Yesterday as I was sat on my sofa watching the Sunday morning church service on YouTube I had my MacBook Pro open on my lap to make notes in Obsidian. After the service had finished I spent a few minutes to tidy up some formatting and make sure the correct bible verses were being referenced, I realised how much I am enjoying using the app. It got me thinking about why.
Over the course of the day it slowly dawned on me what it is that I like about it. It doesn’t tick all the features I was hoping to find in the my notes app, but it does tick one that I didn’t list before. It is a tool for thinking, and really that’s what I’ve been looking for.
Ephemeral notes still go into Obsidian through my daily notes, and where appropriate they are linked to project notes, but I’ve found that I’m creating notes about subjects that I am thinking about or trying to learn more about. Looking at my Obsidian graph I see some small clusters starting to form. There is one about note taking itself as I read around the subject of evergreen and atomic notes; there is one around habits and routines; and there is a larger one forming related to my work and current thinking about the concept of Minimal Viable Products (MVP).
As I’ve been looking into these different applications and their feature sets, I’ve been exposed to some ideas about note taking that I had never really considered before. The concept that a “notes” app can be more than a scratchpad used throughout the day but a tool for thinking has connected with me. Really it is not a notes app but something much more useful and important. I guess this is why many people refer to these tools that I’ve been exploring as Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) or their second brain. I’m not sure either of those terms sit right with me, I think they are more than that. I am not purely gaining knowledge by using this tool and it’s not thinking for me like a second brain should, but I can use this tool to see connections between ideas. It forces me to distill concepts down to manageable chunks so that I can form my own ideas from them. This is why I’ve begun referring to it as a tool for thinking and why it’s starting to become a key part of my creative process. Time will tell if it lasts.
I’ve been continuing to seek out a notes app that works for me as well as I would like it too. A couple of weeks ago I posted about what I’m looking for and since then I’ve been giving a couple of the contenders a try.
When I wrote that post I had been using Craft for around a week or so. It’s a very good app, I like that it is native on all my devices, has good shortcuts support and is a pleasure to write in. It lacked a couple of the features on my list out of the box, but a quick shortcut was able to fix the lack of a daily note and I was happily on my way giving it a run through it’s paces.
Having been forced into a week off work thanks to some strong side effects from my Covid vaccine, last weekend I started to play with Obsidian to see how it worked. Initially put off by it I found a theme that makes it look and feel a lot more like a native macOS application. So last week I started giving it a run through it’s paces. It’s lacking a first party iOS and iPadOS app at the moment, but one is in beta and seems to be developing quickly and since there’s nowhere to go at the moment it’s not the end of the world.
I intend to give Obsidian a similar amount of time to Craft and then I’ll try to make a decision. There are a few things about Craft which started to really annoy me before I decided to give Obsidian a try, and I’m sure there will be some things about Obsidian that annoy me as well.
So far Craft feels better placed for meeting notes and capturing tasks along the way. It’s ability to easily send something to Things is great. In contrast Obsidian seems to handle referencing and embedding blocks more efficiently. Craft can do this but I ended up having some real difficulties finding blocks I wanted to reference and once I had figured out the syntax that Obsidian uses it made a lot more sense. Both apps have their strengths, I have a feeling it will be about refining how I take notes and which one will handle that.
I’ve long been a user of Darkroom on my iPhone, and always wanted it for my iPad. The MacStories Team have a good overview of the new update, I’m looking forward to giving it a try with my holiday photos from September that I’ve yet to get round to processing in Lightroom.
This is a really insightful look into the process behind making an iPad app from an established iPhone app. As a designer I have some knowledge of designing for different screen sizes, but the behaviour of an app is very different to the behaviour of a website, albeit with some similarities. Before I begin any future web design projects I’ll definitely be giving this piece another read or two.
One of my favourite Mac utilities has just been updated to add some excellent functionality. Airfoil now supports Chromecast and it works very well.
I’ve never understood why AirPlay from an iOS device only allows you to send audio to one speaker at a time, Airfoil is the perfect way to fix that. My MacBook Pro is normally on and so I AirPlay to Airfoils sister app Airfoil Satellite and then using the iOS Satellite app send the audio to what ever speakers I want. Since I have a Chromecast in my little studio I can now easily send Apple Music to my speakers without faffing around with cables. I put it to good use this morning streaming to both my studio speakers and kitchen speakers while I moved between the two rooms.
News broke last night of some changes to the App Store. Chief among them was the availability of subscription pricing to all types of apps. Many people seem to see it as a positive for developers, and I agree to some extent, but it all depends how those subscriptions will be used.
This quote from The Verge’s coverage of the news is exactly what I’m concerned about.
Tsiddon says his company makes around $10 million a year from its premium apps, which are sold for a one-time purchase fee of $3.99 or $4.99. Lightricks has sold 8 million app downloads to date. Tsiddon hasn’t fully committed to a subscription model yet, only saying that he’s “excited to experiment with the business model,” but based on back-of-the-envelope math he believes if his company saw 4 million downloads while charging a $4 monthly subscription fee, he could make 10 times his current annual revenue.
If developers start to shift to pricing like this, I and many others, will stop using their apps. I simply can not afford, and even if I could I would not be able to justify, paying $4 a month to use an app. Especially when it’s multiplied by the 12 independent apps on my iPhone homescreen. That’s not sustainable.
Finally starting this week, you can switch between multiple accounts on Instagram. Anyone who has tried to run more than one account will be dancing in the streets.
With this week completely focused on finishing phase one of a client project, I completely missed that it was the 1st of the month yesterday. So now that the working week is over and I’m sat back relaxing it’s time to sort out this month’s edition of my homescreens. I’ll tackle both iPhone and iPad at the same time, since the changes to both are identical and for the same reason.
- OmniFocus – Since the start of the year I’ve been using Things to manage my tasks, in the last month I’ve ended up switching back to OmniFocus. Partly because one of the porjects I’m working on has needed breaking down further than Things can cope with, and partly because of OmniFocus MailDrop.
- Outlook, Gmail, Inbox by Gmail and Mailbox – Recently I’ve been having some issues with the provider of my email, lots of servers down and unreliable delivery. As a self-employed person I need to be able to rely on my email never failing, and so my work email has now switched to Google Apps. I’m still deciding on my personal email setup.
One of the advantages of moving to Google Apps for Work has allowed me to test out a few email apps I couldn’t use previously, and also to combine my email with IFTTT so that it works harder for me. Part of that IFTTT integration has been to combine the Gmail channel with the email channel and my OmniFocus MailDrop address. I’m still refining things and trying to decide which apps to use, but I hope to be able to explain further how I’m making my email work for me rather than having to work to keep on top of it.
This post is a bit of a rarity, it’s the first link post I’ve posted since the reboot of this blog and I think it’s a fitting one.
I’m a big fan of my bible being a paper one, it’s great to be cut off and focused from the world while I’m reading it. I do however, like the utility of having the Bible on my phone and this new app called NeuBible looks absolutely stunning. It doesn’t yet include my preferred translation (ESV for those interested) but I will be certainly giving it a try. If you’ve never read the bible, this seems like a beautiful place to start.
It’s not just the iOS apps getting an update soon, the Mac version also has a very nice looking update on its way.