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Top Ten Favorite Mac Apps

OK, so Om Malik threw down a challenge on his blog to the rest of us to let the world know our top ten favorite Macintosh apps. The rules were we had were to focus on the great small shareware and freeware applications that are out there. Therefore, without further ado, here are mine in no particular order:
Newsfire – My favorite news reader. Fantastic interface and it saves me hours a day.
OmniOutliner – The best outlining program I have ever used. I am obsessed with outliners and have paid for several over the years so that is saying a lot. I use it for everything from brainstorming, project management, to do lists and even organizing my bills and expenses (yes it really is that powerful and flexible).
MacJournal – Developed by my friends at Mariner Software. I use this for all of my journal entries mainly as it has the ability to act as a blogging client. It can do much, much more than this but that is all I use it for. I still love it for that alone.
Mariner Write – Another Mariner product. I have written about this simple yet powerful word processor before. It still saves me from the bloat of Word and remains one of my favorites.
Fetch (wait, make that Transmit) – What can I say, I have been a Fetch user since, like, the birth of FTP. Therefore I have never tried anything different. Then last night, based on it’s appearance on every other top ten Mac app list I read, I downloaded and played with Transmit. All I can say is that I never knew what I was missing and I will be switching as soon as I can.
Notational Velocity – This is, by far, one of the cleverest note programs I have ever seen. I have also written about this one before. So simple, an interface that gives new meaning to sparse and just about every aspect of it keyboard driven. I store all sorts of little snippets of info in here.
Quicksilver – There has been so many things written about this application that I don’t know if I can do it justice. Just download it, read everything Merlin Mann has written about it and consider your life changed.
Notetaker – A great note taking application and outliner. I like it a lot but it has largely been replaced by OmniOutliner and Notational Velocity. I still highly recommend it though. It has a number of very cool features. Once again, I have written in greater detail about this one before.
VLC – Plays almost everything that Quicktime can’t and it is free. How can you go wrong.
Konfabulator – Because Dashboard does not hold a candle to it. Although, I do admit, I wish there were some third party Dashboard widgets that Konfabulator had.

The Pocket Mod

Do you find a PDA too expensive and cumbersome? Maybe a paper planner is too bulky and hard to carry around? Then The Pocket Mod is your answer. It is a Flash based site that allows you to create your own pocket organizer, configured to your liking based on a number of handy templates (Calendars, Lists, Contacts, etc.) and printed to standard sized paper. Then you fold it into a small book using the instructions on the site and, voila, you have a pocket sized organizer that you can take with you. When you are done with it, simply toss it into your trash recycling bin and print out another.
Not only a brilliant idea but also one of the best uses of Flash that I have ever seen. Well worth the look for that alone.

React vs. Think

Here is a great article on the difference between thinking and reacting and how to identify which is which. It has more of a project management slant but can be applicable to life in general. Especially the emphasis on making the time to think. Here is a key quote:
“Your react brain doesn’t actually like to think because thinking is messy. Thinking involves slowing down and actually soaking in a problem and your react brain thrives in the familiar. Your creative brain loves the unknown. It’s a sponge and it’s only happy when it’s full of new ideas.”
Live it. Love it!

Finding My Center

Item #2 on the Personal Manifesto I have been slowly building is the following:
All notes, lists & ideas worth keeping should converge in one location, be readily accessible and easy to locate quickly.
As I mentioned previously, I have been feeling quite out of sorts lately. One of the reasons for this is that I have gotten out of my system of keeping it all together. I am seriously organizationally challenged and I absolutely have to have a system to follow to even function on a day to day basis. I do not say this lightly. I believe I actually have a undiagnosed mental disorder that causes this, especially because I see the same thing in my (medically diagnosed) oldest son and my brother. Therefore, when I get off track, when my system suffers critical errors, it makes my entire life seem broken. I find it hard to even start doing anything, which in turn feeds into my (well diagnosed) bi-polar condition.
This is why Getting Things Done appealed to me so much. Not only did it propose a great and effective system, it emphasized that the key was not just having a system, it was having a system you could trust. Lose trust, lose faith in your system, any system, and it will no longer work. This is why some of the endless tweaking done by many to get their system “just right” may, in the end, be just as much of a failure as not having a system at all. The tweaking generally means that you have lost, or do not yet have, faith in the system. Without that faith it is useless. I lost faith.
I did not really see this until Bethany pointed it out to me without really realizing that was what she was doing. Bethany is not a GTD convert but she is very insightful and wise. I was trying to explain to her the problems I was having being on top of things, or at the least feeling like I was. I was telling her how I felt my system was broken in some way that I had yet to truly identify. Then, she said the following:
” When you started with your Moleskine you wrote everything in the book. Then you got the index cards that you attached to the top of it, and would write down things that came to your mind when you were driving and could not open the Moleskine. Then you seemed to get afraid that the things you were writing in the Moleskine were not pretty and organized enough so you started to write on the cards first for everything and transcribe to the Moleskine. That’s where it all broke down. Now you have to write in two places and it takes longer and often does not make it into the Moleskine, and you lose the card. You need to pick one or the other.”
Did I mention that she was brilliant too. I mean, she saw what had happened. Somewhere in the tweaking to get a perfect system I lost faith in the one that I had and was working. It was at this point that the bell began to toll the beginning of my end. It all fell apart from there. I started losing information. I had things spread out all over the place. I was never sure where to go for my next action. Because some items were being tracked several different places, when a task was completed I would mark it done one place but not on the others. This all left a lot of “open loops”. It was a mess.
OK, so there is the problem… Where is the solution?
The wonderful thing about a system is that, as long as you know what that system is and it works, you can always go back to the beginning and start it up again. That is what I did. I went back to the beginning. I went back to my system.I sat down and started the collection phase of GTD again, gathering up all of those “open loops” and tossing them into my inbox. Then I just followed the basic model. I processed them, put them into their context and acted on the ones I could using the two minutes or less rule. Since then I have been back on track with my combo of Moleskine, Backpack and Now Up to Date and am starting to feel a little bit better and less scattered.
The moral of the story is that in the tightrope of life, if you start to feel unbalanced, simply stop where you are and find your center.

Pencil Revolution

I have always admired those that use pencils. I have never really liked them, not even as a kid. Unless a pencil is very sharp, I can’t stand the way it feels when I am writing. Not sure if I can describe it any better than that. Pencils do have several advantages over pens though. They don’t run out, they don’t leak, they are erasable, they are waterproof, I could go on. Don’t just take my word for it. After all, I don’t use pencils. Instead, listen to the folks at Pencil Revolution. They love pencils and have a lovely blog all about them. If you are a pencil freak, this is pr0n of the highest order.

A Thousand Words

Yesterday, Michael and I added a photo section to the site. This is to share my favorite photos, which I hope to update very regularly, and to give a visual glimpse into my life, loves and interests. I am also hoping that this, along with the purchase of a new camera (Canon SD400), will spur me into taking pictures more often and improving my photographic skills.

Out of Sorts

I have just been so out of sorts lately. Hard to focus. Too many lists and I seem to have lost trust in my system of keeping it all together. All my thoughts are scattered like a game of 52 pickup. Hence the lack of posts. I am just not quite feeling myself lately. I plan on having some “me” time this weekend to try to get things together. Maybe I will work on trying to get my my system back in order. Maybe I will just sleep.

Caught Up

Today, I have finally finished adding all of the posts from my previous blog to the archives here. This blog now contains all of the posts I have made since last February, after my hard drive crashed in my former Powerbook. All other posts, previous to that, most likely are lost for good. A small bummer but if I happen to get those back I will back post those as well.

DaddyKens

One of the things I just love about my Dad, Kenneth, is the really great quotes he often includes in the e-mail and letters he sends me. They never fail to enlighten, impart or just plain make me smile. A recent one really floored me: “If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up … Continue reading “DaddyKens”

One of the things I just love about my Dad, Kenneth, is the really great quotes he often includes in the e-mail and letters he sends me. They never fail to enlighten, impart or just plain make me smile. A recent one really floored me:
“If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much space.”
If that is not a life motto I don’t know what is. I just had to ask him where it came from. Here is his response:
“I get it from astrologist Caroline Casey. She says it sometimes during her radio program, which I sometimes engineer. Over the years, I’ve collected about 5 of her most often used little sayings and I employ them sometimes in letters… You’ll get more.”
I can’t wait.