hjertnes.blog

My new GTD system – TaskPaper.

23.12.2013 01:00

This is the third draft, and I really hope it is the last one.

I have used a lot of different GTD and task management apps. The four systems that have been sticking longest are Things, Remember The Milk, OmniFocus. I also used a few custom text file based systems in my Linux and Unix days.

My current GTD system worked great for the last two years, and the systems before that lated about the same length. But my needs changed with me shifting away from doing software development and onto being a full-time student, and doing a lot of writing.

I used to have a capture method that was all about going straight into digital. I switched over to my mac, or picked up my phone when I needed to add something to either OmniFocus, RTM or Things. But I stopped doing this. It was must simpler to just write it down in a pocket sized notebook.

Anyway.

Today, I did the damn thing. I moved everything out of OmniFocus and into TaskPaper and things. I keep everything that don’t have a due date, or is a repeating task in TaskPaper. And that is about 99% of what I do. And the rest is in Reminders, for now. I might change it later.

Why TaskPaper? There was a few things that intrigued me about TaskPaper. It is a very flexible system that isn’t anything more than plain text. I can combine tasks and regular text in the same document. And I can manage it all from anything that can read and write to a simple text file.

TaskPaper is similar to OmniFocus in one way, it is very flexible when it comes to sub-projects and tasks. Something I am a big user of. This is also one thing most GTD solutions is terrible at.

I can’t use anything that is designed to have X levels of projects or tasks. And I can’t use something that isn’t designed to handle everything from two active to 200 active.

Anyway. TaskPaper is the most flexible, simplest and the most effective way to add and process tasks that I have seen to this day.

I’m not 100% sure how this will go. But it is exciting to try something new. And I’ll post a real review of TaskPaper, when I have been using it for a while.

Check out TaskPaper here

(#blog)

Squarespace galleries, and their portfolio app.

21.12.2013 01:00

I’m a big photo nut, and I take close to 100% of my pictures with a DSLR. I have many reasons for this; they look so much better, and it also makes it possible for me to make great prints for presents.

One of the things that my Lightroom setup don’t have is an iPad and iPhone app that let me sync sets of pictures. And I don’t want to do this with Dropbox viewer apps or to use services like 500px.

I have used both Flickr, 500px and Picasa in the past. But I have come to a point where I want to control as many of the platforms that I use, as possible.

So I use a combination of Squarspace tools to make the images available on this site (if I want to), and to sync them to my iPad. This is great, if you want to show people the pictures you shot.

Step 1

I just export the pictures, from Lightroom.

Step 2

After that I move the folder to Dropbox/Apps/Squarespace/accountid and wait for them to upload.

Step 3

Publish. Then I move into the squarespace admin panel, and hit the publish button in the Dropbox part of the connected account section.

Step 4

Now I can either show people on the web, send them a link, or sync the gallery I created to my iPad and have the whole thing available offline.

The thing I love about squarespace is that you have all the tools you need to do most things. And these things are btw often available in some way on most platforms. But the thing I love about squarespace is that they are available without hassle. And the Portfolio and Gallery functionality is another one of these.

(#blog)

The Mobile Writer

21.12.2013 01:00

I saw that Patrick Rhone mentioned a new book by Julio Ojeda-Zapata, a few weeks ago. It is called “The Mobile Writer”, and it is one of the few books about writing that I really like. I have read it more than once. And I think it is something everyone that who is or is thinking about writing on their phone or tablet should read.

The thing that really clicked with me and this book was that the author started with telling us, the readers they every computer, tablet and phone on the market is capable writing tools.

You don’t need anything fancy. But, a good writing app might make it more pleasant to write on your mobile device.

He also interviewed different writers, about the tools they use. Before he moves on to talking about different hardware options, apps, accessories. I have not seen many books on this subject that really goes into all of the options, and addresses the different options, and what the real pro and cons for the different options are.

My approach to writing is to use the best tool within arms reach. It might be my MacBook Air, iPhone or iPad. And sometimes I use pen and paper.

Some people like hardware keyboards, while others are perfectly happy with using the onscreen keyboard while writing on their phone or tablet. I don’t write very fast on any of them. And I have come to the conclusion that it is the act of thinking and to figure out what to write that is the time sink, and not the typing.

I used to be one of the crazy people that only wrote on my fancy Apple computer. These days I write on the best option within arms reach.

You should go and get “The Mobile Writer“. It’s not expensive, and it is a great way to spend the night.

(#blog)

Swear words.

19.12.2013 01:00

I know that some people have a big problem with them. And I can understand that. But the thing I have zero understanding for the need some people have to get rid of everything in this world that they don’t like.

I don’t like Android phones, or Windows computers; but I would never dream about trying to sensor or to get rid of the damn things.

I try to keep my writing, and speaking as close to each other as possible. What I mean by this is that I try to let my writing to make me a better speaker, and to let my speaking turn me into a better writer. The most important part of this for me is to always write what ever I would have said in real life.

I would call George Bush “a fucking asshole” both in real world, no matter whom I am talking to. And I should also do the same when I write.

Let’s move on to the real problem with “bleeping” or censoring the few words that most people consider “bad”. There are not much about the words themselves that are bad. It is just that we consider them bad. English swear words are usually about sex, and bodies. While for example my native language of Norwegian have similar words, but they are usually about hell or satan.

One argument I often hear regarding swear words is that parents don’t want their children to be exposed to them. Fair enough. And I understand the thinking behind this. But I don’t buy it.

First of all. All children will learn every swear word available as soon as they start in kindergarden, pre-school or school. Trust me. They will learn every single one. And that is just because we look at “fuck” as a bad word, and not because of the word “fuck” itself.

Why can’t parents take a similar approach to swear words, as good parents take to talking about children about sex?

And then we have the bleeping. Some idea that had to come from American conservatives. Anyway. It don’t work. Never have. Never will be.

First of all, the thing you are doing when bleeping something out is that you are highlighting the fact that some person said something bad, for everyone listening. While I would guess that most people would not notice if you didn’t do that. And the other problem is that most people always go for the worst word they can think of in that context, when something is bleeped out.

Should oversensitive americans dictate what kind of words the rest of the world is allowed to hear on TV, Radio and in podcasts?

(#blog)

Three pages of apps, on my iPhone.

18.12.2013 01:00

I finally found a functional limit on apps, on my iPhone. I’ve had a really hard time to figure out what kind of limit I should impose on myself after I gave up on the horrible broken folders in iOS 7. I have been both a 1 page, 2 page, 3 page and a whole lot of pages person through the years.

All the default apps from Apple fill up a little bit more than a page and a half.

So I needed to have at least two pages.

I went through everything. I deleted all the “kind of useful but I never use them”-apps. And I ended up with three full pages of apps. There is not a single third party app on my phone that don’t serve a real purpose.

The apps that is left, is all of the apps I really need. All the apps I really use. And I don’t mean the apps I use once a month. This is the apps I use at least once a week.

This is the list.

1Password is my password manager of choice. I use it to store password, software licenses and all kinds of other information that I need to keep secure. Great app for close to every platform.

Podwrangler is my go to podcasting app for the moment. I’m just using it until Marco’s overcast is out. Then I’ll mark a choice for what. I’m going yo use as my go to client for the coming months.

Audible is a great app service and store for audiobooks. You can look at it as the App Store or Kindle for audiobooks.

Notesy the icon looks like shit, and the app used to be kind of ugly. But it got a nice update after iOS 7. It is the most stable and only markdown + Dropbox text editor for iOS that just works no matter what. I’ve had 2000 notes, and I’ve had huge single notes. It always works. And that is the single most important thing for me.

Quotebook is a great app for iOS that let you store, manage and share notes you find.

Byword is my primary writing app. I write everything that isn’t a note or over 1500 words in it. On my Mac, iPhone and iPad.

Evernote is my everything bucket. I use it as an archive of everything that is more than just text. I also use it to capture images and location data.

Pomodoro is my Pomodoro app. Its simple. It’s fast. And it is one of the few that is doing just one thing. The Pomodoro part.

Ember is a new and powerful image management app, for iOS and OS X. I use it to store cool images I find. Or shoot with my phone. I store all the images I want to save that I haven’t shot with my DSLR in Ember.

Day One is my journaling app. I transcribe all of my paper journal entries into it. And also all of my paper notes. I add important life decisions and happenings there. And sometimes I do silly projects like taking daily pictures of myself.

Goos tagging support makes it easy to store all kinds of different data. And markdown makes the whole app very powerful. They have apps for both iOS and OS X.

Kik is a simple mobile messaging app I use with friends that isn’t on Facebook,Twitter or iMessage. It’s pretty decent. It is funny how no one have made a messaging app that blows everyone out of the park.

Tweetbot the best twitter client out there. It’s just amazing.

OmniFocus 2 the most powerful and probably the best GTD app out there for power users.

Fantastical 2 is my favourite calendar app. It gives me everything I need, and also the only interface for adding events that I like.

Left to spend money management for minimalist. I just tell it how much I can spend per day, and it keeps track of it. And I add all the money I spend.

It’s the only app that is simple enough,for me to actually keeping it up after quite a few years.

Newsstand. I have two magazines in there. The Loop Magazine and The Magazine. They are amazing.you should check them out if you like reading really good and interesting articles.

Facebook Messenger is the Facebook chat client for iPhone. It’s pretty good. It makes it fast, easy and simple to chat with my friends that don’t use twitter.

Text Expander Touch makes sure that all of my typo fixes and boiler plate text shortcuts from OS X also are there when I write on iOS.

Snapchat. Some of my friends use it. I also do that sometimes. But this is one of the apps that I would remove if it’s spot was needed by some important app.

Squarespace blog lets me publish blog posts to this site from my iPad and iPhone.

Instapaper is my preferred read it later service. I mainly transfer the content to my kindle, but the app is great to have when I don’t have it available.

Data usage is a simple and pretty good app for keeping track of how much cellular data you are using.

Information silos can be amazing.

16.12.2013 01:00

I have been thinking quite a lot about the so called information silos, during the last few days. Information silos are applications like Evernote or Yojimbo. They provide some kind of database where you can save notes or files. The main difference between this and using regular files and folders structures are many. Tagging, and projects or notebooks creates something similar to folders, but easier to understand. But one of the best reason to use something like Evernote is to now exactly where to look when you are looking for something.

I don’t use Evernote to store most of my notes, because I don’t need it for managing plain text content. But I use Evernote to store a lot. I usually put everything I do not work with now, or don’t need now. But all of the stuff I might need some day in there.

I know where all of my PDFs are. They are in Evernote. I know where all of the scrapped blog post ideas are. They are in Evernote. I know where all of the former writing projects are, they are in Evernote.

The way I use different systems to store different kinds of information is very geeky. And I’m a geek. I think most people should use these systems differently if they don’t have a very good reason.

My own experience is that systems like Evernote makes it easier for most people to know where their documents and notes are. They are able to know where they need to look. And it’s far less confusing than looking through different folders on their Mac or PC.

Sync is hard. But with Evernote, you get it out of the box.

If you feel that your data is everywhere, and that you never are sure about where things are on your hard drive. Give Evernote a change. Even if you only use one notebook — you know that everything is in there. And it all of the tools for organizing and tagging are there if you find out that you need it later on.

Getting your data out. The first time I needed to get all of my data out of Evernote three years ago was a pain in the ass. It is far easier now. You can export all attachments in one operation and it is just as easy to get out the text of your notes, as HTML.

I have been going back and forth on Evernote over the years, and I have come to the conclusion that everybody should have something like Evernote in their tool belt. I use it as an archive, it makes it easy to move things in and out. And I always know where to find old files. Like today when I wanted to look at my English exam from this spring, it was in Evernote.

But remember, no software solution will be able to organize your data, this is something you need to do yourself.

(#blog)

What is Enough for me

15.12.2013 01:00

I just finally finished the Enough Archive that I have been working on for about a month! or so. And I started to re-listen to the whole thing about a week ago, and started to think. What is the stuff I really need to have there. This is all the apps I need to get my work done in a fashion that don’t make my life any more difficult than it have to be. I haven’t included any of the default OS X apps.

Dropbox is one of the really essential parts I really really need everywhere. I syncs a lot of my essential data between devices, and it is also my preferred way to share files with others.

1Password is my secure locker. It is a password manager, and a lot more. If it is something I would not want anyone else to see — then it will end up in 1Password. Everything from passwords to notes about how the computers I have set up for relatives.

Alfred is my launcher. I search with it, I start apps. My Macbook Air is more or less broken without it. Or I’m at least far less productive,

Text Expander is a tool for expanding snippets into larger pieces of text. I use it to catch stuff I never manages to spell the right way, or stuff I have to write many times. Great app.

Fantastical is the only calendar app I use. It’s simple, it’s in my menu bar. It makes it fast to add new events by writing stuff like “Lunch with Steven tomorrow at noon at The fancy hipster coffee shop”. It also makes it easy to get an overview over events. I don’t need or care for a full calendar app.

Omnifocus is the app that manages everything. Everything I have done today was there and everything I am going to do tomorrow is there. It is a great GTD app if your really need something powerful.

Scrivener is the big boy writing app. I don’t use it for most blog posts. But I use it for assignments at the university and all other larger writing projects. It is just the kind of crazy tool that makes anything over 1000 words either easier or bearable.

*Byword*is where is do most of my writing, I start blog post ideas there. I am writing this in byword on my iPad right now. I sync it with iCloud between my devices. It’s great at letting me get started at the writing within seconds, and to get it done

nvAlt is the app that keeps track of all my notes. What kind of allergy meds do I use? Who is my doctor? What is the name of all of the books I want to buy one day? All of this is in nvalt. A great app to search, manage, edit and create plain text notes.

Evernote is my archive. Everything I’m done with, and would like to save but don’t think I need is there. Old word docs, PDFs, blog post ideas I scrapped. I also store some notes that isn’t just plain text in there. Great service with apps for. Or less anything. And byword have a pretty cool Evernote integration.

DayOne is my journaling app of choice. I throw in some images, but not many. I transcribe all of my paper notes and journaling entries into Dayone. It makes it easy to tag, find and manage. And it sync between all of my devices.

Adobe Lightroom is my photo editing and management tool. All of my photos from my DSLR ends up here.

Readkit is my rss reader., and news source.

Marked2 is the worlds most powerful preview tool. I use it to preview scrivener and documents from byword. And I also use it to convert that output to formats like doc, PDF etc. Its great at the stuff it is designed to do. And makes reviewing documents before publishing as pleasant as it can be.

Ember is the last, this is the tool I use to save, sort and manage all kinds of pictures I either find on the net or take with my phone. In other words: all of the stuff that don’t belong in Lightroom, Evernote or Dayone.

Moom is the last, but one of the most important tools on my mac. Moom is a simple utility that makes it easy to resize and manage your windows on OS X.

(#blog)

Pomodoro apps, for iPhone.

13.12.2013 01:00

Pomodoro is my favourite productivity hack, when I really really really need to focus and get a lot done, in a very short time. I use the technique all the time, when I have pressing deadlines, or is preparing for exams. The basic principle is that you set a timer for X number of minutes that you work, and then you have a set number of minutes that you have a break. And after four rounds(or what ever you want) you have a longer break.

I have been looking for a good app for doing this for as long as I have owned an iPhone. But it wasn’t before today that I actually found one I liked. Most of the former apps have been a bit too much for my taste. They were either very ugly and hard to use; or too much. I don’t want my pomodoro apps to have stuff like task management. I just want a clean and simple interface to do the pomodoro stuff, and a easy to understand settings page to set up number of pomodoros(rounds) before a long break, and to be able to set how long each timer should be.

Pomodoro Timer is the app. It’s priced $1.99 at the app store.

You should get this if you are like me, and want a pomodoro app that is just that – a pomodoro app. It works great and got a decerving slot at my homescreen within an hour.

(#blog)

Day One sync

12.12.2013 01:00

Day One is a great journaling app for both iOS and OS X. You can store both images and text there; it even supports markdown. I store pictures, contents of my notebooks and random stuff I write.

iCloud sync used to work very well; and then it started to first not sync at all, and then it synced fine on my Macs, but it wouldn’t sync everything, just 13 of the data to the iOS devices. And today was the day where I pulled the plug and moved everything over to Dropbx.

I think I have reached a point, where I just store simple data like Contacts, Calendars, and apps that just store documents. PDFPen, Pages and Number work fine with iCloud. But it would not take me long to move it all off there if that don’t work anymore.

The problem with iCloud is that I can’t, and the developers can’t debug or do anything at all with anything. It is just a black-box in the middle. It is great when it works, and a fucking nightmare when it don’t.

One of the things I like about using Dropbox for apps like DayOne is that I can make a zip file of the whole DayOne folder on Dropbox, and just extract that into that folder and replace the file if something should go wrong. You can’t do that with iCloud, in any supported way.

The process of changing the sync-engine on something like Day One is not trivial. Or that is not that acurate, the process of doing the change could not have been made any easier on DayOne’s side. But it can take a long time to do the actualy syncing. The one to blame here is my internet provider.

It also seems like the Dropbox sync is faster, and it will sync in the background on iOS 7.

(#blog)

The broken folders on iOS 7.

12.12.2013 01:00

I have tried, and I have tried; but I don’t like them – at all. The thing I liked about the original folder design on iOS was that it was just an extension of the screen, no pages; just another 12 icons.

I know some people like that you know have the possibility to add many many many more items to any folder. And it might be useful for some people. But I don’t think so.

Here is the thing. The new folder design that Apple introduced with iOS7 have pages, with 9 icons on each page. And the whole thing just looks and behaves like a mini version of springboard. And the matter of fact is that it is both faster and easier to scroll through a few screens on my iPhone than it is to go into a folder.

I used to run a single homescreen setup in the iOS 6 days. I had 9 apps

  • the dock, and all folders on the bottom row. This setup worked like

charm. The reason I used this system was to have the easiest way to locate and start apps.

Yes, I could combine all of those folders into one folder now. But it is just faster to browse through a few pages on springboard, than it is to browse through the 9 icon pages inside a folder.

It’s sad to see a simple, useful and great feature got his way. I don’t expect to see it go back. I haven’t used folders on any of my iOS devices in a few months. They are not useful anymore.

(#blog)