OS X Yosemite

by freerk smit

MacStories reports: 

Apple today unveiled OS X Yosemite, the next major version of their Mac operating system. Introduced by Apple's Senior Vice President of Software Engineering, Craig Federighi, Yosemite brings a big new redesign to the Mac that is reminiscent of last year's iOS 7 redesign. Continuity between OS X and iOS is also a huge aspect to the Yosemite release, including a so-called 'Handoff' feature, instant hotspots, and support for making phone calls and sending text messages from a Mac. Beyond that, Notification Center now includes the 'Today' view from iOS (with support for widgets), a brand new 'Spotlight' and big improvements to Mail, Safari and the new iCloud Drive.

It's going to be an interesting summer.

A rundown of Photo Stream alternatives

by freerk smit

Here's a nice little rundown of Photo Stream alternatives by The Sweet Setup. I am still debating what solution I am going to pursue. PictureLife sure looks interesting. 

When it comes to syncing data across our devices, we’ve largely “arrived.” If you predominately use all Apple or Google apps and services, then most of your data and documents are synced through those first-party services.

Incomplete Backup

by freerk smit

Be paranoid.

Too many people have no backups at all. Storing your photos and documents on an external hard drive is NOT a backup. Dropbox is NOT a backup. A backup is separate from the original files. A backup is a duplicate. And the best duplicate is somewhere other than where your files reside.

Preparing for tomorrow

by freerk smit

This afternoon, while I was clearing out my RSS feed I stumbled upon a post from Simplicity Bliss that talks about 'preparing for tomorrow'.

Doing a little preparation the night before is said to help with the a productive day. While I struggle with this approach and usually use the first cup of coffee in the morning to prepare and plan the day ahead, this simple approach from Chris Brogan shared in Open Forum post about nighttime habits intrigued me.

My routine is similar. During my first cup of coffee in the morning, either at home or in the office, I prepare for the day ahead. This usually entails opening up OmniFocus and select my 'Get This Done' perspective. It shows me my available actions for my work related projects. 

Chris Brogan shares a simple approach to preparing for tomorrow. It's basically a short scripted questionnaire that helps you focus your thoughts and get them out of your head before going to bed. 

Tomorrow, I’m going to ____________________.
To be ready, I need to ____________________.
I will remember my ____________________.
The random thoughts that just filled my head are ____________________.
Also remember to ____________________.

I like this approach and that's why I will try to implement it in the next few weeks. I have chosen to put the entries into Day One so they are available on my Mac as well as my iOS devices. Let's see how it goes. 

Be sure to also check out the TextExpander snippet as an extra bonus. 

The Sweet Setup

by freerk smit

With a lack of curation in the app ecosphere I welcome any serious attempt to collect and share opinions about the best apps out there.

A new initiative by Shawn Blanc, called The Sweet Setup is trying to do just that. The site recently launched and is already hosting some great content.

Here we will be recommending only the apps which are proven to be the best rather than new (I already write plenty about what’s new and cool over at shawnblanc.net and Tools & Toys). Additionally, by focusing on only the best, it means all the content on our site is relevant all the time. I didn’t want to post our articles in a reverse-chronological order that, by nature, would cause still-helpful reviews to be pushed out of view once new reviews get published. 

The Sweet Setup has already found its way into my RSS feed and I will be checking it frequently for new recommendations. Besides app recommendations the site will also feature articles, interviews and tips & tricks.


Eat your own dog food

by freerk smit

Yahoo! is apparently 'forcing' its employees to use Yahoo Mail.

Earlier this year we asked you to move to Yahoo Mail for your corporate email account. 25% of you made the switch (thank you). But even if we used the most generous of grading curves (say, the one from organic chemistry), we have clearly failed in our goal to move our co-workers to Yahoo Mail.

It's time for the remaining 75% to make the switch. Beyond the practical benefits of giving feedback to your colleagues on the Mail team, as a company it's a matter of principle to use the products we make. (BTW, same for Search.)

Clearly it must be saying something when 75% of your people don't care about their own product(s). Apparently it's a matter of principle to use an inferior email solution.

For others, you might now be running in your head to a well worn path of justified resistance, phoning up the ol' gang, circling the hippocampian wagons of amygdalian resistance. Hold on a sec, pilgrim.

Say what?

MacSparky Field Guide: Email

by freerk smit

David Sparks (@MacSparky) just released a new book in his excellent Field Guide series. This one is all about email (or e-mail if you like). As David mentions in his foreword, this is not just a book. It's a collection of words, movies, screencasts, picture galleries and other gizmos. While I have just started reading I have already discovered this book is filled with useful tips to take control of your inbox. 

If you work with e-mail I highly recommend you buy this book and implement some (if not all) of David's hands-on approaches to managing email. 

iTunes affiliate link

Retina iPad mini first impressions

by freerk smit

Viticci writes:

I can create and consume content on the iPad mini because its smaller form factor and lightness allow me to use it all the time in any situation without needing to rest my hands. The iPad mini can be my primary computer because I want to carry it, hold it with one hand, thumb-type on it, and put it in my girlfriend’s purse – which wouldn’t be possible with the iPad Air.

While I have never considered my iPad mini to be a content creation device I am intriged by the fact that Viticci can manage to be so productive on the mini. I mainly use it as a consumption device. I am however trying to incorporate it into my workflow more and more. If only it would do Excel :-)

Mailplane revisited

by freerk smit

In February of this year I wrote about Mailplane and how I use it to handle my Gmail [1] accounts. Back then I wrote:

Although I am not a big fan of Google as such, I really do like their e-mail service, and the Gmail web-interface in particular. I have been using Gmail for my personal e-mail ever since it was still in beta and over time it has become my central e-mail hub. I am using it to manage several accounts so that I only have 1 place to handle e-mail.

Things have changed a bit since then. I still use Gmail for my work related account but I have started the process to move my personal e-mail away from Gmail. I have signed up for a Fastmail account that now serves as my central e-mail hub. I will probably reflect on that in a future post.

Back to Mailplane. My February piece was based on version 2.5. The app has since received and upgrade and at the time of writing this post it is at version 3.0.1.

What is new?

Mailplane 3 is completely new. It still looks very familiar, but is has been re-built from the ground up. It looks very good in my opinion. Where version 2.5 was relatively unpolished and had a real 'function-over-form' look, Mailplane has caught up with time and now looks much more coherent and minimalist. I like it. It is far less distracting, so the e-mail gets center stage.

Adding accounts is very straightforward, even with Google's two-factor authentication enabled. Mailplane allows up to 10 accounts to be configured. A nice improvement is the addition of Google Calendar, right in the app itself. This gets rid of the need to switch between Mailplane and your browser or calendar application. Your calendar is set up in a single step when you connect your e-mail account.

Mailplane also offers compatibility with several plugins, like Rapportive, Boomerang and AwayFind.

The old is still there
Luckily, Mailplane keeps many of the features that make it so powerful. It integrates nicely into the OS, letting you select it as the default e-mail application. This opens up the ability to use OS X built in services. You can also drag and drop files which get automatically uploaded in a new compose window. Mailplane will also allow you to automatically re-size images before uploading. Gmail's productivity enhancing keyboard shortcuts were already available in Mailplane but in version 3 they feel more solid and responsive.

I also like the little notifier that settles in the menu bar. It provides a quick glance at new messages and the ability to turn on 'Do Not Disturb', disabling all visible notifications. I highly recommend this if you are serious about productivity!

Still the best of both worlds
If you're like me and prefer to use the Gmail web interface but also want a dedicated mail app in OS X then things don't get any better than Mailplane. Surely you could use Sparrow, but development seems to have stopped after having been acquired by Google. To me, Mailplane still offers the best 'native' Gmail experience on the Mac. You can see for yourself and try out the app for 15 days before buying.


[1] If you like Gmail you might be interested in my 3 part tips and tricks: part 1, part 2 and part 3