Oh What a Tangled Web

Imac SetUp - New Page480This time six years ago, I was dreading the consequences of the choice I made to never go to Dell again—in a hatbox or otherwise. I was fed up with the PC blue screen and had heard that Mac JUST WORKS. I wanted me some of that. And got it, mostly, since making the switch with the arrival in late January 2008 of the MacPro. I have said good-bye to the old gal now, and gone soon to another.

The old system is still operating fine, inasmuch as any piece of technology is reliable in relative terms. I’ve not had it into the shop but once, and in the last year have added some components that are worth the asking price of the whole system. I may boost it for sale here and on FB soon if my current sales lead does not pan out.

But the deal, for the past month, has been to be proactive with regard to the logistics of the transition from old to new. It is not by any means straightforward, largely because of the rat’s nest of wiring that’s swathed in cobwebs and house dust (with Ladybug Sprinkles!)  behind an immovable solid-oak desk and sidepiece. Tthe two of them probably weigh  three hundred pounds and sit on a medium-pile rug. They are not sliding or shoving anywhere, even by an inch.

So I’ve spent a lot of time the past few days spelunking in the dark recesses to label each wire that will have a life and need to find a plug-in on the new machine. Many, thankfully, won’t have a life to come—like the multiple lines required for the MacPro monitor alone.

The new system will cost me every bit I earned over 2014 with book and note card sales, speaker’s fees and computer consulting home visits. But the iMac 5K 27 inch Retina (with beefed up RAM and HD) should last me possibly for the duration. We’ll see about that.

Over the weekend, I was cooing clucking around the place making the nursery ready for the new baby, and today is the Big Day. So now I’m just waiting for the UPS stork.

To be confident I had a good idea ahead of time that I wouldn’t have a Oh Crap moment lacking outlets, cables or other hardware, I created a diagram in LucidCharts. So I should be able to just plug it in right out of the box and be back in the saddle, and tomorrow, my first blog post on my last computer ever?

Geek-Out on Goose Creek

Every so often I do a geek brain dump on the blog. I really don’t suffer the illusion that anybody gives a rat’s acetabulum about my particular computer workflow or preferred digital tools or what I do with them.

But for my own purposes, I do enjoy from time to time perusing the now twelve full years of blog posts as a time machine that looks back–not just at the nature of this place and life in it, but also at my tech evolution in blogging, from PC to Mac, with Photoshop and InDesign and such.

That said, in this week following a major reorganization of my old (and full) hard drive and the new (3TB) initially empty internal hard drive in the MacPro, I consider the software I’ve been using.

 In the latest OS called Mavericks , one useful new feature is that you can create tabs to folders or volumes from within Finder. This has been immensely useful in moving stuff around. If you are not using it on your Mac (running OS10.9) you might want to.

 Circus Ponies Notebook  Stupid name, great tool. Frankly, I’d abandoned it some while ago. But new version 4 came out a few weeks ago. AND (this is major) it plays nice with MS Word that I have to use for SF meeting notes. Typing in Word’s outline format is a hair-pulling frustration. Typing in CPN’s outline is a pleasure. [I’m also using it for blog posts text since it pastes in nicely to WordPress.]

 App Launchers Redux . I went back to QuickSilver (free). Nah. I went back to LaunchBar. Nah. I finally returned to good old Alfred (Pro) and am enjoying the Evernote Workflow that makes EN oh so much more useful now.

 Speaking of Evernote  I’m reorganizing (more than 1k) notes using tags rather than notebooks. New stuff into INBOX, everything else into the trash or into CABINET with two or more tags.

 PopClip  For a couple of bucks, this has saved countless mouse-miles and keystrokes over the past six months. Today I added a clip to APPEND to the current clipboard. I copy a web page title and url using TEMPLATES add-on in Chrome, then select text-Append—more text—append. Wish I could make it skip a line between appends.

 Remind Me Later  A free app I use daily. Hit the hotkey, type “pay state taxes Thursday at 9a” and it goes immediately to my google calendar. A reminder pops up (on the desktop and iPhone) to remind me.

You’ve suffered enough. I owe you a photo with fluffy mindless text. Soon.

UPDATE–this just in: Laverna–a note taking web app billed as Evernote that lives on your own computer. We’ll see.


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It’s All Connected: Ecology of Things

If we decided to (and I’m not placing any bets) we could use the coming interconnectedness of things and the information that provides to first understand and then correct the ways we waste, pollute, and despoil the very basis of our existence.

The “Internet of Things” holds as much promise as it does risk.

Read more on the ecology of connected things at Life, the Universe et Cetera. Internet of Things as Ecosystem

Documents by Readdle: iPad File Mgmt at Last

Frankly, I have mostly not considered my iPad as a tool for accessing files from anywhere other than the web or occasionally a pdf or two from Dropbox to read on the plane.

Apple apparently does not think this crucial need for road warriors is essential enough to provide such a tool in the built-in apps list. 

So the prospects of finding, opening, editing, saving and later retrieving any given text, rich text, pdf or html page on my iPad has just not been practical. Until now.

My tablet has just become far more useful, especially with the Kensington keyboard attached, since I found Documents. It is a file manager but not just.

Documents is from a product line generated by an outfit from the Ukraine called Readdle. I was aware of them having downloaded and enjoyed using Scanner Pro some months ago. They are poised to move into the business-apps realm, and I’d expect their efforts to succeed, based on the quality of their software.

Since techie-type posts are largely yawned at here, I’ll just suggest in the remote possibility you are interested, that you read about it here at AppStorm, where the writer reaches the same conclusion I did:

So pardon me for saying this so bluntly, but it’s an indicator of how necessary I think Documents is: Apple should buy it.

They should pick up the phone, call Readdle and make them an offer they can’t refuse. I’d make the argument that if Apple wants to become the de facto leader in corporate environments, they need a solution like this that makes sharing and managing files painless — even between multiple users.

Thanks to the way that Documents integrates with the cloud, it’s easy to use it for both personal and group situations.

A few other computer tools I’ve appreciated over the years and still use daily:

Workflowy An instantaneous and intuitive outliner with tremendous potential for ordering your thoughts, making lists, brainstorming.

Growly Notes (now via the App Store)  A click-anywhere document creation tool with some features I miss from OneNote.

Evernote  I was among the first 25k users for this “replacement brain” and have something like 1100 notes, including one I use to store ideas for and to write blog posts.

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A Good Word for WorkFlowy


Geek-moment here. Move on if you’ve come for more snakes, vegetable glamor shots, or endearing stories of marital bliss. That, for another time. This is for that one soul out that suffering anguish for want of this solution.

Outlining is the way I think and organize and brainstorm. I have used Checkvist, OmniOutliner, Ecco Pro, Circus Ponies Notebook, Fargo and other outliners over the past couple of years.

And I’m here to tell you that, for most if not all outlining needs, I seem to have settled for good on WorkFlowy.

Most of my use of this one-thing-well app has been writing out the text for presentations–maybe a half dozen over the past 8-9 months. But the demands bumped up a notch now that I will have to create agendas, meeting notes and minutes in a form that others can readily access.

ANd here I hit a deal-killer glitch. Or so it seemed.

Try as I might to find the right bulleted list-outline format in Word, every time I copied the WorkFlowy text into the word processor, things fell apart, visually.

But at last, with very prompt help from the kind folks at WorkFlowy, I have the answer:

From WorkFlowy, export your outline as “formatted” (vs plain text.) Paste that into an email body–at least it worked with G-mail. I can’t say about others. Google Documents was also suggested but I had less good luck there just bungling around on my own earlier.

Copy the outline from the body of the email. Paste into a new Word document.

The resulting outline is fully capable of promoting-demoting any given outline level (but not expand-collapse), and the document can be formatted with numbering systems.

So I’m happy. I can use my MacBookPro or even my iPad to take notes in WorkFlowy. I will always have my notes as part of my WF file, even on my iPhone. And when ready for approval by others and archiving, I can finish with the notes outline in Word for archiving.

To download your own free personal copy of WorkFlowy to love and cherish for the rest of your outlining life, click this link, and I’ll get some more space to “make lists, not war.”

BTW, the screenshot is of my WorkFlowy (collapsed) outline for the neglected book. Will I ever convince myself there is an audience for such an effort that warrants that use for the time and energies that remain? Dunno.