I’ve been using OS X Lion for about a month now.
I took the plunge when iOS 5 and OS X 10.7.2 came out.
I like it.
If you’re interested in knowing why, read on.
Continue Reading →
My fabulous task management workflow is dead in the water.
Which is why I haven’t updated to Lion and will not do so until it can’t be avoided.
My fabulously simple and smart task management workflow using Mail.app is now even smarter and fabulouser thanks to the added elegance and power of Alarms, a great utility which I encourage you to check out.
Now if only Mr. Alarms could write an iPhone/iPad app that allowed me to see my Apple Mail/iCal alarms on the go, I would be eternally grateful (and would gladly pay for the privilege).Tweet
Those damn Muses. First, they got me to create a site for my music, which was scattered all over the Web.
This time, they got it into their pretty little heads that I should create an iPhone-optimized version (because my particular muse, wanted “Vincent in my Pocket” she said, and she happens to own an iPhone).
Muses tend to be pretty insistent and convincing creatures, so I thought “what the hell”, there’s no harm in looking into the matter, right?
iWebKit for instance will let you get an iPhone-optimized website off the ground pretty quickly. I tried it, and it worked as advertised.
But I’m a perfectionist (or an idiot if you prefer), and I knew that one could code iPhone Web Apps (as opposed web-sites), that behave a lot like native iPhone apps.
jQTouch is a prime contender in this space. And that’s what I went with.
I’m only a Sunday programmer, but again, I had something basic working fairly quickly. Yet as any programmer knows, the devil is in the details.
Initially, I thought I’d let the user click on a song, which would launch the standard iPhone media-player (this worked in iWebKit). I quickly discovered that for whatever reason, jQTouch didn’t allow that.
I therefore delved into the new HTML5 audio spec, and again, had something basic working in no time. But when I started organizing songs into albums, the behavior of the audio was erratic and buggy. It would sometimes cut off when I changed screens, sometimes not. I spent hours and days on this bug, in total OCD mode. I tried several GitHub forks of jQTouch, to no avail, and in utter frustration and despair, just gave up on the whole thing.
The muses were disappointed, but they were also relieved, after hearing me bitch the whole time.
Unfortunately, the damn thing was still simmering in the back of my mind, and one night, I actually dreamt of a solution to my bug. It turned out it didn’t work, but as I was fucking with the code trying to do something totally unrelated, the audio bug VANISHED. I quickly understood why, and recognized that I had actually been close to fixing it dozens of times.
Victory was at hand.
I had a nice beta, except for one, last, pesky detail.
When you click on an item in jQTouch, you get a nice, smooth, sliding animation into the next screen, just like in native apps. But after entering more songs into the beta, I soon became obsessed with an annoying jump to the top of the current screen before sliding into the next one.
Here again, I spent a crazy amount of time trying to fix it, which I finally did, by borrowing bits of code from different development versions of jQTouch. (It is ironic that while the sliding animation is a big jQTouch selling point, none of the versions actually get it quite right. For more details, look here).
The end-result is something that feels solid when you save a Web Clip to your iPhone home screen, and a little flakier but pretty damn stable if you just run it in Safari.
You can try it here.
If you don’t have an iPhone handy, it works well in Safari for Mac. For some reason, the jQTouch sliding behavior doesn’t work in Chrome (Mac), even though it uses the same browser engine as Safari. It won’t work in Firefox, because it only supports the .ogg audio format in its implementation of HTML5 audio. I don’t know and don’t care if it works with any version of Internet Explorer. It might even work on some Android phones. No promises, but feel free to let me know.Tweet
There are a gazillion articles out there in the vaporworld about taming your email inbox, reaching “inbox zero”, and nearly as many anal-retentive task-management strategies, à la GTD, to achieve this holy grail of neat-freakness (or is it freak-neatness?).
Never mind that these strategies sold as universal remedies against chaos are heavily culturally biased, as some cultures are actually capable of managing a little chaos, and sometimes even welcome it.
No, the point I want to make, as a follow-up to my recent post on simple task management with Mail.app, is that there is absolutely, positively, no need whatsoever to tame your inbox, achieve inbox zero, apply complex GTD strategies to systematically handle and dispatch incoming emails according to a strict set of rules, or any other such nonsense.
Because really, folders are just so yesterday, and storage space is nearly infinite.
So who cares if your inbox isn’t empty?! The only thing that matters, is being able to find stuff when you need it.
So let me tell you about my Inbox. As I write this, it contains 30,602 messages. That’s right. Thirty thousand six hundred and two messages.
But you know what? I couldn’t care less, because I never actually set foot in my inbox!
I use Smart Folders in Mail.app, and Labels in Gmail. I can therefore easily see all e-mails from client X by going into the corresponding Smart Folder in Mail.app or label in Gmail.
But I only rarely do that.
In Mail.app, I’ve set up the follwing Smart Mailboxes:
- New Mail only shows me unread e-mails
- Today shows me all incoming and outgoing e-mails of the day
- Yesterday shows me all incoming and outgoing e-mails of the previous day
For everything else, I simply use search. Because searching in the actual content (and attachments!) of over thirty thousand emails in Mail.app is instantaneous.
I can find a quote I sent to a client 5 years ago in less time that it takes to read this sentence or enunciate Gee Tee Dee.
So even though I usually exchange at least 50 emails a day, most of the time, I just need to handle this frightening amount of chaos:
A few technical, behind the scenes tidbits are available after the break.Tweet
I have to juggle dozens of short-term to-do items at any given time, so I need a process that is fast and practical, so that things don’t fall through the cracks. I stopped relying on my memory a long time ago.
Fast and practical in this case means simple. I like simple.
So my process relies on a single application : Apple’s Mail.app.
It goes like this :
- I receive an email, say like this one, that contains an action item
- I highlight the relevant action item in the message body
- I right click and select New Todo (Leopard users, click on the ToDo button in the toolbar)
- I tweak the Todo header text (I prefix my todo’s with little codes, as in T: for Translation) and add an alarm if necessary (red circly-arrowy thingy)
Thats it. It takes a couple of seconds to create a todo.
Now, to make this even more practical required two extra (one-time) steps:
- I created smart mailbox in Mail that displays all of my incomplete Todos.
- I created a separate mail-viewer window (File > New Viewer Window). I selected my smart mailbox, then hid the sidebar (View > Hide Mailboxes) and hid the toolbar (View > Hide Toolbar). The result is a second Mail window that is always open and only shows my ToDos.
From this window:
- I can click on the yellow check boxes to mark an item as done.
- I can click on the little grey arrow to open the original email message, reply to the message and attach my deliverables to the reply.
I bought the new iPhone 3G S today. On launch day. I know…
I skipped the iPhone 3G, so the feature-gap with my G1 iPhone made the upgrade worth it. The Geekette, bless her geeky soul, encouraged me to go for it (she should be getting the old iPhone, which is better than her old Nokia, but I know that was only a secondary consideration…).
Nevertheless, I’ll share a few impressions in case you’re curious (and even if you’re not):
- The 3G S is very noticeably a lot much faster, in every respect. The UI is like liquid butter (as opposed to just plain butter).
- The Maps + Compass combo is incredible (or will be on the rare occasions that I’m somewhere that I don’t know like the back of my hand). The way the pins on the Map move in 3D space while the map rotates to show your direction is worth it in itself, though.
- The touch to focus feature of the camera makes a world of difference. And I’m sure I can find a use for video recording (and the Video Stabilization feature in iMovie ’09).
- I called the person with the weirdest last name I know (mine) using the (French version of) Voice control. Worked like a charm.
- Even though MMS and Tethering are both available on launch in France, I haven’t tried either yet. Might be useful in a pinch (<— iPhone humor).
Finally, I thought I would indulge in a frivolous little experiment:
“Still life with cashews and guitar pick and iPhone 3G S” shot with original iPhone
“Still life with cashews and guitar pick and original iPhone” shot with iPhone 3G S
Confusing, isn’t it?Tweet
I installed iPhone OS 3.0 a little ahead of schedule (ahem) on my 1st generation iPhone 2G.
You see, the iPhone application launchpad was designed before the iPhone SDK, the App Store, and 50,000 apps hit the cloud. While it’s fun to flick the screens left and right, it’s a royal pain in the ass to rearrange your app icons in a meaningful way, if like me, you have 7 or 8 screens worth of apps (x 16 apps per page…)
When Apple previewed iPhone 3.0 a few months ago, I was hoping for radical change in this regard, and the Spotlight Search feature seemed like a lame response.
I was wrong.
After playing with iPhone OS 3.0 for a short while, I think I can safely say that I couldn’t care less about my giant messy heap of half-sorted apps anymore. It takes fewer taps to swipe left from the main home screen to reveal the search keyboard, type a couple of letters, and tap the app, email, calendar event, song or contact of interest, than to flick through the Home pages.
And that means I’m a happier iPhone geek.
Update: I noticed that when you’re on the main home screen, you can press on the physical Home button to go to the Spotlight Search screen, and back.Tweet
I’m not at liberty to tell you what I was doing in Cupertino, California all last week.
Let’s just say that while a certain company was unveiling its new offerings in the opening Keynote to an annual World Wide Developer’s Conference, I was driving back to San Francisco Airport, to fly home to Paris.
But caving in to my geeky vanity, I’ve posted a little picture… After the jump.Tweet
Many years ago, while daydreaming, which I do a lot, I was thinking about how to solve a very real and big problem with electric cars (besides autonomy). They are so silent, that pedestrians, cyclists and other vehicles don’t hear them coming.
And so I thought to myself that electric cars should emit noise of some kind, but that it should be as pleasant as possible. Like, say, music.
I further imagined that there should be some rules (automatically picked-up over the airwaves by the vehicles), so that the electric cars would always be playing in the same key (maybe a minor key to commemorate a sad occasion, a bright major key to celebrate something positive, etc., or different keys according to the weather, the time of day, the density of traffic, the unemployment rate, whatever…)
It wouldn’t matter what the rhythmic structure might be, or the timbre or character of the sound of each electric vehicle. The more varied, the better, so that despite the single key, there would be all kinds of interesting polyrhythms and orchestrations going on.
On occasion, I’ve actually been stupid enough to mention this idea to people. They usually stared back at me with a mixture of fear and pity.
Maybe they—and you—will think I’m slightly less batty after listening to In Bb 2.0.
In Bb 2.0 is a collaborative music and spoken word project conceived by Darren Solomon.
Different individuals record videos of themselves playing different instruments and/or devices in B flat. The videos are displayed in a mosaic and you can start/stop each video individually at any time.
Play with the page for a couple of minutes. The result may surprise you. It is remarkably pleasing to the ear.
It didn’t surprise me. Because it is exactly what I imagined for my crazy musical electric car idea…Tweet