Today's Workflow

In lieu of having anything particularly useful to say about technology, I'm going to write a version of an entry that I write every now and then that goes over the application and work flows that I use in my day to day computer life. These things change, a bit every now and then, and I think it's interesting to keep track of these things. As always all these programs run on OS X 10.4 (tiger), and my 15 inch PowerBook G4, Zoe which I cary around with me almost all the time.

  1. NetNewsWire

    This is the worlds best RSS/feed/news reader and I'm quite pleased with it generally. Because of NNW most of my reading of the internet these days is via RSS, and NNW is the program to use, and so I can't speak too highly of it, at the same time, I feel as if the program hasn't had many very good developments in a really long time. Having said that, it's really stable. Because I'm so invested, I have a list of subscriptions that numbers about 500. I could probably tone this down a bit, and not all of them are active, but still, it would be hard to transition to any other program given the way that my reading habit is so centrally focused on NNW, so while I might like some other features of the program, I don't really think that I can move away from it. I would still recommend it though. Good stuff.

  2. DevonTHINK

    This is totally the mother of all applications. It's a persona database tool, and any description of the program really doesn't do it justice, and there are so many different ways to use the program which further complicates it. I use the program, basically, as a notebook/folder for all the things I write, all the scholarly articles that I read, and clippings from websites. The program has "AI" features which help you organize and find things when you need to, and it's really splendid. It also works as an outliner, and it has great import/export features. I tend to use the program as the storage bin for all the textual things that I deal with day to day, and it works great. I sometimes feel as if I'm not doing enough with this program, but it's nice to know that it'll grow with me.

  3. WriteRoom

    This program has become a key part of my workflow. I tend to write many of my drafts (like for this very article) in WR and then save it elsewhere. It's just a plain text editor, but it works full screen, so I have it set up to print fairly big green text on a black background in a font that I'm comfortable drafting in, so I can work distraction free (also there's a hotspot on the screen which lets you check the word count, which I find helpful), and I find that this has really helped my writing productivity.

  4. Quicksilver

    This is the killer app, and I think that I've written enough about it here already. I use QS to do everything from updating my twitter, to organizing my files, to appending text files, to powering a host of quick "trigger" commands (combinations of keys that are asigned various specified commands), oh yeah, it's a program launcher. QS ties everything together and it's awesome.

  5. TextMate

    This is sort of the power-editor program. I use it more for editing than for drafting, but it's a very powerful program without being bloated and overdone. It has "packages" for Markdown, Multi-Markdown, Blogging, HTML, PHP, and just about any other programing/markup language you could think of. I use it for posting to TealArt, I use it for maintaining my todo list, for preparing files, and most of the day-to-day editing in my workflow. This is the program (along with DevonThink) that has allowed me to finally start working in text files/markdown. Because of this I have a working "text" folder that contains a bunch of text files, it's good stuff.

  6. Adium/Colloquy

    These are the basic chat programs. I don't kid when I say that AIM is basically my cell phone. It's how I keep in touch and contact folk. It's almost always open, and having Adium lets me maintain connections to all the major (and some minor) networks, without having to think about it. Colloquy isn't quite mIRC, but it's a great program, it does everything that you could want, and I like being able to be on IRC again. That's what internet community is all about, and I'm a big fan.


    Most of my email these days is handled through Gmail anyway, but since I always have my computer with me, and I'm more likely to have my computer, but not have internet access, than I am to have my computer but not have internet access.

  8. Camino

    This has become my web-browser of choice. I like having a browser that works with the OS X service Menu and other OS specific features (firefox doesn't), but I've always felt that Safari was a bit off, and Camino does a fine job at being spot-on and still working with OS. As you can probably tell from this list, I'm a big fan of mac-y programs, that have really tight integration features, hence the browser choice.

  9. VLC

    It's the video player that plays anything and everything. It's reliable, and on top of that, it has the best software amplification of any app. This is a must-have free APP, and it really does play anything.

  10. Pukka

    Pukka is just a little app that makes it easy to post to, which I don't do nearly enough. I tried using another open source app to do the same thing, but I've found that Pukka is just a hair faster and it has a smaller visual footprint. The other program also ate several weeks of bookmarks a few times, and I haven't forgiven it yet.

  11. Think

    This is a new program that I think I will be using more in the future, although it won't replace WriteRoom. Basically this program puts a screen behind the program that you're currently using and all your other open windows to make it easier to concentrate on the task at hand. It's great because it deadens all the other programs so that they aren't as distracting or you can't click on them as easily, but you can still see them a little so you don't feel "out of touch"

  12. Growl

    This is the master of all program distraction. Growl is a unified system notification pathway that all sorts of applications can pass messages to that float on top what ever you're doing to let you know whats going on. You can change the style duration and type of the notifications that growl takes. I get notifications when I get a new email, when someone sends me an instant message, when something changes in an IRC channel, and when there's a new post to twitter, among other things. You'd think that this would be really distracting, and while it was for a few days, I've found that knowing that I'll get a notification (even/especially one that I tend to ignore/miss) means that I don't check for email/IM/instant messages/etc. as compulsively or as often, so in a weird way this particular distraction means that I'm a bit more productive. A lot of "mac" programs use growl notifications, and it's really a great little "feature."

Ok, Folks, I fear that I may have blathered on to long. If you use another program that I've missed, or have any questions please leave a comment or send a message. I'm always looking for more and better programs.

cheers, tycho

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