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Entries in Macintosh (40)


The iPotty

Paper Planner

Fresh on the heels of the newly announced iMac G5, my MakaluMedia colleague, and good friend Matt Henderson, has posted what he sees as the Next Big Thing© from Apple. Just imagine — a computer oasis, available from the comfort of your own toilet seat! ;-)

Matt asked me to illustrate his idea as a cartoon, which I did (and enjoyed greatly). You can see the image on my weblog, but be sure read Matt's detailed description on his own weblog and leave your comments and suggestions there.

BTW, if you need any cartooning done, I'd love to offer you my services. I've had many years of experience with cartooning (here are some samples). So, feel free to drop me a line.


Business Diary Concept

Today I've made a decision to keep a business diary. My Wednesday post on paper vs. electronic planners and all of the wonderful responses received, has me inspired to finally get serious about keeping one.

I had the seed planted by Rick, whom I shared a story about in Paper Planner Longings. I still recall the description of his daily business diary, used to track his work notes, and how attractive this idea seemed then and now. Matt Henderson also had a post about keeping his daily business diary that made quite a bit of sense to me too. I think today, the convergence of these inspirations and my thoughts following Wedensday's post, led me to commit to a business diary of my own.

So, for the fun of it, I kept a business diary in my sketchbook today. I wanted to see how it felt to try and capture ideas related to projects I've been working on as they occurred to me. I found that ideas often float round my head but are never noted anywhere. I was pleasantly surprised at how good it felt to do this, and wondered why I hadn't been keeping notes before.

Well, I actually have taken a few stabs at a daily business log in the past few years. Once I tried using the Palm Memo, and another time, using an RTF file that synced to Wordsmith. However, I never truly committed myself to it, and never felt as I have today, keeping manual notes.

The Paper Option
Tonight, I wrote up the pros and cons of paper vs. electronic diary keeping. I really like the experience, quickness and flexibility of analog note taking in a notebook. However, it's not easy to back up a notebook, so if it's ever is lost, I'd be sunk. Further, written notes can't be searched and are difficult to modify without scratch-outs and insertion arrows.

So, while I wished the paper option was my final solution, I realized it can't do all I want in a paper system. However, I do think it should play a part — particularly for sketches. If I can find a way to quickly and easily scan in sketches for storage with plain text or RTF notes, that would be ideal.

The Electronic Option
Electronic text seems to me the best option, as it can be backed up, searched and even synchronized to my Palm for viewing and editing away from the Mac. If I store notes in plain text, then they are accessible anywhere, with no worries about backward compatibility. RTF is not bad either, sas it is plain text, with rich text features added on top. RTF was my final choice, because it offers a decent balance of utility and features.

I like the idea of using simple, rather than complex tools for this process. I'd be happy with a very basic text editor on the Mac and Palm, rather than a full-blown multimedia application. I simply want to capture raw electronic texts, store or sync that text, and save an occasional sketch from my sketchbook.

After a good discussion with my friend Andy on the topic, I spent time tonight exploring Mac and Palm tools. I've settled (mostly) on what I feel could be the ideal system for my note keeping needs, at least for getting started. Here it is:

Paper Input
I should be able to scan my sketchbook pages easily. I don't see myself scanning something every day, but maybe every other day, or a few times per week. This may require a new scanner, as my crusty old one is a a bit of a hassle to use. If scanning isn't effortless, I might be discouraged to scan sketches.

Mac & Palm Tools
I want to use standard tools, or tools I own and use already, on both the Mac and Palm. I like TextEdit, included with every OS X Mac, and Wordsmith on the Palm as it has a conduit for Syncing RTF files. I tried using DataViz WordToGo, but didn't like the editing experience, even though it could deal with txt files and sync them with the SD card quite nicely. Palm's Memo is ok, but a bit too limited.

I considered note taking software with hierarchal folders, categories and the ability to store pictures and such, but for my purposes, this seems like overkill. I just want a place to capture thoughts in text, which I can search and refer to later.

Document Structure
The master document would be a single RTF file (Diary-2004.rtf), created in TextEdit and synced to my Palm via the Wordsmith conduit. I would write in a weblog style, with a date at the top and the latest entries at the very top of the page, in descending order. At the end of each day's notes, I'd enter a character string, like --- to keep them separate from the previous day's entries.


This is a sample note entry.

This is another sample note entry.


I would record notes in the master file for a month, then make a copy, add the month number to the filename (Diary-2004-08.rtf), then clear the text inside the original master RTF file for the following month. This should help the master file from getting too large for the Palm and break up the files by month for easier access.

Folder Structure
I've created a new folder on the Mac (MM-Diary), and have stored my master RTF diary file inside of it. This folder is where scanned sketches would reside, stored in sub-folders dated by month (2004-08). The archived monthly RTF files would then be stored in these monthly sub-folders.




Open Issues
There are a few things I need to work out yet, such as a tool on the Mac that would quickly paste that day's date at the entry point in my document. TypeIt4Me might do, or possibly another utility. I may also need to configure some text tags like [ACTION] or [Client - Project] so searches can be a bit more relevant.

Of course I'll need to use the system for a while and see how it shakes out — I suspect it will need tweaking as I see problems or issues in the system. But this is normal, and to be expected.

I would love to hear feedback from readers on how they manage their own diary systems, along with suggestions for other software tools or processes I might want to consider. So, feel free to suggest away.

I'll set a reminder in my Palm to report on my status in a month and share how my system is working, and how it may have changed. Hopefully this documentation of the process will help someone else faced with the same issues and ideas.

Have a great weekend everyone! :-)


Excellent Myssing Sync 4.0 Review

If you're a Mac user who's considering Missing Sync, Jeff Carlson has an excellent write up on The Missing Sync 4.0 in the latest issue of TidBITS. While I kind of knew it had some nice features, I was surprised to see how well integrated The Missing Sync is, with such features as SD card mounting, internet connection sharing, iTunes and iPhoto integration.

Of course, The Missing Sync ain't cheap at $40, but at least it offers some compelling features to justify the price. Right now, the HotSync software bundled with Palm Desktop 4.2.1 works reliably enough. However, if there's an OS 6 device in my future, that will likely change.

UPDATE 2004-08-27: There is one significant thing not mentioned in Jeff's article, pointed out today by Matt Henderson. Matt just picked up a copy of Missing Sync 4.0 and found the licensing restrictions are incredibly strict — it apparently uses the Mac's ethernet address and (possibly) other criteria to limit Missing Sync to a single machine.

This is maybe no big deal if you have one machine, but if you have a desktop and a laptop as Matt does, it forces him to buy another full copy for the other machine. I think Mark/Space should consider offering current owners of Missing sync 4.0 the option of buying an additional sub-license for maybe $5 or $10.

Update 2004-08-28: Good news!! Matt has written back, to mention that Missing Sync 4.0's license allows use on up to 2 Macs! Mark/Space support says you can enter the same serial number on both machines when registering the software! Kudos to Mark/Space! :-)


Bad Battery Day


The screen went black on my Titanium Powerbook, which is not unusual, except I'd awakened the Powerbook just 10 minutes before the battery died. Ugh.

No problem! I'll just get the AC adapter from my bag, plug in and I'll be good to go... wha? Where's the adapter? It's at home, on my desk. Double ugh.

Worse yet, I was at a local cafe, coffee in hand, awash in a virtual sea of free WiFi net access. Triple ugh.

My morning episode served as a reminder. As cool as technology might be, battery powered technology will eventually go kaput. And, it will most likely fail you when you least expect it, or can afford it.

Buying a replacement battery is of course an option, though maybe not the most sensible one. I don't take the laptop fully wireless very much (normally the adapter is along for the ride if I go mobile). Besides, 200-some dollars for a replacement battery seems much better saved and spent on a future Powerbook.

Next time I'm going to stuff the AC adapter in my pockets and tie the cord round my arm — at least until the old TiBook is retired in favor of something new. :-)


Great Palm OS Cobalt Mac Support Overview at TidBITs

TidBITS is one of my all-time favorite e-zines, published by Adam and Tonya Engst for many years now. In fact it was the inspiration for the Palm Tipsheet which I founded in 1997 and sold last year.

Anyway, today I received the latest issue of TidBITS (#717) via email and saw that Jeff Carlson has written up an excellent overview of the Mac OS support situation at PalmSource that worth a read for all Mac users.

A great quote:

"Although Palm has occasionally taken interest in the Mac - such as buying Claris Organizer and turning it into Palm Desktop for Macintosh - the company's overall history of Mac support has seemed more like the kid brother your parents insisted you take to the movies with your date; he can get into the show, but has to sit somewhere else and can't have any popcorn."

I'm happy that Jeff has laid out the situation so well for Mac users, because it helps clarify alot of details that might be missed otherwise.

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