After we do some more testing in the coming weeks, we’ll submit a basic, working version that should hopefully become available within a month or so. This version won’t have much extra in the way of features just yet, but with time it will evolve based on your feedback, just like we did with Simplenote for iPhone.
I just checked with my friend, Mr. Tortoise, and he claims this is the way you win any race. Mr Hare disagrees, but he was in a rather foul mood.
I recently took the time to listen to Merlin Mann on Mac Power Users Podcast Ep. 23. It is an excellent listen where he details much of the software, tools and tricks he uses to get the daily job done. If you are in anyway a nerd for this sort of thing your time will be well spent. That said, I wanted to call out a particular segment of it that I found really smart. It is the idea of the “Bugs Me” list.
It goes like this: Anytime you are working away at your computer and you run across something that gets in your way, that you find frustrating, a repetitive task you hate having to do, write it down and then get back to that task at hand. Then, every so often, spend some time going through that list to see if you can find solutions to those annoying little bugs.
I have been doing this for the past few days and it really works. I have come up with good solutions to many issues I did not even realize were getting in my way until I became aware enough to write them down and do something about them.
“People use equipment as a crutch. They don’t want to put in the hours on the driving range so they spend a ton in the pro shop. They’re looking for a shortcut. But you don’t need the best gear in the world to be good. And you definitely don’t need it to get started.”—Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
Permute is a great example of how less user interface makes technology more approachable. Less doesn’t have to mean less functional. If I need to recommend a video converter to a new Mac user, it’s most definitely going to be Permute.
Ooh, this looks like it’s going to be good. Thanks Milind for bringing the linkage to the sexy.
The ideal view would contain today’s events in great detail, then events from the next few days in less detail, then an overview of events in the next 3-5 weeks.
Marco has some interesting and, I dare say, “what we believe in” ways to make the standard calendar metaphor even better. I like it. I want it. I’m going to fire off a few emails to see if someone I know can build it.
Well, there it is folks. At some point in the time I closed my computer to fix dinner and the time I opened it just now, we hit follower number 5000 in Tumblr. That means some Sweet Schwag™ to send to a couple of lucky Tumblrs. Why a couple? Well, the person who is number 5000 will get some of course but I also wanted to pick a random other Tumblr and send them something too just for following and making this who little blog a little bit brighter.
Without further adieu, will Tumblr users…
Please send email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your mailing address and I will send that Sweet Schwag™ right along.
I worry that this is one area where hiding the filesystem on the iPad could have detrimental effects on a user’s experience. If I am an average user, my experience has taught me that deleting a file from a folder doesn’t really mean the file is deleted; it’s in file-purgatory. If I bring this mentality to the iPad, though, it could result in devastating losses of data.
With any shifting of the paradigm, some things are forgotten and other things are left behind. It will be interesting to see what happens to this real world metaphor in the new future.
Just a side note that is not specifically pointed out here and may not be obvious to some. The Trash UI metaphor is one of my favorites because it is directly mapped to how it works in the real world as well. Just because you throw something in the trash does not mean it is gone for good. You can retrieve it at any time before the trash collectors come and take it away to a landfill. Even then, it is not really “gone”, it is simply beyond your capability to retrieve. Same is true of deleting things on your hard drive. Even after you empty the trash, the files remain on your hard drive. They are simply hidden from the file view and marked to be overwritten at some future time.
Both my wife and I are freelance consultants. I’m a technical consultant and she’s a non-profit and arts management consultant. Because of this, our “office” is usually wherever we are. We spend many days shuffling between various locations. Our computing needs have to be highly portable and durable. We always buy the most machine for our long term needs and always purchase the piece of mind that Applecare provides. We even keep a spare machine on deck should one of our machines need to go in for service. Generally, we replace our laptops when the Applecare runs out (i.e. every three years), which just happens to be this month.
For my beautiful wife, we decided to get the new Macbook (2.26 GHz, 250GB, 2GB RAM) to replace her previous three year old model (1.83 Ghz, 120GB, 2GB RAM). Her needs are basic – web, email, office apps. For that, this is more than enough machine and should last her very well for the next three years. It’s an amazing machine for the price and we recommend it highly.
For me, I decided to “replace” my self upgraded black Macbook (2.0 Ghz, 320GB 7200 RPM, 4GB RAM) with an… iPad (WiFi only, 64GB). I know. Crazy right? Well, here’s the thing – the Macbook I have is more than enough machine for me capability wise. The upgrades I have given it mean that it will be enough machine for several more years to come in this respect. I did not need “more machine”. What I needed was “greater flexibility and portability”. The iPad will serve me well in almost every situation I can think of. It will allow me to do everything I need to 99% of the time. My Macbook will become a desktop machine, an adjunct to the iPad, with the added bonus of being able to be portable for those rare times I need more machine when out and about at a client. But, for all intents and purposes, the iPad will be my main daily machine.
Still think I’m insane? Well, wait until I tell you that I used a Newton MessagePad as my main “daily worker” for years. Every model from the introduction of the MessagePad 120 all the way until the 2100. I used it for web browsing (as it was at the time), reading, email, notes, calendar, address book, word processor, and much more. In other words, exactly as one would use any portable computer. During that time, I saw the sort of computing I was able to do with a handheld device, and the way I was doing it, as the future of computing. With the introduction of the iPad, my faith in that future is regained.
I am sure the time will come when I have to replace my current Macbook. But that is at least a couple of more years off as I see it. The iPad really is a return to the future for me. Call me crazy.
While I could have taken the conservative option and waited until a month or two after the iPad’s release before launching Instapaper for it, an iPad without native Instapaper Pro is not a device I want to own.
Very sad news that hits hard personally in a way that I never really expected, though I knew it was coming. I worked for Now Software in Quality Assurance for four years. Some of my closest friends today (including the person who was Best Ma’am at my wedding) were folks I first worked with at Now Software (formerly Power On Software).
I have, along with others, suspected this may be coming for a while. Yet, like someone you know is dying, you are never quite ready for the rush of emotions when it actually comes to pass. My heart is heavy, yet I am thankful for the many opportunities working there provided me and for the deep and lifelong friendships that remain.
That’s why I like bundles: they’re impulse buys. I get lots of applications I’ll never use but a few I might and one I know I will use. Yes, it increases the number of license textfiles I maintain in Simplenote. I don’t download the ones I know I won’t use, so there’s no impact on my machine. But I’ve contributed something to the developers whose applications I think are “kind of neat” but wouldn’t purchase on their own. Everyone wins.
Jordan not only responds to my “It’s not a bargain if you don’t need it" post, he actually takes on and tries my suggestion of asking the developers to cut a deal directly. I really don’t want to spoil it so click through to read his post.
Since we are on the topic, I would like to take this opportunity to clarify a few things regarding my post:
I have nothing at all against Mac bundle sales. In fact, I have bought a couple myself when there were a majority of apps I really felt I would get value from. That said, I remain steadfast in my argument that if the majority of apps in such a bundle are things you do not need then you are wasting your money (replenishable), time, and attention (extremely finite).
The developers participate of their own free will and I have a tremendous amount of respect for them and the choices they make to market their products. The most recent well known bundle deal included an app by some folks I consider some of my closest friends.
Does it really surprise anyone that, the curator of a site who’s sole mission is to rally against things you don’t need would write a post arguing against buying something if you don’t need it?
I was recently asked on Twitter about good places to find desktop pictures, especially photos (which I prefer myself). While I am no definitive source on the subject, i do have some places I go looking and ones I have found just by curating this little juke joint. Therefore, here is the list I gave on the Twitter:
Mandolux – This guy does great work, especially in his output of shots for dual and triple monitor setups. Been a big fan for years.
Fifty Foot Shadows – Here is one that I came across from doing Minimal Mac and I remain grateful. Fantastic shots that are full of interest without distracting.
DJHuber on Flickr – Many great shots that are perfect for Desktop Pictures. A truly talented photographer.
Of course, like I said, there are tons of individual ones I have linked to here that are equally fantastic. Doing a search for Desktop Picture or Wallpaper will bring up most of them.
There are my picks, do any of you have any you want to share with the group?
The title is taken from a line my Father said to me once in discussing my Grandmother, who thought anything worth having was worth having five of. I have remembered it ever since. I remember it every time I see a tremendous deal that seems just too good to pass up. A sweater on super cheap clearance (us Minnesotans can never have too many, right?). A printer that is practically free after rebate (I can always give it to someone else as a gift, right?).
Lately, I remember it anytime I see a super cheap bundle of Mac apps, that grows to even more at download milestones, all for an unbelievably good price. I think to myself, “Wow, that is a really good deal for that one application I want, let alone the ten others. Plus, they are giving five bucks of that price to charity. I can get a deal and be a humanitarian all at the same time. What a bargain!”
It’s not a bargain if you don’t need it.
Let’s just say there is one of these bundles – lets just call it MacTheft – and the price for eleven apps is $19.95. And, let’s just say they promise to give $5.00 of your purchase to starving children in cataclysmicly devastated regions of the world. Therefore, the price of the software – all eleven apps – is theoretically $14.95. But, let’s just say there is only two apps out of the eleven that you really think you need. Here is a crazy idea to try…
Buy the apps outright, full-price, directly from the developer.
I know, I know. You are not getting a bargain, right? Wrong. Did you need the apps? Then you are getting a bargain. Even better, you are directly supporting the developer and their future development. Not only that but you are also not cluttering up your hard drive with software you will never use. You are not wasting your time and attention on bargains that really aren’t.
OK, fine. You want a “bargain”. How about this… Contact the developers of the two apps you want and say something like…
"Hey, I see you have your apps available on MacTheft and, while that is great and all, I really don’t need all eleven of them. I really only need two, your’s and this other guy’s. Therefore, I am contacting each of you to see if I could give you $7.50 cents directly. I figure that is about 10 times more than you will get from my individual sale if I buy it through MacTheft. Also, I was planing on giving five dollars to the starving children too."
What’s the worse they can say? No?
My point is that you owe it to yourself to avoid these bargains and giveaways unless it is stuff you really need and plan on using. If not, you are still wasting your money, your time, and your attention no matter how much you pay. Even if the price is “free”.
Think of it as “Minimal Social Media”. In this age where Radical Transparency is championed, I want to suggest another direction (hence the name). In this age where we are drowning in a sea of information and expected and encouraged to drown others, I want to suggest otherwise. Basically, I hope to provide links, tips and suggestions on how to increase the signals and unfollow the noise.
I actually have been loading it up with content over the last several weeks, quietly, in the shadows. There is lots of good stuff there so go when you have time to take a look around and load up your Instapaper.
Unfortunately for the average person, the file system is so complex that everything outside of the desktop and the documents folder appears to be a vast labyrinth which most likely hides booby traps and minotaurs.
That’s because it does hide booby traps and minotaurs.
Let’s just say I tell a client “That ‘Home’ folder is where all of your stuff is. The Mac likes it when you store stuff in there. Use it to store your stuff.” So of course, they put all of their documents in the Documents folder, All music in Music and all eBooks in the Library folder. Then, they go in there and see all of this other stuff and start moving it around, throwing it away, etc. Then, the next time they restart they wonder why nothing is working right. Booby Trap!
So, instead, I have to say “Well, you can touch this but don’t touch that. This is your stuff but this other thing that, while it is your stuff, you can’t touch because it will break things.” With all of that confusing and conflicting information, of course they are just going to save everything to the Desktop and never move it. It’s easier and there is not chance of “breaking” anything. No booby traps.
This a great read but, if you have been paying attention, it is nothing you have not heard me hammering away at for a while now.
Functionally, it’s almost a calculator. But it’s also almost a spreadsheet and almost a list pad. By not constraining its design to that of a common physical object, it’s able to be and do much more than anything in the physical world ever could.
Marco raises some good arguments against the idea that mimicking real world objects in UI design is not always the right answer. In fact, it can also lead to replicating all of the problems inherent in the device you are attempting to replicate.
That said, he is also pretty honest about what this really is – another chance to highlight Soulver. Soulver is a fantastic app I have mentioned only in passing before that is basically a smart scratchpad for doing calculations in near natural language.
Both points are sound ones though and another excellent piece of insight from Marco. The world would be a much better place if all of us put the amount of thought into the things we produce that he does.
At Yummygum, we embrace a minimal mind set not only in our online corporate visual identity but also in our office. We’ve tried to create a minimal workspace, using the Bluelounge CableBox, a lot of whitespace and a clean and clutter free desk.
Apple has never really been in the business of selling product. What Apple really sells is an experience.
What Apple sells begins before you even walk in the door…
It begins before you take out your credit card…
It continues when you get back home…
To when you start it up…
My point being that, any company can sell you a product. Very few take the time and attention to detail that it takes to sell you an experience. If you really want to know what makes Apple so successful where others struggle, look at what they sell.
I love Time Machine for its simplicity and the fact that it’s free. Apple did the right thing in creating a backup utility that was integrated into the OS and was actually useful. Anyone who has fought with Windows Backup can tell you, this has been needed for a long time. Apple created a beautiful backup utility and then made money on hardware that seamlessly works with it. For the home user, nothing could be more simple.
Good quick tutorial on how to get Time Machine backing up to a network volume without laying out the cash for a Time Capsule.
Speaking of getting to know your tools deeper… Rob Griffiths, the founder and editor of Mac OS X Hints one of my all time favorite Mac sites, is stepping down from that role to pursue other interests. While I am very sad to see him go, I know he will leave the site in good hands. Here, he recounts some of his favorite tips and tricks from over the years.
That said, part of my goal of Minimal Mac is to advocate the idea of getting the most of the Mac and the apps that it ships with. Part of that, is getting to know these tools a bit deeper. Mac OS X Hints is chock full of nothing but ways to do just that.
Take some time today to really get acquainted with one specific tool that you use frequently. Poke around the menus and help files, search Google for “ tricks” and see what comes up. I think you’ll be surprised by what you find.
Excellent advice from Brett. I too am guilty of only using a few specific features of an application and not really diving in and really getting to know it. And while there are certainly some apps that are so deep you could spend years fully learning them, even those might be worth a least a half hour of time investigating just one thing that could change your game.