It’s mind-boggling to me that both Gmail Contacts and OS X’s Address Book application lack many of the basic features that have been available in equivalent apps for 10 or more years.
Back in the day, I was a big fan of the pairing of Now Contact and Now Up-To-Date. Starting around 1993 or so (?), and as the administrator of a small Mac/LocalTalk network, I finally badgered my boss into buying copies of the Now stuff for anyone in our office who wanted it. And it worked like a charm. People loved it.
Sure, the workgroup features weren’t exactly at the level of today’s Exchange, CalDAV, or Google Calendar stuff, but man. As a basic PIM? It was bullet-proof. And really pretty, to boot — the very clear antecedent of swell old-is-new apps like today’s wonderful BusyCal.
But, wow, the functionality. These were the salad days. Brace yourself. Now Contact would let you associate “people” with a “company.” Imagine! Even semantically! Which, of course, neither Gmail Contacts nor Address Book lets you do.
For Google and Apple, contacts are a drawer with slots. Companies are a field. Names are a field. Addresses are a field. The fields are, whatever, there. You can, you know, search or whatever.
Jesus, OS X’s Address Book doesn’t even have freaking autocomplete. Autocomplete! Jiminy, a ten-year-old kid with jQuery, a Mountain Dew, and an hour to kill before school can add autocomplete to any website with ease. Me? I still have to manually find and maintain 1,400 little islands of humanity with only the flimsiest manual associations and zero in the way of semantic relationships or automatic normalization. It’s. Wow. And don’t get me started on the syncing. Last time I checked I had six seoulbrothers and twelve Jason Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Marias.1
It’s staggering to think that either one of these Giant Companies expects their apps to be taken seriously by other Giant Companies who do business with other Giant Companies. Because in Giant Companies, it becomes really important to know exactly who the employees are in your Giant Company as well as in other Giant Companies. And that’s the kind of thing you really don’t want a lot of people having to maintain separately and by hand. It’s one of those things that a computer is just unarguably better at doing for you.
It’s April of 1997. Bill Clinton is in his second term, Jewel is meant for you, and Seinfeld is, regrettably, starting to suck. But, yes, since it’s 1997, you can do things with your address book application that simply won’t be possible twelve years hence. Enjoy it while you can.
1997: “When entering new contacts, just type a few letters and the company address will be filled in.”
1997: ‘To get Now Contact to recognize two first names—for example, John & Mary—type “John [Option-Space] & [Option-Space] Mary.”’
1997: “You can change a zip code and, with a single click, change all your other contacts at that company or at that address.”
1997: “To attach a document to a contact, drag the document from the Finder and drop it on the contact.”
Well. At least Jewell’s not around as much any more. So, 2009’s not all bad.
Yes, that’s what happens when Google and Apple contact syncing argue over what part of a name means. Semantics. Look it up. ↩
I am compelled to reblog this. Not only because it is one hundred percent true, not only because I also feel there is nothing that even holds a candle to Now Up-to-Date and Contact (which I will refer to as NUDC from here on), but also because my heartbreak runs much deeper as I have an intimate connection with the product.
You see, I worked in Quality Assurance for Power On Software, which bought and further developed NUDC from Now Software, for five years. I worked on making NUDC a better and more bug free product almost daily for that time. I got to know every inch of it, inside and out. I knew it’s power and it’s shortcomings. I still to this day could likely tell you every major bug and why they were never fixed (required a complete rewrite to do so). I also could tell you why it was so amazingly fast and small no matter how much data you threw into it (data de-duping was build in to the database from the start) and why that also made it more unstable (if data is not duped you rely on pointers to it, loose a pointer and it screws the whole pooch). It was one of the greatest working experiences of my life.
I was also the beta team coordinator and so I had the pleasure of interacting with about 200 of the most passionate fans of the product around. Many of them I still consider friends until this day. My dearest friend in the world today is the person I worked along side of during that time. She stood up for me at my wedding. I mention all of this to say that NUDC was the henge for much of where my life is today. The fact that it is gone, and along with it so many basic features that no major provider yet includes, is crushing to me. Even with a product as good as BusyCal (mentioned above, which I use, and is developed by two of the original NUDC programers), using anything else is a reminder of that pain and exercise in frustration.
Sorry, Merlin, you struck a melancholy cord with this. Excuse me while I go find the iCal team and line them up for their throat punches.
This looks like an amazing app. I have not had the time to download and try it out but I’m totally on it the first chance I get. It really reminds me of Merlin Mann’s Productivity Dash which I use all the time. I’ve been looking for a good app for this and this looks like it could be the trick. (via a submission by lionthegirl)
The easy single-handed operation of the iPhone is not one of its obvious selling points but is one of those little features that grows on you and becomes nearly indispensable. A portable networked computing and gaming device that can be easily operated with one hand can be used in a surprising variety of situations.
Jason Kottke outlines one of the most important, yet overlooked, features of the iPhone. It’s so obvious that it had not really dawned on me before how important this is.
This was mentioned in the screenshot post earlier today but I finally got a chance to go take a look. Every single desktop picture here is amazing. Take a look around the rest of the site while there too. Beautiful. Just beautiful.
If you are wondering why posts will be slow today, it’s because that’s where I will be – exploring every inch.
Though this fantastic presentation by Alex Payne lacks accompanying audio it is still worth flipping through. Alex is one of my personal heroes. This will stand in for my usual end of the night inspirational quote as there is more than enough inspiration here.
James hits the nail on the head here with something that is easy to forget when throwing around words like “minimalism” and “simplify”. The idea behind any of this stuff is not to do away with things for the sake of doing so and then slapping a label on your chest that screams “Oh, look at me, I’m so minimal!”. The idea is to look around and ask tough questions about what you really need and what you don’t. Figure out new ways and solutions that provide only what you need and nothing that you don’t. Finally, it’s to add to the greater conversation about the idea of embracing “enough” in an industry and culture that clearly believes in “more”.
I can promise this though, the moment I personally feel that I am no longer providing value with what I am posting here or, even worse, pretending to, but not really helping – I’ll stop. I’ll pull the plug on this entire affair and redirect the domain to some random page. I can’t sleep at night any other way.
JustNotes aims to be a straight forward and easy to use notes application for the Mac. Not only that, but it provides built in syncing with Simplenote, which I have written about a few times here. If I am correct, this is the first native Mac application to provide this feature integration. Worth a look indeed.
Being a macbook user doing everything with the trackpad (as having a external mouse isn’t much minimalist), I always wondered why you won’t have a setting to emulate middle click. Using the keyboard for Cmd+Click is a pain, especially when you are opening so many link in new tab with firefox!
So I’ve fixed that with an app I made some time ago.
(Submitted by Clem)
Make sure you read the do’s and don’ts but could come in handy for some.
Thanks to Shawn Blanc’s post about keyboard shortcuts yesterday, I have installed and have been using FastScripts. It’s mainly a one trick pony – allowing one to assign keyboard shortcuts to run Applescripts. That said, there are a lot of little details that make that one trick really valuable.
My favorite little detail is the Smart Switching. When you execute a script, FastScripts switches the application context only when appropriate. This means that you stay within the app that you are working in unless it absolutely has to switch you away. Therefore, the script seems a lot more like an integrated function in the app itself.
Well here is my setup and I thought what better to use for a minimalist background than something done by Solomon R. Guggenheim.
The clock and weather you see are made using GeekTool and a few unix commands for getting the info. My dock is hidden on the bottom and only contains finder trash and my dropbox and application folders. For everything else I use Quicksilver.
I wanted to share how the Minimal philosophy has impacted my work. I work from my home office. About 18 months ago I was using PC’s and you can see the setup as it was.
Then I switched - and everything changed. I’m now far more productive than I ever was. More organized. And my home office is a pleasure to work in.
Also included is a screenshot of my main workspace - the desktop of my Mac Pro on my 30” HD Cinema Display. (The other 30” HD CD is identical save for the wallpaper which reads MacBook Pro instead.)
I keep the dock hidden. I’m not so concerned with reducing the number of items in my menu bar, but that’s probably because I use such a large monitor with a very high resolution (2560x1600)
Even on this huge screen, I use Spaces to keep different types of app in groups - Productivity, Communication, Audio/Visual Media, Web browsing…
The only items on the desktop are Dateline and a single folder I use as a catch-all location for images, files and other stuff that accumulates during the day. It stays in that folder until I’m done with it, and I can delete or archive it properly.
I love Minimal Mac, read it every day and (as you can see) have been inspired greatly. Thanks for all you do!
The announcement of TidBITS issue #1 by Adam Engst some 1000 issues ago. Another nugget of historical awesome for you to chew on. (via Daring Fireball - but you should know that because you should be reading it)