Journalling with Day One
A good way to start the year for anything is to use a new diary or journal and the app I’ve been using for the last three years is called Day One. It has a number of really good features not least the fact that is available on iOS as well as on the Mac. A particularly useful tool is the setting that will remind you to write as many times per day as you would like to be reminded. I have mine set so that it will remind me twice per day, but you could go crazy if you wanted to and have it remind you 20 times every day. That could be just a little bit annoying, but on the other hand if you specifically wanted to keep track of something in particular it could be just what you need. The way the reminder thing works on the Mac is there is a little pop down from the menu bar at the top. You add whatever text you like into this little box and it puts it into the Day One application as a new post. The only thing with using this place of entry for your journal is that if you want to add photos you need to go to the main application window. So I do quite often open up the window and view the timeline so that I can see all of my posts. From there I can click on the plus icon and start a new posting in which I can add photos to go with the text. I often think it would be nice if I could add audio and video into this application and you never know maybe that will come in a future version.
Keeping it secret
Depending on what sort of things you write in your Day One journal you might want to keep it secret. Like where you have hidden the bodies! It is rather good that you can set a password protection to use on the Mac version of Day One as well as on iOS. It is not really very likely that somebody is going to get access physically to my Mac and it is already protected by a password entry to the system overall. Then again, it is nice to know that there is an extra layer of security in the same way as you have for a password protection into 1Password. I suppose that if you were really paranoid you could encrypt all of the text that you put into your diary/journal using something like GPG. In fact, if you wanted to you could just select a block of text and only encrypt the top-secret stuff.
Keeping it sorted
It is likely that there will be a variety of topics that you cover generally in your journal. With Day One you can add tags to your postings. Just in the same way as you can add tags to any of the files that you create on your Mac to help you find things later. I don’t tend to tag many things but it is good to keep the tags quite general. I do have a tag for when I have created a note about having made a backup using Superduper with my data on the Mac. I find it useful to have a reminder of when I did it although I do try to remind myself using a recurring reminder in OmniFocus.
I have started to post the text from my blogs into DayOne to have one place where I can find everything of my writing. So I could tag those posts with the tags blogging and then the tag for whichever blog it belongs to. If you are using tagging, it is good thing to remember to keep to one topic per post. So I don’t put in a post that has a little bit about what I have been doing during the day, along with a blog post text as well as some other stuff about my book writing activities. That is another thing that I like about keeping a journal, that I can use it to keep track of my work, so that I can see I have not been wasting too much time consuming stuff from social networks etc.
Getting more into Affinity Designer
Over time I have got used to diving into a bitmap editor like Pixelmator whenever I needed to make whatever sort of image. Or I would use something like Art Text 2 if I needed to create something that was more like a button, an icon, or some type of logo to use on a webpage. I am delighted that I have found Affinity Designer for creating vector graphics on my Mac. Before I used the Mac I was an avid user of CorelDraw and I used it in my signwriting business every single day. I think I can safely say I was an expert user of that application. On the Mac I tried using Adobe Illustrator, but it wasn’t as easy to use and didn’t do some of the things that I wanted to do with a vector graphics application. I also tried Vector Designer, Candy Apple, Inkscape and other graphics design applications and none of them really did it for me.
Affinity Designer is still at a version 1 and there is a need for missing features to be added and some improvements. Even so, the application is looking pretty good already. It has a general feel of quality and suitability for professional use. The price of it is pretty good, I always found CorelDraw! to be expensive quite even though it was very good. One of the unique selling propositions for Affinity Designer that the developers of the application are pushing, is that it doesn’t require a monthly fee in order to use it. They are having a go at Adobe with that one.
One of things that it needs is for an artist to be able to move the centre of rotation of an object to wherever required. At the moment it is stuck in the centre of the object and there are occasions where it does need to be moved, not just anywhere within the object, but also to any point on the canvas. I have spoken to the developers about this and they say it is something that is coming in a future version of the application. The only other thing that has bothered me with the application is that on a couple of occasions a text object has just kind of vanished. The layer where the text object was situated is still visible in the layers palette, but the object itself (the text) is missing in action. The only thing that I could do was to just recreate it again. Both times this happened was when I was trying to change the font and text size and it was gone. Poooof….
2015 with all my Apple gear
As you may know, I had nearly a year and a half using an Android phone along with an Android tablet. It was an interesting experiment and there were things that at first I did like, in the Android operating system. The Nexus 7 was particularly useful to use as my Kindle device and also be available for various other bits and pieces. With it being very light and easy to carry, I carried it around the house with me. Now that I have the iPad Air 2 I have a tablet portable device that is even more useful to me. It is more useful because I have more of the applications that I want to use. The iPad is more capable, especially in certain areas like video and audio recording and editing. If it wasn’t for my need to use DragonDictate which is only available on my Mac I could probably go for days not using my desktop computer. I do, do some dictating on the iPad and is particularly nice when I am perhaps lying on the sofa or it could be when I am sitting eating my lunch. The Siri dictation isn’t as accurate as DragonDictate although pretty useful all the same. I also enjoyed using the Samsung Galaxy S3 when I first got it, but in the end because I missed my iOS applications so much I was glad to get back with the iPhone 6. Last week when I was in Barcelona and I visited the Apple Store in the centre of the city. I had a good look at the iPhone 6 plus and I was impressed. I would love to have one of those, but I don’t really need it because I have my iPad Air 2. Besides, I have to have an iPhone which will fit nicely into my top shirt pocket. The larger phone would poke out too much and would be more likely to fall out and crash to the concrete floor and break. We don’t want that now do we?
I want the Apple Watch
Even though I am not sure that I want to buy a first generation device from Apple, I do want to get my hands on the watch. After seeing the videos as to what the watch can do, I think it could be quite useful for me. I like the health features that are included with the watch and it will be interesting to see how other applications make use of the device. It could be useful to have notifications coming through from OmniFocus. If I am able to wear it in bed then it would be useful to have the silent notification for when it is time to get up. I tried that feature out when I borrowed a FitBit and although it seemed a little bit weird at first, it was quite handy. The trick was to set the time about five minutes before having an audible alarm set as a backup. I didn’t need to use the audible alarm so I was able to turn it off before it woke up my wife. So anyway, I am looking forward to getting my hands on the Apple watch and I hope that it is going to be sooner this year rather than later. March or April would be okay.
Using the Mac on the desktop
I do feel quite comfortable sitting at my desk in front of my Mac which is a 27 inch iMac from 2011. It has been added to and upgraded with a 27 inch monitor to give me extra space for working and even with that sometimes I feel I could still make use of a third monitor. I’m sure it would feel like I was at the bridge of the starship enterprise with such a setup screens in front of me and I would just love that. I might need to get a bigger desk! I have also added an SSD which I boot from via Thunderbolt and this works perfectly. It is fast and you wouldn’t know that it was from an external drive at all. I would have preferred to have changed the internal drive to an SSD and also to have taken out of the DVD drive and to have put an SSD there. Now that the AppleCare has come to an end there is a chance that I might do that at some point during this year. In any case, I am still very happy with this computer and I am certainly likely to keep it for another two years, maybe even three.
Having both the iPhone 6 and the iPad Air 2 I do like to be mobile and I could go post-PC for much of what I do. There is something about the tactile quality and the more intimate computer usage you get with with iOS and with the changes IOS 8 has brought it has been a much better experience lately. The application WorkFlow on iOS gives us some automation which is useful even though it doesn’t go as far as what I can get from Alfred 2, Keyboard Maestro, Hazel, BetterTouchTool, Automator or even AppleScript. So there are a number of things which will keep me happily chained to my desk and my iMac.
The Mac 20 questions podcast for 2015
My plan is to do the weekly Mac20Q podcast on a Friday every week this year. I have enjoyed getting back into making the podcast and talking to my guests on the show. There will be one or two podcasts where speak solo and without a guest, such as this one where I haven’t been able to spend the time getting the next guest are ready due to the holiday season. If you would like to be featured on the podcast why don’t you send me an email to Mac 20 Q at Gmail.com and we can arrange something. We can record the chat using Skype or FaceTime. I recently got my hands on the recorder from the same people that make the software so that I can record from Skype, Ecamm Network. I haven’t been able to test it yet but I am looking forward to doing so.
Add the podcast in iTunes by adding this feed – http://feeds.feedburner.com/Mac20Questions