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


NYT Magazine covers Scrivener, other OS X writing apps

An Interface of One’s Own

I was delighted to see my favorite OS X writing app, Scrivener, turn up in today's "The Medium" column of the New York Times Magazine. I reviewed Scrivener about a year ago, and still use it whenever I have to research, plan, and draft anything more complicated than a blog post. In fact, as luck would have it, I was actually working on my upcoming Macworld talk in Scrivener when I took a break to read the paper and saw this article. Kismet or something.

Columnist, Virginia Heffernan, notes the app's beloved full-screen capability:

To create art, you need peace and quiet. Not only does Scrivener save like a maniac so you needn’t bother, you also get to drop the curtain on life’s prosaic demands with a feature that makes its users swoon: full screen. When you’re working on a Scrivener opus, you’re not surrounded by teetering stacks of Firefox windows showing old Google searches or Citibank reports of suspicious activity. Life’s daily cares slip into the shadows. What emerges instead is one pristine and welcoming scroll: Your clean and focused mind.

High fives to other great apps mentioned in the article, including Ulysses, WriteRoom, and Nisus Writer. Slightly lower fives go to Microsoft Word, which, once again, takes its usual drubbing as The Application Everyone Wants To Get Away From™. Poor Microsoft Word, the mascara-smeared Gloria Swanson of word processors.

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Sciral Consistency update: Remember flexible tasks

Sometimes surprises come from unexpected places. (Um, I guess that’s part of why they’re surprising.) Case in point, yesterday I opened Sciral Consistency as I’ve done several times a day for the last five years. This time, however, something happened that hasn't occurred since sometime in 2005. A notification window announced that a new version of the application was available for downloading.

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TaskPaper 1.0 adds new features (and "fiddling" isn't one of them)

Hog Bay Software's TaskPaper was recently released in a completed 1.0 version (previously), and if you're the sort of person who casts about for a simple way to manage projects and tasks from a Mac, this just may be your app.

But, even more significantly, if you're not looking for a simple action management system -- if you're that particularly pathetic sort of character who's convinced that features like tagging, syncing, collaboration, graph paper generation, and the introduction of an onboard artisanal breadmaker are all that stands between you and getting your stuff done -- well, you may need TaskPaper more than anybody. Because, friends, TaskPaper is just about fiddle-proof, and, frankly, I know a lot of people who could benefit from that today.

Here's what a simple document looks like in TaskPaper:

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Vox Pop: What's on your iPhone app wish list?

Now that Steve has announced there's an iPhone/iPod Touch SDK coming in February, what's at the top of your application wish list?

The Question to You

What’s the first application for iPhone you’d like to see? Where’s the biggest hole in your iPhone world right now?

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How do you describe Quicksilver?

Acting without doing SOUNDS good, but... (Ask MetaFilter)

I really liked this AskMe question about Quicksilver, since it's one that comes up a lot for folks who don't get as enthused about the app as I (and many of you) do:

Everywhere I go on the internet, Mac users rave about Quicksilver. I've downloaded it a couple times, and I sort of get that it COULD be really useful, but I am not sure how...

So what am I missing with Quicksilver? I see so many other people who get a lot of use out of it, and I am sure I can fit it in somewhere, too, but I just can't seem to figure it out....

Here's a portion of how I responded in comments:

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MBW 58; Pick of the week is Acorn

MacBreak Weekly 58: Repeal the Nerd Tax


Hosts: Leo Laporte, Merlin Mann, Alex Lindsay, and Chris Breen


Chris reviews the new iPods, screen issues with the Touch, and the trouble with ringtones...

Here's a direct MP3 download of MBW 58.

Oh, brother, I was totally high on cold medicine when we did this episode. But, not so high that I couldn't recommend Flying Meat's amazing new Acorn, a stripped-down, and very inexpensive graphics app. It's one my favorite Mac programs of the year.

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Purging info-poor entries from Address Book

You may share my Address Book pollution problem — having too many orphaned names that got scribbled on a PDA or were manually added but never fleshed out (like: 10 years ago!).

Here’s a really stupidly useful Smart Group for Address Book that helps identify entries without any real information attached to them.

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rooSwitch for easy, restorable application profiles

rooSwitch - Shuffle Your Settings Around

When you're testing a new version of an application (or just being a little paranoid), it can be a pain to deal with protecting your "real" data from being corrupted or overwritten. While something like SuperDuper is priceless for backing up a drive to a disk image, you want something that's not only lighter in weight, but that is smart enough to deal just with the settings associated with a single program. That's where roobaSoft's rooSwitch comes in.

rooSwitch's smarts come in being able to recognize which Preferences, Application Support folders, and related files belong to an app's settings (but, not -- it should be noted -- its documents), so that you can then backup, switch, and restore a group of settings whenever you need to. This can be quite a lifesaver.

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Macworld: Mac Gems Picks

Macworld Feature: Connect with the world

Macworld Magazine asked me to pick out a few of my Mac Gems, and I was happy to respond with four favorites.

Default Folder, for example, is a PreferencePane that I've used and loved since Christ was a corporal:

Default Folder X (****½)

You can tell Default Folder X is a classic because you start missing it the second you sit down at a Mac that doesn’t have it installed. It reduces the tedium of a handful of annoying dialog-box tasks, and it’s worth its price solely for the ability to set a per-program default location.

Nocturne: Free "night vision" app from the maker of Quicksilver

nocturne:nocturne [docs]

Fans of working in troglodyte mode should have a look at A1c0r's latest creation, Nocturne, an application that generates a "night vision mode" for your Mac -- similar to looking at a negative of a photo.

For years, you've been able to do something similar by hitting "ctrl-opt-cmd-8," which invokes "Switch to black-on-white" in Universal Access options (go ahead and try it, then hit it again to return to normal).

While A1c0r's improvements on this may seem subtle, they're very useful for allowing you to tweak your own preferences and minimizing distracting, full-color solarization effects.

  • Proper color correction in monochrome modes - you don’t lose all your blues or reds when you tint the screen.
  • Window shadow toggling - if glowing windows aren’t your thing.
  • Background removal - hide the desktop picture so you don’t see a inverted version.

I love that you can pick your own tint for how the monochrome image is colored. Want an old-time sepiatone writing environment? No problem.

My tip? If you enjoy sitting outside with your laptop, but the sun is making your screen almost illegible, try flipping Nocturne on -- the contrast and darker backgrounds should help make reading and navigating much easier.

Like all Blacktree's stuff, Nocturne is free of charge.

[Direct download]




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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This is an essay about family, priorities, and Shakey’s Pizza, and it’s probably the best thing he’s written. »

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