Drafts App

Drafts app icon

Drafts app is like a magical pencil for iOS (iPhone and iPad). It doesn’t draw, rather, it captures notes from your muse.

“A Short Pencil Is Better Than A Long Memory.”

An old aphorism states, “A short pencil is better than a long memory.” The secret to creativity is to capture your ideas, as quickly as possible, before they disappear into the ether. Once you’ve captured a great idea, getting a project started becomes much easier.

Q: When do you do your best visualizations?

For many people, their answer looks something like:

  • in the shower
  • when I first wake up
  • while I’m jogging
  • when I’m alone with nature

My iPhone is almost always nearby, so I can quickly capture moments of illumination with the Drafts app.

Drafts app screens

Plain text and markdown: That’s the ticket. 🙂 The Drafts app has become the starting point of my plain text, markdown workflow. My preference is to use it in landscape mode. I’ve set the apps appearance to a light yellow background and I use the FFTisa font. I’ve set my iPhone documents to automatically sync with the iPad version of Drafts. At my leisure, I’ll briefly edit my best concepts on the iPad before saving them to Dropbox. My best ideas then get fleshed out in Byword or FoldingText on my iMac. One of the beauties of plain text and markdown is that it’s straightforward to move documents between plain text apps.

  1. capture ideas with Drafts app for iPhone
  2. iPhone Drafts’ documents sync with the iPad version of Drafts
  3. edit concepts on the iPad
  4. save to Dropbox and
  5. flesh out the best project ideas with FoldingText and the best blog post concepts with Byword.

Draft’s output options are very impressive. I’ve output documents to Agenda, Byword, Day One, HTML, Mail, Markdown, Things and Tweetbot in addition to Dropbox.

Drafts app output

Drafts is a great value. Consider investing a couple of bucks so that you’re ready for your Eureka moment. You’ll be glad you did.

>> Visit Agile Tortoise, the developer, to learn more.

It takes a very clever developer to create a simple, straightforward app where everything works in an obvious way.

Markdown Apps for iOS

Writing Kit screenshot

Have you been searching for Markdown apps for iOS? Writing Kit might be exactly what you’ve been looking for.

If you have an iPhone and/or an iPad and enjoy Markdown, I’ll bet, like me, you already own the excellent app, Elements.

Q: What does Writing Kit offer that Elements, currently, does not?
A: Watch Don McAllister’s video

Markdown shortcut keys, Dropbox sync and integration with CloudApp, OmniFocus, TextExpander touch, Terminology and the Quick Research tools are my favourite Writing Kit features.

It’s worth mentioning that although I’m really enjoying using Wrtiting Kit, right now, Metaclassy the developer of Byword app, my favourite Markdown app for Mac OS, has been hinting that something iOS and iCloud related is in the pipeline. I’m betting on Byword for iPad.

Mac To Do List Managers

Mac To Do List Managers

Choosing a Mac To Do List Manager is tricky, simply because there are so darned many Mac OS and iOS apps to choose from.

Background: When I began the ‘university-phase’ of my life, I was ill prepared for the academic world. I was one of those fortunate/unfortunate kids who found high-school easy; the result was that I focused on sports and I never learned to study. In Pre-Med my concept of getting ready for exams was to redo my multi-coloured study plans, over and over again, as there were fewer and fewer hours remaining to study. Surprisingly, quite a few months passed before I discovered that a little less time spent planning and more time invested doing, was the key to success. I consider myself fortunate to have uncovered the essence of studying, before I reached the relatively unforgiving Med-School environment.

Does my university experience relate to choosing and using a Mac To DO List Manager? Yes, it does, I’ve used OmniFocus, Things and TaskPaper, but my task management style, or lack thereof, is best suited to TaskPaper, let me explain…

TaskPaper icon

I’ve always been a fan of OmniGraffle Pro and OmniOutliner Pro, so, it shouldn’t surprise anyone to learn that my Mac To Do List Manager quest began with OmniFocus. OmniFocus can be as simple as you want it to be, but it also has considerable depth for folks who need it. I was lured away from OmniFocus by Things which is prettier than OmniFocus and quite elegant. Although Things is very impressive, when I first tested TaskPaper, I was hooked. Here’s why:

Less Time Spent Planning And More Time Invested Doing
Is The Key To Success

  • it’s really easy to plan
  • the focus is on doing/accomplishing, not on planning and GTD systems
  • documents resemble plain text

TaskPaper screenshot

  • blissfully straightforward shortcuts:
    • end a word/sentence with a colon to create a project
    • start a sentence with a dash and a space and it’s a task
    • everything not recognized as a task or a project is a note
    • place @ before a word to create a tag/keyword

Are you old enough to remember Dave Winer’s brilliant outliner ThinkTank™? TaskPaper reminds me a little of ThinkTank, but of course, in today’s world, there’s an iOS version of TaskPaper that syncs with Dropbox.

TaskPaper is a Mac To Do List Manager done right. One minute and you’re a TaskPaper expert, the next, you’re getting stuff done.

My recommendation is that you begin your search for a Mac To Do List Manager by checking out @jessegrosjean’s TaskPaper.

MarkdownNote for Mac

MarkdownNote for Mac icon

I’ve been on a text editor, plain text and Markdown kick recently. Why is that? Quoting Brett Terpstra, Markdown is just such an “easy, fast, clean, portable, flexible workflow” for writing with plain text and outputting to HTML, PDF and LaTeX. Just yesterday I wrote about using Sublime Text and the Marked app.

Today, a nifty new application arrived at the Mac App Store. It’s called MarkdownNote for Mac OS.

“MarkdownNote makes it really easy to create notes using John Gruber’s popular Markdown markup language in your Mac or iPad. Using live preview feature, you can preview your Markdown markup syntax to HTML on writing. Sync your documents with Dropbox.com, built into MarkdownNote for iOS and using the desktop client on Mac.”

It’s not going to replace Sublime Text and the Marked app in my workflow, but the implementation of a single widow design with instant live HTML preview is brilliant. A tip of my hat to Young Hoo Kim at Coding Robots.

Update (20111002): I also recommend checking out the new Mou app

Note: There’s also an iOS iPad version of MarkdownNote.

MarkdownNote blog entry

iSteve

iSteve book cover

iSteve – The Book of Jobs – The Exclusive Biography

Update (20110705) The book has been renamed ‘Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson.’

Steve Jobs book cover

Steve Jobs

“The Greatest Innovator of His Generation”

Here’s what Amazon has to say:

“From bestselling author Walter Isaacson comes the landmark biography of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. In iSteve: The Book of Jobs, Isaacson provides an extraordinary account of Jobs’ professional and personal life. Drawn from three years of exclusive and unprecedented interviews Isaacson has conducted with Jobs as well as extensive interviews with Jobs’ family members, key colleagues from Apple and its competitors, iSteve is the definitive portrait of the greatest innovator of his generation.”

About the Author

Walter Isaacson

Walter Isaacson, the CEO of the Aspen Institute, has been chairman of CNN and the managing editor of Time magazine. He is the author of Benjamin Franklin: An American Life and of Kissinger: A Biography, and the coauthor of The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made. He lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife and daughter.

I’m really looking forward to this book. I’ll update this post after I’ve read the book.

>> order iSteve at Amazon

>> Steve Jobs: My Thanks

WWDC 2011 logo

Steve will be a keynote speaker at Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference tomorrow (20110606). Steve will be highlighting Mac OS X Lion, iOS5 and iCloud.

Tembo Trunks™

Tembo Trunks

What are Tembo Trunks? (tembo trunks™)

  • earbud speakers for use with your iPhone, iPod and iPad (iOS devices)
  • collapsible, portable, stereo speakers
  • utilize horn acoustics
  • amplify music from your earbuds to 80dB
  • 100% waterproof, shockproof and dust-proof
  • non-electrical, they don’t use batteries or drain power like external speakers or docking stations
  • 100% non oil-based, high-grade silicone rubber

>> help fund production at kickstarter

>> Tembo Trunks

iPad, More Than Just Technology

Steve Jobs crossroads sign

Quoting Steve Jobs: “I’ve said this before, but thought it was worth repeating: It’s in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough. That it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the result that makes our hearts sing.

And nowhere is that more true than in these post-PC devices.

And a lot of folks in this tablet market are rushing in and they’re looking at this as the next PC. The hardware and the software are done by different companies. And they’re talking about speeds and feeds just like they did with PCs.

And our experience and every bone in our body says that that is not the right approach to this. That these are post-PC devices that need to be even easier to use than a PC. That need to be even more intuitive than a PC. And where the software and the hardware and the applications need to intertwine in an even more seamless way than they do on a PC.

And we think we’re on the right track with this. We think we have the right architecture not just in silicon, but in the organization to build these kinds of products.”

Clearly, Apple gets it, but instead of calling the iPad a ‘Post PC’ device they could very well refer to it as a…

After you view the movie, make a suggestion.

Steve Jobs: My Thanks

Steve Jobs Macworld cover

Steve Jobs recently wrote, “I love Apple so much and hope to be back as soon as I can.”

Steve Jobs: My Thanks

I love Apple too Steve and I hope the “good vibe” energy you’ve generated over your lifetime will now return to you magnified manyfold, enabling you to heal and return to Apple rejuvenated.

Background: I remember observing the joy my father experienced playing with a little HP computer that had a small white on black screen and a built in printer. I often scanned dad’s BYTE magazines, but personal computers didn’t really grab my attention until 1982 when I bought a NorthStar Advantage machine that ran CP/M. The NorthStar’s text and data handling were surprisingly good, but creating simple graphics was painful. That pain led to a jaw-dropping, Apple induced ‘Eureka’ moment when I first saw the Lisa at Computerworld in Vancouver.

Apple Lisa

One of the Computerworld sales guys realized how impressed I was, so he sat me down to watch a movie of Steve talking about great products. Unsurprisingly Steve listed many of my favourite things.

Steve Jobs = A Lifetime of FUN for Millions of People

Apple, NeXT and then back to Apple again, I followed Steve, it was clear to me that he had a tech vision that the rest of us lacked.

My thanks Steve, I’m not a traditional prayer sort of guy, but I am sending very positive energy your way. Be well and take care of yourself.

Update: Steve Jobs died at home 20111005 surrounded by his loving family.

The authorized biography ‘Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson’ will be available 24 October 2011.

Mac OS X and iOS Apps for a Plain Text Workflow

BBEdit screen capture of plain text

I like plain text.

Although I admire beautifully typset documents, nothing beats plain text for productivity. Plain text is easy to compose, easy to send and easy to receive. Sharing/syncing plain text documents on a Mac and an iPhone/iPad with Dropbox works beautifully.

Mac OS X Apps (I set the font to Monaco 14 in all four apps)

iPhone/iPad (Courier New 14, iOS4 doesn’t have Monaco)

Cloud (for syncing and sharing)

Plain text email

Apple Mail preferences for plain text are set as follows:

Mail > Preferences… > Fonts & Colors
Apple Mail Fonts and Colors Plain Text

Mail > Preferences… > Composing
Apple Mail Composing Plain Text

FYI, my email system closely follows that outlined by Joe Kissell in his TidBITS article ‘Achieving Email Bliss with IMAP, Gmail, and Apple Mail.’

Apple Mail messages are stored in plain text, one message per file (a modified eml format with an ‘.emlx’ extension). Apple Mail archives are stored in the mbox format which is just one big text file.

BTW, I suspect standards organizations and security folks love plain text too.