My First Node.js Package — manuscript-logger

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 wc command but then I wanted a few more features. So, I ended up writing the whole thing in Node.js. Because javascript, duh.

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.

wrist-watch design

# 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.

How To Set Up Sublime Text for Markdown Export to Word | Plaintext Productivity

How To Set Up Sublime Text for Markdown Export to Word | Plaintext Productivity.

GTD Productivity in plain text files using Sublime Text


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
  • Applescript

Sublime Text

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 .taskpaper files.

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).

  1. Instead I kept waffling back and forth between The Hit List and Evernote and occasionally using Wunderlist, Trello, and Nozbe. 

  2. The keyboard shortcut for 2 panes is Cmd+Alt+2 – then use Ctrl+1 and Ctrl+2 to move back and forth between panes. 

More about blogging and the open web

Dave Winer (father of blogging) wrote a short note about building apps that support RSS as a first-class citizen.

How to stimulate the open web.

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).


Happy Labor Day

Happy Labor Day by sirtimbly
Happy Labor Day, a photo by sirtimbly on Flickr.

Community Services

Another person articulating the value of personal blogs in the face of social networks who inscrutably control what you see and when.

A thing you were previously in full control over – your timeline – is now not so, and things show up that you don’t know where they came from or how they’re relevant.

via waffle.

How to run your own e-mail server with your own domain, part 1 | Ars Technica

How to run your own e-mail server with your own domain, part 1 | Ars Technica.

This is something I’ve thought about and looked at before. But… I still think this is beyond what an individual should need to do. I would much rather have a service provider host, manage, and secure my email service. In case you really want to control your email services, then go for it, it’s not that expensive, and all you have to do is run through a 4 part series and get really familiar with the command line. I love the internet.


Host Benchmarker

Host Benchmarker – Real, unbiased web hosting comparisons.

I actually really like this site. I’ts not just spammy click-through  referral pages! Incredible!

I did enjoy being a customer of BlueHost back when I used them. In case you ever want your own domain name and web hosting account, this is a good place to start comparing.



Heroku Button: Anyone Can Deploy Your App with a Browser – Developer Relations

Heroku Button: Anyone Can Deploy Your App with a Browser – Developer Relations.

Just so you know, this is freaking awesome. It’s like easy installs like an App store for your own web services. First app I recommend you install is this: