Reach For The Sky

This is a toy that took me a weekend and a bit to get going. I’m using the Cinder library, which for the most part keeps itself to itself, and C++, very badly abused C++ at that.

It’s only on the Mac at the moment. I’ll see if I can get it going on the PC and upload a build here if I can.

Grab the Mac build here.

Unzip it, stick it in Applications or something and remember to sort out your security settings to allow running something by a nobody. (After you’ve run it, do remember to restore your security settings, OK?)

Fitness Diary Comparison: Evernote vs Day One vs SImplenote

A few days ago I started keeping a “fitness” diary. This involves the entry of everything that goes into my body bar repeating medications. I recommend it for no other reason than it stops you reaching for that fourth Krispy Kreme because of the effort of updating your diary.

I’m keeping a Notebook in Evernote for this purpose, which also has proven useful in collating other information about improving my health in general. There’s only one problem with this approach, Evernote is slow. In fact, it’s unusably slow on an iPhone.

The iPhone, like most smartphones, is designed for reflexive, repetitive twitch use. So I pull it out of my pocket, fire up an app, do something and put the phone away. There is usually no time for waiting around. Evernote spends so much time synchronising that it’s pretty much a non-starter unless you’re sitting on a bus and have time to kill.

So I thought about using Day One, my favourite journalling app (which I use across iPad, iPhone and a couple of Macs of course) but the sync on that is flakey at best. I’ll make some updates at night on the Mac and the next day I’ll pull out the iPhone and iPad and despite syncing, they’re showing me two different versions of the file. Force-quitting and relaunching doesn’t help.

A less important issue on Day One is that Markdown formatting is supported on the iOS versions, but strangely, not on the Mac version, where I would find it most useful, but this is an issue that doesn’t have a bearing on my diary-entry problem.

Looks like I’ll have to stick with trusty old Simplenote, synced to Notational Velocity on the Mac. I recently paid for the Premium version of Simplenote and find it almost unbearably elegant. The only sync issues I’ve ever had with Simplenote stem from my desire to integrate my iA Writer documents with my Simplenote folders. Although the Premium version of Simplenote allows for Dropbox syncing, their site offers stern warnings against integration with other applications.

Once I’ve finished entering a day’s worth of data, I create a new note in Evernote and copy and paste. Not the neatest workflow, but a lot faster than using Evernote on the iPhone directly. The downside? Neither Evernote nor Simplenote display Markdown formatting, but I can live with that. The whole point of Markdown after all is that it doesn’t need to be displayed formatted.

In my ideal cloud, one folder on a server somewhere would hold my documents, which would be seamlessly mirrored to my connected devices, of which the Mac would be just one. Not long to wait for iCloud.

Apple Lovers Hammered by Notifications

Iphone notification

I use the expensive, but essential Omnifocus on my iPhone, iPad and various Macs, with the database synchornised using Dropbox. It’s fantastic in every way, except one. During the evening, I have OmniFocus triggering a notification with corresponding alert sound on all my gathered devices. It’s like World War 3 breaking out. I have all my devices with me, practically all the time.

I don’t think there is a simple way around this. Geolocation doesn’t have the resolution (and besides, won’t work on the iPad and Mac all the time anyway). I suppose the easiest way is to have it only on my phone, but during the evenings, I like to use the Mac and leave the phone a metre or so away.

Another option would be to have a flag in the Dropbox sync file that tells me which devices are currently checking in and if I’m stationery (check the iPhone GPS) for more than say, 5 minutes, and the Mac is on and OmnFfocus running, it would display a Growl notification on the Mac only. If the Mac were not on, and the iPhone GPS were showing me as stationary for 5 or more minutes, it would notify me on the iPad only. If the iPhone GPS indicated movement of more than say 20 metres a minute, only the iPhone would notify me.

It would perhaps be an over-clever solution that would trip up over some really trivial test cases, when the real answer is to have a better notification system at OS level. Even that isn’t going to be a panacea.

And no, I haven’t done my pull ups, despite being reminded three times, by three different devices.