MacSparky's Field Guides - A Must Have purchase

I've been toying with the idea of reading the Field Guides that have been produced by the legend that is David Sparks - or MacSparky as he is more commonly known. 

As said before, I first developed my passion for productivity on the Mac largely down to David, Katie Floyd and Gabe Weatherhead (MacDrifter) when I happened upon a podcast called Mac Power Users, which Gabe was guesting on. The rest, for me, is history and I'm currently enjoying the confidence and ability to pursue a dream of authoring that I never thought possible. 

Whilst looking for inspiration for potential layouts and ideas for how to format the Ibooks format of my upcoming book, I thought it would be a good opportunity to pay back David for the advice he has given, both through the podcasts and personally through email and so I purchased five of his guides:

  • Markdown
  • Email
  • Paperless
  • 60 Mac Tips
  • Mac at Work

It took 10 minutes of reading the Markdown book to realise these books are more than just books. They are art, in it's purest sense. David has been able to capture the essence of how to convey information to both experienced and lay people alike through more than just the written word. His use of Screencasts and Audio Interviews make reading his books more than just reading - it's an experience and if the books I produce from this point on are even half as good as David's, then I'm going to be a very happy man indeed. 

I've also pre-ordered his latest offering - Presentations - which is due for release on July 21st. 

I urge you to visit his site here and just spend half an hour reading through some of his archived blog posts and you'll see that he's really a regular Joe like you and I - yet he has a passion for making both his and other people's lives easier that is almost unparalleled. 

His books are exceptional value when you realise how much time David must have spent working on them. There is so much content, so much to take from them - please check them out. 

My Biggest Productivity Challenge To Date

I guess in many ways I must be a glutton for punishment. That's one of the main issues with trying to live a productive life. It can go one of two ways. 

1) You could take the fact that you are able to achieve more and realise that you have got more time to relax, to spend time doing things you really enjoy (I miss gaming! No, it's not a mistake by not putting spending time with wife and girls here, I ALWAYS make time for them).


2) You could take the fact you are able to achieve more and....try to achieve yet more still!

Unfortunately, my next project firmly sits in the second camp and it's not going to be a quick-fire one either. 

Essentially, the mind-maps have already started for the creation of two books. One, is going to be focused on Productivity in the Home and Workplace. Now this could be a 10,000 page spectacular with the amount of resources available so I have decided to make it based solely on myself and my day-to-day routines and ideas, as well as quoting my influences and providing resources for everyone to tap into. I'm really looking forward to researching this as I'm going to pick up so many more tips from the books I'll buy, sites I'll visit etc so this is really going to help my productivity side improve more. 

The second book, is the real challenge. I'm looking to provide an in-depth analysis of the software that I use day-to-day on my Mac and iOS devices. This is going to include interviews with the developers (permission pending of course) as well as work-flows, sample scripts, video tutorials (iBooks version only - pending permission from developers of course). 

One challenge here comes with nailing, in detail, each piece of software I use. I use a LOT. And there are far better people out there than me using it day-to-day as well, so I will be researching with these people I have contact with to try and improve my daily workflows and present them to you in the book. 

Another challenge is the speed in which software changes, meaning I am signing up for the development of an idea that is going to need revision on a fairly regular basis. New software will come. I've just changed my Calendar application to BusyCal as an example, which has more functionality than the one I was using before which was good but shall remain nameless. However, my passion for Apple and the Productivity that the hardware and software provide means that this will be a challenge I gratefully accept. This is a fantastic opportunity to give something positive back to the Mac community that has helped me so much. 

It's a long project, I'll keep you posted as to it's progress on this blog. Current timeline on my outline measures at between 12-18 months dependant on how many developers I can get on board with assisting me. 

Wish me luck!


Three offers more free roaming options

Like some of you, I am a 3 customer. I love the customer service they provide, which for me is a very important point. I love the coverage I get - it's very rare I go anywhere in a work capacity whereby I am left without a signal. I also love the freedom that the data package gives me. I find myself having to tether to an iOS device a lot for both work and leisure and the allowances I have give me the opportunity to do this with room to spare. 

All that in itself is a good reason for me to be an advocate of this mobile service provider. 

However, add to that the today they have announced that they are adding 5 more countries to their "Feel at Home" scheme, which allows you to carry over your UK allowances to specified overseas locations for free, you find yourself hard-pushed to recommend anyone else. 

Today, they added France, Switzerland, Israel, Norway and Finland to the already impressive list. Three customers are currently able to roam freely in Australia, Austria, Denmark, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Italy, Macau, Ireland, Sri Lanka and the US. 

Let's hope the other mobile phone providers start to take this lead.

We all need to be connected, wherever we are.