I got a new MacBook Pro in September, and I adore it. It was a few weeks before the latest versions announced in October, so it was on sale (deal!), awfully cute, and a huge leap forward from my 2002 Sony Vaio (which I also loved, but in a less cuddly-wuddly way).
Accessories are a necessity (say that ten times fast), so my MacBook now has a very hot red see-through outfit that it wears all the time, and which I’ve further gussied up with stickers. For going out on the town, it glams up with a fabulous fur coat (aka laptop sleeve) that looks like Cookie Monster from Sesame Street. Unfortunately the MacBook’s built-in camera cannot take a picture of itself, unless I were to rig something up with a mirror, which I’m too lazy to do on the coldest Saturday ever in San Francisco, so you’ll just have to look at the two pictures and imagine them together with Dora the Explorer and other assorted adorable stickers.
Now that the outside is taken care of, I’m starting to accessorize on the inside. I understand that some people call this “installing software,” but that phraseology makes me feel like a plumber with erectile dysfunction, so I’m reclaiming girly shopping language for this process. Since I am a marginally employed writer (not that I’m complaining), as well as descended from frugal immigrant stock, I have developed a strong affection for discount shopping. When it comes to computer accessories, that means keeping an eye out for freeware, shareware, tips from friends, free trials, and good deals.
My favorite ‘”find” so far is MindNode Pro, a very simple and elegant tool for Mac users. It allows you to create mind maps.
(Some British guy claims he invented mind-mapping, but then, they also took credit for ‘discovering’ half the world, so I’ll ignore that Google hit and instead point you to the Wikipedia article on mind mapping, which takes a more ecumenical view.)
I’ve been doodling out my to-do lists, writing ideas, etc. as mind maps for a long time, although I didn’t know what they were called. They end up looking amoebic and crazy, but they work for me.
MindNode lets me take those doodles out of my notebooks and brainstorm on the computer, where I can save, print, revise, manipulate, and color-code them. I can also save them as PDFs for sharing with others who don’t have the software.
So far I’ve used a MindNode map to plan an upgrade to my website, with each little limb of the amoeba (octopus?) telling me what I need to do for a particular area of the site. I printed it out and am checking things off as I go.
Next, I’m going to try it out for a writing project, where I’m not sure yet of the order of events/scenes/ideas. It’s hard for me to write traditional outlines because themes, scenes, and characters intersect in multiple ways, and if I knew what order they should go in, I might as well just write the story. So I’m looking forward to enjoying the mind map as a way to both capture my developing ideas, AND have the flexibility to move them around.
The best part of the MindNode software is that you can download it for ABSOLUTELY FREE, and keep it forever (it’s not a trial period). If your mind maps grow more complex, to where you need more than 20 ‘nodes’ in a single map, then you can easily upgrade to the paid version, which costs all of …. $15.
I recommend it for anyone who wants to try a non-linear, creative way of thinking through a process, story plot, or just day-to-day tasks.
(PS I realize that some bloggers are paid to recommend products. I (alas?) am not. I just like to share. In case you were wondering.)