And hey, speaking of calendars, yesterday we published our review and pick for the best calendar app you can get for your Mac. It’s Fantastical 2.
Chris Bowler, writing for The Sweet Setup:
Managing your time has long been a part of the knowledge worker’s day, and calendar apps have been around almost as long as email. But while the quantity of available options is high, the number of quality calendar apps is a small handful.
The option that is best suited for you will depend on your needs, but a closer inspection has shown us that, for most people, Fantastical 2 is the best calendar application for OS X users.
In my experience, most people don’t schedule their work. They schedule the interruptions that prevent their work from happening. […]
People rarely schedule working time. And when they do it’s viewed as second-tier time. It’s interruptible. Meetings trump working time. Why?
The other problem is that for so many corporate and team environments, the schedule for makers is run by managers. A manager gets things done by checking off their to-do list 15 minutes at a time. A maker, however, gets things done by working on something that doesn’t fit on a to-do list, and they need a good 4 hours of uninterrupted time (preferably one or two of those each day for a week or two).
See also Paul Graham’s article, Makers Schedule, Manager’s Schedule.
Tuesday, May 19
Nate Barham wrote and photographed a fantastic review of the Space Gray Retina MacBook:
Indeed, if the Air moniker was meant to convey lightness and thinness, the new MacBook’s name communicates its purpose equally well. Take the air out of the Air, shrink it down even further, and see what you get.
Monday, May 18
Speaking of Watch faces, Ben Brooks makes the case for how the Watch is an ideal gadget for nice events. It looks great when dressed up, you can customize the watch face to suit your outfit, and because of the discretion of notifications on the Watch, you’re not pulling your phone out all the time when at a social event. That’s pretty much exactly why I got a Watch — less reason to use my iPhone when out and about.
And speaking of customize the watch face to suit your outfit, one thing I love about Apple Watch is that you can save your various customized faces.
At first I thought you could only have one customized face of each type, and if you wanted to change that Watch face up you had to dive in and customize it again. But that’s not true, you can add as many custom Watch faces as you like and then have the handful of your favorites all at your fingertips. So you can have your go-to everyday Watch face, your work-out Watch face, etc.
Stephen Hackett gives a rundown of the 10 different Watch faces:
While having so many options is great, many of the faces have frustrating limitations in the ways they can be customized or used.
Agreed: I’d love to get more ability to customize / swap-out different elements from different faces. But that’s just a minor quibble, really. About five days in with my Watch, and the faces are hands down one of my favorite features.
I’ve been mostly using the Utility face with the most basic detail allowable, activity rings in the upper left and current temp in the upper right. Then I’ll customize the color of the second hand and the date depending on what I’m wearing. Kinda dorky? Sure. But why not have fun with it?
The Modular and X-Large faces are also pretty fantastic. And I had no idea about just how interactive and cool the Astronomy face is.
David Chartier’s initial impressions of his Apple Watch mirror my own almost exactly. Keep it to only the most important-to-you notifications, the collective activity and health features add up to something pretty fantastic, and glances are where it’s at.
Monday, May 11
If you’re like us, you spend hours every morning browsing through hundreds of posts on your RSS feed, hoping to stumble across relevant news stories. We built WebdesignerNews to provide web designers and developers with a single location to discover the latest and most significant stories on the Web. We search through hundreds of posts on blogs, social media, and news channels, to deliver the most essential stories of the day. Our content covers quality news, fresh tools and apps, case studies, code demos, inspiration posts, videos and more. Check it out!
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My thanks to WebdesignerNews for sponsoring the site this week. Sponsorship by The Syndicate.
Monday, May 4
Wired In is about letting others know when you’re getting things done. Your friends and coworkers don’t mean to interrupt you while you’re in the zone, they just have no way to know that you’re in the middle of something big.
Your Wired In sign comes with a beautiful rounded aluminum base, bright, adjustable LEDs, and an interchangeable custom laser etched acrylic with your favorite saying that lights up when you’re busy.
Wired In was built for the way you work by a team of engineers, writers, and designers. Our iOS, OS X, and Apple Watch apps give easy access to control your sign via keyboard shortcuts, simple gestures, IFTTT integrations, or even Siri.
Whether you’re a writer ‘In the Zone’, a podcaster ‘On Air’, or a developer ‘Wired In’, your sign will let others know you’re busy, so you can get things done.
Wired In is available for preorder on Kickstarter in both individual and team packages. Get your team Wired In, preorder your signs today.
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My thanks to Wired In for sponsoring the RSS feed this week.
Friday, April 24
Speaking of Apple Watch… I began wearing a watch several years ago — maybe four years ago — because I was tired of constantly pulling my pone out of my pocket in order to check the time only to find myself suddenly checking email, Twitter, etc.
With two Apple Watches en route to the Blanc Household, I’m curious if Apple Watch will make the compulsive checking of Twitter and Email easier or harder. This week’s episode of The Weekly Briefly is all about that.
Monday, April 20
This past week’s episode of the Weekly Briefly was a short one. I’ve been a single dad for the past 5 days while my wife was on a trip. And I — ahem — chose, that instead of juggling both my boys and trying to keep up with work stuff as best I can, I would put all the work stuff on pause and be 100-percent dad. Totally worth it.
Elgato Avea transforms your home with beautiful dynamic light moods.
No matter the weather and season outside — with Avea, bring the atmosphere you like to your home. Control your ambience from your iPhone or iPad and unwind in one of the carefully crafted settings with subtly changing light. For example, let the Cherry Blossom setting fill your house with springlike cosiness.
After a relaxing evening, simply set your alarm using the built-in wake-up light scene. With Avea, rise and shine along a natural sunrise, right in your bedroom.
Avea connects directly to your iPhone or iPad using Bluetooth Smart technology, without requiring additional gateways or bridges. But it doesn’t stop there: once you have chosen a light scene, the smart LED lightbulb will take care of the rest, not requiring a constant connection to your iPhone or iPad. Connect more than one Avea, and they will automatically coordinate their lighting to create an even more immersive atmosphere.
Even better, Avea is soon available on Apple Watch, making it easier than ever to pick the perfect lighting for your mood – right from your wrist.
Avea is available for US $39.95 here.
My thanks to Avea for sponsoring the site this week. Sponsorship by The Syndicate.
Tuesday, April 14
This year’s WWDC logo is fantastic. My favorite compared to the past several years for sure. You’ve got the iPhone and iPad app icons, watch icons, and is that an Apple TV in the center? “The epicenter of change.”? Surely there’s more going on here than just a hint at fancier stuff that the Watch will be able to do.
Speaking of The Sweet Setup, this week’s setup interview is with a friend of mine, Kelly Tomlinson. Kelly’s a fellow Kansas Citian, and she plays a very active role in Kansas City’s tech and design scene.
Mike Schmitz wrote a fantastic app review for us on The Sweet Setup in our pick for the best Mind Mapping app (for iPad and iOS):
MindNode has the perfect balance between beautiful design, ease of use, standard features like iCloud syncing between your Mac and iOS devices, and import/export features to make it a functional part of any workflow.
The best thing about MindNode is that it is incredibly easy to use. The UI is simple and intuitive, even if you’re not an experienced mind mapper. In fact, you could probably start using MindNode without even fully understanding the concept of mind mapping because the user interface will actually teach you how to do it.
MindNode is awesome — I use it regularly. It’s basically my office’s white board and then some.
Friday, April 10
On this week’s episode of my podcast, The Weekly Briefly, I talk about the purpose of (and the science behind) lifestyle practices and daily habits.
This topic is one of the most important issues of my life. I have a personal commitment to live with intentionality in as many areas of my life as I can. I want to be intentional in my marriage and in how I raise my boys. I want to be intentional with my business and family finances, with my creative work, with how I spend my time, with my diet, and more.
This week’s show was sponsored by:
Tuesday, April 7
Over on The Sweet Setup, we’ve just updated our pick for podcast apps with a new favorite: Overcast.
There are many podcast clients in the App Store. Our new pick for what we consider to be the best podcast client for iOS is Overcast. Overcast has a very easy-to-use interface, in the year since it was released it has seen frequent updates, and it’s available as a universal iOS app and a web-based player. But best of all are Overcast’s two most useful and compelling features: Smart Speed and Voice Boost (which we’ll get into later).
Overcast has become the podcast client of choice for all of us here at The Sweet Setup. Its Smart Speed feature has saved us a more than a cumulative 100 extra hours of listening time, beyond just standard speed adjustments alone. After comparing it to the competition and using it extensively, Overcast is the podcasting app we recommend.
My friend, Chase Reeves, interviewed Mike Vardy and me for one of the recent episodes of The Fizzle Show. It’s a great episode — not your typical three dudes talking on a Skype Call type of show, it’s tightly edited and constructed, more like an episode 99pi or something you’d hear on NPR.
Now, I’m not sure that I’d call myself an “expert”, but I will say that having a daily de-brief that includes what progress I made that day, combined with writing down the single most important thing I need to do tomorrow has literally changed my work life.
Monday, April 6
High roaming charges have scared global travelers for far too long. In the past, savvy tourists would have to purchase expensive and limiting roaming packages from their mobile carriers, or they just kept their phone off entirely for fear of surprise charges when they arrived home. Now it’s possible to know true mobile freedom when you travel the world with KnowRoaming.
KnowRoaming is a super-thin global SIM that adheres to your existing SIM card, providing simple pay-as-you-go data and voice roaming in 200+ countries. Gone are the days of hunting for local SIMs when you land in a new country, or searching out a Starbucks for bit of time on Wi-Fi.
Just apply the KnowRoaming SIM sticker once to your unlocked GSM phone or tablet you can enjoy the service any time you travel. The smart SIM stays dormant when you’re at home, and only activates when you leave the country.
The KnowRoaming App lets you manage your account and track your usage in real-time, purchase foreign numbers from 40+ countries to travel like a local, and buy unlimited daily data packages for $7.99 USD/day in 55+ countries.
The KnowRoaming SIM sticker is available for $29.99 USD. Get it here.
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My thanks to KnowRoaming for sponsoring the RSS feed this week. Sponsorship by The Syndicate.
Friday, April 3
This week’s episode of The Weekly Briefly is longer than normal because it’s jam packed with stories and advice from the past four years of making a living online.
I share ins and outs, fears and motivations, challenges and victories. Highlights include:
- Why I quit my job to write shawnblanc.net for a living.
- The launch of my members-only podcast and how I thought it was so audacious to charge $3/month.
- The shift I see related to advertising as a significant revenue stream.
- Building and launching Delight is in the Details versions 1 and 2 — including what I learned about how an idea needs to mature and grow, how my idealistic approach to marketing isn’t practical, and how I felt like a fraud when I wanted to charge $29 for the complete bundle.
- And my latest project, The Focus Course, and the challenges and fears I’m facing with it right now.
Wednesday, March 25
Speaking of time management, there’s a new Fantastical app out and, well, it’s fantastic.
I’ve been using Fantastical for Mac since before it shipped, and it is hands down one of my most-used and favorite apps. It’s such an awesome blend of helpful and delightful.
The new version is a serious upgrade. It rocks a very handsome, Yosemity-ified look, a full-on (non-Menu Bar) Calendar app, Calendar sets, and a slew of new features.
Fantastical 2 for Mac is on sale for 20% off right now. If you’re a Fantastical user, it’s a worthwhile upgrade. If you’re new to Fantastical, you’re in for a treat.
Tuesday, March 24
A fantastic, photo-rich review of the GR Echo by Álvaro Serrano:
The GR Echo is the smallest of GORUCK’s Original Rucks. While the GR2 is perfect for multi-day adventures and the GR0/GR1 are all about versatility, the Echo is arguably the most specialized bag of them all. It’s the best daypack you can carry.
NeuBible has got to be the most well-designed, gorgeous Bible app for the iPhone. It came out just a few days ago and I love it. For years, my go-to iOS Bible app has been ESV Study Bible + which is certainly feature rich, but it’s not delightful and beautiful app.
NeuBible takes a different approach in that the entire experience centers around reading (what a novel idea!). The typography, fluidity, gestures, design elements — everything is simple and considered.
If you’re looking for a power-packed Bible app that has reading plans, commentaries, notes, social sharing, syncing, etc. Then this is not for you.
If, however, you’re looking for a simple, beautiful Bible app that’s built with reading in mind, then this is it. Just $2 on the App Store.
Friday, March 13
This week on The Weekly Briefly: Staying balanced when we’re hyper-focused on a particular project. As in: how not to be constantly thinking about work all the time.
Monday, March 9
Apple’s updated website for the Watch has all the details we’ve been speculating about for the past several months. Like shipping date (pre-orders begin April 10, ships on April 24th), battery life (18 hours), the price of the Edition (starts at $10,000 and goes up to $17,000 depending on the bands), that yes, you can buy individual bands, and more.
Also, on the Apple Watch website, there’s a weekly blog by Christy Turlington Burns tracking where she’ll be writing about how she’s using her Apple Watch to train and prepare for the London marathon.
In an hour (at 10am Pacific), the Apple Watch event will be kicking off. You can watch the live stream here on Apple’s website, or also via the events channel on your Apple TV.
Friday, March 6
Just in time for the weekend, here is this week’s episode of The Weekly Briefly. And today’s topic? Rest. Defined as time taken to relax, refresh, and/or recover strength.
I believe the reason people dislike Mondays is because they wasted the 48 hours in their weekend — they didn’t get any true rest, and thus never recharged. They are more worn out on Monday morning than they were on Friday evening. On this week’s episode, I talk about a thing I call “counterfeit rest”. What are tiny little things we could do to break our habits of resting poorly, and thus give ourselves more energy (mentally, physically, and emotionally)?
Friday, February 27
On today’s episode of The Weekly Briefly: thriving in the midst of the tensions between our time, ideas, and focus.
If I were to boil my upcoming book down to just two themes, one of them would be this. The other theme would be “committing to honesty and clarity with a bias toward action“.
Wednesday, February 25
This is the brand-new album from Mat Kearney, and it’s fantastic. I’m a huge fan Young Love and City of Black & White (“Here we Go” has long been up there in my list of favorite songs). And as a fan of his past music, Just Kids doesn’t disappoint one bit. Have pretty much had it on repeat for the past 24 hours. So great.