I believe Paul Miller's post about his note taking setup triggered a little something within a lot of people here. The post and then the comments which followed were quite interesting because they showed the pride people, who are genuinely interested in technology, have for their choices in software, hardware, customizations and workflows. For me personally it is quite important to keep discovering new pieces of software or change the way I use a computer in order to do things in a way that suits me. I have found that, the best way to do this is by asking other people how they go about doing the same task that I do and why. The why is quite important as it usually makes me aware of something I didn't think was possible. Taking advantage of the great community here, I though it might be interesting to share our setups.
To kick things off I would like to share my setup, but before we begin, just a few things to keep in mind: Let's try not to criticize each other too much, if something works for me it might not work for you. Secondly, I made this post in the Apple section because I use a Macbook and an iPhone. If you are sharing your setup on Windows/Linux/etc, it will probably be best to start different threads to keep people from turning this into a platform war.
Ubiquitous computing (Is that an appropriate title?)
Jitouch for additional/custom systemwide gestures (I am still on SnowLeopard for various reasons):
- Three finger swipe left/right to switch tabs (works in browser, photoshop, etc)
- Two finger rotation clockwise/anti-clockwise to go forward or backward in browser history.
- Four finger swipe left/right to switch between spaces.
- Three finger swipe up/down to go to top/bottom of page
Alfred for all launching and searching needs.
Divvy: I don't need window management most of the time – RightZoom took care of the fullscreen issues – other than that I only need it once in a while. For this reason apps which make windows dock by moving close to edges get annoying. Divvy activates with a keyboard shortcut and quick swipe later the window is adjusted to your preference.
I have come to love the simplicity and wide range of applicability that the .txt format has. I simply save all my text files in a single folder on my desktop and use IA Writer to create and edit these documents. It works with .txt files and uses the markdown for formatting, which is quite nice to use. Plus when it comes to text readability I am yet to find anything better.
The notes folder on my desktop is symlinked to a notes folder in dropbox. This way every time I edit or save any file in the folder, it auto syncs to dropbox. Here's a tutorial from Lifehacker on how to set that up: Sync folders outside your dropbox folder. This links quite nicely with IA Writer on the iPhone as it gives you an option to connect to dropbox. All the notes are synced and available on the iPhone.
Sparrow just works. I'm not sure why. Maybe because it seamlessly integrates with and has all the features of gmail or the built in cloud/dropbox implementation for sharing files or the somewhat minimalistic interface. In any case it works so nicely that I no longer log into the gmail on a browser. Also, Sparrow for the iPhone was a shock. I didn't realize how bad default mail on the iPhone was until I tried Sparrow. The side swipe interface makes switching to a label or another inbox incredibly fast. Sorting and searching is a lot faster. The multi-message mails don't show up in a threaded view. This means that in order to view an older message you have to make a few extra touches. The only negative I have come across yet.
Sharing & Backup
For small/single files such as images, audio, etc Cloud is definitely the preferred choice. Screenshots start uploading as soon as you capture them and then the url is copied to the clipboard automatically once the upload is complete. Files can be uploaded by dragging them to the cloud icon in the task bar or by using a keyboard shortcut. If uploading multiple files the app automatically archives them to a zip file, saving a bit of time there too. In fact all the images in this post are shared using the Cloud app.
Backup and Collaboration
Dropbox – do I even need to elaborate?
For larger files or to share files with people who don't use dropbox WeTransfer comes in handy. It's the standard Rapidshare style file sharing service except that it doesn't make you click through 15 pages or wait for 5 mins before you can upload/download, it informs you when the file has been downloaded and looks beautiful.
Reeder is another one of those beautifully designed mac apps. I especially love the fact that Readability is baked in; keyboard navigation makes reading super fast. That said I find myself reading more and more on Google Reader itself. I like the aesthetics of the new design and the pin-tab feature in Chrome means that it's always there for easy access.
On the iPhone I find Flipboard to be the most usable RSS feed reader and it syncs with Google Reader seamlessly.
Web Development (HTML/CSS)
I recently switched to Espresso from Coda because the code editor in Espresso is like Xcode. Code folding, tabbing, text wrapping around tags and auto completion works just the way it should. The colour scheme is so very pleasing on the eye. It has Zen Coding baked in and there are plugins which auto convert SASS files to CSS files. Haven't found a working plugin for HAML yet, but one of these days I might have to write one myself. Other than that it has all the standard features you would expect in an IDE.
VLC the lightweight mother of all swiss-army knives. It plays anything and rarely crashes, what more could you ask for – use it for all my music and video. Using iTunes on the other hand feels like flying a Hercules. I have all my music in one folder and Alfred does a great job of launching albums quickly. Other than that I use the Soundcloud app to stream music.
I mostly listen to music on the go using my iPhone and for that I use the Muzik app. I love the Windows Phone UI and especially the UI for the music app. Muzik brings that to the iphone quite brilliantly. It downloads all the album art and artist images automatically (even updates them regularly), has built in scrobbling, option to pin songs and view history.
Clear: This is one of those apps which you just need to try for yourself. In my opinion this is the best version of to do lists anyone has ever come up with.
The only thing I need now is the ability to sync my to do lists (from the app) through dropbox or whatever as a plain text file and then display them on my desktop as using geektools.
I'm a big Firefox fan but, off late it's just become slow and unusable, I'm sure that's partly down to my laptop not being maintained properly. Chrome is a pretty good replacement and gives me no issues. Browser extensions I appreciate the most:
Ad Block Plus
FootieFox (someone please make a chrome version)