The title of this post sounds like an Adventure Time episode but it refers to the purchase of buying a simple folding knife. Refer back to my earlier article about how this type of thing gets started. Use caution and good judgement when going down the EDC rabbit hole.
Rather than go into why I bought a few knives since that last piece1, let’s talk instead about the knives themselves because I got a surprising amount of feedback from readers wondering what I thought of the knives on ADN.
The Caly 3 is my favorite knife so far. I have seen the knife often referred to as a “gentleman’s folder” because of its sleek, thin shape and stylish look. The blade came razor sharp out of the box (just ask my thumb) and the entire construction of the knife feels like it is of the highest quality. From the carbon fiber scales2 to the metal, high-riding “deep carry” clip to the laminated ZDP-189 steel of the blade, the whole thing just feels incredibly well put together.
It is the most expensive of the bunch but it is also the knife I’ll carry around with me most often because it doesn’t call attention to itself and the size lends itself to being something that would fit any pocket, ready to go anywhere. It does take some practice opening and closing the knife with one hand but, using your thumb to press on the frame lock and your index finger in the “spyderhole” to break the hook up seems to be the easiest way to accomplish it.
The Caly 3 has a nice weight and the construction is solid with stainless liners and frame. While they have been drilled out somewhat to reduce weight, it retains a bit of heft but the carbon fiber scales weigh almost nothing so it ends up being a balancing act that works out in the user’s favor. The size of the knife when closed is about 4 1/16” and, when open it is about 7”.
This knife is awesome. Highly recommended.
The 551 is my “work” knife. When I am working on the house, this is the knife in my pocket for a number of reasons. The blade is half-serrated, half plain-edge which makes it useful for things like cutting zip ties or tubing as well as slicing open bags of things like rock salt or wood pellets. The 154CM steel is extremely hard and will take a beating and the axis lock makes it very easy to open and close with one hand.
The Benchmade Griptilian is a bit too grippy for me to carry all the time because the scales have a very rough texture on them. They will rip up your hands if you need something in the pocket where your knife is. However, keeping the goal in mind, extra grippy scales lend themselves to doing real work because you’ll often have wet, muddy hands and you don’t want the knife to slip or twist in your hand while cutting something.
The 551 is about 4.62” when closed and 8.07” when open. Highly recommended knife – extremely solid but not cheap.
The Cryo was a bit of a surprise to me. I was looking at Sebenzas and Hinderers because I was curious about the design. Those knives are crazy expensive but the search took me into a forum where people were discussing a Rick Hinderer collaboration with Kershaw knives that used his famous frame lock design in an inexpensive knife. This collaboration yielded the Kershaw Cryo. The Cryo is a “flipper” knife. This means that there is a spike on the frame side of the knife when its closed that you can press to make the knife spring open and snap into locked position. It is a handy feature and fun to play around with.
The knife is made using 8Cr13MoV steel so it balances hardness, sharpness and protection from the elements. I have found the knife to retain its edge fairly well but it wasn’t as laser sharp as either the 551 or the Caly 3 out of the box. It is still serviceably sharp however and I find myself carrying it quite a bit, despite how great the Caly 3 is. I haven’t seen any of the misalignment or construction issues mentioned in several of the reviews I’ve read. It feels well-made and solid. Overall it feels more expensive than its $25-30 price tag implies and, at that price, you’re not risking much to pick one up.
This knife is when its 3 3/4” closed and when 7 3/4” open. It is a good pocket-sized knife and, despite its considerable heft and smooth scales, I like it quite a bit. Cheap and recommended.
The Gerber Ripstop I is a tiny knife. It is referred to as a “paraframe” knife as well which means that it has an open construction with no scales. This makes the knife very light but I don’t really feel like it works well as a normal pocket carry. I would be afraid that the things rattling around in my pocket might sneak in the sides and get nicked up. Or worse, my finger. Because of that, I generally keep the Ripstop clipped to my laptop bag. It is extremely small and light so it doesn’t add signficant weight and it is very sharp.
The small size also means that there is no flexibility for where you attach the clip. You can remove the clip, but there’s no other options for re-attaching it. This was the first knife I bought and, at $10, I can hardly complain that it lacks features of more expensive knives.
If you’re looking for a cheap little frame-lock knife, it’s hard to go wrong at the price but I’d recommend stepping up to a better knife right off the bat. What the Gerber Ripstop was good for, for me, was clueing me into the fact that I would actually end up using a folding knife a lot more than I thought I would. Once that became apparent, I knew that further investments wouldn’t be a waste and I went looking for more refined alternatives. If you’re still reading this, I suspect many of you will do the same so my recommendation is to skip the starter knife and do some research on getting a higher quality, more flexible knife. I don’t think you’ll regret it.
On that topic, “flexibility” is important to consider when buying a knife. The term can be used to describe many characteristics of a knife but I use it to refer to how easy it is to actually carry the knife on a daily basis. I tend to keep my knife in my front left pocket or back right pocket. To that end, having the ability to swap out where the clip goes is important. The first thing I usually do when I unbox a knife is flip the clip over to enable me to use it “tip-up”3 with the blade opening fitting snugly against the outside of my pocket to prevent accidental openings. This is the safest way to carry it and it also works for me ergonomically.
The knife/EDC rabbit hole is a deep one. There are some really smart geeks writing posts and lists about this stuff that I never took notice of because it was never an area of interest but, now that it is, I’m finding the content they’ve written is top notch and well worth a look.
Good luck with your knife purchase, nerds!
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That’s “grips”, for you non-knife nerds in the audience (assuming you’re still reading). ↩
“Tip-up” or “tip-down” refer to how the knife rides in the pocket – with the tip of the knife pointing up or down. I find tip-up carry feels much more natural. You just lift the knife out of the pocket and it is in the right position to use the “spyderhole” or thumbstud to open the knife. ↩
From Gabe’s article:
First I’d like to clear up a strange interpretation that isn’t wrong but rather misleading. A couple articles, portray Slack as a chat service or social media aggregator. While it can be used for that purpose, it would be like calling Twitter a dating service. Slack is a collaborative working environment that also provides a chat service.
I have set a high bar for the features I need in a collaborative chat client and I’ve been pretty patient with committing to one when one of those features is lacking. Some have gotten tantalizingly close but they fall down on some key functionality like lacking a fully-functioning iOS client or search or a viable business model. Slack hits all of the high notes. After using it for a week, I was ready to commit for the long haul because it is nothing short of amazing.
If you have a small team that needs a central communication repository but also well-thought-out methods for sharing, commenting on and storing files, this service is a clear winner. Sign up for Slack1.
The other day there was an email in my inbox stating that Kickstarter had been hacked and number of email addresses had been stolen. Being a barely-functioning paranoid, both my wife and I started changing our passwords 1 all the way down to the combination on our luggage.
One very unwelcome change occurred during that process 2. Ties to iCloud run deep through the iOS and Mac ecosystems these days and, when an iCloud password is changed, lots of things take place that you have very little control over. Surprisingly almost all of the things that needed to work worked perfectly after I re-entered my new password. The lone bit of craziness was iMessage.
iMessage gets a lot of grief in the tech press which is a shame because, when iMessage is working, it is the best messaging platform out there. It is easy to be frustrated by the feeling that Apple doesn’t seem to be that interested in getting a hammerlock on the messaging aspect of iOS because the state of private instant messaging sucks right now. Google has ruined Gtalk with its Google+ integration (and by being Google), the various multi-clients don’t often support newer protocols of the more recent, “closed” systems like Skype, iMessage and Google+ so you’re left with multiple clients running and a hodgepodge of badly implemented half-measures.
There have been beacons in the darkness, but their reach is limited and trying to sell all of your friends and familiy on a new messaging platform, especially one that costs money, is a tall order. There are other, feature-rich super messaging clients like #SLACK 3 but they work best for a group or small company.
So iMessage stands poised to have the best reach because anyone with an iOS device and an iCloud account can message you over any data connection (and in some cases with an SMS fallback). It almost seems to good to be true since everyone I know that I would want to message has an iOS device. Yet Apple, despite the immense breadth of their userbase, has unleashed an unfinished and, at times, problematic mess of technology on their customers.
I will say that I seem to have less problems than most people I talk to when it comes to iMessage but it really shouldn’t matter. The app should be reliable and easy to use. If Apple ever wants to have an audience of appreciative users, it must be easy to setup and flawless in execution. Hopefully they’ll get there someday.
Back to my password changing story….
After we changed our passwords, my wife and I had a lot of problems start cropping up. Some messages were flat out failing to send. Some were stuck in limbo. Some were causing the notifications to pop-up twice. I started to worry that we would never get things back to working order again. Eventually we did though and actually things are working better than ever now.
Here are some tips that might help if iMessage isn’t working as well as you’d like.
The first item aims at avoiding multiple email addresses and phone numbers associated with a single iMessage ID. Having more than one linked seems to cause a lot of issues.
Number two is an easy one to get wrong if you’re not paying attention. Make sure you set iMessage up the same way across every device you have logged into iCloud. This goes for Macs, iPads, old iPods, old iPhones, your usual iPhone 4 and anything else you can think of. In my experience if just one of those devices has multiple contact choices selected it will keep the messy cycle alive.
Number three might be too much for some people because they use their iMessage conversations as a note database.5 Conversation threads do seem to be persistent and exist across all of your devices so why not? The problem is that they can be associated with those now-defunct contact addresses and keeping the conversations around will cause messaging conflicts. Deleting your conversations is a much safer way to go. If you are smart, you’re already using Chatology for reading archived conversations anyway.
Number four is easy. Make these changes and go to sleep for the night. When you wake up, hopefully iMessage will be working as well for you as it seems to be working for me. It is consistent, fast and surprisingly reliable.
It’s an elegant app that reads many of the common file times including my favorites like Fountain, markdown and plain text in addition to the standards (Final Draft (fdx) and PDF). I love how the app works. I haven’t had 100% success importing some of my found scripts to a format that’s easily readable other than the original PDF but most have been successful including my own forays into writing with Slugline.
If you have any interest in script reading and don’t often find time to do it because you don’t want to sit and your computer reading long, badly-formatted PDF files or squinting at an iPad mini, Weekend Read might be the app you’ve been waiting for.
(Free with $9.99 IAP)
The app is free with IAP if you want to have more than four documents in your library. ↩
Finally, my hope for an ADN messaging client has been realized. ThreadOne, created by developer Aaron Vegh, has hit the App Store and it is exactly what I have wanted in an ADN chat client. While Kiwi was functional1, it struggled with presenting private messaging because of its relatively slow refresh times and mechanics more suited to a stream-based message list. I basically wanted a version of Whisper on my Mac and ThreadOne has so far delivered on that wish.
It is a focused effort for a first release but Vegh has plans for further development to add features down the road. 2 I’ve been using it and have noticed a few things that ThreadOne does better than any of the ADN messaging alternatives I’ve used on the Mac so far:
So far, ThreadOne does exactly what I needed it for. More features would be nice (font size and choices would be my highest priority) but it is doing the job I bought it to do and shows what a good developer can do with the well-designed, fast and capable API ADN has put together.
There have been a lot of critical things said about the latest version of Dark Sky since its last release. Some of it may be warranted (and I’ll get to that at the end of the piece) but some have been focused so much on some elements of the app’s design that they put the actual daily usefulness of the app aside to make their points.
From the Dark Sky website:
Dark Sky uses state-of-the-art technology to predict when it will rain or snow — down to the minute — at your exact location, and presents it to you alongside the most beautiful weather visualizations you’ve ever seen.
I have long sung the praises of Dark Sky’s ability to predict bad weather with uncanny accuracy. It’s not always correct, but I understand that weather is an unexact science. Sometimes it predicts rain, like right now, when I’m actually getting snow so heavy I can’t see across the street. The inflection point of a temperature change along a front is understandably a hard thing to predict with 100% accuracy. I think we all understand that as reasonable people.
So that being said, as reasonable people, we would know that looking at a chart, no matter how many labeled axes and tickmarks, no matter how many data points which show a temperature trend inching upwards or downwards twelve hours from now, it is really just an approximation of what the actual weather might be. We understand, as reasonable people, that the weather might be something quite different when that time arrives 12 hours from now. It turns out that it wasn’t 14F, but 18F or even -4F (no thank you).
Yet I have read many words over the last week criticising the lack of exactingly-labeled graph axes. The line on the charts have tickmarks labeled with a time and a temperature when there is an inflection point. It’s that simple. Sometimes it doesn’t change at that exact datapoint because the line is a smooth curve, not a jagged chart. Given that, the savvy designer will know that the line can’t change quickly when there are two temperature inflection points close to one another but yet that is the criticism I’m hearing.
The other knocks are that there are two stacked representations of data on the “Next 24 Hours” screen. One is labeled “The Sky” and shows what his happening in the sky over the next 24 hours and has an x-axis for the next 24 hours starting from now. That makes intuitive sense.
The chart below is labeled “Temperature” and has an approximation of temperature across the same 24 hour period. Looking up at the chart you can interpolate temperature to time but you can intuit that 12 hours from now is halfway.
“How can I see what the temperature is fourteen and a half hours from now, smart guy?”, they bellow.
To them I say, “You are missing the point. This is a weather app and even if there was an exact 24 hour chart with a 100x zoom to the minute, the temperature will still be approximate 14 hours from now. That is the point of these charts and that is fairly well conveyed to me when I look at them.”
I’d go so far as to say that if it does bother you, this probably isn’t the weather app for you.
There are also some pretty smart people criticising the lack of labels on each page to denote what they represent. I’m with Dr. Drang on this one when he dissects Jared Sinclair’s complaints about the app.
I can only assume he thinks “casual users” are idiots. It’s true that having a heading on only one of the screens is inconsistent, but I don’t see how anyone could mistake what these three screens are for.
If you could make a color on a chart representing rain, what color would it be? A watery blue, right? That makes sense. How about snow? Maybe an icier blue? Check. Clouds should be gray and fog should probably be a darker gray. Check and check. Those all make sense intuitively and those are the exact colors used on charts when those weather events are taking place.
The complaints about colors (or lack thereof) appear to me to be uncompromisingly harsh given what the app is describing. You could have criticised the last version for being too dark.
There is nothing but a pulsing circle when you open the app.1 The pulsing continues until it gets enough information to display and then the screen updates with up-to-the-minute information.
Many designers have said that it is bad design to display just a pulsing circle. I am not exactly sure what they feel should be displayed while data is being fetched. If it was cached data, as some suggest, it clearly wouldn’t be up-to-the-minute data. The app needs to connect to a server to get its information. That’s just the way it is and if it takes a while, that’s a function of a lot of things that aren’t entirely in the app’s control.
I fail to see where a spinning globe or a dancing pickle would alleviate your pain. Just wait a second and you’ll get your information. If not, check back in a few minutes. Also, it’s the actual weather so maybe poke your head outside and take a look.
After spending some time with the new app, there are some things that could use some help. The radar view always is zoomed out to view the entire eastern seaboard for me. I am not quite sure why but they should fix that. It should be about a 35 mile radius around my current location.
The feed from alerts.weather.gov depicting winter warning news is showing an ugly non-mobile-formatted webpage right now. It’s a minor thing but it would be nice if it was easier to read. Knowing that I’m about to be hosed by awful weather is easier to take when I don’t have to zoom in on a webpage that looks like something best viewed in Netscape Navigator.
I get that people hate change. Having a healthy critique of a beloved app that underwent a pretty major makeover is healthy however much of the comments I have been reading over the last few days has seemed like design buffs trying to one-up their peers on which pixel ended up in the wrong place. It’s the “gotcha” school of collective design.
Sorry if this seems a bit critical. I was ignoring this whole echospheric event until I caught up on the ADN comments this morning and felt like I needed to clear the air a bit. I’m also cranky and miserable that the clouds above (as seen as a pretty rainbow of reds and oranges in Dark Sky) are dumping another 8-10” on snow on my car outside right now.
That has been a big criticism I’ve seen as well. I like that its a circle but again I’m in the minority. Those of you who hate the circle and don’t know why it is a circle, well, I don’t know what to tell you. Would a square be better? A smiling raindrop? A cute puppy? ↩
Over a year ago, I started a journey to eliminate the seemingly-endless filing of paper. Bills, bank statements, car service documents, insurance documentation, licenses – the list goes on and on. The implementation of my paperless system was thought through for months and when I finally pulled the trigger on the methodology and the gear, I was confident in it working pretty well.
Now that more than a year has gone by, I thought it would be a good idea to do a reassessment and determine if I had hit the mark with my system or not.
The Scansnap has worked well.
The only problem I had with it was the scanning software. About three months ago or so, the makers released a software update that changed how the scanning software worked which made it considerably more annoying to use. In the older release of the software, you could Scan to Folder and the files would be whisked away to their destination (in my case the Action folder) without any intervention. For a system like mine, this was perfect.
The change made it so that, post-scan, a dialog would pop up asking for a file name to replace the default. The cursor was “conveniently” placed on the default file name expecting you to change it. This sounds good in thoery. In practice, when you scan files that’s really all it is convenient to do because, post-scanning, the software pops up a window demanding your attention. If you happen to be typing anything else on your keyboard you erase the file name highlighted in the textbox leaving you no choice but to type a new one. Maybe it was the software maker’s attempt to make me less focused on multitasking or maybe it was their funny plan to create lot of unidentifiable files named “fuck.pdf” and “fuck1.pdf” in my Action folder. In reality, it just made me annoyed whenever I used their software. An option would have been nice.
I’m happy to say that I’ve found a way to use it to my advantage but more on that later.
I will shamefully admit that sometimes I get too busy to scan on a regular basis. Papers pile up next to the dormant scanner and, when I start scanning, I can sometimes end up with dozens of documents in my Action folder awaiting filing. When my OCR-based Hazel rules fail me, it makes for a lot of work on my end to figure out what each file is and how to consistently rename it. This involved “touching” each file several times.
All of a sudden that annoying pop-up form didn’t seem so annoying anymore. I needed a better solution.
For months after creating the system, each document I scanned would generate OCR text that could be used to determine the file’s contents. I had Hazel dig through that content for keywords and then use that data to generate new file names and move them to their target locations. In practice, this often didn’t work perfectly and I’d be left with a lot of files requiring inspection, renaming and moving by hand.
When trying to name files by hand, however, I had the same problem I often have when tagging – I forget my exact taxonomy and end up creating slight differentiations in the tags making the system breakdown. In order to make things a bit more consistent, I reduced the number of keywords I was using and also reduced the number of Hazel file renaming rules (to zero).
Currently I am using a method that requires touching each file only once. It employs TextExpander, some modified Hazel rules and takes advantage of that damn pop-up screen.
First, I hit the glowing blue button on the Scansnap. When the file is done scanning, the software runs OCR 1 and then the previously-annoying pop-up is displayed.
20%fill:year%-%fill:month% - %fill:whosefile% %fill:subject%%|%key:enter%
The keywords are simple things like “bank”, “house”, “car”, “lifeinsurance” and “carinsurance”. They are simple, repeatable and easy to remember. Combined with a name like “honda”, “jeff”, etc. it is pretty easy to create a Hazel rule to act on each file properly.
Hazel takes over at this point by executing rules based on file name keywords. It is less sexy than scanning OCR’ed text but it is reliable and consistent.
The downside of this method is that I need to be concentrating solely on the task of scanning and it can be a test of patience when waiting for a large file to be processed by the scanning software. That said, since I am skipping far more time-consuming steps (of previewing, memorizing, renaming and moving) down the road, the job of processing my papers much takes less time overall.
Hiccups aside, implementing the paperless system was one of the best time and money investments I’ve made in the last few years. I have used the ability to seach my documents from anywhere in the world dozens of times over the last sixteen months. When we were getting our documentation together to buy a house recently, what would have taken hours of searching seventeen months ago took almost no time at all. Several times during the process I received a panicked phone call from the loan company requesting a specific document they had forgot to mention. Rather than drive home from wherever I happened to be to find the document, I logged into my home machine from my iPad and send them the file within minutes.
This type of system takes some time and effort to get working but the dividends are pretty incredible when you get it set up.
The OCR’ed text is still useful for Spotlight searches. ↩
The trigger is “;pf” which stands for “Paperless Fill-in”. ↩
I had to put a few tweaks like the “%key:enter%” in there to speed things up. I also use Shift-Tab > Space to quickly select the “Save” button on the scanning software dialog pop-up. ↩
The other day, Gabe over at Macdrifter started a series of articles that will get to the root of how he manages his tasks. There are few topics I have thought more about than task management since I started this website. It is integral to how I do my job and, once GTD demonstrated its ability to solve my difficult work problems, I naturally started applying what I learned to every aspect of my life.
While Gabe’s take may seem, upon first read, to be overly ambitious taking a from-the-rivets-up approach like his is really the only way to approach it. I have undertaken a few attempts to replace OmniFocus in the last couple of years, partially sharing Gabe’s frustrations but also just to peer deeper at what makes my process tick. What I’ve found during those forays into madness is that it turns over every stone you have based your organizational life on. It sounds extreme but the whole point of a GTD system is that it become ingrained, automatic and habitual – it has to be those things if it is to work. Changing the thing that is the foundational layer of your system is disruptive and time-consuming.
I’ve tried other systems but they have never felt as satisfying as OmniFocus. It was the first task management system that I felt “got” me. It did things the way I would expect them to happen, so it made it very easy for me to groove good habits. The success fed on itself, making the tool more and more effective as months wore on. The other tools that were in the running never quite had the features I felt I needed when trying to find an OmniFocus replacement.
I think my problem was that I was trying to replace OmniFocus rather than replacing what I do to manage my projects and tasks. That’s why the cellular-level exploration happening over at Macdrifter is so compelling. That said, the end result might be something that works great for Gabe and, despite being plain text and A-OK by me, still won’t be able to do what I need it to do on a daily basis to manage my life.
As Gabe himself says:
There will be no satisfying conclusion for anyone other than me. A task management system is not as generic as the self-help app market would like us to believe.
I could not agree more. Despite his caveats, I will be watching Gabe’s valiant attempts to reengineer his process very closely. At the very least, I am going to let it challenge every assumption I currently make regarding my current task management solutions and, if pieces of it look like they might work better than what I have, I look forward to integrating them into a personalized system that makes me a better, more organized person.
Being forced to stay in tune with the weather this winter has kept me opening weather apps to see what horrible stormfront is going to pelt us next. Check The Weather has been a favorite because of the seven day view and the Forecast integration. Dark Sky, the app, has gotten a major facelift and functionality change today and I’m really happy about it.
Dark Sky was one of those apps I’d demo to people and blow their minds. If someone asked for an iPhone app recommendation it was top of the list and if they wanted a weather app it was an obvious choice. Even though the window of the weather forecast was small, the data was top notch – almost prescient. I was always shocked by how accurate it was and when I’d get a push notification warning me of immanent rain in 15 minutes it meant I had to find somewhere dry fast.
The new screens are clean and thoughtfully designed and, although I haven’t had much time to put this new version through its paces, since it is deriving its data from the same place as it was yesterday I have no questions about its veracity and accuracy.
NOTE: Dark Sky currently supports the United States, including Hawaii, Alaska, and Puerto Rico and the UK, Ireland, and surrounding areas. ↩
This is an interesting angle on mining OKCupid’s vast trove of data. It’s good because it doesn’t posit the idea that, just because you have a connection with someone, you’re an instant match. It also safely stays away from the tired story of a nerd who hacks the system and becomes an instant winner with the ladies.
In fact, it is pretty clear that OKCupid does similar things in an attempt to match people using its own data and algorithms.
On that early morning in June 2012, his compiler crunching out machine code in one window, his forlorn dating profile sitting idle in the other, it dawned on him that he was doing it wrong. He’d been approaching online matchmaking like any other user. Instead, he realized, he should be dating like a mathematician.
Being overly-selective cuts you off to chance meetings or would cause you to ignore otherwise compatible partners so I think this approach will probably only take you so far. Finding fault with a minor personality flaw would see a potential match be cast aside. Often what we think is important really isn’t, in the bigger scheme of things. It isn’t likely I would have have met my wife since we would have had filtered each other out based on surface-level likes, dislikes or transitory characteristics.
It’s good to take all of this stuff with a huge grain of salt and go outside once in a while. You never know what might happen.