Categories
review

Writing on Ulysses: A Dream

I have always had a love hate relationship with writing content but recently I went back to writing on Ulysses with a 2 week free trial and have been enjoying writing on my iPad from anywhere.

Firstly I am not a fan of the new pricing model with a yearly subscription at £37 for all your devices but I understand developers have to eat and there are only so many copies of a specialised application like this that you can possibly sell. £37 per year is a small price to pay for a application that has allowed me to write so much content in only the first 3 days.The editor is amazing and synchronising via iCloud is flawless.

One thing I would say is writing on the iPad is better with an external keyboard and that does limit the portability some what, however, it still blows away carrying around a full laptop.

Ulysses supports full iCloud synchronisation between iPad, Mac and iPhone all in the 1 subscription price which is perfect. I can literally carry all my writing in my pocket and never have to worry about not been able to write when the inspiration hits. The applications also work offline and I have never had an issue resynchronising my changes next time internet is available.

The application also has support for publishing directly to WordPress, Ghost and Medium. I have not tried the later 2 however the WordPress publishing is a dream. Images and content are all uploaded to WordPress seamlessly and quickly with no hassles or even having to leave Ulysses and go to the WordPress dashboard.

The built in export to PDF with theming is nice although I have to say I am not a fan of any of the built in themes. Nor have I found a theme in their online library that I have not had to make a few changes to. Creating new themes is easy if you know a little CSS so I have not struggled with creating my perfect PDF export style.

In addition to PDF and publishing platforms Ulysses can also export to HTML, Word and ePud none of which I have tried or have a need for at the moment.

The application is designed for writing everything from client proposals, blogs posts and website to content to the next great novel and this shows in its simplistic approach with hidden power. As soon as you start typing the interface gets out of the way allowing you to focus on exactly what you are meant to be doing, writing.

The typewriter mode is something that is very under-rated. As you type your place in the document doesn’t descend with as it gets longer, instead the document scrolls up just like it would on an old school typewriter This is something that allows you to keep an extreme focus on your text and in my case I have found I am able to type much faster and more accurately with the typewriter mode turned of and highlighting my current line.

The application uses Markdown XL for formatting and on iPhone and iPad they have thoughtfully included a quick action bar on the keyboard to access all of the formatting characters.

Finally the part that I found really makes this application work every penny of the £37 per year subscription is everything syncs. If I add a new export style on my IPad it is available on my iPhone and Mac within seconds.

I have only been using Ulysses for a few days and I am sure its real power is still to be uncovered. This is an application I highly recommend to anybody that has to do any form of writing on a regular basis.

Categories
review

Journalling

I know it has been a long time since I publicly wrote on my blog and that is because a lot of what I used to write about I moved to a private journal – although that is changing and I’ll be posting back on here now as well.

Journalling is not just something for little girls it is a fantastic place to write in private. Log you life and give you something to reflect on in years to come. I have been journaling in Day One for about 3 months now and I am loving it. Yes, I am going to be working on a web based journalling application of my own but that is a different story.

One of the big reasons for the come back to WordPress is the new editor in WP 5.0 and my move from cheap hosting on to something that can actually load a page in a reasonable amount of time. These 2 combined have given some joy back to writing on the web and something I will be doing a lot more in 2019.

Tangent over, back to journalling. After only a few months of journalling when I got the end of 2018 and had something to look back on that documented my day to day life I felt I had achieved something with my time and 2018 wasn’t a total waste of everybody’s time. It gave me a real sense of being and great sight as to where I want to be at the end of 2019.

So what do I journal about:

  • Work: what I did, what I wanted to do
  • Family: what we do, what we want to do, things the children do
  • Ideas: detail out what they are and how they might work
  • Gratefulness: things I am grateful for
  • Learning: things I have learnt from reading and YouTube
Categories
review

Notion the ultimate app

I’ve heard a lot about Notion but never really took a look myself. That was until recently and I instantly fell in love. 

With in a matter of hours I found myself subscribing for the increased storage and premium benefits. The app is so flexible and powerful it has replaced my sales CRM, project management and general task list. It then quickly swallowed my note taking application and receipt tracking app.

With a matter of days Notion had saved me £35 in application subscriptions with third parties and all for $4 per month. 

I am currently looking at adding my Journaling to Notion and that will save me another £23 per year. The app truly is a powerhouse and I see why so many people are raving about it. It covers everything from the most professional uses to the most personal without 1 app. 

Now, Notion is going to be for everyone. It does require some setup and upkeep for each use case you want to apply within the app. Something I don’t mind as it keeps me very much in touch with what is going on in my life. 

As you can probably tell I highly recommend Notion and at $5 per month ($48 per year which works out at $4/month) it is my favourite application of the year by a long way and I am excited to see where this application goes in the future.

Categories
review

Things 3: Perfect for big and small projects

I have long been on and off with task management applications and they all failed me for 1 reason. They were either great at big projects or small tasks but never both.

Well that changed with Things 3. Yes I might be over a year late to the release of Things 3 but for a long time I needed something that worked on Android and Mac so never gave Things 3 a looking. Now I have finally converted back to iPhone it was time to look at what exists in the Apple only universe.

The big projects

Let’s start with what I consider to be the most important part of a to do app. Managing large fast move projects.

I have built a successful web development and marketing house over the years and we have a lot of projects which I have a list of things I am responsible for. These range for reviewing a junior developers work, writing code, documenting functions and all the way through to meeting with clients.

Things 3 has Areas of Responsibility which are kind of like folders that hold and separate your personal and work projects. You can create as many or as few as you need – you can even use the full application without creating a single area if you so wish.

Once you create an Area of Responsibility you find yourself creating project of all sizes and adding tasks, headings (more on headings later). So once the application is full of everything circling in your head you start to check things off and wait, you notice projects have a pie that fills as you complete the tasks giving you a really clear overview of where you stand. Yet there is more a project can be checked off and completed just like a task.

Ok, so I mentioned headings and you are wondering what these have to do with task lists and projects. Well in truth they don’t do a great deal but they are invaluable when it comes to laying out your project and keeping things looking clean and organised. A heading is just that a heading to separate a set of tasks and give some organisation to a large project.

I have tried collaborative to do apps and they never work out because I cross so many different types of people and 1 app will never fit everybody’s workflow. I like that Things 3 is personal and closed to me. It allows me to run both my personal and professional life from 1 application. Speaking of which that brings us nicely into…

The small tasks

I purposely didn’t use the word projects for this as I am talking about tasks that are too small for a project. Things like buy milk, return Johns call. They are single tasks that take 3-5 minutes out of your day. Often personal task that don’t require a lot of thought but need tracking none the less.

When you are using a task management application you need to trust it and the only way to trust the system is to add everything you have to do into the application. If you leave stuff in your head that is the first step to losing trust in your application and your system. As soon as you lose trust you can’t get it back without a complete reset and rebuild.

After that small tangent lets look at how Things 3 can handle the small tasks. As discussed previously Things has Areas of Responsibility which allows you to superset work and personal projects. Well you can add a task to an area. Yes that is right areas don’t just hold projects they can have their own task lists. This is perfect for small little jobs that don’t relate to a project and don’t need a whole project of their own.

Yet more. You can add a task to today. This is a task that doesn’t have a project or an area and at the same time doesn’t belong in the inbox. This is an idea I love for those quick jobs that crop up during the day that need to be done that elegant but not the most minute, for example return John’s call.

Conclusion

The bottom line is I love Things 3 and have been using it for over 3 months now making it the longest lasting task manager I have ever used. Now it is not cheap at £50 for the macOS app, £10 for the iPhone app and £20 for the iPad app you are looking at a £80 investment to get the full package. I would say, however, with out a doubt this is the best £80 I have spent on an application is a long long time.

I highly recommend Things 3 to anybody that lives and works in Apple’s universe. It complements each of Apple’s platforms perfectly something I guess the likes of Todoist will never do as they strive to be the same across 20+ platforms and operating systems.

One thing I would like to see them add is a web version and I would even pay a small subscription for access to the web version. For those occasions I need to do a lot of task entry away from my Mac a web version would be great. This is not a problem with Things for iPhone as task entry there is truly amazing – it is more of a problem with typing on an iPhone in general.

Over the coming months I will be writing a lot more about Things 3 and some other apps I have adopted into my new workflow.

Categories
review

Switching to Windows

I have always been somewhat of a fan of macOS, however of late it seems Apple have dropped the ball. Microsoft has been steaming ahead with Windows 10 bring out features that work on iPhone and Android. In general, I like the New Microsoft approach – we don’t care what device you use just use our services.

They really are building some amazing products and services now. So much so that I made the switch to Windows 10 from macOS when my 4-year-old iMac started to show its age with hardware related slowdowns (the Hard Drive was starting to fail). After looking around for a good deal on a new MacBook I decided Apple was no longer the way to go. For what a mid-range MacBook Pro costs I was able to get a top of the line Dell XPS, wireless keyboard, 24″ external display and still had the change to buy the applications I needed to repurchase.

Now 2 months later and I have not looked back. I am enjoying Windows 10 a great deal and feel a lot more productive not having to wait up to 5 minutes for Photoshop to open and over an hour to copy 1GB of files.

Do I miss anything. Not really I have found a number of good replacements for everything my Mac did including:

MonoSnap for screenshots and screen recording
Git Bash includes a full Open SSH client

Adobe, Microsoft, Google and Dropbox apps work in exactly the same way across both operating systems and Evernote for Windows while ugly is actually not that bad and outperforms the Mac version tenfold.