Catching Up, Lessons Learned

Well, I'm happy to say the move is over. Before I recap some of my technology-oriented 'lessons learned' during this period of transition, I'd like to respond to some of the comments received over the past couple of months while I was not monitoring this site:

1. Reader Lek asked how to convert (or move) a site from Rapidweaver to WordPress. The only way I am aware of to do this is to manually transfer posts and comments. There are no automated ways to do it that I know of. If anyone knows of any tricks or tips in this department, please let us know.

I did, however, come across interesting threads related to MarsEdit and RapidWeaver that are worth checking out. Both threads relate to using RW for static content and another system (e.g. WordPress) for a blog on one site.

2. A couple of readers commented on the current bugginess of RapidWeaver, and reader PanicGirl noted the lack of ability to directly edit code in a RW blog. About the bugs: it does has some flaws, but I maintain it's about the easiest way to get a site up and running for people who don't want or need absolute control, but want quite a bit of flexiblity. And, no, you can't edit HTML directly in RW. It It may not be the best tool for those who want total control. For those who do want such control, RW templates are fully editable, but it takes a fair investment of time to learn how to do it.

3. PanicGirl also asked if MarsEdit is the best tool to use with WordPress, and if I'd tried MacJournal. MarsEdit is the best tool that I know of to manage my WP blog. It saves me countless hours. I haven't used MacJournal for a long while (in the days before it had this feature, back when it was donationware). Sounds like this would make a good future app comparison.

4. Reader Gary commented on my Yojimbo review, noting that worrying about potential database corruption in a SQLite database is different than actually experiencing database corruption. I haven't come across any users who actually had such corruption. My Yojimbo database has never given me any problems. Point taken.

5. I received several new app suggestions regarding the long-delayed Mac PIM review series (which I started before the move, then was forced to abandon because of the move). I'm still scratching my head a bit over the Info Manager comparison idea. All of the suggested applications are certainly worthy of review, so my challenge now is to regroup and decide how I want to tackle this comparison in the coming months.

To recap, I began a comparison between five info management apps back in May(!), but have only completed a full review of Yojimbo to date. I floundered for a while, too, on just which apps I should choose for this series. I think I may opt for more reviews, but markedly shorter reviews for each app. I'd like to spend more time discussing the range and categorization of info managers to help place them in better context, which will hopefully help to sift through the sea of choices out there for the Mac. The term 'Personal Info Manager' really doesn't cut it, as fellow blogger Alan aptly pointed out in a post on his site. Stay tuned for more on this. This topic has become a minor obsession.

6. Some other readers took the time to post some nice comments on various reviews on the site, to which I say 'thank you.' And I thank all readers for their patience during this long offline period. Curiously, my RSS subscriber base actually increased over the past two months, despite the dearth of new material. Go figure.

About the Move

Now for a few words about my move from Hawaii to Maryland. I spent the better portion of the past two months without internet access, and without my desktop Mac. Fortune smiled on me, though: right before I moved from Hawaii, a friend upgraded to the 3G iPhone and graciously gave me his 16GB 1st generation iPhone for a pittance. I've always used employer-provided cell phones, so this was the first time I actually had my own mobile device.

I can't stress how useful the iPhone has been during this period with no home, no easy internet access, and no computer. Here's what I took away from the experience:

1. My next Mac will be a Macbook Pro. I love my 24-inch iMac, but I'm now ready to sell it. Since the thing I love most about my current desktop is the large display, I will buy an affordable large display and will dock my laptop while working at home. It's a much more expensive solution, but it's worth it.

2. The iPhone Google Maps application is incredible. The cell tower triangulation employed by my 2G iPhone worked unexpectedly well. We used Maps more than any other single application during the move to get directions to potential new rental homes, to find nearby stores, and to figure out where we were. Transitioning from Oahu's few roadways to the serpentine routes of suburban DC has been jarring.

3. I missed the ability to update my podcasts. The iPhone needs the ability to download casts on the fly, without the need to tether up to iTunes. Judging from Apple's unfriendly and illogical response to the first iPhone app to offer this service, I guess we won't get this functionality any time soon. That's a shame. As many have already noted around the Macosphere, Apple's bizarre and murky iPhone application acceptance/denial policies (coupled with their lack of transparency) threaten to dissuade developers from making great apps. This anticompetitive streak is sad to see. Excellent, inventive third party apps are the soul of the iPhone platform, just as they are the soul of the Mac.

4. Cultured Code's Things for the iPhone worked well for me, but I wonder why it doesn't include the 'Areas' feature of the desktop app. Nevertheless, I relied on it to manage dozens upon dozens of tasks, and it held up beautifully. I was a bit surprised to see that Things 1.0 (desktop) now isn't due out until the Fall, but at least we have a very good Beta. Odd, though, that Things for the iPhone rolled out for $9.99 right from the start.

5. Evernote's iPhone app also served us well. We used this app to store all of our critical data (airplane, hotel, and car reservation confirmations, etc.) for quick and easy access. I have no real complaints about it. It did what I needed it to do. Still, I would love to see Yojimbo compete in this arena. I'm not willing to shell out $30 for the limited functionality of Webjimbo.

6. Agile Web Solution's 1Password did the job, but I was a bit frustrated by the way it opens up links within the application. I prefer to use mobile Safari. I actually think I liked the first iteration of 1Password (the web-based solution) more than I do the full-scale iPhone app, simply because I often surf to a site in Safari, then realize I need a password. In such a case, it's inconvenient to have to exit Safari, start up 1Password, then load the page again within 1Password.

7. The AT&T network is surprisingly spotty. In our new home, I can't get a decent signal ... yet my wife can get a great signal on her cheap T-Mobile pay-as-you-go phone. I expected the iPhone to have a better signal in most locations, but that hasn't been my experience.

8. I downloaded WordPress for the iPhone before I packed up my desktop, but I have yet to use it. The problem is one of ease of use: I just can't see myself typing a post on that little touchscreen. I'm awaiting a bluetooth-enabled mini keyboard.

9. I'd like to add my voice to the choir regarding the lack of cut and paste on the iPhone. It's a basic, essential feature and I'm dumbfounded that we still don't have it at version 2.1.

That's about it for now. It's good to be back.

Troy Kitch @troykitch
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