One of my favorite applications that a lot of my work and workflow lives in and through, OmniOutliner, updated today. OmniOutliner 4 finally was released today. Its interface becomes a little easier to use for more advanced functions, but if you use the iPad version the new Mac version now looks and works a little more like the iPad version (I think this is a good thing for consistency and ease of use).
I have been using OmniOutliner since version one. I learned to think and organize in outlines and I loved in the old days of WordPerfect the start a document in an outline and then start fleshing it out allowed me to work in the same manner I learned in the fourth grade in Mrs. Norman’s class at Raleigh Park Elementary. This seemed natural to prepare writing this way and once WordPerfect went missing from my workflow other writing tools faked outlines and I looked for good outlining tools to be that foundation. OmniOutliner filled this void. But, once I found OmniOutliner I found other fans who had scripted it to do really helpful tasks, like capture web site maps and dump them into OmniOutliner to annotate and arrange them, then use a script to push into OmniGraffle to visualize. Doing this in 2003 (or so) was pure joy. Not only was was OmniOutliner easy to use, it was really powerful because it was well structured and scriptable.
About 2003 I was asked by friend Jesse James Garret, “What tool to you think in?” At that point my answer was OmniOutliner. OmniOutliner was my capture tool that allowed for easy structuring and arranging of order. In years to come with OPML becoming the glue to connect many things in my workflow, I would would move my outlines from OmniOutliner to a mind mapping tool and back and forth. This moving the outline into a mind map allowed me to see it and see relationships spatially and to identify order, modify structure, and make connections between nodes in different branches of the mind map. From the mind map I could take all the modifications and move them back into the outline and tweak a little more. From this point it was moving into writing or into a Keynote presentation (also with a script that would take the OmniOutline and convert it to a presentation to flesh out visually).
With OmniOutliner I went through the early productivity layer for it that later turned into OmniFocus. My old business started and was kept on schedule in that precursor to OmniFocus that Ethan Schoonover cobbled into and on top of OmniOutliner that was called Kinkless GTD (or KGTD for short).
I still think in OmniOutliner. I have all of the (now) 54 elements of the social lenses tucked in there with their hundreds of sub-nodes. This outline is what became the initial foundation for the four days of walk through of them with Dave Gray for what would turn into the Connected Company book. The collection of similar outlines are all within easy reach. I have a saved Spotlight search in the Finder sidebar that aggregate all my OmniOutliner files for one easy view across everything.
I really look forward to how OmniOutliner 4 becomes a new part of my world and workflows. The AppleScript looks robust (I didn’t try it in the many months of beta, but look forward to it now). With scripting and the structure there is a whole lot that is possible.
I have been a fan of Brett Terpstra for some time. I found his site through a few buds who focus on productivity and personal workflows (including scripting). I have followed his Systematic podcast since the first episode and have found it is the one podcast I listen to when my weekly listening dwindles to just one podcast. His nvALT became an app that is always running and where a lot of writing snippets get stored on my Mac (that content I also reach on my iOS devices to edit and extend). His Marked2 app not only is my Markedown viewer, but a rather good writing analysis tool.
Not only all of this but Brett is a tagger and not only tags, belives tagging is helpful for personal filtering and workflow, but has built tools to greater extend tagging in and around Mac and iOS. If you talk folksonomy and pull the third leg of it, person / identity back into just your own perspective and keep the tag and objects in place you have the realm that Brett focusses and pushes farther for our own personal benefit.
This week I have been incredibly happy to learn that Brett moved out of his daytime job to and his new job is to focus on his products, podcast, writing, and new projects and products. This is great news for all of us. Brett took this step before, but we can help him keep these tools and services flowing by supporting him.
If you have benefitted from Brett’s free products of want to ensure the great services and tools that Bret has created you paid for keep improving go help him out.
Pwhoooo… Pwhoooo… Just blowing a little dust off this blog.
Here at vanderwal.net this blog started in the final hours of 2000. It started on Blogger and within a year moved off onto my own held build platform, which occasionally still gets tweaks. The volume and frequency have gone through vast swings over the years, lately things are a bit more sparse, as words floated into various services, like Twitter and Facebook, and more professional posts over to my other blog that started in 2004 or 2005 , Personal InfoCloud.
This blog has remind my personal space on the web. It tipped over 2000 posts a year or two back even in the relatively sparse posting of the past few years. But, I still attend to this blog and post things. Between here and my Personal InfoCloud blog there is a lot of content brewing to be finished and posted.
One of the best summaries about blogging was posted this week by Euan Semple, on why blogging still matters is brilliant and nails it. Blogging when done successfully is not about proclaiming brilliance and answers (as those never meet their goals as the world is too large and there are millions of people with more experience and understanding who can and often will point out the flaws). Blogging is about sharing perspective and experience, often not fully formed, but are a part of a collective of humanity in trying to think through things in out in the open. The best business and professional blogs (best meaning they get passed around like mints at the exit gate of a garlic festival) follow this model. They are open and honest. They are full of observation, good thinking through things, explaining perspective, and honest. Honest as in humanity is embraced, in the we are all in this together honesty.
One of the best quotes I stumbled into in recent years, nails the blogging perspective (from the from The Book of Tea):
Those who cannot feel the littleness of great things in themselves are apt to overlook the greatness of little things in others.
The humility and finding great things in others and the understanding of the little things that make a difference is key.
Along these lines I really liked Frank Chimero’s Homesteading 2014 post sentiments of bringing things that were placed elsewhere and posting them on one’s own site. Along these lines my KM World articles, which I have rights to do what I want with I will be posting fully into Personal InfoCloud.
As well, there are some vanderwal.net site wide changes to the CSS I have been wanting put in place for quite some time. The code for the whole of the site was last widely tweaked in the 2001 to 2003 timeframe (a mobile version of the blog was made then along with a mobile blogging interface, which logged the impending entrance of the kid to the world from my HipTop / Sidekick as I walked from parking to the hospital maternity ward). It may be time to up date it a bit more. There is a long list of mods to the blog categories (160 or so) and discovery for the blog, including in site search, that I may tackle. Also considering a full rebuild and redesign using Zurb’s Foundation. Who knows what or when it will happen. I think writing may take some precedence, but I am badly missing building things and the long latent hacker mind is itching to build, hack, and test.
Here’s to a great 2014 to all. Maybe it is time to think about blowing the dust off your blog and let things fly again.
[Oh, by the way, this is posted on United States Eastern Time and the blog date and time pick up those from the server, which is in Eastern Australia (I fixed this on the development site and then over wrote the adjustment before moving it to the production side of the house - features)]
The stretches of time after my mom passed and I was back in California’s Northern Central Valley I found a rather deep appreciation for it that I had lacked much of my life (moved there before 8th grade after living in Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle, Spokane, and the Bay Area - by comparison in my limited life span there was nothing there).
What I found was beauty in the breezes, the long sky, the long drives next to farm land, and the fog and clouds coming over the Coastal Range to cover and fill the Valley as they headed to the Sierras. The lighting was bright with tinges of amber, yellow, blue, and green hues bouncing around. There was an old school charm that settled back to past centuries. Lunch in the bar with friends and the bill settled with dice cups, with the bar covered with small dents from many years of the dice’s resolution to bills and a few bills passed between hands under cover of the bottom side of the bar.
The drives to the Bay Area were regular and helped keep sanity and connected to a larger world that spanned beyond the hills and mountains to the East and West and the rich soil running North and South.
The drive down I–5 became wonderful as the turn West beyond though Tracy pointed to the Altamont and the wondrous golden brown hills. That part of the drive was the most boring, but driving and having the right music turned it into a dream space of dancing bathing light with clouds moving in time lapse pacing in real time driving at speed. The Altamont turns into graceful enwrapping curves you drive to and into them. The occasional clouds hanging in the hills give the sun a halo of golden light or the occasional spherical rainbow that only can happen in a land of magic and light.
I had long forgotten this Carl Steadman response to Michael Sippy’s “Just One Question - What do you want for Christmas”, but the response from 1997 is fantastic and frames the 1990s as the broken decade. (I’ll wait for you to go read it)
I’m not so sure that Carl’s broken decade got better in the first half of the 2000 decade, but it really started to. We are much farther along now. Our consumer world started to improve quite a bit and slowly business systems and services are slowly improving. The initial part of Carl’s rant focusses on the number of steps to get something going. Once it is working the steps are still clunky.
Carl gets in a great rant about time and how broken it was in the 90s within technology (calendaring and syncing is still a beast and likely to for a bit longer - you understand the problem sets and pain points if you have ever tried to build syncing). With calendaring and its related activities we now have Tempo, which is freakishly close to the next step scenario I used in many of the Come to Me Web presentations and Personal InfoCloud presentations from 2003 through 2007 (I’ve been getting requests to represent them as this is what more and more developers and designers are dealing with today and need to have a better foundation to think through them). There was an internal Yahoo presentation (and follow on day of deep discussions and conversations) with a version of the Personal InfoCloud and Come to me Web flow that is nearly identical to the Tempo app video scenario and ones spelled out in Robert Scoble’s interview with Tempo CEO, which is utterly awesome that it is getting built out some 10 years later (we had the technology and tools to do this in 2004 and beyond).
Carl’s rant gets worn away over time though consumer devices, services, and applications. The refocus on ease of use and particularly the use through mobile, which requires a very different way of thinking and considering things. It thinking through design, the dependancies, and real user needs (all while keeping in mind the attention issues, screen size, networking, and device limitations). The past couple years mobile finally caught on with mainstream users and people doing real work on the mobile and tablets - Box 40% mobile access of files stored there over the last couple years. Many other business vendors have had mobile use rates of their services from mobile over the past two years. When talking to users they opt for mobile solutions over their full enterprise tools as they are much easier to use, which quickly translates into getting more work done. As Bernd Christiansen of Citrix stated in an onstage interview the employee’s most productive part of the day is often the walk from their car to the front door of the office working on their mobile devices.
This world is not fully better and fully easy to use from the days of Carl’s rant, but it is getting better. We still have quite a ways to go.
It was a weekend not focussing on technology or internet much, but I saw some usual patterns that are the usual signs that something is not well, but I had other things that took priority of focus. Sunday I gave a quick look and let out that human deep gasp and my kid looked up and asked what was wrong as my head slumped. I was late to the news that Aaron Swartz had taken his life. I don’t know what site I read it but all my screens of services and people I follow closely where sharing the news and their remembrances.
Aaron’s passing was beyond the “he is too young” and “what a shame”, he was not only someone special he was changing the world and had been for quite a while with his sorting through the battles of standardizing RSS, working with the Creative Commons to create a modern equivalent that could be relatively easily used attach to published and shared content allowing much better and more open access to it, he helped contribute to Reddit as it was hatching and stayed with it through to it being purchased. He has done so much more since. But, he died at 26 years old. At 14 when he was partaking in the RSS discussions on listserves nobody knew his age. Nobody had a clue and it wasn’t known until they asked him to come to a gathering to discuss things face to face. This story of his age and the wonderful story about how people found out was spread on listserves I participated in and at around post conference drinks in the early 00s. At the age of 14 Aaron had lore. He had earned the respect and right to be a peer with the early grey beards of the Web that were battling to understand it all, help it work better, and make the world better because of it. Aarron fit right in.
I was at a few events and gatherings that Aaron was at in the early 00s but I never had the chance to work or interact with him. But, I have worked and interacted with many who did have that fortune and even with the lore Aaron had they were impressed by his approach, capabilities, and what he could accomplish. In the tech community it is a meritocracy and you earn credibility by doing. The world has always been changed by those who do, but also by those who are curious. but are guided by an understanding of an optimal right (correct way).
What we lost as a society was not only a young man who earned his place and credibility, and earned it early, but he gave to others openly. All the efforts he put his heart and mind to had a greater benefit to all. The credo in the tech community is to give back more than you take. Aaron did that in spades, which made thinking of a future with whatever he was working on a bit more bright and promising. Aaron’s blog was at the top of my feed reader and was more than worth the time to read. He was a blogger, an open sharer of thoughts and insights, questions as well as the pursuit of the answer to the questions. This is not the human norm, he was a broken one in all the understandings that brings as being outside the mainstream norms, but much like all those in the Apple “Think Different” ad campaign he made a difference by thinking different and being different from those norms.
I love David Weinberger’s Aaron Swartz was not a hacker. He was a builder. as well as his Why we mourn. From the rough edges of hearing friends talk about their working with Aaron and following along with what he shared, we as a society were in for a special future. Doc Searls’ Aaron Swartz and Freecom lays out wonderfully the core of Aaron’s soul as a native to the Net in the virtues of NEA (Nobody owns it; Everybody can use it; Anybody con improve it). Doc also has a great collection of links on his memorial posting, many from those who worked with Aaron or knew him well on his Losing Aaron Swartz page.
Dang it, we are one down. We are down a great one. But, this net, this future, and this society that fills this little planet needs the future we could have had, but now it is ours to work together to build and make great.
How to we get there? Aaron’s first piece of advice from Aaron Swarts: How to get my job is, “Be curious. Read widely. Try new things. I think a lot of what people call intelligence just boils down to curiosity.”
The light over the stove left on at night until off to bed brings back memories of having corn flakes with Gramps late at night as a snack before bed and turning off the movie after the late movie and heading to bed at my parents house. It was warmth, family, comfort, and more in that dim warm glow over the stove.
It is quite apropos that Stacy Higginbotham at GigaOM wrote a piece on Over half of American homes don’t have or use their landline, as earlier this week I pick up my landline phone so I could call my cell phone so to find it, as I didn’t want to wake up the laptop to Skype or Google voice call it, then found there was no dial tone. I messed with the connectors a few times and still nothing. I think I only used it to check dial tone once or twice (it was less money to get a landline phone with internet and tv channels than with out it) as to sort out if internet or cable were out as a first step. I was a little peeved I didn’t have a landline dial tone, which is really odd as I haven’t had a landline phone since early 2008, as when I did it was never for me as my cell phone was my contact number from early 2000s.
After a couple days I was looking at the back of the cable router and noticed it had two RJ–11 jacks for landline phone. I thought I would try the other jack to see if I got a dial tone. Sure enough I did. Within 10 minutes the phone rang and it was a wrong number in a language I wasn’t quite familiar with. I then remembered a call in the middle of the night with a non-intelligble caller and I had then unplugged the phone. After hanging up, I reconnected the phone to the non-working jack again. Now I don’t really have a landline again. Phew.
For those about to ask, “What about those people who are going to call that number?” Well, I don’t give that number out and the only people that may have that number is the cable company and I have them sending email and they use my mobile number. Heck, I don’t even have that landline number should I want to give it out. Being that it is a cable landline and not the old copper landline, it will not even work if the power were out.
I have all my posts and comments from Personal InfoCloud moved over and it is just a clean-up of the HTML and getting the CSS set properly. I am going to move the domain before the rest of the design is done as it may be some time doing the a redesign.
I am not using SquareSpace 6, the latest and greatest version as that did not automatically import form TypePad and and version 5 did. The template I spent a couple nights a month back modifying was built for version 5, so for now it will stay there. I’m not sure when I will flip the switch on it, but it will likely be in this next month.
August is slow. August is hot. August is lazy.
On the East Coast of the U.S. August, particularly mid-August, takes hold of the cities and squeezes the now out of them. Time slows to a crawl and little gets done. Many people go away to the shore or other destinations to unfocus, untether, and unconnect from progress and time speeding forward.
This doldrums of August is meant for great bookstores. The aisles are ghost towns on usually hectic Saturday errands. These are the days bookstores reconfigure and shift the aisles and restructure. Time lingers even more slowly than usual great bookstore time. Each book on the recommendation shelves of the local well curated stores calls out to you with the beckoning come hither enticement that you will have time to read it in the next week or two while things are still floating in the suspended time of August hot Summer days.
The days are slowly filled with favorite places where you can always get your favorite table and window seat. You can stay much longer than usual as people normally hovering for you to move on have taken their well honed practice to the edge of the ocean to pester some soul there. You can stop moving enough to let all the drifting thoughts and dreams catch up to you and ferment and mature into something ripe and juicy to flow from your mind. You can remember that great idea from February, or was it June, that was going to change the world and you let it simmer in the August light on a screen or paper to see what it looks like out in the free world.
These are the days where driving is a breeze and shifting to a new location takes minutes and little frustration as traffic is light. You find parking right in front of the next favorite place. You go there and linger. You wonder when they painted. Has the store’s typography in the window always been that wonderful and perfect for the place? You have time to notice. Time to wonder. Time to embrace the world around you. You have to be no other place now, you are where you are, and are enjoying it. All of it.
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