Siri Reminders flow into OmniFocus

I just discovered that you can setup OmniFocus to pull from your iCloud synced Reminders. That means if you use OmniFocus, as I do, that you can create new ToDo items via Siri:

Siri, remind me to call Bob about Oracle tomorrow…

Siri, remind me to order shampoo…

and so on….  They show up in your OmniFocus Inbox automatically.  It’s an amazing tool for ubiquitous capture.  As soon as anything pops into my head, I can use Siri to get it out of my head and into OmniFocus.

I’ve also started using Siri to set my morning alarm, timers for cooking, timers for time-boxing tasks, etc…  I’m still learning all the ways to use Siri, but every new thing I find is great!

Why I Am Buying an Apple iPad

iPad

iPad

The Apple iPad has been the center of a storm of controversy this week after it was announced on Wednesday. Given the long anticipation and wild rumors preceding the actual announcement it’s no surprise that some people are disappointed. Others, like myself, and eager for iPads to start shipping.

I’m not going to try to refute the criticisms out there or try to argue with folks about their unrealistic expectations. Instead I want to share why I personally am excited about the iPad and how I see myself using it.

The iPad is closer to a 10″ iPhone than a small MacBook. It runs the iPhone OS, and will run iPhone applications from the App Store, which means there will be a ton of things you can do with it, and new applications written just for the iPad emerging soon. However, just looking at the core functionality, you can:

  • Read and Send E-mail
  • Surf the Web
  • Check and Change your Calendar
  • Listen to Music
  • Watch TV and Movies
  • Read Books and Magazines
  • Write Pages, Numbers, and Keynote Documents

Work: As much I know you’re supposed to start off your day working on some specific task to help get momentum going, the reality is I usually spend the first hour or two of my work day reading, replying to, and sending e-mail, checking my calendar for the day, checking a few websites for news, checking Jira for what I’m going to today, checking my OmniFocus to-do list, and listening to some music. I also spend a decent chunk of time writing documents in Pages. I can do all of that on an iPad, anywhere. That means I’m free to start out my day drinking tea in the kitchen or flop down on the couch in the library, or pop out to the local coffee shop. I just have to carry a 1.5 lb iPad and I can work. That’s VERY appealing to me.

Around the House: I use my iPhone all the time to look things up online, check maps, my calendar, obsessively check my e-mail, control my music in the house, and show people neat things. The iPad does all that, but has a much bigger screen which will be VERY nice. Long term I’d love to see it integrate with more things and become a house remote control, hooked into all my entertainment options, the lights, locks, thermostat, smoke detectors, alarm system, CO sensors, etc… and to work just as well anywhere in the world as it does within the house.

Travel: I’m a big guy, and my laptop is a 17″ MBP, which while perfect for the heavy lifting of most of my job, is awful for travel. With the exception of the extra legroom area on JetBlue flights, I cannot use my laptop safely/comfortably/effectively in coach on any domestic US airline. The iPhone’s small screen makes watching movies doable but not great, and worse you have to either hold it up in front of you for hours on end, or tilt your neck 90 degrees and stare down at it on your tray table. Plus you run the risk of running out of batteries on your phone once you get to where you’re going. The iPad will let you watch video on a 10″ screen, read books or newspapers, catch up on e-mail, etc… with a 10 hour battery, and no impact to your phone. Big fan.

Meetings/Day Trips: The iPad is perfect for meetings or day trips. You can do work, take notes, run a projector, send e-mail, etc… In fact on my last day trip/meeting I could have brought an iPad instead of my whole laptop bag. That would have been very nice.

Do I NEED one? No, my laptop and iPhone work pretty well in most cases. Are the uses I laid out above worth a few hundred bucks to me, yes they are. I think, like the iPod and iPhone before it, while no one NEEDED one, it won’t take long before the iPad becomes an ingrained part of our daily lives.

Another thing to consider is that many people who have computers but aren’t super technical really only do the following things: surf the web, email, write documents, look at photos, watch videos, and listen to music. An iPad would be a reasonable replacement for many folks (I’m looking at you Mom!).

So, if you don’t want one, or it doesn’t meet your needs, or you wanted a $14.95 14″ 1.5 oz 3 GHz machine with ESP, that’s all fine. But for me, it looks like a very promising product that while I don’t NEED it, will probably make things easier and more pleasant for me in many cases.

Safari RSS Feed Goodness

I’ve embraced RSS feeds for all of the blogs I like and for many humor websites (xkcdPennyArcade) I enjoy.  Being able to see what sites have new content with out having to visit each site one by one, is a huge time saver.  However, I’ve recently discovered an even bigger time saver!

“View All RSS Articles”!

It does exactly what it sounds like, it opens all RSS articles in any feeds under the selected Bookmarks Bar folder in a single window organized by date.

Here is my Blogs folder, showing six new articles spread across many different blogs.
Blogs

And here is the magic menu item which shows up when you right-click on the folder.

Menu

Then you get the full list of ALL the articles in ALL the feeds bookmarked within that folder:
RSS

Installing an SSD in a MacBookPro

I just replaced my 17″ Unibody MacBookPro’s hard drive with a new Corsair 256GB SSD. The SSD uses Samsung chips and controller. It’s VERY FAST!

  1. First I made an image of my BootCamp partition using WinClone.
  2. Next I ran one final Time Machine backup to my Time Capsule.
  3. After that was complete, I shut the machine down.
  4. I swapped the new hard drive for the old one. Apple has a great guide on how to replace the hard drive in the laptop. The SSD is MUCH lighter than the OEM hard drive.
  5. I booted up with the Leopard OS X Install DVD.
  6. I selected the disk utility from the menu, and formatted the new hard drive with an HFS+ partition.
  7. I then had to reboot in order for the new partition to show up under the Restore option.
  8. After rebooting to the Install DVD again, select the Restore option from the menu, and select your most recent Time Machine backup. The step where it’s calculating the size of the backup can take a VERY long time. Be patient. The restore itself can take a while. My 220 GB took about 8 hours to restore.
  9. Now you should be able to boot into your system from the new hard drive.
  10. If you don’t use BootCamp you can skip these steps:
    1. Run the Boot Camp Assistant and recreate the Boot Camp partition. Make sure it’s the same size or larger than your previous one.
    2. Start the Windows installation process using your WIndows install CD/DVD. Make sure you format the Boot Camp partition. Once it starts actually installing Windows, you can force a shut down.
    3. Boot back into OS X, and use WinClone to restore your Boot Camp image to the partition on the SSD.

It’s like having a new machine. Booting used to take 60-90 seconds from off to 100% up and ready, including Quicksilver loading up, etc… Now it takes about 5 seconds. Applications load pretty much instantly, without bouncing in the dock. Shutdowns and sleep happen instantly. The whole machine feels amazingly faster.

It’s not the cheapest thing, but it’s a very worthwhile upgrade.