Things and 2Do

I’ve been using Things, the task manager, from the get-go. First on the Mac and then also on the iPhone. Then, lately I discovered 2Do for the iPhone and I’ve been using that exclusively for a month. At first I was seduced by its fun interface but then after a while I realized that I was in fact getting more done (which is the whole point of these apps after-all), so bye bye Things, hello 2Do.

Not so fast. I’m not going to end this entry without trying to explain why.

Firstly, I was frustrated with the way that in Things I had to burrow down through the interface to get to some tasks, and there wasn’t a quick way to then climb out; with 2Do most tasks are only one level below the tabs.

Secondly, well, Things is boring to look at. There’s nothing actually wrong with the way it looks, but it’s just three shades of gray and the one typeface; with 2Do I can mix it up a little if ever I get bored, which is often.

Lastly, have you seen 2Do’s ultra-funky cassette recorder for making voice notes? That gadget alone is worth the entry price.

So, like the man said, there’s no crime on changing your mind.

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The Cloud Done Well

I just spent a delightful hour using the online dashboard for WordPress.

I changed the theme of my blog and tossed out a few widgets from the sidebar that were no longer relevant. It was so easy and responsive, even on my dialup connection.

I guess one of the reasons that I liked the experience so much was that I was working with such an attractive interface.

Google could learn a thing or two from WordPress in this respect; I know that Google like to keep things simple, but there’s simple, and then there’s just plain drab.

Drive Easy

The price of gas may have eased off lately, but the overall trend is, as ever, inching up. Here are some tips to reduce your car’s fuel consumption, and some of the pain of topping up.

Keep your tyres properly inflated.

We all know how much easier it is to push a wheel barrow full of cement when the tyre is good and hard. Just as with the wheel barrow, your car has a much easier time running on properly inflated tyres; don’t over-do it though, and over inflate them. Tyres that are too hard can offer less traction, and will wear more quickly.

Wind up your windows.

Extra drag caused by open windows (not to mention roof rack, attached bicycles etc.) can sip away at your fuel, even at suburban speeds.
Open your windows when you’re stopped to release heat from the cabin if you like, but keep them closed and rely on the ventilation system while on the move.
Air conditioning saps a lot of power from the engine; so once you’re comfortable, remember to turn it off.

Avoid the cruise control.

Cruise control can do a very clever job of maintaining a set speed, but it’s not smart enough to look and plan ahead. You might encounter a short steep hill and hold your current accelerator position, letting the speed bleed of slightly and then recover as you crest the hill.
The cruise control, on the other hand, will just blindly sense the added load and plant its “foot” to maintain the current speed.

Consolidate your journeys.

Don’t make three trips to the supermarket this week. Stock up for the whole week with just one visit, and while you’re there, run as many errands as you can within walking distance, by walking! On your way somewhere? Where can you stop on the way to avoid special trips?

Don’t labour your engine.

You want to keep your engine revving as slowly as possible as a general rule, but when it’s called upon to do some real work, like passing a slow vehicle on a hill, that’s the time to change down a gear or two and let it spin more freely; imagine you’re pushing that heavy barrow up a steep incline — it takes less puff to take more and smaller steps (higher revs) as opposed to fewer and longer strides (lower revs). Your engine will gulp less fuel and be under less strain.

Keep looking far ahead.

Every time you brake and scrub off speed, you need to accelerate again to get the speed back; it’s that acceleration that really burns through the fuel.
If you notice that the cars one block ahead of you are stopped, but you know they’ll be moving off soon, try easing off your speed in such a way that when you arrive the cars ahead are already moving away, then with just a touch of throttle you’re back in the flow.
Be mindful though, not to aggravate those following you with your fuel saving antics.

Don’t burn fuel when you’re not using it.

If you’re familiar with the pattern of traffic lights on your daily commute and you know you’ll be stopped at this point for about three minutes, go ahead and switch off. Remember: While you’re stopped you’re getting ZERO miles per gallon. Just remember to switch on again in time for when the lights change in your favor.

The balsa wood accelerator.

Be gentle with your gas pedal. Imagine it will break if you’re too abrupt with it, and as often as you can — practice easing off on the gas; you’ll be surprised how little your acceleration or speed will decrease with less pressure on the pedal.

Keep your weight down.

Look around you. What are you carrying in the car that doesn’t need to be there. The umbrella in summer? The picnic blanket in the middle of the week? Every extra item needs a certain amount of fuel in order to transport it. That includes the fuel itself.
Do you really need your tank to be topped off all the time when during the course of a typical month you’re never more than ten minutes from a service station? Try running on a half a tank, or even a quarter?
Don’t be nervous about this; most modern cars have plenty of reserve, even below the lowest mark on the fuel gauge.

Breathing and burning.

When was the last time you replaced your car’s air, fuel and oil filters; or checked the condition of your spark plugs. If these items are freshly installed and properly adjusted, this simple maintenance regime alone can bring big savings at the pump.

Finally: Run your car like an airline!

No-one winces more at the price of fuel than the airlines; it’s their biggest single operational expense. So they toss out in-flight meals and magazines and reduce baggage allowances, all to save weight. They fly more direct routes in cleaner, newer more fuel efficient and appropriately sized aircraft, less often and at reduced speed. These are all things we can be doing with our cars.
Start by topping off your tank, then use some of these techniques and top off your tank again; recording the litres required and distance covered — to ascertain your true consumption.
As your technique, and consumption improves, you’ll find that frugality can also be fun!

Files Updated

The “Files” app for iPhone was recently updated. One of the new features that I really appreciate is a Safari-like built in browser. With it I can visit a site and tap and hold on a downloadable file and download that file to the iPhone.

I do this at the library with its fast and free connection. When I get home I connect to Files with my Mac’s Finder and pull the file across.

Saves hours of the home phone being held up by my slow dialup connection.

The Window to Everything

Glass. Glass. Say it often enough and it starts to sound really strange. If one word could define what differentiates Apple from all other computer and gadget makers at present it would be glass. First the iPhone, then the MacBooks and the displays and the iMac, and now the iPad.

The glass is the real “window” to the software—to the experience. The hardware disappears. The hardware is just there to support the glass. In 1984 the original Mac said that from now on you aren’t confronting a dark display with an impatient flashing cursor; you’re merely looking at a blank page—an empty canvas.

Now, in 2010 you are holding a real window in your hand; a window to everything. Go ahead and touch it. It won’t break.

That’s Thinking Different.

That’s the real difference.