Merlin’s weekly podcast with Dan Benjamin. We talk about creativity, independence, and making things you love.
Merlin Mann | Apr 27 2005
I’ve previously mentioned Bay-area writer Anne Lamott in the context of her fondness for index cards and her belief in the importance of capturing ideas at the moment they come to you (it’s something I also really believe in). It’s fun to hear her talk about this stuff, too. She has a discursive speaking style that’s, by turns, insightful, frustrating, and very funny.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been reading her book Bird by Bird a section or two at a time whenever I have a few minutes, and I have to say, it’s one of the most inspiring books I’ve read in a long time.
As a guide for young or aspiring writers, I’d put it up there with On Writing Well and Writing Down the Bones in terms of practical, really useful advice. She strips away so much of the pretense and BS about the writing process and encourages you to just start writing—focusing on small assignments (all you need to do is fill a 1″x1″ picture frame with words) and what she calls “the shitty first draft.” Great stuff.
But I think some of the most amazing passages in the book have little to do with writing, per se. It’s all about how we choose to look at the world and ourselves.read more »
Merlin Mann | Mar 6 2005
Last month, I mentioned a series of books by Tom Parker that I had loved in college, called “Rules of Thumb,” and I’d lamented that they were out of print (since I couldn’t find my old copies). Imagine my delight when a bit of closet refactoring turned up this dog-eared veteran.
Here are a few of my old favorites:read more »
Merlin Mann | Mar 3 2005
Merlin Mann | Feb 23 2005
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Merlin Mann | Feb 1 2005
I finally picked up an iSight camera from Amazon the other day. Not so much to share my meatbeard with my iChat buddies as to finally play with Delicious Library, an OS X app that lets you create a personal catalog of your books, CDs, DVDs, and games by either manually entering the info or, preferably, by just scanning their barcodes with an iSight. Library is a very pretty program, and I can see why it might appeal to collectors, but it didn’t immediately click for me until I hooked up the iSight and started scanning. Even then, I have to confess a few reservations.
First—no question—it’s just really fun to use. It’s satisfying to hold up a CD, hear the little “I got it” tone, followed by the robot voice reading back the info on your latest entry (which it pulls down automagically from Amazon.com). Once entered, catalog items can be modified, sorted, munged, and grouped however you like using an elegant bookshelf metaphor. You can also view related titles and do other stuff with your collection via Amazon info and links. Although, candidly, it’s a little cheesy that a $40 commercial product won’t let me change the Amazon Associates ID from theirs to my own (or that of a favorite charity, or what have you). That really should change in a future release.read more »
Merlin Mann | Jan 3 2005
I have squirrely phases that repeat like clockwork. An abortive pass at creative drawing, an oddly devoted infatuation with the early ELO, and the sudden yen to play with my old Palm V—each reappears every 7 or 8 months, and each, in its fashion, passes in less than a week. Turn, turn, turn.
Last time that the Palm bug bit me, I learned about SplashShopper, the heir apparent to my previously favorite PDA app, JShopper. Both Palm apps excel at tracking Have/Need items for a bunch of different stores, which you can customize to your heart’s content. This means, for example, “2% Milk??? can be associated with Safeway, Trader Joe’s, and Costco, as well as the bodega around the corner. So you have a persistent, reusable, totally contextual shopping list for wherever you happen to be. Best use of the Palm ever, this shopping list tracking stuff. But, SplashShopper attracted me with two big additions.read more »
Merlin Mann | Dec 1 2004
Version 1.9 of DEVONthink is scratching my information where it itches. Or something. Anyway, it's a cool app for managing lots of stuff. Read on...read more »
Merlin Mann | Nov 30 2004
Sciral Consistency lets you track repeating tasks using fuzzy intervals.read more »
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