Jesus follower, husband, dad, amateur barista, productivity-obsessed, elect. noise maker, iOS, NewSpring visual director.
Recently I purchased the coolest of weather applications for my iPhone, Haze. It is cool, minimal, has great type, great vibe. It has a great icon, and everything I normally want in an app. Only problem, for a weather app it doesn't do a great job of actually helping me anticipate the weather.
Sure, I can read the temperature, see what the temp will be the next few days. I get a general idea of what the rain may do soon. But in the end I still end up getting rained on in the Jeep with the doors off. No good.
This week I was introduced to Yahoo's new weather app. It isn't 100% ugly, the type is nice. The icon is a bit garish (ie. purple). But you know what, the data it gives me works. I have easy access to everything I need. The icons make sense, and I didn't have to learn a new language to interpret them.
I can also pull up a radar map, which is ultimately what is needed to avoid getting drenched again.
I'm reminded of the old adage that "form follows function," and no matter how much I like the design the design must first execute the task at hand then start to look good. If the style gets in the way of the purpose you've already lost.
I deleted Haze.
Over the years I drift back and forth between a fully stuffed, full Mac menubar and a sparse, empty one. Currently, I have a nice group of applications that make life a little easier, make work a little quicker. I give you my menubar application rundown.
First up is Divvy, a handy little application that allows you to quickly resize windows exactly fit against each other. Doesn't seem like a huge deal, but I recommend the demo. If you love it, you'll love it. If you don't get it, it's not for you.
Second is TouchOSC bridge, a geeky little application that interacts with TouchOSC app on my iPad / iPhone. I'm just starting to play with it, and it allows the iPad to act as a customized control surface.
Third, Dropbox. If you've never heard of it I'd be surprised.
Fantastical is the next application in line. Though I'm a big iCal fan, that
control+opt+SPACE shortcut is killer for quickly displaying your calendar and adding an appointment.
Next up is Radium, a web radio application that sits neatly in the menubar and streams stations.
Alfred is an application, file, script, everything-else launcher that is invoked with
opt+SPACE and allows you to type in the application you'd like to launch. It has all sorts of other handy tricks (like math equations, direct access to contacts via Address book, system commands). Found this article as well to help you get started.
CloudApp, lets you drag a file (<25MB) and upload it, then copies the link to your clipboard. I find it useful for sending files in emails so I don't weigh the email down. Likewise, you can toss a file there, then distribute it via IM or Twitter, and I even upload all the images for avclub.us to CloudApp.
LogMeIn, an oldie but goodie, is still the most reliable remote access application I have found. I use it from iOS to remote in to my machine from afar.
Bluetooth, Messages, Wifi… everything else is stock OS X.
Yes, that can be my next tweet is certainly telling of my trends and things I tweet. The site takes your history of twitter and speculates with alarming accuracy what your next tweet could be.
If I could get this site to work on autopilot I could take a twitter break and you'd be none the wiser.
Some recent ones for me:
To hear! Google to be worth the wait. Robosapien. Tracking sets by night, just did use your backyard?
About 1.5 hours. Split it can. Ghengis Grill. Mmmmmmmmm. CC: I think I remind you successfully.
Consider these things matter. I have faith in Anderson I'd say Thank You with iPad and Let Em Know Stan.
We have an Evernote skill 101. Send email I just to a dime has a good sub.
avclub.us has officially and fully moved to a scriptogr.am / Dropbox / Markdown blog. Yeah! What does that mean? For starters, I am no longer paying for web hosting. I haven't needed web hosting for some time, so it's nice to not rely on it any more.
Some other benefits:
Also, as a challenge to keep my blog cost-effective but retain as much freedom over my content as I can, I am uploading photos to Cloud App and generating direct links for them right from my iOS devices. This way the images are hosted there and not consuming my Dropbox space. Smart, huh? If I really wanted to get fancy I'd have ifttt.com save all those Cloud App uploads to my Evernote. Maybe that's a project for another weekend.
This article walks you through some of the benefits of a Scriptogr.am and Dropbox hosted blog, and it includes some of the technical answers you'll need to route your domain name.
The only downsides I've encountered are the slight challenge with uploading photos, the inherent limitations in a static page (no crazy Wordpress plugins, etc., which I've grown less fond of over the years) and the reliance on the scriptogr.am site to publish the blog. You have to click the "Synchronize" button from the site to publish your new post. I can write it as a text file into Dropbox by whatever means, but I'm required to publish the post through their site. But that's a small price to pay for the benefits. Yeah blogging!
I discovered this tip the other day in After Effects CS6. If you have a sub comp, and you are working in the comp below the main comp (one that is nested into another comp) there is a clickable hierarchy just above the video window that allows you to quickly click from one sub comp to the next.
In the past, you could always go from the highest sub comp down to a lower one, but I'd never noticed until now that you could also go back the other direction. Granted, it could have been there all along, but I just now discovered it!
This is handy if you are working with nested comps and find yourself toggling back and forth.
Looking at the scope of Google Reader replacements it looks like Feedly is going to be a well-equipped contender. It has "free" going for it. And the iOS apps are top-notch. Clean, responsive, and recently updated.
I like the vector art and how colorful the app is, and it doesn't feel cluttered. It kind of reminds me of Flipbook.
Feedly supports the services that I use (Twitter and Pocket), but I don't see a "clip to Evernote" option. You could use the send URL to Evernote if necessary. Not a major omission for anyone unless you relied on that before.
It is currently connected to Feedly's own RSS service (as well as Google Reader). All things considered, it would be worth a try.
Here is the current state of my iPhone's home screen. The front page is prime real estate and nothing is there without reason.
About 30% of my apps have changed over the past few months so we'll hit the highlights.
Mailbox is the first major addition. Released a month or two ago, this alternate email client has made a huge splash across the web. It has a unique workflow, and I've come to appreciate its focus on quickly working through lots of email.
I have tried other alternate clients in the past and generally return to iOS' default client. This is the first one that has lulled me away.
If you are interested I encourage you to read Zack Massey's comprehensive review.
Calvetica and Fantastical Two calendar apps, each with its own strengths. I can't rule either one out, though I prefer Fantastical and use it 95% of the time. The only thing it is missing is a good way to visualize the spaces between meetings, which Calvetica excels in.
Haze is a minimalist hipster app that use subtle cues to convey the weather. I paid the $0.99 for it, and though it does the same thing as the default weather app it's pretty.
Note (by Squarespace) is a great little app that enables you to quickly and cleanly add a note to Evernote. Launch the app, type the note, and swipe upward to send a note directly to a prescribed notebook (I choose Inbox).
Hello by Evernote is a recent Evernote application that helps you enter people's contact information. You can snap a photo, take a geotag of where you met them, and it will even pull from your calendar the event you are at, helping jog your memory later. Bonus: it will scan business cards and pull text from them.
This is really handy if you frequently meet new people. I frequently meet new people.
[ monitor ] folder
All social media / feed apps find their way into this folder. With this one minor change in my information workflow I keep myself from wasting time unless it is intentional. Funny, now that it requires two clicks to enter Instagram it reduces the number of times I click it.
Note that I have Pulse in there as well serving as a backup to Google Reader, just in case...
As a huge Rdio user and a huge fan of good music here are the artists currently getting my attention.
Thom Yorke of Radiohead fame had a new album out under the band Atoms For Peace. It's bubbling with tightly sequenced electronics and intricate parts... And stellar production value. Recommended for Radiohead fans who like to see the evolution.
I have had a love / respect / "I can't handle that" relationship with Squarepusher's music over the years but this 3 song EP has me rethinking my defining him as "fairly inaccessible." On Enstrobia's first 2 tracks you are drawn in, and the break of the snares on track 1 beginning at 2:26 - priceless. Recommend for fans of electronic with drive and slick-but-gritty tones.
I was first introduced to Yes' Fragile on vinyl in the 90s as a kid, and I still have that vinyl copy. It's so, so good. The epitome of progressive rock. At least listen to Roundabout in its entirety and appreciate your roots.