Twitter still has its place. It’s a place for celebrities to promote their fame. It’s a place for normal people to pretend they are celebrities. And it’s a place for Twitter to sell you to advertisers.

A winter reminder

:

The up volume button on an iPhone can be used to snap a photo. With gloves on all the time (unless you’re living in SF), if you need to snap a quick photo, you still can without freezing your fingers off.

I always forget about this feature.

I try to keep myself using as few apps as I can and as few web services as I can. I don’t experiment with them. I don’t try out new things nearly as much as I used to. As I’ve gotten older, I’m less inclined to want to change the way I’m doing things. I’m also less inclined to start up on something that’s new because I have a sense that things that are new are not going to get old. Very few new things end up getting old. They just don’t last long enough. If I’d gotten myself in the habit of using Product A and Product A goes away, then I’m screwed. And I’m tired of that. That’s happened plenty of times over the years.

Dr. Drang dropping wisdom on The Prompt

Stop and Go

Working from home is weird. You don’t leave in the morning, and you don’t pack up and head home in the evening. There’s no commute. These things that we typically punctuate the start and end of our work days with don’t exist. As a result, it can be hard to switch off. When your work computer is your home computer and you use the same machine for everything, it can be tricky to form an adequate disconnect.

Being a nerd, I’m using a couple of AppleScripts to add a little structure to starting and stopping my day. They are appropriately named Go.scpt and Stop.scpt. Here’s what they look like:

The Go script launches everything in my Dock and logs me into the Google Talk account that I use for work. The Stop script shuts down every work-related app and logs me out of my Google Talk account.1 I launch them with Alfred, which will index your AppleScripts if you check the right box in the app’s preferences.2

Alfred's Preferences

So, when I start work in the morning: ⌘-Space, go, Return, and I’m at work. At the end of the day, ⌘-Space, stop, Return, and my connection to work is severed. It’s shorter than a commute (hooray!), but it’s enough to help me switch gears mentally.


  1. The only work apps I leave open at the end of the day are Terminal.app and Chrome. I use Chrome for everything work-related and Safari for everything else. Choosy helps make this nearly seamless. Similarly, I use Airmail for work email and Mail.app for personal accounts. This probably sounds tedious, but maintaining clear mental separation between work and home via the apps I use has been very comforting. 
  2. Alfred will look for scripts you’ve created with AppleScript Editor (even if you save them to iCloud). To use these scripts, copy them, launch AppleScript Editor, create a New Document, paste the script in, and save it. Alfred will find it. 

Bookmarklets

Safari for iOS 7 brought with it a lot of changes, but the one I’ve enjoyed the most is the new bookmark view that’s displayed in empty tabs and when tapping the address bar.

Bookmarklets

I’ve come to think of it as a custom share panel thanks to a handful of bookmarklets that take advantage of the URL schemes built into some of the apps I use.

By default, Safari displays the bookmarks stored in same folder as the one used by the Favorites Bar on your Mac. It’s a smart default, but if you’re using it the way I’ve been, you end up with a lot of iOS-specific bookmarks displayed constantly on your Mac, and the Favorites Bar can get cluttered quickly.

There’s a solution, though. You can tell Safari on iOS to display the contents of a different folder full of bookmarks. Open Settings, tap Safari, and tap Favorites. Then, select which folder you want to use. I’ve creatively named mine iOS.

Settings

Now you’ve got an awesome custom share panel on iOS and a clean Favorites Bar on your Mac.

And for those who are interested, I’ve thrown the bookmarklets I’ve been using into a Gist:

Device Parity

It’s verboten to admit such things, but there are times when I actually want my iPad to be a big iPhone.1 Of course, I want it to do more than my iPhone, too. Apps like Editorial satisfy that requirement, but there are still tasks that I can perform on my iPhone that I can’t perform on my iPad.

For some reason, I find this lack of parity troubling, and I think it’s tangential to the discussion that cropped up recently concerning device ecosystems. Matt Gemmell wrote an excellent piece about it focusing on why you should be okay with owning and traveling with a phone, tablet, and laptop; each excels at different tasks, and you should use what’s most appropriate for whatever you’re doing. Mr. Gemmell:

Compromises don’t make for great products, and nor do they make for great experiences.

That’s why you have more than one device. That’s why it’s perfectly reasonable to pack and travel with several of them. And that’s also why a more rational view of a piece of technology is that it’s part of an ecosystem – your own personal one, encompassing your work, leisure, interests and utility needs.

Having multiple devices is fine. Picking the best device for the task is logical. My irritation manifests when I’m using one device that would be 100% suitable, appropriate, and capable of performing the task at hand but can’t because it lacks the necessary software.

Here’s a common scenario: I’m reading my Twitter feed with Tweetbot on the iPad. I get a message from someone on App.net. Since I don’t have a suitable App.net client on my iPad (or my Mac), I have to pull out my phone to reply instead of simply using my iPad. Multiple devices become an annoyance rather than a luxury.

In this case, the best device for the task is the one I have in front of me. But it isn’t up to the job because of a lack of software. Thus, instead of picking the right tool for the job, I’m forced to use the tool that has the app I need access to. If I wanted to live or travel with just an iPad, I couldn’t.

This likely sounds trivial and silly, but the time I waste switching between devices while performing the following tasks could be better spent.

Checking the Weather

I used to rely on Perfect Weather for radar and Weather Line for forecasts. Both excel at what they do, but both are iPhone-only. About halfway through writing this article, I switched to—wait for it—Check the Weather. It’s a solid app, but it lacks the UI polish of Perfect Weather and Weather Line. It’s universal, though, so I can use it on both my iPhone and iPad, which is a big win.

Communication via App.net

Felix is nice on the iPad, but I still prefer Riposte, and I love Whisper for ADN-based private messaging. And with the addition of Broadcasts, the App.net Passport app is now more useful, but it isn’t optimized for the iPad yet, so I only get broadcast notifications on my phone.

Automating Workflows

I’ve come to rely on Launch Center Pro for a number of tasks, including creating events and reminders, bookmarking URLs via Pincase, generating Markdown links, and more. Launch Center Pro serves as the glue between a few of my core apps, and having an iPad-optimized version would be a welcome addition to my toolset.

Creating Calendar Events and Reminders

Fantastical 2 brought with it a number of enhancements, but it didn’t bring a universal interface. Flexibits is working on a version for the iPad—I can’t wait to see what they come up with. Fantastical 2’s support for x-callback-url is a key part of how I deal with creating events and reminders on iOS.

Going Universal

This problem manifests largely in one direction: apps are written for the iPhone but not the iPad. Writing an app with an interface for both devices is not trivial. It’s almost as difficult as building two separate apps, so I don’t begrudge developers who build for one device and not the other.

That said, I’m hopeful that the continued high sales of the iPad will provide developers with the incentive to start supporting both devices out of the gate.


  1. Gasp. Shock. Horror. 


(via Cord Cutters And The Death Of TV – Business Insider)

I regret linking to a Business Insider article. However, this graph is compelling. Note the sharp decline in computer use when the work day ends around 5 p.m. Note the equally sharp uptick in tablet use around the same time.

This is part of why the iPad is so important to Apple. Tablets are what people are turning to in their leisure time (followed closely by phones, which Apple’s already selling a ton of). There’s still a gap between 8 am and 5 pm, though. Hence, Life on iPad.

Tablets have caught the leisure market, but people aren’t sold on using a tablet for Real Work™. The Life on iPad campaign sends a clear message: you can use it for just about anything.