I wanted to take a moment out to give a warm thanks to Don at ScreenCastsOnline for being this weeks RSS Feed Sponsor.
ScreenCastsOnline is the place to go for full, detailed, and comprehensive video training on all aspects of the Mac and iOS including any of the third-party applications you can think of. It has been an essential and affordable resource for me and my business. Sign up and I’m sure you will feel the same.
Dragging and dropping is a great way to get stuff done on your Mac, but DragonDrop makes it even better. DragonDrop lets you set down what you’re dragging, leaving you free to find your destination without worrying about keeping the mouse button held down.
I mentioned DragonDrop a few weeks back on Minimal Mac and it got a rave response. Only one problem, I was premature. It had not been approved by Apple.
Well, it is out now and it is great. I have been using this several times a day for weeks. This is the sort of feature I could easily see Apple building into the OS in the future. It is so much more useful. Just check out the video on the site to see for yourself.
Every so often this post I wrote in September of 2010 about digital calendar paradigms pops back up. (It features a horrible design mockup of a calendar app I would like to see for my Mac.) This go around I think I am going to blame Patrick Rhone for the article’s resurgence.
Yep. Mea culpa.
No, there’s still no perfect OS X calendar app — hell not even a good iPad one — but we are getting damned close on the iPhone. This near perfection comes in the form of one app and one iOS system level service working in harmony: Agenda and Siri.
I don’t have Siri on my phone so I can’t comment. That said, while I love Agenda, it too suffers from a problem that was also pointed out almost two years ago now by Marco Arment:
I don’t care about present-and-future items with equal granularity. I wouldn’t mind seeing today in an hour-by-hour view, but I don’t need the same granularity when showing events three days from now.
We are still dealing with the same tired old idea even in Agenda. That being, that all events are equal. I would argue, as Marco does, that they are not. Marco also points out another problem I agree with which is:
I don’t care about the past.
Bingo. In all calendar month and week views I have seen, you get the current month or week. I would like, instead, to see one week or month starting from today. The closest I’ve seen to this idea being executed well is 37 Signals built in Basecamp and Backpack calendars which show you six weeks out starting with the current week. I’m amazed that no calendaring app I have seen has implemented this or something very similar.
So, therefore, I must disagree with Ben that we are close. Perhaps on the input side things have gotten better for those that have Siri. But on the output side, things are much the same as they always have been.
In fact, I really surprised that no one, NO ONE, has taken the final idea seed Marco planted two years ago and run with it:
The ideal view1 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.
What was that? I thought I heard you say you were looking for a cloud based library for all of your DRM free ePub books. One that would allow you to read them on just about any compatible browser including iOS and Android. One where the books operate in much the same way when loaded in said browser as they would in iBooks or Kindle. Oh, and you said you wanted to be able to download these things for offline reading too?
OK, great. Got it. Click the link above and you can have all of that and more.
ScreenCastsOnline produces and delivers new video tutorials every week covering a wealth of information and applications about both Mac and iOS.
My job as a Mac Consultant is to stay up to date on the latest features and many applications that my clients use. My membership to ScreenCastsOnline has more than paid for itself. There are litterly hundreds of tutorials covering just about any Mac related subject you can think of. The past week alone has given us everything from MobileMe iDisk migration strategies to a iPhoto for iOS two parter a three part master class on iBooks Author.
With membership plans starting at only $2.60 per month, it’s an affordable value with genuine returns. If there is anything you have been looking to learn on your Mac, quickly and deeply, this is the best way to do it.
With all of the book excitement this week, I forgot to mention this.
Basil is a new cooking app from my friend Kyle at TightWind. As the head cook at my household, I can’t even begin to explain that value of a good cooking app to me. I’ve been using it for a few weeks now in beta and I’m here to report that Basil is fantastic. Here is the basic idea:
Basil is for saving recipes from the web, organizing and cooking them. You can save recipes from the biggest sites with one tap, and your recipes are always organized, because Basil auto-tags them with the main ingredients and makes it quick to add the meal and cuisine type, too. That way, you don’t have to waste time categorizing your recipes. You can spend it doing what you really want to do—cook.
It is full of thoughtful little touches that make it extremely easy and fun to use. The text is big and readable from a distance. There is a built-in context aware timer feature (so if a step mentions that something takes a certain amount of time that phrase becomes a timer). You can easily sort and search through your saved recipes. And lots more.
It is clear that Kyle designed every single detail of this app for practical simplicity. It is quite clear that the goal was to make something that gave a home cook only what was needed, in the best way possible, and then it gets out of the way of the work.
I just wanted to take some time out on this beautiful Friday afternoon (at least it is here) to thank PopClip for sponsoring Minimal Mac’s RSS Feed this week. It’s the faster, easier way to work with text on your Mac. No need to wait for more cats, bring a bit of iOS goodness to your Mac today.
I was on a flight to Washington DC. This was the first leg. Minneapolis to Milwaukee. I was rushing out, last minute, to be with my father. A medical emergency. His heart had decided to fail. The doctors were unsure why. He had been admitted for further testing and, well, to keep him alive. Not my best day at all.
My row mate was an attractive young lady. Early thirties would be my best guess. Long dark thick hair pulled up and back to keep it out of the way, lest the strands have their way with the frame of her face. And that face! Sturdy. Midwestern. A lesson in beauty through strength. I could see the glimmer of stories unfold before she even began to tell them.
Small talk ensued. I told her about the reasons for for my trip to DC. She offered her heartfelt concern. I wished not to dwell and asked her about her trip — as much out of distraction as interest. I’m glad I did. She too was headed out to DC.
"What is bringing you out to DC?" I asked.
She explained that she was a Farmer. Had been all her life. Like her Father. She lived in a small town she was certain I had never heard of. In the northwest corner of Iowa. She worked a piece of her father’s five hundred acres. She belonged to an independent farmer advocacy group and was going out to DC as part of this to talk to legislators about various issues. This was her first time doing so. She was excited about the trip and experience.
I said, “Wow. That’s awesome. I never would have pegged you as a farmer but I have tremendous respect for it. What do you grow?”
She explained they had decided to start experimenting with organics on her portion. They had some preliminary success with a couple of crops and were expanding this year to more. She explained in laypersons terms the various challenges and why it is so different yet exciting. That her father had even started experimenting a bit with the animals he raised too.
"I don’t pretend to know much about farming but I have read a bit and know what tremendously hard work it is.", I stated. "I mean, especially as an independent family farmer. From Big Agra to diminishing returns you must be beset on all sides. What keeps you doing it?"
"You gotta love the land.", she said. Her whole tone of voice and body language changed when she said it. There was an unassuming yet palpable passion behind every word. "Not just the way it looks. The way it feels to be in it. To be a part of it. I wake up before sunrise every morning just itching to get up to my neck in it. The smell too. I smell like shit all day but that shit is part of the land and the land needs it as much as it needs me. I go to bed each night broken, exhausted, yet thankful. Not just thankful for the three showers I need to wash it off me but for the chance to do it all over again tomorrow. I love the land and my place within it. You have to."
"You have to love the land…"
This farmer realizes that the relationship with her work, like any good relationship is, and should be, reciprocal. That the work, the land, would not be as good without her commitment to it. And, in turn, it returns that commitment to her. And, because of her intimacy with it, it returns that much more.
This. This passion. This love for what we are born to do. Whatever that is for each of us. Like her, our days should be filled with it. Every moment. We should wake up each day inching to get up to our necks in it. To be covered with it. To be a part of it. To be intimate with it.
As a writer, I have to love the words. I desire to wake each day and get up to my neck in them. I want to be covered with their stench. I want to end each day broken and exhausted from them yet anxious in the anticipation of my return to them tomorrow. And, by loving the words, they return that commitment to me. I have to love the words…
How about you? How about your land? Do you love it? Do you need it as much as it needs you? Why? Why not?
Want to know what you should be doing with your life? Find the shit you want to be covered in. Start there.
When I set out to write my new book enough, I knew that it would be the start of further explorations into these ideas, not the final word. Towards that end, I have started a new site where I plan to continue the conversation of enough and related subjects. I even will have commenting enabled on select posts so that the conversation will continue both ways.
If you want to participate in thinking about the general theme I promote here, but at a broader level, I invite you to come along for the journey.
I’m pleased to announce the launch of my new book, enough. It is available starting today in Paperback, ePub, and Kindle format. (iBooks coming soon, Apple willing. ePub works great on iPad though)
This series of original essays help to answer the question, “What is enough?”.
Enough is a very personal metric. Like our center of gravity, each of us must find what is enough by swaying from less to more until a comfortable medium is found.
The goal, then, is not to find what is, or will be, enough forever. That is impossible. The goal is to discover the tools and strategies you need to find what is enough for you right now and provide the flexibility to adjust as the conditions change.
The essays in this book explore many of the methods, practice, and strategies needed to meet this goal and discover what enough means to you.
This book represents years worth of work exploring this topic and writing the book. For those not in the know, that the first draft of this book was written entirely on iOS. So, to some, that may serve as invitation alone to purchase a copy and check out just what is capable on a post-PC device.
But you should also get it if you are at all interested in the ideas that drive the daily creation of this site. The very idea of what enough means is explained, simply and in context, right on the about page. This book will help you take this idea, see it from the highest levels, then apply it to your daily life.
I know you will enjoy it and walk away the better for it.
I should also mention that, in celebration of the new release, the price of my first book, Keeping It Straight, has dropped for a limited time. If you have not read it yet I would be humbled if you bought both.
Finally, a heartfelt thanks to Randy, Penny, and Aaron at my publisher, First Today Press, for once again taking my words and turning into something worth reading. If you have a book in you I can think of no better group of people to help you get it out.
PopClip brings a bit of iOS-style text selection goodness to your Mac desktop. Just select some text and PopClip springs to life and offers context specific actions.
Of course, there is copy and paste but… If you select text containing a URL, email address or file path, PopClip gives the option to open it. Or, search Google with your selection as the query. Or, Access dictionary definitions and spelling corrections. It’s very smart.
Plus, there is a free trial to download at the product site so give it a spin to see if it fits your fancy. The full app is only $4.99 in the app store.
“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying ‘no’ to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying ‘no’ to 1000 things.”—
I’d like to thank CardFlick for sponsoring this week’s RSS feed. CardFlick is an easy and elegant way to create and share custom virtual business cards on your iPhone. They make the whole business fun. Get the app for free today and start flicking.
Federico Viticci of MacStories writes a far better written review of Byword for iOS then I ever could. I use Byword for Mac daily and love it. The iOS version looks good and has some interesting UI choices and Markdown friendly features. That said, I’m pretty married to my iOS minimal/text/writing/dropbox/sync/etc. app of choice (I wrote my book with it after all) and don’t see myself switching anytime soon.
You do not at all have to buy an expensive, unlocked, newest release iPhone by any means. Any unlocked phone these days can do most of what you want, and even if you use your carrier-locked phone for a 2-week trip, just turn off all cellular data and use WiFi where available. Heck, an iPod Touch will do everything I mentioned, minus the SIM card/3G business.
Travis has been backpacking through Southeast Asia with little more than an iPhone 4S and a bluetooth keyboard for the last two months. Further proof that the iPhone is as much a personal computer as any other. Make sure to take a read of how he is blogging while on this journey too. Great, great, stuff.
You have everything you need, right now, today, to do the work. So, work with what you have.
I’m a writer. I have everything I need, right now, to write. Take away my computer? I’ll still write. I’ll use pen and paper. Take away my pen and paper, and I’ll use my fingernail to scrawl it into the soft bark of the nearest tree.
Extreme? Perhaps. But I can tell you for certain that, when it is time to write, nothing will stop me from doing so.
What about you?
Are you an accountant? Do you work with spreadsheets? If your spreadsheet was taken away, would you find a ledger book? Would you build an abacus? Or would you stop in your tracks and wait for Excel or some other invention while others got busy on the work using what they had?
Are you a graphic designer? So were the painters who told the story of the afterlife in the pyramids. So were the scribes that did illuminated bibles in the Middle Ages. So were the hippies who posted concert flyers in the Sixties. Will you wait for InDesign?
They all had everything they needed. Right there. Then.
Nothing is stopping you from doing the work. You have everything you need. Right now. Today. You always have.
Much has been made lately of whether or not the iPad is a PC or not and should be counted as such. To me, the answer is obvious (of course it is). And, if the iPad can be counted among that number, then the iPhone surely should be a worthy and accepted candidate as well.
In my recent emergency trip this past week (brief update: My Dad is not out of the woods but the path ahead is a clear one), my iPhone 4 became my most used and primary computer for many reasons. This despite the fact I had both my iPad and MacBook Air with me and close at hand. It was the one best fitted to almost every situation I found myself in. Unobtrusive, agile, and the one with a constant and reliable internet connection.
Started a few draft posts in PlainText (where I’m writing this now). Completed one and published it here. In fact, I write most things less than 1000 words these days on my iPhone, in landscape, using my thumbs and the onscreen keyboard. I’m pretty sure I’ll be hospitalized for this eventually. The only question being, “Which ward?”
Used FaceTime to talk to and see my wife and little girl (whom I missed greatly).
Updated, communicated, and otherwise stayed in touch via phone, email, and Twitter.
This is all just to say that of all of the computers at my disposal, the iPhone was the most personal and therefore the one most often used.
I’ve written about CardFlick several times before here. It is a beautiful and simple way to create and share your contact information with other iPhone users. It’s easy, fun, and the perfect app to have at any event (I’m looking at you SXSW attendee!).
But today, I want to focus on a new feature of this already awesome service — Instacards. Now, you can create classy custom cards using your own photos colors. As an example, here is mine:
Fantastic, huh? Easy to create and I can send my card to other CardFlick clients with just a quick, um… Flick!
Seriously, folks, check it out. You have nothing to lose because the app is free.
… to me, at least, than the iPad 3. As I write this, I am in Washington D.C. I flew out on the first flight out of MSP on Monday after receiving a call from my Dad that he was being admitted into the hospital due to congestive heart failure.
Wanna know something interesting? Our heart never really operates at 100% efficiency. That would be too much. Normal range is just enough at 60%. His is only doing about 10% and they are not quite sure why yet.
They did what they could for him at the first hospital but we have now been transferred to another for even more testing to determine the root cause and, hopefully, a treatment plan.
He was supposed to have a Cardiac MRI today using the most advanced model in the country at the National Institutes of Health this morning. But, the machine broke down yesterday and will take three months to repair. Such is technology. So he got a really good EKG instead. It will have to be enough.
iPads are great. Better screens are better. Apple keeps trying to fix the broken TV. Yet I would give the world for a working MRI across the street right now.
We all have our dreams I guess and I thank Apple for fulfilling many of them. But they can’t fulfill them all.
Now you know why you may not see much here for a while.
I quietly updated the sponsorship page over the weekend with new slots through the end of March. Well, despite my making no announcement of it at all two of the four spots managed to sell before the weekend was through. So, I’ve added some additional slots into April to make up for this fact.
If you have an app or product you wish to have me feature for Minimal Mac’s smart, good looking, and world changing readers, sponsorship is a great way to do it. Anyone who has sponsored in the past (and there have been many repeat sponsors) can tell you it is a really great deal.
That said, unlike some other sites, I’m very picky and selective about who I allow to sponsor Minimal Mac. I turn away as many as I accept. Part of the promise I have made to my readers is that I will not put anything in front of them that I don’t feel is worth their time, attention, or is not in line with the values I promote here. No matter the price.
Here are some random things I have failed to mention here with my hectic work, writing, and vacation schedule over the past few weeks. This is especially true of highlighting the cool things people I care about and believe in supporting are doing.
I list these in no particular order other than my friends getting first mention:
The 512 Podcast — 512 Pixels — My buddy and BBQ lunch date Stephen Hackett has a great new Mac-centric tech podcast on the 70 Decibels Network. Great food for a healthy Mac diet. He also has launched a membership option as is a writer well worth supporting.
Membership | 52 Tiger — Speaking of worth supporting, my buddy Dave Caolo also recently launched a membership option and a member’s only podcast. Join, and you will get another enjoyable few minutes of listening pleasure added to your day.
Enough – The Book — My book will be out soon (I hope). No official date yet but you can read three essays from it right now on the book’s website.
ChronoSlider — Interesting little menubar tool to manage timers and alarms. Designed to be super simple and functional. I know there are many out there in need of such a tool.
MacTech Event Locations | MacTech — I have also mentioned previously that I am one of the sessions chairs for the upcoming MacTech Bootcamp in Minneapolis. MacTech Boot Camp is specifically designed for those techs and consultants supporting home users, small office/home office, and small-to-medium sized businesses. That said, MacTech has a number of events happening all year all around the country. Use this link to get a special deal on registration.
Enough – The Book — My new book Enough will be available soon (no release date yet but I’ll know in a few days). As that occurs, I will begin to further explore the themes, ideas, and process of writing and publishing the book at the book website. In fact, I posted the cover design on the site today. More will be coming in the next couple of weeks.
Given these assumptions, the day when the tablet market (by units) will exceed that of traditional PCs will come sometime in the fall of 2013.
Here is Microsoft’s other big miss by not having Office for iOS or Android. Office is currently (i.e. please don’t cite rumors in your disagreement) only available for a rapidly declining platform of devices — namely, the PC. Tablet (i.e. iPad) sales are on the rise and will soon dwarf that of the PC, which is declining.
OneShar.es lets you share confidential text. Submit your top secret info via the website, iOS or Android app and you’ll receive a URL to share. Once someone accesses the URL, your message is displayed once then immediately deleted from OneShar.es servers.
Needless to say, your text is encrypted before sending to OneShar.es, and stored in encrypted form.
“Dismissing an idea is so easy because it doesn’t involve any work. You can scoff at it. You can ignore it. You can puff some smoke at it. That’s easy. The hard thing to do is protect it, think about it, let it marinate, explore it, riff on it, and try it. The right idea could start out life as the wrong idea.”—