Category: technology

Spark icon

Spark: the innovative way to fly through your email

You’ve just finished a brutal day of back-to-back meetings, only to find a burgeoning inbox that you’ll need a machete to hack through. That was an all-too-common scenario for me. Mailbox was my preferred tool for thinning out the backlog. But Mailbox is no more. It’s the latest in a growing list of popular but ultimately unprofitable applications to be killed off by their creators. Since the February 26 shutdown was announced I’ve test-driven various iOS mail clients in the search for a suitable replacement. What I liked about Mailbox: swipes and snoozes Mailbox may not have been the first...

Jukedeck: the simple way to create a soundtrack you can be proud of

Jukedeck: the simple way to create a soundtrack you can be proud of

The growing popularity of video means more of us want to use music as a backdrop for our productions. Finding suitable music you can legally use can be a real challenge. The Jukedeck team have focused their musical, machine learning and software engineering prowess to solve this problem. The result is an ingenious service that only takes seconds to compose original music you can lawfully use in your creative works. A carefully orchestrated soundtrack creates atmosphere and brings the scene to life. Consider the foreboding inevitability that the repeating 2-note motif in the Theme from Jaws instills. Or the sense...

Solarized theme example

Create stunning diagrams with these free OmniGraffle stencils

Ethan Schoonover’s Solarized color palette is popular in software development circles, but it’s spreading to a more diverse range of applications. Designed to reduce eye-strain, the carefully selected palette is easy to read despite the low-contrast color choices. I find Solarized easier to work with than the common black-on-white color scheme. Despite its text-based origins, Solarized also works well for presentations and diagrams. OmniOutliner includes templates based on the Solarized palette, but there isn’t anything similar in OmniGraffle. Stenciltown and Graffletopia both offer a good selection of stencils if you’re looking for a head-start on a project. I was surprised...

Ready to write

How ideas come to life: a revealing look behind my writing process

In the last few months, I’ve had several unexpected conversations about the process of writing. This created an opportunity to reflect on my workflow. While I’ve thought about each step separately, I’ve never given much consideration to the entire process. My approach has evolved as I’ve incorporated ideas from other writers who have pulled back the curtain and shared their workflow. Perhaps an exploration of my approach will give you some ideas to fine-tune your own. I’m not a best-selling author, but writing is a big part of my work. Enough people have told me I write well for me...

Filco Majestouch Convertible 2 mechanical keyboard (photo credit: used with permission from Diatec Corporation)

Filco Majestouch Convertible 2 review: the quest for a Mac-compatible, wireless, mechanical keyboard

Lately I’ve been a little nostalgic about mechanical keyboards. Yes, those clicky-clacky keyboards that were common in the 80s and early 90s. After comparing various options, I ultimately purchased a Filco Majestouch Convertible 2 to use with my Mac. Strictly speaking, this is a Windows keyboard, but with a few tweaks you can make it (and most other Windows keyboards) Mac friendly. Finding a keyboard which met my needs took plenty of research. I thought it might be useful to others if I pulled my findings together in one article. If you want to find out more about mechanical keyboards,...

How to track "Waiting For" responses in Gmail

How to track “Waiting For” responses in Gmail

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every email request you sent was efficiently carried out before the due date? In a perfect world you wouldn’t need to track these hand-offs. Sometimes life happens and tasks get overlooked. Unless you track these hand-offs, you can guarantee some of them will fall into an abyss. If you care about the outcome, tracking these “waiting fors” is a must. Even if you don’t use Gmail, these concepts translate to most email applications. The Getting Things Done method advocates using a Waiting For list to track any responses or items you are waiting on others...

Parkes radio telescope at dawn

All you need to know about saved searches in Evernote

My previous post described how you can use Evernote shortcuts to quickly access saved searches. I neglected to explain how to create a saved search though. Today I’ll run through all you need to know about saved searches. And since I’ve kept you hanging, I’ll throw in a couple of bonus search tips too. Evernote’s powerful search tools find text in notes and attachments, and can even recognise text in photos. You can also save your searches for faster access the next time you need them. This is handy for searches you repeatedly use, and for recalling complex search expressions....

How to open your most useful Evernote content with one click

How to open your most useful Evernote content with one click

Though my Evernote account stores thousands of notes, there are a handful that I refer to repeatedly. Shortcuts are the fastest way I’ve found to zoom between these frequently accessed notes, notebooks, tags and searches. You can recall items from your Shortcut list with one click or keystroke — even complex search commands. Shortcuts also synchronize to your mobile devices so you can use them where ever you are. Here’s a few examples from my Evernote database: @Inbox links to my default notebook. I jump to this view often, so it’s at the top of my Shortcuts list. Weekly review...

MindNode 2 for Mac

MindNode 2 for Mac review — a fantastic mind mapping tool

I started using mind maps years ago and found them particularly useful for planning projects, brainstorming, and planning written work. MindNode 2‘s predecessor, MindNode Pro, made it easy to create stylish mind maps, but there were a couple of features which I felt the product was missing. Before I switched to Mac I used Mindjet MindManager. It’s a richly featured mind mapping application but became more complex with each update. It’s also one of the more expensive alternatives and included a host of features I had no occasion to use. Mind maps are thinking tools to help organize your ideas,...

Scan handwritten notes with Carbo

First look: Carbo — handwriting in the digital age

Carbo sounds like a diet or nutrition app, but Creaceed’s new offering bridges paper-based capture and digital manipulation of your ideas. Some apps use a stylus (or finger) to write on a tablet. But writing on a sheet of glass is much less satisfying than using a quality notebook and pen. Carbo focuses on capturing, editing, organizing and sharing notes from paper or a whiteboard. It lets you keep using your favorite analog tools and digitize the content for sharing or use in other digital tools. Capturing Image capture works well but Carbo has a way to go to match...