Elegant and powerful journaling app: Day One for iPad

IMG_0563I’ve been keeping a journal since 1990, all digital, all stored in date-named .txt or .rtf files, one file per date. Much has been written about the benefits of journaling, in many places, over many years. Because this is an iPad-centric blog I’ll only say a couple of words about journaling as a life practice, then get to the app review. When you write about what you’ve been doing, and how you’re feeling, revelations appear on the page that never would have surfaced in a year of ruminating. Some people say it’s like free therapy. And really, who do you know that couldn’t do with a good dose of therapy? It’s also fun and informative to go back several years and see what you were doing on today’s day, say, 10 years ago. You’ll be amazed at how much you’ve grown in some cases, and how much you haven’t in others. For most folks, the benefits of journaling are pretty clear. Finding the motivation to do so, however, is just really hard sometimes. When you add up the hours for working, sleeping, exercising, interacting with loved ones, and the day’s mundane chores, being motivated to spend a few minutes in your journal as opposed to playing the latest cool iPad game or watching the new episode of Mad Men can be a tough sell.

So how does Day One help? It reduces the behavioral friction from journaling. Using a text or pen-and-paper techniques, you’re presented each day with a blank page, and start filling it up. Sure, you can say where you happen to be, like vacation in Rome. Or you could write about the weather. In a digital journal you could paste in a photo. In a hardcopy journal you can make a little drawing. But you have to do all entry manually. You also have to have your paper journal with you when the inspiration hits, or for us .txt-journal types, you need to be by your computer. This all adds to the effort of making a journal entry, and therefore the behavior friction, or what those of us with a psychology background call response cost. To reduce this friction you need to make journaling as effortless as possible, and this is where Day One shines.

 

Day One works beautifully on your iPad, as if it was made for it. There are also Mac and iPhone versions of the software, so they all sync, but Day One really looks best on the iPad. If you’re like me you almost always have your iPad with you (and probably an iPhone as a backup), so when the inspiration to write something in your journal hits, you can just tap once and Day One is ready. I’ll cover the basics of using Day One below, but the interface is very well thought out specifically to reduce the response cost I described above. When you open Day One, the first thing you see is a prominent plus sign (+). Tap it and the day entry pane opens, labeled with today’s date. Your iPad fills in your location and the weather automatically. If you use healthkit, Day One can also automatically import your activity data. If you’re listening to iTunes, Day One can import the info and add it to your entry. You can override this info if you want, but I never have. You can add a photo from your iPhoto library or take one from within the app. This level of automation makes journaling basics so easy: all you have to do is open an entry pane, wait a second or two for the automatic information to populate, and save the entry, and you’ve got a lot of info about your day.

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Wunderlist for iPad receiving big overhaul in 2015

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I love To-Do lists and Productivity apps in general.  Some may say I love them to a fault.  See if this sounds familiar–you want to find the perfect To-Do / Productivity list app.  You try so hard, and you invest so much time in researching your needs against what is available that you never can decide on just the right one.  This has been a problem form me for years–and I’m sure part of the problem is me and my indecisiveness with regard to this issue.  However, there has to come a time when you decide to either sh@t or get off the pot.

I always enjoyed using Wunderlist, but it never quite fit my needs with regard to how I _wanted_ to use it, and the support and integration it had with other apps was lacking for me.  So, a few month ago I started using Evernote as a task manager/To-Do list/repository of all things important from my work, my writing and my personal life.  Thomas has already written extensively on the merits of such a move.

Now, again, I’m reconsidering my choice.  Wunderlist CEO Christian Reber announced major changes coming to the Wunderlist platform this year–and they all sound great!

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Game review: Space Marshals for iPad

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Space Marshals for iPad is a top-down shooter that pulls you in quickly and will have you surprised when you next look up at the clock. It has great arcade graphics, easy-to-learn controls, and plentiful levels for you to explore while you accomplish missions and avoid the bad guys.

In Space Marshals you play a western-style marshal, complete with six-shooter and ten-gallon hat. You’re on an alien planet, hunting down escapees from a prison break. An AI computer and various human characters show up along the way to help you through a series of missions, each taking place on a different part of the planet. For example, in an early mission, you sneak around a base, trying to disable tracking radar so you and your buddy can make a clean getaway in a stolen ship. A helpful overview map stays in the top right of the screen giving you a condensed view of the level and your goals.

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Review: Alto’s Adventure for iPad

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Alto’s Adventure is getting a lot of good press, for a lot of good reasons. With a combination of compelling but uncomplicated gameplay, beautiful graphics, and a sprightly soundtrack that perfectly fits the scenario, Alto’s Adventure is one of the best things to hit the App Store in a while.

You play the part of Alto, a simple yak herder from a snowy and mountainous part of the world. Someone left the barn door open and your yaks have made an escape. You grab your snowboard and start chasing them down. Along the way you need to jump over rocks and chasms to avoid biting it, and starting back at the barn. As you catch each errant yak, you gain points with which you can upgrade your snowboard and skills, such as your jump hang time. In the only tired metaphor used in the game, you also scoop up coins for upgrading the board and yourself. As you careen down the mountain you’re presented with bridges and cables you can jump onto and shred to gain more points. Finally, doing simple flips and other tricks will also gain you points. But really this point-gathering takes backstage to the gameplay and graphics.

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Lucha Amigos for iPad: slingshot meets bumper pool in Mexico

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Lucha Amigos is an entertaining mashup of Angry Birds-style launching and bumper-pool geometry in which you try to launch turtles to explode cacti inside rooms with bouncy walls. Yes, it makes no sense at all, and it’s still a fun casual game, with no annoying in-app purchase delays, that will have you coming back for more.

In Lucha Amigos (“Fighting Friends” in Spanish) you’re presented with a top-down view of one room after another with various walls and furniture. Each room represents a game level, and is filled with several randomly-spaced cacti and flowers. You get an arsenal of three–four turtles which you fire into the room using a slingshot-style launcher. Your job is to run into and therefore explode as many cacti as possible. Running over the flowers also gets you smiles from the señoritas in your cheering section. As you hit and explode cacti, your turtle bounces off, and continues to carom around the room until it loses steam. Red turtles have a little gun you can fire to shoot more cacti and flowers. If you knock out all the cacti with your turtles, you win the level and the next is unlocked. If you use up your turtles without decimating the cacti, you get laughed at and try the same room again. The levels seem never-ending so you won’t run out of challenges. It’s nonsensical enough that it’s easier to play than explain, so just try it!

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Quick Look: Weafo sharing utility for iPad

We all have the need to transfer files between our devices from time to time.  Sometimes it’s easy, and we have a number of viable options available to us.  Other times, not so much.  Perhaps our files are too large, or too many in number for the usual methods we use.  For times like these […]

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Review: OmniFocus 2 for iPad

After concluding that Evernote wasn’t the task management solution for me, I decided to check out OmniFocus 2 for task and project management. I’d heard a lot about OmniFocus as a productivity suite from other Apple die-hards. In fact, our very own Patrick Jordan used to swear by OmniFocus a few years ago. I’ve tried […]

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Time travel to 1993. And shoot things: DOOM for iPad

In the first 10 minutes I spent playing DOOM for the iPad I felt like I had returned to 1993, playing the hottest new 3-D video game, in my slovenly bachelor pad with the sticky carpet, on my Macintosh LC. With apologies to Wolfenstien 3D fans, DOOM was really the first immersive, mass-market first-person shooter […]

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