for note taking software

Evernote logo

If you have random data scattered around your computer, a digital scrapbook of clippings, recipes, scanned receipts, reference data, web clippings… stuff that you squirrel away because maybe you’ll need it one day then Evernote is your friend.

I’ve been testing a number of other similar programs but, bang for buck, Evernote is still my #1 choice.

It’s come into a bit of flack recently because the company have changed the rules for the free version, and changed the pricing structure. We’ll cover that later in this post.

Evernote makes filing and quickly retrieving your data easy. Your notes, files and images are saved to your computers’ hard drives and simultaneously to Evernote’s own servers. Its main raison d’etre is quick and easy location of those data. You have the advantages of online storage, instant powerful search capability, and automatic synchronization between your computers, tablets, and smartphones and between them and the cloud.
Continue reading “Evernote”