A Thank You Letter To Developers
It’s a rare time we live in where the number of individuals and small teams can have such a massive impact on the populous at large. The apps, systems, and tools that you build are touching lives more regularly that almost any other thing we interact with today as humans. These digital goods are so prevalent, yet hide in the shadows of microchips and circuit boards.
I can understand that this path you have chosen can feel thankless but please know that there are many of us out here that appreciate your hard work and dedication. Unfortunately, the perceived value of the work you are doing is being warped to an unsustainable level. Perhaps this is because of the faceless nature of your work, or the warped sense of values and entitlement in the world of technology.
People do not go to a farmer’s market and comment about how great the peaches look and then ask why they are not free. I get so upset when someone shows genuine interest in a great app I am using and their first question is “What is it called?” immediately followed by “is it free?”. No, it isn’t 🤬 free. This mindset has to change. I can only hope I am helping in any small way with my daily interactions with people reminding them that there are people behind these products.
I couldn’t have written a better thank you letter if I tried.
Field Notes’ longstanding tagline is “I’m not writing it down to remember it later, I’m writing it down to remember it now.” The line comes from co-founder Jim Coudal’s grandfather who was “an avid notetaker.”
I recently began thinking about my longstanding hobby of collecting and using Field Notes journals. I started using them back in college when I first learned about Field Notes’ other co-founder Aaron Draplin. I was obsessed with his work and loved his design portfolio. I never got into graphic design myself but I did learn a lot from Draplin through osmosis and watching his talks and tutorials over the years.
For whatever reason I decided to learn more about why Field Notes chose their tagline and I stumbled upon some really cool videos I wanted to share with you.
The first being from YouTube user Ekpap called “The Importance of Field Notes.” This was a video I thought surmised the essence of a Field Notes journal perfectly and what the tagline is all about. He then goes into generative note-taking and non-generative note-taking from a study from the University of California and University of Princeton called “The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard: Advantages of Longhand Over Laptop Note Taking.” If you want to read the paper itself you can do so here. They were also on NPR in 2016 explaining their paper as well.
I know this is a lot to throw at you but I promise that the video stands on its own two feet and is worth the 3 minutes to watch. That said, the paper itself is also fascinating to read.
The second video I wanted to share is from Stephen Hackett of 512 Pixels. He is a podcaster, YouTuber, and blogger and he explained in his own video why he still uses paper notebooks over a digital notes app. He also saves all of his notebooks both physically and digitally by scanning them into his computer for safekeeping. It is very delightful to learn about his reasonings to keep a notebook on hand and use day-to-day as a tech-nerd like myself.
After watching both videos again I realized that the tagline is as close to perfect as you can get for them as a company. They aren’t making commemorative notebooks you need to be careful with, it is meant to be used every single day for every single thing that needs to be written down no matter what.
When I filled my first Field Notes journal I took out a brand new one of the same color and compared them side-by-side. The used one could barely stay closed because the papers had been manhandled so much that they would push on the covers. I also noticed that the old one was significantly dirtier. It was as if someone decided to throw a journal into a muddy puddle and then dried it with a hair-dryer. For some reason when I made these observations I made it my goal to make every notebook I finish look like a shell of its former self.
One big thing that I had trouble with when I used a medium-sized Moleskine journal for my note-taking was that I felt that I needed to have something witty or mind-blowing to say when I wrote in them. With my Field Notes I make the conscious choice that nothing is too important nor too insignificant to write down. I have things from ideas for my blog and podcasts in there as well as quick math problems I try and solve when working out my finances. Nothing about these notebooks are special and I fill every single page with something before I decide not to use it anymore.
In fact, I have given a number of my new Field Notes journals away to friends and colleagues and I always say to them my one rule: you fill them with your thoughts and ideas. It might be a little corny but I genuinely want them to use their new journal as much as possible. I want them to never have an idea that doesn’t get written down, even if it is a bad one.
So, if you haven’t already guessed, I want you to start thinking about getting yourself a pocket-sized journal to write down your thoughts and ideas because I think there is some real merit to the claims and discoveries mentioned in the articles and videos above. This isn’t sponsored by Field Notes in any way, nor would I allow this to be a crappy article saying to buy only Field Notes. I honestly don’t care if you buy Field Notes or a drug-store memo pad, I just want you to write things down, not to remember it later, but to remember it now.
TikTok influencers are telling people to stop using the app
“I understand it’s easy to keep watching videos,” the smiley guy said. “And trust me, I’ve been there before. But those videos will still be there tomorrow. Go get some extra sleep, turn your phone off, do yourself that favor, and have a great night.”
The guy was TikToker Gabe Erwin, who has two million followers on the platform, but the video wasn’t posted from his personal account. It came from @TikTokTips, which is run by the company itself. Three other high-profile creators, Alan Chikin Chow (722,200 followers), James Henry (2.7 million followers), and Cosette Rinab (1.6 million followers) — have also made videos encouraging people to turn off the app. (“When’s the last time you’ve been outside?” asks Rinab.)
What a weird time to be alive.
Alphabet and Numbers Icon Pack
After having the idea of making custom Siri Shortcut icons less than 24 hours ago I am very excited to share with you my Alphabet and Numbers Icon Pack.
What it is
This icon pack is exactly how it sounds, custom icons that go from A-Z and 0-9 in various colors with both white and black backgrounds. There are 10 color options for the white background and 10 color options for the black background. In total there are 720 icons to choose from.
This wasn’t exactly what I planned when I shared my idea on Twitter. Originally I wanted to make custom icons manually in a number of different fonts, but once Toolbox Pro showed me just how easy it is to make them in Shortcuts with the help of their app I decided to table my original idea and make these icons instead.
The Shortcut I used to create these icons was actually pretty interesting. I put in every letter and number in a text field, split that text by character, and on a repeat with each action I created icons with Toolbox Pro and chose what colors to use for both the background and the icon color.
All of these icons have circles but that isn’t the only shape it supports. If you want a rounded rectangle you can choose that in the advanced settings by changing “.circle.fill” to “.square.fill” in the Toolbox Pro action “Make Icon.”
I also used slightly different color variants for the white and black backgrounds to make them more complimentary, but the shortcut I used doesn’t just offer the colors I picked. There are over 160 built-in colors to choose from making it a total of over 25,000 unique color combinations! Toolbox Pro didn’t stop there though, you can even use your own hex code in the advanced settings of the Create Icon action.
How to use these icons
All you need to do is download this zip file to your device and save it where you want in the Files app, unzip it with iOS’ uncompress option, and select from file when adding a shortcut to the home screen.
I plan to make even more icons in the future, some being with Toolbox Pro and some being ones I make on my own, but for now I wanted to share what I have and how you can make your own with Toolbox Pro.
If you have any requests outside of Toolbox Pro drop me a line and let me know.
On Wunderlist Shutting Down
From an Email from Wunderlist:
Wunderlist goes away on May 6th, 2020
We have some important news for you. Wunderlist is shutting down on May 6th, 2020. We hope that our new app, Microsoft To Do, will become the new home for all your lists and tasks. It’s built by the Wunderlist team and available for free on Android , iOS , Windows , Mac and web.
We know it’s hard to pack up and move, but we want to let you know that we’ll be with you every step of the way.
Microsoft To Do makes you feel like home. We will be with you every step of the way.
You may have questions about why we’re doing this and what it means for you. After May 6th, your to-dos will no longer sync but you’ll still be able to import your lists, tasks and other content into To Do. We are no longer accepting new Wunderlist sign-ups. Take a look at our blog post for more answers to all your important questions.
We’ve been working tirelessly to ensure our new app, Microsoft To Do, feels like a new home for your lists. We want you to be able to start planning your day and checking off those to-dos as soon as you hit that import button. Your favorite features are all in To Do — features like list groups (folders), steps (subtasks), file attachments, and sharing and task assignments. We held ourselves to a high design standard on Wunderlist, and To Do is no different. In fact, we have even more background options in To Do, so now you can color code each list to keep work separate from home.
This brings us to our important news.
When we first announced Microsoft To Do, we also announced that Wunderlist would eventually retire. We planned this so we could concentrate on building a more integrated and secure app that helps you get stuff done in a smarter way.
It’s time to let you know that on May 6th, 2020, we plan to shut down Wunderlist.
Why are we doing this now? We’ve stopped releasing new features and big updates to Wunderlist, so as the app ages it’s become more difficult to maintain. As technology continues to advance, we can’t guarantee that Wunderlist will continue to work as it should, or as we’d like it to. With all our latest updates, we’re confident in To Do being the best alternative for Wunderlist now and so we believe it’s the right time to make the next move. Now, we want to dedicate all our time to growing that cross-suite experience that transforms how you achieve your goals and dreams.
After May 6th, your to-dos will no longer sync. For a period of time, you’ll still be able to import your lists into To Do. Starting today, we will no longer accept new Wunderlist sign-ups.
We know this is a lot to take in, so have a look at our FAQs for more answers to all your important questions.
Queue up the sad trumpet song as one of the best lightweight task managers bites the dust. I used Wunderlist years back and loved it, but as I got more and more into GTD I moved to more complex apps out there. Still, I was happy Wunderlist was an option for others and recommended it countless times to friends and families.
I have to say, the video they made about moving from Wunderlist to To Do seems like a fever dream from an abstract minimalist. It was honestly unsettling to watch, or even understand the point of it.
I have not used Microsoft’s To Do, so I can’t say if it is a 1:1 comparison to Wunderlist; even if it was though, I’m not about it being a Microsoft application, and I can only imagine the whimsey and fun that app had is either gone entirely or greatly diminished.