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ATPM 16.02
February 2010





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Harmony 510 Universal Remote

I found the cheaper models to not work well where the better models performed better. On paper, the $50 models should work, but they never work right. Basically, migrating the programming to a better model resolves the issues. I’ve encountered this more than once. Did you know you can control a iMac, Mac mini etc., or iPod universal dock with a Harmony remote?

—Bradley Dichter

I did know that you can control Macs—pretty much anything Front Row, which includes Apple TV. I didn’t know about iPod docks; thanks for mentioning that.

—Ed Eubanks Jr.

• • •

You can have the extra activities you want relatively easily. Each activity has the ability to add “extra” commands after the regular command sequence has finished. Using the normal programming setup, create/edit the activity in question, and you will find the option you need. Just add the button press from your DVR remote to invoke the DVR menu (and possibly the other needed button press, if you want), and you’re all set.


Adding customized activities is pretty straightforward; it’s the button-presses that I can’t figure out. Maybe there’s a way to do it, even on the low-end model—but if so, it’s not intuitive at all.

—Ed Eubanks Jr.

• • •

I agree their software could use a major overhaul. Whoever designed the user interface knows nothing about software design.

Essentially, though, just write down the button presses you would press with the original remotes (which remote, which button) on a piece of paper. Every button, every press. And you can add the exact sequence of button presses to “play back” at the end of the activity.


MacMuser: It Just Sits There Dribbling

I feel you, my friend. I remember sending pictures of my yearly trips to the Kingdom of Thailand to my sister and having her tell me my files were too big (500K) for her ancient HP to handle. Fast forward ten years…I’m using a dual-core G5, the last of the G5s, which is at least four years old and about to become my teenager’s best friend as I upgrade to Intel-based desktops. The G5 still screams with speed on my 21 megabit connection, and my sister is finally buying her first digital camera. Go figure.


OmniFocus, TaskPaper, and Things

This was a great review, in the tradition of ATPM. One thing that no one seems to have mentioned is the “Clip-o-tron 3000,” a cute name for the keyboard shortcut (Control-Option-Period) that lets you turn any e-mail into an action and define place it anywhere (undefined inbox, project, context). One commenter mentioned the scripts menu, but this is twice as easy. It’s the best feature of OmniFocus, and a few bugs with Snow Leopard appear to have been worked out. It’s true that the interface is too complicated; it still needs a simple today view, and the inspector holdover is just user interface stubbornness on the part of the design team (downright clumsy). But the program is still the best for anyone using a GTD philosophy.

—Lew Friedland

In Your Face

I just got this today for my iPhone. To me it is the best accessory yet. I am typing without holding the phone. It can be used as a camera tripod or whatever, and it even can be used on a table top. It feels solid and seems like it will last.


Coping With Mac OS X’s Font Rendering

How can Apple get something so fundamental, so wrong, for so long? Say what you want about Microsoft, but Windows fonts look great at all sizes! It’s supposed to be Apple that gets the user experience right…


Outliner User Interfaces

Great list of Mac-based outliners—unfortunately there’s not a lot to choose from for Windows. This was frustrating for me, so I started to build my own: Ume Outliner is a single-pane outliner with rich text support. This is a relatively new project, but there has been quite a bit of progress.


• • •

The forum at is a good place for discussion of Windows outliners. (Ume does get a mention there, though no user reports.) The forum actually started life as part of Dave Winer’s now-defunct legacy outliners site, but the discussion has more Windows-centric in recent years.

Great to be reminded of this series—in whose last installment, nearly two years ago, Ted called for “a revolution in user interfaces, adding more advanced outliner-specific capabilities.”

Over the last couple of days I’ve been playing with getting MORE files into the extraordinary Headspace for iPhone. (Surprisingly, this can be done: it’s a three-step process involving Brad Pettit’s MOREtoXML, then a text-conversion macro to rewrite the XML tags for Freemind, and then importing to Headspace over WiFi.)

Headspace really is a tremendously new, interesting, and different experience in outlining: combining the familiar outline and mindmap models in an unfamiliar way, with hierarchical outlines as objects in a non-hierarchical Web; collapsing outlines in 3D (so that the next level is visible behind and through the header); animating link navigation so that you very coolly ride along them inside the view; and above all allowing radical 3D manipulation of the view so that you can rotate 360 degrees on any or all axes, and view your outline from all angles and perspectives, including upside-down and behind. It’s so unlike anything before it that you kind of stare at it like a lunar monolith or a bone going up into the sky and think now that you’re master of the world, you’re not sure what to do next. But you’ll think of something.

—Nick Lowe

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