While our culture of technology preaches the gospel of “constant connectivity” with the fervor of a televangelist, there are a growing number of us who have realized that salvation is found the seemingly heretical choice to occasionally be out of the loop, uninformed and essentially delayed in our awareness of the electronically available “now”.
Every now and then, we writers come across work that makes us insane with jealousy because we wish we had penned it.
This is one of those times for me. This is a must read.
Also, I posted this elsewhere, mainly because I feel it is that good and the message so important. Forgive me if you are seeing this twice.
A suggestion for Mac OS X Lion: since the team is trying to integrate the menubar into the desktop a bit more, to make it less prominent - the translucent menubar was an attempt at just this - why not go all the way and make it black?
This is post #1000. I have been thinking all day of what to do for this occasion. In the end, all I come up with is to say thanks to everyone who has come by and stayed long enough to read any one of them. It means a tremendous amount to me and any further words would be insufficient.
And now, we interrupt our programming to bring you this “Holy Carp! Coolest undocumented TextEdit find ever!” tip from David Mendels of Edito fame:
While getting some work done far too late at night, my fingers accidentally pressed some buttons on the keyboard and up popped a dialog I’ve never seen before: an autocomplete window for TextEdit.
To activate the autocomplete window, simply start typing a word and press the escape key. A window will pop up listing all of the words starting with the letters you entered. You can use the arrow keys to go up and down the list. Pressing enter/return completes the word in your TextEdit document. If there are too many words in the autocomplete list, you can type additional letters (without having to manually close the autocomplete window) and hit the escape key again to bring up the autocomplete window with the filtered down choices. Pressing escape while the autocomplete window is open will close it.
I find this to be particularly useful for long words where I might need assistance to complete the spelling of the word.
As far as I’m aware, this hint is not documented on Apple’s website.
Looking for some simple, manageable, low impact tips on reducing distraction and having a bit more mindful approach to everything you do? Leo Babauta of Zen Habits aims to help with his new eBook, focus. It’s available in two versions. The first is a completely free PDF version. The second is a $34.95 paid version that includes a lot more content to make it worth the price. I’m also told there will be a print version sometime in the coming weeks.
The book itself is a great and fast read with recommendations on how to institute less distraction in all areas of life. It does so with suggesting some modest and sane changes and by applying sound reasoning about why it matters. Good stuff.
Seriously, give it a spin with the free version. You have nothing to lose but a couple of hours of your time and, if you want to dive a bit deeper, throw some change his way to get the extra stuff.
This weeks RSS Feed sponsor is Wet Frog Studios, the design consultancy headed up by Aaron Mahnke.
Look, I’m going to lay it out straight for you… Have a small business? You need a good designer. Have a website you care about? You need a good designer. Want to hand your business card to someone and be remembered? You need a good designer. Freelancer? You really need a good designer.
See the tasteful, minimal, yet distinctive Minimal Mac logo up there? Yep, that was Aaron. In fact, his work can be seen at a lot of the hippest places in Internetland. You know why? Because people who care about how they look to the outside world hire good designers and he is one of the best.
Get in touch with him and see for yourself how he can help take your project to the next level, as he did mine.
Creativity is all about reducing the distance from inspiration to retention. I might not be able to react to a moment of inspiration right away, but if I can capture it properly (via screenshot, dragging into Yojimbo, or typing the idea out) I can come back to it when I’m ready. This isn’t multitasking, though. This is all about knowing your tools and having a solid system.
Aaron designed the Minimal Mac logo, is a wonderful friend, a caring father, and a stand up human being. He deserves every bit of sweetness this setup provides.
Just wanted to take a moment or three to thank Jesse at Hog Bay Software for being the inaugural sponsor of Minimal Mac’s RSS Feed. If you have not tried PlainText yet, you should. An update was just released yesterday, it is free (ad supported) to download and give a spin, and Dave at 52Tiger just did a glowing review with instructions for how to put it to best use.
This will be as fundamental a change to how we use computers as the graphical user interface and the mouse were to personal computers. As I noted, this is not just a shift toward touch user interfaces for computers, but a change in how we conceive of computers, too.
Kyle brings some insightful analysis and futurism to yesterday’s announcements. As I have stated before, the generation born, and recently born, today will likely only have vague memories, if any, of a physical keyboard and mouse.
Just a general housekeeping note. I have shut down the ability to submit posts for the time being. It will be back at some future date.
The reason? There are now 600 post submissions still waiting for my review. I hope to go read each one and pull the trigger on either posting or deleting it. This choice will be based on a number of factors but mostly it will be based on where I feel the site is today and whether the content fits with that vision. As they say, it’s business and not personal.
That said, I’m very appreciative of all that have taken the time to submit a post. Many come in with kind words about this site and how it has inspired them. My feeble words are not enough to express my gratitude and humble thanks for this. To have inspired one person would have been reason enough for creating this. To have inspired so many… Well, like I said, no words.
The only way I can focus on my craft and my art is if I don’t constantly dilute it.
Lots to learn from in this excellent post from Randy Murray about the importance of saying “no”: This has been a hard lesson for me to learn (and I’m still learning). More often than not, it is the most compassionate answer one can give. Remembering this bit helps:
The key to saying no successfully is to understand that you are not saying no to everything, you are saying yes to those things you want.
So, so, good. Seriously, if you read nothing else today, read this.
I’m absolutely honored to be able to post this suggestion from Alex Payne for a minimalist iPad sleeve solution. For those that don’t know, Alex is currently the CTO of BankSimple, one of the earliest employees of Twitter, and a long time minimalist and writer on the topic.
Ever since my DODOcase failed (wooden frame cracked, elastic strap began to come loose, binding started separating from the back, corner pads came loose; general catastrophic failure) I’ve been looking for a decent iPad solution. Most of the cases out there are anything but minimal. The solution I settled on might interest your readers.
I’m now storing my iPad in a top-loading charcoal Nedrelow wool sleeve. I prop it up with a PadFoot stand. The total cost for the two products is about the same as a fancier case like the DODOcase, but as a total solution it’s far less brittle and, I’d argue, a fair bit more minimal. The modularity of the two accessories may seem like it’s more to carry, but being able to separate them is an asset.
I’ve found that I rarely need or want the iPad in a case around the house, so the sleeve mostly exists to safely transport my iPad inside another bag. The stand is light and portable, with none of the visual or mechanical complexity of something like the Compass.
Most of the focus in the iPad accessory world seems to be on cases. My local third-party Mac retailer hardly had any sleeves or stands on their shelves at all, and claimed little demand for anything other than cases. A sleeve plus a stand is an interesting alternative to a case, though. At least I think so.
What makes Steve’s methodology different from everyone else’s is that he always believed the most important decisions you make are not the things you do – but the things that you decide not to do. He’s a minimalist.
Required reading. Worth every minute spent doing so.
Even if you have only been reading here a short time, you should know by now what a fan I am of everything Jesse Grosjean at Hog Bay Software does. I’m tickled pink to have him as the very first sponsor of the RSS Feed. His products, like WriteRoom and TaskPaper, are the very spirit of what we believe in.
Therefore, it should also come as no surprise that his latest product, PlainText – for iPad and iPhone, continues in that same spirit. It is just what you need in a text editor for your iOS device. It has the added bonus of Dropbox support for syncing those plain text files to your desktop and other devices. The interface is designed to not get in your way so you can focus on your writing (including full screen mode). It also allows you to organize your text files into folders so you can keep like project documents together.
It’s another really great product from a passionate developer who knows how to strike the right balance between simplicity and features. I have had the opportunity to work with him through a few beta tests and I know how dedicated he is to adding functionality only when it will have real value to the overall experience for the user and making sure it is implemented in the way that makes the most sense.
It’s free to download and try out for as long as you like with some unobtrusive and tasteful advertising. So, you have nothing to lose if it turns out not to be right for you. To remove the ads and, more importantly, support future development (and, if you use it, you should) it’s only $4.99 via an in-app purchase.
There are tons of things on your to do list, in your portfolio, on your desk. They clamor for attention and so perhaps you compromise things to get them all done. What would happen if you did one fewer thing? What if leaving that off the agenda allowed you to do a world-class job on the rest?
I love the spirit of what Seth is putting across here. This is a great read. A very fast one as well. Two paragraphs that could change your game.
It is not possible, nor is it desirable, to own nothing. In fact, a point comes when not owning critical stuff (a bed, a toilet, a room) starts becoming stressful again, in a whole different way from “too much stuff” stress. “Simplicity” is a relative term, and perhaps inapt; try “convenience”, which has more useful connotations. Fitting my life into a small number of boxes tucked under my bed makes me happy. Fretting over the precise enumeration of the items in those boxes would completely defeat the object of the exercise.
Lot’s of what we believe in can be found in this excellent post. Including this…
A minimalist lifestyle can have many legitimate motivations. Sanctimonious anti-consumerism isn’t one of these, nor is saving money.
As I have said before, this is not about earning some minimalist merit badge so you can declare you are some Simplicity Eagle Scout. And if you believe you have all the answers to living such a well balanced life, well, I’d have a hard time believing that. Because there are no right answers.
This is simply about navigating that sweet spot I like to call “enough”. It is a very personal thing. It is also a moving target. What you may need today, you may not tomorrow. That is the challenge at hand here because one is never done. For me (and I can’t say it will work for you), simply not being afraid to ask the question helps keep the balance.
Hey. You. Yes, you! Come over here. I’m going to tell you a secret. OK, well, it’s not really a secret. It’s more of a question. A most important question. One that, when asked, can provide a wealth of productive power…
"Where does this belong?"
Want to know how to organize a messy desk? Take everything off, put it in a box, then take each item out, and ask that question. For some items, the answer is obvious. For other items, maybe they don’t have a place – find one. Maybe the answer is not “on the desk” or even “in the room”. Maybe the answer is not even “in the house” or “in my life”. Answering this question can not only make the clean up quick but also ensure quick work when things get out of control again. Because, everything belongs somewhere and now you know where that somewhere is.
The thing is, this question works with more than just clutter.
Want to make your task list more powerful? Ask that question of each task. Sometimes the answer is “as an immediate action”. Sometimes the answer is “on a context specific list” or “broken into smaller chunks”. Sometimes, the answer is “as part of a greater project or goal”. But, sometimes, the answer is “with someone else” or “done at some future date” or “not done at all”.
Want to get your email inbox under control? Never look at another message without asking the question. Does it belong in the inbox now that you have looked at it? No? Perhaps in a separate folder of things you need to take action on or respond to. Perhaps in a folder for reference on a project you are working on. Perhaps read and archived. Perhaps in the trash.
But, where the question becomes truly powerful, is when you apply the question to everything. Because if something does not have a place in your home, in your relationships, in your job, or or in your life, perhaps it should not be there.
While the last thing I really need is yet another Twitter client for the iPhone, I do have to admit I’m rather smitten with the minimalist UI design going on with this one. (via one of the app picks on The Bro Show)
I was, once again, a guest on The Bro Show. I really enjoy being on and I think I’m getting better at this whole podcast thing. I’m trying to talk less, and listen more. I talked with the guys before the show and we are going to make my being on a more regular thing.
In this episode, we talked about Windows Phone 7, The upcoming “Back to The Mac” Apple press conference, The Social Network movie (including a mind-blowing fact I had no idea about), and some app pics.
In any case, make sure you listen all the way to the very end.
I’m often asked for decent, yet affordable, printer recommendations. I have a fair amount of experience in this area. The challenge is not only thinking about upfront costs but being mindful of the real, long term, costs of printing, which is paper and ink.
As I’ve said before, those who sell printers are really in the business of selling ink and paper. Hence, printers, in comparison, are relatively inexpensive. This is especially true of inkjets and slightly less so of laser printers. I therefore, always recommend the following checklist:
Have two printers on hand if possible. A laser for all black and white printing. An inkjet with reasonably sane ink prices for color. This will end up being the least cost for ink and toner in the long term. Most of your text only printing averages only about 5% total coverage on the page. A decent laser cartridge should last you for many months if not years in some cases.
The laser should ideally be duplex capable (two sided printing) and even better if both are. This will save on paper as it will use two sides of a page. Plus, it looks more professional.
Built in wireless so you can place them anywhere with a signal. This provides tremendous flexibility.
Good Mac admin tools, drivers, and support. Because it is what we believe in.
Here are the two printers I’ve been recommending to clients and others that fit this bill:
The key about the Kodak is that they are differentiating themselves by taking the whole ink cost equation and turning it upside down. One pays a bit more for the printer and comparatively much less for ink then other manufacturers. The Brother is just a great, no-nosence personal laser printer. The Kodak also delivers copy and scanning (both also wireless) as well.
They take up relatively little space and look great. But the main point here is that for only a bit over $300.00, you can have a printing solution that won’t kill you on the back end with consumable costs.
I’ve set up a half dozen of this combo so far. They are both wonderful and just plain work.
For those of us who spend most of their time in Markdown, this tool allows to simply type a document using the Markdown syntax, and visualize its HTML equivalent immediately in a web-powered window, without leaving the app. In other words, it does the Markdown to HTML conversion in a breeze, and lets you email the resulting files. Use it in conjunction with your text editor on your workstation, or just email directly to your blog.
I’ve been testing this for a little while now and, if you are like me, this is a good way to get your Markdown on with the iPad. Even if you use another tool to do the writing, this is great for seeing a preview of your final product.
In keeping with the minimal theme, I only have one advertisement, powered by the fine folks at Fusion Ads, on Minimal Mac. I love Fusion Ads because I click on them and often find myself buying the products and services offered. This was true long before I was invited and remains so today.
That said, there are a lot of developers, freelancers, and service providers who don’t have the resources to advertise in such ways, yet still have a relevant and compelling product to promote to a smart, quality focused, and design conscious audience of Mac fans (that’s you).
For less than a half-cent per eyeball, you can get primary placement, twice, directly implanted into the subconscious of my dedicated and trusting audience.
But wait! That’s not all!
Act now and you can get in at the current 2010 rate… Because, I plan to raise it in the future. Because I plan to double those subscriber numbers through a secret formula known only to the most elite online content providers (hint: it involves quality writing). That is my goal anyway.
Now, a special note to my readers – Your trust, time, and attention maters greatly to me. It’s worth way more to me than any sponsor. I know you trust me not to squander it. If I feel a product or service is not a good fit for my readers, I will gently tell the sponsor so. I welcome your constructive feedback on anything you see here on Minimal Mac.
Implement all seven of these steps and you will be head and shoulders above 85% of the technology professionals I’ve met and 99% of the normal user crowd. As I mentioned, the browser has become our workspace in many cases, so we owe it to ourselves and to the machine that signs our paychecks to squeeze every last drop out of it that we can. Or, at least, try.
I’ve said it before but it bears repeating. Once we find tools that work, we owe it to ourselves to use whatever spare cycles we have to try to optimize and learn those tools more deeply. Especially if they are tools we use for hours every day.
Here’s the deal, and I mean this with no disrespect and tremendous gratitude for those who show up here to read…
I write this site for me. Everything you read here is as much, if not more, a note to self as it is to others.
See, I don’t have any of this stuff figured out. All I’m trying to do is analyze and eradicate the things that cause friction in my life. I long to find ways to live a bit more simply and to perform a job at hand more efficiently. It’s not an easy task in our society, and I fail at it constantly, but I give it my best shot most of the time. I wake up each day with effort to be satisfied with no more and no less than I need. I then go to bed trying not to fret over not always being thus.
I just want to figure out what “enough” is for me.
I hope that my doing so out in such a public place not only keeps me accountable, and causes others to share their ideas, but also helps those who stop by.
I’m no guru. I can always stand improvement.
If I share a tip or idea here, and there is a better way, I welcome it. Please post about it, or get in touch, and show me how to improve.
If you don’t agree with something I have to say, address it with a spirit of respect.
But please do so with compassion and a general willingness to help. There is no need to call me out or take me to task or call me names.
I use Markdown’s reference links. The advantage of using referenced links is that the text is much easier to read. You can also use the same reference more than once. Reference links can be set anywhere in the document. Some folks do it at the end of the paragraph. I do them all at the bottom.
He truly enjoys the iPhone as it comes out of the box. He didn’t feel the need of OTA sync in OmniFocus, tags in Simplenote 2.0 were not a big deal to him, Pastebot’s clipboard in the background using a silent track was an unknown tale. He loves his iPhone, and he doesn’t need to keep on bouncing from app to app to get his things done.
Turns out, I’m getting an iPhone 4 for my birthday (which is today). I’ve been considering for a while, when it did come to replacing my 3G, seeing how long I can go with the built in and three key 3rd party apps (Simplenote, Reeder, Twitter client of the month). Kind of an extreme version of my home screen experiment. Guess I will now have that chance and will report in a bit how that goes.
My main computer is a well-worn, 2GHz Intel Core Duo MacBook Pro with a 15″ display. This machine has been in 5 US states and three countries; it’s missing three keys and the bottom is badly scratched. It’s also the most reliable workhorse I’ve ever owned. I’ll continue to use it until it dies or refuses to run essential software, whichever comes first.