Into 2024 - The App Stack...

A nerdy post about apps, for those who are into that kind of thing.

Into 2024 - The App Stack...
Image: DALL-E

This is a first in what might be a series of short posts on the changing of the year. In this one, I'm going to be talking about software and processes, so you should feel free to skip this if that is not your bag...

I was hoping to have more of a break than I have had this Christmas. But a script deadline, some audio pieces to listen through, and various bits and pieces of notes and planning have mostly put paid to that. It hasn't been intensive, but there have been a few hours of work every day, apart from Christmas Day itself.

But these days have also been instructive. Because I was keen to get away from my desk and read/watch stuff/hang out more than usual, I have been packing the work into the morning. What I'm thinking now is that I could continue to do this for the foreseeable future and potentially achieve just as much, but free up my afternoons, Stephen King-style.

Simplification is going to be the key to the next few months. In this, I find myself aligned to Warren Ellis and his Setting Intentions for 2024.

I'm looking for clean lines, a lack of friction, and basic functionality from my software toolbox. To that end, I am starting the year with:

  • THINGS 3 as my task manager, with OMNIPLAN providing the 30,000 foot view of how big projects fit together over time.
  • EVERNOTE as my everything-notebook, because it can hold pretty much anything I throw at it and it's always available on any device.
  • OBSIDIAN as my digital thinking space, because I get to a flow state so easily in there and building out ideas in Obsidian is a dream. Right now, I have built Obsidian out to be too complicated and too automated, so I'm going to strip it right back almost to its default state, so I'm just dealing with Markdown files in a folder system that makes sense to me.
  • SPARK EMAIL. This is a change for me, one that I'm going to try out for a while. I've been using Hey email for the past few years and, while it's great, it feels like time for a change. Readdle seem to have integrated all the features I like about Hey into Spark, and have improved on a lot of them.
  • TANA. This is still at the Alpha stage, but it improves weekly (sometimes daily). The lack of useful mobile integration stops it from being my everything-app at the moment, but I'm pretty sure it will become that quite soon. Right now, I use it to keep track of projects, meetings etc and also to file away anything that doesn't yet earn a place in Obsidian.
  • RAINDROP is coming back into service as a bookmark manager, because it's a great place to just dump stuff for later reading without having to make an immediate decision about if I want to keep it or what I want to do with it.
  • MYMIND, as ever, is with me constantly and is a perfect repository for thoughts, ideas images etc that I want to just throw somewhere to be resurfaced randomly (and hopefully serendipitously) at a later date.

The biggest surprise addition to the stack is FINAL DRAFT 12. No one is more alarmed by this than me, but I decided to noodle around with the latest update a few weeks ago (someone needed a FD file from me, and I needed to check the file, which meant opening the app). It's still a car crash in lots of ways - the outlining tools bear no relation to the script, which seems ludicrous, the UI is awful, it's clunky as hell and it still hangs randomly, it's far too expensive for what it does etc etc. But... I'm kind of liking it. I suspect this has as much to do with it being a change of tools as it actually being good, but I'm going to stick around for a while and see how it fares on some projects for the next few weeks.

Alongside all of these digital items, I will, or course, be going heavily analogue too. I'm really enjoying Rhodia's yellow legal pads at the moment, paired with a Lamy Swift pen. And I'm increasingly using Foglietto's index cards for ad hoc To Do and shopping lists.

ARC remains my browser of choice, and it looks like they have even bigger plans for 2024. If you haven't tried out Arc yet, you're missing out on the best browser experience. I really love this company and what they're doing, so I'll leave you with the teaser for whatever it is they're going to announce at the end of January...

Fuck it. Send.