The New Musical Apple

More reflexive than reflective, the usual stuff has hit the web about Apple’s re-skinned music offerings.

It’s good. It’s bad. No, it’s in between.

It’s hard to use. It’s easy to use. iTunes is terrible etc, etc.

I’ve tried it and will continue to assess it. You should to. Parts of the framework are not complete and the Connect service needs more content to become more relevant. Say what you will about the “curation”, the quixotic genres and the amusing “For You”[1. See the Dr’s description of the For You experience here. My mileage was similar. “Discovery” is still considered by many to be the big problem that music services should address. I don’t think so. I don’t actually care if people want to listen to only Raffi or never want to hear the same artist twice. It’s up to everyone to “discover” music on their own. “For You’s” or “You might like’s” or “Because you listened to’s” seem on par with random selection.]; this is what Apple wanted. This is the way it is. Some things will be revised and others may disappear. While there is nothing new here, Apple is trying to re-invigorate the music radio idiom, artist connection and playlists. They may just succeed because they have a few iPhones floating around and that’s a powerful platform. Apple music playlists are showing up all over and they could have a bigger impact than the playlist features of the other music services, combined.

Some claim that Apple doesn’t have to “do” music. That it’s a drop in the bucket and that they are working this business because they love artists and music. I’m sure they do. Make no mistake, Apple is not doing charity work or conducting a research effort with the renewed Apple Music. This will probably be a $1B business in the first 6 to 12 months rising to the $3B range in a couple of years. Of course they like music.

Have fun and take full advantage of the free trial period.

Post Omnifocus Task Entries to Your Calendar

Sven Fechner has written at least twice on the idea of scheduling tasks.[1.] [2.] It’s a good idea, especially when you have some open time on your calendar and want to be at your most effective. Sven is a user of Omnifocus — as am I. In each of Sven’s examples, he writes about dragging and dropping tasks from Omnifocus onto a calendar window. Doing so can give you a calendar item with the right duration and a link back to the Omnifocus task if you use Fantastical. While dragging and dropping is okay for one or two tasks, I prefer using an Applescript for this type of scheduling.

To try it yourself, go to this forum discussion ( at Omnigroup and go about 2/3 down the page to a post by user “aeryn”. You will find a short Applescript macro there that takes a selected task or a group of selected tasks and creates calendar entries for each of them. The calendar entry will begin on the date and time found in the “Defer Until” field of the Omnifocus task. The calendar entry duration will be based on the “Estimated Time” field of the Omnifocus task. Install the Applescript in usual the location for Omnifocus (if you forgot where that is, then click on the Help menu in Omnifocus and then select “Open Scripts Folder”. I have customized my Omnifocus toolbar so that the Task to Calendar macro is easy to access. You may want to assign a key combination and trigger it that way.

This macro is great because it allows you to schedule a batch of tasks on your calendar with one click rather than dragging and dropping a number of tasks one-at-a-time from Omnifocus to Calendar or Fantastical (if that’s your calendar app of choice).

Ladies and Gentlemen, Let’s Welcome Back; “HomeKit”

(Updated on 2015-06-05: Formerly titled: “Waiting for HomeKit”)

For the past year, I had been planning to experiment more with home automation but managed to get myself FUD’ed [1.,_uncertainty_and_doubt] by Apple’s HomeKit.

Up until June 2, 2015, HomeKit had the impact of an open source code release for FaceTime. That is to say nothing, absolutely nothing [2. Sung to the tune of Whitfield and Strong’s “War”. There were numerous announcements about locks, lightbulbs and hubs but it took a long time to certify and retail HomeKit products.], had hit the streets at retail since the grand unveiling of HomeKit as an idea in June 2014. It seemed that something might happen in mid-May 2015 and now there are finally some real products available for the IoT [3. Internet of Things] user. It may be at another 6 months to 1 year before many of us will have a real sense of just how well HomeKit works and how well hardware integrations with HomeKit will perform. More vendors and a wider array of product interactions will be required to determine whether HomeKit can work for typical users.

I have had a brief sojourn into home automation. My hope was that automation in the Apple world would get better; sooner rather than later — more integration, more reliability, ease of use and collected data. In measured Apple fashion; that did not happen. An integrated home automation platform that may develop the critical mass to encourage wider consumer adoption? We’ll see.

Further Reading:

iPad 5 Years Later: A Story About Sales Volume

I’m an iPad power user. I have purchased 8 iPads, the first having been picked up on Day 1 in Seattle. This is only my story but it may be emblematic of why iPad sales are falling year-over-year when tallied on a quarterly basis.

Four iPad 1 devices were purchased for my family and extended family in 2010. Two of those are still in service, two have been retired from active use. Two iPad 3’s were purchased in the spring of 2012; one of which — MY iPad — is in active use, while the other was replaced and subsequently retired after its screen was broken. An iPad mini was purchased as a gift for a family member in December 2012 and is still in use. One iPad Air 2 was picked up in January 2015 as a replacement for one of the iPad 3’s.

iPad Launch Dates
iPad 1 – April 4, 2010
iPad 2 – March 11, 2011
iPad 3 – March 16, 2012
iPad 4 – November 2, 2012
ipad Mini – November 2, 2012
iPad Mini 2 – November 12, 2013
iPad Air – November 1, 2013
iPad Air 2 – October 22, 2014
iPad Mini 3 – October 22, 2014

Let’s take stock. Eight — yes, 8 — iPads purchased as personal devices and family gifts. 5 are still in service. 1 still works but has a broken screen, and heck, was replaced anyway.[1. Why was it replaced? Not enough RAM. I hazard to guess that if that machine had been a 64 GB model that it may not have been replaced (save, of course, for me not dropping it).] In 5 years, my power user, iPad enthusiastic family, has found it necessary to replace 2 original iPads with 3rd generation devices, while only one of the third generation devices has been replaced with an iPad Air 2. I’m the heaviest user of the iPad in our family, the original disciple of tablet and hand-held computing in my trust circle and I’m not the guy with the iPad Air 2. My iPad is still the iPad 3 — the original model of retina screen iPads.

The iPad Air 2 is fast and ridiculously light, yet it seems to crash at the oddest of times — just like my iPad 3 — and, for me, does not represent enough of a usability improvement to upgrade given the way that I use my iPad. In fact, the way I use my iPad has not changed substantially over the past 2 to 3 years but it’s not from lack of trying. Here’s something else. I’m using my iPad less this year than I did 2 years ago. Is that because I have an iPhone 6+? Yes but that is not the whole story. When I am faced with a choice of using my laptop or an iPad these days, I seem more frequently to be reaching for the computer. That, for me,[2. I just don’t have the patience of Federico I guess.] is the key part of the story. The iPad — the glorious device that was bringing the future into our homes; the device that was not just a bigger iPhone — has turned into? Just a bigger iPhone. In 5 years the software development and usage models of the iPad have largely stagnated while the hardware has ambled ahead. A time of reflection and reckoning may be upon us.

While Apple has chosen to converge the use case of the iPhone and the iPad, it has also maddeningly introduced more instability into it’s fundamental software. In my experience, neither iOS 7 or iOS 8 have achieved the kind of stability on the iPad that they did on the iPhone. iOS 8 is still as problematic to use on an iPad Air 2 as it is on the iPad 3. Safari is just as unpredictable and hobbled a browser as it seems to have been from day one in April 2010. We have put up with many quirks and idiosyncrasies in using iOS on the iPad over the years. Many have been remedied but many still remain. For example, the copy and paste model needs a re-think, switching between apps is tedious, the single window modality is frequently a hindrance to inter-app usage and the inability of developers to tap into Siri seems petty and capricious. Maybe all of that is going to change. Maybe there are not enough resources at Apple to develop interesting innovations in iOS for iPad. Maybe I’m an edge case and these ideas represent nothing more than a whisper in a hurricane. I’m convinced however that if I — an original iPad fanboy — is having doubts about the general stability, usability, usefulness and future of the iPad, what of the general users? If all you think an iPad is good for is reading or watching Netflix there is compelling little to incent you to buy the latest and greatest hardware. Things get even more confusing with all of the models and monikers of iPad available today – mini, Air, Air 2, mini Air 3. Huh? Typical prospective users and people seeking replacement iPads must find the array of flat, hand-held product available from Apple today confusing. They all sort of look the same but boy are there a lot of price points. That is not the logical follow-on to “It just works.”

As iPad processing power and graphics speed moves to “Eleven” it becomes harder and harder to fathom why there is not more power in the user and operating system experience on the iPad. That power can be found in OS X. If there’s going to be convergence in Apple platforms why not nudge the iPad closer to the power curve of the Mac laptop line? There are times when I look at the Microsoft Surface 3 and understand the position they are taking with that integration of hardware and software. Once Windows 10 hits the Surface there will be serious usability clout in that universe. Apple need not follow but they should learn. The Surface would likely not exist without the iPad having been invented. What’s a key benefit of the Surface that the iPad does not have? Screen interaction using a stylus as well as touch interactivity. Sure you can approximate that on an iPad with a third party stylus. It’s not satisfying. I have tried numerous hand writing, stylus enhanced and written note workflows on the iPad over the years. None have stuck. The best note taking workflow that I use is to hand write notes on paper — say, at a meeting — following that up by dictating them into my phone or iPad later that same day. It’s a better workflow that enforces a review (’cause you have to read the notes to dictate them…) and creates searchable information in the iPad.

Some have wondered what has happened to the power of developers to lever iOS and create ever more powerful apps. Here are two possible reasons — there are others and this is a complex subject but let’s just look at these two:
1) There isn’t enough money in it to create ever more complex apps because the app ecosystem is all about dollar store economics, and;
2) Apple is not opening up enough of the power of iOS to develop a new era of touch enhanced, hand-held applications.

I think yes and yes.

There are precious few developers like OmniGroup that craft consistent product at sustainable prices. Search the internets and you will find the chorus of “too expensive” sung frequently in reference to Omni’s pricing. It’s a shame since small developer-based businesses need higher prices to fund the research and innovation necessary to write better and better apps. There are developers — Pixelmator comes to mind — pushing the boundaries of Apple hardware with great apps at low prices but I worry about the sustainability of that model for many developers.

What’s especially egregious is the blatant copying and re-packaging of applications that appear on the App Store. It’s a game of whack-a-mole that Apple seems unwilling to address, preferring to let developers be their own canaries. Something has to change in the App ecosystem in order to encourage independent developers to innovate without having to resort to business models like advertising, selling user data or hoping to be bought out by Google, Facebook or Microsoft.

As far as the operating system restrictions go, it often appears like Apple’s own guidelines are subject to sudden or unexplained changes. Some of these changes result in valid software ideas just going away. There does seem to be a maturing willingness to provide better and more developer features. WWDC 2014 was an exciting turn in the right direction with a fantastic mix of language features and innovative OS developments that could be exploited by developers. There is a long way to go; we’ll see how things play out with the evolution of the Apple Watch and WWDC 2015.

What’s interesting is that in the Android world — where more access to basic operating system power is available — apps do not appear to be more powerful than what you can find on iOS. Perhaps the inter-app interconnectivity is somewhat better depending on the app but in the aggregate the Android development environment has not driven application performance and usability ahead of iOS. That suggests that the pricing and delivery model of the App stores may be a factor. If this is a game of free or low cost at high volumes, there will be few dollars to invest for the next big thing no matter what the platform. What we get is more of the last big thing.

I can accept that phones and tablets are mass market devices that should provide consistent and reliable access to key services; internet, communications, video, photos. All of those things are done better now than they were in 2010. What we have not yet experienced however is a next generation of software power and innovation in the iPad. The hardware capabilities of the devices is more than adequate to allow it. Judging by reports and rumours, Apple may be unleashing even more tablet hardware innovation later in 2015. When will the platform be allowed to be more than a big iPhone? When will we see development environments and capabilities that equal or better what we see on the Mac platform? What economic models will spur independent developers to build sustainable businesses making next generation software? When these questions are addressed, we’ll see a return to growth in the sales of the iPad.

Inspirations and Background:
Viticci –
Dawn Patrol –
Dr. Drang –

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year. Victor Cajiao is Back!

I was sad when Victor Cajiao stopped podcasting but I understood. I’ve been there and got out of the game a few years before he did. Unlike me however, Victor was a community star. A stalwart of the medium and a gentleman of technology. When he stopped his shows, I stopped listening to podcasts for several months.

Victor pioneered the live tech talk podcast format on TalkShoe and it was fun to be part of those shows. Victor was best known for The Typical PC User and then The Typical Mac User, an exploration into using your Apple computer to it’s fullest. Victor could plunge into some of the hairier stuff and never get you lost. He had a devoted group of contributors and from time to time even I got a piece on the show. One of those collaborators – another one of “us” from the early days of podcasting – was George Starcher. George is gifted with a talent that blends technology with conversation in such an understandable and human way. Between George and Victor I learned all about secure client server sessions through a multi-part video series that explained public and private key encryption. Yeah, they were that good.

And they still are. Both George and Victor are coming back to podcasting with Artechulate.

Episode “0” is available now on their web site and the feed is going live soon. It’s great to have Victor back on the air and, judging by the tone of the conversation, the interaction between George and Victor is better than ever. Grab your best Scotch, lean back and enjoy the levelated sounds of these great originals. It feels like the best of 2005 is back with the promise of 2015 built right in.

What a Christmas present Victor. Thank you my friend.

Baby steps in Home Automation – the Chamberlain MyQ Garage Mini Review

You would think an Electrical Engineer specializing in building science would have a house full of home automations toys. But no, that would be wrong.

I do have a programmable thermostat and have had one for years but it stands alone and does not have any interconnectivity. A programmable thermostat is the key area where any home owner can make a significant difference in terms of energy savings. No wonder the people at Nest started with a thermostat.

I have had an occupational interest in Zigbee and Z-Wave for a few years. Originally, it seemed like Z-wave was targeted at the consumer market, while Zigbee trended more towards the commercial sector but that is changing now. In the home, both of these protocols, and others, have largely been the province of professionals and keen hobbyists. If home automation is really going to take off it has to be as simple as making a few adjustments and installing an app.

Which brings me to this; the Chamberlain MyQ Garage Universal Smartphone Garage Door Controller. Knowing that I didn’t leave the garage door up after driving away appeals to me, so I thought I would take a look at the feature set.

Here’s a rough description of how the system works:

1) The hardware component consists of a door sensor and a hub unit. Mount the door sensor on an upper garage door panel and the hub on the garage ceiling near the garage door drive unit. The hub uses wifi to access your local network and is also able to transmit a homelink code to your garage door drive to raise and lower the door. The hub detects the door open/closed position using the door sensor. It also contains an audible alarm and LED warning light.

2) Using the Arrayent server back-end, the hub connects via the internet to a private account that you set up with Chamberlain. The API for Arrayent is here. If you have an iPhone or Android phone you can use a free app to monitor door status or remotely send a signal to open or close the garage door. Remote closing could occur with someone in the vicinity of the garage, so the hub sends an audible and visual alert for 5-10 seconds prior to activating the garage door to meet UL325 requirements. This, along with the door operator’s obstruction sensors, allows for safe remote operation. Safety is extremely important; it’s why I chose to go with an integrated product and not a DIY solution.

Installation per the manual is easy but I installed the door sensor in the cold with the included adhesive backed velcro strips and am not confident that it will hold in the long term. My suggestion is to use the alternative, and included, mounting screws for the sensor. The hub mounts to an included bracket easily and quickly. You need AC power nearby to power the hub from a small power supply brick, which explains the suggestion to mount it near the garage door drive unit.

When you first power up the hub, it initiates a bluetooth pairing session. Grab your phone, pair and accept the transfer of wifi settings from the phone to the hub… But wait — and you won’t find this in the manual — My phone uses wireless N and I discovered that the hub uses G because, after repeated tries, I continued to receive connectivity errors. An alternative start-up procedure turns the hub into a wifi hub that you can connect your phone to. Using Safari on my iPhone, I browsed to an alternative set-up web site. That’s when I saw that the hub was only seeing wireless G access points. Luckily I run a separate G router at home in order to connect “old” devices. Once I got the hub connected to the correct router, the MyQ unit wanted to — of course — download a firmware upgrade.
(Has there been a device shipped in the last 2 decades that ever shipped with stable firmware?) The download timed out twice and indicated a failure but the status lights suggested otherwise. Low and behold, after a restart, the firmware update did take and I was ready to start using the unit. Getting reliable wifi into the garage may be a problem for some people, so I strongly suggest that you test signal strength and usability in your garage with your smartphone before purchasing the MyQ. You may discover that you will need to augment or change your wifi set-up before utilizing the this garage door controller.

Your Chamberlain account info must be entered to start the app. Thankfully, the software contains a checkbox to remember your login. The app allows the door to be opened or closed from the touch screen. Additionally, alarms — also called events — can be set up to either provide a notification or email when the door is opened or closed. These events are logged and sorted by date and time. This info is useful if you have allowed third party access to your door through a keypad, for instance.

At about C$140.00, I am satisfied that the Chamberlain MyQ Garage works as advertised. The system does utilize a remote server service but it is free to use. The MyQ system is not Z-wave or Zigbee compatible out-of-the-box but I’m okay with that for this purpose-built application. It is possible to add other MyQ devices but I’m not planning to go in that direction. I’m going to play with Z-wave inside the house. Before that however, my next project is to set-up an older MacBook as a motion detector and security cam.

Technology and modality: The iPad as Platform

When something is made to sit in the middle of a table, it’s hard to see it as anything other than a table center. For years, PCs have occupied prominent places on our desks. Desktop PCs cannot move around so their modality is fairly singular.

What is modality? As always, you could go to a go to a place like this and look up “modality”. For the purposes of this post, modality will refer to how something is used; as in a procedure or method.

Let’s get back to the PC. Over time, desk-top PC architecture got unified and repackaged. That’s why “luggables” and subsequently laptops were created. Few imagined putting a PC in your pocket. For years, neither the use case nor technology were available to make it happen.

The ways that you can use a device are as important as how you interact with the device. Use describes modality, interaction describes interface. If one takes a look at Apple, it is obvious that interface simplicity and elegance are a hallmark of their designs. It is also clear that when one looks at the arc of product that has been delivered by Apple since the release of the iPod that modality has also been a key part of their design genesis. The latest generation of iPad Air and Retina Mini demonstrate the extent to which the product’s modality is being expanded.

Great product design is not just a matter of answering the question, “what problem does this product solve”. A great design provides extensibility. It allows for further creativity. It can be a platform for something else. From its introduction in 2010 to its latest iterations, the iPad has been completely re-worked to make it thinner, lighter, faster. With each iteration, these optimizations have added dozens of new uses.

So many have wondered what has happened to Apple’s innovation mojo. It is not waning, it is accelerating. To achieve the optimizations that they are delivering requires a tremendous amount of design, science and engineering effort. Is Apple defining a new paradigm of computing with each model change of the iPad? Of course not but the iPad defines an epoch in computing development.

Platform extensibility is leading us in at least 2 new directions:
1) Thinner indicates a trend toward a device that could become flexible and resemble a type of “digital paper”. At scale this could lead to screens that are in some way more like wall paper than stand-alone boxes. This is the real promise of a future Apple TV
2) Reduced weight paves the way for larger mobile screen sizes. Apple could easily ship a 13″ iPad with its available technology that weighs about the same as the original iPad.

From here, the number of usage modes for touch and visual computing grow more and more.

Forget Productivity. Think, Change and Create Instead.

The moment you ask yourself “How can I be more productive?” you may have asked the wrong question. Forget productivity, time management and better tools. None of those things will help you. You will get sucked into the swill of self-help, activity pathos and self-loathing. It’s not a place worth visiting given our short lives.

Productivity is for corporations and economists.

Get real about yourself and think about how change really happens. Can you really lose 55 pounds in 8 days? Do New Year’s resolutions effect lasting change? Did you accumulate the sum total of your life’s experience by the time you finished kindergarten?


Things take time.

Great ideas, great minds, great bodies, great satisfaction come from commitments that are deeper than passing fancies. What you ultimately need to do is focus on actions and results. Everything worth doing can be done better. And everything done well is the result of considered thought, the exercise of the brain and a determination to practice.

Here’s a question worth asking: “How can I be more effective?”.

What’s the difference between increased effectiveness and increased productivity? Effectiveness is all about success while productivity is all about output. This differentiation is key to understanding yourself and your life. Success is not about how others measure your life after you die; you will not have the ability to care at that point. Success is about how you measure yourself and your contributions to community and the world while you are alive. Success is the true metric for satisfaction and growth. When you have achievable goals that you attain, you can rightly claim success. That gives you a new platform upon which to draw strength, comfort or resources for other goals. Productivity is all about the accomplishment of more and more tasks. Productivity serves itself. At times the dogged pursuit of productiveness leads to poor quality, waste and dissatisfaction. This in-turn leads to feelings of inadequacy, self-loathing or pessimism. Suddenly your goals are further away and your “system” has failed. You will begin to talk about how your tools failed or how you spent all of your time working on task lists rather than work.

Do you think Shakespeare really cared about “distraction-free writing environments”, the Pomodoro technique or which context list was the most appropriate to use while traveling by wagon to the next performance?

Not that he’s any Shakespeare, but I do not think David Sparks spends any time wondering about that either. He’s a real live example of a creative professional who uses tools to serve his creativity. Merlin Mann learned that the study of tools does not make you creative. If he can do it, so can you.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not denigrating or dismissing any specific task-based techniques or ideas. I use some of them myself but I do not need them. Neither did Shakespeare. Nor Einstein nor Steve Jobs for that matter. What you need to understand is that your brain, not the latest or greatest piece of software, will get you where you need to go. There are no “5 greatest tips for always performing at your best” or “10 hidden secrets that will make you rich”. Stop consuming empty thought calories and start thinking. When you do that you will realize that you have the ability to create and that is the greatest skill you can have.

Now start!

Time Management and the Perpetual Motion Machine

I was at an airport convenience store the other day looking nostalgically at all of those things they call “books”.

And then I saw it.

A paperback with the incredible words “Time Management” on the cover. I don’t know who wrote it. I did not pick it up and I’m certainly glad to inform you that there is no link to Amazon here urging you to buy it.

Can you do something for me? It will only take 4 minutes.

In the first minute think of a number of things you can do in 1 minute. In the second minute do nothing – just sit there. In minute 3, do all of the things you thought of in the first minute. In minute 4? Reflect. What was the difference between minute 2 and minute 3? Did you “manage” the third minute better than the second? Did time transmute itself? What really got managed?

I know that people think they experience time variation; heck, I think I have felt that way. You know… “Time stood still”. “Time flew by”. And so on.

Here’s the thing:

Time on earth is immutable. It does not shift or vary. Until you or I experience the twins paradox time will not be a variable in your life. Time will be a constant.

You cannot manage time. You can manage stuff like tasks, relationships, possessions… Yourself.

On the productivity graph of things vs. time, you can only vary the things axis. Anybody who talks about “time management” as if it exists, ought to be selling miracle cures, perpetual motion machines or time shares on Baffin Island. I never felt productive until I got past this concept. It’s not that you are wasting time or making the best use of your time when results go poorly or go well. It’s that you did less or did more in a period of time. People who go on vacations are not better time managers than people who don’t go on vacations; they just value vacations more.

So in the realm of hackneyed truisms; “Time marches on”. To which I would add, “… at the same rate”.

Workflow and Omnifocus

I have been moved to action by the stuff I have been reading at MacSparky, practically efficient, Macdrifter and Brett Terpstra’s blogs over the past few months. Of this bunch, a couple of them are strong on Omnifocus. David Sparks has been a long time Omnifocus advocat and bon vivant, while Eddie has been a recent convert.

I started with Omnifocus on the Mac in 2009, added the iPhone edition quickly, then completed the trifecta with the iPad version when it was released. In all of that, I often felt Omnifocus was more of a tonic than a tool. So I cruised the forums, finding tools and scripts, downloading everything. What I ended up building was a home handyman’s equivalent of the perfect workshop. All tools and no talent.

Once I purchased Creating Flow with Omnifocus by Kourosh Dini – a must read for any Omnifocus student – I finally realized how to make the base Omnifocus programs, the add-ons, the workflows and the philosophies work for me. (I ended up using a derivative of Dini’s start date based system and the flag based system.) I was already a secular devotee of GTD – relax I am not going there – so I had a pretty structured set of contexts for personal and career life set up. Being an engineering manager, stuff in my life was already one big list of projects. Most engineers understand GTD instinctively.

A Tip

Here’s something that I synthesized from all of the collected wisdom around Omnifocus; once you get projects set up in a way that works for you in Omnifocus, take a look at the file structure on your main work machine. I created a “Projects” folder – it’s essentially my new “Documents” folder. If you establish a file structure in that folder that matches your Omnifocus project folder structure you will have a system that will complement your workflow. It doesn’t take a lot of time, just go to the Nicola Vitacolonna modified scripts in this forum entry and you will be able to build the file structure as you need to (warning: geekiness level is above moderate on this). The scripts also provide a quick link between Omnifocus, Omnioutliner and the file system. Should that kind of functionality be baked into Omnifocus? Maybe, but the power user crowd that use Omnifocus also appreciate that it is highly customizable while not being full of feature bloat.