Ta-Da Lists

Anyone who knows me knows my obsession with lists. I swear by them. A common refrain I tell people is that if you do not see me write something down on a list somewhere, assume that it does not even exist because, functionally, it does not.
Ta-Da List, from 37 Signals, is very simple, straight forward, web based list manager that lets you create up to 10 lists. You can either view and edit them privately or share them with others. If you need a simple task list that you can access from any computer this is an easy and free way to go. Well worth checking out (being it is free and all).
They also make a very advanced and functional web based project manager called BaseCamp that has gotten much press play as of late. If you have a small team and work together on projects and need a way for everyone, even those in disparate locations, to be able to manage that project – look no further. It has integrated calendar, messaging, file sharing, contact management… The works!
In any case, there is a great interview over at O’Reilly with Jason Fried, president of 37 signals. Seems like a good bunch of folks that are doing some really good stuff and believe in drinking their own Kool-Aid. The way any good software deveoper should be.

Google X

Google X is a cute little way to access googles services in a very Mac OS X Dock sort of way. Click on the link below and then roll over the icons above the search bar and you will see what I mean. Yet another fun little innovation brought to you by Google Labs. Even the tagline at the bottom is cool. It reads, “Roses are red. Violets are blue. OS X rocks. Homage to you.”
Google X

Monday Mac Tweak #7

Post Subtitle:How OmniOutliner Saved My Wretched Life
We continue highlighting the applications I use on a daily basis to keep my busy life organized. This week we feature:
OmniOutliner 3 Professional
OmniOutliner Professional is a very powerful outlining tool. Besides simply being able to make hierarchical lists of all types, it also can be used for many other purposes as well. For instance, I use it to track expenses, track my bills, build Keynote presentations and much, much more.
It’s simple and straight forward interface easily unfolds to reveal a vast power underneath. Smart checkboxes, customizable pop-up lists, a powerful styles system and the ability to attach graphic, audio and video files (all viewable in the document) are just a fraction of the options at your command. Apply styles to rows, create multiple columns and column types, batch find specific words via the handy slide out drawer and export it all to Rich Text, HTML or Apple Keynote… Go nuts!
There is a “Standard” version of OmniOutliner that contains all of the features heretofore mentioned but I use the “Professional” version. Why? Well the additional features of course. For instance, the built-in audio recording allows one to record voice notes, meetings and lectures. With Pro, you can save your documents as templates to avoid having to reinvent the wheel. The sections drawer allows one to view the entire document framework at a glance. It really was worth the extra money to get the Professional version.
I have used OmniOutliner since version 1.0 and have never looked back. It really is the centerpiece of my organizational life. As a matter of fact, it has so many of the features that NoteTaker has, if not for a couple of key ones I could use OmniOutliner for everything. The two serve different purposes for me so I never really find them “overlapping” each other in my usage. OmniOutliner saved my wretched, unorganized life and it will save yours too.
Also of note, The OmniGroup is a great bunch of folks that have been committed to Mac OS X since day one. They provide really good and fast support and listen to the feature requests of their customers. Their other products are worth a look as well. They are deserving of your hard earned dollars.

Upgrading to Paper: The Moleskine Reports

Jeremy Wagstaff writes a column for WSJ.com called Loose Wire. Besides being a talented columnist he is also a big fan of the little notebooks I have mentioned here before. Jeremy’s LOOSE wire blog is running a series of posts he is calling “The Moleskine Reports” that are actually the full text of interviews he did in preparation for a feature article he wrote for WSJ.
The Moleskine Report Part One is an interview with Marc Orchant and it struck me the most. Marc said something that really hit home for me:
“I spend a good amount time in the Getting Things Done discussion forums and there seems to be cyclical pattern to the adoption of, tweaking of, and abandonment of electronics like PDAs. I’ve been using a PDA since the original Newton MessagePad and have probably owned at least a dozen different models over the years. Right now (at least), I’m at a stage in my personal cycle where I don’t want to put up with the hassles a PDA presents. Whether it’s battery life, readability in direct sunlight, a cramped and frustrating text entry UI, or the myriad other things that “suck” about PDAs, the Moleskine has none of these issues.”
I could not have said it better myself. Since my post of a few weeks ago, I have been using my Moleskine quite a bit. I love it. I currently have it integrated into my workflow to jot action items down while on the go and to “core dump” other items (i.e. bits of info like quotes, recommendations, addresses, etc). When I have the time I then process these items accordingly. The “action items” end up on myOmniOutliner action list. The “core dump” items end up where they need to be routed to. I am sure I need to tweak this paradigm a little but it is working for now.
Jeremy has a number good posts, especially about using Moleskines. Check them out.

Battle of the Blogs!

OK, so you know how I have been kicking myself for not posting more often (although today I have been posing more than I have in the past few weeks)? Well, my friend Rodney Stein over at Inquisitive Sci-Fi Monkey has been doing the same. Therefore, we have come up with a great solution (actually, he came up with it but I agreed). We are going to have a “Battle of the Blogs”. Next week, starting on Monday and going for 7 days, the person who has the most good, insightful and relevant posts will win. The loser will have to buy the winner dinner…
Let the games begin!

Monday Mac Tweak #6

I swear to the gods that I am going to actually start posting on time again. Honest. I swear…

If you could not tell from the way I post updates here, I struggle with organization. It does not help that I have so much on my plate. The work I do at Carleton, my Consulting Business, being a full time single father. It all adds up to, well, not much as far as time is concerned. There are a number of tools that I use on a daily basis to (try to) keep myself organized. I thought it would be a good series of Mac tweaks to review each one here over the next few weeks. We start with…

AquaMinds NoteTaker

NoteTaker is a digital notebook that gives whole new meaning to the term “full featured”. On it’s face, it is a basic notebook, like a paper multi-subject notebook. It even has spiral rings and tabs on the side to divide your entries into sections. You can create and have as many separate notebooks as you wish. But that is where the similarities leave off and the true power begins.

NoteTaker has an parent child multiple entry style that makes it a powerful outlining tool. You can order and number your entries if you choose in Legal, Hard or other styles. Or leave the styles off and simply use it as a way of organizing and defining otherwise free form information. It also can store images, sound files, movie files and link to key documents. Say for instance you are at a meeting and discussing a memo that has been distributed to the group as a Microsoft Word Document. You can not only take notes of the meeting but also provide a link entry for the document in question. Double clicking the link will launch Word and open the document. Very handy!

Furthermore, it leverages the built in Services feature of Mac OS X to clip information from other sources (For instance, documents, e-mails and web pages) into new entries in your notebook. It will also include header information about the source where the information came from.

But the real surprise is when you enter a URL (web site address) into a notebook. It places a little “@” sign next to the entry. Double clicking on the text of the link will launch your web browser and bring you to that page. Double clicking on the “@” sign will load the page in a little mini browser, in line, right there in your notebooks page. How cool is that?!

I use NoteTaker to jot down ideas, thoughts, clip and save information from many sources. I use it for so many other things and it is truly part of the foundation of information on my Mac.

Monday Mac Tweak #5

OK, so I know it is not Monday and that this Mac Tweak is a little late but…
Have you ever wanted to rename a bunch of files in bulk? Like a bunch of music or photo files that you want to name and number in a certain order? Well, it would normally take hours of “click, hold, rename” futzing around that no one really has the time for. Especially if you have a whole bunch of them.

Next time download and use this cool little utility called Renamer.From the applications website:
Renamer4Mac makes it really easy to rename a big number of files according to a preset pattern. It lets you rename your files in many different ways:

• Search & replace
• Insert/overwrite of text
• Number the files
• Convert upper/lowercase

All can be done with an easy user interface and real-time preview, so you can see how the files will be named just while you’re configuring!

It is donationware so, if you find it useful (as I have recently) throw a bone or two their way.

On a steel horse I ride…

I have the most diverse musical tastes of anyone I know. I really don’t care what the genre is, as long as it is good music, I will listen. Punk, Heavy Metal, Rap, New and Old School R&B, Jazz, Classical and even a fair bit of country (I am a sucker for fiddles and good harmony). Many people who know me know that, amongst the many deep dark musical love secrets I hold, I love 80’s “Arena Rock”. Journey, Van Halen and, my karaoke favorite, Bon Jovi…

See, most of the people who know me must think I am crazy when I tell them that, not only do I like Johnny Goldenlocks and the Jersey Shore Boys, I also can sing a pretty good Bon Jovi. I have a very similar tone to my voice as he does. Don’t believe me? Let’s go out for karaoke sometime and I will pick “Dead or Alive” or “Living on a Prayer” and I will make you a believer… At least until the key change after the bridge in “Living on a Prayer” at which point I will strain my vocal cords and start spitting up blood. Which would make a good segue into “Heaven’s On Fire” by Kiss. But, I digress…

Those were the days. I will never forget them. I remember going back to school the day after a big concert, wearing your baseball style tour shirt, seeing all of the other kids with theirs and knowing, at least for that day that you were all one tribe. You shared the experience of the artistry and beauty of a Neal Schon guitar solo, the spectacle of David Lee Roth and seeing the masses of hot chicks dressed in next to nothing (though, I will note, more than today’s teenage girls wear to school itself) hoping to get a backstage pass at Def Leopard. You were a part of something that was as close to history in your mind as anything done by some old dead guys who scored a paragraph in a textbook. They played instruments dammit! They weren’t some Clear Channel manufactured pop creations that could not hold a note outside of a studio. They were artists…

So what has spurred all of this waxing nostalgic? Well, a link sent to me by my friend Lew. This guy knows what I am talking about. This guy gets it!