Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Shed Your Money Taboos by Derek Sivers 

Linked by Timothy B. Smith

Derek Sivers offers advice to musicians that applies to any creative pursuit:

The unhappiest musicians I’ve met are the ones who avoided the subject of money, and now are desperately broke or need a draining day job. It may sound cool to say money doesn’t matter — to say “don’t worry about it” in that negotiation moment — but it leads to a really hard life. Then ultimately your music suffers, because you can’t give it the time it needs, and you haven’t found an audience that values it.

I’ve made this mistake many times in my career. I’ve made it when negotiating a salary, and when I’ve priced projects. Unfortunately, it has meant being underpaid in many situations, then having to get the work done anyway.

I’ve come away from these instances with a great lesson, and one that Derek touch on too: people won’t value work, if you don’t assign it value.

Talking money is a life skill.

Via The Newsprint

Monday, February 05, 2018
Written by Timothy B. Smith

‘Solo’ Official Teaser

To be frank, this teaser doesn’t do much for me. I worry that Han Solo is such an iconic character that those shoes are hard to fill—by any actor. The fact that it’s February and they’re barely starting to market this movie is also worrisome. I could be horribly wrong, but it’s my belief that this film will prove to be a bad decision.

So far, Disney-led Star Wars has primarily focused on new characters, with some exceptions. Characters from the original trilogy have been played by the original actor. The problem with showing what Han Solo was like as a young man is that we’ve already seen Harrison Ford do it. Again, I could be horribly wrong, but I don’t see how Alden Ehrenreich could possibly do young Han better.

Confusingly, I don’t feel the same with the rumored Obi-Wan solo movie. Possibly because we never saw Alec Guiness play a young version, then have Ewan McGregor try it all over again. Both performances are spectacular, and I have no issues with seeing Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan.

But, don’t get me wrong. I’ll be seeing this movie either way. Solo: A Star Wars Story debuts on May 25th.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Apple to Delay new Features and Focus on Software Quality 

Linked by TJ Draper

Mark Gurman writing for Bloomberg:

Apple Inc. executives, seeking to improve the performance of iPhone software after months of reported quality issues, have decided to delay some key features originally planned for this fall’s update, according to a person familiar with the matter.

As part of an annual release of new iPhone models, Apple also usually rolls out a major iOS update each year. The current software version, iOS 11, added augmented-reality features, a file management app and business-user enhancements for the iPad. For iOS 12, Apple has been working on additions like a redesigned home screen app grid, a multiplayer mode for augmented reality games, and a merger of the third-party applications running on iPhones and Macs, the people said, asking not to be named discussing information that isn’t public.

There has been a lot of talk for the last few years as each release cycle ramps up about another “Snow Leopard Moment.” In fact, while Apple didn’t spell it out in those exact words, the name High Sierra, and the sentiment behind it was certainly meant to be a “Snow Leopard” like release. That hasn’t really panned out as High Sierra is easily the buggiest and most frustrating release of macOS in many years. If Mark Gurman’s rumor turns out to be true, I will be both happy, and somewhat embarrassed for Apple. High Sierra was supposed to be that release.

iOS, on the other hand, has simply never had a moment to catch its breath. It’s never had its “Snow Leopard” moment. If you ask me, even with the much greater resources Apple devotes to iOS, that lack of time to catch their breath is starting to show. You can’t push software forward when all you ever do is roll out new features, get them “good enough” to ship, and then immediately start on the next new batch of features. iOS is starting to feel less refined than it used to. As much I prefer the direction the design took when they departed from the heavy skeuomorphism, it doesn’t feel like this new look and feel has ever quite settled and received the polish and finalization it needs.

The whole OS feels less stable than it used to. When iOS 11 was first released my 6s battery life was a disaster. This has happened before on some level—but what happened to my battery with iOS 11 was different. I couldn’t make it much past noon. And it wasn’t until one release ago that it finally settled down. And here we go with another round of that in a few months? No thank you!

Both macOS and iOS are on a yearly release cycle. If that didn’t carry with it the connotation of something new and shiny every year, that would be fine—but that’s not how it works. Every year has to be a star-powered slam-bang wow-power release. What I would really love to see Apple adopt is the same tick-tock approach they have previously used with iPhone hardware. Let’s have a feature release every two years, and a major stabilizing release in between.

So, if this rumor is truly accurate, I applaud it.

Written by Timothy B. Smith

Review: Things 3 for Mac and iOS

A task manager you will actually want to use

Things 3 on iPad.

I’ve never been a fan of to-do apps. I don’t use them. People everywhere seem to swear by these things. There’s much talk about the whole GTD mentality, and what app is the best for getting things done.

Table of Contents Chevron Icon

  1. First Impressions
  2. Design
  3. Organizing Tasks
  4. Tags
  5. Things Cloud
  6. A Quick Aside on Shared Lists
  7. Other Features You Should Know About
  8. Final Thoughts

The methodology didn’t make sense to me, and I condescendingly felt that the key to getting things done was just action. Then I grew up, and realized that when you’re juggling a plethora of responsibilities, it’s incredibly easy for tasks to fall through the cracks. Writing down what needs to get done is not just smart, it’s necessary.

I came across Things years ago. I owned the first version of the app, but didn’t end up using it. Someone I know recently started using Things 3 and I was intrigued. I’d been using Trello to keep track of my ideas for articles on this site, video ideas, and jobs that I’d applied to. I have a love/hate relationship with Trello. I feel that parts of the app are very well designed, and others not so much.

After watching and reading some positive reviews, I decided to give Things 3 a try. Cultured Code offers a generous fifteen-day trial of the Mac app.

I was in love. Things 3 is the first to-do app that I actually use. The design is beautiful and easy to use, has many of the features I want, and led to a more organized life.

First Impressions

  • I’m delighted by the big facelift given to the UI.
  • Areas and Projects are exactly what I want from a to-do app.
  • There is a wonderful satisfaction in looking at the Logbook and seeing all the things you’ve accomplished.


Cultured Code has hit it out of the park. The design of the Mac app, the iPad app, and the iPhone app are nothing less than superb. The Apple Watch app is excellent too, which I’ll touch on a little bit later.

Gone are the days of the pale colors, and a design reminiscent of skeuomorphism. The new interface sports brightly-colored icons, revamped typography, and beautiful use of white space. While the aesthetic and experience is consistent across platforms, Cultured Code has done a wonderful job of tailoring each interface to get the most out of each operating system.

Cultured Code has achieved an incredible feat here. These are four different apps they’ve made you believe are one. And in contrast to some apps where the functionality is drastically reduced on iOS, I could never touch my Mac again and still have all the same control of my to-dos.

Organizing Tasks

Where most to-do apps only allow you to create lists, Things 3 recognizes two types of lists: Projects and Areas. You can create tasks in both, but this type of organization has helped my workflow.

Things 3 gives you verious ways to manage to-dos.

An area can be used to group projects and to-dos based on general responsibilities. For example, I have areas for work, side projects, personal, and family. Inside those areas I have projects for this site, my job search, etc.

Furthermore, you can organize tasks inside a project with headings. I often use headings to organize the type of tasks that need to be done. When Kelly and I went on a cruise recently, I used Things to organize my packing list. I had headings for my computer stuff, the clothes I needed, and my camera gear. This is one of the first trips I’ve ever taken without that horrible sensation of forgetting something.


Each person will have their own way of using tags, I tend to use mine for quick bits of information that I can see at a glance.

Tags can be a very powerful way of organizing your tasks.

For example, I tag jobs that I apply for as either “remote” or “onsite”. This helps me keep track of what types of jobs I’m applying for. I tag YouTube video ideas with the category the video fits into. It helps me plan videos so I don’t do too much of the same.

Overall, I like the implementation of tags. I wish I could make certain tags limited to a particular project or area, but I understand that most people aren’t using tags like I do.

Things Cloud

Any modern to-do app needs some way to sync. Things does this via Things Cloud and doesn’t offer any alternate way of syncing. Thankfully, Cultured Code has a whole page explaining what this service is and how they’ve ensured its security.

Things Cloud allows you to see all your tasks on any device.

Syncing works flawlessly. The best type of syncing is the syncing you don’t think about, and Things Cloud achieves this. I input tasks on iOS either via the app or share sheet, then organize those tasks on the Mac. Not once have I arrived at my Mac with tasks missing.

A Quick Aside on Shared Lists

The vital missing ingredient to the almost-perfect dish that is Things 3 is shared lists. As of this writing, Things 3 doesn’t allow you to share any type of list or task with someone else. Well, technically that’s not true, you can share them as plain text, but why the hell would you want to do that?

From what I’ve read, it’s a future possibility. I hope Cultured Code decides to include this key feature in a later update.

Other Features You Should Know About

  • Quick Entry
    Things 3 has a well-designed Quick Entry window, but I don’t use it often since my tasks get input on iOS. You can customize the keyboard shortcut for Quick Entry to be whatever you’d. I have mine set to the longest keyboard shortcut ever, ⌃⌥⌘ + space, which might add to the reasons I don’t use it. Quick Entry is incredibly powerful, allowing you to enter almost all the same information you can input in the app, without moving your mouse.

  • Apple Watch App
    Cultured Code was very smart when designing the Apple Watch app. All you can do is dictate a new task and decided whether to put it in your Inbox or Today. That’s it. After seeing many Watch apps try to do more and fail, this is exactly what I want and need.

  • Checklists
    If you need to go further down the to-do-ception, Things 3 offers checklists inside of tasks. After you begin a checklist, you can hit enter to continue adding items. I appreciate Cultured Code for adding this type of deep granularity without it feeling cumbersome.

Final Thoughts

I’m convinced that Things 3 is the best to-do app. No matter what Apple-made operating system you’re using, Things 3 is delightful to use. If you, like me, are unsure of to-do apps, I encourage you to give Things 3 a try. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Kindly edited by TJ Draper

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

How to Write a Blog Post | Rands in Repose 

Linked by Timothy B. Smith

Michael Lopp:

Randomly think of a thing. Let it bump around your head a bit. If the bumping gets too loud, start writing the words with the nearest writing device. See how far you get.

When you are close to done, print it out on paper. Sit somewhere else with your favorite pen and edit your work harshly. If this piece is important, let someone else edit harshly.

I liked this. When I was in school, I’d often print out essays and edit them. For the first time in a long time, I did just that.

Editing my upcoming review of Things 3

The technique is supposed to put you in a different space. It allows you to separate yourself from the work and critique it as if it were someone else’s. Try it. My soon to be published review is better because of it.