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Tools

A 97 post collection


Subscribe improvements ...

 •  Filed under Links, Tools, RSS

... over at Feedbin.

I love using Feedbin. Such a great RSS reader and the fact that they keep adding to it and improving it just keeps making it better to use.

Weekly plan bars

 •  Filed under Posts, Tools, Productivity

I've been having a successful run with the bullet journal and implementing Mike Rhode's daily plan bar but as a weekly view rather than a single day's view. Daily plan bars go on the left while a list of tasks for the week goes on the right. I'll do a better write up of this in time complete with a more annotated description.

Scaling Back

 •  Filed under Posts, Tools, Web Development

For a long time I've wrestled with a number of different terminal apps and tools in the hope of improving my productivity at the command line. Initially I used iTerm2, a terminal emulator for macOS, as my preferred terminal app. Then I also started using tmux, a terminal multiplexer, on top of that. Then came along Vim, the open source text editor, and I started using that as well.

This was the first time in a long time that I had started using all three again. The benefit of using this combination of tools is that I could run both my command line and text editor within a single app and very rarely have to switch away from it.

One huge pain point I couldn't get round though was the simple act of copying and pasting text between Vim and other apps. Despite a number of attempts to get it working I've decided to call it a day on this trio of tools.

  • Vim is a great text editor, but to be honest I'm faster coding with Sublime Text or even Atom for that fact. Yes, I use the mouse and yes I want to have features and plugins that don't require me to mess about with command line.
  • tmux is great for managing different command line sessions within a single terminal emulator but I don't think it's a necessity. Lately I've been doing away with split panes and using multiple tabs.
  • Which brings me to iTerm2. As great an application as it is, there's nothing that it offers that I can't get from Apple's own terminal emulator, Terminal.

So I stopped using Vim, tmux and iTerm2 and fell back to using Terminal and Sublime Text.

I've went full circle from starting with the basics, adding more tools to the stack, before reducing the tools I need for the terminal right down to the absolute basics. One app for the terminal and one app for editing source code.

I can see the case for using tools like tmux and Vim. Maybe you spend most of your day in a terminal as a system administrator and you're faster with Vim. Maybe you need to manage multiple servers on a daily basis so splitting panes in tmux suits your line of work. I get it. I understand why these tools exist and why you would use them.

Sometimes though scaling back is just as much a benefit.

Evernote - Time to move on?

 •  Filed under Posts, Tools, Products

So apparently Evernote employees now have the ability to read the notes in your Evernote account. There is an opt-out feature in the settings but I wonder how many people will do this?

I started using Evernote when it first came out. Since then I've closed and re-opened my account a number of times. To me Evernote feels bulky and awkward. I've tried to use it a number of times, but each time I find the product too difficult to use. I last tried Evernote just over a year ago. I went for a couple of days before I closed my account again.

Evernote started it's life well as a product but in recent years it has taken a lot of criticism for it's usability, support, pricing and now it's stance on privacy. With the growing criticism you have to wonder if there's life left in the Evernote product and whether it will stand the test of time.

It's starting to look like Evernote has lost its lustre, which is a shame. I know a few people that use it daily to help them run their business.

If I was still an Evernote user today then I would be considering looking at alternatives. I use Simplenote myself for notes and there's also Bear which was named one of Apple's best apps of the year in their App Store.

Whether you're an Evernote user or not, you always have to consider the lifetime of the products you use. It's a small percentage of products that stand the test of time and maintain their status as a wonderful product.

For everything else you have to ensure that if your product of choice folds, you can take your data elsewhere with minimum fuss.

Timepage 2.0 Update

 •  Filed under Posts, Tools, Apps, Productivity

My favourite calendar app, Timepage, has just been released with a number of particularly nice features.

Theme colours

The themes preferences screen gets an overhaul that allows better manipulation of the theme as well as new colours and the ability to use light or dark text for your theme.

Advanced Repeating Events

Events can now be repeated with greater granularity. One example of this is you can set an event to repeat on a particular day and week of the month and repeat it a number of times.

Better Notes

Notes now support URLs, flight numbers, email addresses and phone numbers.

There's a also a number of other features and improvements like synchronisation between devices, text size and calendar colours.

What sets Timepage apart from other calendar apps for me is the user-interface. It's not like your typical calendar app. Almost all calendar apps start from a month view and work down to a daily view.

Timepage is different in that it starts with a view the upcoming days and allows you to switch to a heat map of the month or a view of your day.

The iPhone and iPad applications both share the same look and feel but with the extra screen space on the iPad you get a split screen view of the upcoming days and what's happening today.

There's also nice integration with Dark Sky for weather updates on both the iPhone and iPad versions.

All I need now is a version of this app for my macOS and the set of Timepage apps will be complete.

Just Fine

 •  Filed under Posts, Tools

I've been rebooting a few habits and processes over the last few weeks and one emerging trend from all this is that I'm going back to basics.

Instead of putting my tasks in Todoist, I'm capturing them in a pocket notebook. I don't need a another task manager app. I can capture the task in my notebook just fine.

Instead of using a 3rd party calendar app on macOS I'm using Calendar. I don't need another calendar app. I can outline my day in the macOS Calendar app just fine.

Instead of writing everything in Ulysses, I'm writing this post straight into the Ghost editor. I don't need another editor to write it in. I can write it in the Ghost editor just fine.

When you see the tools that are available to you, it can be easy to make yourself jump through hoops to justify the use of these surplus tools. All we're doing though is adding extra layers to get one thing done. When you remove those layers, it can be surprisingly simple to do just that one thing. And that's just fine.

Tempted

 •  Filed under Tools, Links

Tempted to back this laptop stand that adjusts in height.

Currently I have a Griffin laptop stand that sits at a significant distance below my preferred eye level. While my laptop screen isn't my main screen I do switch between it and my larger screen through the day.