In a chat with Om Malik, David Karp, CEO of Tumblr, had this to say about the iPad mini:

I am over laptops and the posture that comes with them. I am coding a lot less, so I use my computers a lot less. I still want to simplify even further and carry just one device. So, I want to try the iPad Mini with cellular antenna as my only device and as a phone replacement, and use Skype and/or Google Voice instead.

It’s cool how simplifying can actually be liberating. I’d be interested to check back in 6 to 12 months and see if David is still rocking this setup, and if not, why.

David Karp on the iPad mini

Dana Levine’s article, “Why everyone loves the iPad mini (even though the screen sucks)”, makes a point I hadn’t thought about: that the Retina display isn’t a disruptive technology:

… they are a nice-to-have, but not really disruptive to what we already have. When you look at disruptive technologies (as defined in The Innovator’s Dilemma), they typically enable use cases that their predecessors didn’t (such as allowing devices to be smaller or lighter). There isn’t actually any new use case that a retina display enables, other than being prettier. It’s not like visible pixels in any way diminish the functional experience.

I think Levine is right. As awesome as Retina displays are, they don’t fundamentally change the usability or use-case scenarios of the iPad. It’s crazy to think that a bitmapped screen displaying pixels at a density rivaling print, is, in a way, nothing more than an iterative step in the evolution of hardware.

“Retina Displays Aren’t Disruptive”

Ben and I were joined by a very special guest today, Shaun Inman. Shaun is one of my internet heroes. On the show we talk about how Mint and Fever came to be; Shaun’s games Horror Vacui, Mimeo, and The Last Rocket; web design and development; learning new skills; video game jams; and launching a Kickstarter campaign.

Brought to you by the Neu Year Calendar: a big, awesome calendar. Enter discount code “B&B” for a 30% discount, or try to win one: just tweet about and include their twitter username @NeuYear for your chance to win a free calendar.

The B&B Podcast: Interview with Shaun Inman

Andy Ihnatko:

It’s a brain hack, I know. The joy of the whole “day to night to day again” pattern of life is that bit in the middle: the gap that occurs after whatever happened and before whatever happens next. The gap encourages you to remember that if you fell short of your goals on a Monday, well, there’s nothing stopping you from achieving everything hoped and then some on Tuesday.

I like this “brain hack”. Not to mention who doesn’t like a clean laptop? Something I often do when feeling unfocused and unmotivated but still have a full to-do list, is to take a short break and then come back and do one very short, simple task.

Damp Paper Towel as Productivity Tool

Fantastical for iPhone

Fantastical for iPhone is available today. You’ll probably be hearing a lot about it, and the good words are merited. I’ve had it on my iPhone’s first Home screen for the past 6 weeks. Right now it’s $2 in the App Store, and I wholeheartedly recommend it.

There are two headline features: (a) The ability to create an event using natural language. This is the headline feature of the Mac version that won me over last spring. And (b) the DayTicker, which is a clever new way of displaying the upcoming days and events.

Creating an Event

Why does it always seem that I’m in a rush, or that someone is waiting on me when I’m trying to create a new event on my iPhone? Creating new events on the iPhone has never been a particularly easy or quick task.

  • The iPhone’s default Calendar app is okay at best when it comes to entering new events, but if you’re not creating an event for the very near future, it can take many taps to get the event created.
  • Agenda (a very fine 3rd-party calendar app) has done a good job at making it easier to input a new event, but it is still a somewhat tedious task that requires many taps.
  • Siri can be great, but I still find it awkward to use Siri in a public setting, and she doesn’t exactly have a great track record of being accurate and frustration free.
  • Fantastical is, in my opinion, the easiest way to create a new event thanks to the natural language parser. But for maximum ease and speed you really need both thumbs available since you’re typing a normal sentence — Skydiving lessons tomorrow at 9 am.

Moreover, if you don’t want to type out a sentence, Fantastical still gives you the ability to create an event exactly as you would in Apple’s default Calendar app.

Calendar Views, the DayTicker, and My Visual Thinking Mojo

Fantastical has something I’ve never seen before: the DayTicker.

The DayTicker in Fantastical for iPhone

Design-wise, the DayTicker is money.

However, as pretty as it may be, I’m still not fully sold on the DayTicker. The way the 5-day ticker slides left-to-right while the event list scrolls top-to-bottom is a little bit jarring. My eyes don’t know where exactly to focus with two lists scrolling in different directions at the same time, and so I often find myself looking back and forth between the two instead of focusing on one list while looking for a specific day or event.

And yet, that’s not to say I’m convinced the DayTicker view is flawed. For me, the jury is still out on this one. And the reason is because I’m a visual thinker. When I think about my calendar I don’t think in dates, I think of a traditional calendar view and the S-M-T-W-T-F-S layout. Sunday is on the left, Saturday is on the right, and Wednesday is in the middle. The DayTicker messes with my mojo by removing the visual boundaries of a traditional calendar view.

What redeems it for me is how quickly you can switch between the DayTicker and the month-view. Pull down on the DayTicker and the month-view calendar will take its place. Pull down again to switch back to the previous view.

Having a quick and easy way to transition between list view and month view is something I’ve always loved about Agenda, and it’s equally great in Fantastical.

Using it day in and day out as the calendar app on my first Home screen for the past six weeks, I’m not ready to say it’s the best calendar app bar none. It’s still a toss up with Agenda, the calendar app I’ve been using since it first came out nearly two summers ago.


What I like most about Fantastical on the iPhone is the design.

There’s no denying that the design of Fantastical is top notch. I love the overall color scheme of deep red, whites, and blacks. The app feels balanced and unique. And there are several little design details that give Fantastical a fun and polished feel.

One of the most notable of the little design details is the magnification within DayTicker. As you slide the ticker left to right, the center-most day get’s “magnified”. This is a great touch.

Another detail: when creating a new event, the words you tap in animate in to the calendar view below. This gives you a visual cue that what your typing in is getting entered into your calendar, much like it is with Fantastical on the Mac.

It’s these little things in the design that make Fantastical feel professional and refined. This is easily the best-looking Calendar app on the iPhone and it’s a welcome addition to iOS.

Fantastical for iPhone

Rdio Killed iTunes

Rob Weychert wrote about his first year with Rdio:

Moments after signing up, I dove in head first, and in the months that followed, I wolfed down music at an unprecedented rate, dutifully working my way through a mental checklist of veteran bands who had long needed my attention as well an avalanche of new releases. When my subscription reached the one-year mark last week, I came up for air to take inventory on my Rdio experience so far. The results were startling.

My sentiment towards Rdio ends on a more positive note than Weybhert’s. In part, due to my differing opinion on owning my digital music.

I first signed up for Rdio in the spring of 2011 as part of my review of Cloud Music services. My initial impression was a good one, but I had one caveat:

I have nothing but good things to say about the quality of Rdio’s service, its price, or its music collection. However, there is something about Rdio that just doesn’t settle for me. And I think it’s the fact that I’m listening to music I don’t own.

It was over a year and a half ago that I wrote those words. Today, the fact that I’m listening to music I don’t own doesn’t bother me. It’s worth it for all the advantages Rdio gives.

Since signing up for Rdio, I’ve bought a mere 7 albums off iTunes. I used to buy an album about once per month. I’d then proceed to listen to that one album pretty much nonstop for 30 days until I had it memorized and I was nearly sick of it and we needed some time apart from each other. And so I would buy a new album and repeat.

My music discovery was either buying the new albums of bands I’ve long enjoyed listening to, buying new albums advertised on the iTunes home page, or buying albums highly recommended by friends.

There was an initial hesitancy I felt towards sign Rdio — I felt it would be an unnecessary expense. I was already content with my music and was only spending about $10/month buying just one album. And once I bought the album it meant I owned those digital files forever. If I signed up for Rdio’s $10/month plan it would mean spending just as much on music but not owning it. As you know, I went for it anyway.

With Rdio, I still follow a similar listening pattern as before. I come across an album or two that I really love and I listen to it over and over until I’m ready to move on. And since Rdio can scan your iTunes library, any albums you already own on your computer which are in the Rdio catalog can be automatically added to your collection. Moreover, as Rdio’s catalog expands you can re-scan your iTunes library anytime you like to see if there are more albums on Rdio to be added to your collection.

iTunes is virtually dead to me thanks to a handful of services like Rdio doing a better single-serving job than iTunes was at its all-in-oneness. I listen to all my music in Rdio, watch all my movies via my Apple TV, subscribe to all my podcasts are in Instacast, and thanks to iCloud and OTA updates I never have to sync my iPhone or iPad with my Mac.

What I love about Rdio isn’t just the massive music catalog that I have total access to, it’s also that my entire music collection is always available on my iPhone or iPad or Mac. The latter is something which iTunes Match could take care of, but then I’d lose access to the massive catalog of music Rdio gives me access to. I also love that I can listen to an album once or twice, and if I don’t like it I can move on without feeling loss. Albums I do like, and any of my old favorites, I can listen to over and over and over if I want.

Rdio is proof of two things: (a) for me, access trumps ownership; and (b) the future is in the clouds.

Rdio Killed iTunes

This is a great and interesting article by David Browne at Rolling Stone talking about the change in the music industry where bands and artists are turning to independent means (such as their own pockets or Kickstarter) for producing their music and then selling directly to their fan base.

I found it especially interesting that the very thing which is empowering artists to sell directly to their fans, is also the very distraction which is making it harder for them to focus on their music:

The rise of Twitter and Facebook has helped bands connect with their followers like never before, but it also means another distraction from the creative process. “Fans expect things to come directly from the artist,” says Tennis manager Rob Stevenson. “You have to get yourself to the next gig and do a good gig and do your social media stuff. And there are still only 24 hours in a day.”

Via Elliot Jay Stocks, who is planning to release an album next year and will be experimenting with a business model in which fans of his music can subscribe and get digital songs released several times during a 12-month timeframe and which will culminate in a finished vinyl album.

Also, I love that Elliot connected the dots between the shift in the music industry and the shift in the publishing industry related to some of the concepts laid out in Craig Mod’s most excellent article, Subcompact Publishing.

Survival of the Fittest in the New Music Industry

A very welcome update, though the iPad design looks a lot like just a bigger version of the iPhone’s.

Update: Federico Viticci has a great review of Rdio 2.0 and all its new features. As I’ve been using the iPad and iPhone apps this afternoon and evening, I agree even more with his sentiment regarding the design of the iPad version:

Second, I’d like the iPad version of the app to always show the sidebar. Right now, several areas of the iPad client look like a blown-up iPhone app, whereas others show that the Rdio team took advantage of the larger screen with grid views and modal windows. However, in albums or playlists the interface is made by a vertical list that looks awfully similar to the Android tablet apps Tim Cook made fun of. There’s too much wasted space that could otherwise be used for the sidebar or, perhaps even better, the social ticker that is still exclusive to the Mac app and web player.

Rdio for iOS Updated to 2.0

Matt Alexander posted an excellent interview with Brent Simmons. In it they talk about “tools for the modern writer, pursuing passions, the value of the written word, and the state of the publishing industry.”

Words and stories are my passion, and I’m lucky to live in this era when words and stories are ridiculously abundant and where worldwide distribution is nearly free. People who love to read and write have never had it this good.

As usual, Brent has some very intelligent and insightful things to share. If you enjoyed Craig Mod’s article from yesterday, this interview with Brent complements it nicely.

Brent Simmons on Writing and Publishing

Colugo is the easiest way to share photos privately with your friends and family.

Colugo is a simple solution to a simple organization and communication problem. Colugo doesn’t use gimmicks like other apps do. No “magic” albums or location based sharing or other features that may sound cool in theory, but when you actually use them you find they are not very useful (at best), and a privacy nightmare (at worst). Colugo is private photo sharing done right.

Want to share some of your photos publicly and others privately — in a single app?

With Colugo you can! Make one album for the world to see, and “publish” it. Keep your other albums private, viewable by only those you invite.

Tired of returning from a party and having to contact all your friends for pics?

With Colugo you won’t have to. Partygoers can take pictures directly into a party album you create and you all share.

Colugo. Simple.

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My thanks to Colugo for sponsoring the RSS feed this week. Sponsorship by The Syndicate.

Sponsor: Colugo