Link Posts

This is a quick note to all the members here. Yesterday I began a new series on the Shawn Today podcast. Over the next couple weeks I’ll be doing shows related to one of my favorite topics: a focused life.

My list of show topics include: components of a focused life; getting a life vision; planning your days; making lifestyle changes to support your goals; having deep personal integrity related to your own commitments; the tyranny of the urgent; and more.

In truth, this is the subject matter for my next book. As I’m in the beginning stages of planning and writing, I’ll be sharing about it on the podcast.

For those members you who haven’t listened to the podcast lately, perhaps you’ll want to check in again. (From what I can tell, about half of the membership base listens to the show each day. Which means half of the membership may not know about the new series.)

For those who are not members of the site, you can, of course, sign up. A membership subscription is $4 a month and goes a long way to support the writing I do here. As a member you can subscribe to new episodes and you’ll get immediate access to every past episode I’ve ever recorded as well. Not a bad deal.

Lifehacker has a fantastically nerdy interview with This American Life host, Ira Glass. From tools, to schedule, to workflow, and more. As you’d expect, the thing is filled with interesting and funny tidbits.

What’s your best time-saving shortcut/life hack?

I’ve got nothing. Reading other people’s answers to this question on your website today made me realize I live my life like an ape. I eat the same breakfast and lunch everyday, both at my desk. I employ no time-saving tricks at all.

Though come to think of it, I guess my biggest life hack—and this is the very first time I’ve attempted to use the phrase “life hack” in a sentence—is that my wife and I decided to live just a few blocks from where I work. We did this because of our dog. Since I spend at least an hour every night walking the dog, I didn’t want to spend another 60 or 90 minutes a day commuting. I don’t have the time. Like lots of people, I work long hours.

And his workflow for how he organizes a big mess of interview tape into a structure and edits it down into a radio story is fascinating:

I find that the important first step to writing anything or editing anything (half of my day each day is editing) is just getting the possible building blocks of the story into your head so you can start thinking about how to manipulate it and cut it and move it.

Reminds me a lot of how Dustin Lance Black writes his screenplays.

Friday, July 25

On this week’s not-so-brief episode, I answer a several reader and listener questions related to the launch of Delight is in the Details.

Some of the questions include:

  • What was the moment in which you said “this is good enough”?
  • What advice would you give for preparing for a launch of a new product or service?
  • And how did the launch compare to your goals and expectations?
  • what factors contributed to the success of the version 2 launch?
  • How many cups of coffee did you drink?
  • What was your process for making the videos?
  • And more…
Wednesday, July 23

For the past several months I’ve been head down, working on a huge update to my book and interview series, Delight is in the Details.

My original plan was simple: fix a few typos that were in the first version of the book and have all the audio interviews transcribed. But now that it’s shipped, you’ll see the update includes quite a bit more than just fixed typos.

  • Two new chapters
  • Two new audio interviews
  • A Makers Q&A section
  • All the audio has been remastered
  • All the interviews have transcriptions
  • The Resource Index

Over these past several months as I’ve been working on the update, I’ve been thinking more and more about what it truly means to be creative. I wrote “Fighting to Stay Creative” about two months ago as part of this whole thought process.

The ideas and principles I shared in that blog post blossomed into what has become the preeminent topic that now concludes Delight is in the Details. Which is: how to stay creative and how to build delightful products.

Something that always bugged me about the first version of the book was that it didn’t offer any how-to guides for building a delightful product. Because, really, there isn’t a checklist for that sort of stuff. But in place of a checklist, we have experience and commitment.

Delight is a choice, not a checklist.

And but so, now that we know we want to do our best creative work, what does that look like? How do we inject delight into our photography, our writing, our music, our apps?

I believe I’ve answered those questions (at least to some degree). This version of the book is what the first version should have been.

The updated version is available now.

Do me a favor and set aside 9 minutes to watch this video I put together with the help of my friend, Joel Sorge.

The video is one of three that comes with Delight is in the Details. This one is so great — and I feel the message of it is so important — that I wanted to share it in its entirety.

Monday, July 21

The first single from Weezer for their upcoming album. Dropped first on YouTube. It’ll be available on iTunes tomorrow, and they’re performing it on The Tonight Show this Wednesday.

Do you have a product, app, service, or company you’d like to promote directly to this site’s readership and visitors? Good news! This week’s sponsorship spot is available. If you’re interested, or have questions about it, email me and I’ll work you a deal.

Friday, July 18

On this week’s episode of my podcast, The Weekly Briefly, I share a lot about some of the most important ideas and values I’ve learned and written about while spending the past several months working on the update to my book, Delight is in the Details.

Sponsored by:

Marco Arment’s amazing new podcast playing app, Overcast, shipped on Wednesday and it’s awesome. I think it’s the best app design work Marco has done yet, and the smart speed feature is absolutely killer. Not only does it save you time without making the podcast hosts sound like the micro machines guy, but it also makes most average podcasts (like mine) sound professionally edited with tighter pacing.

Seth Godin:

What they’re actually saying is, “I don’t have any ideas that are guaranteed to work, and not only that, are guaranteed to cause no criticism or moments when I’m sure the whole thing is going to fall apart.”

Monday, July 14

The process for how Dustin Lance Black writes his screenplays is incredible. I don’t know how other movie writers do it, but Black’s process is not unlike the way I go about doing my long-form software reviews: Start with a closetful of research and other information miscellany, distill everything down, then put all the pieces together to form a narrative.

This week’s setup interview is with a new friend of mine, John Voorhees. I met John at WWDC this year, and we had some great chats about raising boys — I have two little guys; he has three older sons, one of whom has a portfolio of iOS apps.

TextExpander saves you time and effort by expanding short abbreviations into frequently-used text and pictures.

Whether it’s a simple email signature or several paragraphs of a standard response, you’ll love how easy it is to use TextExpander to avoid typing the same thing over and over.

Make customized, boilerplate replies fast and easy using fill-ins.

Create snippets from AppleScripts and shell scripts for powerful integrations.

Sync snippets via Dropbox and use them on multiple devices with TextExpander touch on iOS.

Learn more about TextExpander at:

TextExpander touch for iOS is available on the App Store.

* * *

My thanks to Smile Software for sponsoring the RSS feed this week. I’ve been using TextExpander since the beginning of 2011, and good gosh is it great. I use it for automating email signatures, speeding up podcast show notes, inserting affiliate tags into my links to Amazon or iTunes, fixing odd CamelCase spellings, and about a billion other things. One thing I didn’t use it for was to write this editor’s note — but I did use it in my email to Greg at Smile when I sent him the list of sponsorship assets.

Thursday, July 10

Huge congrats to Maciej Cegłowski. Pinboard is awesome. If you’re not already using it, I wrote up this Beginner’s Guide a few months back. Also, if you’ve got an iPhone in your pocket and an iPad on your armchair, Pushpin is the best iOS app for Pinboard.

Wednesday, July 9

Yevgeny Yermakov is on track to interview 100 designers (mostly graphics folks) asking them each the same 5 questions. No surprise, I could get lost in this kind of stuff. Getting a peek into the values, habits, mistakes, and successes of other creative folks is incessantly fascinating to me. And it’s also helpful, I think. Another person’s biography can help remind us that we’re not phonies after all, and it can also give us ideas and inspiration for how better to live our own life.

Tuesday, July 8

Karen McGrane:

Not everything in our professional lives is a transaction, scrutinized and evaluated against how much it costs us, how much someone should pay. Not every teaching relationship must be formalized—a mentoring opportunity, a coach, an internship. Not every investment of time has to be “worth it.” Sometimes you just have a brief conversation with someone because—why not? You never know what will come of it.

A thousand times, yes.

In 2011, when I was on the cusp of quitting my job to take my website full time, there were a few smart folks who I knew from the internet that were willing to take time out of their day to give me some advice and answer my questions and calm my fears. Even now, 3 years later, I often re-visit the advice and perspective they gave me back in 2011.

And in the 3+ years since I began writing here full-time, I now often get requests from others for input and advice on things. I wish I could be more available than I am, and I know there are things I can do to get better at it. Such as scheduling an “open” work time each week (even if it’s just 30 minutes), and that time slot is reserved for giving back to others by answering emails, doing interviews, etc.

Monday, July 7

This week’s setup interview is with my pal, Chuck Skoda. I love this part of his answer to our question about which app he could not live without:

Focusing on my “can’t-live-without” apps feels like missing the forest for the trees though. The most powerful thing about my iPhone is the aggregate of possibilities I can bring with me wherever I go. If my phone was just Tweetbot or just the Camera app, would it still be with me 24 hours a day? Probably not, because the whole package is more than the sum of its parts. It’s hard to quantify how the iPhone has influenced day to day life over the last number of years, but I can’t imagine going back.

Jeff Sheldon:

The original idea for the bag started over 2 years ago but it was a long process to finally see the finished product through. Each new product is a learning process and brings on new challenges, but in the end it’s worth the work.

I’m a sucker for behind-the-scenes stories like this.

Wednesday, July 2

I’m publishing this week’s episode of The Weekly Briefly a bit early, because of the holiday weekend.

In this week’s episode I talk about some different expressions of what investing in quality looks like. Not just from the common standpoint of what we buy, but also investing in making quality products and cultivating quality relationships.

Sponsored By:

  • Bellroy: Slim your wallet.

  • Dropzone 3: improve drag and drop and boost productivity on your Mac. Download a free trial.

My pal Chris Gonzales pointed this out on Twitter and it was news to me: when you’re browsing a list of login items in 1Password on iOS, if you swipe from left-to-right on an item then you get the option to “Copy Password”. Delightful.

Tuesday, July 1

Slim Your Wallet — it’s easier than you think.

No one wants a brick wallet weighing down their back. Here are some easy tips to slim down.

  1. Differentiate between your most frequently used and least used cards. Store the less frequently used ones together. This reduces the bulk of leather between every item.
  2. Ditch your receipts. Take photos of them for tax and store in accounting apps like Evernote.
  3. Minimise coins. Sure you might need a few for parking, but do you really need a piggy bank in your pocket? Tip more!

For wallets designed to make the most of these tips, visit

* * *

My thanks to Bellroy for sponsoring the RSS feed this week. You can tell a lot about a man’s personality and taste based on the grill in his back yard and the wallet in his back pocket. I personally prefer the most slim and simple wallet possible, while also having some personality. I have one of Bellroy’s Note Sleeve wallets in my back pocket as I type this. I’ve had it for a couple of years now and I love it — the quality is top notch, and it’s full of personality. Highly recommended.

Speaking of July and summer, if you’re planning on grilling out this holiday weekend, I updated my backyard cooking just recently. It’s got a list of everything you need to make the best smoked ribs, beef brisket, hamburgers, and/or bbq chicken in town. That is, unless you live in my town. In which case you’ll be making the 2nd best, if you’re lucky.

Hello, July. Over on The Sweet Setup, we put together a short list of awesome apps that will help you get the most out of your summer.

Monday, June 30

By far and away, this week’s setup interview is one of my all-time favorites. For one, I’m a long-time fan of Jago’s illustrations (he’s the artist behind the Jesus Storybook Bible, which we love), so it’s awesome to see his setup on the site. But his interview is just fantastic — several great photos of his workspace and a lot of nerdy detail about the tools he uses and how he uses them.

But it’s not your typical use-case. Here’s just one example:

I couldn’t do without Dropbox. Through a combination of cunning and trickery, I currently have a 463Gb account, and I make good use of it.

Friday, June 27

As you know, Editorially (which was awesome), shut its doors recently. Over at The Sweet Setup, we used Editorially every single day — it was our ideal collaborative writing tool.

Jeff Abbott wrote an overview of what made Editorially so great and what some of the alternatives are. As he states, after trying just about every other alternative we could find, we’ve moved to Google Docs for our collaborative writing work.

This week, on my podcast, The Weekly Briefly, I talk about the connection between staying creative and building a delightful product. Both have the same “guiding principles”, in that they are expressions of serving others.

Sponsored by:

Thursday, June 26

Awesome breakdown by Brian Lovin on all the little details and interactions in Path.

Path is such a well-designed app. I used for a while back, and very much enjoyed how it works as an app, but as another social network it never stuck for me. I also had considered using it as my personal journal of sorts, but Day One is just so much better suited to that.

There are a lot of things that make Path, as an app, truly great. But how long will they be around? In all seriousness, assuming Path gets acquired and shut down one day, or just flat out shuts down, what will become of its inspirational design and engineering?

(Via Marcelo Somers.)

Wednesday, June 25

Certainly the best-looking smartwatch out there. I’m still a bit blown away by the fact it’s a round display. But: Price? Battery life? How does it charge? How many people will be using (and still enjoying) their Moto 360 in a year from now?

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