Ten ways I'll use Apple products to have more fun in 2011

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Ten ways I'll use Apple products to have more fun in 2011

With just a few hours to go in 2010, I'm thinking about 2011 already. This year, I'm not really making any resolutions, since they are made to be broken. Instead, I've written a list of things that I can do using my Apple products to make my life even more enjoyable than it already is. When you get to be my age (over a half-century old), you want to "grab for all the gusto you can get." Since I'm never away from an Apple product (well, almost never -- I don't use my iPhone in the shower), I know that my Macs, iPad and iPhone can help me make 2011 a very happy New Year.

1) Read more books. I do a lot of writing, which has strangely enough left me with less time to read for enjoyment. With iBooks and the Amazon Kindle reader both installed on my iPad and iPhone, I plan to download a lot more books in 2011. Re-reading some old favorites and exploring new authors will be a nice way to start reading again.

2) Take at least one photo a day. Having my iPhone 4 in my pocket all the time makes it dead simple to take pictures, and even when my day consists of hanging around my home office writing, I can usually find something to snap a photo of with Instagram, Camera+ or the regular iPhone camera app. I started doing this last year just before New Year's Day, but the app that I was using changed mid-year and wouldn't let me post additional photos. This year? I'm just going to post my daily pictures to a new Flickr set so that my Project 365 isn't dependent on the whims of a developer.

3) Make more music. I've always loved music, but other than an early acquaintance with the clarinet in elementary and junior high school, and with early synthesizers in the 70s, I've never had the time or talent to make my own music. 2011 is going to be the year that I change that. I've already spent some time during December buying various music apps for both iPad and iPhone -- BeBot is a blast and has been surprisingly easy to use to create renditions of some blues tunes, I'm toying with several "professional grade" synth apps, iShred is fun (although I really ought to teach myself how to play guitar with GarageBand) and I've picked up a handful of percussion apps. Hmmm, maybe I can record my own lead-in music for TUAW TV Live.

4) Enjoy the outdoors more. By "enjoy" I mean actually spend time outdoors. That's one problem with being a writer -- most of the time I'm sitting inside at a desk. With my MacBook Air and a sneaky non-jailbreak way of tethering, I can work from anywhere, including the many picnic tables dotted around the nice greenbelt areas in my neighborhood. I'm already using the free RunKeeper Pro app to take count of the mileage I rack up while walking outdoors, and I'm getting my speedy recumbent bike tuned up so I can use it to track my biking.

5) Create more videos. I love video, and I want to put together more short pieces both for TUAW and for my own consumption. I don't use pro tools -- instead, I find iMovie '11 to be very usable for everything I do. My cameras? A Canon HD video camera I've had for a few years and my iPhone 4.

6) Go geocaching more often. I love the challenge and fun of geocaching, but often don't have the time to get out and really find more caches. Since I have the wonderful Geocaching app on my iPhone already, I just need to remember to launch it whenever I have a few minutes and see if there are any nearby caches I can find.

7) Play more games. 2010 was an interesting year for me, as I started playing more iOS games. Yeah, one of those was Angry Birds, which I'm now working through a second time to try to get three gold stars on each level. Cannon Cadets was another fun one, and I've found Cut The Rope to be a great time-killer. My favorite towards the end of 2010 was the iPad version of Monopoly. I like to play games that I can win at; those that are low-scoring and annoying get taken off of my toys.

8) Convert my NaNoWriMo books to iBook format so that my wife can read them. I have written two awful and one pretty decent novel during the annual NaNoWriMo event. I want my wife to be able to read them for critiques so that I can write even better fiction in 2011. This will be easy -- I'll just import the stories into Pages and export 'em as iBooks. It'll be fun to get criticism from my wife (did I just say that?).

9) Take more steps toward a paperless life. 2010 was the year that I stopped stuffing receipts and forms into big manila folders, with just about all of my paperwork being scanned and sent directly to a Dropbox folder. There are still some things I need to do this year to make business more "fun." I still get payments from a number of users via checks, so I'm going to probably change my business account to Chase so that I can use their app to make check deposits without having to go to the bank. I'm also considering giving clients a discount if they pay me via credit card, which I accept through the Square app. For the classes that I teach, I always need to have students sign a roster -- I think I'll start having them "sign" a virtual roster on my iPad instead.

10) Be more happy about myself. In the five years I've worked for myself, I've gained a bit of weight. In 2010 I made some positive steps towards exercising, and if you read my recent post about fitness and weight loss apps, you know that I'm planning on buckling down and getting into shape. Our very own Kelly Guimont lost over 50 pounds in 2010, and she's ecstatic about it. Is there a better way to be happy than to be happy with yourself?

I wish all of our TUAW readers a very Happy New Year!

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