Home Screens – Dan Catlin


Dan Catlin (Twitter)(Website) is an interesting guy. He had a fancy pants job that required him to do lots of traveling but one day realized his kids were growing up and he was never around. So he gave up the fancy job and opened his own business making candles so he could have more time to be “dad”. MiddleDavids is a sometimes sponsor of this blog and over the years I’ve come to know and respect Dan as a friend and fellow nerd. So Dan, show us your home screen.


I’m a one page guy with page two overflow pretty much only holding new apps I haven’t decided if I want to keep yet. My top row is folders that I usually access via pull down from top and search, although occasionally I’ll navigate them old school. My second row is mostly media – I find that I tend to pick something to listen to and let it go, so I don’t really need one handed access too often.

My third row is mostly there because usually I’m thinking about going for a bike ride and the weather, routes/buddies, wind are useful, but just seeing them makes me happy.

The closer you get to the bottom, the more I’m thinking about using them on the fly, with one hand. Row four is calculators, my calendar and Waze, which is an annoying data hog in many ways, but seems to be the best in my area at getting traffic right, so it earns its place until Apple Maps catches them. The bottom two rows and dock are things I want to open quickly, often with one hand.

Favorite Apps:

Braintoss – strangely simple way to get stuff into my GTD system. Tap it (or say, “Hey Siri, open Braintoss,” then either record a voice memo, take a picture or (rarely) type something in. Then it emails me with the item. I’m much better at getting things into my system from email than all the other ways things come at me, so this helps a lot.

Strava – I was an early adopter about six years ago, and have been logging my bike rides, almost 30,000 miles of them, ever since. Has social media components (kudos, comments), but mostly it’s a way to keep track, set goals, follow friends and find new routes, etc. 

Soulver – Although I use pCalc for simple one-off math and love the Reverse-Polish notation option there, Soulver plus TextExpander is my secret sauce. I’ve built several fill-in formulas that really take it to the next level. Example – making a custom batch of candles in an odd amount of wax. On my Mac, I open Soulver, type ‘xbatch’ and a fill in snippet asks me for the amount of wax I’m making, the % of fragrance strength I want to make, and the magical “pop” gives me the exact amount of fragrance needed for the batch. Because the iPhone is more limited, I just keep a batch calculation worksheet in the list and can edit quickly. And because Soulver ‘shows your work,’ you can double check and live the old adage, “measure twice, cut once!” It’s really pretty slick!

I’m a data nerd. I love the Activity App that lets me worry about filling in my rings each day, Pedometer for steps tracking, and love-to-hate LoseIt, for calorie tracking. It’s the simplest and least cluttered way for me to manage portion control, and once I’ve built in most of our family recipes, it’s pretty easy to log and keep myself honest.

My phone is almost always adding sound to my world, whether through Audible books, Overcast podcasts, or my 80’s Rock ’n Roll dominated music collection, so those are favorites, too. 

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

Through the Ages – an iOS adaptation of my favorite strategy BoardGame that I always have a game going with three of my friends. Only get to take a turn or two each day, but enjoy them! Ascension is another game I usually have a few games going with friends – I like turn based games that I can jump on once or twice a day and think about the people I’m playing with as much as the game itself.

What app makes you most productive? 

Braintoss and Drafts (plus Due) for smaller ToDo’s. Braintoss helps me capture, Drafts is where most ideas/messages, etc. start (and sometimes stay – I have lots of notes there that I keep running like reading lists, quotes, etc.), Due is where things go that have to be done at a set time since it will annoy me until I do them!

OmniFocus for projects with lots of moving parts or that bear repeating. Today I have am embarrassing 87 things to do, but that’s a little silly because all of my month end tasks are ‘available’ at the moment, many of which are multi-step like payroll and sales tax for our small business, using a monthly repeating project keeps me from forgetting a step, which helps a ton.

What app do you know you’re underutilizing?

OmniFocus. Although it is a wonderful tool that I use faithfully for larger projects, I wish I was better at getting more of the ‘cruft’ into it so that I could have a single task management solution. Still working on that.

What is the app you are still missing?

I’d love to have a sort of DayOne alternative that kind of interviewed me at the end of the day, captured maybe my location data, and had elements of ‘streaks’ or activity ‘hooks’ and even completed ToDo’s in it so that you could sort of build a single view of what that day was like. One of my goals for next year is to see if I can hack DayOne to do that with some TextExpander snippets and screenshots.

How many times a day do you use your iPhone/iPad?

I use my iPhone almost constantly in the background (tracking steps, podcasts, music) and actively several times an hour.

What Today View widgets are you using and why?

I haven’t really adopted many of them. Sometimes use Find Friends when coordinating kid pickup, etc, but that’s something I could probably do better.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

The fact that it really is a computer that I always have with me and is truly acting as a ‘second brain’ for much of my life. Having a camera, voice recorder, and supplemental memory at all times is really pretty awesome. (I haven’t fallen in love with the iPad yet – I’m a piano player and fast touch typist and if I have to do more than a little typing, I run for my Mac.)

If you were in charge at Apple, what would you add or change?

We’re pretty ‘all in’ with the Apple ecosystem. My wife and I have three daughters, and our family has a Mac Mini, four MacBooks, two iPads, five iPhones, a bunch of iPods, some of which still get used, two Apple Watches, and the new Apple TV. We love how well they interact. Probably our one complaint is that we’re always out of storage and not in love with the Cloud yet. I’d love it if onboard storage was a little more modular/granular and maybe a little less expensive – it’s p
robably the one thing that leads to frustration.

Do you have an Apple Watch? Show us your watch face tell us about it.


I got it for my birthday this past June, and really like it. Messages on my wrist and the fitness stuff are the primary uses (and just telling time on my wrist again rather than from my pocket)!

I wore an analog watch for years and love the way it makes me think in ‘quarters of hours’ rather than digital minutes. My complications are all fitness focused – Pedometer

What’s your wallpaper and why?


My Lock Screen wallpaper is our family crest that a friend made from a sketch. My wife and I both graduated from the Naval Academy at Annapolis, hence the anchor with ’89 (the year we were married), and our family slogan, “We do hard things the hard way.” Kind of a joke but also reminds us that worthwhile things are usually not easy, and often it’s the journey that matters far more than the destination. My app wallpaper is just plain in my favorite sort of dark indigo color that makes the apps ‘pop’ so my rotten eyes can see them!

Anything else you’d like to share?

Thanks! I’m humbled to be considered since so many of the tips and techniques I’ve developed have come from hours spent listening to MPU and reading the MacSparky blog and books. If anything I’ve said is good, you deserve a lot of the credit; if not, I’m still learning!

Thanks Dan.