This whole exercise has left me feeling like I took the iPhone into my life without ever really thinking about what it was gonna take from me. Internet, all the time, everywhere? Sign me up. Games, news, photos, popularity? Yes, please, more, please! It’s an all-you-can-eat buffet of excellent gourmet food. The trouble for me? I will always eat more than I should.
More than a bit extreme. But, some might need to take extreme measures and may find this useful.
The Creative Sound Blaster Roar is a new compact, portable speaker with Bluetooth and NFC. I’d like to thank the fine folks at Creative Labs for sponsoring this week’s RSS feed.
By incorporating a bi-amplified (two amps, not one), far-field, high frequency, and 5 speaker system (including a subwoofer), it delivers powerful yet well balanced sound in a package smaller than a hardcover novel. I’ve had one for a few days now and I have been blown away at the quality and features it delivers at a very affordable price.
As with any speaker, one must begin by discussing the main thing that matters — the sound. I’ve now tested it by playing a variety of music, podcasts, and streaming radio on the Roar and came away impressed every time. The sound was clear and room filling. I never felt I was listening to an inexpensive portable speaker — no buzzing bass or straining highs. It was especially impressive with classical music — able to deliver the complexity, nuance and range on par with a higher-end full stereo system. Furthermore, one can use the TeraBass feature to boost the perceived loss of bass when listening at low volumes. This worked really well and never felt too “bass heavy” when using it as prescribed. And, the signature “Roar” feature instantly boosts the loudness, depth and spaciousness of the audio in situations like parties or larger gatherings where that is desired. In fact, I used this during a party over the weekend and my guests were shocked when I showed them where the music was coming from (not to mention the fact I was streaming it wirelessly from my iPhone). The sound alone for the price make this a compelling purchase. But, there are a ton of other features that push this well into the “must buy” range.
In the wireless department, The Sound Blaster Roar has just about the most comprehensive and versatile Bluetooth connectivity options available for a portable wireless speaker. One can allow only two trusted paired devices to connect, any paired trusted devices, or a “free for all” mode where anyone can stream to it. If you have an NFC enabled device, you can pair the device just by touching the device to the speaker.
A built in microphone means that you can use the speaker for hand-free calling. It also has an SD Card slot so one can play MP3, WAV, or WMA files directly from there. The SD Card slot also allows for the included integrated audio and voice recorder — you can even record your hands-free calls.
The battery is powerful and long lasting. I steamed music to it for hours and barely made a dent. Not only that, nut you can plug your phone or iPad cable into the Roar’s USB port and charge your device from the built in battery. Very convenient.
The Roar also can be used over USB audio. This makes an excellent external speaker for your laptop or desktop computer. And, if your sound needs are really big, you can get Creative’s MegaStereo cable and connect two Roar’s together to double your sound.
The bottom line is that The Roar is the best portable wireless speaker I have heard to date. None others that I have seen deliver this level of quality and sound at such an affordable price. Plus, it just plain looks fantastic. I highly recommend you check it out.
Email is actually a tremendous, decentralized, open platform on which new, innovative things can and have been built. In that way, email represents a different model from the closed ecosystems we see proliferating across our computers and devices.
I remain a big fan of email and still believe it is a protocol ripe for new thinking and innovation.
Those who have followed me for a while know I love Quotebook, a little app from my friends at Lickability.. Well, they released version 3 today and it’s fantastic. It’s a huge update — a complete rewrite — and every detail has been well considered. It’s even better than before. As a fan and collector of quotes, it’s nice to have an app on my homescreen that is purpose built for that.
But, just because it is purpose built for collecting and organizing quotes does not mean you are limited to using it for just that. Quotes can come from a variety of sources and circumstances. And, once you accept that idea the possibilities and flexibility of the app really begin to open up. Here are just a few of the new ways I have found to use it:
Conference & Presentation Notes — Quotebook is a great way to capture key thoughts at conferences and presentations. Fill in the notes or idea you wish to capture, put the speaker’s name in the authors field, put the conference, talk, or session name in the source field. Even use the tags for further freeform categorization.
Book/Reading Notes — Writing in the margins is great if you have a physical book that belongs to you that you don’t want to get rid of. But everything outside of that is a great fit for Quotebook. Copy down the passage, page number, and any notes you wish to add into the Quote field, author, and title in the Sources field. It’s your own private Goodreads.
Funny or Cute Things My Kid Says — Like the way she says “It doesn’t care…” in place of “It doesn’t matter”. Or, “repartment” in place of “apartment”. And, don’t even get me started on “aminal” (animal) or our dog’s name, “Geromino” (Geronimo).
Favorite Tweets — While Twitter does provide a way to “favorite” a tweet, I find Quotebook a more appropriate place to save something someone says that has lasting impact and value. Put the tweet where the quote would normally go and the Twitter username as the handle. You can even paste a link to the tweet in the source field. And, author or source with a Twitter handle will even download avatar & bio from Twitter. Neat!
Another advantage of using it for these things is the ability to slice and dice that data in interesting ways. Let’s say I go see a favorite author give a talk and use Quotebook to take notes. And, I have used Quotebook to take notes on her books. And, I have captured quotes from that same author from other sources. Well, now I can sort by the author and have everything all together.
The sidebar idea I’m trying to put forth here is to to expand the notion of what a quote can be. It does not have to be some deep thought or maxim said by some famous dead guy. It could be anything said or written by anyone. And, once you expand the idea in this way, thus the ways in which Quotebook can help you in meaningful ways increases.
The clutter is a sign, a symptom. I’m avoiding the work, some of it because it’s hard and I’m not sure how to do it, some because it’s boring and doesn’t interest me, and some because I keep forgetting to get it done on a regular basis, mainly because it’s mixed up with everything else.
Today I am joined by Patrick Rhone of Minimal Mac and The Cramped, as we discuss putting our glowing rectangles down, and using an actual pen for writing. Bonus content: Patrick takes me to task over my often lack of editing my blog posts.
Another podcast appearance where I discuss topics relevant to the topic here.
Relay FM is our new home on the Internet, and where you can find all of our podcasts. The shows you have known and loved for years are being rebooted as part of the new network. Everything we have done so far in our podcasting careers has led us here, and we’re pouring all of our love, knowledge and attention into this thing.
The boys are back! Congrats to my friends Myke Hurley and Stephen Hackett on the launch. It’s a bold move to rebuild something from scratch. Much kudos to them.
Clearing out the redundancies and unused apps, however, frees space on my phone and in my head. It also makes my phone’s battery a lot happier. I’m not about to turn my iPhone back into a dumbphone, but clearing out the crap and cruft sure feels a lot better.
It is really easy to buy apps but it takes work to intentionally ask if they will add real value or just give space, time, and attention to things you don’t really need. Taking some time out occasionally to take a hard look at what apps you are actually using and which ones are cruft is a worthwhile endeavor.
The mobile theme for this site has been looking pretty bad for a while now. Mainly, lots of things just generally aligned poorly and crashing into each other. I’ve mostly ignored it because, well, I did not design it so there was some learning and tinkering involved in fixing it.
A couple of folks (Ben Brooks and Jered Benoit) generously offered to jump in and help and I was going to accept the offer. Then, in the course of getting them the code a little voice inside my head said, “This is a learning opportunity. You should figure this out yourself.”
So, I did.
It’s not yet perfect and I will likely tweak things a bit more. But, if you visit the site on mobile it should now look 150% better than it did an hour ago. Enjoy!
“As one who strives for mindfulness — especially when dealing with fear — I simply try to remind myself that even the most important choices we make are temporary in the grand scheme of things. Because all things are impermanent.”—This is a quote from an interview with me in the latest Alpha Efficiency Magazine. I think it turned out well.
So, the truth: Right now, today, in 2014 is the best time to start something on the internet. There has never been a better time in the whole history of the world to invent something. There has never been a better time with more opportunities, more openings, lower barriers, higher benefit/risk ratios, better returns, greater upside, than now. Right now, this minute.
A great reminder from Kevin Kelly that the future does not just happen. It is built by the actions we take today.
"The Mikes" are joined by last minute guest, Patrick Rhone. They start out by discussing a recent blog post that Vardy wrote about shipping vs. delivering. Patrick also throws "The Mikes" a curveball with a new idea he has been working on regarding the idea of a wish vs. a plan.
I kind of talked my way into appearing on the podcast at the last minute and it turned out to be a great show. Give it a listen if you want to hear us talk about shipping vs. delivering. Also, I propose a new way to approach your task list and calendar (that I know some will immediately bristle against because it requires things we are generally not good at — intention and self honesty.
I put the word books in quotation marks because the two I’m going to mention are closer to multimedia products than they are books. This is not a bad thing. In fact, I could recommend you check each out just on that fact alone. They both push the boundaries of what our technology allows a book to be these days. But, I digress…
Presentations is the latest in the MacSparky Field Guide series and it’s great. This is, without a doubt, the new go-to guide for everything you need to know to give a great presentation. And, because it uses the very latest technology baked into iBooks to deliver the goods, there are 44 screencasts, audio interviews with Merlin Mann, Les Posen, and Wendy Cherwinski, and much, much more built right in. I have loved all of David Sparks guides so far with each one even better than the last.
Delight Is In The Details by Shawn Blanc recently received a big, big update worth checking out if you did not the first time around. If you are anyone who makes anything that you care about at all, you need this. It delivers practical and actionable advice on how to not just ship but deliver. Plus, the package is packed with hours and hours of audio interviews, videos, and more. Heck, if you do nothing else, at least watch the first video because it full of creative inspiration.
Seriously, the value of both of these books is worth way more than the cost on the cover. Plus, it feels good to support really good guys who have been adding value to our internet community for over a decade. Check them out.
My daughter and I had the pleasure of sitting down to a very nice lunch with Joshua and Ryan of The Minimalists earlier this week. Good guys who both have powerful stories about arriving at and integrating a minimalist lifestyle.
Available once again — The Official Minimal Mac T-Shirt. Express to the world what you believe in while helping to support the site. Available for a limited time with 2 regular color options (Asphalt and Black), a ladies v-neck option, and a long sleeve for the first time ever.
I really did not have any plans to offer Minimal Mac T-shirts again after I offered them last year. But, I recently noticed that mine are starting to look a bit worn. Plus, I’ve always wanted a long sleeve version too. Therefore, I’m mainly offering them again so that I can buy some. But, I hope you might consider buying one as well. It does help to support the work I do here. Plus, it just looks damn good.
When I have my Mac in front of me I am doing a lot of things, but not focusing on a lot of things. With the iPad only I felt that was reversed — I did a bit less, a bit slower, but what I did do was more focused and therefore carefully done.
“The less you require to maintain your desired standard of living, the longer you can maintain it without additional income. This isn’t about celebrating a poverty mentality. Quite the opposite. It’s an acknowledgement that once you find what works, you can remove everything else.”—
By the way, his newsletter topics are based on his daily tweets which are voted on by favorites and retweets. He then takes the top three and discusses them further in the newsletter. A neat idea and an excellent source of actionable wisdom. Worth every penny to me. You should follow him regardless.
This is one of the key questions we must ask ourselves when it comes to seeking a life of enough. The journey to finding what that word — that idea — means for us all is not about finding out how much we need. Instead, it is about about finding out how little we can get away with.
I purchased a MacBook Air 64GB four years ago. I could have gotten one with more storage and plenty of “room to grow”. But, this is rarely my goal when approaching such things. For me, I wanted to see exactly how little I could get away with needing and for how long. This machine has served me well and continues to do so. Because my goal from the beginning was to seek an answer to that question, any applications I add or how I choose to manage things such as music and photos are weighed against this fundamental question.
When I travel, the key to packing light for me is asking this question of each item that is up for consideration. I never try to see how much I can take with me, it’s always how little I can get away with taking. Can I take only two pairs of underwear, two shirts, two pairs of pants, two pairs of socks, and toiletries for a week long trip? Can I wear one set and pack the other? Can I wash one set in the sink and hang it up to dry in the hotel bathroom while I’m wearing another? Can I pack everything I need in a 16 liter ruck? Can I get away with that? (The answer, for me, is yes.)
Even when it comes to projects and tasks, the question I seek to answer is often this one — how little can I get away with doing to get the job done without sacrificing the quality of the end result? Who wants to do more work or take more time to get something done? No one. Of course, we want to do all that is required to get the optimal outcome. But, the approach to that goal should be geared towards how little is needed to achieve it, not how much.
The next time you approach similar situations, ask yourself this key question. My bet is, you will be amazed at how little you can get away with to achieve what you really need.
Sprechen Sie Deutsch? Even if you don’t speak German, you can still read this interview with me by Kevin Wammer of Apfeltech. The English version is included at the bottom. We cover a wide range of questions including using the iPhone as a primary writing device, balancing the analog and digital, and finding “enough” when it comes to technology. It came out well and I think you’ll enjoy it.
“I’ve learned that letting go is an active, continuous process. The default assumption is that we want to be interrupted: notifications are enabled, ringers aren’t silenced, and reminders are set. To get rid of that stuff, you have to take a stand.”—
If you are planing to come to the Minimal Mac WWDC Meetup next Wednesday night, here is an important logistical note about The Irish Bank where we will be… It’s kind of hidden.
You are going to look at a map and say, “Wait, that can’t be right?”
Then you are going to follow the map and find yourself looking down a dark alleyway, past a massage parlor and some dumpster and think, “Wait, that can’t be right?”
Then, you are going to go down that alleyway and around a corner and see a well lighted door and, weather permitting, maybe a few patio tables outside in the alley. Then you’ll say, “Hey, I think this is right!”
Been going there for years whenever I’m in the SFO area. It’s one of my favorite (really) hidden gems that even few natives know is even there. It really is down what otherwise looks to be a dark alley. But, go through that door, and you will find one of the best Irish Pubs in America.
With WWDC being less than a week away, I thought it timely to remind everyone that I will be there. ]
Besides the Minimal Mac Meetup at The Irish Bank on Wednesday night, I plan on being around SFO and hitting up as many of the related goings on as possible. So, keep an eye out for me and come up and say “Hi” if you are so inclined (people tell me I look like Lionel Richie).
I’ve heard it should be a good year to be there. Can’t wait.
I will always find it more enjoyable to take a picture with my best camera, but I find that no matter what camera I use to make the picture, my enjoyment of the picture is never diminished by the what camera I used at the time.
My friend CJ Chilvers is a very talented photographer and, I must say, an insightful guy. He responded to my rant (warning: there’s one mildly not-safe-for-work word in my rant) with a brilliant solution: books.”The best solution I’ve found for all this is the humble book. Making a collection of photos into a book (even if it’s just a year book of miscellaneous shots) solves several problems,” he said. He went on to list the benefits of the good old photo book.
CJ is a good friend of mine (as is Dave). I have yet to try this advice myself but, it is on my list to do so. Make sure to click the link for the reasons why this solution makes sense and some recommended ways to go about it.
The program he uses to churn out thousands of pages of prose is WordStar 4.0, an ultra-minimal word processing application from the ’80s. Unlike some of today’s intentionally bare-bones writing applications, it is minimal due to technological constraints, not by design.
I will be in San Francisco the week of WWDC 2014 and have planned a meetup for Minimal Mac readers and fans. Here are the details.:
What: Minimal Mac WWDC 2014 Meetup
Where: The Irish Bank, 10 Mark Lane, San Francisco CA 94108
When: Wednesday, June 4th, 2014 at 6:30 PM until it ends.
Why: I’m there. You’re there. Let’s party.
Stop on by if you are in town during that time. This will be very informal. I have made no arrangements or given fair warning to the venue. It just happens to be my favorite bar/restaurant in SFO — and, perhaps, the best Irish Pub in America. I’ll likely show up a tad early and leave around 10 PM or so — maybe later. So it might be better if people kind of come and go whenever. No pressure to show up right when it starts or stay until I leave.
Too many people have no backups at all. Storing your photos and documents on an external hard drive is NOT a backup. Dropbox is NOT a backup. A backup is separate from the original files. A backup is a duplicate. And the best duplicate is somewhere other than where your files reside.
A good reminder. You can never have “too many” backups.
Writer and technology consultant Patrick Rhone talks about his path from helping people building websites to helping people incorporate technology into all parts of their lives. He talks about traveling as a parent and he shares how much he’s thinking about the world on a grand scale in the context of how technology should and could be in service of humanity in tackling worldwide problems. And Patrick talks about how his young daughter interacts with technology and how that shapes the way he thinks about the devices we all use.
It was an absolute blast guesting on this one. Levi Weinhagen is a great interviewer and we explored many subjects that I have not written that much about (yet) but have plenty of ideas about. My only wish is that I discussed parenting in this modern age even more. Perhaps he will have me on again.
I don’t do conferences much. They harsh my introverted mellow. That said, I will be at WWDC this year for the first time in a very long time. I’ll only be in town Tuesday afternoon (June 3) through Thursday afternoon (June 5). Mainly coming just to hang out and meet folks. If you are going to be around there, keep an eye out on this space. I’ll likely be planning an informal meet up or two for that time.