I Live in Tiburon

I said this was my personal blog so I better start getting personal. You see that great big view across the top of the page? That’s my view every day as I do my daily exercise walk to downtown Tiburon through the St. Hilary Preserve Open Space. It’s an awesome sight to wake up to in the morning.

Tiburon is a small peninsula just North of San Francisco. Encircled on three sides by the San Francisco Bay, we get a cooling sea breeze. That’s good because otherwise we would get hot here since there are few trees to block the sun. Sunshine reigns on this rocky peninsula.

Whenever I can, I take the Ferry to San Francisco right from downtown. Downtown is not the hippest spot around, so SF is a good place to go to escape a rather conventional village of a town. The highlight here is that we get lots of cyclists and enough enthusiastic tourists to raise the blood pressure of some of our more retiring locals. There are lots of smart and interesting people here, but nothing like SF’s amazing energy and diversity.

On the average day, I walk down to the Caffe Acri for coffee, do some work and catch up on my reading with my iPhone and iPad. If you come to Tiburon, I recommend the Acri for hanging out. The free wi-fi is always on during the week but often off on Saturday and Sunday mornings. But, I have 3G, so manage just fine without wi-fi. I’m the iPhone and iPad expert for the local patrons.

How I’m Using my iPhone 4 for Productivity, Part 1


Updated: Aug 29 2012. I’ve tweeted extensively about my new iPhone, but haven’t written up a blog post yet. I love iPhone 4. The ultra high rez screen is a glorious sight to behold. I love the two glass sides even if that glass back may be a bit impractical. I bought Apple’s black bumper on day 1 and haven’t seen a scratch anywhere yet. Update: I’m now on the iPhone 4S and enjoying iOS5. I’ve updated the ends of several paragraphs below with more current information. See the italics sections for the updates.

The iPhone 4 is a wonderful partner to my new iPad. Its iOS4 is a big upgrade. Multitasking was just what I needed to make using lots of apps a lot easier and quicker. So, iPad now has only a size advantage for viewing and typing. I’m waiting as patiently as I can for multitasking there which will be a huge improvement.

But the iPhone 4 is back in full swing and I choose it often for my needs, even book reading when its size and weight feel more comfortable compared to the comparatively bulky and much heavier iPad. iPhone is wonderful when lounging in bed, when in line and whenever comfort is of utmost importance.

The Camera. Still photos are my specialty. I’ve taken a couple of videos but that’s an area I’ve yet to explore in depth. I use the iPhone as the best camera I’ve got with me on most days and get quite good results. For productivity, though, the camera serves to take great scans of information I encounter including business cards, signs, book passages, magazines and newspapers. There are lots of apps that take advantage of the camera including a number of good portable scanning apps like jotnot. Update: The iPhone 4S camera is even better and more effective in all capacities. Jotnot is still really good. Evernote has just added some of these capabilities in its new Page Camera feature.

Reeder. I love Reeder on iPhone as an RSS reader. Its key to success is the efficiency with which I can scan, read and dispatch articles. I feel like I have the best tool available to stay abreast of the news in my fields of interest. I can star articles, save them to Read it Later or Instapaper, or email the full article to Evernote to archive it when that option is permitted by the blogger. Reeder is excellent on the iPad as well. Update: Reeder is still number 1 but you should also check out Zite, Newsify and Flipboard which all work on both iPhone and iPad.

Read it Later and Instapaper. I’m currently on a Read it Later jag and am using it as my primary, read later tool. It has the same kinds of pass it on features and the most frequent one I use there is to send the full article to Evernote. Unlike Reeder, I can use Read it Later’s website on my Mac to read articles. Read it Later is also on my iPad and is even better with a big screen. I haven’t done a feature by feature comparison between RIL and IP so I am not sure which will ultimately be my favorite. Update: ReaditLater is now Pocket and a strong competitor to Instapaper. I’m now more entrenched with Instapaper so recommend it above Pocket for its better fonts mainly.

Twitter. I have been a big fan of Tweetie and really wish it would have stayed independent. But, I’ll still take the renamed and slightly modified Twitter as my favorite Twitter app for iPhone. I like to use Twitter as a complement to Reeder in learning about what is hot and happening in my fields of interest which include technology as you know. Twitter adds other sources from my 600+ person hive mind (the people I follow). If my favorite blogs aren’t covering something hot out there, my hive mind will let me know. Twitter lets me send articles on to Read it Later (or Instapaper) for reading later as well as emailing full articles to Evernote. Update: Tweetbot is the rightful successor to Tweetie and is my strong preference for iPhone, iPad and Mac (in Alpha right now).

Evernote. I’m not as happy as I could be with Evernote for iPhone but it has saved me a few times when I needed to grab a piece of crucial information saved to Evernote. My main complaints about Evernote for iPhone are that (1) it’s often too slow to update or search and (2) it doesn’t let me edit notes — there are good reasons why but it is a fairly big limitation. Still, I’m grateful that I can get access to all the 5000 or so entries I have there from my iPhone anywhere and time. Update: Evernote has gotten much better and now allows editing of notes from iPhone and iPad!

3Banana notes. I was using Simplenote for a long time as my *quick note* capture tool, but I think 3Banana is better in a couple ways. I can add or take a photo and combine that with a quick note. This is huge. I can photograph something and write a note right there about what it is and what I want to remember about it. Both Simplenote and 3Banana are text only besides that. But 3Banana has another nice feature. You can use hashtags. If you enter #ToDo, for example, you can then click on any #ToDo to see all of your notes with that hashtag. Just add the # in front of a word and you have a hashtag on any word in the note. Also, 3Banana syncs to a cloud-based version that is available on any browser for editing, accessing or creating notes and of course as a backup of your notes and way to sync notes between devices such as iPhone and iPad! Update: 3Banana notes is now Catch notes and still a strong app for note-taking.

iBooks and Kindle. Don’t leave home without your whole book collection. At least your ebook collection. I love having my reference ebooks available and often have the non-fiction and fiction items I’m reading on iPad here too. I prefer iBooks because of its multi-colored highlighting and great fonts which I like to indulge in. If I weren’t so enamored of those features, I would probably prefer the Kindle app because it then allows me to read an ebook on my Kindle, iPad and iPhone 4. At the moment, my infatuation with the iPhone 4 is keeping me from picking up my Kindle 2 so that’s not a big issue. Update: I’m back to buying eBooks at the KindleStore and then using Calibre with a plug-in to convert them to ePubs. I than drag them over to my iPad and iPhone.

More to come soon. There are quite a few more tools in my iPhone kit.

Starting a WordPress 3 Blog from Scratch, Part 1

I confess to not being a complete beginner at WordPress. I have two blogs already that I mentioned in my first post that I created last summer. While researching and creating those, I wrote a series of five blog posts called Dipping a Toe into WordPress on my Tech Ronin TypePad blog. If you are here to learn more about WordPress, you may want to check them out starting with my first post.

My first two WordPress blogs are running under the Thesis theme using WordPress 2.9.4, currently. I was scared to upgrade them to WordPress 3, so started this new blog as a trial that hopefully will become my personal blog here on out. Having more than one blog is something I’ve become accustomed to since starting my very first blog in 2003 on Movable Type.

I really like the look of the plain vanilla Thesis theme, which my tokerud.com and studio-manager.com blogs use with only minor modifications. I love the white space. But, there are definite advantages to using the default theme. You get the absolute best compatibility with WordPress itself and best compatibility with the most books, blog posts, images, widgets and plug-ins by using the default theme.

I own the 2nd edition of WordPress for Dummies available on iBooks for around $11 and Kindle for $15. Lisa Sabin-Wilson does a great job and she spends time teaching you how to modify your own theme. Now, she is referring to WP 2.8 I think, but still it is much easier to understand the teachings using the default blog than using Thesis which has lots of unique power-user features in its plumbing that I don’t have time to learn.

If you want what Thesis has, you might want to buy it outright. I am now on my third WordPress blog and feel I have the time to learn from the ground up a bit more and live with less features to get simplicity and compatibility.

The Default Theme: Twenty Ten. But on with the post. The first thing you see on a brand new WordPress 3.0 blog is the default theme that includes a great photo across the top. You get 8 photos to choose from in your dashboard under Appearance/Header.

The Photo. While the default photo is awesome, I don’t want to be among the 9000 blogs using it or one of the other 7 default photos. Keep the trees and winding road for a while if you like. But, in the end, blogging is self-expression and representing yourself and your style. I bet there are a lot of other photos already available for this theme that are free to use with attribution. Try Flickr for openers.

I chose to use one of my own photos as a start. Inferior to the trees and windy road, but it will do in a pinch. I cropped this photo of the San Francisco Bay with San Francisco in the background. Improving on it will be a challenge that I will continue to pursue. I can do better and digital photography is pretty easy.

Dreamhost. Before I go, I should mention that I’m using Dreamhost, one of the top recommended and used web hosts that is recommended by both WordPress and WordPress for Dummies. And, it’s only about $10/mo for a very generous set of capabilities. Dreamhost staff know about WordPress and can supply answers to some of my and possibly your dumb questions that we all have when doing these kinds of things.

I’m Using a Subdomain. Also, I long ago registered the tokerud.com domain and chose to create a subdomain for my first name so that I would have this nice URL: janet.tokerud.com. Better, really, than janettokerud.com from a readability standpoint. This cost nothing extra to setup.

Getting this Blog Up and Running. Once I defined a subdomain using Dreamhosts Dashboard in the evening, I also created one email address and then slept on it knowing that it takes a few hours for a new domain to become available.

Some time the next day, I got an email saying my subdomain was up and running. I then did a one-click WordPress 3.01 install and was given the option to install it at janet.tokerud.com which I did.

An hour or so later I got an email with a link to my WordPress dashboard. I clicked it and saw the dashboard. Very nice. Then I typed janet.tokerud.com into Safari to take a peek at my new creation.

That motivated me to change the default blog post number 1 that appears, to entitle my blog and few other good things. I loved the default photo as described above. And today, Day 2 I am writing this post.

In business. Good stuff.

Personal Technology for Independent Knowledge Professionals