As part of our new focus on Yellow Signal, we’re looking to write great reviews as well as interview great people. These interviews look into the lives of the creative geniuses who change things in the technology industry. Our interviews look at the personal side of some of the most influential people in our field today.
Kicking off the series, we interview Adam Oram, the editor-in-chief of Noted and managing editor of Today’s iPhone. Adam describes himself as a ‘tech nerd’ and is an avid fan of Bradford City Football Club.
How would you describe yourself to other people not familiar with your work?
“A lot of people don’t understand what I do for a living.”
This is a question I find difficult to answer on a regular basis in my everyday life — it turns out, “tech blogger” doesn’t sit well with everyone. I find that I tend to alter my answer to this question depending on who’s asking, sometimes describing what I do as online journalism or simply stating “I write about technology”. Although blogging has been around for some time, I do have to frame what I do in terms of something that the person I’m talking to will understand.
A lot of people don’t understand what I do for a living.
When and why did you decide to start writing about technology?
I’ve actually only been writing about technology since 2013. At the time, I was at university studying Media and Communication and was eager to begin a writing project alongside my studies. Technology has always been something that has interested me and I always read tech blogs so it was natural that if I would be writing about anything, technology would be the subject. Before that, I had contributed to a small, local music blog for a little while but technology always seemed like a more natural fit.
What drives you everyday to get up and write about technology?
The simplest answer is that I love technology. I love finding out about new things, testing new apps and products and writing about them. I’m so invested in tech and it’s an industry I find absolutely fascinating. Being so into a topic usually means you have an opinion or two about it and having the opportunity to share those thoughts to a global audience is really inspiring.
What tools allow you to do your best work?
The most important part of my setup has to be my MacBook. I bought a 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display in early 2014 and it’s easily the best computer I’ve ever owned — without it, I absolutely wouldn’t be able to work in the way I do. For me, it’s the perfect balance of portability and performance. When I’m on the go, the machine is capable of getting me through a full day of heavy-duty work without having to bring the charger along. When I’m at my desk, it’s placed on a Griffin Elevator stand and used with an external keyboard, Magic Mouse and Magic Trackpad. Recently I’ve been hooking up my iPad Air 2 as an external monitor using Duet Display to add a little more screen real estate. My iPhone 6 is also crucial not only to my work but to my life with all the apps I rely on. I also need to have a decent Android handset to hand (currently an LG G3) to keep up on the experience and test out Android-specific apps.
Aside from tech, I make use of a couple of Nuuna notebooks for jotting down ideas, to-do lists and so on. I find writing stuff down every day to be the best way of making sure I stay on top of my various projects. Although I do use various calendar, reminder, to-do apps, it’s easy to throw tasks into a digital program and then forget about it. I stumbled upon Nuuna notebooks via Fab a year or so ago and they are great quality. I also have a large whiteboard for planning my editorial calendar which, although a low-tech solution, means I can quickly glance at my ongoing and future projects.
Show us your home screen. What three apps do you depend on daily?
As you’ll see, my home screen is nothing radical — I do use a lot of stock apps and I tend not to worry about having all of my most used applications on my first page. I launch most apps through Spotlight, so home screen organization is not all that important to me.
Mailbox — on iOS and OS X — allows me to keep on top of my email inbox in a way no other app has before and has almost entirely replaced my usage of the stock Mail app (bar one old email address that I still used for some services). The ability to snooze mail for a later date or save it into lists with a swipe is incredible for organization and generally lowering my stress level.
Podcasts have become my main form of media consumption over the past year and Overcast is my preferred client. I had previously used Pocket Casts and Castro, but once Overcast landed it became my default choice. The Smart Speed feature in particular allows me to get through more podcasts with its speed adjustments and has saved me over 34 hours of listening.
Lastly, Hours by Tapity is an unsung hero in my app library. Having multiple projects on the go at once, I use it frequently every day to track exactly how much time I spend on each and generate reports on my working hours. The app has an excellent Notification Center widget that allows you to quickly switch between timers for different tasks and the team’s upcoming Apple Watch app is only going to improve the experience. Being a data junkie, it’s nice to have access to the information that Hours provides but I also use it to inform how I balance my various tasks and (try to) improve my work/life balance.
What’s something about you that readers may not know?
Not many people outside of my friends and family know that I am a PADI-certified Open Water scuba diver. My dad got me and my sister into it and last year we went diving in Cyprus which was a great experience.
How has something you learned before helped you with your work on Today’s iPhone or Noted?
I was fortunate that my university was quite forward thinking in the curriculum it offered — we studied blogging specifically in journalism classes and also had classes on web design which helped me with some basic coding. The rest I picked up along the way from trial and (mostly) error.
What would you like to do in the next 10 years?
In terms of tech, one of my aims over the next few years at least is to attend more conferences and events to meet more people in this space. Working online, it can be hard to form the type of relationships that one might with colleagues in a traditional office set up so I have pledged to go to more tech-related meetups (the Upgrade event in London being the first). I’d love to get to Úll and MWC next year and try to get out to a WWDC at some point in time.
In general, I’d love to travel more. I’ve been fortunate enough in the places that I’ve already visited, but I enjoy travelling so much and there are grand swathes of the world I have yet to see. If I can fit in a few scuba diving trips, that’d be a bonus!
If you had the time, what else would you like to do?
If I had more time, I’d love to read more books. I spend most of my day reading and writing, but this comes at the cost of then not having the time or the willingness to read a paper book. It’s one of my goals for this year.
In ten years, what would you like to be known for?
In ten years, I can only hope to still be writing about technology for a living. Although we don’t know what form popular media will take in the distant future, I’d love to be respected in the tech field as a pundit with an opinion of value. While my words might never hold the weight of John Gruber and the like, I’d like to have a recognized voice in the online tech community.