I’d once again like to thank Coding Robots and their excellent NoteTask for sponsoring this weeks RSS Feed. NoteTask syncs with Simplenote and can present your text as as tasks, completed tasks, and sections/projects using markup you define. You can turn Simplenote into a powerful yet lightweight project manager as needed. Great stuff. Check it out.
I’ll be using today to step back from the computer and to empty the two drawers on my desk, to review client files, and to pick up everything that’s not nailed down and put it all in my inbox. Then I’ll process everything out. I’m betting a lot of it will end up in the dumpster (or recycling bin, when appropriate). As I look around my office right now I can see I have a few hours of sorting, but I’m looking forward to it. Oh, and don’t forget to do the same thing for your computer desktop and your email inbox. Be ruthless.
An annual favorite from my friend Randy. This is always a good day to do this because, let’s be honest, no one is really working today are they?
There is a reason for that self-quote above. A few days ago, I was reviewing my modest goals for last year and that is a paraphrase of the last sentence in that post. I have been reflecting on it ever since. I now think it should have been my only goal for last year, as it really does encapsulate or eclipse the rest.
The fact is that this world operates on the principle of give and take. Yet so few of us look at it this way. I think we should. I think we would feel a much greater connection to all that we have if we did. We also would have a greater consciousness about the effect of everything we consume and create.
This computer I’m typing on I had to give money for, but someone also had to gather the resources to allow the capacity to take money in exchange for it. A website had to be built to allow me to order it. Parts had to be manufactured to build it. Minerals and precious metals mined. And, all of it was done through a process of give (labor) and take (wages). And though I know Apple’s profits say otherwise, when I think about the hundreds (thousands?) of hands that went into producing this singular piece of technology it hardly seems fair.
Therefore, this year, it will be. This will be a guiding reminder to be more aware of the giving that goes into the things I take. Particularly where money and time are involved. Also, doing all I can to give more. Because, I know that, for me, doing something for others (give) has the end result of making me feel so much better (take). Even when it hurts. Especially when it hurts.
Having a 15-month old, my house is rarely, if ever, tidy for more than a few hours at a time. And that’s as it should be. But for peace of mind, I need order—a place for everything, and everything in its place—and it’s on my MacBook that I find it. I keep my drives clean and orderly, my desktop empty, and my windows neatly sorted into 9 distinct Spaces. It’s like digital feng shui.
How Ian is kicking butt and keeping it lean and clean using only 44 GB of space.
Those that follow me closely know how crazy my life has been of late. Hence there have been more than a few days of light posting around here. That is not for lack of content. In fact, I have a fair back log of iOS apps I’ve been meaning to mention. Therefore, most of what I post today will be to catch that stuff up. Stay tuned and prepare your iTunes account for action…
Rise is a new iOS alarm app that is designed to provide the elegance of beautiful traditional clock faces and take full advantage of a touch based OS. It comes in both iPhone only and Universal versions.
I’m quite pleased to welcome Coding Robots and their excellent iPhone app NoteTask as this week’s RSS Feed sponsor. NoteTask syncs with Simplenote and can present your text as as tasks, completed tasks, and sections/projects using markup you define.
Now, a lot of people may say “But, Simplenote has an app. I don’t need another Simplenote app on my iPhone”. Here is why you do. You can turn Simplenote into a powerful yet lightweight project manager as needed. Use the official Simplenote app for notes. Use NoteTask when you want to get things done. Keep it all together in one place.
Plus, it’s only $.99 cents for a limited time. So give it a spin.
Hidden is an app that can help you track your Mac if ever stolen. Just install it and if, for instance, someone pockets your shiny new MacBook Air, you can log onto the web app, mark it as stolen, and it will start tracking it’s location as well as take screenshots and iSight pics of the perp.
Why am I telling you about it now? Well, it’s Free until January. This is a pretty good deal for a small bit of peace of mind.
Wanted to take a moment to call your (much appreciated) time and attention to the Fusion Ads Holiday Bundle. It’s a great deal. Go check it out.
Look, everyone by now should know that I’m cautionary of these bundles. Why? Well, it’s not a bargain if you don’t need it. That said, if you are a designer or developer, this is an amazing deal. Seriously, if you fall into that category and you don’t already have most of these you need them. Also, it is from my friends at Fusion Ads (Yep, same as that one up there), so you know it’s quality. At the very least, click through to see the pretty page design. It’s fab!
Griffin has these really cool wire-free alternative to your USB chargers. It helps keep you pack organized.
These look really great. Added to my wishlist. Also, if you are not reading Pack Lite, please correct that. I’m a longtime believer in light travel. I had to make an emergency trip to New Orleans recently and my longtime practice helped me get packed in a small duffle carry-on in under ten minutes.
I’m going to play Carnac here for a bit and answer the question that I’m sure is on some of your minds…
If the MacBook Air were introduced at or near the same time, would I have bought the iPad or the Air or both? Well, I think I would have bought both eventually. The reason: They are fundamentally different devices that have much different purposes for me.
The iPad is the machine I use around the house. I use it for reading eBooks and Instapaper. I use it for playing music to my office speakers via the Airport Express. It is the machine I let my toddler use to play games and look at pictures without fear of breakage. It is familiar in the truest sense of the word.
The MacBook Air is fundamentally of a different breed and usage. I write. I research. I curate. I edit. Increasingly, I collaborate with others and do video and audio conferencing. While all of these things can be done on the iPad, for me they are more appropriately done on a Mac.
(Your actual mileage may vary. Void where prohibited. Please drink responsibly.)
I’m very happy to welcome Seedling as this week’s RSS Feed Sponsor. I’ve had a sneak peek and you are going to love it. Seedling is a curated gallery of online content, meant to help you find new sites that you should be reading.
Wondering what sites others are reading? Know about a little-known blog (perhaps your own) that you’d like to share with the world? Want to find a new site to read, and a new author to connect with? You’ll love Seedling.
They’ve created an ever-expanding, hand-curated gallery of great sources of writing and media across the internet, organized into categories. Some of the sites in the gallery you’ll undoubtedly be familiar with, while others might be new. If you think we’re missing something, they encourage you to submit new sites - even your own - and contribute to the gallery.
To see all Exact Duplicates in iTunes, Click File from the iTunes menu and then hold down the Option key. Display Duplicates should now change to Display Exact Duplicates, which should result in a shorter list of duplicates.
Bonus “Tip”: Holding down the Option key while clicking on almost any menu in Mac OS X might reveal something that will BLOW YOUR MIND!
In my MacBook Air post, I mentioned my, um, lack of satisfaction with the Twitter web interface. Well, reader David Murphy pointed me to this tiny little Safari Extension (and Chrome too, if that’s your thing) that cleans up the info-clutter rather well.
Ok: I know the power button is there to turn on the computer (and in some case to turn it off). In over a month of owning the MacBook Air, do you know how many times I have pressed that button? Neither do I, but if I had to guess I would reckon that I have pressed it no more than 4 times, likely just twice.
Some interesting thoughts about a future filled of solid state “always on” devices.
So, here I am a week into owning, using and loving this MacBook Air and I thought I would share some random notes and thoughts.
I went with the 11inch/64GB model because I really wanted to challenge myself to practice what I have been saying on Minimal Mac for the past year-plus. I did go with the 4GB RAM upgrade because I do plan on this keeping up pace with OS upgrades in the next couple of years which I can only imagine will benefit from the extra memory.
This is the most minimal Mac Apple has ever produced in the broadest respect of the word. Its price point and positioning clearly denotes to me that they think this is “enough” for many users. Especially road warriors and those who have other machines that can be relied upon for heavier tasks. This positions me as the perfect test case for such a scenario with the added bonus that, due to my use, this ends up being my “main” machine (i.e. the one that I use the most).
There were some who said to me that there is no way one could live with a 64GB drive if it were their only machine. I beg to disagree. I think there are many out there – casual computer users – for whom this would be plenty. They don’t have tens of thousands of songs, just the few dozen albums they really like. They don’t have thousands of photos, just the few hundred they have taken over the years at parties and family occasions. These folks browse the web, do email, do some work with documents and spreadsheets. They want a machine that is easy to take anywhere and get things done and does not break the bank. This is not only the perfect machine for that user but comes with the added side bonus of amazing speed and unparalleled portability.
That said, lets talk about that “other” user for a bit. The one, like myself, that has one or more Macs at home. Perhaps they even have an iPhone and iPad too. How does this Mac fit in? Well, for me, it is really about purpose. Each machine fills a very specific role.
My iMac is my media center and hub. It holds all 130GB of music. It acts as our “TV” and is where we stream Netflix and Hulu and watch the (legally purchased and backed up) movies that are stored on our Drobo (which is hooked up to a Mac Mini whose role is Backup and File Sharing). As such, the iMac is where I stream music to other rooms and devices and it is where I sync my iPhone and iPod to. For instance, if I want to listen to music on my Air, I launch iTunes and use sharing to stream it from my iMac.
The iPhone is my most mobile computer and the one that is with me anytime I’m awake and anywhere I am. The iPad is still the “everywhere else” machine. That said, here is how the MacBook Air fits in… I now have an option.
See, before, the iPad was an easy choice because the Black MacBook was becoming oh-so-not portable to me. If given the choice of which one to bring to a coffee shop or drag around to clients, the choice was easy. I was taking the light small one. I was taking the iPad. It was less about what was the most appropriate tool for the job at hand (and often either was fine) but the choice was purely driven by size and weight.
Now, I have two machines that are near equal in size and weight. So now the question comes down to which one is more appropriate (See, Merlin, there’s that word. Thanks for that.) for the task at hand. Most days right now, that task is writing, and while any of my devices can perform said task, the Air is often the most appropriate.
So, make no mistake, this Air will be my primary machine. It is just that now I’m using my other machines for the purposes they are best suited to.
So far, my experience has been a great one. I’m using it as close to “out of the box” as I can and being very picky about the apps I install. As of this writing I still have over 30GB available. Now, I could list all of what I have installed, but I think what is far more interesting are the things I did not install as many of those items I thought I “couldn’t live without”:
Quicksilver (or any other “app/file/search/launcher”) – I’m kind of amazed by this myself but, this thing is so fast it makes using Spotlight for these tasks more than usable.
iLife – The very first thing I did when I booted the Air for the first time was to reformat it and reinstall the OS without the additional languages and without iLife. That saved about 8GB from the factory install. Since all of my media lived on another machine I just could not justify having it.
Twitter Client – Despite its many long in the tooth shortcomings, I was a big fan of Tweetie. More importantly, I was a big non-fan of the Twitter web interface, especially the UI horror of #newtwitter. That said, I’m really trying to force my own boundaries here and ask the question of how important a dedicated client is for a service that has an ugly but perfectly usable web client. Do I really need to install one. Especially when my favorite solution has become all but vaporware.
I could likely come up with a few more examples. The bottom line is that only when a third party tool is much better and allows me to work faster and more efficiently, will it then even be considered. Transmit is a good example of this as it is so much faster, more capable, and makes me much more efficient than the built in FTP tools. Would the built in work? Sure. Would they work as well? Certainly not.
For the past week, I have been on this machine for 6-8 hours a day and I have not wanted for more. The speed still continues to impress and amaze. As does the size, the comfort, and utility. I’m overjoyed with my choice so far.
Final note: Since my neck surgery I can’t drive and, therefore, have not gone too far for too long. Thus I have not fully tested the battery life but, based on my unplugged usage at home, can believe claims of others that it is as good, if not better, than advertised.
I am very happy to welcome Edito for this weeks RSS Feed sponsor. I am among the crowd that writes everything using Chairman Gruber’s excellent Markdown syntax. I am also among the crowd that gets a lot of my writing done on my iPad. If you are in this group, or you want to learn what it’s all about, this is simply a must have tool. Type, preview, and see your HTML all inside one app. The custom keyboard is designed with your most common syntax close at hand. If you do any work in Markdown at all, and you have an iPad, you need this.
Between filling Minimal Mac T-Short orders and the “Snowmeggedon” blizzard that is bearing down on Saint Paul, MN, I totally forgot to post a thank you yesterday to Idea Cafe for sponsoring this week’s RSS Feed.
“Our societies have achieved a general level of prosperity of which most of all the human beings who have ever lived could only dream. Now we need to show that we can stop continually wanting more—more money, more stuff. We must show that it is possible for people to realise that they have enough.”—The School of Life : John Lanchester on Enough (via Merlin Mann)
Communication is key to an email sabbatical. Disappearing without properly making certain that everyone has what they need is irresponsible and disrespectful.
Those who have been following one of my other little projects, Practical Opacity, already know what a big geek crush I have on Dr. Danah Boyd. She is one of the world’s leading researchers on social communication in the digital age with a focus on social networking and teens. One of the (many) things I love about her is the approach she takes to vacations and sabbaticals. You see, she does not simply “unplug” only to arrive back to an overflowing inbox that makes the vacation seem far from worth it. She informs everyone that any messages arriving during that time will be automatically redirected to /dev/null (aka “the trash”). It may sound harsh but the reasoning is sound:
I do feel guilty not personally responding to these people to say that I’m unavailable but that’s precisely the point. I need to let go in order to truly take a break and refresh. Are there going to be people pissed off at me because I’m on vacation? Sure. But I’m also used to getting pissed off emails everyday from all sorts of people yelling at me for my attempt to explain teen life. Part of me feels a guilty pleasure knowing that I will never see 5 weeks worth of angry emails.
I’ve been struggling with how much of the Practical Opacity stuff also overlaps into the message of “Enough” that I’m trying to curate here. I think a lot of it is interconnected. A big part of enough is making some tough and hard line choices about what is appropriate for you. This does not just stop at hardware and software but also in making some sane and rational decisions about how you plan to survive the increasing demands on your time and attention. Therefore, I may be talking a bit more about this stuff here in the times to come.
Jumpcut is an application that provides “clipboard buffering” — that is, access to text that you’ve cut or copied, even if you’ve subsequently cut or copied something else. The goal of Jumpcut’s interface is to provide quick, natural, intuitive access to your clipboard’s history.
I’m not sure why I had never heard of this one before. Perhaps it is that rock that I find so comfortable this time of year. In any case, just like it says on the tin, Jumpcut is a clipboard history application that is designed to be simple and only handles text. I’ve found it very handy the past few days of usage.
Just wanted to drop some info for all of you who ordered a Minimal Mac T-Shirt.
I have been told by the printer that the shirts should be in my hands no later than this Friday (12.10.2010). My plan is to start packing them this weekend in the hopes of getting them all out no later than next week. Now, that said, please be patient as I am still recovering from some major neck surgery which prevents me from being able to do some crucial things like driving so I’m relying on the help of friends and family to get these packed and out to you.
There is the status as it is right now. I will let you know should anything change.
iPad Means Business, the new book by tech pundit, my dear friend, and all around great guy Julio Ojeda-Zapata, is now available. If you have any interest at all about how real people are using the iPad to get real work done, I think you should order a copy. Also, I wrote one of the forewords for the book.
That said, the foreword that is in the book has been edited quite a bit from the original. See, a writers job is to craft compelling prose. An book editor’s job is to take that prose and turn it into something that might sell the book. One of the many reasons why we writers have always been at war with editorial (Screw book sales! This is art!!!).
Therefore, as special treat for my readers, and because I control both the horizontal and the vertical here, this is the original foreword as I wrote it. I hope it motivates you to purchase the book:
Welcome to The Future
It is the future. It is a revolution. The overthrow of an industry. The takeover of a market. When everything we thought about technology changed. The point where the computer truly became personal. Also, it is just the beginning.
If I had to describe to a random stranger who had never seen the iPad, and was asked what it was, my answer might include some of the previous exclamations. This is a device that is the realization of many Hollywood visions of what a computer might be in some far off time – from Star Trek to Minority Report. It feels far ahead of everything else available today. Something in the back of the mind suggests that you have something you should not yet have, yet do.
Take it out in a public place and you are likely to get even the shyest person in the crowd approaching you and asking for a demonstration. They can not contain themselves from asking for a look at this thing they may have seen in commercials or in a display at the mall, yet still could not believe actually existed. Like a jet pack, or a flying car, or any of the other things we all were promised we would have in the 21st century, but the true pace of progress proved otherwise. Yet this – a computer nearly the width of a pencil, with a display the dimensions of a page of paper, that you manipulate with the touch of your fingers – this future is real.
Give it to a child and within minutes, with little to no instruction, they get it. It may be future to us who have been given a certain unescapable paradigm about what a computer is and how we interact with it. To a child, this is very much of their time. Raised with a much shorter period of interaction with a keyboard and mouse and in an age when they can play console games by waving a wand at a screen. To them, this is second nature. It is in these times that you realize the iPad is very much a device of the now. It is the way it always should have been and henceforth will be. The children of today will likely grow up with only the faintest of memories of what a keyboard and mouse was. The idea of any barrier to direct physical interaction with a computer will seem as distant as one that takes up an entire room is to us.
This is also a computer that is easy for older people to use. No complicated file systems to navigate. No lofty concepts to grasp. Just clear, easy to launch applications. Those who may have found computers too complicated, mice and keyboards too confusing, can find their solace with the iPad. A new world of where a simple touch will allow them access to the internet, email, photos, books, and friends.
But don’t let the ease of use for the young and old alike distract you. This is also the ideal tool for todays modern mobile worker. Far more portable than a laptop. Less intrusive in a meeting. Able to wield email and presentations with equal speed and aplomb. Alone it is an adept productivity tool. When paired with a wireless Bluetooth keyboard, it can hold it’s own against any mobile device. Together, the speed and length with which one can produce results in a word processor or email program is limited only by ones ability. In fact, this entire chapter was written this way.
The word that Apple has used repeatedly to describe the iPad is “magical”. While this may seem simply just a marketing buzzword, there is a certain truth to it. When you use the device, you become so immersed in the interaction, that the device itself seems to “disappear” until whatever application you are using is all you are left holding in your hands. Studies have shown that we form an emotional bond with the things we hold or touch. The fundamentals of how you get things done can really change when you can hold your email in your hands? Or your music? Or the internet itself. How you feel and experience these things changes as well.
The reason the hardware disappears is because the software feels natural. When browsing digital photos for instance, they react in a way that is as natural as interacting with the traditional printed kind. When reading a book, the pages turn with the same speed as they would when leafing through a physical one. In every case where there is a real world metaphor, something familiar outside of a computer, it behaves as one would expect. No delay, no separation. It is this attention to detail that the magicians used for the wondrous alchemy that happens when using the iPad.
One more thing about the iPad is that there is no right way to hold it. Stand up with it, sit down, lie back in bed. Pick up the iPad and the screen will rotate to fit your view. Hand it to someone else and it will flip again to theirs. This makes it amazingly easy to share it with others. Hand it across the table at a meeting. This is a social machine. Pass it to your friend to share a funny video. Have a child sit in your lap while your read them a book from it. Unlike other computers that are often barriers to interaction, the iPad is purposefully made for it.
We will look back on this time as a moment when everything we had come to know about computers changed. It is not hyperbole to say that this is a historic shift for technology. And it is just the start. The iPad is still young by any standard. And if this is just the start, it begs the question of what is yet to come. Something even more magical, more revolutionary, and more unbelievable yet real. Welcome to The Future.
This book, written by crack technology writer and pundit Julio Ojeda-Zapata, is here to guide you through this new age. He will show real world examples of professionals, creatives, and others just like you getting real work done using the iPad and having a lot of fun doing so. I know I am.
I’m proud to announce this week’s RSS Feed Sponsor is the wonderful Idea Cafe. Someone recently asked me what my task application of choice was. The answer? Pen and Paper. I love the simplicity and infinite utility of ink on a page. That said, it has to be nice ink and, even more importantly, nice paper. Idea Cafe sources nothing but the finest paper goods for the creative professional. Moleskine, Rhodia, Behance, Field Notes… You get the gist. There are even some pre-packaged bundles perfect for gift giving. So get on over there, check it out, and equip yourself with the best tool for getting things done since, well, recorded history.
I really love you as a blogging platform. I don’t really think I could have started Minimal Mac as quickly as I did, nor keep up with posting regular content as easily, on any other platform. In fact, I still feel this is the case. I really do feel that if I switched to Wordpress or any other solution it would not be as easy or as pleasurable an experience to use when it is available to me.
That said, the past few months there has been excessive downtime on your service. Not just weekly but several times a day. I’m not sure of the reasons why, as you have not provided an explanation that I am aware of. That said, those times, although frequent, are usually brief enough that they have been outweighed in my mind by my enjoyment of the platform.
This current outage, it’s sheer length of downtime, and your lack of clarity about expectations for its resolution, are disheartening at best and irresponsible at most. It really saddens me because, as you may be able to tell from above, I’m a big fan and don’t want to switch.
If the problem is that you have grown too fast and lack the infrastructure to be able to handle the load, say that and then let us know your plan to correct this. If you are unable to correct it due to lack of cash flow, please start charging money for the service because that would kill both problems with one stroke (i.e. cause a mass exodus and give you revenue from those, like me, who would stay and gladly pay). No matter the problems, please simply explain what they are and how you plan to fix them. Such transparency would go a long way with me.
The bottom line of all of this is that both my content and my readers deserve better then what you are allowing me to deliver right now. What good is my writing and curating if it can’t be read or seen? What good is the trust I have spent time forming with my audience if they can’t trust that this site will be there for them to enjoy at a time that suits them?
So please, just be straight with us. It’s the least you can do.
Despite my initial skepticism over whether iOS could really come “Back to the Mac” in any meaningful way, Reeder’s interface and functionality has put me firmly back in my place. I’m happy to accept that this is certainly the way forward, and I can’t wait to see what Apple has in store for OS X Lion.
Nice write up by David on what the new interface paradigm may mean for you using Reeder as an example of what the future may hold.
I recently swapped out the HD in my 1st-gen 1.83GHz MacBook (read my original review ), and thought others might be interested in the experience of going from a 60GB hard drive to a 40GB SSD. It might seem odd to buy a smaller hard drive, but it’s been well worth it.
And some folks are calling me crazy for moving to 64GB…