David Sparks (@MacSparky) and Stephen Hackett (@ismh) produced another entertaining and insightful episode of Mac Power Users (#549). They interviewed master Mac coder, Brett Terpstra (@ttscoff). In sum: three very productive people talked about software that supports their productivity and hobbies — including Hook!
— Mac Power Users (@macpowerusers) August 16, 2020
Some Hook concepts discussed in that episode
They mentioned with appreciation that Hook enables users to aggregate many types of information that you can’t put in folders, like OmniFocus tasks and emails. (You can hook them together to a given resource or …hook files)
Brett Terpstra compared Hook with tags and smart folders. In Finder, you can tag items. Then you can create smart folders to aggregate them. Several apps (like OmniFocus and Apple Mail) have their own separate tagging systems. Many web services, like Pinboard and Pocket, also support tagging. But there’s no unified way of tagging across apps and web services. Hook works across apps and services. And when you Hook things together, you don’t need to think of a tag name.
As Brett put it
Hook is a direct way to say: this file hooks to this file, and this file hooks to this OmniFocus task
Of course, you can use tags and Hook together. In fact, Hook has an option to automatically apply a Finder tag to files you hook to anything.
Brett also mentioned how useful it is to be able to send someone a link to an email that opens on the recipient’s Mac — provided of course they have the email in a compatible app (of which there are several), and Hook. The recipient does not need to pay for Hook to consume hook://email links: The Lite version does the trick 😊.
David Sparks and Brett have noticed that we’ve alluded on our website (including the Hook Productivity Forum) to elements of Hook’s product road map. As David correctly “there’s a lot of plans for this app”. Brett added “tons”. They are right! We, CogSci Apps are a team of designers and developers working on multiple Hook projects, at different timescales. We’ve been working together for many years. Hook 2.0, a free update for updates licensees, is just around the corner. But, as you can tell from reading Hook’s features, benefits, and its documentation, Hook already does a lot.
David Sparks values staying in context
David Sparks is about to give a Free Keyboard Maestro Webinar. In his blog post about it on MacSparky.com, he emphasizes the importance of staying in context. Maybe this partly explains why he likes Hook so much. We designed Hook specifically to help users stay in context and in flow. In my Cognitive Productivity books, I introduced the 2-second information retrieval rule (criterion), which is essential to staying in context, and which is what Hook helps you do. The rule is 80% of the information resources you retrieve in a given day should each take you less than 2 seconds to access. See Hook’s benefits page. That calls for information retrieval software and habits.
The importance of context is part of the cognitive science that motivated us to develop Hook. Key concepts are working memory, long-term working memory and flow. I’ll blog more about that here, and on the CogZest blog.
In the company of great apps
It was heartwarming to hear Hook being discussed alongside great apps we’ve been using and loving for years, and that we’ve designed Hook to work well with, such as
- BBedit by Bare Bones Software,
- TextMate by Macromates,
- nvUltra and its predecessor nvALT,
- MailMate, and
- Firefox (though as Brett mentioned, this one lacks an AppleScript dictionary).
David Sparks, Stephen Hackett and Brett Terpstra also discussed some other very interesting apps that we ourselves had not yet checked out (but have now read about) such as:
- Descript | Create podcasts, videos, and transcripts,
- DaVinci Resolve 16 | Blackmagic Design,
- Expressions – the coolest app for regex | Apptorium,
- Capo 3, and
- Affinity – Professional Creative Software.
We haven’t tried the latter apps yet, but they’re on our radar. If you have tried Hook with these apps, please let the Hook community know about your experience on the forum.
Aside: I generated most of the links above using Hook’s “Copy Markdown Link” command.
They also mentioned Hazel by Noodlesoft. While this app is not linkable per se yet (it’s a background app, viewed in System Preferences and optionally the menu bar icon), Noodlesoft has mentioned it will become a stand alone app. Hazel is useful for managing files generated by Hook (.hook files and hooked ‘notes’ files.) David Sparks is a big fan of Hazel, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he one day he shares some of his tips for using Hazel and Hook together.
Believe it or not, there’s much more to that MPU episode episode than summarized here, so do check it out. Indeed, consider subscribing to the MPU podcast series. As you can tell from the above, it discusses tools and concepts that are very relevant to Hook users — i.e., researchers, authors, developers, lawyers and app enthusiasts. For instance, nvUltra (discussed in this episode) is a very efficient way to capture your creative thoughts and notes about your readings. If your notes are in iCloud, you can then easily access them in the iOS app of your choice. Using regular expressions, also discussed in this episode, can save you a lot of time processing text. In fact, it can allow you to do things that are otherwise impossible.
Speaking of podcasts, good news! Brett mentioned that he is reviving both of his podcasts:
Which reminds me, I was interviewed by Brett Terpstra back in 2017: 187: Productive Cognition with Luc Beaudoin – Systematic. That was recorded before Hook and my second Cognitive Productivity book were released.
On a personal note: history and emotions
I’ve been reading and listening to David Sparks and Brett Terpstra for many years. I wasn’t even through writing my first Cognitive Productivity book when I read David Sparks’s amazing Paperless book (in 2012). It made me realize I should create a screencast-rich sequel to my first book, which became Cognitive Productivity with macOS: 7 Principles for Getting Smarter with Knowledge. And I’ve been reading Brett regularly for even longer than that. He, too, has inspired me in many ways. Over the years, I’ve hooked a lot of their web content with Hook!
So you can understand how delightful it was to hear David and Brett talk about Hook on one of my favorite podcasts. And then to hear that they find Hook very impressive and useful … with David saying “It’s really kinda ingenious. It’s something I’ve never thought of.” Well, that’s the icing on the cake 😊.
If you’d like to discuss the episode, there’s