iCloud has never delivered what Apple told us it would do. The lie started with iDisk, which then became iCloud, and now is iCloud Drive. I really would want to love iCloud, but the reality is, it doesn’t work. iCloud is a complete mess of utter bullshit.
The reason I write this is because one of my favorite iOS apps has just been released in a new major version. Its rock-solid sync engine replaced with iCloud. Now it’s not working anymore. I’m writing about Drafts 4.
iCloud could be the bestest thing, but in the end, it has to deliver. It never has. Let me explain.
Under iOS 7 iCloud had the issue that it sometimes just stops working altogether. Calendar, Contacts, and Documents. All apps just “freeze” their content and are unable to upload or download changes. The fix was to reboot the device. If that didn’t help, then you could go to icloud.com where Apple had a checkbox to reset iCloud. This involved rebooting all devices. When the devices finished the reboot they received an event from the iCloud servers that told them to upload their latest documents’ status again. This resulted in a lot of sync conflicts, but also made iCloud work again.
Fortunately this issue didn’t happen too often. Maybe once a week or so, for most users, but now we have iOS 8.
When I see users report a problem for an app, most of their problems is not because of the app, it’s iCloud.
Obviously I’m using more apps than just MindNode. There’s been another app that I dearly love, in fact an app many users love. They are also using iCloud as their syncing backend. On iOS 8 their app suddenly stopped syncing with iCloud. The same issue as on iOS 7. Documents just stop updating. Rebooting didn’t help. I was suffering through the iOS 8 beta, hoping that the final version of iOS 8 would resolve sync issues. iOS 8 was released, it didn’t fix anything. I was wondering how their support handles this issue, and also, obviously, I wanted to get my data syncing again. I’m not going to mention the devs, because their app is a) very popular and b) their response has been very straight and honest, and I don’t want to discourage people from using their app.
Don’t use iCloud. iCloud Drive is a complete mess. Stay away from it.
I congratulate their honesty.
On iOS 8, the previous fix still works, but now this “fix” has to be applied for each app individually. One app stops syncing? Reboot the device!
I reboot my device about three times a day now, just to get iCloud syncing back, just for one specific app.
If that doesn’t fix it, well, users report that you can delete the app and install it again, then sometimes iCloud does seem to come back. If not, well, try installing the app again. If that doesn’t fix it, you can always restore the device, which usually fixes the problem.
Things that do not work for me:
- Text Shortcuts don’t sync
This list is not complete, but those are the apps that I use most.
Greg Pierce, if you read this, please bring us the old sync engine back. It worked so spectacularly well that I was wondering why Drafts was the only app that used Simperium as its sync engine. I cannot figure out why you would switch away from something that worked so well, to iCloud. In order to make a switch to something else necessary, I think, the other thing has to be better than what you had. iCloud is not better.
This article is a little bit older, I’m writing this on the weekend. On Drafts 4’s release date, I wrote the following:
I installed Drafts 4 eagerly as soon as it came out. I had 4 drafts, and I deleted two of them. Since then, the changes haven’t been synced to the other device. It’s now 8 hours past, a couple of reboots later, still nothing. I don’t want to delete and reinstall the app, because the actions, and now the “keyboard” too, still don’t sync. (There’s a feature request in this paragraph.)
I beg every developer who reads this. Please don’t make us use iCloud anymore.
Heureka! I never thought the day would come, but apparently we can now close other devices’ tabs from one device.
On iOS bring up the tab list and scroll to the bottom. It will list your iCloud Tabs on the bottom. Simply swipe to delete. A few moments later the tab will automatically close on the other device.
On OS X bring up iCloud Tabs and click the small X. A few moments later the tab will automatically close on the other device.
You use lists to get stuff done? You write stuff down carefully so you won’t forget it? Maybe you are into GTD® too? You know that stuff goes into lists and from lists stuff gets checked off and done? Then I’ve got something for you.
Let’s assume you are a GTD aficionado. You know that “stuff” flows in from pretty much everywhere into your “trusted system” to something called Inbox. This inbox needs to be processed regularly. To clear your mind, to clear your desk, to make yourself feel productive. It is best to process to 0.
Here’s the thing. When everything goes well, when we are at the top of our game it is really easy to process everything flows easily. We feel productive and confident of ourselves.
But as life is, things get messy sometimes. Say you’re in the middle of a project or your long-year girlfriend just split up, you moved into a new home, or a loved one died, or similar life-changing events. Those are all things that throw us off completely. In difficult times some things are more important than others and we naturally go into a mode where we focus on survival. Naturally our “trusted system” becomes less important and we neglect all the goodness it brings to our lives. An indicator is when there is an ever-increasing amount of unprocessed stuff in your inbox.
Maybe you own some shelves where you put stuff to be processed and they are a mess too. I saw some messy shelves yesterday, and honestly I didn’t find them messy at all, because there were two boards on the opposite side of a room. One side was neatly organized, the other side not so much.
"I’m a mess", she said. I couldn’t believe my ears. "Rare to meet people that are as organized as her", I thought to myself. The disorganization reminded me of my own inbox at the moment. I have about 50+ tasks that I have set for myself and just don’t process for the last two months. I just don’t care enough. Other things outside my inbox are so much more important and I rather work on that. My private life, work is going great, exercising and meditation, etc.
That gave me some thought. Am I messy? Is she messy? I’m not disorganized! Are you kidding? And she’s one of the most organized people I know. I look at her kitchen, for example, and am like: “let’s better not move stuff around here or hell breaks lose”.
The situation also reminded me of myself moving in to my new apartment. It took me about half a year to get back into my groove. There was so much stuff that was more important. I wish I had someone to help. Things probably would have gone quicker. But that’s just how life is. Life is fucking hard sometimes.
Are You a Mess Because Your Inbox Is a Mess?
Life is so hard that we can barely keep our system: afloat, atop, congruent, and consistent. We wish we could, but that would be too easy, wouldn’t it? During the hard times, things pile up. That’s natural. Don’t you think?
Now that you are aware that it’s hard to keep everything running in tough times: Can you imagine that other people know that too? Of course they do. Pretty much everybody has moved into a new place a couple of times in their life. How many people do you know who had enough energy to keep up with their normal life? So, how are you supposed to?
Which brings me straight to my point. What does a messy inbox say about you? I think it says “I am busy”; in all of its unfulfilled glory. It also says “I don’t have a plan right now”, “I’m a mess right now”. But it also says “I have something else to do”. When I look at a full inbox I might say: “what a full inbox that is”, but when I look closer at all the folders a particular person has created, categories, subcategories, etc.… A trusted system… Then I can tell you that this person is very well organized. He or she just can’t keep up at the moment, and that’s normal from time to time.
How to Become a Messy Person
Remains the question: how do you become a mess, if you so desire? Essentially that’s really easy. Just don’t organize stuff anymore. Let it pile up as much as it wants to. Never ever categorize and move stuff around. Just let it happen and sit and watch as more and more stuff piles up. After a certain period of time, other people will tell you that you don’t seem to be well organized. That is the point when you became a mess.
What differentiates “a messy person” from “an organized person” is that organizers organize. After much stuff has piled up, enough energy builds inside that causes stuff to get processed. Stuff gets processed to 0. If we’d just let it sit, we’d be called a mess, but since most of us don’t, we are not. Looking at a mess still doesn’t cause great feelings though, and there’s not much I can write for you to make that go away, but all I can say is that it’s natural from time to time to have a messy desk. Having a little bit of stress and discomfort is actually healthy (maybe you are the only person putting stress onto yourself?). Keeping a little bit of stress, just below the tipping point to distressed, exhausted, and ultimately the breakdown. Relax, it’s normal, get cracking!
I’m a long-time user of TweetDeck, believe it or not. TweetDeck is one of the Twitter clients I’ve been using the most over the years. TweetDeck is only surpassed by Tweetbot on iOS. But my Mac’s main Twitter client is, and has been, TweetDeck for a very long time.
TweetDeck is the most powerful Twitter client I found. The one Twitter client that is only better than TweetDeck is Hootsuite, but Hootsuite also adds such a lot of bloat, that it’s no fun to use anymore. TweetDeck hits a sweet spot for me, and I’d like to share how I use it in this post with you.
TweetDeck’s most unique feature are its columns. Columns can be anything.
- A search
- A list
- Home (the timeline of a user)
To name just a few.
I have a column for the keyword “mindnode”. A column has multiple settings, but you can have notifications via sound and popup (OS X Notification Center notifications) if you’d like to for every new tweet in a column. I have them off, for most columns though.
There are two more columns I especially like and use a lot. One is called “Stuttgart”, simply. This is a (private) Twitter list of all folks I follow and know from the local Stuttgart area. This way I can keep up with the things people are up to here.
The second column is also a Twitter list that I named “Plus” - also private. Plus contains all people I don’t want to miss any tweets of. Plus has only a handful (about 10) accounts on it, it’s very limited, and I try to keep it limited. I don’t want to pick out any names but there are some automated accounts in there that I like. Zen Moments and Epic Women for example. There are people in there, too.
My first “page” (the stuff that I see when I open TweetDeck) has four columns:
- Home (Zettt): Since this is my main Twitter account, I’d like to see all tweets from people I follow first.
- Activity: I really really like Twitter’s addition of the “activity” view, compared to the old-style Mentions. Activity not only shows mentions. It also shows “engagement”, like who retweeted something, who favorited a tweet, and who started following. Having one place for all those things is quite handy.
In total I have 13 columns at the moment.
I short: columns are awesome.
TweetDeck also has scheduling support. You can write a tweet now, and publish it later. Comes in very handy with bitly, and a custom short URL, which, to my surprise, is still possible with TweetDeck.
- Multi-user compatible: Send a tweet from multiple accounts, favorite, follow, block, report as spam, etc.
- Mute: TweetDeck can mute tweets based on client, a keyword, or a specific user.
- Shortcuts (finally): The Mac version has introduced shortcuts. You can move around the interface using the arrow keys, use
fto favorite a tweet,
sto reveal the search field,
nfor new tweet,
dfor new direct message, etc. Use
?to bring up the shortcut sheet.
What I dislike about TweetDeck
There’s not much I really “dislike”, but to be honest, I wish it were more “native” on OS X. It is clear that TweetDeck, the Mac app available from the Mac App Store, is just a web browser wrapped around the TweetDeck website. I get that. And most of the time it’s irrelevant. There are times though, where I wish it were more native. Those time are rare, and I’m mostly very happy with the app.
iOS also get a huge thumbs down from me. There used to be an app for iOS. It has gone through several iterations, most of which featured bad design decisions, awkward usage, and other nasty stuff, before it was finally pulled from the App Store. I still hope that Twitter works on a version for iOS, but my hopes are low. There are better clients on iOS available - most notably Twitterrific and Tweetbot - none of which have columns that are as good as TweetDeck’s though. Hootsuite tries to bring their own columns to iOS, but it’s just not really good. I do understand that columns work differently on iOS. And I do understand that coming up with a really good implementation is really tough, but on the other hand, we have 2014. Give me a break…
TweetDeck is my most favorite OS X Twitter client. I use it daily to catch up on stuff quickly. Having my most frequently and important columns right in front when I launch the app is a feature I miss in every other client. You can emulate something similar with YoruFukurou and Twitterrific, but it’s miserable.