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Stuart Lennon

Writing about stuff

 

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Last week, I spent a couple of days in the magnificent city of Edinburgh.

The picture above of Edinburgh castle was taken from the breakfast room of the hotel that we stayed in.

I may be a little biased in that my Dad comes from that neck of the woods, but Edinburgh is a fantastic place to visit.

Every August the city and its environs host the Edinburgh International Festival and its unruly, less high brow, younger brother, the Fringe.

The Fringe has comedy, pop art, kids shows – pretty much anything goes.

Every theatre, gallery, library, book shop, pub, cafe and broom cupboard becomes a venue.

The Fringe is now the biggest festival of its kind in the world.

Also during August, Edinburgh is host to the Military Tattoo, which is what I go to see.

I will post about the tattoo separately, but it is an event that should be on every bucket list, in my opinion. Simply awesome.

The city itself positively throbs with visitors from near and far.

Bars, restaurants and cafes are full to overflowing from mid morning until long after dark.

For my trip, the sun was out, the winds were down and Edinburgh could have been a southern European city.  The party spilled out from the hostelries onto outdoor terraces and decks. It was gorgeous.

With one exception, the businesses of Edinburgh welcomed us with open arms.

August is, I’m sure a bonanza for the hospitality industry.

Everybody is excited, having fun and looking to have a good time. We ate, we drank and most of all we laughed.

Stuart LennonI was travelling with my wife, her cousin and her husband. (We are in the picture right) We met up with my cousin and her man. (That’s them below on their trusty steed)

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We laughed until our sides ached.

Where is your favourite city?

MailboxLogo+Wordmark_Vertical_BLUEEmail. It’s all about making things easier and more efficient.

Isn’t it?

Incidentally, I am talking with some smart people. They will redesign this blog to separate the various flavours of nonsense that I write.

More on that another time, but if you have no interest in productivity or IT, stop reading now.

I have posted, well, whinged about Email clients in a couple of other posts. Here and here.

The essence is this: I want to have an email client that sits on my Mac, my iPad and my iPhone and that plays nice with my Gmail and syncs perfectly.

Why?

Over the last 10 years, far from making me more efficient, email has become the biggest single drag on my time and productivity.

Email has become a barbarian horde. Honestly. It has.

Go away to a desert island for a week.

Come back and turn your computer on; instantly there are hundreds, thousands even, of emails waiting for your attention.

How I am trying to manage this, I am going to put into a separate post, as this one is getting longer and longer.

I have tried a lot of different clients and come across some brilliant apps. There are literally thousands of email clients. Many of them however are designed for specific devices.

Handle for example is a cracking wee app for the iPhone. However, it doesn’t have a big brother for the Mac and it wants to be in charge of the calendar, which is a whole new kettle of fish.

Inbox by Google is great on iPhone and iPad. Again, there is no version for the Mac.

I thought that I had found the answer with Mail Pilot, but alas the apps were not syncing; so mails kept reappearing. The exact opposite of what I am trying to achieve.

I wrote here before that Mail Pilot had not responded to my anguished request for help. I was hasty. I received this;

Hi Stuart,

Sorry for the delayed reply. Sometimes after initially installing, the apps can take some time to synchronize. Has this issue resolved?
Thanks!
-Josh

Co-founder + COO

I have gone back explaining that it got resolved after three days by my not using it anymore – but as yet, no further reply.

I have now settled on a mail client that I had used for a while a year ago. Mailbox

The app on the iPad and iPhone is simply brilliant.

The one for the Mac is strictly speaking still a ‘Beta’ which is a version in testing. It is pretty good too, if a little prone to the occasional ‘moment’ or crash, as I believe a ‘moment’ should properly be called.

Firstly, I should point out that if you want to manage email from work; that probably comes off an Exchange server and Mailbox is not for you (at the moment). Exchange is not supported.

Mailbox allows me to defer mails, so that they disappear from my inbox and return at appointed times. It allows me to archive or delete instantly, or to add a mail to a ‘list’.

The app syncs across my devices seamlessly. It is a joy to use, on touch screens in particular. Swipe here, swipe there – all done.

It is a really intuitive piece of kit, that for now at least, lives on all of my machines.

The company behind Mailbox was snapped up by DropBox before the app was on the market.

Online support is thus far excellent and I have had no crash problems.

As this post sat in my drafts folder awaiting my approval, the developers issued new releases of the Mac client. Three in quick succession.

Crashes left, right and centre.

However, it is encouraging to see the app improving and becoming more stable.

I am hopeful that it will soon be a full blown version. Check it out here.

Wow! Google listened.

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Only a few short weeks ago, I implored the IT Giants to Grow UP and suddenly Google is setting up a new top company.

What power I now wield.

Alas, I suspect that my little rant went unnoticed as Google was planning its next stage of global conquest.

Even though Google have been busy with other things, here, my quest for efficiency and productivity has continued.

I seek an email client that works across all of my devices, in the same fashion, so that I can seamlessly transition from one device to another and thereby be truly mobile.

Productive – checking email, even while trying to avoid my nose being pressed into the raised armpit of the man next to me by the crush of a rush-hour tube. Geek Nirvana.

Since my last update – I have been through several more configurations trying to get Apple and Google to play nice.

I won’t bore you with all of the permutations that I tried – suffice it to say that I probably funded the legal costs of Google’s latest move through the purchase of apps.

One particularly exciting setup was with a little thing called Mail Pilot.

There it was – an email client that is G-mail-friendly (YES!), that would work on a Mac, on an iPad and on an iPhone (YES! YES!), that would seamlessly sync (YES! YES! YES!) and was designed to operate an Inbox zero approach. (YES! YES! YES! I daresay that you get the idea)

I installed the app on the Mac – and played around with it. Encouraging.

I put it onto the iPad and iPhone. All right. Pretty good too.

After a couple of days, I became more convinced that mails that I had dealt with on the phone or iPad were reappearing on the computer.

In the tried and tested method held sacred by all IT folk – I uninstalled everything, turned all the hardware off, had a cup of tea, turned the hardware back on again, reinstalled the software and had another look. The only thing that I did not do, was send myself a hefty invoice.

Despite the employment of high powered IT consultancy as described above, the applications were not synchronising correctly. Not good news.

I decided to bring out the big guns. I looked for written instructions.

Shocking.

I know.

But still no progress.

Time for the nuclear option.

I contacted the developer.

Yes. I can confirm. I am a male and I did ask for directions.

Humbling and humiliating.

However, to my immense satisfaction – I can report that I was right all along. There is never any point in asking for directions.

The slimy little toe-rags have not replied.

So, I am doing the IT equivalent of driving around and around until I fall upon the required destination through a process of dogged determination.

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I posted last week about a Golf Day that I attended – BattleBack versus Rugby’s Golf Club.

Once the golf had finished, we repaired to Tedworth House, a Help 4 Heroes Recovery Centre, for a spot of dinner and a charity auction.

I bought the print above. The original (complete with signatures of many famous sports and media folk) was presented to Welsh Rugby legend Cliff Morgan on the occasion of his retirement.

One hundred prints were countersigned by the man himself to be used for charitable purposes.

Now I have one in my house. This makes me feel inordinately pleased with myself. My wife is, for the moment, reserving judgement.

Rugby’s Golf Club relates to the game of Rugby, not the place. It binds people with interests in Rugby, Golf and doing good. Jason Leonard is the club President.

After dinner – one of our number stood up and spoke about The Rugby Business Network. His name was Colm Hannon.

Colm, like me, played prop. Unlike me, he was good at it.

Colm played professional rugby in Ireland, England and South Africa. I daresay that he made a pretty decent living.

Post Rugby – he identified a need for something like The Rugby Business Network and went out and set it up. Good on him.

He presented to us what it is and what it is for.

I may get a word or two wrong, but I’m sure that he will forgive me;

“Essentially there is one criterion for membership. Officially we say that at any RBN event you must say “How can I help you?” – but unofficially, it is much simpler.”

“No Dickheads.”

If you played Rugby, then I suspect that you understand the nuance.

Certainly many in the room nodded their understanding, although of course, this may have just been people nodding off as the wine took effect.

I have a feeling that Jason Leonard knows exactly what it means and I am sure that Cliff Morgan would have too.

No Dickheads means team first.

Your teammates come before all else. No ego. No bullshit – not on the field, not off the field.

If there is anything that anyone takes away from the game of rugby – then it is this. (And a lot of very imaginative and graphic song lyrics)

In many ways, it is a good maxim to live by – in business, in sport, in everything.