home screens

Home Screens: Mike Williams

This week’s home screen features Mike Williams (Twitter). Mike is the President and CEO of the David Allen Company and a geek just like the rest of us. Okay Mike, show us your home screen.

Notes about my home screen

My home screen is intentionally very simple. I do this to minimize distractions. The distractions are all tucked several screen swipes away. It is a simple reminder to me to keep things simple. The act of intentionally finding an app helps me become conscious to what I am doing and why. I also turn off 98% of all the alerts. I have a very quite iPhone. 

What are some of your favorite apps?

Fantastical (thanks to Mac Power Users!) - Love the ease of calendar entry. The UI is beautiful and whimsical. 

Omnifocus - This is the part of my GTD trusted system for all things that are Actionable = Yes (Projects, Next Actions, Waiting For). 

Evernote and Dropbox - This is the part of my GTD trusted system for a majority of the things that are Actionable = No (Reference, Checklists, Lists) 

Focus@Will - My Bose over the ears headsets (which I’ve had since 2006) and Focus@Will put my brain in a wonderful state for work. 

Timer+ - I like working in sprints. A timer helps keep me honest and I love the sense of completion. I’ve had way to many situations when productive time has become unproductive time simply because I drifted off. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy drifting off time too. There is nothing like a good day dream. I create some space for that to happen too (e.g. Walking time, Coffee shop time). 

Podcasts - I rarely listen to radio any more. I enjoy a wide range of podcasts. This is my go to app for commuting and walking. 

FlightAware - This is my go to travel app for getting information to help me understand the status of my flight, the status of my specific plane and more. 

Which apps are your guilty pleasures?

USAToday - It is news candy. Business Insider - Ditto. Medium - For the coffee shop or airport reading… a little deeper and longer form reading. 

What app makes you most productive?

It is actually three apps in tandem: Calendar + Omnifocus + Timer. The calendar helps me see my calendared actions and reference information (e.g. appointments, meetings, day specific actions, day specific reminders). When I have “white space” or open time on my calendar I shift to work sprint mode. Omnifocus serves up the list of possibilities for me to choose from based on my context, time available and my energy level. I use the timer and time blocking to identify the number and types of sprints I am going to do within a given amount of time (e.g. process emails for X minutes, brainstorm on a topic for X minutes, clean up ___ area for X minutes, and many more). 

What app do you know you’re underutilizing?

I am working to discover the power of Workflow. I love the ETA (estimated time of arrival) workflow. I use this to help my wife know when I will be home. There is a heck of a lot of territory to explore here. This is another app that Mac Power Users brought into my life - thank you! 

What is the app you are still missing?

An app that, with minimal clicks and super fast speed, can capture an audio idea, turn it into text and send it to my Omnifocus Inbox. 

How many times a day do you use your iPhone/iPad?

For me, when I am optimally productive, very little. 

When I am less productive, a lot. 

For me, when I am most present, very little. When I am most distracted, a lot. 

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

The whole iOS ecosystem and how it works together. Siri is great for getting information very easily. 

If you were in charge at Apple, what would you add or change?

Time Machine and all iOS devices backup to iCloud automatically.

What’s your wallpaper and why?

Picture of a latte from Blue Bottle Cafe in San Francisco. Why? I love the serenity of a coffee shop and a journal. It is a reminder of the power of cool funky places. I love the vibe. It is a reminder to build in some unstructured mind wandering time into my day which helps me be more engaged, creative and productive. 

Anything else you’d like to share?

Yes, I really enjoy Mac Power Users. Many thanks to you and Katie for all the work you do there! If anybody would like to learn more about me, David Allen or Getting Things Done® (a.k.a. GTD®) you can find information at www.gettingthingsdone.com. You can also follow me on Twitter at @GTDmw. Cheers to all! Keep rockin’ the Mac and iOS world!

Home Screen: Liana Lehua

This week’s home screen post features my pal Liana Lehua (Twitter)(Website). Liana just keeps doing amazing work and never ceases to amaze me. Most recently she was a co-producer and Assistant Unit Production Manager on the motion picture, BOKEH. She also is the co-founder of SignalWorx, one of the best streaming companies out there. So Liana, show us your home screen.

What Are Some of Your Favorite Apps?

Much of my time is spent planning for video or photography shoots, or on set where I have to be able to take notes, track requests, document events, and organize all of it for summary, action, and or distribution in multiple mediums, for various people and purposes. 

I use Notability on my iPad most, because it allows me to easily write and record audio to a document for thoughts and ideas which may be fleeting or that I am afraid I might lose if I don’t capture them quickly. I write extensively in Notability using the Wacom Bamboo pen when I need to mind map ideas quickly. Being able to round trip between my iOS devices and the Notability for Mac app is key to my workflow. 

The Drafts app helps me collect and prepare bits and pieces of information inside of one app that I can quickly capture and distributed in whatever tool I need (text, email, Twitter, etc.).

I am constantly working through concepts or story ideas when I’m on the go. I will take quick notes by topic or in acts using Index Card for iPhone where I can keep a working structure and order to some of my more coherent ideas.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

Superhero Workout. Hands down. I use the app as a supplement to my regular training. The moves are simple, no equipment is required, and to the movements takes minimal space. The reason I use it is that it frees my mind from having to think about what to do and for how long. It’s perfect for when I’m heads down in a project, need a break, to get up from my laptop, and don’t have time to get outside.

What app makes you most productive?

Coffitivity + Spotify. I find cafes to be distracting, but I like the ambient noise of being in a public place. Coffitivity has various tracks of background noise I play under Spotify’s own “Coffee Table Jazz” playlist. It creates an ideal environment for me to stay focused, get organize, create, and get things done.

What app do you know you’re underutilizing?

Workflow. Between Drafts and Hazel, I have most of my routine actions covered. I’m using Workflow for quick communications on the go, but I know its capable of so much more. 

What is the app you are still missing?

A location scouting app. Reconnaissance is only as good as what can be accurately communicated to my director, cinematographer, line producers, and all my crew. There used to be an app, Pocket Scout, which allowed me to take pictures, writes descriptors, and store information about locations, including geotagging each entry. Then, I was able to search on keywords or phrases, “red brick wall”, or “graffiti tunnel”, for example, and get directions back to that location. 

How many times a day do you use your iPhone/iPad?

I don’t use any electronic device 2 hours before bed, 2 hours after I wake up, or during meals.

What Today View widgets are you using and why?

(Phillips) Hue: I’m always changing my lights in my house depending on what I’m doing.

Pocket Informant: I like the quick view of the days weather and events. I’ve been a Pocket Informant users since somewhere around 2000 (on a Compaq iPaq 3635, and it still does everything I need and want it to do.

ESPN: Because, sports. 

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

The ecosystem. It’s because of how my devices work together that the hardware is valuable. I stop short of using the word necessary, because I come from a time before having the technology to “Think Different” in my work, play, and life. 

If you were in charge at Apple, what would you add or change?

I would change the pricing of the Apple Watch Edition collection.

$What’s your wallpaper and why?

Photographer Clark Little’s “Heart”. It reminds me of the things which bring me the most joy. 

Anything else you’d like to share?

I’d love to connect with you on Twitter @lianalehua if you’re interested in film/tv production, live streaming, or photography. You can see my most current work at www.signalworx.com.

Thanks Liana.

Home Screen: Kevin Wild

This week’s home screen post features Kevin Wild (Twitter)(website). Kevin writes about technology at the Hungry and the Foolish. Kevin was nice enough to share his home screen. So Kevin, show us your home screen.

What are some of your favorite apps?

It’s hard to narrow it down! 

I love Day One for keeping my journal. VSCOcam is the best camera app I’ve found. I’ve downloaded virtually every podcast app available, but nothing beats the thoughtful UI of OvercastReeder stores all my RSS feeds and lets me keep up with our ever-changing world. One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to be more organized; Scanbot lets me turn all of those pesky paper receipts into a digital library. Slack is quickly becoming invaluable for keeping up with my work colleagues.

Oh yeah, I can’t forget Tweetbot!

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

I’d have to say it’s Plex. I have my entire media library stored on an external HDD which runs the Plex software. I love being able to access it remotely when I have some downtime. It’s almost like Netflix, but with better content.

Also, Catan.

What is the app you are still missing?

I’m writing my book, Turnover, in Ulysses and would love to edit it using an iPhone app. I noticed they recently announced an iPad app, so hopefully an iPhone version is on the way.

How many times a day do you use your iPhone?

I have purposely avoided keeping track, but I’d have to say I use it more than I should. iPhone separation anxiety is a real. One thing I’ve done recently to reduce my iPhone usage is deactivate all my push notifications (save for the Messages and Phone app). It’s helped me reduce distractions and stay focused on the task at hand.

What Today View widgets are you using and why?

I don’t use the app itself, but I love the Fantastical widget and how it lets me quickly check into my schedule for the day. Yahoo! Sports is key for keeping up with my favorite teams. I also love the Clear widget although (ironically) I don’t use the app itself either. I simply enjoy the random quotes it pulls up every time I check Notification Center.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone?

The camera by far. I purchased a DLSR a while back, but still end up using my iPhone as my main camera. It’s hard to beat the combination of quality, ease of use and portability. Add in a amazing app like VSCOcam and I can’t think of a better all-around camera to have in your hand.

If you were in charge at Apple, what would you add or change?

I’d improve the App Store by offering a better search function, free trials of paid apps, and optional paid updates.

What’s your wallpaper and why?

I know it’s dull, but I prefer to have simple pattern-based wallpapers for my home screen. I’m obsessed over how my wallpaper contrasts the app icons. 

On my lock screen, where there are no app icons to contrast, I have a picture of my wife from our honeymoon in California.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I’d love to connect with anyone interested in discussing Apple or technology in general. You can keep up with me on The Hungry and Foolish (my blog) and contact me on Twitter (@Kevuhnn).

Thanks Kevin.

Home Screens: Sam Montooth

This week’s home screen features Sam Montooth (website)(Twitter) In addition to being an extraordinarily talented bassist and photographer, Sam has, quite possibly, the coolest picture in the history of the home screen posts. I got to spend some time with Sam this year at NAMM and you should definitely check out Sam’s music and photography. So Sam, show us your home screen.

What are some of favorite apps?

I really like DowncastCamera+iReal ProGoogle MapsTweetbotInstagram.

Downcast I use on a daily, almost hourly basis. I’ve tried all of the other podcatchers out there and it holds up and works perfectly for me. 

I use Camera+ in conjunction with Instagram. If there’s something I’ve taken a shot of quickly with the Camera app that I need to fix and share, then I edit in Camera+ and share via Instagram. 

Tweetbot is the only way to use Twitter. Like Downcast, I’ve tried all of the Twitter clients for iOS and I’ve spent a lot of money looking for some new way to manage my Twitter life, but I always come back to Tweetbot, it’s just great!

Being a musician, iReal Pro is invaluable. It’s a chord sheet manager. Fully editable and you can use it as a practice tool as well. For those familiar with the term Music Minus One, it is exactly capable of that, except you can change keys, tempos, styles, etc. I mostly use it on my iPad, but the iPhone version is just as good (but small).

Google Maps is important for my work as well. Getting to gigs on time is what your reputation is built on and Google Maps makes that happen.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

Touch of Modern. I’ve bought so much there it’s embarrassing.

What app makes you most productive?

I haven’t found an app that’s made me more productive yet, but I am trying out the revamped Coach.me an so far I like it.

What app do you know you’re underutilizing?

Triage. It’s great! I just don’t use it enough as you can see by my Inbox count. (sorry inbox zero people, I don’t want to give you a panic attack.)

What is the app you are still missing?

The original Siri app was great and I was using it to it’s full potential. Still not the same since Apple bought it.

How many times a day do you use your iPhone/iPad?

More than I can count. More than I should. But, in my defense, many of my friends are not local and are in other countries, so the only way to chat with them is via chat clients, twitter, etc.

What Today View widgets are you using and why?

I don’t use any of them. I barely check the notification screen as I’ve disabled almost all notifications because my phone has to be silent about 90% of the time. (including no vibration)

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

The Camera hands down. Being able to take a decent shot nearly instantaneously of my daughter is the killer feature for the iPhone. The fact that I can get a decent quality shot so quickly is still amazing to me on a phone.

If you were in charge at Apple, what would you add or change?

I would first license (not buy and absorb) Dropbox and make it a part of iCloud so it would actually work correctly. Apple’s ecosystem is great, but it shouldn’t be an all or nothing proposition. They should allow their iCloud integration to natively live on other devices because sometimes people have to have Windows in certain situations and why be locked out of your stuff for that? I would also start production on a Mac Pro mini tower. 

Somewhere between the old Mac Pro and the current design that would allow for an internal RAID. Lastly, I would fund the Pro app development to continue to have actual Pro apps and allow them to be developed. My biggest disappointment was the news of Aperture being let go. The PR says it’s because Photos is enough, and it may well be, but they killed Aperture over a year ago and just didn’t let us know. The Pro user is still important to Apple and if I was in charge I would establish an entire department just for Pro development, consultation, and service.

What’s your wallpaper and why?

My current wallpaper is a Stop sign from Seal Beach, CA. I took the photo with my DSLR and imported it specifically for my iPhone and iPad. It’s significant to me as I was there at the beach making a big decision for my life and I saw this sign and it simplified everything I was trying to resolve within myself. So, every time I notice that image behind my icons, I’m reminded of all the things that led up to that decision. It’s an empowering image to me and it’s great to be reminded daily of my resolve.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I have the Star Trek Communicator app in my dock on my phone because I’m a huge Star Trek fan, and I love using it to call people. It would be great if Apple would allow skins to be installed over the Phone app natively so I could actually use that app the whole way through a phone call. It’s a fun app with great sound clips from the original series.

Also, I have to mention that on my iPad, I’m a huge user of the Unrealbook app. It’s a PDF aggregator for musicians and it allows me to carry 20 fake books in my bag and has allowed me to save my back. :)

Thanks Sam.

Home Screens: Kourosh Dini

In addition to other super powers, Kourosh rocks a fedora.

In addition to other super powers, Kourosh rocks a fedora.

This week’s home screen features Kourosh Dini (website)(Twitter). Kourosh is the classic triple threat: psychiatrist, musician, geek. Most recently Kourosh released a second edition of his fantastic book, Creating Flow with OmniFocus. To me, a trip to Chicago is not complete until I’ve broken bread with my pal Kourosh. So Kourosh, show us your home screen.

What are some of your favorite apps?

OmniFocus remains my main application and has the easiest reach at the bottom right corner. 

The Phone and Drafts apps are also on the lower bar. Other communications apps are embedded in a folder on the lower bar. The default Mail app and Tweetbot are actually on the second page of that folder to minimize my propensity to check either reflexively.


Across the top are Settings and three timers.

Wind-up is useful for simple timing. I use it for meditation and making tea. I like the windup action.

Due is good for setting up a time to begin closing a session of work. I love how it can ding every minute. 

When an alert or reminder just rings once, it can be disruptive as I must either: 

  • Stop present work abruptly and move on to the next thing,
  • Turn off the ringer and hope I remember to move on soon, or
  • Leave the ringer on and irritate me while work.

Each of these options leaves something to be desired.

Due’s minute reminder is not so intrusive that I can’t work but is present just enough to tell me it’s time to wrap up my present work. If I would like to continue with present work, then I can purposely make that decision and deliberately reset the clock.

Alarm Clock is useful as a regular alarm and as a time display. Combined with a kickstand (using an Aduro case), I might set it near my computer while I work with some OS X application in full screen mode. (The kickstand is also nice for Face Time sessions or watching a show on the fly.)


For music, I use the default Music app as well as Spotify

Instacast is great for podcasts as I do not need to store the sound files on the phone and can, instead, stream them. 

I still have the Shazam and SoundHound apps, even though I know Siri can do this automatically. Siri, unfortunately, does not understand me. I believe she is too polite to tell me that I mumble.


Google Maps is great for getting around town on public transportation. Most of my travel is by foot, train, and bus.

Transit stop is useful for knowing when the next bus is arriving. 

Art Institute Membership - I love having membership cards in my phone. It’s one less thing to carry. 


Square register for credit card transactions. It used to be a magical thing to be able to process a credit card transaction, an action left to the major retailers. That we can do this as small business entities highlights a neat societal shift. 

Epocrates is useful for medication information. 

I also have a Date Wheel date calculator, which is useful for calculating something like when 90 days from now lands on the calendar.

PDFPen Scan + and JotNot Pro are useful as scanners. I haven’t settled with one or the other yet. Combining either with an online faxing service, I can scan a piece of paper and fax it quickly. (Yes, I still fax.)


Kindle and iBooks for books.

Newsify for RSS feeds.

Pocket for individual articles.

Dark Horse Comics for awesomeness.


Mindnode is an elegant mind mapping application that strikes a nice compromise of mapping features and simplicity. I use this more on OS X than on iOS due to the screen real estate, but it’s nice to have on iOS, too.

inShort stays at the front page beckoning to me to learn it. It seems to have a complexity that requires a certain threshold of knowledge to work through before finding a stride. However, I have yet to make that effort. Maybe if I get the OS X version, I’ll get into it. 

Duolingo is a neat language learning experience. While it does not replace actual practiced conversation, it is always nice to have around for a quick lesson.


Remote and Roku remotes are useful for my Apple TV and Roku devices, respectively.

I’ve also been experimenting with the new Alfred remote. I like being able to quickly jump around the system settings using the app. I’m not sure how else I’ll use it yet, but it looks like there are some interesting possibilities.


Clear tune for tuning the guitar and Tabs to taunt the kids with poorly practiced renditions of “Let it Go”. 

Multi-Measures is a nice measuring kit. Though for me it is more for silly fun. I like to use it to measure the ambient noise level when walking around town. Watching the ambient noise level shift and change as I move from one environment to another gives the whole walk a story-like feel. Visiting the L train , I’ve seen it range into the 90 dBs. Quieter places are in the low 30s. 

Apps like this also just go to show how much the smart phone has become a present day swiss army knife.


Byword is connected to a single folder in Dropbox where I store the majority of my text files.

Drafts is very useful, too, to just get some thoughts down, especially if I don’t know what I’m doing with them yet. 

DayOne is good for journaling. 

Which apps is your guilty pleasure?

Alien Blue is an application that interfaces with Reddit. The community there is at once endearing and enraging. It also helps me keep up to date with what is interesting in the community at large.

Dark Horse comics is another guilty pleasure. I’ve been reading the Leaf Upon the Wind Firefly comics. 

What is the app you are still missing?

OmniOutliner for iPhone. I like to use OmniOutliner for templates of tasks - morning routines and the like. While I don’t always consult them, they are nice to have handy. I store these in an OmniPresence linked folder so I can get to them from iPad or OSX. However, I have the iPhone handy much more frequently. (Stay tuned on this one Kourosh. -D)

How many times a day do you use your iPhone/iPad?

Still too many, but I am better. I read of someone deliberately hobbling their phone, turning it into a “distraction free” phone. I’ve yet to take that plunge, but I am considering it.

What Today View widgets are you using and why?

I’ve got the weather up top. 

OmniFocus is listed next. I do hope that The Omni Group allows for customizing which perspective appears up top. Presently, it is only for Due tasks. I would love to be able to use one of my Dashboard settings (a combination of “Filter by Status: Due or Flagged” with “Filter by Availability: Available” and “Sort actions by: Due”). That way I could see all the tasks I’ve set for today.

Next up is the Calendar. As much of my work is based on sessions with individual clients, my calendar is extremely important. 

Then I’ve got the Kindle. I really like how I can open directly to any of the last three read books from this view. 

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

Its portability. For instance, I use OmniFocus on the iPhone much more than with the iPad despite the greater feature count of the iPad version. Its direct accessibility and ease of typing both contribute to its use.

If you were in charge at Apple, what would you add or change?

I can’t wait for internal links to work when exporting from Pages again. With my last book, I had to manually create all the internal links using Adobe Acrobat for the PDF. 

What’s your wallpaper and why?

I like the default watery wallpaper. Setting the icons above the water line makes me happy for unknown reasons. 

Anything else you’d like to share?

I’m learning Android: Netrunner. Board and card games are awesome.

Home Screens: John Siracusa

This week’s home screen post features John Siracusa. (Podcast)(Website)(Twitter) John, who writes those amazing OS X reviews for Ars Technica, famously stuck with his flip phone until a few months ago when he got a shiny new iPhone 6. (John is also our workflow guest on the Mac Power Users episode dropping this weekend.) So John, show us your home screen.

Q: What are some of your favorite apps?

The apps I use most are my favorites: Twitterrific, Overcast, and Instapaper. Those three cover most of my iPhone usage. I listen to podcasts while commuting (using my car’s Bluetooth iPhone integration). I read Twitter when I have a spare moment. While reading Twitter, I file interesting links away in Instapaper and read them when I have a longer stretch of free time.

Q: Which app is your guilty pleasure?

I feel the most guilty when I’m sinking time into Desert Golfing. It’s just one hole after another, with very little reward for making progress. It’s the aloof cat of iOS gaming.

Q: How many times a day do you use your iPhone/iPad?

Maybe ten times per day on weekdays, more on weekends.

Q: What Today View widgets are you using and why?

I never look at the Today View. I’m not sure why, but it’s never found a place in my iPhone or iPad usage.

Q: If you were in charge at Apple, what would you add or change?

I’d get serious about network services, applying all the same philosophies Apple already applies to its other products. Apple should own and control the primary technologies that make its network services possible. Look at how much Google and Amazon have invested in creating their own server-side infrastructure over the years: MapReduceBigTableSpannerS3EC2DynamoDB, and so much more, and that’s even before considering the (more secretive) data center management and server hardware. Apple is behind here, and it shows in the performance and reliability of its network services—and in Apple’s ability to create new network services.

What’s your wallpaper and why?

My wallpaper is black because I don’t want anything to distract from the app icons. (I also have the parallax animation disabled for the same reason.)

Anything else you’d like to share?

I’m not happy with my home screen as shown in this screenshot. The iPhone 6’s larger screen has made the icons at the top a lot harder to reach, and this has forced me to reevaluate the layout I’ve had since the 5th generation iPod touch was released in 2012. Also, I’d really like it if Instagram would change its icon to fit in better with the others on my home screen. 

Thanks John.

Home Screens: J. Walter Hawkes

One of the best parts about running MacSparky.com is its eclectic group of listeners. I recently heard from J. Walter Hawkes, a professional musician (Website)(Blog)(Twitter). Walter is a composer. He does lots of children's television, like Blue's Clues, Wonder Pets, Third and Bird, and he is the current music director for Peg + Cat on PBS. To this day, I still catch myself singing some of the Blues Clues songs. (Team Steve!) Walter also plays a mad trombone solo. Don't believe me? Listen to him back up Norah Jones on Sinkin Soon. Enough gushing. Walter, show us your home screen.

What are some of favorite apps?  

iPhone: Getting around NYC can be...interesting.  I like KickMap (for quick looks at the map and train line status) and HopStop (transit directions) to help me get around the city.   I have a love/hate relationship with OmniFocus.  I love how the app has helped me keep my act together.  I hate being told what to do.  

Which app is your guilty pleasure?  

I have a few: Firstly, Instagram and Facebook for purely voyeuristic reasons.   When I want something mindless when I'm on the subway, I play 8bit Ninja....SpellTower if I only have one hand. Though it's not an app... Hue Lights.   I have a few Hue bulbs in my studio.  They're kinda new... so I'm still experimenting with apps.  Now I'm using the official Hue app and OnSwitch.  I'm not so sure about the apps, but I love the lights!

What is the app you are still missing?  

At the moment, I'm satisfied on my iOS devices... we'll see how long that lasts.  I'm waiting for those killer HomeKit and Health apps. (Me too. -D)

How many times a day do you use your iPhone/iPad?  

All the time.  Too much, probably.  I  use my iPad very heavily at work and play, too.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?  

I have a new iPad Air that has TouchID.  That's a real winner for me.  I'm tempted to upgrade my iPhone 5 just for it... that's crazy talk though!  

If you were in charge at Apple, what would you add or change? 

iTunes.  Oy.

What's your wallpaper and why?  

I have a random space shot I just picked off the internets.  I was embarrassed that I still had the stock wallpaper on my phone.  Ha! 

Anything else you'd like to share?  

I use my iPad a LOT. On the iPad, when dealing with musical scores or reading instrumental parts for the cartoons, I use FourScore. I use the bluetooth pedals for turning pages when I have a trombone or a ukulele in my hands. I use Noteability for scribbling notes on pdf scripts in meetings. I use GoodReader for my pdfs, which I have a LOT of.  I dabble in electronics and I keep data sheets and schematics... I've digitized most my old computer programming paperbacks going back to 1992 or so... I'll be totally freakin' SET when I get that great idea for an application using VRML!  (Check, please!)

Thanks Walter.

Home Screens: Geoff Barrall

This week’s home screen features Geoff Barrall (Twitter). Geoff is the guy that came up with the Drobo and then followed that up with the Transporter. Geoff's a geek, like us, and love’s his iPhone. Despite Geoff’s serious job (and picture), I’ve honestly never seen him without a smile on his face. So Geoff, show us your home screen.

What are some of your favorite apps?

Apps I use all the time that aren’t on my home screen are - OpenTable (lot’s of business dinners), ETradeStarbucks (to pay for coffee), Plex to sync video for trips from my Drobo 5N and ComiXology.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

On the iPad it’s Castle Panic for sure. I’ve spent a lot of time on that one.

What is the app you are still missing?

The original version of Siri (before the acquisition) was really interesting. It could plan a whole trip for you. I know the founder a little and he had big dreams for the way it’d connect many many services. I’m hoping Apple get it back to that position long term so it really becomes a mobile personal assistant.

How many times a day do you use your iPhone?

All the time. I use it for notes in meetings and to hold my agenda. Even when sitting at my PC I use both depending on which is easier.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

Everything in sync, contacts, calendar etc. This has really been working well for me in recent years.

If you were in charge at Apple, what would you add or change?

Sandboxing & The App Approval process. It’s at a point where the best OS X Apps aren’t in the App Store anymore. The App Store could be really awesome. I think it’d just take Apple to trust the companies making Mac software a little more (not everything needs to be Sandboxed). The new extensions for iOS was a great step in the right direction so I’m hopeful Apple is on a better track now.

What’s your wallpaper and why?

I think it’s still the default. Busy.

Anything else you’d like to share?

If there was I’d use Transporter to do it! :D

Thanks Geoff.

Home Screens: Mark Pouley

One of the first friends I ever made at Macworld Expo many years ago was Mark Pouley (Twitter). Mark is a photographer that lives and works in the Pacific Northwest, one of my favorite parts of the United States. Mark is a wonderful guy and has a great eye for photography. Mark’s complete portfolio is available to view at twinlakesimages.com. You really should click on that link and check out some of Mark’s shots. I’m thinking about hanging this one in my office. Alright Mark, show us your home screen.

What are some of your favorite apps?

On the phone I use Downcast daily to listen to podcasts on my commute.

Tweetbot is always running and is the app used most on the phone.

I love The Photographer’s Ephemeris (to determine where and when the moon and sun will line up in my location) and I use it very often when I’m out shooting landscapes with my DSLR to line up shots and know when to be in a location.

I shoot with the phone, but edit on my iPad with my favorite photo processing app is Snapseed.

I’m slowly integrating Lightroom Mobile on the iPad into my work flow, but that has been a slow process. I’d like to see a few more upgrades to the app before I think it will be really useful.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

Intellectually I know the app shouldn’t be on my phone. I know I shouldn’t even have an account. I agree with all the reasons people hate it, but Facebook is my guilty pleasure. It’s how I keep in touch with family and friends and I’ve reconnected with high school friends I haven’t seen or talked to in years. 

It’s okay Mark. No. Really. -David

How many times a day do you use your iPhone/iPad?

Even though I have a post graduate degree I don’t believe I can count that high. It is a very, very big number.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

The best feature of the iPhone is the portable power. It is remarkable to me that I can do so much computing and real photography with a small device that fits in my pocket. I take it for granted, but I can’t imagine what life would be like now without it. The iPad has to be its convenience. Whether I’m viewing photos, reading, checking mail, playing games, it is so easy to carry around and flip open to get to work quickly and easily. The phone and pad have changed the way I work and spend my leisure time.

If you were in charge at Apple, what would you add or change?

I think it is coming, but not soon enough. I would integrate the Beats music streaming service with iTunes match and offer the service at a killer subscription price. I can’t wait to have my entire music collection combined with on-demand streaming on my phone. I was slow to join the subscription streaming band wagon, but I now use Spotify daily, and love it, but I also own a huge library of music. I want seamless integration of all of my music at a great price. 

Anything else you’d like to share?

My switch to using Macs in 2007 is what kicked off my journey into photography. The computer was so easy to use it really kick-started my creativity. I feel like the iPhone and iPad are instrumental now in the work I do, but I also think it is still the early days of what we are going to be able to do with portable computing and I’m excited to see what is coming around next corner.

Thanks Mark.

Home Screens: Katie Floyd's iPad

In our most recent Mac Power Users episode, Katie and I talked about our home screens. At the end I convinced Katie to share her iPad home screen at MacSparky and here it is. One of the highlights of my life is taking time every week to make the Mac Power Users with Katie Floyd (website) (Twitter). So Katie, show us your home screen.

What are some of favorite apps?

I have a common morning routine with the iPad. I’ll check email using Apple’s Mail.app, review my RSS feeds with Mr. Reeder and check Twitter using Tweetbot all before I get out of bed. As time allows I’ll also check in with the Mac Power Users Community on Google Plus and maybe catch up on a few items I’ve saved to my Instapaper queue.

For work and school related projects I live by apps like OmniFocusOmniOutlinerPDFpen and Evernote. As we discussed on the Mac Power Users Tech in Education episode, I keep all my notes in OmniOutliner and supporting material is either in Dropbox or Evernote. Most of these documents are PDFs which I read and annotate using PDFpen. The beauty of this workflow is thanks to various sync services everything is available on any of my Macs or on the iPad.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

I’ve never been a gamer so I don’t have a single game on my iPhone or iPad. So I guess if I had to pick a “guilty pleasure” it would have to be a social media related App like Tweetbot or Facebook. I seldom post to Facebook but do like it for keeping up with old friends. I love interacting with friends and followers through Twitter. 

What is the app you are still missing?

I’m still missing a really great App for taking notes. Notability is probably the best but the dream is to be able to take notes on the iPad as easily and clearly as I do on a pad of paper. Unfortunately my handwriting has never been the best and even with fancy stylus like the Evernote Jot Script writing on the iPad is still a struggle. The text is barley legible, input is dropped, and despite wrist protection features I still end up with stray marks all over the page. For now, typing using the iPad’s built in keyboard is still a far better, but a less than optimal, option for me.

How many times a day do you use your iPad?

My iPad the first thing I reach for in the morning and the last thing I put down at night. While I don’t take it with me every day, since converting to the iPad mini last year I’ll take my iPad out and about with me many days for use when taking notes at meetings, reading (especially reading and highlighting cases for class) and doing more productive work on the go.

What Today View widgets are you using and why?

The trick to Today View widgets is to have enough to be useful, but not too many that it becomes overly cluttered. On the iPad I use fewer than on the iPhone. I use Dark Sky because it’s one of the smallest forecast widgets I’ve seen and it’s very accurate. Although the Fantastical widget takes up quite a bit of space, it’s a great at-a-glance view of my calendar and I can easily create new events from the widget. I use the Evernote widget because it gives easy access to creating a new document . The Drafts widget allows me to easily send information from the clipboard to Drafts, though as of this writing the fate of that widget is in flux

On my iPhone I use additional widgets including OmniFocus and Delivery Status and DataMan.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

Even after all these years with the iPad every time I pick it up I still feel a little bit in awe. I have an object in my hand that’s smaller than a pad of paper and it’s a computer. How freaking cool is that? Steve Jobs was right, the iPad was and remains a magical and revolutionary device.

If you were in charge at Apple, what would you add or change?

I would continue to open up iOS. Apple has made great progress with a limited set of extensions in iOS 8 and developers have used those tools to do great things. 1Password is now available in Safari and can be unlocked with my thumb, I can share items directly into Evernote, Instapaper and OmniFocus and my TextExpander snippets are now available everywhere thanks to a custom keyboard. While these are among my favorite new features, but there’s still so much more we could do. Why are there no share extensions in Mail.app? What about giving developers access to Siri? Why are there so many seemingly arbitrary restrictions on what can occur in the Today View Widgets? Why can’t I customize Control Center? I understand Apple has to balance stability and security with usability and features but I feel there’s still more work to be done here.

What’s your wallpaper and why?

It’s a photo of the Golden Gate Bridge taken from a boat in the bay. I took the photo during my first trip to Macworld in January of 2008. I think it’s a nice photo but it’s also sentimental because it represents so many things; my first Macworld, the trip where I first met David and so many people who would become great friends, it’s also the trip that was the genesis for Mac Power Users

Anything else you’d like to share?

Life for me has been pretty crazy the past few months but I feel like I am starting to find a balance. I’m making a conscious effort to keep my blog regularly updated, even if it’s smaller posts, and I’m trying to engage more on social media. I’d love a few more subscribers over at katiefloyd.me and followers on Twitter @katiefloyd.

Thanks Katie.

Home Screens - Stephen Grassie

This week’s home screen features Stephen Grassie. Stephen pays for his shoes helping attorneys with courtroom technology but he also played a hand in the Brain Fuel Cookbook (made with iBooks Author) about eating better. So Stephen, show us your home screen.

What are some of your favorite apps?

I find that the apps I value the most are the ones that make my life easier. I can’t decide if that makes me smart or just lazy!

Pinbox is one of those simple apps that does one thing so well it feels frictionless. I enjoy researching plans before a trip, but I don’t like deciding on a specific itinerary of when to do things once I arrive. Pinbox lets me skip the itinerary by creating a custom map with as many location marker pins as I want—I just drop a pin on my hotel and then on any other location I might want to visit. At any point during the trip, I can open Pinbox and see a map of places I’ve saved compared to my location and decide what to do next. The app is quick and intuitive, but I hope the developer will add a few features like iPad optimization and map sharing.

Chronicle reminds me of upcoming bills in the era of paperless billing. Using it is so quick that I don’t find myself putting off adding new bills or updating balances. When a due date approaches, the app uses the standard red notification badge as well as notifications to make sure I don’t forget anything. (It also has a great Mac companion app if you prefer paying bills on your Mac.)

Paprika makes the process of cooking at home much easier. I really wasn’t much of a cook when I began working on the iBooks version of Sam Anderson’s cookbook, and I found myself struggling with the process of deciding what to cook and then figuring out what ingredients I needed. Even worse, when I forgot to plan a meal or to buy an ingredient, I’d end up wasting a lot of time going to the store again. Luckily, after adding my favorite recipes to Paprika, the process of deciding what to cook for the week and what ingredients to buy became so quick that I now often do it while sitting in the parking lot at the grocery store right before I walk in. It even exports your grocery list to the built in Reminders list.

Squarespace’s Blog app was a bonus I wasn’t expecting when I signed up. The app itself is unabashedly simple without being limiting.

Idea Bucket has a confusing name—it’s more like a pro/con list on steroids. When I am having a hard time making a decision, I’ll add the options to Idea Bucket and then add a few pros and cons to each. The app is different because it uses weighted slider bars rather than a standard list. Once I’ve gone through the process of entering the data, I can usually tell right away which option makes the most sense. I don’t use this app daily, but when I do use it I’m glad I have it.

iCam lets me use standard webcams as home security cameras and lets me check the cameras and recorded motion events from anywhere. I use it to check on the dog and see if I closed the garage door. It can even send you a push notification if it detects motion.

SimpliSafe is a modern DIY home alarm system. Shortly after installing it, we were on a cruise and couldn’t remember if we’d set the alarm. I pulled out my phone and armed it from the middle of the Caribbean and felt pretty darn cool. We even have a sensor in our mailbox that sends a push notification when the mail is delivered.

iBooks, of course! I greeted iBooks with great skepticism when it launched because I just couldn’t see myself reading full-length books on my iPad. Luckily I stumbled upon Paperless (by you know who!) and my eyes were opened to the cool new type of books that were possible on the iPad. These days, the first place I look when I need to learn something new is the iBooks Store.

Filemaker Go blows me away. I have always found cool uses for Filemaker on the desktop, but the iPad version has reached the point that it almost seems like magic.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

An oldie but goodie is Voices 2, a voice changing and recording app. It probably takes the award for both the oldest iOS app I still use as well as one of the most beautifully designed. It is so much fun to open Voices and pass the app around to kids and adults until everyone is laughing at all the different ways it can change your voice. I keep hoping that the developer will release a version for the iPad one of these days, but I should probably give up hope at this point!

I also enjoy the Amazon Windowshop iPad app. Its my go-to when trying to find a gift for someone without knowing exactly what I’m looking for. Using Windowshop reminds me of browsing in an actual retail store, because it is easy to stumble across something cool that I didn’t know existed.

What is the app you are still missing?

Not an app, per se, but I’m still holding out hope for a more useful lock screen. I haven’t really found my stride with Notification Center, and notifications in general seem intrusive and distracting. A customizable lock screen would be a huge boon for me.

And of course, Scrivener for iPad!

How many times a day do you use your iPhone/iPad?

I have purchased every single iPhone so far on release day, but I recently made the big switch from a iPhone 6 Plus to a very simple feature phone that doesn’t even include a camera. The iPhone is incredible, but I started to notice that it was taking away about as much (or more) from my life as it was adding to it. Fast LTE internet access in my pocket made it far too easy to squander time, and being so connected made it hard for me to be alone with my thoughts. After 7 years of near-constant smartphone use, giving it up has been surprisingly easy (so far).

I still use my iPad a few times a day, but it is much easier to manage how much of my attention I give to the iPad since it doesn’t fit in my pocket and go everywhere with me.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

Hands down: Siri’s voice dictation. Typing on the iPad isn’t bad, but not having to type is great!

If you were in charge at Apple, what would you add or change?

I would slow everything down (just a little). I used to trust that when Apple released something, it would work as described – and beautifully! I feel like software updates have been coming so quickly for the last few years that Apple is having a hard time keeping up with the changes. I’d much rather wait on a polished product than have something that is almost ready (or full of compromises). A recent example: I couldn’t believe the convoluted words coming out of my mouth while I tried to explain to a friend why they should not activate iCloud Drive.

What’s your wallpaper and why?

The grass texture is one of the original wallpapers included with Mac OS 7.5. A while back I booted up an old Mac and experienced instant nostalgia from the desktop pattern alone, so I took screenshots of a few favorites and have been rotating through them. (By the way, repeating patterns really make the Perspective Zoom feature pop.)

Anything else you’d like to share?

The best part of being a Mac user is the community. My sincere thanks all of those who figure out awesome ways to accomplish things and are willing to share their techniques with the world!

Home Screen: Dave Stachowiak

Dave Stachowiak (Twitter) is the host of the Coaching for Leaders and Carnegie Coach podcasts. Dave is also Executive Vice President, Talent Development at Dale Carnegie of Southern Los Angeles. Dave, through his podcasts, manages to combine a love of technology with a bit of sanity towards being productive. So Dave, show us your home screen.

What are some of your favorite apps?

One of my go-to apps is Lift. This app helps me reach larger goals by keeping track of daily, important habits. I have seven daily habits right now, including things like “walk 12,000 steps” and “read a book for 30 minutes.” At the end of the day (or when I complete the habit), I mark it off and it keeps track of my progress over time with graphs and other cool stuff. I’ve interviewed co-founded Lift Tony Stubblebine and they’ve got great plans for the future of Lift.

My excuse for owning pretty much every podcast app out there is that it’s helpful for troubleshooting the occasional podcast feed issue for folks in my listening community. The real reason is that I was always searching for the perfect podcast app. That all changed with Overcast. Finally, I feel like I’ve found an app that balances great features with ease of use. The smart speed function is amazing. The rest of my podcast apps have been relegated to a podcast folder on the second screen.

I’ve tried several of the third-party calendar apps over the years, but always ended up back with the Apple Calendar app, since it seemed like meeting invites (I get a lot) never got handled correctly and the learning curves were steep. I have no idea why I was so stubborn about not trying Fantastical, since I’ve heard great things about it for years. Once I did, not only am I not going back to the Calendar app, but it now has a beloved spot in my dock.

Who doesn’t love Drafts? Thanks to Mac Power Users for getting me hooked. I definitely underutilize it…right now, just to capture thoughts as they come in, and twice a week I have an OmniFocus task set to go in and file/clear all my content ideas and random thoughts. It’s high on my list to learn lots of the new advanced sharing and power features in the new version.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

Other than Starbucks, my guilty pleasure these days is the MailChimp app. I’m a big believer in slow, steady growth over time, so the MailChimp dashboard gives me a daily smile when I see people subscribing to my weekly updates. My wife Bonni is on the same account for her Teaching in Higher Ed platform so we get to cheer each other on. It’s a blast. There are worse things to be addicted too, yes?

What is the app you are still missing?

I already feel like I underutilize so many of my current apps. Writing this is reminding me that I need to carve out some time to learn the advanced features on a few of them. Every time I’ve done that in the past, the time investment always pays off in the long-run.

How many times a day do you use your iPhone/iPad?

The short answer? A lot. I work from home and almost all my work is virtual these days, so I choose to stay very connected. We have two children under the age of three, so there are days where a virtual office in my pocket is a life-saver.

That said, I’m intentional about staying off the phone with I’m with our kids or it’s family time. Over the summer, I found I was checking email too much when out and about with kids (Bonni and I aim to share equal time caring for them) so I took email off my phone completely for a month to break the habit. It worked - and today I keep the email app buried in a folder on the second screen. That helps and is a constant reminder to keep email to mostly scheduled work times.

I almost always leave my phone in my home office when work is done for the day and don’t pick it up again until well after kids are fast asleep. The only people I need to be instantly connected to in the evening are already in front of me.

What Today View widgets are you using and why?

I’ve never been much into widgets. I’ve tried (and like) the OmniFocus and calendar widgets on my iPhone 6, but in practice I always just go right to the app.

One related hack I’ve found helpful is keeping my iPhone, iPad, and Macs on the 24-hour clock. This resolves two mental obstacles I have. First, since I do a lot of work virtually, I feel like the mental addition/subtraction of time zones when booking calls is way easier with the 24-hour clock. Second, the number of times I’ve missed alarms I set for the morning because I forgot to slide the “PM” to “AM” when setting a clock alarm is embarrassing. Problem solved on the 24-hour clock (although whatever weirdness going on in my brain likely remains).

I have very few badge notifications active since I only want to be annoyed with things I actually need to take action on (overdue OmniFocus tasks, my Drafts inbox, unread RSS feeds). Probably I should just take badged off my Unread app too since I seem to be chronically behind on RSS reading (who isn’t?)

Any favorite iOS 8 extensions?

I did a Snoopy dance when Pushpin updated their app recently with an extension that allows me to save links right into Pinboard. I use Pinboard for both my reading queue and bookmarking archive. I’ve used both Pocket and Instapaper before (and like them too) but I find it’s way simpler just to have it all in one place.

I’m also loving the new 1Password extension for iOS8. Populating passwords in Safari with Touch ID still warms my heart every time. iOS 8 was worth it for that extension alone.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

When the iPhone got slim enough to fit comfortably in a pocket a few years ago, I dumped my wallet and starting using iPhone wallet cases from SenaCases. I was initially disappointed to see the iPhone 6 get taller, cause I’d gotten used to the small profile of the iPhone 5 and dislike anything taking up more pocket space.

In practice through, I haven’t noticed a pocket real estate issue with the iPhone 6 and I have to admit that after a day, I fell in love with the larger screen. I’m now using the Heritage Wallet Book from SenaCases for this phone and love it.

If you were in charge at Apple, what would you add or change?

Family sharing doesn’t seem to be all it was cracked up to be. It’s not making sense to have to pay for iTunes Match multiple times or in app purchases again for different IDs in the same house.

Between Bonni and I, we have something like four or five Apple IDs from various stages of Apple ecosystems over the years (.Mac, MobileMe, etc.) It doesn’t compute with me why Apple doesn’t have any option to merge purchase histories of Apple IDs and help people onto a single account. For now, we’re keeping all current/new app purchases on one family account.

What’s your wallpaper and why?

I’m pretty boring with wallpaper. The current one is an iOS default background. I pretty much always use one of the defaults on every device (the Macs I use already have the stock Yosemite photos on the desktops). I do have a photo of my son and I on my iPad lock screen, but that’s it. Probably there is something wrong with me.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I read all these home screen posts and love getting app ideas from others. Thanks to David for such a creative way for us all to learn from each other.

I feel like I’ve arrived now that I’ve been featured. It’s all downhill from here.

Thanks Dave.

Home Screens: Hay Oborn

This week’s home screen features Hay Oborn (Twitter)(Google+). Hay hails from Bournemouth, United Kingdom and routinely helps out with the Mac Power User show notes. So Hay, show us your home screen.

What are some of YOUR favorite apps?

Oh I have so many

Overcast - Is definitely up there as one of my favourite apps as I listen to podcast more than I listen to music, obviously this includes MPU - I think I have tried and tested most podcast apps including the Apple Default one and Overcast in my opinion is the best podcatcher.

Twitter - This is another app I have used many of, but I still always go back to the regular twitter application as it has everything I need - Sometimes I do jump over to Tweetbot too for a change of scenery.

Evernote - I can’t live without this app, I work as an IT Technician in a local secondary school and have to attend many meetings (Too many in my opinion) I send the meeting attendees the agenda and also the Meeting minutes afterwards and it’s just so simple to use, with the iOS 8 widgets Evernote is a must have - I also work off an iPad at times and this app just runs seamlessly.

TextExpander - I use 100’s and 100’s of snippets, literally if I have to write/type something more than once I will make a snippet for it, I use it regularly for email signatures etc. - By the way Smile Software - I LOVE the iOS 8 TextExpander Keyboard (Awesome Job)

1Password - I was a late starter with 1Password and after listening to MPU for YEARS I decided I needed to give it a bash, it takes a while to setup with changing passwords etc. - but once setup it’s another must have app - I can’t believe I hadn’t tried it before (I even use it on my MacBook Pro)

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

It has to be the iOS App Store as no matter where I am or what i’m doing I can always find something in there to help me problem solve, or keep me entertained when needed.

How many times a day do you use your iPhone/iPad?

I listen to podcasts on my way to work every morning (20–30minute Drive) I use my iPhone constantly for reading and replying to emails when working around campus, I’m always listening to podcasts if I stay in one place long enough. My iPad is mainly used in meetings because if I use my phone for taking notes people think i’m not listening. I would much prefer using my iPad as my main work horse at work, but we run a Microsoft based network now and I work daily on a Windows PC - My iPad/iPhone/Mac still have a part to play.

What Today View widgets are you using and why?

I have been a slow starter when it comes to widgets - but I do use the Evernote widget which has just made things 10 times faster for me. I also use the Dropbox widget, which is helpful with sharing files and accessing them on the go.

Any Favorite iOS 8 Extensions

I love the 1Password extension, need I say anymore? 

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

I have just jumped from the iPhone 5 to the iPhone 6 and Touch ID is a feature I absolutely love, using my thumb print to purchase apps from the store is just genius, also the iPhone 6 screen is just stunning. The camera is also superb and I will be taking advantage on the slowmo and timelapse features on various occasions.

If you were in charge at Apple, what would you add or change?

Now that Apple own Beats - I was disappointed not to see some sort of Beats headphones with the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, I’d like to see that in the future. I would also like them to bring to the table more customisation features to iOS - i.e. Change layout of icons, Custom themes - With iOS 8 I think Apple have started to realise this and the integration of third party keyboards was great. (Love TextExpander’s and SwiftKey Keyboards)

What’s your wallpaper and why?

I like random wallpaper, anything that looks groovy - I’ve had this wallpaper since having the iPhone 6 and have only just realised it is DG Skate Shoes on their side - at first I thought it was some kind of animals face.

Thanks Hay.

Home Screen: Stephen Hackett

This week’s home screen features my pal Stephen Hackett (website)(podcast)(Twitter). Did you know that this month Stephen is dedicating his site to raising money for St. Jude? Did you know that as I post this, he has already raised over $11,400!? I contributed and ask you to consider doing so as well. 

What are Some of Your Favorite Apps?

Overcast and Tweetbot are my most-used apps by far. In addition to helping make some great shows, podcasts are my favorite form of entertainment. I listen to very little music in my car or while working around the house, and Overcast is just great to use.

Tweetbot is the best Twitter client on the iPhone. While the iPad version needs some love, I still use it for all the filtering and power-user options. 

Next in line usage-wise is probably Slack, which I use to communicate with my team at work and The Sweet Setup.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

Currently, it’s a Risk-like game called Blood and Honor. My brother and some friends of ours are playing against each other online a few too many times a week currently. 

What does your “Today” screen look like? What widgets are helping you out?

I’ve taken it slow when adding widgets. Currently, I’ve only enabled OmniFocus’ and Evernote’s. Notification Center now shows me tasks due today and gives me a quick way to create a note, image or more in Evernote.

Any favorite iOS 8 extensions?

love the Day One extension. I can send a photo or URL right to a new diary post without ever entering the app. However, photo metadata isn’t passed in, so I’m having to add location data later, which is a bummer. 

What is the app you are still missing?

A couple of years ago, my needs outgrew what I could do with plain text files, but I only use about 25% of what Evernote can do. I’d love a light-weight cross-platform app that could do text notes with the ability to attach images and files to them easily. 

How many times a day do you use your iPhone/iPad?

Many days, my iPhone is my primary computer. My iPad is basically used for reading in the evenings and watching videos. It’s pure luxury at this point. 

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

The camera on my iPhone, while not the best shooter I own, is the most used. With the iPhone 6, it’s better than ever, and iOS 8 offers a lot of power when it comes to capturing and editing images. 

If you were in charge at Apple, what would you add or change?

While my request from 2011 is still unanswered, I think Apple really needs to clarify what it’s cloud services can actually do. iCloud is pretty great most of the time, but it’s really hard to explain. 

What’s your wallpaper and why?

I’m using the iOS 8 moon photo because space is awesome. 

Thanks Stephen.

Home Screens: Bradley Chambers

This week’s home screen features Bradley Chambers (Twitter)(Website). In addition to his guest appearances on the Mac Power Users, Bradley also co-hosts the Out of School podcast with Fraser Speirs (Home screen). Bradley is a wicked smart geek. Bradley is also the first person (of many) to share a six row iPhone 6 home screen. So Bradley, show us your home screen.

What are some of your favorite apps?

My favorite app is probably Evernote. It’s my external brain. I struggled for years on what to use Evernote for, but Fraser Speirs finally showed me the light. A perfect example of something I store in Evernote are photos of crafts that my oldest son makes at school. I don’t really want to store the hard copy of everything that he makes forever, but I would like to have a record of it. 

Omnifocus is really well done on the iPhone. I tried to move away from the ecosystem last year (for simplicity), but when Omnifocus 2 was released on the Mac, I came back. Where Evernote is my “hard drive”, Omnifocus is my “RAM”. It allows me to only focus on what I need to focus on at any given time. If it’s not in Omnifocus, it won’t get done.

1Password is also one of those apps that I couldn’t live without. Everything from password logins, secure notes, and credit card information is stored in it. With iOS 8 extensions, 1Password on iOS will become much more powerful.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

It’s definitely Overcast. I’ve been a podcast fan since the first Revenge of the Screen Savers episode was released. I’ve used just about every podcast app on the market, and Overcast is fantastic. I also really like Castro, but the audio smart speed and voice boost features keep me using Overcast. 

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

It’s the camera. The very fact that I can capture almost anything that happens with a device that fits in my pocket is just incredible. I’ll be able to go back and look at so many more memories of my kids lives than any other generation before.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I’m really looking forward to seeing how developers take advantage of extensions to give me less of a reason to use my Mac. I’m a big “iOS first” proponent and want to continue to see the platform develop into a first class productivity machine.

Thanks Bradley.

Home Screen: Mike Schmitz

A few weeks ago I linked to a TextExpander tutorial Mike Schmitz (Twitter) did over at Asian Efficiency. Since then, Mike and I have been corresponding via email and I’ve determined he’s a swell guy. So Mike, show us your home screen.

What are some of favorite apps?

OmniFocus - my digital brain.

I tried just about every task management app out there before settling on OmniFocus, and now it would take a lot to get me out of it because I am seriously invested. OmniFocus 2 for iPhone is so great for quick capturing, and I love the ability to add things via Siri.

Dispatch - my email client of choice

(and I’ve tried almost all of them). 

I really like the TextExpander support and the ability to send emails to OmniFocus, kind of like an iOS version of the Clip-o-Tron (I like this better than the mail drop, but I know that works too). It would be hard for me to go back to an email app that didn’t have that integration with my task management system now.


I got hooked on Drafts after hearing about it on Mac Power Users. It took awhile for me to get into it, but now I can’t imagine not having it on my phone. Unless I’m adding tasks via Siri to OmniFocus, I tend to use this as my central inbox and then process from here and incorporating via some custom export actions (i.e. sending to nvALT via Dropbox sync). I use it to record things I want to remember from podcasts and audiobooks, lunch orders, phone numbers, etc. It took awhile to train myself to use it this way, but it really is an integral part of my workflow now.


This app really needs no introduction. I use this more than Safari because I need passwords for a lot of the websites I frequent, and 1Password makes the login process so easy. I really wish I could make this my default browser. Alas, maybe in iOS 9…


I love Scanbot! I used to use Scan+ for scanning receipts for my paperless workflow, but Scanbot is just much easier for me to use. I also like the auto-upload to Evernote feature (which is where I store everything). The fact that Scanbot didn’t have OCR until recently wasn’t a big deal to me because Evernote does an amazing job OCRing whatever I upload.


Like task managers, I’ve also tried just about every podcast app and I really like Overcast because of the Smart Speed feature. Basically it analyzes the podcast track and eliminates the silences, effectively shortening the podcast file without varying the playback speed. Pretty crazy stuff, but it works well. Because I tend to listen to podcasts only on my iPhone, the fact that there’s no Mac or iPad app doesn’t really bother me.

Launch Center Pro

This took me a while to get into also, but this is seriously a phenomenal application. It’s so much more than just a quick launcher. You can actually use URL schemes to do specific actions, and even x-callback URLs to link actions together and bring you back to your original app. As an example of what you can do with Launch Center Pro, check out this personal reflection action I created (it launches a series of questions via LCP and then pastes the answers into a Markdown table in a DayOne entry). This is just the tip of the iceberg though, and if you’re interested there’s a great guide for getting started with Launch Center Pro over at MacStories.


A friend of mine tipped me off to this app when it was in beta. It’s basically a photo editing app that allows you to add textures, light leaks, etc. to your photos. You can do some really cool stuff with this app as you add different layers of effects. Think of it kind of like Instagram filters, but actually good.

iReal Pro

iReal Pro is kind of like the old “Band-in-a-Box” app. You can select a progression (or create your own), set a tempo, choose your lead and rhythm instruments, and start jamming! Because it uses the Nashville numbering system, you can actually even change the key on the fly. This is a phenomenal practice tool, and you can even use it with Audiobus to record via something like AmpKit.


This is a great little app that just got a refresh. Basically you load up your iTunes track, and Capo will analyze it for you and return information on the song like tempo, key, etc. and even determine what chords are used throughout the song. It’s not perfect, but surprisingly accurate and allows you to change pitch/tempo of songs which makes them much easier to learn (i.e. slowing down a guitar solo so you can play along with it).


I write songs on occasion, and Hum is a tool I started using to capture inspiration instead of voice memos because of the ability to include lyrics, key information, etc.


One of the many hats I wear is Bible College teacher, and the Logos application is invaluable for the type of in-depth study I need to do. Using this app, I can actually prep for a class completely on my iOS device. I also use this app for my own personal daily Bible reading.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

There are a couple of iOS games that I would call guilty pleasures just because I tend to spend too time in them. The first one is a game you recommended awhile back called Hoplite. It’s incredibly fun and insanely frustrating at the same time, as one wrong move in the later levels and you’re done. I also really enjoy Threes, and the iOS version of Carcassonne is amazing. It’s expensive, but if you like the board game it’s worth every penny.

What is the app you are still missing?

I can’t think of an app I’m missing, but having 1Password and TextExpander touch on my iPhone and not being able to use them system-wide still just feels wrong. I’m really excited to see what happens with extensions in iOS 8, as a TextExpander keyboard would be really cool and I’ve seen some awesome stuff coming from AgileBits incorporating the TouchID sensor, so fingers crossed.

Also, I have a tendency to follow things that are shiny, so I’m sure I’ll find an app soon that will fill a need I didn’t even know I had.

How many times a day do you use your iPhone/iPad?

I listen to podcasts (via Overcast) and audiobooks (via Audible) whenever I’m traveling in the car, out for a run or at the gym. I also use the iPhone as my primary digital camera, and do my journaling in Day One. So while I use my iPhone quite a bit, I have developed boundaries for myself (i.e. no fiddling when I’m home and the kids are up), and I definitely try to respect those and limit my use when at home.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

The camera on the 5S is by far my favorite feature. It’s amazing, and as they say “the best camera is the one you always have with you”. I’m not really a great photographer, but I love capturing the funny stuff my kids do and the 5S is great for that. My kids also really get a kick out of the slow-mo video option - lots of fun has been had with that.

If you were in charge at Apple, what would you add or change?

I would fix Apple Maps (I still can’t trust it in my area) and now that Apple owns Beats I’d make Beats Music part of the annual iTunes Match fee, even if the price goes up considerably. Adding a streaming music service to the mix really would allow me to centralize iTunes as my media hub, and Beats Music is already pretty solid. I would also figure out an Apple-like solution for photo management, as right now photo management can really be a pain (although looks like they are well on their way in iOS 8 and Yosemite).

What’s your wallpaper and why?

I usually leave the stock wallpaper, but my lock screen I change all the time with different family pictures I take with my 5S. This is my current favorite. It’s great because every time I pull out my phone I’m reminded of what’s really important to me, and it’s not the Twitter update I was going to post or the email from the office. I don’t want my kids to remember me as the guy who was always playing with his phone.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I really think we’re on the verge of something huge with iOS. I’m really excited to see what developers do with app extensions in iOS 8, and I think we’re going to get some really innovative connections that will revolutionize the way we use our iOS devices. It’s already amazing to think of what you can do with an iPhone, but I think we’re about to see it go to a whole new level. It’s an exciting time to be an Apple Fanboi.

Also, thanks for having me! Love Mac Power Users, love the Field Guides - keep up the great work!

Thanks Mike.

Home Screen: Michael T. Rose

Michael T. Rose (Twitter) is a longtime editor and contributor at The Unofficial Apple Weblog, AOL Tech’s site for all things Apple and app-related. He’s the co-host (with Kelly Guimont), of The Aftershow a new podcast that picks up where TUAW’s long-running weekly Talkcast left off. When he’s not blogging or podcasting, Mike’s day job is with Salesforce.com as a senior sales engineer. Mike lives in Brooklyn with his family and has a personal blog at geekparent.com. So Mike, show us your home screen.

What are some of your favorite apps?

As a New York City denizen, I depend on the city’s public transit system every day to get where I’m going. NextStop is a wonderful transit information app, delivering scheduled (and in the case of a few subway lines, real-time) train arrival information. CitymapperHopStop, and Embark NYC provide savvy transit routing information that takes repairs, diversions and other schedule changes into account. (Embark was bought by Apple last year, so chances are that app’s capabilities will eventually show up in the iOS Maps app.) But the best app for emulating a New York subway rider is Exit Strategy; it helps you figure out where to stand on the subway platform so that you line up just right to exit at your eventual destination.

I live and die by 1Password, of course, and I use Things to manage my to-do list. MobileDay makes it easy to dial into conference calls with a single tap, and JotNot Pro is my go-to “Paperless enabler” app for capturing receipts and other paper documents. Tweetbot is my Twitter client of choice, and for all my day job connections with my Salesforce colleagues, there’s the powerful and simple Salesforce1 app.  

On my second home screen you’ll find a few more frequent flyers: TripitRoadAheadOvercastSpotify and the indispensable Sleep Cycle

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

I’ve got to go with Timehop, the personal time capsule for social media. My kids are young enough, and I’ve been on Twitter and Facebook long enough, that a look back at “this day in history” is often a reminder of what they were saying and doing when they were small. It’s adorkable. 

What is the app you are still missing?

One of the biggest things I’m missing isn’t an app per se, but a feature that’s promised for iOS 8 and Yosemite: tethered mirroring of iOS devices. I do software demos as a major part of my job, including on iOS, and often as not via a remote meeting solution like GoToMeeting or WebEx. Current-gen mirroring tools like Reflector and AirServer do a pretty good job, but they’re only as good as the local WiFi network; mid-demo is not the time you want to have a wireless hiccup interfering with your presentation flow. When I can connect a Lightning cable and show my iPhone screen seamlessly and reliably on my Mac, that’ll be a happy day. 

How many times a day do you use your iPhone/iPad?

The iPad, maybe 10–20 times – usually for note-taking or reading, or sometimes mobile mindmapping with MindNode. The iPhone? Pretty constantly, although since I got a [Pebble]https://getpebble.com) a few weeks ago I notice that I’m not doing as much “take the phone out of the pocket to see what that buzzing is about” since my notifications are visible right on my wrist.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

Push notifications. Apps like Dark Sky and MobileDay let me know what I need to know, before I need to know it.

If you were in charge at Apple, what would you add or change?

I’d allow paid upgrades, trials and beta testing on the App Store. The changes in iOS 8 are going to be great, but they still don’t address one of the economic challenges of app development; there’s no good way to capture revenue from the effort of developing a powerful new version of an app, unless it’s positioned as an entirely new app. Which in turn puts original purchasers in a bad mood. 

What’s your wallpaper and why?

This wallpaper is Apple’s very basic gradient with the parallax turned off, as it was giving me some dizziness. Since I took this screenshot, I’ve been experimenting with turning it back on and having a zoomable/slideable background. We’ll see how it goes. Meanwhile, my lock screen includes “if found please contact” information; I should add some “in case of emergency” detail as well.  

Thanks Mike.

Home Screens: Casey Liss, part 2

Awhile back, I featured Casey Liss's (Website) (Twitter) iPhone home screen. Then we had him on the Mac Power Users earlier this week and had so much fun that I asked Casey to come back and show off his iPad home screen. So Casey, show us your home screen.


As with most Apple products, I swore off the iPad as being silly and useless before I actually used one. Once I tried one, I had to have one.

My current iPad is my third. I started with the original (WiFi only), then got a 3rd generation (WiFi only). This time I got an iPad Mini with Retina Display, 32 GB, equipped with cellular and purchased with a Verizon SIM. Shortly after buying it, I got a second, T-Mobile SIM which gives me 200 MB of data free every month. Generally speaking, it’s that SIM that’s in the device. In my normal usage, 200 MB is more than enough for a month.

This month, however, I’m fresh off a trip to the beach, where T-Mobile had no coverage. I paid for one month of service on Verizon, hence the “Verizon” in the upper left of the screen.

Favorite Apps

Not too dissimilar from my iPhone, my favorite apps tend to be the ones I use the most. That means Tweetbot for browsing Twitter, Reeder for reading RSS, as well as Check the Weather1Password, and Day One. I also use Status Board to keep up with ATPdownload numbers and Twitter feedback.

I’ve been using Day One casually for a while, but now that my wife is pregnant with our first child, I’ve been using Day One to chronicle her pregnancy and our preparation for the arrival of “Sprout”.

Finally, what with the iPad’s larger screen, I use it for watching video quite a bit more than the iPhone. That usually means PlexSlingPlayer, or during college football season (Go Hokies!), Watch ESPN is open.

Guilty Pleasure

Probably YouTube. Though I don’t use it too often, it is far and away the easiest and quickest way to get to funny videos and music videos — even obscure ones.

What App Is Missing

I’m not sure that there’s an app I’m missing, but there are definitely updates I’m missing.

A Tweetbot update for iOS 7 and a 1Password update for iOS 8, once that’s out.

I’m confident the Tapbots folks are working hard on the Tweetbot update, and I’m trying very hard to be very patient.

We’ve seen videos of 1Password using iOS 8 extensions for both third party apps and Safari. Further, since I have an iPhone 5S, I’m excited for TouchID integration. Genuinely, the thing I’m most excited about for iOS 8 is what it enables 1Password to do.

How Many Times

I use my iPad predominantly at night, at home. If my nose isn’t in a book, then my face is probably being illuminated by my iPad.

I also hate bringing my MacBook Pro to meetings at work, so I usually bring my iPad. I don’t usually need it, but it helps to have a larger interface than my phone for quickly looking things up, sceheduling meetings, etc.

Favorite Feature

Since I’m still grandfathered on the AT&T unlimited data plan, I can’t tether to my phone. As mentioned above, this iPad is my first with LTE, and I’m so glad I made that choice. While I don’t use the cellular features of my iPad that terribly often, it’s wonderful to have the ability to. I love not having to worry about whether or not I’ll be at a WiFi hotspot when I take my iPad somewhere.

Plus, the Mini is portable enough that I don’t mind taking it out with me, when the need arises. The combination of the small size and cellular connectivity makes me able to, for example, look up product reviews while we’re at the store registering for our baby shower.

It also makes being a passenger on car rides much more enjoyable.

What would I change?

Definitely a stronger magnet for the Smart Cover — on both sides. I feel like it slides just enough when closed for me to hear the unlock noise often, when I shouldn’t. Additionally, the magnet that keeps the smart cover held to the back is way too weak.

Additionally, I’d love to have TouchID on the iPad. I’m sure it’s coming this fall, but I do miss it every time I pick up my iPad.


Trio Electric by Marc Edwards.

Home Screens: Larry Port

Headshots_Port SMALL.jpg

I first met Larry Port (Twitter)(Website) at the American Bar Association TechShow. Larry is deep into technology and good design. So much so that he has been taking on (successfully) the most slow-to-change industry on the planet, the legal profession, with his revolutionary Rocket Matter service. So Larry, show us your home screen.

What are some of your favorite apps?


I know it sounds weird to chose Camera.  I love taking pictures and video with my iPhone.  I was a photojournalist before I got into software, and I can’t get over the quality of the photographs the native iPhone camera affords.  Also, I recently edited our first home movies using exclusively iPhone video content.  The representation of my family life as depicted through these videos is so much richer and accurate than the videos created with a dedicated camcorder, since the iPhones are constantly in hand.  The camera is my favorite app period.


Typically I view my iPhone and my iPad as consumption devices, not tools for the creation of data or information.  However, my usage of Evernote’s mobile tool is more creation the consumption oriented.  I record audio notes, take pictures, and constantly capture information.  When I get to my computer, this information is already there, ready to go and synched.  Occasionally I look something up I’ve saved on mobile Evernote, but more often I look things up on my MacBook Air, where Evernote is open all day long.


I love both Pandora and Spotify.  Very little of my music consumption takes place via my iTunes music collection anymore.  Who has time for synching?  I prefer Pandora to Spotify because I am too lazy and musically uninspired to build playlists and discover new artists.  I love how Pandora plays stuff I just like, whether I know the song or artist or not.


A small cup of Starbucks coffee contains 250mg of caffeine.  For a frame of reference, espresso tops out at about 75mg.  Let’s face it:  Starbucks sells a drug I am addicted to.  And their app allows me to pay for my addiction easily and rewards me with a free vial - I mean cup - of coffee every so often.  I also get free apps on the iTunes app store.  


I try to listen to a dozen business books a year.  I listen to them instead of reading because I don’t find reading business books any fun at all, but find listening to them very stimulating.   I queue up Audible for my car ride to and from the office, knocking off about 30 minutes of “reading" a day.  Right now I’m "rereading” Good to Great, Jim Collins’ classic.  Audible is vastly improved in recent years if you haven’t tried it lately.


Rocket Matter is a distributed company with workers in different locations.  We synch up regularly to stay in alignment with daily stand ups, weekly management meetings, and monthly reviews.  We’re always using GoToMeeting to communicate.  It’s important to see faces as well as hear voices when you’re remote.   Even though I’m in our HQ most of the time, I travel frequently and meet with clients so I don’t want to miss an important meeting when I’m out.

Rocket Matter

We manage our business through the software we created.  Rocket Matter, while in reality a legal practice management solution, is actually a very good project management program as well.  I use the app to keep track of my current projects (which are really matters), view my calendar, and track my expenses.  In the software business, using your own product is often referred to as “eating one’s own dog food.”  I prefer the more elegant “drinking one’s own wine."

Google Maps, TripIt, Yelp, and Uber form my traveling swiss army knife. Google Maps stays on my home screen because, in addition to travel usage, I use it locally as well. It’s how I look up local telephone numbers.  I don’t LOVE this app, but then again, I don’t love the phone book either.  It’s just a utility that works amazingly well that I use frequently.


Netflix, believe it or not, is critical to me staying in shape.  I am able to survive the boredom of 30-minute elliptical workouts by binge watching TV shows.  Right now I’m going through season one of Star Trek - the original series.  I haven’t used Netflix on my iPhone in any other context.  I don’t have a bus or train commute and can’t think of another instance where I would want to stare at a small screen for video.


I am very selective about what news I consume, especially when it's push, not pull oriented.  Marketplace, which is broadcast on my local NPR station, makes the cut.  The show is somehow able to make business and economic news highly entertaining.  No one is rude, no one interrupts one another, and no one is brash or stupid.  Instead, you get thoughtful, nuanced, and clever reporting.  Since I'm rarely in my car at the right time to listen, their podcast app keeps me tuned in and informed.

Lose It!

When I track what I eat, I maintain my correct weight.  It’s that simple.  Lose It! is an incredible tracking app, which ties into my primitive human urge to set and track my progress toward goals.  The UI is terrific, as is the web interface.  I keep it on my home screen to remind me to enter my consumption and physical activity and shame me when I haven’t been tracking.  Plus, I’m a sucker for cool icons, and they have more cute little icons for different foods and forms of exercise than I could wish for in my wildest fantasies.


We have an Apple TV which we use constantly.  We lose the tiny little remote it came with once a day.  The Remote app mitigates this problem by allowing us to control the Apple TV from anyone’s iPhone, iPad, or iTouch.  It’s also much more helpful for searches, since you can type with a keyboard instead of selecting letters one at a time.  I never thought I would appreciate the iPhone’s keyboard, but compared to spelling things out character by character with the native Apple TV remote, the app is a breeze.


We are total data heads at Rocket Matter.  We’re always analyzing numbers critical for our business.  One of the most important drivers is the health of our web traffic, so I use Analytiks, which has a beautiful interface for Google Analytics.  Analytiks allows me to quickly see how the traffic is doing for our Rocket Matter and Legal Productivity sites.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?


The cool thing about StubHub is not just that you can get decently priced last-minute tickets to events, but when you travel you can get your pulse on everything that’s going on in the city.  In Nashville for work?  Wanna see if you can catch a Titans game or see one of the zillion of concerts going on in the city?  StubHub.

What is the app you are still missing?

I wish I had an app that automatically doubles your battery life.  How awesome would it be to have an app that has a button that says “boost battery” and automatically gives you a full charge?  Also, if my Starbucks app actually refilled my coffee cup, THAT would be impressive.

How many times a day do you use your iPhone?

The phone is with me constantly when I’m out of the house, whether I’m at the office or the gym. I’m always using it, except when I’m driving.  Even then I’m really using it as I’m listening to an audiobook or podcast but I don’t have it in hand. When I return from work and I’m at home, I keep it away in my pocket and try not to use it so my children do not remember me staring at a screen for the duration of their formative years.  At home I try to limit use to answering texts and using the camera.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone?

My life is qualitatively better when I’m on the go because of my iPhone.  I love how I can launch the Kindle app and pick up my book where I left off the night before.  I can FaceTime my family.  I have access to any document I might need because of the cloud apps I use.  I keep my travel documents neatly organized.  I can navigate a new city on foot, order an Uber car, find an awesome restaurant, and get tickets to a ballgame.  The iPhone makes traveling for work so much more enjoyable.

If you were in charge at Apple, what would you add or change?

They really need to resolve the issue with the short battery life. My iPhone cannot survive a day without my Mophie case, which extends battery life by 100%.  If I use the iPhone the way I use it, for audiobooks, phone calls, web surfing and maps, the internal battery will be exhausted before 2pm.

I would like a button that says “no notifications, ever, in any shape or form” instead of having to wade through so many configurations for them, which never seem to work.

I would also like to add home screen buttons that call contacts without having to jailbreak the phone, run a third party app, or do some sort of convoluted solution.

I would like the back of the phone to blow out little streams of air so that it could glide across a table like an air hockey puck.

What's your wallpaper and why?

Currently my lock screen is a picture of Marty Feldman.  This is an unusual situation, because my son and I have been on a big Young Frankenstein kick and he reset the lock screen when I wasn’t looking.  I thought it was hilarious so I’m leaving it that way for a while.  Normally I try to use photographs that I’ve taken from nature with the phone’s amazing camera.  Every one in a while I download a stunning image from the Subreddit “Earth Porn”, which has really beautiful and mind-blowing stuff.

Anything else you'd like to share? 

I use a Mophie case to extend battery life.  Also, as much as I love my iPhone, I need to disconnect from it.  I love being connected, but I hate being over-connected. I deleted Facebook and Twitter from my iPhone because I found that I was compulsively checking them and it was more annoying than fun.

Thanks Larry.

Home Screen Post: Captain Airshack

Recently, I've been corresponding with listener and reader Captain Airshack (Twitter) ("AirShack" on Instagram), a pilot on a major airline and a geek who must remain anonymous. Anyway, the more I talk to Captain Airshack, the more I get interested in how he is getting things done. How does someone that spends a great deal of time in the air and on the road organize his iPad and iPhone? Captain Airshack was kind enough to explain. So Captain, show us your home screen.

Since I travel around three days a week, I’m interested in apps which keep me connected, informed, and entertained. You never know when the next thunderstorm is going to roll in and create another two hour delay before takeoff. I must always be prepared for the unexpected in this business. 

As far as packing goes, I get one standard roller-bag to pack for a three or four day trip. As you can imagine, I don’t want to carry: books, exercise DVDs, flight publications, notepads, a journal, newspapers, magazines, coursework, lesson plans, etc. 

Gone are the days when I had to decide which form of entertainment I’ll pack. These days I have everything I need for cognitive stimulation stored in my iPad. It’s amazing really. Once, back in Desert Storm, I packed all the items listed above plus a short wave radio. Now it’s all on my iPad/iPhone!. Technology has clearly liberated me!


Flipboard has replaced newspapers for me. I use it at home as well. When mated with Pocket I’m able to build a daily newspaper and upload the stories to Pocket for reading while I’m waiting at the airport or commuting to my next assignment. Most often I read in the back of the aircraft or hotel van. IMPORTANT NOTE: I do not use Pocket to read while flying. Please keep me in good standing with the FAA by presenting this fact.

I use Audible to listen to audio books during daily workouts or whenever I’m too tired to read. Listening to music bores me on long runs. I prefer audio books as I feel I’m exercising my mind as well as my body. Slipping on a Bose noise canceling headset and firing up an audio book is one guilty pleasure after a long day of piloting. I’ve been an Audible listener since 2007.

1Password helps me keep in touch with all of my online activity. Back home I’ve dispensed of the multiple post-it-note password security system. It’s always nice to know I have access to banking and finances on the road. In case I experience a lost or stolen wallet, I have all of my credit card and membership information stored in this handy virtual wallet. 

lynda.com is my virtual classroom. The Lynda iPad and iPhone apps work to provide me with a chance to educate myself anywhere I can find an internet connection. Nothing against Midland, Texas; but lynda.com has transformed the experience of spending twenty hours of any day in Midland.

Kindle keeps me from carrying magazines, books and newspapers. Last year after the Superbowl, I downloaded the major newspapers from both Seattle and Denver. The two takes on the game provided solid entertainment. This technique can be used for any major world event. How great is it to have access to so many books and all the world’s newspapers? I travel with a virtual library. What a luxury to read whatever I want, whenever I want. This is probably the most valued app on my iPad. I find the iPhone screen too small for enjoyable reading.

Hey Captain, what about iBooks? I know there are a few good books exlusively in there. -D

Overcast is a new podcast player. I prefer it to the others because of its clever Voice Boost feature. I’m often listening to podcasts along with conditions producing lots of background noise: aircraft cabin noise, loud music and televisions in gyms, city traffic sounds during runs. This Voice Boost feature helps me hear the podcasts clearly in noisy environments.

8tracks is my go-to music streaming app because it’s free and I love discovering new music. To me, unless it’s The Beatles, it gets stale quickly. This app is my modern era version of that buddy whom makes me mix tapes for whatever mood I’m in. Legal mix-tapes! With this app one can become an amateur DJ and share mixes. IMHO 8tracks is strong on social and discovery.

Tweetbot is what I prefer for twitter. 

DayOne is my favorite journal app. It’s simple and fast which makes it more likely for me to use. Also, this app constantly nags me to write in my journal which is, in this case, a welcome annoyance. Whenever I have emergencies (not often) or deviations due to weather or mechanical issues, I journal the details for future review. It’s just so handy as a note taking app. Also, I like how I can easily incorporate my photos into my journal. 

MyCloud is a Western Digital app that actually doesn’t suck. On the road I have access to all of my stored movies, documents, etc; via my own virtual secure cloudspace. MyCloud talks to my WD 4TB Personal Cloud Storage -NAS. Guess what? It actually works well with Macs as well as with my Xbox 360. I can stream movies at home or on the road effortlessly.

Pages is my default word processing app because I’m not interested in a subscription model.

Fantastical is easier and prettier than iCal. Easy and Pretty are good.

Eye-Fi is an app to wirelessly download photos from my aged Nikon camera’s Mobe Eye-Fi SD card. This card transfers files to my Macbook as well. It’s ingenious really. A wireless router inside an SD card! This is completely independent of wifi so I can use it to transfer photos from my camera to the iPad/Macbook - for editing - wherever I happen to be.

Flickr Studio is simply the best way to manage and enjoy your Flickr account on an iPad. Much has been made of the latest Flickr app which, to me, seems like an instagram clone. Flickr Studio has a powerful all-inclusive feature set. 

ink Cards is an app to transform digital photo images into super high quality postcards. I’ve used many of the competitors apps (sorry Bill Atkinson), and I always come back to ink Cards. Why buy postcards at the airport? With this app you can send a fabulous custom postcard for a reasonable fee. This is a great way to stay in touch of those you’re thinking about while traveling.

Jepp-FD Pro replaces a hefty lawyer-sized briefcase full of instrument approach plates and manuals. Pilots love the zoom feature which makes these documents more readable under nighttime lighting conditions. I’m now able to hook a cooler full of nutritious food to my roller bag in place of the old “pubs kit.” This helps improve my quality of life on the road. 

FlightTrack PRO was my favorite flight tracking app but I’ve recently discovered the new UI is unpopular with many users. I’ll stick with the outdated version as it suites my needs. 

MyRadar is the best app to figure out if you’re going to have a bumpy flight. I use this app to brief my flight attendants and passengers on expected conditions. This MyRadar application provides real-time turbulence reports and associated warnings with a few in-app purchases. 

YouNeedAMap Trust me! Get this for your iPad and fire it up on your next flight. You’ll never fly over another unknown: US city, river, lake, village, road, point of interest such as Indian lands, buildings, county lines, state borders, road names, etc; without knowing EXACTLY what it is your looking at. This way you can let the commuting pilot, in that seat next to you sleep for a change. Everyone should download this GPS enabled app before boarding an aircraft!


The iPhone/iPad app which tells the wifi searching feature of OS X to stop looking for wifi stations if I’m above 10,000ft and forgot to turn my phone off! This has resulted in many a careless aircrews (even passengers) phones to arrive at their destinations dead. 

How many time a day do you use….?

Pilots and Flight Attendants are out of touch with the world during flights. We’re not permitted to use the wifi as our passengers are. Therefor, we activate our cell service on our phones in between flights for mostly: email, finances, Facebook, and much texting. Of course, we pilots are using the iPads in the cockpit constantly for route navigation - GPS/no wifi. Many of our manuals are available on the iPad as well. Also, during commutes -in the back- we manage our flight schedules via our iPhones and iPads. Trip trading is a popular activity amongst the aircrew to enhance quality of life.

What’s your Favorite Feature?

When I began my aviation career in 1987 people used calling cards at phone booths to communicate with their wives and children. Now we keep up constantly with: FaceTime, Facebook, Skype, Instagram, and Twitter; to name a few sources. Thankfully, my two daughters find it necessary to document their lives using social media. The ability to check-up on my family before crashing to sleep in a hotel at 2am is my favorite feature. It’s nice to have the technology keep us close while I’m away.

If you were in charge at Apple, what would you change?

I’d defer to Tim Cook. This company does so much right. Back in 1982, I left my Apple ][+’s modem plugged into a power outlet. I lived in Texas which is the home of the giant thunderstorm. Of course, over time a thunderstorm hit a transformer near my home which created a modem killing zap! Kill my modem it did. 

I boxed the modem up and wrote a note to Apple stating that I failed to follow the users guide directions which clearly stated I should remove the modem from the wall outlet between uses. Additionally, I told them I couldn’t afford to buy a new modem since I was in college - the truth. I asked them if they would fix it for me. Two weeks after sending Apple my modem with attached pathetic plea, a package arrived. Inside the box was a brand new Apple modem. Customer and loyalist for life. 

What’s your wallpaper and why?

I usually have a relaxing seasonal photograph as my background wallpaper. Right now it’s a nice water/beach shot. 

My lock screen wallpaper is more functional. Before each pairing (a series of flights I’m assigned over a multi-day period) I’ll take a screenshot of my schedule and set that as my lock screen wallpaper. That way I always have quick access to my schedule with a flick of my iPhone’s power button. 

Anything else you’d like to share?

That last Apple story is one I haven’t told in a while. Their generosity saved me countless drives to the computer lab which was 30 minutes from my home. 

Oh Yes! One last thing… I have a secret dream to someday produce a podcast of my own.

Thanks Captain.