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The Lion Wakes Today

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I just upgraded to Lion (aka Mac OS X Version 10.7) on Wednesday, July 20, 2011. Since I didn’t get to do any real study ahead of time, I have been learning on the fly as I try to keep using my Mac for the day to day things I do. As I stumble on to differences, things to do and fix or deal with until they are fixed (especially third-party applications), I’m keeping a list. I’ll keep updating this entry as I find new things. Since this is driven by my personal activities, it is quite haphazard and not a replacement for various resources around the web on preparing for Lion and Lion features.

Upgrade Considerations:

Things I Like:

  • Spotlight search results Finder window allows changing view, including to columns
  • iOS style spelling suggestions
  • Select and open multiple attachments from a Mail message

Things I Don’t Like

  • Application associations with file-types are lost

Things That Are Different

  • Up and down on scroll ball on mouse are reversed from Snow Leopard

Things That Have to be Updated




Death to paper!

Today marks the next stage in my war on paper: my new ScanSnap S510M scanner arrived. Galvanized by reading “Palimpsest: the guide to a (mostly) paperless life” on 43 Folders, I ordered the scanner from Amazon last week. It arrived this afternoon, complete with 4 CDs of software (ScanSnap Manager, Cardiris 3, ABBYY FineReader and Adobe Acrobat 8 Professional (while some of these are 1 release behind, it is quite a suite of software). These give support for managing scanning activity, scanning business cards directly into the Mac Address Book, Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to make searchable text and full PDF editing capability. This is a really fast sheet feed scanner (up to 50 pages) that scans both sides of the paper in a single pass.

I’m a long time DevonThink Office Pro user, so I get the full benefit of the ScanSnap and the included software, combined with one of the best tools for organizing all kinds of documents and information. DevonThink Office Pro integrates tightly with the ScanSnap so documents can be scanned directly into DevonThink. 

In the normal course of things, I am drowning in paper. I truly hate having paper to file: too much time, too much space taken up and not searchable. When I lived on the road for a couple years (commuting to Michigan from Colorado, full-time), I eliminated paper from my work routine pretty successfully. But not all of my life is electronic, so having the scanner and tools to get the paper stored digitally instead of physically will be a huge improvement in my life, my desk and my productivity.

A few documents (torn-out magazine pages, various color and black and white documents, a 3 page fax and a little piece off the surface of the scanner box with the bar codes) all have been scanned and OCRed, so I am now confident that my workflow will go fine. Still have the flat bed scanner for bulky items but it won’t see much paper now!

Bonus note: Fujitsu has a $50 rebate for units purchased by 12/31/2008.

Things for GTD

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I’ve been trying to use Midnight Inbox from Midnight Beep Software as my primary GTD software on the Mac. I really wanted to love this application – it is beautiful to look at and it implements the GTD process at a very detailed level. I am a pretty hard-core GTD person, so a full implementation appealed. But the implementation in the end is too picky and too quirky for me. It may work for you, so check it out. The response to my various questions and comments on the app from the folks at Midnight Beep Software has been spectacular – explanations of how it works and the philosophy behind the implementation approach – certainly among the most responsive, personal support I have gotten from any small software company, both before and after I had paid for the software.

So now I’m back to Things, from Cultured Code, which I had tried before. It has a much looser implementation of GTD, which put me off the first time I tried. But it uses tags in a way that allows them to serve as contexts (part of the GTD methodology), as well as tagging tasks for other purposes. Since I understand GTD well and have used it for a couple years now, I have internalize the use of contexts and I don’t need the tool to discipline me to use them, so tags work perfectly for me. Cynthia and I have been lusting after iPhones and will be getting 3G iPhones soon, so this week’s announcement of Things for the iPhone was a trigger to take another look at Things.

I think that Things will be my GTD answer but the choice of a GTD application is very individual since it gets down to not only your approach to GTD but aesthetic and work habit considerations that are different for every person. I found an excellent review of four of the key GTD apps for the Mac and commented on my experiences with Inbox and Things at greater length at Putting Things Off, a blog labeled by its author, Nick Cernis, as “The laid-back productivity blog.” Since Nick has gone the paper route, as described in his eBook todoodlist, it is interesting that his review of the Mac GTD apps is one of the best. If you are looking for a GTD app for the Mac, check out the review.

If you are interested in GTD and use Outlook on Windows, I highly recommend the NetCentric GTD add-in for Outlook which I have been using on my Windows work machines for several years. It is a very faithful implementation of the GTD methodology with outstanding integration with Outlook’s tasks.

It’s an e-mail…it’s an iCal event!

Apple has finally added one of the features I really like in Outlook to Mail and iCal. Now you can drag an e-mail onto the calendar to create a new event. A link to the e-mail message is created in the URL field of the event. Even if the e-mail is moved to a different folder, the link in the event will still open the e-mail. A side note about iCal Version 3 (installed as part of Leopard): the details of events are no longer shown in a drawer. Instead you double click and a metal surface window with the details pops up with a little triangle pointing to the appointment.

Leopard is up and running!

My new iMac is up and running on Leopard! I chose Archive and Install with the “Preserve User and Network Settings” option. Probably a bit paranoid on my part, since the new machine is still pretty clean. Everything seems to be working, so I’ll clean up the old system folder after things are running smoothly for a while. One interesting little improvement is that the Visual editor in WordPress works now. Even under the Safari 3 beta, the link editor in the Visual editor didn’t work but it does now! I had to set my desktop picture back to the default for Leopard, the Aurora picture under Nature in the Desktop Pictures folder. More as I learn more!  
Aurora Desktop Picture

A little bit of order…

The Clean Half of My Office

Labor Day weekend provided a little extra time so I attacked my office. I still have lots of boxes to go through and deal with but this half of my office is clean and organized. Cindy got her new duplexing printer from work so I now have our original LaserJet 5M printer in my office. For those trying unsuccessfully to read the model numbers on the network gear next to the printer, there is a Linksys WET11 v2 Wireless B Ethernet Bridge with a Linksys BEFW11S4 V2 Wireless Access Point Router with 4-port Ethernet Switch, functioning purely as a router (still hanging around after being supplanted with an 802.11g access point. The empty computer desk is waiting to house (at least temporarily) my existing iMac once my new iMac arrives!

Tivo to your Mac for free!

Thanks to the April, 2007 issue of Macworld, I learned of TivoDecode Manager, a free piece of software that enables you to transfer and watch programms from your Tivo on your Mac. TivoDecode Manager provides an interface to integrate several pieces of open-source software to decrypt, transfer and translate programs recorded on your Tivo into MPEG-2 or MPEG-4 files on your Mac. MPEG-4 files can be played with QuickTime or iTunes. The author, David Benesch, has created a simple interface and packaged all the pieces into a single download that unzips to a single folder that you copy to your Applications folder. You need a Mac running a current version (Tiger or higher) of OS X, a Tivo Series 2 and both of them connected on your local network. Grab your Media Access Key from the Tivo site under Manage My Account, start up the program, enter the Media Access Key and TivoDecode Manager will use Bonjour to find your Tivo box or boxes which can be selected with a pulldown. As soon as a Tivo box is selected, the Now Playing list appears in a pane and you can select one or more programs to transfer. Transfers are slow – Tivo transfers are slow and Tivo Series 2 boxes typically have USB 1.1 ports. The speed of your network between the Tivo and the Mac and the speed of your Mac will also affect how fast transfers occur. Other activity on your Mac will slow down transfers even further especially if you are doing anything that requires network bandwidth (any active connections to the Internet for web browsing, e-mail or other activity). I just started transferring a 3-hour segment of a bicycle race, so I won’t get to watch it until tomorrow. So stay tuned for part two of this post, on how did the process work and what did the program look like on my Mac.

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