A Good App

A Good App
It needs a good icon
The main functions should be obvious or at least easy to learn once
It needs to look finely crafted
The secondary functions need to be out of the way but easily accessible
There should be minimal nagging
It would ideally work everywhere
It doesn’t hurt if it feels cozy or fun

All Things Considered

First my task manager of choice was Things, then I switched to 2Do, and now I’m back with Things again. 2Do was fun to use and it synced wonderfully with Toodledo for backup purposes; but it really was stand alone. I thought that would work out but what with using three devices in three different scenarios as I am now, iPhone when out and about, Mac when at my desk, and iPad everywhere else, I needed a way to keep everything in sync.

Things now does that.

Whenever I have all three copies of Things open at once they are constantly chatting to each other and keeping up to speed. Also, none has any more features than the others (with the small exception of repeat scheduling which is handled by the desktop version).

Things is the expensive option on all three platforms but the cost is soon forgotten as all the versions work so well together, and with such grace and clarity.

Thank You, Carbon Copy Cloner

I got all excited when I saw the specs for Safari 5 and immediately downloaded it. Then I paused and remembered how Safari burrows into the OS and can be all but impossible to uninstall and revert so I did a fresh incremental backup of the hard drive using Carbon Copy Cloner.

Sure enough, being a point zero version, there were a few features that I wasn’t wild about — the worst being the fact that it broke my copy of Pith Helmet — so I gulped hard and decided to overwrite my drive with the clone.

I needn’t have worried. Twenty minutes later everything was as it was one minute before installing the new Safari.


Tweaking the Dock

After a week or so with Leopard I’m becoming brave and adventurous. I’ve replaced the standard dock with one that looks more like a shelf than a glass table. I’ve also changed the icons for some of the folders that I regularly access.

Both of those jobs have gone off without a hitch. I’ll post information about the tools I used once I’m a hundred percent sure there are no resultant bugs.

Lastly, I’m also starting another experiment. Macs are supposed to just work so I’m going to see if that applies to memory management. I’ll be letting apps run hidden instead of quitting them after use. Let’s see if memory is freed up as required.

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.

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.

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.