Sam Anderson on the art of seeing, or what a physical almanac can teach us about our physical selves under the crush of nonphysical information on the Internet:
We need to remember the value of nothing. It’s like breathing: you can’t inhale all day.
We need to learn to make peace with the information we don’t know, to embrace the zeroes, to relearn the pleasures of hunger, need, interruption, restraint. We need to work up our ignorance muscles. We need to organize our internal absences to create meaning. We are responsible, in other words, now and forever, for our own deletionism.
Agenda is a great looking new alternative to the built in iPhone calendar app. The feel is meant to be similar to that of an old style paper desk calendar but all of it tappable and with tons of gestures and smarts. A nice blend of the best of the old and the new.
Well, not exactly. That said, you may notice a slowdown and general irregularity of posts around here for the next ten days. I’m, on vacation with my family on our way to Boston by way of many other adventures.
Until then, be curious. How else will you know the answer if you don’t ask the question?
The Minimal Mac Boston Meetup is only a week away! If you are in the Boston area, swing on down to Lir on Boylston next Tuesday. I would love to meet you. There will also be some other folks you might know like Uri from Minimal, Dave from TUAW and 52 Tiger, and Author and Designer Aaron Mahnke. I will have a few Minimal Mac T-Shirts to give away as well as some signed copies of my book for sale.
It will be a casual affair. Hang out and order up some food and drink if want it. The location is just steps away from the largest Apple Store in the country. It’ll be a good time.
Here are the details:
Minimal Mac Meetup – Boston
Date/Time: Tuesday, June 28, 2011 from 6pm until they kick us out.
How will this come about? Hardware, for what it is, will sometime soon become irrelevant. You will have secure access to your personal data and your media from anywhere you are. You may buy a device, like a phone or a tablet, but they will be very inexpensive, almost disposable (and certainly recyclable). There will be no benefit from buying newer hardware. It will not be faster or have more storage. It will not offer new features. All that will matter is the software and the net and the net will be everywhere.
Actually, these patterns also make some very fine desktop backgrounds if downloaded, selected, and set to tile. The site itself is really well done as well. Love the way the preview works. Thanks to reader Daniel Beck for the find.
Bird Bell sits in your menubar and notifies you of things happening on Twitter that most clients don’t. Such as when you get new followers, unfollowers, when someone favorites your tweets and retweets.
In a further effort to turn the happy back on, the developer gave me some promo codes to give away on a first come, first serve basis. Enjoy!:
I’d like to thank Palimpsest for iPad for sponsoring this weeks RSS Feed. Palimpsest delivers multiple long form magazine articles to your iPad that are hand picked by actual human beings and catered to your tastes and preferences. If you like good, long form narrative and journalism as I do, then this app is a must have. Get it in the app store today.
Some great tips on using nvALT, the Notational Velocity fork I depend on. That said, one tip really stood out to me because I was surprised I had not seen it before:
Equally important is the subtitle. Merlin Mann posted this trick once and I’ve used it since. Once you create a note, format the first line like this: “Subtitle: Description” (for example, “Subtitle: NYC hotel information”). That way, when you look at your list of posts you’ll see exactly what each one is about (see below).
Holy moly will that be a game changer. Going to engage that forthwith.
Are you listening to Enough – The Minimal Mac Podcast? If not, you have been missing out. Recently, it has been the “blog beyond the blog” where we are further discussing posts, news and ideas originally only written about here. Recent examples include:
MicroSocial – Further commentary and thoughts on the new MicroSocial trend I am noticing.
iCloudy – Here we are joined by Dave Caolo to discuss even more news and speculation about iCloud and the other items from WWDC.
The main thing is that, if you want even further, deeper consideration of some of these topics, you should make sure you are subscribed.
I’ve mentioned DoublePane before. It’s a great little window management utility that does mainly four things: Make a window full screen, make it fill the left side or right side, and restore a window to it’s previous state. All of these are triggered with user-definable keyboard commands. I use it quite a bit for editing when I want to see two things side by side.
The developer just released a new version that makes it all just a tad bit better. First, it now supports not having a menubar icon so it can run silently in the background. Also, there is now a nice one pixel separation between the windows if you have them next to each other. Nifty.
Do you want to give it a try? Well, the developer was kind enough to throw some promo codes my way. Here you go. First come, first serve:
Rodney O. Lain passed away a few days later on June 16th, 2002 – six years ago yesterday. He took his own life with a gun to the head sometime in the late night/early morning of the 15th and lived for one day more (I imagine just as a final “Fuck you” to the gun – He was that type of guy). There is rarely a day or two that goes by that I do not think of Rodney. He was my friend. I miss him. I miss being able to share my life as it is today with him. My beautiful wife, the strong lovely young men my sons are becoming, my beautiful baby girl… I often think about how much fun he would be having right now with Apple enjoying such great success (I can imagine him writing “The iPhone is the Whitey of the mobile phone industry”). Not to mention the strong possibility of having a “Brotha” in the White House. What kind of writing about it all we are missing. Words that might make us laugh, or piss us off or bother to think.
I spend every year on this day with the greatest feeling of loss and loneliness just thinking about what Rodney has missed and what I have missed by not having him here. I always think the pain will be not as bad as the previous year. The wound not as fresh and deep. And yet, here I am, not remembering it ever being as bad as it is today.
He was an Apple fan when no one else was. He believed at a time when most of the rest of the world was counting the days until Apple’s demise. Despite a good job, he made a point of working at computer retailer so he could spend time in the PC section “converting the sinners”. He wrote about it all with passion, fire, and the purpose of forcing people to think.
Though it may seem a bit dated now, seriously, stop reading this and go read his body of work. It’s better than just about anything else I can point you to today. Certainly better than anything I will write here…
Every day, I come to this keyboard just hoping that I can bang something out about the world of Apple even half as good as Rodney did. I fail, yet I keep on trying. Because I owe it to him. I owe it to you. I owe it to me.
Fuck you, Rodney. You talented, self-righteous, brilliant, selfish piece of shit who robbed us of your light and talent…
As of this writing, I have 42.4 GB free. I have no music or movies on this machine. The few dozen photos I keep in my Dropbox are the only images around. My iPhone is always in my pocket, and it’s loaded with media, so why duplicate it on a machine I want to keep lean?
That was my thinking going into my purchase of the same. My iPad and, sometimes, iPhone hold all of the music and video I care to have on a daily basis. There is no need to duplicate that on the Air.
Clutter comes in many forms — physical, mental, emotional, etc. — and all of it is unproductive and distracting. Take a few moments to review your ideal self. Decide if the vision of who you want to be is really who you want to be. If it is, do everything in your power to clear the clutter and get as close to that ideal as possible. If it isn’t, let go of those misperceptions and their associated clutter. Make room for an ideal self you actually desire and have the motivation to pursue.
Great post from Erin. I too, have an ideal self that is different from my actual self. The needs and habits of my wife and daughter often mean that I don’t have the minimalist, clutter free existence that my ideal self would like to realize. That said, I try to get as close to my ideal self as I can in the areas of my life that I solely control.
“As we continue our quest to build new types of networks which maintain their quality over time, we have been fascinated by the idea of an interaction network. Or, as we enjoy calling it, the With Graph.”
Chris Messina points us to With, a new iPhone app from the folks who brought you Path. The idea: a fun and simple way to track and are who you are with.
This is another of the MicroSocial apps I’ve seen recently. Once again, this is about actually being with people and spending actual real world time together. It’s the original social networking! Radical idea, huh? ;-)
Dropp is a new iPhone app that allows one to leave location based notes and photos for friends anyplace in the world. I’ve been beta testing it for a few weeks now and it’s well designed and opens up some interesting ideas and possibilities.
I consider it a part of a growing trend I’m henceforth dubbing MicroSocial. In this trend, social network technology becomes closer, highly local, among people you actually know in the real world, and is designed to enhance your communications and relationships on this level. I personally find it interesting that we have started to come full circle with the idea of social networking.
For instance, I have set up a virtual tour of my neighborhood using Dropp. If you are in the area and have the app installed you can visit any shop or restaurant and get my thoughts and recommendations.
Some of the other examples the developer gives for using it are:
Give a friend a virtual tour of a city you’ve been to on the other side of the world by leaving dropps in places you know they’ll visit.
Leave a romantic note in an unexpected place.
Recommend a menu item for a friend when they visit your favorite restaurant.
Leave notes for yourself around town.
Leave a reminder for your significant other at the grocery store to pick up the milk!
I think there are many other possible situations one might find a neat use for this as well.
It’s free so there is no harm in checking it out. Expect me to cover other MicroSocial apps here soon because I think it’s the “next big thing”.
I love magazines. I always have. There are several that I read, literally, from cover-to-cover every month. I especially a big fan of some of the wonderful long form articles that can be found the likes of Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, and Wired.
Palimpsest is a new app for discovering and reading interesting magazine articles on your iPad. These are hand-picked by real humans and then further filtered according to your tastes. That’s right, you tell it what you enjoy an what you don’t and the article selection then get batter over time.
You can read it “text only” style or in it’s original source formatting just as the publisher intended. No time to read right now? No problem, just send it to Instapaper. You can even share them via email with others you know.
It’s a fantastic way to find great reading about interesting subjects. I’m going to be using it to stuff my already bulging Instapaper queue for my road trip out to Boston later this month. If you are like me and enjoy this kind of brilliant reporting and storytelling, then you will love this app.
I’d like to thank the awesome folks at Mac Mini Vault for sponsoring this weeks RSS Feed. If you want to get serious about using your Mac Mini as a server, then you need a place to co-locate it that is fast, trustworthy and affordable. A place that is specifically designed to host the Mac Mini staffed with people who are dedicated to the Mac platform just as you are. Plus, you want connectivity to your Mini that is just as fast as having it local. Look no further, Mac Mini Vault is that place.
I know there is a ton more I could post about Apple’s announcements coming out of WWDC. But I think while all of the details and features of iCloud, iOS 5, and Mac OS X Lion are interesting, there is an idea that these technologies surround and support that is far more so. In fact, it could be perhaps the most fundamental shift in the idea of what a computer is in many years.
The idea is this: Your data is the computer.
This is the new world that Apple is creating. Where your data resides, the device you use to access it, how it is saved, where it is saved, how to manipulate it, how to back it up, how to recover if you make changes to it that you did not intend, all will be things you don’t have to think about.
Your data will be available to you on any device you own. It will be left exactly as you last left it. You can open it in any application that it is able to open it. Should your computer crash, do not fear, your data is safe. And when you get a new machine, simply log into it and all of your data will be there in short order. Buy a new Mac, a new iPhone, and new iPad, simply log in and the data will be there too.
When the device does not matter, when it’s always as you left it, if it opens where you need it, and it is always backed up, we can concentrate on making, creating, doing, being.
Also, I think this is the fundamental difference between how Apple is approaching this idea and Google is doing so. To Google, as to John Gage ten years ago, the network is still the computer. To Apple, your data is. And this difference will define an era.
In fact, Steve Jobs hinted at this idea when he said during the keynote, “Some people think the cloud is just a big disk in the sky… We think it’s way more than that.”
It is not until I start thinking about these things that I realize that we are on the cusp of a shift in computing that is among the largest I may see in this lifetime.
The plans are now set. I’m swinging into Boston at the end of this month and will be hosting a reader meetup. If you are in the Boston area, I would love to meet you. There will also probably be some other internet folks you might know there like Uri from Minimal, Dave from 52 Tiger, and Author and Designer Aaron Mahnke. I will likely have a few Minimal Mac T-Shirts to give away as well as some signed copies of my book for sale. Arrive early enough and you may even get to meet my awesome Wife and beautiful Daughter.
It will be a casual affair. Come if you are able. Hang out. Order up some food and drink if you wish. The location is just steps away from the largest Apple Store in the country. Should be a good time.
Here are the details:
Minimal Mac Meetup – Boston
Date/Time: Tuesday, June 28, 2011 from 6pm until they kick us out.
I really like the look of this one. Clean simple lines, just the right amount of storage, looks like it will last a lifetime and still look this good. That kind of thing does not come cheap but, once again, if it’s the last bag you will ever need then spending a lot up front is required for saving money in the long run.
Also, seriously, be sure to follow My Bag is BadAss if you like this kind of thing (as I do).
Like many of the tech writers in my Twitter stream, I too am simply exhausted from all that there is to unpack in today’s WWDC 2011 Keynote. That said, let me try to break down a few highlights that I think are important to what we believe in here.
I’m going to start with the one I found most interesting:
The funny thing is that iCloud is not any one thing but a host of things. Perhaps iCloud is not even “things” but an idea. The idea being that users should have the stuff that matters to them – music, photos, documents, contacts, calendars, etc. – available to all of their devices and backed up, offsite, in real time. The idea that the files system should not matter and, in fact, should become unimportant. The idea that if you buy something from Apple on one device it should be available to download (by choice or automatically) to all devices.
I think, for those of us purposefully working with limited space, there is a question of how all of this get stored and how much space it takes up. I purposefully did not install iLife on my Macbook Air, not only because I knew I would rarely use these apps there but also because of the additional space not having the app or the library would save me and allow for other things that mattered more. It was hard to get a sense from the “liveblogs” I followed how such things would be handled. For instance, I do have iWork (Pages, Keynote, Numbers) on the Macbook Air. Will it be possible to sync only the data pertinent to it and not iLife as well or will it be an all or nothing affair?
These are things I don’t quite know or understand yet and we will have to wait for Mac OS X Lion to check them out.
The one thing I want to point out is the iTunes in the Cloud feature. As I stated a couple of weeks ago, Apple knows what we have purchased and they know what is in our library, why not just make it available to all devices? If it’s available in the iTunes store, why not simply make it available for listening? Well, this is exactly what they did. It looks fantastic. The stuff you have bought through iTunes is there available for download today. If you have ripped music or, presumably, purchased it elsewhere, it will be available for same when the new iTunes Match service is released this Fall.
The only thing I got wrong was the streaming aspect of it. Not sure why this was not announced today. I still think, due to the decreased amount of storage available on some of Apple’s most popular devices (i.e. iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Macbook Air 11 inch), not to mention increasing bandwidth (I get a steady 19MB down as it stands right now), this would seem to me to be an important play. I don’t know the reasons but still believe it is coming sooner rather than later. Perhaps, that too, is waiting for Fall.
The Photo Stream feature will be a godsend to those of us who take lots of pictures and can never remember what the heck is where. I’m also hoping it will resolve a long standing issue of my wife and I which is the ability to have a central immediate photo storage that we each have access (i.e. “Can you email me that cute photo of Beatrix you just took so I have it too?).
It will also be interesting to see how this changes mine and my wife’s fairly complex and robust calendar sharing that we have thus far relied on BusyCal to do being able to handle all of this stuff with iCloud and have any changes instantly synced between our devices will be a godsend.
But these two things bring up an important (to me at least) question – how will iCloud handle this from an account perspective? Will we be able to say, for instance, both my wife’s devices and mine belong to the same iCloud account for some things but have separate accounts for others? For example, she currently has her own Apple ID and therefore her own music, app and other purchases. In the case of apps, she may not want to have to wade through all the stuff I purchased to get to the three things she has. Not to mention documents. I think we can see where this is going. I wonder how the complexities of a modern household where several devices exist and sharing would be good for some things but not others will be handled?
That said, it seems many of the questions will likely be answered in the coming months or for sure will be come Fall. Of all of the announcements made at the Keynote (and there were a ton), I foresee this being the most foundationaly disruptive in terms of the way we approach our data today.
I have discussed before why the Mac Mini makes the perfect server. It’s small, affordable, fast, and when running Mac OS X Server, has all of the features you need to offer enterprise-class services in a machine a fraction of the size and price. Not to mention that I think Mac OS X Lion will make it even more attractive for the task.
That said, there are many reasons you may not want to host a server on your own. Security, power, and bandwidth are all very real concerns. Especially if you are doing hosting of web services, email or valuable personal data. For such things you want to ensure uptime and not everyone (i.e. only the privileged few) has a data center at their disposal.
Mac Mini Vault is a colocation provider specifically designed to host the Mac Mini. Colocation (or “colo” for short) means that you place the Mac Mini that you own in their secure data center. They supply the power, bandwidth, and physical security allowing your Mac Mini to be ‘hosted’ on the internet. You can access it’s desktop or its command line. You can use it for file storage, web & database hosting, an e-mail server, or some of the built in OS X Server tools such as calendar, address book, wiki servers, etc. Because the hardware is compatible with Windows and Linux as well, you can configure it anyway you’d like before sending your Mini to them.
The pricing is simple and quite fair with two generous packages that start as $29.99 a month. This includes a static IP, 15MB/s Burst Speed, remote reboot, network graphing, and free hands on support during business hours. They are located near Milwaukee, WI so, if you are within driving range, you have the option of making an appointment to drive your Mini down and they’ll help you get it going. Of course, you can always configure your Mini and ship it to them. Heck, you can even buy one from them and have them set it up and get it online for you. You can even purchase additional storage from them or add an external drive of your own. The choice is yours.
Bottom line, this is the best-pratice route to go if you are looking to use the Mac Mini as a server solution. I use a Mac Mini as a backup server for my clients and I’ll be moving to Mac Mini Vault as soon as I’m able. If you have any interest in this stuff at all, you owe it to yourself to check them out.
Hopefully Sunny is a really simple web app. You sign up with your email address and zip code, and we email you each day with the forecast for the next 4 days.
So far, so good. I really like the obvious amount of thought put into this. It’s designed around simplicity and putting this information in a place that you are most likely to see it. But wait. There’s more…
If you’re like me, you scan email titles. Hopefully Sunny puts useful information - the actual weather - in the subject line of your email so that you’ll know the weather even if you don’t open the email. Here’s how the email looks on my iPhone:
Like I said, a lot of behavioral thinking went into this. It may not be the way you think or behave, but, like all good software, if the developer has put this much thought into his own habits it is likely that others may find it perfect for them as well.
I know I’m waiting for my first email to see how this fits in my practices.
It’s been easy to bash Microsoft lately. The company blew it in smartphones and Apple’s success with the iPad after all those years Redmond spent evangelizing Tablet PCs must really sting. But while it would be so easy to just write Microsoft off as a completely clueless company that’s just living off its former glory, the fact is that there’s some very interesting work going on at Microsoft. It just seems to be stuck inside a company that can’t let go of the past in order to embrace its own promising future.
Not long ago, at the mall, I found myself standing outside of the Microsoft Store which is strategically built directly across from the Apple Store. I stood at the window and watched the people playing in front of the Kinect demo. I made a point to look mostly at the players and the strange sort of pantomime they were doing as they manipulated the action on screen. One did not have to see the screen, that pantomime told the story. Pick up the ball from the rack, bring it up to the chest, swing it back behind, swing it forward and release. Roll. Strike! Bowling.
It really is an amazing and magical technology. Think about it. You are using natural real-world movement to mimic an action and it is happening in real time on a screen in front of you. No special gloves, wands, cables. Nothing. Just you. You pretend. It makes it real.
The problem is that Microsoft does not, can not, see it that way (and perhaps never will). They invented a device from the future yet could not untether themselves from the past and present. They could not see the potential to change the world with this device because they are too wedded to the idea that it had to work with the present. So, instead, it is just a toy, nothing more.
If they threw out the ideas and influences of the present, they could have seen that you could stand in front of a flat screen in your living room and manipulate objects on the screen like documents or pictures or folders or email – all through the same strange sort of pantomime. Perhaps it would understand your speech and respond to that as well.
“Open email from Steve.”
“Steve, that time sounds perfect. Thanks”
That would change computing. It would set a bar leaving others to catch up. It would define a whole new category. That is disruptive. That is post PC. That is something I would buy. That is a platform I would invest a lot of money in. No matter the maker. I suspect I’m not alone.
Perhaps that is the most frustrating part to me. I see this future, and all the pieces to build it, sitting right there. We could have it, today, in every room in our house. Walk up to a screen and command it. Interact with the stuff you have there. Naturally. But, due to lack of vision, it’s not magic. It’s a game. As long as the blinders of the present and past remain, it will never be anything more.
There are those that believe that you need the experiences of the past and present to build the future. I’m calling bullshit. If you build on the past or present you simply extend the past and present. To build the future, you must let it stand alone. You must build it on top of a whole new platform. You must create whole new segments and spawn whole new eras.
The very act of invention involves forgetting everything you know. You can’t have a discussion about the future using the words and concepts of the past or present. You have to forget everything you know about the way people interact with a computer and reinvent it, as well, around this new future. Otherwise, you end up asking the wrong questions and trying to see where this new thing fits. And if the new thing does not fit you will find a way to make it fit.
In the case of the Kinect, Microsoft could not make it fit with Windows. They could not make it fit with Office. So, they found a way to make it fit with Xbox. They can’t see the Xbox platform beyond a gaming device. Therefore, naturally, they could not see the Kinect beyond just some cool peripheral to a game.
Contrast this with Apple and the iOS. They saw the future. They knew they had something nothing short of magic. To build it, they forgot everything they knew about the way one interacts with a computer. They did not find a way to make it fit. They redefined the very idea of computing around this new idea. They did not let the past or present inform them. They built the future. And, in doing so, they set a bar. It was disruptive. It caused everyone else to try to imitate. It changed the rules. They created a new era.