We live in a time where it has become extremely difficult to be focused on any one thing at a time. If we are able to achieve this proper focus, lack of proper environment and our own abilities are not able to sustain this focus for long. The disciplines of simplicity and solitude are not practiced by many and I fear we are slowly losing the ability to do so even when a chance presents itself.
“Where shall the world be found, where will the word resound? Not here, there is not enough silence.”
— T. S. Eliot
The enemies of this focus are many. In previous decades, people still seeking quiet spaces complained of noisy telephones, always on radios, and blaring televisions. We still have those today. But now we can add over-burdened inboxes, filled-to-the-brim feed readers, IM’s, tweets, and noisy ringtones to the mix.
But the intent here is not to focus on life in general. Not today. Today the emphasis is on our digital lives. In the list above, a lot of the new ‘noise’, the stimulus that we receive, is present only when we are in front of a computer. Since so many of us spend a lot of time in front of a computer, we are affected by these forms of stimuli.
And there is another item we can add to this list: software. Not just software in general, but newly released software. Betas and 1.0s, the software that drives us away from the perfectly good tool we are using now, to try the newly released, shinier application. Software that looks so good we simply have to try it out, even if we have no need for a tool of that type.
The latest edition of MacHeist really got me to thinking on this. Specifically, some of the commentary and controversy surrounding the highly publicized event helped me to solidify my thoughts on this subject. In particular, Lukas Mathis made some astute observations that hit at the heart of the issue. On the weighing the pros and cons of MacHeist in general, he says this:
Rather than arguing about whether MacHeist is good for the participating developers, or whether it’s good for MacHeist’s customers, or whether it’s a nice experience, or whether the participating developers are getting great marketing, I would be interested in knowing how it affects the Mac software market as a whole.
That is the Question
How does it affect the Mac software market as a whole? Great question. My feeling: it doesn’t help in the long run. Compare the past two MacHeist bundles and you see similar apps from year to year. The second bundle included Pixelmator while the third bundle included Acorn. It’s highly likely there are a lot of Mac users who own a license of each.
And MacHeist is simply some shrewd marketers capitalizing on this truth—current day computer users have software A.D.D.
Our fast paced society and our penchant for ingesting more input than we can handle has affected the way we use software. Many of us seem eager to try whatever is the newest, despite the cost of moving from one tool to another. No longer are we experts in our favorite applications, simply because we do not use our applications often enough or long enough. Giant software bundle sales take advantage of this fact.
We Can Change
The Mac community seems more vulnerable to this mentality. But it’s not the entire community. There are the power users out there, experts in their field who use certain applications every day in plying their trade. Take John Gruber for example—any regular reader of his site knows he’s been using BBEdit for years. It’s safe to say that he knows the application inside and out.
I want to become an expert in my favorite software applications. That only happens when you focus on doing your job—whatever that is—and forget about the applications themselves.
And we are back to focus.
- The GTD craze of the past couple years is perfect evidence of this mentality.
- Possibly due to the fact that the Mac platform has a virtual cornucopia of good software available compared to the Windows community.
Tweetie in action.
Well, the big day is finally here. Today is the launch of Tweetie for Mac 1.0, Loren Brichter’s desktop version of his Twitter client.
I remember when I first heard about Tweetie for the iPhone. A lot of people were saying that it was a game changer, that it was the best Twitter client for the platform. It didn’t really mean much to me as I was cutting back on my Twitter usage anyways and did not see the need to pay for software I wouldn’t use.
But when Fusion entered into talks with Loren about running ads on a free version of Tweetie, Loren offered us copies to try out. And I kid you not—within the first ten minutes of playing with the application, it became readily apparent that this was a better Twitter experience than any local client or web service I had used so far. I was blown away at how intuitive Loren had made the interface and how easy it was to move your way quickly through related conversations and then get back to your personal timeline.
Here we are several months later and Loren’s Tweetie version for OS X is available and serving Fusion ads. The good news—Loren is an amazing developer and the desktop version is even better than the iPhone version. As with Shawn, my favorite feature is easily browsing through an entire conversation. And even better than the mobile client, getting back to your timeline is only one click, where as on the iPhone version is can be multiple clicks away.
Blue means new tweets.
As well, I really like how the menubar icon lights up when there are new tweets available (as seen on the right).
The bad news? There is none. And impressively, although the launch was less than two hours ago, there are already some ways to improve your Mac’s integration with Tweetie. My love for the Mac community is in full bloom.
And as good as this 1.0 version is, from what Loren is saying, there are even better things to come.
Congrats Loren, and welcome to the Fusion team!
I operate on the assumption that there comes a time for every blog writer where he/she questions whether a topic of interest is suited for his/her current audience. It is certainly true for me and it’s the reason for today’s post. When this situation occurs, the first question I ask is this: do I need another space to write on this topic? For me, the answer is now “Yes.”
I have a couple of changes I’d like to tell you all about. First, the direction for this space has altered slightly. Since its inception, The Weekly Review has focused mostly on software, web design, and personal productivity. The focus now will be on the first two. I haven’t spent much time on GTD or other characteristics of the personal productivity genre in recent times and I don’t see that changing.
In addition, posting here will decrease. No longer will I be posting a lot of links, quotes, or shorter opinion pieces. Instead, my focus here will be on longer articles regarding software, the web, and design behind both. I feel that the name The Weekly Review well suits this kind of discussion.
The second change is this—I’d like to announce the launch of my new personal site. This is where I will post more frequently and give a more personal glimpse of my life and my thoughts an many different topics.
Several factors have lead me to this path. I’d like to share them with you:
- Content: Most importantly, there have been those moments I mentioned at the top. I’ve had the desire to write about topics such as parenting, nutrition, or the environment. And much more. This space did not feel like the right place for that material, nor did the timing feel right.
- Domain: I’ve owned the domain name chrisbowler.com for some time, and I have been itching to put it to use.
- Tumblr: I’ve been intrigued by Tumblr as a platform over the past year and have wanted an opportunity to design a theme and dig into the inner workings of the CMS.
- Branding: When it comes to personal branding, I believe this is the right sort of move to help me fulfill my dream of earning my full time income via the web.
So there you have it. If you are a regular reader or subscriber of The Weekly Review, I hope you’ll give the new site a chance as well. Subscribe if you like. If you’re just interested in thoughtful analysis of well written software, stay right where you are. There’s more of that to come. If you have any questions or comments you’d like to send my way, please do so.
Thanks to everyone for reading here over the past year.
Dan has built a great Amazon web store.
This is a great book regarding [X]HTML and CSS, written by Dan Cederholm. I bought this a couple years back but for one reason or another, never got around to finishing it. I’ve been working on a new site over the past two weeks (the chief reason for slowness around here), and I’ve used Dan’s tips to hopefully create cleaner markup and CSS. Now I’m almost through the book and I would recommend it to anyone working in web design.
A beginner can pick this up and follow along nicely. But I think intermediate level designers can get something out of it as well. It’s especially beneficial for someone like myself—a lot of the content covers basics I was already familiar with, but Dan’s thoroughness reveals little facts that had me often saying, “So that’s why [insert html item]’s act like that!”
You can get a copy from Dan’s Amazon affiliate link, which has got to be one of the best Amazon stores you will ever visit.