Monday Mac Tweak #8

We continue highlighting the applications I use on a daily basis to keep my busy life organized. This week we feature:
Mariner Write
Sure, I have Microsoft Word on my Powerbook but I find that, in general, it is way too much for my needs. It has a one size (XXL in the case of Word) fits all mentality that makes it slow and bloated and non intuitive for my tastes. Many of the most useful features are either not well documented are buried needlessly in the depths of the program and I could easily grab a cup of coffee during the time it takes to fully launch. I need a word processor that is fast to load, takes up very little hard drive space, has just the features I need and makes those features intuitive and easy to find.
I have found what I look for in Mariner Software’s wonderful word processor, Mariner Write. It can handle all of the tasks most people would ever need in a word processor. Not only that but it can also Open, Read and Write Microsoft Word compatible files so there is no need to worry if your friends, clients and coworkers send you Word .doc files (or you need to send one to them). An added bonus, and one that helps me a great deal, is the ability to save files directly as a PDF file. Mac OS X has built in support for PDF files and Write leverages that ability seamlessly. Let’s get that straight. I am not talking about saving to PDF from the Print dialog. I am talking Save As: PDF! It also has multiple text selection, a split pane view that allows one to see and edit two separate sections of the same document and all of the other features one would expect from a full featured word processor.
If you are looking for a word processors with 80% of the features of MS Word but none of the bloat, look no further.

Jackson Meadow

Jackson Meadow is a sustainable rural community located in Marine on St. Croix. It was designed by famed architect David Samela and is nothing short of breathtaking. It has been featured in most of the contemporary home magazines like Metropolitan Home and Dwell. Bethany and I had the occasion to visit the development during the Parade of Homes a few weekends back and had a great time. The all white houses in ying styles with pitched metal roofs against the background of the Minnesota winter made for some picturesque views. I highly recommend to anyone with even a passing interest in architecture to make a pilgrimage. It is a beautiful drive and close enough to Stillwater to make a day of it.

Upgrading to Paper: The Stylus

Sorry for the lack of a post yesterday. Please believe me when I tell you that I was unable to. I will try to make up for it by posting some items today. This will be made easier by the fact that Carleton was closed at around 1:00PM today due to the snowstorm currently beating it’s way across Southern Minnesota.
OK, so there is even more to be considered in my current switch to paper. Not only must one consider a proper notebook to use, one must also replace their “stylus” as well. I am currently using a Sarasa Zebra Gel Retractible Pen, mainly because that is the best pen they sell in the Campus bookstore. I usually carry at least two of these with me. One in black, for writing and one in red, for checking items off or annotation. I have been looking for a better and more permanent replacement. First of all, carrying two pens around is a drag. Second, the only ones they sell at the bookstore have a .07 point which is a little to large for me and has a tendency to bleed through the already robust Moleskine paper.
Mike Shea has an excellent review of pens (with a little added lineup of the pens and paper he uses near the bottom) that is well worth a read, even though the one I like is not on there. I am leaning towards the Rotring Quattro Multipen, mainly because of it’s multiple points (Black, Red, Pencil and Orange highlighter) but $50.00 for a pen is a bit out of my price range right now. Even $32.00 for the version without highlighter is a bit much to pay right now. Therefore, I may have to see if i can find a Pilot G2 or two in a .05 size for the time being.

Stickin’ it to da A&R man!

More and more, artists are taking back control of their art and sticking it to the man. Fiona Apple joins those ranks. When the evil |empire refused to release her new album (I am betting because she is over 21 years of age, actually plays an instrument and writes her own songs) she flipped them the bird and put it out on P2P and pimped it to independent radio herself. Wired has the full story:
Fiona Apple Is Cookin’ on the Net

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.