Friday, July 17, 2009

How I Stay Organized

I've always been a very organized person.  Though my habits for staying organized change rather frequently.  In grade school I recall cycling through a single divided notebook to a pee-chee for every class to a notebook for every class and back again.  College was no different.  One year, small 5x7 notebooks, color coded for each class to easily be able to grab them out of my bag (yeah, I know, huge dork, it doesn't get any better…) to a meticulously organized binder with schedules I'd print out daily to manage my class and work schedules to spending way more money than I had on a Handspring Visor PDA (yeah, I was that guy and it was awesome).
In my post-college work life I'm no different.  What has changed is the amount of technology I can take advantage of.  Not too long ago I jumped on the Moleskine bandwagon, I think it lasted for a month, but I'm just not a paper (or writing) person.  For one, my handwriting is horrible not to mention slow.  The time it takes for me to write something that I will later not be able to read is not worth it.  Going to school in the 90's and being subjected to keyboarding classes not once, not twice, but three times made me an excellent typist with 5th grade level handwriting.
So here are the current methods I follow and tools I use to stay organized.
Inbox as a To Do List
One thing that has been true since I first got email is that I've always use my inbox as a to do list.  If something is in my inbox then it requires some action, otherwise it gets deleted or archived.  It's not anymore complicated than that.
Multiple Calendars
Separating items between different color coded calendars works well for me.  At the core I have a personal calendar, my work calendar and a calendar that has reoccurring events for when my various bills are due.  Beyond that I'm a big fan of subscribing to calendar feeds such as my TripIt calendar (more on that in a moment), birthdays and US holidays.
I've tried a lot of different to do list applications.  Lately I've settled on Things.  The combination desktop application and iPhone application are worth the initial cost.  They key is to to get in the habit of using it.  I try to get every item down throughout the day and there is nothing more rewarding than checking things off.
Evernote is a tool that I really like, and yet still find that I am not using it nearly as much as I should be.  My note taking habits are actually not very good.  I'm super OCD about tracking to do items, but general notes from meetings tend to be pretty light.  I'm currently trying to remedy this and Evernote is the tool that seems to fit my needs the best.
Last, but not least, I have been traveling quite a bit in the last couple of years.  TripIt has become and invaluable tool for keeping track of my upcoming trips and the details for those trips (i.e. flight times, hotel reservations).  Being able to subscribe to my trip items in iCal and being able to see them mixed in with other items on my calendars saves me a lot of scheduling hassle.
I think the key components to each of these tools or methods is that they are all completely in sync with my iPhone.  A system that I can maintain while I'm away from my computer is critical for me.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Our First AppStore App

Last week our client SonoSite launched their new iPhone application into the AppStore.  SonoSite makes portable ultrasound machines.  The application we built for them provides instructional video content for general ultrasound procedures as well as a host of other supporting information.  Check out the app at

Monday, June 1, 2009

WWDC 2009

I will be attending Apple's World Wide Developer Conference again this year.  Last year Steve Jobs announced the iPhone 3G at the keynote, I'm looking forward to seeing what they have in store for us this time.  WWDC is a pretty good event for developers.  I look forward to digging into some of the iPhone SDK 3.0 features that I have not yet had a chance to dig into.  The developer NDA doesn't allow me to talk about 3.0 here, so for now I'll just say that it looks like its going to be a pretty significant update.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Social Media Overload

I'm starting to become overwhelmed with all the social media sites. I resisted Twitter for a long time, but I caved yesterday. For the most part I've been pretty good about keeping it simple. I killed my MySpace account years ago and have pretty much only used Facebook for keeping connected with folks I don't see on a daily basis.
There is a big push now to find a use for these tools in the enterprise. Can Twitter really be a viable business tool? There are certainly some cases of it working, Zappos and Alaska Airlines to name a couple. Though I feel those users were not born out of trying to jump on the bandwagon, but rather seeing an opportunity to communicate better with customers.
I guess to me, it boils down to each individual case. Customers are smart, if you aren't trying to communicate with them in a genuine manor they will know and respond in kind.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Using the Cloud

Over the years I've started countless projects by myself or with friends that have never been fully realized.  I'm still waiting for that one great idea that really drives me to create something from nothing.  In the mean time I am pretty happy bringing other people's ideas to light, most of the time.

Without giving away too much detail, one of my current client projects is a pretty cool combination of technologies.  We are building an iPhone application with Amazon Web Services back-end.  As we've been building this it has occurred to me how many of my ideas in the past died because we would get bogged down in the details about where and how we were going to host it rather than just building it.

It's thrilling to see all these cloud computing services springing up that really level the playing field for anyone with an idea to deploy, and more importantly scale if they find success.

I still don't have that one great idea, but I feel like the roadblocks that existed in years past have lessened.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Once-A-Month Blog Challenge

You might recall the Once-A-Week Blog Challenge that Joel and I started last year. Well, the wheels kinda fell off that wagon, but never fear, we have a new challenge, but this time we are lowering our expectations. We are both committing to getting at least once post up a month! Here is mine for February.

My Top 5 iPhone Applications Redux

Back in july I posted about my top 5 iPhone applications.  I figure it's been about 6 months and it would be a good time to revisit this topic as my top 5 have since changed.  So in no particular order, here they are...

I managed to pick this app up when it was initially released for free, now it runs $2.99, but I would still pay for it. Zenbe is a pretty straight forward list tracking app that allows you to create multiple lists, assign due dates and organize your items. It has the added bonus of having a pretty decent web front end that stays in sync at

I continue to find Yelp very useful when looking for new restaurants and bars, the iPhone app is a nice compliment to the website.

I am pretty much addicted to iPhone solitaire, this version is great. They have a free version as well, but I think its worth the price for the added game variations you get.

I kinda hate to admit it, but I check Facebook on my phone way more than I probably need to be.

Mint is a great tool for tacking your expenses and investments, the iPhone application makes it even more useful.

Honorable Mentions...

I still thing Evernote is a great tool, I just don't use is at much as I should.

Shazam is one of the most clever apps I've seen. It has been able to identify songs in some pretty poor audio situations.

GasBag crashes way more than a public application should, but I do like the MPG tracking component of the application.

Remote is still a great app for controlling your music from anywhere in your house, even if your house is really only about 750 sq. feet.