A writing contest for the worst opening sentence you can come up with…
These are, really, amazingly, awful. My favorites are the similes.
He was waiting for the call seated behind his desk, his right knee bouncing up and down like the piston of a one-cylinder steam engine – the kind old guys restore and stand proudly next to at the county fair hoping someone will stop and ask about it but they never do as the engine thumps and sputters in rhythm like an anxious guy seated behind his desk bouncing his knee up and down.
The air-conditioner hummed like an over-sized bear eating a large salmon he’d fished out of the water and if you’ve never heard an over-sized bear eating a salmon, just imagine an air-conditioner humming and you’ll know.
And finally, not a simile, just delightfully over-described…
Pine trees stretched as far as the eye could see, which wasn’t very far in Gerald’s case, since he was overdue for cataract surgery with the only ophthalmologist in town who still took Medicare patients, and their needles whispered gently in the breeze.
I’m working on a new project around timelines and microblogs. It consumes RSS feeds
You’re telling me microblogging doesn’t have to be social media’d or proprietary!? RSS is a weird technology, it’s so obviously useful, but I still fear it’s doomed to obscurity and nerd world.
Ever since the demise of Google Reader I’ve been using a self-hosted RSS reader called Stringer.
Not having an RSS item title might take some getting used to for mainstream blogging clients and readers. Most RSS apps assume that all posts have a title, even though titles are technically optional in the spec. But I think this is an important distinction because if you think about Twitter-like posting, it should be fast and convenient; making up a title first interrupts the flow of posting.
In Stringer, it could be fairly easily modified to include “microblog” posts which don’t include a Title attribute I think. And that’s the great part of open standards and Open Source software projects. Anyone with time, skill, and a need can create the tool they want to use to consume content on the web the way they want.
I have successfully published my first node.js package, it‘s called manuscript-logger and it examines a folder full of .md files and gathers some information about them. I’m working on a book (or two) and I am putting each chapter in a seperate text file to make it easy to generate the book using Pandoc or maybe Leanpub later on.
I, of course, love writing in SublimeText but I wanted an easy way to keep track of information about how the whole project was going. So I thought about a shell script using the linux
You can look at the code on github. It does two cool things to integrate with my plain-text-file workflow. It generates a taskpaper file with all of my chapters broken up by the status I set in the chapter’s meta header, ie. outline, draft, final-draft, or edited. In addition it will append a line to a csv file with my current word count for the whole project each time I run it. Now I just need to add it to a daily cron job or a launchd task so it runs every day.
# Watches and their shapes
A mechanical watch is round because it is (traditionally) driven by gears. Which are round. The entire mechanical watch package is predicated on a circular shape. Digital watches are not. Smart watches are based around LCD pixels and integrated circuit packages. These components are rectangular. The smart watch should be rectangular. The form will naturally follow the mechanism. Final design is derived from a set of rules and factors in the system which the product is positioned. Round watches with pixel displays are anachronistic.
In the past I’ve been a proponent of using Evernote everywhere. Because it‘s simple, it works, and they have apps on every major platform . But plain text is nice too. It‘s clean and simple and is quicker to open and edit than any Evernote app will ever be.
Speed has been my biggest complaint against Evernote in the past. The other thing to note is that I don’t love it for maintaining a list of current tasks. I’ve tried GTD in a few ways. My favorite way was with an App called The Hit List but that‘s Mac only and the iOS version is/was broken. Hopefully this amazing productivity application will rise again now that it‘s been purchased by Karelia Software.
Unfortunately, The Hit List, will probably never come to windows or a web browser. I realize that I don’t like having my task management system in a 3rd party application (or datacenter) that can be shut down, be hacked, dissappear or be limited by arbitrary monetization schemes. If I need to collaborate with people we will find a system that works well together, I probably can’t make them use my app. But, I can probably send them an email with a portion of my current task list pretty easily.
I thought Evernote would be a usable GTD option. They recently added reminders functionality to notes, which seemed promising. I couldn’t really get in the hang of that though. When using it like prescribed at The Secret Weapon it‘s pretty good, but relies on tagging a lot. And there’s a nice Apple Mail to Evernote applescript I used. And, of course Evernote installs a nice plugin for Outlook on Windows to aid in task capture from email there. But I eventually realized I’m never accessing the tasks on my iPhone because the evernote app on iOS is slooooow.
So, I’m back to plain text. There’s this amazing app called Taskpaper. But again, it‘s not cross platform. A year or two ago I tried building taskpaper-like (or GitHub like) functionality into my unfinished webapp CardBoard. Thinking this would be my own home-made GTD app. It didn’t work out1.
Finally, let me cut to the chase. Here are the 3 major components of my working GTD system today.
- SublimeText (with plugins)
- Editorial on iOS
The text editor SublimeText is incredible, and it has a vibrant plugin community. I decided to use Sublime Text to write 2 different book projects, and I love it. I found a plugin called PlainTasks which has a setting for taskpaper compatability! It‘s a free crossplatform implementation of taskpaper productivity in plain text files in the same application I already love to use for code and prose!
In my Dropbox Projects directory I created a file called
projects.todo.taskpaper. This file has headings for all of my current projects, and I keep it open at work in Sublime Text. Sometimes even in a second pane 2.
Right now I use one text file for everything current. I can easily split that up and create more focused lists inside of each project directory.
On iOS you can open these same plain text files an any number of applications (as long as it‘s stored on dropbox), but one that is especially nice is Editorial. It even has “swipe to mark complete” functionality for
I can’t even begin to convey the power of this application. You could start skimming some of Federico’s articles here.
Applescript to Insert into a Text File from Apple Mail
And the final bit of magic that makes it all come together is this script I hacked together to prepend a task to any Taskpaper file with
Inbox: on the first line. Here is my rough applescript based on the previous evernote one.
I have a lot more thoughts about productivity in SublimeText. SublimeText and Editorail are an incredible combo. Fancy text editors are a nice bridge between the command line and a bunch of GUI apps. Plain text files don’t make you compromise on who has your data… (ignoring the whole dropbox security and privacy problem for now).
Dave Winer (father of blogging) wrote a short note about building apps that support RSS as a first-class citizen.
To this end he’s taking the wraps off a new “Link Blogging” app. It lets you collect and share any articles you find interesting and want to share with your “networks”. It’s called Radio3. It cross posts to Facebook and Twitter, just like my blog does, and it adds a layer of personal ownership kinda like owning your own blog. I still recommend running your own blog if you can, but at least you can share with people without being locked into one social network. I think soon will be time for everyone to begin the migration from Facebook and Twitter. I no longer take the time to read Facebook seriously, and Twitter has waned in it’s usefulness (except during local public emergencies).