March 11, 2007

I run a pretty tight email ship… it’s one area I’m on top of.

I practice Inbox Zero, I completely got that once David Allen pointed out the simple fact that an Inbox is where things arrive and not where they should live.

When an email lands, I use Mail Act-on to deal with it;
        - if I need to do anything that requires some time and effort, I have an Act-On short cut (Ctrl-K) via Mail2kgtd to add the relevant email to my kGTD file in OmniOutliner Pro.
        - I also have a short cut (Ctrl-A) to send the email to my Actionable Emails folder in Mail.
        - The rest I either dash off a quick response and file in the appropriate project folder, each of which have an Act-On shortcut key.
        - In any case emails only go to the relevant project folder in Mail when they’re done.

The above means I have:
        - An empty inbox,
        - A folder called Actionable that has any emails I have to deal with.
        - My general list of stuff I’m working on has those actionable emails referenced as well.
        - Any emails relevant to projects that I need to be able to refer to at a later point are all sitting in their project folders.

I do like having my email To-dos itemised in my full GTD list, they are no longer a island on their own. Mail2kgtd sends the full copy of the email to the Kinkless GTD file, it stores it in the notes section. This also means that the full email is listed in the notes section in iCal if I refer to the item there. It was spooky the first time, the key data being available in my email program, my GTD program and my calendar…

Each year I run an archive on the email of the year previous to the last one, so I only carry about one years emails around on my laptop. I own MailSteward Lite for archiving, it’s simple and fully searchable, and plays nice with Spotlight. But I’m considering using DevonThink Pro Office, an program whose application grows each time I use it, it may have more interesting options for analysing archived mail.

So far so fine. So what about Spam?

I have an excellent piece of software called SpamSieve which does a good job of filtering spam. But it’s not perfect, it’s okay 99% of the time. But that 1% bugs me. Today’s 1% included an email from my EU domain registrar indicating that three domains I registered were due to expire, and a response to an email I’d sent to Red Sweater software about MarsEdit. But more worryingly, there was also an expression of interest in our current feature from a US distributor.

It looks like I’ll have to add “Review my Spam folder“ to my ever-increasing list of buckets to sort through when it comes to my weekly review. Given that eight spam messages arrived in the time it took to write this entry…. That looks set to take over all of Friday afternoons…

Medieval helpdesk

March 8, 2007

Oh so good….


March 2, 2007

Picnik is a really wonderful new web service which offers users basic image manipulation tools. You can zoom in and out, edit brightness, contrast, exposure and a host of other tools, even a basic implementation of Levels. Quite impressive to deliver online via flash in itself, but there’s more to Picnik than that.

It joins an emerging field of creative web services which add value because they are online, not despite it.

For a start, it plays really nicely with Flickr, allowing you to take in and edit your uploaded photographs just as easily as the ones on your computer. And not just your own… You can do a full Flickr search on tags and titles. Very cool…

Second, it loads images directly from Yahoo Images, with a full search field and a nice clutter-free (and ad-free) result. I’d look forward to Google Images as an option.

Third, it allows you to put in a web address and it will distill all the images from that address and load them up for you to edit.

Fourth… it has a very nice full-screen mode, click on the Picnik logo in the top right and it expands to full screen.

Fifth… it will work with your webcam. I can see Photo Booth type Firefox plugins ahead…

This might well give Flash a good name. Quite awesome… check it out before Yahoo buys it.




November 23, 2006

I really like 1Passwd.

A simple utility that integrates with any browser, including my favourite, Omniweb, to provide strong and secure passwords online. The .Mac integration is also important for me.

Passwords are a constant problem for my students who use very obvious or easily guessable ones, (you’d be amazed at the amount of ones who use the word ‘google’) or come up with tortuous names that they forget a month later.

I usually recommend to them that they think of two passwords and use one or the other when online. I get them to think of something only they will remember, their first schoolteacher, or their grandfather’s home, and to combine that with a date they will not forget.

1Password has made hopping around the web much simpler to do, logging in and out of different sites is simply a matter of choosing the relevant id and password from the pop up menu which is site appropriate. It can generate secure unguessable passwords, the ones that look like gobbledygook, which you don’t have to remember, they’re available in your browser bar.

The one drawback is using a different computer to access those sites, when 1Password won’t be available to you. It’s solid and secure and so easy to use, this is a minor drawback for me.