• Review

    img_20161129_083442

    Ducks on the Pill Brook at the end of my street.

    This morning, I was watching a very brave journalist broadcasting from Aleppo in Syria.

    I do not claim to have any real handle on the rights and wrongs of that terrible conflict. I watched in horror and shame. Will we ever stop being a cruel and murderous, species I wonder?

    I am fairly certain that the involvement of this joker hasn’t helped.

    It is difficult to maintain any sort of perspective in relation to the events that I mention above, but I thought I might provide a review on a variety of things.

    IT. I posted here about moving away from Apple, and here about moving to Google. My Pixel XL phone is great. Reliable, efficient and fast-charging. I can say the same for the Chromebook. The biggest change though works regardless of hardware. Turn notifications off. All except phone. This one simple step puts you in charge of your apps, rather than they in charge of you.

    Politics. A lot of nonsense continues to be talked about Brexit. A favourite is the clamour for the government to publish a plan. A plan for a negotiation. A chocolate teapot. Eventually, the PM realised that all she had to do was agree. She will soon publish a plan saying – “We want free trade, and control of our borders.” Remainers will cry foul and demand to know what is going to happen. The government will respond – “Don’t know. It’s a negotiation.” Still. It keeps them busy.

    US Politics. From a field of two, one candidate won. He is certainly a departure from the usual. There is a lot of noise about the inherent unfairness of the electoral system, and at the moment, outrage that a foreign power is alleged to have attempted to influence the outcome of the election. Apparently such claims made with no trace of irony. How will ‘The Donald’ work out? I really don’t know. I suspect he will continue to delight in upsetting any apple-cart that he can find.

    The Camino.¬†The word alone brings a smile to my face. Somehow we managed to ensure that the pilgrim with the photos is the one least able to share them, so I have not written or posted as much about that week as I had planned. Walking twenty miles or more each day certainly simplifies life and I can’t wait for the second instalment next year.

    Journals, organisers and stationery. I have chopped and changed through a myriad of schemes to organise myself. Both digital and analogue. My preference is analogue, yet digital is far better for sharing. Thus, I use a hybrid. My calendar, shared with Mrs L, is kept on Google; accessible from multiple electronic devices. Many events, I also transfer to my Economist desk diary. Here, I get some perspective on how my week looks. I find this more attractive than an electronic output and better for my weekly review. On the move though, the diary has too much heft. I now carry a simple paper A6 notebook with a Fischer space pen. I would rather use a fountain pen, but I often dress casual – and ink and jeans can be uncomfortable companions. Here, I employ parts of the #BuJo system to run my daily tasks. Of late, I have even developed a double page system to prioritise. I also have a reflective journal – which I would like to keep daily, but often is neglected. Joyfully, the journal has no notifications function, and therefore does not berate me for missing a day.

    Corporate. I have a couple of clients for whom I provide support in anti-money laundering systems. I have also been reviewing a multitude of potential acquisitions. Both of those things are, by their very nature, confidential, but hopefully the work done this year will lead to good outcomes.

    Writing. The last few months I have done no work at all on Sean. I have been perpetually busy on everything above. Now, given that I am largely (when Mrs L lets me) master of my own time, I have to ask myself why it is that I can find time for anything, anything at all, except writing.

    That’s probably another post all on its own.

     

     

  • Hello, Google

    google-logo

    Yesterday, I posted about my love affair with Apple coming to an end.

    This was a little scary – as over the last few years, my brief encounters with Windows machines have not been happy ones. Never-ending updates, relentless malware attacks…

    What was the alternative?

    Since 2014, I have been using Google Apps – now suggestively renamed GSuite. It allows me to use Google’s e-mail, calendar and other apps under my own domains.

    I had vaguely heard about something called a Chromebook.

    These are typically pretty low specification machines that run a web browser, specifically, the Chrome browser. The processor is old, the memory is tiny. There’s nothing to them. They are cheap though. And fast.

    The principle is that you keep everything in the cloud. All of your files. All of your e-mail. All of your programs.

    Useless. How could that possibly work? I do far more than online stuff.

    Actually…No. I don’t. Or, rather I do very little that cannot be done with a chromebook.

    What do I actually do with my device?

    All the top procrastination tools are online – Social media, online shopping, email.

    Spreadsheets? GSuite has Google Sheets that can view and edit Excel. Likewise for Word and Powerpoint. There is even a work offline mode should the broadband go down or if I’m on the road. Microsoft programs are all available as web apps.

    This post is being written on WordPress – a web app.

    So – I bought a Chromebook. I’m writing on it now. Naturally, being me, I bought one that is premium. This is an HP, with a metal body, a gorgeous high definition screen, B&O speakers. Frankly, it looks a lot like a Macbook. Currently there are 8 tabs open. The machine is like lightning.

    The laptop boots up in seconds. There are no programs taking an age to start up. Virus protection is done server-side by Google. As there are no programs, there are no updates. I like it.

    Oh…and you can have two for the price of a Macbook. Three or four for the price of a high spec Macbook Pro.

    I’m told that I will struggle to mix my next single or edit my 4k video release on this machine. Not things that I do.

    rsz_img_20161108_093158

    Are there limitations?

    Maybe.

    First. Everything is stored on GDrive, in the cloud. Navigating around that does not come naturally to me – but I I suspect a little research and I will discover a quicker way.

    Second. I write (not enough) on Scrivener. Scrivener is great on a Mac, OK on a Windows machine, doesn’t work on a Chromebook. I will need to write elsewhere. Thus far, Google Docs looks favourite. It has only a tiny fraction of the functionality of Scrivener – but it has the bit that I need. 99% of Scrivener is wasted on me.

    My Iphone has been retired too. I have a phone made by Google, called a Pixel. I tried an android phone before – and regretted it. This one however is great, and just works. A bit like Apple used to.

    My hardware is built for Google apps. I’m using Google apps. Unsurprisingly, it’s seamless.

    I suspect the real cost of this is that Google has everything. I have no doubt that it hoovers up all this data. Privacy? What’s that?

    But, truth be told, I suspect that the privacy ship sailed a long time ago.

     

  • Samuel. Fraudster.

    Fraud

    First – a writing update.

    I finally plucked up the courage to let someone read a draft. My writing buddy, Amanda Fleet, published author, soon appearing at Bloody Scotland has looked at Act I of my novel.

    She was, of course, blinded by its brilliance. There may have been one or two tiny constructive criticisms.

    Oh alright, there were lots of criticisms and her eyesight remains fine – but they were all really helpful and she didn’t tell me to give up; so I’m calling it a win. ūüėČ

    Today though, I’m going to share with you a brief email exchange that I had with a Samuel Barton. Please take this as a cautionary tale,¬†although it did give me a laugh too. His proof-reading is worse than mine.

    Samuel is a terribly nice chap, who placed the winning bid on my old laptop, which I was selling on eBay. Concurrent with this email exchange, a fake Paypal email address was sending me entirely fictitious confirmations of payment.

    Hello Seller,
    It is my pleasure to inform you that I have carried out the payment via PayPal to your PayPal id. kindly check your PayPal email address (inbox,spam or junk mail) for the confirmation email of my Payment from PayPal.I also have the email receipt of the payment from PayPal with me.I want the item sent to my Nephew’s address who is living and working in West Africa.I would have asked you to post it to my eBay address in UK but I am presently going to Spain for a business trip. I sincerely hope you could assist me in shipping the item over there so it would be convenient for him to pick it up when it gets there.i also want to use the item as a surprise birthday Gift for his Cousin who is having his birthday next week.Here is the delivering address of my Nephew confirmed with pay pal.

    ADDRESS;
    JERRY DAMMY
    109, Adefemi Street,
    Abesan Ipaja,
    Lagos,23401
    Nigeria.

    I want you to ship the item tomorrow via Royal Mail Airmail International 1st Class Delivery, so that the item will get there ASAP. I’ve added you ¬£130 which should cover for the postage cost. Please get back to me with the shipment details (shipping Bar code) after shipping to the address above.

    NOTE: Please wrap the item carefully, write GIFT on the paper. Please don’t use any other postage service except Royal Mail.

    Am sorry for the inconvenience,please bear with me
    Regards

    Hi Samuel,
    My apologies, but I will only send the item, as advertised, to a UK address.
    Best Regards

    Thanks for your swift response lennon,Am sorry about the address,like have said in my first email that am on a business trip which was an emergency for,I wasn’t xpeceting the item go be posted off the UK and I don’t have any body to receive it for me in the UK,pls for God sake,assist me post it to the address which is also confirmed by paypal,have added ¬£130 also which will cover for the postage cost to the address,I will forever great full if you and leave you a positive feedback if you grant my wish..thanks

    Hi Samuel
    I am sorry to hear of your emergency. It sounds terrible.
    I regret that I will only send the item to the UK address.
    I’ll see if I can live with feedback.
    Perhaps you should withdraw your bid.
    Good luck with your business trip.

    Best Regards

    Lennon you not getting me right..I have nobody to receive it for me in the UK,don’t worry about the item going international as it will get to its destination un damage,pls give this issue a very good consideration…also I can no longer remove my bid again.

    NEW MAIL

    Pls.

    Hi Samuel
    I will not send the item outside of the UK.
    You can retract the bid very simply, click on the following link
    http://offer.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?RetractBidShow
    Best Regards

    cannot do that as i no longer have acess to my money again,and paypal said they cannot refund me as its already in your account,waiting for a proof of postage from you to complete it,pls lennon just do this for me for God’s sake.

    Hi Samuel
    How very unusual. Paypal won’t refund your money? Just go to their Buyer Protection section. They will help you out.
    Best Regards

    I can wait for 21days mate…you not even given me a second think…

    Hi Samuel
    I’m sure you’ll manage OK.
    Best Regards

    Am disappointed in you lennon..thought u said u a writer??a writer doesn’t seem to be this rigid..I read little of your writes and you seem very loyal and cool but you’ve just proof me wrong..its bad ..I though the word says “customer are always right”??,am really unhappy with this and you’ve just embarrassed me in front of my nephew as have told him his package is on the way which he will so anxious to receive soonest,now you’ve got my paypal empty to the extent that I can’t even purchase another as I don’t have enough funds left..its very bad lenno.

    New Mail

    Better still can you dispatch it to my wife in USA???

    Another New Mail

    Pls lennon

    Ah Samuel, the only reason I’m still talking to you is because I’m a writer.
    Your ineffective attempts to defraud me are, in their own way, fascinating.
    Stealing is not a way of life Samuel. You are a fraud. You are not even very good at it.
    So – no I can’t dispatch it to your wife in the USA. Not even if you say pretty please.
    Go get a life Samuel.
    Best Regards

    I have not had a response to this last one yet, nor has Samuel signed up to receive my monthly newsletter. C’mon Sam. You know you want to.

     

  • Bye Bye Desktop

    Optimized-IMG_0171

    I have posted about how I am becoming a little more analogue in my approach to life.

    I felt that technology was beginning to dominate and dictate my days. Through a combination of electronic tools, I was always connected and always looking at one or more screens. I decided to reassess how I used all these wonderful gadgets. First, I swapped my iPhone for a ‘dumb’ mobile phone – one that works just as a telephone.

    My next target was my desktop at home, where I sit to write. The picture above shows how dominating the computer is – both in terms of real estate and visual impact. The iMac is a beautiful piece of kit – and its screen demands attention. Attention that I very often gave it.

    Below, is how my desk looks now.

    Optimized-IMG_0173

    Quite Zen isn’t it?

    I still have access to my electronic life – I am writing this post on my MacBook.

    The laptop sits either on the slide out shelf under the main desktop – or in a book stand to the side. I open the laptop out when I specifically want to use it: At other times – I use the desk to write letters or notes with a pen, on paper.

    How novel.

  • Taking Time Back

    This post is going out in the middle of the A to Z Challenge – and is not a part of that exercise.

    I wrote an earlier post on reaching saturation point with technology.

    Much though I love my ‘I-everythings’, I was finding that technology was directing my time rather than help me make the most of it. So, I have stepped back a little.

    Once I started limiting my ‘online’ time – I began experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Really.

    I wanted to keep looking at my phone.

    So, I changed phone. I bought a dumb phone. It can do calls and messages. That’s it.

    rsz_img_0167

    I bought a diary. I have customised the layout to suit the way that I want to work.

    In the diary, I block off time. So, at 1230, I will log onto my webmail and have a look at emails. Then I log off email and go for lunch.

    I log back on before shutting down for the night. That’s it for email. Twice a day. I am planning to get to the point that I log off the computer before dinner.

    Mornings – I do my level best to ignore e-mail and social media. I walk the dog, have some breakfast and a shower. I sit at my desk and get working. I schedule creative tasks for the morning, I find it easier then than at any other time.

    If I am disciplined – those morning hours are great productive time. The key is not to let myself get sidetracked by Facebook, Twitter, E-mail and all the other usual suspects.

    Rather than ramble on for hours, I will leave you with two observations.

    1. I am finding it difficult to ‘cut down’. That tells me that there is a bit of an addiction element to this technology stuff.
    2. Not checking my email every ninety seconds has had absolutely no downsides. None.
  • Digital Overload

    overload

    It’s all got too much.

    I have scaled the peaks of the digital life and reached the zenith. From here on, it’s downhill.

    I have a Mac, a MacBook and an iPhone. I recently sold my iPad. This combination of very cool bits of kit mean that I am never more than seconds away from my Twitter feeds, (I have three) my Facebook profile, my Linkedin, my Pinterest, my Instagram. I am almost perpetually at Inbox zero. An email arrives and like a digital ninja, I am on it. Either it is responded to, archived, or deleted. I have resolved to read more – so I keep my kindle close to hand, and just in case, I have kindle apps on all of my other devices.

    Should you need to get in touch, you can comment on this blog, drop me an email on one of several addresses, send me a text, message me on one of several apps and each of my machines will ding, vibrate or beep. You may rest assured that I will be aware of your communication in seconds.

    I may of course, not respond instantly. I may be tied up. I may be updating my blog, scheduling my social media to tell you that I have updated my blog or even reading your blog. I may be checking that my feeds on feedly, medium, bloglovin and others that I have undoubtedly forgotten, are up to date. It is possible that I am resolving sync problems between my fitbit and my iPhone. How on earth can I lose weight if my phone is not correctly reporting daily steps? It may be that I am searching Myfitnesspal for the correct calorific value of 40g of porridge oats. If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it, right?

    If I am setting off for a meeting, preparations begin the night before. Laptop, iPhone, Fitbit all fully charged, chargers in bag too. (Just in case). Location of meeting entered onto device to ensure map available. Ensure that all recent communications with person that I am meeting are instantly available on all devices. I can revise on the train. Check out linked in profiles, Google +, Facebook. What music do I want? Playlists up to date? Which headphones? Noise-cancelling? Right – best check the battery levels.

    Then I need to update the calendar app – which in turn will update my wife’s calendar, so that she can be sure what train I’m on, where I’m going and what for. Obviously, her life won’t be complete unless she knows this. Once I get to London, I’ll take a quick snap and post some status updates. My friends in Ireland will undoubtedly be fascinated to know what the weather is like in London.

    It’s a wonder that I have any time at all for work or relationships or indeed life at all.

    At some point, the machines took over. The thousands of ways that technology was helping me, became the thousands of ways that it was oppressing me.

    I’m fighting back.

    I have ordered a diary. A big book made of paper and card. In it, I will plan my time. What an innovator I am. In this new-fangled thing, I will block off bits of time to check my e-mail, my social media and feeds. I’ll do these things at MY convenience.

    I have ordered a ‘dumb’ phone. It can make and receive phone calls. It can send and receive text messages, although only by using the numbers as a keyboard, so you should not expect too much. With only a dumb phone, I shall have to keep myself ‘connected’ only at scheduled times and at my keyboard. I fear that the world may stop turning – but I probably won’t notice without ‘notifications’.

    punkt_angled

    Calorie control, both input and burn. Well, I am going to eat less food. I am going to eat more ‘simple’ food and less ‘complex’ food – i.e. avoid the manufactured crap pushed at us from all sides. When I walk the dog, I’m going to count the flowers or the birds and not the steps. Maybe I’ll try to walk a little further. I’ll know its working if my clothes start getting a bit looser.

    I daresay that the iPhone with all of its apps and the fitbit will be waiting for me in the desk drawer, but I’m quite looking forward to unplugging. Although…what am I going to do in restaurants while everyone else checks their phones?

     

     

  • Battling BT

    Abbotts Ann Wood

    Isn’t it beautiful? Spring is most definitely on the way to Abbotts Ann.

    The photo has nothing to do with the post, I took it walking the dog this morning.

    Happy Mothers Day to all you Mums – and especially to mine – Pat.

    I always have a thought today for those not lucky enough to still have their Mum’s around. I am sure that they must all miss them a little more today.

    After my recent much up with Sky (see here) I thought I had the measure of the communications giants. Then, my phone line stopped working.

    I work from home, so we have two landlines. One for corporate-cobra use and the other for personal calls. It was my corporate one that was not working. There was no dial tone at all. Strangely, the broadband on that line was working fine. A distinct advantage of having two lines is that I was able to take the handset from the line that was working, and swap it with the one on the line that wasn’t. This eliminated the handset as the cause of the problem.

    At this point, I channelled my highly technical training in IT Problem Resolution. Yes, I turned everything off, unplugged everything, had a cup of tea, reconnected everything and turned them on. No change. As everyone knows, an IT issue that survives the ‘turnitoffandturnitonagain’ treatment is truly serious.

    Undaunted, I turned to the internet and British Telecom’s (BT) troubleshooting pages. Just as an aside – I think that BT may in fact be 35% of the internet. Their website is GIGANTIC. It is impressive that such a massive thing could be so singularly crap.

    Where was I?

    Ah yes. I went through the online troubleshooter. Essentially I told it the number I was concerned about and clicked ‘fire’, then the page crashed. After four or five repetitions, both the computer and I got bored. I turned everything off and on again. I tried the line test again.

    “Not a clue mate. Get in touch.” I am not sure that was exactly the wording used, but it was the gist of it.

    I clicked on ‘chat to us online’ and relayed my problem to the dialogue box. A response came through.

    “Please wait. I’ll test the line.”

    “Sorry for the delay – the test is taking a while.”

    “Sorry to keep you”

    “Hmm. The test doesn’t seem to be working”

    I am 99% certain that the helpful fellow had been hitting the exact same ‘fire’ button as I had. Still, he was not to be deterred.

    “Could you switch everything off and then on again?”

    “I have tried that. Doesn’t help.”

    “Oh. Perhaps I could telephone you and we could check some things together? Do you have a mobile?”

    “Its OK, you can call me on my landline. The number is…”

    “No sir. Your landline isn’t working. I need to call you on..”

    “I have two landlines.”

    “Two?”

    “Yes. Two.”

    “Two? In the same place?”

    “Yes. One of work and one for personal use. I suspect that I am not unique.”

    There was a pause.

    “Ok.”

    Now, my cheery friend and I were able to chat on the phone across thousands of miles.

    “We need to see if the problem is with your hardware..”

    “Let me stop you there. I swapped the phones over – and the phone which I am currently talking to you on, does not work when connected to the other line. So, it’s not the hardware.”

    A lengthy pause.

    “You have a spare phone?”

    “Not spare exactly. It is the home phone, the one attached to the line that we have for personal use.”

    “You have two lines?”

    “Yes. I have two lines.”

    “In the same house?”

    The conversation was reminding me of a Monty Python sketch.

    “Shall we just agree that it is not the hardware? What next?”

    I’ll spare you a line by line account, but the process rambled on – with my correspondent struggling anytime I gave an answer not covered in the script in front of him. Overall, he should be commended though. He reached, and possibly even surpassed, the standard of utter uselessness required by BT – and, in his second language too. Good man.

    At one point, I was unscrewing the faceplate from sockets under his instruction. When I asked what hourly rate I should invoice BT for my work, there was the familiar quizzical silence.

    The call ended thus. I paraphrase.

    “I have made an appointment for an engineer to visit you. I must remind you that if the fault turns out to be caused by storm damage, building work, we are and tear, psychotic mice or anything else within the boundaries of your property, BT will add a charge of ¬£129 to your phone bill for this visit. Is that OK?”

    “Certainly. In the spirit of fairness, I apply the reverse of those terms to BT. That is to say, if the fault is outside of my property, I will deduct a ¬£129 from my phone bill.”

    “Ummm…I’m not sure that…”

    “Never mind. Send the engineer.”

     

  • Editing – Where to start?

    8471796_orig

    I have been doing some editing. I mentioned it before here. I am implementing a ‘Red Pen’ approach to editing. I have been receiving newsletters from, and attending webinars at,¬†scrivenervirgin.com

    I cannot recommend Red Pen enough. Anne Rainbow is a writer with a broad experience. Her system is logical, methodical and straightforward.

    You can get onto the newsletters free of charge, and in themselves, they are an excellent resource. If, like me, you see the benefit, you can sign up for some webinars. They are far from expensive.

    Anne has given me an approach to editing and an understanding of the process.

    One thing that is immediately apparent is that an eye for detail is a real advantage when editing.

    Regrettably, an eye for detail is something that I lack entirely.

    Fortunately, help is at hand.

    ProWritingAid¬†is editing software. I access it through the web, although I believe there are ‘bolt-ons’ for Word and Google Docs. There is a free version, and then a paid version.

    Without getting into all of the options, I copy and paste text into the webpage, press go and the software does an analysis for me.

    It looks at spelling, grammar, how many adverbs there are, sentence length; the list goes on.

    Put simply, it’s brilliant. In a few seconds, it highlights multiple things that require attention. In some instances, it might suggest alternatives.

    It does not claim to replace the human process, nor should it. It does have an option to have a human look at the work for you (at a cost of course). For me, its value is in automating the ‘eye for detail’. Faced with the highlights, I must still decide how to deal with them, but at least I know that I have made a decision, not simply missed something.

    It costs $35 a year. I will renew.

    One thing that neither the Red Pen process, or Pro Writing Aid have been able to help with is WAS. WAS is my new acronym for Writing Avoidance Strategies.

    It has got to the stage that I have even resorted to writing to avoid writing. I’ll explain what I mean next time…

     

     

  • Inbox Zero

    I suggested in another post that you go away to a desert island for a week and come back to face the barbarian horde that is your weekly email delivery.

    Gettting-To-Zero

    Add this horde to the mass of missives that you already have kept, and soon your inbox is so big that it is actually slowing your computer down.

    The instinctive answer to this is to delete all the mail on the basis that any important ones will probably get sent again.

    I do believe that this approach has its merits, but some of the downsides can be severe – all of my bosses would have taken a dim view of it for a start.

    The accepted measure to demonstrate one’s brilliance and mastery of email is “inbox zero”.

    Inbox zero is what it sounds like, it is the state of having an empty inbox.

    When you assess the inbox is up to you, but the aim is to have a time each day where you reach the point that your inbox is completely empty.

    A point where every piece of correspondence that has been sent to you has been ‘actioned’.

    _40916095_allen_cigarette203bbcThis approach is often credited to David Allen.

    I admit to being amazed the Irish TV wit who sat on a stool, cigarette in hand making people laugh in the 70s and 80s had time to write books on productivity.

    Turns out to be a different Dave Allen.

    This one designed the Get Things Done (GTD) approach to productivity.

    The theory is that I look at my Inbox and act on every mail.

    I reply, delegate, delete or schedule. Each choice moves the message out of the inbox.

    GTD is alarmingly trendy.

    But that notwithstanding, there is something to it. If you feel that you are working for email rather than the other way around, have a look at “Get Things Done”.

    I am now pretty much perpetually at Inbox zero.

    How?

    1. I use Gmail. In my experience, Google have been the most competent provider at keeping spam out of my inbox.

    2. I use Gmail. When in doubt, don’t delete – archive. That way, you can always find the mail with a google search of your ‘All Mail’ folder.

    It works. It makes the decision making process faster. Knowing that if I ditch a mail too hastily, I can recover it simply and easily.

    3. Once at my desk, I take a few minutes to unsubscribe from email lists.

    4. I manage mail from all my devices. I can therefore triage my inbox from anywhere.

    Waiting for a meeting/bus/coffee? Whip the phone out, and go through the inbox…delete, archive, delete, snooze, reply, add to list and so on. I use a client called Mailbox that gives me these options.

    I might not get through the whole inbox in one go – but through the day, I will have dealt with most unimportant email during spare minutes.

    5. Turn notifications off. I look at email when I want to. I am not at its command. We all have enough to do without responding to beeps and whistles.

    Are you the boss of your Inbox?

  • 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 Рall 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.