Off the Top: Productivity Entries


May 31, 2020

Week Note 4 - 24 May & 31 May 2020

This started (and was on time for) the week before Memorial Day for release that weekend, but it didn’t ship. The life diversion beasts seam to have come in the way.

This was the first week that furlough Friday came into effect, so have essentially an “4 day week of 8 hour days”, as if workdays are that short. So I’ve gone from a week of: Monday followed by three Tuesdays and then a Friday; to Monday followed by two Tuesdays and a Friday (on a calendar stated Thursday), which this being now a 4 day weekend a 3 Saturday and one Sunday (on a calendar stated Monday) weekend. The shortened week turned into a week with some of the longest days I’ve had for a while with a 14 hour day Monday, a 12 of Tuesday (the real Tuesday, or the first of them if thinking in Covid week time) that I initially thought was 9 hours, 10 hour Wednesday (second Tuesday, for those playing in Covid time at home), and 9 hour Thursday (well Friday in Covid adjusted time, or as others call them all, “Blursday”).

I’ve been trying to sort out if I was going to work a bit on the long weekend, start digging back on reading, tackle some of my long put off personal tech such as converting this website back to https or some other digging into updating some of my productivity practices.


Since this a double week edition (edition? Heh, well I just hit the “post” button (or whatever I’ve clicked since 2001 when I rebuilt this)).

This second week had me baffled with what day it was and the hyper rhythm of the week prior was mired in a sludge of timing being off. But, on the work front a lot of positive movement happened, which was really good. We are about a third of the way through what I’m working on and the next chunk over the next few months will be one of the more challenging from the perspective of pulling it all together. Getting the next piece right and worked through the foundations properly will set up whether it has long term success.

A lot of the work is talking the complicated and complex and making it more simple to understand and using that as a foundation to bring more people along, but also get the tough decisions understood and in front of the right people with their understanding to bring their expertise and needed framing from their domain. The downside (always) of making things more simple is having people believe it is that simple, but not grasping the complications and complexity under that need attending to properly.

On the personal side this week had me utterly stumped and hurt with injustice of George Floyd’s death. These hurt. They hurt deep down to the fabric of the core that stems for basic humanity. During the week I pushed it aside, but this weekend as work wound down on Friday it really sunk in.

Read

Students are failing AP tests because the College Board can’t handle iPhone photos is an example of an organization failing to do the basic tests and fixing problems, but then failing more with their response.

Microsoft’s New Fluid Office Document Is Google Docs on Steroids is something I’m keeping an eye on.

A New York Times piece about what is on bookshelves behind people as they are interviewed on tv. It is about one book, “The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York” by Robert Caro. The piece is really good and dives into why it is behind so many people and the meta value of it in view.

Another piece in the New York Times pulled me in, Brooklyn, Before It Was a Global Brand: Walk Its History. It is a wonderful pieces (on the long side for some) that gives the history and and background of common areas. The last year or so I’ve been going up to Brooklyn to work and been really fascinated by it and this fills in some of the background I’ve been hoping to track down one day. One of my friends has done that for me, when I’ve caught up with him in Brooklyn across the years.

A few weeks ago I was in a discussion with folks in one of the back channels about the economics of the new food delivery services. I repeatedly hear from shop owners and restauranteurs that they often are losing money on each delivery. I brought this up, partly because I hadn’t had / found the time to dig into what this means. But one of the folks in the group shared this gem by Rajan Roy in Margins, Doordash and Pizza Arbitrage. This hit on target on so many different levels and now I’m wanting to dig even deeper.

Along the lines of the above, the Washington Post picked up on this in their piece Restaurants are barely surviving. Delivery apps will kill them..

I my “to read” stack got another addition with [Stephen P. Anderson and Karl Fast’s book Figure It Out: Getting from Information to Understanding)[https://rosenfeldmedia.com/books/figure-it-out/] ariving. Two favorite people and minds I miss and haven’t run across in person for far too long. This is a book I’ve been waiting on for quite sometime. From my perspective this may be the conversations I’ve been missing with them.

About a decade or more ago I was talking with a friend about a book of his that was coming out that had a quote / quip or two of mine in it and saying I was really looking forward to his book. His comment to me about his book was, “This book isn’t for you, as you know everything in it already. But, I would hope it is worthy of you blessing and sharing with others.” This brought clarity to many books I have, as they are about the conversations and deep dives with many of the authors over the years. But, a good chunk of the books I pick-up are to dig deeper and push at the edges of the domains I read in and work to understand so to find unknown areas to dig.

Listened

I stumbled into a custom Tidal playlist that was triggered by Danny Wilson’s “Mary’s Prayer” and includes Prefab Sprout, The Style Council, Propaganda, Haircut 100, Wang Chung, Blue Nile and so much more. The night I listened to this was a quite rainy evening and I had the balcony doors open and could hear the occasional car sloshing by and it took me right back to the mid to late 80s in England and France listening to this music on walkman or radio over sloshing car noises. So many memories tied up into all of this, it was wonderful.

The Verge podcast seems to be running interview podcasts along with their weekly Vergecast. This week was Nilay Patel’s interview / chat with Stewart Butterfield on The Vergecast. Stewart is one of those people I miss talking with and interacting with. Stewart doesn’t approach things like most others, but there are similarities with a handful of others I also miss that we all regularly interacted, but we each went our own directions and got absorbed there.

Play

Leading up to the long weekend there really wasn’t much play as the work front had sets of issues that needed sorting and digging. The long weekend didn’t provide as much play as I thought it may (nor as much reading) but a bit of MLB the Show and Death Stranding was played on Monday.

I’m deeply realizing I need to get outside more for walks, hikes, and perhaps finally get my bike out of storage.

Productivity

The past month or two I’ve been trying to sort out the value of Roam, which many productivity types around YouTube and blogs have been discussing and raving about, but it negatively hits some of my must have for note taking and organization. Roam is outline focussed, but can go long, but to keep track of nested hierarchy it has grey dashed lines to show / hint at the nested layers, but I find it quite distracting. My favorite outlining tool is OmniGroup’s OmniGraffle which handles this far more elegantly and keeps the focus. The other is its export offering which lacks OPML (Outline Processor Markup Language). Yep, an outlining tool that doesn’t use OPML as an import nor export offering is utterly bizarre. There are many insanely good reasons to use OPML for outlines and a means to transfer or integrate with workflows, but the top one for me is keeping the nested hierarchies. Roam currently is an island that doesn’t interconnect well with other productivity services and doesn’t work well in outline centric or tangential workflows. Roam’s biggest advantage is the internal linking

I have somewhat similar feeling for similar reasons for Notion, which I use a little bit, but keep from working in it heavily due to import, exports, and integrations.



May 17, 2020

Week Note 4 - 17 May 2020

Another really busy work week where I set work aside for a few hours then back at it, which means reading and other things were down a bit. It is the last full (5 day) work week (not that work stops at 8 hours or 5 days) until September. Deeply fortunate and grateful for the work and challenges on that front, which are things I find deeply fun and get my brain lighting up. I’ve been joking that I’ve been trying to sort out 6 day work week with 3 day weekends or 7 days workweek and 4 day weekend.

Where I am in Maryland, the county is still shut, which I’m mostly fine with. Quick trips to the store aren’t going to change from the hour to 90 minutes back to 15 to 25 treks they were. I am looking forward to getting back to my favorite bookstores and having a couple favorite restaurants open back up in some form.

Read

Some pre-ordered books and books ordered a while back from local bookstores arrived this week. I’m trying to sort out what follows Agency as my fiction read, but likely going to be finishing Charlie Stross’ Empire Games. I know have Chris Pavone’s The Paris Diversion at hand, which likely could be a good romp of a read.

The long awaited Steven Johnson Enemy of All Mankind arrived and I haven’t had even a preliminary scan of it yet. Robert Reich’s The Common Good also arrived after a good wait. I’m thinking extra weekend day (if I use it that way in coming weeks) could be good to get some reading done.

Watched

Early in the week I stumbled onto Coast Modern on Amazon Prime, which is about modern design on the Pacific Coast. Some of the architecture reminded me of homes around Seattle, Portland, and Los Angeles that intrigued me when I was a kid. The modern and cutting edge design had shifted into some of the more mainstream vernacular by the time I was a kid and evoked a lot of memories and had me realize some of the seeds for domestic design that feels “normal to me”.

I rented Little Women and finally watched it this weekend. I was really impressed with most everything about the production. I had never read Little Women, nor seen it on screen or stage before. But, a lot of friends have long used the characters as short hand when discussing others. The characters now have resonance, but also set in a really wonderfully filmed movie.

This weekend we finally watched Prince George’s County: In the Water on Showtime on Showtime and have been waiting for this for months. There is a lot of lore and solid history with PG County basketball. Walking into a lot of the gyms and rec centers the trophies and familiar names are impressive, but so is the coaching and the level of play. If you want to know if you can ball as a teen on up, that is a good place to learn that and learn to play well in and against a broad array of styles of offenses and defenses.

Listened

Yet another Postlight gem! One of the few must listens each week for me is Track Changes with Paul Ford and Rich Ziade, I though last week I missed and it drifted into this week. tk!

It was great to have Exponents pop-up in my podcast feeds this week and be a good listen for a Friday evening wind down and dinner prep.

Food

My morning routine has been shifted a bit as with the Covid lockdowns my coffee walk in the morning hasn’t been something I can do, before the work day starts. The coffee places are now back open for pick-up, but starting too late to get my work day going. I have been going with Ceremony, which is my favorite brew at home option, particularly Thesis. I’ve picked up beans on sale and a local grocery is back stocking it again, so I’m not doing the delivery route.

I’ve been sticking with my breakfast, which started a couple years ago as heuevos verde, with corn tortilla, black bean refried, then then brown garlic and add fresh spinach and a pinch of salt to cook down, then top with sunny side up covered eggs, and top with salsa verde. That morphed into making my own black bean smash. To now it is a black beans cooked in a Canadian bacon (loin, not reconstituted pork bits), garlic, mushrooms (shiitake or brown button), fresh garlic, and grate in fresh turmeric. Then add some large spoonfuls of canned (not drained and unsalted) black beans to cook down and put in a bowl. Then sunny side up covered runny egg on top. In about 10 minutes it is great comfort that with coffee will get me into afternoon just fine.

Productivity

My usual routine was get up, check late night messages and email, grab coffee and eat, and map out the day while colleagues are driving to work. Now they don’t have a commute and that planning time on paper or in an app has drifted to the winds a bit.

My scratch paper sort of has some framing and occasionally I get to my journal to map a FGL for the day: Something to Focus on; Something Grateful for; and something to Let go of. Then right out a few things that need to get done. Then check it a few times a day. This week I realized I’m only getting to that once a week at best these days.

The days and weeks shift focus and priority, but longer work goals remain, as well as some of the longer priorities that will take effort over a long stretch to make a lot of things run much more smoothly.

One of the great things about working in tech and optimizing toolsets and patterns, is things change rapidly. What was a really good practice 12 months back is now depricated, or a more secure or computationally efficient way is now the norm. Staying up with this tools, shifts in tools, vendors adding new functionality or tool, and vendors going out of business or selling to another company is all a large task in and of it self (but also part of the fun), but also part of the big challenge.



May 3, 2020

Week Note 2 - 3 May 2020

This week, like many in the life and times of Covid–19 pandemic, was a week of three Tuesday’s bookended by a Monday (a day I try to get back into the swing of things (unless it is filled with meetings)) and Friday. Tuesdays are often when I did into the meat of things I’m trying to get things accomplished for the week. But, while I’m used to working remote (15 years mostly working that way) coordinating with a corporation just gone through a large merger, is a bit more unusual (not bad, just needing different adaptions). I also am finding I really miss my monthly week with the team in Connecticut and time in Brooklyn to work though ideas in person. I’m also craving large workspaces with a lot of walls and whiteboards.

This week flew by yet again (not a good thing when feeling there is a lot that needs to be done) and trying to use weekend time to decompress, think, recalibrate, and meditate on solutions.

Also finding the simple errands that were a 30 minute walk shop and return or drive for a 45 minute shop and return are now 60 to 90+ minutes. Much standing and waiting in 6 foot apart lines, mask in the up and locked positions, to get into stores. Trying to get get tasks done while waiting in line, like clearing email, reading favorite daily items, organizing things for the week note, editing notes (downside is Dropbox breaking sync’ed folders makes this (and a whole lot of other things) impossible (reminds me I need to fix this when not standing in line to get eggs and fruit, but at a home).

I added Play to my template as that fills in for watching, and is often my decompression, as well as discovery mode, which out of guilt of “play” from childhood I don’t often embrace.

Read

Matt Mullenweg posted his Distributed Work’s Five Levels of Autonomy, which is quite good.

As part of this week’s 99 Percent - The Smell of Concrete After Rain as part of remembrance of Michael Sorkin (which was really good) it surfaced Sorkin’s Two Hundred Fifty Things an Architect Should Know, which I’m really enjoying.

My books to finish or read more from last week didn’t get touched much this week, but may today. It was a busy week.

I did find a good piece in Vanity Fair about Regan being shot from a young CNN’s perspective and how that was the start of a viable cable news medium, in their piece “Shots Fired. Hilton Hotel”: How CNN’s Raw, Unfolding Reagan Coverage Heralded the Nonstop News Cycle.

The NY Times piece, In Race for a Coronavirus Vaccine, an Oxford Group Leaps Ahead offered some good insights on structure, innovations, and challenges for a vaccine in a timely manner.

Monocle’s May edition and the 2019 The Entrepreneurs edition my time between time reading this week. Stepping away from online news and having Monocle is my guilty pleasure that doesn’t come with notification and alerts popping up (but the pages don’t offer the time with you touch the top of the page, no matter how long or hard you press).

I really liked this NY Times piece - This Florida Student Was Accepted at All 8 Ivy League Schools, which is an all too rare “Florida man” type story.

JTBD

Jim Kalbach’s The Job’s to be Done Playbook arrived this week in physical form (digi version did this a bit before, but I hadn’t had time to get to it) and I did a quick skim and read the early bits. I am really looking forward to this.

JTBD has played a common role in a lot of my focus over the last 10 to 12+ years. Enterprise work environments make a lot more sense when trying to understand problems and gaps through using the JTBD lens and framing solutions is so much easier as well. I’ve never been a full convert, but use it here and there (mostly because JTBD isn’t a full frame for understanding, but is good paired with other insight tools and methods, it by doesn’t get one far, but it opens paths for insights). Or I should say I wasn’t a full convert, as a little over a year ago I paired to do an internal work shop on work patterns, different social scales of work, tool types teams need for work, and the different tools at different scales and what type of interactions and work can be done at those scales to help set clarity for what the problems are, what are the gaps, where are tools types missing, where are wrong tools to the need being used and making utter messes (the same sort of enterprise workshop I’ve done for 10 to 15 years) using my social / complexity lenses. But, this workshop I paid with an internal designer lead who brought deep JTBD background and created a survey that mixed JTBD and a few of the complexity lenses around how teams work and interacting and working at different social scales. The outcome was insanely good that provided solid insight for what is needed, where there are issues and problems that decision makers needed to see openly and clearly to take the correct steps.

A good friend and occasional colleague has long pushed the pairing of JTBD and the complexity lenses, particularly to use as a survey and entry to capturing and showing gaps and needs. I’m a huge fan of Kalbach’s work, writing, and insights.

So, yes. I’m really looking forward to this book to putty in some of the gaps I may have.

Watched

This week was mostly a YouTube week, other than starting in on the Michael Jordan biography series running on ESPN.

I stumbled onto Explaining the Pandemic to My Past Self by Julie Nolke, which was utterly brilliant and funny. That had me checking out her other offerings.

But, YouTube being YouTube watching Nolke’s pieces I was recommended Charlie Berens’ IKEA Husbands and down a rabbit hole created by Charlie Berens I went for my distractions. I love IKEA and needing to get there once lockdown lifts to finish something I started in early March with Billy (Billy is my buddy, but so is donating) and 12 years on an Ektorp, may just be a bit too long.

Listened

On the podcast front two friends I don’t get to run into nor talk to enough in recent years (one I haven’t talked to in quite a while) started a new podcast Finding Our Way, which is Jesse James Garrett and Peter Merholz talking about design, user experience, and leadership. I stumbled into this late in the week and listened on Saturday and I’m now looking forward to every session. I’m really happy they have a real website for it with a transcript, which seems like it should be the basic for a podcast these days, but oddly it isn’t (also for newsletters to have a real web home the kludgy Webmonkey hack, isn’t done well enough to really count).

I stumbled back into Prince’s New Power Generation, One Night Alone… The Aftershow: It Ain’t Over! after a couple weeks not listening and found it is as magical as always.

Food

This was a week of putting off grocery runs, as trying to work through some of what I have. But, also my usually stores have been out of what I’ve normally been seeking. There is a local egg farmer that a local store carries that have amazing yolks (the color of the shell doesn’t mean anything, but the color of the yolk tells you a lot). But, Saturday was restock day and things were in stock (even found brown rice) and good lentils (I have some asafoetida hing powder I’ve been wanting to put to good use). I also found one of the brands of gluten free flour as well as pancake mix I like, so things are good-ish.

I did make a fresh garlic and anchovy paste as a base for a quick lunch spaghetti (corn and brown rice pasta) with pea pasta bowl with Parmesan and butter / olive oil light sauce. I may want to come back to this one again. Using good jarred (pink) anchovies that aren’t overly pungent seems to be essential.

Play

I’ve been playing MLB The Show as my post work decompression for about 90 minutes each day (one thing I like and appreciate with sports is building teams and I’m playing franchise mode with this year’s Pittsburgh Pirates and did some gutting of the team (not quite intentionally) but building on contact (hits) and speed, which in current MLB is undervalued so inexpensive. I’m also focussing on decent starting pitching that can get through 5 to 7 innings, then use a series of pitchers to get through the remainder of the game pitching an inning each. The salary budget is in the $60 to $75 million range for players and I spent heavily on coaching. It is working, as I’m a week from the All Star break and 6 games up in first place.

I took advantage of a 50% off sale and picked up Death Stranding, which is a bit dark (something I normally stay away from), but the graphics, story, and AR interfaces are good. I normally keep to sports games (or sims) to time constrain play (or help reduce over play - playing a far longer stretch than intended as I did with Sim City on my birthday in an empty house in 1993 and wondering why the sun was coming up).

Productivity

This weeks productivity insights and practices took a backseat to frustrations with my daytime lack of good tools for productivity, particularly when One Note decides it won’t include anything in search from 2020. My brain dumps and notes live there and lacking basic organization, refinding, and productivity tools on Windows side (particularly that run locally) that there are on the Mac side of the world, I’ve been down that road battling.

I sort of treat OneNote as I do DevonThink as my catch all and lean on search heavily and organize later approach, which is a model that works really well with good to great search (something DevonThing is aces with, but OneNote is just okay with as its search is a blunt approach and not finesse approach).



April 27, 2020

Weeknote # 1 - 26 April 2020

This is my first weeknote, which by the name I am committing to posting weekly. I’m not sure how this will work as aiming for daily writing to set a habit is far more anchoring something in place that a something new with a weekly cadence.

I’ve long been a fan of friend’s and acquaintances weeknotes as it is a way to keep up with what they are reading, watching, listening to, writing, and thinking. I deeply appreciate other’s sharing their interests and likes and after many years planning to do similar I am finally doing this. I am also doing this for my own consumption and tracking.

I have a template setup with general categories / headings in TextExpander and each week I’m planning on opening a new markdown file in iA Writer and filling it in as I go. The starter headings are: Read; Watched; Listened; Food; and Productivity. This is largely what I care about from others, but also things I’m continually tracking down. I regularly tuck things into my Pinboard and tag links of interest with “linkfodder” and podcasts with “podfodder”, but also things I think I may want to write-up and have more of a fleshed out response to as “blogfodder” (those rarely actually get done, mostly due to being busy).

This first weeknote I’m catching up on the past few weeks a bit.

Read

I’m still trying to get through the last few chapters of William Gibson’s Agency, which I have been deeply enjoying (for quite some time, as it arrived when it came out and I started in then, but work and other life slowed progress). I always have a few books going at once and Violet Moller’s The Map of Knowledge has been a wonderful slow read full of thinking and reworking some back history on knowledge and understandings I have that were set in place in undergrad when studying at Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies in Oxford (now changed a bit since Middlebury took over, not a bad thing, just different) and the shift of pockets of knowledge and learning from the Middle East / Arabian / Northeast Africa areas and some of that shift to Europe after Constantinople fell in the Spring of 1453.

Supporting my favorite local bookstore, Politics and Prose I ordered Humo Ludens by Johan Huizinga for delivery. I have just tucked into that, which I have in a few readers and collected contributions to the value of play in understanding work as well as the world around us. Having the full text (only 213 pages) I can finally read as a whole rather than a gutting or selected reading approach.

Being a fan of Kenya Hara’s work and writing (Designing Design is a favorite of mine) I picked up a sale copy of Designing Japan and the preface and first few pages really has me looking forward with some quiet time with the book.

Watched

Last weekend, on recommendation of a colleague (and has been mentioned in other’s weeknotes as well) I watched Devs that was on Hulu / FX. I nearly gave up on it as it is a bit dark and gruesome, but stuck with it and it has turned into a show I’m thinking somewhat deeply about a week later. The inclusion of theoretical physics / science got me really hooked. Sorting out what character was the focal view from wasn’t clear for quite a few episodes, but understanding that helped frame sorting through some of the ambiguities. But, it also had me digging out framing resources on a few of the theoretical physics I’ve never fully anchored in my head, and don’t really have folks I’m talking to regularly to talk through thing around this.

The late summer and fall of 2018 when I was digging for work / projects I started in on the corpus of Bon Appetit on YouTube (along with a few other channels). During this time of lockdown and remote work, this crew of cooks / chefs has been highly entertaining with what they are sharing.

Listened

I’ll address podcasts in later weeknotes, but I’m consuming them at a slower rate than I was prior to covid lockdown (mostly due to my morning listening I’m spending some of that time trying to pull focus on what I need to so that day for work and focus has been a bit more fragile).

Music, well music to help focus to get work done has been something I’ve been working to get sorted as my usual go to playlists haven’t really been doing the trick.

I have cut back my use of Apple Music streaming listening as a few months back I picked up a discounted set of months from Tidal and the Master quality with MQA decoding (or partial decoding) has been a real find and source of enjoyment for headphone or in ear monitors (IEMs). I’m still on trial with Amazon’s Music HD (which their Ultra HD, is similar, but not quite the quality of Tidal yet can still hear details of well recorded playing and hear the room) and trying to sort what I may do between the two services.

This past week I found Hans Zimmer’s soundtracks have been good fodder for focus listening that, for me, can fade into the background a bit yet still drive energy and focus for work forward. The “Interstellar”, “Inception”, and “Batman Begins” soundtracks had multiple plays on days without many meetings to work through some explainers I’m working on to shorten getting to understanding with people we’re trying to onboard into a complicated system nested in a world of complexities.

Food

Spring foods (or one’s that really have me loving spring) are fading as spring onions (not green onions) were no longer in the farm fresh section of the grocery store. I am on my last bundle of them and using the last of them in Canadian bacon, garlic, shitake mushroom, spring onion, asparagus, and feta omelettes is planned. Also putting them in the black bean, Canadian bacon, mushroom, garlic, fresh grated tumeric breakfast bowl with soft fried eggs during the week may finish them before they go bad.

Productivity

Over the last year or two I stumbled onto Ali Abdaal particularly Ali’s YouTube Channel and he covers a lot of productivity tools and focus. Ali shares his study techniques he picked up studying for medical exams at University of Cambridge where he studied and now for medical exams as a junior doctor near Cambridge. Ali share a lot of how to study insights and deep dives, which are mostly applied practical organization and productivity practices

Through Ali’s work I re-stumbled upon Tiago Forte and his work, which many of my long time practices (when I am in them deeply) are quite similar. A project / product I was helping about 10 years ago was trying to bring Tiago on to it as well and I started looking into his work and what he was sharing.

Closing

Well, this wraps a first weeknote. Let’s see if it there is one next week.

Be well. Stay safe. Peace be with you.



July 15, 2018

Mac Touchpad Dragging

I bought a Mac laptop for myself in 2001 and largely have been using the same version of the same set-up since then across 5 or 6 Macs since them (with one or two full nuke and repaves in there, but with those I pulled in my the applications and modification / customizations from preferences). In the past few months, I’ve been using a brand new Mac that is supplied by work / project and not only does it lack my outboard brain, but it doesn’t work like my heavily modified Mac.

The one thing that has been driving me crazy is I haven’t been able to sort out how I have a three finger drag on my personal MacBook Pro so I can have it on my one for work. It is frustrating as I go to click on an object to then drag it with three fingers to where I want it, or I go to the top bar of an app and place the cursor over it and use three fingers to drag the window to where I want. I do similar things to resize windows. I have looked in Better Touch Tool, thinking I had set it up there. I looked in Preference Settings for the touchpad, but no. Today I opened a lot of customization apps I have on my personal Mac and nothing.

I was looking in the Preference Settings in the Accessibility settings and found what I was looking for, the three finger drag. I would have never thought it would be in Accessibility. Given that my current personal MBP has a touchpad that the left half needs a lot of force to click on something and do usual tasks it does make sense that having a light touch manner of dragging things would be in Accessibility. Now I know how to fix one more thing on a work Mac to get it to my own personal Mac set-up so it gets closer to being an extension of me and less a tool I have to think about how to interact with rather than thinking about the work I am doing.



March 18, 2015

Blogfodder and Linkfodder

Not only do I have a blogfodder tag I use on my local drive and cross device idea repositories and writing spaces, but I have a linkfodder marker as well.

Blogfodder

Blogfodder are those things that are seeds of ideas for writing or are fleshed out, but not quite postable / publishable. As I wrote in Refinement can be a Hinderance I am trying to get back to my old pattern of writing regularly as a brain dump, which can drift to stream of consciousness (but, I find most of the things that inspire me to good thoughts and exploration are other’s expressions shared in a stream of consciousness manner). The heavy edit and reviews get in the way of thought and sharing, which often lead to interactions with others around those ideas. I am deeply missing that and have been for a few years, although I have had some great interactions the last 6 months or so.

I also use blogfodder as a tag for ideas and writing to easily search and aggregate the items, which I also keep track of in an outline in OmniOutliner. But, as soon as I have posted these I remove the blogfodder tag and use a “posted” tag and change the status in OmniOutliner to posted and place a link to the post.

Linkfodder

Linkfodder is a term I am using in bookmarking in Pinboard and other local applications. These started with the aim of being links I really want to share and bring back into the sidebar of this blog at vanderwal.net. I have also hoped to capture and write quick annotations for a week ending links of note post. That has yet to happen as I want to bring in all the months of prior linkfoddering.

I have been looking at Zeef to capture the feed from my Pinboard linkfodder page and use a Zeef widget in my blog sidebar. I have that running well on a test sight and may implement it soon here (it is a 5 minute task to do, but it is the “is it how I want to do it” question holding me back). In the past I used Delicious javascript, which the newest owners of Delicious gloriously broke in their great unknowing.

The Wrap

Both of these are helping filter and keep fleeting things more organized. And hopefully execution of these follows.



November 10, 2014

Manufacturing Time

In addition to trying to hack a habit into existence around blogging every day (here but also counting the larger posts over at Personal InfoCloud, which is mostly working-ish), I am trying to hack my sleep cycles.

For a few years I have been running Sleep Cycle app to optimize my sleep wake up times so I am feeling more rested (read, “a lot less cranky”) by waking in the optimum sleep pattern. This has been a great tool and has really helped.

While all things are lovely on this front, I have been trying to sort out how to better optimize time or create more productive time. I haven’t been getting optimal output, which I was used to over many years. Part of the shift was slipping out of good habits, but on a recent work travel stint (I’m always a lot more productive when traveling, even though I’m lacking some resources (physical books) on the road).

In working through this productivity difference, it starting coming down to the revelation that home cycles include family time and driving my son to practices and games (I love doing this), but by the time I return in the late evening I am not as ready nor willing to sit down and work again.

While there are tasks that will engage my mind and I will get a lot of focus and crank things out (this is largely coding projects) but the late evening turns into night and then middle of the night quite easily, the evening is rather out. So, if I am trying to manufacture more time for productivity during the day the morning is the other option (in science fiction cracking open as slice in the middle of the day to add time would be a possibility, but I’m still living in my version of the now).

I am hoping to shift my 8am wake time, which ties to a midnight to 1am sleep time, back about two hours. I chipped back about 45 minutes today and hoping by week’s end to have this down.



January 16, 2014

OmniOutliner Counts to Four

One of my favorite applications that a lot of my work and workflow lives in and through, OmniOutliner, updated today. OmniOutliner 4 finally was released today. Its interface becomes a little easier to use for more advanced functions, but if you use the iPad version the new Mac version now looks and works a little more like the iPad version (I think this is a good thing for consistency and ease of use).

I have been using OmniOutliner since version one. I learned to think and organize in outlines and I loved in the old days of WordPerfect the start a document in an outline and then start fleshing it out allowed me to work in the same manner I learned in the fourth grade in Mrs. Norman’s class at Raleigh Park Elementary. This seemed natural to prepare writing this way and once WordPerfect went missing from my workflow other writing tools faked outlines and I looked for good outlining tools to be that foundation. OmniOutliner filled this void. But, once I found OmniOutliner I found other fans who had scripted it to do really helpful tasks, like capture web site maps and dump them into OmniOutliner to annotate and arrange them, then use a script to push into OmniGraffle to visualize. Doing this in 2003 (or so) was pure joy. Not only was was OmniOutliner easy to use, it was really powerful because it was well structured and scriptable.

OmniOutliner is Where I Think

About 2003 I was asked by friend Jesse James Garret, “What tool to you think in?” At that point my answer was OmniOutliner. OmniOutliner was my capture tool that allowed for easy structuring and arranging of order. In years to come with OPML becoming the glue to connect many things in my workflow, I would would move my outlines from OmniOutliner to a mind mapping tool and back and forth. This moving the outline into a mind map allowed me to see it and see relationships spatially and to identify order, modify structure, and make connections between nodes in different branches of the mind map. From the mind map I could take all the modifications and move them back into the outline and tweak a little more. From this point it was moving into writing or into a Keynote presentation (also with a script that would take the OmniOutline and convert it to a presentation to flesh out visually).

The Initial Foundation of What Became OmniFocus

With OmniOutliner I went through the early productivity layer for it that later turned into OmniFocus. My old business started and was kept on schedule in that precursor to OmniFocus that Ethan Schoonover cobbled into and on top of OmniOutliner that was called Kinkless GTD (or KGTD for short).

I still think in OmniOutliner. I have all of the (now) 54 elements of the social lenses tucked in there with their hundreds of sub-nodes. This outline is what became the initial foundation for the four days of walk through of them with Dave Gray for what would turn into the Connected Company book. The collection of similar outlines are all within easy reach. I have a saved Spotlight search in the Finder sidebar that aggregate all my OmniOutliner files for one easy view across everything.

OmniOutliner 4 Offers Even More Potential

I really look forward to how OmniOutliner 4 becomes a new part of my world and workflows. The AppleScript looks robust (I didn’t try it in the many months of beta, but look forward to it now). With scripting and the structure there is a whole lot that is possible.



Brett Terpstra Focusses on His Work Full-time

I have been a fan of Brett Terpstra for some time. I found his site through a few buds who focus on productivity and personal workflows (including scripting). I have followed his Systematic podcast since the first episode and have found it is the one podcast I listen to when my weekly listening dwindles to just one podcast. His nvALT became an app that is always running and where a lot of writing snippets get stored on my Mac (that content I also reach on my iOS devices to edit and extend). His Marked2 app not only is my Markedown viewer, but a rather good writing analysis tool.

Not only all of this but Brett is a tagger and not only tags, belives tagging is helpful for personal filtering and workflow, but has built tools to greater extend tagging in and around Mac and iOS. If you talk folksonomy and pull the third leg of it, person / identity back into just your own perspective and keep the tag and objects in place you have the realm that Brett focusses and pushes farther for our own personal benefit.

Brett Steps Out to Focus on His Work

This week I have been incredibly happy to learn that Brett moved out of his daytime job to and his new job is to focus on his products, podcast, writing, and new projects and products. This is great news for all of us. Brett took this step before, but we can help him keep these tools and services flowing by supporting him.

If you have benefitted from Brett’s free products of want to ensure the great services and tools that Bret has created you paid for keep improving go help him out.



April 27, 2012

Pear Note Updates to v3 Now with Skype Support

This morning’s email notification that Pear Note, a note taking and recording app for Mac OS, updated to version 3. I’ve used Pear Note for meetings to record the audio and take note and the text syncs to a timestamp in the audio, which is incredibly helpful and reduces the notes I have to take so I spend more time listening.

The best part of the news of this update for me is that it can now grab Skype recorder. I use Skype recorder a lot so I can pay attention to the conversation and not focus on note taking. Now having Pear Note tied in I can mark quick annotations on the Skype call and then go back later and fill the notes in (if you are listening to the recording while updating your notes it will continue to timestamp).

Pear Note 3 is now optimized for Lion, includes higher bit rate audio recording and HD 720p video recording. This is paired with the updated Pair Note for iOS, which updated today as well.


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