Some people have jobs that mean they need to be contacted immediately. They have occupations that require them to act quickly in critical situations.
I’d like to think what I do makes the world a slightly better place, but I can’t really think of what a true emergency would look like in my line of work.
Over the years, more and more work-related apps have crept onto my phone. It’s only when I go on holiday with a strict ‘no work’ policy that I reflect on the impact this has on my leisure time.
I’ve worked from home for the last eight years and, for the last six, in a house with a separate home office. I have the ability to literally shut the door on my work at the end of the day and go ‘home’.
Instead, work tends to follow me home through the apps on my phone; despite being relatively disciplined with notifications, I’ve slipped into an unhealthy elision of work and leisure time that diminishes both.
For the last 10 days, while I’ve been on holiday, I uninstalled or disabled all work-related apps on my phone. It’s what I usually do when I’m on holiday: all or nothing.
So far, the only work-related app I’ve re-enabled is my calendar. I’m thinking of keeping it that way.
This evening, I scrolled through the list of apps I had installed and deleted about half of them. The main things I want to use my phone for are communication, music, and short-form reading and writing. Occasionally I use it for navigation, or a contactless payment if I forget my wallet.
I do sometimes wonder what ancient Stoic philosophers would do if they were alive today. What would Marcus Aurelius do? Epictetus? Seneca? Keep it simple, I guess.
I came across a pretty nifty service called Loom yesterday that allows you to record both your screen and webcam in the browser. Perfect for ChromeOS, which is the operating system I’m using most of the time at the moment.
To give it a test drive, I recorded a video showing the ChromeOS apps and extensions I use on the Chromebox in my home office.
Between this and WeVideo, I reckon everything apart from really high-end video editing can be done in the browser if you’ve got a decent internet connection. I can definitely see me using this for creating quick tutorial videos and I’ve already used WeVideo to edit green screen videos for clients!
Some people are surprised that I use an iPhone 4. It’s true that I’ve tried a Nokia N9 and several Android devices but (at the moment, until something better comes along) you’ll prise my closed proprietary device out of my cold, dead hands. Why? I can trust it to work as expected when I’m travelling. And that’s important.
It’s been a while since I shared the iPhone apps that I use, so I thought it was time for an update. I’m going to use Flickr notes to do this, so to get started click here or on the image below:
Back in May 2011 I put together a 9-minute screencast showing how I used a (previous work’s) MacBook Pro. That proved reasonably popular with over 18,000 views on YouTube and plenty of comments here. Happily, Stephen Downes picked up on it and shared the way he works.
I thought it was time for an update, not least because I now work for a different organisation and do so from home. I can’t promise that the video screencast above is a comprehensive overview of everything I do, but it reflects what I’m up to right now! Thanks to colleague Laura Hilliger for giving me a nudge to do this. 🙂
Tip: crank the video quality up to 720p and click the arrows to the bottom-right of the embedded YouTube video to go fullscreen!
Essentially, they all say that the phone is gorgeous, both in terms of hardware and the swipe-based MeeGo operating system.
The Nokia Ovi store contains very few apps as Nokia has effectively abandoned the platform (although they are supporting it until 2015).
That hasn’t stopped me getting two significant updates to the phone in the short time I’ve had it. The latest update was awesome and included built-in DLNA streaming to devices such as my Playstation 3.
Quite why a closed app store equates to a successful mobile device is beyond me. The only two apps I’m actually missing are two you probably don’t use: Path and LastPass.
I want to credit Amber Thomas with a throwaway comment she made during our Skype conversation earlier this week. She talked of the worrying tendency of people to treat ‘platforms as standards’. Hence the title of this post. What I’ve realised is that Apple iPhone app makers love to create silos for information. It makes their apps profitable.
On the other hand, I like my workflows. And the best mechanisms for making those workflows as smooth as possible? RSS and email. Which, given Project Reclaim, is just as well. 🙂
I’ve spent a small fortune on apps for Apple devices. And to what avail? I don’t need a dedicated special ‘distraction-free’ iPad app to write well. I just need to find an environment conducive to writing and get on and write. I don’t need a fancy to-do list with heatmap colours. I need a list of things to do. Paper and pen’s working well.
The N9 has apps and accounts that are integrated into the operating system itself. The Twitter app is great and the Messages app integrates SMS, Google Talk, Skype and other instant messaging platforms:
Connecting your accounts enables you to import and export from almost any app. I added the Evernote and MeeIn (LinkedIn) functionality through the Nokia Ovi Store. It’s not completely barren.
This isn’t a review of the Nokia N9. Nor is it a post comparing it with my previous smartphone: an iPhone 4. The reason for this post is to point out a couple of things:
To what extent do we (myself included) treat platforms as de facto ‘standards’? Is that healthy? Is it sustainable?
To what extent does our tool use affect how we see the world? Do we need to change the tools we use to see the world in a new light? If so, how often?
Finally, the change has made me think about web apps. Cross-platform, browser-based HTML5 applications. Why don’t companies go down that route? Well, perhaps because anecdotal research shows that people only tend to look in app stores rather than on the Web for such apps. And second there’s the issue of monetisation. There’s money in those iOS and Android hills.
I can’t help but think, however, that initiatives such as Mozilla’s completely Web-based operating system Boot to Gecko (B2G) will lead to greater cross-platform compatibility. As the fortunes of large companies such as BlackBerry, Microsoft, Nokia and Apple wax and wane, so too will the desire of consumers to lock themselves into one ecosystem. I don’t want to have to re-purchase all of my apps just because I buy a new mobile device.
The future is more democratic. The future is more open.
On the basis of I’d be rather interested if other people I know did this, here’s a 9-minute ramble through how I’ve got my MacBook Pro set up – including apps and web services I use. If there’s anything you see in the screencast that I forgot to mention explicitly, please do ask in the comments below.
There’s one thing I forgot to mention: I don’t use the ‘tapping’ feature on laptop trackpads as it drives me mad. That causes problems for others when they use my machines…
Tip: click the arrows to the bottom-right of the embedded YouTube video to go fullscreen!
We’ve done plenty of work as a team on mapping our workflows but, given the fast-paced world we work in, I’ve not thought through mine as a researcher for a while. I decided to break out the crayons this afternoon, therefore, and think through both what I’m currently doing and how I can make that process more effective.
The first thing I did was to create four columns, reflecting what I consider to be the stages of research I go through:
Once I’d done that I placed every web app I use regularly into one of the columns (or ‘other’) and then identified which are core to my productivity. Then I thought how they fit together and how I could hone my workflow. I came up with this:
The grey river thing to the left stands for sources of information whilst the one in the middle for projects (current and potential).
I’ll no doubt have missed out something huge, but it was an interesting process to go through. I realised, for example, that I need to pay for Evernote on a yearly basis (I’ve been paying on an ad-hoc monthly basis) and use it more consistently. Also, I hadn’t carried out the very simple step of auto-feeding my Amplify RSS into Licorize as I had done with my starred twitter items!
Usually new mobile phones are known about well in advance of their launch. Everything from specs to early reviews are made available in order to create a buzz around the product. For example, a couple of years ago I was sent an LG Shine and encouraged (although not instructed) to take photos of it and blog about it. With the Dell Streak, however, apart from a great video at jkkmobile I stumbled across on the night before it was released in the UK, I’d heard nothing about it!
Full specs of the device can be found here, but the highlights are that it’s an Android tablet/smartphone hybrid with a 5″ screen. Yes, five inch! :-p
Let’s just get past the two (related) questions I’ve been asked most frequently over the last couple of weeks:
Is it too big?
Don’t you feel a bit stupid putting it to your ear to, you know, make phone calls?
It’s certainly on the upper limit of what counts as a phone size wise. Some, undoubtedly, will find it too big. But given that I tended to use my iPhone more for Twitter and other internet based activities than for phone calls, I don’t!
It’s not Dom Joly size and I don’t really suffer from self esteem issues anyway. As for people who think that phones should only be able to make phone calls, get back in your cave please… 😉
Things I really like:
The whole experience and speed of the device makes it über-slick
Spotify, Dropbox and other official apps are better (to my mind) than their iPhone counterparts
The size of the screen makes everything… just better
It’s really quite thin
Several virtual desktops means you can organize your stuff
I don’t have to jail break it to set it up the way I want it
Widgets provide real-time updates
The camera is legendary and the in-phone editing functions are actually useful