The learning curve of OmniFocus is well known and still represents a major challenge for those that like to adopt the software. Even though we can expect OmniFocus 2 (for Mac) to become more intuitive for the novice user, power user applications will always require a degree of learning to master them. Once you master OmniFocus you'll get all the benefits of one of the most comprehensive task management solution around.
Books like Kourosh Dini's "Creating Flow with OmniFocus" can help, but sometimes you wish for more practical and hands-on support as you explore the application and the different options to set it up. This is where Tim Stringer's new platform "Learn OmniFocus" comes in: It will provide online training, webinars and video tutorials.
Tim is no stranger to the OmniFocus community, has been featured on the OmniGroup blog and I had the pleasure to meet and present with him at the OmniFocus Setup event in January this year during the San Francisco Macworld.
Hence I have no doubts that "Learn OmniFocus" will be a rather helpful resource. Sign-up to the launch notification newsletter and get ready to up your OmniFocus game.
Sanctuary4 — Charging Four Devices At the Same Time
My family owns a high number of iOS devices (six to be precise — blame me for this) and all need charging. The result is a lot of cables and an aesthetically unpleasing mess on the kitchen counter. The Bluelounge Sanctuary4 that I just ordered will hopefully change this. The 99$ (or 99€) it comes at is no Black Friday deal. But rather than saving by buying something I do not need, I rather spent money on something that helps me solve a little problem I really have.
I got my iPad Air Black Friday deal earlier this morning from Apple in Germany already, so got that checked off.
MacSparky Field Guides have become a no brainer for me. I enjoyed David Sparks' Paperless, Markdown and the 60 Mountain Lions Tips he published together with Brett Terpstra for which I am hoping to see a Mavericks update. When David wrote me that the next Field Guide would be about the ever popular topic of Email I was initially a little skeptical: Is not everything what can be said about email said already? Is there any notable innovation in the decades old field of Email worth writing about?
What I have forgotten for a moment is that MacSparky Field Guides are about references and how-tos for people that do not fiddle around all day with their setup, trying the latest app or service to squeeze out the last drop of productivity improvement. David's writing has a wonderful voice and manages to summarise the findings of a years-long nerd quest for the perfect email setup in such way that it becomes extremely useful for everyone: Those who have not yet spend any time optimising this omnipresent workflow, those that fiddled, but are not happy and even for those who made the effort to have the simplest, yet most effective email process — like myself — David has something in store.
Often it is the little things that make such books really useful. For example, I rediscovered (after simply forgetting about it) that Mail.app allows you to move emails between the mailboxes in your favourites bar using keyboard shortcuts (^⌘1, ^⌘2, ...). While I used ⌘1 and the others since a longtime to navigate between my mailboxes, only this MacSparky Field Guide reminded me of this and other fine tweaks I could adopt.
Like in his previous books, David makes a lot of use of iBooks ability to include interactive pictures, audio and video. Many of the key features are explained in screencasts like the one above and various people agreed to interviews with David to share their approach to email, including Aisha Tyler and Merlin Mann. These conversation are included in the book as audio files.
Whether you use Mail.app on Mac/iOS or Gmail, whether you are just looking for some tweaks or a ready for a major workflow overhaul, I can definitely recommend the MacSparky Field Guide to Email. It discusses the tactical approach to email as well as many useful tools, plugins and services that allow you to take email for what it is: A tool, not the centre of your (professional) life.
Even if your primary email application is not Mail.app or Gmail, which David looks at predominately, the book will still offer you a lot of value as many of the tips and tricks are universal and not bound to any specific application. That said some Mail.app and Gmail's power user features are not easily matched by other alternatives on the market.
Things break and your machine starts to behave weirdly. What used to be and properly still is a default behaviour on Windows happens on Mac OS X as well. In my experience way less (like way less), but it still happens. If you do not get any sort of error message, you may recognise that your machine is slowing down, spinning its fans or certain apps becoming unresponsive.
In particular if you are test-driving some new applications this is not uncommon. In case you are not that experienced in dealing with these kind of issues the first two places to look at are the Mac OS X 'Activity Monitor' (Applications > Utilities) and the 'Console' (Applications > Utilities). The former tells if any processes is eating an abnormal amount of CPU power or memory and the latter shows you any error messages that are logged by Mac OS X.
In 8 out of 10 cases when this happens to me permissions of some files or folders are broken. The reasons for that are beyond me and fall into the field of quantum physics, at least from where I am sat.
Even though I do not know why it happened, I know how to repair it. While there funky looking "maintenance" apps on the market such as CleanMyMac, no application has been more effective and reliable for me than OnyX. It is on the market for longer than I am using a Mac (you can still download OnyX for Mac OS X 10.2 Jaguar on the site) and does many more maintenance tasks than just repairing permissions.
You have not seen many reviews of OnyX in the last years, but it is one of the key tools that even some of the professionals Mac administrators use. Since it goes deep into your system, you should have some level of understanding what you are asking it to do. While you can select and deselect the individual maintenance activities performed by OnyX, you should still make sure your TimeMachine backup is current.