geeking out with os x tools


As part of this whole "get things organized" kick I've been on, I'm also taking a hard look at the tools I use on my computer, and trying to find a way to streamline my workflow there. The first step was Quicksilver, but there's more than I'm working on.

First of all, I just installed Adium as an alternative for iChat. Don't get me wrong--I love iChat. I love the way it works, the way it looks, the AV support, etc. But it only allows me to log into an AIM account--and only one AIM account at that. I maintain two AIM accounts, one for day-to-day personal and professional work, and one specifically for students and office hours. It was a pain to have to log out of one to be in the other, or to have to run two different programs. Adium lets me log into more than one AIM account at once, so that's a big bonus. It also supports multiple protocols, so I can also be logged into Yahoo, MSN Messenger, Jabber, etc. Since not everyone I want to chat with is on AIM, this is also very helpful. And finally, it integrates nicely with Quicksilver (I can start QS, type in a contact's name, hit tab, type "IM", and Quicksilver uses Adium to open a chat window with them. Sweet.)

Adium's not as pretty as iChat, and I don't think there's an equivalent to my beloved "iChat Status" plug-in, which is how I put whatever song I was listening to in iTunes in my status message. And, of course, there's no AV support. :( That means I'll still have to use iChat when I want to do a video chat--but since that's not all that frequent a need, it's not a major issue.

Other tools I've just acquired (or will be receiving this week) include OminOutliner Pro, DevonThink, and VooDooPad. All have been mentioned positively by other OS X geeks, and since they weren't outrageously priced I figured I'd give them a shot. As I try them I'll report back here. In addition, I'm getting a copy of Aladdin's Spring Cleaning, and the 8.0 upgrade to my BBEdit 7.0.

On the non-computer side, I've ordered a Moleskine notebook and Fisher Bullet Space Pen, just because I know that I do better work when I have nice things to do the work with, and I'm a lot less likely to lose an expensive notebook and pen than a cheap one (the notebook was far less expensive that I thought it would be, though).

Finally, I got rid of about 25 books from my office today, and then set up my 43-folder tickler file. I've still got a ways to go before I hit the "mind like water" state of productivity. But as they say in recovery, "progress, not perfection."


Re: Adium and iTunes

The currently playing is actually built into the default scripts that comes with Adium.

Either set your away messages as "/music", which displays Artist - Track, or use the Edit -> Insert Script to configure a more complex Now Listening: string.

Also, Adium is as pretty as you want to make it. Pre-made styles can be accessed through the site (or the Adium -> Adium Xtras.. menu item). Or you could make your own. It's just CSS and an HTML template.

There's not a nice tutorial that I could find, but if you download a message style from the above site and examine its contents in bbedit, you'll see what I mean.

Maybe a good extra credit assignment for 409? ;)

I have one of those Space Pens too. I've had it for probably ten years now and it is really awesome to this day :-) Take a good look at the nice shiney metal now because just like the back of the iPod it will become very scratched up and get dings here and there.

The Omni Group makes some excellent tools. I'm very fond of both OmniOutliner and OmniGraffle.

I set up my own 43 folders this past Sunday. It feels good to have the next twelve months laid out in front of me, I feel very in control. That's cleared up some of the paper cluttering my desk. With the rest, I've been digitizing the pages worth saving and assembling PDFs when necessary.

Now all I need is a place to store all the real-world junk that can't be scanned and archived.

I only have one problem with Moleskines - they're so beautiful and luxurious, I am hesitant to write in them at times! Kind of defeats the purpose :)

The moleskine notebooks seem very, very swank. What is the attraction of the space pens? I get that they can do things like write in zero gravity and at freezing cold temperatures, but I'm not likely to be writing in those environments. Are they a nice, small size?

The space pens can write at any angle, and through grease etc. I often need to write on paper or calendars on a wall, which necessitates that annoying shaking of regular pens. And as a parent of two boys, ages 8 and 10, it's not uncommon for me to have to write through smudges of chocolate, etc. :)

And yes, the bullet pen is a nice, small, aesthetically pleasing size.

Another tool you might want to try: Webstractor ( It allows you save snapshots of web pages in a searchable database and - way cool - edit them on the fly. Take out the cruft, add your own notes, whatever.

Sticky Brain 3 is also out (, which rescues the app from its once-horrible stickies interface and adds tabbed note browsing. I love it, but on my 1Ghz Powerbook the thing is really agonizingly slow. YMMV... I'm hoping they release a speedier update at some point.

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This page contains a single entry published on January 10, 2005 11:02 PM.

busy but happy was the previous entry in this blog. inboxes are back! is the next entry in this blog.

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