Though I was one of the original Kickstarter backers for Frank’s book, it wasn’t until this past summer that I finally read The Shape of Design book while relaxing in Breckenridge, CO. The book is absolutely fantastic and sparked quite a bit of inspiration and ideas for my own audio book, Delight is in the Details.
Frank has done a reprint of the hardcover edition (using blue in place of red now). Alternatively, you can read it online or in eBook format for free.
These days, people who are confident they can do good work face one primary obstacle: the challenge of doing that good work.
Madhur Dutta, writing for our latest app review on The Sweet Setup:
The best app in any category must be easy to use, have a well-polished design, and offer a solid set of features at a reasonable price. Riposte comes through on all of these aspects, and it hits the ball out of the park when it comes to design, ease of use, and price. This is why we recommend it without hesitation as the best App.net client for iPhone.
Obviously, I agree. But I’d add that I think Riposte is more than just the best App.net client for the iPhone. I think it’s one of the finest apps on my iPhone, period. Though I can’t put my finger on precisely what it is about Riposte that I like so much, if I had to try and explain in one word then I’d say the app is just easy.
Wednesday, December 4
This week’s quick tip on The Sweet Setup is something I do each month to help keep my OmniFocus database running a bit more efficiently.
The funny thing I’ve noticed is that it seems like each pro is also its own con.
Bingo. For example, working from home means no commute, but it also means no “transition” after the work day.
Tuesday, December 3
The fact that I cannot, for example, buy an iPad app from my iPhone baffles me.
At Pencils.com, we believe that creativity is the greatest of all virtues. And, with our selection of unique, high-quality pencils, notebooks, and creative tools, we’ve got everything you need to unleash yours.
Whether you’re a pencil nut who knows all the brands (Caran d’Ache, Blackwing, Faber-Castell, we stock them all), or a casual doodler looking for something to inspire you, there’s something for you on Pencils.com. Combine that with our legendary customer service and fast, reliable shipping, and you’ve got some serious creative potential.
So, go ahead and read the story of the $40 pencil, learn about the pencil company that has been around since the French Revolution, and find the perfect notebook to capture your ideas. If you’re in the giving mood, we also have gifts for artists, writers, musicians, and anyone else on your shopping list.
Above all else, stay creative.
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My thanks to Pencils.com for sponsoring the RSS feed this week. Sponsorship by The Syndicate.
Monday, December 2
This iPhone-app-slash-Mac-utility came out a few weeks ago and it’s quite spectacular. Your iPhone and Mac pair up via the low-energy Bluetooth 4, and then when you come into proximity of your Mac and see the lock screen, you just knock twice on your phone. And presto! Your Mac is unlocked.
(Remember when we had to type our user passwords in like animals?)
I’ve been using Knock since it first came out, and it works right away about 95% of the time. Sometimes it takes a few seconds for the iPhone and Mac to pair up before I can knock to unlock. And as for the drain on my iPhone’s battery, it’s been negligible.
Update: Since posting this link last night I’ve received quite a bit of comments from folks on Twitter who haven’t had as much luck with the app that I have. Apparently it can be hit and miss, and some folks frequently have to toggle bluetooth of and off on their iPhone to get Knock to re-connect their Mac and find that it’s just easier and faster to type their password in. So, alas, I guess your milage may vary.
A few months ago I published my first book. Well, it’s more than just a book. Delight is in the Details is an audio book, eBook, and interview series for people who make things. Quite a few people have bought it (if that’s you, thanks!) and I’ve received a good amount of positive feedback.
If you haven’t yet picked up a copy, it’s still on sale from Thanksgiving weekend, and today is the last day to grab a copy of the whole bundle for 25-percent off the normal price.
This week’s Sweet Setup interview is with my pal, Matt Legend Gemmell. Matt is a consultant user experience designer, software engineer, and speaker. He’s also one of my favorite writers.
Tuesday, November 26
The Sweet Setup’s latest app review is up just in time for Thanksgiving. It’s our pick for the best recipe app on iOS and Mac. (And those mushrooms you see in the pictures? Well, I’ll be eating them for dinner tonight.)
Barley is a new WordPress plugin that lets you edit the text and content of your posts and pages from the front end of your site, rather than going into the back-end editor.
This workflow makes a lot of sense. And Barley does a very good job at implementing it. For me, the vast majority of edits I make to my site are fixing typos and broken links. And, usually, I find myself on the front-end permalink first (because someone pointed out the typo via email or Twitter, giving me a link to the page).
I’ve spent some time with Barley over the past week and it’s very well done. You just click your cursor in the text and you can write, edit, and more — add in links, change text to bold, write whole paragraphs, etc.
However, I have one quibble that I think is a deal breaker for me. After a post has been edited in Barley, the back-end text of the article gets converted from Markdown to HTML. I use a different Markdown plugin here on shawnblanc.net than I do on The Sweet Setup, and Barley converted my markdown text to HTML formatting on both sites. It’s not a destructive change at all, and I fully trust Barley. But, I also like to keep my posts in Markdown. So, we’ll see.
Barley is on subscription pricing plan. It’s $12/year to use it. If it sounds interesting, I definitely think it’s worth checking out. It could remove a lot of friction in your typo-maintenance workflow, and more (like the fact you can write whole posts right there in the browser!).
Monday, November 25
Delight is in the Details, my audio book, eBook, and interview series for people who make things, is on sale for 25-percent off this week. Perfect for those in need of some design-centric-slash-build-awesome-things type of reading this holiday week, or for those in want of several hours worth of delightful audio to accompany them on their turkey road trip.
Fracture prints your photo in vivid color directly on glass. It’s a picture, frame, & mount all in one.
It’s a modern, elegant, and affordable way to print and display your favorite memories. Your print comes with everything you need to display your photo, right in the durable packaging.
Fractures come in a variety of sizes and prices, starting at just $12, with free shipping on orders of $100 or more.
Fracture prints make great Christmas gifts and are the perfect way to fill up empty walls in your new home or apartment. Check it out.
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My thanks to Fracture for sponsoring the RSS feed this week. Sponsorship by The Syndicate.
Absolutely fantastic article by Frank Chimero. Take the time to read it straight through on the site. And make sure you’re in a setting where you can watch the short in-line videos. So great.
Long-time readers of this site are familiar with the Sweet Mac Setup interviews I’ve been doing for the past 4.5 years. Going forward, those interviews now have a new home on The Sweet Setup (and they will no longer be Mac-only).
This week’s Sweet Setup Interview is with my pal, Casey Liss, regarding his iPhone Home screen.
Friday, November 22
Yes. Love this story from Ben Thompson. As well as the point he’s making that Apple’s new website about using the iPad in real life gives examples of people that don’t quite fit the mold for how most people could benefit from an iPad.
I think most of us who are “tech savvy” can relate to the situation of having a non-tech-savvy parent and or grandparent get an iOS device and instantly become more connected and conversational through FaceTime, email, and messages. My folks went from candybar phones to iPhones about 6 months ago and our amount of day-to-day quick communications has increased dramatically. We are always sharing photos and videos with each other over group iMessage conversations, we do quick FaceTime chats so grandma can say hi to her grandsons, and more. It’s a far different — and I think better — experience than the once-a-week phone call check in.
Great piece by Tim Bajarin. I often jokingly refer to my iPhone as “Command Central”. As Tim points out, smartphones are quickly becoming our “central hub” devices because they have become extremely capable thanks to software. I’d add that we’ve gravitated towards them, and allowed them to become so central to our digital lifestyles, by the sheer fact our phones are always right there in our pockets.
Compromises don’t make for great products, and nor do they make for great experiences.
That’s why you have more than one device. That’s why it’s perfectly reasonable to pack and travel with several of them. And that’s also why a more rational view of a piece of technology is that it’s part of an ecosystem — your own personal one, encompassing your work, leisure, interests and utility needs.
Tuesday, November 19
By the way, you should definitely follow @thesweetsetup on Twitter. That’s where we’ll be tweeting most about the site’s new app reviews, articles, and other updates to the site.
Also, here’s the link to The Sweet Setup’s RSS feed.
Monday, November 18
Voila is the most powerful screen capturing software available for your Mac. Voila lets you capture and record content and then easily share it with friends and co-workers or upload it to the web.
Voila is the perfect screen recorder for your Mac. You can easily make high-quality product demos, DIY app simulations, and tutorials. Create interactive content by recording your Mac screen along with audio and all your click streams. Then complete your screencast by annotating your screenshots with professional tools and features. Record like a pro and publish your final project to FTP/SFTP, Tumblr, Dropbox, Evernote, and YouTube with Voila.
Made for Mavericks, Voila is simple and intuitive. With Voila, keep your captures organized and within your reach while enjoying a boost in productivity.
Try Voila today. Download Free Trial.
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My thanks to Voila for sponsoring the RSS feed this week. Sponsorship by The Syndicate.
These are fantastic. (Via Jason Santa Maria.)
Friday, November 15
For the past 3 months I’ve secretly been working on a new website.1 It is now nearly done and is on track to launch next week.
To stay abreast of the launch, and to stay up to date with the site once it goes live, you really should follow The Sweet Setup on Twitter.
Now, long-time readers of shawnblanc.net will be familiar with the awesome series of Sweet Mac Setup interviews I’ve conducted over the past several years. I’ve often thought that it would be cool to chart out all the apps and gadgets listed in those Sweet Mac Setup interviews and have some sort of site that listed what was the most popular.2
That’s not quite how the site has landed, but it was the start.
The purpose of The Sweet Setup is to research, test, compare, and find the very best apps for the iPhone and Mac. And, of course, the setup interviews I’ve been doing here over the years will now continue at the new site.
As readers of shawnblanc.net, you are no doubt familiar with my affinity for fine software — there are just so many fantastic apps out there. That is a huge reason for why I built this site. It’ll be a place that floats evergreen content, recommending the best apps for whatever the task and listing those recommendations and reviews in an easy-to-discover layout rather than a reverse-chronological posting format.
Needless to say, I’m incredibly excited to be launching this new site.
Wednesday, November 13
Actually a bit surprised to see how many folks keep their bottom row clear of icons. That’s how I’ve been doing it since forever (and I also prefer just three icons in my iPhone’s dock) because I like the extra breathing space it gives. But I always thought I was the minority. Perhaps more folks do this than I thought. It is, after all, how the original iPhone’s Home screen looked.
As usual, a fantastic and concise review with gorgeous photography.
For my work flow, the iPad Air and a MacBook Air is kept in sync through iCloud and is the ideal multi-screen mobile computing solution for me. Originally, my belief was that the iPad Mini would be more of a second screen companion to a heavy notebook user like myself. But the larger screen of the iPad Air and now its new thin and light form factor, favor me using it as a replacement for my notebook when I am highly mobile. For me, this has become a real revelation.
This also has been my setup for a few years now. My MacBook Air usually at my desk and hooked up to my external monitor and keyboard, while my iPad is what I grab when I’m heading out of the house. I’ve also taken several trips (business and personal vacations) where I left the MacBook Air at home and took only the iPad.
It’s actually quite fun and even liberating to work from just the iPad when out and about. The currently-looming question for me is if the iPad mini with Retina display could usurp the full-sized iPad as my laptop replacement.
Speaking of heating and overheating, I’ve heard from a lot of iPad users who seem really concerned that the iPad mini with Retina display is going to get too hot. Is this a reaction to all those stories about the iPad 3 running hot, way back when? Maybe. Anyway, I tried a bunch of stuff on the Retina iPad mini and the hottest it ever got was slightly warm. This doesn’t seem to be an issue, but I’ll keep checking.
Yesterday, as I was setting my iPad mini up for the first time and all my apps were downloading because I was restoring from the iCloud backup of my iPad Air, the bottom-third of the Retina mini was noticeably warm. But not hot.
I think he likes it:
I’m glad that I didn’t buy an iPad Air. My first impression of the iPad Air was right and not buying it was a wise decision. The Retina iPad mini is the iPad I was waiting for, and the next months will provide the necessary opportunities to test its advantages (and changes) over the old model in real life scenarios.
I can create and consume content on the iPad mini because its smaller form factor and lightness allow me to use it all the time in any situation without needing to rest my hands. The iPad mini can be my primary computer because I want to carry it, hold it with one hand, thumb-type on it, and put it in my girlfriend’s purse — which wouldn’t be possible with the iPad Air.