Book reading on iPhone just got 23% better — macfilos

Michael at MacFilos beat me to writing about this.  I resisted reading on the iPhone for a long time before I took the leap.  My first foray was purely due to laziness of not wanting to get out of bed to get my iPad, I had my phone next to me as an alarm clock.  Ever since then I have been reading at least 70% on my phone.  The new screen makes a very big difference – Michael demonstrates with nice screen shots

Thanks Michael

How will the iPhone5 wear?

This week there was a lot of news about the iPhone 5. It was probably one of the most anticipated new “gadgets”. This years version of it comes in both the black and white variants but they are different then previous versions. The white is a combination of white and bare aluminum while the black is fully anodized (looks like the Darth Vader version).

A few people have wondered if the black is a top coating or all the way through. The anodization process is just a top coat. Today I have seen a few people on the internet complain about nicks and scratches. There is even a picture where someone took a paperclip to the back of the phone in the Apple store (douchebag).

iPhone 5 Easily Scratched

I have no doubt that it will chip and scratch if left without a case on it. But my question is more of how will it age? Some electronics obtain a well worn patina after being used. Michael at MacFilos wrote a post about a three year old Leica M9 that has worn beautifully.

Leica Camera

Leica cameras are expensive and many people do not take them out of the house which is a shame. But they also possess an inherent durability as well. Geoffrey James whose camer Michael wrote about is a perfect example. The original iPhone also wore very well.

Well worn original iPhone

I did order the black iPhone and I am sure the first scratch will kill me – but after that I hope it ages well. John Siracusa tweeted this and I hope he is right !

iPhone 5 the details that matter

I have yet to get my hands on an iPhone 5 but I have preordered one (32gig Black AT&T). The things that I notice most is the level of attention to minuscule details that most companies what not consider. In John Gruber’s’ write up he calls out the portion that Apple mentions about the finish:

iPhone 5 is made with a level of precision you’d expect to find in a finely crafted watch, not a smartphone.

Never before has this degree of fit and finish been applied to a phone. Take the glass inlays on the back of iPhone 5, for instance.

    iPhone 5 chamfered edges   iPhone 5 chamfered edges 

What struck me the most was watching the video of the making of the iPhone 5. Jony Ive speaks about the special manufacturing tecniques used to create the appearance they want. There are 2 scences which show the machining of the aluminum band. One shows a tool cutting a smooth 45 degree chamfer around the outer edge followed by a diamond cutter which polishes the aluminum to a mirror like finish.

    Aluminum chamfer   Aluminum chamfer 

    Crystalline polishing machining   Crystalline polishing machining 

This process did not exist in the building of the 4s because the glass protruded beyound the band. Initially I remember feeling the squared off edges of the glass in my hands and thinking they were sharp – but not painful. Now that the glass is flush with the band I can imagine this being a better feeling in the users hand because of this attention to detail.

When I was designing blocs, the original finger pull where the remote lives was a square deep plunge into the wood.

    Early finger pull    Early finger pull 

While it provided easy access it was not a satisfying feeling. It was inelegant – boxy – crude.  My friend who was working with our C&C manufacturer found a way to create a bowl like depression that intersected with the remote recessed area. This was an AHA moment.

    Smooth finger pull   Smooth finger pull 

While I am in no means comparing the work I have done to that of Apple or Jony Ive, I do feel like I have a better understand  how the obsession with creating a pleasing experience for the user can add so much value.

Looking forward to getting my hands on the iPhone 5!

Running on Air: Michael Schechter

One day when feeling overwhelmed by my email I started searching for other resources to help me reach Merlin Mann’s Inbox Zero nirvana and came across this this post on a Better Mess. Michael Schecter did a write up explaining all the things Merlin does. From that point on I have been a huge fan of A Better Mess.

The site name stuck with me because many times I have felt like a mess and wanted and needed a way to get better. A few months later I started listening to Mikes on Mics to learn that Michael was one of the hosts.

I contacted Michael through the site contact form and he was gracious enough to participate in our series.

1. Who are you? What type of business are you in?

By day, I am the Director of Digital Sales and Marketing for Honora Pearls. A significant portion of my free time is spent working on my site, A Better Mess, as well as my Podcast, Mikes on Mics.

2. Which model MacBook Air are you using?

I’m still going strong with my late–2010, [13“ Air]3 with the 2.13 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 4GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. I still get envious when I see the keys light up on my wife’s 11” Air, but even with the recent performance bumps, I haven’t felt the need to upgrade just yet.

3. Why did you select the MacBook Air over other Mac models?

At the time I had been working on a 15“ MacBook Pro and I really wanted to kill some weight in my briefcase. I had some real concerns about making the switch. I work on a 27” Mac at work and was very used to having the extra real estate on both of my machines. It was an adjustment at first, but time and the introduction of full screen mode in Lion have made my MacBook Air my favorite environment for getting lost in my work (although I will admit that it can be a pain when wanting to work with two browser windows side-by-side). I also have massive iTunes and iPhoto libraries. Considering I was running up against the 356GB constraints of my Pro at the time, the drop to 256GB required me to rethink the way I manage my data. Now, all iTunes and iPhoto apps are stored on an external 1TB Western Digital drive that’s about the size of a deck of playing cards and has given my MBA plenty of room to breathe.

4. How are you using your MacBook Air to run your business? Well, for the sake of this interview, let’s limit this to the site and podcast. As I mentioned the majority of my weekdays are spent on a 27″ Mac. However both of these Macs are very much aligned so I can do work for either aspect of my life from either machine.

I tend to use a lot of apps, so let me try and break it down to my essentials:

OmniFocus – This app keeps me sane and serves as the central nervous system for my professional and personal life. It has an amazing task clipper that makes it possible to create a task from just about anything on my Mac.

Mailplane – I love Gmail for its keyboard shortcuts, I hate it for its need to live in the browser. Mailplane essentially wraps Gmail in an application. It also plays nicely with OmniFocus making it easy to create tasks from emails along with a link back to the relevant message.

Fantastical – I used to despise my calendar. Entering even a single task was an awful experience. Fantastical on the other hand makes entering and searching your calendar simple. It’s only ever a keyboard command away and the natural language features (I.e. by typing “Lunch with my brother at 2pm at The Diner” will automatically be parses into a new entry) are amazing.

nvALT – Anything I write (with the exception of some larger Scrivener projects) lives here. nvALT is my repository for just about anything written from personal notes to project outlines. I also store the database in Dropbox so I can work from either one of my Macs and my iPhone.

Byword – Whenever I’m writing more than just a few lines, I will open whatever text file I’m working on in Byword. It’s a great focused writing environment with excellent tools for formatting in Markdown (the syntax I use for nearly all my projects).

Evernote – Whereas nvALT is my repository for text, Evernote serves as my storage for just about everything else. It’s my cold store system. I also use it to eliminate just about every scrap of paper from my life with the help of my trusty Fujitsu Scansnap.

TextExpander and Keyboard Maestro – While these are two very different apps, I use them in tandem. Whenever I have a repetitive piece of my workflow I always look for ways to speed things up using these two essential applications. They are ideal for geeks such as myself who obsess over workflow, but who lack the hard core coding skills required to truly make your system your own.

Dropbox – I mentioned this earlier, but there is no better way to keep essential files and preferences for many applications synced across several devices.

1Password – I have far too many accounts and all of them used to have the exact same password. Now, thanks to 1Password, I don’t know the password to any of them, yet can quickly fill them in from all of my Macs and iOS devices.

Skitch and Acorn – Since I have the design skills of… who am I kidding, I don’t have any design skills… but for the few times I need visuals, Skitch is great for capture and Acorn makes it easy for even the most unskilled of web designers to make something passable.

CrashPlan – as a recent victim of a home burglary, I can attest to the need for offsite backups. I’m just getting started with CrashPlan, but their seeded upload made it easy to securely backup massive amounts of data to the cloud without having to leave my MacBook Air running non-stop for months on end in order to do so.

Safari – Last but not least, I’ve been thrilled since I gave up my overwrought-with-extensions-browser-of-choice Firefox in favor of Apple’s own offering. I use very few extensions and have only a few bookmarks that allow me to quickly trigger things like sending posts to Instapaper.

5. Which has been the biggest advantage about using your air to run your business? (why has the air made that special)

Interoperability. I know that many people are moving to iOS for a substantial amount of their everyday tasks, but the lack of seamless integration between many apps has made this a non-starter (although I do a significant amount of my writing, including this post, on my iPhone). For slightly more bulk than my iPad, it’s possible for me to have essentially the same workflow I get on my office computer. And as a big user of apps like TextExpander and Keyboard Maestro, all of my little tricks add up to serious time saved.

Website URL:
Email address:

If you know someone who is running a business or using an Air to do something cool please have them send me an email or contact me on twitter.

Bloc ~ The Perfect placeholder for your Apple TV

Woke up this morning to a nice write up by the designers at mmminmal. The site is described as:
a blend of tasteful designs and articles based on the concept of minimalism. The site mmminimal is currently run by the likes of Rob Hope and Derek Clark, two web dev/designers based in Cape Town, South Africa.

Flipping through their posts it made it an obvious addition to my feed reeder !

Thanks mmminimal !

“We love this! Bloc is seriously the perfect compliment to your Apple TV. Designed and crafted by Apple fans the Bloc is not only pretty but functional too. The weighted base prevents your HDMI cable of moving your Apple TV all over the place as I’m sure you have experienced. The remote place holder saves you from having to look all over the place to find your “clicker” or in my case another trip to the Apple store… Somebody buy this for us now!”

Apple Fans and Photographers

Michael at Macfilos pointed to the leaked images and some initial reviews of the Sony full frame RX1.  It looks amazing.  

For a brief period of time I had the Sony RX1000.  The camera was amazing.  Quality stunning but it was too small from my hands to use comfortably. I have been in the market for a smaller camera and looking at Fuji and Leica, I will now be looking for more information on this.

Thanks Michael

The Brooks Review on blocs

Ben Brooks from the Brooks Review wrote a nice commentary on blocs. Ben was one of the original six writers that I sent a prototype to.  I did not know any of them but I just asked them one question.  Tell me what you think about the concept and design. Good or bad.  I was trying to decide to go forward and “ship” this design or pack it up and try something else.  

As I mentioned I have never met Ben.  But from reading his site and listening to his podcasts with Shawn Blanc I felt like I had a good idea of who he was.  Ben also has very strong views about design (I share many of these) – and it is that type of opinion that I really wanted ! 

When I reached out to these busy people I told them the reasons why this idea came to me.  I was worried, because one of the reasons was the rotating of the unit on my TV stand – it truly made me mental. So it was with great joy when I read this:

My Apple TV was always being pulled to one angle or another and while this doesn’t effect the operation, it sure bugged the crap out of me.

All six writers provided comments and criticism on how to make the product better.  This information was truly invaluable, without it my idea would never have come to fruition.  Ben  was also correct on the thickness.  He has a near finished prototype (ver.13 or 14 I think) but there were more refinements to the overall thickness (it decreased by a little more than 1/8″) before the product that is shipping now was finalized.

Thanks Ben