Disruptive Tech Watch: Blockbuster delisted from NYSE

Posted by & filed under Brands, News.

With a share price below $1 and market capitalization bellow $75 million, video rental giant Blockbuster has been in trouble for some time now. The New York Stock Exchange is about to formally delist the company’s stock from their exchange, after the company’s last-ditch efforts to remain listed were deemed not to have met the requirements.

Personally, this is not exactly the greatest shock ever. Here in Canada, where services like Hulu and Netflix aren’t present, at least competitors like Rogers Video can be propped up by their larger media companies, or appeal to local urban cinephile demographics. Viacom (wisely) spun Blockbuster off on its own in 2004, after the start of its decline.

I’m curious to see who will paint this news as indicative of lax IP regulation and who will view it as merely another casualty of the economy. To me, it’s just one more business model that didn’t adjust quickly enough to technological and social change.

I actually went into a Blockbuster just the other day, but I was checking out the Wind Mobile kiosk. Granted, I’m not much of a movie buff, but it’s hard to see how renting–and returning!–a DVD for $4 is a better deal than buying it for $7…at the grocery store.

Read the article: Blockbuster Will Be Delisted After Proposals Fail (Wall Street Journal)

Future Shop Tech Blog: Catherine is a social butterfly

Posted by & filed under Catherine, Catherine Uses..., Productivity.

“But Catherine,” you might ask, “how is it you always seem to know what’s going on in Vancouver?” Easy. Over at the Future Shop Tech Blog, I’ve written about my foolproof method for organizing and sorting the many events and parties you’re undoubtedly invited to every day.

Read the post: Staying on top of Canada Day

(For future posts, check the Future Shop Tech Blog.)

In Which Catherine Blogs for Future Shop

Posted by & filed under Catherine, Productivity, Usability.

So apparently I’m now a guest blogger at Future Shop’s Tech Blog!

My first post is up this morning, bringing you my solution to a very specific and picky iOS4 problem. Imagine that, me complaining about something.

Read the post: iOS4: Rotation lock good, backgrounds bad.

(For future posts, check the Future Shop Tech Blog soon.)

WordCamp Vancouver, Child Themes and WordPress 3.0: Frequently Asked Questions

Posted by & filed under Events, WordPress.

With the release of WordPress 3.0, I thought it was fair time I actually posted my long-awaited WordCamp Vancouver recap. So I am.

Justin Carlson has posted the 45-minute video of Tris Hussey and I speaking on WordPress 3.0 and child themes–check it out and listen to me nasally “um” and “uh” my way through the audience’s questions!

Finally, our presentation slides make sense!

For videos of the other speakers, check out Justin’s blog post.

Both during and after our presentation, I fielded a few questions, most of which were variations on a theme. I’d like to go over those now.

WordPress 3.0 and Child Themes: Frequently Asked Questions

1. When should I upgrade to WordPress 3.0?

Right now. It’s ready, it works, and updating WordPress is (usually) very easy. Keeping your WordPress and plugins current is the best defense against having your site hacked. (Assuming your password is not ‘password’ or ‘secret’, that is. If it is, go change it right now.)

2. When should I use a child theme?

All the time. If you want to modify your site’s look and feel beyond changing the background image on Twenty Ten, you need a child theme.

3. Why? That sounds crazy. Don’t you emphasize in your presentation that my current theme will still work exactly the same way?

Sure, and I’m a big proponent of doing as little work as possible while staying current. Yes, the WordPress 1.x theme you’ve been using since 2004 will still work on WP 3.0. Yes, the functionality will remain the same. However, if basing a new theme on an existing one, establishing it as a child both reduces the amount of code you need to change while keeping it separate and independent of the parent.

If you build themes from scratch–say, like me, for example–it’s far better to work from the same initial structure, rather than trying to reinvent the wheel every time. In the past, that might have involved copying the same code over to a new theme and working from there.

With child themes, I can set the background, column width, colours and typography for a new site with fewer than a dozen declarations, isolating only the changes relevant to that site in a separate CSS file. The key benefit of this becomes apparent when performing updates. Suppose I add a new feature to my child theme’s functions.php, or find a cleaner way to format dates in style.css. I can then copy those changes back to the parent theme, allowing me to very quickly add that functionality to existing sites without having to touch their respective child themes.

4. But when would that ever happen? Seriously, isn’t that kind of an edge case?

WordPress 3.0 adds extraordinary new levels of control over author templates, giving us the ability to style individual authors’ profiles for the first time. Future versions of WordPress may contain similar features to allow us to more flexibly aggregate lists of users, a greater range of default fields, and so on. By limiting the changes necessary to your own theme to accommodate these hypothetical future additions to WordPress, you can be assured that your site will gain features as your parent theme is updated, rather than being locked into static functionality long after future versions of WordPress give you blogging and styling features we can only dream about today.

5. Custom content types: should I be using those?

Maybe.

Consider the following scenario: You have a bunch of posts. Some of those posts are reviews. Reviews can quickly fall out of date, so they need updates. These updates should be very clear to users, allowing them to quickly see how old–and therefore relevant–a review is. So, what to do?

  • Option A: We need types. Lots of types.

    Create a custom post type called “Reviews” and one named “Review Updates”, that in turn, can be associated with the Reviews type. Both can be easily themed differently than your standard Post and Page types.

  • Option B: Custom Fields

    Create your “Reviews” type, but add custom fields to it, allowing for those updates right in the post itself. That might be cleaner, though it would be tougher to add features to your blog like a “Recent Updates” sidebar widget, if that’s something you’d like–now or in future.

  • Option C: Just leave it alone.

    Alternatively, you could just add “Update, June 25th, 2010″ to the bottom of the post, surrounding it with a DIV, allowing you to style “updates” accordingly. You’d have much less work ahead of you, and you wouldn’t run into problems with your custom post type not fitting the content.

    This latter method is actually what I’m doing on this very site with my new feature, Catherine Uses…. It’s just easier for me to copy and paste a little code, adapting it as necessary.

    As I’ve written before, plain text will always be more flexible — at least, if you’re the only one editing your blog. If this custom post type would be used by a dozen different writers, it can make more sense to standardize rather than train everyone on adding DIV tags to all their updates.

6. When should I use Multisite?

This is actually a fairly complicated answer for a number of reasons.

Short answer: you shouldn’t. If there’s a choice between using multisite and not, my recommendation is that you don’t. If you have no choice, IE, you’re running dozens of WordPress blogs on the same server, well, at least WordPress and WordPress MU have the same codebase now.

Got another question on WordPress 3.0 or parent/child themes? Feel free to ask in the comments!

Catherine Uses…

Posted by & filed under Catherine Uses..., Omega Point, Productivity, Usability.

Blog:Omega Point
Purpose:Telling you what I software I use.
Posts:Frequent
Price:Free!

Allow me to introduce a new feature here at Omega Point: Catherine Uses…! But what is that, you ask?

Readers, as you can imagine, I get asked to endorse all manner of products: video games, athletic shoes, questionable dietary supplements… the list goes on. Rest assured, it’s only my strong sense of ethics and responsibly that keeps me from shilling for anything that comes my way. (Are you from Golden Palace? Let’s talk.)

Moreover, would anyone really believe it when I did sell out? I know when I’ve finished a hard day’s work pretending to enjoy Red Bull and signing autographs, there’s nothing I like more than to take a load off and curl up with a nice, frequently-used product or application.

If only there were a way to combine the two! Then it hit me: what better endorsement could I offer than a nod to something I actually use myself?

As my friends can attest, there’s nothing I like more than telling people about neat software I’ve discovered, or which shell scripts they should be using to make their lives easier. Also, fonts. I definitely like those.

“Um, obviously,” I am probably saying, as I set everyone straight about some program or other. (Photo by Jeremy Lim.)

So really, it’s a win all around. Catherine Uses… will be a regular feature on Omega Point, bringing you mini-reviews of only the tools, techniques and time-wasters I use most frequently.

Catherine Uses Synergy+

Posted by & filed under Apple, Catherine Uses..., Productivity, Usability.

Program:Synergy+
Purpose:Two Computers, One Keyboard
Price:Free (Open source, GPL)
Platform:Mac OS X, Windows, Linux

How often do you find yourself in front of your two computers, forgetting which mouse belongs to which, transferring files via FTP or USB flash drive, moaning in agony as you save the contents of your clipboard on one computer to a file in order to transfer it to the other? Exactly: all the time!

Well, no more!

Thanks to the magic of Synergy, I’ve been safely controlling two computers with a single keyboard and mouse for the past six years. After three years without active development, a group of developers have taken it upon themselves to create a successor fork, Synergy+, where they have been patching bugs and adding new features since 2009.

So far, Synergy+ has improved upon the original by adding a new GUI, as well as HTML and image support to the clipboard. The latter is not yet supported on Mac OS X, but that’s on its way–they promise.

How is Synergy+ different from a KVM or A/B switch? Simple: it’s all software. Just install Synergy+ on all your computers, make sure they’re connected over the network, and away you go.

I use Synergy+ on a daily basis. My primary computer, a 15″ MacBook Pro, drives a 24″ monitor. To its left is a 22″ monitor, rotated vertically, and connected to my Windows XP box. To switch between computers, I just move my mouse pointer to the edge of the screen and onto the monitor next to it. Synergy transfers my keyboard and mouse inputs instantly to the other computer.

While I’ve kept my PC around solely to test site designs on Internet Explorer, I’ve recently discovered a new benefit to using Synergy. Rather than run a scattering of applications on each machine, I’ve divided up my tasks, using my Mac for development, running Photoshop, Firefox and TextMate, and relegating everything else–IRC, instant messaging, Twitter, downloads, and streaming–to my XP box. By limiting which computer handles which tasks, I can maintain shared control over two discrete workspaces: one where I only do work, and another where I’m only dealing with distractions. It’s worked out quite well, both for my productivity, as well as my CPU load.

If you find yourself needing some extra desktop space or more RAM, maybe you’re asking yourself the wrong question. What do you really want to be able to do? If the answer is “run more stuff in more space”, Synergy can be a great way to get some extra use out of that old computer you have sitting in your closet.

Download Synergy+.

A Post in 140 Words: Catherine Remembers Events Accurately

Posted by & filed under Catherine, Communications, Omega Point, Talking to Catherine.

I’m told certain people have trouble keeping their writing punchy and to the point. Apparently.

As I recently told Renee, what Twitter’s done for me–yes, beyond all the espresso machines people keep trying to give me–is force me to tighten up my writing. I wondered if Twitter’s limit of 140 characters helps me keep my two-sentence missives under control, how could I benefit from a limit of 140 words?

Renee excitedly jumped to her feet, her mai tai spilling across the other occupants of the sunny patio. This was the best idea she had ever heard. I assured her I had even better ones, but she was having none of that, waving her goodbyes as she rushed off to write her own 140-word post.

So what does a limit of 140 words do? Evidently, it makes blog posts really short.

WordCamp Vancouver 2010: Tris and Catherine tell you why your current WordPress theme sucks.

Posted by & filed under Blogosphere, Catherine, Vancouver, WordPress.

So! WordCamp Vancouver 2010, huh? That was pretty good, I thought. I particularly enjoyed the “Is WordPress a CMS?” panel featuring Dave, Christine and Cam. Consensus: Sort of! Maybe!

As promised, Tris Hussey and I presented “WordPress 3.0 & Parent-Child Themes”

Being a generally nice sort of person, I let Tris cover the whole, “check it, I’m dragging categories and posts and things into a menu” bit–definitely a crowd-pleaser, that.

As I mentioned on Twitter, I’m hoping to post a quick FAQ up tomorrow answering the four or five main questions I’ve been asked after our presentation. (Ooh, magazine themes! Picking good parent themes! Multisite! Etc!)

For our slides, please consult Tris’ SlideShare account, or move your eyes slightly downward to the embedded SlideShare widget immediately following this sentence.

Also, be sure to check out Tris’ thoughts at his blog!

Update: For those who have asked, yes, it does appear that WordCamp was filmed, and on what appeared to be a Canon XL H1, so with any luck, we can all look forward to checking out my pores.

Notational Velocity and Simplenote Part Two: Making a good thing better

Posted by & filed under Apple, Suggestion Box, Usability, Web 2.0.

Last week, I wrote about my experiences using Notational Velocity and Simplenote to turn a collection of text files into a quick, searchable, cloud-based notetaking system.

Today, I’m going to complain about what’s wrong with it.

Now, to be fair, I’m quite pleased with the whole Notational Velocity package. Simplenote’s team are quick to respond to problems on Twitter, and quickly tackle bugs as they crop up. Notational Velocity is a well-developed app that can only get better since it’s been open-sourced.

So what’s missing from Notational Velocity if I like it so much? Actually, not much! I can only actually think of three real issues, and two simply aren’t that big a deal. Unfortunately, the third has proven to be surprisingly disruptive to my workflow.

1. Markdown Formatting
Notational Velocity supports bold, italicized and underlined rich text. Simplenote, on the other hand, does not. I’d love it if Notational Velocity had an option to save rich text formatting when exporting to plaintext–at least for bold and italicized text, that is. Markdown doesn’t care for underlines.

This would let me preserve rich text formatting round-trip from a file created in Notational Velocity, edited via Simplenote’s website or on my iPhone as plaintext, and displayed again in Notational Velocity, bold and italicized text intact. It looks like I’m not the only one who thinks this is a good idea, so I’m hopeful we’ll see this at some point in the future.

2. Multiple Windows
I get the philosophy behind Notational Velocity’s two-pane, no-buttons design. I do. I also get that, as such, it’s unlikely I’ll see this last feature without forking the codebase and adding it myself, which goes directly against my philosophy for using Notational Velocity and Simplenote: because it’s straightforward.

That said, I’ve occasionally found myself wishing that I could have two (or more) Notational Velocity windows. Why? Easy: sometimes I need to refer to a daily “to do” list while also referring to a second notecard, and sometimes I need to cut and paste between a couple different notecards, particularly when I’m breaking one up into smaller subcategories.

3. The Icon
Yes, seriously. Hear me out!

A rocket-powered filing cabinet. I can’t think of anything more appropriate to illustrate what Notational Velocity does.

Notational Velocity’s new “filing cabinet/rocket ship” icon is a huge improvement over the terrible, terrible “NV” icon it had for years. It’s clever, well-designed, and the metaphor, a rocket-powered filing cabinet, is both appropriate to what Notational Velocity does, as well as being a play on Notational Velocity’s name. It’s great. I wish I’d thought of it.

I can’t use it.

I tried. I really did! Even after four months of using the new Notational Velocity, my brain simply can’t get around the idea of a note-taking application’s icon not looking like a notepad or book. I’m not setting out to criticize Colin Cody’s ingenious rocket ship icon; indeed, I’m astonished that I can’t seem to get my head around the thing.

Human-computer interface expert Jef Raskin wrote about this issue in his 2000 book, The Humane Interface. He later summed up many of these points in an email to Tom Gilb:

Definition: A gesture is an action that you finish without conscious thought once you have started it. Example: For a beginning typist, typing the letter “t” is a gesture. For a more experienced typist, typing the word “the” is a gesture.

Rule 1. An interface should be habituating.

If the interface can be operated habitually then, after you have used it for a while, its use becomes automatic and you can release all your attention to the task you are trying to achieve.

Consequently, when an interface can’t be operated habitually, we run into problems. Since I started using Notational Velocity, I’ve experienced this exact issue on a daily basis: I’m reading a blog post. It’s interesting. Full of good ideas. I think, “Hey, this is related to that thing I’m working on right now! Why don’t I copy the URL and make a quick one-sentence note about the way the information therein can be tied into the project? Sweet!”

I select the URL, hit Command-C to copy it, Command-Tab to switch applications–and pause. Wait! Where’s my note…thing? My eyes dart around, as my brain’s needle abruptly skips across the surface of its record. 1

Suddenly, I’m forced to switch from purposefully performing a task–one that requires me to immediately jot down my current train of thought–to consciously trying to remember and recognize which icon I’m looking for. It’s really disorienting, and I’ve found it to be the one consistent hiccup in my Notational Velocity/Simplenote workflow.

Worse, because Mac OS X’s application switcher lists active applications in the order in which they were last used, I can’t even train myself to click a specific area of the screen, as I would, say, if their icons were instead ordered alphabetically. (Yes, I’ve tried Witch to switch between windows rather than applications. I like the idea, but it’s just not what I’m looking for.)

Incidentally, this quirk of OS X’s interface goes against another of Raskin’s points:

“Rule 1b. To make an interface habituating, it must be monotonous.

Commentary. “Monotony” here is a technical term meaning that you do not have to choose among multiple gestures to achieve a particular sub-task. Crudely, there should be only one way to achieve a single-gesture subtask.”

Here, Raskin’s criticizing the practice of giving the user more than one way to do a task, (To copy the URL of the aforementioned blog post, we can choose between the keyboard command, the Edit menu, right-click menu, etc.) but application switching in OS X is even more annoying. Depending on how many apps I have open, Notational Velocity can be anywhere in a horizontal list of a dozen other programs.

So I changed the icon.

Now that’s an icon you write things in!

Instead, I’m using DeviantArt contributor ^pica-ae’s beautiful Red Moleskine icons.

She’s also created a number of similar icons in more traditional Moleskine colours, but I find I prefer the red one. It stands out against the other applications I use, and as a bonus, feels easier to associate with Notational Velocity’s functionality than the black icons. I’ve used the red icon for about a week now, and it’s worked out well. Is that strictly because it’s an inherently more appropriate icon? Not at all. Perhaps it’s simply easier to find because I’m subconsciously recognizing the effort that went into thinking about the problem and finding what I felt to be a more suitable icon.

This is by no means a perfect solution. I’m frustrated that I couldn’t ever get used to using the rocket-cabinet icon, just because it IS so apt and clever.2

Another option might have been to simply train myself not to use Command-Tab to switch to Notational Velocity. It’s in the same position on my Dock. I tend to keep the open Notational Velocity window to the left side of my desktop, where it does tend to peek out from behind other apps. Couldn’t I have just learned to click the open window rather than looking for the icon? Couldn’t I have used Exposé?

Sure, there were plenty of options available, but changing the way I switch apps might actually have been an even greater change for me to deal with. Consider this: I’ve switched applications the same way on Mac OS X since 2002. I’ve used applications with pads-of-paper for icons to jot down notes since Windows 3.1. Perhaps four months with Notational Velocity and its new icon was simply not long enough for me to learn a new mode of behavior.

My experience here has demonstrated something I think we should all take to heart when designing interfaces: a change to established practices can be really, really hard for users to accept, even if they agree the change makes complete sense.

  1. Tch, your MOM has synesthesia. []
  2. And purpose-designed! Sorry, Colin Cody! []

Notational Velocity and Simplenote: In which Catherine schools you on notetaking

Posted by & filed under Catherine, Usability.

After Monday’s “I wasn’t tweeting, so there!” recap of FreelanceCamp Vancouver, a few people asked about my much-touted notetaking technique. I’ve been wanting to write up a good explanation of this for some time, so this is a particularly good opportunity.

I’ve known from a very early age that I tend towards clutter and disorganization. It’s difficult for me–for all of us, I suspect–to handle the ever-increasing number of tasks, appointments and numbers we’re bombarded with on a daily basis.

Seriously, handling the glut of data we’re faced with is fast becoming a major problem for our society. We build software to do it. We buy specialized calendars and schedules to fit in all we need to know–and then resort to tying string around a finger to remind ourselves to check them later. We even write lifestyle manuals describing the methods we use to just buckle down and actually do work. The productivity industry is one of the fastest-growing, and one of the few I suspect can really take off during this Great Recession. After all, if everyone’s a consultant in this brave new future of ours, we’re certainly not going to be dealing with less information than we have before now!

So how do I handle it?

I won’t lie:

mine is not a perfect system. However, it’s certainly better than trying to remember everything myself.

I use a variety of software and practices to help keep myself organized. Google Calendar and iCal handle my schedule. Bug tracking is handled by Mantis and Unfuddle. My projects and documents are all securely backed up online via DropBox, I have an extensive collection of mail filters and folders to help keep me at inbox zero, I read almost all my regular blogs via RSS. I synchronize all of the above with my iPhone, keeping all my data accessible to me when away from my computer.

However, for the past couple of years, the tool that’s helped me more than any of those–yes, even more than my calendar–is text files. Really. While there exist literally hundreds of options for keeping track of notes, tasks, links and even pictures, I kept coming back to Mac OS X’s default text editor, TextEdit, for my notetaking needs. After all, I need a system that adapts to my needs, and nothing will ever be as flexible or customizable as plaintext.

About five years go, there was a lot of discussion in the Getting Things Done and productivity communities around the “One Big Text File” organizational method. The idea behind this is to keep a single text document into which you drop everything you’re working on: snippets of code, ideas for blog posts, meeting notes, reminders–all of which can be searched.

I tried One Big Text File for a time, ultimately, like even most of its advocates, abandoning it in favour of many smaller files, organized by project or category. After all, thanks to Mac OS X’s indexed search feature, Spotlight, Command-Space lets me search the contents of files from any program.

Pretty slick, right? Well, almost. The downside to TextEdit + Spotlight is that notes tend to get scattered around my hard drive (usually in respective project folders, but still!) and that the few that I use as “working” to-do and notes documents end up being sad, “almost-there” parodies of “One Big Text File” cluttering up my desktop.

Notational Velocity application iconEnter Notational Velocity! This delightfully-named program has totally replaced my old TextEdit and Spotlight routine, instead replacing many files and separate windows with a single, omnipresent application.

Notational Velocity Window The Notational Velocity window is one of the simplest interfaces around. It’s a search bar, a list of files and an editing pane. There’s no “Save”, no “File”, no “Close”. Notational Velocity handles that part for you. All note files in the Notational Velocity folder are opened and displayed in a list. To find a file, start typing in the search bar. The results will quickly be narrowed down as you go. To create a new note, type its name in the search bar and hit Enter. Voilà!

Personally, I start typing nearly everything in Notational Velocity–even this blog post. It’s simpler for me to draw upon the notes and point form ideas I’ve come up with previously than it is to write a post or an article in a separate editor.1

When taking notes or starting a project, I tend to follow a standard outline method, jotting down things in point form, organizing my outline with a single thought per line.

I start with a premise: say, reorganizing my cluttered desk. I then break the overarching task down into sub-tasks:

  1. Move papers and junk off desk.
  2. Move monitors around.
  3. File papers.

I then break “File papers” down into sub-tasks. A lot of these aren’t just receipts, they’re business cards and things! I write “todo: research: business card scanners”, then pause as I realize something that’d be rather spiffy. Under it, on a new line, I write “a) For iPhone.” Later, I’ll search Notational Velocity for “todo” or “research”, finding these tasks and striking them from their respective notes.

Ultimately, the note titled “Project: Clean Desk” will be deleted, as its tasks are completed and related ideas moved to notes like “Idea: Business card scanner for iPhone”. On the way there, I might break it down into multiple cards, involving filing or doing research on buying a new monitor, but ultimately, the goal for this particular note is for its tasks to all be completed. When they are, there’s no sense in keeping it around.

I find this method to be the most effective for managing my data and thoughts. When an idea occurs to me, it allows me to quickly and easily jot it down, later referencing it or moving it to its own separate note.

By breaking up discrete ideas or pieces of information as needed, I can keep notes short and easily skimmable,

avoiding the problems I constantly faced with the One Big Text File system.

For a real-world example,2 consider this post. Yes, the one you’re reading right now! The initial task, reviewing a single program, has grown into four separate blog posts as well as some notes on usability, criticisms of Notational Velocity itself, and–for some reason–the makings of a mini-rant about the Singularity. If you tend to follow a similar workflow and process, perhaps now a little puzzled by the implication that anyone could arrive somewhere else, Notational Velocity just may be what you’re looking for.

So how is Notational Velocity better than or superior to TextEdit + Spotlight?

It’s a much simpler application, and your recently-edited notes are visible at all times. You don’t have to worry about saving files, or opening one after a reboot only to be forced to find your spot again. Without taking my hands off the keyboard, I can search notes, create new ones, and quickly find the information I’m looking for.

Editing a file in Simplenote

However, where Notational Velocity really shines is synchronization. Every five minutes, Notational Velocity uploads and downloads changes with Simplenote, a web service with very similar functionality. Simplenote, in turn, rocks because it has a slick iPhone app that also connects to their service. Its functionality is very similar to that of Notational Velocity.

Notational Velocity + Simplenote are currently the two most useful applications I use. Between Notational Velocity on my Mac and Simplenote on my iPhone, I actually don’t use the Simplenote website at all, though it’s nice to remind myself that it exists.

Using Windows? You may have noticed my described workflow is pretty specific to Apple devices. It sure is. Fortunately, while Notational Velocity’s Mac-only, the Notes app for Windows looks quite similar. Caveats: Simplenote support has been announced for Notes, though it’s not yet available. I’m not sure if Notes can run without its own database, storing notes as discrete files as Notational Velocity does. This latter feature in Notational Velocity can be handy for editing files with other programs.

In conclusion, the system I’ve outlined here is most definitely not for everyone. I can think of any number of ways I’d improve Notational Velocity and Simplenote to better fit my needs, but that’s another post. However, it’s definitely the best system for keeping notes I’ve found so far. Have you used a better one? Leave me a comment!

Download Simplenote for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.

Download Notational Velocity for Mac OS X.

Update, June 13, 2010:
Using Windows? You might want to try ResophNotes, currently in beta. (License: proprietary; Cost: free.)

  1. Email tends to be an exception: those get composed in a single sitting in my email client. []
  2. My desk is in pristine condition at all times. Obviously. []