“When you have Enough, the extra money means very little. I’ve been broke, and being broke sucks balls. Having Enough is awesome. How would I define “Enough”? Enough means that you can take a friend out to a nice lunch and not have to worry about how much it costs. I have hung out with a couple of billionaires—my experiences indicate that being a billionaire is just incrementally better than Enough.”—
I could truthfully repeat this statement as my own. I too have lived well below the poverty level. I too know people wealthy by any measure. Enough is all most of us ever really need and the benefits of having more than that are marginal.
What you have right now — why isn’t that sufficient? The existence of something better doesn’t negate the usefulness of what you already own. I don’t have a philosophical objection to these things, and far be it from me to moralize. I’m no luddite, nor am I even particularly ascetic. The thing that concerns me — especially when I detect it in myself — is the false belief that these things will really revolutionize our lives.
There are so many fantastic apps and other tools to help us with all these tasks. And that’s why I built this site. Because I want to use the best tools for whatever the task is and I bet you do, too.
Shawn Blanc has really outdone himself with this site. If you are familiar with The Sweet Home or The Wirecutter, this is like that but for your Mac and iDevices. This will prove to be a fantastic resource for anyone looking for the very best app in a given category. And, this is not just about apps. There also are some insightful tips and even some hardware accessories covered for good measure. Seriously, bookmark this one.
As an onlooker, it’s easy to associate dramatic change and motion with competence, and quiet refinement with laziness. We must draw on our own experiences attempting to build great things to appreciate how much work takes place in stillness, to have faith that even though things may appear stagnant, a benefit of frictionlessness is resulting. An app at rest may be in that long, arduous phase of becoming finely crafted.
Some insightful arguments in defense of sticking with apps that are serving you well, even if they develop slowly. Many intersections with the idea of the no grade too.
This book tackles your over-stuffed inbox. The Email Field Guide covers both why email has become such a problem for everyone and how to manage it more effectively. The book was built entirely in iBooks Author and features a gorgeous craftsman-inspired design with illustrations by Mike Rohde. There are 36 screencasts, 8 audio interviews, over 46,000 words, and other rich-media assets to help you become the boss of your email. The material is accessible to beginners and power users alike with a thoughtful, fun, and systematic approach to managing your email.
David Sparks nails it again with another stellar addition to his Field Guides series. This one, deals with email and it is stunning. I’m still a big believer and fan of email as a medium but understand why some have lost the love. This will help you get it back.
My podcast, Enough, has finally come to an end after 225 episodes. There are many reasons for it’s ending but the main one is that I felt that we had covered just about everything that could be covered with the deeper ideas and topics I wanted to explore there.
On the the final show, Myke mentioned that he was not sure all of the episodes would remain available as they currently are. Hosting and maintenance costs for a dead show were prohibitive. We gave our listeners permission to come up with ways to download and share the episodes if they wished.
Therefore, it was really nice of Robert Wall of Untitled Minimalism to put together an archive and torrent of all 225 episodes and make it publicly available. I’m currently downloading and seeding it and others are doing the same. I’m very proud of the body of work that was created there and feel it is all part of what we believe in. Go grab it and share.
I want to thank everyone of our listeners from the past couple of years. But I also want to especially thank my friend, podcast partner, host, and all around lovely chap Myke Hurley for making the whole thing possible and showing up to chat with me for over two years.
This was a fun one to do. See where I do most of my writing these days! See current shots of my iPhone Homescreen and Mac Desktop! See the me looking like I’m praying while leaning against a brick wall mural by some guy I don’t even know!
Minimal Mac: What We Believe In — Expanded, Updated, and Available
Minimal Mac: What We Believe In, the new and updated version of the Minimal Mac book, is now available. This new version has been completely revised, reformatted, recompiled for ePub, Kindle (.mobi), and a PDF version is now included. In addition, I have curated and added the very best essays and quotes that have come out since the first release of the book through today. The book now clocks in at over 40,000 words and includes writing from over 4 years of Minimal Mac.
Updated and Expanded Minimal Mac Book Coming Soon...
So, here’s the deal. I am currently working on an update to Minimal Mac: What We Believe In — the eBook which collects the very best posts from the site from the beginning to now. It really is the very best way to catch up on what you’ve missed. The new version is being updated with the best posts and essays that have been written since the initial release (over a year and a half of stuff). It saves those who buy it the work of having to go through 2,300 posts themselves for the best posts — I’ve done that work for you.
The current version is only $5.00. That said, going through the several thousand posts and the amount and quality of the updated collection (over 40,000 words) I feel justifies a new higher price. I haven’t decided what that will be yet, but I hope to have the new version out by early next week.
That said, anyone who has purchased it before the release will get the updated version for free. So, if you would like to get it at the current price, I suggest acting now.
When I’m able, and when it makes sense, I prefer to spend more on an item and get something high quality. The tools and toys I use the most should be as close to perfect as possible. I want something built with care and quality, that is enjoyable to use, and will last me a long time.
Apple, its products, its surrounding ecosystem all sit in this market.
The best case scenario is that you delete your apps and feel relief, increase your efficiency, and de-clutter the most important device in your life. Worst case, you merely come to think more clearly about how you use technology.
Those that follow me elsewhere are likely aware of this but I have yet to mention it here. The Unrecorded Podcast is a new project I have started with my friends Dave Caolo and CJ Chilvers. It is unconventional to say the least because despite it’s name, it really is a newsletter. Yes, a newsletter — that is generated by a podcast like conversation. The FAQ on the site explains it best.
I recently threw out a question to my friends on the social networks asking if there was anything I could write about that might help them. While I got several great responses, the ones that stuck out more than any others revolved around technology addiction and how to overcome it. In fact, that response — in it’s many forms — outnumbered all the others.
So, I’ve been doing some ruminating around this issue for a couple of weeks now. While I don’t pretend to have any answers, I have some ideas that have popped up. Here is one of them. I call it, The Battery Game…
What if we judged the quality of our day by how much battery was left in our devices at the end of it? What if we turned this into a game for ourselves? The more battery power left at bedtime means you are winning.
Have another friend who is also feeling a bit attached? Invite them to “compete” against you. Take a screenshot at the end of the day for a couple of weeks then meet up to compare. For each day, pick a winner by who has the most battery left. Whoever has the most losing days for that period has to buy lunch.
Of course, Airplane Mode can be your friend in this game. No reason you need to save it for the plane. Turn it on and you can still check your calendar, take some notes, quickly calculate a tip — and save a whole ton of battery and kill even more needless distractions.
And, leaving your device plugged in and at home is a sound strategy too.
Put another way, I suspect that the less we use our devices — especially our smartphones — the more engaged we are with the world around us. Often times, making a game out of something daunting or stressful can make it easier to overcome. Also, more fun to do so.
I recently recorded and released an audiobook version of *So you want to be a Mac Consultant…, my guide to everything you need to know to get started in the Apple Consulting business. In doing so, I was reminded once again of the very reason I started this site — the modern Mac has everything you need to get most jobs done out of the box, no further software needed. Here was yet another case in point…
I had never recorded an audiobook before and had no real knowledge of where to start. I thought I would need GarageBand — which would have worked I’m told but seemed daunting to learn a perhaps a bit overkill. I had a PDF copy of the eBook version of the guide and I simply wanted to record each chapter as an individual audio file first.
Then, it dawned on me that I could use Quicktime. I opened up Quicktime Player and chose “New Audio Recording” from the File menu. I opened the PDF in preview, hit record, and started reading. Then, I hit stop when I was done, listened to the recording to make sure I was happy with it, and then saved it as an audio-only file. It couldn’t have been easier.
After I finished recording all the chapters, I wanted to trim a little off the beginning and end where you could hear me keyboard switching between Preview and Quicktime and using key commands to stop and start recording. Did I need some third party editing app for this? Nope. Quicktime to the rescue again. Using the “Trim” feature under the Edit menu I was able to do the minor editing I needed.
So, I have all of these files. How then to make them into an audiobook — with proper track listing, metadata, and cover art? iTunes to the rescue! I just dragged the files into a playlist, arranged them how I wished, turned them into an album (I cut time by using an applescript for this), and added the cover artwork — all of which can be done right in iTunes via the “Get Info” panel. Once done, I exported them to a folder, zipped it up into an archive, then uploaded them to Gumroad (the service I use to sell the work). I went from nothing to something I could ship in just a few hours and no additional software.
I’m still always amazed that the Mac can do things like this — create real professional work that one can put out into the world and be proud enough to sell — and it is built right in. Even after creating this site to promote this fact and living it for years now, I still find it thrilling and empowering. And, ultimately, this is exactly what we should expect from our tools.
“When we make decisions, it’s not a battle of people trying to break us out of our value system. We all want to double down on these values, whose aim is to make things simpler, more focused. Those are spoken and unspoken mantras in all the discussions we have. You can call that Steve’s legacy, but it’s Apple now.”—
A good filing system is one where you can find whatever you’re looking for in less than a minute. As of this sentence I have 2,334 bookmarks — I use Pinboard to collect any and every URL that is or was interesting to me — and I’ve never had trouble finding what I’m looking for when I go to search for a particular bookmark.
Some great tips for a fantastic service. If you use Pinboard or want to find out a bit more about it, this is a must read.
When I first read the description of Velocity, a new iOS app that helps you read faster by only showing one word at a time, I thought, “Yeah, sure. Right…” Then, I saw the short video demo they had on the site and my mind was blown. It really does work as advertised.
I immediately downloaded it and hooked up my Instapaper account to it (it also supports Pocket) and tried it on several of the items in my queue there. Needless to say that I was further amazed. I got through several items in only a few minutes time. You can also add things directly to it so if you have a long email or other text to read you can toss it in there and let it work the magic.
I found that, for me, it works best with product reviews, blog posts, and similar stuff. I found it less successful on long form pieces that had more of a narrative structure. Which is understandable since such things generally require one the time to build the story and punctuation pauses become much more important. That said, for things one might normally read through and digest quickly Velocity is a peach.
One can control the speed in the settings and the number of words displayed at once. Also, I think that having some option to include a pause for commas and periods would be a help (the developers tell me this is in the works). But, in all, this the most amazing thing I’ve seen this week. As I’m sure you know based on recent releases, that’s saying a lot. It’s one of those apps that I feel should be a feature. It is so good and useful it should be built in.
“I think a lot of people see simplicity as the lack of clutter. And that’s not the case at all. True simplicity is, well, you just keep on going and going until you get to the point where you go, ‘Yeah, well, of course.’ Where there’s no rational alternative.”—Jony Ive: The man behind Apple’s magic curtain
This brings me to a broader point: in an age of personal technological revolution, we all need a more explicit philosophy for adopting tools. Without this clarity, we run the risk of drowning in a sea of distracting apps and shiny web sites.
My philosophy — to only adopt tools that solve a major pre-existing problem — has served me well.
The idea behind Begin is pretty simple: fast todo entry for today and tomorrow. At the end of each day Begin takes your uncompleted todos from today and vanquishes them (don’t worry if so obliged you may resurrect them), and moves your todos from tomorrow list into the today list. Begin is designed to only manage two days at a time, so you don’t have to worry about what may, or may not, need to be done days or weeks in advance.
Of the many new (or might as well be) apps out today with the release of iOS 7, I was most excited to give Begin a little spin. Despite my moratorium on trying todo apps, this one was a bit different. First, because Ben Brooks is involved with the team. Secondly, because it is very similar to what I have done daily with pen and an index card for years.
Begin is cleanly designed. There is no muss or fuss in this app. It really is about getting in, creating, and marking off tasks as quickly as possible. The interface is mostly gesture driven. Pull down to quickly create a new task, swipe left to right to mark complete, right to left to throw it on tomorrows list, etc. Very fast.
It’s only $0.99 on the app store. There is an in-app purchase which unlocks more themes but you don’t need them. The app is very pretty as is.
The future is as bright for photographers as it has ever been and the new ideas and technology laid in place by Apple could end up helping the pro market as far as I’m concerned. Moving forward lets ignore those who fight against such advancement and understand that there is plenty of room for casual shooters to have a software driven marvel such as the 5s as well as the humble enthusiasts such as myself to have a great classic shooter by their side.
Don’t miss John’s wonderful take on my piece about the camera in the iPhone 5s. He hits the nail on the head that, judging on some of the responses I received, I failed to make clear. Certainly, the iPhone 5s camera will never satisfy the Pro/Enthusiast photographer any more than the point-and-shoot consumer models I predict will quickly disappear ever did. And, for those on that high end it is a win-win situation because many camera companies will now pour even more effort and innovation into those high end cameras and equipment as they slowly abandon that low end market. And, many of those Pro/Enthusiast photogs will have a great camera phone in their pocket as well for those times when the big camera is too much for a quick snapshot. In short, I believe this will create two camera markets — Pro/Enthusiast’s who want cameras that offer complete control and flexibility and everyone else who have their phone.
He is an apparent paradox: a high-tech design leader with a home and possessions that display little affection for anything postwar; frankly, most of the 20th century seems suspect to him. Nothing in his home looks particularly futuristic, or technological, at least as we’ve usually understood those terms. A house may be a machine for living, but Karp says, “I don’t want our house doing very much.” It’s a quiet space, with few distractions; one feels that stone tablets might not be entirely out of place.
It’s a beautiful home. It looks like a place of solace in a city that provides little.
People have asked me over the years why I use Tumblr. Especially knowing some of my feelings about ownership and control of one’s work. The reasons are simple — Tumblr makes it as easy and painless as possible to do the work I wish to do with this site and David has been nothing but good, forthright, and is a fan of the site. David is our kind of guy.
I receive a lot of requests to post about unreleased, yet close to fruition, products. Especially those on Kickstarter. And, while I have linked to a few here and there in the past, I generally no longer do. The main reason being that I would prefer to focus on products and apps that are available to solve a problem or fill a need for my readers right now —today. The second being that many of the products I have linked to in the past have either shipped half baked or not come to market at all, which then puts my recommendations in question. I respect my reader’s time and attention above all else.
That said, I’m making an exception in this case. I’m doing so for several reasons.
First is that you can get all of these products right now — today. The Kickstarter is so that the owners can get the money they need to ramp up demand, keep up with production, and devote full time energy to building a great company. All of these things I greatly respect.
Second, is that the products are really great. Very well designed elegant solutions to the problem of cable clutter. Marrying old world craftsmanship to solve new world problems.
Finally, I like the folks behind this. They seem genuine and trustworthy.
While the tech blogosphere commences the self flagellation over getting it wrong on the whole “Apple needs a cheap iPhone and that’s why it is going to release the iPhone 5c” — with their whole developing markets yadda, yadda, thrown completely under the bus by the company they incorrectly thought they could figure out — one of the biggest pieces of news to come out of yesterday’s iPhone event is being largely overlooked. Sure, Apple once again zigging on price and intention where everyone and the stock market thought they would/could/should zag is a story. But it is mostly one of lots of pretty colors and little surprise to anyone paying attention long enough to know that the only good guess when it comes to Apple’s future plans is to not guess at all.
The real story, in my opinion, is the one worth a thousand words on each of those aforementioned tech blogs but not getting near that sort of coverage — the new camera in the iPhone 5S. The camera? Yes, the camera.
The camera in the iPhone 5S basically moved the needle two years ahead of the entire camera industry. Not just smart phone cameras — all cameras. There is a well known photography adage that states “the best camera is the one that’s with you”. Well, if you have an iPhone 5S that statement will remain true no matter what other camera you may have available. This is largely because the new 64bit processor means that they have all the raw processing power they need to be able to execute features and techniques that not even the most expensive professional SLR cameras can deliver.
And, what is interesting and absolutely marvelous about what Apple is doing here is that, when approaching how to make the best camera available today (and, I feel the need to stress, not just the best phone camera), they knew that did not mean specs. That it was not about who had the most megapixels, or biggest lens, or largest sensor. They know that none of that, at the end of the day matters. What mattered, in fact, was the one thing that, in a race to equate more megapixels with “better”, even most of the camera industry had too long overlooked. Apple focussed solely on how they could use that massive and fast 64bit processor combined with industry first features and ideas to do one thing — give you the best looking photos. And, if you can get that right when you take the photo, you don’t need a bunch of software to “fix it in post”. It’s all about capture.
So, what did they do?
First, instead of packing in more megapixels they packed in a sensor that delivered bigger pixels. Because, as Phil Schiller so pointedly stated, Bigger pixels = better picture. Bigger pixels mean more light, better range of color, and less noise.
Second, before you even take the picture it automatically sets the white balance, exposure, creates a dynamic local tone map, and matrix metering autofocus for fifteen focus zones (a feature not even all dSLRs have). Then, once you take the shot it actually takes three and then analyzes each in real time for which is the sharpest and that is the one you see.
Third, the new True Tone Flash. Now, I want you to understand something, there are photographers who spend thousands of dollars on flash and lighting equipment alone to achieve what this flash can do. It combines both a cool white and warm amber LED and, in real time analyzes the color of the surrounding and fires the flash to suit, thus giving you the best possible flash for that environment (over 1000 possible color variations). No other flash in any camera ever produced can do this. Let that sink in.
Next, auto image stabilization that, in real time, analyzes those multiple photos it takes with each shot and then — if they are all a bit blurry from movement or shaking, selects the sharpest portions of each image and combines them into the best possible picture.
Throw in burst mode at ten frames per second with the added bonus of allowing the camera to select the best of the shots based on a dozen variables, slow motion ability in the video shots (which captures at HD, 720p, 120 fps), and the fact you wont have to spend a thousand dollars on some dSLR that would only get you half of these features because the rest are world first and not available in any other camera, and you know what you have?
Disruption. Apple just put the point and shoot camera industry (and some of the “Pro-summer” dSLR one) out of business.
You see, for any camera manufacturer to give you many of those same features would mean they would have to build (or buy) a low-power, super fast, 64bit processor to build into their cameras and then write the software to deliver these things. In other words — it will not happen. Ever. They don’t have the resources. And, anyone who has not yet seen the writing on the wall in that industry will surely have to see it now.
The sad thing is that they will be likely left wondering what happened, like so many other industries Apple has disrupted before. They will be asking themselves why people no longer valued megapixels and fancy lenses. Or why they can’t seem to sell any of those thousand dollar dSLRs. They will think it is because Apple is so big and powerful, or the giant pile of cash, or the innovation they brought to the table. Or they will think that the consumer was “satisfied” with phone photos. That they chose the ease, convenience, and economy of not having to carry a “real” camera around. They will point the finger everywhere but at the truth…
People just wanted great photos and the iPhone 5S delivered that.
I’ve heard it said that you don’t own things, they own you. Owning fewer, better quality things makes my life easier and more enjoyable. I’d rather have one really fine pen than a drawer full of cheaply made ones, one razor I can pass on to my great-grandson than a truck load of plastic disposable ones. And you know something else? The safety razor, like the one my grandfather used, gives a better shave, too.
You only need one good reason to commit to an idea, not four hundred. But if you have four hundred reasons to say yes and one reason to say no, the answer is probably no. — Twyla Tharp
For those of you living under a technology rock (or those who, even more smartly, don’t care), it was announced today that Microsoft is to acquire Nokia’s devices and services business (see: smartphone) for a bit more than seven billion dollars. Nokia is the only player of note making Windows Phone devices so it may seem only natural that Microsoft would like to own the whole pie — soup to nuts - or some other strange food metaphor.
Me? Well, I just returned from vacation to an Internet flooded with discussion about this deal. I’m sitting here trying to make sense of it. The reason…
The smartphone war is over. It has been for a while. And, like a lot of wars, the two winners both claim victory and are likely both, through the view of each own’s prism, right. Anyone else getting into this fight now (or trying to start the same fight) will be ignored. Mainly because not even the victors are thinking about the next punches. They know it is over. They are both hard at work on the next fight.
At the core, in secret, they are busily working on “the next big thing”. They are already placing bets on trying to create the things we want before we know we even wanted them. One of these has a long track record of doing just that and betting right (Apple) and the other a long record of throwing money at just about any cool wall just because it is cool (Google) hoping that something will stick.
I can’t help but wonder how many completely new ideas seven billion dollars could have bought. How much innovation, disruption, and pure cool seven billion could have helped Microsoft bring the world. Would seven billion, applied to technology they already had on hand but insist on squandering on last year’s model, create a whole new market that the others would be forced to compete in? Instead of skating to where the puck was, when others are skating to where the puck is, and Apple is skating to where the puck will be, could seven billion buy a whole new game?
I don’t know the answers and, unfortunately, the world will never find out. What I do know is that there were seven billion reasons to say no to this deal and Microsoft will be left hanging by the single yes.
“Nike sells a commodity, they sell shoes. And yet when you think of Nike you feel something different than a shoe company. In their ads, as you know, they don’t ever talk about the product, they don’t ever talk about their air soles, how they’re better than Reebok’s air soles. What’s Nike do in their advertising? They honor great athletes and they honor great athletics. That’s who they are. That is what they are about.”—