As a general rule I prefer to have things digital. I do most of my work on and in a computer so it makes sense that the important information I have is in the computer. A real world sticky note or notebook a physical encumbrance and a source of extra cognitive load which I only want to use when there is an overwhelming functional or ergonomic advantage in doing so. I want digital to be the default.
Obviously there is a whole section of the software development industry devoted to creating tools to help you keep notes on a computer. Evernote, DevonThink, Google Keep, Apples Notes app are all great products and I use a few of them daily. Sometimes though I just need a scratch pad to note something down; a name, a phone number, an IP address. Things that do not need to be stored forever. Things that do not need to entered into some grand system.
Normally I handle this by opening a text editor and making a note. But this is not what that tool is for. If I want to keep the note for a while I need to save it. If I want to get it back, I need to find the file and open it.
Scratch, as the name suggests is a textual scratchboard. It sits in the menu bar and it has a single document that is persisted between the app opening and closing. That's it. You open it, type or paste in some text and you close it. When you need something you open it, and there it is. Right where you left it.
Please let me know what you think.
Weight is one of our oldest and most popular apps. Unfortunately it's also one of the most neglected. Well, good news; it is neglected no longer. We recently released version 3 of Weight with a new design and integration with modern iOS features such as Healthkit and Biometric identification. It's still the simplest and fastest way keep track of your Weight, BMI and body goals. You can download a copy from the App Store.
Over the last five months Junction Seven have been working with the Centre For London, a not for profit think tank focused on the problems facing London. wearedotdotdot.com is the culmination of that work. It's a web platform that helps young people living in East London develop their technology skills and puts them in touch with potential employers in London's rapidly developing technology industry. East London was chosen as the location to launch the platform due to the combination of an exploding technology sector and of some of the highest levels of poverty found not only in London, but across the UK.
The platform features events and courses that take place in person in East London, or online. The platform is open to anyone - learners, teachers, parents, geeks - who want to access digital learning opportunities in East London. These include organisations working in schools, clubs or running hackdays, meet-ups, festivals, traineeships, work placements, apprenticeships and professional training programmes.
If you are live in London, are interested in Technology or know someone who might be, then you should check it out.
If you'd like to learn more; please drop us a line.
One of the many, many things I love about OSX is the ability to automate the OS and many of its applications. Until Yosemite this was done either through Automator, a simple, ingenious, but ultimately limited drag and drop app, and AppleScript a weird, readable, but unfathomable scripting language.
AppleScript lets you write statements like;
tell application "Mail"
AppleScript readable. You instantly understand that the most of what is happening. No coding understanding needed. The problem comes when you try to write something. You can't just write what you want to happen. You have to know the correct verbs. You have to structure the sentence in the correct way. Human language is fuzzy. Code is not, it is precise, concise, and abstract. That's why most code is not readable to people who do not bring with them and understanding of coding. Applescript despite it's readability is not friendly to non-coders or coders.
var mail = Application('Mail');
Less understandable. Less human, but I love it and I am already making use of it. I have a form on a website that, when filled in pings me an email with the form contents. The email looks like this;
Name: Joe Bloggs
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
I am...: a made up person
Post Code: E17
I have 130 of these email messages sat in a folder. The client who requested the form sends me an email asking for the details in a spreadsheet. Manually this would be a boring job. With a little automation this is a few clicks. I select the messages I want to put into the sheet, and run the script. Ten seconds later, I have a new spreadsheet. The best thing is, this script can be quickly changed to deal with any set of structured emails.
So, if you have an some understanding of coding, a Mac and a little time, I suggest you give it a try. You can find the script I've been talking about above here. Please feel free to take it, alter it and make it better. Take a look and have fun.
We have just submitted an update to The Chain. It's a small update to be sure, but one that will bring a change that we think you will notice instantly. It relates to how long the App shows you your chain lengths before telling you you're back to zero and that you really should get to work.
Basically the app is now less harsh. It will give you time to get your chain completed for the day without unceremoniously zeroing your Chain until you have completed your tasks. It's now more motivational friend than Tiger Mum. In testing it really makes us like The Chain even more.
What is particularly great about this update is that it was requested by you, the people who use The Chain! Thank you. Knowing our App as being used and is helping people achieve their goals is why we do this.
Later today Apples World Wide Developers Conference will kick off with the traditional Keynote Speech. Later in the presentation Apple will more than likely announce iOS 8 and the dot 10 iteration of OS X. For many Apple geeks this is an exciting time. After months of speculation we will finally have an idea what our devices will look like come September, and we may even get hints at significant new products. For Developers, this is so much more. Later today we will have builds of OSX and iOS that let us do more, do it better and do new things. This translates into cool new Apps in a very few months time.
With the Keynote so close I thought we thought we would be desperately original and put together a top list of what I hope to see hope and expect to see today. So in accending order of want (8 = most wanted);
- A toning down of the worst excesses of the iOS 7 visual language.
- A new direction for Apple TV. I have no idea what this is, but the competition is pulling away. Apple needs to catch up.
- Improvements to iTunes Connect. So much can be done here. The purchase of Test Flight might indicate that Apple wants to make Beta testing slightly less unpleasant.
- Airdrop between iOS and Mac. With Craig Federighi leading both OSX and iOS efforts, this has to be a no brainer and would actually make the feature useful.
- More iBeacon and Mesh networking. These are such interesting areas. It needs improving by Apple and exploring by developers.
- iOS Inter-app data sharing, so I can work on the same document in a number of apps. This would be a huge step on the road to making iOS a platform for real work. Hopefully the much rumoured health book and smart home hubs auger well for the implementation of this much needed capability.
- OSX re-design to match the iOS 7/8. This will be interesting. Apples approach of having separate platforms for touch and for Click is the right one at the moment. However, the OS's have been moving closer and closer together in terms in interaction and visual design. iOS 7, moved them apart. The next version is likely to rectify that. Hopefully without damaging the utility of the OS.
- An iWatch. Fitness Trackers are an interesting concept as are Smart Watches. No one has done either right yet and no one has integrated the two properly yet. However, the chances are small of this appearing
This is very exciting. Burn Down is currently making its way though the iOS App Store approval process and should be available for you to download (FOR FREE) very soon.
Burn Down is an app we have been using internally for some time. It lets you record and track your work activity against projects. Prior to Burn Down, recording time on tasks involved horrible spreadsheets and then faffing with badly designed corporate time management systems. Burn Down has made time management easy for us. We hope it will do the same for you too.
Click below for a preview.