Happenings

Nerd Alert

This was originally an email to someone fantastic who just got an iPad, so it's mostly iOS apps with a hint of OS X. I figured there were a few good things in here that might be of interest to someone else, so I gone and stuck it up here with a little tweaking, enjoy (or don't):

Apps

Omnifocus:

Pretty nerdy but powerful task management thing. Takes a bit of setting up, but pretty awesome once it's running. It's pretty versatile too, there are many different ways to have it do things, I wouldn't take any one way as the way to have it set up. Get it going, have a look at the way other people use it, and steal some ideas from all of them, or something. There's definitely a danger of fiddling with this stuff instead of doing any actual work though, so it's good to be aware of that, and save fiddling for certain (not busy) times.
Some vids might give you some idea if it's for you, More nerdy stuff that might risk going over your head if you're a newby. The Mac app has a free trial, so that could be worth a try, at least. Theres a pretty good book too.
This is the first episode in a series of podcasts with the dreaded talking mann that's kinda relevant to omnifocus too. Episodes 97, 98, 99 are the others.
Things is meant to be good too, but I haven't used it.

Taskpaper

Is great too, and a lot simpler (and cheaper) than the other apps. No repeating tasks, or timers, or alerts but there's something about the clean-ness and simplicity that's appealing to me. At the moment I mainly use it for simpler lists, like for shopping, more mindless stuff that needs less management and more just getting done and ticking off. I'm very, very tempted to switch to it in place of omnifocus but there are a few hurdles to overcome, and I'm not sure it's worth the extra fiddling. For me. Right now.

This is a pretty good post kinda evaluating the different apps, and this guy kinda goes into way too much detail on why some stuff might want to "live" in a different place to other stuff.

Day One

Awesome Journal app. Syncs over Dropbox or iCloud so you can write on mac or iPad (or iPhone) and it shows up everywhere. I never really kept a diary before, but it's pretty handy, and I write in some version of this nearly every day. Habit is good. Here's a bunch of use cases/ideas too.

Goodreader

Not sure how relevant this is any more, but it used to be pretty must have. Goodreader will open pretty much any type of file with text in it, and even do annotations to PDFs and stuff. I still have it installed, but haven't opened it in a loooooong time.

Flipboard

Not quite got my head around this yet, but it does look very nice, and might be handy for when I just want something to read without having to think too hard about what it actually is that I want to read. Good for news, current events etc.

Cheat sheet

Shows you all the keyboard shortcuts for whatever app you're in when you hold down the ⌘ key. Very handy. And can't be beaten on price.

Paper

Briiiiiiiliant app for drawing/painting on the iPad. Love it. It's free, so go get it, then splash out on extra brushes and gadgets if you feel the urge.

Penultimate

This is a bit better for scrawling stuff you might intend to read on the iPad. Sometimes it's nice to do some almost old fashioned style writing. But on some expensive glass.

Hippy

Been trying to use calm.com to chill out a bit and get in on the whole mindfulness racket. Again, tis free for a while, so give it a go if it's interesting.

Instapaper

Awesome for saving stuff to read later. Great iPad/phone app, or you can use their website on the computer to look at everything you've "saved" too. I fire stuff into here pretty much 24/7, then go through it when I have time to read properly, which is usually early in the morning or after the kids are in bed.

Writing

Markdown

99.9999% of everything I write is in markdown now. Sometimes even on paper :/ Again, there's a really good book you should read on your iPad, and a bunch of stuff on the internet in general. Most of the apps I mentioned already will export markdown to .doc, .rtf, .pdf, .html etc, but are good for writing in anyway. Especially on the iPad, even if you just use it to get text into Dropbox and then have to cut n paste it into word for work or whatever (you poor souls).

I've messed around with a few things for writing that are nice and quick, without the bloat of something like Pages or Word. iA Writer and Writeroom are pretty nice, I favour Byword though. No major reason why I don't think, just feels better, and the pretty instantaneuous sync (via iCloud or Dropbox) between the Mac, iPad and iPhone versions means I've always got access to whatever I've got brewing. This post definitely started off in Byword, but I'm finishing it off in the young whippersnapper that is FoldingText. FoldingText is almost like magic, and I like it a lot. I'd be on it like white on rice if there was an iOS version. I may have to look at sorting out folders and things so I can seemlessly use FT on the actual computer and Byword on the portable devices.

nvALT

Is an amazing little Mac app by Mr Brett Terpstra. I use it all the time on the mac for random bits of info, song ideas, notes, the start of something longer to write, serial numbers, reference numbers (stuff that I'll need NOW but probably not for long or very often), wifi passwords for places I visit, door security codes, etc. It's just super fast to search for some piece of info that's already in there or to add to something or start something new. Speedy. I've got it set up to sync everything to Dropbox, and I have Writeroom on the iPad/iPhone set up to look at that folder too for on the go access. That's the only thing I use Writeroom for, so Writeroom on the iPad is the "place" I go to for those quick notes/snippets, and Byword (on any device) is for anything longer, blog/band site posts, assignments when I was at college, cover letters for jobs, etc.

Comics

I tend to use Comicflow. Comixology is good too but could get expensive fast!

Music

Garageband is pretty hard to avoid. It's fun and pretty easy to knock an entire song up in minutes, with or without actual instruments. Obviously (hopefully) they can be copied over to Mr Mac for more fun if you feel so inclined. Synth is pretty great too. It makes some nice noises, and can pipe them into (or be used as a midi controller for) Garageband/Logic on the mac, as can Pianist. Tunein is pretty good for listening to the "radio" too, but for the more talky stuff, Downcast kicks the arse of the default podcasts app in so many ways it's a no-brainer.

ADN

I'm pretty new to App.net but it seems pretty good, and is breaking away slightly from that "twitter clone" label it seemed to be stuck with for a while. Seems like decent folks on there, and a bit more of a community. I figure the old thing about "The bigger the crowd gets, the dumber the crowd gets" is true, and why I find disgracebook and twitter less and less appealing. Just seems like a better signal/noise ratio. The platform as a whole is pretty interesting too, there's a lot going on in the background. That out of the way, on my iPhone I use Riposte which doesn't have an iPad version at the moment, so on the bigger screen I'm on Netbot. Both get the job done admirably, Riposte is just feels nicer.

Which kinda sums up the allegedly "useful" apps I open semi regularly. Now here's (unfortunately fake) Bruce Lee playing ping pong: