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Merlin’s weekly podcast with Dan Benjamin. We talk about creativity, independence, and making things you love.

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43Folders.com is Merlin Mann’s website about finding the time and attention to do your best creative work.

Apple, Macs & OS X

43F Recap: Best of iCal Tips

Wow. It's been over nine months since I quit Entourage in favor of the kGTD/iCal productivity tag-team. In that time, I could have had an infant, finished a school year, or been responsible for a couple failed sitcoms. (I mean: if I had a uterus, was still in college, and were, say, McLean Stevenson)

Yes, friends, I do still spend a lot of my day shaking my hammy fist in impotent rage at iCal's numerous shortcomings, but I've reached a kind of détente with Apple's stock calendaring app, and along the way I've discovered some modest ways to squeeze more drops of Cupertino-y goodness from its moist Jolly Rancher-like pages. Here's a few of my favorites.

  • Getting more out of iCal - "The truth is, iCal works great with kGTD (mostly of course), and once you make your peace with the perplexing stasis of its feature set, there are some not-bad hooks and affordances hiding in its pastel, roundy corners. Here’s a few I like."
  • HOWTO: Flag “penciled-in” events in iCal - "When I create the event, I just put a Spanish-language question mark “¿” (hit: OPTION-SHIFT-?) in front of the event’s title. Like so..."
  • Schedule (and choose) a dash in iCal "If you start the name of the task with the number of minutes in the dash, you have a very easy to way to see items that can be knocked down quickly (hint: sort “To Dos by Title”)."
  • Dr. Contextlove or: “How I stopped worrying and learned to love iCal” - "But why bother with organizing these into meta-groups? Ah, because it makes it so easy to reveal or hide all the tasks that I can work on at a given time, just by ticking the group’s little click box."
  • Kinkless GTD .83: Enhances Quicksilver and iCal integration, much more "I really like to plan in kGTD and then do out of iCal since it reduces the amount of fiddling and meta work temptation. That doesn’t mean, however, that I wouldn’t benefit from a little extra backward integration."

Bokardo: Apple moving deeper into social software?

Bokardo » Apple Making Huge Social Software Push?

Via Andy, here's a thought-provoking post that draws from a mosaic of current and forthcoming features (including Wiki Server, iCal Calendar Sharing and the nifty-sounding Teams) to suggest that Apple's moving toward some interesting directions in social software and enhanced functionality for teams.

Joshua writes:

Notice that all of these features are about enabling communication as much as they are about creating content. It’s about getting the right information to the right person at the right time through interaction with their friends and associates. That’s how we do things out here in meatspace, so that’s how we’ll do things in cyberspace as well.

I think this is good news for Apple. As the proliferation of telephones, cellphones, chat software, blogs, and social networking sites have shown, there seems to be a market for this social software stuff…

Open Thread: Leopard Preview

Apple - Apple - Mac OS X - Leopard Sneak Peek

Like most of you, I'm keeping an eye on today's previewed features of the upcoming "Leopard" (OS X 10.5) release.

Looks like some interesting ideas -- many of which, as usual, seem inspired by existing third-party products.

I think I'm most intrigued so far by the idea of "to-do" functionality from within Mail.app (thanks for the tip, Matt); let's hope that also means I can deep link to a given email from my iCal task list. I also welcome the concept of built-in email templates -- although I'm kind of bummed that they seem more focused on execrable 1999-style HTML emails than on the kind of functional time-savers found in the peerless MailTemplate.

To be honest, on first blush -- and I'm sure there's much more to come by the time of release -- this feels a bit cute and a little light on really revolutionary stuff (the long overdue promise of something like Time Machine notwithstanding). Stuff like (yet. more.) iLife integration is handy enough for the notional Swithcher and Grandpa Joe, but in general I guess I'm hoping for some serious power-user improvements to the core functionality. Maybe that's just me.

What do you think? What's "Yeah!" and what's "Meh?" Anybody else holding out hope for some really deep Finder rewriting and more functional iCal updates?

read more »

Board thread: Quicksilver podcast questions

Open Thread: Quicksilver podcast questions - 43 Folders Board

Following up on the (very enthusiastic) response to the MacBreak podcast about Quicksilver, I've opened a new thread on the board where people can ask questions -- and all you Quicksilver ninjas out there (given the time and interest) can maybe me help answer anything not covered in the documentation. I'll answer as many as time allows (my internet access will be spotty for a few days), so anything the QS pros can do to help would be greatly appreciated.

Stop by and get your 'Silver on!

Reminder: Good Quicksilver links:

Merlin on MacBreak: Intro to Quicksilver

Leo and Alex were kind enough to ask me to drop by MacBreak to talk a little bit about Quicksilver.

Most of what we discussed is probably old hat to the hardcore fans, but if you're looking for a fast intro, this might be a useful link for your friends and cubemates.

read more »

2 OS X timers to watch: Flextime & Meridian

An alarmed timer is one of the most simple external systems you can employ, and many of us distracted geeks have come to rely on them as a way to improve concentration, redirect attention, and bitch-slap procrastination. Why make your brain be the time-keeper and scold when you can just make some little robot do all the heavy lifting for you? Exactly.

Lucky for the Mac-scented timer geeks out there, this is an area of software development that seems to be flourishing lately, with sexy little apps like Minuteur and Dashboard widgets like ProdMe arriving on the scene to ride herd on the wandering mind.

Further, in the past week, I've stumbled across a couple more new apps that look like promising additions for the time-addled brain -- and, I'm happy to note, they look especially useful for fans of the (10+2)*5 dash.

read more »

Samsung A-920 as a Bluetooth Mac modem

noDRM.com » Blog Archive » How To: Use Sprint/Samsung A920 as an EVDO Bluetooth Modem with Mac

Earlier this year, like many of my siblings in the minor web dorkerati, your author was made a “Sprint Ambassador.” This is actually not nearly as fancy as it sounds — you still have to pay parking tickets and can’t necessarily have rude waiters whacked with impunity. Plus you get this really weird (Kansas? Missouri?) area code that makes all your friends think you’re a telemarketer or a Republican pollster.

Anyhow, the deal is that Sprint sends you their multimedia Samsung A-920 to use for free for a few months in exchange for offline comments (and, one speculates, the chance that their little blue unit might make an appearance in, say, a blog post along the lines of the one you're reading).

The phone’s okay, I guess — although why it takes 8 mother-scratching clicks to send a photo to Flickr from this purportedly high-end “multimedia phone” is just really hard for me to understand. Plus, until the other night, I’d never been able to use the EVDO modem functionality that’s one of the phone’s marquee features. The idea of internet access from any place that gets a phone signal made me salivate in the early days of my Ambassador tenure, but, as with so many of these things, I quickly made my peace with the usual excuse; unsupported on Macs. WANH-wahn. Still gotta drive to Starbucks to check my email on vacation. Oh, well.

Turns out I was wrong, and, boy, do I love being wrong about this.

read more »

HOWTO: Flag "penciled-in" events in iCal

As I've mentioned before I like using iCal's invitations to share appointments with people -- especially since this lets them easily respond to let me know whether they 1) will attend, 2) won't attend, or 3) are just "tentative." Unfortunately, there's no analogous tentative flag for the (seemingly endless) number of appointments and event I want to just pencil-in -- you know, those times when you want to make sure to block out time for a call or lunch, but are waiting on confirmation from folks who don't use iCal (or for whom it makes no sense to pester with an invitation). My workaround -- yes, like many of these things -- is really simple.

read more »

Megazoomer: Full-screen mode for Cocoa apps

ianhenderson.org - megazoomer

Speaking of full-screen functionality, lots of people have been writing to mention Megazoomer, a free, SIMBL-based bundle that fakes full-screen mode within any Cocoa app, including Safari and Textmate.

read more »



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