Skim

April 3, 2007

There’s some apps you just don’t bother replacing.

Preview for one.

Acrobat has tons more features but it’s slow and over-complex and takes an age to load. It’s not really for just looking at stuff, it’s about doing something, the real app is the Pro version and the cut down version has to carry the baggage of an app with a lot to do.

Preview is nimble and accurate and does the job for PDFs and images of all formats. Why change it? I never thought I would until Skim came out the other day.

I used Skim for two minutes, then quit, selected a PDF in Path Finder, chose Get Info and set the default app for all PDFs to Skim.

It’s nimble and nice looking. It does just what you want it to do when what you want is To Look At Stuff.

So…

it’s got a quick magnify tool, a cool floating window which can zoom in on different parts of a page.

You can open up multiple windows on a document at last.

It’s got lots of annotation options, more than Preview, and you can search for notes while you’re at it.

It’s got a nifty Fullscreen and Presentation mode where I can see being used as a basic powerpoint or keynote replacement.

And it’s free.

Skim Recommended.


Spam

March 11, 2007

I run a pretty tight email ship… it’s one area I’m on top of.

I practice Inbox Zero, I completely got that once David Allen pointed out the simple fact that an Inbox is where things arrive and not where they should live.

When an email lands, I use Mail Act-on to deal with it;
        - if I need to do anything that requires some time and effort, I have an Act-On short cut (Ctrl-K) via Mail2kgtd to add the relevant email to my kGTD file in OmniOutliner Pro.
        - I also have a short cut (Ctrl-A) to send the email to my Actionable Emails folder in Mail.
        - The rest I either dash off a quick response and file in the appropriate project folder, each of which have an Act-On shortcut key.
        - In any case emails only go to the relevant project folder in Mail when they’re done.

The above means I have:
        - An empty inbox,
        - A folder called Actionable that has any emails I have to deal with.
        - My general list of stuff I’m working on has those actionable emails referenced as well.
        - Any emails relevant to projects that I need to be able to refer to at a later point are all sitting in their project folders.

I do like having my email To-dos itemised in my full GTD list, they are no longer a island on their own. Mail2kgtd sends the full copy of the email to the Kinkless GTD file, it stores it in the notes section. This also means that the full email is listed in the notes section in iCal if I refer to the item there. It was spooky the first time, the key data being available in my email program, my GTD program and my calendar…

Each year I run an archive on the email of the year previous to the last one, so I only carry about one years emails around on my laptop. I own MailSteward Lite for archiving, it’s simple and fully searchable, and plays nice with Spotlight. But I’m considering using DevonThink Pro Office, an program whose application grows each time I use it, it may have more interesting options for analysing archived mail.

So far so fine. So what about Spam?

I have an excellent piece of software called SpamSieve which does a good job of filtering spam. But it’s not perfect, it’s okay 99% of the time. But that 1% bugs me. Today’s 1% included an email from my EU domain registrar indicating that three domains I registered were due to expire, and a response to an email I’d sent to Red Sweater software about MarsEdit. But more worryingly, there was also an expression of interest in our current feature from a US distributor.

It looks like I’ll have to add “Review my Spam folder“ to my ever-increasing list of buckets to sort through when it comes to my weekly review. Given that eight spam messages arrived in the time it took to write this entry…. That looks set to take over all of Friday afternoons…


Apple’s iPhone

January 9, 2007

First I think it’s pretty fabulous. They did a typical Apple job on it. Take on a project the rest of the world has sort of done well, and make it incredible. It’s just like the iPod over again.

I wonder what price an unlocked one is… What’s the usual discount providers give, a couple of hundred?

I wonder about the EDGE and the lack of support for 3G. Not cool. EDGE is good but is solely US, right? I hope and presume that an EU model would have 3G.

Don’t think much of 8Gb, especially if it becomes the only widescreen large video they do. A TV show is about half a gig on iTunes, you’d get about three or four episodes on and then you’d be debating whether you wanted more or your music or photos or contacts…

I’d worry about the battery life. That high res screen will chew up batteries. It’s one thing for your iPod to run out of power, it’s another if it’s your phone. And something so interactive…you’d never put it down.

Jesus, it’s made for hyperactive, geeky types with a bit of money.

And I wonder just how many of us will jump on them the first opportunity we get…


1password

November 23, 2006

I really like 1Passwd.

A simple utility that integrates with any browser, including my favourite, Omniweb, to provide strong and secure passwords online. The .Mac integration is also important for me.

Passwords are a constant problem for my students who use very obvious or easily guessable ones, (you’d be amazed at the amount of ones who use the word ‘google’) or come up with tortuous names that they forget a month later.

I usually recommend to them that they think of two passwords and use one or the other when online. I get them to think of something only they will remember, their first schoolteacher, or their grandfather’s home, and to combine that with a date they will not forget.

1Password has made hopping around the web much simpler to do, logging in and out of different sites is simply a matter of choosing the relevant id and password from the pop up menu which is site appropriate. It can generate secure unguessable passwords, the ones that look like gobbledygook, which you don’t have to remember, they’re available in your browser bar.

The one drawback is using a different computer to access those sites, when 1Password won’t be available to you. It’s solid and secure and so easy to use, this is a minor drawback for me.