Crazy title, I know, so let’s start with the TL;DR version:
- Our team uses Flow (http://www.getflow.com/) to manage tasks and work with clients.
- I use Flow “lists” to manage everything – posts to write, people to follow up with, projects… everything.
- Flow has great support for emailing items into flow – mail it to email@example.com and it’s in your Flow inbox.
- If I want to put something in the “Projects” list, I put [Projects] in the email subject line.
It occurred to me that it would be easier to manage multiple lists if I could just have “Projects” as a contact in my address book, where emailing stuff (usually I am emailing links to web pages) to the right list would involve just sending it to the right contact.
So I came up with a scheme like this:
- We use Google Apps for our business email, so I can create an email alias for each List (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org)
- I created a contact in my iCloud address book for each List (“Flow Projects” is the name tied to email@example.com)
- Now I just need those emails to forward to firstname.lastname@example.org, with the right thing (e.g. [Projects]) added to the subject line.
- Turns out that’s a bit of a challenge.
Here’s why it’s not so easy:
- Turns out even forwarding the emails using Filters in Google mail won’t work, because I can’t “confirm” email@example.com as a forwarding address. This is because Google itself uses an alias firstname.lastname@example.org to send the confirmation email, and because that address isn’t registered with Flow, it will bounce the confirmation message.
- I can forward to email@example.com from Mail.app, which is what I’ve been doing, but you can’t modify the subject line when you forward, using normal mail processing Rules, so everything goes to my Inbox in Flow, not straight into the List. By the way, Gmail has the same limitation.
What you *can* do on a Mac, with Mail.app, is run Applescript scripts as part of a mail processing rule.
So I went to oDesk, threw a few bucks on the table, and a talented developer in Poland was happy to solve my problem for me. A couple hours after I posted the job, I had a script. You can use and modify this yourself, if you like.
Script to change subject line and forward a message with Mail.app:
How to use it:
- Open the script in Applescript Editor
- Edit the name of the recipient (may not matter to you, doesn’t with Flow)
- Edit the email address to whatever you want the recipient to be
- Edit the text that it adds to the subject line
- Save a copy in ~/Library/Application Scripts/com.apple.mail
- Now you can make a Rule that runs this script in Mail.app
The benefit here (aka why did I do this) is simple: no matter where I am, or what device I am using, if I find something useful I can just email it to the right contact, and that item ends up in the right List in Flow. iCloud keeps the contacts synced between my devices, and if I don’t have the contacts on a given device, no big deal, just mail stuff to firstname.lastname@example.org and it’s there.
I’ve already been thinking about running a Mac Mini server, so that Mail.app and other things can be running all the time, and this is another push in that direction. When I first went back to the Mac six years ago, I couldn’t have imagined why anyone would want to use a Mac as a server, but now it’s obvious: workflows.
Every time Apple releases a product update, we hear three distinct messages in the tech press and blogosphere:
- The new “whatever” is the best whatever that was ever made… and yet…
- The new whatever is “disappointing” because it lacks some rumored feature…
- Which means that owners of the previous whatever will not rush to upgrade.
All of which, time and again, leads the moron brigade to declare the launch of the new whatever a failure. After which, Apple proceeds to sell record numbers of whatever the whatever is.
Apple is currently selling ridiculous, probably record setting, numbers of “the new iPad.”
I’m not buying one. I already have a iPad2, but even if I had an iPad1, I doubt I’d be looking to upgrade. What I have does exactly what I need it to do.
Am I “disappointed” with the new iPad? Upset that it doesn’t have… um… what else were they supposed to do with it exactly? They made the most amazing display ever, and that’s not good enough? No, look…
I’m not disappointed – I’m happy, because the thing I got less than a year ago isn’t obsolete. I felt the same way when the iPhone 4S came out, because it wasn’t anything that would make me want to dump my iPhone 4, which I had picked up just a few months earlier.
I think that makes me… a typical user.
Whenever my whatever stops working, gets too old to run current software, or needs to be handed down to my kids, I go get whatever the new version is, of the whatever that I need. Preferably a refurbished whatever direct from the Apple store.
Phone, computer, tablet… the only way you’ll always have the latest and greatest “all the time” is if a) you like throwing away money or b) you keep getting them as gifts. When you buy it, it’s new. Then you use it until there’s some actual reason to upgrade.
We don’t want our whatevers to become obsolete every year.
Apple isn’t trying to make their last product hopelessly obsolete when they release a new version, they just want to inspire some new customers to take the plunge, and have something compelling enough for some owners of the older models to upgrade.
They’re on a heck of a roll with that, by the way. Which is good news for us normal users.
Can’t-resist-saying-something department: Changing the name to just “iPad” means they can put the product into an update cycle more like the Mac lineup… where they refresh whenever there’s something worth doing to it. Don’t expect a big iPad event next March. Not sure what they can do to it at this point, except bump the processor speed and memory a bit.
This morning I grabbed my iPhone to check my “to-dos” for today.
It said there was a software update that I should install. So I installed it. Which means, I tapped a few buttons, the update was downloaded over the air, and now my iPhone has the latest version of iOS. It took about 10 minutes.
I didn’t have to:
- “Root” my phone to install the update.
- Search the interwebs to see if anyone else had actually gotten the update to work.
- Decide if l333tpwn69′s Android update package would be safe to install.
- Cross my fingers about “bricking” my phone.
- Connect my phone to a computer.
I didn’t have to do anything except tap a few buttons.
Apple and iOS are years ahead of Android, and Google, the handset manufacturers, and the carriers they “work with” seem to have no interest in catching up.
I have a friend who bought the latest and greatest Nexus thingy – the one phone that’s actually up to date with Android “Ice Cream Sandwich” – and he’s gloating his ass off about all the awesome things he can do. Like installing apps from any source. Even l333tpwn69.
I wonder how he’ll feel in 2 years, when I’ve just updated my phone to iOS 7.1 over the air, and he’s trying to decide if l333tpwn69′s installer for Android 8 “Twinkies Fried in Suet” is safe to use. Or if he’d bought a “brand new” Android phone today, to discover it running Android 2.2 “Frodo and Sam’s Sanctorum” instead of ICS.
I wouldn’t be an “Apple fan” if it were the other way around. If stuff didn’t “just work” on one (and only one) phone platform.
If it were the other way around, I’d be on Android. But it’s not the other way around – and it probably never will be. The fact is, “team Android” isn’t even trying to deliver the kind of experience I get with my iPhone. The way things are right now, it’s not even possible.
I know Google’s busy freaking out about how many people aren’t using Google+ and all that right now, but it’s a damned shame that in mobile – an area where they are at least “winning” in some sense – they seem content to allow carriers and manufacturers to make end user’s experience suck.
Yes this is my first post here. So you can let me have it in the comments, while I still have a sense of humor. Before I turn them off. Bonus points if you spot the “gimme” I gave you with an outrageously false assertion about 2/3 of the way through the post.
UPDATE: I am informed that the correct name for Android 2.2 is “Froyo.” I stand corrected.