A Christian moral vision for economic life

“The challenge of developing a Christian moral vision for economic life has been with the church since its very beginning. Few issues in Christian ethics have generated a literature as massive or as polemical.” (Stassen & Gushee, Kingdom Ethics: Following Jesus in Contemporary Context (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2003), 409, emphasis mine)

Productivity for 2016

I have done a bit of work in the last couple of days to update my personal productivity system. This is partly because I am becoming more part-time: my hours at church will be lower, and I have two other small part-time roles in addition to church. So I need to stay on top of my tasks more efficiently. Here are some of the things I have done:

  • I have worked hard to make my OmniFocus GTD system work better, especially streamlining its contexts and setting up new perspectives for focusing on one part of my life at a time. And I have the Apple Mail plugin set up to easily convert an email into a task. Siri feeds into this pretty reliably now and I often add a few reminders to my list by voice while I’m driving.
  • I am using Papers more and more for reading. I have even moved my reading todo list into Papers (I have a staging list in OmniFocus). Reading is too big a task to fit into a GTD system anyway, and this helps when I get PDFs as I just drop them into the reading list in Papers.
  • I intend to keep a daily journal in Day One, and to make that feasible I have automated the mechanical aspects. I now automatically log all completed OmniFocus tasks and most of my social media interactions into it. I am partway through automatically logging my calendar events, and need a solution to log my daily sent emails.
  • I had an overly complicated calendar setup, which is now much simpler and all on iCloud.
  • I have given up on using 3rd party email clients, and am just using Apple Mail on Mac and iOS. The main reason is that its search works fine, and on my Mac there are a couple of plugins that don’t work with 3rd party clients.
  • I am doing most of my initial writing in Ulysses. I then switch to another app for formatted versions but it’s a brilliant writing environment.
  • I am using Reeder as an interface to Feedly, mostly to keep my news reading away from my normal web browsing.

Things I am trying out, or will do:

  • Manuscripts. I bought this early because I am hoping it will turn out to be an ideal writing app for academic work. It is not there yet but is such a great idea.
  • SaneBox. This is relatively expensive, and my guess is that I’ll just continue to use unroll.me as my main tool for combating the email flood. The one super-cool thing SaneBox does is (optionally) remind me if a person hasn’t replied to an email within a chosen time period. The problem with that is it’s another place to check for tasks.
  • BusyContacts. I don’t think this is going to do the trick for my contact management. The stuff it does well is already dealt with by FullContact. What I’d most like to use is Daylite, as I am having more and more complex interactions to manage with people, often people I have never met face to face. The only things putting me off using Daylite is the cost, and the fact that it offers a calendar and non-GTD task system which I don’t want to use.
  • DevonThink. This always looks intriguing but I need to figure out what, if anything, it gives me beyond what Evernote does. Evernote always feels like an application that is one step away from being really useful. DevonThink looks kind of complicated.
  • I need a better web clipping system. I am actually thinking about shifting it all to Papers. The reason is that when I eventually want to cite something, I need the bibliographic info in Papers anyway. The problem is that I will need to be very disciplined in filling the info in when I clip a page. Likewise for Kindle highlights. Another option is just to put the bibliographic info in Papers and put the app link in Evernote. Or maybe I just clip the web pages as PDFs, as Spotlight search seems better than Evernote’s. One challenge is the huge backlog of saved pages in Evernote and Safari Reading List which I have never tagged properly. Another note-taking option which might free me from Evernote is Notability.
  • I am trying out Focus to avoid distraction while retaining access to non-time-wasting web sites.
  • Lots of people seem to think that TextExpander or aText are great. So far I can’t figure out whether they really will save me any time.
  • A few utilities: uBar, which I don’t think I will use, but which gives nice access to all of an app’s windows; Screens, which I might use; Pixave, which might be the answer to organising my now large collection of stock photos; and Launchbar and Albert, in case one of them turns out to be more useful than Spotlight (probably Alfred, esp if I can get it to produce Accordance citations easily).
  • I lost all my Accordance window settings, and need to get them set up again and a decent Logos setup.

Academic smackdowns #1

From John Stackhouse, Making the Best of It, 208, n. 34:

This is just one of many places in which I could signal, as I do now, both my frequent confusion about what Stanley Hauerwas is saying in his many writings, and my likely disagreement with him on some (but by no means all) key points. … Indeed, given Brother Hauerwas’s current prominence, I must confess that I find him—despite his oft-praised penchant for the exciting phrase—so frequently obscure, as well as so frequently implausible, that I have focused my attention herein on the more intelligible and provocative work of his mentor, John Howard Yoder.

David Davis on the UK’s Investigatory Powers Bill

Great interview in the Guardian with David Davis:

In every other country in the world, post-Snowden, people are holding their government’s feet to the fire on these issues, but in Britain we idly let this happen. We’re the country that invented James Bond and we like our spies. We have a wonderful illusion about our security services, a very comforting illusion. But it means we’re too comfortable. Because for the past 200 years we haven’t had a Stasi or a Gestapo, we are intellectually lazy about it, so it’s an uphill battle. Even people who are broadly on my side of the political spectrum in believing in privacy and liberty tend to take the state at its word too often.

Paperless productivity

I’ve had a Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300 for ages, and have recently been making a bigger effort to keep on top of scanning & shredding. A couple of tweaks have helped a lot with this.

The first is installing the ScanSnap ix500 software over top of the S1300 software. This comes with a separate application (Scannable PDF converter) for OCR-ing the PDF files. You can choose this as the destination for the ScanSnap manager, and then also set ScanSnap manager to do its work in the background (Preferences, Status Display, uncheck “Show the scan progress status”).

I then used the instructions on this page to make the Scannable PDF converter app run in the background. Note that I’d already set it to OCR the files immediately, and had set up the directory structure to scan into.

Now when I have a spare moment I just put a document in the scanner. Even if the computer’s screen is locked, the scan and OCR take place in the background, and if I’m using the machine nothing shows up on screen.

All the resulting files end up in Documents/Inbox, and I’ve put a shortcut to the Inbox folder in my Finder sidebar. I’ve also configured the View settings for the Inbox folder to show just the name of the file and date added, with a large preview pane beside the folder list. I can then easily work my way through the scanned files.

Next I’m going to start using Hazel to pick out those files which are easy to move into my folder structure and automate their filing.

Email apps

The Mac email app leaves droppings all over my Gmail Drafts folders, is very slow at sending messages, and has no integration with my todo apps (Asana + something else). Search works perfectly though, and given that I have about 50,000 messages saved search has to be perfect for my email.

Problems with other apps:

  • Mail Pilot: no Exchange support, todo within email not integrated to other apps
  • Mailbox: no Exchange support, no todo integrations
  • Airmail: bit clunky, can integrate with Things/Omni/Evernote but not Asana/Wunderlist etc., no iOS app
  • CloudMagic: iOS app is almost perfect, great integrations and interface, but no Mac app

GTD apps

My ideal GTD app would offer:

  • great native interface on Mac and iOS
  • reliable fast sync
  • next/later/someday split
  • shared lists or even better, ability to delegate tasks
  • location reminders like Checkmark (i.e. multiple physical locations for a location category, such as “Groceries”)

Nice to have:

  • Reminders auto-import
  • Ability for 3rd party apps to interact (mainly email clients)

Reasons why I don’t like particular apps:

  • Todoist: due-date-based interface; you can do GTD but it’s clearly not the priority, Mac app is clunky
  • Things: no sharing, no location reminders, limited app integration
  • Wunderlist: no location reminders, no someday category
  • Checkmark: location reminders can’t be in a project/list, no Mac app, no app integration
  • OmniFocus: no sharing, complicated interface, Mac App especially takes way too much screen space per task, limited app integration
  • 2Do: clunky interface, sync unreliable
  • Asana: clunky interface (still my preference for teams but not good enough for personal GTD), no Mac app