Old meets new. (Via Gedeon Maheux.)
To celebrate the 25th anniversary, AMC is showing Back to the Future on the big screen for two showings at the end of October. Buy your tickets now; I did. (Via Justin Blanton.)
New iPhone app for the indispensable file-sharing, URL-shortening, and-so-much-more service, Droplr. The iPhone app is very well designed and works just swell. It not only gives you access to all the Droplr uploads you created on your Mac, it allows you to upload, shorten, and share links and files from your iPhone as well.
If you use Droplr on your Mac, the iPhone app is a few bucks well spent. The iPhone app will work without its Mac counterpart, but if you don’t using that then perhaps this review from Chris Bowler will give you reason.
As if design nerds needed more ways to spend money. (Via Cameron Moll.)
I cannot say enough great things about Instapaper. And apparently neither can anyone else who uses it. All this this from a project Marco has developed in his spare time over the past few years? I can’t wait to see what’s in store now.
Ever notice how with an iPhone looking up a phone number (even from the favorites list) is about as distracting as texting? I should use voice dialing more often.
Good insight mixed with dry humor is a winning combination any day.
He dictated the whole article. (Though it’s not as cute as the video review he did for Dragon 11 for Windows.)
I’ve been hosting with Media Temple for three years, and this past weekend I finally upgraded from the (gs) Grid Server to a (dv) Dedicated Virtual server.
The (gs) gets a lot of flack, but in my experience it has been a good service. It’s inexpensive, easy to set up, and will keep your site ticking through moments of extreme traffic. In the three years I’ve been on the Grid my site never had a problem being Fireballed or other similar link-tos.
I have been wanting to upgrade to the (dv) for a while. For one, a (dv) is actually cheaper than my (gs) hosting because of some memory upgrades I added on to my Grid’s database. Secondly, the (dv) is just a better hosting environment than the (gs).
In spite of the fact I should have migrated I kept putting it off. Why? Because I am not a developer — working with databases, ssh commands, and nameservers makes my palms sweaty. However, as of a few months ago the traffic on this site has outgrown what the (gs) is meant for. So I had to migrate.
All in all the migration was not as difficult as I had feared, and chances are most visitors to the site never even noticed. There were only a few hiccups I encountered. The biggest was that the
/etc/hosts file needed editing to work properly with
wp_cron.php and the Super Cache plugin (so far as I can tell this is a very common edit that most WordPress installs have to make to work properly on a default (dv) server from Media Temple). Also I encountered an error when importing my Mint database and after troubleshooting ended up losing about 36 hours worth of incoming traffic data.
Some articles and references I used:
- Backing up and restoring a MySQL database
- Editing the /etc/hosts file for WordPress
- How to flush your local DNS Cache
- Media Temple’s step-by-step instructions for Migrating to a (dv) server
Now that things are settled I am so glad I upgraded and only wish I had migrated sooner. I’ve quickly learned my way around Plesk (the hosting control panel for the (dv)). I’ve always liked Media Temple’s account center dashboard for the (gs) — it’s nice and simple — but there is significantly more power and flexibility with the (dv) and Plesk than I ever had on the (gs).
And the speed. It is instantly noticeable when navigating this site. The (dv) is loading uncached pages at least 3 times as fast as the (gs) did, and in some cases it’s 14 times faster (these are unofficial benchmarks based on statistics from the WP Super Cache Plugin).
Finally, I cannot say enough good things about Media Temple’s customer support. I exchanged emails or spoke on the phone with TJ, Ryan, Jason, Paul, and Chris. They were all extremely friendly and brilliantly helpful.
If you’re looking for hosting, I recommend Media Temple. I don’t have a partnership with them, but if you set up your new service using this link I will get a small kickback.
What a craft. Bob Kramer, who used to be a clown for Ringling Brothers, now forges about 5 handmade knives a week and is one of only 114 master bladesmiths in the world.
Who are you, what do you do, etc…?
My name is Brett Kelly and I’ve got a pretty full hat rack. By day, I’m the Technical Communications Manager for Evernote Corporation where I split my time pretty evenly between doing web development and writing user documentation. The rest of my time is spent doing freelance web development and writing for my blog. My current claim to fame is being the author an ebook called Evernote Essentials, which people seem to like. I live in southern California with my first wife and our two kids. You can also find me oversharing and making awful jokes on Twitter as @inkedmn.
What is your current setup?
I work exclusively from home, so my setup is a mixture of my professional and personal equipment. My employer-issued computer is a 15″ unibody Macbook Pro and my personal computer is a very new quad-core 27″ iMac. When I’m doing day job work, the iMac pulls duty as a secondary display for the Macbook Pro. The third display on my desk is a 22″ Acer LCD that serves as a secondary to my iMac when I’m doing “evening” work. Up until very recently, the Macbook Pro sat atop a couple of large hardcover books to elevate it to something resembling eye-level, but a few days ago I purchased a laptop stand which hoists the laptop nice and high next to the iMac.
I use a standard Apple keyboard, but have been flirting with the smaller Bluetooth model for the last couple of weeks and may switch to that. When I got the iMac recently, it came with a Magic Mouse that I’ve come to like and will probably adopt as my permanent mouse, but before that was my old Microsoft two-button mouse which has served me reliably for going on six years now.
You’ll also find a smattering of backup drives littered around my desk, as well as a Fujitsu ScanSnap document scanner, which I absolutely adore (and that works with Evernote). Music is a pretty important part of my working effectively, so my gobs of music is output steadily through a set of humble-yet-reliable Altec Lansing desktop speakers that I bought at Staples about a million years ago or my trusty Sennheiser HD 202 headphones (for when my kids are sleeping or my wife just isn’t in the “speed metal mood”).
I have an iPad (the WiFi-only model) that I use around the house for reading things and maintaining my task lists. I’ve done some light writing (read: typing) on it, but it hasn’t really found any sort of imperative place in my workflow. My kids like to play games on it, so that’s cool.
Why this rig?
I’m a complete glutton for screen real estate. Both my work and personal configurations offer me ample space to do just about anything I need, and I always have sufficient room to tile different windows according to the task at hand. I’ve also found it quite awesome that I’m able to incorporate some of my personal equipment into my daytime work, which allows me to avoid having two discrete working configurations and, thus, an obscenely full desk.
What software do you use and for what do you use it?
I spend the most time writing either code or prose, so the application you’ll find me staring at the most is my text editor of choice, Vim (the MacVim build, specifically). It’s insanely powerful and is absolutely great for writing just about anything. Bonus nerd points because Vim is almost 20 years old and it’s still the finest text editor available (unless, of course, you’re talking to an Emacs user). It’s infinitely configurable and scriptable, has an active and vibrant community and is lighting fast. I’ve been using it almost exclusively for about 7 years now and I still feel like I have barely scratched the surface of what it can do.
As you probably could have guessed, I also spend a good deal of time in Evernote. It serves as my filing cabinet, digital notebook, idea log, photo album, temporary clipboard — all sorts of things.
- OmniFocus for Task and Project Management
- Mailplane for email
- Firefox and Safari for web browsing, though the former is mostly still around because of Firebug
- Colloquy for IRC
- Adium for IM
- Transmit for FTP/S3
- Versions and Changes for source control-related stuff
- Tweetie for Twitter
- iTunes for music and podcasts
How does this setup help you do your best creative work?
The combination of lots of display space and powerful hardware that can (most of the time) keep up with me make it easy to dig into the current endeavor. When I can comfortably view 4-6 source code files on the iMac and have my browser open on the second display, it requires me to do a lot less remembering. I don’t have to switch away from the current buffer to look up the correct parameter order for such-and-such function, I can just open it right next to where I’m working and see both side-by-side.
I liken my working style to the way my children play with toys: they don’t put away each toy as they finish playing with it (as much as I wish they would), so we have a great big cleanup party each evening where everything is organized and stowed in its right place. When I’m ready to wrap up the current day’s work, I’ll spend at least 3-4 minutes closing a dozen Safari windows, Firefox Downloads windows, Evernote notes and such. I like that I have the canvas and the horsepower to work that way without it getting bogged down or looking cluttered.
How would your ideal setup look and function?
I’m pretty happy with what I use, but I would change a few small things, particularly with respect to my current quiver of input devices.
First, I’ve grown to actively dislike the use of a mouse over the years, so I’d love to foster my own fu with tools like Keyboard Maestro to the point that I’d have to take my hands from the keyboard only occasionally, if at all. I’ve written about this in the past and I’ll admit that I’m a little militant in my position regarding “the rodent”, but the problem lies more with my ability to sharpen the metaphorical knife than with the knife itself. Mac OS X is incredibly friendly to keyboard lovers, I just need to quit whining about it and learn more.
Second, I’d really like to get my mitts on another Kinesis Advantage keyboard (which I used for several years but sold because of an obvious mental deficiency). It’s one of those absurdly ergonomic keyboards that looks like a pair of soup bowls lined with keys, but man is it nice once you get used to it. The downside is that you’re basically all thumbs whenever you sit down at a “regular” keyboard, as most of the meta keys that are normally struck using your little finger (Ctrl, Alt, Cmd) are positioned under your thumbs. That, and people seem to be unable to resist commenting on how the Starship Enterprise seems to be missing a keyboard. Oh, and they cost like $300.
More Sweet Setups
Brett’s setup is just one in a series of sweet Mac Setups.
Spoiler: flip the word upside down.
And this reminds me of a similar trick I learned a while back for proofreading a bit of text against spelling and grammar: read each sentence in reverse.
So here’s an extremely clever, free, and useful service. Sending an email to someone that requires a response? You can CC or BCC firstname.lastname@example.org and you or both of you will get a reminder about the email. Very smart, and apparently very easy to use.
A beautiful new iPad app from Oliver Reichenstein and Information Architects and designed with the sole purpose of being a top-notch writing environment:
Many professional writers use SimpleText or Textedit because these are the only writing programs that are totally distraction free. But text editors are not perfect. That’s why we made Writer.
Additional cleverness involves a monospace font optimized for the iPad, Nitti Light, and syncing with Dropbox.