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Apple Gadgets & Tech Misc. Products

My Favorite Work from Home Products for 2020

2020 is the year of “Work from Home” and has propelled the conversation around the “Future of Work” to the forefront. In February 2019, I did a short video about my favorite productivity apps. In 2020, a lot changed for me, personally and professionally. For all of us, it has meant adapting schedules, tools and figuring out different ways of working. I thought it would be a good opportunity to share a list of my favorite work from home products in 2020.

Productivity Tools

1. Airtable – Airtable is one of my favorite work from home apps! It has been a cornerstone of my work from home toolkit for a long time. In 2020, I started using Airtable a lot more. I’ve been using it for managing and tracking Invest Streamrelated things like possible speakers, artwork, bios, etc. as well as using it to get startup pitches. Airtable is a great cross between a spreadsheet and lightweight SQL database. If you’re working with any sort of structured data or want to structure your data, Airtable is a great tool.

2. Notion – I started dabbling with Notion in late 2018 but I really started using it more heavily at the end of 2019. I love the flexibility of Notion and it’s definitely one of my favorite WFH products. I love that they added “Scribble” support to their iPad app. In 2020, it’s been my de facto tool for all kinds of notes, information and data. I haven’t been using the web-clipping extension but I have been using the iOS/iPadOS/macOS apps on a daily basis for scribbling on the iPad, writing up a document to be shared as a PDF with clients, collaborating on the Workomo content calendar and working with others on all kinds of content.

Notion helps me structure my thoughts a little better. It is a little complex to get started but once you commit to using it, you realize you have your own personal wiki for pretty much everything. The one thing I don’t like about Notion is the import and export functionality. 

3. Workomo – Everyone who used Rapportive years ago, will know how useful it was to have a tool that gave you a summary of people that you were connecting with. However, the problem has become quite acute with the move to online meetings / webinars / networking events / etc. I’ve been an active Workomo user since the early betas and I also do meetings with a lot of people I don’t already know. Workomo has been an invaluable tool in helping me get quick summaries about these people as well as learn a few new things about people I already know.

Conversations (audio, video, podcasting)

1. Clubhouse – I got on Clubhouse in September and, now, I use it all the time while working from home. Clubhouse is my watercooler / coffee machine at the office. If you need to take a break, chat with someone during lunch or join a discussion about almost anything, Clubhouse is the place to be. Most rooms are well moderated and people are polite and friendly. If you need an invite, I *may* be able to help so try DM’ing me and if I have any invites left, I will send you one.

2. StreamYard – 2020 might just be the year where podcasting and online video tipped. I started Invest Stream at the end of 2018 but 2020 is when I started live streaming. StreamYard is a really awesome product for doing livestreams. My friend, Gregarious Narain, found it when we were doing The Raise. It made it so simple to start streaming on multiple platforms. I’ve been using StreamYard a lot in 2020 and I love the simplicity. It’s super easy to join a livestream off your phone or iPad. Hosting a livestream is still Chrome specific, however. The free version is good enough for most people who want to get started.

Entertainment / Relaxation

1. Digital Assistants / Smart Speakers – Listen to a podcast, check the weather, play some music or talk to someone all over a smart speaker. I’ve ditched Alexa and Google Home Mini in 2020 and gone all in with the HomePod and HomePod Mini. However, whatever your choice is, I’ve found the smart speaker to be an invaluable accessory to use as a speaker phone, a stereo system, listening to the news (I like to keep Bloomberg Radio going in the background), etc. 

2. Streaming – We can all use a break after a long day of working from home. What better way to spend some of that free time than with loved ones watching Netflix, Apple TV+, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video or Disney+ and YouTube? It’s definitely the golden age of content with fabulous shows like The Queens Gambit or The Expanse available at our fingertips along with blockbuster movies like Wonder Woman 1984! BTW, pairing the HomePod with an AppleTV 4K gives you amazing Dolby Atmos sound. There are many videos on YouTube discussing this.

As much as we’re all suffering Zoom fatigue, without Zoom, Google Meet or FaceTime, working from home over an extended period of time would have been almost impossible. They aren’t my favorite apps but they are most definitely necessary.

This post first appeared on the Workomo Blog.

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Apple Gadgets & Tech Mac Mini OS X Server

Setting Up a Mac Mini Snow Leopard Server Without a Display

The Mac Mini has always been a great little workgroup or home server. The low power consumption combined with the form factor have convinced me to pick up my second mac mini since 2005. The first one was a PowerPC based 1st gen Mini and served as a primary desktop for many many years. This new Mac Mini Server with a 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo and 1TB HD will be used as file, database, web and media server.

I’m not going to get into setting up all those things right now. I’m going to get into how to go thru the basic setup of the Mac Mini with Snow Leopard Server if you don’t have a display to connect it to. Unfortunately, Apple doesn’t ship the Mac Mini Server with an HDMI adapter so I had to dig around on getting the Mini setup. The instructions that come with the Mini aren’t very helpful.

What you need:

  • Mac Mini Server – called “minisrv” from here on.
  • Another Mac that will be used as your desktop/admin machine – called “mac1” from here on. A PC with Windows may be ok but I haven’t tested that config.
  • An (wired) ethernet switch, a WiFi Router that has room to plug in at least 2 ethernet connections or an ethernet hub
  1. Install the “Admin Tools” cd that came with the minisrv.
  2. Ensure that you have DHCP enabled on your network so minisrv can get an IP address.
  3. Make sure both computers are connected to the switch, router or hub. mac1 doesn’t have to be connected via ethernet if you’re connecting both machines to a WiFi router, though, minisrv should be connected using ethernet.
  4. If you can’t go wired, you should disable any sort of encryption or passwords on your WifI and also ensure that the SSID broadcast is turned on.

  5. Turn the Mac Mini on and about a minute or two after you hear the chime, you should SSH into the box. Now this will be tricky. You need to know what the IP address of the Mac Mini is. On mac1, go to Applications -> Server and launch “Server Admin”. You should see an IP address listed there. Unless you have multiple Mac servers running, this IP will be the one you should ssh into.
  6. Launch Terminal
  7. ssh from mac1 to minisrv
    mac1# ssh root@
    The password to use here is the first eight digits of minisrv’s serial number.
  8. Type the following into your terminal:

    localhost:~ root# cd /Library/Preferences
    localhost:~ root# echo -n enabled > com.apple.ScreenSharing.launchd
  9. Go to Finder -> Connect to Server and click on Browse. You should see minisrv showing in the list on the left. Click on it and then click on “Share Screen”.
  10. Go ahead and follow the directions to finish setting up your new Mac Mini Server.

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Apple iPhone

At&t Starts Selling iPhone 4 to Walk-ins

AT&T has started selling the iPhone 4 to walk-on customers today and lines have formed again. No idea yet on what kind of volumes the stores are doing but it doesn’t look light in Queens, N.Y.

Update 9:45am: Many AT&T stores have sold their inventory within an hour of opening and are taking in-store fulfillment orders or handing out tickets based on their estimated next shipment. Good luck if you’re trying AT&T.

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Apple Gadgets & Tech iPhone

iPhone 4 Launch New York City

Here are some scenes from the iPhone 4 launch at Apple’s Flagship store in New York CIty on Fifth Avenue. There were thousands of people online, many spending between 15 and 60 hours online. Luckily, it was a very hot and humid week so people were just sweating and stinky, but not freezing 🙂

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Apple India iPad

No iPad for India – Yet

TechCrunch and Mashable are reporting that Apple has announced dates and countries for the international launch of the iPad in May and July but, apparently, there’s no mention of the iPad being launched in India in May or in July.

Once again, India appears to be an after thought for new Apple product launches…
Update: The iPad was launched about 6 months ago and there’s still no announcement on the iPad’s availability in India. Meanwhile, a few friends and relatives continue to ask me to send iPads with anyone traveling to India.

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