Merlin’s weekly podcast with Dan Benjamin. We talk about creativity, independence, and making things you love.
Mac OS X
Merlin Mann | Mar 27 2006
The wait is over, kids. Ethan Schoonover has just released his .83 version of Kinkless GTD, and, brother, does it ever bring it. (For an intro to what kGTD is, start here, then go here and of course, here.)
So, first great thing: the syncing problems people (including me) were having -- getting changes in Action views and iCal to get reflected correctly back in Projects view -- has been fixed most elegantly. So it's just a lot more usable and dependable right out of the box. But that ain't all E's been cooking up. Among the trove of new and updated features (cribbed from Ethan):
Ethan, as ever, has done a terrific screencast explaining how the app works -- DO NOT MISS the video if you aren't "getting" kGTD, because it's super useful in showing exactly how it works -- plus I'm sure there will be lots of lively discussion over on the kGTD forum, so for today I'll just focus on my favorite improved feature: what Ethan calls "fancy “task shorthand.'"read more »
Merlin Mann | Mar 2 2006
For a while now, Transmit -- my hands-down choice for all things FTP -- has had a feature that I adore, which is the ability to edit text files from a remote server directly in the local Mac editor of my choice (in my case, that's the very swell TextMate. This little bit of wizardry makes it really easy to quickly fix code, tweak style sheets, or correct spelling without that nightmarish 90s ritual of the re-re-re-re-reupload (which is particularly painful when you're working on a live application).
Well, heck. I just figured out that the latest version of Transmit takes this to a another (yes! yet! another!) level by letting you edit images on a remote server. I just opened a .png in Photoshop and saw the saved results immediately appear on the live box. Disco.read more »
Merlin Mann | Feb 27 2006
A favorite topic of GTD'ers is the contexts that we each choose to identify the times, tools, or locations by which a given task can or must be undertaken. This is a highly personalized decision, and I've learned a lot from seeing how other people are doing it.
Since I see it's been a while since I've talked about how I'm using contexts, here's an update that reflects how I'm now using Kinkless GTD and iCal to keep things wrangled.read more »
Merlin Mann | Feb 24 2006
There's two significant features I've been wishing for in my beloved newsreader, NetNewsWire, and the emergence of this cool little ListMixer app will suffice as the prodding needed to toss them out to Brent and the boys upstairs.
1. Per-feed expirations
I'd love a little drop-down menu on the "New Subscription" window (that's also echoed as a section in the feed's "Info for..." window) that lets me select how long I want to subscribe to the feed. It might be pre-popped with, say, 3 months, but the options I'd include are (1 day | 1 week | 2 weeks | 1 month | 3 months | 6 months | 1 year | Forever). "But why?" you wonder aloud, "these RSS feeds, they are so wonderful!"
Well, one of the reasons I ended up deleting all my RSS feeds last month was the fact that my collection had become a disorganized travesty consisting largely of things I'd stopped reading, packages that had been delivered weeks ago, and comment threads that hadn't seen a new addition in months. Noise, noise, noise, and it's all down to me to delete the junk one feed at the time. Screw that. Reset.
I've found an increasing number of my feeds are, by their nature, ephemeral, in that they will lose any value to me within a very short period of time. FedEx deliveries are the canonical example. What in this world could possibly seem more important before it happens, but could matter less once it's passed?
Letting me establish the life of a feed when I add it, but then giving me a cool interface to decide if I really want to delete it would be very cool, and it could come in the way of...read more »
Merlin Mann | Feb 23 2006
Has your Mac turned into a shooting gallery full of distractions? Do your eyes spin like pinballs every time you sit down to work? Try a few of these apps to help discourage attention-grabbers and force your sickeningly versatile computer (and yourself) into doing just one thing at a time.read more »
Merlin Mann | Feb 13 2006
Quicksilver triggers might seem like one more enigma inside of a riddle from the mind of our mysterious benefactor, Alc0r. Although writing documentation appears to be Alc0r's only kryptonite, triggers are actually pretty well described on the Blacktree wiki. Still, it feels like relatively few people I encounter are using them (most of my friends don't seem to even realize they exist). Since triggers have already been nicely introduced in some detail by Dan, I won't duplicate his efforts.
So, what's a trigger and why do I care?
Simply put, triggers let you associate a custom key combination or mouse gesture with any command you'd otherwise access via conventional methods in Quicksilver's paned interface. Once recorded, these triggers can be invoked any time manually or even programmatically (like, by a QS timer or a logical "when THIS happens"-type event).
This, as I've said before, is just huge. QS already gives you instant access to virtually any corner of your Mac with a couple keystrokes; but attaching that power to an intuitive keyboard command just takes things to another (yes! yet! another!) level.
I'll talk about mouse triggers a bit more in a future post, but for now, in the interest of spreading the word on this under-utilized piece of genius, here are a few ways I'm using keyboard triggers to control my Quicksilver world.read more »
Merlin Mann | Feb 6 2006
Dang, these Mac-o-phillic Firefox themes are yummy. I've actually been using "GrApple Eos Pro" for some time now, but I'd never realized just how many subtle variations were available.
I'm not sure if it's just a Mac thing -- or even whether it's necessarily always a good thing -- but I really believe the chance of a product's wider adoption amongst Mac users is greatly enhanced when it looks like something we're used to using. Thanks to the broad range of talented hands contributing to open source projects these days, we're starting to see more top-notch work like this from people like Aronnax; stuff that keep us snooty 5ish% very happy and visually dazzled. Good on you. (And a tip of the Mac to Jon for supplying their hosting and cool domain name.)
Merlin Mann | Feb 3 2006
I was doing a little demo of Quicksilver for a few folks at Search Champs last week, when a truly amazing and life-giving thing happened: I realized that one of my favorite features of Quicksilver -- cruelly torn away by a heartless Tiger upgrade a few months back -- has returned following the 10.4.4 update. Best. Day. Ever.
For those of you who haven't seen The Light, you can now (again) select virtually any kind of thing on your Mac -- including text strings, URLs, Finder selections and so on -- and "send" it to Quicksilver by hitting "
For me this means I can type a bunch of crap in any old text file, select it, hit
Now, it's also worth mentioning that, with the versatility of Proxy Objects, you can do the same thing from within Quicksilver. Get your head around ideas like "Finder Selection," "Current Web Page," and "Selected iTunes Album" and you start to see even more ways to quickly get where you need to be without breaking a sweat.
The more you use and explore Quicksilver, the more you see how its sticky little tendrils can be extended into nearly every corner of your Mac world. And if you missed Dan's excellent overview of the many new Quicksilver features that have sprung up in the last little while, do yourself a favor, and check it out. You may be amazed what all's hiding under Quicksilver's hood these days.
Merlin Mann | Feb 3 2006
Speaking of R'ing TFM, OmniGroup's crackerjack techs responded almost immediately to my recent "feature request" that I be able to select items from OmniOutliner dropdown menus without using the mouse.
Already there. Just hit
In other news, the new unofficial motto of 43 Folders is going to be “The only truly obvious things are those things that you already know. (And, regrettably, not everyone is you yet.)”
Merlin Mann | Feb 2 2006
Seriously, though, suck it up and just check for new mail as seldom as your job and your patience will possibly permit. Really push the envelope on this, even just for half a day, and see if you don't notice a difference. The world actually can spin without you for a while.read more »
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