Oh John Carroll

Tag: computer

Fantastical

I’m writing today with a software recommendation: if you’re on a Mac, iPhone or iPad and haven’t tried Fantastical, you should rectify that immediately.

Fantastical is an alternative to the built-in calendar software that arrives baked in to your operating system. I started using it a few years ago after hearing raves about the way it collects your event data: in sentences & phrases. Rather than telling you all about, let me show you:

Screen Shot 2014-04-26 at 8.04.11 AM

I write and Fantastical figures out what goes where. And it always gets it right. Once you use it a few times, you’ll wonder why all calendar software doesn’t work this way.

Why am I writing about this on a Saturday morning? Well, after spending a day house hunting, I appreciated how much Fantastical made everything about planning and living that day easier1, and thought I should reward it with my previously private praise.


  1. Since the software isn’t created by Apple, you have the option of opening everything in Google Maps. If you’ve been burned enough by Apple Maps (and I have), this feels like a godsend every time you use it, even though it’s saving 30 seconds, tops.

Since you’re likely reading this post on a computer, can I recommend a piece of software to you? Click the title and try out a free program called f.lux. It’s simple and helpful: f.lux changes the lighting on your laptop or monitor as the day progresses.

During the day, your monitor is bright and loud. During the evening, it becomes a bit yellow instead of blue. In short, it adapts to your surroundings.

I started using it recently because I am in the bad habit of becoming very productive late at night. This blog post, composed at 12:54 AM Central, is an example of said productivity. Before I started using f.lux, I would sometimes toss and turn in bed for long stretches of time. I felt wired and wide awake. This software has helped changed that.

I should note that f.lux doesn’t alter the brightness of your screen. It changes the color of the light, so that it’s easier on your eyes toward the end of the day.

SHIFT + CMD + U

I’ve been finding a lot of ways to occupy my time while unemployed.  Yes, searching for a job is one such task, but that is sadly an easy task from day-to-day.

The strangest task is reacquainting myself with a keyboard in an intimate way.  Even though I now have more time at my disposal than ever before, I’m trying to become as efficient as possible in menial computer tasks.  I’ve spent the past week with a GMail Shortcuts printout at my side.  I have a Mac app called Cheat Sheet that I can pull up at a moment’s notice.  If a casual observer were to watch me at my computer, I’d freak out because there was an intruder in my home.  But putting reality aside in that hypothetical, said casual observer would think that I had no free time at hand.  I am working as if am, well, working.

This shortcut bootcamp does have one thing in common with the other tasks and errands I use to fill my day: in ways small and large, I am trying to produce some takeaway.  I want to walk away with lessons or minor achievements that prove these days are not spent in vain.  In the midst of fruitless job listings and rejection letters, I have a bargain, a new shelving system, or CMD+8 archiving.

By saving time in the smallest ways, I am opening up other pockets in which something might be accomplished, rather than filling up my days with copying and pasting, copying and pasting, copying and pasting.

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