Except for a few months of BitNet e-mail on a VAX mainframe server, I have been using the default UNIX mail app for almost 25 years now. Started with a SUN workstation, moved from SunOS to Solaris, Linux RedHat distribution (and a few others) and ended up on OSX. The nice thing about this is that all my e-mail archives transferred easily from one UNIX flavour to the other!
When Apple decided to rewrite the iWorks’ suite over 18 months ago, many were disappointed by missing features. Zoom to Yosemite and iOS8 versions, and I must say that not only do Keynote, Numbers and Pages are now greats apps, but there actually work extremely well both on the desktop and on the iPad (I do not really use these apps on the iPhone).
Let’s go invent tomorrow instead of worrying about what happened yesterday.
– Steve Jobs
The release of the first Graphical User Interface or GUI for the masses happen on January 24th 1984 when Apple release the Macintosh. It deeply changes the face of the computer industry and how we interact with them.
In 1985, our school dumped its old language lab (with tape players) for a network of Macintosh. That same school year, we did a fully digital school year book of the 1985-1986 graduates. Photos were actually scanned using a manual B&W scanner . All texts and final page preparations were done on the Mac! It took years to replicate any of this on another platform, replicate what was done with such facility by a bunch of teenagers. A few years later at the University, one of the major student journals, using a “specialized” DOS program called Ventura Publishing, was still not able to do true WYSIWYG publications.
At the time, I had gone through the very beginning of the general public personal computing first hand with the TRS-80, Apple IIe, Vic 20 and Commodore 64. But what we did with the school Macs was, for the time, really exceptional. It was obvious to me that this was the future of the PC. I went on to work on mainframes and UNIX-based workstations (SUNOS and Solaris, HP AUX, Linux, …) for most of my early researcher career. But OSX changed everything again, no more secondary Linux box necessary, I could have everything on a single platform: the best of both world. In that, Steve Jobs’ NEXT Computer was really the next step… The NEXT computer was to play a role in the development of the World Wide Web!
Having a PDF management system, which allows in-app citation (e.g. WORD, Pages, Mellel, …), is a necessity for scientists and researchers. On OSX, we have the chance of having the choice between extremely well-design and efficient applications such as Sente, Mendeley and yes, Papers (there are of course free options, as always it depends how much time you want to spend working with your tools relative to working on your tools!).
In the past I have used Endnote, Zotero, Sente and finally settled for Papers starting at version 2.0.8 for its extremely well thought-of citation mechanisms, PF editing options and nice interface. A review is available here in the e-office series.
Zoom to the latest version (still a beta) of Papers. Yes the interface changed quite a lot, both on OSX and iOS. Mekentosj seems to have adopted the design element of iOS 7 as a reference across the board. Quite frankly, the only thing I do not like in iOS 7 is the color scheme used for certain icons. Otherwise, I like it very much: it is clean, simple, introduced great new stuffs and does not get in the way.
Below are the screen captures for iOS version of Papers and Papers3.
So, you say great this guy love Papers 3. Not at all. Design change you can get use to it (assuming it is for the better) but key missing feature is a problem.
Papers 3 allow syncing via DropBox or import/export of the whole library…Gone is the great WiFi sync of the previous version. Why it is this important? My library is large, closing in 5 Gb. I do not want to put that on DropBox (or on any servers for that matter) nor do I need to have all of that in the Cloud. The DropxBox options look interesting for a small library but for large libraries I am not convince and I feel it is unnecessary to pay for cloud storage space to store my library (this is why I do not like Mendeley for example). Even my library at close to 5 Gb is not that large and only contains over 4000 entries.
When I ask Mekentosj about it, I received the following from the support staff:
Thank you for your feedback regarding this. I’m afraid that Dropbox is the only solution at the moment. However, we hope to include a possibility to sync via Wi-Fi in some point as well. However, depending on the technical aspects and Papers release cycle, it’s hard to know yet when that’s going to happen, so please be patient
So it might or might not happen in the future. For now, I would think that this is a big deal for users with large libraries. I reverted back to Papers2 like a number of my colleagues.
Overall, very disappointing first contact with Papers 3
Wired is running an interesting piece about the latest operating system from Apple. In part past, Apple provided free or very low cost upgrade for its “minor” version of OSX but paying upgrade for significant new version. 10.9 is a significant upgrade but will be free: Apple Just Ended the Era of Paid Operating Systems | Wired Business | Wired.com.
In a related news, iWork (Numbers, Keynote and Page) will be free with each new Apple computing devices, Mac or iDevices! Office productivity and MS Office compatibility out of the box. That should be interesting…
I receive around 500 e-mails per week to my work e-mail account. About 40% of these e-mails are not “important” in the sense that they do not need any response or action from me. They are rather bulk emailing (yes even from my workplace!), news-related emails and so on. For the past 6 months, almost 10% of my e-mail comes from China and other places to “invite” me to participate to so-called scientific meetings in fields of research that are not even close to what I am doing. Finally of the remaining 60%, only a fraction needs a fast turn around. The VIP option of OS X Mail is certainly a step in the right direction but not full proof.
If you have been following my blog and read the Digital Office section, you know that I keep all of my on-going projects’ e-mails on the corporate (university) server and I link key folders and e-mails to my digital file management system (DevonThink Pro Office) and task manager (Things). I do follow GTD processes when handling my Inbox.
The problem with the low priority, bulk and junk emails is that corporate servers and Apple Mail screening cannot filter all of them properly. Sure you could create rules but you would have to create tens of such rules every week. This takes times and you have to manage those rules afterward. It is not very effective.
Last July, I discovered SaneBox. I started with the two weeks free trial and decided to stick with it since then. One of the thing I really like of DevonThink is the artificial intelligence (AI) used for automatic classification of files. It would be really nice if the guys at DevonTechnologies did a Mail plug-in to do the same with the tons of e-mails I have (no I do not want to throw my e-mails in DevonThink) but they are not. Welcome to SaneBox! SaneBox adds a layer of intelligent filtering (hope it is not NSA driven!) to your e-mails. It creates extra mailboxes. In my case, the figure below shows four of them: @SaneLater, @SaneBlackHole, @SaneNews and @SaneBulk. The others are mine and I use them for classification once dealt with in the Inbox.
SaneBox redirection of e-mails from your Inbox to its associated folders is not only based on senders and subjects only but also on contents. So for example, once I have trained for a few these “strange” conference invitation e-mails to go to the Black Hole folder (self explanatory 😉 ), most of the new ones, even if the subjects or sender e-mail’s addresses are difference, end up there! You do have the chance to intervene and correct a mistake if needed. In fact you control how much feedback you received from SaneBox and the setting are quite simple. The two figures below shows my current settings and an example of e-mails moved automatically to the @SaneBlackHole box. The pop-up menu let’s you “trained” SaneBox behavior to your taste.
The @SaneNews and @SaneBulk folders are quite self-explanatory. Anything related to bulk e-mailing from work, associations, LinkedIn (and similar), software update alert all end-up in these folders, which you can read – and delete – when you want!
The @SaneLater is probably the most interesting. It is meant for all other e-mails that do not fits the other categories, that are kind of important but do not need your attention in the short term. For example, I received frequent request for graduate studies (a few per day). Since the senders are not usually part of my address book, these e-mails ends-up in the @SaneLater. Like the other folders, you can train them by simply dragging a message from one folder to the other. If you drag a message from the @SaneLater to your Inbox, SaneBox will understand that you want this person’s e-mail to be in your Inbox in the future and vice-versa.
There are a few more folders you can have access to as shown below. I have not used any of them until now.
As for the price, on the SaneBox web page, you find three different packages based on the cost of a snack, lunch or dinner. I think my best package would be Lunch with 3 mailboxes. You will also note that you can automatically strip attachment to a dedicated folder on DropBox for example (Attachments option). I do not use this, since all files are transferred to DevonThink for me but this option might be interesting for some peoples.
In conclusion, SaneBox training is easy (dragging e-mails from one folder to another). I found SaneBox classification of e-mails quite efficient, you do not have to think about it after a week or two of training and it performs its work quietly in the background. Note that the extra mailboxes are created on the Server. So it is transparent with iOS Mail application. If you are interested in SaneBox, follow this link (and we both get a rebate!): https://www.sanebox.com/signup/fa39aa9fec
Working efficiently in the digital world is not as easy as it sounds, in particular as you get more and more files to deal with. Furthermore, while eliminated paper sounds like an excellent (and green) idea, it is not obvious to fully to eliminate all of it and yet still be productive without putting too much time on the gadgets themselves. I am have been toying with the idea of going fully digital around 2009 by bringing my notebook with me everywhere, including meeting. The truth is that many people around the table find typing and looking at a computer while having a meeting quite impolite. I further find it impractical. However the coming of the iPad change all that. The next few posts will look into the digital workflow I settled in since then.