Wednesday, March 5, 2014

✔ Apple's next big thing? iCar. Why Apple buying Tesla actually makes sense.

As Apple has lots of cash in the bank (both national and abroad) and their main source of revenue is the iPhone. Now, everyone is looking at their massive pile of cash and suggesting what they should do or buy to find another massively profitable business like the iPhone. As Elon Musk, the founder of the electric car manufacturer Tesla, was meeting with Apple's head of acquisitions, people have speculated Apple was going to buy Tesla and build an iCar. While this might sound ridiculous at first, let's entertain this thought for a second... as I believe such a transaction makes sense on many levels. Here's my take on it.

Apple's next big thing? iCar. Why Apple buying Tesla actually makes sense.

Tesla is not a car - it's a giant laptop on 4 wheels

When I went to the ICE LIVE conference in Finland, in the expo area there stood a Tesla Model S car... and I had a chance to check it out, talk to the dealer... and came out really impressed. There is no real engine there (just a small electric one), the whole bottom of the car consists of batteries, it has a giant 17' display inside with additional displays all over the dashboard... and yet the "performance" version of the car beats BMW M5 in a drag race... so while I don't think Apple would be interested in building cars... but in building computers on wheels, "smartcars"... it is an entirely different story:

Friday, January 31, 2014

✔ Me and Mac. A "love in the air" story

Last week Apple celebrated its 30 year anniversary of the Mac and along with it, many people have been posting their stories of Macs... I particularly liked the MG Siegler's story so I decided to share my own with you today. Unlike most of these guys, up until late 2008 I was a Windows computer and a Nokia Communicator mobile phone user. But it doesn't mean I wasn't fascinated by the Mac...

me and mac

I guess it all started with the first iMacs and iBooks - these colorful ones that Steve Jobs helped conceive when he got back to Apple, but to be honest I started really following Apple when they switched their processors to Intel. My friend Michael Hyatt switched to the Mac and I started following Apple more carefully. I was amused by the "Get A Mac" campaign and kept looking at these new Macbook Pros but to me they were beautiful, but too big. And they had no touch. Back then, in 2006-2008 I was a TabletPC user, first with Toshiba M200 and later with IBM Thinkpad X60T. But then came the envelope:

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Secure Time Machine Backup with Size Limit on Mac OSX Mountain Lion

Although my blog is mostly about productivity I sometimes write about "geeky" stuff that loosely relate to productivity. One and a half years ago I posted about my way of doing backups on Mac OSX Lion and to this date it's one of my most viewed posts of all time. The challenge was to backup your data in such a way, that the backup would be (a) securely encrypted and (b) limited in size. This way I can back up several macs to one Time Capsule or external hard drive. Now it's time to updated my old post that was based on "Lion" to the new one based on the newest "cat" - Mountain Lion:

Secure Time Machine Backup with Size Limit on Mac OSX Mountain Lion

As I mentioned, my highly technical post attracted lots of readers and lots of comments. One of the readers, Stefan, posted a great comment simplifying the whole process and updating it to the Mountain Lion. I decided to try it myself and tweaked his instructions a little and there it is, the new instructions - how to create a secure backup with size limit on Mountain Lion:

Monday, July 25, 2011

Mac OSX Lion Secure Backup to Time Capsule with size limit

Update: On August 31 I updated this post with a more detailed description that should always work

I was among the 1M people who downloaded the newest version of Mac OSX operating system 10.7 “Lion” in the first 24 hours but to make sure my productivity doesn’t suffer I initially installed it on my wife’s personal Mac. She doesn’t use it so much these days anyway. After some trying out I finally installed Lion on my Mac this past weekend. With two Macs on Lion I found a cool way of keeping all our backups on a single Time Capsule drive. Here's how I did it.

Note: This is a technical post for Mac OSX Lion users. I wrote it because I didn’t find a single easy-to-digest how-to for configuring secure Time Machine backups on Lion. Sorry for this technical stuff, I just hope it's useful for some :-
My setup: 2 Macbook Airs and one Time Capsule

So we have 2 Macbook Airs at home – one belongs to my wife and one to me. We want to be able to:

1) Backup both Airs wirelessly to the same Time Capsule
2) Make sure we have enough space on the Time Capsule drive for our backups and also some other media files
3) Make the backups encrypted for maximum safety

New Lion’s Time Machine is good and secure... but needs tweaking.

The new Time Machine in Lion can encrypt your backup drive, but only if it’s connected via USB. If it’s a Time Capsule, no dice. Second thing, the Time Machine backs up until the disk is full. If we have two Macs we want to make sure we have space for each other’s backups and we have room for some media files. For that we need to create “virtual, encrypted backup hard disks called sparse bundles” on the Time Capsule for each of our Macs. Here’s what I did:

Step 1. Enable FileVault2 on the Mac

I was using FileVault on the Mac so after I upgraded to Lion, I went to “System Preferences” and had to first disable what Apple now calls “Legacy FileVault” and decrypt my user account. It takes a few minutes, once done I went ahead and enabled the new FileVault on the entire hard disk. Again, took some time to complete. Now my entire disk on the Mac is encrypted.

Step 2. Prepare Encrypted backup disk (a.k.a. “Sparsebundle”)

I found this hint here - now let me upgrade it to the Lion. Just do the following:

1. Figure out the name of your computer (and make sure it doesn’t contain spaces).

This is important. Go to “Sharing” in “System Preferences” and rename your computer (mine is called “Jane”, don’t ask…)
Also find out the address of your main ethernet card (in the case of my Macbook Air it's the address of my wireless card) - go to "System Preferences", "Network" and click on your wireless card and go to "Advanced" and at the bottom of the page you'll see your "Wi-fi address"… or just type in the Terminal:

ifconfig en0 | grep ether

The result for me was: 04:0c:ce:dc:a6:78

Keep this address for later.

2. Open disk utility and create a new volume image on your Time Capsule drive like this:
a) Save As: ComputerName_EthernetAddress (without ":")

In my case: Jane_040ccedca678

(Computer name: Jane, Ethernet address without ":" is: 040ccedca678 - make sure to find out yours in the previous step)

b) Name: ComputerName (in my case: Jane)

c) Custom size, I chose 300 GB for now.

d) Format leave as it is, meaning: Mac OSX Extended (Journaled)

e) Encryption: choose 128-bit - it's fast and it's really secure

f) Partitions leave as it is, meaning: Single Partition, Apple Partition Map

g) Choose "sparse bundle disk image" - important.

The cool thing is that the virtual disk will be small at the beginning and will only reach it's size after many backups. I don't store too much media on my Air, so 300GB should be good for now. Initial backup was just 115GB. Plenty of room for the incremental backups now.

Size of the Sparsebundle file/disk can be increased later with one terminal command if you need that :-)

This way on our 1TB Time Capsule we have 600GB for backups and 400GB for media files (home videos and stuff).

Disk Utility asked me for a password. I chose one and saved it in the keychain. After the format, the disk has been mounted. Worked great so I unmounted it.

3. Open “Keychain Access” application (you'll need to provide your admin password here) and move the password from your personal keychain (usually called "login") to the “system” keychain.
Step 3. Do the first backup and you're set.

When Time Machine asks you to point the drive to backup to, just point to your Time Capsule drive where the encrypted sparsebundle resides. And go with the first backup!

Do your first backup. It will take a while, do it before going to sleep. Now the Time Machine will back up to this "Sparsebundle" encrypted virtual hard disk every time and will not take over your entire Time Capsule disk. The Time Machine will rename your disk to just "ComputerName.sparsebundle" - don't worry about it. It will find it for backups later.

Optional Step - schedule backups manually.

If you’re like me and you don’t like Time Machine backing up every hour, you can do an optional step – download TimeMachineEditor application and schedule your backups. This is how I do it:
TimeMachineEditor will disable your official Time Machine backup scheduler as it triggers backups by itself. My backups are being run 3 times a day and I think it’s more than enough.

Congratulations. You have secure backups on your Time Capsule in Lion and you’re set to be even more productive on your Mac. Good luck!

my web app me I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Your New Affiliate Partner is Apple thanks to Subscriptions

On Tuesday Apple announced a new revenue stream for them in their iOS Appstore called "Subscriptions". It basically means that if you're a web developer and charge the users a monthly fee, all new customers that come to you via your iOS app available in the Appstore, cannot be redirected to your site to purchase your subscription but need to buy it right there "in-App" and Apple gets 30% cut from this every single month.

First reactions of tech industry were quite harsh on Apple but some later realized that it's OK for Apple to take the cut... while others disagree. It's complicated... but the point is - Appstore is just one of the many revenue channels and it should be treated like this. It's like Apple becomes your affiliate partner.
Why do you need an iOS app anyway? Ah, right... because you want new customers!

Let's start off by asking yourself this question - why a developer needs an iOS app? It is for two reasons - because they want to serve their customers with a great native iOS experience or because they want to tap on the great market Appstore has to offer them to get new customers for their business.

1. Because you want a great iOS experience for your users

Apple is not stopping you here. You can still offer a great iPhone or iPad app and ask the user to log in and when they do, they can sync their local data with your web app and use it on the move. It's what I do with Nozbe iPhone and iPad apps.

2. Because you want new customers from the big Appstore

Please be honest here - you want the new customers that Apple brings you, but you don't want to pay Apple for bringing you these customers? This ain't right. I pay my affiliates a recurring commission of around 25% per customer every single month, because I think it's the right thing to do. If someone brings me the customer via an affiliate link, I believe they should be paid for that and that's it. I wouldn't probably get this customer if it wasn't for them. Apple has just become a new affiliate partner for me. Not more not less.

It's not like the Appstore is your only revenue-generating place... and if it is, find new ones!

Apple doesn't limit you to selling your app exclusively through the Appstore. It'd be ridiculous. You are free to sell through any other channel you wish - your web site, your Android app, your Blackberry app... you choose. However, if your main revenue generator is the Appstore, then Apple should take the cut. It's their house and their rules.

When the Mac Appstore launched, I heard developers complain about 30% cut from their apps... but I don't think the guys behind Pixelmator (an image manipulation app) complained when they earned $1M in the first 20 days their app was in the store... and it was for an established app everyone knew about and presumably had before.

Appstore is like a busy shopping mall... but if you want to sell in the mall, you need to rent the place

What counts in business? Location, location, location - so if you want to sell in the busiest shopping mall, you need to rent a place there and very often pay outrageously high rent fee and even some revenue share in some cases. If you'd want to sell stuff there without paying these things, you'd be thrown away by the security guys. Even if you're an established business like "Starbucks" you can't just go in and say: "we're Starbucks and well coffee everywhere else, so let us sell coffee here without paying you a dime".

Appstore is one of the busiest "shopping malls" for software now and if you want to be there and get new customers thanks to Apple, then pay the price - again, it's simply one of your sales channels. If you look for customers on Google and use AdWords - do you get them free? No, you need to pay for these and they are a part of your "customer acquisition price". Appstore was long enough kind to let you "get around their back" to sell subscriptions elsewhere.

User Experience is great - for both customers and publishers

I'm constantly tweaking my Nozbe Signup page and Checkout experience and I still see people ordering and not completing the order... and I need to ask them for lots of data (credit card companies require it) and it's a process that I'm now optimizing even more to make sure I don't ask the same data repeat customers again.

With Apple's system it's just brilliant - people get your app from the Appstore, they use it and if they decide to go the subscription route, they just click one button and that's it. As simple as that. I'd pay 30% for this kind of ease of getting new customers. When my affiliates bring me new Nozbe users, these still need to go through the checkout process... with Apple it's so simple. One click, and bam, new customer! Nice.

There are some concerns though

The only concerns I have with the Apple's subscription system is their APIs and integration with our current web apps. We need to be able to refund users easily through some API calls, we need to be notified when the users stop paying, when they unsubscribe, etc. These tools need to be top-notch to make sure publishers can flawlessly integrate with their current systems. Apple is known for creating great user experiences for customers but not for developers (iTunes connect was really bad when Appstore started) so I hope they'd iron this out.

People seem to lose objectivity when it comes to money

As much as I respect my peers in the industry, some folks are losing their objectivity when it comes to money. Apple creates a new revenue-generator for us? Great. We need to share this money with Apple? Not so great. Come on, this is not right. We are in the software business where we can set margins as we like and where our fix costs are not as high as in the manufacturing business. For me personally Appstore has been a great experience so far - my iPhone and iPad apps haven't brought me many new customers but they have served well for my current customers and they'll continue to serve well for them in the future to come.

Will I have problems integrating new Apple's model into my own? Yes. Will it cause more work for me? Definitey. Am I not happy sharing 30% with Apple? Well, I'd rather share less.... but it's their house and I respect that. If they bring me new customers I'll happily pay their cut for as long as the customer stays with me. If they bring me 1M new customers, I will not complain. Nor should you.

HTML5? I love it, but native apps are just better and users seem to vote (with their money) on these and although the call is tough, we're leaning towards native experiences over web-based in our developments of Nozbe for this year.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Migrating to a new computer is too easy... if it's a Mac

I bought my new Macbook Air two months ago and as you know, I love it. I even showed it to Michael Hyatt and he got one and loves it, too. It's my 3rd Mac... (my 3rd Macbook Air by the way...) and every time I was migrating to a new Mac, the process was very simple... for a geek like me, too easy actually:
Before - the PC/Windows way:

Before I switched to a Mac a little over 2 years ago, I had several Windows laptops and the process of moving between them was very long, but I kinda loved it - I had a chance of installing Windows again from scratch, I had a chance to see what kind of Crapware the laptop manufacturer had installed for me and had to remove most of it. Hell, there was even a special hack to install Windows from scratch on my last PC laptop (Lenovo X60Tablet) because it ran like 2 times faster without the IBM's crapware pre-installed.

Then when Windows was installed and crapware was gone, I had to spend my time installing my favorite apps from scratch. Office and other usual suspects take time to install... so the whole process took at least half a day, if not more. Usually a day and a few days to tweak my settings in all of these apps.

Let's re-cap: New laptop, 1 day to install what i need, a few more days to configure and be up and running. Sad but true.

Don't get me wrong. I am a geek and I love tweaking my new laptop, but it all took just too much time. I didn't know there was a better way.

After - Migration Assistant and Time Machine:

When I was buying my newest Mac, I was on a business trip in Chicago. I didn't have "all my home gear" with me to help me transfer my files or my installation disks, or any of that stuff. I didn't even need that. All I did was this:
- I did a regular Time Machine backup of my old Mac to an external USB Hard Disk
- I unpacked my new Mac and plugged it in, set up a temporary user on the new Mac
- I connected the USB Hard Disk to the new Mac, ran an app called "Migration Assistant" and asked it to transfer my original user from the Time Machine backup.

That's it! After 45 minutes my new Mac had everything installed - my apps, my settings, my life... everything. I was up and running on my new toy and could actually enjoy it even more... not to mention I was productive right off the bat with the new laptop.

Before: A few days, After: 45 minutes.

This is Mac-powered productivity at its best. Thanks Apple for figuring out a way to make this usually painful process such a breeze.
--> me I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Finally Macbook Air done right. The 2010 model rocks

I've been a long time Macbook Air fan. I've had the first generation 64GB SSD model (1.8 GHz) and later third generation 128GB SSD (2,13 GHz) model. My first blog post about how it rocks still generates lots of traffic to this blog and I even recorded a geeky unboxing video of my second Macbook Air. Before the Air I was a PC. Macbook Air convinced me to switch to the Mac. One month ago, after lots of hesitation I decided to give it a shot and bought the new 2010 13" Macbook Air and I believe it's the best laptop on the planet at this point for a mobile businessman. Here's my one-month review:
Why it's the first Macbook Air done right? It's not underpowered. Has no heat issues. It's light and fast. Finally.

My previous-generation Macbook Air and the one before that were "underpowered". I didn't mind all that much since I mostly have been using my computer for web-related stuff. However when I started recording my Productive! Show in HD, my Air started choking when I was producing video clips in iMovie.

I also had to use two apps: Coolbook and SMCfanControl to lower the voltage on the processor and lower the speed of the fans to make sure I could work on a silent computer most of the time.

None of these issues with the new Macbook Air 2010.

The new Macbook Air's fan is silent at 2000 RPMs most of the time and makes the laptop a joy to use. The bigger fan helps get rid of the heat efficiently and thus the processor is no longer underpowered. I don't have to tweak it anymore to use it well... it just works. Without issues and problems. The Apple way.

It's fast. Really fast. Thanks to SSD drive mostly.

When you look at my Macbook Air history, you can see that I dig SSD drives. They are plenty fast, especially for launching things. Let me give you an example: When I bought my first Macbook Air, a more powerful Macbook PRO launched OpenOffice in around 20 seconds... and my Air, in about 10. My later Macbook Air model with SATA SSD launched OpenOffice in around 6 seconds and it was really fast. The newest Air does it in 2-3 seconds. I blink... and it's there.

Same goes to booting (although I hardly boot with the newest sleeping mode and instant-on) which takes 14 seconds and still no one knows why it's so fast (PROs with SSD boot in 30 sec). This new Macbook Air is a screamer and I love the fact that everything I do on it happens in an instant.

More RAM and bigger drive. Finally room to breathe.

I wrote about how the limit of 2 GIGs of RAM helps me single-task... but 4 GIGs of RAM helps me not think about RAM anymore. My Air is no longer choking at all. The same applies to hard disk space. I managed to work with my first Air and 64G SSD, but 128GB SSD was already OK, but now with 256GB SSD I have enough space for most of my stuff. And I put bigger videos on the 1TB MyPassport WD hard drive which is small, stylish, matches the looks of my Air... and was on sale in Best Buy for just $129. Just look at the picture above.

Battery life is no longer a problem. 7+ hours is what I get out of it.

For the first time in history the battery life that the manufacturer quotes is an "underestimate". Steve Jobs said I'd get 7 hours with my new Macbook Air. I get at least that... and most of the time I get a lot more than that. When I was on a conference with Wifi on and note-taking in Evernote and browsing the web and Tweetin' now an then... and with the screen dimmed at almost minimum (the lighting was strong there)... after 6 hours of working I still had 40% of my juice left. Sweet! This is definitely a great improvement over my last Air.

Bigger screen estate, sturdier hinge, 2 USB ports and other improvements just make the deal sweeter.

The new Air comes with a screen that is not as glossy as the PROs and comes with a great resolution of 1440 x 900 pixels. It's a significant improvement over the last Air and I do appreciate the screen estate. The screen uses the same hinge as the PROs which make is less shake'y than with my old Airs. This one has finally 2 USB ports which is more than enough and an SD card reader which helps if you transfer files from your camera. The instant-on feature is also fantastic. No longer does hibernation last that long. Now it's really close to the iPad's instant on.

What am I missing in the new Air?

Backlit keyboard. I loved it in my old Air and although I (as a touch-typist) don't need it all that much, it was an elegant and a very Apple-like feature. The second thing is the infra-red port which worked so great with my Apple remote. Now I need to use my iPhone to browse my presentations. Other than that... there is really hardly anything to complain about.

And it's still an Air

Why I switched to the Mac? Because of the Macbook Air... and because it's a light, thin and sexy laptop which is beautiful, ultra- portable and light... and makes me want to take it everywhere with me. The new Macbook Air is even better... as it's a supermodel among laptops without any apparent flaws or issues. I work on my computer 10+ hours a day and it's vital that my laptop (being my main and only computer) is a joy to use. I love my job and the work I do running Nozbe and love doing it on my Macbook Air. My tool is just great for this job.

And it's really light and thin. The difference between 4.5 lbs Macbook PRO and 2.9 lbs Air sounds trival, but when you grab these two at the same time you'll see it's a big one. And when you travel a lot or move between offices, the weight (or lack thereof) of the Air helps a lot. And now with such a great battery I hardly take the power cord with me anyway.

MichaelNozbe's buying advice?

If you're in a market for a 13" or 15" Macbook PRO, get the 13" Air instead. And if you can, get the full-blown version with 4GB RAM and 256GB HDD. It's lighter than the PROs and it's faster than them in most of the cases. Steve was right about this one. It is the future of Notebooks.

I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

3 lessons learned from Steve Jobs coming back to Apple

When Steve Jobs came back to Apple in 1997 some called it the biggest turnaround in business history. From company losing money every year, 13 years later Apple is worth more than Microsoft and is one of the biggest (in terms of value) in the world. Just today I've watched again the keynote Steve made and there are incredible lessons to be learned from Steve:
1. Find mentors

What Steve did was change the board of directors at Apple. He invited CEOs of successful companies like Intuit, Oracle, DuPont, etc... to make sure he has the right guidance making the changes needed for Apple to be relevant again. Steve apparently doesn't believe he knows everything and he decided to ask for guidance the best and the brightest in the industry.

The same idea struck me when I was listening to the "Facebook Effect" book - where the author highlighted the role of mentors in Mark Zuckenberg's business career. Mark's regularly meeting Steve to talk about business...

Lesson learned: I think I gotta find me some more mentors... :-)

2. Focus on the good

Instead of complaining, Steve started to search obsessively for places where Apple excelled and was surprised to find out that while their market share was about 7%.... they had more than 80% market share in the graphics design industry and more than 60% in education. That proved to be a great base to start building on.

This is one of the keys to success - positivity and finding the good stuff and building on it. This was one of the lessons learned from the book Switch by the Heath brothers who wrote that to make the change happen... you need to focus on the good.

Lesson learned: When developing Nozbe more, I need to focus on what it excels at and on the markets that love it

3. Focus on innovation, forget competitors

At the end of the presentation Steve says something that is just monumental:

"We have to let go of this notion that for Apple to win, Microsoft has to lose. OK? And rather embrace the notion: for Apple to win, Apple has to do a really good job."

This is what the business is all about. It's not about killing competition. It's not about fighting someone. It's about making great stuff and innovating and making a dent in the universe. This is why I love my job so much, why I'm thrilled to work on the stuff I'm working on... because it helps tens of thousands of people from all around the world get stuff done. This is why I love my lifestyle internet business.

Lesson learned: I've got lots of competitors... but it's not competitors I should be caring about, it's my users!

There's more to learn from Steve

I'm sure there's more, so make sure to learn your lessons from Steve, the CEO of the decade, by watching this old, but still relevant speech and turnaround by his Steveness:

--> me I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Single-tasking is good for you!

My "old" Macbook Air had a limit of 2GB of RAM and although it's a limit I wasn't happy about (and I just got the new Air with 4GB of RAM and more room to breathe), it actually helped me develop a good habit of launching less applications at a time and do a lot more single-tasking than multi-tasking.
Computers and humans get tired when switching too much between apps and tasks

I noticed that switching between many applications I had open quickly became tiring for me and after each switch it took me a longer period of time to focus on what I had to do next. At the same time, my laptop (with more and more apps open) needed more time to switch between these as well. And when you have 2 GB of RAM, at some point you hit the limit and the slow disk-cache needs to be used. Apparently we're not that different from computers after all. We both are getting tired with too many apps open at a time.

Clutter leads to distractions while beauty and zen lead to productivity

With more clutter and smaller icons in the Application Switcher it's hard to find what you're searching for and it's easier to get distracted. In Mac OSX the icons in the Application Switcher (Cmd+TAB on a Mac and ALT+TAB on Windows) are bigger the less apps you have open and are smaller the more you have them running. I must say it's visually very rewarding when you see nice, big, gorgeous looking icons in front of you, so the less apps I have open, the more beautiful the icons become. And this pretty sight makes me feel better... and this makes me more productive and motivated to get stuff done.

Hard drive opens faster than saves files... and you get turbo speed with SSD disk

When the RAM is full, the computer starts to save data on the hard disk and it's a lot slower than the RAM memory. But the hard disk opens apps very fast, especially when you have one of the new SSD drives (like the one on the new Macbook Airs from Apple). This makes the habit of quitting apps even more appealing. When you need them, you open them up quickly. When you don't, just quit them.

iPad and iPhone help develop single-tasking habit

Thanks to heavy use of  both my iPhone and my iPad recently, I learned to appreciate doing one thing at a time (which is a must because of their small screen real estate). This also helped me create a new habit of closing apps and opening them only as needed. Now, on my laptop, I have just a few apps open all of the time - Browsers (Opera and Chrome), Evernote for note-taking, Nozbe (as a fluid stand-alone app) and Finder which has to be launched all of the time. Mail and other apps are opened only when I need to use them.

Learn to single-task and focus on the task at hand. Experts are with me on this one.

Many studies have shown that single-tasking it more effective, efficient and creates a more focused environment than constantly multi-tasking. And as I've written above, you don't get tired, your computer doesn't slow down and you're getting a lot done. The cool thing is that although I got the faster Air with 4GB of RAM I'm still quitting apps as ususal. My good habit keeps me very productive. Good luck!

Are you a single-tasker or multi-tasker? Did you try to single-task more? What helps you focus better?

--> me I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Dear Apple - iPad is NOT a personal device like iPhone


div class='oldpost_content'>

I love my iPad. I no longer walk around the house with a laptop (although my Macbook Air is not a very heavy thing to carry around in the first place) and it's so cool that the iPad apps are so great to work with. I have my Dropbox app, Evernote, Nozbe for iPadProductive Magazine, Reeder to read news, Penultimate to sketch stuff... and even LogMeIn to log in to my home PC server... and while I love this setup, I also have a problem with it.

The thing is - my wife also uses our iPad and she loves it.

You see, iPad is our "family computer" - a thing that we pick up to read news, do some browsing, do some sketching and view videos... and we both use it very happily... but there's no way to configure it for a multi-user environment. My wife doesn't want to see all of my stuff and I don't want to see my wife's dozens of solitaire games... I'd like to customize it for myself... and I need to take compromises with my wife.

And my baby girl who loves the pocket pond HD.

I can't justify buying another iPad for my wife. We don't use it THAT much.

That's another thing - iPad is a casual reading/browsing device and we don't use it that much to justify a purchase of another one. We love it as a family computer. My wife has an iPhone, I have an iPhone... and we both have the iPad and it's OK like this.

Dear Apple, please understand that iPad is not a personal device

It's a family device - and I have 64GB of memory so it's not a problem to share even iTunes libraries from different users. I'd want my iPad to sync with my computer and my username there and my wife's computer with her username... but even if you don't give us a sync, just give us a way to create new users and play with the current apps and help people make their profiles there.

Let's say we both want to use Reeder for RSS reading (me and my wife) - there's no way for us to set it up like this. We need to get around it and it's not in align with Apple's "easy to use" policy.

Sadly in the newest iOS update the multi-user support is not there.

I know Apple you want to sell lots of iPads, but think about your users for a second. I'm your good customer, I own lots of Apple hardware but I refuse to buy more iPads for my family. We need just one and we want to share it. I don't want to share my iPhone and neither does my wife with her iPhone... but we do want to have one iPad in our family with each other's personal profile.

Do you think iPad is a personal device or a family device?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Macbook Air week - new mobile office, new show

This week has been all about the new Apple's Macbook Air laptop. I posted my thoughts on it yesterday and although I'm disappointed to hear it doesn't have the backlit keyboard and it doesn't work with the Apple remote, I might still upgrade my old Air just to get longer battery life and instant-on with 4GB or RAM.

Speaking of my current Macbook Air, here's my new Productive! Show video featuring a perfect mobile-office bag for the Air and all the accessories I use with it that help me get stuff done with my ultraportable laptop:

Productive! Show Episode #26:

You can always browse my past Productive! Shows (I recorded more than 25 of them by now) on the new Productive! Firm web site.

And which bag do you use to carry your mobile office with you?

--> me I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

New Macbook Air seduces me again...

I watched yesterday's Apple Keynote anxiously waiting for the new Macbook Air and Apple delivered again... and although I was hoping for a bigger breakthrough, the new Air is tempting enough to consider an upgrade from my current machine
There are two new Macbook Air models and I go with the "big one".

My current Macbook Air is my only computer. It's my day-to-day machine. When I'm at the office, I hook it up to the external display and I work on two monitors at a time. That's why I need the screen to be as big as possible. I'm going with the 13" model.

What I dig about the new Air? Double RAM, SDD disk size... and battery

Although I got used to constraints of 2 GB of RAM and only 128 GB SSD drive, and even the around 4-hour work time... I'll be more than happy to double these parameters as they were the kind of constraints I never got comfortable with.

  • 4 GB of RAM gives me all the power I need to launch bigger apps
  • 256 GB SSD gives me all the space I'll ever need on my local machine. The rest is kept safely on my Time Capsule.
  • 7+ hours of work gives me close to one full day of work which is precisely what I need. I'll hardly have to take my charger with me anymore.
  • Bonus: BIGGER SCREEN estate with 1440*900 screen vs my current 1280*800. Sweet.

What I don't like about the new Air?

Not too much, it's a beauty, but there are some things I could complain about:

Underpowered CPU - c'mon, my one-and-half year old Macbook Air will have the same processor speed as the new one. What happened with the Moore law and with doubling the power of chips every year?

SD card slot - why would I need that? I use iPhone 4 for photos, videos and everything. SD is the thing of the past for me. Although I understand some might need that.

Placement of Magsafe plug - I'd wanted to have it on the same side as the external monitor plug. This way I'd plug all the cables from one side. Well, you can't have everything :-)

Only 0.1 lbs lighter. I thought they'd push the weight even more down. Although I understand the batteries have to weight their thing.

But as you can see, it's hardly a lot to complain about. The benefits are clear and very appealing...

Will I get one? Definitely maybe.

I'm going to the States in one month so there'll be some time to see if the new Air suffers from the same overheating problems as the old one. Although even these problems can always be fixed with Coolbook and smcFanControl... but I'd rather Apple solved this once and for all.

If all goes well I'm getting one and I'm replacing my "old" Air with the new one. The benefits will help me get more done, 'cos after all my Macbook Air is my only machine and I want it to be the best one that gets me my job done.

Did you like the new Macbook Air? Which one are you getting?

--> me I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Apple fanboy in me waiting for October 20

After launching iOS devices like iPads and iPhone4s this year, finally Apple is getting back to its roots and talking about Macs. And I can't wait, as I'm going to see 10.7 Lion and hopefully new Macbook Air.
Apple's marketing is incredible, but their products are even more so.

Michael Hyatt in his blog mentioned that great product is the new marketing and he's totally right. I love my Macbook Air because it's a great product. I love my iPhone and my iPad for the same reason. They are just great products. My switch from Windows-world to Mac-world was a smooth process and helped me focus my energies on doing stuff on my computer, rather than fixing my computer.

Anyway, working on a beautifully designed device that works almost flawlessly is a bliss.

That's why I can't wait to see what Apple has prepared for us this Fall. They are setting the bar in the industry and most of the time they simply re-innovate the already perfect product. I'm especially curious about two things:

Mac OSX 10.7 Lion - aka hello Kitty :-)

Snow Leopard is a great operating system but since Apple is investing a lot in the iOS now, I'm curious what they've been cooking so far. Maybe a hybrid of these two systems? Maybe more iOS stuff in the MacOSX? Who knows, I can't wait.

New Macbook Air - show me the magic!

When the Macbook Air showed up with its unibody enclosure and amazing thinness it set a new standard for laptop manufacturing. It started a new breed of unibody Macbooks and it was a hit... and I was lusting for one... and this computer eventually helped me decide to switch to a Mac.

Now, almost three years after the original Air was conceived, supposedly the new one is coming... and I'm hoping it'll again revolutionize the laptop segment. I'm really expecting a new thing and the rumored 11.6" monitor suggests that. And it's not just because the 2 GIG RAM limit is starting to play on my nerves. I'm really expecting a new standard. Once again.

That's the Apple fanboy in me. I'm counting the days :-) Are you?

--> me I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Apple Store "Waiting in line for iPhone 4" experience

Recently while traveling through Switzerland I decided to check if I can get a fresh, unlocked iPhone 4 from the local Apple Store in Zurich so I went there and to my amazement, there was a long line in front of the store to get the brand new phone from Steve Jobs:
After 3 hours of standing in line... I got my iPhone 4 - so I was a happy camper... but the experience wasn't as exciting as the ones I heard from my friends from the USA on the days of the iPhone launch there.

What's more - it wasn't an "iPhone 4 launch" kind of line... iPhone was already on the Swiss market - it was more of an "iPhone is in stock now" kind of line (because Apple can't keep up with the demand).

Here's my experience - the good, the bad and the ugly:

The good - there was hope

Apple can hardly keep up with the demand to get the iPhones out and it was a good thing that we knew the iPhones were there in stock on that day. An Apple Store manager even walked out to us to ask which iPhones we wanted and assured us there are enough to serve us all.

And of course - we were not standing there for no reason - we were supposed to buy the best smartphone ever on this planet... and we all wanted it very badly... so we stood there :-)

The bad - long processing time

The good thing with buying an iPhone in Switzerland is the fact, that you can get it unlocked and without any contract. And for a good price at that. This is why I was standing in this line in the first place. However the bad thing was (and I didn't expect it) that in the same line there were people who wanted to just buy the iPhone unlocked (that's me!) and who wanted to sign a contract with Swisscom... and signing a contract took lots of time.

I was surprised seeing a guy signing a contract a whole hour and then asking about the iPhone and its features.... why didn't they just sign the contract with him and moved him over to Genius bar about the questions about his iPhone? And why didn't they just have two lines - one for the buyers and one for the contract'ers (for the lack of better word)?

The ugly - no feedback from the store

Waiting was OK, but because the line took so long to move even an inch... and because next person sometimes had to wait 30 minutes to be allowed to get the iPhone... was frustrating. We just felt the Apple store employees are just taking their time and taking it slow why we stand in this line in front of the store and serve as their marketing tool like: "hey, these are the guys waiting in line here, let's see why they're doing that!"

I felt used - I felt that because when I wanted the iPhone I needed to pay the price of being a marketing toy for Apple and his Steveness.

Bottom line:

"Waiting in line experience designed by Apple in California" - BAD
"iPhone 4 smartphone designed by Apple in California" - GREAT

--> me I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Thoughts on iPhone 4 - Apple simply ships

As every Apple fanboy, I was watching Monday's Apple WWDC10 keynote by Steve Jobs where he was unavailing the new iPhone 4. Of course we have seen it before on Gizmodo, but this time Steve presented it with more details on the device. They call it the biggest leap since the original iPhone:

Some people like the new device, some don't. Some laugh at FaceTime (the new face-to-face video calling) and others praise it... but...
The point is - Apple ships something that works. Every time.
Remember the original iPhone back in 2007? The mobile Internet just worked!
The thing is - there were mobile browsers long before the iPhone. Most new phones even had 3G connection already... but because the Internet worked beautifully on the iPhone, finally people started actually browsing the web on a phone!
And guess what? iPhone now owns 60% of the mobile browsing traffic in the US.
Remember the iPhone 3G and the launch of the Appstore? Folks finally started installing apps!
When the original iPhone launched, people were bashing Apple for not letting folks install apps there. Apple waited a year to make sure they've nailed the UI of installing apps on the phone... and boy they did!
Roght now they have more than 200,000 apps on the Appstore and even my mum has an iPhone and is installing apps! Apple took the time to make the experience just right.
Now people are laughing that Apple re-invents video calling with FaceTime? People will be video calling finally!
I am a gadget freak. I've had lots of phones and I've heard times and times again that we can do video calling now... yet I've never done it. I've never even seen it done. Apple, introducing FaceTime and making it an Open Standard will re-invent video-calling. My mum will be able to video-call me from her iPhone and watch my daughter (and her granddaughter) play in the park. This will finally be possible.
The bottom line - don't ship too many features - make sure the core features work.
This is what Apple is doing. They are not shipping anything, unless it just works. For everyone. Even the grandmas. We should be following Apple's example.
me I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.