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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.


MacBreak Minute: LiteSwitch X

In the latest episode of MacBreak Minutes (subscribe), I talked about a favorite PreferencePane of mine called LiteSwitch.

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MacBreak Weekly 47: Merlin's picks

MacBreak Weekly 47: That's Our Shooby!

Hosts: Leo Laporte, Merlin Mann, Scott Bourne, and Alex Lindsay

Universal challenges iTunes, iPhone hacks, and our software picks of the week...

Here's a direct MP3 download of MBW 47.

This time we did our usual weekly software picks, but I also got to choose our Audible.com audiobook of the week. Can you guess what it is?

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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]

Vox Pop: What's your "Mac Whine?"

We've started a new feature over on MacBreak Weekly that I really hope becomes a regular thing: "_Mac Whines_!"

Yeah, sure, I'm an unapologetic Apple fanboy (I, mean duh), but some stuff about my Mac experience makes me crazy. Have you got a beef with your Mac or OS X you want to shout from the shiny counter of the "Genius" Bar? Yeah, me too.

I'll open with:

  • inexplicable iCal "snooze" options (per MBW 30 -- which, incidentally, may also be my favorite MacBreak Weekly to date)
  • near-hangs whenever a mounted network volume is no longer available
  • no way to (temporarily) enable password-free user switching
  • The Finder. The goddamned Finder.

What's your Mac Whine?

TechDigs: Mac-friendly RAID 5 setup with Infrant ReadyNAS

Help, My Hard Drive is Full! - TechDigs.net

Infrant ReadyNAS 1 Terabyte Network Drive

One of my ongoing rants on MacBreak Weekly revolves around how hard I've found it to keep up with the spiraling need for responsible personal backup. Photos, movies, audio, documents, you name it. As Mark Pilgrim asked last May, "How do you back up 100 GB of data per year for 50 years?" And don't get me started on media rotation and offsite copies. The mind boggles. I mean, remember when a shoebox full of Zip disks and a copy of Retrospect was all you needed? Good times.

I don't have the long-term solution I'm after just yet (although, I sometimes think Amazon S3 is heading us in the right direction), but for the middle-term, my call for help has been answered handsomely by Greg Keene of TechDigs, who's put together a detailed breakdown on how he wires things together around his Infrant ReadyNAS NV (amzn) -- it's Mac-friendly, Raid 5-able, and has an assload of configurable options.

Greg lays out the problem he's trying to solve:

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Scrivener: Powerful OS X app for writers

Literature and Latte - Scrivener

Scrivener, a full-featured writing program that I've been raving about a lot lately on MacBreak Weekly, has now reached the 1.0 milestone and is available for purchase from Literature and Latte. Scrivener's product page has also been updated with a terrific explanation of why this app feels so different.

Personally, I like the excellent fullscreen mode, built-in (round-trip) outliner, tricked-out Inspector, and all-in-one form factor, but my favorite feature (which can be hard to explain without actually using the app for yourself) is Scrivener's use of the index card and corkboard metaphor.

Scrivener - Corkboard view

If you write like I do (and I pray that you do not), you have a messy approach to drafting that is iterative, intuitive, and far from linear. You do a brain dump, then type a little, then research a little, then type a little more, then move a bunch of stuff around, then groan aloud, then 80% start over and so on until something is done. Yes, it would be more tidy if we all followed the mandate of our elementary school teachers and wrote perfect 5-paragraph essays straight from a completed outline. But, such is life. And Scrivener seems to get that.

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NYT: Final word for now, no third-party apps on the iPhone

Two recent articles in the New York Times would seem to put to rest -- at least for the foreseeable future -- any hopes or speculation that the new iPhone will be allowed (nb: I did not say able) to run third-party OS X applications (previously: 43F Podcast: Snell & Gruber on iPhone applications and Let OS X developers at the iPhone. Please.)

Regrettably, the word on this one comes directly from the Steve's mouth (2007-01-12):

“We define everything that is on the phone,” he said. “You don’t want your phone to be like a PC. The last thing you want is to have loaded three apps on your phone and then you go to make a call and it doesn’t work anymore. These are more like iPods than they are like computers.”

The iPhone model, he insisted, would not look like the rest of the wireless industry.

“These are devices that need to work, and you can’t do that if you load any software on them,” he said. “That doesn’t mean there’s not going to be software to buy that you can load on them coming from us. It doesn’t mean we have to write it all, but it means it has to be more of a controlled environment.”

David Pogue's seemingly exhaustive iPhone FAQ also underscores what we'd been hearing via these drams of dolor (2007-01-11):

Can it run Mac OS X programs? –No.

Can I add new programs to it? –No. Apple wants to control the look and feel and behavior of every aspect of the phone.

Well, there you go. Apple appears to be on the path to providing its iPhone customers with a pantry full of excruciatingly beautiful crockery and flatware that may never be set down for chow. (But you can bet we'll always know it's there -- even while we're eating takeout with our assigned spoons).

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MacBreak Weekly taping tonight at 21st Amendment

MacBreak Logo

Upcoming.org: MacBreak Weekly Live @ 21st Amendment at 21st Amendment (Tuesday, January 9, 2007)

Directions to 21A, from Moscone Center

Just a reminder that tonight's live taping of MacBreak Weekly takes place at 21st Amendment starting at 6pm. If you're planning to come to the taping, my advice is to get there early, because we're anticipating a capacity audience (that's a big reason everyone agreed it was better not to do this event at the Apple Store on Steve Day).

Leo, Alex, Scott, and I will be discussing today's announcements and may even have some guests.

A propos of nothing, I will also take this opportunity to remind Mr. Bourne of his (often repeated) promise to buy everyone on MBW an iPhone on the day that they come out. Just saying.

If you come out tonight or see me on the Macworld show floor with MacBreak today, please say hi and introduce yourself.

TUAW's notes from the OmniFocus meetup

OmniFocus Sneak Preview - The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW)

Dan Lurie at TUAW has detailed notes on the OmniFocus Meetup yesterday at the Apple Store.

  • OmniFocus, unlike its predecessor KinklessGTD will feature an instant data propagation across the app, thus doing away with the need for a "sync button," and ensuring your data is always where you expect it to be.
  • OmniFocus will have a simpler and more streamlined interface than OmniOutliner, on which KGTD was built.
  • Users will be able to view multiple or individual projects and contexts in either a single window or multiple separate windows.
  • OmniFocus will support existing KGTD QuickSilver inbox-entry actions.
  • OmniFocus will also feature a standalone proprietary quick-entry method via keystroke, similar to Yojimbo.
  • Future versions will support user definable smart folders.
  • The first version of OmniFocus will not require 10.5 Leopard, but all following versions will due to the use of Leopard only technologies.
  • Like KGTD, OmniFocus will support syncing with portable devices through iCal.
  • OmniFocus will be fully applescriptable.
  • Future versions will support integration with OmniPlan.
  • Future versions will support universal action creation from other applications (such as turning an email message or iCal to-do into an action).
  • Future versions will support attaching or tying of files to actions and projects.
  • OmniGroup is planning to release OmniFocus within the next few months.

It was great to hear Ken lay out OmniGroup's plans and progress on the Kinkless replacement. Thanks much to everyone who showed up yesterday.




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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Merlin used to crank. He’s not cranking any more.

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

Scared Shitless

Merlin’s scared. You’re scared. Everybody is scared.

This is the video of Merlin’s keynote at Webstock 2011. The one where he cried. You should watch it. »