Day One, Ulysses, and Bear

August 16, 2018

I’ve been using, and subscribing to, Ulysses, Bear, and Day One for a while now. It seems a bit silly, especially since they all do basically the same thing. On the surface they are all writing apps, but once I start to think a little deeper about them I can see where the differences lay.


Ulysses is for writing, the act of thinking through ideas and putting them on a page. That’s what it’s designed for, and that’s what it’s best at. That’s why the first draft of my book is in here. In long-form writing and exporting text into multiple formats, Ulysses excels. Even the little features, like daily writing goals, are geared towards helping you be the best writer you can be.


Bear can do most of the things that Ulysses can do, but less elegantly. Bear can store long-form text, but that’s not what it’s designed for, it’s designed to be the notebook you keep in your back pocket. It’s a note-taking app. A storage space for bits of code, a Zettelkasten for keeping bits of information that I might need some day. There’s quite a bit of overlap between Ulysses and Bear, but the features slightly lean one way or the other, for taking notes in Bear, and writing projects in Ulysses.

Day One

This is my journal. Day One is a diary app, a place to record and reflect on where you’ve been and what you’ve done throughout the day. It’s my running journal, a record of films I’ve watched and what I thought of them. It’s my ongoing record of my life… travels and all. It’s also, recently, where I’ve started storing my daily work journal.

What I’d Lose

I suppose the reason I’m using Ulysses less is because I’m not doing quite as much long-form writing. If I got back to blogging regularly, and if I made an effort to work on my book, I’d have more time spent in this app. But, it seems like I need Bear far more often for my day job, and even this text I’m writing now is going to end up in Day One, or maybe on my blog.

If I moved my journaling into this app, I’d lose the end-to-end encryption and location recording that Day One does. Day One makes a note of the weather, the date and time, and address where you recorded the entry. I’d lose all that in moving to Ulysses.

If I moved my note-taking into Ulysses, I feel like I might lose some of the mental separation between my writing and my notes. I’d also lose Bear’s code blocks and syntax highlighting, which I use all the time. I’ve got a lot of little code snippets and command line scripts saved in Bear, and Ulysses just doesn’t capture code blocks the same way.

So, in the end, I’m sticking with the three writing apps. Their role is well-defined, they fit in my workflow, and they’ve earned my trust. I suppose that’s all I can ask for.

It’s Not About the Apps

August 7, 2018

David and Katie are great, they really are. I’ve enjoyed MPU, like most of you have, for years. I’ve bought the books, the scanners, implemented the workflows, heck, my paperless workflow is still a derivative of David’s book. Most of all though, I’ve bought the apps. Lots of apps, and there’s a couple things to say about that.

For one, I like being part of the Mac community, always have, and I like supporting independent developers. Secondly, many times indie devs have more incentive to make their apps the best they can possibly be, and I’ve often found that the smaller, and older, the team, the higher quality the app. For example, BBEdit, MarsEdit, Keyboard Maestro, Acorn, etc…

However, there’s another aspect to this discussion. You don’t buy your way into becoming a power user. You become a power user by understanding your Mac and knowing when and where buying an app makes sense in your personal workflow. I’d argue that if you’re not writing code, BBEdit is probably not for you. If you don’t already know that having a text expansion tool will save you hours of work every year, than it probably doesn’t fit into your workflow and doesn’t make sense to buy it.

Having a ton of system modification apps running doesn’t make you a power user, but knowing which ones to run and why does. There are things macOS doesn’t do that you might find useful in a third party app, but understanding the what, why, and how is the key.

And finally, and most importantly, have fun! In the end that’s what this is all about. Get your work done, do it efficiently, and have a good time doing it.

How to manage your windows like a pro in macOS | iMore

March 29, 2018

Mikah Sargent:

Working with a lot of windows on macOS? Here are the tips and tricks you need to know to help keep your workspace neat, tidy, and within click’s reach!

I enjoy articles like these that dig into what the Mac can do without any third-party apps. I almost always find something new that I didn’t know about before.

Why Apple’s education strategy is not based on reality

March 28, 2018

Bradley Chambers:

Who’s anyone? Which teacher has time to make custom books for his or her class? One of the things I’ve become concerned about is the number of items we tend to keep adding to a teacher’s plate. They have to manage a classroom of 15–30 kids, understand all of the material they teach, learn all of the systems their school uses, handle discipline issues, grade papers, and help students learn.

When do we start to take things off of a teacher’s plates? When do we give them more hours in the day? Whatever Apple envisioned in 2012, it’s clear that did not play out.

Chambers works in education, and has been paying close attention to the market for years. He knows what he’s talking about, and his main point is that Apple hasn’t made a good enough value proposition for schools to wean them away from Google.

The optimist in me would like to think that Apple’s system would work, but people who actually work in the field are saying otherwise.

Bringing Back Skeuomorphic Design

March 28, 2018

Michael Flarup:

See, I was recently commissioned to come up with a redesign of the calendar and note-taking app Opus One and I was excited to share this particular bit of work— not only because I really liked how it came out, but because it represented the sort of work I have always loved doing: Themed UI carefully crafted to create a memorable experience through textures, lighting and dimensionality. A UI that is fun, takes cues from the real world for context and aims to be delightful, simply for the sake of invoking a feeling in the user.

In other words; a skeuomorphic design.

I think this looks great, and the concept is in keeping with how I think of my devices as “digital notebooks”. The clean iOS 7 style is fine, but I do think that both macOS and iOS have lost some of the whimsical touches that made Apple design stand out. Like the wormhole background in Time Machine. Completely unnecessary, but it always made me smile.

I’m not sure Opus One is an app that I personally need, but if more design like this started making it’s way back into iOS, I’d be all right with that.


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