Software: Day One Journal Gets A BIG Update!

Day One Update from the site dayoneapp.com

Hey all! As you you’ve already read here on this site I am a HUGE Day One journaling fan!

Well, they’ve just come out with a new version of their all of their apps and it’s a hugeone! Integration of photos, weather, locale, better mark down support, sharing options, social integration, better Dropbox and iCloud sync, seriously… it’s huge.

They even updated their site! So if you don’t have it already, definitely check it out. It’s taking daily journaling to a whole new level. I absolutely love it and this update makes an already great experience even better!

Collect them all!

  1. Day One Journal Site
  2. Day One Journal Mac App Store
  3. Day One Journal iOS

Design: WTHR – A Simpler, More Beautiful Weather App

Hey guys,

This popped up on the ole radar this week and I thought I would share. If you know the intricate inner workings of my mind (poor, poor you…), you will know that I have an amazing soft spot for weather and, by proxy, weather apps.

WTHR iPhone APP

Well, a new one dropped this week called WTHR and it’s design is just too good not to share with you all. What I love the best? The screenshot above pretty much tells you everything that the app does! It gives you the weather of where you are at in a simple, clean and beautiful way. No radars, not barometers, no ten day forecasts… just the vitals.

Love the style. Love the delivery. Love the app.

One important note: It does have some issues with its first release. It leaves the GPS search running even AFTER you’ve closed the app. Pretty big bug, as that can lay waste to your battery life, but I am more than confident that they will fix that in the next release (a lot of weather apps have delivered with this bug). So, wait for the next release or snag it now for 99 cents (?! – link above).

If you love good app design and aesthetic, this a bit of a no brainer.

UPDATE 07/11/12

The developer for WTHR released an update to iOS app store, just yesterday (tookWAY longer that I would’ve thought) that fixes the issue above. You do have to reset your locations services though which can be found in:

Settings>General>Reset (bottom of the list) >Reset Location Warnings.

If you are just buying it now, you don’t have to reset a thing. Just use it an enjoy!

It’s a shame this bug slipped through the testing process. Oh well, it works great now!

Software: Day One Journal

I’ve always been a huge fan of journaling. It’s you taking time out of your schedule, stepping out of the constant stream of everything that barrages us every second of every day, to simply acknowledge what you’ve seen and experienced. It’s an activity worthy of anyone’s energy and time.

This all said, I haven’t been able to stick to journaling at all in the past. My mind forms pages of prose WAY faster than my pen can race across any given page. So as much as I love the concept of it, I am not disciplined enough at doing it. There was always the option of opening up a text editor on a computer and creating entries that way, but that is disorganized, aesthetically lacking and it feels like any other activity you’d do in front of a computer. Not you taking time out for yourself.

But what if someone decided to create an application dedicated strictly to capturing the spirit of pen and paper journaling? Furthermore, what would be your stipulations for such an app? Here are mine:

  1. Like a notebook, it would have to be readily accessible. In my pocket and on my desk (on portable devices AND stationery computers).
  2. Because of the above, it would have to sync between said devices. Updating multiple instances of the same journal would get frustrating and old quite quickly.
  3. It would have to supply a user experience that somehow takes you out of the day to day work you do on a computer. So that when you opened it, you would think “it’s time to write in my journal!” not, “it’s time to journal, oh, let me check my Twitter feed first! Oh yeah, look, I’ve got new email. Should look at that now…”
  4. It should be simple to use and get out of the way of the user’s need to write, yet have powerful features that are there if you need them.

The good news? There is an app that supplies these things for me and it’s the new reason I journal and have been journalling (sometimes multiple entries a day!) every single day for the last year. So what’s this magical unicorn of an app? Enter “Day One Journal“!

Day One icon

From the outset, this app is no-nonsense! You open it for the first time and with a little initial one-time configuration, you can be writing your first entry in under five minutes. The app is available on OSX and iOS (universal), so it’s available on every tech device I have (Mac mini, iPhone and iPad) and because it syncs with iCloud (or Dropbox if you prefer and have an account) all of my entries are constantly in sync no matter what screen I am looking at.

Day One everywhere

The UI is quite elegant on all platforms, organizing your entries in a variety of ways (in a daily “stream-based” view, a in a calendar view, or in a section listing entries that you’ve favorited). You can even set up alarms to remind you to write in your journal (you can turn them off as well!).

Day One views

When you open a new entry, you are greeted with some inspiration in the form of famous quotes from people present and in the past (A nice touch, but thankfully you can disable these as well). The date and time is filled out for you and you are left with this wonderful white space to type in! Once you get your thoughts and memories down you click/tap the “Done” button and that’s it! It syncs instantaneously in the background, backing up our words as well as making them available anywhere that you have Day One installed. If you don’t wan’t your words in the cloud and just want them stored locally on your computer, you can do that as well (though you lose the syncing capability). Don’t want other people reading your words? No problem? You can password protect your entries!

Have you written something you’d like to share? That’s easy too! By clicking the share button on the entry you can get social in many different ways, email, Twitter (built in iOS integration), you can even export your entry if you feel the need.

Day One options

It sounds like a lot of options and it is, but I can’t express enough how much the developers of Day One made them all secondary and unobtrusive to the simple of act of writing in your journal. I haven’t even touched upon the quick entry window in OSX that’s nestled in your menu bar at the top of your screen, allowing you to add an entry without opening the app itself, or the different fonts you can use, or that it supports the highly readable markdown code… there’s a lot! But here’s the thing: it’s not overwhelming. Which is the point right? Writing in your journal should be easy! It should be a joy and not a chore!

That’s why it was crucial and wonderful that the developers of Day One nailed this experience.

When I am not writing lengthy entries, I actually use it to write Twitter-like observations in my day to day (leaving my actual Twitter stream more lean and curated). Little memories, anecdotes, ruminations or whimsies, all the little stuff that gets lost typically, is documented in my digital journal now! Also, I have to admit, once you’ve started, it’s amazing to go back and read what you were doing the same day last year.

It reminds you that you’ve lived and to me? That’s pretty damn precious!

Day One collage

There are a few improvements that could be made to the app (a lack of a search function, you can’t embed pictures into entries, iCloud sync is new and thus is a little buggy at times…) but they don’t detract from the experience and, in the case of the ones I listed above, they are all being addressed in future releases of Day One (which are free by the way). It’s also Mac only. Sorry Windows/Linux users.

So, to bring it all home, if you’ve been on the fence about keeping a journal or maybe you’ve been thinking of getting back into it but want a more modern twist on the act of keeping one, I can’t recommend the Day One Journal app enough. I’ve loved it immensely!

~Tad

Helpful links:

  1. Day One Journal Site
  2. Day One Journal Mac App Store
  3. Day One Journal iOS

PS: ALL pics in this post were snagged from Day One’s press kit found here on their site

Writing: My Current Workflow…

As you could probably surmise from the length of my last post, I’m not only into techie geeky stuff, I also love to write.

Since I was a boy I’ve always loved telling stories. It’s what I did then (with my toys, friends and Dad’s old typewriter he had in the office) and what I still do today (less toys, better friends that also write, and many, many word processors). Though the platforms I use have changed drastically and will continue to do so, the spirit of it all still very much there. So what do I like to write? I typically write fiction of a darker tone, focusing a lot on Horror and Science Fiction. I’m pretty much always in the middle of writing something novel-length that I’ll inevitably have a hard time finishing.

But as much as I love writing and telling stories, I’ve also been falling in love with the process of writing as well. More specifically, the tools that are available to all of us today. So, with this in mind, I thought I would take some time to describe my current writing system to you all. My hope is that might inspire some to write more often and in more places. Because inspiration can happen anywhere!

Ok, full disclosure. I’m a Mac user and enthusiast. It’s what works for me and it all works quite well. I’m not going to debate the merits of other platforms, they all have their strengths. That all said! Here’s my setup on a hardware level:

  1. A 2011 Mac Mini in the office.
  2. An iPad (3rd gen) for writing remotely. Had a laptop, the iPad replaced it recently. I also use a stand and an Apple bluetooth keyboard.
  3. iPhone (this gets replaced every other version. Currently it’s a 4)

alt text

When I’m home, I generally use the Mini, it’s a little powerhouse, has much bigger screen and has a full size keyboard. All make for easier writing in general.

iPad SetupiPad Setup side view

When I am out and about and I know that I am going to write, I’ll bring my iPad setup. This consists of the iPad, a stand (The Compass by TwelveSouth) and Apple’s bluetooth keyboard.

Otherwise, I always have my phone on me, so note taking or even full on writing is always at hand. Though, admittedly, it’s tough to pull off a full-on jag of writing on an iPhone, I have done it a few times, which to me is kind of amazing.

So that’s the hardware involved. I’ve yet to have a serious problem with this setup. In fact, in the last year I paired down a good bit of my setup when it became clear I could supplement my iPad for a laptop with very little sacrifice.

But we all know that hardware is only as good as the software you run on it, so here are the tools of my trade, as well as the two scenarios I constantly run into that they accommodate.

First Scenario: I know that I am going to be writing on my iPad in the morning, finishing up a thought on my iPhone during my commute and tidying up on the computer (iMac) in my office. One document, on 3 separate devices, saved and synced each time.

Solution: iA Writer (OSX and iOS Universal)

iA Writer

This little gem of an app utilizes Apple’s iCloud service to sync between all of the above devices almost instantaneously. It’s pretty amazing to watch actually, and I’ve yet to see it fail. Not even once. Because it works so well, I’ve come to rely on this first system 75% of the time. It saves your files in text format or in straight up markdown (which is quite handy for blogging). While it’s preferences are basically non-existent (it’s a focus-based text editor), it performs it’s function, letting you write, quite well. I do wish it had better sharing options but there are a lot of easy ways around this. All versions of this app are full screen and very easy to read, leaving just you, the screen, and your words. Highly recommended and a silver bullet solution to the scenario above.

Second Scenario: I know I’ll be writing on any platform on the planet, PC, MAC, Unix, iOS, Android, etc… and will need to edit it on my iOS or OSX device later.

Solution: Elements for Dropbox (iOS-based) and a free Dropbox account for cloud storage along with the free corresponding Dropbox iOS apps (also found for Android devices as well).

If you have an iOS device and any kind of computer the solution above works great! It’s not as streamlined as the first solution but it isn’t difficult and it achieves the same result. Your writing will be synced and available across multiple devices. In fact, I have to hand it to Dropbox. Their service/product alone has enabled SO many opportunities to folks who need mobile cloud-based storage it’s pretty amazing. This solution worked perfect for me the other day when I was working on a text file at the office on my PC. When I was done, I saved it to my Dropbox account and headed out. I had some time at a coffee shop a bit later and fired up my iPhone to edit it more there, once complete, I synced it with Dropbox again and headed home where it was waiting for me to edit on my Mac with any text editor I had at my disposal. Easy peasey!

Elements is also a WAY more robust and full featured editor compared to iA Writer, which is incredibly spartan intentionally by design. I’ve used Elements for many other text editing functions other than writing. I’ve actually coded web sites in it on my iPad! Lots of options and very easy to use. In fact, if it supported iCloud sync and had a corresponding Mac app, I would be inclined to ditch iA Writer entirely and just use Elements. It’s that good. But both text editors are superb, they just were built for different purposes that’s all.

So that’s it! That’s my current writing system. I personally couldn’t love it more. I can write literally anywhere and when I don’t have a data connection, everything saves locally and syncs the next time that I do. With this setup, the technology finally gets out of the way, and with my full screen, distraction free text editors I am focused. Which is important when you are in a public place and get distracted easily. ;)

I whole heartedly recommend one or both of the solutions above for your writing. I currently use both weekly (sometimes daily depending on my needs). Hopefully it will encourage you to write more, in more locations and give you less excuses not too.

Here are all the links above in one place:

  1. iA Writer (OSX and iOS Universal)
  2. Elements for Dropbox (iOS-based)
  3. A free Dropbox Account
  4. Dropbox app iOS apps (also found for Android devices as well)
  5. The Compass by TwelveSouth
  6. Apple’s bluetooth keyboard

Also, if you are even remotely interested in an exhaustive list of all of the text editors available on the iOS platform, I recommend checking out this incredibly thorough article by Brett Terpstra. I can’t even imagine the time it must’ve taken to put this together.

Lastly, the very popular tech site “The Verge” just recently did a post about this very topic! So if you are looking for another take on all of this. Check it out here..

UPDATE: One of my favorite Mac and tech writers out there, Federico Viticci, literally today (04/27/12) just posted a very in depth article about his personal writing workflow as well! Be sure to check it out here.

Thanks for stopping by! Hopefully you found this useful!

~Tad