Monthly Archives: May 2011

Managing Life with OmniFocus

OmniFocus is changing my life for the better.

That is a pretty bold statement, right? How can that possibly be true? Simple.

I trust it.

Tasks no longer get lost or forgotten in my email inbox. Everything is there: family, home, job, consulting, church, school, and all the rest. On occasion, I still find pockets of to do items that haven’t made it there like the pile of sticky notes in the desk drawer or a pad of paper with home maintenance tasks under a box in the basement. I now immediately put them into OmniFocus and throw away the paper.

Capturing tasks. Check.

Next stressor to tackle: Managing this huge and intimidating “stuff I need to do” pile. My default behavior is to assign due dates to tasks I am working on.  It feels familiar yet wrong. Spending 15 minutes each morning reassigning due dates can’t be the right method. Most of the pile is not due at any one point in time. Those tasks just need progress until they get completed. Time to break out David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” and see if I can get past chapter 1 this time.

All three versions of the app stay in sync using the newly minted Omni Sync Server. It just works.  Which is great since I’ve canceled MobileMe.

In future posts, I will continue to talk about my successes and failures with organizing life.

Fraser Speirs is Just Getting Started

Fraser Speirs, the guy who started the world’s first 1:1 iPad to student program, is launching a site for his consulting work:

When I started this, I had no idea that this was all going to happen. I thought we would buy some iPads then go back to being an unknown teacher in an unknown school in educational circles. The reality turned out to be a little different. I looked back in my calendar to see when I started getting calls about the project. The local newspaper visited us the second day we opened, then the first “consulting” call was on day five of the term.

via Fraser Speirs – Blog – It’s just getting started.

Why MobileMe Issues are Great News

Pro tip: If you have children with iPods, you are probably familiar with the look that says “I CAN’T FIND IT!!!” Mitigate that problem by creating yourself a free MobileMe account and registering each mobile device to it. When your child comes to you with those alligator tears, head over to Find My iPhone and log in. Once it locates the device, tell the iPod to display a message and to be noisy for two minutes.  It will work as long as it has power and can connect to a WiFi network (even in a friends’ home or a public space). I can’t count the number of times this has happened to my son.

Michael Grothaus:

I’ve been having problems getting MobileMe email all day today. So have lots of other people. The problems seem to be with both IMAP servers and on accessing email on the MobileMe member page. To be fair, some of us at TUAW haven’t had any problems with MobileMe today and Apple’s MobileMe status page also mentions that only some MobileMe subscribers are experiencing problems.

The paid version of the MobileMe service has been a mixed blessing for our family over the five years we have subscribed.  Having the same calendars and contacts on both our phones and on both our computers has been invaluable. However, a month ago, when our subscription expired, I chose to not renew. Apple will currently accept renewals but not new subscriptions and instead suggests that you sign up for the trial subscription.

Speculation says that Apple is creating a service to replace MobileMe called iCloud. My speculation is that all of these MobileMe issues are Apple preparing for a (dare we hope?) much more reliable and robust service that offers more features and a better value. I can hardly wait to see how Apple chooses to use their new data center in North Carolina.


Are The Mobile Operators Dumb or Just Dumb Pipes? – VoIP Watch

This article is a great read about the cost of internet access and how it is becoming ubiquitous. I was about to share it on my linked list feed until I came to the final sentence and just had to share it as a post.

Think of it this way. Internet access is the technology world’s loss leader. Give the access away, like the razor, and watch them buy the blades.

via Are The Mobile Operators Dumb or Just Dumb Pipes? – VoIP Watch.

Seth’s Blog: The future of the library

The distinction between the librarian and the library opened my eyes. Of course! If you have kids in school, this article is required reading.

They need a librarian more than ever to figure out creative ways to find and use data. They need a library not at all.

via Seth’s Blog: The future of the library.

Bomb Explosions in Pictures

Horrifyingly beautiful images from The Atlantic:

Since the time of Trinity — the first nuclear explosion in 1945 — nearly 2,000 nuclear tests have been performed, with the majority taking place during the 1960s and 1970s. When the technology was new, tests were frequent and often spectacular, and led to the development of newer, more deadly weapons. But starting in the 1990s, there have been efforts to limit the future testing of nuclear weapons, including a U.S. moratorium and a U.N. comprehensive test ban treaty. As a result, testing has slowed — though not halted — and there are questions about the future. Who will take over for those experienced engineers who are now near retirement, and should we act as stewards with our enormous stockpiles of nuclear weapons? Gathered here are images from the first 30 years of nuclear testing.

(via Kottke)

Scott Adams is More Dogbert than Dilbert

Scott Adams is smart, funny, and an enjoyable read. A recent Wall Street Journal piece on Scott Adams as an Entrepreneur reveals some colorful stories that shaped him.

It was a high hurdle, but a loophole made it easier to clear. We only needed a majority of students who said they planned to live in the dorm next year. And we had plenty of friends who were happy to plan just about anything so long as they could later change their minds. That’s the year I learned that if there’s a loophole, someone’s going to drive a truck through it, and the people in the truck will get paid better than the people under it.

He calls ’em like he sees ’em about those with less muscle in their brain:

Why do we make B students sit through the same classes as their brainy peers? That’s like trying to train your cat to do your taxes—a waste of time and money. Wouldn’t it make sense to teach them something useful instead?

He then distills these experiences down into highly potent nuggets of wisdom.  I have bookmarked to my Pinboard account for later reference.

(via Shawn Blanc)

Google Lobbies Nevada to Pass Robot Car Bill

Ed Oswald in a Technologizer piece:

Google is lobbying the Nevada legislature to pass legislation that would make it the first state to allow the operation of robotically controlled cars on its roads.


How do you feel about this? Would you give up the pleasure of driving — your fahrvergnügen as VW so famously sloganed in the 1990s — to a computer? Are we becoming too lazy? I’d like to hear your opinions.

In answer to the question, a qualified yes. Once the technology was proven and stable I would yield control of my vehicle to the computer driver as long as I could grab control back at any time and could see into what said driver was processing.

This would allow me to reclaim even more time for productive tasks.

How I Cover My iPad 2

A quick update for those wondering which cover I settled on for the iPad 2.

I am combining the Enki Genius Case for iPad 2 in smoke with the Apple Smart Cover in gray polyurethane after coming close to pulling the trigger on the Speck PixelSkin HD Wrap Case for iPad 2. It came down to the Speck not having magnets and my having a gift card to the Apple Store. Speck customer service did an exceptional job of fielding my questions.

The Enki case is currently on sale for $29.99 if you order by May 16. That is only four more days, people. Pinch those pennies. Mine should be shipping this week or next.


Replacing the iPhone 3G

I married well.  Really well. One of the life lessons that I continue to learn from my beautiful bride is how to stretch a dollar. (Jensen Life Lesson: “Every PENNY counts!”) We buy low. We sell high. We keep our gadgets until they’ve done more than earn their keep.

The month that the iPhone 3G came out, we were months past the point of needing new phones and bought two. (Jensen Life Lesson: Never purchase a first generation device.) The phones have been good devices and have transformed how we keep in touch and manage the family but after three years they are showing their age. Like not allowing us to answer an incoming call. Or not ringing the phone at all and sending the caller directly to voice mail. Due to some health issues in the family, my wife must be accessible at all times so she needed a new phone.

So what do we purchase for her? We were toying with the idea of an iPhone 3GS for $49 instead of going to the iPhone 4 at $199. CHEAP, I tell you! After doing the math on how long they’d last, though, the iPhone 4 was the obvious choice. I called the local AT&T store to see what they had in stock and found out that they carry the HTC Incredible which is a BETTER phone than the iPhone. It must be because that is what the sales dude said. Not “we have options for you” but “this is a better phone”! Yes, he really said those words. And I hung up laughing with my brain quoting the line: “I would not SAY such things if I were you!” (Jensen Life Lesson: Watch The Princess Bride until you can quote every line. It WILL come in handy.)

My wife planned a trip to that same AT&T store the next day. I told her to feel free to call the sales person an idiot if he said such things again. She asked asked to be upgraded to the iPhone 4. As the dude was going into his sales pitch for non-Apple devices, she told him that her husband is an Apple guy and that she didn’t have a choice.  Which has me on the floor howling in laughter and wiping tears from my eyes. For those not aware, I married a strong and confident woman who inquires and listens but then makes up her own mind. She left with an iPhone 4.

What to do with the old phone?

This is the easy part. We have four kids in grade school and the two oldest each purchased the newest iPod touch. The younger two are saving. So #3 is going to purchase this iPhone turned iPod and is so excited you can feel it from the next room. He gets to own one now instead of a year from now! He asked me to install zombies, car racing, and Beluga (our family communications platform). No Angry Birds? Interesting.