30 Jan 2007

Another uber mac lifer

Jeremy Mehrle seems to be slightly ahead of me in the uber mac life!

Keeping track of contacts

I have a system, based on a hacked GTD model that works quite well for me. It needs refining, and I'm holding off on spending too much time on that process, until I get the mac book purchased and learn new tools and applications.

One area that I seem to be the most disorganised in (and it stands out like a sore thumb), is contact management. I don't have a single "master" list of contact information, its spread about. Its not even spread about in similar formats, I've got an A5 filofax, Microsoft Outlook Contacts, GMail contacts, Locknote files and my mobile phone address book. Add to that the Lotus Notes address book of the company that I'm working at too.

Its not even that I know I have to look in the filofax for personal contacts, its really just every where!

So, when the mac arrives, I hope to consolidate all my contact information into a mac based application. The plan is to put all my contact information into Address Book.

What I need to know is - is this the best application to use? Does it allow contacts to have sensitive information protected? Thats what I use my locknote files for.

What do you use?

26 Jan 2007

Application Reviews

I've been introduced (and been using) a couple of little apps in the last week or so. The first is JDarkRoom, which is a text editor that provides a "matrix" style green text on black background interface. I've been using it to write longer blog posts and musings and found it just what I needed to keep me from having distracting toolbar messages. It has a neat word count feature too. Its written in java, so no need to use .NET.

The second application is Launchy, which is a windows utility designed to save time when starting applications. Mark found this application after a discussion we'd had on using Quicksilver (which I intend to get into when I get my Mac), but for now we thought that this was a good "practise" using windows machines.

JDarkRoom from code alchemists
Launchy from Josh Karlin

25 Jan 2007

So why mac?

I've always used PCs. At college we had PCs (and Amigas at home), and every since I joined the 9-5 gang its been PCs, its just what is used in the industry that I work in. In my last post I established that I've not got the dream uber job working in creative media with macs - so why choose a mac then? I work in a type of engineering, where the "make do" PC applications are king and aesthetics are an unknown. I try hard to inject a little creativity but my hands are mostly tied.

The mac journey all started with my iPod. I had a 40GB G4 click wheel iPod and I loved it. Unfortunately it took some knocks and was prononced dead last year, but even when its poor corpse was still warm, I'd turned my affection to another - my 4GB black nano.

Just prior to to the iPod switch over I had been getting into podcasts - my first (and I still subscribe) was Tips from the top floor, a very good digital photography show. As I picked up tips on GTD, I inevitably was introduced to 43Folders. You can't read Merlin Mann's website for long without coming accross Leo Laporte or the TWiT network, so I embraced them all!! Before I knew it I'd subscribed to a whole host of material from TWiT, iLifeZone, VFX, TWiM etc etc.

The final nail in the coffin was when I watched the Apple keynote for 2007 and the introduction of the iPhone. It was the first Steve Jobs keynote that I'd witnessed and was wowed by the relaxed presentation style (with my productivity head on) as described in a much better way here. This lowered my defenses and allowed Mr Jobs to infiltrate my brain - I need an iPhone.

So after some major life choices in 2006, I decided to embark on the path to the ubermaclife in 2007. I'm not sure where the path will take me, but I've got a few ideas for build up posts and then I hope to start writting (from a new macbook) about the purchase and setting up of a mac for a PC to mac converter.

Let me know if you've been through similar trials.

Connected Links
Steve Jobs at MacWorld - We come from different worlds [via Presentation Zen]

22 Jan 2007

19 Jan 2007

The Dream

So I'd put myself back at square one. If I was going to start over, what tools & methods would I use in my system - knowing what I've picked up along the way? How would I integrate these things? I started by imagining what the perfect set up would be. To have a creative, photography art based career, using a host of mac equipment. I'd work form a very well lit, open plan area with a studio (a little like this one from Flayfemouse). Probably in an old warehouse that I'd bought, had restored and was getting a second stream of income from the like minded individuals who rented space from me (as well as the large Costa Coffee franchise I installed on the bottom floor, next to the deli). There would obviously be free WiFi coverage in the whole building so that work could be done anywhere. I wouldn't have to spend as long in the car (normally 1 hour each way per day formy current contract), that would free up more time with the family. I'd know exactly what to do with my time from my well designed "runs itself" system (based on knowledge from 7 habits, GTD, the money tree etc) Now coming back into my world, this is not happening any time soon (if ever) - but keeping that ubermaclife in mind I am setting out to replicate it as best I can. In the coming weeks I will be adding more chapters in the start of this journey, including
  • my exposure to macs and why I think they'd suit me
  • my financial planning
  • starting my own business
  • my existing GTD system
  • my existing computer and the applications I use
  • why do I need to switch at all?
After all that I'm going to buy my first mac - the posts will come thick and fast at this stage as I learn about mac OSX and aquiring the tools I think I'll need to run my ubermaclife.

18 Jan 2007

Simply Why

Just read this!


Normally listen to Radio 4's You and Yours programme on the radio on my way to the gym and yesterday there was a segment on recruitment. Now my business is not in the position to recruit at the moment, but it was interesting to hear how some organisations tackle the problem.

For example the Red Arrows (the RAF's aerobatic team) have a recruitment drive every 12 months - how do they accommodate this with a fixed team number?

Simple, they get rid of their 2 most accomplished pilots. This means that there will always be new blood striving for the top.

It was also discussed that interviews are the worst form of assessment for employees. Some have a two stage event, the first is a night in a pub (where employers get to know the candidates). After this event the cut is made and the sucessful people get to go on a 1 week event after which a decision is made.

Listen again from BBC Radio4 available for 7 days after the programme airs

17 Jan 2007

Remember the Milk

My next big post is going to be about the tools that I am currently using in my system. I was drawn, however to this post about using Remember the milk. I use remember the milk to record a number of lists, mainly @calls & @PC lists from my GTD system.

The reason I chose these lists inparticular is that if I'm looking for things to do on the PC, I'll likely be online so I can check items on RTM. Since the integration of RTM in GoogleCalendar I've also set up some repeat lists (mainly to jog my memory to pay bills etc for the new business). I also have a wishlist for products, books, movies, music that I need to have.

I feel that I'm not utilising RTM fully. One of the tips from the original post (below) suggest using tags to the items as the GTD identifier @calls etc - I can see that working as RTM enables you to view a single tag.

Any other great ideas, please let me know.

GTD with RTM [via lifehack.org]

16 Jan 2007

Saving Money

Following on from my readings in The Money Tree book, I spotted this post, which covers much of the same ground. Nothing too groundbreaking, but having it all there in black and white certainly kicked started me into action and I have now drawn up a plan to rid myself of "bad" debt. The trick is not to be unrealistic and set yourself a personal debt free day that is acheivable with the surplus income you have each month. It might take longer than you would like, but at least with the plan in place you will not be disheartened when the debt doesn't get paid off after a couple of months.

Digg This Link

15 Jan 2007

Coder's Block - Rebooting your day

When it all gets too much and things seem like they are going down the very slippery slope I might try the re-boot your day technique. Seems a pretty sensible idea to trick your brain into starting the day again.


So what is this project all about? Well over the last 18 months I've been exposed to a great deal of change, creativity and inspiration. Along with my good friend Mark we embarked on the GTD journey, which to a degree I've embraced and use on a daily basis. As soon as you start digging into this area, the host of information, tips, hacks and other systems is overwhelming though. Within Google Reader I was exposed to a huge amount of people & inspiration. At the forefront of this was Merlin Mann and his 43Folders site. I started subscribing to more feeds and listening to more podcasts and soon came to realise that the whole GTD thing is completely adaptable, depending on what you need from it, what tools and time you have available and the type of things that you process.

The big change for me came 6 months ago when the company that I worked for closed our division. I jumped before I was pushed and went freelance - I was lucky to find work immediately. In the time since then I have started my own company and tried to come to grips with all the finances that come attached to that.

It was at this point that I realised that my system, personal finance & everyday tools I use was just a mess, so this year, 2007, is my year of change. I'm going to arrive at my GTD system, I'm going to settle into running my company, I'm going to make the switch from PC to mac and I'm going to be more creative.

I'm starting a few creative projects this year, and documenting my strive for the uber mac life will be one of them.