Archive for May, 2009

Taking notes in less usual settings

Sunday, May 31st, 2009

Lifehacker has an interesting article up regarding the effect that taking notes on someone can have on the speaker (as opposed to the note-taker). The basic idea is that taking notes on what someone says affects them such that they give more useful information. The example they use is taking notes at the doctor’s office, which they believe makes it more likely that the doctor will give additional useful information out. Their point was very interesting and something worth looking at, but it’s not the point of this post.

The Lifehacker post got me thinking a bit about the places people take notes. I typically think of taking notes in school or at work primarily, but taking notes can be really useful in the rest of our lives as well. For instance, one of my friends told me a story of how he used Pear Note to take notes on a trip to his accountant’s office. He said it was really useful in remembering all the complexities of tax law that they discussed.

I typically stick to the more traditional settings, but I really want to try some of these less usual locations. Have you taken notes in a less usual setting? If so, please post in the comments to give the rest of us ideas for other places we can improve our lives by taking notes.


Sunday, May 24th, 2009

There’s been a lot of talk in the Mac developer community over the last year regarding revision control systems. I just wanted to chime in with my take on the issue. I’ve used subversion for more of my career than anything else, but I’m using mercurial now and really loving it.

Distributed vs. centralized source control

The first choice a developer likely has to make is whether to go distributed or stick with a centralized system. I won’t go into the details of the differences, as others have already done a good job of that. The basic take-away from these is that distributed systems are great. You can work with them offline, which almost all of us eventually have to do. You can branch and merge easily, which is more useful than you can probably imagine until you have the capability. If you’re working with other developers, you can work independently and later merge things together at an appropriate time with much greater ease than centralized systems.

Choosing mercurial

The two most popular distributed revision control systems today seem to be git and mercurial. I’ve used git a good bit, and I just find its interface to be non-intuitive. Every time I want to do something new it takes me way too long to figure out how to do it. That’s not saying git is bad, just that its interface and I don’t mix well together. Mercurial, on the other hand, is very intuitive to me. It provides all the features of git I could want and I can figure out how to use them with ease.

I’ve been using mercurial throughout the development of Pear Note (well, I actually started with subversion and switched over to mercurial a couple months in), and it’s performed perfectly. My advice to all of you is that if you’ve heard about this distributed revision control thing, but tried git and found it confusing, try mercurial. You still have to grasp the basic concepts of distributed version control, but after that you’ll likely find it much more approachable.

Inspiration is everywhere

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

Daniel Jalkut, the developer behind Red Sweater Software, has a great post up about how he’s inspired by the success of the folks at Panic. Panic has become one of the best known names in independent Mac software for good reasons. They make excellent software and really listen to their customers. I personally am a big fan of Coda, which I used to build this website.

While I take inspiration from Panic, they seem so far off that it’s sometimes hard to identify with them. Daniel, on the other hand, is a great inspiration for me. He’s built a successful one-man business on top of some great apps. He is known throughout the Mac community for quickly responding to user needs and he just makes you want to use his software. So, Daniel, you are an inspiration to me. I look forward to the day when Useful Fruit Software elicits the respect that Red Sweater Software does today. I hope that one day Pear Note can be the first thought that comes to Mac users when looking for note-taking software in the same way that MarsEdit is the first thought for Mac users looking for blogging software.

Useful Fruit is growing well, which is inspiration in and of itself. Stories like these of those companies a little further down the road combine with this inspiration to really get me excited about the future. I hope I can continue to use people like Daniel as a guide to help me know when I get off track (and feel free to let me know if you see me doing so). Despite what you see on the news, the future is bright.