Many of you I’m sure are long hip to this. That said, for some of you it will be a cost saving revelation. I have given this exact same recommendation to my clients for years and it is one I follow myself. Here goes…
If you are in the market for a Apple product, keep your eye out here:
This is the Refurbished section of Apple’s online store. I recommend buying any of Apple’s refurbished products. These are factory refurbished to good-as-new condition by Apple. Not only will you get a decent discount (often of a hundred dollars or more) but they come with the same one year warranty as new Apple products. They are also eligible for the Applecare extended warranty. Not only that, but it is my understanding that they are more rigorously tested than brand new Macs because, well, they don’t want them coming back. Stock changes near hourly so check often and act fast if you see something you are in the market for.
Speaking of Applecare, I highly recommend getting it with any new Mac. It will protect any component failure for up to three years from the date of purchase. The cost of Applecare is less than the cost of out-of-pocket replacement of any component that will die on your Mac so it is well worth it.
Airendipity began with an idea: what if I could take a secret, confession, or thought and send it anonymously around the world? With Airendipity you can fold the text you want to share into a paper airplane and flick it into flight. Then you can follow your airplane as it makes its way around the globe. You can use Airendipity to get inspired by thoughts and secrets from around the world and safely share your own.
Wonderful idea. Well designed and completely anonymous.
I’m taking part in AppyFridays this week. Due to the fact that changes to pricing and app updates will be unavailable from the 21st through the 28th (everyone deserves a vacation), Marked is going to be on sale all the way through Christmas. For just 99¢, you can get the Markdown love you deserve this holiday.
Great app. If you write in Markdown on your Mac you need this.
I’ve been kicking around an idea I have to set up a patronage fund to support some select independent online writer directly. As part of that general discussion, someone asked if anyone had built a directory of independent online creators who have membership, paid newsletters, or other patronage programs. Tully Hansen picked up the the ball and ran with it. It’s really well done.
As I have stated previously, I strongly believe in supporting the writer’s I read and derive value from. I do this because I believe that is the key to keeping my online world a valuable place to be. You should too.
Some Tools That Made My Computing Life Better In 2012
(That I Was Happy To Pay For)
Here are some tools that made my computing life measurably better this year. This is not a full account but just the things that pop immediately to mind. I believe in supporting the things I use. The developers of these things work hard and have families to support. I’ve noted the where’s and hows of my support for each one. If you use these, or any other such tool or service, you should too:
Typerighter — I’m using it right now to type this up. This is a web based writing environment that is designed to be high focused, keyboard driven, and just enough features needed to get the job done (and even those are essentially invisible). But, mainly, it is meant to be a common web place for your words available from anything with a web browser. Those that use it just got their account upgraded to the Pro level for the next year but I still plan to say “thanks” in some way because I really want to support the things I use and love. I use it in some way or fashion every day. Plus, like any good writing environment, it understands…
Markdown — I’ve actually been using Markdown syntax for much longer (too many years to count). It continues to be the way I write for anything that might possibly need to be converted from plain text (my sensible default) to html. I’ve long supported John Gruber through Daring Fireball membership, etc.
Markdown Service Tools — Brett Terpstra’s wonderful collection of Markdown services that make those of us who write in Markdown able to do some nifty markup tricks using keyboard commands in just about any text editor or field. Really handy if, for instance, you are using a web based writing tool like Typerighter. So, so, good. (I’m especially fond of the Auto-link Web Search doodad.). I just realized in writing this how much I used these… So I threw some cash his way.
Pinboard — “The bookmarking website for introverted people in a hurry.” Yep, it was built for me. Seriously, if there is anything on the web that I might want to reference later, it goes here. It is also integrated with so many of the other tools I use like Reeder and Instapaper. Once again, this is a service I’m happy to pay for (and even pay a bit more so I can have it fully archive the linked items). The developer makes money by charging for a valuable (to me at least) service. Novel approach I know…
DragonDrop — This should be built in. It’s one of those things that makes full screen mode in Lion a lot more usable for me. Mainly, this little utility makes dragging and dropping files easily. Click and drag an object, wiggle the mouse, and up pop a nice little window to drop the file temporarily while to navigate to its final destination. Useful and well executed. I paid for it on the spot and heavily promoted it on Minimal Mac, Twitter, App.net, etc.
Jumpcut — A configurable clipboard buffering tool that should be built in. I use it so often I forgot to include it in this list initially because it so blends into my work flow.
App.net — A micro-blogging social network with a business model that is based on making money from it’s customers, as opposed to selling its customers data for money… I have (mostly) quit Twitter and have been happily posting away there ever since. I have even gifted accounts to others who were on the fence or just did not have the spare cash (but that I wanted to interact with there).
MailActOn — Allows me to file messages into folders (mailboxes) in Mail.app using key commands. As such, this allows me to be way more efficient in dealing with email and makes dealing with it that much more delightful. Paid for it without hesitation.
DoublePane — Allows me to place any two windows on my mac side by side or full screen and then return them to their original size and location using a key command. Purchased!
Other online writers whose work I enjoy and gain some benefit from — From Shawn Blanc, to Dave Caolo, to Ben Brooks, to James Shelley, to JD Bentley, and many, many, more. I would guess I given at least 10% of my writing income to support other online writers or publications. If you want to support quality independent writing on the Internet, this is how it works.
Once you start reading a message in this Smart Unread Inbox, it’s actually not part of it anymore. It’s in this sort of Schrödinger state, which only exists as long as you keep the e-mail open. So you have to act upon it, otherwise it will disappear forever into the mists that are the cloud.
I’ve mentioned Typerighter before and I still continue to use it every day. It is my favorite online writing tool (and one of my favorite writing tools, period). If you have used it too, you just received a free upgrade to the Pro subscription level for the next year. That said, you should still give some money to Garrick. Independent developers need our support.
The scary part though, is that one recurrent theme I see in nearly every single “how I write on the iPad” story is Dropbox. It’s the linchpin in the workflow. Scary, because Dropbox is outside Apple’s control. Scary, because if not for Dropbox, many of these people would be using their iPads as much as they are. Scary, because Apple’s iCloud falls short of Dropbox.
Here’s what I want you to do. Take out your iPhone or iPad but don’t turn it on. If you have a modern glass-screened Mac this will work for you as well.
Now, with it still off, look directly into the screen and notice what you see. If you are looking correctly the most prominent thing you should notice is your reflection. Not a perfect one, mind you. The screen is not a mirror. That said, there is a part of you in there.
If it is a touch enabled device, you likely also notice your fingerprints and smudges. Remnants of your presence. These are a reflection of a different sort. Yet a reflection in, perhaps, a more personal and telling way. A knowing eye could likely deduce from those smudges and marks if you turn it on frequently or use one app more than another. There’s traces of you in there.
I would also argue that when we actually put these devices to their intended use that it is this reflection we seek. The places we go on the web. The things that we buy. The work that we do. The intentions of our task list. The games that we play. It is the parts of us in there, the reflection of ourselves, that make these more compelling.
In social networks this is especially true. The person complaining about the traffic. The friend repeating the funny comments of her coworkers. That guy you admire talking about failure being as important (if not more so) than success. That girl having a really bad day. You have had similar thoughts, experiences, desires, goals, wishes, hopes, failures, and success. You see your reflection in them. You see a part of you there.
And, after all, isn’t this what we want to see in our most personal of tools? A reflection of us. No matter how muddled or imperfect. We want to leave a mark. Some trace that we were there. That we deserve to be there. That we belong. That we are not alone. That, there, we are.
I don’t take a lot of guest posts. That said, when the product is right and it is from Julio Ojeda-Zapata — one of the top tech reporters in the US — well, how could I say no? Take it away Julio…
I abhor desk clutter and aspire to a radically minimalist workspace.
I made this point in an August 2010 essay on this site. In the post, titled “At Home in the Cube,” I describe how I drastically simplified my desk at work – as I had already done at home.
Minimalism is always a work in progress, though, and I now look at the pictures included with the post and cringe at how … sloppy my desks look. There are way too many cords leading to ancillary devices, such as a USB hub and an iPhone dock, for starters. I have been banishing those from sight. My hub is now resting on the floor alongside my cable modem and uninterruptible power supply.
Dealing with my iPhone docking has been a bigger challenge – What dock doesn’t have an unsightly cord linking it to a computer or hub in full view?
As it turns out, there’s a dock that integrates with an iMac’s metallic base in such a way that it looks like it is a part of that computer and brings about a nearly miraculous visual simplification that soothes the soul.
This is the OCDock, a Kickstarter project that, as of this writing, had just met its $49,000 with more than a week to go. That is great news since the creator, OCDesk, looks to be one of the worthier Mac-accessory makers – right up there in quality and ingenuity with the likes of Incase and TwelveSouth.
I examined an OCDock prototype that has a number of rough edges, so this is not a full review nor my final word on this product.
Still, the silver OCDock looked visually indistinguishable from my iMac base, permitting it to blend in beautifully. (The dock is also designed in black for those who would prefer that it match the black border around the iMac display.)
The rear of the OCDock rests atop the iMac base, towards the front edge, with the front of the dock extending a bit outward and downward to rest flush with the desk below.
The OCDock is one of the first iPhone docks to incorporate Apple’s Lightning connector, which is fab news for iPhone 5 users who have been making do without docks until now.
The OCDock includes several innovative features, including a super-thin USB cable that snakes beneath the iMac base to connect invisibly in the back; an adhesive bottom that attaches firmly to the iMac base yet can be removed with a firm twist of the dock; and a springy platform surrounding the upright Lightning prong to gently cradle an iPhone in a case of almost any thickness.
To complete the OCDock kit, OCDesk includes a selection of cushy silicone supports in a variety of thicknesses to cradle the iPhone in the rear regardless of case size.
Want to party naked? There’s a different version of the OCDock called the OCDock mini for use with a case-less iPhone. Both the OCDock and the OCDock mini are available in a Dock Connector flavor for use with the iPhone 4 and 4S as well as a Lightning version suitable for an iPhone 5. A Dock Connector version is upgradeable to the Lightning one.
The prototype I examined is of the Lightning variety; I have yet to see a Dock Connector version, but hope to do so soon.
One OCDock quibble: Since the base on my 2009 iMac is thicker than that of the newer iMac variants, for which the dock is designed, the front of the dock is suspended above my desk, instead of resting flush with it. This is jarring visually – especially since a bit of the white USB cable is rendered visible. I can live with that – but I’d prefer a version of the OCDock tailored to older iMac bases.
That gripe aside, I like the OCDock and look forward to more OCDesk announcements.
The OCDock is shipping to its Kickstarter backers in the coming weeks and to the public shortly thereafter.
The “OCD” in OCDock and OCDesk, by the way, is short for “obsessively clean desk” – but those who have obsessive compulsive disorder will relate given how many such are fanatical about tidiness. In that sense, the OCDock is almost a medical miracle.
What I discovered is that I just don’t need the level of connectivity I used to assume was a now indispensable part of daily life. If people e-mail me, they have to wait until I check e-mail. If people need to get a hold of me, they can, but it better be damned important.
The first thing to realize is that all the things that have made Apple so special are the same as they have always been. That doesn’t mean that Apple is the same. Apple has changed every day since I have been here. But the DNA of the company, the thing that makes our heart beat, is a maniacal focus on making the best products in the world. Not good products, or a lot of products, but the absolute best products in the world.
Such a great interview. Tim Cook comes across as private, reasoned, humble, yet absolutely passionate about Apple and, even more importantly, their customers.
Called Phone Stack (though initially named ‘Don’t Be A Di*k During Meals With Friends’), at the start of the meal diners place their mobile device face down in a pile on the table. The first person to grab their phone, for whatever reason, loses the game and has to pay for everyone’s meal. If everyone resists the temptation for the duration of the dinner, then the check is split.
It’s an era of controlled deprivations and detoxification, of fasts and cleanses. Perhaps everyone should make a weekly ritual of twenty-four hours of undocumented life. Periods of time in which memory must do all the heavy lifting, or none of it, as it chooses, the consequences being what they may be. No phone, no eclipse glasses to mitigate the intensity of what lies before you. The only options are appetite, experience, memory, and later, if so inclined, writing it down.
A nice addition to my recent investigation and consideration of the importance (or, too often, lack there of) that we give to experiences.
Time is the most precious of resources so I don’t think it can be overly stated how deeply in gratitude I am that you would deem my work worthy of yours. I don’t think those of us who write online take enough time to say this. A single post now and again that lets you, the reader, know that I appreciate each and every one of you.
Thank you to everyone who comes to the site. No matter if it is part of your daily journey or a one time stop. It means the world to me.
I am over laptops and the posture that comes with them. I am coding a lot less, so I use my computers a lot less. I still want to simplify even further and carry just one device. So, I want to try the iPad Mini with cellular antenna as my only device and as a phone replacement, and use Skype and/or Google Voice instead.
What we believe in.
Actually, to further expand on my point, one of the main goals of the views I try to put forth on this site is to ask people to consider their needs closely and choose only the tools that best fit those needs. This extends to when those needs naturally adjust and change over time. It seems to me that David is taking such an inventory and making adjustments accordingly. Much respect for that.