So you have event information that you want to put into a calendar on iOS. Let’s say you have a local struct that keeps track of events your app manages, like football games.
In my own personal ups and downs to hit InboxZero every day, I find that the silly tool that helps me the most is having a keystroke to move the current email into an Archive folder.
I used to use Mail-Act-On, but was too cheap to pay for it. Now, in Mail.app of OS X Lion, it’s dead simple to do, no extra purchase required. Lion’s copy of mail now has an
Archive button that will create an Archive folder if it doesn’t exist already, and then move the current message there. Here’s how to get a shortcut key assigned to it:
First, open up System Preferences.
For the short-attention spans (like mine):
That may not work…yet. There are details after the jump for those who don’t want to wait for the pull request to go through. Oh, and read the directions after running that command to get it to launch automatically.
One of the topics that fascinates me is how to provide subtle kinds of useful information to users of software. I like sparklines, typography, and subtle graphic design elements that call attention to information with the right weight.
One simple example I ran across today was the metric provided by StackOverflow on my profile for the number of days I’ve visited — 195 days out of just over a year since breaking down and creating my account.
So that’s just about right considering how frequently good questions and answers from StackOverflow show up in my Google searches. You can tell I don’t contribute a lot, and I don’t show up even every other day, but it’s not far off from that. That kind of information was surprising, since I never really thought about how many times I had come to the site.
What about your site or web app, or even iPhone app? Do you have quarter-over-quarter user retention goals? Do you think that your users would suddenly realize the value they implicitly already placed on your service if they saw out of the corner of their eye how much they used it? I had that feeling. If they saw how much they cared about it in hard data, would they respond more frequently to your requests to refer their friends to you?
Think about it. You might be able to tap into more power than you think with simple, subtle cues.
I recently came across an old draft post from 2007 that I never published. It looks finished enough to simply push it out as-is. While it was obviously written before the explosion of CSS frameworks and tools like Blueprint and Compass, those don’t really have much impact on the core of what I was saying. I hope you find it useful…
This morning I read a post by Jon Udell that ignited a series of latent thoughts I’ve had, mostly centered around CSS, aspects, and screencasting.
In his post, Matthew Levine’s holy grail, Jon praises the theory of CSS but bemoans the drudgery that so many of us not-a-designer-but-geek-enough-to-try types face at some point or other:
To be honest, although I’m hugely fond of CSS styling, I’ve always struggled with CSS layouts, and I know I’m not the only one in that boat. When you read the explanation in Matthew’s article, you can see why. CSS layout is like one of those games where you slide 15 tiles around in a 16-square matrix. In principle it is a declarative language, but in practice the techniques are highly procedural: Step 1, Step 2, etc.
Jon goes on to request a pattern library for CSS layouts, and while I think it’s a great idea I don’t think it’s enough. In my many years of web programming experience few things been more intriguing and challenging as deconstructing a complex web design from someone else and distilling it to the essentials. In the end, we muddle through, leaving unnecessary HTML and CSS constructs littered throughout our new site. Data needs evolve for the site, invoking the corresponding evolutionary change in the HTML and CSS constructs. The ebb and flow of change ultimately builds up enough sediment in our design that, like your old water heater, you simply throw it out and start afresh.