new year, new tools? digital version

Reading this discussion (again) made me realize that sometimes it just being a new year seems like a good excuse to try out some different tools to see what works better than what you already have. I think that topic pretty much covers the analog side of things.

I'd like to toss out the question: what about the digital side of things? Is there anything you're unhappy with & want to change? How about something you are thrilled with & don't think you'd ever change?

I currently own multiple organization/notetaking apps for the Mac: DevonThink Personal edition, Circus Ponies Notebook, and Journler. I've also tried a handful of other apps, but those 3 seem to be the best of breed each with their own strengths & weaknesses.

I had more or less thrown everything I wanted to keep track of into Journler. I bought Notebook with the idea I could use it for project-related notes and just print them off. It seemed like a major hassle since I'm not currently using a letter size planner. I'm thinking of switching to letter size from Classic size now and will give Notebook another try if I do.

DevonThink is very nice, but I'm thinking it is overkill for what I want to do. Two others I tried that looked promising: Yojimbo and also Together (formerly K.I.T. - keep it together).

I've also signed up for an EverNote account, but prefer not to have all my stuff on a server out there somewhere. Maybe I'm just overly paranoid about that kind of thing.

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Changing everything

This is going to horrify some people, but last week I wiped my Ubuntu box so that I could use Windows. I love Ubuntu, don't get me wrong, but I'm sick to death of having to fiddle with things. Also, I got an iPhone and wanted to be able to sync it with my laptop. So Windows it is, until this laptop dies and I get a Mac. :)

So, being under a different operating system, I've had some changes to make. A lot of my software choices are based on who can sync what with my iPhone:

-- EverNote for notes
-- Remember the Milk for tasks
-- Google Contacts (via iTunes sync) for my address book
-- A trick I found to get my Google Calendar to sync with the iPhone calendar app

Note that I don't put any sensitive data into any of these. Just stuff I don't care about people seeing, like my list of books to read or my list of errands to run.

One other thing I find useful is that Thunderbird, my preferred mail client, syncs with GCal. And someone's working on a Remember the Milk add-on so my task list will sync too. I like having just one list to maintain and then sync with everything.

I still keep a compact Circa agenda in my purse, though. The calendar is useful for scheduling things while I'm on the phone, as well as acting as my backup calendar. Also, pen and paper are my friends and I like having both with me. So the notebook gets a lot of use even though I've gone digital for so many things...

Linux can be fiddly (geek talk ahead)

I've been a Linux geek for quite a while - 1998 I believe is when I first starting using it. I still remember having to mess with it for a few hours to get my sound card working and actually enjoyed it. But I was a college student and it was the summer time... Plenty of spare time. I still loving using Unix operating systems, but just got sick of having to mess with config files and whatnot to get things working. So as soon as I could afford it after OS/X came out I got a Mac.

A Mac gives you the option of messing with the Unix stuff & config files if you want to. But in general the most messing with stuff I do is install & try out different applications.

I definitely still prefer Linux for a server OS since it is what most web hosting companies run. I hope someday Linux will be as user-friendly as Mac but that is never going to happen until the developers can agree on some kind of standard - KDE vs. GNOME vs. dozens of other desktop environments out there and multiple Linux distributions. Ubuntu is leaps & bounds better than where any Linux distro was even just a couple years ago and is the closest I've seen to having a version of Linux just work, but there's still a ways to go.

One thing that is holding me back from using Linux as a desktop - there is a huge number of notetaking apps for the Mac - Journler, MacJournal, DevonThink, etc. On Linux you have pretty much two: EverNote which syncs all your stuff up with their service and TomBoy which seems to only be good for plain text notes and linking them together like a Wiki.


The attraction of Macs

I never thought about getting a Mac before this week, really. But stable desktop + Unix FTW. My husband's best friend, a fellow geek who's very familiar with Linux, has become a Mac user, and he tells me things -- things I want to hear about a desktop. :)

I've been using *nix since 1991 (when I was 15) and Linux since 1993. I still love it for servers. But I'm burnt out on dealing with the fiddly bits for my desktop.

Unix background

For months after buying my first Mac (ibook g3) I had the same background on my computer. It had one of the cartoony Linux penguins from a KDE theme - I think it was called Crystal - inside of the Apple logo. The caption underneath said "MacOS/X - because making Unix userfriendly is easier than debugging Windows." I've been seeing that quote more & more as a signature on forums but it's been a couple years since I have been able to find a copy of the image online.

Oh, one thing I've done: set up VMWare Fusion (not free), Parallels (not free) or VirtualBox (free!) on my Mac. That way I can still mess with Linux AND have a completely stable desktop I don't need to mess with. Best of both worlds without having yet another computer cluttering things up.


syncing GMail contacts & Address Book

Recent updates of OS/X can supposedly sync up GMail contacts & the built in Address Book. I haven't had a chance to try it yet.