Working Tools – 2. Software

Working Tools – 2. Software

I wrote last in this series about the digital hardware that I use. It makes sense to now cover what software I am in most often.

I prefer, whenever possible, to use apps that work consistently on all my platforms.

Shopify. Nero’s Notes runs on Shopify. It’s a strong platform that eases many of the difficulties and challenges of running an online shopping site.

Xero. Accounts for the businesses are produced here. I cannot recommend these guys highly enough. I can reconcile sales to the bank account on the couch.

Bank Apps. I’m migrating from ‘big banks’ to challenger banks, both for business and personal. Banking should be easy, so a good app is an absolute must for me now.

Microsoft Office. Given the choice, I would not have any of these apps (Word, Excel, PowerPoint etc) on any of my devices. They are huge, endlessly updating, monsters. Thing is, everyone else uses them, particularly corporate clients. iWork is compatible with Office, but it’s clunky.

Mail. I use Apple’s stock app. It’s not brilliant, but it’s ok. Using the stock app means it syncs well, and links with other apps and share sheets.

Fantastical. The best calendar app. Natural language input is such a winner. I have multiple calendars shared with different people.

Creating

Ulysses. My writing tool of choice. I love the simplicity of the interface, and the focus that it brings. I will publish this article directly to the website from Ulysses.

Ulysses Logo
A Flutter-bye!

Audacity. I record my end of the podcast on Audacity, and then send it to TJ. He works the magic in the edit.

iMovie. On the rare occasion I upload to YouTube, I try to tidy things up on iMovie first. A lot still to learn.

Consuming

Unread / Feedly. Unread is where I read blog posts. It’s a reader, and needs a feed. I use Feedly to subscribe to blogs, but I never read in it. I just prefer Unread.

Overcast. I listen to a lot of podcasts. I would rather use Apple’s own podcast app, for the same reason that I use Mail, but Overcast is just that much better. It’s a great app.

Netflix and Apple Music. I subscribe to both. So, particularly when travelling, this is where downtime happens.

Communicating

Slack. I belong to several Slack groups and administer one or two. I barely understand it, and I’m sure I don’t use a tenth of its capability, but in a world of tense, tetchy open forums, it is nice to inhabit some safe spaces.

‘The Socials.’ Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest. Not places that I love. However, I run an online business. I need to utilise these channels. I’ll promote this post through them. Whenever I can, I use Buffer to schedule posts. This is more efficient, and means that I don’t get sucked into endless scrolling.

Messaging. iMessage. What’s App, Messenger, SMS. Different contacts seem to use different formats.

The Message Bubbles
iMessage by Apple

Talking.

Cellular, Skype, FaceTime, What’s App, Messenger – again there is no consistency across my range of contacts, so I have lots.

My favoured apps are constantly evolving. In creakingly, I look for ones that I find simple and not distracting. Huge monster apps with masses of functionality that I don’t need distract me. They become an end of themselves.

Next, in #workingtools –  OSX v IOS.

Living the Dream – 18. Wins and Losses

Wins and Losses. I shelved this post – after the dramatic events described in the next post. I thought I’d publish it anyway. You will not miss the irony.

Telecoms

I left you last week lamenting that I would be without broadband for the weekend.
Good news. They fixed it. Sort of.

On Monday morning, I went to the Police station to finalise my statement with regards to the burglary. Upon my return, two technicians arrived from Cyta (Cyprus Telecoms) to ‘bond’ two lines; the only way to get a decent upload speed, or at least a better upload speed.
With dizzying alacrity, they climbed a ladder, dropped a CAT5 cable, mounted a new faceplate put on the phone point and installed a shiny new modem. Fantastic!

Only, it didn’t work. There followed two intense hours of frowning, constant phone calls and replacing of cables. As all hope seeped away, the lights turned green. Huge thumbs up all round and off they shot. I ran some speed tests. The results bore a striking resemblance to the speeds achieved before the drama. Hmmm…

My Mum texted – “Phone still not fixed?”. I tested. I could call out on the phone, but if I called to it – I got the unobtainable tone. So – I’m worse off than when I started, but better off than I was at the weekend.

Customs

On the other hand, our visit to customs was astonishingly brief and easy. We found our contact, handed over our log book, signed some papers and everything was done. Delivery of our car and furniture is pencilled in for Wednesday. Or – I just gave our car away.

I’ll let you know which, next week.

Insurance

Insurance was easy. I thought it might be. Somehow, paying over large amounts is always easily done. Still – we have insurance for the car and for the house.
The arrival of the container will be a big deal. first, it will be a huge pain – but as the house starts to take shape, and the hire car is replaced by our own vehicle, life will feel much more familiar.

Business Trip

Predictably – the day after its arrival, I’m back to London for a brief business trip. Mags will face the mountain of boxes alone, at least for a couple of days.
Unfortunate timing? Or excellent planning?
Again. I’ll let you know next week.

Y is for Years

SnakeOil

‘Last month, I wrote a book, one hundred and twenty four blog posts and made six hundred and eighteen thousand dollars.’

Well done! It is always nice to see a fellow writer do well.

There are a few claims like the above out there. Gurus who have cracked the secrets of making gazillions from writing ‘by following these few simple steps’.

One of the few simple steps is, of course, to wire some money to the guru.

I am an open-minded sort of guy and have read a few of these ‘written-in-a-month’ books. My overriding feeling on finishing is always ‘what did you do with the other twenty nine days?’

I’m sure that there are writers out there who write fast, edit quickly and publish in a heartbeat. I’m sure that they have produced brilliance. I just haven’t found any yet.

I can tell you from experience that there are definitely writers out there who write fast, edit quickly and publish in a heartbeat. They produce crap.

Books that have moved me contain years of work. Years of thought, years of experience, years of work. The drafting might not take years, but the process as a whole does. At least that is my perception.

Blogging from A to Z Challenge

Email. Friend or Foe?

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.

Q is for Quittrain.com

logo

 

Quittrain.com

If you smoke – go visit this site. Join the forum and interact with people.

I smoked anything from 30 to 60 cigarettes a day for 30 years. I feel qualified on smoking. I had a lot of practice.

If you smoke, you want to quit. I appreciate that you may not believe that you want to quit. But you do.

Every smoker knows that you want to quit. I know that you want to quit. You know that you want to quit.

Go the Quittrain.com and quit.

It really is a whole lot easier that you might believe.

The site is run by a quitter who goes by the name of Maryland Quitter. He is not selling anything. Nothing.

The site is supported/supervised/protected by volunteers.

There is no selling, no judging. Just quitters helping and supporting each other.

The quittrain.com helped me to quit smoking, It has saved me a fortune and quite possibly my life.

Equally Quittrain.com has restored my faith in the positive power of the internet.

When a bunch of people with a common aim unite to support each other, extraordinary, humbling and powerful things can happen.

Go along. You might even catch sight of a fat guy in a kilt.

Have you found somewhere special on the internet?

A2Z-BADGE-0002015-LifeisGood-230_zps660c38a0

After you have been to the Quittrain.com – go check out some great blogs here