Transparency

Transparency

Something that I really enjoy is configuring my devices to be as transparent as possible. A good tool is one that you don’t have to think about using – you just use it. It should fade into the background of your day and let you frictionlessly get things done. For me, the device of choice … Read more

Something that I really enjoy is configuring my devices to be as transparent as possible. A good tool is one that you don’t have to think about using – you just use it. It should fade into the background of your day and let you frictionlessly get things done.

For me, the device of choice is my iPhone. However, aside from actually using my iPhone, I tend to tinker with it. I like to move apps around, much to my girlfriend’s dismay, and frequently change folder names / sorting methods for my home screen. I don’t think I’ve gone more than a couple days without something changing.

Unfortunately, this habit of mine directly contradicts what I want my iPhone to be – transparent. If I’m constantly shuffling apps around and changing things, my mind doesn’t have time to build any sort of time saving habits. Instead of just knowing that Mail is on the bottom right of the first screen, I have to scan for the blue and white envelope every time I switch its location.

At the start of this month, I said enough and started an experiment. Many, many apps were deleted and everything was rearranged one last time. This is now my current homescreen:

app homescreen

That’s it. I have my three most used apps on the Dock, and the next seven most used in the folder; sorted alphabetically. It was hard to get use to, but now I swear by it. I don’t have to think, and my screen gives way for whatever beautiful photo I have as the wallpaper (which does still change from time to time).

There’s a saying that goes “a Japanese garden is finished when there is nothing left to remove.” There is beauty to this system, and the results of this experiment have been astoundingly beneficial to my productivity and sense of peace in general.

When there’s nothing left to tinker with, you tend to stop tinkering.

The New Mailbox App is Here

The New Mailbox App is Here

I have been reading many articles about this new email app for the iPhone that is supposed to “put my email in it’s place.” I dug a little deeper and have been anticipating the release of the Mailbox app for quite some time, and it’s finally here. It’s very true that the email can be … Read more

I have been reading many articles about this new email app for the iPhone that is supposed to “put my email in it’s place.” I dug a little deeper and have been anticipating the release of the Mailbox app for quite some time, and it’s finally here. It’s very true that the email can be a doozy, and everyone can attest to always trying to clear notifications until all messages have been marked as read.

“For the most part, apps that exist have tried to cram an existing desktop experience into a mobile phone. That’s not a very effective way of building a good tool,” said Gentry Underwood, CEO of Orchestra. ”I think most people have a poor email experience on the phone and are hungry for something better.”

The app’s unique interface allows users to turn a Gmail inbox into a type of “to-do” list, where each message can be “snoozed” for later perusal. For example, if an email isn’t urgent, but will require action the next day, a user can select the “tomorrow” snooze, which will move the message out of the active inbox and return it the next day. Snooze time settings are fully customizable.

The iPhone-only app features swipe gestures reminiscent of to-do app Clear, with users being able to swipe left or right to activate snooze timers and send message strings to the archive folder or a customizable lists folder. Emails can also be deleted with a longer swipe.

Anyone can download the app for free from the App Store, and those users who pre-registered can enter their reservation numbers for first-come, first-served account activation. Those who have yet to sign up can do so in-app, while all users can watch the reservation line in real-time. I am currently the 343,429 person in line for the waiting list, as you can see. Patiently waiting…

Special thanks to Apple Insider and Mashable for the details.

Mount Mobile App Preview

Mount Mobile App Preview

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mount app 

Note: This is an unofficial application I am developing as an honors computer science project. The University is planning on releasing its own app this coming summer.

How would you like to carry around Mount Union in your pocket?

I wanted to give you all a little glimpse of my current project. For my computer science CS485 class, I’m developing an iPhone application for Mount Union! That’s right, iPhone lovers, come this April you will be able download the lovely “Mount Mobile” app from the Appstore. I’m not releasing any details right now, but I have quite a few features I know you’ll love at launch.

While not the “official” application for Mount Union, it does give me the chance to experiment with many different technologies in the computer science field. I’ll be spending the next couple months working on this to prepare for (hopefully) a SCHOLAR Day presentation. I’ll keep you updated as I go, but I thought you could use a little teaser. Have a great weekend, everyone.

Instapaper

Instapaper

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instapaper

We’ve all been there. You’re being productive on your laptop when all of the sudden you click a link one of your friends sent you. One link becomes two links and before you know it, today has become tomorrow and you still have a paper to write.

The problem exists not because you can’t focus, but because you are worried that if you don’t go check out that link right now you will forget about it and may never see it again. Wouldn’t it be great if there were a way to save that article, video or picture for a later time when you aren’t working? Well, turns out there is and it is called Instapaper.

Instapaper is an online service I have been using for a very, very long time. Marco Arment, founder and single developer of Instapaper, describes his service as “A simple tool to save web pages for reading later,” and it does just that. See an article you want to read, but don’t have the time? Just click on the “Read Later” bookmarklet (bookmarklet. n. a small bookmark that performs an action on the current webpage, rather than directing you to a new one.), and watch a small box appear that reads “Saved!” Your article is now saved in the unread section of Instapaper’s website. You aren’t limited to just articles however, Instapaper can save any link you throw at it, be it video, image or text.

Now, being able to deflect possible distractions while working online is a blessing in and of itself, but where Instapaper really shines is in it’s mobile app. Officially available for the iPhone, Instapaper’s mobile offering allows you to use either your iPhone or iPad to read your saved articles on the go. However, instead of just serving up the normal webpage that you saved, Instapaper parses through the article for just the text. This means that when you load up an article in the Instapaper app, you won’t have to wait for ads or the whole webpage to load, instead, you will be greeted with just the text. This makes for a great reading experience.

instapaper comparison

The app costs $4.99 and is a universal application which means it has been designed with both the iPad and iPhone in mind and a specialized user interface for each. You might be put off by the higher price, but this is only if you want to take your articles with you on your device. The basic services of Instapaper, the bookmarklet and the website, are all free for you to use.

So go now and check out Instapaper and set up an account. The next time you see an article or link you want to follow, save it for later instead of checking it out now. Once you finish with whatever you had to do, just head on over to the Instapaper website and all your cool links will be there waiting for you.

Loved by hundreds of thousands of users, Instapaper has changed the way I work for the better and made me more productive. I highly encourage to give it a try and check it out.

Instapaper website
Instapaper on the App Store

How I lost (and found) my iPhone

How I lost (and found) my iPhone

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lost

Fun little thing that happened to me today:

I was walking in the library when I went to grab my iPhone, but it wasn’t in my pocket. I checked my bag and laptop case, but it wasn’t there either. I started to freak out a bit. I didn’t have a passcode set and just thinking of how many websites it was authenticated with made me sweat.

I quickly went to a computer, logged on to iCloud.com and went to Find My iPhone. I saw a little GPS pin drop on the east side of the library start moving towards the circulation desk. After marveling at this realtime event, I remotely set the passcode and had it show the message “Please call: with my girlfriend’s cell phone number.” Five minutes later the circulation desk calls her. They have my phone and we walk over to pick it up.

Apple rocks.

Special thanks to my girlfriend and her calming demeanor towards what, I’m sure, was a very hysterical 19-year-old.

Team iPhone

Team iPhone

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Recently I received some of the best advice of my life, get an iPhone. Luckily, for me, I took this advice and now I am glued to my new phone. Last week, I purchased the iPhone 4G from Verizon and while I have yet to get 4g service anywhere yet, the benefits are still unbelievable.

The two apps that I use the most, probably like most any other college student, are Twitter and Facebook. These apps make being connected to social media a whole lot easier than the traditional computer. I have been on a Twitter binge ever since getting the iPhone! One of my other favorite apps is ESPN’s ScoreCenter. For a sports junkie, being connected to breaking news and scores immediately is a huge plus. My iPhone also has turned me onto Pandora radio, which I constantly listen to in the car now. Maybe the best feature of the iPhone is its ability to save me money with the GasBuddy app, which tells me where the cheapest gas in my area is.

As the common phrase goes, the iPhone is not a phone it is a lifestyle. Smart phones are the future and the iPhone is leading the way.