Thursday, June 28, 2012

Changing the Workflow

The world hates change yet it is the only thing that has brought progress. - Charles Kettering
I wouldn't call myself a "lifehacker," but I certainly do like my workflows. Lifehackers tweak and optimize lots of things in their life to do things really efficiently and often in creative ways. I do have a lot little optimized flows, but it's not like I'm constantly looking for more. The problem with optimizing a flow is that things change and then you either need to change your flows or be stubborn and keep doing it the old way.
These three weeks of WWDC, Google I/O and whatever else other companies announce are weeks where we learn how our great technology leaders will make us change our lives. We say a lot in the software world that if you change anything, twenty-percent of people who use it will complain about it. It's not because the old way was "better" exactly, just that they had built a habit out of the old way and change can be annoying.
These can be big changes - like I had a really optimized flow for updating my website that involved TextWranger and custom AppleScripts for formatting and updating. I switched over to Google hosting and had to create a new flow. It seemed like it should be easier, but Google forced some formatting on me and it took a lot of tweaking to get my quote box working again and my random picture widget running. All working, right? So then I decide I want to do updates on my iPad and get the best program out there, Blogsy. Great, right? Not so great, because it does something different with formatting and so I struggled against to invent the new process flow so I could have my quote box, my image and it would all look good on the site, in mobile and through RSS. All working nicely now.
But there can be simple flows that get easily broken. How do you put your phone in your pocket? Me? I put it in my pocket with the earphone jack up and the screen facing out. I pull it out my pocket with two fingers on the sides and gravity rotates it into the correct position. Now I hear that Apple is going to move the headphone jack to the bottom of the phone. This will be AWESOME for my use in the car, but I have to switch my workflow for taking out my phone. Crazy, right? So I'm practicing putting it into my pocket with the screen facing in and the dock connector up. It's pretty natural - I should learn it fast!
I don't complain much about these things. I try and channel the people who make it and figure out the right way to get my job done.
Speaking of which - Blogsy just update from v3 to v4 and this appears to have broken my quote box again. PROGRESS!