Aaron Koblin - TED



Aaron Koblin is one of the more interesting artists working in software today. He sees the creative form of the 21st Century to be that of interface...

Comments

Software as the key artform of the 21st Century

march2001_sm_lo

Isn’t it time we stopped talking about media and returned to the term artform?

A medium is ultimately physical in our understanding of it, no matter how enhanced or extended it may be.

For me, one of the main achievements of the digital revolution is to have separated creative content from media. Now, no longer bound by the existing hardware models with all their limitations, we are free to explore our various artforms via software, a far more natural environment for creative material.

Technology has always impacted upon cultural development, in particular the arts. All you have to do is look at the Russian avant garde and the impact of the machine on art, or in the explosion of media in particular, from radio on up throughout the 20th century.

The rising tide of digital technology as the end of the 20th century which has matured at the start of this century, given the wide dispersal of computers and the emergence of broadband globally, gave birth to a new internet culture which has impacted hugely on existing media.

We’ve been distracted by how digital technology mimics a medium really well, how it extends them and combines them with other technologies. Those three steps are present in each of the creative fields, most clearly in music. There it took on the genre of music completely, extended the creative options for musicians and spearheaded the new distribution channels for music. These cultural forces, experienced as rapid changes to humanity, are almost alive in how unstoppable and progressive they are.

Not all existing media fare well out of this, television as a medium was in trouble long before digital culture emerged. The structure of television, top down, one to many, rigid control of content, only a few outlets per nation, had been incredibly limiting over the years, and it had ended up myopically examining itself as the last century closed with top ten shows focussed on television’s own inventory. If music had faced similar limitations it would have withered and died.

The net disbands completely these kinds of structure, they have no place there. The recent economic downturn and the shift away from advertising saw those old models crumble alarmingly quickly, it became clear that the boom and advertising were all that was holding up the existing ways of doing business.

This dispersal of content creation opens up the very basics of each artform for questioning. As a creator of course, It matters not whether it’s individuals or groups of individuals, active independent content producers or production companies, all bets are off. And ultimately one major question we all face is that of production finance. Who’ll finance these?

Our focus now, both on creative work and it’s dissemination should be on exploring developing software with a view to creating work and it’s expression and communication. The creators of software whether it’s new services online or applications, are the structuring limitation or future liberators, the new artists in our mix. If Film was the artform of the 20th century. Software is the key artform of the 21st.

--
Earlier thoughts on software here and here.
Comments (1)

File Naming & the dumbest thing ever

John Foster in a recent episode of MacBreak Tech while in the middle of a perfectly enjoyable discussion on file naming... said the one thing you should never do is use the date in a name, that it was ‘the dumbest thing ever’.

Now, I would have a lot of crossover interests with him, having an opinion on file-naming conventions, no matter how freakin’ sad, being one. And you know, I have being doing the dumbest thing ever for... like the longest time.

Well, maybe fifteen years or so.

I have a filenaming convention which I’ve applied rigorously since deciding I needed to do it. It works for me. And I think the key to adding any element into a filename convention is to be utterly consistent. The benefits only become clear years on.

My needs in file naming are two-fold. You should be able to instantly see what a file is about just from the name and you should be able to find it years later with no real hassle. So I take the following approach:

1. I give every project a three letter acronym, whatever is intuitive is usually what I use, I don’t over-debate it.
32A (our feature film 32A)
EDI ( a script called Easy Does It we’re developing)
JPC (Janey Pictures Company, business stuff)
etc..
2. I then include the date, in reverse order and always YY.MM.DD
3. Then who it’s for, IFB, RTE, Media, Bank, Marian etc.
4. Then a narrative on what it is.

So I get files called:

32A 08.07.20 IFI my notes on press release

I can instantly see what project it relates to, when I wrote it, who it was for and what it’s about.

The joy of doing the date in the name only becomes clear when you sort by name. You instantly sort by name and date simultaneously. Projects are sorted into lists which are further sorted by date.

The story of a project becomes very clear as you peruse directory listings.

32A 07.05.02 GFF application for festival
32A 07.05.28 GFF additional notes on format and dolby
32A 07.06.04 GFF acceptance letter
32A 07.06.06 Media press release on premiere
32A 07.07.12 GFF Hotel booking form
32A 07.07.19 GFF thanks again for all

It’s pretty clear what was going on and what the sequence of communication was. The story is clear, that’s one thing I value. And no other project files are in there, if I didn’t have a date in the name, and I sorted by date, you’d see a jumble of different project files mixed together.

This particularly applies if you have an ongoing flat file approach, I have a folder on my desktop called ‘Inbox’, essentially my current working folder.

You have the benefit of the filename doing some of the work folders do, essentially I’ve built in a project folder sorted by date right into the name. I only Archive files into a hierarchy of folders every couple of months or so, and this keeps things organised even with that.

But it also helps in using Spotlight. You can also search quickly in spotlight for ‘32A 07.06“ and get just the files for that project and that exact month. I realise you can construct a spotlight query adding in a date but this is far quicker and much more intuitive.

Other benefits.

- Even after I do sort into a directory hierarchy, a file can leave it’s folder and still have the meaning in the file name.

- For sharing the file, the date of creation is embedded in the file name and if you email to other people, it doesn’t matter about when it’s saved on their system or how correctly set up their system is.

- I don’t do versioning that often, but if I do I build into the narrative, commencing with the word ‘Rev’ and a number: Rev01, Rev02 etc.


Related Tags:
Comments (2)

Whatever happened to Computer Art?

I was asked a while back to give a talk on creative applications on the Mac and it set me off thinking about the early days when I first got into this.

I have to say, it was much to the bafflement of loved ones and friends at the time, about 20 years ago. It’s an interest which has continued to this day, my wife says she has no equivalent to it. I counter, rather lamely, pointing out her yoga and interest in alternative healthcare, but it doesn’t really wash.

Back in the day, 1988 to be a bit more precise, I spent a lot of time debating just exactly what Computer Art might be. I was working in the visual arts, primarly with young and emerging contemporary artists. I was intrigued by the new technology which was arriving. I bought a Commodore Amiga which was definitely the artists platform, launched by Andy Warhol painting Debbie Harry.

[youtube 3oqUd8utr14]

Computer Art is a topic that has by and large disappeared from the landscape. The Wikipedia article on it reads like a genre from the fifties, no sense of any current activity at all.

Artists, like everyone else, use a lot of technology these days, but no one particularly calls it Computer Art any more. They’re either film makers or graphic designers or just plain old artists. How it’s made is neither here nor there.

Of course, most clearly with Photoshop and 3D modellers, it’s easy to see how necessary a computer and set of software was to create the work, but that’s now realised as not all that important really. Photoshop is just a set of digital tools after all, generally used to create images which don’t look processed in any way. And while these digitally created images may form a subset of image making, it’s not in any form, a separate medium.

And that was what people were discussing back in the day, the emergence of a new medium.

For me, coding was always key to that. There were people, like William Latham, who worked within IBM in the UK, used coding in particular to generate work but they didn’t mesh with the art world all that well, the work didn’t speak to people, either the artistic community or the general public, in a way they could relate to, it’s protean and exploratory by it’s very nature.

What was central to them was that the work did completely come from the code. And I think coding is the key to the future of this, but just perhaps we shouldn’t put the limits of the word ‘art’ on it.

Recently I had a small sense of something emerging from quite an unexpected source.

[youtube PCg1SpEan5k]

I, like everyone else, use Google Earth more and more. And yes it’s very useful, any trip or hotel choice is checked out there first and location based services will be more and more prevalent. But that’s not why I look there sometimes.

There’s something in the experience of Google Earth, I have a true sense of wonder there. This experience, unimaginable a century ago, unimaginable in fact to my own Dad who died too young. There’s a flicker in the back of my head more akin to encountering a work which speaks to me, a sense of wonder. Is this is landscape re-invented, is this is a new sublime?

What if software finally emerged as a new creative genre? What if it became, much as film defined the 20th century, the key defining medium of the 21st?

Related Tags:
Comments (2)

Four Trillion Emails...

pasted-graphic-1.tiff

Well... so much for Inbox Zero. Once I finish clearing these 4 trillion out of my Inbox... give or take a few hundred billion... I'll get right back to you.


Related Tags:
Comments

Getting Things Done using TaskPaper

I’ve been been a keen convert to GTD since reading the book by David Allen about two years ago. Since then I’ve been a daily visitor to 43Folders and found a lot there to help guide me, there’s a very well informed community of productivity heads all of whom seemed to be working their way though similar issues.

In GTD, there were things I got very quickly - the overall process, ubiquitous capture and adopting a structure to an file system that really matched what I had to do. And of course, Allen’s emphasis on the right tools. This alone is why all the geeks out there love GTD.

Central to my practice was a set of digital tools, KinklessGTD, a bunch of add-ons to Mail, and iCal. When OmniFocus entered beta, I signed up in a hearbeat. And let me tell you, I love it, it’s satisfying and rich, a really flexible piece of software which readily adapted to the complexities of producing a feature film. Now, the film is complete, bar tidying up details, and as the workload grew simpler, I found that my productivity lessened. Sure I was tired, just burned out... but hey, I still was at my desk, still running the system, but I found myself exploring dependencies and time allowances, finessing the structure of my work... rather than actually doing anything...

I’ve had an eye on other GTD apps and downloaded a bunch over the years, usually dismissing them as requiring a bit too much adaptation to their system. I already knew a system, a really good one in OmniFocus, and I’d no interest in exploring another. But still, recently, I’ve come to accept that something has to change.

I returned to an old paper system I’ve used prior to having software for this purpose, post-its with single tasks obscuring my work window, do a task, clear some window space. Gets me up from my desk and there was some simple pleasure in taking up a piece of paper and trashing it. There was something about having your work up on a large public window that put a bit of pressure on me. But still it was hardly portable and obviously very limited.

pasted-graphic.tiff


Enter TaskPaper from Hog Bay Software.

Hog Bay have always produced quality software, their Mori was one of the better outliner/note taking software offerings prior to them selling it on. Back in the day, if you visited the Hog Bay site, it was refreshing to read on the Mori page, frank recommendations of DevonThink and OmniOutliner, two competing products. And today if you visit the TaskPaper section, you’ll read an endorsement of OmniFocus. All very evolved indeed, it speaks well of them, I wish other software producers were as generous. They also produce WriteRoom, which I own and love too. The original of the full-screen wordprocessors, also worth checking out.

To launch TaskPaper is to get it.

Its model is of a blank piece of paper, using it is like grabbing a pen and quickly drafting a list of stuff to be done. As a result it feels really fresh. Punch in your Projects and Tasks, assign Contexts/Tags on the fly, sort your lists by project or by context/tag. That’s it. No Futzing. My productivity soared.

For all its simplicity it has a lot of admirable qualities, not least of which is that the file is plain text, you can load it up into other software should you need to. TaskPaper’s internal workings enables it to sort it and format it.

It’s got tabs which I use for handy clicking to commonly used views. Like everything in TaskPaper, it’s simple to do and simple to remove, so you feel flexible and responsive, you don’t think too much about it, you just do it.

Again a sign of flexibility, It permits on the fly addition of multiple contexts. For me contexts, as defined in GTD, always were tags, as usually understood. Beyond the usual applications for context, I use them to add complexity, when needed, to the straightforward TaskPaper approach.

In OmniFocus I used to have a complex structure of projects and sub-projects, nested several layers deep in some instances. TaskPaper could be used to create subprojects in the use of names only like ‘Film-distribution’, ‘Film-marketing’ and so on. But I’ve not done that. It felt wrong, like the path I’d taken in OmniFocus that ended up with a huge matrix of projects which frankly triggered my procrastinating sorry-ass self to emerge. So now, if I have to designate a series of tasks to relate to a sub-project, I simply tag it with ‘design’ or ‘marketing’ and all the tasks with that tag appear in their own list. If I need that.

I really appreciate the simplicity of this software, it’s almost unspoken encouragement to just put your words down and move on. I’m keenly aware that I may find myself in the throes of a large complex project and TaskPaper may struggle to match it, but hey, I know I can pick up OmniFocus again for that period in my life. For when I’m not, TaskPaper is more than capable and like a good draught of cool water, just might refresh my understanding of my own productivity.

Taskpaper from Hog Bay Software. Highly recommended.

Related Tags:
Comments

Word Processors

Back in the day... that would be 1986 to be precise, the year i bought my first computer. It was an Amstrad PC1512, all of 512k ram and twin 360k floppy drives. It came with a choice of operating systems. MS-DOS or CP/M and two windowing systems, Windows 1.2 and GEM.

The principal reason for the purchase was word-processing. My girlfriend had an earner typing up a science journal for a publisher and the Amstrad could run a dedicated mathematical wordprocessor which would turn out pretty respectable typeset pages, well respectable given that it was 1986.

People used to drop by and ask us to show them ‘cutting and pasting’. These were heady times....

The main application I used for wordprocessing was Wordstar. It was a tough piece of software to love, it got in your way and had no redeeming factor other than it worked. We got a hold of Wordperfect which was like driving a BMW in comparison. WP was kinda cool, especially when they did a version for my new Amiga which rapidly became my main machine. I stuck with WP for quite some time, until the computer in work had Word on it, and then that became set in stone, of course, for me and for everyone.

Now, nearly fifteen years later, I find I’ve been avoiding Word. i have so many writing tools available to me, even the most basic of text editors is more pleasurable to use, it seems ridiculously cumbersome to me. And the fact that I’ve been using it for so long and I am still at sea on how to use whole chunks of it, annoys me. So I’ve set about finding an alternative.

I checked out Mellel, (very impressive, if I was more of an academic I’d be thrilled) and Pages, (real potential, but too much of a design tool for what I was looking for). Finally, I came across Nisus Writer Pro, which is in beta, and it’s been a joy. There’s a sixty day trial period, long enough to persuade you that you can’t ever go back...

flysketchworkflow-2007.05.03-23.07.53-1999229363.jpg

It’s fast and responsive, nothing sluggish about it at all. No hangs or waits, no spinning balls.... the beta is very polished, it’s never stalled on me once. I’m using it every day and, yes, in work.
Overall they have struck a very good ratio in how they handle the balance between interface and functionality, you can do a lot, and the interface is designed to make that potential very manageable and not at all intrusive.
- Number one in my book, I want to write, a nice clean toolbar with just what you need on it. There’s no massive list of buttons you can put on the toolbar, so it stays nice and simple. They use palettes for pretty well most options instead.
- The palettes live in a pop out drawer. It’s a simple thing with a big result, you can make them disappear. If you want them available at all times, you can have them float like other applications do or simply keep the drawer open, but I love being able to put them away.
- On top of that, you can configure different sets of palettes into groups in that drawer, so it’s very customisable. And you can set up as many different groups of palettes as you want. There’s huge functionality here, the range of palettes is very thorough.
- It handles styles better than any other writing tool I’ve used, ever. It’s very easy to set them up and implement them, again handled visually in an unobtrusive and straightforward way, a small set of icons at the bottom of each window.
- And every software should borrow how they handle setting up keyboard shortcuts, it’s that easy.

Generally, the UI is great. There seems to be a real focus within Nisus on getting the heck out of the way and keeping it simple. All the while delivering real high end functionality, certainly covers all of the uses I’ll be needing.

It can import and export Word docs, especially RTFs, but the quality is no better than okay. The same applies to most alternative word-processors, but this isn’t a deal breaker for me, I can certainly deal with the table that’s imported slightly longer than it should be very easily in NW Pro. Far easier than I can in Word if something went wrong there....

Best of all, It’s got a simple full-screen mode which is configurable. I’ve been struck by the Full-screen mode we are seeing everywhere, from MacJournal to Montage. The screen blacks out and you just see... crazy after all these years... your words on screen, nothing else, not a menu or palette in sight. Naturally, it recalls all those early experiences, I have actually gone to an amber on black background. Nothing else on screen, just these glowing amber words. Back home... punching in text, but knowing, when I need to do something fancy, it’s going to be easy and quick to do.

Related Tags:
Comments (1)

Soulver

I love apps that break through your model of what you can do in a particular area. Calculation on the Mac seems to generally revolve around calculators like TopCalculette or spreadsheets, like Excel or Tables.

Soulver is one such app. It’s neither a straightforward calculator, though you can certainly use it as one, nor is it a full spreadsheet program.

There’s a phrase in mathematics or more likely, book-keeping or carpentry, called a ready reckoner. This implies a handy tool, a sense of some practical application which will enable your work to proceed. I keep being reminded of this every time I load Soulver.

The developer touts it’s abilities to evaluate English language statements and to calculate results from them, to wit:
Ten euro a day for ten days = 100 euro.
Two apples and three apples = 5 apples

Which is all fine and good and possibly useful for some but has no real place in my life. I use it as a calculator and math scratchpad. For stuff that’s not that involved but would require you to jot down intermediate results if you used the average calculator.

For example, It can understand defined constants.
Book = 10 euro
Fifteen books = 150 euro.

Or you can make reference to particular lines in your calculation
1. 130/2        = 65
2. Line1*10 = 650

These two simple things open up a lot. You can set up scratchpads which you can use for ready reckoning... For the kind of thing that Excel would just be overkill. And, best of all, you can save them.

I set up one, which calculates cost implications of different film ratios for me. You could just as easily do a simple pad up for a mortgage calculation, or to calculate costs of different floor coverings for various rooms, simple things that we juggle every day, that don’t require major setup.

pasted-graphic-3-1990500863.tiff

Here, it’s a simple matter to adjust all the key variables
- the duration of the movie
- the shooting ratios evaluated
- the set costs per metre

Loading up Excel for a simple ten line spreadsheet always seems silly, but in Soulver, it feels smart. It’s cheap, only 18$, and we’ve seen steady development over the past year. There’s tons of flexibility and real stuff that mathematicians care about but for me...this is enough.

It’s from France, hence the name, Soulver, highly recommended.

Related Tags:
Comments

The Morphing of Interactivity...

While shooting the breeze with Brian Mulligan, who heads up e-learning at our College, we went through our histories, it’s always nice to talk to someone who knows what an Amiga is and who had worked with them.

What I also like is chatting to someone else who knows the sweep of things, who remembers the issues which emerged of the Seventies and Eighties as personal computing spread when interactive multimedia was the vanguard of creative applications.

We were discussing what approaches would be achievable as the College moves forward. Brian is very active in Moodle and other enterprise level solutions and is leading the IT’s rollout of e-learning generally. I was keen on discussing blogging, podcasting and using RSS to disseminate media from the lecturers to their students and beyond.

Discussion wandered onto CBT, computer based training, and the problems inherent in developing interactive education. We shot the breeze and then slowly came to the consensus that... the whole idea of a non-linear document, a multithreaded experience was probably not worth developing.

It felt very odd to actually say it...

Kind of like something had been lost.

The rise of search

There’s many ways of interacting with material on screen.
        - Choosing, I know I want this
        - Browsing, I’ll check this out
        - Searching, Find this for me

It’s as if we move through levels of certainty as you progess through this list. A steady abdication of authority from the user to the net, whatever that is.

Has interactive multimedia in the main come down to this; gather a big enough pile and make it searchable? Search is probably all the interaction most people want now. I want to find something out... just give it to me, as Google says, I’m feeling lucky.



Related Tags:
Comments (1)

Skim

There’s some apps you just don’t bother replacing.

Preview for one.

Acrobat has tons more features but it’s slow and over-complex and takes an age to load. It’s not really for just looking at stuff, it’s about doing some work. I always feel that the real app is the Pro version and the cut down version has to carry the baggage of an app with a lot to do. I only really use it for particular documents which have tons of layers in them, the IKEA catalogue comes to mind. Preview sometimes drops the ball on documents which are difficult to render and leaves a layer or two out...

But other than that, Preview is nimble and accurate and does the job for 99% of PDFs and also images of all formats. Why change it? I never thought I would until Skim came out the other day.

I used Skim for two minutes, then quit, selected a PDF in Path Finder, chose Get Info and set the default app for all PDFs to Skim.

It can match Preview in terms of speed and it’s attractive and uncluttered. When you use it, it becomes clear that whoever designed it had a focus on what people need when they want to look at stuff and you know, read...

So, in no particular order...

it’s got a quick magnify tool, a cool floating window which can zoom in on different parts of a page.

You can use the snapshot feature to open up multiple windows on a document.

It’s got lots of annotation options, more than Preview, and you can add anchored notes while you’re at it. It has bookmarking so you can set placeholders for the key points that interested you.

It’s got nifty Fullscreen and Presentation modes which I can see being used as a basic Powerpoint or Keynote replacement. So once they fix the slightly goofy document icon, it’s near perfect.

And being open source... it’s Free.

Skim Recommended.


Related Tags:
Comments

Spam

I run a pretty tight email ship... it’s one area I’m on top of.

I practice Inbox Zero, I completely got that once David Allen pointed out the simple fact that an Inbox is where things arrive and not where they should live.

When an email lands, I use Mail Act-on to deal with it;
        - if I need to do anything that requires some time and effort, I have an Act-On short cut (Ctrl-K) via Mail2kgtd to add the relevant email to my kGTD file in OmniOutliner Pro.
        - I also have a short cut (Ctrl-A) to send the email to my Actionable Emails folder in Mail.
        - The rest I either dash off a quick response and file in the appropriate project folder, each of which have an Act-On shortcut key.
        - In any case emails only go to the relevant project folder in Mail when they’re done.

The above means I have:
        - An empty inbox,
        - A folder called Actionable that has any emails I have to deal with.
        - My general list of stuff I’m working on has those actionable emails referenced as well.
        - Any emails relevant to projects that I need to be able to refer to at a later point are all sitting in their project folders.

I do like having my email To-dos itemised in my full GTD list, they are no longer a island on their own. Mail2kgtd sends the full copy of the email to the Kinkless GTD file, it stores it in the notes section. This also means that the full email is listed in the notes section in iCal if I refer to the item there. It was spooky the first time, the key data being available in my email program, my GTD program and my calendar...

Each year I run an archive on the email of the year previous to the last one, so I only carry about one years emails around on my laptop. I own MailSteward Lite for archiving, it’s simple and fully searchable, and plays nice with Spotlight. But I’m considering using DevonThink Pro Office, an program whose application grows each time I use it, it may have more interesting options for analysing archived mail.

So far so fine. So what about Spam?

I have an excellent piece of software called SpamSieve which does a good job of filtering spam. But it’s not perfect, it’s okay 99% of the time. But that 1% bugs me. Today’s 1% included an email from my EU domain registrar indicating that three domains I registered were due to expire, and a response to an email I’d sent to Red Sweater software about MarsEdit. But more worryingly, there was also an expression of interest in our current feature from a US distributor.

It looks like I’ll have to add “Review my Spam folder“ to my ever-increasing list of buckets to sort through when it comes to my weekly review. Given that eight spam messages arrived in the time it took to write this entry.... That looks set to take over all of Friday afternoons...


Related Tags:
Comments

Blogging and thoughts on software...

I’ve been considering buying software for writing this blog. I’m in two minds now... specifically Mars Edit versus MacJournal.

MarsEdit has a beautiful and simple clean interface and it’s cheaper... does the job, in fact does it well and pleasurably.

MacJournal is serious. It’s really well made and has lots of heavy functionality built in. Including a Full Screen mode which I’m using now. It’s a fine thing, a mature and well developed piece of software. And it costs more...

MacJournal is a piece of software that’s hung around me for quite some time. Back when the now quiet (but then raucous...) As the Apple Turns was in my everyday browsing, I came across it. The site author, Jack, loved it. I downloaded it but given that I wasn’t blogging, found only a small use for it. But I’ve tried it quite regularly over the years, liking the capabilities but not really having a use. So now that I’m blogging I should have a use... right?

Or is there a reason we never dated... Perhaps the simple approach of MarsEdit will ultimately be the better choice. I’ve been enjoying less heavily laden software lately, preferring a melange of programs each of which focus on doing one thing well.

I encountered this most recently when I was asked to give an introduction to the Mac experience by a local body who had acquired a number of Macs. I enquired a little deeper and it transpired that they had set up a network, including a server which had common files on it, and were just running Office. I visited one of them and all of her questions were about Entourage.

Once the initial wave of depression that washed over me, I sat back and thought a little. This was a familiar setup for all of them, they had essentially re-created their old Wintel network, just this time they were using a bunch of Macs. She seemed pleased that everything seemed ‘easy to work out’ and she was probably glad of the virus issue being put aside, they had been plagued by them.

She said they had decided to use Entourage because “ Apple’s Mail wasn’t very good.” As she did this she pointed at the dizzying array of buttons in Entourage and her mouse ran over long and nested menus.... It looked deep, it looked like you could do lots of things you’d rarely choose to do and would struggle to find the things you wanted to do.

And really that’s all she was looking for from me: How Do I Find The Things In Entourage I Want To Do.

She thought that was reasonable, I guess she was used to the struggle.

I have to say, I was a reluctant Apple Mail user, even though I love it now, I love the ubiquitous nature of it and the other core apps, Address Book and iCal. That trio of products won me gradually over and away from initially Palm Desktop and then Entourage.

One of their principal benefits is their level of integration in the system and the ease with which other developers can call upon them. Not only that, there’s a lot of plugins I use every day which have expanded it’s functionality and kept it current.

I can’t imagine using Entourage and hiding there safe inside the Microsoft box.

I think the idea of having a pot pourri of smaller simpler programs which work together might require a more innocent mindset, a sense of openness, a willingness to take that risk. That it’ll be okay, a sense that it will all work as opposed to a fear that it’ll probably all go wrong...

Update: I eventually did chose MacJournal. Two main reasons other than it works really well.... There’s a very cool Full-Screen mode which means I can do what I need to do, focus on writing better. And the small matter of a decent Education discount which as a lecturer I can avail of...

Related Tags:
Comments (5)

K.I.T. released...

K.I.T. (Keep It Together) 1.3.1 was released yesterday.

K.I.T. is one of those information-gathering tools which have sprung up on the Mac. We're particularly lucky given all the options here. There's KIT, Yojimbo, DevonThink and lately EagleFiler. All of which come from good developers and are fine products. I use KIT and DevonThink Pro Office. Both do quite different jobs for me.

KIT is my favourite set of smart buckets. Plowing through emails and the web usually means I come across pages I want to keep, documents I need to read, and bits of information that come my way from snippets of texts to images, mp3s to listen to and videos to watch.

KIT eats them all up with one keystroke in the Services menu, Shift-Cmd-K. I love it...

It comes with a set of built in smart folders which sort on the type of data it is, a document, pdf, media or a web archive or link etc. and you can quickly and easily roll your own using tags and ratings.

So I tag, which autocomplete, as each item arrives in it's Library and I have smart folders set up for each project I have currently. I have one smart folder which captures all untagged items, so I can easily spot items that haven't been assigned to a project.

So no more saving on the desktop, no dumb unsorted pile of stuff sitting in a folder usually called...Stuff On Desktop..., instead a set of sorted folders with all of the stuff already sorted intelligently for me. It replicates whatever folder structure you've set up in it's Library so you can drill down into that using the Finder and see the same structure. Excellent.

It's a well-executed program, which just works. A lot of people know Yojimbo, a similar product, which KIT predates. KIT is much cheaper. And the developer, Steve Harris, keeps the updates coming.

Highly recommended. K.I.T. at Reinvented



Related Tags:
Comments

1password

I really like 1Passwd.

A simple utility that integrates with any browser, including my favourite, Omniweb, to provide strong and secure passwords online. The .Mac integration is also important for me.

Passwords are a constant problem for my students who use very obvious or easily guessable ones, (you'd be amazed at the amount of ones who use the word 'google') or come up with tortuous names that they forget a month later.

I usually recommend to them that they think of two passwords and use one or the other when online. I get them to think of something only they will remember, their first schoolteacher, or their grandfather's home, and to combine that with a date they will not forget.

1Password has made hopping around the web much simpler to do, logging in and out of different sites is simply a matter of choosing the relevant id and password from the pop up menu which is site appropriate. It can generate secure unguessable passwords, the ones that look like gobbledygook, which you don’t have to remember, they’re available in your browser bar.

The one drawback is using a different computer to access those sites, when 1Password won’t be available to you. It’s solid and secure and so easy to use, this is a minor drawback for me.



Related Tags:
Comments
See Older Posts...