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apps Digital Lifestyles Gadgets iOS SDK iPad Reviews Workflow

(Review) ASKetch for the iPad

OK, I’m still playing with my iPad and loving it, and I found another software App that is a lot of fun. ASKetch by Andrew Kern is supposed to work with finger motions and strokes alone, and not be used with a stylus or pen tool.

I’ll tell you what it is supposed to do (and it does it very well). Let’s look at ASKetch as Mr. Kern meant it to be.

First, I’ll quote:

ASKetch is a simple black & white procedural sketching program for drawing with your fingers. It is designed from the ground up to take advantage of the multi-touch interface of the iPad and the iPhone, allowing you to forget about the tools and concentrate on your art. It stays out of your way so you can simply draw. It is perfect for both beginners and advanced artists; from figure drawing to cartoons to abstract masterpieces; easy to pick up and hard to put down.

Absolutely true.

Get on your iPad and run to the App store and read all about it, bearing in mind that it is NOT optimized for a stylus,, but sometimes I use one anyway when I want a very thin line and less shading. You have to use a stylus that is optimized for the iPad. Wacom makes one, and so does several other companies.  They’re priced from $13 to $30 on Amazon. The Wacom one is the most expensive of the choices at $30; but so far all that I have tried have worked properly.

But your finger does it as well. The controls are brought up by a two finger tap on the blank page of the app. The first line below is the normal “drawing page” which has five squares visible, and the drawing line (extreme left) active. The second line below is when the eraser is active.

Beginning with the pen tools facing to the left you will get a hard line; if you stroke across the pen tool to the left you will switch from a hard line to a soft, furry tone and the pen will face to the right as it appears in the second line of tools.. The rest of both lines of tools are pretty self-explanatory. There are some more subtitles so read all the instructions and see the demo video. But below is the short form.

Now, let’s draw a little bit. I’m using it for gesture drawing which is a kind of rapid sketching where the artist is supposed to capture the “feel” and proportions of a model or figure and do it in less than 15 seconds. Here’s some examples. Some of these are drawn with just a finger tip, and some are done with a stylus even though Mr. Kern wants you to work just with finger tips‚Äîand yes, you do get better tonality when you use only your finger.

Sketching with Fingers vs. Stylus

I said I wasn’t going to tell you, but here I am doing it. The drawing on the left was done strictly with the fingertip, and the drawing on the right was done with a Wacom Bamboo Stylus..

Here’s another drawing done with fingertips…

…particularly rolling the finger in the hair areas.

Now here’s one more drawing…

…remember each drawing is saved automatically into the total set of drawings each time you go to the saved area (the two mountains square) and select a new blank page. This drawing was done with my fingertip in less than 15 seconds. Its intent is to capture the essence and proportions of the figure.

Remember, the square that looks like two mountains hides the strip of saved images and gives you access to a new blank page each time you go to it. Once you have images saved into the sketchbook, all you have to do is hold a finger down on an image for a few seconds and this window will appear.

Saving the image selected into the photo album allows it to be reselected and emailed where-ever you want to send it.

Here’s three more sketches that Mr. Kern supplied me that I think are really worth showing that give you a look at what the App can do in the way of toning.

 

Read all the instructions to get all the strengths of the App under control because I have only touched on the surface of its possibilities; but I’m having so much fun I had to share the joy, and hope you’ll take a look at the app. Check ASKetch out on the App store for the iPad.

 

ASKetch by Andrew Kern

This app is designed for both iPhone and iPad

$1.99

Website & Support: http://akernsoft.com/ASKetch/index.php

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apps Gadgets iPad Workflow

(Review) Genius Scan: A Scanner App for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch

OK, I admit from the start that I am in love with my iPad2; but it is the availability of Apps for it that make it such a part of my current life.  I just encountered a new App that I think is going to be extremely useful in the future.  It’s an App called Genius Scan from Grizzly Labs that is intended for use on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.

In short, it uses the back facing camera of the iPad (or iPhone or iPod Touch) to take an image that can be corrected and then mailed—that’s in the free version. In the paid (Genius Scan+ version @ $2.99) you can add mailing to Dropbox, Google Docs, and Evernote. Well, you can switch to the front camera too if you want to send a picture of yourself, but it is the use of the rear camera that seems to me to make it so useful.

Take a picture with the camera button which appears once the App is selected, and the resulting picture can then be squared up and enhanced as color or black and white, and saved to a camera roll spot inside the iPad or mailed as a Pdf. Or .jpg.

Since I am always interested in the educational uses that my students might use, I am fascinated by the possibility of the student taking a picture of the whiteboards that are used in classrooms and saving the pictures or sending them as Pdf’s or .jpgs by mail so that they could be studied later.

Some fifty years ago I had a math class in which the professor wrote equations with his right hand and erased behind himself with his left hand.  The frustration that I felt as I tried to follow and master the equations could have been avoided if I could have taken pictures as he wrote.  I can see the usage for this App in student hands today. And more…recipes can be copied; menus, receipts, and sharing class notes—all of these are possible and easily done.

There’s much more that can or could be said, but my own recommendation is for you to check out Genius Scan (and Genius Scan+) at Apple’s App store and see if a version of the App won’t be of use to you. Grizzly Labs has grabbed my attention with this App.

 

Get it:

Genius Scan (free version) at the AppStore

 Genius Scan+ differs from Genius Scan with no ads and upload to Dropbox, Evernote and Google Docs. 

Genius Scan Website 

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Digital Lifestyles Gadgets Photography Workflow

Awesome Iphone Real World Application

[vimeo clip_id=”15091562″]

Homemade Spacecraft from Luke Geissbuhler on Vimeo.

Video from an iphone attached to a weather balloon that rose into the
upper stratosphere and recorded the blackness of space.

Visit www.brooklynspaceprogram.org for all the info.

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Gadgets Software Workflow

Enjoy Your HD Media on Your Iphone and Computer with Libox

Ran across a new app for both your computer and iPhone that will allow you to share and experience all high quality media for free! That means: no price tags and no limits on how much HD media users can share with friends and family. I love this, as many of my media sharing apps put limits on how much I can upload and how large my files can be. Freedom is great, especially when it’s free!

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Digital Lifestyles Gadgets

iBroadway App for the iPhone

Broadway Goes Mobile!

Wicked, Chicago, Lion King, Mamma Mia! Whether you live in the city or just visiting, we’re all suckers for a little Broadway action! I’ve been amazed at seeing the mile long lines just waiting to get discounted tickets to one of these shows. Now, you can get reviews, showtimes, dates, ticket prices and even discounts in seconds with this handy app.  Check out the following press release for details and a link to your copy of iBroadway.

Zumobi Launches The iBroadway App for the iPhone and iPod Touch

Zumobi, in a partnership with Art Meets Commerce (AMC), a leading producer of Broadway and Off-Broadway shows, to launch the iBroadway App for the iPhone and iPod touch. With the hit Broadway musical, FELA! as a launch sponsor, the iBroadway App expands the famed theater district’s reach and provides exposure for Broadway’s premium sponsors across the mobile platform. The iBroadway app promotes the music and drama of Broadway while engaging with fans everywhere at anytime.

iBroadway, users now have information about new and favorite Broadway shows at their fingertips.

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Featured Gadgets Media Software

Ironman Central by Zumobi

Have a little thing for the “Man in Red”? Wait no longer, die hard Marvel fans, with a little help from Zumobi, there’s an APP for that!

Although there are members of my household, dying to get their hands on this bad boy, I have not yet had the pleasure of testing it out. However, I was able to get a little sneak peak into the highly anticipated game and we are definitely looking forward to it’s release. Here’s what Zumobi has to say about it…

Marvel Launches Iron Man Central, the New iPhone and iPod Touch Application on The Zumobi Network

[slidepress gallery=’zumobi-ironman’]

Zumobi, a leading mobile media company, and Marvel Entertainment recently announced the launch of Iron Man Central, the official Iron Man application for the iPhone and iPod touch. In anticipation of the biggest movie release of the year, IRON MAN 2, the Iron Man Central app provides fans new and old with an immersive experience into the world of the Super Hero everyone’s talking about.

“The first IRON MAN film was extremely successful due to the incredibly loyal and passionate fan base. In anticipation of IRON MAN 2, we wanted to bring additional content to Iron Man fans and moviegoers, and could think of no better way than to bring it to a mobile app,” said Ira Rubenstein, Executive Vice President of Marvel’s Global Digital Media Group. “We believe this app gives users an even more complete Iron Man experience by delivering news, videos and exclusive wallpapers, as well as special character profiles. And if you want to find show times for IRON MAN 2, this app will do that for you, as well.”

Using Iron Man Central, fans have access to all things Iron Man from his origin, to current news, exclusive wallpapers, video content, direct links to Iron Man content on iTunes and more. With a stunning user interface modeled after the hologram interface inside Iron Man’s suit, fans discovering Iron Man Central will be blown away by ease of use and navigation. The app also allows fans to purchase movie tickets through the app itself, so no fan misses a single showing of IRON MAN 2. The app also arrives with two free wallpapers and additional wallpapers are $.99.

Iron Man Central seamlessly integrates with users’ e-mail, Twitter and Facebook accounts, allowing them to share exciting new Iron Man content with friends and family.

“Marvel is a forward-looking organization that is well positioned to take advantage of the amazing new possibilities available in the mobile channel,” said Ken Willner, CEO of Zumobi. “By combining Marvel’s bold and unique visuals with the iconic character of Iron Man and Zumobi’s content-rich app format, we have the opportunity to offer moviegoers and fans an extension of the film experience. We’re thrilled to expand the Zumobi Network’s entertainment channel with this highly valuable property.”

Iron Man Central is available for free on Apple’s App Store and as a part of The Zumobi Network, the leading publishing partner for top media companies. It can be downloaded HERE.

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Featured Photoshop Software

First Look At CS5

Creative Suite 5 is out, and it’s got bells and whistles.  I am hesitant to call it a game changer.  Just better bells and whistles.  Here are some highlights that immediately jumped out at me:

Photoshop, Premiere, and Aftereffects are now 64 bit.  Snow Leopard users should see an improvement in performance as a result, especially in video preview and playback.

Photoshop junkies…the content awareness capability is actually “all that“.  I can’t wait to try it.  Of equal importance is the new Refine Edge command which will allow you to further tweak your Quick Selection Tool grabs.  The new overused graphic tool? Repousse.  It turns a selected 2d graphic into a 3d one.  Do not get me wrong, it’s nice.  But if not used properly, it is going to be the new lens flare.  Brushes now have a natural media Natural Media Bristle Tip along with a Mixer Brush tool.  This allows you to control the bristle size/shape/rotation of the brush tip.  The mixer gives a variance to multiple colors, transparency, and rotation.  To me, this looks like a challenge to Corel’s Painter, and it will be interesting to compare.  For photographers (although anyone who likes good file management should appreciate this) is the incorporation of a Mini Bridge palette.  An overly quick demo was made of Puppet Warp which looks like a more intelligent mesh warp.  General improvement tweaks were made to sharpness, noise reduction, and mosaic filters.

For Illustrator, of particular interest to myself was the Variable Width Stroke tool, which allows you to manipulate the width of a line by doing a pass over it.  This should be a hit among those in the comics community for digital inking.  InDesign now has an animation palette for Flash content and video (which can be scrubbed through.)  For web designers, Adobe has created a Browser Lab application which is a godsend.  It allows for a full preview in various browsers via a dropdown menu.  More than one window can be opened so you can compare a page generated in Safari v. one in Firefox.  You can also overlay them with an onion skin to see the minute differences.  Aftereffects has better compositing tools that take advantage of Photoshops content awareness and greatly simplifies rotoscoping.

Also announced was the purchase of Omniture which will integrate business tools into the CS5 suite which will make your management/sales section happy in generating some content analysis.  Of particular interest to DAJ’ers may be Business Catalyst which will provide some ecommerce capability for small businesses.

One thing to keep in mind when they talk about creating content for all “smart phone and media devices” is Apple’s recent iPhone SDK 3.3.1 announcement, which states that all apps for the iPhone must be written in C/C++/Objective-C.  This flies in the face of Flash development.  If you’ll notice there is no iPhone or iPad pictured or in use during the presentation.

The demo today was fast and furious, and I recommend researching further online for details as they come up.  Watch it yourself and draw your own conclusions at http://cs5launch.adobe.com/

Categories
Featured Gadgets Parallel Desktops

The Accidental iPad and How I Use It

When Steve Jobs announced the iPad a few months ago I didn’t think “Wow, I gotta have me one of those…”. Though I was intrigued by the form factor and slightly motivated by Steve Jobs’ demonstration of the device, it didn’t scream out at me as something I needed. I was actually more amused with all the criticism surrounding the choice of iPad as the name for the device.

I yawned and went on with my life.

Nearly a month ago I walked in to our local Apple store with my family. We weren’t looking for anything in particular, just letting my kids fawn over the Mac hardware as we thought about buying a MacBook for my son before he heads off to college. I asked one of the Apple store employees if they had an iPad I could take a look at. He handed me an 8 x 6 inch card with a picture of one on it. The device was far thinner and lighter than I expected.

He then asked if I would like to reserve one.

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Parallel Desktops

Baby Shaking Apps and Other Challenges for Apple’s App Store


My wife and I were going through our morning routine, eating breakfast and reading the newspaper when suddenly she said “I can’t believe Apple!”. We share many core beliefs—especially on politics—so I usually give her a nod, offer a “Yup” and continue reading my section.

Me: “What about Apple?”

Wife: “They have a shaking baby iPhone application!!! This is outrageous!”

Me: “Honey, Apple didn’t make that application.”

Wife: “Well they had it in the App Store. That’s just stupid.”

I completely understand that Apple is generating some significant revenue from their App Store sales and that it has become a major part of their strategy moving forward. The problem as I see it is that Apple is putting itself in a very precarious position. Instead of just worrying about whether or not the application will break an iPhone, chew up resources, etc. Apple now has to worry about the content.

The problem as I see it is two-fold: Apple is now associated with the content of applications that run on an iPhone. The second is that Apple is setting a precedent that will carry forward as small devices like the iPhone get more powerful and start to merge with traditional desktops and laptops.

Being Associated with Content
Since Apple is essentially taking responsibility for the content on the iPhone they are putting themselves in a no-win situation. Clearly a shaking baby application is egregious to virtually anyone, but what about other topics. The US alone is a highly polarized place with issues like gay marriage, torture, bail-outs, taxes, etc. provoking strong arguments. Throw in the fact that Apple is a global company and now you have to police these issues in every country you want to sell into.

Now try to apply a rule set that works for the people sitting in the Apple App Store review area. Every single app needs to be approved and the rate will only increase. Mistakes like the Shaking Baby app will happen again and again.

Apple has crafted this brilliant company image, spending billions of dollars on stores, training, application standards, etc. and now a minor mistake by the guy or gal down in the App Store review area makes headlines everywhere and it’s directly associated with Apple, not the author of the application.

The Orwellian Future
This is today’s problem. What about tomorrow’s? Portable devices are becoming more and more powerful. It won’t be long before we’ll see the technologies start to merge and iPhones will be just as powerful as a laptop or netbook class machine. As this merge happens how will Apple distinguish between applications that are specific to the iPhone and those that run on a more traditional machine?

Can you imagine a day when Apple has to authorize any software that is installed on your Apple device, including what today is your Mac? Technology advances mean these products will converge in the near future and Apple will need to live with the standards (and revenue streams) they have come to depend on.

How can Apple solve this problem?
There are numerous solutions to this issue, all with strengths and weaknesses. Apple could stop worrying about application content entirely and focus on highly objective measures like memory usage, stability, etc. They could have a class of applications that have been rated for content and others that have not. They could even license out the deployment of iPhone applications to other companies, allowing those companies to be responsible for the content.

Rest assured though, this is going to become a bigger problem down the road. Can you imagine if the developers of a web browser were responsible for the web pages that were viewed through them? This is effectively the role that Apple has staked out for itself.

What do you think? Is this really a problem that Apple needs to figure out?

Visit DavidAlison.com

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Featured Gadgets Software Workflow

Getting Organized: Evernote

Organizational Tool Reviews by the Unorganized!
Okay so I found Evernote in my latest handy dandy copy of Real Simple- a magazine I subscribe to in hopes that one day I will be more organized than not. I am getting there. The article started of with a warning that these apps may become addictive. I had no idea they were serious.

On the web. On your desktop. On your phone.

I downloaded first my desktop version of Evernote onto my Imac and immediately started to document all the notes I had stuck to my computer, lying around my desk and in my notebook. After completing this task I felt rather proud of myself as I could once again see the shinny black desk beneath the piles of paper.

I also remembered that this article was originally written as a review for the Iphone so I proceeded to download that version as well and test out the ease of moving notes back and forth. It was fantastic. I could actually type my shopping list on my computer as the items ran across my mind throughout the day – shampoo, laundry detergent, batteries, check. Then at the end of the day all I had to do is hit sync at the bottom of the app window and they were sent to my online account easily accessible by the iphone plugin.

Now, because my Powerbook is not able to run Leopard (which is required by Evernote) I wasn’t able to download it there. However they have an online version that works perfect for when I am traveling with my laptop and need to pull down some notes. Just login to their website with the username and password you registered with and there is your info. Crazy shopping lists and all.

Capture what inspires you, find it when you want.

So lets talk a little bit about what this baby can do yo put a little ease into your life. After all we are all aware that “creatives” are not the most organized people on the planet. If we spent the time it took before these handy apps to keep everything organized then we wouldn’t have time left for our art, right? So here’s how Evernote can help you….

Here are some examples of things you can capture and store in Evernote:

  • Shopping/To-Do Lists
  • Notes and Project Research
  • Webpages for bookmarking later
  • Sketches
  • Snapshots from your phone(very handy)
  • Passwords that you will need remotely

and that is just to list a few…

My number one use for Evernote is to compile lists from client emails on particular projects that are on the calendar for a later date. It never fails when I start a new site for a client the first week after bid approval I will get a flood of content from them. However rather than it being in one email, it will be in several, sometimes 10 or 20 by week end. I am a little obsessed with having unread emails, so I copy the content from each email and make 1 note in Evernote containing all the info. Then I not only have it on my desktop, but phone and laptop if I need it for reference.

Another huge benefit to having the Iphone app is that if I am in a store somewhere and I come across something that inspires me (happens all the time) I can take a snapshot, send it to Evernote and have it for a rainy less inspired day. Evernote allows my memories to be available wherever I am.

My last most favorite feature is the easy pasting option. So, say you are online researching something and come across something totally irrelevant, but extremely interesting. You don’t want to forget that info, so copy the address, or page content then go to the handy Icon at the top right of your finder bar and choose the option to paste into Evernote. Then you can take a look at it again when you have more time or are not preoccupied with other things. This option also works when you are working in other applications, basically anything you can copy can be pasted into Evernote.

Requirements: Not Much!

There are two ways to do this the first requires no downloads and is all online and the second utilizes the desktop tools. I do a little of both….

1. No download required

  • Evernote Web
  • Web Clipper bookmarklet
  • Evernote Mobile Web

2. Downloads

  • Mac OS X Leopard
  • Windows
  • iPhone / iPod Touch
  • Windows Mobile
  • SanDisk U3

 

Getting your chaos organize with Evernote:

There are multiple options to getting your data organized with Evernote and here are a few…

CREATE – notes using desktop, web, and mobile versions of Evernote, synchronizing with all three once you create
SNAP – shots using your camera phone or webcam. Crazy, but there is even text recognition within the image.
CLIP – webpages, screenshots, PDFs or already existing images
DRAG N DROP – content into your desktop clients
EMAIL – notes directly into your account using your personal email address
SCAN – receipts, recipes, tags, brochures, and anything else into Evernote
RECORD – audio and listen to it whenever you want.

For a Quick Introduction to Evernote, visit http://www.evernote.com/ and click on the YouTube video at the bottom. Enjoy your new more organized clutter!!

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Parallel Desktops

iStat Server – remotely monitoring your Mac

I’ve always been a big fan of iStat menus, the freeware system monitoring utility. It’s a great way to quickly see what’s going on with my Mac, whether it’s CPU, disk or memory utilization, temperature, etc.

Bjango, the iPhone side of iSlayer (producers of iStat menus), has recently released iStat Server, a free Mac application that runs in the background. It sends your Mac’s system monitoring information to your iPhone for actual monitoring. On the iPhone side you buy the $1.99 iStat – System Monitoring application, which then connects with your Mac and displays your monitoring information on your iPhone.

If you want to remotely monitor one or more of your Macs for the ridiculously affordable price of $2 then this is a very cool set up.

The first step is to download and install iStat Server on any of the Macs you want to monitor. Once installed and running you will get the main iStat Server window:


It will display a code that you will need to enter on your iPhone once you connect; mine is currently locked so it displays as asterisks.

The next step is to download and install iStat – System Monitoring (ISM) from the App Store. Once you start that application up you can either monitor your local phone’s resources:


Or you can connect to any of the Macs you installed iStat Server on. If they are on your local network ISM will detect them automatically. If you are using remote servers you can manually add them, using the IP address and port number they are broadcasting their information on.


Viewing a server that’s running iStat Server gives you a great view of the monitors you would normally see with iStat menus, including consolidated CPU utilization, memory, disk usage, networking traffic use and every temperature that you could ever want to see.


Rounding out SSM it also includes a Ping and Traceroute utility as well as the ability to free the memory on your iPhone and send your iPhone’s unique identifier or MAC address through e-mail.

On the iStat Server side you don’t need to leave the application window open or even keep it hidden; just quit the application and it will continue to broadcast iStat server data until you uninstall it. On my Mac Pro it uses just under 3MB or real memory.

If you really want to monitor your Mac’s performance from virtually anywhere (assuming you’ve set up your Firewall / router), iStat Server Monitoring is an excellent way to do it.

Visit DavidAlison.com

Categories
Parallel Desktops

Getting the most out of Spaces on a dual monitor Mac Pro

Ever since I switched from Windows to Mac over 9 months ago I’ve been obsessed with making myself as productive as possible in OS X. Without question one of my favorite features is Spaces, the multi-desktop feature for Leopard. Here is how I’ve set up my environment to make the most out of it.

Hardware First
My primary workstation is a Mac Pro with 12GB of RAM and several TB of disk space. In addition I have two monitors attached (Samsung SyncMaster 204B), which gives me an effective 3200×1200 of desktop real estate. In my opinion you can’t have too much RAM, disk space or more importantly screen real estate.

The other thing that I’ve found extremely helpful for me was using a decent multi-button mouse. In my case I’m using the one from my older Windows XP gaming rig, a Logitech MX 510 Optical Gaming Mouse. The best part of it for me is that I’ve set the additional button below the mouse wheel to activate Spaces, making it really easy to quickly access the list of windows and select something. Since the Logitech drivers are buggy I purchased a license for Steermouse, which gives me all of the mapping functionality I need to map buttons in OS X.

Arranging Spaces
I use Spaces by breaking my windows up into work areas for specific classes of tasks. In this way when I am in that work area most of what I need is visible. In some cases I want minimal distraction and in others I use the Space as a view into one of many conduits of information.

Spaces can handle a rather large number of virtual desktops but the number I’ve found that works best for me is 12: 4 rows of 3 spaces each:

Here is how I’ve broken mine up:

Web and News iTunes Open
Communications Documentation VMware Win XP
Development Design Open
iPhoto Word Processing Open

Since I rarely shut down my Mac (I simply put it to sleep), I have many of these applications available as soon as I need them. This is of course one of the primary advantages of having 12GB of RAM. Here’s how each one of these spaces works out:

Web and News
My primary web browser is Firefox and NetNewsWire is my news reader. I’ll have multiple tabs open in my browser and use it when I’m doing research or catching up on the day’s news. This is one of those distraction zones and I try to be regimented about how much of my time I spend here.

iTunes
Since I sync up my iPhone frequently and often like to have music playing in the background, iTunes gets it’s own Space. I rarely spend any time in this particular space.

Communications
I try to keep all of my direct incoming and outgoing communications in one place and that’s what this rather crowded Space does for me. I run the standard Mac Mail.app in the left monitor and in the right I have Adium, Skype and TweetDeck active. I also have a small TextEdit window open where I jot down notes and thoughts. I just started using TweetDeck today but have already become quite attached to it. Great way to stay on top of my expanding Twitter feed.

Documentation
I always seem to be referencing PDF documentation on a regular basis. Today I’ve got a PayPal API document and an Active Merchant tutorial I am going through. Since these two are going hand in hand for what I’m working on I have them both up. Normally I have a single PDF up in this space; I’ll mute the speakers, shut off my Growl notifications and music and focus on reading. It’s a bit like entering a library to me.

Windows XP
Though I rarely use it any longer I tend to keep a Windows XP instance up and running in a VMware Fusion virtual machine. My primary need for it now is to load up Internet Explorer and check how the web based application I am building looks on it.

Development
Lately this is where I’ve been spending most of my time as I get ready to launch my next business. I’ve been doing the work in Ruby on Rails and as a result keep a couple of different windows up and running in here. On the left monitor I have TextMate up as my editor of choice.

In the right monitor I have a standard OS X Terminal window up with several tabs inside of it. A background tab has my active Mongrel instance running the development version of my application and the foreground tab is ready to accept commands.

I use Safari as my web browser for local application testing and may have several tabs for documentation open in it as well. Since I use MySql as my primary database I keep a MySql Query Browser handy with my development database loaded in case I want to make quick changes to the data set. This is rounded out with a TextEdit window that contains a list of issues and notes for what I am working on.

Design
This Space is reserved for OmniGraffle Pro. Since it has lots of additional windows and pallets I tend to let it take over both monitors. I use OmniGraffle for mocking up wire-frames of my application pages and working through flow charts for application logic.

iPhoto
Though I don’t keep it open all the time I do have a dedicated space for iPhoto, mainly because I let it take over one monitor while I have Finder windows open in the other if I am moving pictures to different media for transfer or import. I’ll also do my editing with Gimp in that Space.

Word Processing
I’ve become quite fond of Pages because of it’s simplicity and have a Space dedicated to the times when I am in letter writing “mode” or creating marketing materials.

As you can see I also maintain a few open Spaces that I can jump to if I have some application or task that falls outside of my pre-defined areas. The benefit to all of this is that I can jump into a Space and focus on the task at hand. If I have the mouse in hand I’ll press the button for Spaces and just click on the area I want to be in. If I’m in keyboard mode I’ll usually press Command-Tab and pop to the application I need, which will also switch the Space for me.

I use a similar setup on my MacBook Pro, though since it is a single monitor and used primarily when I travel or am in a meeting I have it set up very differently. The principles however are the same: group applications into Spaces based on the mode of work I want to be in.

As a high-tech entrepreneur I have a tendency to be running at top speed throughout the day. Over the years I have learned how to multi-task well, allowing myself to flow from one task to the other when the situation warrants it but shutting down music, alerts and external distractions when I need to focus on deep tasks. The set up I have created with Spaces works great for me and I feel considerably more productive than I did back in the old days with multiple layered windows competing for my attention.

Do you juggle multiple applications at once or try to keep one application running at a time? Have a better way to keep your applications running smoothly? Please drop a note in the comments.

Visit DavidAlison.com